Fifty Years Ago Today – 1966

On the world scene 1966 is fraught with conflict as the US bombs Hanoi in North Vietnam.  Mao tse-Tung unleashes the Cultural Revolution forcing thousands of ‘revisionist’ citizens from the cities into the countryside.  In Australia, Sir Robert Menzies resigns after 17 years as prime minster and the first parking meters are installed on the Gold Coast patrolled by pretty maids.

What’s Up Downunder?

The Seekers - Coffee Table Collection

The Seekers – Coffee Table Collection

The Seekers ended up on top in the previous year and were still on top in the early weeks of 1966, although sharing the top spot with the Beatles – naturally.  Fifty years on in 2016 and a coffee table book has been released celebrating the Seekers and their music.

Melbourne music charts in early 1966 are hard to come by.  The earliest chart is 9 January 1966 from Brisbane’s 4BC Top 40 Chart.  There were only nine Australian Artists in the chart – The Seekers at #2 with The Carnival is Over, Normie Rowe with a couple of songs – Tell him I’m not there and Shakin’ all over, MPD – The Letter, Billy Thorpe – Dancing in the Street, Easybeats, The Five, Tony Worsley and Ray Brown.

The Beatles were, as usual in those days, sitting at #1 with We can work it out/Day Tripper, Rolling Stones at #6 – Get off my cloud and one hit wonders Hedgehoppers Anonymous at #8 with It’s Good News Week.  The Shadows sit at #40 with The Warlord, the latest of their instrumental hits, which featured in the film The Warlord, and on the flipside of the single, the unfortunate – I wish I could shimmy like my sister Arthur!

From 15 January through 25 May we have top 40 Charts from Melbourne’s 3UZ as our guide to the hits of the day, the progress of Australian groups and the continuing onslaught from UK.  New sounds from the USA are in the minority.

Seekers back on Top

There is little change on 15 January but it is worth noting The Seekers displace the Beatles at #1 and the Animals take second spot with It’s my Life, and in Melbourne ten Australian acts are in the Top 40 with the addition of The Groop and the Cherokees.  The Sorrows from Coventry are present in both 4BC and 3UZ charts with their great rendition of Take a Heart.  Another group that made one album, failed, but 50 years later are still performing.

By the end of January the Seekers are still sitting on top and Billy Thorpe’s Love letters is sitting comfortably at #7.  There are two big new movers in the charts – The Easybeats with Women and The Who with My Generation.  Things are warming up.  By 6 February the Seekers still reign and Normie Rowe is at #2 with Tell him I’m not home.  Other Melburnians – The Groop, Peter Doyle, and Merv Benton are well placed, including Tony Henry with Heartbeat at #39 – a song which would dominate our TV watching lives in the late 1990s while we watched Claude Jeremiah Greengrass carry out his one man confabulation of the Aidensfield constabulary.

GO-Set Newspaper Launched

Go-Set 2 Feb 1966

Go-Set 2 Feb 1966

On 2 February GO-Set Newspaper was launched in Melbourne, the first issue of a “teens and twenties” Newspaper with the news that fits for teenagers.  And what news might that be?  The first issue of GO-Set featured the “Wailing Welshman”, Tom Jones, on the cover with an exclusive interview.  Tom is touring Australia but all the news is about The GROOP, and a snub directed north of the border as the article is headed:

“It’s a chance to get the Melbourne Sound off the ground at last.  Now Sydney artists are told to take a holiday, and in their place Tom Jones and Herman’s Hermits get the backing of……THE GROOP!” 

It was always going to end in tears.  But within the hallowed pages of GO-Set there was some balance (if you lived in Melbourne).  There was a splash on women’s fashion on “Prue’s Page”, a weekly guide to what’s on that was special including in-house news of The Thumpin Tum, Melbourne’s greatest lttle disco in Little Latrobe Street.  There were articles on Surfing, How to buy a second hand sports car – very important, promotions for the Go-Show and Kommotion and a list of all the gigs for the week.  In the first edition there was also a special on Pat Carroll who had just returned from entertaining the troups at Da Nang.  1966 was all happening.

Back to the Charts

13 February and Seekers are still on top; Beatles #2.  The mighty Gloria by Them sits at #3.  We all loved Gloria and still do, and having been introduced to this version find it difficult to believe that on the American Billboard Charts that The Shadows of the Knight rendition sold so well –  deplorably so and it’s not a great version.  Nevertheless back in Melbourne the Top 10 is a corker – The Who – My Generation at #6, Animals – It’s my Life #7, Yardbirds – I’m a Man #10.  Normie Rowe sits at #4 with Tell him I’m not home and Ray Brown with a racy version of Tennessee Waltz at #5.  Herman’s Hermits sit at #9 with a Must to Avoid – their cheeky songs endearing them to their fans around the world.  All in all there are 12 Australian acts in the Top 40, including the enigmatic Tony Barber at #27 with Someday.  February is an exciting month.

Gloria stays at #2 – stopped by the Seekers still at #1 but a new girl is on the block as Nancy Sinatra storms up the charts and sits at #4 with the classic awesome These boots are made for walking.  Did this song make feminism possible?  Or perhaps assisted the 5th Dimension in 1968 to reach #29 in the Hot 100 with the classic whooping chorus “She walks all over you….Carpet Man…..”.  Peter Doyle and Merv Benton are still hanging in there.

These Boots…..

nancy-sinatra_bootsOn 28 February Nancy Sinatra walks all over everybody and sits at #1 and stays there for seven weeks.  On reflection it’s not much of a song but it seemed to have hit home with everyone and everyone bought the single, the EP and the album.  ‘Boots’ is the first of many compositions by Lee Hazlewood for Nancy Sinatra, produced by guitarist, composer and arranger Billy Strange, a long time associate of Lee Hazlewood.

The number of Australian acts continues to increase and by the end of February reached 14 hits in the Top 40 – of which Normie Rowe was over represented with three songs.  Spencer Davis hits the charts with Keep on Running.  By Mid-March there are 16 Australian hits in the top 40.  Tony Barber’s Someday hits #7 and the Seeker’s new song – Someday Oneday heads for #12, and surprisingly The Throb re-enter the charts with their slightly more sleazy version of Fortune Teller.

According to the 3UZ Top 40 Chart for 20 March, there were 17 Australian acts crowded into the Top 40 just overtaking the British invasion represented by 16 songs, 6 from the USA and a single Canadian – Buffy Sainte-Marie.  Bragging rights were shared by Australia and the UK dominating the 3UZ Charts.  Gloria finally drops to #5 and Normie Rowe sneaks into #2 with Breaking Point.  The Throb amazingly sit at #11 with Fortune Teller – second time around.

The Twilights enter the charts at #19 in early April with the Beatlish – If she finds outMichelle performed by UK group The Overlanders are at #2 but once by the Beatles was enough – too much of a good thing.  The Seekers, seeking more success, were at #4 with Someday Oneday.

Barbra…..Funny Girl

There is no significant US presence in the charts.  But having said that the ever popular Barbra Streisand sits at #2 with Second Hand Rose – a song from her album My Name is Barbra, Two.  The song subsequently featured in the film Funny Girl (1968), but was not included in the original 1964 Broadway Musical, which Streisand starred in.  And it shows that there were many people buying records who were older than 20, may be even older!!  But steaming up the charts was Bobby & Laurie’s latest big one – Hitch Hiker – bit of a weird number not quite upbeat, a little bit country and talking lyrics.  But the punters loved it.

13 Australian acts decorate the charts on 20 April.  Breaking Point by Normie Rowe is at #2, The Beatles Nowhere Man #5, Sandy Shaw – Tomorrow #19, Bob Lind and the beautiful Elusive Butterfly is at #35, whilst Cliff Richard is at #40 with one his best for years – When Blue turns to Grey – written by the Glimmer Twins themselves.  The Twilights have stalled in the middle of the charts with If she finds out but stardom is not long away.

Hitch Hiker !!!!!!!!!!

bobbyandlaurie-hitchhikerOn 27 April Hitch Hiker is on top at #1, displacing at long last Nancy Sinatra and “these boots” and stays on top for an impressive run of three weeks.  Myer, the Bourke Street Emprorium, thought Bobby & Laurie were the bees knees and one lunchtime the band played a few of their hits in the City Store Miss Melbourne shop.  There were a lot of young guys hanging around the Miss Melbourne shop with more than girls’ clothes on their minds when the group bopped into motion.  Another marketing idea gone wrong but we enjoyed it – not bad for a lunch time’s entertainment and back via the Selbourne Chambers for a quick beer before afternoon tea.  Aah life at the bottom it was glorious.

