Medium photo 1962 ChubbyChecker Twist 1500 crop

the #1 hit records on the pop charts 1962

THIS IS THE THIRD in a se­ries of ten ar­ti­cles listing and ad­dressing the #1 records of the year as they ap­peared on Cash Box mag­a­zine’s Top 100 chart from 1960 through 1969. It was orig­i­nally pub­lished as “Big Girls Don’t Limbo Rock” on my pub­li­ca­tion Tell It Like It Was on Medium on Feb­ruary 16, 2019. The ar­ticle below is iden­tical to that one.

Please read “In­tro­duc­tion To The #1 Records On The Cash Box Pop Chart of the 1960sbe­fore reading this ar­ticle. It will ex­plain the na­ture of this project, in­tro­duce you to the writers whose opin­ions follow, and will make every­thing easier to un­der­stand.

The opin­ions ex­pressed below are those of John Ross, Lew Shiner, and me. John is the talent be­hind the Round Place In The Middle web­site where he opines about rock & roll, western movies, and de­tec­tive novels. John is my fa­vorite writer writing about rock & roll. He is cur­rently working on his first novel.

Lew is one of the finest nov­el­ists in America. Since you’re reading his name here, start with his novel Glimpses, which com­bines time-travel with fan­tasy and the mi­lieu of ’60s rock music. Follow that with De­serted Cities Of The Heart (time-travel and psy­che­delic mush­rooms!) and then his latest, Out­side The Gates Of Heaven, which also takes place in the ’60s.

If you want to skim through this ar­ticle and skip around from record to record or com­ment to com­ment, that works and you’ll have fun. But this ar­ticle will make more sense if you read it from be­gin­ning to end.

One of the first things you will no­tice is that each of the ar­ti­cles opens with a cal­endar of events that re­flect the zeit­geist of the era. Hope­fully, these will give you some back­ground and some con­text in which the #1 records of that were made.

 

Medium photo 1962 FourSeasons 1000

Chubby Checker may have had the most chart-topping hits in 1962, but the artist with the most weeks spent at #1 were the Four Sea­sons. Sherry and Big Girls Don’t Cry spent eleven weeks at the top­per­most of the pop­per­most, far more than Checker’s six weeks. And whereas Chubby had seen his heyday (he would con­tinue having Top 40 hits until 1964 but never came close to the top again), the Four Sea­sons were just kicking off a ca­reer that would see them reach the top of the charts more than ten years later!

1962

Jan­uary
The Bea­tles au­di­tioned for Decca Records and were turned down be­cause, ahem, “Guitar groups are on the way out.”

Feb­ruary
The United States en­acted an em­bargo pro­hibiting im­porting Amer­ican goods into Cuba and Cuban goods into the United States.

March
Viking Press pub­lished Ken Ke­sey’s novel One Flew Over The Cuck­oo’s Nest.

April
The first of­fi­cial Major League Base­ball game was played in brand new Dodgers Sta­dium in Los An­geles.

May
Marvel Comics pub­lished The In­cred­ible Hulk #1 (cover dated July) by Stan Lee (writer) and Jack Kirby (artist), and Amazing Fan­tasy #15 (Au­gust cover date) that in­tro­duced Spider-Man by Stan Lee (writer) and Steve Ditko (artist).

June
Stu­dents for a De­mo­c­ratic So­ciety com­pleted the Port Huron State­ment in Port Huron, Michigan.

July
The Rolling Stones per­formed for the first time at the Mar­quee Club in London, Eng­land, as the opening act for Long John Baldry.

Au­gust
Mar­ilyn Monroe died from an in­ten­tional over­dose of pre­scrip­tion drugs at her home in Los An­geles.

Sep­tember
Houghton Mif­flin pub­lished Rachel Car­son’s book Silent Spring, planting the seeds of the modern en­vi­ron­men­talist move­ment.

Oc­tober
The first black stu­dent, James Meredith, reg­is­tered at the Uni­ver­sity of Mis­sis­sippi, es­corted by Fed­eral Mar­shals.

No­vember
Richard M. Nixon lost the race for gov­ernor of Cal­i­fornia and promised, “You won’t have Nixon to kick around any­more.” (Alas.)

De­cember
After a trip to Vietnam, US Senate Ma­jority Leader Mike Mans­field be­came the first Amer­ican of­fi­cial to make a public com­ment ques­tioning the war’s “progress.”

 


 

Medium 45 1962 ChubbyChecker TheTwist 1962 PS 600

Medium 45 1962 ChubbyChecker TheTwist 1962 600

Jan­uary 6–January 27

Chubby Checker
The Twist
Parkway P-811
(4 weeks)

The dance craze con­tinues! Chubby Check­er’s The Twist had been #1 for four weeks in 1960 (see Sep­tember 10, 1960, entry). In the first weeks of 1962, the same record made its way back to the top of the charts for four more weeks, giving it eight weeks at the top! While The Twist wasn’t one of the biggest chart-toppers of 1960 or 1962, it was one of the biggest #1 records of the ’60s.

