Overnight Sensation - The 60s
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1962-63

"She's Got You," Patsy Cline
January, 1962 - #14

A #1 country hit for Patsy, and one of her best performances, showing great control, a nice feat to have emotion and control within the same vocal performance. A trait of a truly great singer, and Patsy was indeed that.

"Love Letters," Ketty Lester
February, 1962 - #5

Lester, born Revoyda Frierson in Arkansas, may best be known these days for her appearances in TV shows, such as the soap opera Rituals, In The Heat Of The Night and Little House On The Prairie, among others. This is her highest-charting single, originally featured in a 1945 film of the same title. Dick Haymes had the original hit. Elvis loved the song so much, he recorded it twice, in the mid-60s, and then again in the early 70s.

"Surfin'"
February, 1962 - #75
"In My Room"
November, 1962 - #23
"Don't Worry Baby"
May, 1964 - #24

Three Beach Boys not-quite-big-hits that should have been. "Surfin'" was first released in '61 on a small label, X, and then again on Candix. The story goes that the band was still the Pendletons at the time, and someone with the label decided to list the record as by the "Beach Boys."
"In My Room" is one of the best examples of the band's classic, Four Freshman-inspired harmony, yet it was released as the flip side of "Be True To Your School," which hit #6. "Don't Worry Baby" is another beautiful ballad performances, but didn't get the airplay of its flip, "I Get Around," which topped the charts.

"You Better Move On"
February, 1962 - #24
"Anna (Go To Him)" October, 1962 - #68

Arthur Alexander was an Alabama native who first recorded in 1960. He holds the distinction of being one of the few writers covered by Bob Dylan, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. "Anna" was one of the highlights of the Beatles' first album (even with the squeak from one of Ringo's pedals, but it's great that it was left in). After a few years of non-chart activity, Alexander reached #45 in 1975 with "Every Day I Have To Cry Some," but was never able to return to the charts. He died of a heart attack in 1993.

"The Jam - Part 1," Bobby Gregg and His Friends
March, 1962 - #29

Gregg (real name Robert Grego) was a jazz drummer who was a member of Steve Gibson's Red Caps before going solo. The most notable thing about this record is that it is the first charted appearance of Roy Buchanan, one of the more distinctive, wicked Telecaster slingers of all time. It would be almost another decade before Buchanan was recording on his own, making his Tele speak in tongues. A wonderful guitarist.

"Old Rivers," Walter Brennan
April, 1962 - #5

One of the most beloved - and best - character actors of all time, Brennan was a three-time Oscar winner who began his film career way back in 1924. At the time of this hit, he was starring as "Grandpa Amos McCoy" in the series The Real McCoys. He was also a favorite subject for impressionists such as Rich Little. This is a story song, a sweet country ballad, and you believe every single word the man says; very dramatic. One of the era's greatest tear-jerkers.

"Any Day Now (My Wild Beautiful Bird)," Chuck Jackson
April, 1962 - #23

This was the biggest of the nearly two dozen chart singles for the former member of the Dell-Vikings. A great song, covered by Elvis in '69, and it was a country-pop hit for Ronnie Milsap in the early 80s.

"Don't Play That Song (You Lied)," Ben E. King
April, 1962 - #11

I guess most listeners remember Aretha Franklin's later version of this, but here is another fine performance, presenting the message from a male point of view.

"Boom Boom," John Lee Hooker
May, 1962 - #60

Believe it or not, this is the only pop singles chart entry for the man who practically invented the blues boogie. Without Hooker, Canned Heat, ZZ Top and others wouldn't have existed, or they might have been playing waltzes or something.

"Lipstick Traces (On A Cigarette)," Benny Spellman
May, 1962 - #80

Spellman was a studio singer who had worked with Huey "Piano" Smith and others, in New Orleans, and he sang the bass line on Ernie K-Doe's classic "Mother-In-Law." This is the first chart appearance of one of the great R&B tunes that should be known by everyone, but isn't.

"I Need Your Loving," Don Gardner and Dee Dee Ford
June, 1962 - #20

Lyrically, there ain't much too it, but the proof is in the puddin', puddin'. It's the groove that makes this so much fun. Wo-wo-wo-WO-wo-wo ...

"Route 66 Theme," Nelson Riddle
June, 1962 - #30

Cool theme from a cool TV show. The series, for those who haven't seen it, was about a couple of guys (played by Martin Milner and George Maharis, who was replaced by Glenn Corbett) who were crossing the country in a '62 Corvette. The theme captured that breezy innocense of cruisin' the open road, searching for one's self somewhere along that long, winding highway. Riddle, of course, was a great arranger/bandleader who had worked with the Dorsey Brothers, and recorded many classics with Frank Sinatra and Nat "King" Cole, among others.

 

"The Ballad Of Paladin," Duane Eddy
July, 1962 - #33

(Courtesy Rhino Records)

Another TV theme, this one from Have Gun - Will Travel, which starred the 6'5" Richard Boone as Paladin, an Old West version of a bounty hunter/soldier of fortune-type character. The theme was a perfect match for Eddy's twangin' guitar style. Eddy always worked with some of the best musicians around, and he has gotten a bad rap from some for his style being simple. Some of these critics apparently have never learned that simple is often better; it was accessible, fun to listen to, and Eddy inspired quite a few guitarists to pick up the instrument and play. One of my alltime favorites from Eddy, whose records often featured a guy doing "Rebel yells" in the background, was an album cut called "Tiger Love And Turnip Greens," from circa 1961. Don't ask me why, but it's just so infectious, and I dig it. But I'm that way.

"I Left My Heart In San Francisco," Tony Bennett
August, 1962 - #19

Tony's signature song, and it isn't even his biggest hit single. It's a song that fans of all ages, of all musical persuasions, enjoy because it's such a wonderful performance.

 

"Just Tell Her Jim Said Hello"
August, 1962 - #55
"One Broken Heart For Sale"
February, 1963 - #11
"It Hurts Me"
February, 1964 - #29

(Courtesy RCA/BMG)

The main reason Elvis Presley didn't have more Top 10 hits than he did is probably due in part to his having so many double-sided hits. In essense, he may well been competing against himself. All three of these tunes were B sides; "Just Tell Her ...," a wonderfully controlled vocal performance, was the flip of the #5 hit "She's Not You." "One Broken Heart For Sale," from the film It Happened At The World's Fair, just missed the Top 10, while "It Hurts Me," co-written by Charlie Daniels, if memory serves, was one of the King's best ballad performances of the era. It, however, was overshadowed on the charts by its flip, the theme from Elvis' film Kissin' Cousins.

"Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow," the Rivingtons
August, 1962 - #48

The song inspired a sequel in '63, "Mama-Oom-Mow-Mow." and, with the followup single, "The Bird's The Word," this inspired the immortal "Surfin' Bird," by the Trashmen, and that's when the lawyers got busy.

"Silver Threads And Golden Needles," the Springfields
August, 1962 - #20

Yep, the chart debut of Dusty Springfield, who was a member of this folk trio with her brother Tim. This one livened up many a hootenanny or campfire singalong back then. It is still fun to listen to.

"I'm Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail"
October, 1962 - #76
"Gone, Gone, Gone"
October, 1964 - #31

Two Everly Brothers singles; the latter, an uptempo tune from the Warner Brothers era, the former, an old folk song, leftover from their time with Cadence Records in the 50s and one of many highlights from the classic album Songs Our Daddy Taught Us.

"Telstar," the Tornadoes
November, 1962 - #1

Here's one to figure out, a surf band from England. Oh, well. At any rate, this ode to the satellite was a smash instrumental hit, and still sounds good today.

"Cast Your Fate To The Wind," Vince Guaraldi Trio
December, 1962 - #22

Later hit the chart for Sounds Orchestral as well, but this tune is the only single chart appearance for the great jazz pianist who is now best remembered as the composer and performer of the music from A Charlie Brown Christmas, and the other Peanuts TV specials.

"Little Town Flirt"
December, 1962 - #12
"From Me To You"
June, 1963 - #77

Del Shannon's recording of "From Me To You" is the answer to the trivia question, "name the first song written by the Beatles to chart in the U.S." Yep, Del was the man who did it. And it's a good version, too.

 

"The 2,000 Pound Bee, Part 2"
December, 1962 - #91
"Walk-Don't Run '64"
July, 1964 - #8

(Courtesy EMI)

Two singles from the Ventures, the most successful rock instrumental act of all. Their first hit, 1960's "Walk-Don't Run," was written by jazz guitarist Johnny Smith, and the band learned it from a Chet Atkins album. They couldn't play it like Chet, so they came up with their own version, which, obviously, worked.
With lotsa extra reverb, they recut the song, the "surf" version, in '64, and it was a hit all over again. As for "The 2,000 Pound Bee," there WAS a part one as well. The two songs were written separately, but then given the same title. They're both pretty cool, and the single was highly-sought after by Ventures collectors.

"Send Me Some Lovin'," January, 1963 - #13
"Little Red Rooster," October, 1963 - #11
"Good News," January, 1964 - #11

Hey, you can't have too much Sam Cooke music, in my opinion. Here are three more Cooke singles that just missed the Top 10, each displaying a different style, from soulful to blues to joyously uptempo, in that order.

"Hitch Hike," January, 1963 - #30
"Can I Get A Witness," October, 1963 - #22

And speaking of great soul singers, Marvin Gaye has to be near the top of anyone's list. Like Cooke, he had a smooth, polished voice (to which he could add a frantic edge) that was well-suited to a variety of material. "Hitch Hike" is his second charted single, a driving midtempo tune, while "Can I Get A Witness" is more full-out and guaranteed to get those feet movin'. By the way, the Supremes are supplying the backup vocals here, too.

"I'm A Woman," Peggy Lee
January, 1963 - #54

Now seen as a feminist anthem by some (particularly after Maria Muldaur's cover version in the 70s), Miss Peggy Lee didn't need anybody telling her what to do, including the feminists.

"Yakety Sax," Boots Randolph
February, 1963 - #35

Homer Louis Randolph III is one of the most-recorded saxophone players of all time, having played on hundreds (if not thousands) of sessions in Nashville. This tune, Boots' biggest solo hit, was supposedly inspired by the sax solo King Curtis played in the Coasters' 1957 hit "Yakety Yak." Actually, Boots first recorded "Yakety Sax" a year later. Chet Atkins later recorded the same tune as "Yakety Axe."

"Shoes," The Rooftop Singers
March, 1963 - N/C

The Rooftop Singers - Erik Darling, Bill Svanoe and Lynne Taylor - were seen by some as a poor man's Peter, Paul & Mary. They shot to the top of the charts in early '63 with "Walk Right In," a song that dates back to Gus Cannon's Jug Stompers circa 1929. This song is the flip side of the followup single, "Tom Cat," which peaked at #20. "Shoes" has all the stomp of "Walk Right In" and then some; a joyous record that should have been heard more. Good luck on trying to find it, as it has never been issued on CD, to my knowledge. One of those great "hidden gems." 

"(Today I Met) The Boy I'm Gonna Marry," Darlene Love
April, 1963 - #39

Darlene was the lead vocalist in the Blossoms, a studio group that backed up numerous acts, and was part of the regular cast of that great ABC TV series, Shindig!. She was brought in by Phil Spector to punch up some singles by Bob B. Soxx & The Blue Jeans and the Crystals ("He's A Rebel" being a great example), and she is still a fantastic singer.

 

"These Arms Of Mine"
May, 1963 - #85
"I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)"
May, 1965 - #21

(Courtesy Rhino Records)

Legends? Yes, Otis Redding will do nicely, thank you. "These Arms" is his first chart single; both of these are classic Otis Redding ballads, and would sound great on the radio today.

"Abilene," George Hamilton IV
June, 1963 - #15

Some fans still remember GHIV for "A Rose And A Baby Ruth" from back in '56, or "The Teen Commandments" with Paul Anka and Johnny Nash, a couple of years later. By the early 60s, however, Hamilton was in Nashville, applying his considerable taste to recording some fine country music. This was not only #1 on the country charts for a month, it's one of the best country singles of the era. Smooth, well-played and infectious.

 

"Memphis," June, 1963 - #5
"Wham!," August, 1963 - #24

(Courtesy ACE/UK)

The fact that Stevie Ray Vaughan said Lonnie Mack's "Wham!" was the first record he ever owned is testimony enough to get that one. Mack, born Lonnie McIntosh in Indiana, was a fine country/blues singer/guitarist who recorded for Fraternity in the early 60s. His hot instrumental version of Chuck Berry's "Memphis, Tennessee" was his first chart single. Elvis' version of the same song seemed to be somewhat based on Mack's version. "Wham!" is a Mack original, and Stevie Ray did well to start off with it.
Mack retired from music for some 15 years; it was actually Stevie Ray who helped coax him out of exile and co-produced his excellent 1985 album for Alligator, Strike Like Lightning. The album features Vaughan on a new version of "Wham!" (coyly titled "Double Whammy"), the gritty "If You Have To Know" and the hilarious "Oreo Cookie Blues." This one should be in everyone's collection.

"Green, Green," The New Christy Minstrels
June, 1963 - #14

The New Christys helped launch the careers of Kim Carnes, Kenny Rogers and most of his First Edition, and Barry McGuire, the latter of whom jovially growls his way through the tune, the group's highest-charted entry.

"The Lonely Surfer," Jack Nitzsche
August, 1963 - #39

Nitzsche was a jack (no pun intended) of all trades; a writer, arranger, producer and keyboardist. He served as arranger on many Phil Spector productions, and cowrote "Needles And Pins," among his other credits. This is another of the many fine instrumental tunes from the period.

 

"My Babe"
September, 1963 - #75
"Try To Find Another Man"/"I Just Want To Make Love To You"
May, 1964 - N/C
"Justine"
July, 1965 - #85

(Courtesy Rhino Records)

Four wonderful examples of "blue-eyed soul," an area in which the Righteous Brothers specialized. All of these were during the "Brothers'" days at Moonglow, before they signed with Phil Spector and Philles Records. Bill and Bobby (that's Medley and Hatfield, respectively) wrote "My Babe" and "Try To Find ..."; Elvis performed the former onstage in '69, the same song was a highlight of Foghat's 1975 Fool For The City album, and Burton Cummings did a great cover of the latter in '77. "Justine" is one of those rave-ups that the guys rarely did after leaving Moonglow, except on occasion during their appearances on Shindig!.

"Long Tall Texan," Murray Kellum
November, 1963 - #51

Everyone likes to get a little goofy once in a while, and this is a good one with which to do so. Performed by the Beach Boys in concert in those days as well.

 

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