The Pied Piper by Crispian St Peters knocks off Bobby & Laurie in the third week of May.  The Yardbirds – Shapes of Things #3, Beatles – Nowhere Man #6.  Steve & the Board are laughing at #14 with Giggle Eyed Goo, and sitting consecutively at #30 to #34 are The Twilights, Mike Furber, Buddy England, the Seekers & the Easybeats – local talent to be reckoned with.  The Elusive Butterfly makes it to #2 on 18 May.

Fortune Teller flies again

The last week in May and The Throb with Fortune Teller sit at #2 behind the Pied Piper.  Bob Dylan has finally made a welcome return to the charts with Rainy Day Women at #18.  Lynne Randell hits the scene with Heart and Nancy Sinatra is also sitting at #6 with the sassy How does that grab you darling. Sass sells.  At #30 Pretty Flamingo reveals the magic of Manfred Mann.

Back with 4BC Brisbane

For the last few weeks until the end of June our guide to greatness is provided by the 4BC Charts.  It seems that so-called sleepy Brisbane was not that sleepy at all.  North of the border Hitch Hiker still reigned at #1 and Cher sits at #2 with Bang Bang.  Notably there are only five Australian acts in the Top 40 in Brisbane but some super hits from UK and USA.  The Who has landed with Substitute at #7, The sun ain’t gonna shine any more – The Walker Brothers #10, Paint it Black – Rolling Stones #31, 19th Nervous Breakdown – Rolling Stones #34, Groovy Kind of Love – The Mindbenders #26 and the splendid Monday Monday – Mamas and the Papas #16.  At #24 were Brisbane group The Allusions with a classic beat version of Gypsy Woman – one of the greatest one time hits by an Australian band now long forgotten.

The song was originally written and performed by Ricky Nelson back in 1963.  It got to #62 on the Billboard Top 100, #91 on Cashbox and #26 in Australia.  It appeared on Ricky’s 1963 album For your love.  The Allusions rendition is faithful and fun.

There is not much change by mid June except that the silly Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick and Tich are in the Top 40 at #20 with Hold Tight.  Simon & Garfunkel are about to start their incredible run of hits with I am a Rock at #39, The Lovin’ Spoonful – Daydream #12 and the Byrds with Eight Miles High at #37.  The Easybeats hit #1 with Come & see her on 19 June.  Dusty Springfield sits at #5 with You don’t have to say you love me.  Things are humming.  The Lovin’ Spoonful have a second track in the Top 40 – with Did you ever have to make up your mind – at #33 – we are heading for Hippy territory here.  And at #38 is Max Merritt with his Meteors and a great cover version of Sam Cooke’s I can’t help myself – with more to come.  By this time Max Merritt, who originated from New Zealand, has already released two albums steeped in rock, soul and R&B – a senior presence amongst his peers.

At the end of June 1966 the Easybeats are still on top and Bobby & Laurie at #2.  Right behind them is an impressive list of rock names from #3 to #12 from the UK and USA.  The list is worth a look:

#3 – You don’t have to say you love me – Dusty Springfield

#4 – The Pied Piper – Crispian St Peters

#5 – Paint it Black – Rolling Stones

#6 – Monday Monday – Mamas & the Papas

#7 – Substitute – The Who

#8 – How does that grab you darlin’ – Nancy Sinatra

#9 – Elusive Butterfly – Bob Lind

#10 – Strangers in the night – Frank Sinatra

#11 – A groovy kind of love – The Minbenders

#12 – Pretty Flamingo – Manfred Mann

#13 – Twinkle Toes – Roy Orbison

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So it appears that it was a successful first half of 1966 for Australian groups.  Based on the 3UZ and 4BC Top 40 Charts, the Seekers held the top spot for eight weeks, Bobby & Laurie for 5 weeks, and the Easybeats for 2 weeks.  From the USA, Nancy Sinatra also hogged the top spot for eight weeks, Crispian St Peters for a single week and surprisingly the Beatles also for a single week.  However the ARIA charts show some differences and are worth including because it is maybe how many of us remember the era:

The Seekers – The Carnival is over – 2 weeks

The Beatles – We can work it out/Daytripper – 7 weeks

Nancy Sinatra – These Boots are made for walkin’ – 8 weeks

The Beatles – Nowhere Man – 2 weeks

Bobby & Laurie – Hitch Hiker – 5 weeks

Rolling Stones – Paint it Black – 3 weeks.

