Researched and written by Sharon Mawer

A year of revolution in the LP charts, the year beginning with the George Mitchell Minstrels at nos.1 and 2 with The Black And White Minstrel Show and On Stage With The George Mitchell Minstrels, West Side Story and South Pacific soundtracks both in the top 10, and the year ended with the Beatles at nos.1 and 2, Gerry & The Pacemakers at no.3, The Searchers at nos.5 and 7 and the most successful MOR acts swept away by a tide of new young pop stars, mainly from Liverpool.

Already changing the face of popular music, The Beatles had achieved just two hit singles, Love Me Do and Please Please Me, when their debut album titled after their bigger of the two hits, Please Please Me entered the chart at no.8 and a month later, moved up to no.1, remaining at the top for 30 weeks through to December. During its run, The Beatles had two no.1 singles From Me To You and She Loves You.

Were they the greatest band ever in popular music? Possibly. Were they the most talented? Possibly not. Were they the most innovative and experimental? Again possibly not? But they were certainly all up there among the top acts in each of these categories and unquestionably the most popular of popular groups since pop music had been invented. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Stuart Sutcliffe were all born in Liverpool between 1940 and 1943, the fifth member Pete Best was born in Madras India. At the time when pop stars either came from America or based themselves in London if they were born in Britain, they were originally called the Quarrymen, changing their name, firstly to the Silver Beatles and dropping the Silver prefix just before they took up the offer of a residency in Hamburg before returning to their home city and building up a fanbase playing regularly in Liverpool's Cavern club. On returning to Hamburg, Stuart Sutcliffe left the group to pursue his interest in art and before the group had made any recordings, he had died of a brain haemorrhage, aged just 22. A local record shop manager, Brian Epstein offered to manage the band and through his contacts, got them an audition for Decca Records who did not see their potential, although in fairness to Decca, they were turned down by virtually every label in England, until Parlophone and the producer and A&R manager George Martin signed the band in mid 1962. One final change was made before the first official recording session for Parlophone was that Pete Best was sacked from group and replaced as drummer by Ringo Starr. George Martin and Brian Epstein both considered Pete Best's drumming ability simply not good enough, but he also refused to smarten up his image and wear the tailored suits that all the band members were now wearing or re-do his hair style in anything other than his traditional Rock n Roll quiff.

Please Please Me included eight Lennon & McCartney compositions out of 14 tracks, but even the cover versions take on a special Beatles feel. The LP opens with I Saw Her Standing There which one could well imagine being played in a sweaty basement in Liverpool's Cavern Club or in one of the rough clubs in Hamburg. The ballads Misery, Ask Me Why, PS I Love You, Baby It's You and A Taste Of Honey are sandwiched between this and the closing track, possibly the definitive version of Twist And Shout with John screaming himself hoarse but still managing to harmonize up the scales. Also included are the first two singles Love Me Do and Please Please Me, unusual at the time to include hit singles on an LP, a practise they abandoned for the second album.

After 30 weeks, just as people were beginning to wonder if Please Please Me would ever be displaced, The Beatles released their second LP With The Beatles which entered the charts at no.2 and saw out December at no.1, remaining there for a total of 21 weeks through to May 1964, giving the group 51 consecutive weeks at no.1 with their first two releases. So dominant were they that during the final three weeks of 1963, they held the top two positions in both the singles and albums charts.

With The Beatles, which sold so well during the final month of the year, it even outsold Please Please Me to become the best seller throughout 1963, had seven of its tracks written by Lennon & McCartney and even one by George Harrison-Don't bother me. It still showed their roots and influences and included covers of soul hits Please Mr Postman, You've Really Got A Hold On Me and Money That's What I Want, and also a cover of an original Rock n Roll track, Chuck Berry's Roll Over Beethoven. The choice of covers showed they were more imaginative than simply going for obvious tracks, Till There Was You was originally from The Music Man show, but it was the original songs that showed the maturity they were already developing even with just their second LP. It Wont Be Long, All My Loving, All I've Got To Do and Little Child were all highlights and the LP also included the original version of I Wanna Be Your Man, sung by Ringo Starr, as was their unique habit of passing lead vocal duties around all four members. This track had become a hit single but recorded by the Rolling Stones, one of the first Lennon & McCartney songs to become a hit for a rival group, but the Beatles were already big enough not to worry about that.

