#1 hits in 1964: yeah, yeah, yeah; baby, baby!

Jeff Barry/Ellie Greenwich

Flo, Mary, Diana

To no one’s surprise, the #1 hits in 1964 featured the most famous pop band in the world, even today. Indeed, I wrote about the Liverpudlian dominance of the US charts on February 9, so I won’t link to either the Beatles’ hits or the Peter and Gordon song attributed to Lennon-McCartney.

Because I have the book Across the Charts: the 1960s, I can quickly see if any of these songs appeared on other charts besides the pop charts. Interestingly, The Beatles never did until Something landed at #17 on the Adult Contemporary charts.

I Want To Hold Your Hand – The Beatles (Capitol), seven weeks at #1, gold record

Can’t Buy Me Love – The Beatles (Capitol), five weeks at #1, gold record

There! I Said It Again – Bobby Vinton (Epic), four weeks at #1, five weeks at #1 AC. This was the first #1 of 1964.

Baby Love – the Supremes (Motown), four weeks at #1, three weeks at #1 RB, gold record. It is one of three Supremes songs, all written by Holland-Dozier-Holland.

Oh, Pretty Woman – Roy Orbison (Monument), three weeks at #1, gold record. Orbison went to England in 1963 and toured with The Beatles. This is the last song on the soundtrack for some Julia Roberts/Richard Gere flick.

The House of the Rising Sun – the Animals (MGM), three weeks at #1

Chapel of Love – the Dixie Cups (Red Bird), three weeks at #1. Composed by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, and Phil Spector

I Feel Fine – The Beatles (Capitol), three weeks at #1, gold record

She Loves You – The Beatles (Swan), two weeks at #1. As noted, its original failure in 1963 helped propel it when Beatlemania struck in 1964.

My favorite compilation album

I Get Around – the Beach Boys (Capitol), two weeks at #1; a gold record. The first song of theirs I owned is from a bizarre album called Big Hits From England & U.S.A., which I picked up from the Capitol Record Club. It was also when I first owned Can’t Buy Me Love; I had not yet purchased the A Hard Day’s Night soundtrack (United Artists) because it was too similar to the Capitol album Something New. It’s also how I got Peter and Gordon’s World Without Love.

Come See About Me – the Supremes (Motown), two weeks at #1, two weeks at #2 RB. 

Where Did Our Love Go – the Supremes (Motown), two weeks at #1, ditto on the RB charts. Their first #1. 

Do Wah Diddy Diddy – Manfred Mann (Ascot), two weeks at #1. Written by the legendary Barry and Greenwich

My Guy – Mary Wells (Motown), two weeks at #1, seven weeks at #1 RB. Smokey Robinson wrote this and the Temptations’ 1965 #1, My Girl.  

A Hard Day’s Night – The Beatles (Capitol), two weeks at #1, gold record. I never saw this movie until after Let It Be came out, and I saw all four films, including Help and Yellow Submarine, in one sitting.

Rag Doll – the 4 Seasons (Phillips), two weeks at #1, gold record.

A single week at #1

Hello, Dolly – Louis Armstrong (Kapp), nine weeks at #1 AC. The artist that broke The Beatles’ stranglehold on #1 in the charts. Written by Jerry Herman.

Mr. Lonely – Bobby Vinton (Epic). Also #3 AC. He had a #1 in January and this in December; I do not recall either.

Everybody Loves Somebody – Dean Martin (Reprise), eight weeks at #1 AC, gold record. Every time I hear this song, I feel a little inebriated.  

A World Without Love – Peter and Gordon (Capitol)

Ringo – Lorne Greene (RCA Victor), six weeks at #1 AC. A spoken word piece by the star of the NBC western series Bonanza that apparently had nothing to do with Richard Starkey.

Love Me Do – The Beatles (Tollie)

Leader Of The Pack – the Shangra-las (Red Bird), #8 RB. It was written by Barry, Greenwich, and Shadow Morton.

The obscure Supremes albums


Flo, Mary, Diana

I started thinking about the obscure Supremes albums partly because Diana Ross is turning 80 on March 26, and the late Mary Wilson would have turned 80 on March 6.

By obscure, I mean the albums that didn’t contain the hits. These recordings, at least early on, were designed to showcase the broad commercial range of the group. Yet some of the LPs did well.

I used to own many of them before they were stolen from my grandmother’s house c. 1972.

Meet The Supremes (1962) – this was obscure because they weren’t that popular yet. I didn’t buy it until after the reissue cover was used in 1965. Your Heart Belongs To Me. Did not chart pop or RB. 

Where Did Our Love Go (1964) – NOT obscure, as it had three #1 hits. #2 for four weeks pop, #1 RB.

A Bit of Liverpool (1964) – It contains five Lennon-McCartney songs. You Can’t Do That is probably the best. #21 pop, #5 RB.

The Supremes Sing Country, Western, and Pop (1965) I rather liked this one. It starts with Willie Nelson’s Funny How Time Slips Away. #79 pop. 