Refer to September-October, 1960.

Neal: In 1992, a doc­u­men­tary movie ti­tled Twist was made about the dance-by-yourself phe­nom­enon. It fea­tures in­ter­views and film clips of:

Hank Bal­lard (twist, 1958)
Chubby Checker (twist, 1960)
Dee Dee Sharp (mashed potato, in 1961)
Joey Dee (pep­per­mint twist, 1961)

It also in­cludes Amer­ican Band­stand reg­u­lars Joan Buck, Joe Fusco, Jimmy Peatross, and Ca­role Scade­ferri who showed all us kids how to do all those steps. Also in­ter­viewed are Mo­town chore­o­g­ra­pher Cholly Atkins and Mar­velettes lead singer Gladys Horton.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (4 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: 3,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: Yes
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John:
✯ ✯ ✯
Lew: ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1962 GeneChandler DukeOfEarl 2 600

Feb­ruary 3–March 3

Gene Chan­dler
Duke Of Earl
Vee-Jay VJ-416
(5 weeks)

Doo-wop con­tinued to sur­prise, with Duke Of Earl spending five weeks at #1, making it one of the year’s biggest hits. This song had been recorded as a group record by the Dukays but Vee-Jay re­leased it as a solo record cred­ited to Gene Chan­dler, which was a pseu­donym for Dukays member Eu­gene Dixon. Dixon con­tinued recording as Chan­dler and had up-and-down suc­cess on the R&B charts into the early 1980s.

John: I would love to have been a fly on the wall when this was being recorded. I’m still looking for proof that this was arranged by space-men. I know such proof ex­ists … be­cause Duke Of Earl does.

Neal: And with this record, Frank Zappa fans can hear where many of the in-jokes on the early Mothers of In­ven­tion al­bums on Verve Records orig­i­nated.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (3 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: Yes
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew: ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

medium 45 1962 BruceChannel HeyBaby 600

March 1–March 31

Bruce Channel
Hey! Baby
Smash S-1731
(4 weeks)

Bruce Chan­nel’s Hey! Baby was orig­i­nally re­leased in 1961 on the tiny Le Cam Records. When it started get­ting at­ten­tion, Smash Records leased it and pro­moted it na­tion­ally and it be­came a smash hit. Over the next few years, both Le Cam and Smash re­leased records by Channel, none achieving any no­table suc­cess, making Channel a one-hit-wonder.

Lew: The har­monica is by band member and fellow Texan Del­bert Mc­Clinton, who would go on to solo fame with songs like Giving It Up For Your Love. John Lennon cited Mc­Clinton as a major in­flu­ence on his har­monica playing, and ru­mors per­sist that Mc­Clinton gave him a few lessons in person during the Channel tour of the UK.

Neal: To a 21st-century lis­tener, Hey! Baby prob­ably sounds more country than rock & roll.

John: Few records are in the DNA of so many others. Hey-y-y-y-y Baby is fa­miliar to Tom Petty fans from I Won’t Back Down, but my fa­vorite is Bruce Spring­steen changing it to Me-e-e-e-e Baby in Bril­liant Dis­guise. Those are just two sam­ples among many—and that’s be­fore you get to all the places that har­monica went.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (3 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew: ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1962 ChubbyChecker SlowTwsitin PS 600

Medium 45 1962 ChubbyChecker SlowTwsitin 600

April 7

Chubby Checker
Slow Twistin’
Parkway P-835
(1 week)

Slow Twistin’ was the second dance craze record that made it to the top, al­though it was the first new one for the new year. Chubby is joined by label-mate Dee Dee Sharp, al­though she is not cred­ited on the record’s label. This is sur­prising as Cameo-Parkway would have ben­e­fited from her name being as­so­ci­ated with a hit-maker like Chubby Checker.

Cameo re­leased Sharp’s first record, Mashed Potato Time, at the same time as Slow Twistin’ and it also reached #1 (see April 28, 1962, below).

John: Smokin’. One of the rock & roll era’s great duet vo­cals. I find it ap­pro­priate that the greatest knockoff of The Twist is by Chubby him­self, nar­rowly besting Sam Cooke’s Twistin’ The Night Away and the Bea­tles’ ver­sion of the Isley Brothers’ Twist And Shout.

Lew: I barely re­member this, but lis­tening to it now, it is by far the best Chubby Checker record I’ve heard. Points for the double en­tendre telling us we’ll “last longer” if we slow down.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: No
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew: ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1962 ElvisPresley GoodLuckCharm PS 600

Medium 45 1962 ElvisPresley GoodLuckCharm 600

April 14

Elvis Presley
Good Luck Charm
RCA Victor 47-7992
(1 week)

His­tor­i­cally, rock his­to­rians have looked at this record as proof of Elvis having given up rock & roll for pop. That ig­nores the fact that this record is in­con­ceiv­able without rock & roll—meaning it’s a rock & roll record if one that anal his­to­rians just don’t get (or just refuse to get).

