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by Matthew Dixon
We've managed to go through a whole three years of the 1960s now without mentioning what must surely be the most famous 1960s act - The Beatles. We can amend that here and now by saying that at the end of 1962, "Love Me Do" became their first hit, and in 1963 it peaked at No. 17. We'll get back to them later.
The first number one of 1963 was one of Cliff's many chart toppers, "The Next Time / Bachelor Boy". It managed three weeks at the top of the chart - toppled by his backing band, the Shadows who within one week were toppled by the first of two more songs to spend three weeks at the top of the chart - those being "Diamonds" by Jet Harris and Tony Meehan and "Wayward Wind" by Frank Ifield. The last of these denied the Beatles second hit "Please Please Me" from topping the chart - it was in fact Cliff's next hit that knocked Frank off the top - that hit being the legendary "Summer Holiday", which was rather oddly released at the start of March!
Amongst the hits to never make the top at this time were the Springfields' "Island Of Dreams" and the Bachelors "Charmaine". Yet again Cliff was toppled by the Shadows, and yet again they were toppled after just one week, but this time it was for a return to the top of the charts for Cliff.
If you were to ask someone who the first band from Liverpool were to top the charts and said that it happened in 1963, most people would say the Beatles. However, they were beaten by Gerry and the Pacemakers. "How Do You Do It" was the first of three massive chart toppers from the group. It was to be three weeks later before the Beatles topped the chart, knocking Gerry and the Pacemakers off the summit with "From Me To You". It managed an amazing seven weeks at No. 1, properly starting Beatlemania. By that time, Gerry and the Pacemakers were back to the top of the chart, with their second hit "I Like It". That managed four weeks at the top.
With the two bands dominating for over a quarter of the year here alone, many big hits failed to top the chart. These included Ned Miller's "From A Jack To A King", Roy Orbison's "In Dreams", Wink Martindale's "Deck Of Cards", the Shadows' "Atlantis", Ray Charles's "Take These Chains From My Heart" and Andy Williams's "Can't Get Used To Losing You". Frank Ifield managed two weeks at the top with "Confessin'" as part of a run that puts the song as the best charting hit of 1963 not to be performed by the Beatles.
After one of Elvis's lesser charting No. 1s ("Devil In Disguise") there were No. 1s from the Searchers ("Sweets For My Sweet") and Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas ("Bad To Me"). Many really famous hits never got close to topping the chart at this time, including the Crystals' "Da Doo Ron Ron", Brian Poole and the Tremeloes' "Twist and Shout" and the Beach Boys' "Surfin' USA".
Cliff Richard's "It's All In The Game", The Crystals' "Then He Kissed Me", Trini Lopez's "If I Had A Hammer" and Roy Orbison's "Blue Bayou / Mean Woman Blues" had no hope of topping the chart. Why? Arguably the ultimate time in music history for quality music occurred. The Beatles released "She Loves You". It topped the chart for four weeks, until Brian Poole and the Tremeloes came along with "Do You Love Me", another 1960s classic. Gerry and the Pacemakers then knocked that off after three weeks with their hit "You'll Never Walk Alone", now best known as the anthem of Liverpool FC.
"Do You Love Me" fell down to No. 3 as "She Loves You" which had been at No. 3, climbed back up to No. 2. It only stayed at No. 2 for four weeks before it finally knocked "You'll Never Walk Alone" off the top of the chart to regain the top spot. It managed two weeks at No. 1 but then fell back to No. 2 for the last three weeks of the year. The reason for this? "I Want To Hold Your Hand", the Beatles were at Nos. 1 and 2 for three weeks, ending what was a truly massive year to start the eight year career of the band that changed music history.
Here are the 20 best charting singles of the year:
Here are the ten most successfully charting artists of 1963: