With 1963 came the end of rock'n'roll and the beginnings of "rock." The Beatles were merely the most visible of the many British music acts that found success in America in the mid-60's. Many people count the Fab Four's landing at La Guardia airport on 7th February 1964, and their performance on the Ed Sullivan Show a week later, as the official beginning of what came to be called the "British Invasion." The Beatles were hugely popular; at one point they had the top five records on the Billboard Hot 100 list. Their sound and attitudes influenced everything that came afterwards - even today, when kids sing along with pop tunes on the radio and sing soft Britty "r's", they're unconsciously mimicking the English sound.
Like the killer meteor that caused mass extinctions 65 million years ago, clearing the way for a whole new evolutionary path based on mammals instead of reptiles, the British Invasion killed off almost all the existing American groups (only the Beach Boys, Four Seasons, and the biggest Motown acts managed to survive). In their place rose up all sorts of American groups who dressed and sounded just like the Brits, as for instance the Knickerbockers, Beau Brummels, Buckinghams, Sir Douglas Quintet, and Turtles. before the Turtles became famous they used to hang out at bowling alleys and order tea with plenty of milk, speaking in fake English accents and trying to pass themselves off as Gerry and the Pacemakers.
'She Loves You' was the A-side of The Beatles' fourth single, it's now famous '"yeah, yeah, yeah" chorus quickly finding its way into the vocabulary of teens across the world. It was originally written in the first person - "I love you" - but was changed at the last minute to the third person to make the dialogue more interesting. This was an instant hit throughout the English speaking world except in America, where it was released on Swan records, the only US label that would take it. Swan put it out in September 1963, but while The Beatles were huge in England, they were still no big deal in America until February 1964. That's when Beatlemania took hold and this became a US hit.
McCartney and Lennon were inspired to write this after a concert at the Majestic Ballroom in Newcastle when they were part of a tour with Roy Orbison and Gerry and the Pacemakers. Says McCartney, "There was a Bobby Rydell song out at the time "Forget Him" and, as often happens, you think of one song when you write another. We were in a van up in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. I'd planned an answering song where a couple of us would sing 'She loves you' and the other ones would answer 'Yeah Yeah.' We decided that was a crummy idea but at least we then had the idea of a song called She Loves You. So we sat in the hotel bedroom for a few hours and wrote it; John and I, sitting on twin beds with guitars."
This song popularized the phrase "yeah, yeah, yeah." Paul McCartney's dad wanted them to sing "yes, yes, yes" instead because he thought it sounded more dignified. In the UK, this was the biggest-selling Beatles single. It was held the record for top-selling UK single of all time until 1977, when Wings (led by McCartney) topped it with "Mull Of Kintyre." Norman Smith, who was The Beatles engineer, told the story in his autobiography John Called me Normal about feeling his heart sink when he spotted the lyrics on the music stand. As he later relayed to Mark Lewinsohn: "She loves you, yeah yeah yeah, She loves you, yeah yeah yeah, she loves you yeah yeah yeah yeah... I thought, My God, what a lyric! This is going to be the one I do not like." Smith had a hit in 1972 with "Oh Babe What Would You Say" as Hurricane Smith. He also produced the first three Pink Floyd albums.
This was one of the most played Beatles songs on Australian radio in 1963 and the first of many singles by them to reach No.1 in record sales in this country. It was only ever released as a single and as such, sold 5 million copies worldwide. It was the first Beatles song to catch on in America. They couldn't get a major label to distribute their singles in America, so songs like "Love Me Do" and "She Loves You" were issued on small labels and flopped, even though they were hits in England.
By February 1964, America finally took notice of The Beatles and bought this single in droves, giving them their first US hit. It sold better in first 10 days of release in the US than any other British single. The Beatles celebrated madly when they found out they were No.1 in America and sent to America for the first time in February 1964, a week after this hit No.1. Capitol Records, the American arm of EMI Britian, had at first told the Beatles manager surf music was selling big in America as a reason not to release their first few singles. John and Paul's reaction to this was to use the Beach Boys first single Surfin' as a template to construct 'I Want To Hold Your Hand'. Right down to the handclaps that mirror the snar drum on Surfin as well as the tempo and feel, 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' is almost a carbon copy of 'Surfin' at its core.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote the song in Jane Asher's basement (the sister of Peter Asher of the British pop duo Peter & Gordon). Asher was an actress who became Paul's first high-profile girlfriend. She and Paul broke up in 1968. Lennon played this song for His freind Gerry Marsden from Gerry and The Pacemakers when they were on tour together with The Beatles. Gerry recalls that John came into his hotel room and said: Gerry here´s our new song, but Gerry just replied: "that´s terrible". This was one of John Lennon's favorite Beatles songs and the first Beatles song recorded on 4 track equipment. While touring, at times John Lennon realized that the crowds they played to were so loud that they really couldn't hear them sing, so sometimes instead of singing "I want to hold your hand," John would say, "I want to hold your gland" as a reference to women's breasts.
Few bands ever have a hit song, even fewer write and record a standard in the music industry. In 1963, The Chantays accomplished both with this single. 'Pipeline' is still consistently heard on radio stations worldwide and continues to be used in a variety of motion pictures including Twelve Monkeys, television productions Quantum Leap, Picket Fences and countless TV and radio commercials. Despite several attempts, The Chantays never again hit the charts and soon broke up. They released only two albums, which were 'Pipeline' (1963) and 'Two Sides of The Chantays' (1964).
ed Miller (right) is remembered for his international 1962 hit 'From a Jack to a King', but during the 1960s he had 11 chart hits and made it to the top spot three times. Miller started writing songs and singing at local parties and on the radio when he was only 16. After his discharge from the Marines, he worked at several jobs before moving to California in 1956 to become a full-time songwriter. He began his own recording career in 1957, issuing 'From a Jack to a King' as his debut single. Later that year, he released 'Roll O Rollin' Stone', again without much notice. In 1962, Miller persuaded the Fabour label to re-release his prior version of 'From a Jack to a King'; the timing was right and the single soared to the top of record charts around the world. Miller faded into obscurity after the 1960s, but decades later Ricky Van Shelton recorded the song and it was again a No.1 hit.
The Atlantics, formed in the suburbs of Sydney in early 1961, were arguably Australia's most successful surf rock band of the early 1960s, a time when surf music was at the height of its popularity. Most known for 'Bombora', their later recordings such as 'Come On' are examples of 1960s garage rock in its infancy. They were the first Australian rock band to write their own hits. In 2000 the group reformed with three of the original members, and began actively releasing new material and performing live. The original ine-up consisted of Peter Hood (drums), Bosco Bosonac (bass), Theo Penglis (quitar), James Skiathitis (guitar). The boys first met in 1961 on a bus returning from the beach to Randwick in Sydney where they all lived. This chance meeting resulted in the formation of the band, initially playing The Shadows instrumentals. Their first single, 'Dark Eyes', was released in February 1963. 'Bombora' was released five months later, followed by an album of the same name.
Jimmy Little is an Aboriginal country, pop and gospel singer, as well as occasional actor, from Moama, NSW. He began recording at the age of 17 in 1954. His first charting songs were covers of Conway Twitty's 'Danny Boy' (1959) and Marty Robbins' 'El Paso' (1960). 'Royal Telephone', his biggest hit, is a cover of a song by Frederick M. Lehman that was the B-side of Burl Ives' 1961 recording of 'Mockin' Bird Hill'. The song was originally recorded in 1927 by Rev. Sister Mary Nelson, who was a Pentecostal storefront preacher in Memphis, Tennessee. Frederick M. Lehman (1868-1953), an American German-born pastor and prolific hymn writer, wrote the song. Various versions of it have been recorded over the years. The follow-up to 'Royal Telephone' was called 'One Road' and was writen by a young Barry Gibb of The Bee Gees. It was a moderate hit, making the charts in March 1964. Throughout the rent of the decade he continued to record and tour with The Jimmy Little Show.
The Surfaris recorded this single for $13. They only had one song planned - 'Surfer Joe', but when the engineer reminded the group that it takes two songs to make a single, the Safaris jammed for half an hour and came up with this. One of the band members suggested that a gimmick sound indicating a wipe out off a surfboard be emulated. The suggestion was made that during the introduction before the music starts, a cracking sound, imitating a breaking surfboard, should be made. Also in the introduction is a manic voice babbling "ha ha ha ha ha wipe out". The voice is that of the band's manager of the time, Dale Smallen. The single was born that night at Pal Recording Studio in Cucamonga, California.
To complete the song, they sped up the guitar work on 'Surfer Joe' and married it to the drum solo of Preston Epps' No. 14 hit, 'Bongo Rock'. Ron Wilson's energetic drum part would be beaten out on cafe tables all over the world, helping "Wipe Out" to become one of the best-remembered instrumentals of the period. After thinking about calling it "Stiletto" (with the sound of a switchblade knife opening the song), The Surfaris decided to crack a half-broken piece of timber over the microphone and call the song 'Wipe Out'. Though considered a throwaway by the band, disc Jockeys liked this side better, so they flipped the record, making it a hit.
Peggy March (real name Margaret Battavio) was just 13 when she was discovered singing at her cousin's wedding and introduced to the record production partnership of Hugo and Luigi. They gave her her stage name because she was only 5 ft 10 inches tall and so you. Her first single was appropriately called "Little Me". It sank without trace. When looking for a second single, English-born singer Petula Clark had recently scored a hit in France with a song called "Chariot". RCA producers Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore found the song and got March to record it in a new version with simpler lyrics, now known as "I Will Follow Him." Clark's recording was a slow, moody, soulful piece, with the singer seeking the depths of the song's meaning. March's recording, by contrast, picked up the tempo, added a doo wop-style male chorus and a pulsing arrangement, with prominent drums and chorus, and a breathy, breathless reading of the lyrics.
It sounded like the work of a passionate young girl, and it was to define the girl-group sound. Being just 14 years old, she became the youngest female artist to have a No. 1 hit in the US, a record that still stands today. March's subsequent singles, 'I Wish I Were a Princess', 'Boy Crazy' and 'Hello Heartache, Goodbye Love', failed to repeat this song's huge success because the record buying public's tastes had rapidly changed with the advent of the British Music Invasion. In the European market, however, March and her songs remained popular, leading her to move to Germany where she dropped "Little" from her title and enjoy a career in recording, variety show performances and television appearances there that continues today.
Getting a No.1 pop hit was easy for West Texans Ray Hildebrand and Jill Jackson who hit the jackpot with their first single. While the pair were students at Howard Payne College, a DJ called for entertainers to volunteer to benefit the American Cancer Society. They put their hands up and sang 'Hey Paula', a song Hildebrand wrote for the occasion. It went over so well that everybody encouraged them to make a record. This they did locally under their names Jill & Ray. The hot seller caught the attention of Mercury Records who reissued it, but not before renaming the duo Paul & Paula, pointing out that two people named Jill & Ray singing the lyrics "Hey, Paula" and "Hey, Paul" didn't make sense. They resented the change - everybody in West Texas knew them as Jill & Ray - but later acquiesced. They followed it with 'Young Lovers' and 'First Quarrel' which continued the story of Paul and Paula. A couple of albums, including one of Christmas songs, were released. By 1965 Hildebrand was having second thoughts about being a recording artist and wanted to complete his college education, so the pair separated.
Along with The Beach Boys, Jan Berry and Dean Torrance (right) were the leading proponents of the surf music craze of the early 1960s. This song, their first hit, was first played to them as a demo by its writer, Beach Boy Brian Wilson, whilst they were gigging together. The Beach Boys provided the backing, as they did on most of the Jan and Dean's recordings, and the duo returned the favour many times. Jan actually sang the lead on The Beach Boys' 'Barbara Ann', which was recorded by accident; the tape was right running during a coffee break and the boys ran through this 'practice' song together to warm up their voices before the next recording session. Their 'practice' became the final release. hear the song online
This song was recorded in Clovis, New Mexico in 1963 at Norman Petty's studio where Buddy Holly had recorded his songs. The original group was made up of Geo Tomsco, Chuck Tharp, Stan Lark, Danny Trammer and Eric Budd. Tharp was drafted and the band hired Jimmy Gilmer to take his place. Gilmer, instead of Tharp, is on the cut. The Fireballs recorded the song and took a break before doing another. It is said when they came back, Norman had added a keyboard part. The Fireballs did some re-working on a few Buddy Holly backing tracks Petty had lying around, which made Petty a fortune, but further hits eluded them until the early 1970s, when they recorded "Bottle of Wine".view the video online
Revell (right, real name Gary Hildred) hailed from Dubbo, NSW, and became lead vocalist for The Denvermen in 1959. Regular appearances on TV's Six O'Clock Rock, Bandstand and Johnny O'Keefe Show brought them fame. Midway through 1962, they were discovered by Johnny Devlin who encouraged them to record a series of instrumentals. This one was by far their most popular. After a year, Digger took back the microphone and sang on a string of vocal hits that were released through until 1966.