Whichever view is more accurate it is clear that the home grown talent with its lucky mix of ten pound poms and other European immigrants helped to develop and foster the Australian music scene, which was quite healthy, and it is interesting to look at the USA at this time where local talent has gone missing (temporarily).

Not Quite Rocking in the USA – literally

simonandgarfunkel-sounds-of-silenceWhere will the next hit makers come from – NYC or the West Coast?  Just before Christmas Simon & Garfunkel were at #2 on the Billboard Top 100 and slipped into the top spot on January 1, whilst the Beatles were at #2 with a red star and We can work it out.  A cursory glance down the Billboard Top 100 does not show glee and excitement, rather gloom and gloomier.  The redoubtable James Brown is at #3 with I got you (I feel good), The Byrds – Turn , Turn Turn #4, and firm favourites Dave Clark 5 with Over & Over at #5.  After this the songs are a dreary middle-of-the-road schmaltzy blur until #18 – Beatles to the rescue and Daytripper.  Red stars are allocated to the Vogues – Five O Clock World and Gary Lewis & the Playboys and the pathetic She’s my style. Whooooah what is going on?

Billboard Top 100 or Top 70 60 50 40

The Billboard Top 100 covers a lot of territory and probably far too much.  There are many genres included in the Billboard Top 100 which reflects top selling records across the States.  In Billboard Magazine in 1966 there are also separate charts for the Easy Listening Top 40, Hot Country Singles Top 40, and Top Selling Rhythm & Blues Singles Top 40.  Many of the hits in these charts also appear in the Billboard Top 100 Chart.  In January 1966 the Billboard Top 100 Chart included 20 easy listening hits, 18 R&B hits and 3 Country hits with a smattering of hits from musical and film soundtracks.  On balance the Billboard Top 100 might be reconfigured as a Top 70 (by excluding easy listening/MOR hits and country, but retaining all the R&B hits, which include Tamla Mowtown and other artists like Stevie Wonder, Marvyn Gaye, Sam & Dave who are right in the mainstream of modern American music).  On this basis we are getting closer to the concept of a Top 40 comparison with Australia and the UK.

Winter in America – January 1966

beatles-we-can-work-it-outIn January 1966, in the USA, a lot of more mature music lovers were buying singles and albums at the safe MOR end of the business by the truck load.  Bubbling in the mix of the Billboard Top 100 there are only 11 UK acts (part of the British Invasion) and about 20 US acts, the only new comers being the Byrds, the Vogues, Gary Lewis & the Playboys, Johnny Rivers, Martha & the Vandellas with Elvis, Gene Pitney and the Beach Boys wading in the shallows.  For the deep winter of the northern hemisphere it was cold and boring in comparison with the vibrant charts downunder.  But that said Simon & Garfunkel is a worthy #1

It does not get much more exciting in mid January but as usual the Beatles take over the #1 position with We can work it out.  Gary Lewis sits at #3 with the terrible She’s just my style.  The Vogues – still with a red star – shoot into #4 with Five O Clock World and watching the song on Hullabaloo is excruciating.  One of the worst songs on the charts at #14 is Puppet on a string by Elvis – not to be confused with Sandy Shaw’s Puppet on a string in the 1968 Eurovision contest, which is an entirely different song.

A few youngsters popped in to charts.  The Knickerbockers were sitting at #26 with a red star and the exciting Lies.  The Young Rascals, an emerging talent, hit the charts at #67 with a red star with the really terrible I ain’t gonna eat my heart out anymore.  Thank the lord they improve out of sight but it is amazing what was released to get a toehold in the charts. A&R men would have to be overly optimistic in every sense.  Generally most of the impetus in the T100 was either with the British groups or the US R&B stars, who sprinkled the charts with gems – Don’t mess with Bill – the Marvelettes, Going to a Go-Go – Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Up Tight – Stevie Wonder, Crying Time –Ray Charles, Attack – the Toys.

knickerbockers-lies stevie-wonder-uptight   toys-attack

Surprise, surprise – Sounds of Silence rebounds to #1 in the week of 22 January.  The Beatles sit at #2 with We can work it out and at #5 – Daytripper with a red star.  The awful instrumental by the T-Bones – No matter what shape (your stomach is in) – sits at #6.  When you hear this simple derivative tune you again wonder at the optimism of the faceless A&R man.  The tune was based on music used in an Alker-Seltzer commercial and played by The Wrecking Crew, that bunch of LA studio session musicians, which backed hundreds of Top 100 hits by many US artists.  But there is more bad stuff.  Sitting at #7 is the Mike Douglas (Mike who?) word song – The men in my little girl’s life.  There is nothing sacred in the Billboard Top 100.

