As 1964 began there was a distinct shift in popular music with bands like The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, The Hollies and The Kinks all making their top 10 debut, the varied richness of what was on offer seemed to reflect in the youth; they all wanted what they liked, some blues, some surf, some country and some folk and the charts were able to cater for their wide and varied demands.
The Beatles were really getting into their stride in ’64 managing 3 number 1s, the most of any artist or band in 1964. The Hollies, The Searchers, Manfred Mann and The Dave Clark 5 all managed multiple entries into the top 10 throughout the year.
Perhaps the Rolling Stones were the biggest band to make their debut, who was to know the longevity was to be so …….. well ……..so long. The press seemed to bill them as the anti-Beatles, they were slightly less co-ordinated and a little more edgy, which appealed to a different type of teenager. Their influences were very similar to the Beatles but The Stones tended to be more vocal about their love for American blues music like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Little Walter. Little did we know that Jagger and Richards were about to write the soundtrack to our lives for many teenagers of that generation.
The Brit Invasion was about to kick off in ’64, The Beatles were about to take the US by storm followed by The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and The Who.
Radio Caroline started broadcasting in March 1964 giving the teenagers more of what they wanted with a distinctly younger feel, there was no stopping them now.
1964’s Top 10 UK Singles.
#1. Can’t Buy Me Love by The Beatles.
“Can’t Buy Me Love” became the Beatles’ fourth UK number 1 and their third hit single to sell over a million copies in the UK. The song penned by Paul McCartney was a brief moment of reflection on all that fame had brought him, commenting later on “The idea behind it was that all these material possessions are all very well, but they won’t buy me what I really want.” It wasn’t as some had thought inspired by a prostitute.
#2. I Love You Because by Jim Reeves.
Jim Reeves had a bit of a revival in 1964, charting with I Love You Because and also with I Won’t Forget You. Reeves saw by many to be the elder statesman of mainstream Country & Western managed to enchant the British audience with his heartfelt declaration of love, the single reached #5 in April and spent some 10 weeks in the charts making it one of the biggest selling singles of 1964.
#3. Oh Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison.
A regular visitor to the UK, Roy Orbison was to have his career-defining hit in 1964, Oh Pretty Woman was to showcase both Orbison’s songwriting and arranging prowess along with a voice that echoes down the generations and still sends shivers down your spine. This was Orbison’s third chart-topper and was to stay at the top of the charts for some 3 weeks with Manfred Mann’s ‘Do Wah Diddy Diddy’ knocking it off the top spot.
#4. I Feel Fine by The Beatles.
The Beatles took the John Lennon penned ‘I Feel Fine’ to the top of the charts in December 1964 knocking The Rolling Stones’ ‘Little Red Rooster’ from the perch. Knowing the US was a big market it released the single concurrently in the UK and the US, such was the Beatles confidence in their material. The song went on to sell 1.41 million in the UK alone and went on to become the 19th biggest selling single in the US in 1965. The Beatles had truly arrived on the world stage.
#5. You’re My World by Cilla Black.
‘You’re My World’ was the follow up to Cilla’s ‘Anyone Who Had A Heart’ and managed to claim the number 1 spot for some 4 weeks in June 1964. It was to be Cilla’s last number 1, although she was to chart another 8 times in the UK top 10. The Italian ballad ‘Il Mio Mondo’ from which it was spawned had been given the George Martin treatment and recorded at Abbey Road Studios with The Breakaways offering backing vocals on the track, it has still managed to stand the test of time as one of the truly great ’60s ballads.
#6. Needles & Pins by The Searchers.
The Searchers covered this great Sonny Bono penned song originally recorded by Jackie De Shannon (as they did with another of their hits When You Walk In The Room). The Searchers for a while in 1964 were said to be the only band that could rival The Beatles, which was no mean feat. This was to be the second of their 3 number 1’s and most notably managed to chart at a rather respectable #13 in the US charts.
#7. Do Wah Diddy Diddy by Manfred Mann.
Manfred Mann managed to top the charts on both sides of the Atlantic with this powerful cover of the Exciters’ song ‘Doh Wah Diddy Diddy’ largely due to Paul Jones’ phenomenal singing voice The Manfred’s displaced the Beatles ‘A Hard Days’ Night’ from the top of the charts in August 1964 and were to be another British band taking the US by storm.
#8. Have I The Right by The Honeycombs.
The Honeycombs’ ‘Have I The Right’ was to knock The Manfreds off the top spot in August 1964 with this Joe Meek produced ’60s classic. Whilst the song itself is definitely one of the most original British songs of the 1960s, the Honeycombs are often remembered by the fact they had a female drummer, highly unusual for the times.
#9. The House of The Rising Sun by The Animals.
Perhaps one of the most recognisable opening bars of music ever laid down on vinyl. ‘The House Of The Rising Sun’ was another UK chart-topper that did the same across the pond. Eric Burdon’s powerhouse performance belies his diminutive stature but not his influence on ’60s music. The song has taken on truly legendary status over the years and is quite rightly one of the true sounds of the 1960s. The song is said to have inspired the young folksinger Bob Dylan to go electric.
#10. You Really Got Me by The Kinks.
The Kinks blues inspired ‘You Really Got Me’ spent 2 weeks at the top spot in September 1964 before being replaced by Peter Noone’s Herman’s Hermits. Whilst this was The Kink’s third release it was to prove their breakthrough hit both here and in the US. The Kinks were another of the bands making up the Brit Invasion of the mid-’60s. With talent like this, what hope did the popmeisters on the other side of the pond have?
Spring Chicken 1964 Favourite.
Downtown by Petula Clark.
Petula Clark managed number 2 in the UK and a number 1 in the US with this searing piece of ’60s power pop. Upon its release, the song was considered somewhat ‘out of time’ as it didn’t seem to fit into any particular genre and perhaps the reason why it’s proved so timeless is that it never will.