RESEARCH OF MUSIC FROM 1950-1969
Research from 1950-1969 supporting my claim that its the greatest era for music!
Once again, after looking over the Million Dollar Records book, I found another 25 artists (plus a “one hit wonder” The Crystals) to add to the years 1960-1969 (see their photos and song links below):
Louis Armstrong, Tony Bennett, Pat Boone, James Brown, The Bryds, Johnny Cash, Chubby Checker, Petula Clark, Bobby Darin, Bob Dylan, Sammy Davis Jr., Jan and Dean, Judy Garland, Bobby Gentry, Jefferson Airplane, B. B. King, Gary Lewis & The Playboys, Lulu, Peter, Paul & Mary, Gary Pucket & The Union Gap, Spencer Davis Group, The Lovin Spoonful, The Marvelettes, The Seekers, and Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons. Their bios follow below…
Within the book there are 158 pages dedicated to the decade’s artists and music groups from this decade. The numbers of artists continue to trend upward since the 1950s. The total artists per year were at a low of 64 (in 1960) and a high of 103 (in 1969). The number of million dollar songs also continue to trend upward. Between 1950-1955, there were 86-99 million dollar songs per year. Then from 1956-1960, they increased to 95-133 songs per year. The last thing I have tracked is the No1 songs recorded per year. This number ranged from a low of 11 in 1960 to a high of 37 in 1966. The average No1s per year was 23 for a grand total for the decade of 231.
Here are the added artists from the 1960s which I had not included in my original posts:
Louis Daniel Armstrong (August 4, 1901 – July 6, 1971), nicknamed “Satachmo.” He was an American trumpeter, composer, vocalist, and actor who was among the most influential figures in jazz. His career spanned five decades, from the 1920s to the 1960s, and different eras in the history of jazz. One of his most famous recordings in 1965 was “Hello Dolly” (https://youtu.be/1saGiuCZAno) (RQ 9). In 2017, he was inducted into the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame.
Anthony Dominick Benedetto (born August 3, 1926), known professionally as Tony Bennett, is an American singer of traditional pop standards, big band, show tunes and jazz. He is also a painter, having created works under his birth name that are on permanent public display in several institutions. He is the founder of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Astoria, Queens, NY. Born and raised in Astoria (NYC) to an Italian-American family, Bennett began singing at an early age. He fought in the final stages of World War II as a U. S. Army infantry in the European Theater. Afterward, he developed his singing technique, signed with Columbia Records and had his first number-one popular song with “Because of You” (https://youtu.be/i-4zvArJDGg) (RQ 7) in 1951. Several top hits such as “Rags to Riches” (https://youtu.be/VBuPGwYvuzY) (RQ 9) followed in early 1953. He then refined his approach to encompass jazz singing. He reached an artistic peak in the late 1950s with albums such as The Beat of My Heart and Basie Swings and Bennett Sings. In 1962, Bennett recorded his signature song “I Left My Heart in SanFrancisco” (https://youtu.be/I6d03gbmAzc) (RQ 8). His career and personal life experienced an extended downturn during the height of the rock music era.
James Joseph Brown (May 3, 1933 – December 25, 2006) was an American singer, songwriter, dancer, musician, record producer and bandleader. A progenitor of funk music and a major figure of 20th century and dance, he is often referred to by the nicknames: “Godfather of Soul”, “Mr. Dynamite”, and “Soul Brother No. 1”. He produced 57 studio albums which included many charted songs including one of his most famous (and his first Grammy Award): “Papa’s Got a New Bag” in 1965 (https://youtu.be/QE5D2hJhacU) (RQ 10). In a career that lasted over 50 years, he influenced the development of several music genres. Brown was one of the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at its inaugural induction dinner in New York on January 23, 1986.
