Top Radio Hits 1969: Look Back

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We closed out a decade that so many of us grew up in. If you were born before, say, 1962, you remember a lot of things that happened in 1969. Things like “Broadway” Joe Namath leading the New York Jets to a championship in January when the Super Bowl was still in its infancy. The continuation of the Vietnam War. The Apollo 11 moon landing in July. The Woodstock Music & Art Fair in August. The Miracle Mets winning the World Series in October. The rock musical Hair.

And what a year for music! On the dominant Top 40 radio format, rock acts joined R&B artists and popular vocalists to create an amazing melting pot of future classic rock greats. These were the biggest hits of the year on New York’s 77 WABC.

At just 26 years-old, B. J. Thomas was on the brink of stardom with his country, Christian and pop crossover success. His “Hooked on a Feeling,” #38 for the year, became the second biggest hit of his career, topped only by the smash hit later that year: “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on my Head.” “Hooked” is distinctive for its use of an electric sitar. Have a listen…

Here’s all you need to know about Stevie Wonder‘s “My Cherie Amour,” the year’s #37 biggest hit: it became his eighth Top 10 single and he was still just 18! The mind boggles…

The Guess Who‘s breakthrough hit, “These Eyes” at #34 for the year, became the Canadian band’s first of six Top 10 singles in less than two years.

The man really couldn’t sing but the girls didn’t seem to notice. In May 1969, 26-year-old Bobby Sherman began a string of Top 10 singles with “Little Woman.” Sherman became a breakout star thanks to his role as the stuttering Jeremy Bolt on the ABC Western Here Come The Brides and was on the cover of all the fan magazines.

The Youngbloods issued “Get Together” as a single in 1967, and it peaked at #62. Two years later, WABC AM DJ Dan Ingram used it as the background music in a promotional spot. As a result of the exposure, “Get Together” was reissued as a single and became a #5 hit nationally and sold a million copies. It’s a signature song of the 1960s counterculture.

If you knew that Johnny Cash‘s huge hit “A Boy Named Sue” was written by Shel Silverstein, author of the children’s book, The Giving Tree, among many others… raise your hand. The song was #28 for the year and Cash’s biggest pop chart success.

When Marvin Gaye‘s cover of “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” was released, it was a #1 pop hit for seven weeks, becoming Motown’s biggest-selling single at the time. Check out this searing live version…

Say what you will but Johnny Maestro of the Brooklyn Bridge could sing his you-know-what off. The group’s “Worst That Could Happen”–written by Jimmy Webb–was WABC’s #25 biggest song of the year.

Three Dog Night had two of the year’s biggest hits. “Easy to Be Hard” (from the rock musical Hair) was #31 and “One,” written by none other than Harry Nilsson, at #20. The group enjoyed no less than 18 Top 20 singles from 1968 to 1974.

The self-titled second album from Blood, Sweat and Tears yielded three #2 singles, two of which were among the year’s biggest: “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” and “Spinning Wheel.”

Creedence Clearwater Revival had an astonishing nine Top 10 singles in two years. One of them, John Fogerty’s “Proud Mary,” was this year’s #18 biggest hit.

Zager and Evans had only one Hot 100 single but it ended up paying a lot of bills. “In the Year 2525” was #1 for six weeks and #15 for the year 1969.

Performers that go by one name, like Cher, Madonna and Prince, generally have a legacy of hits to back up that bravado. Then there was Oliver, who had two big hits this year including “Good Morning Starshine,” yet another smash from Hair, at #14, and not much else after that.

“Everyday People” was one of three #1 hits for the multi-gender interracial American rock group Sly and the Family Stone and the year’s #13 biggest single.

Though the family act The Cowsills had only three Top 10 singles, they became the inspiration for TV’s The Partridge Family. “Hair” was, of course, the title song of the Broadway musical. Give me down to there hair, Shoulder length or longer, Here baby there mama, Everywhere daddy daddy Hair.

The Doors were in the midst of their great chart run when “Touch Me’ reached #3 at the beginning of the year. Surprisingly, it was the last of their three Top 10 U.S. hits (and #9 for the year).

British multi-racial group The Foundations had two pieces of ear candy: 1967’s “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You” and “Build Me Up Buttercup,” this year’s 8th biggest hit.

A couple of bands we’re not familiar with–The Beatles and The Rolling Stones–had two of the year’s biggest hits with “Get Back” and “Honky Tonk Women,” at #4 and #3, respectively. We’ll do some research on both acts and get back to you…

The short-lived pop music career of The Archies – a fake group from a TV cartoon series whose records were produced by Jeff Barry and cut by top studio players – was dominated by “Sugar Sugar,” which was Billboard’s 1969 Song of the Year (and #2 on WABC).

And at #1? The medley of “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” the year’s four smash single from Hair. Sung by The 5th Dimension, with instrumentation by the Los Angeles session musicians The Wrecking Crew, the song would stay at #1 for six weeks and ultimately win the Grammy for Record of the Year.

Check ’em all out…

40. “Baby I Love You” – Andy Kim

39. “Smile a Little Smile For Me” – The Flying Machine

38. “Hooked on a Feeling” – B.J. Thomas

37. “My Cherie Amour” – Stevie Wonder

36. “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” – Tom Jones

35. “Baby, It’s You” – Smith

34. “These Eyes” – The Guess Who

33. “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” – Diana Ross & The Supremes and The Temptations

32. “Little Woman” – Bobby Sherman

31. “Easy to Be Hard” – Three Dog Night

30. “Get Together” – The Youngbloods

29. “Wedding Bell Blues” – The 5th Dimension

28. “A Boy Named Sue” – Johnny Cash

27. “It’s Your Thing” – Isley Brothers

26. “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” – Marvin Gaye

25. “Worst That Could Happen” – Brooklyn Bridge

24. “This Magic Moment” – Jay and the Americans

23. “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” – Blood, Sweat and Tears

22. “Traces” – Classics IV

21. “Love (Can Make You Happy)” – Mercy

20. “One” – Three Dog Night

19. “Spinning Wheel” – Blood, Sweat and Tears

18. “Proud Mary” – Creedence Clearwater Revival

17. “Love Theme From Romeo & Juliet” – Henry Mancini

16. “I Can’t Get Next to You” – The Temptations

15. “In the Year 2525” – Zager and Evans

14. “Good Morning Starshine” – Oliver

13. “Everyday People” – Sly and the Family Stone

12. “Crystal Blue Persuasion” – Tommy James and the Shondells

11. “Sweet Caroline” – Neil Diamond

10. “Hair” – The Cowsills

9. “Touch Me” – The Doors

8. “Build Me Up Buttercup” – The Foundations

7. “Jean” – Oliver

6. “Dizzy” – Tommy Roe

5. “Crimson and Clover” – Tommy James and the Shondells

4. “Get Back” – The Beatles

3. “Honky Tonk Women” – The Rolling Stones

2. “Sugar, Sugar” – The Archies

1. “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” – The 5th Dimension

Chart courtesy of Musicradio77.com

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