Formed in 1958, the band originally called themselves the Tremilos (the name was later changed thanks to a spelling mistake of a local newspaper), and had no lead vocalist. Somewhat arbitrarily, Brian Poole was selected for the role of lead singer - because the glasses he wore made him closely resemble the group's idol, Buddy Holly, who they'd seen perform live in 1958. They had to wait until 1962 for the opportunity to record for the first time under their own name, although they had previously recorded for the studios as backing musicians for other artists. Brian and the Tremeloes' first hit big with 'Twist And Shout' - a song first recorded by the Isley Brothers, but now associated with The Beatles because they took the song to No.2 in the US.
In the UK the song appeared only on a Beatles EP and it was right to Brian Poole and the Tremeloes to take the chart honours. A series of hits followed this success including their No.1, "Do You Love Me", which was a cover of a US hit by The Countours. The band's link with Buddy Holly was further strengthened with the release of 'Someone, Someone' in 1964. This was a song presented to them by Holly's former manager Norman Petty who also played the piano on it.
14. Tamoure - Bill Justis (with the Stephen Scott Singers)
Along with The Twist, Cha cha cha, Hucklebuck, Limbo and Bossa Nova, the Tamoure was a short-lived dance craze of the early 1960s. Originating in Tahiti and featuring pulsating drums and swishing grass skirts, the hit song that drove the craze was introduced to the world by bandleader Bill Justis. This is a classic case of an American record that made a big splash all over Australia, but only managed a ripple in the US: No.7 in Chicago, No.101 nationally. 'Tamoure' is an English-language version of a song known as 'Vini Vini', a hit in Hawaii in 1962 by local group Dick & Dee Dee.
A version on German Polydor by 'Die Tahiti Tamourés', as 'Wini-Wini', was a hit in 1963 in Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium, but an earlier version, 'Vini Vini' by Terorotua and His Tahitians, goes back to 1956 or 1958, with a writer credit to French composer Yves Roche. Heinz Hellmer and Wolf Petersen join Bill Everette (he wrote 'Gitarzan' with Ray Stevens) and Margaret Singleton, also known as Margie, first wife of Shelby Singleton get writing credits here; the arrangement was by Bill Justis.
Roy Orbison began as a rockabilly singer on Sam Phillips' Sun records label. After moving to Nashville to concentrate on songwriting, Orbison was encouraged to change his style and sing ballads. This switch brought instant success and saw his second single on RCA, 'Only The Lonely', send his career into orbit. 'In Dreams', also written by Orbison, continued the theme of the loner, rejected lover and born loser - and the record buying public couldn't get enough. It remains one of his moved loved recordings.
Orbison claimed in interviews that the lyrics for this song came to him in a dream; he wrote the music once he woke up. The story goes Orbinson woke up thinking "Ol' Elvis has himself another hit", having heard it in dreams, but then realized he had just dreamt the song. The original name of this song is "A candy Colored Clown". It has been said that "In Dreams" is about Orbison's grieving over his wife Claudette who was killed in a tragic motorcycle accident, but this is not so, as the accident did not occur until 6th June 1966, three years after the song was released in April 1963.
A Wayne Shanklin composition recorded on the Festival label. The 1965 Australian recording of 'Jezebel' by Bobby Charles & the Vibrants on Columbia is a different song. Rob E.G. (real name Robert George Porter) was a young lap steel guitarist from the Sydney suburb of Ashfield who had (mainly instrumental) hit singles in Australia in the sixties. When he was eight his mother bought a steel guitar and a course on how to play the guitar from a door to door salesman. He was recruited by Australian television's 'Bandstand' program to cover Santo And Johnnys steel-guitar hit, 'Sleepwalk'. Making an impression both with his playing and his good looks he was recalled for further TV appearances. 'Jezebel' was originally recorded by Frankie Laine. In 1961, Rob received spinal injuries in a serious car accident.
After his recovery, he returned to performing, his lap steel guitar was placed in a stand which he played while standing up. The impact was four national top tens in a row, including number ones with 'Si Senor' and '55 Days At Peking'. In 1964 the Beatles came to Australia and their manager Brian Epstein encouraged the instrumentalist to try his luck in England. Becoming Robie Porter he spent the next couple of years in the UK, without success, moved to the US to write and record. In 1970 he returned to Australia and formed his own record label Sparmac, and had great success as a producer, especially with the band Daddy Cool, whose debut album became the biggest selling album at the time. Eventually, he returned to the US where he moved into television production, and ultimately, became a highly successful and wealthy horse breeder.
This Bob Dylan composition gave the Baby Boomer generation its conscience and became an early anthem for the 1960s peace movement. It is a simple song which asked nine questions but leaves the listener to ponder on the answers, hence the song's title. Peter, Paul & Mary's version, with its close harmonies and simple dual guitar backing rocketed them to fame and single-handedly brought folk-style music back into vogue. The song was first heard by an audience on 16th April 1962 when Dylan performed it to riotous applause at Gerde's in Greenwich Village, New York. The next day Dave Van Ronk, who had been working the Village scene far longer than Dylan, recalled telling him it was an incredibly dumb song. "I mean, what the hell is blowing in the wind?"
A few weeks later he had the answer. He was walking through Washington Square Park and heard a kid singing, "How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood, The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind". At that point he knew Bob had a smash on his hands. Of this song, Mary Travers of PP&M once said, "If I had to pick one song, my softest spot, it would be "Blowing in the Wind." If you could imagine the March on Washington with Martin Luther King and singing that song in front of a quarter of a million people, black and white, who believed they could make America more generous and compassionate in a non-violent way, you begin to know how incredible that belief was".
The Delltones formed in 1959, having first met at the Bronte Surf Club in Sydney, where they were all members. The vocal quartet enjoyed considerable success as recording artists, but their career looked over when one of their number, lead vocalist Noel Widerberg, was killed in a car accident. Grief stricken, they cancelled all their engagements, but were pursuaded by family and friends to find a replacement lead singer and begin recording again. Colin Loughnan joined the group, they went back to the studio and recorded their biggest hit ever, "Come A Little Bit Closer". By the end of the year they had joined the surfing music craze with their hit "Hangin' Five". After 12 years in the business, the band split in 1971. The writers of this song, Leiber & Stoller, produced another song called "Come A Little Bit Closer" for Jay & the Americans, but it was a totally different song.
Cliff Richard starred in the fun adventure movie, Summer Holiday, which was released in 1963 and became a box office smash in Britain and throughout the British Empire, including Australia and New Zealand. It was the first of many films created as vehicles for Richard. 'Summer Holiday' was the title song of the movie. Cliff went on to become one of only four artists to hit the singles charts in every year of the 1960s. Remarkably the so called 'Peter Pan of Pop', born in 1940 in India, has also managed to achieve chart success in each of the last 6 decades. The Shadows, performing with and without Cliff, have been recording artists for almost as long.
