October 20, 2017

595 Smokey Robinson (1940- ) and the Miracles “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” 1962

“We set out to…make music for people of all races and nationalities. Not to make black music—we just wanted to make good music that would be acceptable in all circles.… All we were doing, man, was just putting good songs on good tracks, songs that anybody could relate to.… We had good, solid songs that would fit your particular life situation if you were white or Oriental or Chicano or whatever you happened to be” (Smokey Robinson, qtd. in Contemporary Black Biography, 2005). 

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me”

594 Cliff Richard (1940- ) and the Shadows “The Young Ones” 1962

The song is the title track to the film, “The Young Ones,” starring Cliff Richard. “Cliff, like his character in the film, Bongo Herbert, became a pioneer of melding rock ‘n’ roll with traditional popular music, allowing him an extended career as more than simply a rock ‘n’ roll singer” (K. J. Donnelly, Journal of Popular Film & Television, Winter 1998). 

Cliff Richard and the Shadows “The Young Ones”

593 Elvis Presley (1935-1977) “Good Luck Charm” 1962

“when he was doing the stuff with these Nashville pickers, the creativity wasn’t there. They would sit around and read music or do that crude numbers thing [a rough chord chart and musical shorthand known as the Nashville Numbers System], and that’s the way it would come out. And because there was no real creativity, after a while, Elvis just lost his fire in the studio” (Alanna Nash, Elvis Aaron Presley: Revelations from the Memphis Mafia, 1995). 

Elvis Presley “Good Luck Charm”

592 Gene Pitney (1940-2006) “Only Love Can Break a Heart” 1962

“In 1961,...you had to know how to sing. You couldn't just caterwaul, mewl or look pretty and hope for the best from the recording engineer; you had to have a real voice. Nowhere was the competition fiercer than on street corners and subway platforms in the Northeast, where turf battles were fought daily with rhythm and pitch and harmony and the neighborhood referees had ears tougher than those of any ‘American Idol’ panel. The singers left standing, boy-kings like Dion, Frankie Valli and Lou Christie, had serious vocal chops, usually fermented in rampant hormones, two-pack-a-day habits and residual hot-dog brine. Gene Pitney was the David among these Goliaths. He grew up not in the city but in the Connecticut exurbs. His hair was always neatly combed. He went to college. He married his longtime sweetheart and stayed married to her. He looked as if he'd be more comfortable in a choir than on a rock-'n'-roll tour bus. But when he opened his mouth to sing, the playing field was leveled” (Rob Hoerburger, New York Times Magazine, 12/31/2006).

Gene Pitney “Only Love Can Break a Heart”

591 Bobby Pickett (1938-2007) and the Crypt-Kickers “Monster Mash” 1962

Novelty songwriter Gary Paxton (1939-2016) “produced Monster Mash for Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett, a Boris Karloff imitator…Paxton added such atmospheric sound effects as a creaking door, created by pulling a nail from a piece of wood, and bubbling laboratory noises. Within two months the record had sold a million and by Halloween 1962 it had reached No 1 in the US…it was reissued several times and—though it was initially banned by the BBC as ‘too morbid’—reached No 3 in Britain in 1973” (The Daily Telegraph (London), 7/30/2016). 

Bobby Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers “Monster Mash”

October 13, 2017

590 Peter, Paul and Mary “Lemon Tree” 1962

“by the time that [Manager Albert] Grossman “and Peter [Yarrow] (1938- ) went looking for Mary [Travers] (1936-2009), they found Paul [Stookey] (1937- )working as her accompanist. Eventually the three singers met in Mary’s apartment to see what they sounded like. ‘It was seven months before we came out in our first gig,’ says Mary. ‘Seven miserable, beautiful months! Rehearsal after rehearsal, wrong notes, bad tempers, oh, sure we fought, but everybody does, just like a family, but with this underlying love for each other. Then at the end, everything made sense”(Alfred Aronowitz, Marshall Blonsky, Saturday Evening Post, 5/30/1964).

Peter, Paul and Mary “Lemon Tree”

589 Peter [Yarrow] (1938- ), Paul [Stookey] (1937- ) and Mary [Travers] (1936-2009) “If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)” 1962

Peter Yarrow: “Sure, some critics call us commercial…It would be hypocritical for us to sing any other way than we do. We’ve got only three things to contribute: our musical taste, our regard for the folk tradition and our ability to communicate something in our singing. If they want to call us show biz, then let ‘em call us show biz. But if we’re show business, we’re something different, we’re show business with morals”  (Alfred Aronowitz, Marshall Blonsky, Saturday Evening Post, 5/30/1964). 

Peter, Paul and Mary “If I Had a Hammer”

588 Paul and Paula “Hey Paula” 1962

“The story is that Ray Hidebrand (1940- ) and Jill Jackson (1942- ), two young students at Howard Payne College, drove to Fort Worth from Brownsville and showed up at the studio on a day when the scheduled singer didn’t show. They played Major Bill Smith their song ‘Hey Paula’; Smith decided to record it on the spot, and issued it on Le Cam credited to ‘Jill and Ray.’ Mercury Records picked it up for national distribution on their Philips subsidiary but decided to change their names to ‘Paul and Paula’” (Martin Kohout, The Handbook of Texas Music, 2012). 

Paul and Paula “Hey Paula”

587 The Orlons “The Wah-Watusi” 1962

“The Orlons formed in 1960 in Philadelphia. Stephen Caldwell (1942- ) said he got his introduction to music at church, singing in choirs starting at an early age. He and original members Rosetta Hightower (1944-2014), Shirley Brickley (1944-1977) and Marlena Davis (1944-1993) all grew up in the same neighborhood. ‘We used to sing together during parties at each other’s houses,’ Caldwell said. The girls, along with Brickley’s sisters Audrey and Jane, had started an all-girl group called Little Audrey and the Teenettes in the early 1950s. However, the Brickley’s mother wouldn’t let Audrey sing in a club, so she and Jean left. Shirley Brickley, Davis and Hightower joined up with Caldwell and set out to make it big” (Kristen Gaydos, The Citizens’ Voice (Wilkes-Barre, PA), 10/30/2014). 

The Orlons “The Wah-Watusi”

586 Chris Montez (1943- ) “Let’s Dance” 1962

“One of my first regional hits was a ballad, and I really wanted to do that style; the ‘Let’s Dance’ situation didn’t feel right to me at first. There was a female bass player [Carol Kaye] and that made me uncomfortable. I’d never seen one before. So I said to her, ‘I want that bouncy bass sound like Ritchie Valens,’ and she said, ‘I just did his whole album.’ I said ‘You gotta be kidding,’ and I just fell into the groove. I’d never heard of a Mexican rocker before Ritchie Valens, and I want to emulate him to the fullest” (Brett Milano, Offbeat, Oct. 2013). 

Chris Montez “Let’s Dance”

October 6, 2017

585 Little Esther Phillips (1935-1984) “Release Me” 1962

“Born Esther Mae Washington in Galveston, Texas and raised in the Watts area of Los Angeles, she made her musical debut at 12 on an amateur night show at the Barrel House, an L. A. Club operated by rhythm ‘n’ blues promoter Johnny Otis. Her only singing experience had been in the sanctified church but her sister and friend wanted money to buy some white port and lemon juice, the drinking rage in Watts in 1948…Otis was so impressed he allowed her to tag along with his troupe when they were cutting a record. There was some space and time left over so Otis improvised a tune about lady bears in the forest which Esther sang on the spot. They made only one take and the song Double Crossing Blues, sold a million, launching the bright-eyed youngster on an unexpected career as an entertainer” (Phyl Garland, Ebony, Oct. 1972).  

Little Esther Phillips “Release Me”

584 Little Eva (1943-2003) “The Loco-Motion” 1962

“Perhaps the most famous babysitter in the history of rock’n’roll, Little Eva got her big break when her songwriting employers asked her to record one of their songs. Eva Narcissus Boyd was born in 1945 in Bellhaven, North Carolina, and had 15 brothers and sisters. She moved to New York to complete her education. Eva became the regular babysitter for Louise Goffin, daughter of songwriters team of Carole King and Gerry Goffin…Carole King was working out a song on the piano one day when Eva began a dance step, giving Gerry Goffin the idea for some lyrics. The result was a dance song, The Loco-Motion” (The Herald (Glasgow), 4/14,2003). 

