Researched and written by Sharon Mawer

If anyone should doubt how dominant The Beatles were in pop music, take a look at the no.1 position of the album charts during 1964. They began the year with one of their 1963 albums, With The Beatles at the top, remaining there until the end of April for 17 weeks. After a 12 week break, they were back at the end of July with A Hard Days Night, an album that maintained its hold on the top position for 21 weeks until mid December, only to be replaced at no.1 by Beatles For Sale. Whilst it is true that the 40 weeks at no.1 in one calendar year had been bettered by the South Pacific soundtrack in both 1959 and 1960, The Beatles achieved 40 weeks at the top with three different albums. When they weren't no.1 during 1964 they did hold the no.2 position, With The Beatles spending 9 weeks as the runner up LP in charts during May, June and July and their debut 1963 album Please Please Me opening 1964 with 15 weeks at no.2, all just behind With The Beatles.

The Beatles A Hard Days Night is a semi fictional biography film of their early career, just as they had really hit the big time, travelling around the country and making a TV appearance. The boys are shown as ordinary working class lads living in a terraced row of houses next door to each other, until the camera shows the inside of their house, four joined into one large luxury apartment. Paul's grandfather, played by Wilfred Brambell, had found fame as old man Steptoe in the comedy show Steptoe & Son, tags along and is the one who is portrayed as the anarchist in society, whereas the four Beatles play it very straight and sensible.

The soundtrack to the film was the first Beatles LP to feature all Lennon and McCartney tracks, not a cover version in sight and they shared not only the writing credits but also virtually all of the singing too, allowing George Harrison to sing lead on I'm Happy Just To Dance With You, but Ringo did not get a lead singing credit on any of the tracks, a lot of which have become all time classics, including the title track A Hard Days Night with its distinctive piano chord intro, Can't Buy Me Love, their first number one single of 1964, Any Time At All, I Should Have Known Better, Things We Said Today and the ballads And I Love Her and If I Fell.

The Beatles fourth LP Beatles For Sale was released at the end of the year, entering the charts at no.4 on the 12th of December and moving up to the top the following week, remaining there for 11 weeks, their shortest stay at no.1 to date for one of their LPs, but still one of the top 30 longest running stays at no.1. The album opened with the Lennon trilogy of No Reply, I'm A Loser and Baby's In Black, all songs with rather darker themes than young love or boy meeting girl. The constant touring was obviously getting to even Lennon and McCartney, as unlike A Hard Days Night which was completely original, this LP featured six cover versions going back to their stage show in the Hamburg days including Chuck Berry's Rock n Roll Music, Lieber and Stoller's Kansas City and Buddy Holly's Words Of Love. George Harrison again gets just one vocal credit on the Carl Perkins cover Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby and the same writer provided Ringo Starr with a vocal credit on Honey Don't. The original Lennon and McCartney compositions included the US no.1 single Eight Days A Week, I'll Follow The Sun, I Don't Want To Spoil The Party and Every Little Thing, a track that would be reused five years later by the progressive rock band Yes on their debut album. Although as previously mentioned, Beatles For Sale was still one of the all time great chart LPs, many fans at the time, thought it a retrograde step from A Hard Days Night.

The only artist to break the monopoly and total domination of the no.1 position and new to the album charts this year was The Rolling Stones with their debut album The Rolling Stones. They had started slowly with two minor hit singles and indeed their LP reached no.1 before they achieved the same feat on the singles charts. The album spent the missing 12 weeks at no.1 and a further 19 weeks at no.2 throughout the year, making them the only act to even come close to rivalling The Beatles both in terms of chart performance and fan hysteria.

The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts were the alternative to the Merseybeat groups of the mid 1960s. An R&B; band who modelled themselves on the underground blues scene from America, rather than the safe pop culture of Britain that was now sweeping the world, and for this they reaped a great reward. The two leaders of the band, Jagger and Richards who would go on to become the main songwriters, met in primary school in Dartford and the other members drifted together during the early 60s from various blues bands, playing in pubs and clubs around London. The bands name came originally from a Muddy Waters song and after an initial performance at the Marquee club in Central London, they began a residency at the Crawdaddy Club where they built their fanbase and also met Andrew Loog Oldham who became their manager and got them signed to Decca records, one of the companies which had refused to sign the Beatles. Oldham advised them to cultivate a dangerous, sexy, bad boy image to counter the clean cut Beatles and most of the publicity they got in the early days was centred on shocking the public and establishment as much as possible.

The first few singles were all cover versions, Chuck Berry's Come On, Buddy Holly's Not Fade Away and surprisingly, Lennon and McCartney's I Wanna Be Your Man. Their debut self titled album, continued the dominance in their repertoire of blues cover versions, only including one Jagger and Richards original, Tell Me. The covers included Route 66, I Just Want To Make Love To You, I Need You Baby Mona, Can I Get A Witness and Walking The Dog.

The third best selling album overall in 1964 was the West Side Story soundtrack, spending just one week in April at no.2, but all year bar two weeks in December inside the top 10. Another film soundtrack reaching no.2 was Cliff Richard's latest film and album Wonderful Life, while 1964 saw the final appearance in the top 10 for the South Pacific soundtrack.

Cliff Richard's fifth film, Wonderful Life with The Shadows as both backing band and occasionally stepping into the limelight on their own on a couple of tracks, Walkin' and Theme For Young Lovers. The title track which opens the film and the LP was a Hollywood production with the Mike Sammes Singers and The Associated British Studio Orchestra providing soaring strings and a lavish production, as does A Girl In Every Port, Home and A Little Imagination. The only solo Cliff hit single from the film was the track On The Beach, but Cliff was now turning into a more rounded entertainer, going for all ages of fans, not just those who put his singles into the charts.

A new artist to the album charts in 1964, although he had been charting singles for 4 years was Jim Reeves who saw his first UK chart album Good n Country in March and this was joined by Gentleman Jim in May. By July however he was dead and never lived to see these albums reach their peak positions of nos.10 and 3 respectively. During the latter half of 1964, another nine albums all charted, four of them peaking inside the top 10, A Touch Of Velvet at no.8, God Be With You at no.10, Moonlight And Roses at no.2 and Twelve Songs Of Christmas at no.4, although this album would re-chart several times and eventually reach no.3 at the end of 1971.

Jim Reeves was born in Texas in 1923 and even before he was 12 years old, he had appeared on a Los Angeles radio show. His major musical influences were Jimmie Rodgers and the country sounds of Nashville. Although singing was his first love, he got a job as disc jockey and newscaster for a series of local radio stations. On one occasion, Hank Williams who was booked as a guest on his show, failed to appear and Jim Reeves stood in and sang on his own show, the Louisiana Hayride. His first single for the label Abbott records was the song Mexican Joe which was a major success on the national country charts and by 1955, RCA picked up his contract and it was here that he developed the lush baritone style of singing that would serve him well both in the country charts and eventually in the national pop charts too. In the UK, he finally charted in 1960 with the song He'll Have To Go but had to wait a further four years before his first top 10 album, Good n Country, the 18th LP he had recorded. All the albums were filled with soft country pop ballads. Good n Country featuring Don't Let Me Cross Over, There's A Heartache Following Me, The World You Left Behind, Bottle Take Effect, You Kept Me Awake Last Night and prophetically, Before I Died. The second top 10 album, just six weeks later, titled Gentleman Jim after the nickname he had acquired, featured his biggest selling single I Love You Because and also Memories Are Made Of This, Roses Are Red My Love, Just Out Of Reach and I Never Pass There Anymore.

Two months later on the 31st of July, his private plane crashed outside of Nashville, killing him and his manager. At the height of his career, Jim Reeves was dead and the floodgates opened in the album charts with a further four top 10 albums, A Touch Of Velvet with the hit single Welcome To My World and also Have You Ever Been Lonely, There's Always Me, Just Walkin' In The Rain, I Fall To Pieces, It's No Sin and Am I That Easy To Forget. God Be With You, not exactly a Gospel album, but an LP filled with songs on a religious theme, his most successful charting album to date, the no.2 Moonlight And Roses, featuring songs about the moon, Carolina Moon, Moon River, There's A New Moon Over My Shoulder, It's Only A Paper Moon and songs about roses, Mexicali Rose, One Dozen Roses and the title track Moonlight And Roses. He also charted for the first time with 12 Songs Of Christmas, the LPs first of many entries throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, featuring the tracks Jingle Bells, Blue Christmas, White Christmas, O Little Town Of Bethlehem, Mary's Boy Child, Oh Come all Ye Faithful and Silent Night.

In the wake of the success of the Beatles, almost every new act to the album charts during 1964 was a British group, mostly based on the same formula with four or five young men, playing lead, rhythm and bass guitars and drums. The Hollies hit no.2 with Stay With The Hollies, Manfred Mann, The Dave Clark Five and The Kinks all hit no.3 with their debut albums and the Animals reached no.6 with their self titled debut.

