Despite the impression one might get from movies and television, the actual soundtrack of late 1960s America was not utterly monopolized by darlings of the counterculture. Hollywood has certainly conditioned us to expect a song by Jimi Hendrix, the Jefferson Airplane, Creedence Clearwater Revival or Buffalo Springfield every time we see footage of hippies in the Haight-Ashbury or helicopters in the skies over Vietnam. Yet a glance at the pop charts of 1969 reveals a musical landscape that was far more diverse and. In fact, when half a million kids piled into their cars for the long drive home from Woodstock, the song that was likely playing when they clicked on their AM radios wasn’t “Purple Haze,” “White Rabbit,” “Run Through The Jungle” or “For What It’s Worth.” It was probably “In The Year 2525 (Exordium & Terminus)"by Zager and Evans—the monumental smash hit that ruled the charts and airwaves for nearly that entire summer before finally ending its run at #1 on August 22, 1969.
Of the ponderously titled single hit that first entered the charts back in June of ’69, Time magazine said, “This futuristic ballad sounds as though it were composed by a computer at the Rand Corporation.” In fact, it was composed by Denny Zager and Rick Evans, the biggest stars ever to emerge from the Lincoln, Nebraska, motel-lounge circuit. With “In The Year 2525 (Exordium & Terminus)," Zager and Evans introduced a trippy, dystopian vision of an armless, foodless future that foretold of everything from environmental collapse to human cloning.
Zager and Evans never returned to the pop charts after their triumphant debut in the summer of ’69. Nor did they ever explain what “Exordium and Terminus” meant. In their very brief career, however, they spent longer atop the pop charts (six weeks) than the aforementioned Hendrix et al. combined (0 weeks). Like so many stars whose hits have not stood the test of time, however, they have been nearly expunged from cultural memory.