Good Luck Charm is a great pop-rock record and if Elvis had wanted to spend a few years ex­ploring all the places this sound and feel could take him, we would all con­sider our­selves blessed today.

This is one of my fa­vorite Elvis sin­gles. When I was 12-years-old and ex­ploring the Leg­endary Aunt Judy Record Col­lec­tion that she gave me, I prob­ably played Good Luck Charm as often as I played Hound Dog and All Shook Up on my plastic 45 rpm-only record player (also part of the col­lec­tion).

John: This isn’t one of my fa­vorite Elvis records, but if you made as many #1 records as Elvis did, and this is the least of them, you were one un­be­liev­able talent. Be­cause it’s still pretty darn great.

RCA Victor did not seek im­me­diate RIAA cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for an of­fi­cial Gold Record Award for Good Luck Charm. This was rec­ti­fied on March 27, 1992, when it re­ceived a Gold Record Award for 500,000 sales and a 1xPlatinum Record Award for 1,000,000 sales.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (2 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew: ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1962 ShelleyFabares JohnnyAngel PS 600

Medium 45 1962 ShelleyFabares JohnnyAngel 600

April 21

Shelley Fabares
Johnny Angel
Colpix CP-621
(1 week)

Shelley Fabares was one of the stars of the pop­ular Donna Reed Show on tele­vi­sion. Making the slight-voiced young TV star a recording artist was simply a form of ex­ploiting her fame as an ac­tress. She also recorded duets with her Donna Reed co-star Paul Pe­terson and had a Top 40 hit with her follow-up single later in ’62, Johnny Loves Me. But for all prac­tical pur­poses, she was a one-hit-wonder.

Shelley ap­peared in six movies in the mid-1960s, in­cluding three of Elvis’s lesser ve­hi­cles (Girl Happy, Spinout, and Clam­bake). She con­tinued making movies through the end of the cen­tury.

In 1964, Shelley mar­ried Lou Adler, who founded Dun­hill Records that same year, which was home to chart-topping artists Barry McGuire, The Mamas & The Papas, and Step­pen­wolf. In 1967, he sold Dun­hill to ABC and then founded Ode Records, home to chart-topping artists Scott McKenzie and Carol King.

John: Shelley has cheer­fully ad­mitted she had nothing to do with this. It’s her voice, suf­fi­ciently dis­guised. In that sense, it might be the most in­flu­en­tial record of the en­tire decade, be­cause that’s how every­body does it now.

Neal: All I’m gonna say is I had a big crush on Mary Stone and this record only made the crush bigger. Of course, I was 10-years-old in 1962 and didn’t know that Emma Peel was just a few years down the road.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (2 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯
Lew:
Neal: ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1962 DeeDeeSharp MashedPotatoTime 600

April 28

Dee Dee Sharp
Mashed Potato Time
Cameo C-212
(1 week)

Mashed Potato Time was the second dance craze record to reach #1 in 1962. In the song, Dee Dee Sharp mag­i­cally turned the To­kens’ The Lion Sleeps Tonight from the pre­vious year into a dance: “They got a dance was outta sight, doing the lion-sleeps-tonight.”

Sharp wasn’t some one-hit-wonder, scoring sev­eral more Top 10 dance hits over the next year: Gravy (For My Mashed Pota­toes), Ride, and Do The Bird. Dee Dee also guested on label-mate Chubby Check­er’s Slow Twistin’, which was #1 on April 7, 1962 (above). Sup­pos­edly, she turned down the op­por­tu­nity to record The Loco-motion, which was a #1 hit for Little Eva on Au­gust 18-September 1, 1962 (below).

John: There might have been greater years for rock & roll, but there was no greater year for dance crazes. And the best is yet to come!

Neal: But, John, there were too many dance crazes in ’62: When you’re a kid with two white feet and are afraid of girls, mas­tering the twist took all the time and en­ergy I had! Fifty years later and I can twist with the best of them but still can’t mash any­thing but lumpy pota­toes and have to be very, very careful when boogity-boogity-shooping.

And poor Lew is still trying to figure out how to do the Lion Sleeps Tonight like Dee Dee Sharp wants him to.

John: I don’t even dance as much as you. But I sure like watching other people make fools of themselves—and I like it even better when they don’t!

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: No
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew: ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1962 Shirelles SoldierBoy 600

May 5–May 12

The Shirelles
Sol­dier Boy
Scepter 1228
(2 weeks)

Sol­dier Boy was the fifth Top 10 hit for the Shirelles and their second chart-topper. Like other girl groups of this time, their predica­ment il­lus­trates the prob­lems with the record busi­ness then: had they been with a bigger record com­pany, they prob­ably would have had a lot more ex­po­sure and prob­ably would have sold a lot more records.