The Hollies with Allan Clarke and Graham Nash at the centre and a changing line up that eventually settled on Eric Haydock, Tony Hicks and Bobby Elliott. They formed in Manchester and signed to EMI after appearing at Liverpool's The Cavern Club. Their style, which began as yet another British R&B;, Rock n Roll covers band, evolved into a harmony style, influenced most by the Everly Brothers. Stay With The Hollies, their first top 10 LP featured the hit single, a cover of Maurice Williams' Stay and standard cover versions of Lucille, Memphis, Rockin Robin, Do You Love Me and It's Only Make Believe.

One of the more successful R&B; bands were Manfred Mann, formed by the keyboard player Manfred Mann, born Manfred Lubowitz in South Africa who had performed in local coffee bars in Johannesburg. After moving to England in 1960, he signed up Mike Hugg, Mike Vickers, Paul Jones and Dave Richmond and shortened their name from The Mann Hugg Blues Brothers to Manfred Mann, against the wishes of the group's founder. They were asked to write a theme song for the new pop TV show Ready Steady Go and came up with 54321 which began a long string of hit singles in various styles from blues to R&B; to straight pop. Tom McGuinness replaced Dave Richmond and they next looked to covering a couple of obscure tracks originally by US girl bands, She La La by The Shirelles and Do Wah Diddy Diddy by the Exciters. With the direction of their career in the singles charts set, they released their debut LP, Five Faces Of Manfred Mann which concentrated on their Blues and Jazz Soul repertoire, the album beginning with Howlin Wolf's Smokestack Lightning and went on to cover Blues classics, I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man, I've Got My Mojo Working and Down The Road Apiece as well as Jones/Mann originals What You Gonna Do, I'm Your Kingpin and Mr Anello, all hard blues tracks, no Do Wah Diddy Diddy or 54321 to be seen.

In early 1964, the British press considered the most serious challengers to the popularity of the Beatles to be not The Rolling Stones but the Dave Clark Five. After 23 weeks of unbroken Merseybeat hits at no.1 in the singles charts, the Dave Clark Five from Tottenham took over with Glad All Over, a drum thumping hit. Dave Clark was actually the drummer of the band, most unusual for the time, hence the overpowering rhythm section on most of their early hits. The rest of the band featured Lenny Davidson, Rick Huxley and Denis Payton with Mike Smith as lead vocalist. The debut album Session With The Dave Clark Five, as was customary at the time, did not include the hit singles Glad All Over nor Bits And Pieces, but did feature Can't You See That She's Mine and unusual covers of On Broadway and Zip A Dee Doo Dah.

One of the groups to emerge in 1964 and go on to have a phenomenally long successful career was The Kinks featuring the brothers Ray and Dave Davies, Peter Quaife and drummer Mike Avery. Initially known as The Ravens, they released a couple of singles including a cover of Little Richard's Long Tall Sally, but it wasn't until their third single, an original Ray Davies recording of You Really Got Me with its distinctive fuzz guitar riff, that they really took off. The band's self titled debut LP included six Ray Davies tracks, You Really Got Me, So Mystifying, Revenge and Stop Your Sobbin, which were some of the better tracks on the LP, the covers of Beautiful Delilah, Long Tall Shorty, Cadillac and a couple of tracks written for them by Sheb Talmy, Bald Headed Woman and I've Been Driving On Bald Mountain, not the best work produced by the Kinks.

A very distinctive organ and electric guitar dominated arrangement of an old negro work song, House Of The Rising Sun, introduced the world to The Animals, a five piece R&B; Blues group from Newcastle featuring Eric Burden, Alan Price, Bryan 'Chas' Chandler, John Steel and Hilton Valentine. They were spotted at the Crawdaddy Club by independent producer Mickey Most who signed them to Columbia records. The debut album as was customary at the time, did not include House Of The Rising Sun, but featured traditional Blues and R&B; tracks, The Story Of Bo Diddley, Bury My Body, I'm In Love Again, The Girl Can't Help It, Memphis Tennessee and Boom Boom.

Three newcomers who didn't fit this pattern however were Dusty Springfield who peaked at no.6 in May with A Girl Called Dusty, Gene Pitney one place lower the same month with Blue Gene and The Bachelors who enjoyed the final week of the year at no.2 with The Bachelors And 16 Great Songs.

Dusty Springfield was born Mary Isabel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien in 1939 in London and was one of the great white soul singers of the 1960s, recognisable by her towering beehive hairdo and heavy set black mascara but a powerful voice that encompassed lush orchestral Pop, Soul and R&B.; She joined together with her brother Dion and a friend Tim Field in a folk trio, The Springfields. Going solo in 1963, she found hit singles with Bacharach & David songs I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself and Wishin And Hopin which was featured on the debut album A Girl Called Dusty along with cover versions of Mama Said, You Don't Own Me, Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa, Anyone Who Had A Heart and Will You Love Me Tomorrow.

