Prince Charles leaves Berties Discotheque in disarray
In July 1966 Prince Charles, after spending summer and autumn grooving to the best of Melbourne’s pop scene in the hallowed cloisters of Timbertop College Geelong, drinking cherry brandy, was whisked back to Gordonstoun for his final year. Melbournians were sad to see him go but Molly Meldrum, newly employed with Go-Set Magazine, promised himself if the Prince ever came back to Australia he would interview him if it was the last thing he did. Molly was far more optimistic about Melbourne’s dark attraction than Ava Gardner had been when filming On the Beach a few years back, possibly a reflection of 60s positivism.
And some other things had changed. We were still getting used to the price of records under the decimal currency system introduced in February. Singles cost one dollar instead of ten shillings; EPs $1.25 and albums now $5.25 instead of two pounds twelve shillings and sixpence. On the bright side salaries seemed to have doubled or was it inflation!!
Melbourne 1966 – 3UZ Top 40 – Monday Monday
But we digress. On 3 July 1966, heading the 3UZ Top 40 Charts, were the Mamas and the Papas with Monday Monday, written by John Phillips – a dream hit song recorded in Hollywood California. Grantley Dee, blind radio presenter with 3AK and singer, presided at #2 with Let the little girl dance. The Top 40 was a potpourri of songs by Australian, US and UK artists. Twelve Australian acts were in the 3UZ Top 40, including Johnny Young, Bobby & Laurie, Ronnie Burns, The Groop, The Loved Ones, The Throb, Normie Rowe, Mike Furber & the Bowery Boys, Steve & the Board and our lone female – groovy Lynne Randell. It was quite a line up and things were in full swing.
Meanwhile up in sunny Queensland
There is still some difficulty in getting hold of Melbourne charts around this time so we shift our attention to Brisbane. Frank Sinatra sits atop the 4BC Top 40 of 10 July with Strangers in the Night, keeping some heavy hitters at bay as the Beatles sit at #2 with Paperback Writer and the Rolling Stones at #3 with Paint it Black. The Easybeats are at #6 with Come & See and Bobby & Laurie at #7 with Hitch Hiker. The Troggs sit at #21 ready to move up with Wild Thing. Melbournians are also favourites in the sunny north with Grantley Dee – Let the little girl dance at #29 and Lynne Randell at #37 with the moody Heart.
We will stay with 4BC until September. The very popular Tar & Cement by Verdelle Smith reached #2 behind cranky Frankie on 17 July in Brisbane. Paperback Writer and Paint it Black were also in the vicinity and indeed the charts were similar to Melbourne’s 3UZ. When pop got going in Brisbane there was no holding anyone back. Frank Sinatra enjoyed another week at #1 but the Troggs were not to be ignored and by the end of July 1966 Wild Thing was #1. The surprisingly limp, Mama, by B J Thomas sat at #4, whilst Normie Rowe tried his luck with Pride & Joy at #8. The single difference in the makeup of the local charts was that by the end of July there were only seven Australian artists in the Brisbane charts.
Mama ….. Born Free…save me!
Come the first week of August and in both Melbourne and Brisbane Mama by B J Thomas was on top of the charts. This sugary melodrama of a pop song seemed to suck all the air out of the charts in Australia and maybe every mother bought a copy hoping their sons would see the light. August was fairly excruciating as Mama stayed on top for three weeks superseded almost gratefully by Matt Monro’s Born Free, a leading song from the film of Elsa the lioness, which dominated the screen for some months. But there was still some good pop in the lower echelons of the charts – Syndicate of Sound – Little Girl, Hollies – Bus Stop, Mamas and the Papas – I saw her again, Kinks – Sunny Afternoon and His Bobness – I want you. The Hondells and the Shondells were mid-charts at #18 and #22 with A Younger Girl and the terrible Hanky Panky respectively. The Sydney-based Allusions produced a second fabulous song sounding as if it came straight from Liverpool with The Dancer, sitting at #37.
We all live on bread and margarine…..