If they had been al­lowed to record songs like Sol­dier Boy and Will You Love Me To­morrow. Of course, had they been with Co­lumbia, the staff pro­ducers would have had them singing Tea For Two or backing Aretha Franklin on some ex­e­crable Broadway tunes.

John: Ded­i­cated to all the troops standing by, circa 1962, waiting to find out which jungle or desert or swamp they would be sent to next. Some things never change.

Neal: In 1960, Elvis recorded Sol­dier Boy, but it was a dif­ferent song. It was slower, blue­sier, with a doo-wop feel, ap­par­ently meant to ex­ploit his re­cent re­lease from the Army. It was in­cluded on his ELVIS IS BACK album al­though it would have made an in­ter­esting single in 1960.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (3 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew: ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1962 AckerBilk StrangerOnTheShore 600

May 19

Mr. Acker Bilk
Stranger On The Shore
Atco 45-6217
(1 week)

Acker Bilk’s Stranger On The Shore stands as con­tinued proof that people over the age of 30 were still buying lots of 45s be­cause you know that 15-year-olds weren’t buying this! While he had a half-dozen Top 20 hits in his na­tive UK, he never came close to the US Top 40 again, making him a one-hit-wonder.

Lew: It’s worth pointing out, for those who weren’t there, that back in the 1960s there was a huge de­mand for in­stru­men­tals on the radio. DJs used them to fill the slack time be­fore the news at the top of the hour, as they could be faded out at any point in the record. That gave songs like Stranger On The Shore a leg up as far as the charts were con­cerned.

John: I think this was the first #1 record by a British artist in the rock and roll era if not ever. Does anyone know why they called him “Mr.”?

Neal: Well, sir, maybe he was called Mister be­cause his record sales didn’t make enough money for Her Majesty to be a Sir.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (1 week)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯
Lew: ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1962 RayCharles ICantStopLovingYou 600

May 26–June 23

Ray Charles
I Can’t Stop Loving You
ABC-Paramount 45-10330
(5 weeks)

In Ray Charles’s first year with ABC-Paramount, he recorded his usual rhythm & blues, rock & roll, and jazz, so by 1962 he wanted to do some­thing new—country & western music. Re­leased in April, MODERN SOUNDS IN COUNTRY & WESTERN MUSIC was an as­ton­ishing artistic achieve­ment and an equally as­ton­ishing com­mer­cial suc­cess, selling hun­dreds of thou­sands of copies straight off. This was an un­usual feat for both a black mu­si­cian and for a country album at the time.

Pop singer Tab Hunter heard the album and went straight into the studio and cut a ver­sion of I Can’t Stop Loving You based squarely on Ray’s arrange­ment. Dot Records had Hunter’s single out in the stores in a matter of weeks.

ABC-Paramount pulled Ray’s ver­sion from the album and rush-released it to cut off any play that Hunter’s ver­sion might get on AM radio. It was a des­perate gamble that paid off: I Can’t Stop Loving You de­buted on the Cash Box Top 100 on May 12 and vaulted to the top of the chart two weeks later!

Lew: MODERN SOUNDS IN COUNTRY & WESTERN MUSIC is a land­mark for many rea­sons, in­cluding its fu­sion of white and black mu­sical styles, and also be­cause it was a hit album be­fore al­bums were re­ally thought of as works of art.

The au­thor of I Can’t Stop Loving You is the bril­liant singer and song­writer Don Gibson, who also wrote Oh, Lone­some Me on the same day. If I had to choose be­tween the Charles ver­sion and the Gibson ver­sion, you would just have to shoot me.

John: Yep, an epic. It’s its own movie. Gibson’s orig­inal is so good you can’t be­lieve anyone could top it while it’s playing—or that anyone would even try. But if anyone could, Ray could. And he was never afraid to try any­thing.

I second Lew’s sen­ti­ments on the album. Only Ray and Elvis re­ally be­lieved they could be as big as America it­self, and good luck trying to figure out who came closer.

Lew: Can some­body fact-check me on this? I have a vivid memory of Ray Charles in his later years dis­playing a framed photo of Ronnie Reagan on his piano when he played live. I can’t con­firm this on the in­ternet, which claimed he was a life­long De­mo­crat (in spite of playing apartheid South Africa and the 1984 Rep*blican Na­tional Con­ven­tion). Even if it’s true (and I have a vivid memory of seeing him with that photo on TV), I still for­give him for the in­cred­ible music he made.

Neal: There’s not a lot on the In­ternet about Ray and his pol­i­tics: He sup­ported Martin Luther King Jr but was ap­par­ently quite friendly with Reagan. Go figure.

John: Boy, have people jumped through hoops over the decades trying to dis­tance Ray Charles from his own life. He not only played South Africa, he told the UN to “kiss the far end” when they asked him to apol­o­gize. He played for Nixon in the ’70s and Reagan in the ’80s.