5. Proud Of You - Jay Justin
Jay Justin (born Jay Justin McCarthy) was a recording artist who is credited as having discovered Little Pattie. Justin and Joe Halford wrote the Little Pattie hits "He's My Blonde Headed Stompie Wompie Real Gone Surfer Boy" and "Stompin' at Maroubra", which were released in 1963. Trained at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Justin had the opportunity to pursue a career in classical music, but instead chose to sing Sinatra-style ballads. He soon began writing his own material, and released a number of singles. Justin was also a favourite on TV and at live concerts. His big hit for 1963, the self-penned "Proud Of You", was his only No.1 hit, though three other singles charted. He remains a popular singer on the Sydney club circuit. Hear the song online
6. Come A Little Bit Closer - The Delltones
After the death of singer Noel Widerberg in a car accident, The Deltones reformed. With encouragement from family and friends and with new lead singer Col Loughnan (later an integral part of Ayers Rock) they also released Leiber & Stoller's, 'Come A Little Bit Closer', which made the top three. By the end of 1963, they reinvestigated their Bronte Surf Club origins and transformed themselves into the nation's premier surf sound act, topping charts with 'Hangin' Five', written by a Sydney detective and surfer Ben Acton, which made them a household name. View the video online
7. Move Baby Move - Johnny O'Keefe (right)
Even though he had suffered a nervous breakdown midway through 1962, Johnny O'Keefe bounced back quickly and in the following year had three No.1 hits - "Shake Baby Shake", "Move Baby Move" and "Twist It Up". All the while he continued to compere his own television show. Hear the song online
8. Washington Square (instrumental) - Frank Traynor & His Jazz Preachers
The band was formed in 1958 and began playing at the Melbourne Jazz Club run by two Trad jazz enthusiasts, and was credited with starting the local jazz boom. Jazz dances became very popular with Melbourne teenagers prior to The Beatles' boom, and Frank and his band were the leading exponents. They made numerous recordings, including this cover of a recording by the US dixie band, The Village Stompers. Both singles were sold simultaneously, with Traynor's comfortably outselling the import in Melbourne. Hear the song online
9. 55 Days At Peking - Rob E.G. (right)
Steel Guitarist Rob E.G. (real name Robert George Porter) entered show biz in 1959, and had a major hit with his recording of the theme for the TV western, Whiplash. He encountered a major setback in 1961 when he suffered a serious spinal injury in a car accident, but fought his way back sufficiently to begin recording again early in 1962. The result of his efforts was an enormous hit, "Si Senor" (No.2), followed by two others, "Jezebel" and the theme from the movie, "55 Days At Peking". Hear the song online
10. He's My Blonde Headed, Stompie Wompie, Real Gone Surfer Boy - Little Pattie
Little Pattie (born Patricia Thelma Amphlett) first appeared as a singer on the Australian television talent show, Opportunity Knocks, at the age of 13. For the next couple of years she sang with a band, most notably as lead singer of The Statesmen when she was signed to a recording contract by EMI. Her first single for the label was influenced by the surf music craze. "He's My Blonde Headed, Stompie Wompie, Real Gone Surfer Boy" reached No.2 on the Australian music charts, and was only kept from the number one position by The Beatles' "I Wanna Hold Your Hand". By 1965 a string of successful singles saw her voted as Australian Female Singer of the Year, and she appeared regularly on television variety programs.
At the age of 17, she entertained troops during the Vietnam War. Performing in Nui Dat, Vietnam, Pattie was heard by soldiers before they embarked on the Battle of Long Tan. As organisers had promised her safety, she was evacuated from the area before the completion of her scheduled performances. In belated recognition, she received medals in 1994 for her service to the Australian Defence Forces. As Little Pattie entered her twenties, she attempted to continue her career, but her popularity had faded, even though she sang the popular jingle "It's Time" for the Labor Party's successful push to power in 1972. She continued to perform on television and in clubs, and became a vocal teacher, notably coaching Nikki Webster before her performance at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. Hear the song online
More Hits of 1963
We'll Sing In The Sunshine - Gale Garnett
Born in July 1942 in Auckland, New Zealand, Gale Garnett moved with her parents to the USA in 1951. She enjoyed a solitary No.1 hit with this single, that was a product of the folk music boom of the early 1960s. She won the 1964 Grammy Award for Best Folk Artist for the song. In the early 60s, Garnett began working as an actress, appearing in many stage productions and numerous television shows, including Hawaiian Eye, 77 Sunset Strip, and Bonanza. She wrote songs as a hobby, but in 1963 RCA Records, impressed with her voice and songs, of which "We'll Sing In The Sunshine" was one, signed her up. In the UK, "We'll Sing In The Sunshine" was covered with moderate success by the UK band The Lancastrians in 1964.
Garnett was not able to sustain her career with more hits, getting only "Lovin' Place" (US No.54) on the charts in 1965. Influenced by the hippie counter-cultural movement, Garnett embraced psychedelia in the late 1960s, singing about rainbows, magic wands and other enchantments. But she could no longer sell records and retired from the music business in the early 70s. View the video online
The Girl From Ipanema - Astrud Gilberto & Stan Getz
"The Girl from Ipanema" ("A Garota de Ipanema") is considered the best-known bossa nova song ever written, and was a worldwide hit. It was written in 1962, with music by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Portuguese lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes; English lyrics were later written by Norman Gimbel. It is often claimed to be the second-most recorded popular song in history, topped only by The Beatles' "Yesterday". Astrud Gilberto (right) and Stan Getz's version, lifted from their 1963 album Getz/Gilberto, is the best-known. More ... | Online video clip
Deep Purple - Nino Tempo and April Stevens (right)
In 1939, this was a No.1 hit for Larry McClinton and His orchestra. It also went to No.20 for Billy Ward and the Dominoes - their last top 40 hit, and No.14 for Donny and Marie Osmond in 1976, but the version of the song that everyone remembers is the 1963 hit of brother and sister duo Nino Tempo and April Stevens (real names: Antonio and Carol Lo Tempio). In rehearsal, Nino decided to sing one chorus alone, but didn´t know the words ... so April started to softly feed him the words. Someone listening said, `I love the way you´re talking and he's singing,´ so they recorded it that way. Recorded as the B-side, 'Deep Purple' not only won the Grammy for Best Rock & Roll Recording of 1963, it inspired the name of one of the first heavy metal rock bands. April is also known for the 1959 song "Teach Me Tiger", which caused a minor uproar when it was released for its sexual suggestiveness. View the video online
Losing You - Brenda Lee
This was one of a string of tear jerkers by the likes of Brenda Lee ("Losing You", "Fool Number One", "I'm sorry", "As Usual"), Connie Francis ("Among My Souvenirs") and Skeeter Davis ("End Of The World") that were popular during the early 60s. This one is short and sweet, not to mention quite sad, and typifies the style of song made so popular by white female singers of that era. Listening to her husky, powerful voice and her incredible vocal control on this song, it is hard to believe that Lee was only 15 when she recorded it. It was the first song composed in his youth by French producer/composer/singer Jean Renard (b. 1933) under the name of 'Rosaline'. It was later recorded as Connais-tu (meaning Losing You) by Tino Rossi 1961, Jean Renard 1961, Collette Deréal 1963 and Un Ange Mario Candido 1962. The English lyrics were written by Carl Sigman.
