The TOP TEN Songs THIS WEEK in 1961
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This week in 1961, President John F. Kennedy, elected this past November, will take the oath of office (on January 20th). The top prime time TV shows are “Wagon Train,” “Bonanza,” “Gunsmoke,” “Hazel” and “Perry Mason.” In mid January of 1961, these are the tunes we were listening to on our favorite Top 40 Rock ‘n’ Roll AM radio stations (such as KFWB “Color Radio” Channel 98 in Los Angeles or KFXM 590 in the Inland Empire! (last week’s position in brackets)
1. Wonderland By Night/[lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Bert Kaempfert[/lastfm] (1) — an instrumental hit that was on top of the charts for three weeks. This week is its second on top.
2. Are You Lonesome Tonight?/[lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Elvis Presley [/lastfm](2) — “The King” was just huge at this time, and we mean HUGE!!! This tune was #1 for SIX WEEKS and is still in the runner-up spot for the 2nd week in a row. Elvis’ follow-up song will be “Surrender” and hit the charts late next month. It will also reach #1 for a two week stay in early spring.
3. Exodus/[lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Ferrante and Teicher[/lastfm] (3) — another instrumental tune, this will peak at #2 and hang out in the top ten until late February!
4. Will You Love Me Tomorrow?/[lastfm link_type="artist_info"]The Shirelles[/lastfm] (5) — this will stall at #4 again next week but hit the top spot the week after. It will stay at #1 for two weeks and end up being the group’s 2nd biggest hit behind “Soldier Boy.” This was written in the famous “Brill Building” in New York City by the equally famous songwriting duo [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Carole King[/lastfm] and Gerry Goffin (husband and wife at the time). King-Goffin wrote a great number of huge hits in the 60’s.
5. Calcutta/[lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Lawrence Welk[/lastfm] (13) — there are THREE instrumentals in the Top 5 this week! This was Lawrence Welk’s BIGGEST record by far! It will reach #1 on February 13th and stay for two weeks. Note: NEXT WEEK, the top three selling 45rpm records in the country will all be instrumentals; “Wonderland By Night,” “Exodus” and “Calcutta.”
6. Angel Baby/[lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Rosie & the Originals[/lastfm] (7) — this will peak at #5 next week. Rosie Hamlin and the Originals were from San Diego. This would be their only hit.
7. Rubber Ball/[lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Bobby Vee[/lastfm] (6) — Bobby (Robert Velline) was born in Fargo, North Dakota. He had his first big hit late last year (1960) with “Devil Or Angel.” Bobby was one of the biggest solo male vocalists of the early 60’s. As with many American artists, he faded off the Top 40 charts in 1964 when the British Invasion hit our shores. He would return to the Top 3, however, in the summer of 1967 with his final smash, “Come Back When You Grow Up.”
8. Last Date/[lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Floyd Cramer [/lastfm](4) — yet ANOTHER instrumental hit in the Top 10 this week. Before becoming a name act in his own right, Floyd was one of the busiest session musicians in the industry, playing piano for such stars as[lastfm link_type="artist_info"] Elvis Presley[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Patsy Cline[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Brenda Lee[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]The Everly Brothers[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Roy Orbison [/lastfm]and many others!
9. Corinna, Corinna/[lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Ray Peterson[/lastfm] (9) — in its peak position this week, Ray sang one of the hits in the “Tragic Tune” genre last year; “Tell Laura I Love Her.” That was about a guy who tried to raise money to buy Laura a wedding ring by entering a stock car race to get the thousand dollar prize, but, wouldn’t you know, he crashed his car during the race and met an unfortunate end when the car exploded into flames. Silly boy. He should’ve known racing stock cars was not for the novice driver. What you won’t do for love (thank you, [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Bobby Caldwell[/lastfm]!). Corinna, Corinna was a much tamer song, simply about love (though Corinna was way across the sea. Seems the guy just couldn’t catch a break…always something….)
10. North To Alaska/[lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Johnny Horton [/lastfm](8) — speaking of tragic, Johnny was killed in a car crash late last year (’60). Johnny was having premonitions that he would die at the hands of a drunk driver. Sure enough, at 2am in the early morning of November 5th, 1960, near Milano, Texas, Johnny and a passenger were crossing a bridge when an out of control truck coming the other way hit Johnny’s car head-on. Johnny was killed. The driver of the truck was uninjured…..and….intoxicated.