In the first week of September the charts in Brisbane returned to normal – Beatles on top with Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby. The Hollies – Bus Stop sat at #2, the Easybeats with their Easy Fever EP at #3, and Johnny Young with Step Back at #6. In the nether region of the 4BC Charts, the Allusions moved up to #26 with The Dancer, the Sandpipers with Guantanamera at #27, Los bravos – Black is Black at #29 and Bobby Hebb – Sunny at #32 – all with a red star.
Come 11 September (and back in Melbourne) the Beatles are at #1 with Yellow Submarine. Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs is at #2 (pushed from the top position by the Fab Four) with Lil’ Red Riding Hood. There are thirteen Australian artists in the Top 40 and the Twilights lead the pack with two songs – Bad Boy at #11 and Needle in a Hay Stack at #16. It shows the group were having a bet each way with bad boys in the neighbourhood in the first song and not-so-good girls in the neighbourhood in the second song. Fair’s fair in love and war. Ronnie Burns was at #17 with True true love, Tony Barber at #25 with No No No and Grantley Dee – a second effort with Wild One at #37.
Again there is a lapse in the Melbourne Charts and for the remainder of September, relying on the 4BC Top 40, the Beatles remain unchallenged at #1 whilst the Easybeats with the Easy Fever EP sit at #2. Ray Coniff and the Ray Conniff Singers are at #3 with Somewhere my love – (aka Lara’s Theme) taken from the soundtrack of Dr Zhivago – cut to the brooding and handsome brow of Omar Sharif and the wistful smile of Julie Christie staring out from the snowdrifts of Spain (as Moscow was off limits to US film crews at the time) depicted in film posters plastered all across town. Coming up the charts with a red star were the Lovin’ Spoonful with Summer in the city – hitsville written all over it. The Allusions were at #19 and Lynne Randell sitting at #27 with Going out of my head. The Supremes sneak in at #29 with You can’t hurry love. Only six Australian artists are in the Top 40.
Inaugural Go-Set National Charts
In October 1966 Go-Set Magazine establishes the first National Charts. But before we go there it is interesting to note that on 9 October on the 3UZ Top 40, the Twilights from Adelaide, topple the Beatles from #1 with Needle in a haystack. I can recall a sunny public holiday with the boys – on the back of an open tray truck circling the trotting track at the Melbourne Showgrounds – in a parade of agricultural vehicles, horsemen, sheep, marching girls – belting out Needle in a haystack with farmers dancing in the grandstands!!! The sound quality was execrable, but everyone seemed happy, although mums and dads were mystified that a rock band should receive sustained applause at Melbourne’s revered agricultural show piece.
The Go-Set charts have the Beatles at #1 with Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby. Sunshine Superman sits at #2, Los Bravos – Black is Black #3, The Troggs – With a girl like you #4. Go-Set is bang on although still with a Melbourne emphasis. You can’t help geography. The Lovin’ Spoonful with the fabulous Summer in the City can only make it to #9 although at 4BC it made it to #5. The big new arrival at #28 is the as yet unknown Monkees with their first single – Last Train from Clarksville. Little did we know of the mayhem to follow. Bobby & Laurie, perhaps exhausted by the success of their earlier hits – sit at #30 with High Noon – big mistake – Dimitri Tiomkin, who received an Oscar for best song in 1952 would have disowned his own composition. Notwithstanding the number of Australian artists in the Top 40 increases to eleven.
By 12 October Needle in a haystack is at #3 behind the Beatles and Donovan. Johnny Young’s doubled sided single Step back/Cara-Lyn sits at #5 just ahead of Summer in the City. The Loved Ones with their second hit Ever lovin’ man sit at #13. The Seekers are back with Walk with me – #33. The Kinks sit at #37 with Sunny Afternoon and Cliff Bennett & the Rebel Rousers at #38 with the chunky Got to get you into my life. Thirteen Australian artists in the Top 40!!
Like trying to find…a needle in a haystack
Well it was worth waiting for – The Twilights hit #1 with Needle in haystack knocking off the Beatles and they stay at the top for two weeks, supported by Johnny Young at #2 – Step Back and Judy Stone’s version of Sandy Posey’s Born a Woman at #3. Peter & Gordon with Lady Godiva – anything for a laugh – sit at #5, The Loved Ones at #7 with Ever lovin’ man and the underrated Bobby Hebb with Sunny at #10. The Monkees have been making slow headway and sit at #16 with Last train from Clarksville. Spics & Specs, before it became a TV show, is at #18. Go Bee Gees. The appalling Winchester Cathedral is moving fast up the charts at #11. Who is the New Vaudeville Band and why?
