Radio Hits of 1968: It’s a Gas, Gas, Gas

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When we think back to 1968 our first thoughts are the springtime assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy within two months of each year (see #18 below). Other memorable events of that year include the musical Hair opening on Broadway, civil rights activism, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In‘s TV debut, Detroit Tigers pitcher Denny McLain winning 31 games, and NBC’s infamous Heidi game between the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders.

On the radio that year on Boston’s Top 40 WRKO, some all-time favorite classic rock hits ruled the airwaves.

At #38 for the year was the Moody Blues‘ “Tuesday Afternoon (Forever Afternoon)” from the band’s great Days of Future Passed concept album. The song peaked at only #24 nationally earlier that year.

Donovan‘s third-highest U.S. chart hit was “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” reaching #5. It was #36 for the year.

Judy Collins‘ version of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” was the biggest hit of her career, peaking at #8, and the 35th biggest hit of 1968.

One of the Rolling Stones‘ signature songs, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” was #31 for the year.

Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 enjoyed two huge 1968 hits: “The Fool on the Hill” (#37) and “The Look of Love” (#28).

Watch Herb Alpert’s future wife, Lani Hall, sing lead

Gary Puckett & the Union Gap topped that with three hits: “Lady Willpower” (#49), “Over You” (#29) and “Young Girl” (#23).

Related: 1968: Year in Review

Not to be outdone was Steppenwolf with “Born to Be Wild” (#32) and “Magic Carpet Ride” (#21).

“Abraham, Martin and John” at #18 was, of course, inspired by the slayings of Dr. King and Senator Kennedy and was the last of Dion‘s nine Top 10 career hits.

“Spooky,” at #16, was one of three Top 10 singles that the Classics IV had within a year and a half.

Related: Who were the Classics IV and what became of them?

At #15 for the year, “Sunshine of Your Love” was also Cream‘s first U.S. chart hit; three others had charted in their native England.

At #14, a great vocal performance by O.C. Smith on “Little Green Apples,” helped earn its songwriter, Bobby Russell, the Grammy for Song of the Year.

One of two career #1 hits for The Doors, “Hello, I Love You,” was the year’s #13 biggest hit. Mary Hopkin‘s unlikely smash, “Those Were the Days,” was #11.

The Grass Roots enjoyed six Top 20 singles; “Midnight Confessions,” at #10 for the year, was their biggest chart hit.

The Rascals scored two huge hits with “A Beautiful Morning” (#17) and “People Got to Be Free (#9). The latter was #1 for five weeks during the summer, one of three chart-toppers that they enjoyed. (“Good Lovin'” and “Groovin'” were the others.)

Otis Redding‘s posthumous hit “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay” was #5 overall. Herb Alpert‘s biggest hit is doubly notable: it’s without the Tijuana Brass and he sings. We’re talking, of course, about “This Guy’s in Love With You,” at #4 for the year.

The Beatles had two huge hits including “Lady Madonna” at #20. And if you haven’t seen this restored version of “Hey Jude,” 1968’s biggest hit, you’re in for a treat…

Related: 1968 – The year in 50 classic rock albums

40. “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” – Dionne Warwick

39. “I’d Like to Get to Know You” – Spanky & Our Gang

38. “Tuesday Afternoon (Forever Afternoon) – The Moody Blues

37. “The Fool on the Hill” – Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66

36. “Hurdy Gurdy Man” – Donovan

35. “Both Sides Now” – Judy Collins

34. “Words” – The Bee Gees

33. “I Thank You” – Sam & Dave

32. “Born to Be Wild” – Steppenwolf

31. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” – The Rolling Stones

30. “La-La Means I Love You” – The Delfonics

29. “Over You” – Gary Puckett & the Union Gap

28. “The Look of Love” – Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66

27. “Kiss Me Goodbye” – Petula Clark

26. “Angel of the Morning” – Merrilee Rush & the Turnabouts

25. “Turn Around, Look at Me” – The Vogues

24. “The Good, the Bad & the Ugly” – Hugo Montenegro

23. “Young Girl” – Gary Puckett & the Union Gap

22. “Love Child” – Diana Ross & the Supremes

21. “Magic Carpet Ride” – Steppenwolf

20. “Lady Madonna” – The Beatles

19. “MacArthur Park” – Richard Harris

18. “Abraham, Martin & John” – Dion

17. “A Beautiful Morning” – The Rascals

16. “Spooky” – Classics IV

15. “Sunshine of Your Love” – Cream

14. “Little Green Apples” – O.C. Smith

13. “Hello I Love You” – The Doors

12. “(Theme From) Valley of the Dolls” – Dionne Warwick

11. “Those Were the Days” – Mary Hopkin

10. “Midnight Confessions” – The Grass Roots

9. “People Got to Be Free” – The Rascals

8. “Mrs. Robinson” – Simon and Garfunkel

7. “Harper Valley PTA” – Jeannie C. Riley

6. “Light My Fire” – Jose Feliciano

5. “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” – Otis Redding

4. “This Guy’s In Love With You” – Herb Alpert

3. “Honey” – Bobby Goldsboro

2. “Love is Blue” – Paul Mauriat and His Orchestra

1. “Hey Jude” – The Beatles

Best Classic Bands Staff

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  1. Bill
    #1 Bill 4 March, 2017, 09:41

    1968 was a great year for music in general as well as movies. Besides the songs mentioned and the RFK and MLK shootings the biggest thing for me musically as a 14 year old male was that was the year Elvis Presley turned his career around with the NBC 1968 Comeback special.After the whole decade of making mostly bad movies he through his hands up and became a rock and roller again. It was so great to see a great artist find himself again. He wound up with the most watched tv special of 1968 a top ten album from the special and a #12 single from the special. His first message song If I Can Dream was a great song and his next single In the Ghetto was a much bigger hit and he recorded his best album in the last 8-10 years From Elvis in Memphis which had 4 top 20 hits including the number 1 single Suspicious Minds. Sadly in 10 years he was dead at age 42. Just as making 31 movies in the 60s became a rut, the 70s did as well with constant touring in the USA and playing Las Vegas sometimes two months a year along with prescription drug abuse he died much to early and he left so much on the table. He never got to do a World Tour and he never got to make a great movie the two things he wanted more than anything especially touring Europe.

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  2. JCB
    #2 JCB 19 December, 2021, 09:44

    What a great year in music. Wow!

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