Patrick Charles Eugene Boon (born June 1, 1934) is an American singer, composer, actor, writer, television personality, motivational speaker, and spokesman. He was a successful pop singer in the United States during the 1950s and early 1960s. In addition to one of his charted great recordings “Moon River” (https://youtu.be/bLz-_X2SLzQ) (RQ 10) he sold more than 45 million records, had 38 Top 40 hits, and appeared in more than 12 Hollywood films.
The Byrds were an American rock band formed in Los Angeles, California in 1964. The band underwent multiple lineup changes throughout its existence, with frontman Roger McGuinn (known as Jim McGuinn until mid-1967) remaining the sole consistent member. Although their time as one of the most popular groups in the world only lasted for a short period in the mid-1960s, the Byrds are today considered by critics to be among the most influential rock acts of their era, alongside their contemporaries the Beatles, the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones. Including their famous recording “ Mr. Tambourine Man” recording in 1965 (https://youtu.be/uPqAvgN6Tyw) (RQ 7) they had recorded another eleven albums. Their signature blend of clear harmony singing and McGuinn’s jangly twelve–string Rickenbacker guitar was “absorbed into the vocabulary of rock” and has continued to be influential. In 1967, their (11) Greatest Hits album included charted songs “Turn, Turn, Turn,” (https://youtu.be/W4ga_M5Zdn4) (RQ 10) and “Eight Miles High” (https://youtu.be/V_51PAR23sY) (RQ 6).
John R. Cash (born J. R. Cash; February 26, 1932 – September 12, 2003) was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and actor. Much of Cash’s music contained themes of sorrow, moral tribulation, and redemption, especially in the later stages of his career. Including such massive No1 hits as “Ring of Fire” (https://youtu.be/GCMz70Fm5pA) (RQ 10+) in 1963, he recorded sixty-seven albums. He also recorded five more No1 hits:
“Understand Your Man” (https://youtu.be/ipjaLMd8TqM) (RQ 10+).
“Don’t Take Your Guns to Town” (https://youtu.be/F-HIa3dq-0o) (RQ 9).
“Daddy Sang Bass” (https://youtu.be/x_geYBnMNG0) (RQ 10+).
“Folsom Prison Blues” (https://youtu.be/bDktBZzQIiU) (RQ 10).
“Ballad of a Teenage Queen” on his 1958 album: Songs that Made Him Famous. (https://youtu.be/V-DjCdKcg_s) (RQ 9).
He was known for his deep, calm bass-baratone voice, the distinctive sound of his Tennessee Three backing band characterized by train-like chugging guitar rhythms, a rebelliousness coupled with an increasingly somber and humble demeanor, free prison concerts, and a trademark all-black stage wardrobe which earned him the nickname “The Man in Black”.
Chubby Checker (born Ernest Evans; October 3, 1941) was an American rock and roll singer and dancer. He is widely known for popularizing many dance styles including the twist dance style with his 1960 hit cover of Hank Ballard & The Midnighter’s hit “The Twist” (https://youtu.be/im9XuJJXylw) (RQ 10+) and the Pony with hit “Pony Time” (https://youtu.be/JyaxcvHSyZYIn) (RQ 6). September 2008, “The Twist” topped Billboard’s list of the most popular singles to have appeared in the Hit 100 since its debut in 1958, an honor it maintained for an August 2013 update of the list. He also popularized the “Limbo Rock” (https://youtu.be/zSGB09ktsy0) (RQ 10) and its trademark limbo dance, as well as various dance styles such as The Fly (https://youtu.be/6y33iQhPWi8) (RQ 7).
Petula Clark, (born Sally Olwen Clark; 15 November 1932) is a British singer, actress and composer whose career spans eight decades. Clark’s professional career began during World War II, as an entertainer on BBC Radio. In 1954 she charted with “The Little Shoemaker,” (https://youtu.be/O50ZHG9LWFw) (RQ 9) the first of her big UK hits—and within two years began recording in French. International successes included “Prends mon coeur,” (https://youtu.be/b061ks8VLrs) (RQ 8), “Sailor,” a UK number one (https://youtu.be/ERy5sp3-jf0) (RQ 6), “Romeo” (https://youtu.be/SX6LWek–6Q) RQ 5) and “Chariot or I Will Follow Him” (https://youtu.be/v_Y4NXAMDhM) (RQ 10+). Hits in German, Italian and Spanish followed. In late 1964 Clark’s global success extended to America with a four-year run of career-defining, often upbeat singles, many written or co-written by Tony Hatch and Jack Trent. These include her signature song “Downtown” (https://youtu.be/Zx06XNfDvk0). (RQ 9).