Johnny Young reaches #1 with Step Back on 2 November. Sandy Posey/Judy Stone are at #2 and Twilights at #3. At #5, 6 and 7 we have the Bee Gees – Spics and Specs, the New Vaudeville Band – Winchester Cathedral and the Monkees – Last train. Wilson Pickett with Land of 1000 dances rocks in at #19. In Popland life is everything and it’s nothing and it’s ephemeral. On 9 November, Peter & Gordon, those jolly jesters from ye olde Englande launch Lady Godiva to the top of the charts. It gets worse – the New Vaudeville Band also from the provinces of the home counties is at #2 – with Winchester Cathedral – big groan………… But it gets better if you look to the lower rungs of the chart. The Easybeats hit #3 with Sorry – the first week in. Bobby Darin returns to the charts with the lovely Tim Hardin song – If I were a carpenter at #10; the Who pound away with I’m a boy at #13 and Lynne Randell with a quality version of Goin’ out of my head at #16. There are some other treasures down below – the Count Five – Psychotic Reaction – #24 and the Pretty Things – House in the country – #37.
The Easybeats sit at #1 with Sorry on 16 November. The Monkees peak at #6, whilst Ike & Tina Turner launch River deep mountain high at #16. Bobby Darin makes #1 the following week without any other major changes. By the end of November positions at the top have reversed again with the Easybeats at #1 and Bobby Darin at #2. And fair go too.
No milk today my true love’s gone away
In the first week in December 1966 Herman’s Hermits, consistent if nothing else, launch into the #1 position with No milk today in its first week in. It is quite startling as no fewer than five of the top seven entries are first week appearances with Johnny Young at #4 – Let it be me EP, the Beach Boys at #5 – Good Vibrations, Normie Rowe at #6 with Ooh la-la and the Easybeats at #7 – Friday on my mind. Also appearing for the first and nearly last time was Clinton Ford and Why women don’t like me – a shocker along with Winchester Cathedral – originally sung by George Formby in 1933 and readymade for the dustbin then.
No milk today remains on top at 14 December, attended by Normie Rowe at #2, Beach Boys #3, Johnny Young #4 and the triumphant Easybeats at #5 and #6. It is close to Christmas in Australia and the weather is hotting up. Donovan comes again with Mellow Yellow at #24 along with the Welshman Tom Jones at #28 and the melodramatic Green Green Grass of home.
Normie King of Pop
For the remainder of the Christmas season Normie Rowe reigns as the King of the Top 40 with Ooh la-la on the Go-Set Top 40 and the 3UZ Top 40, but 4BC allows Good Vibrations to have a week on top on the week of December 18. On the 21 December Go-Set Top 40 the Loved Ones have three record breaking entries The Blueberry Hill EP at #17, The Loved One at #19 and Ever lovin’ man at #22. Those Melburnians love their locals. The Supremes are on the move again at #32 with You keep me hanging on. Peter and Gordon’s follow-up hit to Lady Godiva – need we recall – A Knight in rusty armour slips into #35 at year’s end making you wonder – who writes this stuff?
A quick look at the 1966 ARIA charts confirms generally the trends from July to December but shows the Beatles and Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby at #1 for eight weeks in September/October and Lady Godiva – god bless her at #1 for three weeks in October/November, and for the last two weeks of the year – the Easybeats with Friday on my mind at #1. With sixty years of reflection one might think that Yellow Submarine is not all that appealing nor is Lady Godiva, but Friday on my mind gets you every time.
USA July 29 Bob Dylan motorcycle accident
In the US Bob Dylan had an accident on his motorcycle on July 29 and is not seen in public again for almost a year. By good fortune he has released his seminal album Blonde on Blonde on May 16. The Vietnam War is ramping up under President Johnson with many dark days and years ahead. At home all was well in a relative sense – Frank Sinatra is #1 of the Billboard Top 100 with Strangers in the night, having just topped the Beatles who are at #2 with Paperback Writer. The Cyrkle sat with a red star at #3 with Red Rubber Ball and the Rolling Stones at #4 with Paint it Black.