He also re­fused to play seg­re­gated shows in the south in the early ’60s, when it counted. He was his own man. One does not need the in­ternet or bi­ogra­phies to con­firm this. Just listen to the music.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (5 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (July 19, 1962)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: 2,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes
• Grammy Award: Best Rhythm & Blues Recording 1962

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew: ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1962 DavidRose TheStripper 600

June 30–July 7

David Rose & Or­chestra
The Stripper
MGM K-13064
(2 weeks)

Did someone re­ally write this or did it evolve or­gan­i­cally in thou­sands of bars with thou­sands of bands backing thou­sands of women who took off what­ever ar­ticle of clothing each state al­lowed them to take off?

David Rose was an ac­com­plished song­writer for twenty years prior to scoring with The Stripper. Per­haps his best-known com­po­si­tion is Hol­iday For Strings, which was written in 1942 and found fame as the theme song for The Red Skelton Show from 1951 through 1971.

As a recording artist, he had a handful of modest hits in the ’50s but after The Stripper never reached the Top 100 again and so he was a one-hit-wonder.

John: Does this count as a dance craze?

Neal: John, I had to pre­view The Stripper on YouTube to es­tab­lish a link for this entry. I swear I wasn’t fif­teen sec­onds into this record and I was taking off my clothes! I don’t know if it counts as a dance but it may count as crazed.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (1 week)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯
Lew: ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1962 BobbyVinton RosesAreRed PS 600

Medium 45 1962 BobbyVinton RosesAreRed 600

July 14–August 4

Bobby Vinton
Roses Are Red (My Love)
Epic 5-9509
(4 weeks)

There is a good story be­hind this record: Bobby Vinton had signed with Epic Records as an easy-listening band­leader in 1960. Two years later nothing had hap­pened and com­pany ex­ec­u­tives wanted to drop him. Vinton ar­gued that his con­tract called for him to record and re­lease two more songs.

While the execs dis­cussed his fu­ture, Vinton found Roses Are Red (My Love) in a pile of re­jected demos! He then per­suaded the com­pany to record him as a singer, which they did. The story then goes that Bobby bought a thou­sand copies of his own record and had them hand-delivered to disc-jockeys around the country—accompanied by a bou­quet of roses.

The rest is, as they say, his­tory (and this story might make a nice movie).

John: Bobby kind of got cheated. He was a per­fect ex­ample of someone who would have been just as suc­cessful in an ear­lier time when Tin Pan Alley ruled. Only he would have gotten better ma­te­rial.

Neal: I should point out that while Vinton is cav­a­lierly dis­missed these days by guys like John, Lew, and me, he was a major Top 40 star in the ’60s and early ’70s. He had three chart-toppers along with six Top 10 hits and twenty more that made the Top 40!

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (4 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (Au­gust 13, 1962)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: 2,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯
Lew: ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1962 NeilSedaka BreakingUpIsHardToDo PS 500

Medium 45 1962 NeilSedaka BreakingUpIsHardToDo 600

Au­gust 11

Neil Sedaka
Breaking Up Is Hard To Do
RCA Victor 47-8046
(1 week)

Three things: First, Breaking Up Is Hard To Do is, like, the quin­tes­sence of every­thing good that early ’60s (white) rock & roll-based pop music could be in two min­utes and twenty sec­onds. Second, how do you not like Neil Sedaka? Third, you’d have to not like pop music to not like Neil, right?

John: Sedaka, on the other hand, ben­e­fited from rock & roll even as he helped de­fine the pop side of it. He didn’t show what he could do with an old-fashioned ballad until the ’70s when he slowed Breakin’ Up Is Hard To Do down and took it to the Top 10 again.

Lew: The song is catchy, no doubt, but some­thing in Sedaka’s voice al­ways rubbed me the wrong way. Too slick, too ar­ti­fi­cial, too Broadway, too some­thing.

Neal: Sedaka had a long ca­reer full of ups and downs, starting with being a part of a group called the Linc-tones who changed their name to the To­kens after Sedaka left. He then formed a song­writing team with Howie Green­field, who sup­plied sev­eral artists with hits in the ’60s. Until you can check out Neil’s story on his web­site, here’s a neat story I adapted from Wikipedia:

“In 1958, Connie Francis began searching for a new hit after to follow up ‘Who’s Sorry Now?’ She was in­tro­duced to Sedaka and Green­field, who played every ballad they had written for her. While the two played the last of their songs, Francis began writing in her diary. After they fin­ished, Francis told them they wrote beau­tiful bal­lads but that they were too in­tel­lec­tual for the young gen­er­a­tion.

“Green­field sug­gested that they play a song they had written for the Shep­herd Sis­ters but Sedaka protested that Francis would be in­sulted by such a puerile song. Green­field re­minded him that Francis had not ac­cepted their other sug­ges­tions and they had nothing to lose. After Sedaka played Stupid Cupid, Francis told them they had just played her new hit. Francis’ ren­di­tion of the song was a Top 20 in the US but topped charts in the UK.

“While Francis was writing in her diary, Sedaka asked her if he could read what she had written. Francis said no. This in­spired Sedaka to write The Diary, which be­came his first hit later that year.”

