1968 The Monkees – D. W. Washburn

1968 The Monkees – D. W. Washburn

The writing team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote at least 70 chart hits. In 1952, they wrote Hound Dog, which turned into a major hit for Elvis. They also wrote and produced the first eleven chart records by the Coasters in the late fifties. The pair also started Red Bird Records and produced hits on that label in the early sixties.

In 1963, two songs they wrote reached the charts. They wrote the English lyrics for Uno dei Tanti. Ben E. King recorded the song as I (Who Have Nothing). They also wrote Only In America, which Jay and the Americans turned into a hit record.

The next song the pair wrote that became a hit was D. W. Washburn. The Coasters recorded the song in 1967, but the band did not release the song as a single at first.

The Monkees recorded the song in early 1968 during the production of the second year of their television show, but the song was not put on their fifth album or used in the first run episodes that year. Instead, a song recorded in 1966 became the band’s release in early 1968 (Valleri).

The last episode of their show aired in March 1968, and their record company released D. W. Washburn as the group’s next single in June. The single performed poorly. All the group’s previous singles had hit #1, #2, or #3 on the Hot 100, but the new single peaked at only #19 in July.

The Coasters version of the song was dusted off and issued as a single in July 1968, but it did not reach the Hot 100 at all.

The Monkees television show was cancelled. They filmed a controversial movie (Head) and released several singles, but when their records continued to do poorly, the group slowly disbanded over the next few years. They would not reach the top forty again until MTV began reruns of their television show in 1986.


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1968 The 4 Seasons – Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow

1968 The 4 Seasons – Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow

Singer Frankie Valli and guitar player Tommy DeVito formed the Variatones. They performed under a series of names from 1954 to 1959, even recording a few singles for RCA Victor as the Four Lovers. Things began to look up when Bob Gaudio joined the group.

They changed their name to the Four Seasons (the name of a local bowling alley) and signed with producer Bob Crewe. Their first single didn’t do much, after which Bob Gaudio wrote Sherry. The band had three consecutive chart-topping singles in 1962 and 1963, and followed that with a long line of hit records.

In 1965, the group changed the spelling of their name to The 4 Seasons. They kept with that name for several years.

Gerry Goffin and Carole King wrote Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, which became a #1 hit for the Shirelles in 1961. In 1967, the 4 Seasons were struggling with different sounds in an effort to find a hit record, but their singles were doing progressively worse on the charts. They released a cover of the Shirelles record in an effort to return to their former glory. For the first time, their record label listed them as The 4 Seasons featuring the Sound of Frankie Valli. The single did better than their most recent singles, but peaked at only #24 in 1968.

Bob Gaudio heard a live performance of Genuine Imitation Life by Jake Holmes and the pair teamed up to create the 4 Seasons’ next album, The Genuine Imitation Life Gazette. They released several singles from the upcoming concept album in 1968 prior to the album’s release in 1969, and the result was dismal. While the songs might have been interesting to listen to, radio audiences and the record-buying public just weren’t interested.

Undaunted, the pair went on to create a concept album for Frank Sinatra. Watertown became Frank’s least successful album. I did like the single I Would Be In Love (Anyway) from the album, but it only reached #88 on the Hot 100. Perhaps it was some consolation that the single made it to #4 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

It would be a long six years of recording and touring before either the 4 Seasons or Frankie Valli reached the top forty again. It looked like their recording career was over, but something wonderful happened on the way to the Oldies circuit: Frankie had a number one hit in 1974 with My Eyes Adored You, and the group hit the top of the Hot 100 in 1975 with December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night).

They reunited and resumed recording. The group’s last visit to the Hot 100 came in 1994 when a remix version of December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night) reached #14 on the chart.


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1967 Robert Knight – Everlasting Love

1967 Robert Knight – Everlasting Love

Robert Peebles has a birthdate of either 1940 or 1945, depending on which source you trust. He began singing professionally with The Paramounts, a school group that signed with Dot Records in 1960. They had a minor R&B hit with Free Me in 1961. They abandoned their contract with Dot Records and their contract with the company prohibited them from recording for another company for 4 1/2 years.