Bobby Darin (born Walden Robert Cassotto; May 14, 1936 – December 20, 1973) was an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, impressionist, and actor in film and television. He performed jazz, pop, rock and roll, folk, swing, and country music. He started his career as a songwriter for Connie Francis. He recorded his first million-selling single, “Splish Splash” in 1958 (https://youtu.be/XKCDc8Eg_-U) (RQ 7). That was followed by “Dream Lover” (https://youtu.be/QzkECdHu1dQ) (RQ 8), “Mack the Knife,” (https://youtu.be/ygVgxGSQIsw) (RQ 10+) and “Beyond the Sea”, (https://youtu.be/5bRAtV-jgoQ) (RQ 10+) which brought him worldwide fame. In 1962 he won a Golden Globe Award for his first film, Come September, co-starring his first wife, actress Sandra Dee.
Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman; May 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter, author, and visual artist. Widely regarded as one of the greatest songwriters of all time, Dylan has been a major figure in popular culture for more than 50 years. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s, when songs such as “Blowin in the Wind” in 1963 (https://youtu.be/vWwgrjjIMXA) (RQ 6), “The Times They Are A Changin” in 1964 (https://youtu.be/90WD_ats6eE) (RQ 8) and “Like a Rolling Stone” (1965) (https://youtu.be/IwOfCgkyEj0) (RQ 9) became anthems for the civil rights and anti-war movements. His lyrics during this period incorporated a range of political, social, philosophical, and literary influences, defied pop music conventions and appealed to the burgeoning counterculture.
Samuel George Davis Jr. (December 8, 1925 – May 16, 1990) was an American singer, dancer, actor, vaudevillian and comedian who has been called “the greatest entertainer ever to grace a stage in these United States.” At age three, Davis began his career in vaudeville with his father Sammy Davis Sr.. and the Will Mason Trio, which toured nationally. After military service, he returned to the trio and became an overnight sensation following a nightclub performance at Ciro’s (in West Hollywood) after the 1951 Academy Awards. With the trio, he became a recording artist. In 1954, at the age of 29, he lost his left eye in a car accident. After a starring role on Broadway in Mr. Wonderful (1956), he returned to the stage in 1964’s Golden Boy. Davis’s film career began as a child in 1933. In 1960, he appeared in the Rat Pack film Ocean’s Eleven. In 1966, he had his own TV variety show, titled The Sammy Davis Jr. Show. While Davis’s career slowed in the late 1960s, his biggest hit, “The Candy Man,” (https://youtu.be/o5vFvt3fJpw) (RQ 9) reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in June 1972. His recording “What Kind of Fool Am I?” was popular as well (https://youtu.be/yUILRZGAfsA) (RQ 9). He then became a star in Las Vegas, earning him the nickname “Mister Show Business”.
Jan and Dean were an American rock duo consisting of William Jan Berry (April 3, 1941 – March 26, 2004) and Dean Ormsby Torrence (born March 10, 1940). In the early 1960s, they were pioneers of the California sound and vocal surf music styles popularized by the Beach Boys. Among their most successful songs was 1963’s “Surf City” (https://youtu.be/ERrwjR4ZlfI) (RQ 10+), the first surf song to top the Hot 100. Their other charting top 10 singles were “Drag City” in 1963 (https://youtu.be/c2GwDGjiV4k) (RQ 9), “Dead Man’s Curve” in 1964,(https://youtu.be/yrCuMPeSu9s) (RQ 8) and “Little Old Lady from Pasadena in 1964 (https://youtu.be/D7f9hsFrKUY) (RQ 10+). They were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008.
