(Our 1984 series will continue with one last post after this brief detour.)
Once a month since April, we have been tracking the Beatles and the British Invasion as it appeared on the Billboard Hot 100 against the weekly surveys of a representative local radio station, WOKY in Milwaukee. But entirely apart from chart numbers, Beatlemania was at an unequaled pitch in Milwaukee as September began, for on the 4th, the Fabs played a show at what was known then as the Milwaukee Arena.
On the Hot 100 dated September 5, there are four Beatles songs in the Top 40: the former #1 “A Hard Day’s Night’ at #8, “And I Love Her” at #12, “Ain’t She Sweet” at #30, and “I’ll Cry Instead” at #34. All are headed down the chart except for “And I Love Her.” Another Beatle ballad, “If I Fell,” is at #53 and rising in its 6th week on; “Matchbox” and “Slow Down” debut at #81 and #99 respectively, and “I’m Happy Just to Dance With You” bubbles under at #112. The George Martin Orchestra provides a bit of additional Beatle flavor with an instrumental version of “This Boy” (officially titled “Ringo’s Theme”) at #55. At WOKY, “A Hard Day’s Night” tumbles from #3 to #13; “And I Love Her” falls from #12 to #22. “Matchbox” and “Slow Down” debut together at #29.
Other British invaders were leaving their mark with iconic records 50 years ago this week: the Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun” hit #1 at WOKY the preceding week and held for the week of September 5, its first week atop the Hot 100. “Because” by the Dave Clark Five was at #5 in Milwaukee. Chad and Jeremy’s beautiful “A Summer Song” moved to #17 from #27, well ahead of its Hot 100 pace, and Manfred Mann’s “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” debuted at #20 (and at #58 on the Hot 100).
On the subject of icons, the reign of the Supremes had begun with “Where Did Our Love Go,” which sat at #2 on both charts after topping the Hot 100 the previous week. The wistful “Under the Boardwalk” by the Drifters held at #4. The single hottest record at WOKY was “Oh Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison, jetting to #10 from #32 the previous week. It took a similarly mighty leap on the Hot 100, to #27 from #52. Debuting at WOKY was another new Detroit group, the Four Tops, with “Baby I Need Your Loving.”
On the flip, five more songs from the WOKY chart, less iconic but still noteworthy.
7. “Clinging Vine”/Bobby Vinton (up from 9). Starting in 1962, Bobby Vinton launched a winning streak that put 15 straight hits into the Billboard Top 40. Six made the Top 10, and four hit #1: “Roses Are Red,” “Blue Velvet,” “There I’ve Said It Again,” and “Mr. Lonely,” which would do the trick in December 1964. His dreamy love ballads may have been the kind of thing the Beatles came to destroy—and “Clinging Vine,” with its chorus of female voices perhaps meant to put one in mind of the throngs swarming the Beatles’ hotels is a particularly cheesy example of the form—but he didn’t go quietly.
14. “In the Misty Moonlight”/Jerry Wallace (down from 5). “In the Misty Moonlight,” like Wallace’s earlier hit “Primrose Lane,” is charming, but his country-flavored pop crooning was dated as soon as the British Invasion arrived. (American Bandstand performance and interview here.)
15. “There’s Nothing I Can Say”/Rick Nelson (up from 19). A 50s icon in a changing world, he’d had but one Billboard Top 10 hit since the beginning of 1963 (“For You”) and would have but one more (“Garden Party” in 1972). “There’s Nothing I Can Say” made it to #47.
16. “We’ll Sing in the Sunshine”/Gale Garnett (up from 22). I have noted here before how remarkably unconventional “We’ll Sing in the Sunshine” was for 1964: “Although I’ll never love you / I’ll stay with you one year,” in which we will do all the things that lovers do (without the benefit of clergy), and then I’m outta here. And on top of that: holy smokes what a great production and performance.
21. “Everybody Loves Somebody”/Dean Martin (down from 10). Month to month throughout 1964, adult pop stars still managed to score amidst the British invaders and the general youthquake of 1964, but by early September there are fewer of them. Martin’s song had displaced “A Hard Day’s Night” at the top of the Hot 100 in August, but in Milwaukee only he and Al Martino are flying the flag for the older generation.
(Milwaukee Public Television has produced a documentary on the Beatles concert, which I’m hoping will appear in full online after it airs this week.)