What’s with the civil war costumes?

Paul Revere & the Raiders lob into #11 on 22 January with Just like me and their colourful civil war costumes make Gary Puckett and the Union gap look good.  But their garage rock approach is refreshing.  Little Anthony & the Imperials sit at #53 with Hurt and the Mamas & the Papas – with the legendary California Dreamin’ sits at #54.  Ramsey Lewis & His Trio (of jazz fame) sits at #58 with a cool version of A Hard Days Night with a red star.  It could be the jazz but it could be anything Beatles.  The Billboard Top 100 is a potpourri of eclectic sounds – almost anything goes – the good, the bad and the ugly.  Other red stars sitting in the boondocks of the T100 include The Strangeloves – Night time #66, Nancy Sinatra – These boots…#74 and The Who – My Generation #77.

The Beach Boys still have a presence in the T100 and hit #2 with Barbara Ann and a red star.  More of the same really.  On 5 February Petula Clark hits the top spot with My Love – she is a firm favourite with the US public.  There are swift changes at the top as Lou Christie’s Lightning Strikes makes it on 21 February and then Nancy Sinatra with her boots in the following week.  Come 5 March 1966 and we have heard it all.  The Ballad of the Green Berets sits at #1 with Boots at #2 and Lightning at #3.  The rest of us might as well take a holiday downunder.

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Unfettered Variety on the Billboard T100 – March 1966

Other new songs and new groups are making an appearance.  Cheeky Herman & the Hermits sit at #4 with Listen People, the Mamas & the Papas at #5 with California Dreamin’, Bob Lind with Elusive Butterfly at #6; Rolling Stones at #12 with 19th Nervous Breakdown, and Simon & Garfunkel – Homeward Bound at #16.  And the Turtles first effort – not that good – You baby – was at #23, Beatles with Nowhere Man at #25, Sir Douglas Quintet at #39 with The rains came and at #53 the Lovin Spoonful with Daydream and again the Vogues having a second chance with Magic Town at  #56.

marketts-batman-themeAnd then – goddam it all oof pop pow crunch Jumping Catfish – the Batman Theme by the Marketts – a Hollywood surf group whose biggest hit had been Out of Limits in 1963 (later used in the 1994 cult film Pulp Fiction) – reach the dizzy heights of #17.  The least you can say about the Billboard Top 100 is that it held unfettered interest and variety.

The Ballad of the Green Berets by SSgt Barry Sadler patriotically remains on top for five weeks the longest any hit stays at the Top 100 for 1966.  Radio Stations across the USA flogged this song mercilessly and it also topped the Easy Listening and Country Charts.  With the Vietnam War warming up and American casualties growing this song was well received by the American public.

Back in the moshpit on 26 March there was plenty going on.  You are my (Soul & Inspiration) by the Righteous Brothers sits at #8, Peter & Gordon with Woman at #15.  With a red star Cleveland Band the Outsiders were at #21 with Time won’t let me – another disappointment.  But there was more excitement from Paul Revere & the Raiders with Kicks at #35 with a red star and outrageous uniforms and the Young Rascals were certainly stirring things up nicely with the cool Good Loving at #40.  Satisfaction re-entered the charts courtesy of Otis Redding at #43, whilst the Knickerbockers were back for more with One Track Mind at #57.

April Showers

The Righteous Brothers assume their rightful place at #1 with Soul & Inspiration on 9 April supported at #2 by The Lovin’ Spoonful with Daydream and the Rolling Stones at #3 with 19th Nervous Breakdown in the first week of April 1966.  Cher sits just outside the top 3 with a red star with Bang Bang at #4.  There are new comers arising including The Outsiders at #11 with the unexciting Time won’t let me, while Johnny Rivers, celebrating the spate of spy and espionage films has Secret Agent at #7.  Just good fun.

At #41 are the Shadows of Knight with Gloria – not a patch on Them.  Pet Clark’s A Sign of the Times chimes in at 324 just ahead of sexy Herb Alpert and What now my love at #29.  Way down in the nether regions the Mamas and the Papas creep in with the monster Monday Monday, a little ahead of the Byrds and the stratospheric Eight Miles High at #87.