Judy Garland (born Frances Ethel Gumm; June 10, 1922 – June 22, 1969) was an American actress, singer, vaudevillian and dancer. With a career spanning 45 years, she attained international stardom as an actress in both musical and dramatic roles, as a recording artist, and on the concert stage. Renowned for her versatility, she received an Academy Juvenile Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Special Tony Award, and was the first woman to win the Grammy Award for the Album of the Year for her 1961 live recording Judy at Carnegie Hall. Garland began performing in vaudeville as a child with her two older sisters and was later signed to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as a teenager. She appeared in more than two dozen films for MGM and is remembered for portraying Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz (1939). She sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (https://youtu.be/iDXL_5JsiC0) (RQ 6) in this film. As a side note, my personal favorite recording of this song was re-done in 2012 by Katherine McPhee (https://youtu.be/vtOI8q-PpLw) (RQ 10+). Of course, Katherine married David Foster in 2019. What an amazing musical couple! David owns 16 Grammy Awards for producing records for the likes of Christina Aguilera, Michael Buble, Natalie Cole, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Rod Stewart, Barbara Streisand and many others…
Bobbie Lee Gentry (born Roberta Lee Streeter; July 27, 1942) is a retired American singer-songwriter who was one of the first female artists to compose and produce her own material.
Gentry rose to international fame in 1967 with her Southern Gothic narrative “Ode to Billie Joe” (https://youtu.be/rNB8AKMdqiQ) (RQ 10). The track spent four weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was third in the Billboard year-end chart of 1967, earning Gentry Grammy awards for Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 1968.
Gentry charted 11 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and four singles on the United Kingdom Top 40. Her album “Fancy” (https://youtu.be/ORfoK5Ap0FA) (RQ 10) brought her a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. After her first albums, she had a successful run of variety shows on the Las Vegas strip.
Jefferson Airplane was an American rock band based in San Francisco, CA that became one of the pioneering bands of psychedelic rock. Formed in 1965, the group defined the San Francisco Sound and was the first from the Bay Area to achieve international commercial success. The members were: Grace Slick – vocals, keyboards. Marty Balin – vocals, rhythm guitar. Jorma Kaukonen – lead guitar, vocals. Paul Kantner – rhythm guitar, vocals. Jack Casady – bass. Spencer Dryden – drums. They were headliners at the Monterey Pop Festival (1967), Woodstock (1969), Altamont Free Concert (1969), and the first Isle of Wright (1968) in England. Their 1967 break-out album Surrealistic Pillow ranks on the short list of the most significant recordings of the Summer of Love. Two songs from that album, “Somebody to Love” (https://youtu.be/JUbMWtUyIIE) (RQ 10) and “White Rabbit” (https://youtu.be/WANNqr-vcx0) (RQ 10+)are among Rolling Stone‘s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.
Riley B. King (September 16, 1925 – May 14, 2015), known professionally as B.B. King, was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and record producer. King introduced a sophisticated style of soloing based on fluid string bending and shimmering vibrato that influenced many later blues electric guitar players. King was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, and is one of the most influential blues musicians of all time, earning the nickname “The King of the Blues”, and is considered one of the “Three Kings of the Blues Guitar” (along with Albert King and freddie King, neither of whom are blood related). One of his greatest recordings was “The Thrill Is Gone” (https://youtu.be/BPlsqo2bk2M) (RQ 10). He recorded 43 studio albums. King performed tirelessly throughout his musical career, appearing on average at more than 200 concerts per year into his 70s. In 1956 alone, he appeared at 342 shows.
