Radio Hits of 1970: Take a Second Look

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The start of a new decade…

Among 1970’s newsworthy events: four students are killed at Kent State University, and the debuts of two cultural touchstones, Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 and ABC’s Monday Night Football.

The Top 40 radio hits of 1970 as featured on Miami’s WQAM is one of the best annual lists we’ve seen, chock full of future classic rock greats.

R. Dean Taylor was a songwriter for Motown, who co-wrote several hits including the Supremes’ “Love Child.” He later scored a big hit as a solo act with “Indiana Wants Me.” Taylor died in 2022.

At #38 for the year, Creedence Clearwater Revival‘s “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” was one of an astounding nine Top 10 hits they had in a 2+ year period.

Neil Diamond‘s “Cracklin’ Rosie” (#36) was the first of his three career #1 hits. Weighing in at #31 with one of their 15 Top 10 pop hits (and 45 Top 10 R&B singles) were the Temptations with “Psychedelic Shack.” “That’s where it’s at…”

The Illinois band the Ides of March had one big hit and what a hit it was! “Vehicle” reached #2 (and #29 for the year).

Related: The story of “Vehicle”

Singer Freda Payne had a string of hits in the early ’70s, none bigger than “Band of Gold” which reached #3 in the U.S. (and #28 for the year on WQAM). Various Blues Image members went on to other bands. Their sole hit while together was very much of the times: “Ride Captain Ride.”

Related: “Ride Captain Ride” – A tale of 73 men

Yet another one-hit-wonder were The Jaggerz whose “The Rapper” hit #1 on Record World and #25 for 1970.

Related: Our feature story on the Jaggerz’s huge hit

At #20 was Norman Greenbaum‘s iconic “Spirit In The Sky.” If you haven’t read it yet, check out Best Classic Bandstribute to the song. Right ahead of it at #19 was John Lennon‘s great “Instant Karma!” the first single by a member of The Beatles to sell a million copies.

James Taylor‘s first hit, “Fire and Rain,” was #18.

Related: 1970 – The year in 50 classic rock albums

Marmalade‘s “Reflections of My Life” was released in the U.S. in March. On May 23, the single reached #7 nationally, and was WQAM’s #15 song of the year.

Jumping to #14 is Edwin Starr‘s stirring anti-Vietnam War protest song, “War.”

English rockers Free enjoyed their biggest hit by far as “All Right Now” was the year’s #11 hit.

Just ahead at #10 was the Guess Who‘s great “American Woman,” the Canadian band’s first #1 single.

Related: Our look back at the American Woman album

George Harrison‘s “My Sweet Lord,” one of our Surprising Hits of the 1970s due to its “Hare Krishna” chants was at #9. “Venus” by Dutch band Shocking Blue was at #8. Lead singer Mariska Veres was just 21 when she recorded it.

Related: Our story on Shocking Blue and their out-of-this-world hit

We’ve previously written about Three Dog Night‘s amazing chart run. Their “Mama Told Me Not To Come,” written by none other than Randy Newman, was at #6 for the year. Simon and Garfunkel‘s magnificent “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” which earned Grammys for Record of the Year and Song of the Year, was at #5.

The Jackson 5 were at their height with three singles in the year’s top 40: “I Want You Back” (#34), “ABC” (#13) and “I’ll Be There” at #4.

The top of the chart was dominated by the songwriting team of Hal David and Burt Bacharach. Their “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” performed by BJ Thomas was at #3; and the Carpenters‘ tour de force, “(They Long To Be) Close To You,” was #2.

And 1970’s #1 single? None other than The Beatles‘ “Let It Be.”

Related: A different way of looking at it… The #1 singles of 1970

40. “Indiana Wants Me” – R. Dean Taylor

39. “Hey There Lonely Girl” – Eddie Holman

38. “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” – Creedence Clearwater Revival

37. “We’ve Only Just Begun” – The Carpenters

36. “Cracklin’ Rosie” – Neil Diamond

35. “The Long and Winding Road” – The Beatles

34. “I Want You Back” – The Jackson 5

33. “Which Way You Going Billy” – Poppy Family

32. “Stone Cowboy” – Fantasy

31. “Psychedelic Shack” – The Temptations

30. “Candida” – Tony Orlando & Dawn

29. “Vehicle” – Ides of March

28. “Band of Gold” – Freda Payne

27. “Ride Captain Ride” – Blues Image

26. “Get Ready” – Rare Earth

25. “The Rapper” – The Jaggerz

24. “Patches” – Clarence Carter

23. “Spill the Wine” – Eric Burdon

22. “Evil Ways” – Santana

21. “Make Me Smile” – Chicago

20. “Spirit in the Sky” – Norman Greenbaum

19. “Instant Karma!” – John Lennon

18. “Fire and Rain” – James Taylor

17. “Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes” – Edison Lighthouse

16. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” – Diana Ross

15. “Reflections Of My Life” – Marmalade

14. “War” – Edwin Starr

13. “ABC” – Jackson 5

12. “Make It With You” – Bread

11. “All Right Now” – Free

10. “American Woman” – The Guess Who

9. “My Sweet Lord” – George Harrison

8. “Venus” – Shocking Blue

7. “I Think I Love You” -Partridge Family

6. “Mama Told Me Not To Come” – Three Dog Night

5. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” – Simon and Garfunkel

4.“I’ll Be There” – Jackson 5

3. “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” – BJ Thomas

2. “Close To You” – The Carpenters

1. “Let It Be” – The Beatles

Survey courtesy of The WQAM Sixties Tribute Site

Best Classic Bands Staff

4 Comments so far

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  1. Batchman
    #1 Batchman 31 January, 2022, 19:43

    Thought I was familiar with all the hits of 1970, but I never heard of “Stone Cowboy” by Fantasy (either the song or the band). Turns out after doing a YouTube search that it’s actually “Stoned Cowboy” … not that I ever heard of that either. And this was #32 hit of the year? Must be a local Miami thing.

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  2. Batchman
    #2 Batchman 23 February, 2023, 13:07

    OK, I give up. Where does your tag line “take a second look” come from? All I can think of is The Band’s “Life Is a Carnival”, which was 1971 and the line was “Take another look” anyhow.

    Reply this comment
    • Greg Brodsky
      Greg Brodsky 23 February, 2023, 13:24

      Batchman… The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back”!

      Reply this comment
      • Batchman
        Batchman 1 March, 2023, 18:03

        Ah, thanks – most of the words of that song were unintelligible to me and many still are, which is probably why I didn’t pick up on it.

        Reply this comment

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