NPR logo Garage Rock and FM Radio

Garage Rock and FM Radio

The Electric Prunes were the first band I can remember hearing on the FM dial, WOR-FM at 98.7. It was late 1966, and my dad had bought a stereo with an FM tuner. No one else I knew had FM back then. It wasn't in cars or on your transistor dial.

The FCC ruled that any broadcaster with an AM license had to have separate original programming for the FM dial, so FM underground radio was born. DJs with eclectic tastes ruled the new airwaves, as did a wave of garage bands. Bands with names such as The Velvet Underground and The Electric Prunes began to overtake my habit for commercial AM pop radio in New York.

"I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night" was a fantastic song, and in stereo on the huge white Koss headphones, it was a sonic boom. I still remember the guitar panning around, my head reeling as the drums panned hard to one side.

This was truly a garage band, in that their practice space was in their home garage in the San Fernando Valley. That's where they were discovered.

Now, more than 40 years later, the band is touring. The Electric Prunes played the Black Cat in Washington, but I missed it. I'm curious what they sounded like. Has anyone gone to see them?
And do you remember the early days of FM radio?