Another group from Merseyside achieving success for the first time in 1963 was The Searchers with Meet The Searchers, an album that spent 9 weeks at no.2 behind Please Please Me from September to November. By the end of the year, this was joined in the top 10 by their second LP Sugar And Spice. The Searchers were founded as a Skiffle group in 1957 by John McNally and named after the John Wayne film from the previous year. Michael Pender and Tony Jackson were recruited from rival Skiffle bands and Chris Curtis who changed his name from Chris Crummy. Merseybeat wasn't all about original songs sweeping away everything that came before as The Searchers debut LP Meet The Searchers shows. Instead it was also about the presentation and arrangement, vocal harmonies and the beat behind the songs. All of the tracks were recorded in one day to cash in on the success of the no.1 single Sweets For My Sweet and none of the tracks are originals but a reflection of the stage act of the Searchers at the time. The LP included old soul hits Love Potion No.9, Stand By Me, Money That's What I Want, Da Doo Ron Ron, a recent folk hit, Bob Seeger's Where Have All The Flowers Gone and the LP, like Please Please Me ends with a version of Twist And Shout but a decidedly tame version compared to the Beatles. Even Sweets For My Sweet was originally a minor hit in the USA for the Drifters. Sugar And Spice followed a similar pattern with one major hit single and all the other tracks, cover versions of American Rock n Roll standards, all with a distinct Merseybeat sound backing them. Unlike The Beatles who had already begun to experiment on their second LP, The Searchers were happy to serve up a volume two of Meet The Searchers, ultimately not alienating any of their fans, but not building a solid enough base to outlive the original Merseybeat era.

Gerry & The Pacemakers had already achieved two no.1 singles, How Do You Do It and I Like It and the first LP was an amalgamation of the two titles, How Do You Like It although neither song appeared on the LP which peaked at no.2 in mid November as they were enjoying a third consecutive no.1 single You'll Never Walk Alone. Gerry Marsden, his brother Freddie together with Les Chadwick, and Arthur Mack formed the Pacemakers although by the early 1960s Mack had already been replaced by Les McGuire. Following in the Beatles footsteps, they played the Cavern Club in Liverpool, toured in Hamburg and were also signed by Brian Epstein who as a record shop manager, was aware of the local groups being constantly requested, even though they did not have recording deals. Mitch Murray wrote the pop song How Do You Do It and Gerry & The Pacemakers only released it after the Beatles own version was recorded but not released due to the latter groups insistence on releasing their own songs as singles rather than covers of other writers compositions. Ironically, it became a number one single for Gerry and his band before the Beatles achieved their first. Looking for a change of style to the first two hits, Gerry covered the blockbuster song from the show Carousel, You'll Never Walk Alone which as well as becoming a number one hit, was adopted by Liverpool football club and is still sung at matches as their song. Now it is hard to imagine the original version sung by a nun rather than Gerry's definitive performance. Most of the LP was exuberant Merseybeat cover versions, Jambalaya, Maybelline and a beat version of Nat King Cole's ballad Pretend but it was the ballads on How Do You Like It which lived longest as examples of Gerry & The Pacemakers songs including Gershwin's Summertime and You'll Never Walk Alone.

Freddie & The Dreamers weren't from Liverpool, but Manchester was close enough to allow them to be associated with the northern beat sounds. Freddie Garrity gave the impression that he was only in this music business for a laugh, never taking anything seriously. Together with his backing band, the Dreamers, Derek Quinn, Peter Birrell, Roy Crewsdon, Bernie Dwyer, they reached no.5 with their eponymous debut LP and had a string of hit singles, If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody, I'm Telling You Now and You Were Made For Me, only the first included on the LP. You Were Made For Me hit no.3 during December 1963 behind the two Beatles songs I Want To Hold Your Hand and She Loves You and Freddie remarked that this was as good as having a number one hit as nobody could beat the Beatles. The LP also included a beat version of Zip A Dee Doo Dah from the Disney film Song Of The South and a ballad called I Understand based on the tune to Aude Lang Syne, but Freddie & The Dreamers would be remembered as much for their ridiculous dance routines than for the music.

