Beatles WithTheBeatles photo 1500 crop

the #1 hit records on the pop charts 1964

THIS IS THE FIFTH 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 “I Want To Hold Your Louie Louie” on my pub­li­ca­tion Tell It Like It Was on Medium on April 14, 2019. The ar­ticle below is iden­tical to that one.

Please read “In­tro­duc­tion To The #1 Records On The Cash Box Pop Chart Of The 1960s” be­fore 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.

 

Supremes publicity photo bw 900

FEATURED ARTIST: In most years, an artist with three #1 records would walk away with Artist of the Year status, as the Supremes would have in any year of the ’60s ex­cept 1964. That year there was an­other group with seven chart-toppers, the Bea­tles. Had the Fab Four not achieved suc­cess in the States, then they would have been the Biggest Group in the World. To put their suc­cess in per­spec­tive — es­pe­cially if you doubt that they were America’s top vocal group in the ’60s — their thir­teen #1 records on the Cash Box Top 100 are more than the Beach Boys and the Four Sea­sons’ chart-toppers com­bined!

 

1964

Jan­uary
McGraw-Hill pub­lished Mar­shall McLuhan’s book Under­standing Media: The Ex­ten­sions of Man.

Feb­ruary
The Bea­tles ap­peared on The Ed Sul­livan Show, the most in­flu­en­tial pre­sen­ta­tion of live pop music on tele­vi­sion since Elvis Pres­ley’s ini­tial ap­pear­ances on var­ious shows in 1956.

March
Radio Car­o­line began broad­casting rock & roll and pop music from stu­dios set up on board the ship MV Car­o­line, be­coming the United King­dom’s first pi­rate radio sta­tion in the UK.

April
Sidney Poitier be­came the first black actor to win the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role in Lilies of the Field.

May
The first major stu­dent demon­stra­tion against the Vietnam War took place in New York and San Fran­cisco. 

June
Nov­elist Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters boarded their psy­che­del­i­cally hand-painted school bus Fur­ther with a huge supply of LSD and headed east to meet Tim­othy Lear and hope­fully tune in and turn on America.

July
Pres­i­dent Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law, of­fi­cially abol­ishing racial seg­re­ga­tion in the United States.

Au­gust
Con­gress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Res­o­lu­tion, giving Pres­i­dent Johnson wide-ranging power to wage war without a de­c­la­ra­tion of war from Con­gress in Vietnam.

Sep­tember
The Warren Com­mis­sion Re­port was pub­lished stating that Lee Harvey Os­wald acted alone in the as­sas­si­na­tion of Pres­i­dent Kennedy in 1963.

Oc­tober
More than 3,000 stu­dent ac­tivists at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­fornia, Berkeley, blocked a po­lice car from taking a Con­gress of Racial Equality vol­un­teer who had been ar­rested for not showing the po­lice his iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, laying the foun­da­tion for the Berkeley Free Speech Move­ment.

No­vember
Lyndon Johnson beat Barry Gold­water to re­main Pres­i­dent of the United States.

De­cember
Co­me­dian Lenny Bruce was sen­tenced to prison for ob­scenity.

With that as a back­drop, let’s look at the #1 records of 1964 …

 


Medium 45 1964 BobbyVinton ThereIveSaidItAgain PS 600

Medium 45 1964 BobbyVinton ThereIveSaidItAgain 600

Jan­uary 4

Bobby Vinton
There! I’ve Said It Again
Epic 5-9638
(1 week)

The first week of 1964 and the #1 record was Bobby Vin­ton’s cloying There! I’ve Said It Again, con­tin­uing the dom­i­nance of easy-listening from the pre­vious year.

John: Poor Bobby. His­tory des­ig­nated him to be the calm be­fore the storm, lulling the Cosmos to sleep. Ad­mit­tedly, he was very good at it.

Neal: Bobby Vin­ton’s voice and style rub me the wrong way, so I may sound un­duly harsh when com­menting on his records.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (4 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 1964 Kingsmen LouieLouie Wand 2 600

Jan­uary 11–January 18

The Kingsmen
Louie Louie
Wand 143
(2 weeks)

The Kingsmen’s Louie Louie was/is the quin­tes­sen­tial garage rock record. And not just garage, but garage rock sang by Jack Ely and recorded in such a (cheap) manner that the lyrics were in­de­ci­pher­able.

Everyone from the dumbest kid in class to local disc-jockeys was hearing some­thing dirty in the song. Even though no one could say what the dirty lyrics were, the record was banned on some sta­tions. Be­lieve it or not, the FBI re­ceived enough let­ters of com­plaint from par­ents that they launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the record to figure out what was going on!

And still, it made it to the top of the charts!

Lew: I re­member the local radio sta­tion (KLIF-AM) printed the al­leged lyrics to Louie Louie on the back of their Top Forty survey, and we all scoffed, knowing that the “real” lyrics were to­tally filthy. Years later, lis­tening to the song on a de­cent hi-fi, I re­al­ized the KLIF lyrics were right, and singer Jack Ely was just slur­ring the words so badly that teenaged wishful thinking could run riot. Per Wikipedia, one of the rea­sons for the slur­ring was the fact that Ely’s teeth were in braces at the ses­sion.

Neal: It’s like some kind of un­written un­der­standing that every rock critic, record re­viewer, and his­to­rian in the world pay fealty to this record and claim to like it. I thought I’d be the first to not.

John: Louie Louie is hardly my fa­vorite garage band record, but it is the most epic and the music jus­ti­fies the brouhaha that en­sued. Nothing moves the world like a cul­tural ar­ti­fact that con­vinces 12-year-old boys there’s a dirty joke hidden in it some­where. This is true, even if they don’t all grow up to be rock critics.

Lew: Having been in a garage band in the ’60s, I am of course sick to death of this record, but I can’t deny its charms. Like the other un­avoid­able garage band classic of the era, Gloria, it con­jures a party at­mos­phere through its sloppy abandon. It rocks. Also, any­body could play ei­ther song pretty much the first time they picked up a guitar.

Neal: Here are the lyrics as Richard Berry wrote them and re­leased them as Louie Louie in 1957 (and the punc­tu­a­tion is mine). The singer seems to be talking to a man named Louie (or Louie-Louie), telling him of missing a girl while away at sea:

Louie Louie, me gotta go.
Louie Louie, me gotta go.
A fine little girl, she waits for me.
Me catch the ship across the sea.
I sail the ship all alone,
I never think I’ll make it home.

Louie Louie, me gotta go.
Louie Louie, me gotta go.
Three nights and days, me sailed the sea.
Me think of girl con­stantly.
On the ship, I dream she there.
I smell the rose in her hair.

Louie Louie, me gotta go.
Louie Louie, me gotta go.
Me see Ja­maica moon above.
It won’t be long, me see me love.
Me take her in my arms and then
I tell her I’ll never leave again.

Louie Louie, me gotta go.
Louie Louie, me gotta go.
I said me gotta go . . .

A close listen to the lyrics as Jack Ely of the Kingsmen sang them on Louie Louie in 1963 re­veal that they are es­sen­tially iden­tical to those Berry sung six years ear­lier. There are a few dif­fer­ences in Ely’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion:

• Ely sings “Loo-eye Loo-eye” in­stead of “Loo-wee Loo-wee.”
• Ely sings “we gotta go” in the cho­ruses in­stead of “me gotta go.”
• Ely in­ter­jects “Oh no” and “Oh baby” a few times.

Oth­er­wise, it’s the same song about missing a girl while away at sea.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: No
• 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 1964 Beatles IWantToHoldYourHand PS WC 600

Medium 45 1964 Beatles IWantToHoldYourHand 600 1

Jan­uary 25–March 14

The Bea­tles
I Want To Hold Your Hand
Capitol 5112
(8 weeks)

Then came the Bea­tles. Their first #1 record in the US was is­sued by Capitol Records. The com­pany who didn’t think we would buy records from an Eng­lish group with the funny name and fun­nier hair and so passed on their ear­lier re­leases, which were picked up by Vee-Jay Records.

Ac­cording to Joseph Mur­rells, I Want To Hold Your Hand sold 1,500,000 in the UK—a huge number there—and then sold 5,000,000 more in the US, a number of Presleyean pro­por­tions!

The in­va­sion was afoot.

Lew: 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, Feb­ruary 9, 1964. Ar­guably the most sig­nif­i­cant hour in music his­tory. How many kids watching The Ed Sul­livan Show that night had their lives changed for­ever? Not me. I was 13 years old, living in the small town of Wadi Halfa, Sudan, where my fa­ther was doing sal­vage arche­ology in ad­vance of the Aswan Dam.

If we’d even had a TV set, there wouldn’t have been any­thing to watch. We did, how­ever, have the BBC Over­seas Ser­vice (as it was then known), where we’d heard the Bea­tles a few times be­fore they ex­ploded in the US.

I was strictly Squaresville at the time, my music pref­er­ences in­clined to­ward movie themes and easy lis­tening, and the Bea­tles didn’t do much for me then. That would change once my hor­mones fully kicked in.

Once you’ve said what you have to say about the Bea­tles, there’s not a lot left to say about 1964.

Neal: Well, Lew, thank the Lord for the night­time we don’t all agree or there’d be nothing left for anyone to read from this point on.

John: Amen to that! I was three when Beat­le­mania hit, but I ex­pe­ri­enced a highly per­son­al­ized mini-version of it in the spring of 1978 when, in lieu of my se­nior prom, I took my mother to a movie. We saw Robert Zemeckis’s I Wanna Hold Your Hand, which is still the best thing he’s ever done (and no­body ever made my mother laugh harder than Wendy Jo Sperber). I bought the “Red” album the next week. It’s still my go-to Bea­tles album.

Neal: I didn’t go to my se­nior prom ei­ther, even though I was going steady with the pret­tiest girl in the area and could have shown her off to every­body. I hated high school that much. For a couple of decades after, I thought I was cool for not going. Now I wish Janet (who re­mains my friend) and I had gone.

Oh, well, there’s al­ways the fu­ture.

John: And while we’re cel­e­brating the cul­tural and his­tor­ical sig­nif­i­cance of it all, I’d just like to men­tion that I Want To Hold Your Hand is a fab­u­lous record, ca­pable of rep­re­senting all that was great about the early Bea­tles, who are still my fa­vorite Bea­tles.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (7 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (Feb­ruary 3, 1964)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: 11,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: Yes
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

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

 

Medium 45 1964 Beatles SheLovesYou PS.600 1

Medium 45 1964 Beatles SheLovesYou 600

March 21–March 28

The Bea­tles
She Loves You
Swan 4152
(2 weeks)

The Bea­tles’ second #1 record in the US was is­sued by tiny Swan Records, who took a chance on the Eng­lish group with the funny name and even fun­nier hair after Vee-Jay gave up on them be­cause they couldn’t sell Please Please Me or From Me to You to a US au­di­ence in 1963.

If the Bea­tles didn’t have a backlog of ma­te­rial (their pre­vious sin­gles and album meant six­teen un­heard and there­fore “new” tracks for the US market) and the Fab Four only in­vaded with I Want To Hold Your Hand and She Loves You, they would have con­quered us just as easily. Or is it that we would have sur­ren­dered just as will­ingly?

John: I think having a two-year backlog of first-rate ma­te­rial no one had heard was a huge ad­van­tage. It makes Elvis’s ac­com­plish­ment in 1956 look all the more ex­tra­or­di­nary be­cause he had to come up with every­thing in the mo­ment. Of course, he didn’t have to write his own songs, so maybe it bal­ances out in the end.

In any case, the com­bi­na­tion of I Want To Hold Your Hand and She Loves You was like a left jab fol­lowed by a round­house right. You can hear why the Old Guard never quite got back up off the canvas.

Neal: For years it was as­sumed that Steve Sholes needed the five Sun tracks on Elvis’s first long-player be­cause he didn’t have enough new ma­te­rial. We know now that Elvis had al­ready recorded thir­teen tracks for RCA Victor, enough for two sin­gles and an album. He would cut thirty-three more sides along with four tracks for a sound­track album in 1956 alone.

John: In our own time, that sort of pro­duc­tivity is typ­i­cally spread over seven or eight years and called a ca­reer.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (2 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: 5,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

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

 

Medium 45 1964 Beatles TwistAndShout 600

April 4

The Bea­tles
Twist And Shout
Tollie 9001
(1 week)

The Bea­tles’ third #1 record in the US was is­sued on Tollie Records, a sub­sidiary of Vee-Jay Records, who couldn’t break the group in the States in 1963 but sold mil­lions of their records in ’64.

Hell, the Fab Four might have con­quered America just with this one! And they just took the Isley Brothers’ orig­inal ver­sion, dropped the back­ground horns, and upped the in­ten­sity a wee bit. If you prefer rock & roll to rock, this may be the Bea­tles’ best side ever!

Twist And Shout was not is­sued as a single in the UK but was the title track to their first EP album in 1963, TWIST AND SHOUT. It topped the EP charts and stayed there for months, selling more than 600,000 copies.

John: Like Louie, Louie a per­fect ex­ample of the ap­proach white rockers would in­creas­ingly take to­wards R&B as the decade pro­gressed: Play it louder.

Neal: Tollie did not seek im­me­diate RIAA cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for an of­fi­cial Gold Record Award for Twist And Shout. This was rec­ti­fied on July 24, 2104, when Capitol Records had it cer­ti­fied for 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: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

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

 

Medium 45 1964 Beatles CantBuyMeLove PS EC 600

Medium 45 1964 Beatles CantBuyMeLove 600

April 11–May 9

The Bea­tles
Can’t Buy Me Love
Capitol 5150
(5 weeks)

The Bea­tles’ first “new” single of 1964 was rel­a­tively con­trolled (tame?) com­pared to what was al­ready all over the radio and every turntable in the country. Still, Can’t Buy Me Love was ir­re­sistible and re­mains many a fan’s fa­vorite Bea­tles record.

John: I like the way they turn “Cant­buyme” into one word and “lu-huve” into two. That kind of en­ergy and in­no­va­tion (one-upping the Beach Boys in the Chuck Berry-plus-harmony de­part­ment) was why they had such a deep cat­alog after two years and why there were so many hidden gems even be­yond what reached the charts, as Neal men­tions. I have the same feel­ings about There’s A Place and It Won’t Be Long.

Neal: While the “yeahs” of She Loves You and the “ahhhs” of Twist And Shout are in­delibly marked on this pe­riod, there were two lesser Bea­tles hits that are time travel records for me: Paul counting off “1, 2, 3, 4!” on I Saw Her Standing There and Ringo talking about Boys. These are, for me, as much a core part of Beat­le­mania as any of the massive-selling, chart-topping hits.

Lew: Just want to second John’s shoutout to It Won’t Be Long. What a great song.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (5 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (March 31, 1964)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: 6,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

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

 

Medium 45 1964 LouisArmstrong HelloDolly PS1 600

Medium 45 1964 LouisArmstrong HelloDolly 600

May 16

Louis Arm­strong
Hello, Dolly!
(1 week)

In what was one of the un­like­liest mo­ments in Top 40 his­tory, Amer­i­ca’s greatest mu­si­cian, Louis Arm­strong had his first #1 pop hit with Hello, Dolly!

John: When­ever some old fogey men­tions that Arm­strong was the first to “knock the Bea­tles off the top spot” or some­thing along those lines—inevitably as a means of sug­gesting the older styles were in­her­ently superior—I like to re­mind them that the last act to knock the Bea­tles out of the top spot were the Jackson 5, who did it twice (dis­placing both Let It Be and The Long And Winding Road in 1970), with records that have a lot more going for them than this one, which is en­tirely re­liant on Armstrong’s abun­dant charm, not at all on his once-revolutionary mu­si­cian­ship.

Neal: For readers who only know Arm­strong through his “Pops” Arm­strong per­sona, in his youth he was ar­guably the single greatest cre­ator in the his­tory of Amer­ican music. He is cred­ited as being the first great jazz soloist.

Sim­i­larly, he is cred­ited with in­tro­ducing “scat­ting” to a mass au­di­ence. In other words, he helped in­vent both jazz music and jazz singing!

Like Elvis, where would we be without him? If there hadn’t been a Louis Arm­strong, we might have needed dozens of tal­ented, cre­ative mu­si­cians to ac­com­plish what Louis did by him­self.

Lew: I love Louis, but I hate this song. To me, this is the ul­ti­mate Broadway schlock, full of cutesy in­ternal rhyme and corn­ball or­ches­tral moves. Louis was an in­ter­esting singer, but he was a bril­liant, in­no­v­a­tive, tech­ni­cally ac­com­plished, and soulful trum­peter, and thanks to crap like this he ended up as more of a per­son­ality than a mu­si­cian. I’m glad he fi­nally got some good pay­checks, but as far as I’m con­cerned he got them for the wrong thing.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (1 week)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: 2,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes (Early In­flu­ence)
• Grammy Award: Best Vocal Per­for­mance – Male 1964

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

 

Medium 45 1964 Beatles LoveMeDo PS2 600

Medium 45 1964 Beatles LoveMeDo 600

May 23

The Bea­tles
Love Me Do
Tollie 9008
(1 week)

Such was the sweep of Beat­le­mania that their first single, a rather pleasant if some­what plod­ding ditty that had been a Top 20 hit in the UK al­most two years ear­lier, made it to the top­per­most of the pop­per­most, just like Johnny told Paul, George, and Ringo it would!

