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Top Music Hits - the 60's

Updated on August 19, 2015


Top Music Hits of the 60's was easily the most recognizable and downloaded segment of music in modern times. When the decade of the 50's came to a close there was a great change in popular music. Some of the "Doo Wop" tunes continued, but we began to see more female groups. Many of them, like the Ronettes used Phil Spector's unique "Wall of Sound" in the recording studio. Surf music hit the airwaves, Chubby Checkers taught us how to do the twist and Elvis was still riding high, but he saw some huge competition when the Beatles came to the United States and the British Invasion began.

The Early 60's had some colorful songs like "Alley Oop" (from the weekly comic strip), and unforgettable tunes like "Cathy's Clown" by the Everly Brothers and "Georgia On My Mind" by a young Ray Charles.

I was a very young child but I remember the DJ's from WABC, Cousin Brucie, Dan Ingram and Harry Harrison introducing many great pop tunes from that early pre-Beatle era. Some of these tunes were "Traveling Man" in 1961 by Ricky Nelson, who was the son of two famous TV parents "Ozzie and Harriet". That year, another beautiful tune "Runaway" was performed by Del Shannon.

Many of my favorite tunes from the early 60's were performed by female artists. Little Peggy March had a number 1 hit at the age of 15 with "I Will Follow Him", and Lesley Gore was 16 when she sang "It's my Party". Both of these songs had memorable choruses and melodies. The Angels sang "My Boyfriends Back" and The Shirelles performed "Soldier Boy" and "Will you Still Love Me Tomorrow" flawlessly. The Crystals sang "He's A Rebel" and he'll never ever be any good and Little Eva did the very first version of "Loco-Motion". The Shangri-Las did "Leader of the Pack". The Ronette's (featuring the unforgettable voice of Ronnie Spector) performed "Be My Baby". We all have songs that bring back the memories from our childhood more clearly than others. The single song that pulls on my heartstrings and transports me back to this early sound on the radio was "He's So Fine" by the Chiffons in 1963. It is very amusing to me that I originally thought the name of the song was "Doo Lang" until about 5 years later. That song was the first number one hit I can remember enjoying thoroughly and it was mainly due to the wonderful combination of vocal talent by the ladies in the group. The Chiffons were Judy Craig (lead singer), Patricia Bennett, Barbara Lee, and Rita Haynes. Sylvia Peterson was added to the group in 1963 To this day, "He's So Fine or "Doo Lang Doo lang Doo lang" (LOL), reminds me of everything I loved about 1963: Being at summer camp in New Hamshire, watching baseball and visiting Jones Beach.

Before Beatlemania and the British Invasion arrived there were 4 lads from New Jersey who made the early 60's one of the most harmonious eras in the history of music. Franki Valli and the Four Seasons had an effect on me that the Chiffons did a year earlier. They increased my love for this early pop music, and kept me glued to the radio. The Four Seasons had the most wonderful collection of melodies and harmonies played on the airwaves. I enjoyed so many tunes by them that I'll try to keep the list short. My favorites are "Rag Doll", "Walk Like a Man", "Let's Hang On", "Dawn", "Tell it To the Rain", "Opus 17", "Bye Bye Baby", "Workin' My Way Back to You" and an earlier tune performed by Frank Sinatra, "I've Got You Under My Skin".

Another great wave of popular music that originated in Detroit was the Motown sound. It was a style of soul music with a distinct pop influence. Berry Gordy was the founder, and this period spanned 1959-1972. In the 1960s (from 1961 to 1970), Motown had 110 Top Ten hits, performed by artists such as Stevie Wonder , Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Four Tops, The Jackson 5, the Temptations Martha and the Vandellas, the Spinners, Jr. Walker & the All Stars and Gladys Knight & the Pips.

Once Again it is very difficult to include all of my favorite Motown hits but I will give a shortened list here. "My World is Empty Without You", "Stop! In The Name of Love" and "Reflections" by Diana Ross and the Supremes. "Bernadette", "Reach Out - I'll Be There", "Standing in the Shadows of Love" by the Four Tops and "The Way You Do the Things You Do", "Ball Of Confusion" and "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" by the Temptations are some of the top hits from this enormous influx of music.

Finally, 1964 arrived, with the Beatles appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show and the wave of British talent coming to the U.S shores, which was known as the British Invasion commenced.

