Friday, October 23, 2009

October 23, 1964

Back to 1964 for this week's WLS Flashback ...

The station was incorporating a new feature into it's Silver Dollar Survey weekly chart ... for the past month, only the Top 30 "Pop" Songs in Chicagoland were featured ... to make room for the brand-new "R & B Music Survey".

Topping the R & B Chart this week in '64 were The Impressions with their hit "You Must Believe Me". (WLS first incorporated this new feature on the Silver Dollar Survey dated September 18, 1964 ... and they continued to run The Top Ten R & B Hits through the chart dated Christmas Day later that same year. I honestly don't remember WLS featuring any of these songs as part of their regular programming ... maybe Dex Card can shed some light on this for our readers.)

Some good stuff on the regular chart, too! The Honeycombs topped the chart with their One Hit Wonder, "Have I The Right", which interrupted Roy Orbison's run at the top with "Oh, Pretty Woman" ... Orbison had held down the #1 spot for the previous five weeks when The Honeycombs' hit bumped him to #2 ... only to return to the top spot again the following week for a SIXTH week before giving way to The Shangri-Las monster hit "Leader Of The Pack".

A long-forgotten hit, "From A Window" by Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas held down the #9 spot ... this was another one of those famous Lennon and McCartney songs given away to other artists.

At #11 was "The James Bond Theme" by Billy Strange ... the original version was cut by John Barry (and featured our Forgotten Hits Buddy Vic Flick on lead guitar ... in fact, the guitar that Vic used on these James Bond sessions was, until recently, on display at The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Museum!)

Other British Invasion Artists riding the chart this week included The Nashville Teens, Manfred Mann, The Kinks, The Animals, The Dave Clark Five, The Beatles (mis-spelled as "The Beatle's"!!!), The Zombies and Herman's Hermits.

Another personal favorite (and one of those that deserved to be a MUCH bigger hit than it was) was this week's #27 song, "Don't It Make You Feel Good" by The Overlanders, yet another British Invasion import. We've featured this one before in Forgotten Hits, as well as their version of the Chad and Jeremy Hit "Yesterday's Gone" ... but it's worth another spin here today ('cause where ELSE are you ever gonna hear it?!?!?)

Thanks to some of the amazing folks on our list, we're able to share some insight from time to time regarding many of these records that we all grew up loving.

First, from Clark Besch:
The R&B thing was Art Roberts' idea. He also did the C&W one. I interviewed Gene Taylor in 1991 and he told me how the jocks would come to him with ideas and he would say yes and see if the idea stuck or not. When Chess contacted him about the "Vault of Hits" LP, it was just a local gimmick he wanted to try. Barney Pip related similar stories to me about WCFL and Ken Draper. "Think Green", the "Stairway" and "Premier" and all the stats they told the public about were mostly hype, he said. He said the reason WCFL only listed a Top 20 numerically and added a "stairway" was because they could really only correctly list a Top 20 in Chicago. Gene Taylor also related that was true, even 'tho they listed 40. As I can attest to, he also said they PLAYED more than 40 current songs always back then. He also said that the oldies weeks and weekends were some of the most popular ratings weeks. That is why they happened so often. Personally, I found them the most boring because they kept me from hearing the latest new songs and they also featured 40's & 50's songs like "Buttons & Bows"!! YUCK! Dex was a huge part of my listening life. I discussed about all the WLS jocks with Gene and his favorite was still Lujack.
-- Clark Besch
We've heard from numerous sources now that The Top 20 was the OFFICIAL list ... an accurate measurement of sales based on selected retail outlets throughout the city ... and that everything else tended to be the station's (or the program director's) choice. (Of course this STILL doesn't explain how "Yesterday" ... by PAUL McCARTNEY ... was listed at #20 on the WLS Chart three weeks before it was even released to the public to buy!!! lol) kk

And then this from Vic Flick, who took the "Gentleman's Approach" to discussing the Billy Strange recording of "The James Bond Theme":
Hi Kent,
I've heard the Billy Strange version of the James Bond Theme and thought it good but lacking slightly in the atmosphere of the original John Barry / Vic Flick version. He's a great musician and all the tracks on the album are very, very good.
Unlike today, the original James Bond Theme was done straight to compatible stereo. What you got was what you got. I think this adds an element of excitement to so many of he early 60s recording, both in the UK and the USA. Full details of the sessions and copies from my diary are in my book, 'Vic Flick Guitarman - From James Bond to the Beatles and Beyond,' available from (Yes, a blatant plug!)
The guitar I recorded the Theme on back in 1962 was on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, but has just recently been returned to me as the Hall rotates its displays. None the less, it was an honor to have it on show plus I was asked to open the Hall's lecture series last October. It was a great opportunity for me to bring UK session musicians to the notice of the American listeners. The Hall staff were wonderful and very hospitable.


"The James Bond Theme" is certainly one of the most recognizable pieces of music from the '60's ... it's also apparently one of your instrumental favorites ... in our current poll (trying to find Your 50 All-Time Instrumental Favorites), the John Barry versions of both "The James Bond Theme" and "Goldfinger" have been racking up points. Other instrumental hits of note on this week's WLS chart include "Gale Winds" by The Egyptian Combo, "20-75" by Willie Mitchell and "Teen Beat '65" by Sandy Nelson. Keep those votes coming, folks ... we'll count down the 50 biggest over Thanksgiving Weekend. Meanwhile, look for more of your instrumental comments ... and favorites ... in tomorrow's edition of Forgotten Hits. (kk)


I had hoped to share the definitive word on WLS' R&B Chart from the guy who counted down The Silver Dollar Survey each and every weekday afternoon ... of course, I'm talking about the crew-cut guy in the front row, Dex Card ... but we have not heard back from him in time to include his comments and memories in today's posting. Hopefully we'll hear something after he's seen it. (kk)