- Strangers In The Night — Frank Sinatra
- Happy Together — The Turtles
- Monday, Monday — The Mamas & The Papas
- Respect – Aretha Franklin
- Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
- Can’t Take My Eyes Off You – Frankie Valli
- Eleanor Rigby — The Beatles
- Somewhere My Love (Lara’s Theme From Dr. Zhivago) — Ray Conniff Singers
- (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman – Aretha Franklin
- I Second That Emotion – Smokey Robinson & the Miracles
- Tell It Like It Is — Aaron Neville
- Crying Time — Ray Charles
- Michelle* — The Beatles
- Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye — The Casinos
- Baby, I Need Your Lovin’ — Johnny Rivers
- Ode to Billie Joe – Bobbie Gentry
- Penny Lane — The Beatles
- The Letter – Box Tops
- With a Little Help From My Friends — The Beatles**
- Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie – Jay & the Techniques
- Higher and Higher – Jackie Wilson
- Sugar Town — Nancy Sinatra
- That’s Life — Frank Sinatra
- Standing In the Shadows of Love — The Four Tops
- Daydream Believer – The Monkees
- Dedicated to the One I Love — The Mamas & The Papas
- Something Stupid – Frank and Nancy Sinatra
- Georgy Girl — The Seekers
- Release Me – Engelbert Humperdinck
- The Look of Love – Dusty Springfield
- Mellow Yellow — Donovan
- San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair) – Scott McKenzie
- Born Free — Andy Williams**
- Up, Up and Away – The 5th Dimension
- I Say a Little Prayer – Dionne Warwick
- The Beat Goes On — Sonny & Cher
- My Cup Runneth Over — Ed Ames
- I Think We’re Alone Now – Tommy James and the Shondells
- Never My Love – The Association
- Jimmy Mack – Martha and the Vandellas
- Groovin’ – The Young Rascals
- Hello, Goodbye – The Beatles
- To Sir, with Love – Lulu
- Reflections – Diana Ross & the Supremes
- Music to Watch Girls By – Andy Williams
- Windy – The Association
- Don’t Sleep in the Subway – Petula Clark
- Pleasant Valley Sunday – The Monkees
- I Was Made to Love Her – Stevie Wonder
- Woman, Woman – Gary Puckett & The Union Gap
- I Dig Rock and Roll Music – Peter, Paul and Mary
- Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
- Mary In the Morning — Al Martino
*Release in 1965, but won Grammy in 1967
**These songs were not released as a single in 1967 but are on this list due to subsequent lasting popularity.
What Happened to Traditional Pop?
By 1967 it has become nearly impossible to create a list of top “pop” songs. Traditional pop was now left in the vague otherworld known as Adult Contemporary, the popularity of which was dictated by the top MOR (middle-of-the-road) AM radio station in each major market. In 1967 the flagship stations for this format included WLW in Cincinnati, Ohio; WJR in Detroit, Michigan; WNEW in New York City, New York; WCCO in Minneapolis, Minnesota; KMPC in Los Angeles, California; KIRO and KOMO in Seattle, Washington; WTIC in Hartford, Connecticut; and WGN in Chicago.
Unfortunately time has not been kind to this format, and as such many of the top traditional pop style tunes from 1967 are virtually forgotten. Here, for example, is a list of songs from 1967 that hit number one on the adult contemporary charts (indicated with an asterisk), or were number one in airplay, or won Grammy awards in the pop category. In no particular order these include:
- It Must Be Him – Vikki Carr*
- If He Walked Into My Life — Eydie Gorme
- A Man and a Woman — Anita Kerr Singers
- What Now My Love — Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass
- Please Love Me Forever – Bobby Vinton
- Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) – Nancy Sinatra*
- By the Time I Get to Phoenix – Glen Campbell
- Puppet on a String – Al Hirt
- Summer Colors – Wayne Newton
- Talk To The Animals — Rex Harrison
- In The Chapel In The Moonlight — Dean Martin*
- Casino Royale — Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass*
- A-Banda — Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass
- Lady — Jack Jones*
- Time, Time — Ed Ames*
- Stop! And Think It Over — Perry Como*
- It’s Such a Pretty World Today — Andy Russell*
- The World We Knew (Over and Over) — Frank Sinatra*
- More Than the Eye Can See — Al Martino*
- When the Snow Is On the Roses — Ed Ames*
- Cold — John Gary*
*Billboard #1 Adult Contemporary Charts 1967
Nancy and Frank Sinatra, by the way, had three AC #1 hits between them in 1967 that aren’t listed here as they are in the numbered chart at the top of the page: “That’s Life” for Frank, “Sugar Town” for Nancy, and “Something Stupid” as a father/daughter duet.