Little Eva “The Loco-Motion”

583 The Limeliters “Those Were the Days” 1962

“Founded in 1959, the Limeliters—comprising Glenn Yarbrough on vocals and guitar, Alex Hassilev on vocals and Lou Gottlieb on vocals and bass—was a contemporary folk group in the tradition of the Kingston Trio. Known for their burnished tight harmonies, sophisticated if nontraditional arrangements and witty onstage banter, the Limeliters were wildly successful. Amid the folk revival of the 1960s, they appeared often on television and in live performance, sold records by the hundreds of thousands and became millionaires in the bargain…In 1963, Mr. Yarbrough, restless, left the Limeliters, and the group disbanded. An ardent sailor, he intended to spend the next decade at sea but was persuaded by his record label, RCA Victor, to record solo albums instead” (Margalit Fox, The New York Times, 8/13/2016). 

The Limeliters “Those Were the Days”

582 Janis Joplin (1943-1970) “What Good Can Drinkin’ Do” 1962

“Janis liked the excitement of life on the edge, living between the known and unknown. Where Port Arthur may have formed her impulses, only in Austin did she get to test her wings and practice her style. Austin tutored her in performing, gave her the necessary support and recognition, and shaped her Texas-style public satire. Janis’s life in Austin was the proper jumping-off point for her” (Laura Joplin, Love, Janis, 2005). 

Janis Joplin “What Good Can Drinkin’ Do”

581 The Isley Brothers “Twist and Shout” 1962

“The Isleys’ second hit, in 1962, was ‘Twist and Shout’ (later popularized by The Beatles); the next notable event in the band’s history was the addition, in 1964, of a hot young guitarist who went by the name of Jimmy James. This, of course, was Jimi Hendrix, who recorded his first sides with the Isleys” (Blair Jackon, Mix, 2003).

The Isley Brothers “Twist and Shout”

September 29, 2017

580 Frank Ifield (1937- ) “I Remember You” 1962

“Birmingham is not famous for producing country singers but Frank Ifield was the exception to the rule. The man with the distinctive yodel in his voice was Coventry born, Birmingham raised and Australian bred…Frank demonstrated his abilities as a singer at an early age. As a schoolboy he used to lead the community singing in the bomb shelters during the blitz. By the time he was 13, he was already a seasoned performer and acted as a barker outside Australian tent shows and circuses…He unique yodel was a throwback to when he had a milk round in Moseley as an eight-year-old. He would walk round and call ‘Milki-lay-etee’ to attract householders’ attention” (Sunday Mercury, 2/14/1999). 

Frank Ifield “I Remember You”

579 Brian Hyland (1943- ) “Sealed With a Kiss” 1962, “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini” 1960

Born in Queens, New York, “Brian Hyland was one of the better pop singers of the early 1960s, despite the fact that his first hit was the dire Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Bikini. He compensated that youthful faux pas with the superb Ginny Come Lately, Sealed With A Kiss, and Warmed over Kisses. A big country and folk music fan, in 1963, right at the height of the pop successes, he recorded COUNTRY MEETS FOLK, an excellent collection of country and folk songs” (Maverick, Dec. 2008). 

Brian Hyland “Sealed With a Kiss”

Brian Hyland  “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini”

578 Sam “Lightnin” Hopkins (1912-1982) “Mojo Hand” 1962

“He made a lot of money and spent it, gambling (he was a terrible gambler) and drinking (he was a good drinker, buying rounds for his buddies in the Third Ward). He was the king of Dowling Street, and he reveled in his fame. Much to the frustration of his record companies, he hated to fly and didn’t want to go on package tours. He was comfortable at home, living in a rooming house, working juke joints and icehouses, and cavorting with gamblers and hustlers” (Texas Monthly, June 2007). 

Sam “Lightnin” Hopkins “Mojo Hand”

577 John Lee Hooker (1912/17?-2001) “Boom Boom” 1962

Hooker “exchanged his acoustic guitar for an electric one given to him by blues performer T-Bone Walker. He went on to merge his laid-back Delta style with more visceral urban rhythms…With the rise in popularity of folk music in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, Hooker reached new audiences by toning down him amplification and playing an acoustic guitar more frequently. He was hailed as a great country blues musician, performing in coffeehouses, on college campuses, and at folk festivals in the United States and Europe…When British rock groups…identified Hooker as an influence and recorded his songs, his music reached an even wider audience” (Michael Adams, Salem Press Biographical Encyclopedia, 2016). 

John Lee Hooker “Boom Boom”

576 Vince Guaraldi (1928-1976) Trio “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” 1962

“Following high school, Guaraldi attended San Francisco State College from 1948 to 1949, according to school records. In 1949 he joined the Army and worked as a cook on a ship during the Korean War. Around 1952 he came down an illness so deathly, ‘they measured him for a casket,’ said his son. Back in America, Guaraldi worked in a printing press in San Francisco and almost ruined his future career. ‘He almost accidentally cut his finger off. From then on he was a musician’” (Pete Barlas, Invester’s Business Daily, 12/23/2010). 

“In 1962, San Francisco pianist Vince Guaraldi put out a single, a jazz version of a samba from the movie ‘Black Orpheus.’ It didn’t get far until disc jockeys started playing the B side, which became a hit and snared him a Grammy” (National Public Radio, Fresh Air, 2012). 

Vince Guaraldi Trio “Cast Your Fate to the Wind”

September 22, 2017

575 The Four Seasons “Big Girls Don’t Cry” 1962

“Inspired by fellow New Jersey native Frank Sinatra, [Frankie] Valli (1934- ) took his distinctive voice and started his career in the early 1950s. After establishing one of the entertainment industry’s most notable partnership with songwriter Bob Gaudio…Valli joined the Four Seasons and started racking up hits. Just after performing their song ‘Sherry’ on American Bandstand, the group witnessed a meteoric rise to fame and never looked back” (Louisville Magazine, Nov 2007).

The Four Seasons “Big Girls Don’t Cry”

574 The Four Seasons “Sherry” 1962

Frankie Valli (1934- ): “I think [back on] all of the things I did as a kid, how hard it was getting into the business. I did everything in my power…I worked construction. I went to school to learn to be a hairdresser. I worked at a wholesale florist, where I delivered to florists all over New Jersey. I’d come home and go to to work down at the Shore. The early jobs, I remember, were $5, $6 a night. And I lived in the projects right until the time I became successful. It wasn’t easy, but I was really determined. Just before ‘Sherry,’ I thought that was it. I said to myself, ‘If this doesn’t happen, I don’t know what I’m going to do.’ I was at that crossroads of life” (Wayne Robins, Billboard, 9/7/2013).

The Four Seasons “Sherry”

573 Shelley Fabares (1944- ) “Johnny Angel” 1962

“The Donna Reed Show producer asked Shelley Fabares, who played the part of a teenage daughter, if she would like to sing on an upcoming episode. Shelley replied, ‘Sorry, I can’t sing.’ Weeks later he approached her and asked her to sing. She shook her head no. Then the producer said “Would you like to return to the show next season?’ ‘Oh yes,’ the precocious star answered. ‘Then SING!’ the producer announced. The song taped soon thereafter was titled, ‘I’m Going Steady With a Dream,’ and was UPS’d off to a recording company. This resulted in Shelly recording ‘Johnny Angel,’ that became number one in the nation” (Robert Smith, Total Health, Dec/Jan 1996). 

Shelley Fabares “Johnny Angel”

572 The Exciters “Tell Him” 1962

“Formed in the Jamaica district of Queens, New York City, this aptly named group, which included sole male Herb Rooney alongside Breda Reid, Carol Johnson and Lillian Walker, first came to prominence with the vibrant ‘Tell Him’, a US Top 5 hit in 1962…the single’s energy established the pattern for subsequent releases. ‘Do Wah Diddy Diddy’ (later a hit by Manfred Mann) and ‘He’s Got the Power’ took elements from both uptown soul and the all-female group genre” (The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 2006). 

The Exciters “Tell Him”

571 Bob Dylan (1941- ) “Song to Woody” 1962

“I feel lucky just to know Woody. I’d heard of Woody, I knew of Woody. I saw Woody once, a long, long time ago in Burbank, California, when I was just a little boy. I don’t even remember seeing him, but I heard him play. I must have been about ten. My uncle took me. It stuck in my mind that he was Woody, and everybody else I could see around me was just everybody else” (Jonathan Cott, ed., Bob Dylan: The Essential Interviews, 2006). 

Bob Dylan “Song to Woody”

September 1, 2017

570 The Drifters “Up On the Roof” 1962

The song was written by “the noted husband-wife songwriting team of Carole King and Gerry Goffin.” Born Carole Klein (1942- ) in Brooklyn, “she delved a little deeper than her classmates into the roots of rock, finding a strong interest in the still submerged rhythm & blues stylings that were mainly restricted to the black population…After marrying young lyricist Gerry Goffin (1939-2014), she became part of a writing team that soon won the attention of New York publishers. Using the pen name Carole King, by the time she was 20 she and Gerry already had a reputation as songwriting greats of the future” (Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock, and Soul, 1974). 