Doris Day had a version of the song on her 1962 album, Love Him. Lynne Fletcher recorded about a dozen tracks in Sydney for HMV, in 1965-67, including "Losing You" which reached No. 26 on the Sydney singles charts. Brenda Lee enjoys one distinction unique among successful American singers: the opening act on her UK tour in 1960 was a struggling foursome from Liverpool, England, named The Beatles. Hear the song online | Sad Songs Medly
It's My Party - Lesley Gore
Lesley Gore literally burst onto the music scene in 1963 when her first single, "It's My Party", was rushed into production by record producer Quincy Jones, and within weeks of its release, became a No.1 hit. This would be her only No.1 single, but she would be far more than a "one hit wonder" and had a much greater impact on music and society in general than numbers alone indicate. Her greatest musical impact began when she was asked by Quincy to record a song she really didn't like, and made a deal with him to record it if he let her select a song on her own to record. The song she selected was "You Don't Own Me", an anthem of women's rights that predated Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman" by several years. "You Don't Own Me" made it to No. 2 on the charts, and managed this in spite of being up against two of The Beatles' biggest hits.
It actually sold more actual copies than "It's My Party". This song was originally earmarked by producer Phil Spector as the follow-up song to The Crystals' "He's A Rebel", which was in fact sung by The Blossoms. The latter actually recorded "It's My Party" a few months before Lesley Gore but for some reason, Spector never released it. Hear the song online
Da Do Ron Ron - The Crystals
There were some really silly songs written in the 60s, and among them were some pretty catchy little numbers that you couldn't help liking. This song, which was a hit for the girl group, The Crystals (or so the record label says), falls into both categories. That prolific songwriting genius Ellie Greenwich came up with the song, Jeff Barry tweaked it a bit and scored a co-writing credit for his trouble, as did its producer, Phil Spector. He originally had Darlene Love record it at Gold Star studios in Los Angeles. After singing lead on the Crystals' previous hits "He's a Rebel" and "He's Sure the Boy I Love," Darlene received session fees. After singing on this, she preferred to be signed to an artist's contract.
Spector responded to her demand by erasing her vocals and flying in Crystals lead singer Dolores Brooks to replace the lead vocal. The backup vocals were provided by The Blossoms and Cher. That's all very interesting, but the question that has perplexed fans for four decades is, what does 'da doo ron ron' mean? According to Greenwich, who spilled the beans on a recent radio interview, unlike "doo wah diddy, diddy down diddy do", it means absolutely nothing.
When she was writing the song, she couldn't think of an appropriate like to follow "I met him on a Monday and my heart stood still" so she put in the line, 'da doo ron ron' until she could come up with something better. Try as she may, nothing came. She asked Jeff and Phil, and they couldn't come up with anything either, so they right the line in and it made the song famous. "We got all the rest of the words and music together but we couldn't find anything for this bit. Believe me, it doesn't mean a thing." Doo wah diddy, on the other hand, does have a strong meaning, she insists. According to Ellie, it's how she visualised a young girl - an Alice in Wonderland type of kid - skipping down the street and singing. View the video online
The End of the World - Skeeter Davis
The record was released by RCA Records in December 1962 and reached it's greatest success in March 1963, peaking at No.2. The record also was a No.4 hit on Billboard's US rhythm and blues chart - making Davis one of the very few Caucasian female vocalists to enjoy a top ten record on that chart. Although the Ruby and the Romantics hit "Our Day Will Come" kept "The End of the World" from hitting number one on the pop chart, the song's popularity and chart history earned it the No.3 place on Billboard's list of the year's 20 biggest hits. The song was written by songwriter Sylvia Dee whose other compositions include 'Too Young' by Nat King Cole.
Davis' recording was produced by Chet Atkins and has long been considered one of the foremost examples of the Nashville Sound of the 1960's - smooth vocals and a slick, sophisticated production appealing to audiences far beyond the traditional country music audience. The song was played at Atkins' funeral in 2001 in an instrumental performance by Marty Stuart and later, Davis' recording was broadcast over the speakers of her 2004 funeral at the Ryman Auditorium. The song has been covered by a number of artists on albums, including The Carpenters, Loretta Lynn, Herman's Hermits, John Cougar Mellencamp, Johnny Mathis, Julie London, Eddy Arnold, Dottie West, Nancy Sinatra, Sonia Evans, Twiggy, Claudine Longet, Agnetha Fältskog (of ABBA fame), Patti Page, Anne Murray, Nina Gordon, Vonda Shepard, Exposè, The Vanguards, and others, but Davis' remains the definitive performance. The song was written by Sylvia Dee on her father's passing, which right her devastated. View the video online
Puff (The Magic Dragon) - Peter, Paul and Mary (right)
A charming though much maligned children's song, released by the trio as a follow-up to their first singles - "Lemon Tree" (No.12) and "Settle Down" (No.14) - both of which charted. "Puff" gave them their first No.1 hit. On its release, "Puff" encountered no resistance on radio or from the commentators who later seized upon its supposedly subversive drug message.
Paul Stookey laments that this interpretation clings to the song, "no matter how many times we try to put the story to rest. I think we were three years beyond 'Puff (The Magic Dragon)'s' success," Stookey recalled, when a certain news magazine decided to have some fun. "The Newsweek article was in fact the first mention of anything like that, and as I understand it when one of the reporters was approached about it, he said shamefacedly, 'We were all sitting around complaining about what stupidity it was, this McCarthy scare about hidden lyrics. So, we decided that we would come up with the most innocuous song that we could think of in this pool of writers and say that it was purported to be [about drugs]." He said, "We never thought for a minute that it would take hold.' And it's still tearing at us," adds Stookey.
Group member Peter Yarrow wrote this song in 1958 before PP&M had been formed after coming home and seeing a poem about a dragon in his typewriter. He based his song on this poem, which was written by Leonard Lipton, a friend of Yarrow.
A few years later when this became a hit, Yarrow looked up Lipton and gave him half the songwriting credit. Lipton now gets extensive royalties from this. Lipton wrote his poem while he and Yarrow were students at Cornell. He had just turned 19, and was writing about the loss of childhood. It took him only a few minutes to type the poem once he arrived at Yarrow's house (no one was home; so he helped himself to the typewriter) - and he forgot to take it with him when he right the building. Lipton based some of the words to his poem on an Ogden Nash poem called The Tale Of Custard The Dragon.
