Musical Diary: January 1963

The year starts in the UK with fifties teenage heartthrob Cliff Richard at # 1 with his double-sided hit “The Next Time” and “Bachelor Boy” only to be replaced by his own backing group The Shadows instrumental “Dance On” and incredibly this is replaced by another instrumental “Diamonds” by Jet Harris & Tony Meehan, both former members of The Shadows. In fact, it is not until August that a British record is not on the top of the charts. Summer Holiday starring Cliff Richard & The Shadows was now breaking all previous box-office records for a British film.

The UK charts reveal that the fans are starting to realise the British talent, a trend that will carry on the rest of the decade. After four years in the business, Cliff was now a major star, his original opposition had almost disappeared. Tommy Steele, Terry Dene, Vince Eager, Duffy Power and Johnny Gentle never had another hit single between them. Marty Wilde had only one more hit in 1968 with “Abergavenny”. Cliff’s only serious competition came from Adam Faith and Billy Fury. Fury had a great live rock ‘n’ roll voice but was painfully shy and compensated this with a suggestive stage act like early Elvis Presley. Faith also suffered from stage nerves but did not have the voice to sustain a long career, he sang in the wavering tones of Buddy Holly and his vocal deficiencies were expertly covered up by John Barry’s string arrangements.

The Tornados receive a second gold disc for their smash hit “Telstar” for having sold more than 2 million copies around the world. They are the third UK based act to do this in the previous year. The first to strike double gold was Acker Bilk with “Stranger On The Shore”. Then there was Australian singer Frank Ifield with “I Remember You”. The Shadows were now hit-makers in their own right; they had a number one in Australia with “The Boys”.

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On the first day of the year The Beatles started a five-day tour of Scotland, and on the 11th appeared on the UK TV show THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS, singing “Please, Please Me”. Next day this song was released in the UK, it became their first of many number ones worldwide.

On the 7th Gary U. S. Bonds filed a lawsuit unsuccessfully against Chubby Checker alleging plagiarism of his big hit “Quarter To Three”, which he claimed had been turned into “Dancin’ Party”. In the future, another unsuccessful plagiarism claim was by Taj Mahal that one of his songs had been ripped off by Rod Stewart and co-writer Carmel Appice with “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy”.

The most famous of all was when George Harrison was found guilty of stealing parts of The Chiffons’ “He’s So Fine” for his worldwide number one “My Sweet Lord”. Johnny and the Hurricanes arrived in England to start a four-week tour of the UK. They were once a rock and roll band called The Orbits but led by saxophonist Johnny Paris started to turn old songs into rocking instrumentals. Their first hit was in 1959, “Crossfire”, then in 1960 “Red River Rock” was a top ten hit on both sides of the Atlantic; then followed “Reveille Rock”, “Beatnik Fly”, and “Rocking Goose”. More popular in Europe than anywhere; in 1962 they started at The Starlight Club in Hamburg, Germany, where the opening act was a virtually unknown band The Beatles.

Jay Justin had been around the music scene for a few years and had his biggest hit with “Proud Of You”, which had a seventeen week run in the Australian charts. He was a regular on BANDSTAND and the JOHNNY O’KEEFE SHOW, and in collaboration with Joe Halford wrote songs for Patsy Ann Noble and Bryan Davies.

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One night at the Maroubra Surf Club he discovered a raw Aussie talent called Little Pattie and introduced her to “He’s My Blonde Headed Stompie, Wompie Real Gone Surfer Boy” which became a huge success and followed up with “Stomping At Maroubra”. He continued working well into the 1980’s, even trying to make it in the UK, signing with famed British record producer Norrie Paramor but with little success. This year was to become a year for the Australian guitar instrumentals with “Bombora’ by The Atlantics hitting the top spot, and two big hits for Rob E. G. “Jezebel” and “55days At Peking”. Digger Revel’s Denvermen had their first chart entry with “Surfside”.

The top ten in Australia in January 1963

1. Return To Sender, Elvis Presley
2. Big Girls Don’t Cry / Connie O, The Four Seasons
3. Telstar, The Tornados
4. The Lonely, Bull Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass
5. Bobby’s Girl, Marcie Blane
6. Working For The man / Leah, Roy Orbison
7. Do The Cha Cha Cha, Bobby Rydell
8. The Boys, The Shadows
9. Lovesick Blues, Frank Ifield
10. The Night Has A 1000 Eyes, Bobby Vee

The #1’s in the USA 5th Telstar, The Tornados
12th 19th Go Away Little Girl, Steve Lawrence
26th Walk Right In, The Rooftop Singers

In the UK; 5th 12th 19th The Next Time/Bachelor Boy, Cliff Richard & The Shadows
26th Dance On, The Shadows

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In OZ; 5th Walk like a man, The Four Seasons
12th 19th Return To Sender, Elvis Presley
26th The Boys, The Shadows

Do you remember the hits of January 1963? Which song, band or album was your favourite?

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