The Drifters “Up On the Roof”

569 Skeeter Davis (1931-2004) “The End of the World” 1962

“Wholesomeness was Skeeter Davis’s stock-in-trade. A devout Southern Baptist, she took her religious beliefs seriously and refused to perform at venues which sold alcohol. She was a stalwart of the Grand Ole Opry, the live radio show which was broadcast from Nashville, but in 1973 she was suspended from the show after she voiced her support for religious crusaders who had been arrested in the town…In 1993 Skeeter Davis published her autobiography, Bus Fare to Kentucky. In it she revealed that her childhood had been overshadowed by the murder of her grandfather by an uncle, and by her parents’ alcoholism and her mother’s attempted suicide” (The Daily Telegraph (London), 10/4/2004).  

Skeeter Davis “The End of the World”

568 Dick Dale (1937- ) and the Del-Tones “Miserlou” 1962

Miserlou is a folk song. Its origins are claimed by many countries, but Dick Dale’s family was from Lebanon. He learned the song from his uncles, who played it on the oud.” Dale said, “the word miserlou is an Arabic name. It means the Egyptian. And the song itself is an actual Egyptian folk song…And then when we went to California, you know, I got my first guitar. But I was using this Gene Krupa rhythm on the guitar to make it sound full” (Hansen Liane, Weekend Edition Sunday (NPR), 2010). 

Dick Dale and the Del-Tones “Miserlou”

567 The Crystals “Uptown” 1962

“The female artists on [Phil Spector’s] label were treated with less respect. The Crystals, five young girls from Brooklyn, started out singing the songs they recorded, but were soon cheated out of royalties when Spector hired a session singer, Darlene Love…for a flat studio fee. The girls had to tour and front No. 1 hits that they had not even recorded, yet couldn’t leave Spector because he owned their name. Fostering an air of insecurity and dependency, he played one artist off against another” (Lucy O’Brien, She Bop II: The Definitive History of Women in Rock, Pop and Soul, 2002). 

The Crystals “Uptown”

566 Sam Cooke (1931-1964) “Bring It On Home to Me” 1962

“This was the closest Sam had come to the classic gospel give-and-take he had once created with [fellow Soul Stirrer] Paul Foster…What comes through is a rare moment of undisguised emotion, an unambiguous embrace not just of a cultural heritage but of an adult experience far removed from white teenage fantasy” (Peter Guralnick, Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke, 2005). 

Sam Cooke “Bring It On Home to Me”

August 25, 2017

565 The Contours “Do You Love Me” 1962

“Discovered by Berry Gordy, the Contours were formed in the early ‘60s, as one of Motown’s first recording acts. Shortly thereafter, Gordy wrote ‘Do You Love Me’ for the group, which…went on to become the fastest-climbing Motown hit of all time. It shot to the No. 2 record in America slot in 1962…the use of ‘Do You Love Me’ on the ‘Dirty Dancing’ soundtrack catapulted it onto the charts yet again—25 years after it first took the nation by storm” (Katie McDowell, The Dominion Post (Morgantown, WV), 10/4/2007). 

The Contours “Do You Love”

564 Ray Charles (1930-2004) “I Can’t Stop Loving You” 1962

The album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music “is an extraordinary work of art…Invading white country music, a musical world proud of its redneck roots, was something pop-jazz singers didn’t do” (Michael Lydon, Ray Charles: Man and Music, 1998). 

Ray Charles “I Can’t Stop Loving You”

563 Gene Chandler (1937- ) “Duke of Earl” 1962

“Chandler vividly recalls how that period-piece song came into existence by accident, when he was singing with a vocal group called the Dukays. ‘We were clowning around,’ he said, ‘going up the scales to open up our throats before rehearsal.’ He and his fellow Dukays would sing ‘do, do, do, do,’ elevating their voices each time. In a moment of frivolity, Chandler added an ‘Earl’ for group member Earl Edwards. One thing led to another, and soon they were singing ‘Duke, duke, duke, duke of Earl,’ prompting a quickly penned song pitched to their record label, which chose to release another Dukays song, ‘Nite Owl,’ instead. ‘I didn’t know what a million-seller was,’ recalled Chandler, who was 20 at the time. But he had a good feeling about ‘Duke of Earl,’ so he released it as a solo artist instead, and the rest was (a prosperous) history, for which he was generous with his earnings” (Scott Tady, The Beaver County Times (PA), 12/12/2014). 

Gene Chandler “Duke of Earl”

562 The Cascades “Rhythm of the Rain” 1962

“Formed in the late 50s in San Diego, California…They were discovered at a club called the Peppermint Stick in 1962 and signed to Valiant Records. Their first single, ‘Second Chance’, failed but ‘Rhythm Of The Rain’ became a soft rock classic that still received radio airplay in the 90s…They disbanded in 1969, with only one original member remaining at that time” (The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 2006). 

The Cascades “Rhythm of the Rain”

561 Booker T and the MGs “Green Onions” 1962

“One of the most commercially successful and important acts to emerge from the fertile Memphis musical soil was Booker T. and the MGs, whose 1962 instrumental hit ‘Green Onions’ set the tone for much of that which followed. This original ‘super group’ was composed of organist Booker T. Jones (1944- ), guitarist Steve Cropper, drummer Al Jackson, and bassist Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn. Each of the members is a famed Memphis studio musician with dozens of hit record sessions…Booker T. Jones attended Indiana State University, but returned to Memphis, becoming a staff musician for Stax in 1960. His musical skills are not limited strictly to organ, for which he is best known, but his association with the MGs was predated by an earlier band, the Mar-Keys, which also featured Jones, Cropper, and Dunn” (Scott Faragher, The Hammond Organ: An Introduction to the Instrument and the Players Who Made It Famous, 2011). Listed on the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress.

Booker T and the MGs “Green Onions”

August 18, 2017

560 The Blossoms “He’s a Rebel” 1962

“Darlene Love’s was the unmistakable voice cutting through Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, although she was uncredited on her biggest hit, ‘He’s a Rebel,’ by the Crystals. A vocalist with the Blossoms and Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans, Love also released some solo recordings, including one that would become her signature, ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),’ in 1963.” Love said, “I know we were the first black background group. Because mostly, the people that were doing sessions, they weren’t groups. They just hired a soprano, alto and tenor or whatever. But we were literally a group doing background…We worked for Dionne Warwick for 10 years. That was where we had most of our growing up—learning what you do and what you don’t do, how you take care of business, how you talk to people, how you deal with people” (Roger Catlin, The Washington Post, 12/15/2016). 

The Blossoms “He’s a Rebel”

559 The Beatles “Love Me Do” 1962

Little Richard: “Nobody knew [The Beatles] but their mothers. I thought they were a very good group when they performed with me at the Star-Club in Hamburg, but I never thought they were a hit group…They were singing my music and Chuck Berry’s and some of Elvis’s. They would sing ‘Love Me Do’ every night, ‘cause it was going to be their first record. It was really something else when they shook the world” (David Pritchard, Alan Lysaght, The Beatles: An Oral History, 1998). 

The Beatles “Love Me Do”

558 The Beatles “(P.S.) I Love You” 1962

When American rock & roll appeared in England in the mid 50s, “All the Beatles, like millions of lads of the same age, were affected. They all have the same sort of memories, of groups springing up in every class at school and in every street at home. There were overnight about a hundred dances in Liverpool with skiffle groups queuing up to perform. It was the first time for generations that music wasn’t the property of musicians. Anyone could get up and have a go. It was like giving painting sets to monkeys. Some of them were bound to produce something good sometime” (Hunter Davies, The Beatles, 1978). 

The Beatles “(P.S.) I Love You”

557 The Beach Boys “Surfin’ Safari” 1962

“The first song on the first side of their first album didn’t tell a literal truth about the lives of the young men singing it—no one save the drummer was ever likely to go surfing with anyone at any time under any circumstances—but there’s truth in the voices. It crackled through the guitars and drums, and in 1962 it spoke not just to kids in Los Angeles, but also in hundreds of far-flung, landlocked cities” (Peter Carlin, Catch a Wave, 2006).  

The Beach Boys “Surfin’ Safari”

556 John Barry (1933-2011) and his orchestra “James Bond Theme” 1962

“Before Dr. No, the most significant musical hit to have originated in a spy film was Doris Day’s ‘Que Ser Sera’ for the 1957 Alfred Hitchcock The Man Who Knew Too Much. But the use of the electric guitar connected a new generation of movie goers to the films they often saw in drive-in theatres on weekends, a generation defining itself by the sounds of rock and roll. As a result, the Clifford Essex Paragon De Luxe, the guitar Vick Flick played for the original ‘James Bond Theme,’ is now appropriately on display in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” (Jack Becker, et al, James Bond in World and Popular Culture, 2011).