Robert began appearing professionally as Robert Knight.

Robert sang with The Fairlanes while studying chemistry at Tennessee State University. The Rising Sons record label heard the group perform at a fraternity party at Vanderbilt University in Nashville and offered Robert a recording contract.

Buzz Cason and Mac Gayden had written the song Everlasting Love. They also produced and arranged the recording by Robert in 1967. His single peaked at #13 on the Hot 100 and #14 on the R&B chart in 1967.

The single did not do well in the UK due to a competing version of the song. The UK group Love Affair quickly recorded a version of the song with a nearly identical arrangement using studio musicians. Their single topped the UK chart in 1968.

Robert had two more singles that only reached #97 on the Hot 100 in 1968 and never reached that chart again. His career fared better in the UK, where the Northern Soul movement helped him reached the UK top ten in 1973. He eventually returned to Nashville and worked at Vanderbilt University as a chemical lab technician and even a chemistry teacher.

Everlasting Love is nearly unique – it is one of only two songs that reached the US Hot 100 top forty in the sixties, the seventies, the eighties, and the nineties.

Carl Carlton recorded a disco version of Everlasting Love. It peaked at #6 on the Hot 100 in 1974, and oldies stations play it relentlessly.

1982 Rex Smith and Rachel Sweet recorded the song as a duet in 1982. They also made a video that followed the two of them through a wedding. Their single peaked at #32 on the Hot 100.

In 1995, Gloria Estefan recorded a solo single version of the song that reached #27 on the Hot 100. They created a video that featured drag queens and used an extended dance mix. Thanks to airplay (and popularity of the song in gay clubs), the extended version reached the top of the US Hot Dance Music chart.

Oh, the other song that hit the top forty in those four decades? It was The Way You Do the Things You Do. That song reached the top forty for The Temptations in 1964 (#11), Rita Coolidge in 1978 (#20), Daryl Hall & John Oates featuring David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks as part of a medley in 1985 (#20), and UB40 in 1990 (#6).


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1967 The Electric Prunes – I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)

1967 The Electric Prunes – I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)

The Sanctions were a surf band formed in 1965. James Lowe sang lead vocals and played harmonica, percussion, theremin, guitar, and autoharp. Ken Williams played lead guitar and Mark Tulin played bass and keyboards. Several other members came and went while the band became Jim and the Lords.

The band began working with recording engineer Dave Hassinger, who had recently completed work on a Rolling Stones album. Dave insisted they change their name, and the band became The Electric Prunes in 1966. The band’s focus moved from surf music to early psychedelic sounds.

The group’s first single came and went without charting, but it impressed Reprise Records enough to get them to sign the band to a recording contract. The group’s second single gave them their first hit. I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) peaked at #11 on the Hot 100 in early 1967.

The psychedelic sound with their fuzz bass was unique enough to get them booked on a series of television shows, including American Bandstand and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

The next single from their first album used distorted sound effects. Get Me To The World On Time did not fare as well. The record reached #27 on the Hot 100 later in 1967. The band never charted on the Hot 100 again after that hit.

Several vastly different lineups followed as the band continued creating more psychedelic recordings and some experimental music. The group recorded a total of five albums before it completely disbanded in 1970.

Several of the original members of the band reformed the band in 1999 and began recording new material. They released their last studio album in 2014. Several members of the group have died since then.

Lead singer James Lowe still continues to lead a touring band and is the only remaining member from their 1965 lineup.


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1966 The Swingin’ Medallions – Double Shot (Of My Baby’s Love)

1966 The Swinging Medallions – Double Shot (Of My Baby’s Love)

Dick Holler was born in Indianapolis in 1934. He moved to Louisiana in 1951 and while attending LSU, he began organizing and playing in various area bands. He recruited a young Jimmy Clanton as a member.