Gary Lewis & the Playboys were an American 1960s era pop and rock group, fronted by musician Gary Lewis, the son of comedian Jerry Lewis. The other group members were:
Nick Rather (bass/guitar)
Bobby Bond (drums)
Dominic Trincini (bass)
Mike Gladstone (guitar)
Willy O’Riley (keys)
They are best known for their 1965 Billboard Hot 100 number-one single “This Diamond Ring” (https://youtu.be/L5V9KUcYneg) (RQ 8), which was the first of a string of hit singles they had in 1965 and 1966. They produced five more Top10 songs:
“She’s Just My Style” (https://youtu.be/JPEpabBbRGw) (RQ 10).
“Everybody Loves a Clown” (https://youtu.be/rowkJcfv5ks) (RQ 10+).
“Count Me In” (https://youtu.be/NuVLAzALp6Y) (RQ 8).
“Save Your Heart for Me” (https://youtu.be/aqHy8LpKqYk) (RQ 10+).
“Green Grass” (https://youtu.be/6ZYE1TIxGMA) (RQ 10+).
The band had an earnest, boy-next-door image similar to British invasion contemporaries such as Herman’s Hermits and Gerry and the Pacemakers. The group folded in 1970, but a version of the band later resumed touring and continues to tour, often playing for veterans’ benefits.
The Lovin’ Spoonful had its roots in the folk music scene based in the Greenwich Village section of lower Manhattan during the early 1960s. John B. Sebastian, the son of classical harmonicist John Sebastian, grew up in the Village in contact with music and musicians, including some of those involved with the American folk music revival of the 1950s through the early 1960s. Sebastian formed the Spoonful with guitarist Zal Yanovsky from a bohemian folk group playing local coffee houses and small clubs called The Mugwamps, two other members of which, Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty later formed half of The Mamas and Papas. The formation of the Lovin’ Spoonful during this period was later described in the lyrics of the Mamas & the Papas’ name dropping 1967 top ten hit, “Creeque Alley”. Drummer Jan Carl and bassist Steve Boone rounded out the group, but Carl was replaced by drummer-vocalist Joe Butler after the group’s first gig at The Night Owl in Greenwich Village.
The band worked with producer Erik Jacobsen to release their first single on July 20, 1965, “Do You Believe in Magic”, written by Sebastian. Additionally, they wrote their own material (aside from a few covers, mostly on their first album), including “Younger Girl” (https://youtu.be/b53EbA1NBRk) (RQ 10), which was a hit for The Critters in mid-1966.
“Do You Believe in Magic” (https://youtu.be/JnbfuAcCqpY) (RQ 7) reached #9 on the Hit 100, and the band followed it up with a series of hit singles and albums throughout 1965 and 1966, all produced by Jacobsen. The Lovin’ Spoonful became known for such folk-flavored pop hits as “You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice” (https://youtu.be/YpZI8biFsn8) (RQ 8) which reached #10, and “Daydream” (https://youtu.be/M7u5SdjDSQQ) (RQ 10+) which went to #2. Other hits included “Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind?” (https://youtu.be/7sqXBB1ETU0) (RQ 7) which was another #2 hit and “Summer in the City,” (https://youtu.be/U7ofnHmxE-I) (RQ 10+) their only song to reach #1 on the Hot 100 (August 13–27, 1966). Later that year, the #10 hit “Rain on the Roof” (https://youtu.be/Ev5E-UC2DXg) (RQ 8) and the #8 hit “Nashville Cats” (https://youtu.be/P4p7prURvIk) (RQ 10+) completed the group’s first seven consecutive Hot 100 hits to reach that chart’s top 10. Nashville Cats also went on to become a staple in the concerts of bluegrass legend Del McCoury. The only other 1960s act to achieve that feat is Gary Lewis & The Playboys.
Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie was born in Lennoxtown, Stirlingshire and grew up in Dennistoun, Glasgow, where she attended Thomson Street Primary School and Onslow Drive School. She lived in Gallowgate for a while before moving to Garfield Street, Dennistoun. At the age of 13, she and her manager approached a band called the Bellrocks seeking stage experience as a singer. She appeared with them every Saturday night: Alex Thomson, the group’s bass player, has reported that even then her voice was remarkable. She has two brothers and a sister, and her father was a heavy drinker. Aged 14, she received the stage name “Lulu” from her future manager Marion Massey, who commented: “Well, all I know is that she’s a real lulu of a kid.”