We Remember Sam Cooke (1965) – It’s one of the better-themed albums. (Ain’t That) Good News, with the late Florence Ballard on lead vocals.#75 pop, #5 RB.

More Hits by The Supremes (1965) – with two #1 hits, not obscure. #6 pop, ##2 for six weeks RB. 

Merry Christmas (1965) – I never owned this album, but tracks appeared on Motown compilation albums. Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Me. #6 Xmas


The Supremes at the Copa (1965) – a live album. “Playing the club was seen by Motown CEO Berry Gordy as an in-roads into the conservative white middle-America market.” It wasn’t my cuppa. Put on a Happy Face. #11 pop, #2 RB.

I Hear a Symphony (1966) – While a hit-laden album, it also contained standards such as Stranger In Paradise.

The Supremes A’ Go-Go (1966) – the album went to #1 pop for two weeks, the first album by an all-female group to reach number one on the Billboard 200 album charts. #1 for four weeks RB. 

The Supremes Sing Holland–Dozier–Holland (1967). – a silly title in that they sang a lot of H-D-H at the time. It contains two of my favorite non-hit tracks by the group, Remove This Doubt and Going Down For The Third Time. #6 pop, #1 for three weeks RB

The Supremes Sing Rodgers & Hart (1967) – When my albums were stolen, this one survived. Perhaps it was dropped. I learned to appreciate the composers’ work and its import because I initially heard those songs here. Mountain Greenery.#20 pop, #3 RB. 

Diana Ross and the…

At this point, Florence Ballard left the group, Cindy Birdsong joined, and Diana Ross got top billing.

Reflections (1968). #18 pop, #3 RB.

Diana Ross & the Supremes Sing and Perform “Funny Girl” (1968). This album, which I never owned, was a commercial failure.#150 pop, #45 RB.

Live at London’s Talk of the Town (1968) – released the same day as Funny Girl, with a combination of standards and Supremes hits. This is not THE recording of You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Loves You, but it has elements. #57  pop, #22 RB.

Diana Ross & the Supremes Join the Temptations (1968) – this worked, with a #2 hit. The first song is Try It, Baby, a Berry Gordy song originally performed by Marvin Gaye. #2 pop, #1 for four weeks RB. 

Love Child (1968) Increasingly, Mary and Cindy were supplanted by Motown session singers The Andantes. #14 pop, #3 RB.

Let the Sunshine In (1969) – the commercial and artistic decline. #24 pop, #7 RB.

Together (with The Temptations) (1969) – I own the LP, but nothing sticks out in my mind. #28 pop, #6 RB. 

Cream of the Crop (1969) – didn’t buy. #33 pop, #3 RB

G.I.T. on Broadway (1969) – a TV special with Temptation. Eh. #38 pop, #4 RB.

Farewell (1970) – the live farewell at a Las Vegas club, where Jean Terrell was introduced as Diana’s replacement as DR went solo. It’s a good place to stop. #46 pop, #31 RB.

Supremely sad: Mary Wilson, RIP

Support UNCF

Mary WilsonThe story goes that elementary school girls Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard entered a talent contest. By 1959, they became part of a group called the Primettes, along with a couple of other girls from the Detroit projects, Diane Ross and Betty McGlown. McGlown was replaced by Barbara Martin.

The group changed its name from the Primettes to the Supremes. Martin left, and they went forward as a trio. They were immediately…not very successful. A half dozen songs, none of which cracked the pop Top 40. They were the “no-hit Supremes.”

The group was offered a song the Marvelettes didn’t want, Where Did Our Love Go, written by Holland-Dozier-Holland. They were resistant to recording someone else’s rejects. It went to #1, as did several more tracks. They were the second most successful group on the singles charts in the 1960s.

And the Supremes were the epitome of style with appearances on the Ed Sullivan a dozen times, plus several other music shows. They were not just singers but role models, with their hair, makeup and outfits fastidiously tended to.

But Diana, who had changed her name at the beginning of their successful run, was now getting virtually all of the leads. Mary and Flo were doing a lot of background vocals, which got a bit boring.

By 1967, the billing changed to Diana Ross and the Supremes, to Flo’s dismay. Very long story short, Florence was replaced by Cindy Birdsong. But it was clear that Diana was considered the singular star.

Mary and Cindy didn’t even appear on seven later singles including I’m Livin’ in Shame, The Composer, and Someday We’ll Be Together, though, of course, they appeared on the live version of the latter.


Jean Terrell took Diana’s slot, but Mary got more chances to sing lead. And she kept the “new” Supremes together, with a rotating cast of members, until 1977.

After a series of legal wranglings, Mary Wilson became the keeper of the Supremes’ flame, writing four books with the word “Supreme” in the title. The one in 2019 was Supreme Glamour.

In 2003, she was “named a US cultural ambassador by the State Department, touring the world and talking to young people about the dangers of HIV and AIDS…

“The family asked that friends and fans support the United Negro College Fund or the Humpty Dumpty Institute. The latter group helps in landmine clearance projects around the world. Wilson… was a spokesperson for the group.”

