Everyone knows the “British Invasion” followed The Beatles success in America, but what was the arrival timeline of the other English bands? The Beatles entered the American Top 40 January 25th, 1964, and a week later “I Want To Hold Your Hand” was #1. They were already dominating the U.S. charts with multiple hits when a band from Tottenham, England broke through.
It was March 7th, 1964 when The Dave Clark Five drummed and stomped their way into the Top 40 with “Glad All Over, which went to #6 on April 25th. As soon as their first song peaked, “Bits And Pieces” was released, and went to #4. The DC5 were the first serious competition for The Beatles in America, with 17 Top 40 hits, but just one #1, “Over And Over”. Their success in the states only lasted until 1967, which was typical for so many of the bands.
Can you name the third British band to make it into the American Top 40? I couldn’t remember who it was, and I had even bought their single!
Above is my 1964 picture sleeve of The Searchers’ hit “Needles & Pins”. The Searchers entered the Top 40 March 21st, 1964. The song was written by Americans Sonny Bono and Jack Nitzscke, and was an example of the Folk Rock sound that fully developed a year later. Despite all the boasting their record company did on the above sleeve, The Searchers only had seven Top 40 hits in America, with “Needles & Pins” (#13) and “Love Potion Number Nine” (#3) being their biggest hits.
The fourth British band to have an American hit was from Liverpool, The Swinging Blue Jeans. “Hippy Hippy Shake” entered the Top 40 March 28th, 1964, and made it to #24. It was their only American hit. “Hippy Hippy Shake” was a hit for Chan Romero in England in 1959. The Beatles recorded it in mid-1963 for a BBC radio show.
They may have been a drummer and bass player short of a band, but Peter And Gordon were the first British artists after The Beatles to score a #1 song. It was June 27th, 1964 when a song written for them by Paul McCartney, “A World Without Love”, topped the Billboard singles chart. They were popular for three years in the U.S., and had ten hits, including “I Go To Pieces” (#9), “Lady Godiva” (#6), and “Woman” (#14), another McCartney song.
Another Liverpool band to cross the pond was Gerry And The Pacemakers. They’d already had three #1 hits in England in 1963. Their first and biggest American hit was “Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying” (#4), June 6th, 1964. They had a total of seven hits in the U.S. through 1967. Their second most popular was “Ferry Cross The Mersey” (#6) in 1965.
Chad And Jeremy hit the charts just a week after Gerry And The Pacemakers. “Yesterday’s Gone” peaked at #24 June 13th, 1964. Premiering that same month was “A Summer Song”, which then made it to #7, and was their biggest of seven hits through 1966.
The Rolling Stones entered America’s Top 40 in August of 1964 with “Tell Me” and “It’s All Over Now”. Their first #1 hit, “Satisfaction”, was in July of 1965. The Stones had a total of seven #1’s, with the last one coming in 1978. They remained one of the top touring acts for over half a century! In 1964, not these young men, nor anyone else, would have believed that was possible.
The first English band to hit #1 after The Beatles was from the London blues scene, The Animals. A traditional song, “House Of The Rising Sun”, was a favorite in The Animals’ live shows, and they recorded it in just one take. The recording was four-and-a-half minutes long, but was edited down to three minutes in America, where it topped the chart for three weeks, starting on September 5th, 1964. Beginning in 1965, the full-length version was used on all album releases. That was the band’s only #1 hit, but they had 14 Top 40 songs, including “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” (#15) and “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place (#13). Their last hit was in 1968, under the name Eric Burdon & The Animals.
One of the most fun songs of the year was “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” by Manfred Mann. The song entered the Top 40 September 12th, 1964, and went to #1. The band’s other sixties hits included “Pretty Flamingo” (#29), and “The Mighty Quinn” (#10). They had three Top 40 hits in the seventies and eighties under the name Manfred Mann’s Earth Band.
A one-hit-wonder British group, The Nashville Teens, probably shouldn’t have chosen an American name, because the U.S. was entranced with everything British in 1964. It was in October of that year when “Tobacco Road” entered the Top 40, and peaked at #14.
One of the British Invasion bands that lasted long past the sixties is The Kinks. Their first chart success was with “You Really Got Me”, peaking at #7, November 28th, 1964. It was quickly followed by “All Day And All Of The Night” (#7), and “Tired Of Waiting For You” (#6). The Kinks had eight Top 40 hits in the sixties, plus the #9 hit “Lola” in 1970, and “Come Dancing” (#6) in 1983. The Kinks also had albums that were critical favorites.
The last British band in the alphabet was almost the last British band to make it into America’s Top 40 in 1964. The Zombies’ “She’s Not There” hit #2 on December 12th. Their other hits were “Tell Her No” (#6), and “Time Of The Season” (#3).
December 12th was also the date “I’m Into Something Good” peaked at #13. The song by Herman’s Hermits had entered the Top 40 one week after The Zombies’ first hit. 1965 would be Herman’s Hermits’ big year. They reeled off nine straight Top 10 songs, including two #1’s…”Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter” and “I’m Henry The VIII, I Am”. They had a total of 18 Top 40 hits, but the magic ran out in 1968.
Here’s a list of other well known British Invasion bands, and when they first broke into the American Top 40.
Freddie & The Dreamers…March, 1965 “I’m Telling You Now” #1.
The Mindbenders…March, 1965 ”Game Of Love” #1.
The Moody Blues…March, 1965 “Go Now” #10.
The Yardbirds…June, 1965 “For Your Love”, #6.
The Hollies…January, 1966 “Look Through Any Window” #32.
The Troggs…July, 1966 “Wild Thing” #1.
The Who…May, 1967 “Happy Jack” #24.
The Bee Gees…June, 1967 “New York Mining Disaster 1941” #14.
Small Faces …January, 1968 “Itchycoo Park” #16
Cream…February, 1968 “Sunshine Of Your Love” #5.
The term “Rock Band” didn’t exist back then. When The Beatles albums first came out, printed on them was “File under Vocal Group”. The big change from the charts having mostly individual vocalists to having lots of bands happened in England in 1963. A year later, The British Invasion caused an explosion of bands in America.
The United States always exported its music to England, but until 1964, there was no major flow from the U.K. to the U.S. The back and forth stream of music has continued at varying levels since then.
Thank goodness for the British Invasion, because it helped create so much great music on both sides of the Atlantic.
To see America’s musical response to the British Invasion, here’s the link:
(There are also individual articles on many of these bands.)