New American artists, for the first time in the recent past, comprise the majority in the Top 10 and in the lower echelons of the charts new entries from revered US artists are listed, including Bob Dylan with Rainy Day Women at #71 and Percy Sledge When a man loves a woman at #73.

youngrascals-goodlovin lovinspoonful-daydream  knickerbockers-one-track-mind bobdylan-rainydaywomen cher-bangbang

April ends with the Young Rascals on top with the glorious Good Lovin’ and the Top 10 comprises all American acts with the exception of Herman’s Hermits at #10 with Leaning on a lampost, stopping Shadows of the Knight at #11 with Gloria, which regardless of our preferences for Them beats Herman hands down, and by divine right should be #10.  It is a great Top 10.

  1. Good lovin’ – Young Rascals
  2. Soul & Inspiration – Righteous brothers
  3. Monday Monday – Mamas & the Papas
  4. Sloop John B – Beach Boys
  5. Secret Agent Man – Johnny Rivers
  6. Kicks – Paul Revere & the Raiders
  7. Time won’t let me – The Outsiders
  8. Bang Bang – Cher
  9. Daydream – The Lovin’ Spoonful
  10. Leaning on a lamppost – Herman’s Hermits

May Day May Day Monday Monday

One of the biggest hits of 1966 reaches #1 on 7 May – rejoicing throughout the nation as someone has finally nailed Monday as not a good start to the week, or perhaps that the weekend should not end on Sunday, and maybe a prelude to flexible working hours.  Who knows?  His Bobness sits at #7 with Rainy Day Women, our greatest troubadour never destined to have a #1, but he goes close with this one.

Red star entries include The Sun ain’t gonna shine any more by the Walker Brothers at #24, Nothing’s to good for my baby by Stevie Wonder at #25, Love is like an itching in the heart by the Supremes at #26, It’s a man’s man’s man’s world by James Brown at #31 and Hold on I’m coming by Sam & Dave at #58.  Gloria by Them makes an appearance at #75 without a red star.

Monday Monday stayed on top for three weeks until the week of 21 May and during that time the US artists’ population at the top of the charts increased.  It was golden days for many new acts.  The Poets, which only released three singles in 1966, before vanishing, sat at #46 with the intriguing She blew a good thing, and you can’t keep a good man down with Dean Martin slurring along at #62 with Come running back.  Neil Diamond’s inaugural visit to the Top 100 at #87 – A Solitary Man – an inauspicious start but there was much more to come from Neil in the 1970s.

Deep breath – When a man loves a woman

percysledge-whenamanlovesawomanPercy Sledge had his moment of triumph on 28 May when his classic – When a man loves a woman – hit the #1 spot and stayed there for two weeks, supported by A groovy kind of love at #2 by the Mindbenders.  Sitting at #82 was another weirdo – Dickie Goodman and his contribution to humanity – Batman & His Grandmother.  Don’t ask.

In June the trophy was handed back to the British invaders with the Rolling Stones taking over for two weeks with Paint it Black until 18 June and then ousted by the Beatles with Paperback Writer on 25 June. There were some shockers in the charts not far below with Barefootin’ – Robert Parker at #7, Green Grass – Gary Lewis & the Playboys #8, Cool Jerk – by the Capitols #9 and Red Rubber Ball by the Cyrkle at #10.

But the Beatles were in good company ably supported at #2 by Frank Sinatra – Strangers in the Night.  The old guard tries to rally the troops, whilst at #95 Roger Miller chortles away with You can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd.  You might ask – who would try to – but maybe there are people out there……….

beatles-paperbackwriter frank-sinatra-strangersin-the-night jamesbrown-itsamanmansworld mindbenders-a-groovy-kind-of-love samanddave-holdonimcoming

Back to the Benchmark – Swinging London

Life was back to normal in UK – Beatles on top!  And in analysing the make up of the charts it seems there were less novelty records in the Top 40, less nostalgia and easy listening, although the inimitable Ken Dodd who we met in 1965 had three hits in the charts in the first six months of 1966.  But in UK there were obvious old favourites from the other side of the pond – the 4 Seasons, Gene Pitney, Roy Orbison, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett.  The main impetus however was still from the local Beat groups and singers who peppered the charts with hit after hit.

Accompanying the Beatles on the 6 January chart were the Seekers at #2 with The Carnival is Over; the unputdownable Ken Dodd was at #3 with The River and at #7 with the dreadful Tears.  These latter entries were balanced, however, by new sensations the Spencer Davis Group and their debut hit Keep on Running.  The Walker Brothers were at #6 with My ship is coming in.  Bob Dylan, a fond favourite of UK fans, dwelt at #28 with Positively 4th Street down from his peak of #8.

