MIKE SMITH’S HOT HUNDRED UK HITS
1969 pretty much carried on from the previous year, again with few new acts of a long-lasting nature. However, from America we had the first hits from Glen Campbell, who had Country music leanings, and a penchant for songs written by Jimmy Webb. Two new American groups had hits in this year. Creedence Clearwater Revival, who specialised in the rhythms of the Mississippi Delta region, and Rock band Blood, Sweat & Tears, whose enormous success in the USA did not cross the Atlantic to any great extent. One of the big successes in 1969 was "Sugar Sugar" by the Archies, which was a cartoon group, so they didn't really exist! Marvin Gaye, who had several modest hits from 1964 finally hit the big time in the UK with a Number One and two further Top 10 entries in 1969. But perhaps the biggest news was the return of Elvis Presley who had four hits in this year, two of which reached number two! This started a consistent run of hits in the 1970s until his untimely death in 1977.
British artist and future superstar, David Bowie, had his debut hit in 1969. Peter Sarstedt, the brother of early 1960s hit maker Eden Kane, scored a couple of Top 10 hits in this year, but he was unable to sustain the success. Northern Ireland brought us the voice of Clodagh Rodgers, who enjoyed several hits from 1969 to 1971. Cliff Richard had four hits in 1969, two of which reached the Top 10, completing his achievement of having Top 10 hits in every year during the 1960s. Groups the Hollies, the Tremeloes, the Bee Gees and Herman's Hermits all had chart hits, whilst Manfred Mann had a final Top 10 entry before calling it a day at the end of the year. The Rolling Stones continued to be very sparing with their single releases, having just one in this year, although it was a chart-topper. The Beatles had their final two Number One hits, before breaking up in the following year. Solo performers Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck, Cilla Black and Lulu all enjoyed chart success in this year.
These are my personal favourite recordings from this particular year, listed in the order in which they entered the UK hit singles chart. You may not agree with my choices, but these were UK chart hits that had plenty of air play on the music radio stations of the day, such as BBC Radio 1 and Radio Luxembourg.
Title: You Got Soul
Johnny Nash was
born on 19 Aug 1940 in Houston, Texas, USA. He started
recording in the latter part of the 1950s, releasing his debut album
in 1958. He issued numerous albums and singles over the next
decade, with modest success in the USA. He travelled to
Jamaica in early 1968, and was impressed by the local Reggae music
(sometimes known as Rocksteady at that time). Nash actually
recorded a couple of songs whilst there, and the trip inspired him to
write his first UK hit "Hold Me Tight" which had a
Rocksteady (Reggae) beat. This led to a series of UK hits
through to the mid-1970s, including his Number One "Tears On My
Pillow" in 1975. He was still recording in the 2000s.
Title: Dancing In The Street
& The Vandellas was an American girl group, who found fame when
they signed with Tamla Motown records in 1962. Martha Reeves,
born 18 Jul 1941 in Alabama, USA, joined an existing group and began
making records, although none were successful. Once signed to
Tamla Motown, they changed the group name and began by backing other
singers. They had their first American Top 10 hits from 1963, but those
recordings failed in the UK. Their recording of "Dancing
In The Street" reached number two in the USA charts during
1964, which was the group's first UK hit, peaking at number
28. However, when the single was reissued in 1969, it rose to
number four in the British charts. Unfortunately further
releases were were less successful, and disagreements within
the group resulted in them splitting up in 1973.
Title: I Guess I'll Always Love You
Brothers are a Soul and R&B group from Cincinnati, Ohio,
USA. They began by singing Gospel music, but moved to New York
City in 1957 and began recording R&B tracks. In 1959 they
had a moderate hit with their song "Shout", which was
later a hit for Lulu. They first appeared in the UK charts in
1963 with "Twist And Shout", although it was only a minor
hit for them. "This Old Heart Of Mine" first charted
in 1966, when it peaked at number 47. However, it became a
number three hit two years later. By the time of this hit the
Isley brothers were: Ronald, Rudolph, O'Kelly, plus Chris
Jasper. During the 1970s and early 1980s they enjoyed enormous
success in the USA and elsewhere, during which period they were
joined by Marvin Isley and Ernie Isley. In 1984,
however, Chris Jasper and Marvin left the band which was dissolved.
reformed in 1991, with Ronald, Ernie, and Marvin. In 1996
Marvin left due to ill health, leaving Ronald and Ernie as a
duo, and the pair have continued performing until the present time.
