[EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second of a three-part series about songs that topped the English pop music charts but, even though released in the U.S., they were only minor hits. To read the first in a series, covering pre-British Invasion songs, click here.]
Perhaps not unexpectedly, prior to the start of the so-called British Invasion in 1964, there were a number of chart-topping UK singles that didn't have significant impact on the American charts.
Of course, after the Invasion was in full swing on this side of the Atlantic, most of the No. 1 songs in England also met with major success in America, but there were a number of exceptions.
This column takes a look at 10 singles that went all the way to No. 1 in the UK in the years 1964 to 1966, but even with the Invasion in full effect, for some reason, they never caught on with the American public, and they didn't get anywhere near the Top 10, or even the Top 20.
No songs by such artists as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones or Petula Clark are included because most of their hits also charted big-time in the U.S., although there is one selection by Gerry & The Pacemakers.
Each of the 10 listed tunes reached No. 1 on at least one of the following British charts: NME (New Music Express), The Record Mirror or The Record Retailer. Following are capsule summaries of those songs -- along with the highest Billboard Magazine U.S. pop chart listing -- and to hear any of them, simply click on the title.
- "I'M THE ONE" (Gerry & The Pacemakers, 1964; U.S. No. 82): This British beat group, formed in Liverpool in 1959, was managed by Brian Epstein and recorded by George Martin. Consisting of lead singer-guitarist Gerry Marsden, brother Fred Marsden on drums, Leslie Maguire on piano and Les Chadwick on bass, they were the first act to reach No. 1 on the UK charts with their first three single releases. Their highest U.S. charter was "Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying" (No. 4 in 1964).
- "THE LEGEND OF XANADU" (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, 1964; U.S. No. 123): This British pop-rock quintet from Wiltshire had two million-selling singles in the UK, including this one, which reached No. 1 as their biggest hit. Most of their singles were written by Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley, and this one featured musical accompaniment directed by John Gregory. The song was also No. 1 in both Ireland and Sweden, and their only U.S. Hot 100 charter was "Zabadak" (No. 52 in 1968).
- "JULIET" (The Four Pennies, 1964; U.S. No. 116): This song was co-written by band members Lionel Morton, Fritz Fryer and Mike Wilsh, and it was produced by Johnny Franz. The quartet was from Lancashire, and this was their second hit single. The ballad was originally intended as the B-side of "Tell Me Girl", but after DJs flipped it over, it reached No. 1 in the UK in late May of 1964. This was the only 1964 No. 1 single not to reach the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S.
- "HOLD ME" (PJ Proby, 1964; U.S. No. 70): This vocalist -- born James Marcus Smith in Houston, Texas -- was one of few Americans signed to management by Brian Epstein. After attending several military acadamies, he relocated to California with aspirations of a movie acting career. But after a few minor acting roles, he signed with Liberty Records and turned his attention to singing and songwriting, and after traveling to London, he appeared on a Beatles TV special in 1964. Under the production of Jack Good, he had a string of hits in England, including this chart-topper. In 1967, he recorded the Lennon–McCartney composition "That Means A Lot" and scored his only Top 40 hit in the U.S. with "Niki Hoeky" (No. 23).
- "LONG LIVE LOVE" (Sandie Shaw, 1965; U.S. No. 97): With two weeks atop the UK charts, beginning on May 29, 1965, this Chris Andrews composition provided the songstress with the second of her three No. 1 singles. Born Sandra Ann Goodrich In Dagenham, Essex, she worked as a model before performing well as a singer in a local talent contest. She was discovered by singer Adam Faith, who recommended her to his manager, Eve Taylor, and it resulted in a contract with Pye Records under the stage name of Sandie Shaw. Despite huge success in her home country, her higest-charting U.S. single was "Girl Don't Come" (No. 42 in 1965).
- "TEARS" (Ken Dodd, 1965; U.S. No. 107): The song dates back to 1929, when it was written by lyricist Frank Capano and composer Billy Uhr and recorded by Rudy Vallee. This rendition became the biggest-selling UK single of 1965, and amazingly, it was performed by a singer from Liverpool that wasn't part of The Beatles. In fact, it was the only non-Beatles song among the Top 5 UK songs in the 1960s. Ken Dodd was better known as a comedian, although he was also a prolific recording artist in the UK, primarily in the 1960s. It spent 24 weeks on the UK chart, including five in the No. 1 position.
- "THE CARNIVAL IS OVER" (The Seekers, 1965; U.S. No. 105): This was a 19th-Century Russian folk song, with lyrics written by Tom Springfield for an Australian group that often concluded their concerts with it. The recording sold more than 1.4 million copies in the UK alone, and it spent three consecutive weeks atop the UK Singles Chart in late 1965. The Seekers consisted of lead singer Judith Durham, Keith Polger and Bruce Woodley on guitar, and Athol Guy on standing bass, and Polger formed The New Seekers in 1970.
- "KEEP ON RUNNIN'" (Spencer Davis Group, 1966; U.S. No. 76): This song -- written and originally recorded by Jamaican singer-songwriter Jackie Edwards -- became a chart-topping UK single when recorded by this group, formed in Birmingham, England. After its release on the Fontana label, it spent the first three weeks ot January 1966 at No. 1. Produced by Chris Blackwell, the record featured Steve Winwood on lead vocals and Spencer Davis on guitar and backup vocals.
- "RIVER DEEP, MOUNTAIN HIGH" (Ike & Tina Turner, 1966; U.S. No. 88): Although legendary producer Phil Spector considered this song as a masterpiece, it never gained significant popularity in the U.S., and as a result, Spector abruptly quit the music industry for two years. However, the tune by the husband-wife vocal duo was a big success in Europe, as was a 1969 cover version by the British rock group Deep Purple, which went to No. 53 on the U.S. Billboard pop charts. Eric Burdon also covered the song in 1968, and a re-release of the Ike & Tina rendition only Bubbled Under the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 112 in early 1969, though it went to No. 33 in the UK.
- "MORNINGTOWN RIDE" (The Seekers, 1966; U.S. No. 44): This song -- originally written and performed by Malvina Reynolds in 1957 -- was covered by a number of artists, including this rendition by the Australian pop-folk quartet. with backing by Bobby Richards and His Orchestra. The band's biggest U.S. singles were "Georgy Girl" (No. 2 in late 1966) and "I'll Never Find Another You" (No. 4 in 1965).
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