Known for his melodramatic style and singing not unlike Johnny Ray, over a decade earlier, Gene Pitney was one of the few American artists to break through to the charts for the first time in 1964. Born in Hartford Connecticut in 1941, he also became one of the foremost interpreters of Bacharach & David's songs, although he was a song writer himself, composing He's A Rebel for the Crystals and Hello Mary Lou for Rick Nelson which was his first foray into the music business. He had a couple of minor hit singles in the early 1960s but it wasn't until 1963 that he broke through with Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa, the opening track on the debut album Blue Gene. The album was a mixture of covers from the 1940s and 50s, Autumn Leaves, I'll Be Seeing You and Answer Me along with Gene Pitney originals, Half The Laughter Twice The Tears and Yesterday's Hero.

The Bachelors were not part of the British invasion, not a Merseybeat or R&B; band and one of the least cool groups of the mid 1960s. The brothers Conleth and Declan Clusky with John Stokes were from Dublin, Ireland and concentrated on pre Rock n Roll ballad revivals that not many other groups would go near. Beginning as an instrumental band called the Harmonichords, playing harmonicas, they added three part harmony vocals and changed their name to the Bachelors on the recommendation of Dick Rowe at Deeca records, because that's the kind of boy a girl likes. After several big hit singles including revivals of Charmaine, Diane, I Believe and Ramona, they released their LP, The Bachelors And 16 Great Songs which also included versions of With These Hands and You'll Never Walk Alone.

The Searchers hit no.4 with their third album It's The Searchers. Peaking at no.2 for 2 weeks in June was the Shadows with Dance With The Shadows, giving them 2 no.1s and 2 no.2s with their first four LP releases excluding their contributions to Cliff Richard's albums. The Searchers released It's The Searchers and had enjoyed two number one singles since the previous LP, Needles And Pins and Don't Throw Your Love Away, both of which appeared on this album, along with songs copied from American acts, It's In Her Kiss, Sea Of Heartbreak, This Empty Space and Hi Heel Sneakers. Dance With The Shadows, their fourth LP without the involvement of Cliff Richard, did not include any hit singles but featured the two Glenn Miller tracks, Chattanooga Choo Choo and In The Mood as well as Tonight from West Side Story, the theme from The High And The Mighty, Zambesi and Herb Alpert's The Lonely Bull.

Enjoying three top 10 albums in 1964 was Elvis Presley, but his career was very different to the early days of Rock n Roll. Two of the albums were film soundtracks, Kissin Cousins and Fun In Acapulco and the third album was volume three of Elvis Golden Records and none of them could get any higher than no.5, a far cry from his 7 no.1 albums to date.

In Kissin Cousins, Elvis plays dual roles as Josh Morgan, a military officer trying to persuade his distant relatives to give up their land in order to install a new missile base where he meets his remarkably similar hillbilly cousin. The title track was Elvis' only top 10 single during 1964, a year when his music was literally blown away by all things British. Fun In Acapulco was an attempt to recreate Blue Hawaii in Mexico, but the film was made on the cheap and the outdoor scenes were either at a Mexican style hotel in Hollywood or even worse, against a blue screen. The story is of a man, Mike Windgren working on a boat, who is fired and finds new work as a lifeguard and singer at a local hotel. The only hit single, and even that only peaked at no.13 was Bossa Nova Baby and a lot of the other songs were thrown in because they had either a Mexican theme, Vino Dinero Y Amor, Mexico, You Can't Say No In Acupulco, Guadalajara, or a bullfighting theme, El Toro and The Bullfighter Was A Lady, but the king of Rock n Roll had sunk to singing There's No Room To Rhumba In A Sports Car and I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here. Up until this point, nobody had amassed enough material to release a second volume of greatest hits, let alone a third, but Elvis released Golden Records Volume 3 which originally had six number one singles from the early 1960s, It's Now Or Never, Surrender, Are You Lonesome Tonight, Marie's The Name His Latest Flame, Good Luck Charm and She's Not You and some of the better tracks from his movies.

Another regular visitor to the no.1 position whose days at the top seemed to be over was The George Mitchell Minstrels who retained their popularity on Saturday night television but after three no.1 albums could only reach no.6 with both On Tour With The George Mitchell Minstrels and Spotlight On The Black And White Minstrels at either ends of the year, both featuring the traditional medleys of song standards collected in themes, Let's All Go To The Music Hall, Around The Emerald Isle, In Bonnie Scotland, Calypso Time and All Aboard The Minstrel Train.