John: I’d say it’s just proof they had it from the be­gin­ning.

Neal: John at­trib­uted the in­spi­ra­tion for his har­monica part on this record to Del­bert Mc­Clin­ton’s har­monica part on Bruce Chan­nel’s Hey! Baby (see March 10, 1962, entry).

Vee-Jay did not seek im­me­diate RIAA cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for an of­fi­cial Gold Record Award for Love Me Do. This was rec­ti­fied on July 24, 2104, when Capitol Records had it cer­ti­fied for a Gold Record Award for 500,000 sales and a 1xPlatinum Record Award for 1,000,000 sales.

• 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: Yes

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

 

Medium 45 1964 MaryWells MyGuy 600 1

May 30

Mary Wells
My Guy
Mo­town M-1056
(1 week)

And after giving John Paul George and Ringo five number ones, record buyers said, “Hey! Let’s throw a bone to that little record com­pany in De­troit and give them their first chart-topper.”

Mary Wells was Mo­town’s first real star, placing a dozen sides in the R&B Top 10, four of which made the Top 10 on the pop charts. This was be­fore most of us ever heard of the Supremes! She en­gaged Berry Gordy in a dis­pute over roy­al­ties … un­suc­cess­fully.

John: And then Wells promptly left Mo­town, one of history’s great mistakes—on both sides … and our loss.

Neal: Yup. Wells left Mo­town in 1964 and signed with 20th-Century Fox, where she had one big R&B hit. Then she moved over to Atco, where she again scored one big R&B hit. After that, she moved around a bit but never found her groove again.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (2 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 1964 DixieCups ChapelOfLove 600

June 6–June 20

The Dixie Cups
Chapel Of Love
Red Bird RB-10-001
(3 weeks)

More proof that the girl-group sound was alive and well during the British In­va­sion.

John: The girl-group sound never re­ally went away. The white boy club that con­trols rock crit­i­cism just kept giving it other names (even “girl group” was ap­plied retroac­tively). Sort of like the R&B charts in gen­eral, which, at least in Bill­board, have been re­named more times than the country and pop charts com­bined.

Rosanna Ar­quette and her friends breaking into this song in Baby It’s You is one of the greatest mo­ments in Amer­ican film.

Neal: Just heard this record played in the back­ground as we watched the final episode of the final season of Boston Legal, one of our fa­vorite tele­vi­sion se­ries.

• 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 1964 PeterGordon AWorldWithoutLove 600

June 27

Peter & Gordon
A World Without Love
Capitol 5175
(1 week)

Paul Mc­Cartney wrote this song when he was a teenager and dating Jane Asher. In 1964, he gave the song to Jane’s brother, Peter Asher. He recorded it with this partner Gordon Waller. Sub­se­quently, A World Without Love be­came the only song written by one of the Bea­tles to reach #1 in the US by an artist other than the Bea­tles. (This hap­pened sev­eral times in the UK.)

John: I think this means the Bea­tles were clever enough to keep their best ma­te­rial out of other people’s hands until they had de­fined it. That’s in line with Paul’s old com­ment about his and John’s thinking: “Let’s write an­other swim­ming pool.” But this is a won­derful record all the same.

• 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: No

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

 

Medium 45 1964 BeachBoys IGetAround PS EC 600

Medium 45 1964 BeachBoys IGetAround 600

July 4

The Beach Boys
I Get Around
Capitol 5174
(1 week)

The Beach Boys had four Top 10 hits be­fore I Get Around be­came their first chart-topper. The lyrics summed up the prob­lems of being a young guy at the time: “I’m get­ting bugged dri­ving up and down the same old strip, I gotta find a new place where the kids are hip!”

If you focus on the lyrics and the singing, this can sound like a rather sim­plistic record. In fact, its struc­ture and pro­duc­tion were among the most ad­vanced and daring in rock & roll up to that point.

John: Per­fect in every way. I re­member hearing this on the radio when I was cruising through Dothan, Al­abama, in my first car, a ’71 Mav­erick, thinking, “Yeah, this is me.” Of course, I was “cruising” to­wards a tire store to re­place a bald one with a re­tread, but it was my car dammit. There’s no freedom like being able to drive your­self!

On what seems like a to­tally un­re­lated note, Brian Wilson has said that he fired his dad as their man­ager (or maybe kicked him out of the studio for the first time—the memory hazes) while they were recording this.

Neal: The first time I vis­ited the used record stores in Sacra­mento in 1980, one shop had an ex­tra­or­di­nary 45 on the wall be­hind the cash reg­ister. Side 1 had the label for and played the Beach Boys’ I Get Around (Capitol 5174), while Side 2 had the label for and played the Bea­tles’ I Feel Fine (Capitol 5327).

The asking price was an un­be­liev­able $500—“unbelievable” as in I could have bought sev­eral “butcher covers” for that price at that time! Need­less to say, I walked out of the store laughing at that price. Need­less to say, now I wish I had bought the record.

Fi­nally, fifty years later and I can rewrite the lyrics and sum up the prob­lems of being an old guy today: “I’m get­ting bugged dri­ving my golf cart up and down the same old strip, I gotta find a new place where the old farts used to be hip!”

Lew: I Get Around is a good song, but the real bril­liance for me is on the flip-side. I’m going to in­dulge my­self and quote from my novel Glimpses, where the pro­tag­o­nist re­ally hears Don’t Worry Baby for the first time:

“Brian sings lead, which he didn’t do that often in the early days, and the longing in his voice is so raw and pow­erful I can’t be­lieve I never heard it be­fore. In the sto­ry­line of the song, it’s his girl­friend who tells him not to worry, that every­thing would be okay. Listen to the song and you can hear just how badly Brian wanted to be told those words by some­body. A girl­friend would do, but I know what he re­ally wanted. He wanted to hear it from his fa­ther. He never would.”

