Playboy, February 1966: All That Jazz

It’s time to take another look at an old dogeared magazine and look at some vintage tech and music trends of the past. This month, we’ll flip through this February 1966 issue of Playboy which, although not exactly chock full of ads, does have two notable features … HEY! Get your mind out of the gutter.

Barbi Benton? Nope. Those wide eyes belong to “Sissy,” who also graced the August cover that year. Who is/was “Sissy”? Your guess is as good as mine.

First was an extensive photo essay covering the newest in audio-visual gadgetry that 1966 had to offer. We present here in full for your edification and general amusement.

Multiply these prices by 8 for inflation. Yeah, not such a bargain now, is it?
What kind of man reads Playboy? Apparently one with a reel-to-reel player. Like, seriously.
If you haven’t gotten the hint yet, you need that reel-to-reel recorder to be a cultured gentleman, ya perv.

Yes, apparently the Playboy reader was a big segment of the reel-to-reel demo, as evidenced by this Columbia Stereo Tape Club ad in the same issue.

Tape a penny to a postcard? Yeah, that’s for plebians. Check, please.

The second article of note was a feature on Playboy‘s 10th annual Jazz Poll, which presented the results of the poll, a recap of results for the past 10 years, and the first inductees into the Playboy Jazz Hall of Fame. The Class of ’66 was notable in that it was virtually unchanged from the Class of ’65, with only Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong swapping seats between third and fourth trumpet.

Rock ‘n’ Roll? What’s that noise? Gimme Roy Donk and his Tuk Tuk Sound any day.

The Jazz Poll still enjoyed purity from the puerility of pop at this point, but change was on the horizon. Peter, Paul and Mary only edged The Beatles for Best Vocal Group by a 5-to-4 margin, and the following year, The Supremes nabbed the honor to strike an opening blow. In 1968, Playboy gave in to prevailing trends and renamed their annual survey the Playboy Jazz & Pop Poll. That year, The Beatles won Best Vocal Group by edging … wait for it … Sergio Mendes and Brazil ’66 by a 2-to-1 margin. The poll was abandoned after 1972.

For a “progressive” publication, Playboy readers’ musical tastes proved to be strangely static in its first decade.

Playboy also used the occasion of this 10th annual poll to unveil the first three members to its Playboy Jazz Hall of Fame, as selected by its readers. Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and Dave Brubeck comprised the inaugural class.

Eat your heart out, Lionel Richie.

So what else do we have? Ads. Just three. One is for a … surprise … reel-to-reel recorder. This Sony Sterecorder 260 was portable and came with its own stereo speaker system built into it, so apparently it was a big deal at the time, or at least was marketed as such. Did it sound any good? You tell me.

OK, I know this was 1966 and typography wasn’t as easy as it is nowadays, but why the huge gap at top, and why the font that makes S-T-E-R-E-O look like it’s been crossed out? And what is he looking at anyway? Probably this poorly composed ad.
Last one. Are you there, JBL? It’s me, Margaret.