Spencer Davis Group – Top of the Pops

spencerdavis-keep-on-runningOn 20 January, Spencer Davis’ Keep on Running achieved a #1 and already people were talking about their 17 year old multi-instrumentalist Steve Winwood, destined for rock fame.  Spanish Flea by Herb Alpert was schmoozing along at #6.  Michelle by the Overlanders hit the #1 position on 27 January and stayed there until mid February fighting off another version by David & Jonathan which stalled at #11.  The Beatles did not release a single of Michelle in either the UK or USA but it scored a #1 in some European charts.  Michelle was unable to stop Nancy Sinatra from imposing herself at #1 with These Boots… and stayed on top for four weeks keeping the Rolling Stones at #2 with 19th Nervous Breakdown.

George marries Patty

On the quiet George Harrison married Pattie Boyd in Epson Surrey on 22 February with friends and family attending.  All is well with the world and only Paul is yet to tie the knot.

In February there was plenty going on lower down the charts – The Small Faces – Sha La la Lee, Sandie Shaw – Tomorrow, Mindbenders –  Groovy Kind of Love, Kinks – Dedicated follower of fashion, Beach Boys – Barbara Ann, Petula Clark – My Love,  and Gene Pitney – Backstage.

With a quiet sigh of relief from everyone, Nancy vacated the top spot on 17 March and the Walker Brothers stepped up with The Sun ain’t gonna shine anymore and monopolised this position for another four weeks.  Plenty of UK groups were clambering up the charts with great offerings: Yardbirds – Shapes of Things, The Who – Substitute, Spencer Davis – Somebody help me, Hold tight – DDDBM&T, Cilla Black – Alfie, Hollies – I can’t let go, Dusty Springfield – You don’t have to say you love me, Crispian St Peters – Pied PiperThe Ballad of the Green Berets by SSgt Barry Sadler made it to #26 although there was a truckload of criticism of the song in the New Musical Express by almost any English musician you could name.  US tracks Elusive Butterfly – Bob Lind and Bang Bang – Cher were also enjoying success.

Spencer Davis Again #1

14 April and Spencer Davis had their second #1 – Somebody help me and the Bachelors were at #3 with a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence with Simon & Garfunkel sitting at #17 with Homeward Bound.  For the next six weeks all the top spots were new British Artists.  Dusty Springfield followed the Spencer Davis Group into #1 with You don’t have to say you love me and as quickly Manfred Mann hit #1 with Pretty Flamingo, one of their best shots, and stayed there for three weeks, surrendering to the Rolling Stones and Paint it Black.

Sinatra Family Top of Pops

Things were turned on their heads when Frank Sinatra swooped into #1 with Strangers in the night on 2 June.  Frank always enjoyed popularity in Britain and he stayed on top for three weeks of early summer.  Simmering in the top ten were the Beach Boys – Sloop John B, Troggs – Wild Thing, Rainy Day Women – Bob Dylan, Sorrow – The Merseys, Monday Monday – Mamas & the Papas, Hey Girl – Small Faces.  Even Ken Dodd was back with Promises!  Percy Sledge moved up with When a man loves a woman and Cilla Black with Don’t answer me, a follow up to Alfie.

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Normality Returns – Eight days a Week

Matters ended in June as they started in January – Beatles on top!  The Top 10 for 23 June was a beauty:

  1. Paperback Writer – Beatles
  2. Strangers in the night – Frank Sinatra
  3. Monday Monday – Mamas & the Papas
  4. When a man loves a woman – Percy Sledge
  5. Sunny Afternoon – Kinks
  6. Don’t bring me down – Animals
  7. Don’t answer me – Cilla Black
  8. River Deep Mountain High – Ike & Tina Turner
  9. Sorrow – Merseys
  10. Over Under Sideways Down – Yardbirds

Out there still to come were the Hollies – Bus Stop, Chris Farlow – Out of time, Los bravos – Black is Black, Gene Pitney – Nobody needs your love and Chris Montez – The more I see you.  The show rolls on.

The first six months of 1966 were full of new sounds and excitement, fashions and pearls across USA, UK and Australian Top 40 Charts.  A top ten selection in no particular sequence is below in our 1966 Juke box.  Have fun and let’s see what happens in the next six months soon.

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