Steven L. Smith, Bellingham, WA Home Inspector (King of the House)


First #1 Billboard R&B Tune in America, January 1965

When those of us who lived through the 1960's think about the music of the era, we tend to think of the British Invasion. That was, certainly, a major influence. But right here, in the USA, the performers who were competing the best with the Brits were the soul or R&B artists. Detroit was the dominant force in American music. The motor city was making vinyl along with cars.

One of the most long enduring, and best ever, of the soul hits topped the R&B charts at the end of January 1965. It hit #1 on the pop charts a month later, in early March.

This song, according to Billboard, earns the distinction of being the "first" ever #1 hit in their officially published book of R&B chart hits. Sure, there was soul music prior to 1965, but the so-called charts, Billboard states, were loosely run affairs often consisting of hits that were not even soul music or they were otherwise inappropriate. Heck, the Chipmunks had, previously, had a #1 R&B hit.

So, according to Billboard, once they got serious about the R&B charts, the first credible #1 on their new and revitalized chart was this classic hit that is the feature of today's post.

This tune has a number of distinctions -- written by Smokey Robinson and it became his signature song; first lead vocal by a performer named David Ruffin who would become a legend; strings (Detroit Symphony Orchestra) backing-up an R&B song.

You know the routine, to be taken back in time to see the original artists perform their original hit, you will first need to change channels. Turn off Lucille Ball, by clicking on the TV set, and you will hear one of the most popular and famous songs ever recorded. It has been featured, as sound track material, in any number of movies. In fact one movie, popular when my daughter was a kid, was named after this very song.



Steven L. Smith

If you enjoy nostalgia and music of yesteryear, click on Elvis' gold record to visit This Day In History. To explore The Stories Behind The Music blog posts click on the electric guitar. 







Comment balloon 7 commentsSteven L. Smith • July 29 2011 10:15AM
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