The American charts were a mix of styles and sounds with a peppering of UK groups and new US groups including a number of Tamla Motown recordings. By July 9, one week later, the Beatles resume the mantle of #1 with Paperback Writer and the Cyrkle miraculously get to #2 with the annoying Red Rubber Ball. The terrible Hanky Panky by Tommy James and the Shondells sits at #4. Wild Thing by the Troggs sits at #6 with a red star. There are many tracks with red stars this week – Little Girl – Syndicate of Sound #8, Along comes Mary – The Association #10, Dirty Water – The Standells #11, Hey Lil’ Red Riding Hood – Sam the Sham #12. Even Elvis is back at #40 with Love Letters.
Hanky Panky hits #1 on 16 July – garage rock at low ebb. The good news is that there are plenty of other great songs on their way up the charts mixed in with some MOR relics. Hanky Panky remains at #1 for two weeks when Wild Thing makes it to the top and also stays there for two weeks. Justice is seen to be done. In the top ten over those four weeks there are some interesting contenders. Sam the Sham with Lil’ Red Riding hood peaks at #2, Dusty Springfield with You don’t have to say you love me peaks at #4 along with Crispian St Peters and The Pied Piper. Paul Revere and the Raiders with red stars all round peak at #6. The Mamas and the Papas with the fantastic I saw her again can only make #5 and the Association with the consistent Along comes Mary peaks at #7. Tommy Roe with Sweet Pea peaks at #8 and so do the Rolling Stones with Mother’s Little Helper. It’s hard to get to the top. And there is the weird and not-so-wonderful – They’re coming to take me away ha-haaa! – by the unmentionable Napoleon XIV peaking at #3.
Summer in the city…
The Lovin’ Spoonful bring some sanity back to the top of the charts with the fabulous Summer in the City on 13 August and stay at #1 for the remainder of August and keeping Sunny by Bobby Hebb at #2 for that time. See you in September is a terrible debut single by the Happenings and it storms up the Top 100 with a red star finishing at #3 on 27 August. The Happenings were a much hyped group playing folky tunes geared to the times but fell short of ‘groovy’. Their selection of material probably let them down fostered by A&R people with their fingers on the pulse and not on the pounding beat. There are always plenty of triers on the slopes and we must not be too critical: it’s only pop after all.
Sunshine Superman and Sunny Afternoon
A little further down the charts with red stars on 27 July is Donovan with Sunshine Superman (on its way to the top) and the Supremes – You can’t hurry love (on its way to the top), the Beatles – Yellow Submarine (on its way to #2). Stevie Wonder’s version of Blowin’ in the wind reached #10. Wilson Pickett sits at #15 with Land of 1000 Dances – eventually making it to #6. The Hollies – Bus Stop is at #23 – peaking at #5. The Kinks sit at #35 with Sunny Afternoon and in this stage of their career find it hard to crack the US but make it to #14 with this gem of a song.
The big surprise is the welcome return of the Surfaris with Wipeout, its second stint in the Top 100. Much earlier the Surfaris had made #2 in August 1963, squeezed between Stevie Wonder – Fingertips pt 2 and Elvis – Devil in Disguise. But this time Wipeout gets to a creditable #16.
More popular than Jesus
Meanwhile back in the real world. John Lennon apologises for his remarks about the “Beatles being more popular than Jesus” saying that the comment was not meant to be anti-religious. On August 29 the Beatles play their final concert to a crowd of 25,000 fans in Candlestick Park San Francisco, the end of an American tour dogged by controversy, death threats and the dissatisfaction of playing to crowds where the noise levels seriously distracted from the Beatles’ ability to perform.
Star Trek, Tamla Motown and Stax Trax
September 3 and Sunshine Superman is #1. On September 8 Star Trek premiers on NBC television and Spock is destined soon to take over the collective minds of the western world. The Supremes hit #1 with You can’t hurry love on 10 September. Tamla Motown performs well during 1966 with the Supremes headlining the label’s efforts, supported by the Temptations, the Four Tops, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, the Impressions, Martha & the Vandellas, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and with Stax Records stars – Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, Booker T, Wilson Pickett, and Otis Redding. These artists were always in the Hot 100.
Sitting also in the Hot 100 on the way up were the Beatles – Yellow Submarine at #3, and with red stars – Land of 1000 Dances – Wilson Pickett at #6; Bus Stop – Hollies at #9, Guantenamera – the Sand Pipers at #10; Cherish – the Association at #14; Beauty is only skin deep – the Temptations at #16.
The Critters join the French Foreign Legion
At #32 (also with a red star) was the Critters, another A&R construction with the song titled The dieingly sad which was dieingly bad. In wiki the group is described as “successful”. Dieingly sad reached #17 and was followed by Bad Misunderstanding, which reached #55 later in 1966. The group had their final chart hit with another sad effort – Don’t Let the Rain Fall Down on Me in 1967, which achieved a reasonable #39. It was as if “I can’t get the girl, I might as well join the French Foreign Legion” and that not being possible most of the group left show-business and joined the US Army, anyway.
In the same charts for 10 September some #1 shots are sitting quietly below: at #14 the Association sit with Cherish; at #45 Question Mark & the Mysterians with 96 Tears; at #57 Reach out and I’ll be there – the Four Tops; at #67 Last train to Clarkesville – the Monkees. There is some excitement being generated. Neil Diamond, as yet to make his mark, is at #39 with a red star and Cherry Cherry.
Tamla Motown do it again
The Supremes remain on top for two weeks before the Association with their third try make it to #1 with Cherish which stays on top for a momentous three weeks, keeping several groups waiting for a chance at the top. The Association become another US group that is immensely popular for a short time then to fade completely from notice.
The Four Tops, another Tamla Motown product, reach #1 on 15 October and stays there for two weeks with the very popular Reach out and I’ll be there. The Left Banke sneak into #7 with Walk away Renee and the ever groovy Johnny Rivers is moving quickly up the charts with a sure fire winner – Poor side of town, just ahead of Eric Burdon & the Animals and the driving See See Rider. On 22 October the top eight tracks on the Billboard Hit 100 are all by US artists. Herman’s Hermits sit at #9 with Dandy – just a grin and a song – just dandy.
? & the Mysterians – are from outer space
Question Mark & the Mysterians make #1 with 96 Tears on 29 October. There are strong contenders immediately below and once again the Happenings reach #12 with a mawkish version of the 1962 US #1 hit for Steve Lawrence – Go away little girl (written by Goffin and King). The Happenings hung around until the end of the 60s but nothing much else happened.
Buzz Lightyear (of Star Command) and the Gemini Program
The Gemini Space Program is in full swing, culminating in Gemini XII lifting off from Cape Canaveral on 11 November, with astronauts Jim Lovell and Buzz Aldrin on board. The operation is a complete success docking with another platform and Buzz Lightyear……ahem – Aldrin conducting extravehicular activity and an extended spacewalk. Also originally believed to have been from outer space are the Monkees, a contrived group, a commercial “Beatles” project, a slapstick adventure – who reach #1 with their first attempt – Last train from Clarksville. It’s fun, it’s pop, it’s a hard days night during the daytime and it’s a hit, written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. And there is some more good and the indifferent coming – the Beach Boys’ Good Vibrations with a red star at #17, Winchester Bloody Cathedral at #24, the Supremes again with You keep me hanging on at #27 and the ever consistent Hollies with Stop Stop Stop at #43 on the way up.
Great jumping catfish Batman, the Sandpipers are doing Louie Louie!!!!
Also if not a little surprising are the Sandpipers with Louie Louie at #46, definitely not the thumping storm trooper version of the Kingsmen, but a mellow confused folk version recorded by the wrong group, at the wrong time, on the wrong planet. And more surprisingly it makes it to #30.
Life becomes more respectable when Johnny Rivers, master craftsman and guitarist, hits #1 with Poor side of town on 12 November. Five of the six tracks immediately below him on the Hot 100 all reach the #1 position. Things are hot.