Dick recruited a few more musicians in 1956 and formed Dick Holler and the Carousel Rockets. Their name was later shortened to The Rockets. Johnny Rivers often sat in with the group. The group name changed to Dick Holler and the Holidays after a few more lineup changes.

In 1962, the group moved to South Carolina and began recording singles. Dick wrote their third singleDouble Shot (Of My Baby’s Love). The record failed to chart.

A band calling itself Pieces of Eight formed in South Carolina in the late fifties and focused on shag music (a dance that became popular in the forties in Carolina). They changed their name to the Medallions in 1962 and added “Swingin'” to their name in 1965. The group signed with Smash Records, and the label accidentally listed the group as Swinging Medallions on their first single. The single failed to perform.

Perhaps members of the group ran into Dick’s group or heard their performance of Double Shot (Of My Baby’s Love), but somehow they recorded the song as their second single. Their cover version reached #17 on the Hot 100 in 1966 and became a classic Beach Music record.

The group’s next single didn’t get near the top forty, and they never got onto the Hot 100 again. They survived multiple lineup changes and continued recording and touring into the twenty-first century.

Dick disbanded his group in 1966. He then rewrote one of his earlier songs and Snoopy vs. the Red Baron became a top five hit for the Royal Guardsmen in 1966. He also wrote Abraham, Martin, and John, which was a top five hit for Dion in 1968.


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1966 Gary Lewis and the Playboys – My Heart’s Symphony

1966 Gary Lewis and the Playboys – My Heart’s Symphony

When comedian Jerry Lewis and his wife had a child in 1946, they intended to name their son Cary. Thanks to a clerical error, they recorded the name as Gary.

Gary began playing the drums when he got a drum kit as a present on his 14th birthday. He became a member of a four-man group in high school. He jokingly referred to the other members as playboys because they constantly showed up late for practices and they kept the name. Their group began playing at Disneyland. Producer Snuff Garrett listened to the group perform and signed them to a recording contract with Liberty Records. He insisted that Gary become the lead singer to capitalize on his relationship to Jerry. The first song the group released was This Diamond Ring.

Gary insists that his collection of Playboys played on the recording. It is clear that overdubs were provided by members of the Wrecking Crew: Hal Blaine played drums, Joe Osborn played bass, and Leon Russell arranged the song and played keyboards.

Ron Hicklin had a group of singers who performed as the vocal equivalent of the Wrecking Crew. They sang on many, many television theme songs and also did most of the background singing for the Partridge Family. Ron sang overdubs on This Diamond Ring to strengthen Gary’s vocals.

The single reached the top of the Hot 100 in 1965. Similar hits were recorded over the next two years.

Gary’s string of top ten singles snapped after seven consecutive records with the release of My Heart’s Symphony in the Summer of 1966. That record came close to the top ten, but sputtered when it reached #13 on the Hot 100.

Two more singles came out in 1966. The first single was You Don’t Have To Paint Me A Picture, which peaked at #15.

Where Will The Words Come From first got on the charts in December 1966. The single peaked at #21 in early 1967.

Gary had the misfortune of being drafted during the Vietnam War in 1967 and stationed in South Korea. His record label kept releasing additional singles that had already been recorded. One of the singles (Girls In Love) reached #39, while the others all missed the top forty.

Gary recorded a solo album in 1967 while still a draftee. The only single of note was Jill, which peaked at #52 and then vanished.

Gary recorded an album of covers with a new collection of Playboys after he left the army, but only one of them charted in the top forty. His version of Sealed With A Kiss reached #19 in 1968.

HIs next single struggled to even reach #63 and was his last visit to the Hot 100. Gary’s his career never fully recovered. By 1970, the Playboys disbanded.

In the eighties, Gary began appearing on the Oldies circuit. He became part of the Happy Together tours put on by ex-Turtles Flo and Eddie, and continues to tour with his most recent collection of Playboys.


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1963 Little Eva – Turkey Trot

1963 – Little Eva – Turkey Trot

There was a dance called the Turkey Trot that gained notoriety between 1900 and 1910. The dance was denounced by the Vatican and considered scandalous and eventually faded away.

You can see Abby doing a portion of the dance on an episode of NCIS; nowadays it looks more humorous than scandalous.

Little Eva was a maid who also had the good fortune to babysit for Carole King and her husband, Gerry Goffin. They wrote The Locomotion for Dee Dee Sharp, but she wasn’t interested in recording the song. They recorded a demo with Little Eva and played it for music producer Don Kirshner (who later worked on music for both the Monkees and the Archies). Don was exceptional at recognizing hit records and had the song released on one of his record labels. The single went to number one on the Hot 100 and sold over a million copies in 1962. The success of the record briefly made a star out of Little Eva.

Little Eva had three more top forty singles in 1962 and 1963. The most unusual single was Let’s Turkey Trot, a song written by Gerry Goffin and Jack Keller. The Cookies (who recorded Chains and Don’t Say Nothin’ Bad About My Baby) and Carole King sang backup vocals on the record. The single reached #20 in 1963.

Little Eva not only toured with the Dick Clark Caravan of Stars, but she also got to sing the song on Shindig.

Jan and Dean recorded Let’s Turkey Trot on their album Jan & Dean Take Linda Surfin’ but don’t appear to have ever released the song on a single.

Eva was left nearly penniless after the hit records stopped and quit the music business. Nothing changed when for her when Grand Funk Railroad covered The Loco-Motion, but when Kylie Minogue successfully recorded a cover version in 1988, Little Eva was able to make a living off her music by appearing as an oldies act. She died from complications of cancer in 2003.


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1965 Shangri-Las – Give Him A Great Big Kiss

1965 Shangri-Las – Give Him A Great Big Kiss

In the early sixties, two sets of sisters at Andrew Jackson High School joined forces and became a singing group. Mary and Betty Weiss were the lead singers, and identical twins Marge and Mary Ann Ganser sang backup vocals. After singing in school and a few talent shows, Kama Sutra signed the group to a recording contract. The young women hadn’t named their group before signing the contract. They chose the name of a local restaurant, the Shangri-Las.

The group’s first two singles in late 1963 and early 1964 featured Betty’s lead vocals but did not chart. In April 1964, the group signed with Red Bird Records and recorded a demo for a song written by George Morton, Remember (Walking In The Sand). The demo featured Mary on lead vocals and Billy Joel on piano and ran over seven minutes. The group re-recorded the song (without Billy), and the label cut the song down to just a little over two minutes. The single reached #5 on the Hot 100 and #14 in the UK.

Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich joined George to write the group’s next single, the chart-topping Leader Of The Pack. The success of that song allowed the group to open for the Beatles and tour with the Rolling Stones, the Drifters, and James Brown.

Betty dropped out of the group for a few months, so in late 1964 and early 1965 the remaining members toured as a trio. They appeared on numerous television shows during that time.

George, now using the name Shadow Morton, also wrote their next singleGive Him A Great Big Kiss. The record got released in late 1964 and peaked at #18 on the Hot 100 in January 1965.

The group had a few more hit records, but then several singles in a row failed to reach the top forty. Red Bird Records fell apart in 1966, and the group had little success once they moved to Mercury Records. The group disbanded in 1968.

George went on to produce Janis Ian, Vanilla Fudge, and In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.

While some of the original members reunited a few times (especially when Northern Soul became popular in the UK in the seventies), they never really toured much again. They even had to sue to stop another group that toured as the Shangri-Las from using their name and claiming to be the original Shangri-Las.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The Shangri-Las

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1965 Reparata and the Delrons – Whenever A Teenager Cries

1965 Reparata and the Delrons – Whenever A Teenager Cries

Here’s one reason a lot of oldies get forgotten: regional hits. At various times I’ve lived on Long Island, in Austin, and in a suburb of Chicago, and I know from personal experience that some of the songs I heard on the radio got little or no airplay around the country.

One example is Whenever A Teenager Cries by Reparata and the Delrons.

Mary Aiese started a group named the Delrons in 1962. Seven other girls at her school were members of the group during the next two years. After graduation, the other two remaining members were Sheila Reilly and Carol Drobnicki. The trio began recording for Laurie Records in 1964 after their producers convinced Mary to begin billing herself as Reparata.

In 1965, the trio recorded Whenever A Teenager Cries for the World Artists record label. Ernie Maresca, who had his biggest hit with the top ten hit Shout! Shout! (Knock Yourself Out) in 1962, wrote the song and arranged the record.

The single entered the WABC chart in January 1966 and peaked a few weeks later at #8. Nationally, peaked at only #60 on the Hot 100 the next month.

The group opened for the Rolling Stones at a concert in Philadelphia and toured  twice with Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars. The other members left the group, and Mary continued touring with two replacements, including Nanette Licari, an early member of the Delrons back in high school. Lorraine Mazzola eventually became their third member.

While the group struggled to find a hit in the US, the 1968 single Captain of Your Ship reached #13 in the UK.

The group moved to England and toured in Europe. They also provided background vocals for the Rolling Stones on their recording of Honky Tonk Women.

In 1969, the group recorded a cover version of Walking In The Rain, which had been a hit for the Ronettes in 1964.

A month after their single came out, Jay and the Americans released their own cover version of the song and reached the top twenty in the US. The single by Jay and the Americans had “Sorry Reparata” etched into the vinyl.

After that disappointment, Mary left the group in 1969 and got married. The others recruited another singer and toured and recorded for a few more years. Lorraine legally changed her name to Reparata Mazzola so the group could still appear as Reparata and the Delrons. When the group disbanded, she became a member of Barry Manilow’s backup singers.

Mary began a solo career in 1971 and successfully won back the legal right to use the name Reparata. She continued to lead the reformed Reparata and the Delrons until disbanding the group in 2000.


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1964 Chuck Berry – Nadine (Is It You?)

1964 Chuck Berry – Nadine (Is It You?)

Chuck Berry grew up in St. Louis. He was arrested for armed robbery while still in school, and they sentenced him to reform school. While incarcerated, he started a singing quartet that turned out to be good enough to even play concerts outside of the facility. At age 21, they finally released him.

Chuck got married, and they had a kid. He supported the family by working at local factories and plants. He also began playing guitar in several local bands in the early fifties.

In 1955, Chuck went to Chicago and signed with Chess Records. His first single was Maybelline, which topped the R&B chart and reached #5 on the Hot 100. Chuck continued releasing records and appearing in live performances and even appeared in several films.

In 1959, they convicted Chuck of violating the Mann Act after he had sexual relations with a fourteen-year-old girl. Chuck went to prison until 1963. Many of the British Invasion bands performed covers of some of Chuck’s early music, and that helped him keep a high profile in the music industry while imprisoned.

Chuck recorded new music for Chess, and in 1964, he returned to the charts with his first new single. Nadine (Is It You?) took Chuck back onto the charts. The single peaked at #23 on both the Hot 100 and the R&B chart in 1964.

Chuck finally reached the top ten on the Hot 100 again with his next single, No Particular Place To Go. You Never Can Tell provided a third hit in 1964, reaching #14 on the Hot 100 that Summer.

Chuck released five more singles in 1964 and 1965, but while a few of them charted in the Hot 100, none of them reached the top forty.

Chuck started releasing singles and albums on Mercury Records beginning in 1966, but none of his singles reached the Hot 100 until a few years after he returned to Chess Records in 1970. His only #1 record came in 1972 with the release of his live recording of My Ding-A-Ling. Since then, countless films have included some of Chuck’s music on their soundtracks.


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