What’s the earliest memory you have? I think I can remember sitting on my great-grandmother’s lap, and she died in 1962. I can definitely remember some events surrounding my first “real” birthday in 1964. Another great-grandmother died in January 1965, and I can remember going to the funeral visitation. But my earliest memory that’s both vivid and tied to a specific date goes back 43 years today—the Palm Sunday Tornado of 1965.
Two tornadoes of a different sort were also raging on that day—the British Invasion and Motown. Take a look at the chart from KFWB in Los Angeles dated April 10, 1965: Them, the Kinks, Petula Clark, the Rolling Stones, Freddie and the Dreamers, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, and the Moody Blues fly the UK flag; the Supremes, Junior Walker, Martha and the Vandellas, and Brenda Holloway represent the Motor City. There are others from both places further down the chart, including some of these:
15. “Girl Don’t Come”/Sandie Shaw (down from 13). Shaw was a British bird who was but 17 when she scored a Number-One hit in the UK with “Always Something There to Remind Me.” “Girl Don’t Come” was her biggest American hit, although it missed the Top 40. Check it out here, in a lip-synched performance from a 1964 British chart show, along with a 1996 performance in which she hardly looks different from when she was 17.
21. “The Clapping Song”/Shirley Ellis (up from 29). This tune bears an obvious similarity to Ellis’ more famous hit, “The Name Game,” but there’s also another similarity you may not expect: Both “The Name Game” and “The Clapping Song” plow a mighty, mighty groove. (If you think you remember a different version of “The Clapping Song,” you might. It was covered by Pia Zadora in her 1983 movie The Lonely Lady, for which she received several Golden Raspberry awards, including Worst Drama of the Last 25 Years in 2005. Her version is no better than it deserves to be.)
25. “This Sporting Life”/Ian Whitcomb (up from 28). With his band Bluesville, Whitcomb is best known for “You Turn Me On,” which would make the American Top 10 in the summer of 1965. “This Sporting Life” had spent a single week at Number 100 on the Billboard chart in March. Whitcomb now specializes in recreating vintage music, and won a Grammy for his contributions to the Titanic soundtrack in 1998. (In case you don’t remember “You Turn Me On,” you can hear it here. Dig the classic CKLW jingle that precedes it.)
29. “King of the Road”/Roger Miller (down from 19). Between the summer of ’64 and the end of 1965, Miller was as big a star as you could be without being either British or on Motown. He scored five Top 10 hits in that span; “King of the Road” was the biggest.
32. “She’s About a Mover”/Sir Douglas Quintet (debut). One of the most underappreciated bands of the 60s, the Sir Douglas Quintet was not British, despite their name. (They weren’t on Motown, either.) They were a Tex-Mex/Cajun-influenced band from San Antonio, Texas, that could rock mightily, as they do on this, their biggest hit, and on the magnificent “Mendocino” from 1969.
The KFWB chart is notable for he way it refers to the “K-F-W-Beatles” and “K-F-W-Beach Boys,” as WABC had done with “W-A-Beatle-C.” Also notable are some of the jocks pictured, who include morning man Wink Martindale, later of game-show fame; midday host Bill Ballance, who went into talk radio in the early 70s with an explicit and controversial sex-advice program called Feminine Forum; and night guy B. Mitchell Reed, who pioneered Top 40 in Los Angeles from the late 50s, then crossed the country to New York City for a few years before returning to L.A. and helping to launch its first progressive FM station.