Not all of the stars of 1950s and early 1960s were swept away by the arrival of Merseybeat. Cliff Richard enjoyed his biggest album chart success with 14 weeks at no.1 between February and May and then a further 8 weeks at no.2 with his soundtrack to the film Summer Holiday. In August he reached no.2 with the compilation Cliff's Hit Album. He even hit no.9 with the Spanish language LP When In Spain. His backing band, The Shadows returned to the top for 2 further weeks with their 1962 album Out Of The Shadows and they also reached no.2 with a Greatest Hits compilation, spending 8 weeks in the runner up position during the summer.

Summer Holiday, yet another film starring Cliff Richard and the Shadows, Cliff plays a London bus mechanic who together with his friends do up a double decker bus and drive it through Europe on a holiday. During their carefree trip, they pick up several new friends, including three ladies whose car has broken down and need to get to Rome for a new job and a young boy who turns out to be a girl also on a trip through Europe. Cliff falls in love with this new passenger (after her true identity is revealed). For those who believe that concept LPs began in the late 1960s, this album has a theme of holidays and travelling throughout especially Seven Days To A Holiday, Let Us Take You For A Ride and the title track Summer Holiday. The Shadows play three trademark instrumentals including their fifth and final number one single Foottapper. The LP also featured instrumental tracks by The Associated British Studio Orchestra with European themes, Orlando's Mine and Yugoslav Wedding and a couple of Cliff's ballads, All At Once and The Next Time, another number one single recorded as a double A side with Bachelor Boy giving the soundtrack four no.1 singles.

With even more hit singles was Cliff's Hit Album, a collection of his hits to date including five number one singles Living Doll, Travellin Light, Please Don't Tease, I Love You and The Young Ones, five number twos, Move It, A Voice In The Wilderness, Fall In Love With You, I'm Looking Out The Window and Do You Wanna Dance and the other four tracks all peaked at no.3. In fact of all his top 3 hits in the past five years, only I'll Be Me and the recent no.1s, Next Time/Bachelor Boy and Summer Holiday were missing, altogether a very comprehensive introduction and retrospective of Cliff's early career to date. In complete contrast was the When In Spain LP, an album produced entirely for the Latin market with Spanish language songs including Perfidia, Frenesi, Tus Benos, Te Quiro Dijeste and Vaya Con Dios, not a hit single to be seen in the UK anywhere. However this was the first in a series of concept LPs, long before the term became fashionable, of LPs all recorded for a specific overseas market in a foreign language.

The Shadows greatest hits was almost as filled with hit singles as the Cliff Richard one with four no.1s, Apache, Kon Tiki, Wonderful Land and Dance On and five other top 10 hits Man Of Mystery, FBI, Frightened City, The Savage and Guitar Tango. The only hits missing from this collection were the recent no.1 Foot Tapper and Atlantis, a new hit during the summer of 1963.

Elvis Presley charted two new LPs in the top 10 and both were film soundtracks, Girls Girls Girls reaching no.2 and spending 6 weeks as runner up to Summer Holiday in February and March and It Happened At The World's Fair which peaked at no.4. Girls Girls Girls was another attempt to recreate the Hawaiian feel of Blue Hawaii with Elvis playing Ross Carpenter, a fisherman/guide/sailor who finds he needs to buy his own boat when his boss wants to retire to Arizona. Despite being so successful on the sea, his only way of raising the money is to sing at a local nightclub. The plot was weak, having been used before, but the soundtrack was even weaker, the only stand out track being the single Return To Sender and some of the other tracks seemingly only used because of the nautical theme including Thanks To The Rolling Sea and Song Of The Shrimp and other tracks used to move the plot along as Elvis divides his time between Robin and Laurel, the two leading ladies, A Boy Like Me A Girl Like You, I Don't Wanna Be Tied, We'll Be Together and the title track Girls Girls Girls. In It Happened At The World's Fair, Elvis plays Mike Edwards, who together with his partner Danny, fly a cropduster, but because of Danny's gambling debts, a local sheriff confiscates their plane. They hitch hike to the World's Fair making money to buy back the plane. It features an even more anonymous soundtrack, the only single being One Broken Heart For Sale with support tracks Take Me To The Fair, Cotton Candy Land and Happy Ending, just like all of Elvis' films.