The classic British Invasion period was 1964 to 1967 (roughly bracketed by The Beatles' appearance on Ed Sullivan and the emergence of Jimi Hendrix as a U.S.-born superstar who had his first success in the UK), but the term has also been applied to later "waves" of UK artists that had significant impact on the North American entertainment market.

Though generally not credited with starting the "British Invasion," Dusty Springfield was one of the first British artists to have significant success in the U.S., with her hit single "I Only Want To Be With You," released in November 1963. She appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in early 1964 singing the popular hit, and continued to have several U.S. hits through the rest of the decade. A number of songs by British artists reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Beatles' breakthrough in America (starting with the success of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" in early January 1964) triggered a large wave of British artists who succeeded in the U.S. in their wake.

A list of these artists included:

From London The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, The Who, The Pretty Things, Dusty Springfield, Cream, Petula Clark, The Dave Clark Five, Peter and Gordon, Chad and Jeremy, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, and Manfred Mann. Manchester had The Hollies, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, Freddie and the Dreamers, Davy Jones of The Monkees, and Herman's Hermits; Newcastle was home to The Animals; and Birmingham had The Spencer Davis Group (featuring Steve Winwood) and The Moody Blues. Bands sprang up from Belfast (Them, with frontman Van Morrison), to St Albans (The Zombies), to Essex (The Tremeloes). One other group worthy of particular note is the Liverpool Five,originally from London.

I give a more complete list of my favorite tunes from this era in Best Classic Rock Songs

The Beach Boys and Jan and Dean had a monopoly on the fast car and surfing music of the 60s with songs like "409", "Surfin Safari", "I Get Around", "Good Vibrations", "Surf City" and "The Little Old Lady from Pasadena".

Other popular groups and solo artists during this period that sprouted up in the middle and towards the end of the 60s were:

The Turtles - "Happy Together" and "She'd Rather Be With Me"

Tommy James and the Shondells - "Crimson and Clover", "Hanky Panky"

Gary Lewis and the Playboys (son of Jerry Lewis) - "This Diamond Ring"

Sonny and Cher - "I Got You Babe"

The Troggs - "Wild Thing" ( made famous in the movie "Major League")

The Righteous Brothers - "You've Lost that Lovin' Feeling" (later on performed by another blue eyed soul combo - Hall and Oates) and "Soul and Inspiration"

The Mamas and the Papas - "Monday Monday"

Simon and Garfunkel - "the Sounds of Silence" and "Mrs. Robinson"

The Young Rascals - "Groovin'" and "People Got to Be Free"

Aretha Franklin - "Respect"

The Box Tops - "the Letter"

Lulu - "To Sir With Love (title song of the Sidney Poitier movie by the same name)

The Association - "Windy" and "Cherish"

Otis Redding - "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay"

The Fifth Dimension (with the distinct vocals of Marilyn McCoo) - "Aquarius"

Tommy Roe - "Dizzy"

Sly and the Family Stone - "Everyday People"

This is the tip of the iceberg of the vast collection of Top Music Hits of the 60s which consisted of Doo Wop, pop, soul and the early stages of Classic Rock Music.

The Four Seasons (Rag Doll)

Dusty Springfield

The Dave Clark 5

The Chiffons

The Ronettes


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    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      6 years ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      I can not hear that Dave Clark 5 number without thinking of Dirty Dancing with Patrick Swayze and "Baby" dancing. So cool. I grew up with these songs. What a great trip back in time. Loved it.

    • hglick profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Ronkonkoma, NY

      Dan , Yes you may

    • profile image

      Dan Wargo 

      7 years ago

      5-6-12 May I add your web address to a set of Links for my website? I have a public radio music show of (now) 123 hour long programs...'The Stone Age'...which I produce and give to stations free.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      The best music ever came from the 60's. Even though I was born in 1961 all I remember was hearing all those great songs as a little kid. The 60's were a time of change in this country and the music brought it all together.

    • profile image

      8 years ago

      guess what else i'm eleven and think they rock plus i not only look like paul but sing like him and i am aah girl ahhh girl girl

    • profile image

      8 years ago

      the beatles kick ass! i love them especially paul yeah,yeah,yeah!i sing them really well and i look like paul,so haaaaaahaaaaaaahaaaaa!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Long live the 60's Love your site,let keep it alive

    • JasonPLittleton profile image


      8 years ago

      I appreciate this one, very cool topic.