Chuck Berry placed two albums in the top 10, More Chuck Berry, a compilation of early Decca/Chess material including Sweet Little Rock & Roller, Reelin And Rockin and Brown Eyed Handsome Man and The Latest And The Greatest, featuring Nadine and No Particular Place To Go, as did Frank Ifield with Blue Skies and Greatest Songs, but this would be his final appearance in the top 10. Buddy Holly had yet another posthumous collection of hits chart as The Buddy Holly Showcase reached no.3 featuring his versions of Shake Rattle And Roll, Honky Tonk, Blue Suede Shoes, Rip It Up and Love's Made A Fool Of You and the once dominant genre of the stage cast recording only had the Broadway version of Camelot peak at no.10, a Lerner & Loewe musical based on the legend of King Arthur and starring Richard Burton and Julie Andrews. Stand out tracks included The Simple Joys Of Maidenhood, The Lusty Month Of May, I Loved You Once In Silence and What Do The Simple Folks Do, all sung by Julie Andrews and How To Handle A Woman by Richard Burton.

Although The Beatles were signed to the Parlophone label in the UK, in the US they were on EMI's sister label Capitol and when they broke the American market early in 1964, Capitol already had a wealth of material to choose from for tracks on LPs specifically for the USA. Rather than release Please Please Me and With The Beatles, they put together their own albums, Meet The Beatles which took the best tracks from both British LPs and added I Want To Hold Your Hand, their US breakthrough track as the albums lead. The Beatles Second Album, was more of the same and ended with She Loves You, the track which took over at the top of the singles chart. Together these albums held the number one position for 16 weeks between February and May. These were joined in the charts by 1963's album Introducing The Beatles, an LP on a previous label Vee Jay which peaked at no.2. This LP was essentially the Please Please Me album with two tracks missing, Ask Me Why and strangely, the title track. After a seven week break from the top, during which both the original cast recording and Louis Armstrong's version of Hello Dolly topped the charts, the Beatles were back for another 14 weeks with a slightly different version of the Hard Days Night album. They also reached no.2 with Something New, an album compiled from 8 tracks from the Hard Days Night film, 2 tracks from the UK EP release and a German language version of I Want To Hold Your Hand entitled Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand.

The other two artists who saw out the no.1 position from October to the end of the year were Barbra Streisand with People and The Beach Boys with Beach Boys Concert, both yet to register an entry in the UK charts. Barbra Streisand also charted with her soundtrack to the film Funny Girl and Barbra Streisand's Third Album and The Beach Boys had two other no.4 albums All Summer Long and Little Deuce Coupe.

The Dave Clark Five were another group who released different albums in the US compared to back home in the UK, Glad All Over and The Dave Clark Five Return both hit the top 5.The Rolling Stones debut album was retitled England's Newest Hitmakers and dropped the track I Need You Baby Mona in favour of the hit single Not Fade Away and in the US, their first top 10 album was the LP 12X5, an album that highlighted their move from Blues to Rock with the tracks It's All Over Now, Time Is On My Side and Good Times Bad Times.

Dean Martin hit no.2 with Everybody Loves Somebody as did Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto with their fusion of Latin and Jazz on the album Getz/Gilberto. Al Hirt peaked at no.3 with Honey In The Horn, Nancy Wilson had two no.4 albums How Glad I Am and Yesterday's Love Songs/Todays Blues. Andy Williams had two no.5 albums The Academy Award Winning Call Me Irresponsible and Great Songs From My Fair Lady And Other Broadway Hits. The Supremes hit no.5 with Where Did Our Love Go and even a posthumous album of speeches by John Fitzgerald Kennedy, That Was The Week That Was, made the top 5.

Of the artists with UK no.1 singles during 1964, Peter & Gordon peaked at no.18 in the album charts, The Four Pennies and The Supremes at no.13 and Hermans Hermits at no.16, but there was no room at all for Cilla Black, Billy J Kramer & The Dakotas or The Honeycombs.


Top albums of 1964
1 Beatles - Beatles For Sale
2 Beatles - A Hard Day's Night
3 Soundtrack - West Side Story
4 Rolling Stones - Rolling Stones
5 Beatles - With The Beatles
6 Beatles - Please Please Me
7 Cliff Richard & Shadows - Wonderful Life
8 Jim Reeves - Moonlight and Roses
9 Bachelors - Bachelors 16 Great Songs
10 Hollies - Stay With The Hollies

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

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