The Supremes get to the top with You just keep me hanging on and stay there for two weeks. At #2 and #3 are Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys and Winchester Cathedral by the New Vaudeville Band, who leapfrog into the #1 spot of 3 December. Has the world gone mad? How could this happen? But no, fortune shines upon the brave and the Beach Boys make it to #1 on 10 December. Singing joy to the world… and to the fishes in the deep blue sea and Mellow Yellow sits at #2 with the New Vaudeville band on the slide. The Sinatra family are back on the charts. Frank is at #10 with That’s Life and Nancy follows close under with Sugar Town at #16. At #44 the Monkees have their second chart entry, I’m a believer, written by Neil Diamond and headed for #1.
What’s worse Robin is that Winchester Cathedral is hotter than August
To end a boisterous year the New Vaudeville Band climb back from #3 to top the Hot 100 Charts until 24 December and must thank all those kids who bought their mums and dads the Winchester Cathedral single for Christmas. Moving quickly to the last Billboard Hot 100 chart for 1966 we see that the Monkees, a product of one of the first reality TV shows portraying a bunch of young guys trying to make it in Popland, reach #1 with their second single I’m a believer. The song is written by Neil Diamond yet to make his mark and there is much more to come from both artists.
Holy Toledo Batman it’s curtains for Snoopy
But a look at #2 on the charts of 31 December is enough to make you question the taste of the record buying public – Snoopy Vs the Red Barron sits there as bold as brass sold to us by the Royal Guardsmen, two hit wonders, purveyors of olde time fun, pranksters, lovers of Peanuts the cartoon. Why why why? The Sinatras father and daughter sit at #5 and #6. At #99 the Hardtimes, a genuine potent garage band blast away at Fortune Teller and at #100 the Spencer Davis group enter the charts with Gimme some loving. We will hear more from them.
England wins World Cup at Wembley Stadium 4-2
In UK in 1966 things were muddling along under Harold Wilson until July 30 when 98,000 fans witnessed England beat Germany 4-2 in the World Cup final at Wembley Stadium. At the top of the Official Charts on 7 July were the quintessential English group the Kinks with Sunny Afternoon. The Beatles were at #2 with Paperback Writer on the way down after topping the charts earlier. Indeed the Top 10 was a mix of UK and US artists and it is worthwhile checking the state of play. Ike & Tina Turner with River deep mountain high at #3, Gene Pitney, an English favourite, with Nobody needs your love at #4, Frank Sinatra with Strangers in the night at #5, the Hollies with Bus Stop at #6, Georgie Fame with Getaway at #7, Cilla Black, smiling English flower, with Don’t answer me at #8, Percy Sledge with When a man loves a woman at #9, and loose cannons Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich with Hideaway.
The Shadows, great instrumentalists from earlier times sit at #41 with A Place in the sun, hoping for one and peaking at #24 a few weeks later to then disappear without a trace. Sad but true. But modern contemporaries like the Creation, feted as creating music with red and purple flashes morphed into #49 with Making Time, lasted a single week in the top 50 and left without leaving a trace. Whilst our friend Ken Dodd was basking in the limelight at #14 after reaching a peak of #6 with Promises.
Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames
Georgie Fame makes #1 with Getaway on 21 July. Elvis, ever in the English charts, is at #9 with Love Letters while Hanky Panky, a #1 in the USA fails to make it beyond #38. The versatile Chris Farlowe is at #3 with Out of Time and the Troggs, with their second hit are at #10, both songs destined to make #1. Chris Farlowe makes #1 in the next week stopping Spanish beat group Los Bravos from making the top with Black is Black. The Beach Boys launch into the charts with a new song God only knows at #34 and the fabulous Mamas and the Papas are at #38 with I saw her again.
The Troggs, local heroes, score again. With a girl like you stays on top of the charts for two weeks until 11 August. Another high charter from the USA – Sam the Sham – only makes #46 with Lil’ Red Riding Hood – something turned the British public off the Pharoahs’ rich contribution to pop history. On the other hand the Pretty Things, always the talented underdogs failed again with A house in the country, a sure fire winner, written by Ray Davies – only appearing in the charts at #50 for a solitary week. But lurking in the deep end were some new champions – the Small Faces with the charming All or nothing at #39.
