Episode #24 – ‘American Music ’63 – The Year Before The Beatles’

There’s a notion that American popular music was in the doldrums when The Beatles first touched down in New York City. The original rock ‘n’ rollers had either gone soft (Elvis Presley), gone to jail (Chuck Berry), gone into the church (Little Richard), gone with their 13-year-old cousin (Jerry Lee Lewis) or gone from this world (Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran). In their place: a bunch of smiling, clean-cut, parent-friendly twisters and crooners, performing antiseptic pop material for the middle-class white market.

There’s truth to this. But it’s far from the whole truth. The American music charts during the year preceding the ‘British Invasion’ were actually packed with a broad range of artists and eclectic variety of songs—many of them now regarded as solid-gold classics that underscore the ingenuity of their highly talented creators. Some would be swept aside by the coming tidal wave; others would continue to flourish—although in a very different world to that characterizing the first half of the decade.

Featured Tracks:

  • ‘He’s So Fine’ (The Chiffons)
  • ‘Sugar Shack’ (Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs)
  • ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ (Peter, Paul and Mary)
  • ‘If I Had a Hammer’ (Trini Lopez)
  • ‘Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah’ (Allan Sherman)
  • ‘Pipeline’ (The Chantays)
  • ‘Sukiyaki’ (Kyu Sakamoto)
  • ‘The Night Has a Thousand Eyes’ (Bobby Vee)
  • ‘You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me’ (The Miracles)
  • ‘Pride and Joy’ (Marvin Gaye)
  • ‘Fingertips’ (Little Stevie Wonder)
  • ‘I Will Follow Him’ (Little Peggy March)
  • ‘Louie Louie’ (The Kingsmen)
  • ‘The End of the World’ (Skeeter Davis)
  • ‘Who Do You Love?’ – Ronnie Hawkins
  • ‘Can’t Get Used to Losing You’ (Andy Williams)
  • ‘Sally Go ’Round the Roses’ (The Jaynetts)
  • ‘Devil in Disguise’ (Elvis Presley)
  • ‘In Dreams’ (Roy Orbison)
  • ‘It’s My Party’ (Leslie Gore)
  • ‘Judy’s Turn to Cry’ (Leslie Gore)
  • ‘Walk Like a Man’ (The Four Seasons)
  • ‘My Boyfriend’s Back’ (The Angels)
  • ‘One Fine Day’ (The Chiffons)
  • ‘Wipe Out’ (The Surfaris)
  • ‘Surfin’ U.S.A.’ (The Beach Boys)
  • ‘Another Saturday Night’ (Sam Cooke)
  • ‘On Broadway’ (The Drifters)
  • ‘Ring of Fire’ (Johnny Cash)
  • ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right’ (Bob Dylan)
  • ‘Da Doo Ron Ron’ (The Crystals)
  • ‘Be My Baby’ (The Ronettes)
  • ‘From Me to You’ (Del Shannon)