Radio Hits July 1967: No Need to Change the Station

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Looking back at mid-July 1967, the Summer of Love was in full swing. But all was not “peace and love”; race riots were taking place in Newark, NJ, ultimately leaving 26 dead. Shortly thereafter, Minneapolis also had riots, with fatalities.

And Top 40 radio mirrored the spirit of the people with music that spoke to the times. This week’s chart, from Chicago powerhouse WLS, features a great playlist of songs that continue to resonate with listeners.

Bubbling under the Top 10, and debuting at #29 (on its way to #5 in the U.S.), was Procol Harum‘s “Whiter Shade of Pale.” The song remains one of the most classic rock tunes of all time. Read our full recap of the song’s development and lasting impact here.

Stevie Wonder was in the midst of his great, sustained chart run. His “I Was Made to Love Her” rose this week from #32 to #26, eventually reaching #2. The single is one of our favorite vocal performances of his…

The Doors “Light My Fire” jumped from #24 to #21. The song would ultimately reach #1, where it would stay for three weeks.

At #20, The Monkees were enjoying success with a two-sided single, “Words” b/w “Pleasant Valley Sunday.” The latter would ultimately out-do the former, peaking at #3.

One of our favorite male vocalists, Johnny Rivers, had this week’s #10 song, a cover of the Smokey Robinson & the Miracles hit, “The Tracks of My Tears.”

Jefferson Airplane were riding high with “White Rabbit,” which jumped to #9 (from #13) this week.

Related: What were the top hits of 1967?

Chicago’s The Buckinghams earned five Top 15 hits in less than two years and then none more before they  disbanded in 1970. One of them was “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” written by jazz great Joe Zawinul.

Even more prolific were the SoCal-based Grass Roots who had no less than 10 Top 30 U.S. hits from 1966 – 1971. “Let’s Live For Today,” at #6 this week on WLS, sold two million copies.

Watch none other than Jimmy Durante introduce their performance!

Related: Our feature on the Grass Roots

No other song embodies the spirit of the Summer of Love than Scott McKenzie‘s “San Francisco (Wear Flowers in Your Hair),” at #5 this week and written by none other than the Mamas and the Papas’ John Phillips. Read our recap of the song’s legacy here.

Who names a group Every Mother’s Son? A pop band from NYC with folk-rock roots, that’s who. The one-hit-wonders were at #4 this week with “Come on Down to My Boat.”

A far more successful vocal pop group, The Association, were at #3 with “Windy” this week, their second career #1 smash. As we’ve written before, the California-based group’s singles were either huge hits or misses: they enjoyed five Top 10 songs.

Although their name sounds like the title of a K-Tel album, Music Explosion was actually a garage rock band. Their memorable (and only) hit, “Little Bit O’ Soul”–at #2 this week–begins with the lyrics: Now when you’re feelin’ low and the fish won’t bite.

And at #1? The Four Seasons’ extraordinary lead singer, Frankie Valli, stepped out for the occasional solo release, one of which was “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” which became a #2 U.S. pop hit. The song was used brilliantly in one of the bar scenes in The Deer Hunter as a young De Niro, Walken and Savage prepared to head to Vietnam.

And here’s Frankie, solo, with that soaring vocal…

29. “Whiter Shade of Pale” – Procol Harum

26. “I Was Made to Love Her” – Stevie Wonder

21. “Light My Fire” – The Doors

20. “Pleasant Valley Sunday” – The Monkees

This ad appeared in the June 17, 1967 issue of Record World magazine

10. “The Tracks of My Tears” – Johnny Rivers

9. “White Rabbit” – Jefferson Airplane

8. “Do it Again a Little Bit Slower” – Jon & Robin

7. “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” – Buckinghams

6. “Let’s Live For Today” – Grass Roots

5. “San Francisco (Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” – Scott McKenzie

4. “Come on Down to My Boat” – Every Mother’s Son

3. “Windy” – Association

2. “Little Bit of Soul” – Music Explosion

1. “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” – Frankie Valli

Best Classic Bands Staff

13 Comments so far

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    #1 TODD TAMANEND CLARK 15 July, 2018, 03:58

