This installment of the History of Rock and Roll features:
- Hits of 1964
- Girl Groups of The Sixties
- Phil Spector Listening Test
- The Start of Motown
- Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons
- The Beach Boys
January 1 – Top of the Pops is broadcast for the first time, on BBC television in the U.K.
January 3 – Footage of the Beatles performing a concert in Bournemouth, England is shown on The Jack Paar Show.
January 13 – Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are a-Changin’ is released on Columbia Records.
January 15 – Vee Jay Records files a lawsuit against Capitol Records and Swan Records over manufacturing and distribution rights to Beatles albums. On April 9, Capitol Records is granted an injunction restraining Vee Jay Records from further manufacturing, distributing or advertising recordings by the Beatles.
January 18 – The Beatles appear on the Billboard magazine charts for the first time.
The Beatles arrive in the U.S. to great acclaim
January 25 – The late John F. Kennedy becomes the first President credited with a Top 10 album after Dickie Goodman released John F. Kennedy: The Presidential Years 1960–1963. The following week a second album, credited to the late President, would also hit the Top 10 giving Kennedy two posthumous albums simultaneously in the Top 10.
February 1 – Indiana Governor Matthew E. Welsh declares the song “Louie Louie” by The Kingsmen pornographic. He requests that the Indiana Broadcasters Association ban the record. Governor Welsh claimed that hearing the song made his “ears tingle.” Publisher Max Firetag offers $1,000 to anyone that can find anything “suggestive” in the song’s lyrics.
February 7 – The Beatles arrive in the United States and are greeted by thousands of screaming fans at New York’s Kennedy Airport.
February 9 – The Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show, which breaks television ratings records.
February 12 – Anna Moffo collapses onstage at Covent Garden in the first act of Rigoletto, and her part is taken over, after a delay of 45 minutes, by Welsh soprano Elizabeth Vaughan.
February 16 – The Beatles appear on The Ed Sullivan Show.
February 22 – Plácido Domingo makes his international breakthrough at the première of Ginastera’s Don Rodrigo in New York City.
February 23 – The Beatles appear on The Ed Sullivan Show.
March 1 – Capitol Records is bombarded with requests for heavyweight boxing champion Cassius Clay’s album, I Am the Greatest, following Clay’s defeat of Sonny Liston on February 25 and his announcement two days later that he had converted to Islam. (On March 6 would come the announcement that he would adopt the name Muhammad Ali.)
American premiere of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Momente, by Martina Arroyo (soprano), the Crane Collegiate Singers of SUNY Potsdam (Brock McElheran, chorus master), and members of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (Lukas Foss, music director), conducted by the composer, in Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo, New York.
March 6 – Elvis Presley’s 14th motion picture, Kissin’ Cousins is released to theaters.
March 14 – Billboard Magazine reports that sales of Beatles records make up 60% of the entire singles market.
March 16 – Disc jockey Alan Freed is charged with tax evasion.
March 21 – Italy wins the 9th Eurovision Song Contest, held in the Tivoli Concert Hall, Copenhagen, with the song “Non ho l’età”, sung by 16-year-old Gigliola Cinquetti.
March 24 – John Lennon’s first book, In His Own Write is published.
March 27 – The Beatles occupy the top six spots on the Australian pop chart.
March 28 – Wax likenesses of The Beatles are put on display in London’s Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. The Beatles are the first pop stars to be displayed at the museum.
April – Drummer Keith Moon joins The Who.
April 4 – The Beatles occupy all five top positions on Billboard’s Hot 100 with their singles “Can’t Buy Me Love”, “Twist and Shout”, “She Loves You”, “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, and “Please Please Me”.
April 11 – The Beatles hold 14 positions on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Previously, the highest number of concurrent singles by one artist on the Hot 100 was nine by Elvis Presley, December 19, 1956.
April 16 – The Rolling Stones release their eponymous début album.
May 2 – In the United States, The Beatles’ Second Album climbs to the #1 spot on the LP charts in only its second week of release.
May 20 – Judy Garland makes headlines after a disastrous concert in Melbourne, Australia
June – During a performance at the Railway, Pete Townshend of The Who accidentally breaks the head of his guitar on the low ceiling above the stage. This incident marks the start of auto-destructive art by destroying guitars and drums on stage.
June 5 – The Rolling Stones start their first U.S. tour.
July 3 – With their new manager Peter Meaden, The Who release their first single “Zoot Suit”/”I’m the Face” under the name The High Numbers in an attempt to appeal to a mod audience. It fails to reach the top 50 and the band reverts to calling themselves The Who.
July 6 – The Beatles’ first film, A Hard Day’s Night, is released.
July 10 – The album of A Hard Day’s Night is released in the U.K. All tracks are written by Lennon and McCartney.
More than 300 people are injured in Liverpool when a crowd of some 150,000 people welcome The Beatles back to their home city.
August 2 – The wreckage of the plane piloted by Jim Reeves is found near Brentwood, Tennessee, 42 hours after it crashed. There are no survivors.
August 8 – Bob Dylan releases his fourth album, Another Side of Bob Dylan.
August 17 – Indiana University Opera Theater presents Turandot at the NY World’s Fair featuring newly retired Metropolitan Opera soprano Margaret Harshaw, a member of the voice faculty, in the title role.
August 22 – The Supremes reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with the first of five successive number one hits, “Where Did Our Love Go”.
August 26 – The Kinks release their iconic single “You Really Got Me”.
September 8 – The American premiere of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Originale at Judson Hall in New York City is picketed by a group calling themselves Action Against Cultural Imperialism.
September 16 – Shindig! premieres on ABC.
September 22 – Fiddler on the Roof opens on Broadway.
October – Dr. Robert Moog demonstrates his prototype synthesizers.
October 19 – Simon & Garfunkel release Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., which is initially a total flop upon first release. After release of their second album, Sounds of Silence, in 1966, it hits #30 on the Billboard charts.
October 24 – The Rolling Stones start their second US tour.
October 25 – The Rolling Stones perform on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time.
October 29 – The T.A.M.I. Show is filmed.
October 31 – The Supremes reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with the second of five successive number one hits, “Baby Love”.
November – A deal with U.K. impresario W. H. Miller lands the Anita Kerr Quartette on Capitol Records for North America.
December 11 – Sam Cooke is killed under mysterious circumstances in Los Angeles, California. Shortly thereafter, “A Change Is Gonna Come”, a song considered by many to be his best, is released.
December 19 – The Supremes reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with the third of five successive number one hits, “Come See About Me”.
December 24 – The Beatles gain the Christmas number one in the United Kingdom for the second year running with I Feel Fine, which has topped the singles charts for the third week running. The Beatles have now had six number ones in the U.K. alone.
Simon & Garfunkel make their first recording for Columbia Records.
Dalida is the first star to receive a Platinum Disc in Europe.
11-year-old Keith Green becomes the youngest person ever to sign a contract with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) after publishing, recording and releasing the song “The Way I Used to Be”.
Marianne Faithfull’s musical career begins.
Sonny and Cher begin performing together as “Caesar and Cleo”.
The National Institute of Kathak Dance is established in New Delhi.
The China Conservatory of Music is established in Beijing.
We go back to June 1964 and remember the Top 50 Hits from June 24, 1964. Join Ron Kovacs live at 6pm ET on RadioMaxMusic.