Overnight Sensation - The 60s
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1964-65

"That Girl Belongs To Yesterday," Gene Pitney
January, 1964 - #49

Whereas Del Shannon was the first artist to chart in the U.S. with a Beatles-written song, Pitney was the first to reach the charts with a song from Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. Worth hearing, simply to hear Pitney's dramatic style on a Stones song.

"How Blue Can You Get"
March, 1964 - #97
"Rock Me Baby"
May, 1964 - #34

Two B.B. King classics; the world's greatest ambassador of the blues has never had a Top 10 pop single (the closest he ever got was with "The Thrill Is Gone," which was released at the end of '69 and peaked at #15). The first of these two tunes was a frequent show opener; on stage, of course, the lyrics might be a bit more direct than they were on this single. As for "Rock Me Baby," it has been recorded by the likes of Otis Redding and Jimi Hendrix, just to name a couple, and another one of B.B.'s most-requested songs to perform on stage.

 

"Needles And Pins"
March, 1964 - #13
"When You Walk In The Room"
October, 1964 - #35

(Courtesy Castle/CMX)

The Searchers were a well-seasoned group of musicians by the time they began hitting the U.S. charts; "Needles And Pins" (written by Sonny Bono and Jack Nitzsche) was their first chart entry on this side of the pond. A few months later came another well-chosen cover, Jackie DeShannon's "When You Walk In The Room." The Searchers are often, and quite wrongly, omitted when the best of the "British Invasion" is discussed.

"Hippy Hippy Shake," Swinging Blue Jeans
March, 1964 - #24

Another Liverpool band that found a home on the U.S. charts in '64; this was the band's first, and biggest, entry on the American charts. Some people seemed to have forgotten the tune until the film Cocktail came along, but it's a great rave-up for all occasions.

"Yesterday's Gone," Chad & Jeremy
May, 1964 - #21

Chad Stuart and Jeremy Clyde were mainly known as a somewhat folkier version of Peter & Gordon; this song, which is certainly folkish (despite the horn section), was the pair's first U.S. chart single, prior to the #7 hit "A Summer Song."

 

"The Mexican Shuffle"
June, 1964 - #85
"Tijuana Taxi"
December, 1965 - #38
"Spanish Flea"
March, 1966 - #27

(Courtesy A&M Records)

Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass was another one of the great instrumental acts of the era that has been forgotten by radio programmers with the passage of time. The band charted some two dozen times in the 60s, hitting the Top 10 with "The Lonely Bull" and their version of "A Taste Of Honey."
"The Mexican Shuffle" became better known, perhaps, for its use in a popular TV commercial for Teabury Cinnament Gum, in which people would do a hop-scotch dance due to the gum's zingy taste. "Tijuana Taxi" is a personal favorite, for reasons that I can't fully disclose here, but it has to do with a home video. It was eclipsed on the charts by its A side, the theme from the Anthony Quinn film Zorba The Greek.
"Spanish Flea" was surpassed on the charts by its A side, "What Now My Love," although the song is still fondly remembered today as the original theme to ABC-TV's The Dating Game.

"You're My World," Cilla Black
July, 1964 - #26

Cilla Black, nee Priscilla White, was another discovery of Beatles' manager Brian Epstein and producer Sir George Martin. She was working at Liverpool's legendary Cavern Club at the time. "You're My World" was the first, and biggest, of her three U.S. chart singles, although the second, "It's For You," was written by Lennon and McCartney. Still, it didn't get past #79, stateside. Those same two songs peaked at #1 and #6, respectively, in the U.K., where she reached the Top 10 eleven times. She is now, and has been for many years, one of the U.K.'s top television presenters.

"It's All Over Now," Rolling Stones
July, 1964 - #26

The third U.S. chart entry for the Rolling Stones (it hit #1 in the U.K.), this one being a tune from Bobby and Scott Womack (the Valentinos). It's full of that great early Stones guitar sound (Brian Jones' rhythm guitar clean and jangly, Keith Richards' lead bold and frantic). The band hit a hot streak after this, reaching the U.S. Top 10 ten times between the fall of '64 and early '67.

"In The Misty Moonlight," Jerry Wallace
July, 1964 - #19

Nice, polished performance from one of the lesser-remembered countrypolitan singers of the era. The tune was later recorded by Dean Martin, among others. Among Wallace's later hits was "If You Leave Me Tonight, I'll Cry," featured in an episode of Rod Serling's Night Gallery ("The Tune In Dan's Cafe").

"Maybelline," Johnny Rivers
August, 1964 - #12

Rivers first charted, and reached the Top 10, with a Chuck Berry tune ("Memphis"), so why not try again? He almost repeated the feat with this one, despite the fact that it features one of the worst harmonica solos ever recorded. Rivers' 1964-65 live albums, from which both the aforementioned were taken, along with later hits like "Midnight Special," "Seventh Son" and "Secret Agent Man" (the latter with that irresistibly cool guitar riff) are some of the best "audience participation" records ever; great fun.

"Haunted House," Gene Simmons
August, 1964 - #11

A single released on Hi Records out of Memphis that almost reached the Top 10. "Jumpin' Gene," as he was known in those days, was born in Tupelo, Mississippi (as was Elvis, of course) and later worked in radio. This tune, about an encounter with aliens and other "haints," was his first of two chart singles. The song has been covered a few times through the years, including a version by Roy Buchanan and the Snakestretchers in the early 70s.

"Tobacco Road," Nashville Teens
September, 1964 - #14

This marked the first charted version of one of John D. Loudermilk's most-recorded songs. And, yes, the band had Nashville in its name, but the boys were really British. Drummer Barry Jenkins later joined the Animals.

"Scratchy," Travis Wammack
November, 1964 - #80

Wammack became best known in the 60s and 70s as a session musician in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, but he actually charted five times as a solo act. This was the first, a wacky instrumental take on "Comin' Home Baby," a 1962 Mel Torme pop hit.

 

"Laugh, Laugh," Beau Brummels
January, 1965 - #15

(Courtesy Rhino Records)

This San Francisco band charted six times and reached the Top 10 once (with "Just A Little"). Thanks to some fine harmonies and arrangements, the band made its own mark in the folk-rock genre, beginning with "Laugh, Laugh."

"It's Alright," Adam Faith with the Roulettes
January, 1965 - #31

Faith, nee Terence Nelhams, only reached the U.S. charts twice, with this uptempo shouter (a B side in the U.K.) being the first. He later went on to work as a producer (Roger Daltrey's first solo album), an actor (several U.K. film and stage credits) and as a manager (Leo Sayer).

 

"Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood"
February, 1965 - #15
"We Gotta Get Out Of This Place"
August, 1965 - #13
"It's My Life"
November, 1965 - #23
"Don't Bring Me Down"
May, 1966 - #12

(Courtesy ABKCO Records)

The classic incarnation of the Animals hit the U.S. Top 10 only once, with the #1 single "The House Of The Rising Sun" in 1964. The four tunes listed here are quintessential Animals, with a defiant desperation in Eric Burdon's voice and solid instrumentation. "Don't Let Me ..." reached #4 in the U.K., "It's My Life" reached #7, "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" was a #3 U.K. hit and "Don't Bring Me Down" peaked in the U.K. at # 6. Actually, original organist Alan Price (the band's original name was the Alan Price Combo) was gone by late '65 (although he does play on the tunes listed here from that year), and drummer John Steel and bassist Byron "Chas" Chandler both split in '66.

"New York's A Lonely Town," The Trade Winds
February, 1965 - #32

Vinnie Poncia and Pete Anders charted twice as the Trade Winds, with this song being the first of those two entries. Both later established careers as writers and producers.

"She's About A Mover," Sir Douglas Quintet
April, 1965 - #13

This one should be in the garage band hall of fame, as anyone who had learned the E-A-B7 chord progression back in those days played it (with or without a Farfisa or Vox Continental organ). And it still sounds good today.

"Shakin' All Over," The Guess Who
May, 1965 - #22

Legend has it that for this, the band's first U.S. single release, Scepter Records had a contest to give the band a new name. So, on the single, the artist was just listed as "Guess Who." Well, some radio people didn't know about the contest, or a lot of the listeners didn't care. At any rate, Chad Allen & the Expressions had their new name. This isn't one of the band's biggest hits, certainly not in the U.S., but it should be.

"I Want Candy"
June, 1965 - #11
"Night Time"
January, 1966 - #30

The Strangeloves is another act whose tunes are set for garage band immortality. Simple, easy-to-learn lyrics and a primal beat were the band's calling cards. The group was actually a trio of producers and writers (Richard Gotteher, Jerry Goldstein and Bob Feldman) responsible for the Angels' "My Boyfriend's Back." They also produced the McCoys' classic "Hang On Sloopy." "Night Time" sounded great when the J. Geils Band covered it 14 years later, and it would still sound great today. Gotteher later became a partner in Sire Records, and produced early albums for Blondie and the Go-Gos.

"Yakety Axe," Chet Atkins
July, 1965 - #98

Mentioned previously in these pages, this was Chet's version of Boots Randolph's "Yakety Sax," supposedly inspired by the Coasters' "Yakety Yak." Got it? There will be a quiz later.

"I'm Down," The Beatles
August, 1965 - #101

"I'm Down" was, unfortunately, released as the B side of the megahit "Help!" Therefore, the song never had a chance of making it on its own, which it would have done. The Fab Four was known for often closing its shows with Little Richard tunes in those days; with "I'm Down," they had a Richard-type shouter of their (or Paul McCartney's) very own, and it became the "closer."

"Houston," Dean Martin
August, 1965 - #21

It has been said that pal Frank Sinatra didn't care much for Dino's forays into country-styled material. What did Dean care; he liked it, and it worked. The addition of Lee Hazelwood as arranger/writer/producer on some of these things didn't hurt, either. Lee's considerable talents insured that tunes like this one still had a good "kick" to them. This one certainly does.

 

"It Ain't Me Babe"
August, 1965 - #8
"Let Me Be"
October, 1965 - #29
"Can I Get To Know You Better"
October, 1966 - #89

(Courtesy Rhino Records)

The Turtles; ah, yes, what a fine band. Formed as the Nightriders, then the Crossfires, the Turtles first charted with their own adaptation of Bob Dylan's "It Ain't Me Babe" (which first charted for Johnny Cash in '64), following it with another folk-rock gem with Howard Kaylan's wonderfully rough-edged vocals, "Let Me Be."
"Can I Get To Know You Better" is a bit of a transitional single, from the folkish sounds of the early records to the pure pop for now people of "Happy Together," "She's My Girl" and the wonderful "Elenore," among others.

"Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl," The Barbarians
September, 1965 - #55

This Massachusetts band had its biggest hit with a sort of "anti-hip" diatribe against the lengthening of men's hair in those days. Most people probably took it as a joke and not a rallying cry, and, for all I know, the band's hook-handed drummer/singer Moulty (known to his mum as Victor Moulton) did the same. It's still a fun record, snotty vocals and all.

"Steppin' Out"
September, 1965 - #46
"Just Like Me"
December, 1965 - #11

Paul Revere & the Raiders charted for the first time back in '61 with its adaptation of Rachmaninoff's "Prelude In C-Sharp Minor," titled "Like, Long Hair." "You've heard of Rachmaninoff?" Revere has been known to ask. "Well, this is RockPAULinoff."
A few years later, with dance steps fully rehearsed, Revolutionary War-style costumes fully tightened and three-cornered hats in place, and a hit TV show to boot, the Raiders were back, and began a nine-year run on the charts with "Steppin' Out," followed by "Just Like Me," which just missed the Top 10.

"Make The World Go Away," Eddy Arnold
October, 1965 - #6

This sophisticated pop arrangement is a long way from the days of the "Tennessee Plowboy," but Eddy Arnold became one of country music's alltime best-selling artists. Guided by producer Chet Atkins, Arnold made the transition toward what was then called Middle Of the Road (MOR) material in the early 60s, and this was his biggest hit of the decade.

 

"I'm A Man"
October, 1965 - #17
"Shapes Of Things"
March, 1966 - #11

(Courtesy Rhino Records)

A pair of fine releases from one of the most legendary of the British bands, the Yardbirds. The '66 garage-band classic, Count Five's Top 10 hit "Psychotic Reaction," seems to have been inspired by "I'm A Man," which itself was a cover of a Bo Diddley tune from '55. The song wasn't a single in the U.K. The 'birds began their own forays into psychedelia with "Shapes Of Things," a #3 U.K. hit, in '66.

 

"Look Through Any Window"
November, 1965 - #32
"I Can't Let Go"
March, 1966 - #42
"On A Carousel"
March, 1967 - #11

(Courtesy Platinum Disc)

Anyone who loves great harmonies, creative arrangements and solid musicianship should have a huge stack of Hollies records in his or her collection. Yes, they are that good, and here are three fine examples of it. These three songs peaked at #4, #2 and #4, respectively, in the U.K. A personal favorite of mine may be "I Can't Let Go," with a Rickenbacker guitar that would almost fry the AM radio speaker right out of your dashboard, and some great counterpoint vocals. A wonderful record, as most of the Hollies' singles were.

 

"Lies"
December, 1965 - #20
"One Track Mind"
March, 1966 - #46

(Courtesy Collectables Records)

Two great tunes from the Knickerbockers, a band so well-versed in Merseybeat that some people thought at the time that this was actually the Fab Four under an alias, trying to pull a fast one on Capitol Records or something. The band was actually from New Jersey, and looked more like preppies than British mods. Still, these records really are a pretty amazing approximation of the Beatles' sound, Lennonesque lead vocal, harmonies and all.

"The Little Black Egg," The Nightcrawlers
December, 1965 - #135
January, 1967 - #85

The only chart entry for this Florida band took its time in doing so. Upon its initial release in '65, it never got past the "Bubbled Under" section of the trade magazines. After over a year of steadily increasing airplay around the country, it finally made the national charts, for all of a month. Another candidate for the garage band hall of fame.

 

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