Radio Hits of May 1966

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In May 1966, the “It’s a Small World” attraction opened in Disneyland. Azteca Stadium officially opened in Mexico City, ahead of the Summer Olympics that were to be held there in 1968. And a few days later, the final new episode of TV’s The Dick Van Dyke Show aired on CBS.

And the survey this week on New York City’s Top 40 powerhouse 77WABC featured a typically great combination of pop, rock and soul at the top of the chart.

Bubbling under the Top 10 and debuting at #19 was Dusty Springfield with “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.” The song would become the blue-eyed soul singer’s biggest U.S. solo hit at #4 and the only #1 of her career in her native England.

At #17 was an unheralded song from the Four Seasons, “Opus 17 (Don’t You Worry ‘Bout Me).” As a solo artist and with the Four Seasons, Frankie Valli had seven #1 pop hits, spanning from 1962’s “Sherry” to 1978’s title song to the movie Grease.  “Opus,” however, peaked nationally at only #13.

Related: Our feature on the real-life Jersey Boys

At #10 this week was Bob Dylan‘s “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” which, along with “Like a Rolling Stone,” were the Bard’s career-biggest Top 40 hits, reaching #2. The single was released from his monumental 1966 album Blonde on Blonde. For his career, Dylan earned six Top 20 singles, though just one after 1969.

You probably knew that “Red Rubber Ball” was The Cyrkle‘s biggest hit, reaching #2 (and #32 for all of 1966). Raise your hand if you knew it was co-written by Paul Simon (with Bruce Woodley of the Seekers). The single was produced by John Simon, who would go on to produce Blood, Sweat & Tears’ acclaimed first album, Cheap Thrills for Big Brother and the Holding Company, and many of The Band’s early albums. The song jumped this week from #18 to #8 on WABC.

Related: Our feature story on the Cyrkle

Speaking of Simon, he and Art Garfunkel were at #6 with “I Am a Rock,” one of the biggest hits of their years together.

This was an era when popular vocalists shared the Top 40 airwaves with rock ‘n’ roll and this week featured a gem. The Chairman of the Board… we’re talking, of course, about Frank Sinatra, had many signature songs of his remarkable career, one of which was “Strangers in the Night.” The song jumped from #9 to #5 this week on its way to #1 nationally.

The LA-based folk-rock group The Mamas and the Papas had seven Top 5 singles from 1965 – 1967, none bigger than “Monday, Monday,” their sole #1 hit (and #4 on WABC this week). As usual, the instrumentation was provided by the great LA session musicians known collectively as The Wrecking Crew. Watch them perform it on The Ed Sullivan Show later that year.

Soul singer Percy Sledge was just 25 when he had the biggest hit of his career, “When a Man Loves a Woman.” The #1 smash was his first release and though he never came close to equaling it… what a debut!

Manchester, England was a hotbed of pop music activity in the mid-Sixties. One such act were the Mindbenders, formed most prominently by Wayne Fontana and Eric Stewart (later of 10cc). Their “A Groovy Kind of Love” was #2 on WABC this week (peaking nationally at #2 as well). Wouldn’t you agreee…

Related: Our feature story on the Mindbenders

At #1? The Rolling Stones‘ powerful “Paint it Black,” their sixth U.K. #1 and third to reach the top spot in the U.S. I could not foresee this thing happening to you…

What a week!

19. “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” – Dusty Springfield (Philips)

17. “Opus 17 (Don’t You Worry ‘Bout Me)” – The Four Seasons (Philips)

10. “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” – Bob Dylan (Columbia)

9. “Cool Jerk” – The Capitols (Karen)

8. “Red Rubber Ball” – The Cyrkle (Columbia)

7. “Younger Girl” – The Critters (Kapp)

6. “I Am a Rock” – Simon and Garfunkel (Columbia)

5. “Strangers in the Night” – Frank Sinatra (Reprise)

4. “Monday, Monday” – The Mamas and the Papas (ABC/Dunhill)

3. “When a Man Loves a Woman” – Percy Sledge (Atlantic)

2. “A Groovy Kind of Love” – The Mindbenders (Fontana)

1. “Paint it Black” – The Rolling Stones (London)

Chart courtesy of

Related: The biggest hits of 1966

Best Classic Bands Staff

7 Comments so far

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  1. Ormus
    #1 Ormus 30 May, 2017, 13:10


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  2. John Rose
    #2 John Rose 22 May, 2021, 12:01

    Cool Jerk is an awesome record, too. And Younger Girl was written by John Sebastian.

    Reply this comment
  3. Chris
    #3 Chris 25 May, 2022, 15:54

    The Critters (#7) were a NJ group, which explains while they were on the WABC chart this, their only song to make the top 40, only made it to #38 nationally, and that for only 1 week.

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  4. Marty
    #4 Marty 26 May, 2022, 00:33

    As my six-year-old daughter and I walked down Second Avenue to her school under a bright sunrise, I would sing “the morning sun is shining like a red rubber ball…” and she would smile, happily. I love you Gigi.

    Reply this comment
  5. Rollbert
    #5 Rollbert 8 May, 2023, 10:40

    1966, wow what a diverse top 20. We would bring our transistor radios out to the corner teen hangout and try to predict the top 5. Some would like 4 Seasons others Temptations, Rolling Stones or Beatles. Nothing like that now !!

    Reply this comment
    • Jaws
      Jaws 23 May, 2023, 13:05

      Those were great days for music. I loved listening to the top 30 countdown Friday afternoons on 93 KHJ in Los Angeles. Go Dodgers!

      Reply this comment

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