The Hits of 1965: New Sounds Abound

Folk music gets electrified and the British invasion continues


hits of 1965

America in 1965 was not a happy place. President Johnson was creating Medicare and strengthening the war on poverty while deepening our involvement in the Vietnam quagmire, upping the number of troops serving there to over 125,000. In response, the movement against the war grew and in November a Washington demonstration against the Vietnam War had over 35.000 participants. There was fighting in the streets of Los Angeles as the Watts riots broke out and were on the nightly news for days. For the first time in history, cigarette packs carried health warnings and smoking started to develop a negative image. The Gateway to the West, the St. Louis Arch, was completed and opened to the public, and in San Francisco, a group of former folk musicians changed their name from the Warlocks to the Grateful Dead, plugged in their instruments, and started making history.

What happened in 1965's Music?
As 1964 rolled over into the next year, the pop music world got even more eclectic and international, while allowing plenty of room for more home-grown acts as well. Genres such as surf, soul, R&B, folk, and others were laid upon a rock and roll foundation and interesting hybrids developed. The British Invasion became a tidal wave, and there were so many new groups with hit singles that it was hard to tell them apart. It was a historical year in music, and the top 100 reflected the energy and turmoil of the times.

British Invasion Stage 3
The Beatles continues their assault on the hit parade and were worldwide celebrities and rock stars. 1965 saw the release of their second movie - Help! - and its soundtrack, along with the landmark album Rubber Soul. It was evident from the new music (such amazing growth in such a short time) and from the cover photo that the Beatles were both setting the trends and moving with the times. The Rolling Stones had decided to write their own songs and with their scruffy, anti-Beatles image, had proven themselves to be real contenders for the pop crown - I Can't Get No Satisfaction was a worldwide hit, and they put out 3 or 4 album's  worth of music, depending on which country you were in. But they were not the only other English rockers to appear on the charts that year. Herman's Hermits, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, Petula Clark, the Rolling Stones, and the Dave Clark Five all shared the number 1 position at some point during the year. Other Brits released early but influential albums foreshadowing future success, or had hits in the top 100 - the Who, Cilla Black, the Zombies, the Moody Blues, the Rolling Stones, Them, the Yardbirds, and Donovan.

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Folk-Rock, Rock-Folk, What's Happening, Mr. Jones?
A very interesting thing happened in 1965 - the electrification of folk music. Bob Dylan released Bringing It All Back Home early in the year, famously plugged in at the Newport Folk Festival, then put out Highway 61 Revisited - and that was just the beginning of the addition of electricity to folk. Barry McGuire, a Dylan sound-alike, had a number 1 hit with his end of the world song the Eve of Destruction, and the Byrds took a Dylan song - Mr. Tambourine Man - turned it on its head and came up with a new sound that was promptly dubbed folk-rock. Donovan was starting to metamorphose from an English Dylan double to something new and released 2 albums during the year, and the American Lovin' Spoonful started their career in the genre. And everyone noticed that the Beatles had some very folk/country/Dylan things happening on Rubber Soul. It was a year of hybrids, mutual influences, and wonderful new sounds.

Soul - Blue-eyed and Black-Eyed
It was also the year that soul music became a real genre of its own, because it was developing  sub-genres. The Memphis-based Stax label was giving Motown a run for the money with a grittier Southern sound evidenced by Booker T. and the MGs and Otis Redding, but Motown fired back with the Temptations, the Four Tops, and Smokey Robinson, and of course more from the Supremes. The Righteous Brothers and Dusty Springfield had huge hits and became pioneers in a new sound called blue-eyed soul, because they sounded black but were very much Caucasian.


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