John Barry and his orchestra “James Bond Theme”

August 4, 2017

555 Joan Baez (1941- ) “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” 1962

“I had an affair with a girl when I was twenty-two. It was wonderful. It happened, I assume, after an overdose of unhappiness at the end of an affair with a man, when I had a need for softness and understanding. I assume that the homosexuality within me…saved me from becoming cold and bitter toward everyone” (Joan Baez, And a Voice to Sing With, 1987). 

Joan Baez “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You”

554 Herb Alpert (1935- ) and the Tijuana Brass “The Lonely Bull” 1962

Alpert “was working in the makeshift recording studio in his garage one day in 1962 when he happened on something interesting; he discovered that he could add a new dimension to his sound by recording a second trumpet part directly on top of the original…When the two parts were combined slightly out of synchronization, another effect was produced, which he called a ‘Spanish flair.’” Inspired by a bullfight in Tijuana, Mexico, he added the “flair” and bullfight atmosphere to “a friend’s instrumental composition called ‘Twinkle Star,’ which he then retitled ‘The Lonely Bull’”(Ben Edmonds, Linda Paulson, Contemporary Musicians, 2005).

Herb Alpert (1935- ) and the Tijuana Brass “The Lonely Bull”

553 Bobby Vee (1943-2016) “Take Good Care of My Baby” 1961

“Born Robert Thomas Velline on April 30, 1943, and raised in Fargo, Vee famously got his big break under tragic circumstances at the age of 15 in 1959. He and his band, the Shadows, were recruited to fill in for Buddy Holly at the Moorhead stop of the Winter Dance Party Tour the night after Holly died in a plane crash outside of Clear Lake, Iowa. Vee’s career soon rocketed after that as he earned teen idol fame and landed 38 singles in the Billboard Hot 100 between 1959-1970…he famously remained a humble, hard-working Midwesterner who settled into a quiet life in St. Joseph, Minn., with his wife of more than 50 years, Karen…Bob Dylan said that Vee was “the most beautiful person I’ve ever been on stage with” (Chris Riemenschneider, Star Tribune—Minneapolis, October 24, 2016). 

Bobby Vee “Take Good Care of My Baby”

552 The Tokens “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” 1961, The Weavers “Wimoweh” 1952, Solomon Linda and the Evening Birds “Mbube” 1939

Solomon Linda (1909-1962) “and his boys were given a one-off chance to record a song on the only recording equipment in all of Sub-Saharan Africa in 1939…Linda was paid ten shillings, and the song became a hit in Africa, though it was beyond unlikely that it would someday become known in every corner of the world.” Ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax shared the record with Pete Seeger, whose mistranslated “Wimoweh” was recorded by the Weavers in 1952. Because of Seeger’s leftist politics, “the song disappeared from the airwaves, as did Seeger for years to come. A decade later, four Jewish teenagers from Brooklyn calling themselves the Tokens discovered a dusty copy of the Weavers’ near-hit record in the collection of a group member’s older brother” (Robert Zieger, OAH Magazine of History, April 2010). 

The Tokens “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”

The Weavers and Gordon Jenkins & his Orchestra “Wimoweh”

Solomon Linda and the Evening Birds “Mbube”

551 The Shirelles "Mama Said" 1961

Susan Douglas wrote: “The most important thing about this music, the reason it spoke to us so powerfully, was that it gave voice to all of the warring selves inside us struggling, blindly and with a crushing sense of insecurity, to forge something resembling a coherent identity…In the early 1960s, pop music became the one area of popular culture in which adolescent female voices could be clearly heard” (O’Brien, She Bop II, 2002).

The Shirelles "Mama Said"

July 28, 2017

550 Del Shannon (1934-1990) “Runaway” 1961

“He was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan and grew up in the nearby small town of Coopersville. He learnt to play the ukulele and guitar and listened to country music, citing Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzell and Hank Snow as particular favourites. During the late 1950s, before he became an international pop star, Del played in various bands around Battle Creek, Michigan. Adopting the name Charlie Johnson and fronting the Big Little Show Band, he would play a mix of country, pop, and rock’n’roll songs” (Maverick, April 2010). 

Del Shannon (1934-1990) “Runaway”

549 The Revels “Comanche” 1961

“While The Sentinals and The Impacts were probably the best-known surf bands from the [San Luis Obispo] county, local surf music began with The Revels…The Revels started out of San Loui Obispo High School in the mid-1950s. And while they are often considered a ‘pre-surf’ band, decades later, they would gain surf music notoriety when their song ‘Commanche’ appeared in Quentin Tarantino’s movie ‘Pulp Fiction’” (Patrick Pemberton, The Tribune, www.sanluisobispo.com, 3/1/2012). 

The Revels “Comanche”

548 The Regents “Barbara Ann” 1961

“A rock ‘n’ roll vocal group from the Bronx, New York, USA. The Regents were part of the explosion of Italian-American vocal groups from the New York area who made their impact during the early 60s, before the British invasion and the rise of self-contained bands made them passé…They first recorded a demo of ‘Barbara-Ann’, but when no company showed interest in the song they broke up” (The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 2006). 

The Regents “Barbara Ann”

547 Jimmy Reed (1925-1976) “Bright Lights, Big City” 1961

“Dazzled by the streetlights of many a Southern city while he was on a brief tour, Reed was struck with lyrics; words and images just seemed to manifest. He could hardly see in front of him as he sped down the road in his car, saying ‘these lights sure is bright.’ And the basis of a song emerged…The fascination with Wolf, Muddy, and even John Lee Hooker is their mannishness, the inherent meanness in their delivery. In short, they presented themselves as badasses, whether this was true or not. Conversely…Reed could have been the guy who sidled up to the bar and drank a couple of beers with you—and often was” (Will Romano, Big Boss Man: The Life and Music of Jimmy Reed, 2006). 

Jimmy Reed “Bright Lights, Big City”

546 Jimmy Reed (1925-1976) “Big Boss Man” 1961

“Because Reed’s epilepsy medicine was a depressant, when combined with alcohol it made the poor man dazed at times. Many Reed fans had no knowledge of his medical problem; they thought some of his whacky behavior could be chalked up to alcohol abuse, or worse. The truth is, Reed preferred to stay drunk most of the time because he thought it would keep his epileptic seizures at bay” (Will Romano, Big Boss Man: The Life and Music of Jimmy Reed, 2006). 

Jimmy Reed “Big Boss Man”

July 21, 2017

545 Elvis Presley (1935-1977) “Can’t Help Falling in Love” 1961

“After seeing Blue Hawaii, moviegoers left theaters talking about ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love.’ The number immediately became the favorite of hundreds of thousands of fans. Most were unaware that it had been designated the lesser of the two songs on Elvis’s latest record” (Ace Collins, Untold Gold: The Stories Behind Elvis's #1 Hits, 2005). 

Elvis Presley “Can’t Help Falling in Love”

544 Elvis Presley (1935-1977) “Little Sister” 1961

Presley’s RCA recording engineer, Bill Porter, said the song was a classic even before they finished the final take. Competition from Presley’s films and from the other side of the song’s record (“His Latest Flame”) lowered projected sales (by Presley’s standards) (Ernst Jorgesen, Elvis Presley: A Life in Music, 1998). 

Elvis Presley (1935-1977) “Little Sister”

543 The Paris Sisters “I Love How You Love Me” 1961

The song was recorded by Phil Spector, who along with the Paris Sisters expected generous royalty checks when the song became a hit. However, record owner Lester Sill told them that the production costs were too high. When the Sisters vehemently objected, Sill said “the Paris Sisters destroyed themselves, because they got very salty with me and no one else wanted to record ‘em. I loved the Paris Sisters but I don’t think anyone could’ve made hits with ‘em but Phil” (Mark Ribowsky, He’s a Rebel, 1989). 

The Paris Sisters “I Love How You Love Me”

542 Roy Orbison (1936-1988) “Crying” and “Running Scared” 1961

“Lacking the charismatic good looks of Elvis Presley or the other teen idols of the early 1960s, he increasingly adopted a solitary and mysterious posture, often dressing in black outfits on stage and wearing dark glasses for most public appearances. In the mid-1960s, he had a featured role in the film The Fastest Guitar Alive but made no further attempts to pursue a film career” (American National Biography, 2010). 

Roy Orbison “Crying”

Roy Orbison “Running Scared”

541 Ricky Nelson (1940-1985) “Travelin’ Man” 1961

Father Ozzie Nelson “unconsciously invented the conceptual music video…Instead of having Rick and the band simply stand up and sing the song on the TV program, Ozzie went to work in the editing room and superimposed some stock travelogue footage over Rick’s face as he sang ‘Travelin’ Man,’ a rudimentary model of music videos twenty years before they exploded on the music scene” (Joel Selvin, Ricky Nelson: Idol for a Generation, 1990). 