Title: Soul Sister, Brown Sugar
Sam & Dave
were Sam Moore, born 12 Oct 1935 in Florida, USA, and Dave Prater, 9
May 1937 - 9 Apr 1988, born in Georgia, USA. They became the
most successful Soul music duo, performing together from 1961 to
1981. They were both originally
Gospel singers, but met when they were performing R&B/Soul
songs in the same club at Miami, Florida. They made some
records early on, but it was in 1964 when they recorded for the famous Stax record
company in Memphis, Tennessee that their
act took off. They had numerous hits on the American R&B
charts, but their biggest hit was "Soul Man" which reached
number two on the American Pop charts. They toured the USA and
Europe during the late 1960s, and continued recording until 1981,
when artistic differences resulted in them going their separate
ways. Prater died in 1988, but Moore has continued solo, and
performed in London during 2017.
Title: (If Paradise Is) Half As Nice
Amen Corner was formed in Cardiff, Wales in 1966. The lead singer and front man was Andy Fairweather Low (born 2 Aug 1948 in south Wales). They gained a recording contract with Decca's Deram label and had a couple of small hits in 1967. In 1968 they scored with a cover of the American hit "Bend Me, Shape Me". This started a run of Top 10 hits until mid 1969 when the band broke up. Low quickly formed a new band called Fair Weather which had one Top 10 hit in 1970. Low then embarked upon a solo career, and he enjoyed a couple of Top 10 hits in the mid-1970s. Low has continued performing into the 2010s.
Title: Move In A Little Closer
was a short-lived British pop group formed in Essex, England in
1968. The nucleus of the band was taken from Tony Rivers &
The Castaways. Tony Rivers (born 21 Dec 1940, County Durham,
England) was the leader of this group too. They recorded this
debut single and one album. The single was a modest hit, but
the album did not reach the album chart. They had no more
hits, and they broke up in 1970. Tony Rivers became a session
singer, and appeared on several hit singles for a variety of
artists. During most of the 1970s and the whole of the 1980s
Rivers was a backing singer for Cliff Richard, appearing on Cliff's
recordings, and joining him on world concert tours. He was
still working as a backing singer in the early 2000s.
Title: Wichita Lineman
Glen Campbell (22 Apr 1936 - 8 Aug 2017)
was born in Arkansas, USA. He was the son of a poor farmer,
but he was taught to play guitar at a young age by his uncle.
At the age of 17 he joined his uncle's band, and performed at local
venues. A year later he formed his own band. In 1960 he
moved to Los Angeles to become a session musician. He worked
on the hit recording of many stars of the time, and by 1965 he was
making records of his own. His first substantial hit came in
1967, the year that also gave us "By The Time I Get To Phoenix"
(written by Jimmy Webb) which was a Top 30 hit in the USA, although
it did not reach the charts in the UK. He finally entered the
British charts in 1969 with another Jimmy Webb song, "Wichita
Lineman". This started a run of successful singles and
albums in the USA and UK for several decades. Sadly he was
diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2011. He decided to go
on a final world concert tour in 2012, and to record his final
album. He died in Nashville, Tennessee, USA at the age of 81.
Title: I'm Gonna Make You Love Me
The Supremes was
trio, at the time of this recording, comprising Diana Ross (lead singer, born 26 Mar 1944),
Cindy Birdsong and Mary
Wilson. They became so successful in the USA that their
first six releases went to Number One, and they ended up
with eleven chart-toppers there by 1969. In the UK they only
had one Number One, "Baby Love" (1964, song 89), but amassed 18
hits by the end of the 1960s, seven of which reached the Top
10. In 1970 Diana Ross
left to pursue a solo career. She was replaced by Jean
Terrell, and this version of the trio enjoyed success, with five of their
recordings hitting the UK Top 10 from 1970 to 1972. They remained a popular live act,
continuing to 1977, when they performed their farewell
concert (in London), and then disbanded.
Title: Gentle On My Mind
Dean Martin (7
Jun 1917 - 25 Dec 1995) was born in Ohio, USA into an Italian
immigrant family. In his late teens he began singing with
local dance bands. It was in the early 1940s that he changed
his name to Dean Martin, then after world war two he teamed up with
comedian Jerry Lewis, and they performed as a singing-comedy duo.
His recording career began in 1948, and his first chart entry in the
UK came in 1953, followed by a succession of hits during the 1950s.