Lipton's poem had a verse that did not make it into the song. In it, Puff found another child and played with him after returning. Neither Yarrow nor Lipton remember the verse in any detail, and the paper that was right in Yarrow's typewriter in 1958 has since been lost. In an effort to be gender-neutral, Yarrow now sings the line "A dragon lives forever, but not so little boys" as "A dragon lives forever, but not so girls and boys." View the video online
He's So Fine - The Chiffons
A love song written by Ronald Mack who died of cancer shortly after it was released. It received notoriety in 1976 when George Harrison lost a lawsuit in 1976 when a judge determined he "subconsciously plagiarized" the song when writing "My Sweet Lord," his first single as a solo artist. The judge admitted the similarities, but ruled that George hadn't intentionally copied the song. Nevertheless, he was ordered to pay Bright Tunes Music, who owned the copyright, $587,000.
At the time, John Lennon made some scathing remarks about the penalty inflicted on his fellow Beatle by the courts. George appears to have been a victim of his excellent tune memory, in the same way that Helen Keller wrote what she thought was an original story when she was twelve - The Frost King - only to be accused of plagiarism when it turned out to be an (improved!!) version of a children's story someone had read to her four years earlier. This incident led Mark Twain to write his famous statement on plagiarism (saying that we all, himself included, do it without thinking).
The Chiffons actually covered a version of "My Sweet Lord" after they heard Harrison's version. "My Sweet Lord" was not only Chiffons song to inspire a Beatle; Lennon and McCartney have claimed the Chiffons' "One Fine Day" inspired them to write "It Won't Be Long". "He's So Fine" was originally going to be the follow-up single by The Tokens to their hit, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", but they failed to win a recording contract and were commissioned to produce The Chiffons' recording of it instead. The single was rejected by twelve record companies, including all the majors, before the bosses at Laurie Records said "yes." The Chiffon's follow-up single, "One Fine Day", originally had a vocal by Carole King's babysitter, Little Eva. That vocal was wiped off the instrumental track and replaced with The Chiffons. Eva had her own No.1 hit with "Locomotion". Hear the song online
If I Had A Hammer - Peter, Paul and Mary / Trini Lopez
"If I Had a Hammer" was written by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays in 1949 in support of the progressive movement, and was first recorded by The Weavers, a folk music quartet comprised of Seeger, Hays, Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman. The song was not particularly successful when it was first released, likely due in part to the political climate of the time. It fared notably better when it was recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary more than a decade later. Their cover of the song became a Top 10 hit in the US and was unofficially adopted as an anthem by the American Civil Rights movement. They sang it in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC during an historic march organized by anti-war and civil rights activist Bayard Rustin (1910-1987). Today, the march is best-remembered for Martin Luther King's speech, for his repeated declaration, "I have a dream," that brought the event to its conclusion.
At the march, Peter, Paul and Mary also sang their other charting single, the anthemic Bob Dylan composition, "Blowin' In The Wind". "If I Had a Hammer" has since been recorded by dozens of major artists, including a version by Trini Lopez on his 1963 album, Trini Lopez at PJ's, as well as one by Leonard Nimoy, which appeared on his 1968 release, The Way I Feel. A more recent example is the reggae-style cover released by BBC personality, Handy Andy, which was not particularly well received. French popstar Claude François released his cover "Si j'avais un marteau" in November 1963. View the video online
Please Please Me - The Beatles (right)
This highly commercial recording was the title track of The Beatles' first album; it was the second Beatles single released on the Parlophone label, which rocketed to No.2 in the UK on its release. John sings lead, with close harmony backing by Paul and George; producer George Martin overdubbed some interesting harmonica from John. Paul has since given Martin credit for improving the tempo of this track, which was the main reason for its success. Lennon, who was a big Roy Orbison fan, wrote this in the style of Orbison's overly-dramatic singing. Producer George Martin was not originally aware of the songwriting talents of Lennon/McCartney and had wanted them to record "How Do You Do It?" at this session. The Beatles lobbied to do their own "Please Please Me". "How Do You Do It?" can be heard on the Anthology I album, but wasn't released by the Beatles. Instead it went to Gerry and the Pacemakers, and ironically, it was No.1 for them. In 2006, Martin told The Observer Music Monthly, "The songs the Beatles first gave me were crap ... they played a dreadful version of 'Please Please Me' as a Roy Orbison-style ballad. We worked for ages on their new version".
After the second take, legend has it that Martin got on the studio intercom and said "Gentlemen, you have just recorded your first number one!" Well, he was close! The album combined two previously released singles, "Love Me Do"/"PS I Love You" and "Please Please Me"/"Ask Me Why", with ten newly recorded songs. Four of the new songs were Lennon-McCartney originals, while the remaining six were Beatles' versions of their favourite songs that were part of their repertoire at the Cavern Club in Liverpool and the Star Club in Hamburg. Many of the songs on the album, including "Please Please Me", were recorded in an exhaustive 13-hour recording session with Martin at EMI's Abbey Road studios on 11th February 1963. This was The Beatles' first single released in America. The Beatles couldn't get a major label to release it, so it went to a small label called Vee Jay records, who released it as a single 3 times - 25th February 1963, 30th January 1964, and 10th August 1964 and misspelt their name on the record label, calling them The Beattles" first time around. The only release that charted was the second, when The Beatles had finally made a name for themselves in America. View the video online
Rhythm of the Rain - The Cascades
The Cascades were the darlings of the US west coast music scene in 1963. They scored one of the year's most recognisable songs - a song unique in its instrumentation and lovely in its harmony and melody. It all started when a bunch of sailors serving on the USS Jason in the Navy got together in San Diego in 1960 and formed a singing group. The group was originally known as the Silver Strands and they were playing local shows. Subsequently, all the guys right the Navy and the group became the Thundernotes. The group's first release was an instrumental on Bob Keene's Del Fi Records called "Thunder Rhythm" - their first attempt at the exotic rock sound, which failed to chart. Barry De Vorzon became their manager and decided the group needed a new name. Story has it that De Vorzon happened to look over at the counter where a box of Cascade detergent was sitting. The rest, as they say, is history. Lead singer John Gummoe wrote "Rhythm of the Rain" in 1962.
