The early ’60’s. Doo-wop is still very much around if not quite as pervasive as a few years earlier. Girl groups become more predominant, the Four Seasons get going. And the Beatles – who recorded “Please Mr. Postman” and “You’ve Really Got a Hold On Me” – are honing their act in Hamburg.
- Stand By Me. Ben E. King. Former lead vocalist for The Drifters, King co-wrote this song with Lieber & Stoller and reaped a ton of royalties.
- Mother in Law. Ernie K. Doe.
- Crying. Roy Orbison. The man with a three-or-four octave range. Another Sam Phillips protege.
- Town Without Pity. Gene Pitney. Ronnie Montrose did a great instrumental version of this.
- Walk Right Back. Everly Brothers.
- Blue Moon. The Marcels. A 1930’s Rodgers and Hart song, initially done by the likes of Sinatra and Billie Holiday. It lends itself well to any format and is one of my favorite doo-wop songs of all time.
- Please Mr. Postman. The Marvelletes. The first crossover (to the Billboard pop charts) and #1 hit for the new Motown label.
- Let’s Twist Again. Chubby Checker.
- Daddy’s Home. Shep & the Limelites.
- A Little Bit of Soap. The Jarmels.
- Little Sister. Elvis Presley. The first version of this I actually heard was Ry Cooder’s. Such a cool tune. This is about a year and a half after Elvis got out of the Army.
- Quarter to Three. Gary “US” Bonds.
- Runaway. Del Shannon. Tom Petty name checks this in “Runnin’ Down a Dream.”
- Pretty Little Angel Eyes. Curtis Lee.
- Runaround Sue. Dion. Dion was at a party in the Bronx. He got everyone to lay down a beat, then improvised the melody. He later put the song together basing the lyrics on a girl from the neighborhood who had “broken every guy’s heart.” Another all-time favorite.
- Bristol Stomp. The Dovells. Named for a suburb of my former hometown of Philly where they would do The Stomp.
- Can’t Help Falling in Love. Elvis Presley.
- Tossin’ and Turnin’. Bobby Lewis.
- Dedicated to the One I Love. The Shirelles. The Mamas and Papas did a great version a few years later.
- There’s a Moon Out Tonight. The Capris. Love this song.
- Hit the Road Jack. Ray Charles. Ray will get his series on this blog sometime this year.
- The Lion Sleeps Tonight. The Tokens. Original (almost unrecognizable) version recorded in 1939 as “Mbube” by Solomon Linda with the Evening Birds.
- The Wanderer. Dion.
- Travelin’ Man. Ricky Nelson.
- Look In My Eyes. The Chantels. Their other big hit “Maybe,” is also on the list. The first “girl group?” Listen to this and fall in love.
- Bring it on Home To Me. Sam Cooke. Man, what a great song. The epitome of soul.
- Duke of Earl. Gene Chandler.
- Twist and Shout. The Isley Brothers.
- What’s Your Name. Don & Juan. “Is it Mary or Sue. What’s your name? Do I stand a chance with you?”
- Sherry. The Four Seasons. The Jersey Boys’ first #1 hit.
- Let Me In. The Sensations. Another Philly group. Bonnie Raitt did a rollicking tuba-and-piano-driven version.
- Baby It’s You. The Shirelles.
- Don’t Hang Up. The Orlons. Another great Philly band.
- The End of the World. Skeeter Davis.
- Having a Party. Sam Cooke.
- He’s So Fine. The Chiffons. George Harrison now actually owns the rights to this song. Cost him, though.
“Where were you,” the American Graffiti tagline asked,” in ’62?” Next post: 1962 – 1964. The end of one era and the beginning of a new one.