BARRY LEVINE: Beatlemania squashes others from No. 1

THE OLD ROCKER: In 1964, the Beatles took America by storm and blocked nine potential No. 1 hits from the top spot

Lesley Gore (Special photo)

Lesley Gore (Special photo)


Barbra Streisand (Special photo)

Turn back the clock. Turn it waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back to 1964 when the British Invasion was in full blast. That’s the year the Beatles crossed the pond and precipitated one of the biggest musical explosions in history.


Barry Levine

That was the year the Beatles eclipsed Elvis Presley’s record of having five No. 1 hits during the same calendar year. The Fab Four landed six songs in the top spot that year with “I Want to hold Your Hand,” “She Loves You,” “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Love Me Do,” “A Hard Day’s Night” and “I Feel Fine.” The six Beatles hits incredibly held the top spot for a combined 20 weeks in 1964.

Elvis had five No. 1 hits in 1956: “Heartbreak Hotel,” “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Hound Dog” and “Love Me Tender.”

The Beatles’ 1964 dominance thwarted at least nine songs from reaching the top spot. Here are the nine hits that were stymied by the Beatles:

— Formed when they were in high school in Portland, Ore., in 1957, the Kingsmen had their biggest hit with the iconic “Louie, Louie” early in 1964, still a favorite among rock fans. They had their only other Top 15 hit in 1965 when “The Jolly Green Giant” reached No. 4.

— Lennie Welch, a native of Asbury Park, N.J., had his only Top 5 hit with “Since I Fell for You” early in 1964. The velvety-voiced R&B singer had one of the best cheek-to-cheek dancing tunes of the year. It was originally recorded by Annie Laurie and Paul Gayten in 1947.

— Raised in Tenafly, N.J., Lesley Gore scored three Top 5 hits in 1963: “It’s My Party,” “Judy’s Turn to Cry” and “She’s a Fool.” She was headed for her second No. 1 smash with “You Don’t Own Me” before being blocked by the Beatles. “It’s My Party” was her only hit to top the charts.

— Barbra Streisand, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., had her first chart hit with “People,” which came from the Broadway musical “Funny Girl” in which she starred. She had 22 Top 40 hits with five reaching No. 1: “The Way We Were” in 1973, “Love Theme from A Star is Born” in 1977, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” in 1978, “No More Tears” in 1979 and “Woman in Love” in 1980. “People” would have pushed that total to six.

— The California surf-rock duo Jan & Dean had their only No. 1 hit with “Surf City” in 1963. They would have had their second No. 1 with “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena” in 1964 if not blocked by the Beatles. Jan & Dean knocked on the No. 1 door two other times, as “Baby Talk” in 1959 and “Dead Man’s Curve” in 1964 both leaped into the Top 10.

— One of the premier R&B groups from the pre-Beatles era, the Drifters charted classic hit after classic hit with “There Goes My Baby,” “Dance with Me,” “This Magic Moment,” No. 1 hit “Save the Last Dance for Me,” “I Count the Tears,” “Some Kind of Wonderful,” “Please Stay,” “Up on The Roof” and “On Broadway.” “Under the Boardwalk” was on the verge of becoming the group’s second chart topper in 1964 but it was stopped by Beatlemania.

— While the Drifters had a plethora of chart hits, the Shangri-Las, a vocal group from Queens, N.Y., consisting of two sets of sisters, had the opportunity to reach the top spot with their first hit, “Remember (Walkin’ in the Sand),” in 1964, if the hadn’t been thwarted by the Beatles. The Shangri-Las finally surpassed the Beatles in November 1964 when their teen-tragedy song “Leader of the Pack” hit the top spot.

— Motown was also victimized by the Beatles in 1964. Martha & the Vandellas had 12 Top 40 hits from 1963 through 1967. The closest the trio from Detroit came to a No. 1 hit was in October 1964 when “Dancing in the Street” rose to No. 2. The group notched five other Top 10 hits: “Heat Wave” and Quicksand” in 1963, “Nowhere to Run” in 1965, “I’m Ready for Love” in 1966 and “Jimmy Mack” in 1967.

— With Jay Black replacing Jay Traynor as the group’s lead singer, Jay & the Americans had their biggest hit in October 1964 when “Come a Little Bit Closer” neared No. 1. The group had three other Top 10 hits: “She Cried” in 1962, “Cara, Mia” in 1965 and a cover for the Drifters’ “This Magic Moment” in 1969.

Barry “The Old Rocker” Levine writes about entertainment for The Albany Herald. He can be reached at dot0001@yahoo.com.