Phil Spector happened to be in the studio at the time of the recording session and asked them if they were recording a demo for Ricky Nelson. On that record can be heard the famous studio musicians known as the "Wrecking Crew" - Hal Blaine on drums, Carol Kaye on bass and Glen Campbell on guitar - which Spector insisted they use. They worked for Phil Spector on his Wall of Sound recordings and for The Beach Boys on their Pet Sounds LP. Perry Botkin did the arranging and it was recorded at the famous Gold Star Studios, home to the Wall of Sound. Sadly, The Cascades were one-hit wonders. They disbanded in 1975. "Rhythm of the Rain" has been described as one of the last great songs of the pre-Beatles era. Hear the song online
Ring of Fire - Johnny Cash (right)
This song, the first major hit for Johnny Cash in Australia, was written by June Carter and Merle Kilgore and recorded by Johnny Cash on 25th March 1963. Kilgore wrote several other Country hits, acted in a few movies, and became a manager for artists like Hank Williams. Kilgore was best man when Carter married Cash. June Carter wrote the lyrics about her relationship with JCash. She felt being around Cash was like being in a "ring of fire" as he was involved in drugs and had a very volatile lifestyle. When she wrote this, both June and Johnny were married (but not to each other), but they became singing partners and close friends. By 1967, Cash and Carter were single again and they got married in 1968.
Cash always claimed that June saved his life by helping him get off drugs. According to the Rolling Stone magazine's Top 500 Songs, June Carter wrote this song while driving around aimlessly one night, worried about Cash's wild ways - and aware that she couldn't resist him. "There is no way to be in that kind of hell, no way to extinguish a flame that burns, burns, burns," she wrote. The song was based on a poem, Love's Ring Of Fire, and it was originally recorded in a more folksy manner by June Carter's sister, Anita, as "Love's Fiery Ring." Cash held back on his single to give her version a chance to chart. This song was also recorded by the Animals on their double album. Also on the album is a cover of the Ike & Tine Turner song, "River Deep, Mountain High". Bob Dylan did a cover of "Ring of Fire" on the Feeling Minnesota soundtrack. Hear the song online | View the video online
From Me to You - The Beatles (right)
Released as the follow-up single to "Please Please Me", this Lennon/McCartney composition became The Beatles' second No.1 in the UK and the song that gave the first inkling of John and Paul's songwriting abilities. It began a string of 11 consecutive No.1 singles worldwide - a record that to date has yet to be equalled. Lead vocals are shared by Lennon and McCartney with George chiming in here and there. A feature of the single is the effective use of John on harmonica, playing an instrument he claimed to have stolen from a music shop in Arnhem, Holland. Three different versions of the song have been released and are available on various Beatles' albums.
The title of this song was taken from a letters column that ran in the popular British music newspaper, The New Musical Express. The column was called From You to Us. McCartney has said he got the idea for the opening line from a Liverpool street merchant who would push his cart down neighborhood streets yelling "If there's anything that you want ..." This was the first song to feature The Beatles falsetto "whoooo", a big part of many of their early hits, including "I Want To Hold Your Hand." Paul McCartney developed the "whoooo" by listening to and mimicking Little Richard. They met Little Richard in Germany and Richard says McCartney got him to show him how to do it over and over again till he got it right! Lennon and McCartney wrote this song on a bus while The Beatles were touring with the 16-year old songstress Helen Shapiro, as a message to The Beatles' fans. In 1963, Del Shannon became the first American to cover a Beatles song when he recorded a version of "From Me To You". Watch the video online
Blue Bayou - Roy Orbison (right)
This ballad was written by Roy Orbison and Joe Melson and released as a 45rpm single on the Monument Records label as the B-side to the rock song "Mean Woman Blues". It became the A-side after radio DJ's chose to play it rather than "Mean Woman Blues". "Blue Bayou" also appears on Orbison's 1963 album, In Dreams and his 1989 posthumous album A Black & White Night Live from the 1988 HBO television special. The song would later be recorded by several others including Linda Ronstadt (who also turned it into a No.1 hit) and in the French language by France's Mireille Mathieu. View the video online
Pretty Paper - Roy Orbison
This pretty ballad was released specifically as a Christmas song in November 1963. Penned by Roy Orbison, it tells the story of a man who Orbison had seen who sold Christmas bows, ribbons and wrapping paper from a street stall, but was largely ignored by the passing public. It reached number 10 on the U.S. Adult Contemporary Chart. The song was included on the 1963 Monument LP, Roy Orbison: In Dreams. Hear the song online
Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa - Gene Pitney (right)
In 1961, singer/songwriter Gene Pitney released his first solo single, "(I Wanna) Love My Life Away," on which he played several instruments and multi-tracked the vocals, followed by his first big hit, "Town Without Pity", that same year. This song, from the film of the same name, won the Golden Globe Award for "Best Song in a Motion Picture" and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song. Pitney was the first pop singer to perform at the Oscars, singing "Town Without Pity" at the 34th Annual Academy Awards on 9th April 1962.
The singer helped his musical career by writing hit songs for others. Notable songs include "He's a Rebel" for The Crystals, Vikki Carr and Elkie Brooks, "Today's Teardrops" for Roy Orbison, "Rubber Ball" for Bobby Vee and "Hello Mary Lou" for Ricky Nelson (Nelson is often inaccurately credited as the songwriter). The Crystals' "He's A Rebel" kept Pitney's highest peaking record (in the US), "Only Love Can Break A Heart" from reached No.1 on 3rd November 1962. "Tulsa" became Pitney's biggest hit in Australia thus far and would become his signature tune. His other 1963 hit, "Mecca," is considered by some to be a precursor to psychedelia in its use of Indian musical influences, two years before The Beatles began incorporating these influences. View the video online
Be My Baby - The Ronettes (right)
Written by Phil Spector (who also produced it), Jeff Barry, and Ellie Greenwich, "Be My Baby" as sung by The Ronettes is No.22 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Often cited as the ultimate embodiment of Spector's concept of the Wall of Sound, "Be My Baby" is one of the best-known and most enduring songs of its era, and arguably one of the most influential pop songs of all time: critic Jason Ankeny writes, "No less an authority than Brian Wilson has declared 'Be My Baby' the greatest pop record ever made no arguments here." In her autobiography, Veronica (Ronnie) Spector, after whom The Ronettes were named, relates that she was on tour with Joey Dee and the Starlighters when "Be My Baby" was introduced by Dick Clark on American Bandstand as the "Record of the Century."