We all live in a Yellow Submarine….repeat to fade…
The Beatles quickly assume charge on 18 August with Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby, undoubted champions of the charts. The Beach Boys’ God only knows stalls at #2 and the unreasonably silly They are coming to take me away ahaa sits at #4. God only knows why! Almost a hit on both sides of the Atlantic; maniacal laughter is heard from the deep vaults. Is it an A&R man locked in philosophical thought? The Beatles remain at #1 until 8 September when the Small Faces have their first of many minor triumphs – All or Nothing is #1.
Distant Drums and not Ringo’s
Triumph is brief. Sitting at #2 is the MOR Distant Drums by Country singer Jim Reeves. Distant Drums is an unlikely hit but it struck a chord in Great Britain and stayed at the top of the English charts for a record five weeks until 20 October. The song was issued posthumously by RCA and was thought to have been popular as a response to the Vietnam War. The song was Reeves’ only #1 in UK and stayed in the charts for 45 weeks. Reeves was generally popular in UK and had many top selling albums in the 60s. Shortly following his death in a plane crash in July 1964, he had five top selling albums in the charts between August and October. To much acclaim the Ford Cortina Mk2 is launched in October, Britain’s best-selling car for the next two decades.
During this time a number of songs failed to make it to the top including the terrible Winchester Cathedral and quirky Bend it by DDDBM&T. The Supremes made it to #3 with You can’t hurry love.
The Four Tops, although, were not to be denied and made #1 with Reach out I’ll be there on 27 October staying in the top position until 10 November. The Hollies with the great pop song Bus Stop were held off at #2 during the Four Tops stay on top. On 17 November the Beach Boys with the gay sonic renderings of Good Vibrations reached #1 keeping the Spencer Davis Group at #2 with the brilliant Gimme some loving.
John & Yoko at the Indica
John Lennon meets Yoko Ono at the Indica Gallery preparing for her exhibition. Sparks don’t fly but there is an exchange of interest. In the run up to Christmas and beyond time seemed to stand still. Tom Jones, that great singing Welshman, pushed into the #1 spot with the soporific country song Green Green Grass of home on 1 December and stayed there for seven weeks defying all comers to knock him off, notably the Seekers with the marvellous Morningtown Ride and Donovan with the trippy Sunshine Superman. The Easybeats made it to #6 with Friday of my mind on 15 December, their one and only foray into the UK charts. Aah what could have been? Elvis was in the act at #9 with If every day was like Christmas, which was exactly what Tom Jones was thinking. How do you get a #1 pop seller in the Top 40? Simple sing an old country song! Another pop chart mystery. Green Green Grass also reached #11 in the Billboard Top 100 and #12 in the Easy Listening Charts.
Green green grass – secret of success?
Overall there did not seem to be much movement in the UK charts in the latter half of 1966. The beat groups still pounded away and new-comers were few and far between with the notable exception of the Small Faces, although the US group the Critters did reach the charts at one stage. In the second half of the year a single song dominated the charts for long periods including the Beatles with Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby (4 weeks) through to the unexpected – Jim Reeves and the mawkish Different Drums (5 weeks), Tamla Motown at its best – Reach out I’ll be there (3 weeks) and Tom Jones – an unbeatable 7 weeks at #1. These songs dominated the charts for 19 of the 26 weeks leaving some groups at #2 and #3 wondering what did it take to get to the top. Good luck in all its forms or the lovely smile of Peter Noone of the ever poppery Herman’s Hermits – always near the top in the USA but not so in UK. And similarly Kinks and Hollies near the top in UK not so in the USA. Beatles, Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra, Beach Boys and Seekers – tops everywhere. The A&R man is still searching for the golden secret in the cellars and vaults of the musical world. And at the end of 1966 there is no sign of the Monkees on the UK Charts. Is this another cultural clef in the broad Atlantic divide?
And lastly we have the much waited for compilation of the second half of 1966. Listen in.