We haven't done a WLS "flashback" chart in a while ... so we thought we'd end the year with one ... (or maybe even TWO!!!)
It's often been said (and quite a few times in these pages, for that matter!) that the "oldies radio" format didn't really get its start until the early 1970's. Thanks to concert acts like Sha-Na-Na, movies like "American Graffiti" and television shows like "Happy Days", the nostalgia movement was in full swing. (We've also covered before the "comeback" hits of artists like Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Rick Nelson and a few others, who dominated the upper region of the pop charts in 1972.)
But SOME radio stations were embracing their rich musical heritage YEARS earlier. I recently found a clip on YouTube of Neil Sedaka performing his 1962 #1 Hit "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" on the "Saturday Hop" Television Program in 1966. Host Rick Shaw says, before introducing Sedaka, that his radio station does a "Million Dollar Weekend" every weekend ... where every other song is a "golden oldie" ... and many of the WLS Charts we've featured in the past have shown the biggest hits of the years gone by right alongside the current hits of the day. (WLS switched over to a Top 40 / Rock And Roll format in 1960 ... and they often looked back at the biggest hits of those earlier years along with the current week's Top Twenty Hits when publishing their weekly charts.)
Check out Neil's appearance on "Saturday Hop" ... it's hard to tell who feels more uncomfortable ... Neil up there trying to shimmy along with his lip-synching or a few of the bored audience members in the background!!! (lol)
The 12/30/66 WLS Chart above shows the week's twenty biggest hits along with a look back at The Top 20 Records of the previous year. Taking a quick look at this week's Top 20, we find The Monkees in the #1 Spot with their biggest hit of all-time, a two sided hit, only THIS week, WLS is showing "Steppin' Stone" as the A-Side with "I'm A Believer" as the flip. In fact, for the first four weeks that this record charted here in Chicago, THIS is how the titles were displayed. (The following week, things would be rectified and from that point forward, "I'm A Believer" would rule the top of the charts as the A-Side ... and it STAYED at #1 for a total of SEVEN WEEKS on WLS, finally being displaced on February 17th by The Seeds' monster garage-band hit "Pushin' Too Hard".)
At #2 was the first of the Snoopy-related novelty hits for the Royal Guardsmen ... "Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron" actually topped the WCFL Chart across town this same week. In at #3 was "Kind Of A Drag" ... incredibly, Chicago's own Buckinghams never reached the #1 Spot here at home, but went on to reach the summit in Billboard Magazine, a NATIONAL publication, on February 18th when they knocked The Monkees out of the top spot after a seven week Billboard run. "Winchester Cathedral" by The New Vaudeville Band was this week's #4 Hit ... it had just spent the previous three weeks holding down the #1 spot ... and coming in at #5 was one of MY favorites of this era, "Sugar Town" by Nancy Sinatra. (Many of you will remember that "Sugar Town"'s B-Side, "Summer Wine" scored VERY well in our Favorite, Forgotten B-Sides Poll a few years ago!)
There are a few "Forgotten Hits" in The WLS Top 20 this week that you just don't hear on the radio anymore ... "Just One Smile" by Gene Pitney (#11), "Grizzly Bear" by The Youngbloods" (#13), "Cry" by Ronnie Dove (#17) and "There's Got To Be A Word" by Innocence (#18) certainly fall into that category ... and, quite honestly, you don't hear "East, West" by Herman's Hermits, "Words Of Love" by The Mamas and the Papas, "Standing In The Shadows Of Love" by The Four Tops or "Nashville Cats" by The Lovin' Spoonful all that much lately either.
Chicago's New Colony Six were climbing the charts with THEIR latest hit, "Love You So Much" ... it would peak at #2 by the end of the month. The following week, the chart expanded back to its normal Top 40 positions and it would stay that way until April 28th when WLS issued ANOTHER "Solid Gold" Silver Dollar Survey, this time commemorating "The Best Selling Records Of The '60's" as:
1967 - I'm A Believer - The Monkees and Winchester Cathedral - The New Vaudeville Band (now moved up as one of THIS year's biggest hit records);
1966 - Hanky Panky - Tommy James and the Shondells and Cherish - The Association;
1965 - Downtown - Petula Clark (a little bit of a surprise, as normally "Satisfaction" by The Rolling Stones was listed as 1965's biggest record whenever WLS looked back);
1964 - I Want To Hold Your Hand - The Beatles (typically, "She Loves You" is ALSO listed as one of 1964's biggest hits);
1963 - Limbo Rock - Chubby Checker (huh?!?!?);
1962 - I Can't Stop Loving You - Ray Charles;
1961 - Will You Love Me Tomorrow - The Shirelles;
1960 - Theme from "A Summer Place" - Percy Faith
This chart was used to kick off "Super Summer" which was starting "with the good sound of music spectacular" on May 5th. (By the way, The Monkees also ranked pretty high on THIS week's chart, too ... "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" was the #3 Record, after spending the previous two weeks at #1 ... and The Buckinghams finally reached the #1 Spot here at home when "Don't You Care" sat on top of the charts for the first of three weeks!)
Nancy Sinatra was back in The Top Five, this time singing a duet with her father on "Somethin' Stupid". (She also had a SOLO hit on the charts ... "Love Eyes", another one of my "forgotten favorites", was in at #25.)
The Seeds were charting with THEIR follow-up hit, too, as "Can't Seem To Make You Mine" was this week's #24 record. And Chicago's Cryan' Shames ("Mr. Unreliable", #12), New Colony Six ("You're Gonna Be Mine", #13), The Riddles ("Sweets For My Sweet", #23) and Milwaukee's Michael and the Messengers ("In The Midnight Hour", #14) were all climbing the charts as well.
Vocal versions of "The Happening" by The Supremes and "Music To Watch Girls By" by Andy Williams were riding the 'LS Chart but their instrumental counterparts (by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass and The Bob Crewe Generation respectively) were nowhere to be found. In fact, the ONLY instrumental on the chart this week was "I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman" by Whistling Jack Smith!
Other Forgotten Hits favorites include "California Nights" by Lesley Gore, "Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon" by Neil Diamond, "At The Zoo" by Simon and Garfunkel, "Beggin'" by The Four Seasons and "Six O'Clock", another "lost classic" by The Lovin' Spoonful.
Steppin' Stone - The Monkees
Grizzly Bear - The Youngbloods
Words Of Love - The Mamas and the Papas
Don't You Care - The Buckinghams
At The Zoo - Simon and Garfunkel
Beggin' - The Four Seasons