One of the things you can never know is how much the flip-side con­tributes to the sales of the record as a whole. Don’t Worry Baby got a lot of air­play in Texas and I think it was a major factor in taking the single to the top.

John: Yes, to all Lew says about Don’t Worry Baby (though I love I Get Around just as much). The Beach Boys com­peted with Elvis and the Bea­tles as Kings of the B-side, and this is one of those real con­tenders for the greatest double-sided 45 ever re­leased, as well as per­haps the first “con­cept single.”

Neal: Capitol did not seek im­me­diate RIAA cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for an of­fi­cial Gold Record Award for I Get Around. This was rec­ti­fied on Feb­ruary 22, 1982, when it re­ceived a Gold 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 1964 FourSeasons RagDoll PS2 600

Medium 45 1964 FourSeasons RagDoll 600

July 11–July 18

The Four Sea­sons
Rag Doll
Philips 40211
(2 weeks)

Rag Doll was the Four Sea­sons’ fourth and final chart-topper for Vee-Jay Records. After this, their hits would for Philips Records. This was not in the mold of their ear­lier hits, being a stately recording that fea­tured a sub­dued Frankie Valli vocal.

John: And we re­ally should tell the tale: The Sea­sons’ prin­cipal writer, Bob Gaudio, flush with the group’s suc­cess, was dri­ving through one of the New York bor­oughs when one of the ubiq­ui­tous street urchins, a girl who looked no more than five or six, came up to clean his driver’s side mirror for a dime (or quarter). The smallest thing Gaudio had on him was a five (or ten or twenty) dollar bill.

He de­cided he couldn’t give her nothing, so he gave her the bill. Seeing her stunned ex­pres­sion in the rearview mirror as he drove away, he thought, “She looks just like a rag doll.” It tapped a lot of things, not least his class-consciousness, which was al­ready a fea­ture of his and the Four Sea­sons’ style.

Their ex­cel­lent Dawn (Go Away) im­plored that the girl “think what your fu­ture would be with a poor boy like me.” It had spent three weeks at #3 ear­lier in the year, kept from the top spot by I Want To Hold Your Hand and She Loves You.

Years later, when Jersey Boys book writer Mar­shall Brickman told Gaudio he had protested the Vietnam War, Gaudio said, “Yeah, well while you’re writing this show just re­member my au­di­ence were the ones fighting it.”

Neal: Turning that around, we can argue that if Brick­man’s au­di­ence hadn’t burned their draft cards, protested and demon­strated, gotten busted, gone to prison, and moved to Canada, Gau­dio’s au­di­ence might still be get­ting drafted and still be fighting in Vietnam.

John: The draft, alas, was the only thing that went away. The wars go on.

Neal: The only way to end the end­less wars may be to bring back the draft.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (2 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (Au­gust 24, 1964)
• 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 1964 Beatles AHardDaysNight PS EC 600

Medium 45 1964 Beatles AHardDaysNight 600

July 25–August 8

The Bea­tles
A Hard Day’s Night
Capitol 5222
(3 weeks)

A Hard Day’s Night was the record that in­tro­duced the world to two things: the best rock & roll movie ever made (which is still true), and the chiming sound of the Rick­en­backer 360-12, an elec­tric 12-string guitar George Har­rison used on sev­eral tracks in the movie. Without both, we wouldn’t have the Byrds and that would make the world a less won­drous place than it is.

John: The record I would play if some­body (Pete Town­shend maybe) pulled out that old saw that the Bea­tles weren’t much of a rock & roll band.

Neal: Should one of us men­tion that A Hard Day’s Night was the movie-going event of the year, ar­guably of the decade?

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (2 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (Au­gust 25, 1964)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes
• Grammy Award: Best Per­for­mance by a Vocal Group 1964

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

 

Medium 45 1964 DeanMartin EverybodyLovesSomebody 600

Au­gust 15

Dean Martin
Every­body Loves Some­body
Reprise 0281
(1 week)

In the ’50s, Dean Martin had scored four Top 10 hits for Capitol Records but by 1958 he was through as a hit-maker. Oddly, this was just when his ca­reer in Hol­ly­wood was taking off.

He signed with his buddy Frank Sina­tra’s Reprise Records and scored two more Top 10 hits in 1964, Every­body Loves Some­body and The Door Is Still Open To My Heart. While he still sold a lot of records, he never came close to top­ping the Cash Box chart again.

Every­body Loves Some­body was the first single on Reprise Records to make it to #1 on Cash Box.

Lew: I love Dean Mar­t­in’s singing be­cause it’s so ef­fort­less. He sounds like he couldn’t hit a bum note if his next drink de­pended on it. He was the same way as an actor. He never made a great movie, like fellow Rat Packer Sinatra did (From Here to Eter­nity), but he never gave the im­pres­sion that that was his am­bi­tion.

John: Uh, oh. I’ve run into some­body who doesn’t think Rio Bravo and Some Came Run­ning were as great as From Here To Eter­nity. I may have to re-think this re­la­tion­ship! I agree about Dean’s singing in general—maximum cool—though I’ve never been able to hear this one as better than pretty good.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (1 week)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (Au­gust 19, 1964)
• 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 1964 Supremes WhereDidOurLoveGo PS 600

Medium 45 1964 Supremes WhereDidOurLoveGo 600

Au­gust 22–August 29

The Supremes
Where Did Our Love Go
Mo­town M-1060
(2 weeks)

Here is where Where Did Our Love Go stands in the his­tory of Flo­rence Bal­lard, Diana Ross, and Mary Wilson:

• It was the Supremes’ ninth single for Mo­town Records.
• It was the Supremes’ fifth single to reach the Top 100.
• It was the Supremes’ second single to reach the Top 40.
• It was the Supremes’ first single to reach #1.

And it would not be the last for any of the above.

Lew: Based on an ir­re­sistible chord pro­gres­sion, with an ir­re­sistible chug­ging rhythm from the Funk Brothers rhythm sec­tion (James Jamerson on bass and Benny Ben­jamin on drums), this is one of the all-time greats from the Holland-Dozier-Holland song­writing and pro­duc­tion team. This is a song that had to be faded out be­cause there was just no way to stop it.

John: They were so great no­body dared to call them a girl group, even though that’s ex­actly what they were.

• 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 1964 Animals HouseOfTheRisingSun PS 600

Medium 45 1964 Animals HouseOfTheRisingSun 600

Sep­tember 5–September 19

The An­i­mals
The House Of The Rising Sun
MGM K-13264
(3 weeks)

The House Of The Rising Sun had been around for a while and was a fa­vorite of the folk-singers in Green­wich Vil­lage, which is where Bob Dylan picked it up and recorded it for his first album in 1962. Very few people bought that album, as very few bought any al­bums by ob­scure folksingers, which is what Dylan was at the time.

Most of us rock and pop music fans heard it for the first time when AM radio sta­tions started playing the An­i­mals’ elec­tric rock ver­sion in late summer ’64 during the on­going British Invasion—and what a great way to be in­tro­duced to this great song!

Lew: The An­i­mals sup­pos­edly got the arrange­ment of this tra­di­tional folk number from Bob Dy­lan’s first album. Dylan, in turn, stole the arrange­ment from fellow Green­wich Vil­lage folkie Dave Van Ronk. When Dylan heard the An­i­mals ver­sion, he was al­legedly in­spired to go elec­tric him­self. Dave Marsh, among others, called this the first folk-rock hit.

John: I’d buy this as the first folk-rock hit if there was any­thing folk about it. (The song, yes, but not the record.) In Eric Burdon’s throat and Alan Price’s fin­gers, it’s a howling blues and not more than three or four ac­tual blues singers and/or bands ever as­sem­bled could have matched it.

Neal: I never heard this as folk-rock of any kind, un­less we con­sider blues as folk. Which it is, but of course, that’s not what folk-rock meant.

• 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: Yes

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

 

Medium 45 1964 RoyOrbison PrettyWoman 600

Sep­tember 26–October 10

Roy Or­bison
Oh, Pretty Woman
Mon­u­ment 45-851
(3 weeks)

So ol’ Roy stops singing what he’s best at and starts singing that which has never been his suit and he comes up with a great record that sells as many copies as his pre­vious two chart-toppers com­bined! Ain’t life grand?

John: Ol’ Roy was all of 28, but he al­ready sounded like he had lived a thou­sand years, no­ticed every­thing, and for­gotten nothing. And he sounded that way no matter what tempo he sang in. He wouldn’t see the Top 10 again until 1989 when You Got It climbed the charts in the wake of his sudden death at the age of 52. His heart gave out, some­thing which, in the ab­stract, I wouldn’t have thought pos­sible.

Neal: Ol’ Roy had a tough road to travel. His life would make a much more in­ter­esting (and sad) movie than Hank Williams or Johnny Cash. Why hasn’t anyone in Hol­ly­wood re­al­ized that?

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (3 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (Oc­tober 30, 1964)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: 4,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: Yes
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

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

 

Medium 45 1964 ManfredMann DooWahDiddy 600

Oc­tober 17–October 24

Man­fred Mann
Do Wah Diddy Diddy
Ascot AS-2157
(2 weeks)

If Paul Jones hadn’t been such a great bloody singer, this might have been a silly bloody nov­elty record.

John: Well, and Eng­lish. In 1964 that helped. It should be said though, that, in ad­di­tion to having a great voice, Jones was mirac­u­lously at ease with Amer­ican street patter. He sounds like he could be strolling the streets of Newark or Mem­phis. This while Mick Jagger was still singing Black and Hill­billy Eng­lish pho­net­i­cally.

Lew: Oooh, snap! Good one, John.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (2 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: 3,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

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

 

Medium 45 1964 GaleGarnett WellSingInTheSunshine 600

Oc­tober 31

Gale Gar­nett
We’ll Sing In The Sun­shine
RCA Victor 47-8388
(1 week)

Proof that the com­mer­cial take on folk music as­so­ci­ated with the Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul & Mary was alive and well during the British In­va­sion.

Lew: New Zealander Gale Gar­nett wrote this kind-of folk/kind-of country blend that turned the “ram­blin’ man” cliché on its ear. Here was a woman set­ting the terms of the re­la­tion­ship, saying she wasn’t in­ter­ested in falling in love, was happy to co­habit, but at the end of one year, she was going to hit the road.

Pretty heady stuff for 1964.

I just lis­tened to this again a few days ago and re­mem­bered what an ef­fect it had on me as a pu­bes­cent teen. It made the idea of a strong, in­de­pen­dent woman re­ally sexy. I’m won­dering if it maybe gave a hefty sub­con­scious push to the nascent wom­en’s move­ment.

John: One of three 45s my sister left be­hind when my brother-in-law came home from Vietnam and she moved out for the last time. The others were a Little Richard that was too scratched to play and Ode To Billie Joe. I didn’t re­alize until a few years ago how much country it had in it—or how good it was. My sister had a knack for picking husky, mysterious-sounding fe­male voices, I guess.

Neal: While tweaking this ar­ticle, I had to type the title of this record a second time and made a typo, drop­ping one letter. It com­pletely changed the meaning of this song: “We’ll Sin in the Sun­shine.” And no doubt there’ll be a little sin­ning in the moon­light, too.

• 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
• Grammy Award: Best Folk Recording 1964

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

 

Medium 45 1964 FrankWilson LastKiss 600

No­vember 7

J. Frank Wilson & the Cav­a­liers
Last Kiss
Josie 45-923
(1 week)

Proof that the teen tragedy record was alive and well during the British In­va­sion.

Lew: This and Leader Of The Pack were pretty much the last hurrah of the teen tragedy song (a genre that in­cluded Teen Angel in 1960), which was made passé by the life-force of the British In­va­sion.

Last Kiss is a par­tic­u­larly corny entry in the sweep­stakes, with all the ref­er­ences to God and Heaven. But still, when Wilson’s voice goes high for “Hold me dar­ling for a little while,” I reach for the Kleenex.

It should be noted that this is a cover of the Wayne Cochran orig­inal from 1963 and that a Pearl Jam ver­sion (recorded at a 1998 sound­check) also got heavy air­play in its day.

John: Strange that the death disc began to fade as “the Six­ties” got darker. (I don’t like to call them teen tragedy. To a teenager, a hang­nail is a tragedy, a pimple is a Holo­caust.)

Neal: First, I agree that term teen tragedy doesn’t make it, but death disc sounds like a weapon from a Star Wars movie. Second, I had lots and lots of holo­causts even be­fore I was a teenager! Ask any kid what it’s like to be the first one in class with a face full of zits.

John: Well, you may be right, but you gotta get the word Death in there some­where. Tragedy just doesn’t cover it. Teen Death Ballad?

• 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 1964 Supremes BabyLove PS 600

Medium 45 1964 Supremes BabyLove 600

No­vember 14–November 21

The Supremes
Baby Love
Mo­town M-1066
(2 weeks)

The Supremes’ second #1 record is where Berry Gordy started selling Diana Ross’s sex-kittenish charm, as though he al­ready foresaw a fu­ture for her as a solo star.

Lew: A near-perfect clone of Where Did Our Love Go?

John: I doubt anyone was better at hiding sales than Berry Gordy. That said, Where Did Our Love Go? up­ended the usual Mo­town ex­pec­ta­tions. The for­mula was that, once an act had a big hit, the com­pany would keep re­peating the for­mula until it stopped hit­ting. The Supremes never re­quired more than tweaking be­cause they never re­ally stopped hit­ting.

Hence, they get a lot of “but their records all sound alike” com­ments from people who don’t rec­og­nize Diana Ross was a ge­nius. She sold every tweak. Enough of them that no one would mis­take their last few #1 records for their first few.

Me, I loved every minute of it!

Neal: Mo­town did not seek im­me­diate RIAA cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for an of­fi­cial Gold Record Award for Baby Love. This was rec­ti­fied on Sep­tember 8, 1997, when it re­ceived a Gold Record Award for 500,000 sales.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (4 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 1964 ShangriLas LeaderOfThePack 600

No­vember 28

The Shangri-Las
Leader Of The Pack
Red Bird RB-10-014
(1 week)

Fur­ther proof that the girl-group sound was alive and well during the British In­va­sion.

John: Ex­cept this girl-group record turned the fun­da­mental ethos on its head. A thou­sand times be­fore, going all the way back to Maybe and Will You Still Love Me To­morrow the singer had pledged her love or her doubts to the boy, to the dream of the boy, to the memory of the boy.

Now she has to pledge it to his corpse be­cause her dad made her re­ject him! Only Mary Weiss could have sold this. I imagine only her voice could have in­spired any­body to write it in the first place.

Any­body who thinks it’s camp, or that it ever could have worked as camp, isn’t lis­tening.

• 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: No

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

 

Medium 45 1964 Zombies ShesNotThere 600

De­cember 5

The Zom­bies
She’s Not There
Parrot 45-9695
(1 week)

With this, their first single, the Zom­bies topped the Cash Box Top 100. A strong second single, Tell Her No, reached the Top 10 in 1965. Then they didn’t reach the Top 40 again until 1969 when Time Of The Season was their second #1 record. But by then, the Zom­bies no longer ex­isted nor were they in­ter­ested in re­forming.

Lew: For my money, lead singer Colin Blun­stone has the best voice in pop music, breathy, pas­sionate, wide-ranging. His 1972 solo album En­nis­more, pro­duced by fellow Zom­bies Rod Ar­gent and Chris White, is a mas­ter­piece. The Zom­bies oeuvre is none too shabby ei­ther, as evinced by this, their first hit.

The song bears a very slight re­sem­blance to No One Told Me by John Lee Hooker, but it’s nothing like the thefts of the Yard­birds or Led Zep­pelin.

John: I’m not quite as big a fan of Colin’s singing as Lew, and I’m puz­zled as to why the Zom­bies’ ad­mit­tedly fine music has built such a huge cult rep­u­ta­tion at the ex­pense of, say, Man­fred Mann (who were at least as great, al­beit in sev­eral ren­di­tions). But this is cer­tainly a moody, evoca­tive record that—in keeping with the greatest of all rock and roll traditions—sounded like nothing else around it.

• 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 1964 LorneGreene Ringo 600

De­cember 12

Lorne Greene
Ringo
RCA Victor 47-8444
(1 week)

Proof that nov­elty records were alive and well during the British In­va­sion.

Lew: Spoken-word piece by Lorne Greene that suc­cess­fully cashed in on his role as Ben Cartwright on the long-running western se­ries Bo­nanza. The song­writers were prob­ably thinking of his­tor­ical outlaw Johnny Ringo when they came up with the title, though the plot of the song has nothing to do with the ac­tual gun­fighter. The song was written be­fore Ringo Starr was a house­hold name in the US, but prob­ably got a boost be­cause of the name as­so­ci­a­tion.

• 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 1964 Beatles IFeelFine PS EC 600

Medium 45 1964 Beatles IFeelFine 600

De­cember 19

The Bea­tles
I Feel Fine
Capitol 5327
(1 week)

After one week at #1, I Feel Fine was bumped out of the top spot by the Supremes’ Come See About Me (below) but then re­turned to #1 on Jan­uary 2, 1965, for four more weeks as the na­tion’s best-selling record for a total of five weeks at #1.