    Other great songs on the radio in JULY 1967 include: “A THOUSAND SHADOWS” (The Seeds), “BLUE’S THEME” (Davie Allan And The Arrows), “C’MON MARIANNE” (The Four Seasons), “DESIREE” (The Left Banke), “FAKIN’ IT” (Simon And Garfunkel), “GROOVIN'” (The Young Rascals), “HAVE YOU SEEN HER FACE” (The Byrds), “HEROES AND VILLAINS” (The Beach Boys), “JACKSON” (Nancy Sinatra And Lee Hazelwood), “MIRAGE” Tommy James And The Shondells), “OMAHA” (Moby Grape), “ONE BY ONE” (The Blues Magoos), “OUT AND ABOUT” (Boyce And Hart), “PURPLE HAZE” (The Jimi Hendrix Experience), “REFLECTIONS” (Diana Ross And The Supremes), “RUN RUN RUN” (The Third Rail), “SHE’D RATHER BE WITH ME” (The Turtles), “SOCIETY’S CHILD” (Janis Ian), “SOMEBODY TO LOVE” (Jefferson Airplane), “SOUL FINGER” (The Bar-Kays), “SUNDAY WILL NEVER BE THE SAME” (Spanky And Our Gang), “THE EAGLE NEVER HUNTS THE FLY” (The Music Machine), “THE RIVER IS WIDE” (The Forum), “UP UP AND AWAY” (The Fifth Dimension), and “YOU KEEP ME HANGIN’ ON” (Vanilla Fudge)!

    Reply this comment
    • Joe Con
      Joe Con 9 July, 2019, 07:12

      Excellent Todd! Nice to know what else was being listened to…

      Reply this comment
    • Charly
      Charly 9 July, 2023, 17:35

      I see you mention Desiree by The Left Banke. I helped Mike Brown make the demo of Desiree some time in 1967. He only had the verse and the bridge and asked my help with the song. I came up with the descending Bass part (chorus) which is melody and the chords for the release. I played bass on the demo. Mike said he would put my name on the copyright but didn’t. Charly Cazalet.

      Reply this comment
  2. Namdooglah
    #2 Namdooglah 7 July, 2020, 09:45

    never heard out and about AND purple haze mentioned in the same sentence….

    Reply this comment
  3. chris
    #3 chris 1 August, 2020, 08:13

    Sgt Pepper’s came out in 67? No mention?

    Other than that GREAT article

    Reply this comment
    • Jeff Tamarkin
      Jeff Tamarkin 2 August, 2020, 07:36

      The article is about radio hits, which means singles. No singles were released from “Sgt. Pepper.”

      Reply this comment
      • Norm
        Norm 10 July, 2022, 09:26

        That’s right! But what about « All You Need Is Love »? Was that song not already in charts?

        Reply this comment
  4. Da Mick
    #4 Da Mick 6 July, 2021, 11:35

    As reflected in your list, pretty much the turning point from 60s’ pop ( I love it) to the “head” music of the 60s ( I love it). It was a great time to be young, except if you were of age to be drafted.

    Reply this comment
  5. 122intheshade
    #5 122intheshade 21 July, 2021, 00:39

    Last weekend, I was listening to this particular week on Dave Hoeffel’s 60s Satellite Survey on 60s on 6 (Sirius/XM). A great show in the AT40 vein with Casey Kasem, except from the vantage point of 50-60 years later.

    Reply this comment
  6. Mac Timred
    #6 Mac Timred 21 July, 2021, 20:51

    I was 8 in July 1967 and 7 in July 1966. Not sure why but the prior article on July 1966 hits, was chock full of songs seared into memory, and much less so, the songs on this list. Maybe the selection this time was a bit quirky?

    Reply this comment
  7. Carrieann
    #7 Carrieann 23 July, 2022, 01:19

    1967 was the best year for music !

    Reply this comment
  8. Rock N Roll Rick
    #8 Rock N Roll Rick 10 July, 2023, 17:20

    1967. The Summer of Love!!! So many Hits and we had Jimi Hendrix!!! Groovy!!!!! As a 9 year old I was very Impressed with the Music Scene!! (My Mother hated it!!!!)

    Reply this comment
  9. v2787
    #9 v2787 11 July, 2024, 08:49

    I graduated from high school in 1967. I have always believed–and still do–that it was the best year for music ever. Top 40 radio was like ear candy for me. Everybody in my school listened to the same AM station and we all knew the songs. Those tunes remain fresh and fun to this day. I was sooooo lucky to be alive back then, and I still love that music.

    Reply this comment

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