Other names that dominated household radios were Al Martino, Ed Ames, and Vicki Carr. Unfortunately for the sake of longevity, Martino and Ames’ songs sounded much like what they were: early 1950s icons singing early 1950s type songs, albeit with better recording and a more contemporary sound. Carr was not a 1950s pop icon, but sounded like one.
The kids in the household changed the station whenever they could.
In the New York metro area, this meant that Julius LaRosa and William B. Williams on WNEW-AM were quickly usurped by Dan Ingram and Bruce Morrow on “77-WABC” whenever mom left to run an errand. Because the Herb Alperts and Sinatra songs were on the pop playlists — and a lot of contemporary pop found its way to the MOR stations, mom might be fooled for a half hour until some jarring set from the Rolling Stones blared across the airwaves.
But as the Stones said earlier in the decade, “time is on my side,” and in the decades since the 1960s the stuff of the Monkees, Beatles, and Aretha Franklin have outlasted the MOR programming.
So What to Make of 1967?
It was the Summer of Love, and while those old enough to remember will recall “White Shade of Pale” by Procol Harum, and a lot of early hippie stuff from the Mamas & Papas, Jefferson Airplane, and The Doors, it’s hard to pin down the music of 1967 down so easily.
Instead we’ll look at the lasting impact, and how 1967 shaped the historical record of American Popular Song. In those terms, 1967 was the year that cemented two of the all-time pop superpowers, as well as one of our longest lasting instrumentalists.
Frank Sinatra Became Babe Ruth
He had been “Bones” in the 1940s, a crooner fronting big bands who made the bobby soxers swoon. In the 1950s he was a movie star, at times struggling to find his musical mojo (Mitch Miller made Frank do an ill-advised duet with Dagmar that can only be described as ghastly). He refocused his sound in the late 1950s, and cemented his role as a pop icon in the early 1960s as de-facto leader of the Rat Pack. But in musical terms, it was 1967 that Frank Sinatra won Grammy Awards and boasted multiple number one records both pop and adult contemporary. Amidst all the flowers, peace and love, all the experimental sounds from California, all the driving rhythm from Motown, Frank Sinatra records would scream to the top of the charts. It was thought that his best years were behind him; a middle-aged man has no place on the pop charts. But he repeatedly hit it out of the park in 1967. This was the year he arguably became the best of all time.
The Beatles Became The Beatles
Like Sinatra, 1967 was the year the Beatles ascended to the highest level of pop significance, and they’ve remained there since. If they had stopped making records in 1966, they wouldn’t have near the staying power they’ve enjoyed. 1967 is when the Beatles’ pop classics hit the charts, in an almost insurmountable wave. “Eleanor Rigby”, “Penny Lane”, “Strawberry Fields Forever”, “All You Need is Love”, “Hello Goodbye,” and “With a Little Help From My Friends”…all pop classics, and all better “pop” than anything they had released prior — with the exception of “Michelle,” released late in 1965, for which they won a best vocal Grammy in 1967.
Had the Beatles merely rode their first “wave” of hits in 1964, they simply would not be the icons in American pop history that they are. “She Loves You,” “Please Please Me,” even “Help” are hardly on par with the all time greats. Indeed it was these 1967 offerings that launched them to the level of respect they enjoy to this day.
OK, OK that song didn’t come out for another decade. And yes, like the Beatles and Sinatra above, Herb Alpert had a number of hits prior to 1967. And, ok, if you took 1967 off his resume, he would be no less of a musical force. The point is that by 1967, it was understood that Herb Alpert was probably the most important instrumentalist of the 1960s.
One of the more interesting #1 AC stories in 1967 was Alpert’s version of “Casino Royale.” Originally produced for the film with a vocal by Mike Redway and backing horns by Alpert, it was supposedly scrapped from the soundtrack by composer Burt Bacharach. But you can’t really have a movie soundtrack without a movie them song, so Bacharach asked Alpert to add additional horns to revamp it as an instrumental. This montage version broke into the top 40, and hit #1 on AC. Oddly enough, Alpert’s first number one hit on the pop charts would come a year later, and it would be a vocal of all things.