The song has been covered many times by artists including Andy Kim (a 1969 chart hit produced by Jeff Barry), John Lennon, the Bay City Rollers, the Glitzzi Girls, The Baby Skins, Ivy, Travis and We Are Scientists. Mutya Buena has recently sampled the chorus of this song for her song 'B-Boy Baby' featuring Amy Winehouse on her debut album Real Girl. In 1986, Eddie Money's "Take Me Home Tonight" included the lyrics "Just like Ronnie sang" and Ronnie Spector herself singing part of the chorus to "Be My Baby". The song features a famous drum intro, played by Hal Blaine, which has been replicated on many subsequent songs. View the video online
I Only Want to Be With You - Dusty Springfield (right)
"I Only Want To Be With You", written by Mike Hawker & Ivor Raymond, was the first solo single to be released by British singer Dusty Springfield (born Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien) after her split from The Springfields. By 1962, the group had had some success in the US with "Silver Threads and Golden Needles". Pre-Beatles, this was a very unusual achievement for a British act. Intent on producing an authentic American recording, the band travelled to Nashville, Tennessee to begin work on an album.
During a stopover in New York City, Springfield first heard "Tell Him" by The Exciters and was immediately smitten and inspired by its sound. She later become obsessed with the Motown sound, particularly girl groups like Martha & The Vandellas and The Shirelles. Dusty was keen to gain full command over her music, so in late 1963, she right The Springfields to establish herself as a solo singer. Her brother and Mike Hurst both gave up performing and moved into production and composing. Recorded while still a member of The Springfields, "I Only Want To Be With You" was released in November 1963, three weeks after The Springfields' final concert. It was a popular success, reaching No.4 in Britain, No.12 in the US and No.1 in Australia, and was one of the first post-Beatles hits of the British Invasion of the 1960s.
A version by Jackie DeShannon was the first record ever played on the BBC TV program Top Of The Pops. Mike Hawker had had success a couple of years earlier with 'Walking Back to Happiness' with a 15-year-old Helen Shapiro abd wrote 'I Only Want To Be With You' with Ivor Raymond. The lyrics of 'I Only Want to be With You' recall the initial buzz of falling in love or, more probably, the intensity of a teenage crush. "Look what has happened with just one kiss, I never knew that I could be in love like this." A classic early '60s girl-meets-boy narrative, though the reality is more likely some unsuspecting fella has asked a girl to dance and now she's utterly besotted and wants to spend every moment of the day with him. Hawker and Raymond only further wrote 'Stay Awhile' for Dusty, which also appeared on the album A Girl Called Dusty.
A 1989 cover version of this was the last hit for British singer Samantha Fox, who rose to stardom after appearing topless in a British newspaper and scoring hits with "Touch Me (I Want Your Body)," "Naughty Girls (Need Love Too)," and "I Wanna have Some Fun." Her cover reached No.35. The Bay City Rollers had a hit with their cover of the song when they were at the height of their popularity in December 1976. It was also covered by The Tourists in 1979, a member of which was Annie Lennox. Sir Elton John performed the song at a solo show at the Civic Center Arena, Illinois, the day of Dusty Springfield's death. He introduced the song saying, "Dusty, wherever you are, this one's for you, my love, with all my love." View the video online
Walk Like A Man - The Four Seasons (right)
Written by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio, the song's enduring feature is the counterpoint of Nick Massi's bass voice and the falsetto of lead singer Frankie Valli which became The Four Seasons' trademark sound. Ignoring their Christmas single "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town", it was their third consecutive No.1 US hit, and marked their debut into the top 10 charts in Australia. During the sessions that produced the hit recording, the fire department received an emergency call from the Abbey Victoria Hotel (the building that housed the Stea-Phillips Recording Studios).
Producer Bob Crewe had locked the door, a standard practice on recording day, and was insisting upon recording the perfect take. During the recording session, the room directly above the studio caught fire, smoke and water started to seep into the studio as the group repeated their efforts upon Crewe's insistence The musicians were afraid of electrocution as water leaked into the studio, yet Crewe blocked the studio door and continued recording. The session ended when firemen axed open the studio door and knocked Crewe to the floor in the process. "Walk Like A Man" was the third US NO.1 hit for The Four Seasons, and was the follow-up to "Sherry" and "Big Girls Don't Cry". Legendary US DJ Art Leboe famously commented after first playing the song on KRLA: "Walk like a man, sing like a girl?" Hear the song online
Louie, Louie - The Kingsmen
Richard Berry who wrote the song, first recorded it back in 1956 with his band, The Pharaohs. The Kingsmen's version became legendary. It was a hit after a disc jockey in Boston played it continuously, declaring it the worst song he had ever heard. A number of factors led to the words being unintelligible, and subject to interpretation - most typically a "sexual" interpretation - the pidgin English narration of the lyrics, lead singer Jack Ely having worn braces on his teeth and having to strain to reach the microphone which was suspened from a 19-foot ceiling, and what the band believed was a run-through rehearsal being the one and only take of the song. This came about because the band's management could only afford 30 minutes of studio time, in which the band had to set up, rehearse, record, and then pack up their equipment.
The rumours about its "dirty lyrics" did wonders for the sales figures, but incurred the wrath of many people. Indiana governor Matthew Welsh was particularly offended by this song; he declared it "pornographic" and asked the Indiana Broadcasters Association to ban it. The FBI were called in and they commissioned a six-month study into the possible harmful effects of the song. They tracked down and interrogated everyone associated with it except Jack Ely - the only person who knew exactly what lyrics he actually sang. The band had secretly fired him and to keep their secret, they didn't tell the FBI that he was no longer with them. The FBI did vocal tests of all the band members and dozens of people they associated with but couldn't identify the singer. Eleven hundred pages and 31 months later, J. Edgar Hoover's finest concluded that they weren't sure if there were any harmful effects or not because they couldn't understand the words.
To this day, The Kingsmen insist they said nothing lewd, despite the obvious mistake at the end of the instrumental, where Jack Ely started to sing the last verse one bar too soon, and can be heard yelling something in the background. Ely has confirmed that he sung too far away from the microphone, which caused the fuzzy sound, and that the song's notoriety was initiated by the record company. The Kingsmen's recording was actually a cover of a version by Rockin' Robin Roberts and The Wailers, a Seattle band who missed out on sales success with their version. Paul Revere and The Raiders also recorded a version the day after The Kingsmen at the same studio. They didn't have written lyrics to sing from - only the recording by The Kingsmen to follow, which they couldn't understand, so they ad-libbed a few lines as can be clearly heard.
Their version was superior musically, but was just a regional hit. In the 1990 movie Coupe de Ville, Patrick Dempsey, Arye Gross and Daniel Stern star as brothers who have an argument over the meaning of the song. They debate if it is about lovemaking, or if it is a sea shanty. The Troggs would later borrow the backing theme of this song for the into on their No. 1 hit, 'Wild Thing'. View the video online
The lyrics actually represent the story of a Jamaican sailor talking to a bartender named Louie:
Three nights and days we sailed the sea.
Me think of girl constantly.
On the ship, I dream she there.
I smell the rose in her hair.
Louie, Louie, me gotta go.