Radio Hits June 1968: Look Back

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How did this classic not reach #1 in the US?

In June 1968, moments after winning California’s Democratic Presidential primary, U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy was shot and killed in Los Angeles. Days later, and after 65 days on the run, James Earl Ray was arrested for the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Helen Keller died at 87.

Rosemary’s Baby from director Roman Polanski creeped out film audiences. The first Legoland amusement park opened in Denmark.

And in Los Angeles, Top 40 powerhouse KHJ had a unique blend of pop, rock and soul hits on its playlist.

Entering the KHJ chart at #27 was Cream‘s “Sunshine of Your Love,” the trio’s first U.S. chart hit. (It would reach #6 nationally.)

Related: Cream had several of the biggest selling albums of 1968. See the full list

Debuting just ahead of it at #26 was “Hurdy Gurdy Man” from Donovan. In a stretch of hits that began in 1965, it would become his final Top 5 single.

The week’s highest debut was from Tiny Tim who tip-toed onto the chart at #21. Though he got a lot of attention for the song, it was not a huge hit, mercilessly peaking at just #17.

The biggest career hit from Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 was their cover of the Bacharach-David song “The Look of Love.” It jumped this week from #23 to #19, on its way to #4 nationally, besting the Dusty Springfield version from a year earlier, which peaked in the U.S. at #22.

“Lady Willpower” was the third straight Top 5 single from Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (following “Woman, Woman” and “Young Girl.”) It took a big move this week from #27 to #17.

The Fifth Dimension‘s version of Laura Nyro’s “Stoned Soul Picnic” was their biggest hit to date. It went from #18 to #11 this week, and would eventually reach #3. The singing group would later top that feat with three even bigger hits.

Eric Burdon & the Animals‘ “Sky Pilot” was so long at 7:27 that it had to be split on its 7-inch single. That didn’t prevent it from reaching #14 in the U.S. On KHJ, it went even higher, moving from #21 to #10 this week.

Jumpin’ from #20 to #8 this week was The Rolling Stones‘ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”

We wondered why the song peaked in the U.S. at “just” #2 on Record World (and #3 on Billboard) so we looked it up. Turns out that as it continued to rise in July it couldn’t get past Hugh Masekela’s instrumental smash, “Grazin’ in the Grass.”

The folk-singing duo Friend & Lover were the husband-wife team of Jim and Cathy Post. They enjoyed a classic one-hit-wonder with “Reach Out of the Darkness,” at #7 this week.

Aretha Franklin enjoyed an astounding nine Top 10 pop hits from 1967-1968. One of them was “Think,” at #6 this week.

At #4 was “Angel of the Morning” by Merrilee Rush. If you knew that its songwriter, Chip Taylor, also penned “Wild Thing,” raise your hand.

Audiences familiar with the trumpet-playing Herb Alpert may not have known he could sing. But in 1968, he had the biggest hit of his career sans the Tijuana Brass with his #1 smash, “This Guy’s in Love With You” (at #2 this week).

Tommy James & the Shondells were in the midst of their serious roll through the second half of the Sixties. At #1 this week was “Mony Mony,” from the rock band from Michigan.

10. “Sky Pilot” – Eric Burdon & the Animals (MGM)

9. “MacArthur Park” – Richard Harris (ABC/Dunhill)

8. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” – The Rolling Stones (London)

7. “Reach Out of the Darkness” – Friend & Lover (Verve)

6. “Think” – Aretha Franklin (Atlantic)

5. “I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You) – Temptations (GOrdy)

4. “Angel of the Morning” – Merrilee Rush (Bell)

3. “Here Comes the Judge” – Shorty Long (Soul)

2. “This Guy’s in Love With You” – Herb Alpert (A&M)

1. “Mony Mony” – Tommy James & the Shondells (Roulette)

Related: What were the top radio hits of 1968?

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Best Classic Bands Staff

Best Classic Bands Staff

The BCB team brings you the latest Breaking News, Contests, On This Day rock history stories, Classic Videos, retro-Charts and more.
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