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (2 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew: ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1962 LittleEva Locomotion 600

Au­gust 18–September 1

Little Eva
The Loco-motion
Di­men­sion 1000
(3 weeks)

The Loco-motion was yet an­other dance craze record (the third) that reached #1, this time by the song­writers’ babysitter! Hus­band and wife team Gerry Goffin and Ca­role King wrote this song for Dee Dee Sharp. They had their nanny Eva Boyd sing the demo for Dee Dee.

For some weird reason, she turned it down and Goffin and King then had the demo re­leased on their own Di­men­sion Records. Along the way, Eva Boyd the babysitter be­came Little Eva the recording artist.

John: And, ap­pro­pri­ately, the greatest dance craze record ap­pears in the greatest dance craze year. She soon tried to create an­other with Let’s Turkey Trot. It did not go as well.

Lew: I’m fas­ci­nated by train songs, and I count this as one of them. What an ir­re­sistible rhythm this song has—more pow­erful than a lo­co­mo­tive!

Neal: While Little Eva is usu­ally written off as a one-hit-wonder, such was not the case. She fol­lowed her first hit with a fine R&B-pop hit, Keep Your Hands Off Of My Baby, which made it to #15 in late ’62 (and which was per­formed by the Bea­tles be­fore their rise to the top­per­most of the pop­per­most). The came the rather silly Let’s Turkey Trot, which reached #21. That was it for Eva’s ca­reer but she was not a one-hit-wonder.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (1 week)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: 
Yes
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew: ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1962 FourSeasons Sherry 600

Sep­tember 8–October 13

The Four Sea­sons
Sherry
Vee-Jay VJ-456
(6 weeks)

The Four Sea­sons’ Sherry was #1 for six weeks, the longest stay at the top on Cash Box for 1962. Four weeks after it left the top spot, they were right back at #1 with Big Girls Don’t Cry for five more weeks! The four guys from New Jersey were the biggest Italian pop music sen­sa­tion since Dion & the Bel­monts!

No, wait … they were the biggest Italian pop music sen­sa­tion since Dean Martin!!

Hell’s Belles, they were the biggest Italian pop music sen­sa­tion since Frank Sinatra!!!

John: Since they spent eleven out of four­teen weeks at #1 with their breakout hits (fol­lowing an even longer road than usual to “overnight” suc­cess), it’s prob­ably fair to say the Sea­sons were the biggest sen­sa­tion be­tween Elvis and the Bea­tles. I can’t think of anyone else who smashed out that hard.

If you turn it up loud and let your mind drift back in time, you can still feel the bal­conies shaking from New York to Newark to Philly when they played it live. You can still feel it even if you were 2 years old and living in Florida at the time.

Neal: Well, if we don’t count the ten sin­gles they re­leased for six record com­pa­nies under four dif­ferent names in the pre­vious seven years, then, yes, we can con­sider their first two Vee-Jay sin­gles to be them “smashing out.” And, as you point out—which I’m not cer­tain has been pointed out very often before—the biggest thing be­tween Elvis the Pelvis and the Mop Tops!

Lew: A lot of credit has to go to the var­ious studio drum­mers who played on their records. That was Buddy Saltzman starting in 1964, but I don’t know who played on Sherry. Who­ever it is, they had a sim­ilar dri­ving sound. I sus­pect pro­ducer Bob Crewe, who knew from drum­mers, is re­spon­sible. Credit Crewe also for the fact that these records still sound great today.

John: I’ll just add that any­body who missed the Four Sea­sons’ bio Jersey Boys on Broadway missed a lot. The movie didn’t do it credit.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (5 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew: ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1962 BobbyPickett MonsterMash PS 600 1

Medium 45 1962 BobbyPickett MonsterMash 600

Oc­tober 20–November 3

Bobby (Boris) Pickett & the Crypt-kickers
The Mon­ster Mash
Garpax 44167
(3 weeks)

In the song, the singer/narrator (Bobby Pickett) is sup­posed to be Dr. Franken­stein but is im­i­tating the speaking voice of actor Boris Karloff, who played the mute mon­ster—not the doctor—in the 1931 movie Franken­stein. But who cares, right?

The song was ti­tled to take ad­van­tage of the latest dance craze, Dee Dee Sharp’s Mashed Potato Time, which had been #1 on April 28, 1962 (above). Had Pickett thought of this song a few months ear­lier, it might have been ti­tled The Mon­ster Twist, which just ain’t the same, right?

Pickett came back with a nov­elty hit for the 1962 Christmas season, Mon­sters’ Hol­iday. De­spite it’s being a rather pale im­i­ta­tion of the orig­inal, it reached the Top 30.

For some reason, The Mon­ster Mash re­turned to the Top 10 in 1973. De­spite this, most people con­sider this Pickett to be a one-hit-wonder.