This was the first use of feed­back on a rock record. I Feel Fine starts with a single, per­cus­sive feed­back note pro­duced by Mc­Cartney plucking the A-string on his bass, and Lennon’s guitar (which was leaning against Mc­Cart­ney’s bass amp) picking up feed­back.

Al­though it sounded very much like an elec­tric guitar, Lennon ac­tu­ally played the riff on an acoustic Gibson model J-160E em­ploying the gui­tar’s on­board pickup. Later, Lennon was very proud of this sonic ex­per­i­men­ta­tion. In one of his last in­ter­views, he said: “I defy any­body to find a record—unless it’s some old blues record in 1922—that uses feed­back that way.”

John: I have no tech­nical ex­per­tise in ei­ther music or en­gi­neering so I’m not qual­i­fied to offer an opinion on whether this is the first use of “feed­back,” which in laymen’s terms can get con­fused with other forms of dis­tor­tion (such as that uti­lized by the Rock & Roll Trio’s Paul Burlison in the ’50s).

What I can say is this is a great record and Lennon’s su­perbly con­trolled vocal, plus the mounting in­ten­sity of the group’s rudi­men­tary har­monies, is what makes the feed­back some­thing more than a nov­elty.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (3 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (De­cember 31, 1964)
• 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 1964 Supremes ComeSeeAboutMe 600

De­cember 26

The Supremes
Come See About Me
Mo­town M-1068
(1 week)

Yet an­other chart-topper for Mo­town and Amer­i­ca’s fa­vorite fe­male vocal group. And more sex-kittenish vo­cals from Ms. Ross.

John: I never heard this level of des­per­a­tion from a sex kitten.

Neal: Even kit­tens get des­perate.

John: Cats, yes. Sex kit­tens, no.

Neal: John’s re­mark above led me to look up sex kitten, out of which came “What Is A Sex Kitten And Where Have They All Gone?

• 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: ✮ ✮ ✮

The Bea­tles’ ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ was the biggest hit of 1964 on the Cash Box Top 100. Find the other big hits of the year here! Click To Tweet

Beatles WithTheBeatles photo 1000

FEATURED ARTIST: The photo at the top of this page is one of the most iconic in pop music his­tory. It was taken by Robert Freeman on Au­gust 22, 1963, in the Palace Court Hotel in Bournemouth, Eng­land. Freeman ex­plained: “They had to fit in the square format of the cover, so rather than have them all in a line, I put Ringo in the bottom right corner, since he was the last to join the group. He was also the shortest.”

It might be fair to say that the “Year of the Bea­tles” started in 1964 and lasted into 1970 when the group ac­ri­mo­niously ended their mag­ical part­ner­ship. While all four mem­bers went on to suc­cessful solo ca­reers, nothing any one of them did came even re­motely close to cap­turing the magic of the gestalt that was the Bea­tles. Of course, that’s just my opinion.

There have been sev­eral movies about the Bea­tles, none of which came even re­motely close to cap­turing the magic of the gestalt that was the Bea­tles. But there is one that comes close to cap­turing as­pects of the brouhaha and pan­de­mo­nium sur­rounding the Bea­tles: Robert Zemeckis’s 1978 debut I Want to Hold Your Hand.

John Ross takes a loving look at the movie in “I Wanna Hold Your Hand Comes Back Around,” where de de­scribes it as part phys­ical comedy, part valen­tine to a by-gone age, part his­tor­ical drama re­lated to known facts but not ul­ti­mately bound by them, part loving satire, and part homage to good old Amer­ican en­ergy and in­ge­nuity.

Year-end observations

Twenty-seven records reached #1 on the Cash Box Top 100 chart in 1964. Here is the break­down of #1 records based on how many weeks they spent at the top of the chart:

8 weeks: 1
7 weeks: 0
6 weeks: 0
5 weeks: 1
4 weeks: 0
3 weeks: 4
2 weeks: 6
1 week: 15

And then came the Bea­tles, fol­lowed by a vast horde of British bands with un­ruly hair and strange taste in ap­parel. If you weren’t alive then and old enough to no­tice, American“taste” was so con­ser­v­a­tive that any­thing re­motely dif­ferent or truly stylish looked down­right weird if not ac­tu­ally kinkily per­verse. Hell, mil­lions of guys wore dickies just like Howard Wolowitz, usu­ally with socks to match!

The British In­va­sion (look it up) of 1964 undid 190 years of in­de­pen­dence. First came I Want To Hold Your Hand fol­lowed by six more chart-toppers, giving the Bea­tles a com­bined stay of twenty-one weeks at #1 on the Top 100!

Other Brit beat groups that placed sides at the top of the Cash Box survey in­cluded Peter & Gordon, the An­i­mals, Man­fred Mann, and the Zom­bies. Many others reached the Top 10 many times.

Gold Record Awards

Of the twenty-seven records that reached #1, Joseph Mur­rells lists twenty-one of them as million-sellers. The artists, their man­age­ment, and their record com­pa­nies were perking up to the im­por­tance of the RIAA Gold Record Award and four com­pa­nies sought cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for seven sin­gles. This was a huge in­crease over the pre­vious four years. Things would change now that the Bea­tles were re­ceiving Gold Records on a reg­ular basis. Hence­forth, more com­pa­nies would be seeking of­fi­cial cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for more records.

RIAA cer­ti­fi­ca­tion rate: 3%

Postscript

In a better world both You Re­ally Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night would have been #1 records both here and in the UK. Of course, in a better world, Hillary Clinton would be Pres­i­dent of the United States.

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Great stuff guys! I’m from Canada so I will have to wait until 1970 until a Cana­dian grow has a Number 1 in the US.