Frank Sinatra hit no.2 with his jazz collaboration with Count Basie, Sinatra-Basie. He also peaked at no.7 with Sinatra's Sinatra and no.8 with Concert Sinatra. Buddy Holly also hit no.2 with the LP Reminiscing and having joined the Crickets as a replacement for Buddy Holly, Bobby Vee's next two solo LPs both reached no.10, Recording Session and Golden Greats.

Two icons joined together, Frank Sinatra and William Count Basie and produced a swing LP, reminiscent of Sinatra's best swing albums of the mid 1950s and Basie's only major appearance in the UK charts, singles or albums, 26 years after he first hit the US market right at the beginning of the swing and big band era. Born in New Jersey in 1904, he joined a travelling group of Vaudeville performers which finally ended in 1927 in Kansas, when he joined various jazz bands before forming his own as leader and recording his first hit, One O Clock Jump in 1937. The Sinatra Basie collaboration was an LP filled with classic songs, old Sinatra hits including Learnin The Blues and Love Is The Tender Trap and several other songs from the 1930s, Sammy Cahn's Please Be Kind, Dubin & Warren's I Only Have Eyes For You, Gershwin's Nice Work If You Can Get it and the LP concludes with Dorothy Field's I Won't Dance. Count Basie, who had only enjoyed an appearance in the LP charts for just one week, three years earlier, this was the highlight of his UK chart career, and the LP also provided Frank Sinatra with his biggest success since Come Dance With Me and Come Fly With Me, both also no.2 hits from the late 1950s. His other two chart albums of 1963, Concert Sinatra is primarily filled with show tunes with the majority coming from the works of Rodgers and Hammerstein, You'll Never Walk Alone and Soliloquy from Carousel, This Nearly Was Mine from South Pacific and going back to Ol Man River from Showboat while Sinatra's Sinatra was a compilation on Reprise as his former labels Columbia and Capitol had been doing for a number of years. This LP was produced and arranged by Nelson Riddle and included re-recordings of some of his biggest hits, I've Got You Under My Skin, Witchcraft, Young At Heart, All The Way and also the new track dedicated to his daughter Nancy With The Laughing Face.

Buddy Holly's Reminiscing was released four years after his death but included many newly discovered tracks from the period 1956 until Holly's death. Some of the earliest songs still sounded fresh enough to become hit singles in 1963 including Brown Eyed Handsome Man and Bo Diddley both of which reached the singles top 5, along with the title track Reminiscing which had been a top 20 hit the previous year. Bobby Vee, who replaced Buddy Holly to sing with the Crickets took two LPs to no.10 in 1963, Bobby Vee Recording Session, a lightweight collection of songs mostly written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. Vee was equally at home singing ballads as Rock n Roll pop songs. Bobby Vee's Golden Greats included all his hit singles to date, Rubber Ball, More Than I Can Say, How Many Tears, Take Good Care Of My Baby, Run To Him, Please Don't Ask About Barbara and Sharing You.

Other newcomers to the LP charts of 1963 included Frank Ifield with two number three LPs I'll Remember You and Born Free. Roy Orbison hit no.6 with In Dreams, Trini Lopez, no.7 with Trini Lopez at PJs, Brenda Lee no.8 with All Alone Am I and Del Shannon no.9 with Hats Off To Del Shannon.

Frank Ifield was born in Coventry in 1937 but moved to Australia when he was 11 years old and it was his Australian heritage that he embraced when he hit the singles charts for the first time in 1960. Although he was a country singer on TV and radio in Australia, it was his interjection of a trademark yodelling that flowed through most of his hit records. 1962 was his breakthrough year with two number one singles I Remember You and Lovesick Blues. In February 1963 he achieved a third consecutive number one single with Wayward Wind and the first LP was released. I'll Remember You which did not even include the hit single I Remember You, but did feature updated versions of oldies from the 1930s, Bing Crosby's Just One More Chance, Benny Goodman's Glory Of Love and Bob Wills' San Antonio Rose all updated with a yodel in the singing. The next LP was also confusing, entitled Born Free but without the track from the film on it. Again there were more updated country and folk classics, He'll Have To Go, Cold Cold Heart, Half As Much, Riders In The Sky and Scarlet Ribbons For Her Hair.