While most nov­elty hits go as fast as they come, The Mon­ster Mash re­mains pop­ular al­most sixty years later and is heard all over the country every Hal­loween. Play it today and kids born while Obama was Pres­i­dent (sigh) will rec­og­nize it im­me­di­ately and start singing along with it!

John: Is this the only Hal­loween stan­dard? If so, no hol­iday ever had a better one.

Neal: I sup­pose The Mon­ster Mash may be the only song that can be con­sid­ered a Hal­loween stan­dard. Nothing else comes to mind. If Pickett re­tained the com­po­si­tion and pub­lishing rights to this song, he must get a hel­luva roy­alty check every year.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (2 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯
Lew: ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1962 FourSeasons BigGirlsDontCry 600

No­vember 10–December 8

The Four Sea­sons
Big Girls Don’t Cry
Vee-Jay VJ-465
(5 weeks)

The Four Sea­sons’ second single for Vee-Jay, Big Girls Don’t Cry, was their second chart-topper in 1962. They would score a third #1 record with Walk Like A Man in 1963 be­fore moving to Philips Records. His­tor­i­cally, tiny Vee-Jay Records lost both the Four Sea­sons and an up­start guitar group from Eng­land with the ridicu­lous name of the Bea­tles in the same year.

John: Com­bined with Sherry this cre­ated what I some­times refer to on my blog as “the shock of the new” (a sound not heard be­fore). Un­like the ’50s, this was no longer oc­cur­ring every day, though it was still oc­cur­ring a lot more than it does now.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (5 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: Yes
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew: ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1962 ElvisPresley ReturnToSender PS 600

medium 45 1962 ElvisPresley ReturnToSender 600

De­cember 15

Elvis Presley
Re­turn To Sender
RCA Victor 47-8100
(1 week)

By the end of 1962, Elvis had made eight movies and recorded the sound­tracks for each since he re­turned from the Army in March 1960. They all made a lot of money but had taken their toll: he knew he wasn’t going to be making any se­rious movies and was too bored to fight with anyone about silly, unin­spired movies with silly, unin­spired sound­tracks. Quality con­trol was going down­hill fast, even in his reg­ular studio recording ses­sions.

Re­turn To Sender had been written for him by Win­field Scott and Otis Black­well, the latter had written many hits for many artists, in­cluding Don’t Be Cruel and All Shook Up for Elvis. This record was proof that Elvis was up to the oc­ca­sion any time he was in­spired by a song as good as Re­turn To Sender.

Lew: As a friend of mine likes to point out, this song con­tains a near-anachronism. When the King sings, “No such number, no such zone,” the ref­er­ence is to the two-digit num­bers the US Post Of­fice used to use to sim­plify mail de­livery in big cities. The very next year, those zone num­bers would be ap­pended to the three-digit num­bers of a sec­tional center fa­cility (where mail was sorted) to create the new ZIP Codes.

John: Is this E’s last #1 until In The Ghetto and Sus­pi­cious Minds in 1969? If so, it was a good one to ride out on. One of his mir­a­cles of ease.

Neal: RCA Victor did not seek im­me­diate RIAA cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for an of­fi­cial Gold Record Award for Re­turn To Sender. This was rec­ti­fied on March 27, 1992, when it re­ceived a Gold Record Award for 500,000 sales and a 1xPlatinum Record Award for 1,000,000 sales.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: No
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: 2,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew: ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯ ✯

 

Medium 45 1962 ChubbyChecker LimboRock PS 600 2

Medium 45 1962 ChubbyChecker LimboRock 600

De­cember 22

Chubby Checker
Limbo Rock
Parkway P-849
(1 week)

Limbo Rock was the fourth dance craze record to hit the top in 1962. Un­like the loco-motion, the limbo was a pop­ular dance, one still at­tempted at par­ties and wed­dings to this day. It had orig­i­nally been recorded as an in­stru­mental by the Champs and had gotten to #33 in Au­gust 1962. Lyrics were added and Chubby took it to the top!

In 1970, I saw Chubby in a venue in Kingston, Penn­syl­vania, that nor­mally hosted bands that played The Stripper and the ladies re­ferred to in that song’s title (see June 30, 1962, above). Chubby wasn’t chubby no more: he was lean and sexy, looking like—are you ready?—a black Elvis.

And he did the limbo rock like he was a skinny teenager. Fun show, even without the women taking off what­ever ar­ticle of clothing the Key­stone State al­lowed them to take off.

John: My per­sonal fa­vorite of his ac­tual dances. I was only so-so at the Twist and the Pony, but I could limbo pretty good there for a while. If I hadn’t taken a growth spurt when I was about eight, I coulda’ been a con­tendah!

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: No
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯
Lew:
Neal:

 

Medium 45 1962 Tornados Telstar 600

De­cember 29

The Tor­nados
Tel­star
London 45-9561
(1 week)

Tel­star 1, after which the song was written, was a com­mu­ni­ca­tion satel­lite that was launched on July 10, 1962, and suc­cess­fully re­layed the first tele­vi­sion pic­tures, tele­phone calls, and tele­graph im­ages through space. Al­though no longer func­tional, Tel­star 1 still or­bits the Earth.

In some re­spects, Tel­star can be ar­gued to be the first real “six­ties record”: a record with spe­cial ef­fects named after the first man-made satel­lites or­biting this planet. Tel­star re­mained at #1 for the first two weeks of the new year (Jan­uary 5–January 12, 1963), giving it a total of three weeks at the top.

Tel­star was the first record by a British rock-pop group to top the US charts. The next time this hap­pened would be I Want To Hold Your Hand in 1964. De­spite what you read any­where else, Tel­star and the Tor­na­does have nothing to do with the much-ballyhooed British In­va­sion of 1964.

The Tor­nados never scored again on the US charts, but they had an­other Top 10 hit in the UK with Glo­be­trotter in 1963, which fea­tured a sim­i­larly spacey sound and feel (and a theme that calls to mind Jimmy Clan­ton’s Venus In Blue Jeans).

The group spelled their name “Tor­nados” but London in the US mis­spelled it as “Tor­na­does” on the single (which, of course, is the cor­rect spelling of the plural ver­sion of the word “tor­nado”).

Lew: That eerie science-fictiony (sic) sound was once again the Clavi­o­line, an early syn­the­sizer, which we heard last year on Del Shan­non’s Run­away. The song was written and pro­duced by the leg­endary Joe Meek, who worked with some amazing artists.

John: And the pro­ducer of this record went on to kill someone and then him­self? No way!

Hey, Neal, please tell me you played this one on acid! I as­sume the reason NASA didn’t make it their of­fi­cial an­them was they didn’t want their rockets to crash and burn. Bu­reau­crats are al­ways chicken!

Neal: Hey, John, I never heard Tel­star on acid. We didn’t play too many 45s while trip­ping and no one I knew owned a copy of the album until record col­lec­tors were in­vented sev­eral years later.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (3 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: 5,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✯ ✯ ✯
Lew: ✯ ✯ ✯
Neal: ✯ ✯

 


Medium photo 1962 ChubbyChecker Twist 1500 crop

FEATURED IMAGE: Be­fore the Twist, there was only one dance craze record to make it to the top of the charts during the early stage of the rock & roll era and that was the Stroll in­tro­duced by the Di­a­monds in early 1958. Then came Chubby Checker and the Twist in 1960 fol­lowed by the Pony in 1961, also by Checker. The flood­gates were opened in 1962 when The Twist re­turned to the #1 po­si­tion and was fol­lowed by the Slow Twist, the Mashed Potato, the Loco-motion, the Mon­ster Mash, and the Limbo. In the Year of the Dance Craze, Chubby Checker was the King of the Dance Craze!

Year-end observations

Twenty records reached #1 on the Cash Box Top 100 chart in 1962. Here is the break­down of #1 records based on how many weeks they spent at the top of the chart:

6 weeks: 1
5 weeks: 3
4 weeks: 3
3 weeks: 2
2 weeks: 2
1 week:   9

By the time the first weeks of 1962 rolled around, the twist as a mere dance fad in 1960 had be­come an in­ter­na­tional phe­nom­enon. It was the era of the “jet-setters,” when “people of leisure” (a eu­phemism for rich folk) could take a com­mer­cial jet air­liner and hop from con­ti­nent to con­ti­nent to at­tend par­ties, pre­mieres, events, hap­pen­ings, or af­fairs, turning the planet into their play­ground.

It was hip to be young, or at least act like you were young. Con­se­quently, everyone was doing the twist, in­cluding DC politi­cians, Hol­ly­wood celebri­ties, even Eu­ro­pean roy­alty! Given this, it was only nat­ural that Chubby Check­er’s 18-month-old hit record come out of the moth­balls and make its way to the top of the charts for the second time!

No record had ever re­tired from Top 40 and then come back like a new record. If any­thing, The Twist was a bigger hit the second time around!

Four other dance record reached #1, making 1962 the Year of the Dance Craze Record. If we weren’t twisting, we were mashing pota­toes or we were lim­boing (“How low can you go?”) or just trying to figure out how to do the lo-co-mo-tion.

At the same time, other things of more im­port over the long run were a-brewing: the Beach Boys, the Bea­tles, and Bob Dylan all re­leased their first records for a major record com­pany.

Gold Record Awards

Of the twenty records that reached #1, Joseph Mur­rells lists twenty of them as million-sellers. Yet the artists, their man­age­ment, and their record com­pa­nies thought so little of the RIAA Gold Record Award that only two com­pa­nies sought “of­fi­cial” cer­ti­fi­ca­tion: ABC-Paramount for Ray Charles’s I Can’t Stop Loving You and, five years later, Atco for Mr. Acker Bilk Stranger On The Shore.

RIAA cer­ti­fi­ca­tion rate: 1%

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Where is Don’t Break the Heart that Loves You by Connie Francis. It was 31 just be­fore Johnny Angel.