Some songs

Mary Wilson sang or shared the lead on these, and a few others:

1962: Baby Don’t Go (from Meet The Supremes)
1965: It Makes No Difference Now (From The Supremes Sing Country, Western, and Pop)
1966: Come and Get These Memories  (from The Supremes A’ Go-Go)
1967 Falling in Love with Love (from The Supremes Sing Rodgers and Hart)
1969: Can’t Take My Eyes Off You (from Together -Diana Ross and the Supremes, and The Temptations)
1972: A Heart Like Mine  (from Floy Joy)
1972: I Keep It Hid  (from The Supremes, Produced and Arranged by Jimmy Webb)
1975: Early Morning Love (from The Supremes)
1975: You Turn Me Around (from The Supremes)
1976: Til The Boat Sails Away (from High Energy)

She was a March Pisces like I am, so I had a certain particular affection for her. Here’s my post from Mary’s 70th birthday in 2014, with links to more familiar Supremes fare.

Music throwback: When I turned 4 plus 10

Freddie Scott’s best showing on the POP charts was Hey Girl, a song written and composed by him, Gerry Goffin and Carole King

One of the those social media memes claims that the song that was #1 on birthday number 4 plus 10 defines your life. Well, that’s ominous.

If I go to the Billboard Hot 100, it gives me Love Is Here And Now You’re Gone by THE SUPREMES, #1 for just a week. Oh, thanks a lot.

But that’s for the week of March 11, because of the way they calculate these things. What about if I cheat and pick the week before, which actually runs through my natal day? That would be Ruby Tuesday by THE ROLLING STONES. At work, my on-the-phone day has been Tuesday for many years, so maybe that’s significant.

Hey, maybe I should look at the soul charts. (Sigh). Same sad SUPREMES song. But for the FOUR weeks before, there’s Are You Lonely For Me by Freddie Scott. I had heard it, but I don’t KNOW it like I recognize the others. Probably it’s because it only got to #39 on the pop charts.

His best showing on the POP charts was Hey Girl, a song written and composed by him, Gerry Goffin and Carole King, which went to #10 on both the pop and soul charts in 1963.

Not incidentally, the Billboard R&B charts were not published between November 30, 1963 and January 23, 1965, ostensibly because there was so much crossover, though the breakout of both the Beatles and Motown in 1964 would suggest otherwise.

Freddie Scott’s next two top 100 pop hits were I Got A Woman, #48 pop in 1963 and Where Does Love Go, #82 pop in 1964. They did get to #27 and #30 on the comparable Cash Box R&B charts.

The “correct” song on the country charts for me is The Fugitive by Merle Haggard. But the song that was #1 for two weeks before March 11 AND the two weeks afterwards is Where Does The Good Times Go by Buck Owens, not only a sad lyric, but ungrammatical to boot.

Listen to:

The Supremes – Love Is Here And Now You’re Gone
The Rolling Stones – Ruby Tuesday

Merle Haggard – The Fugitive
Buck Owens – Where Does The Good Times Go

Songs by Freddie Scott:
Hey Girl
Are You Lonely For Me Baby
I Got a Woman
Where Does Love Go

Chuck turned 14 in 1977. Poor Chuck.

Conversely, Dustbury was born correctly.

Music Throwback Saturday: Am I Asking Too Much

R Dean Taylor had an unlikely Motown hit of his own, Indiana Wants Me

Supremes.neverOne of the earlier compact discs I bought was The Never-Before-Released Masters by Diana Ross and the Supremes. It was definitely a mixed bag of songs from 1961 through 1969 that represented both major iterations of the group: Mary Wilson and Diana Ross with the late Florence Ballard, and after the group name change, with Cindy Birdsong.

Among other things, the album contains recordings for the unreleased album Diana Ross & The Supremes Sing Disney Classics, not my favorite section of the collection. And the cover of the Classics IV hit Stormy is unnecessary. I do enjoy some of the covers of other Motown artists.

My favorite song on the album is Am I Asking Too Much. It was written by R. Dean Taylor and Deke Richards, R Dean Taylor had an unlikely Motown hit of his own, Indiana Wants Me, #5 pop on the Billboard pop charts in 1970. Deke Richards died of esophageal cancer on March 24, 2013, at age 68.

The songwriting credits immediately suggested the Diana/Mary/Cindy period, since most of their earlier hits were by Holland/Dozier/Holland. Indeed, Taylor and Richards were co-writers on the #1 hit Love Child. Am I Asking Too Much was recorded on March 26, 1968, according to the Don’t Forget The Motor City website.

Listen to:

Am I Asking Too Much – Diana Ross and the Supremes HERE

Sweet Thing (William Robinson-Terry Johnson-Al Cleveland) – Diana Ross and the Supremes HERE or HERE

Indiana Wants Me – R. Dean Taylor HERE or HERE

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial