It was a sensational year for British pop music. Here Steve Burns, aka Dr Vinyl, completes his three-part look back at 1964, 53 years later…
A sensational year for music
The debut single for Herman’s Hermits topped the charts for two weeks. Baby-faced Peter Noone was only 16-years-old when I’m into Something Good was top of the charts.
Written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, it stayed in the charts for 15 weeks, and sounds as good today as then.
Roy Orbison topped the chart for a second time this year with an absolute classic – yet another track I still play regularly. Oh, Pretty Woman was the third and final number one for Roy, in the charts for 18 weeks. What a song!
The barefoot pop princess, Sandie Shaw, was next with the first of her three number ones in the 1960s. (There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me was top for three weeks. I played this recently (along with her other hits) and had forgotten how good she was! It’s such a catchy song, once you play it you’ll be singing it all day!
Back came Roy Orbison, who regained top spot for another week with Oh, Pretty Woman. It must have been selling fantastically, as it had remained at number two for the three weeks it had been off the top!
Now into November, Baby Love by The Supremes topped the chart for two weeks. Most people would think this was Tamla Motown’s first number one, but that’s not correct. It was released on the Stateside record label, as were a lot of the early Tamla Motown releases due to the fact that at that point the Tamla label didn’t exist here. It finally appeared as a single on the Motown label in 1974, a full 10 years after its original release. They had a dozen number ones in the USA and were the first female trio to top the UK charts. Diana Ross left the group to go solo in 1969.
Little Red Rooster was only top for one week for The Rolling Stones, but was the second of five consecutive number ones for the band spanning 1964 and 1965. The song is a blues classic, possibly dating back to the 1930s. The Stones started off as a blues band with Howlin’ Wolf one of their influences, his version of this song is regarded as being one of the best.
So, that brings us to the last number one of the year, and it finished as it started, with The Beatles on top! I Feel Fine was top for the last four weeks of the year and the first week of 1965. It was written by John Lennon but was credited to him and Paul McCartney, and the introduction featured one of the first uses of guitar feedback in pop music.
When I started writing about the number ones of 1964 I don’t think I fully grasped exactly how good the music was. I knew it was good but, my goodness, it’s phenomenal.
I really love the music from this time and can totally see why people think music from later times comes nowhere near it in terms of quality of songs and performance.
The year 1964 not only provided us with some memorable number ones, but the quality of songs that didn’t make the top is also brilliant.
Sandie Shaw leaving for Vienna to perform Puppet on a String in the Eurovision Song Contest.
Singer Roy Orbison and wife.