On a worldwide stage, 1962 was indeed a worrying time, the Cold War reached its crescendo with the Cuban Missile Crisis and President Kennedy urging Americans to build nuclear fall out shelters. However, back in the UK, the times were indeed a changing, the last trolleybusses ran in London in ’62 and Britain’s first legal casino opened in Brighton.
More importantly, the music world was on the precipice of change with John, Paul, George and Ringo playing their first live engagement at Hulme Hall, Port Sunlight on The Wirral and The Rolling Stones made their debut at London’s Marquee Club, 165 Oxford Street supporting Long John Baldry. How were we to know that The Rolling Stones would still be around some 60 years later!
The UK charts were still peppered with big US names like Elvis, Chubby Checker and Ray Charles but British acts like Joe Brown, Frank Ifield and of course Cliff Richard were selling plenty of records up and down the land. Both Acker Bilk’s ‘Stranger On The Shore’ and The Tornadoes ‘Telstar’ took the US Billboard 100 by storm and for the first time in history outsold all comers in the UK and the US.
For many 1962 was the year that some of the most iconic British style brands started to come together bringing the UK and specifically London to the fore as the capital of world fashion. Never before had their been such a great to time young in Britain.
Britain was about to start swinging…….
1962’s Top 10 UK Singles.
#1. I Remember You by Frank Ifield.
Frank Ifield re-introduced the singing style of yodelling back into the charts for the first time since Slim Whitman had frequented the hit parade back in the 1950s. ‘I Remember You’ went onto sell some 1.1 million copies in the UK alone and was a major hit around the globe for the British born Aussie.
#2. Stranger On The Shore by Mr Acker Bilk.
This unlikely piece of clarinet music from trad jazzer Acker Bilk took the charts on both sides of the Atlantic by storm in early ’62 reaching #1 in the US and #2 in the UK. Acker Bilk had penned the song for his young daughter and named it ‘Jenny’ after her, it was then used by the BBC as the theme music to a series aimed at young people called Stranger On The Shore and took off. It’s haunting otherworldliness enchanted a nation and has allowed the piece of music to remain timeless.
#3. Wonderful Land by The Shadows.
The Shadows released Wonderful Land at a time of change in their lineup Tony Meehan had recently left and Jet Harris was soon to follow. However, their professionalism and pure class managed to shine through bringing this single to the #1 position, where it was to remain for 8 weeks, a feat only managed by the Archies and Elvis for the whole of the 1960s.
#4. The Young Ones by Cliff Richard and The Shadows.
‘The Young Ones’ was the first UK single to go straight to number 1 upon release, helped in no small way to the film of the same name and the 500,000 presold singles upon release. It managed to stay in the charts for 20 weeks and resided top of those charts for 6 of those weeks. Ultimately becoming a UK million seller and selling 2.6million worldwide.
#5. Can’t Help Falling In Love by Elvis Presley.
Elvis’ version of ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ was from his 1961 film Blue Hawaii, it was to become a UK number 1 and a US number 2 Platinum selling single. Presley was to reintroduce it into his live performances in later years with a show-stopping version on the 1973 Global TV broadcast ‘Aloha From Hawaii’. Interestingly it was Montgomery Clift that had sang the original version of the song ‘Plaisir d’amour’ in his movie ‘the Heiress’ back in 1949.
#6. Telstar by The Tornados.
‘Telstar’ by the Tornados showcased the talents of some fine British musicians but perhaps more importantly brought the troubled genius Joe Meek to the forefront of the music industry. Meek was notorious for experimenting in many areas, hence the futuristic sound of ‘Telstar’. The record was to remain in the UK charts for 25 weeks and spent 5 of those weeks at the #1 spot. The record also has the unique honour of being one of Margaret Thatcher’s favourites!
#7. Good Luck Charm by Elvis Presley.
Elvis was definitely back in the saddle as far as making hit records was concerned. Even this rather mediocre effort, once given the Elvis treatment, sent to it the #1 spot on both sides of the Atlantic allowing it to stay on top of the UK charts for 5 weeks in May 1962.
#8. Let’s Twist Again by Chubby Checker.
Chubby Checker was not going to let the success of The Twist get away from him. ‘Let’s Twist Again’ was a big hit in February ’62bringingg home another #1 for Chubby Checker and adding another ‘Twist’ orientated song to the ever-expanding ‘twist’ playlist. However, for armies of rhythmless young men in the ’60s, the Twist was a godsend that could not be sneered at!
#9. Lovesick Blues by Frank Ifield.
Frank Ifield’s treatment of Lovesick Blues lent itself very much to the Hank Williams version which has since eclipsed Ifield’s version in the annals of music history. Nonetheless, Ifield’s version was a big seller back in ’62 and sat at the top of the UK charts for 5 weeks.
#10. Come Outside by Mike Sarne with Wendy Richards.
‘Come Outside’ was to sit at the number 2 spot in the Summer of ’62 and was to continue a long tradition of quasi-novelty hits of the ’60s. Notably, it starred audience favourite Wendy Richard as the long-suffering girlfriend.
Just outside the top 10 singles of the year were many brilliant acts such as Chris Montez, Ray Charles and Bobby Darin. The big US names were still touring the UK including Roy Orbison, Del Shannon and Gene Vincent. There was also the evolving folk scene which was slowly coming to the fore in the US and soon to cross the Atlantic, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez were soon to become the Taylor and Burton of the folk world.
Spring Chicken 1962 Favourite.
Let’s Dance – Chris Montez.