Looking Back June 23 2013

This week is a look back at popular songs from summers past. Enjoy this toasty weather walk down memory lane.

“Summertime Blues” by Eddie Cochran (1958)

This song was written in the late 1950s by Cochran and his manager Jerry Capehart. Originally a single B-side, it was released in August 1958 and peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 by late September. Alvin and the Chipmunks covered the song for “Island Fever,” a 1987 episode of their TV series.

“Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” by Brian Hyland (1960)

The song was written by Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss and first released in June 1960 by Hyland. It did not take long for it to hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on Aug. 8, 1960. Co-writer Vance stated he has earned several million dollars from this tune and described it as “a money machine.”

“Let’s Twist Again” by Chubby Checker (1961)

Written by Kal Mann and Dave Appell, and released in June as a single by Chubby Checker, this song became one of the biggest hit singles of the year. The song received the 1962 Grammy Award for Best Rock & Roll Recording. Checker also recorded the song in German as “Der Twist Beginnt.”

“Sealed with a Kiss” by Brian Hyland (1962)

This song was written by Peter Udell and Gary Geld. It was first recorded by The Four Voices in 1960 as a single, but their recording was not a hit. Hyland’s single began its run on June 6, 1962 and became a hit, reaching No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“Heat Wave” by Martha and the Vandellas (1963)

Penned by the Holland–Dozier–Holland songwriting team, this song was originally released in July 1963, on the Motown subsidiary label Gordy, peaking at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on the Billboard Hot R&B chart. Although the song is often referred to as “(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave,” the title on the label of the original 1963 single was “Heat Wave.”

“Under the Boardwalk” by The Drifters (1964)

The song was set to be recorded on May 21, 1964, but the band’s lead singer, Rudy Lewis, died of a suspected heroin overdose the night before. Rather than reschedule the studio session to find a new frontman, former Drifters lead vocalist Johnny Moore was brought back to perform lead vocals for the recording. The last-minute move was a success, as the single, released on Atlantic Records, went to No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

“See You in September” by The Happenings (1966)

Written by Sid Wayne and Sherman Edwards, the song was first recorded by the Pittsburgh vocal group The Tempos. This first version peaked at No. 23 in the summer of 1959. The most popular version of the song was undoubtedly by The Happenings in 1966, when it reached No. 3. on the charts. Wayne and Edwards wrote the song on a Friday and by the next Friday, it was played on the radio. The writers split $500 for their work.

“Groovin’” by The Rascals (1967)

This smooth-sounding tune became a #1 hit and one of the group’s signature songs. Atlantic Records head Jerry Wexler did not want to release “Groovin’,” in part because it had no drums. Convinced to go ahead and release it, the single became an instant hit in May 1967, bounding up the charts and then spending four weeks atop the Billboard pop singles chart. It was certified a gold record on June 13, 1967.

“San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” by Scott McKenzie (1967)

Written by John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, and sung by Scott McKenzie, the song was written and released in 1967 to promote the Monterey Pop Festival. Released on May 13, 1967, it was an instant hit. By the week ending July 1, 1967, it reached the No. 4 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, where it remained for four consecutive weeks. In Central Europe, young people adopted “San Francisco” as an anthem for freedom, and it was widely played during Czechoslovakia’s 1968 Prague spring uprising.

“Maggie May” by Rod Stewart (1971)

The lyrics of this song tell the story of a young man involved in a relationship with an older woman. Initially released as the B-side of the single “Reason to Believe,” DJs gave “Maggie May” much more play. The song was Stewart’s first substantial hit as a solo performer and remains one of his best-known songs

“School’s Out” by Alice Cooper (1972)

Alice Cooper has said he was inspired to write the song when answering the question, “What’s the greatest three minutes of your life?” Cooper said: “There’s two times during the year. One is Christmas morning, when you’re just getting ready to open the presents. The next one is the last three minutes of the last day of school when you’re sitting there and it’s like a slow fuse burning. If we can catch that three minutes in a song, it’s going to be so big.” The song soared to the No. 7 spot on the charts.

“Summer Nights” by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John (1978)

From the musical “Grease,” the song was written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. Its best-known version was recorded by Travolta and Newton-John for the big-screen adaptation of the musical, and released as a single that same year. In 2010, Billboard ranked it No. 9 on their “Best Summer Songs of All Time” list. The song was certified gold in the U.S., Canada and France.