Ricky Nelson “Travelin’ Man”

July 14, 2017

540 Ricky Nelson (1940-1985) “Hello Mary Lou” 1961

“His guitarist, James Burton, wrote himself into the vocabulary of his instrument…The musicianship of Rick’s early band was renowned among other musicians. When Bob Dylan first looked for a band to back his electric folk rock, he sought out Rick’s old musicians” (Joel Selvin, Ricky Nelson: Idol for a Generation, 1990). 

Ricky Nelson “Hello Mary Lou”

539 The Marvelettes “Please Mr. Postman” 1961

“When The Marvelettes appeared on American Bandstand, all of Inkster, Michigan was watching. Inkster High School even cancelled its football game, for once shining a light on the girls instead of the boys. Nervous to be talking to Dick Clark, Wyanetta [Cowart], when asked about the group’s origins, told him that ‘Detroit is 30 miles outside of Inskster’” (Gayle Wald, Journal of Popular Music Studies, Sept. 2012). 

The Marvelettes “Please Mr. Postman”

538 The Mar-Keys “Last Night” 1961

The band, originally called the Royal Spades, was formed by a group of students at Messick High School in Memphis, Tennessee. After their hit, “Last Night,” debuted, the name was changed to Mar-Keys, a modification of “Marquis” when a band member pointed out that “People around here don’t read French.” The record became the basis for “what became known as the Stax sound” (Rob Bowman, Soulsville, U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Records, 1997).

The Mar-Keys “Last Night”

537 The Marcels “Blue Moon” 1961

Tenor “Bingo” Munday “and his friends formed the Marcels, named after a stylist haircut, in 1959 while students at Allegheny High School on the North Side, inspired by groups like the Harptones, the Cadillacs and the Spaniels…As legend has it, the day he heard it, New York DJ Murray the K played ‘Blue Moon’ 26 times in a four-hour show. In March 1961, the song knocked Elvis Presley off the top of the Billboard chart, becoming the first No. 1 rock n’roll hit out of Pittsburgh” (Scot Mervis, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1/24/2017). 

The Marcels “Blue Moon”

536 Bobby Lewis (1933- ) “Tossin’ and Turnin” 1961

“One of the realities of the emergence of the rock and roll genre in 1955 or 1956 was the pace of rise to stardom and fall to nonentity was much more frenetic than in the Big Band era of the forties and the adult pop sound of much of the fifties…The much more adolescent-based rock audience was far more fickle, and even top stars who did not die in plane crashes or car wrecks saw their popularity diminish in an amazingly brief time frame. Thus many of the most successful artists during the summer of 1961 had almost totally disappeared by the summer of 1963” (Victor Brooks, Last Season of Innocence: The Teen Experience in the 1960s, 2012). 

Bobby Lewis “Tossin’ and Turnin”

July 7, 2017

535 Curtis Lee (1939-2015) “Pretty Little Angel Eyes” 1961

“Handsome and photogenic, Lee had a vocal approach close to the teen idols of the period.” His top hit was a result of producer Phil Spector’s “deft handling of the instrumental support” and incorporating “strong doo-wop riffing from an R&B vocal group, the Halos.” Lee never had another hit after Spector was dropped from Dune Records (The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 2006). 

Curtis Lee (1939-2015) “Pretty Little Angel Eyes”

534 Gladys Knight (1944- ) and the Pips “Every Beat of My Heart” 1961

“Her parents were singers in the Wings Over Jordan gospel choir. She began singing gospel music at the Mount Moriah Baptist Church and had her first recital in 1948...In 1952, Gladys entertained her family by singing with ten-year-old brother Merald (known as ‘Bubba’), sister Brenda, and cousins William and Elenor Guest at Bubba's 10th birthday party. Another cousin, James ‘Pip’ Wood later suggested that they turn professional. He lent the group his nickname to The Pips” (Marilyn Williams, Linda Paulson, Contemporary Musicians, 2005). 

Gladys Knight and the Pips “Every Beat of My Heart”

533 The Kingston Trio “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” 1961

Pete Seeger’s song was inspired by a Ukrainian folk song in the novel And Quiet Flows the Don. He “sang it once in a medley of short tunes (released on a fascinating though obscure disc, ‘Rainbow Quest’) and forgot about it. But a song is like a child; once it gets out into the world on its own, it often surprises the parent” (David Dunaway, How Can I Keep From Singing: Pete Seeger, 1981).  

The Kingston Trio “Where Have All the Flowers Gone”

532 The Kingston Trio “Pastures of Plenty” 1961

“They had the perfect combination of charm, wealth, security, and modesty…professionals yet with youthful zest; a refreshing alternative to the scruffy, rebellious, lewd rock and roll singers, according to the mass media. Thrilled by their style and songs, teenage fans consumed their records and packed the auditoriums” (Ronald Cohen, Rainbow Quest, 2002). 

The Kingston Trio “Pastures of Plenty”

531 Freddie King (1934-1976) “Hide Away” 1961

“As far as he’s concerned, he’s just a straight blues singer and liked nothing better than reminiscing about the good old Chicago days when there was a blues joint on every corner…He once liked nothing better than the chance for a guitar battle, but became notorious for the speed with which he dispatched opponents. This caused lesser men to hurriedly leave the stage as soon as they saw his bulk heave into sight” (Mike Leadbitter, Blues Unlimited, 1974). 

Freddie King “Hide Away”

June 30, 2017

530 Ben E. King (1938-2015) “Stand By Me” 1961

“‘He was one of the greatest singers of all time,’ says Steve Van Zandt. ‘He carried on the gospel soulfulness of Sam Cooke and had a really unique sound’...the Beatles and the British Invasion squeezed singers like King down the charts. ‘He wasn't the least bit bitter about that,’ says Van Zandt. ‘He was literally the nicest guy in the world’ (Andy Greene, Rolling Stone, 6/4/2015). Listed on the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress.

Ben E. King “Stand By Me”

529 Chris Kenner (1929-1976) “I Like It Like That” 1961

“‘I always wondered why Chris had them hits,’ said Kenner’s booking agent in 1982. ‘He couldn’t sing, he couldn’t dance, he dressed raggedy, he didn’t have any showmanship.’…Kenner’s career suffered when [recording partner Allen] Toussaint was drafted into the army in 1963…He squandered a great deal of money and wound up doing prison time in Angola after being sent up on a statutory rape charge” (Jeff Hannusch, Offbeat, 2006). 

Chris Kenner “I Like It Like That”

528 Ernie K-Doe (1933-2001) “Mother-in-Law” 1961

“Born Ernest Kador Jr. in the city's Charity Hospital, K-Doe authored his hit single and other lively R&B tracks for local Minit Records, but a follow-up smash proved elusive. While he maintained a hometown profile as a hardworking performer in the James Brown/Joe Tex mold, K-Doe was best known for years as a DJ on New Orleans' WWOZ. There, his lunatic manner, unique lexicon and stream-of-consciousness raps cemented his status as a NoLa institution. Megalomania, alcoholism and a propensity for professional bridge-burning left him virtually homeless by the late '80s” (Ben Sandmel, Kirkus Reviews, 2012). 

Ernie K-Doe “Mother-in-Law”

527 Elmore James (1918-1963) “Shake Your Moneymaker” 1961

“Elmore James is one of the foremost architects of the electric blues and rhythm-and-blues music emerging from postwar Chicago, and he may well be the most influential electric slide guitarist in blues history. He played with great virtuosity, embellished by his fierce, heartfelt vocals…He was also an accomplished bandleader. His Broomdusters band was perhaps second only to the Muddy Waters bands among Chicago electric blues groups” (Howard Bromberg, Salem Press Biographical Encyclopedia, 2009). 

Elmore James “Shake Your Moneymaker”

526 Howlin’ Wolf (1910-1976) “The Red Rooster” 1961

He was named after President Chester Alan Arthur who “had helped desegregate New York’s streetcars and railroads. The child’s maternal grandfather gave him the nickname ‘Wolf’—as part of a recurring family jest, derived from the Little Red Riding Hood story”  (Ted Gioia, Delta Blues, 2008).

Howlin’ Wolf “The Red Rooster”

June 23, 2017

525 The Highwaymen “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” 1961

Lead singer “David Louis Fisher was born in 1940 in New Haven, Connecticut. He formed the Academics, a vocal group in the doo-wop style of the mid-1950s, while still at school. Drawn to folk music after hearing Pete Seeger and the Weavers, he formed the Highwaymen in 1958…The group was initially called the Clansmen, and Fisher later confessed that in their naivety, they had been unaware of the racist connotations the name had in the South. Once this was pointed out, they turned for inspiration to Alfred Noyes's 1906 poem The Highwayman” (The Times London, May 15, 2010). 

