Teen Screen – February 1967

Lest we forget, the “serious” American rock fanzine underground, or serious rock magazines in general, had barely flowered by 1967. At that point in time, it was through magazines like Teen Screen, which we shall be discussing today, that young Americans were using to absorb the exploding culture of garage-infused pop music as well as pop music writ large. Crawdaddy was just a year old at this point, Cheetah was about to start up, and Rolling Stone was nearly a year away. This is a heady time in America, to be sure, and a time during which to be a teen was to have one’s world blossoming with music, film, fashion, TV and culture all very centered on your tastes and predilections. If that was your bag, I guess, right? (My own parents were barely out of their teens at this point and they couldn’t have cared less).

Now it’s just fun to look at a magazine like Teen Screen’s February 1967 issue and see the world through the eyes of a 15-year-old girl – or rather, through the eyes of thirty- and forty-something businesspeople aggressively marketing to that girl. It’s really something to watch the mores of a time before 1967 not quite budging to fit a young America looking to find itself, such as in Elizabeth Cowan’s “Teen Problems” column, in which she counsel a confused 13-year-old “tomboy” that her mother shouldn’t worry, because “there is plenty of time for you to grow up and become a young lady”. Any band with some young long-haired guys and a hit, or potential hit, were fodder for the dream factory. Hot hunks like the Sir Douglas Quintet and Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels? Sure! San Francisco’s The Other Half and their new sound they’ve dubbed “psychotic rock”? Why not? 

Of course, when we look back at this era it’s The Beatles, Beach Boys, Rolling Stones and a few other heavyweights whom we associate with screaming teens and general mania. Every time I come across these magazines, though, it’s Paul Revere and the Raiders – especially Mark Lindsay and Phil “Fang” Volk, whom I suppose were the handsome ones – and Herman’s Hermits who get just as much frothing attention from these fanzine precursors. And if you’re a fan of ‘66 garage rock or punk, and I know you are, you can even find some of it playing out on these pages, with a “Little Boy Blues fan club” and girls writing in about how the Syndicate of Sound are such a fab group. I was hoping for some hand-wringing about The Beach Boys’ Smile album not being out yet but mostly the staff is still celebrating what a massive chart-topper “Good Vibrations” was; despite many Beach Boys mentions throughout the mag, Brian Wilson isn’t even name-checked once. Not even a single mention in this one of The Monkees, whose show and hitmaking started in late 1966, leading me to believe that this one was being written in the Fall of ‘66 and actually on newsstands around Christmas ‘66.

 For 95% of the American populace, male or female, magazines like Teen Screen, 16, Flip, Teen Life, Teen World and so on were their 1967 conduit to rock music. (It was different in the UK, with NME, Melody Maker and Record Mirror far less teen-oriented) No, the rock music of the era wasn’t especially well-served by this approach, which is why a more intellectualized approach, along with true fanzines, would start to materialize later that year. I still think they’re kind of a blast to look at so when we stumble upon copies in the low single-digits – and especially if there’s a Mark Lindsay pinup – Fanzine Hemorrhage takes the plunge.

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