This may be a bit lengthy, but hopefully you find some reason to stick with it.
In the song American Pie Don McLean talks about the day “the music died”. Of course he is referencing the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens & The Big Bopper. That was 1959. So if 1959 was the year the music died, then was 1964 the year the music was reborn?
If nothing else 1964 was certainly the year of the tidal wave known as The British Invasion. It was just getting started & the music scene, radio, TV, the Billboard Charts would never look back.
Let’s take a brief look at one famous week on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts…April 4th 1964.
On this particular week we saw that:
The Beatles had singles at 79, 68, 65, 58, 46, 41, & 31.
The Dave Clark Five had singles at 48, & 10.
The Searchers sat at #15
There was a song called We Love You Beatles by The Carefrees at #42.
And a song called A Letter To The Beatles by The Four Preps sitting at #85.
And we had yet to hear from The Rolling Stones, Herman’s Hermits, The Kinks, The Animals, Gerry & The Pacemeakers, The Zombies, Peter and Gordon, or Chad & Jeremy all of whom will debut before 1964 is over. Then there were Petula Clark, The Hollies, The Yardbirds, and Freddie & The Dreamers who will make their chart debuts within the next year.
But April 4th 1964 is famous for one more thing. That was the week that The Beatles accomplished something that had never happened before & has never happened since. They had all of the Top 5 positions on The Hot 100, and here are the songs that occupied those spots.
5) Please, Please Me
This song debuted back in February & went to #3, this week it fell from 4 to 5.
This was a John Lennon composition.
John, who was a big Roy Orbison fan, wrote this in the style of Orbison's overly-dramatic singing. Beatles producer George Martin suggested it would sound better sped up. In 2006, Martin told The Observer Music Monthly, "The songs the Beatles first gave me were crap. This was 1962 and they played a dreadful version of 'Please Please Me' as a Roy Orbison-style ballad. But I signed them because they made me feel good to be with them, and if they could convey that on a stage then everyone in the audience would feel good, too. Then we worked for ages on their new version of 'Please Please Me,' and I said: 'Gentlemen, you're going to have your first #1.'"
John was partly inspired by a line from a Bing Crosby song that read, "Please lend a little ear to my pleas." He recalled: "I remember the day I wrote it, I heard Roy Orbison doing "Only The Lonely", or something. And I was also always intrigued by the words to a Bing Crosby song that went, 'Please lend a little ear to my pleas'. The double use of the word 'please'. So it was a combination of Roy Orbison and Bing Crosby."
This song was a part of their 1st UK album, entitled Please, Please Me. They recorded the entire album in a bit over 12 hours.
4) I Want To Hold Your Hand
This one came on the scene in early January. It went all the way to #1, stayed there for 7 weeks & was the #1 biggest single of the year. This week it had fallen from 2 to 4. The song is in The Grammy Hall OF Fame.
This was the first Beatles song to catch on in America. In 1963, the Beatles became stars in England, but couldn't break through in the US. They couldn't get a major label to distribute their singles in America, so songs like "Love Me Do" and "She Loves You" were issued on small labels and flopped, even though they were hits in England. By February 1964, America finally took notice of The Beatles and bought this single in droves, giving them their first US hit. It sold better in the first 10 days of release in the US than any other British single, and remains the best-selling Beatles single in the United States, moving over 12 million copies.
Paul had recently moved into 57 Wimpole Street, London, where he was lodging as a guest of Dr Richard and Margaret Asher, and whose daughter, actress Jane Asher, had become his girlfriend after their meeting earlier in the year (Jane’s brother was Peter of Peter & Gordon & Paul would write their hit single A World Without Love). This location briefly became Lennon and McCartney's new writing base, where they sat at the piano and composed 'I Want to Hold Your Hand'
3) She Loves You
This one also first hit the charts in January. It also went to #1 & spent 2 weeks there coming in as the 9th biggest hit of the year. This week it fell out of the #1 spot that it had held for the last two weeks.
John & Paul were inspired to write this after a concert at the Majestic Ballroom in Newcastle when they were part of a tour with Roy Orbison and Gerry & the Pacemakers. Says McCartney, "There was a Bobby Rydell song out at the time 'Forget Him' and, as often happens, you think of one song when you write another. We were in a van up in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. I'd planned an answering song where a couple of us would sing 'She loves you' and the other ones would answer 'Yeah Yeah.' We decided that was a crummy idea but at least we then had the idea of a song called She Loves You. So we sat in the hotel bedroom for a few hours and wrote it; John and I, sitting on twin beds with guitars."
2) Twist & Shout
This one had been on the scene for just a few weeks & was still climbing. Last week it was at #3, but right here at #2 was going to be the peak for the song.
This one was written by Phil Medley & Bert Russell & had previously been a hit for The Isley Brothers in 1962.
This was also a part of the Please Please Me album & the very last song they recorded that day. John takes the lead vocal even though he was suffering from a major head cold & after 12 hours of solid singing all the guys had sore throats, John's, in particular, was almost completely gone so they had to get it right the first time. John sucked a couple throat lozenges, had a gargle with milk and away we went."
They tried a 2nd take of the song, but John’s voice was so spent that what you got on the record was the 1st take & an incredible vocal indeed.
1) Can’t Buy Me Love
This song had debuted just last week at #27 & jumped all the way to #1 in just 2 weeks. It will top the charts for 5 weeks & land as the 2nd biggest single of the year.
This one was written by Paul. Paul takes the lead vocals & after 3 takes with John & George singing backup, the decision was made that no other vocals were needed, so it became the first song for them to be done with just one voice.
The song was recorded on January 29, 1964 in Paris, although when The Beatles returned to Britain, George Harrison decided to overdub another lead guitar part.
The song became their 3rd consecutive US #1 hit single, ("I Want to Hold Your Hand" was replaced at number one by "She Loves You" which was in turn replaced by "Can't Buy Me Love").
And Beatlemania was on the way. Just check out the reaction of the crowds in all of these LIVE performances. Crowd reactions, screaming, screeching & the inability to hear themselves was perhaps the #1 factor in their decision to stop touring all together & become strictly a studio band.