The Highwaymen “Michael Row the Boat Ashore”

524 Carolyn Hester (1937- ) “She Moves Through the Fair” 1961

Born in Waco, Texas, Hester learned her craft from musicians such as Johnny Giles and folk recordings at public libraries. She was a friend of Buddy Holly, who helped arrange some of her music and surprised her in a 1958 London concert by bringing her onstage to play piano. “By the age 21, Hester was the leading lady of the folk circuit” (C. Ross Burns, East Texas Historical Journal, Fall 2013). 

Carolyn Hester “She Moves Through the Fair”

523 Slim Harpo (1924-1970) “Rainin’ in My Heart” 1961

“On top of being a musician and business owner, Harpo strived to be a good father and family man, even through the lean times. Often Harpo was forced to work straight jobs, including operating a trucking business. ‘He worked hard,’ says [Harpo’s stepson, William Gambler]. ‘He was always looking for a way to make things better for us.’ Still, despite the financial hardships, day jobs and grueling gig schedule, Harpo loved what he did—playing the swamp blues and representing his hometown—and that enthusiasm rubbed off on those around him” (Ryan Whirty, Louisiana Life, Jan/Feb 2010).

Slim Harpo “Rainin’ in My Heart”

522 Johnny Hallyday (1943- ) “Souvenirs, Souvenirs” 1960 and “Viens Danser Le Twist (Let’s Twist Again)” 1961

Born Jean-Philippe Smet in Paris. “What first catapulted Johnny to fame was homegrown fare—Souvenirs, Souvenirs and the romantic Pourquoi Cet Amour, released in in June 1960 and making Hallyday a hot item. His French rock worked, he fell on the ground, banked his guitar, sang with urgent vibrato, was handsome, blond, tall… He always tipped his cap to Elvis, Chuck Berry, and other ‘sources’; but he also emulated with original verve. As in seventeenth-century France, M. Hallyday made an art of it!” (Barnett Singer, Contemporary Review, Sept. 2004). 

Johnny Hallyday “Souvenirs, Souvenirs”

Johnny Hallyday “Viens Danser Le Twist” 

521 The Fleetwoods “(He's) The Great Imposter” 1961

The group formed in Olympia, Washington. “Their first moniker, Two Girls And A Guy, was changed by a Seattle record distributor, Bob Reisdorff, who became their manager…In the midst of their success [Gary Troxell] was drafted into the navy, his place being taken when necessary by subsequent solo star Vic Dana” (The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 2006). 

The Fleetwoods “The Great Imposter” 

June 16, 2017

520 Lee Dorsey (1926-1986) “Ya Ya” 1961

Dorsey’s family moved from New Orleans to Portland, Oregon, where he was “a successful fighter, one who could floor many a man in a single wallup.” He quit boxing in 1955, “then moved back to his native New Orleans, where he became a popular auto body and fender repairman before hitting the musical big time” (Ryan Whirty, Offbeat, Mar 2013). 

Lee Dorsey “Ya Ya”

519 Dion (DiMucci) (1939- ) “The Wanderer” 1961

“with his transcendent, flexible tenor, and with honest, often confessional lyrics that would give Jim Carroll chills…, Mr. DiMucci showed there was a Cassavetes-like brain throbbing beneath his Fabian-style pompadour. His work was some of the most emotionally conflicted of the era” (D. Strauss, “Dion: He Got Around,” New York Observer, 1/22/2001). 

Dion “The Wanderer”

518 Dion (DiMucci) (1939- ) “Runaround Sue” 1961

“His early hits…adapted Sinatra's streetlight existentialism for the sock-hop crowd. But Mr. DiMucci also had a well-developed taste for the poetry of the dark” (D. Strauss, “Dion: He Got Around,” New York Observer, 1/22/2001). 

Dion “Runaround Sue”

517 Joey Dee (1940- ) and the Starliters “Peppermint Twist” 1961

Dee’s band “took up residency at New York’s famed Peppermint Lounge club in 1960. In late 1961, a year after Chubby Checker’s ‘The Twist’ topped the US chart, the wealthy socialites who frequented the club belatedly discovered the dance. Dee incorporated it into his act and even wrote a special club son, ‘Peppermint Twist’ (The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 2006). 

Joey Dee and the Starliters “Peppermint Twist”

516 Jimmy Dean (1928-2010) “Big Bad John” 1961

“He was raised in what he called dirt-poor surroundings in the small west Texas of Seth Ward, near Plainview. After leaving the armed forces in 1948, Dean began to make his name as a country singer around Washington DC, then a nexus of country music activity…But Dean’s career did not depend on recordings. He was one of country music’s earliest television stars” (Tony Russell, The Guardian, 6/17/2010). 

Jimmy Dean “Big Bad John”

June 9, 2017

515 Dick Dale (1937- ) and the Del-Tones “Let’s Go Trippin’” 1961

“I met a man called Leo Fender, who was the Einstein of the guitar and the amplifiers. And he says, I just made this guitar. It was a Stratocaster. He says, beat it to death and tell me what you think. So when I started playing on that thing, I wanted to get it to be as loud as I could…And at the same time, I was raising 40 different exotic animals—from elephants to lions and tigers and cheetahs and hawks and eagles…So when my mountain lion would scream to me…I would imitate that on my guitar” (Liane Hansen, Weekend Edition Sunday (NPR), Sept. 26, 2010).

Dick Dale and the Del-Tones “Let’s Go Trippin’”

514 Sam Cooke (1931-1964) “Cupid” 1961

“What was most extraordinary about Sam Cooke was his capacity for learning, his capacity for imagination and intellectual growth…he started his own record label and publishing company, probably the first such enterprise fully controlled by a black artist” (Peter Guralnick, Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke, 2005). 

Sam Cooke “Cupid”

513 Patsy Cline (1932-1963) “Crazy” 1961

“She would tell the audience,” said Barbara Mandrell, “I recorded a song called “I Fall to Pieces,” and I was in a car wreck. Now I’m really worried because I have a brand-new record and it’s called “Crazy”’” (Mary Bufwack, Robert Oermann, Finding Her Voice: Women in Country Music, 1800-2000, 2003). Listed on the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress. 

Patsy Cline “Crazy”

512 Patsy Cline (1932-1963) “I Fall to Pieces” 1961

Cline didn’t want to record the song because it didn’t appeal to her honky-tonk preferences, but it became a #1 hit. “For the second time in her career, Patsy was cast as a crossover act, mixing country stops with pop. One day it might be an appearance on ‘Jubilee U.S.A.’, the next day, a sock hop” (Margaret Jones, Patsy: The Life and Times of Patsy Cline,1994). 

Patsy Cline “I Fall to Pieces”

511 The Cleftones “Heart and Soul” 1961

“I [Herbie Cox (1939- )] was a student in Jamaica, Queens, when the group got started. We were all young, 16- and 17-year-old students. Some kids who never won an election thought it would be a good idea if we wrote a campaign song for them. In those days, it was against the rules in our school to play rock 'n' roll music. So we took a rock song and disguised it as the campaign song. It went over big and won the election for the students who had engaged us… In the early stages of our career back in the 1950s, we did get our education, that was important, but the Cleftones spent several years criss-crossing the country working with folks like Little Richard, Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson and La-verne Baker, who used to watch over us like a mother. As kids, we were just happy to have our records played on the radio” (Deardra Shuler, New York Amsterdam News, Jan. 17, 2013).  

The Cleftones “Heart and Soul”

June 2, 2017

510 Dee Clark (1938-1990) “Raindrops” 1961

“Born Delecta Clark in Blytheville, Arkansas, in 1938, Dee Clark grew up in Chicago and enjoyed some minor chart successes with the Chicago group the Goldentones.” He left the group and then “returned to Chicago and began to come into his own as a solo artist…After the massive success of ‘Raindrops,’ a number-two hit on the Billboard chart in 1961, Clark was never able to recapture the success of his earlier hits, but he continued to perform into the 1980s. He died of a heart attack at age fifty-two” (Grady Gaines, I’ve Been Out There, 2015). 

Dee Clark “Raindrops”

509 Chubby Checker (1941- ) “Pony Time” 1961

“As a boy he shined shoes, and in high school he worked in a butcher shop plucking chickens. An early indication of his talent came when customers noticed his skill at impersonating the leading vocalists of the early rock and roll era—Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and, above all, a wildly successful New Orleans singer Checker admired, Fats Domino. Soon Checker was interested in music and performing with a street corner-harmony group, the Quantrells” (Contemporary Black Biography, 2001). 

Chubby Checker “Pony Time”

508 Ray Charles (1930-2004) “One Mint Julip” 1961

“On this album [Genius Plus Soul Equals Jazz], like so many others I’d soon record, I found myself in the fortunate position of being able to reconstruct bits and pieces from my childhood—from all those years spent listening to the jukebox at Mr. Pit’s and listening to the radio at school…in many ways the record became a continuation of what we had begun on the big-band side of the Genius album for Atlantic” (Ray Charles, Brother Ray, 1978). 

Ray Charles “One Mint Julip”

507 Ray Charles (1930-2004) “Hit the Road Jack” 1961

“Ray refused to play to a segregated house, so black promoter Sunbeam Mitchell took the risk, and for the first time ever in Memphis, whites and blacks in equal numbers sat peaceably together and the ‘For Colored Only’ signs came down over the rest rooms” (Michael Lydon, Ray Charles: Man and Music, 1998). 

Ray Charles “Hit the Road Jack”

506 Bruce Channel (1940- ) “Hey Baby” 1961

Channel “was eighteen, living in Grapevine, and singing with the Light Crust Doughboys when he began writing songs with veteran songwriter Margaret Cobb; ‘Hey! Baby’ was one of their first. He recorded it in a Fort Worth studio, backed by the Straitjackets, who featured Delbert McClinton on harmonica. Channel’s smooth voice and McClinton’s bluesy harmonica riff carried the song to number one and the two young men to England, where an unknown group called the Beatles opened for them. Backstage one night, John Lennon buttonholed McClinton and asked him to play the harmonica. A few months later, the lads released their first single, ‘Love Me Do,’ the opening notes of which—Lennon’s memorable harmonica part—draw a direct line from a little Fort Worth studio to the dawning of a new age” (Michael Hall, Texas Monthly, Mar 2007). 

Bruce Channel “Hey Baby”

May 26, 2017

505 Gary U. S. Bonds (1939- ) “Quarter to Three” 1961

Bonds “was barely in his 20s when his performances of rollicking tunes like "New Orleans" (1960) and "Quarter to Three" (1961) allowed him to break into the upper echelons of rock 'n' roll music. Just five years later, however, Bonds' shooting star had already begun to fade. Despite widespread critical acclaim, the Norfolk, Va., resident would spend the next four decades trying to scrape by on the golden-oldies circuit, playing in hotel lounges and even shopping malls” (Kirkus Reviews, 2013).

Gary U. S. Bonds “Quarter to Three”

504 Bobby “Blue” Bland (1930-2013) “Turn On Your Love Light” and “I Pity the Fool” 1961

Born in Rosemark, Tennessee, Bland “moved with his mother to Memphis so that her worries about her son’s dismal employment prospects might be allayed, as she was thoroughly convinced of Bobby’s musical talent. Bland soon found a musical home in Memphis. In the early 1950s he joined gospel groups, won singing contests and began associating with a group of fellow blues performers known informally as the Beal Streeters” (Michael Cala, Sing Out!, 2011).

Bobby “Blue” Bland “Turn On Your Love Light”

Bobby “Blue” Bland “I Pity the Fool”

503 The Beach Boys “Surfin’” 1961

L.A. producer Doris Morgan advised the Pendletones, “You’ve got to have an angle. Something to set you apart from the others.” Dennis Wilson suggested surfer music over the objections of the other group members, though they admitted to working on a song titled “Surfin’.” Morgan “told the boys to write down all the surfing phrases they knew, add them to the lyrics, and polish the melody…If she liked what she heard when they came back, they could record it” (Steven Gaines, Heroes and Villians: The True Story of the Beach Boys, 1986).

The Beach Boys “Surfin’” 1961

502 Ray Charles (1930-2004) “Deed I Do” and “Let the Good Times Roll” 1959

The Genius of Ray Charles album was one of the last he recorded for Atlantic, the company the produced his first LP. “He’d never forget their help, and he’d always be proud of the work they had done together. They might collaborate again someday, who could tell? But making records was a business, and in business everybody made the best deal they could make at the time. ‘Seventy-five cents out of a dollar and owning my own masters, that’s why I left Atlantic,’ Ray recalled years later. Friendship and sentiment had nothing to do with it” (Michael Lydon, Ray Charles: Man and Music, 1998).

Ray Charles “Deed I Do”

Ray Charles “Let the Good Times Roll”

501 Dave Brubeck (1920-2012) Quartet “Take Five” 1959

Brubeck’s father wanted him to work on a ranch. Instead, Brubeck said, “I went through the College of the Pacific as a music major [1938-42] without being able to read music, until a little bit at the end. Strangely enough, I could write music down, and that helped me to read gradually” (Len Lyons, The Great Jazz Pianists, 1983). “’Take Five’” was so well received that it even made the popular music charts, peaking at number 25 in 1961—unheard of for an instrumental jazz recording. Time Out went on to become the first instrumental jazz album certified gold” (Rob Nagel, Ken Burke, Contemporary Musicians, 2010).

Dave Brubeck Quartet “Take Five”

May 19, 2017

500 Mahalia Jackson (1911-1972) “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” 1958

“Dinah Shore, one of the top TV personalities of the day, was the first white star to insist that her network, CBS, enter into a contact with Mahalia for an appearance on the ‘Dinah Shore Show.’ It was to be an historic alliance—the blond talk-show hostess, TV’s darling, and the sable-skinned empress of gospel—that would make a big dent in the rigid Jim Crow hiring practices of the entertainment industry…Jackson explained the difference between blues and gospel on the show: “The blues, baby, is when you’re feelin’ low…when you’re down in the mouth. But gospel is always happy a joyful sound. You know when you’re up an’ feelin’ good!” (Jules Schwerin, Got To Tell It: Mahalia Jackson, Queen of Gospel, 1992). 

Mahalia Jackson (1911-1972)  “His Eye Is on the Sparrow”

499 Joao Gilberto (1931- ) “Chega de Saudade” 1958

“The Gilberto name is utterly synonymous with bossa nova: the light, melodic, samba-based musical hybrid that swept America and the rest of the world in the mid-60s. Guitarist/vocalist/composer Joao Gilberto grew up interested in Brazilian samba, absorbing the traditional rhthyms and melodies, but became seduced by jazz—the other ingredient in the bossa recipe—listening to radio stations playing American music. During the early 50s he settled in Rio De Janeiro, where the colourful cultural mix was already inspiring the brilliant guitarist/composer Antonio Carlos Jobim, with whom he soon began to collaborate” (The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 2006). 

Joao Gilberto “Chega de Saudade”

498 Hoagy Carmichael (1899-1981) and his Pals “Star Dust” 1928; Billy Ward (1921-2002) and his Dominoes “Stardust” 1957

“Beyond argument, he’s the key precursor of that phenomenon of our own times, the singer-songwriter. Whether Billy Joel or Elton John, Dave Frishberg or Bob Dorough, or the countless others who have made an industry of devising and performing their own material, all share a common ancestor in the wiry little guy at the piano, hat back on his head, often bathed in cigarette smoke” (Richard Sudhalter, Stardust Melody: The Life and Music of Hoagy Carmichael, 2002). 

“‘Star Dust’ was recognized as the most played staple of the swing era, a perfect vehicle for a large jazz ensemble that wanted to play something a little more introspective than ‘Bugle Call Rag.’…Perhaps inspired by the 1957 hit single of the tune by Billy Ward and the Dominoes, the expression was also briefly embraced by cinematic rock-and-rollers in the 1975 Stardust (about a fictitious but Beatle-esque pop band) and the 1983 Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (David Bowie in concert)” (Will Friedwald, Stardust Melodies, 2002). 

Hoagy Carmichael and his Pals “Star Dust”

Billy Ward and his Dominoes “Stardust”

497 Slim Harpo (1924-1970) “I’m a King Bee” 1957

“Born James Moore in 1924 in Lobdell, West Baton Rough Parish, Harpo, an orphan, spent his early years as a physical laborer in Baton Rouge. A musical late bloomer influenced by blues harmonica legends such as Little Walter, Harpo began moonlighting as Harmonica Slim in the mid-1950s, gigging with singer-guitarist Otis Hicks, aka Lightnin’ Slim, who was the region’s most established bluesman.” Harpo “became one of the most commercially successfully blues artists of his day, a fact borne out by the number of white blues and rock ‘n’ roll bands who absorbed his music. None other than the Roiling Stones covered Harpo's ‘I'm a King Bee" on their debut album, leading Stones frontman Mick Jagger to famously say, ‘What's the point in listening to us do “I’m a King Bee” when you can hear Slim Harpo do it?’” (Ryan Whirty, Louisiana Life, Jan/Feb 2010).

Slim Harpo “I’m a King Bee”

496 The Crickets with Buddy Holly (1936-1959) “Oh Boy” 1957

John Lennon: “The name Beatles was directly inspired by the Crickets.” George Harrison: “Buddy Holly was my very first favorite and my inspiration to go into the music business.” Jerry Allison: “Buddy Holly would have loved the Beatles and the Stones and the whole English invasion. He would have kept coming out with stuff because he was always coming up with something new. Just before he died, he was talking about making a gospel album with Ray Charles” (Jim Dawson, Spencer Leigh, Memories of Buddy Holly, 1996). 

The Crickets with Buddy “Oh Boy”

May 12, 2017

495 Louis Prima (1910-1978) and Keely Smith (1932- ) “Just A Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody”, “Jump, Jive, an’ Wail” 1956

“Louis and Keely’s single source of power came from their Casbar Lounge shows, those late-night, uninhibited forays into musical madness…In the summer of 1956, Life magazine attempted to provide its readers with a glimpse of what a daily routine must be like for the couple, showing Louis and Keely filling in for a sick nightclub performer as the main floor attraction from 10 p.m. to midnight, then, said the publication ‘they worked from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. in the lounge where their unusual act competed with the chant of the gambling casino’s croupiers. It was 8 in the morning before they had breakfast at home with their 18-month old daughter’” (Garry Boulard, Louis Prima, 2002).

Louis Prima and Keely Smith “Just A Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody”

Louis Prima and Keely Smith “Jump, Jive, an’ Wail”

494 Mahalia Jackson (1911-1972) “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” 1956

Though Jackson appreciated the accolades of white audiences, she “felt like saying, ‘How big does a person have to grow, down in this part of the country, before he’s going to stand up and say—Let us stop treating other men and women and children with such cruelty just ‘cause they are born colored!” In 1956, she was invited to sing at a conference honoring Rosa Parks in Montgomery, Alabama. Jackson agreed: “Yes, but I ain’t comin’ to Mongomery to make no money off them walkin’ folks!” (Jules Schwerin, Got To Tell It: Mahalia Jackson, Queen of Gospel, 1992).

Mahalia Jackson “Precious Lord, Take My Hand”

493 Harry Belafonte (1927- ) “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” 1956

Calypso would be the best selling album in 1957, outselling even Elvis Presley. Former Weavers manager Pete Kameron suggested that Belafonte start his own publishing company. “[T]here was no reason some stodgy publishing company had to get that money just for doing the paperwork…I liked being responsible for rising or falling by my own decisions. I also liked working with black professionals who understood where I came from and what I was trying to do. When I started out, there were no black agents or managers, no major black club owners. There were still hardly any, and certainly none in the movie business. No black movie executives, no black entertainment lawyers, no black screenwriters” (Harry Belafonte, My Song, 2011).

Harry Belafonte “Banana Boat (Day-O)”

492 Perez “Prez” Prado (1916-1989) “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White” 1955

Influenced by African and Cuban music, “In 1942 Prado moved to Havana, where he arranged music for musical groups and orchestras, including the famous Sonora Matancera and Orquesta Casino de la Playa. He experimented with traditional Cuban rhythms, combining jazz and traditional music, and thus he angered musical purists. In 1948 he moved to Mexico City to form his own orchestra” (Alfred Cramer, Musicians & Composers of the 20th Century, 2009).

“Prez” Prado “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White”

491 B.B. King (1925-2015); Count Basie (1904-1984) with Joe Williams (1918-1999) “Every Day I Have the Blues” 1955

“It’s undeniable that B. B. King’s success was the climax of his development as an interpreter, rather than the triumph of an originator…Early in 1955, ‘Every Day I Have the Blues’ was an example of this. Composed by the Sparks Brothers, Aaron and Milton, who recorded it for Bluebird in 1935, “Every Day” was a big hit for Memphis Slim in 1948 as ‘Nobody Loves Me.’ Two years later, Lowell Fulson gave the song a definitive reading, and restored its original title, before King made it one of his warhorses. Although he mainly drew on Fulson’s version for inspiration, King was equally well aware of vocalist Joe Williams’s reading of the song, recorded with Kin Kolax’s Orchestra. Later, Williams would remake a hit version of it with Count Basie” (Sebastian Danchin, Blues Boy: The Life and Music of B.B. King, 1998).

B.B. King “Every Day I Have the Blues” 

Count Basie and his Orchestra with Joe Williams “Every Day I Have the Blues”

May 5, 2017

490 Kitty Kallen (1921-2016) “Little Things Mean a Lot” 1954

“A onetime child radio star in Philadelphia, Ms. Kallen grew into a singer who evinced an expressive style on both sweet and bluesy numbers. Her rise was also propelled by a comely appearance, and she was often introduced as ‘Pretty Kitty Kallen’…The ascendance of rock-and-roll and her struggles with a vocal-cord problem largely sidelined her by the late 1950s” (Adam Bernstein, The Washington Post, Jan. 7, 2016). 

Kitty Kallen “Little Things Mean a Lot”

489 Les Paul (1915-2009) and Mary Ford (1924-1977) “Vaya Con Dios” 1953

“One day in the spring of 1953 the couple stumbled across the song that would eventually become the biggest seller of their entire career…Settling into their hotel room for the night, Mary pulled out a sewing kit and sat on the bed to mend one of her stage dresses, while Les turned on the radio and began to pack. Suddenly he heard Anita O’Day charging through an up-tempo arrangement of ‘Vaya con Dios.’” They liked the song and convinced their reluctant record producer to release and disk jockeys to play “their version much slower and simpler than Anita’s” (Mary Shaugnessy, Les Paul: An American Original, 1993). 

“A Capitol engineer said of Les Paul in 1954: ‘He gets an impossible musical idea, and then invents the mechanical means for carrying it out.’ The kind of manipulated sound which he was exploring, which depended so much on the electric guitar, was not fully exploited until the rock era” (Tom and Mary Anne Evans, Guitars, 1977). 

Les Paul and Mary Ford “Vaya Con Dios”

488 Percy Faith (1908-1976) “Song from Moulin Rouge (Where Is Your Heart)” 1953

“From the 1950s the recorded music industry, which had a distant relationship to muzak and pre-programmed music in general, began to adopt the rhetoric, if not the format, of these types of music. Whereas a long standing assumption had not surprisingly been that consumers bought recordings to actively listen to them, many records were released that were specifically designed to create particular home environments: ‘music as wallpaper’ played in the background to add a mood, create a particular atmosphere, or convey sounds of exotic, otherworldly places that consumers might dream of visiting” (Chris Gibson, John Connell, Music and Tourism: On the Road Again, 2005)

Percy Faith “Song from Moulin Rouge”

487 Big Maybelle (1924-1972) “Candy” 1953

“Some of her staunchest devotees stridently claim that she is the greatest natural blues singer since the late great Bessie Smith died in 1937…Born Mabel Smith in Jackson, Tenn., 30 years ago, she has been shouting the blues ever since childhood, swears that she’ll sing them until the day she dies. Although her repertoire is mainly blues numbers, Big Maybelle sings jump tunes with great dynamic drive. ‘I’m a blues singer to my heart,’ she says, ‘but I got a lot of other stuff too.’ To prove it she sings in Jewish, Italian and Russian” (“Big Maybelle,” Ebony, Feb. 1955). 

Big Maybelle “Candy”

486 Jimmy Forrest (1920-1980) and the All Star Combo “Night Train” 1952

“In March 1952, the tenor saxophonist Jimmy Forrest, a thirty-two-year-old son of St. Louis, broke the R&B charts wide open with a brooding, tough-rhythmed evocation called ‘Night Train.’ Duke Ellington had written and recorded a song called ‘Happy-Go-Lucky Local’ in 1946. Forrest had played in Duke Ellington’s orchestra in 1949 and 1950, and he had stolen ‘Night Train’ directly from the Ellington composition…How fine and fitting it was that this act of inspired robbery should become the favorite record of Sonny Liston, who at the time was in the joint for a lower form of robbery. It was the record that he would play, again and again, at every workout, until it echoed within him, the soundtrack of blow and heartbeat, until the end” (Nick Tosches, The Devil and Sonny Liston, 2000). 

Jimmy Forrest “Night Train”

485 Leroy Anderson (1908-1975) “Blue Tango” 1952

“Written while he was still in the Army, Blue Tango showcased Anderson’s facility for combining various musical elements in one piece…The danceable song became a favorite on radio and on jukeboxes, and it reportedly was the first instrumental record to sell a million copies. No one was more surprised at the success of Blue Tango than its unassuming composer…Film composer John Williams, who conducted the Boston Pops Orchestra for several years, said that Anderson’s music ‘remains forever as young and fresh as the very day on which it was composed’” (Alfred Cramer, Musicians and Composers of the 20th Century, 2009). 

Leroy Anderson “Blue Tango”