The Golden Age of Rock Turns 50, 1969 by Rich Paschall
It’s the golden anniversary of some of the best rock and roll of all time and you are invited to join the party. We’ve got the turntable ready, the records are already stacked up, and we have set the machine to 45 revolutions per minute. If you have a “Way back” machine, you can join Sherman and Mr.Peabody at your school’s 1969 sock hop. If not, we will spin some hits for you. You have waited eagerly for my top 20 and I know you will enjoy them.
The top song of 1969 was the “bubblegum” hit, “Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies. They did not come any sweeter. Also in the top 10 was “Dizzy” by Tommy Roe. These songs were in heavy rotation on the pop music stations. In other words, they were playing all the time. People became dizzy from hearing “Sugar, Sugar” a dozen times a day.
The Beatles were nearing the end of their Long and Winding Road but they still were topping the charts: “Get Back,” “Something,” “Come Together.” The Rolling Stones, Elvis, Marvin Gaye, The Fifth Dimension, The Temptations, Sly and the Family Stone were all having Hot Fun in the Summertime.
Chicago the band released its first album, Chicago Transit Authority, a double album that went “platinum.” The group was nominated for a Grammy as best new artists.
It was a good year to cover songs from the musical, “Hair.” “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” “Hair,” “Easy to be Hard,” “Good Morning, Starshine,” all became hits for different bands.
If you are quite ready to Shimmy, Shake and Twist, we can put the needle down on my top twenty. You can add in the comments any of your favorites from 1969 that I missed.
20. Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In. The Fifth Dimension scored the number 2 hit of the year on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles of 1969.
19. I Heard It Through The Grapevine. Forget those dancing raisins. Enjoy the original from Marvin Gaye.
18. Easy To Be Hard. One of the many songs from the Broadway musical, Hair, to present a social message. This cover is by Three Dog Night.
17. Hurt So Bad. The Lettermen covered the 1965 hit by Little Anthony and the Imperials to great success of their own.
16. Traces. The Classics IV hit was released in January and reached number 2. It could not knock “Dizzy” out of the top spot.
15. Hooked On A Feeling. The song was released in late 1968. The B.J. Thomas hit reached number 5 in early 1969.
13. This Magic Moment. Jay and the Americans had a hit with a cover of The Drifters’ song.
12. Touch Me. The Doors’ hit was released in December 1968 and climbed the charts in early 1969.
11. Spinning Wheel. The era of rock with horns was underway and Blood, Sweat and Tears scored with this one.
10. Crimson and Clover. I never really knew what it meant, but then neither did Tommy James and the Shondells. It was just something that sounded cool together to James. The song was released late in 1968 and reached number 1 by February 1969. It represented a shift to a more psychedelic sound.
9. Build Me Up, Buttercup. The British pop and soul band, The Foundations, had a big hit with this late 1968 release. By early 1969 it had climbed the charts to number 3 in the US, 2 in the UK and number 1 in Australia. It was pop fluff, but I liked it.
8. What Does It Take (To Win You Love). Motown initially rejected this Junior Walker and the All-Stars song for single release. Its popularity on radio brought a 1969 release, and it became one of their most popular songs.
7. One. This song was written and recorded by Harry Nilsson and released in 1968, but it was the 1969 recording by Three Dog Night that became a hit. It was their first gold record.
6. Hot Fun in the Summertime. This summertime favorite by Sly and the Family Stone made it to number two on the charts. The Temptations “I Can’t Get Next To You” was holding down number 1.
5. Get Together. The Youngbloods recorded the song in 1966 and it was released in 1967 without much success. After use in a radio public service announcement, the song was re-released in June 1969 and became a hit.
4. Proud Mary. John Fogerty wrote the song for his band Creedence Clearwater Revival. It made it to number 2 in March of 1969. Two years later Ike and Tina Turner had a huge hit with a different arrangement of the song.
3. Get Back. The Beatles song featured Billy Preston on piano. The single was released in stereo, unusual for a single then. The song hit number 1 in many countries. “Don’t Let Me Down” was on the B side.
2. Honky Tonk Women. Recorded by The Rolling Stones in June 1969 and released as a single the following month, this became one of the band’s biggest hits and a concert favorite. The song starts out with cowbell!
1. Crystal Blue Persuasion. While “Crimson and Clover” was a bigger hit for the group that same year, I like this one better. Tommy James stated in a 1985 interview, “it’s my favorite of all my songs.” At the time, many thought it was a song about drugs. Actually, James had brought together ideas he had read in several Bible verses, leading to the idea that some day (Book of Revelations) “They’ll be peace and good brotherhood.”
Click on any song title for the music video, or listen to the entire playlist by clicking here.
Many of the informational tidbits came from Wikipedia or from interviews with the artist as shown on You Tube.
See also: “Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1969,” From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.