THE YEAR OF THE BEATLES
This was the absolute year of the Beatles in the USA. I don’t think anyone who experienced that year as a teenager will ever forget the unique magic of the Beatles conquering America. Imagine, for 3 months they held the 1 & 2 spot in the singles charts:
From February 22, 1964 until April 25, 1964 the Beatles held the top two positions, with various singles. On some weeks their domination extended past the top two. On April 4, 1964, the Beatles occupied the entire top five.
1.”Can’t Buy Me Love”
2. “Twist and Shout”
3. “She Loves You”
4. “I Want to Hold Your Hand”
5. “Please Please Me”
“She Loves You” had been released on the Swan label in Sep of ’63, but it wasn’t until Capitol released “I Want to Hold Your Hand” around Christmas of ’63 that the Beatles took off. It went to #1 and the flip side, “I Saw Her Standing There” also shot up to #14.
Of course the Swan label re-released “She Loves You” in January of ’64 and it went to #1. Then the Vee Jay label mined another single from the non-Capitol release of ’63 and “Please Please Me” went to #3 and the flip-side “From Me to You” reached #41.
Finally in May other artists began to come back. Lous Armstrong topped the charts with “Hello Dolly”
Then Mary Wells broke through for two weeks with the great single “My Guy”
But the Beatles hit the top spot again during the last week in May, this time an oldie, “Love Me Do” their first UK single recorded in 1962.
In June the R&B Dixie Cups had a monster hit that stayed at #1 for 3 weeks: “Chapel of Love”
Then the Beatles stuck again, but this time a song written by Paul and performed by his girlfriend’s brother.
Peter and Gordon were a British Invasion-era performing duo, formed by Peter Asher and Gordon Waller, that rocketed to fame in 1964 with “A World Without Love”. Peter Asher’s sister (the actress Jane Asher) was dating Paul McCartney (of The Beatles), and so Peter and Gordon recorded several songs written by McCartney, with or without John Lennon. Those hits included “Nobody I Know”, “I Don’t Want To See You Again” and “Woman”. The writing credit for “Woman” is given to “Bernard Webb,” which was in fact an alias for Paul McCartney. McCartney used the pseudonym to see if he could have a hit song even without his famous name attached to it. Wikipedia
Then the Beach Boys came through with a big summer hit: “I Get Around”
“I Get Around” is a song written by Brian Wilson and his cousin Mike Love. The song features Brian Wilson and Mike Love on lead vocals and is noteworthy for its back to front structure – it starts with a chorus and has two short verses. It was a single which was released by The Beach Boys in 1964 through Capitol Records. The B-side of the single was “Don’t Worry Baby”, which itself charted at number twenty-four in the United States. It was The Beach Boys’ first number-one hit song in the United States. The single also charted at number seven in the United Kingdom, which was the band’s first United Kingdom top ten hit single. The song’s first album release was on All Summer Long in 1964.
Musically the flip side, “Don’t Worry Baby” was far superior, but visually check out the difference to the Beatles and the Stones in 1964.
This was followed by a big hit from the Four Seasons, Rag Doll. That was quickly followed by another Beatles single that sold 2,000,000 copies. It was the title song of their globally successful first film, “A Hard Days Night” released in July, ’64.
America first saw the single of “A Hard Day’s Night” on 13 July 1964, featuring “I Should Have Known Better” on the B-side, and released by Capitol Records. Capitol had been in a quandary about cashing in on the success of the movie A Hard Day’s Night, as United Artists held the publishing rights for the soundtrack (thus owning the rights to release the album of the same title). However, there was nothing preventing Capitol from releasing the songs in other forms, leading to six out of the seven songs from the movie’s soundtrack coming out on singles.
The American single began its 13-week chart run on five days after release, and on August 1 started a two-week long run at the top, setting a new record—nobody before had ever held the number one position on both the album and singles charts in the United Kingdom and the United States at the same time. The Beatles were the first to do so, and continued to be the only ones who had done this until 1970 when Simon and Garfunkel achieved the same feat with their album Bridge Over Troubled Water and its title track. “A Hard Day’s Night” went on to sell one million copies in America within just over five weeks. Wikipedia
Then Dean Martin had a hit with “Everybody Loves Somebody” and he was followed by Supremes with “Baby Love”
Then a major new force emerged on the music scene, the Animals with “House of the Rising Sun” stayed at the top spot for most of September:
The Animals’ rendition of the song is recognized as one of the classic outputs of the British Invasion. Writer Lester Bangs labelled it “a brilliant rearrangement” and “a new standard rendition of an old standard composition.” It ranked number 122 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. It is also one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. The RIAA placed it as number 240 on their Songs of the Century list. In 1999 it received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award. And besides critical acclaim, it has long since become a staple of oldies and classic rock radio formats. A 2005 Five poll ranked it as Britons’ fourth favourite number one song of all time.
As recorded, “House of the Rising Sun” ran four and a half minutes, regarded as far too long for a pop single at the time. Producer Most, who otherwise minimized his role on this occasion — “Everything was in the right place … It only took 15 minutes to make so I can’t take much credit for the production” — nonetheless was now a believer and declared it as a single at its full length, saying “We’re in a microgroove world now, we will release it.”
In the United States, though, the original single (MGM 13264) was a 2:58 version that sounded as if it had been hastily edited. The MGM Golden Circle reissue (KGC 179) featured the unedited 4:29 version, although the label shows the edited playing time of 2:58. The edited version was included on the group’s 1964 U.S. debut album The Animals, while the full version was later included on their best-selling 1966 U.S. greatest hits album The Best of The Animals. Wikipedia
Then Roy Orbison landed a monster hit with “Oh, Pretty Woman” that spent 3 weeks at number one.
Then another British group struck gold and spent two weeks at the top, “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” by Manfred Mann.
Then the Supremes struck again with “Baby Love” that spent 4 weeks at the top.
Then came the Jersey invasion with “Leader of the Pack” by the Shangri-Las (don’t miss this one 😉
Then Ben from Bonanza had a hit with “Ringo” and Bobby Vinton had a hit the next week with “Mr. Lonely”. The Supremes hit number one again in December with “Come See About Me” and the Beatles closed out the year with the hit “I Feel Fine” that carried over into 1965.
Beyond the top singles the year had other great recordings, such as Dionne Warwick’s which featured:
“A House Is Not a Home” (Burt Bacharach, Hal David) – 3:08
“(They Long to Be) Close to You” (Bacharach, David) – 2:25
“Reach out for Me” (Bacharach, David) – 2:50
“(You’ll Never Get to Heaven) If You Break My Heart” (Bacharach, David) – 3:09
“Walk on By” (Bacharach, David) – 2:56
“Wishin’ and Hopin'” (Bacharach, David) – 2:57
The Rolling Stones – It’s All Over Now
The Kinks – You Really Got Me Now
Herman’s Hermits – I’m into Something Good
And finally, Van Morrison’s group Them released the famous “Gloria” as the B side of “Baby, Please Don’t Go”. But it was a Big Joe Williams song first recorded in 1935.
Born in Crawford, Mississippi, as a youth Williams began wandering across the United States busking and playing stores, bars, alleys and work camps. In the early 1920s he worked in the Rabbit Foot Minstrels revue, and recorded with the Birmingham Jug Band in 1930 for the Okeh label.
In 1934 he was in St. Louis, where he met record producer Lester Melrose who signed him to a contract with Bluebird Records in 1935. He stayed with Bluebird for ten years, recording such blues hits as “Baby, Please Don’t Go” (1935) and “Crawlin’ King Snake” (1941), both songs later covered by many other performers. He also recorded with other blues singers, including John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson, Robert Nighthawk and Peetie Wheatstraw.
Williams remained a noted blues artist in the 1950s and 1960s, with his guitar style and vocals becoming popular with folk-blues fans. He later recorded for the Trumpet, Delmark, Prestige and Vocalion labels, among others. He became a regular on the concert and coffeehouse circuits, touring Europe and Japan in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and performing at major U.S. festivals. Wikipedia