Roy Orbison was born in Texas in 1936 and began his musical career for Sun Records in the same stable as Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and even Elvis Presley, but he quickly dropped their Rockabilly and Rock n Roll style to build a distinctive musical style of melodramatic pop ballads with his equally distinctive quavering voice. In fact he was the only American male vocalist to achieve a number one single while Merseybeat was at its height between mid 1963 and mid 1965. In Dreams was his first top 10 LP and included his 1963 hit singles, Blue Bayou and the title track as well as covers of My Prayer and All I Have To Do Is Dream. Born just one year later, also in Texas was Trinidad Lopez, shortening his name to Trini, and finally reaching the charts with Pete Seeger's folk standard If I Had A Hammer. This was followed by the LP, Trini Lopez at PJs, which featured more traditional folk songs This Land Is Your Land, Down By The Riverside and Gotta Travel On, but Lopez was more an all round entertainer than simply a folk singer and included tracks as diverse as Ray Charles' What'd I Say, and Unchain My Heart, When the Saints Go Marching In and La Bamba and even Bye Bye Blackbird.

Brenda Lee was born Brenda Mae Tarpley in Georgia in 1944 and was a child star, appearing on national television at 10 years old and signed for Decca aged just 12. Nicknamed Little Miss Dynamite, she was equally at home with bubblegum pop with her hits Sweet Nothins and Dum Dum as with ballads I'm Sorry, I Want To Be Wanted and All Alone Am I, which was used as the title track of her tenth LP and first to reach the UK top 10. This LP followed the trend of most of the others, rather than concentrating on her hit singles, it featured adult pop standards including I Left My Heart in San Francisco, My Prayer, What Kind Of Fool Am I and Fly Me To The Moon. Del Shannon was born Charles Westover in Missouri in 1934 and broke through to the charts with his no.1 single in 1961, Runaway, which began his series of distinctive hits with a falsetto voice and a prominent organ solo. He enjoyed eight single hits before he released the first LP, Hats Off To Del Shannon, a pun on one of his hits Hats Off To Larry and included Swiss Maid, Hey Little Girl and So Long Baby.

Having achieved his first hit single in 1957, Chuck Berry finally hit the album charts six years later with Chuck Berry On Stage. One of the most important figures in the birth of Rock n Roll was born Charles Edward Anderson Berry in St Louis in 1926 and won a local talent show playing the guitar and singing a big band tune. Playing almost exclusively to a black audience, he developed a brand of white hillbilly music and a distinctive electric guitar playing. His first recording session was at the Chess studios in Chicago where having played one of his own songs Ida Red which Leonard Chess retitled Maybelline and a Rock n Roll legend was born. His first top 10 LP, Chuck Berry On Stage was not a live album but studio recordings with audience sounds added afterwards. The stage in question was supposedly at the Tivoli theatre in Chicago and the album included versions of Sweet Little Sixteen, Memphis Tennessee and his compositions Brown Eyed Handsome Man and Maybelline.

Two television related LPs hit the top 10. Richard Chamberlain, the star of Dr Kildare released the LP Richard Chamberlain Sings and Wilfred Brambell and Harry H Corbett took four episodes of Steptoe And Son to no.4. Dr Kildare, originally an MGM film Young Dr Kildare in the 1930s starring Lew Ayres as a young junior doctor, just out of medical school with Lionel Barrymore as the wise senior master at the hospital. After spawning a series of films during the early 1940s, it was revived and updated in the 1960s as a television series with Richard Chamberlain as the young doctor at Blair General Hospital with Raymond Massey as his boss. Each week on TV, viewers, particularly female viewers would tune in to watch the latest heart throb. And he proved he could sing too, taking on the Dr Kildare theme tune Three Stars Will Shine Tonight (about the three rock stars killed in 1959) and his LP also included his other hit singles, the classic songs Love Me Tender and True Love.

Wilfred Brambell was born in Dublin in 1912, Harry H Corbett in Rangoon, Burma in 1925, but they gave British television viewers a most believable father and son, rag and bone men from Shepherd's Bush as Steptoe & Son. The series ran on television from 1962 through to the mid 1970s with unending repeats after this and in 1963, in its second series, was one of the most popular situation comedies. They performed in character at the Royal Command Performance and released an LP of two episodes from series one, The Bird and The Holiday with excerpts from two others.