    • profile image

      dougsdicky@hotmail 'com 

      8 years ago

      Top show -- If you dont like -- SORRY i did

    • hglick profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Ronkonkoma, NY

      Thanks Fastfreta. I'll check your hub out.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 

      8 years ago from Southern California

      I like this hub. I just linked it to my new one.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I'm a huge fan of Small Faces - I just heard about this new original DVD series:

    • hglick profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Ronkonkoma, NY

      Yep Jim I loved the Ventures "Walk Don't Run"

      Steve, those were classic rock bands. The Kinks "You Really Got Me" was redone by Van Halen

      Alex, I luuuuved Dusty Springfield!!

      Paul, Herman's Hermits were a great British Invasion group. I loved, a not so famous song by them called "No Milk Today"

    • profile image

      Paul Adams 

      9 years ago

      Hey does anyone like Herman's Hermits?

    • profile image

      Alex Cruz 

      9 years ago

      Since you guys are talking about 60's music - you gotta see this very cool series on Dusty Springfield and some other top groups of the 60's -

    • Steve 3.0 profile image

      Steve 3.0 

      9 years ago from Cornwall UK

      The 60's were a bit before my time but I like lots of the music from the big groups of the era as well as the Hollies, the Kinks and the Byrds. So much of this music has heavily influenced some of the modern groups.

    • profile image

      Jim Harris 

      9 years ago

      And some great instrumentals during that time, too. I remember Duane Eddy, the Ventures, Boots Randolph, Floyd Cramer and of course Chet Atkins.

    • hglick profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Ronkonkoma, NY

      pastella, I believe that "Baby come Back" was by Player

      and "Build Me Up ButterCup" was by the Foundations

    • profile image


      9 years ago


      I was just a girl in the '60s and my brother was 11 years older. He bought me my first single called "Baby Come Back" and although I can still remember how it goes, I can't remember who it was by. It's the same with "Build Me Up Buttercup". I just can't remember. I know he bought me an LP from Amen Corner as well.

      I love anything by Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. Absolutely brilliant.

    • quicksand profile image


      10 years ago

      Living doll was by Cliff. :)

    • hglick profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Ronkonkoma, NY

      SistasExpress Thank You for the nice words

      Quicksand - Jailhouse Rock was by Elvis

      but Living Doll , I'm not sure If you're talking about the Cliff Richard tune or not

    • quicksand profile image


      10 years ago

      It was in the late sixties that I started off, with Jailhouse Rock, Living Doll, and stuff like that! :)

    • hglick profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Ronkonkoma, NY

      Harvey TY for your comments. I was in fact born in the Bronx but raised on Long Island. I do enjoy Dion as well as a few other 50's Doo Wop groups.

    • Harvey Stelman profile image

      Harvey Stelman 

      10 years ago from Illinois

      I enjoyed your Hub, it brought me back a ways. N.Y, not from the Bronx, are you? In a few bands I sang many of those great songs. My favorite was Dion, maybe because my crowds liked the way I sang his songs best.

    • SistasExpress profile image


      10 years ago from Chicago

      Girl! You have found the right stuff, here! I love this blog! I am sure I will be listening more.

    • Christoph Reilly profile image

      Christoph Reilly 

      10 years ago from St. Louis

      A very comprehensive list and some great videos singing backup!

    • Charia Samher profile image

      Charia Samher 

      10 years ago

      Music of the 60's has a danceable melody. Very nice to listen to.

    • Lisa HW profile image

      Lisa HW 

      10 years ago from Massachusetts

      Really comprehensive Hub, hglick. It was like taking the proverbial "walk down memory lane" (although my "memory lane" doesn't stretch quite as far back as your Hub takes readers). That, though, is what your makes Hub that much more informative. :)

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      old songs are so nice unlike the songs are so ver rock

    • midnightbliss profile image

      Haydee Anderson 

      10 years ago from Hermosa Beach

      60's has nice music, I can hear my aunt listens to it evry weekens on our local radio station.

    • Britneys Fan Club profile image

      Britneys Fan Club 

      10 years ago

      Hi there Yeah music makes my world go round its what i need every day to lift up my mood and soul :))

      played the guitar many years

      like your hub its very informativ

      pls come by visit my music hub as well

      greetz c ya soon ;)

    • hglick profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Ronkonkoma, NY

      My apologies to those of You who left comments here. I greatly appreciated all of your thoughts.

      I accidently deleted the comment block


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