In August 2017, Lulu’s family history was the subject of an episode in the UK series Who Do You Think You Are? The research showed that her mother had been brought up by another family. The investigation into her genealogy showed that Lulu’s maternal grandparents had come from across the religious divide in Glasgow. Her grandfather Hugh Cairns was a Catholic and her grandmother, Helen Kennedy, was a Protestant. Cairns had been a member of a Catholic gang and was found in the research to have been in and out of prison at the time of the birth of Lulu’s mother. Kennedy was found to be the daughter of a Worthy Mistress of the Ladies’ Orange Lodge 52; the discovery explained why the two families had opposed the union between Kennedy and Cairns.
In 1964, under the wing of Marion Massey, she was signed to Decca Records. When she was only fifteen, her version of the Isley Brothers’ “Shout” (https://youtu.be/NUP7YCuls78) (RQ 8) credited to ‘Lulu & the Luvvers and delivered in a raucous but mature voice, peaked at no. 7 on the UK charts. Massey guided her career for more than 25 years, for most of which time they were partners in business, and Massey’s husband Mark produced some of Lulu’s recordings.
After the success of “Shout,” Lulu’s next charting single was “Leave a Little Love” (https://youtu.be/XN_kFGvNUJ4) (RQ 7) in 1965, which returned her to the UK Top Ten. Her next record, “Try to Understand,” (https://youtu.be/O_U7p_KarYA) (RQ 8) made the Top 40.
In 1966, Lulu toured Poland with the Hollies as the first British female singer to appear live behind the Iron Curtain. In the same year, she recorded two German-language tracks; “Wenn du da bist” and “So fing es an” for the Decca Germany label. All her Decca recordings were made available in 2009 on a 2-CD set entitled Shout!, issued on TOM Records. After two hit singles with the Luvvers, Lulu embarked on a solo career.
After failing to reach the charts in 1966, Lulu left Decca and signed with Columbia, to be produced by Mickie Most. She returned to the UK singles chart in April 1967, reaching no. 6 with “The Boat That I Row,” (https://youtu.be/ahEMnbnAXuQ) (RQ 8) written by Neil Diamond. All seven singles she cut with Mickie Most made the UK Singles Chart, ending with “Boom Bang-A-Bang” (https://youtu.be/BTq9T3SbS4M) (RQ 9) reaching number 2 in 1969. When Most died in 2003, Lulu was full of praise for him and told the BBC that they had been very close. She made her acting debut in 1967 To Sir With Love, a British vehicle for Sidney Poitier. Lulu both acted in the film and sang the title song, with which she had a major hit in the United States, reaching no. 1. “To Sir With Love” (https://youtu.be/JOVQ4vAmM7Y) (RQ 10+) became the best-selling single of 1967 in the United States, selling well in excess of 1,000,000 copies; it was awarded a gold disc, and was ranked by Billboard magazine as the no. 1 song of the year. In the UK, “To Sir With Love” was released on the B-side of “Let’s Pretend”, a number 11 hit.
The Marvelettes was an American girl group that achieved popularity in the early- to mid-1960s. They consisted of schoolmates Gladys Horton, Katherine Anderson, Georgeanna Tillman, Juanita Cowart (now Cowart Motley), and Georgia Dobbins, who was replaced by Wanda Young prior to the group signing their first deal. They were the first major successful act of Motown Records after the Miracles and its first significantly successful girl group after the release of the 1961 number-one single, “Please Mr. Postman” (https://youtu.be/425GpjTSlS4) (RQ 10+). This was one of the first number-one singles recorded by an all-female vocal group and the first by a Motown recording act. “Don’t Mess with Bill” (https://youtu.be/OVsW_6AomOQ) (RQ 7) in 1965, also received another gold award from RIAA.
The group’s full names are: Peter Yarrow, Noel Paul Stookey and Mary Travers. Manager Albert Grossman created Peter, Paul and Mary in 1961, after auditioning several singers in the New York folk scene, including Dave Van Ronk, who was rejected as too idiosyncratic and uncommercial, and Carolyn Hester. After rehearsing Yarrow, Stookey and Travers out of town in Boston and Miami, Grossman booked them into The Bitter End, a coffee house, nightclub and popular folk music venue in New York City’s Greenwich Village..
The group recorded their debut album, Peter, Paul & Mary and it was released by Warner Bros. the following year. It included “Lemon Tree” (https://youtu.be/MLhYghzNfII) (RQ 10+), 500 Miles” (https://youtu.be/ADN1lLEp3H0) (RQ 10) and the Pete Seeger hit tunes “If I Had a Hammer” (https://youtu.be/XxWTDcP9Y5E) (RQ 8) and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” (https://youtu.be/aOD2G7fLCRc) (RQ 10+). The album was listed in the Billboard Magazine Top Ten for 10 months, including seven weeks in the No. 1 position. It remained a main catalog-seller for decades to come, eventually selling over two million copies, earning double platinum certification from the RIAA in the United States alone.
In 1963 the group released “Puff the Magic Dragon,” (https://youtu.be/z15pxWUXvLY) (RQ 9) with music by Yarrow and words based on a poem that had been written by a fellow student at Cornell, Leonard Lipton. Despite rumors that the song refers to drugs, it is actually about the lost innocence of childhood.
That year the group performed “If I Had a Hammer” and “Blowin in the Wind” (https://youtu.be/Ld6fAO4idaI) (RQ 8) at the 1963 March on Washington, best remembered for the Reverend Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. The Bob Dylan song “Blowin’ in the Wind” (https://youtu.be/vWwgrjjIMXA) (RQ 8) was one of their biggest hit singles.
The Seekers are an Australian folk-influenced pop-quartet, originally formed in Melbourne in 1962. They were the first Australian pop music group to achieve major chart and sales success in the United Kingdom and the United States. They were popular during the 1960s with their best-known configuration as: Judith Durham on vocals, piano, and tambourine; Athol Guy on double bass and vocals; Keith Potger on twelve-string guitar, banjo and vocals; and Bruce Woodley on guitar, mandolin, banjo, and vocals. The group had Top 10 hits in the 1960s with “I’ll Never Find Another You (https://youtu.be/4Ga9Bs4fzSY) (RQ 9), “A World of Our Own” (https://youtu.be/PSxwqBJLU8A) (RQ 10+), “Morningtown Ride”, “Someday, One Day” (written by Paul Simon), “Georgy Girl” (https://youtu.be/wsIbfYEizLk) (RQ 10) and “The Carnival Is Over” by Tom Springfield, the last being an adaptation of the Russian folk song “Stenka Razin”. It is still one of the top 50 best-selling singles in the UK. Australian music historian Ian McFarland described their style as “concentrated on a bright, uptempo sound, although they were too pop to be considered strictly folk and too folk to be rock.”
The Spencer Davis Group are a British band formed in Birmingham in 1963, by Spencer Davis (guitar) with Steve Winwood (keyboards, guitar) and his brother, Muff Winwood (bass guitar) and Pete York (drums). Steve Winwood also played a future key role for the bands Traffic, Blind Faith and Go. Plus, he excelled as a solo artist recording such hits as “ Higher Love” (https://youtu.be/k9olaIio3l8) (RQ 10). The Spencer Davis Group’s best known songs include the UK number ones: “Somebody Help Me” (https://youtu.be/bWeE3lyAA_8) (RQ 5) and “Keep on Runnin” (https://youtu.be/pH53DfX50-8) (RQ 9). Both written by reggae musician Jackie Edwards, “I’m a Man” and “Gimme Some Lovin” (https://youtu.be/ko3m0NBbq1o) (RQ 10+) which reached #2 in the UK and #7 in the US.
Gary Puckett & The Union Gap was an American pop rock group active in the late 1960s. The group, formed by Gary Puckett, Gary ‘Mutha’ Withem, Dwight Bement, Kerry Chater and Paul Wheatbread, who eventually named it The Union Gap, had its biggest hits with “Woman, Woman” (https://youtu.be/0Mqsnx2E3ys) (RQ 10+), Young Girl” (https://youtu.be/qJFVPxBpezk) (RQ 10+), “Lady Willpower” (https://youtu.be/e1CLjF8Q8xo) (RQ 10+), “Over You” (https://youtu.be/Z34xaDQ3ra4) (RQ 10), “Don’t Give In To Him” (https://youtu.be/GXqJhEA8E8Y) (RQ 5) and “This Girl is a Woman Now” (https://youtu.be/ICn3nTa90N8) (RQ 9). The members featured costumes that were based on the Union Army uniforms worn during the American Civil War. Jerry Fuller gave the act a recording contract with Columbia Records. The group eventually grew unhappy with doing material written and produced by others, leading them to stop working with Fuller. The band eventually disbanded, and Puckett went on to do both solo work and collaborations.
In 1960, despite the changes of personnel, the fortunes of the Four Lovers had not changed—they failed an audition for a lounge at a Union Township, Union County, New Jersey, bowling establishment. According to Gaudio, “We figured we’ll come out of this with something. So we took the name of the bowling alley. It was called the Four Seasons.” Despite the last few years of frustration of the Four Lovers, this proved to be the turning point for the band. Later, on a handshake agreement between tenor vocals/keyboardist/composer Bob Gaudio and lead singer Frankie Valli, the Four Seasons Partnership was formed. The other two original group members were: Tommy DeVito (lead guitar and baritone vocals) and Nick Massi (electric base and base vocals).
The Four Seasons signed as artists to Crewe’s production company, and they released their first Crewe-produced single under their new name in 1961: “Bermuda”/”Spanish Lace” (https://youtu.be/Lt_F_o3_Jm4) (RQ 7) on Gone Records. The single did not chart. The band continued working with producer Bob Crewe as background vocalists and sometimes leads under different names, for productions on Crewe’s own Topix label. As a follow-up, Bob Gaudio wrote a song that, after some discussion between Crewe and Gaudio, was titled “Sherry”. After the song was recorded, Crewe and the members of the band solicited record labels to release it. It was Frankie Valli who spoke with Randy Wood. West Coast sales manager for Vee-Jay Records (not the founder of Dot Records) who, in turn, suggested the release of “Sherry” to the decision-makers at Vee-Jay. “Sherry” made enough of an impression that Crewe was able to sign a deal between his production company and Vee-Jay for its release. They were the first white artists to sign with Vee-Jay.
In 1962, the band released their first album, featuring the single “Sherry” (https://youtu.be/jMcWldfg28s) (RQ 10+), which was not only their first charted hit but also their first number-one song. Under the guidance of Bob Crewe, the Four Seasons followed up “Sherry” with several million selling singles, generally composed by Crewe and Gaudio, including their second #1 hit: “Big Girls Don’t Cry” (https://youtu.be/DAgQIb77UhU) (RQ 6), their third #1 song: “Walk Like a Man” (https://youtu.be/aaKpo2lFzH8) (RQ 7), “Candy Girl” (https://youtu.be/R-efs62E0SE) (RQ 10), “Ain’t That a Shame” (https://youtu.be/_hqVoQRqd9o) (RQ 8) and several others. Also, they released a Christmas album in December 1962 and charted with a unique rendition of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” (https://youtu.be/6I1WujBgK64) (RQ 8).
In 1962, they were invited to perform their hit “Big Girls Don ‘t Cry” on the show American Bandstand. In 1964, they recorded their fourth #1 hit: “Rag Doll” (https://youtu.be/X2zPhOirjhI) (RQ 10+).