In 1965, Martin launched the weekly Dean Martin Show on American TV,
which ran until 1974. By this time he was a major
international star with numerous films under his belt as well.
He became part of the so-called 'rat pack' along with Frank Sinatra
and Sammy Davis Jr. The three frequently performed together in
Las Vegas and they starred in the movie "Ocean's 11" in
1960. He continued performing in cabaret until the end of the
1980s, and died from lung cancer in 1995 at the age of 78.
Title: Where Do You Go To My Lovely
(10 Dec 1941 - 8 Jan 2017) was born in Delhi, India, whilst his
British parents were working for the civil service in that
country. The family returned to the UK in 1954, settling in
south London. He formed a family Skiffle group in the late
1950s, but he had little success until his song "Where Do You
Go To My Lovely" became a big hit in 1969. He had a Top
10 follow-up single (song 49) in June 1969, but he had no further
hit singles, although he did have a Top 10 album in March
1969. He continued to perform and in the 1980s and 1990s he
toured in sixties nostalgia shows. He also continued to record
and his final album was released in 2013. He became unwell in
2013 and he spent his final years in a retirement home. He
died in 2017 at the age of 75.
Title: The Way It Used To Be
Humperdinck was born on 2 May 1936 in Madras, India to British
parents while his father was serving in the British army in that
country. They all returned to England in 1946 where he
completed his schooling. He began singing in his late teens
using the stage name Gerry Dorsey, and had the opportunity to start
recording in 1958, but none of his output reached the charts.
In 1965 he changed management to Gordon Mills who was Tom Jones'
manager. Mills suggested changing his name to that of a 19th
century German composer. So as
Engelbert Humperdinck, he started a
new career. His breakthrough came in 1967, when having
recorded "Release Me", he was able to perform the song on
the popular TV show "Sunday Night At The London
Palladium", standing in for the unwell Dickie Valentine.
This instantly changed his life. The record climbed to Number
One in the UK charts, remaining on the charts for an amazing 56
weeks, and keeping the Beatles off the top spot in March 1967.
Two more major hits followed in the same year, and by the end he had
the top three best-selling singles of 1967. Success continued
through the following decades, and from the mid-1970s onwards he
spent a great deal of time performing in the USA, much of it in Las
Vegas. He has continued to perform and record into the 21st
century, giving concerts in most parts of the world. An album
celebrating his 50 years in the charts was released in 2017, which
reached number five in the UK album chart. He splits his time
between homes in Leicestershire, England and Los Angeles,
Title: Surround Yourself With Sorrow
Cilla Black (27 May 1943 - 1 Aug 2015) was born in Liverpool and
joined the Merseybeat scene along with the many groups coming from that city in 1963, although she remained a solo
performer. She got a job in the Cavern Club in the early 1960s, where the Beatles and others were performing
and soon was able to get singing jobs in different venues in Liverpool. John Lennon introduced her to the
Beatles manager Brian Epstein, who duly signed her up and arranged a recording contract with EMI and producer George
Martin. Her first release peaked at a rather modest number 35 in the UK charts during autumn 1963.
However, her next two releases both went to Number One, and she enjoyed several Top 10 hits throughout the 1960s.
In 1968 she began a TV variety show called "Cilla", which ran for eight series until 1976. In the 1980s
and 1990s she was a TV game show host, and became one of the most popular personalities of the era. She died
following a fall at her holiday home in Spain, aged 72.
On 16 January 2017 a bronze statue of Cilla Black was unveiled on Mathew Street in Liverpool,
outside the entrance of the Cavern Club where Black was discovered.
Title: I Heard It Through The Grapevine
Marvin Gaye (2
Apr 1939 - 1 Apr 1984) was born in Washington DC, USA. He
joined a Doo-Wop group whilst still at high school, but in 1960 he
moved to Detroit, and having been seen singing by Barry Gordy Jr, he
was signed to Gordy's record label Tamla Motown. He had a few
smallish hits in the USA from 1962, and his first British hit came
in 1964, although it only just entered the Top 50. His early
successes were duets with female performers - first with Mary Wells,
then with Kim Weston, and later with Tammi Terrell. He is
probably best remembered for his 1970s and 1980s hits which often
contained social commentary and civil rights messages. Gaye
was shot dead by his own father, when Gaye was just 44 and arguably
at the peak of his career.
MORE TO COME
Acts with most appearances in this list:
Composers with most appearances in this list:
John Lennon & Paul McCartney:
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