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…

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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.

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