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

Share This:

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 weekly survey.

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.)

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 nationally 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.

Related: Our feature story on Friend & Lover’s hit

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.

27. “Sunshine of Your Love” – Cream (Atco)

19. “The Look of Love” – Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 (A&M)

17. “Lady Willpower” – Gary Puckett and the Union Gap (Columbia)

11. “Stoned Soul Picnic” – The Fifth Dimension (Soul City)

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?

Best Classic Bands Staff

7 Comments so far

Jump into a conversation
  1. steve b
    #1 steve b 3 June, 2019, 15:31

    I remember words on grazin in the grass.
    i can dig it she can dig it he can dig it we can dig it

    Reply this comment
  2. Dick Wingate
    #2 Dick Wingate 2 June, 2020, 08:33

    No comment on “Here Comes the Judge”? LOL

    Reply this comment
  3. Ken Rex
    #3 Ken Rex 2 June, 2021, 16:39

    Jumping Jack flash. Possibly the best rock song and didn’t hit #1

    Reply this comment
  4. JCB
    #4 JCB 3 June, 2022, 11:31

    Sad that Tommy James has been overlooked by the R+R Hall. Percy Sledge is in for one hit, “When a Man Loves a Woman”, Tommy and his band had dozens of hits, and sold a ton more records.

    Reply this comment
  5. Dino Saur
    #5 Dino Saur 3 June, 2022, 22:41

    During this time of The Shondells actual run of success hits, all he core band members were from the Pittsburgh Pa metropolitan area.

    Only Tommy James himself was from Michigan, during this peak period of The Shondells.

    Reply this comment
    • Ira1213
      Ira1213 5 June, 2023, 14:41

      Yes, you are correct, Tommy James is from Niles, Michigan, just north of South Bend, Indiana. He went to Pittsburgh to cut a song that had done well locally. He had no back-up band members and they put the Shondells together (Local in Pittsburgh). As Paul Harvey would say: “Now you know the rest of the Story”! Saw him in concert in March, great Show!

      Reply this comment
  6. Cosmic Cowboy
    #6 Cosmic Cowboy 8 June, 2022, 08:49

    The core members of The Shondells, during their peak/creative period (“Mony Mony”, “Crystal Blue Persuasion”, “Crimson and Clover”, etc.) were from the Pittsburgh, PA area, known as the Raconteurs (obviously not the Jack White ensemble), which James recruited when he needed a new band in the mid -1960s.

    These musicians are owed a lot for Tommy James’ success, as they also wrote, arranged, and harmonized these memorable songs of that era.

    Tommy James was the only member from Michigan during The Shondells best era

    Reply this comment

Your data will be safe!Your e-mail address will not be published. Also other data will not be shared with third person.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.