The short lived revival of trad jazz was virtually over, one casualty of Merseybeat, the only top 10 LP, a retrospective collection from Kenny Ball, Golden Hits, including his hit singles Samantha, Midnight In Moscow, March Of The Siamese Children, Green Leaves Of Summer, So Do I and Sukiyaki. The All Star Festival LP on the Philips label was a jazz recording for charity, raising money for the Great Ormond Street children's hospital. Artists donating songs to the project included Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong with Lazy River, Doris Day-Everlasting Arms, Patti Page-First Star I See Tonight, Nat King Cole-When You Belong To Me and some lesser known artists Nana Mouskouri, Mahalia Jackson and Caterina Valente. Billy Fury made his final appearance with the LP Billy which featured many pop ballads She Cried, Our Day Will Come, I'll Never Fall In Love Again, a couple of pop-rock tracks Bumble Bee and Kansas City and one hit single Like I've Never Been Gone.

The only cast recording to reach the top 10 in 1963 was the show Fool Britannia featuring Anthony Newley, Peter Sellers and Joan Collins which was a satirical send up of the political scandals engulfing the Conservative party in 1963. This LP was recorded live in New York in front of an invited celebrity audience and like previous Peter Sellers LPs, included comedy sketches and songs. Track titles included Whatever Happened To Joan & Martin, Countess Interruptus, The House That Mac Built (Harold McMillan), Twelve Randy Men and Two Old Ladies Locked In Conversation.

Apart from the Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard soundtracks, there were no other new film soundtracks in the LP charts in 1963, indeed the only soundtracks in the top 10 were South Pacific, now in its sixth year and West Side Story which achieved its final week of 13 at no.1 in January before Summer Holiday and the two Beatles LPs dominated the no.1 spot for the rest of the year. This was in contrast to the US charts where three new soundtracks all peaked at no.2 during 1963, Lawrence Of Arabia, Cleopatra and Bye Bye Birdie.

Billy J Kramer & The Dakotas peaked at no.11 in the LP charts with Listen To Billy J Kramer, leaving the only artist with a number one single, not to reach the LP charts at all, Brian Poole & The Tremeloes.

The Merseybeat sound would have to wait until 1964 before arriving in America. In the meantime, the US charts were still dominated by Middle Of The Road, Easy Listening, Folk and Comedy albums. Andy Williams spent 16 weeks at no.1 with Days Of Wine And Roses, Peter Paul & Mary hit no.1 with both Peter Paul & Mary and In The Wind and no.2 with Moving. West Side Story spent its final 11 weeks at the top, Frank Fontaine 5 weeks with Songs I Sing On The Jackie Gleason Show and at Christmas, while The Beatles held down the top two positions in the UK, the number one LP in the US was the Singing Nun's self titled album. Little Stevie Wonder had one week at the top with Little Stevie Wonder The 12 Year Old Genius as did Charlie Byrd and Stan Getz with Jazz Samba. Comedy was also still a major genre, the year beginning with Vaughn Meader's Kennedy's parody The First Family at no.1 and Allan Sherman had two no.1 LPs, My Son The Celebrity and My Son The Nut. Three artists began exceptionally long careers with US no.2 albums in 1963, The Beach Boys with Surfin USA, James Brown with The James Brown Show Live At The Apollo and Barbra Streisand with The Second Barbra Streisand Album although as the Streisand LP indicated, they were not her first recordings.


Top albums of 1963
1 Beatles - With The Beatles
2 Beatles - Please Please Me
3 Cliff Richard & Shadows - Summer Holiday
4 Soundtrack - West Side Story
5 Shadows - Out Of The Shadows
6 Shadows - Shadows' Greatest Hits
7 Searchers - Meet The Searchers
8 Buddy Holly & Crickets - Reminiscing
9 Frank Ifield - I'll Remember You
10 Gerry & Pacemakers - How Do You Like It?

(c) 2007 Text: Sharon Mawer / Contact: Sharon Mawer
(c) 2007 All chart information: The Official UK Charts Company

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