Feeling Fine

It’s December of 1964 and the Beatles are back.

A month earlier, the Beatles had gone missing from the Billboard Hot 100 and from the chart at WOKY in Milwaukee. But in late November, their new single, “I Feel Fine,” backed with “She’s a Woman” hit the radio, and just as Beatle hits had been doing since February, soon conquered all. They charted at WOKY on November 28, shown together at #20. The double-sided hit would pause at #7 for the week of December 5, 1964, before hitting #1 on the 12th, where it would hold for four weeks. On the Hot 100 for December 5, “I Feel Fine” charted at #21 and “She’s a Woman” at #46.

The British Invasion bubbles along in Milwaukee, although just one British hit, the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me,” is in the station’s Top 10 for December 5. Elsewhere, the Zombies (“She’s Not There”), the Dave Clark Five (“Any Way You Want It”), the Rolling Stones (“Time Is on My Side”) and Manfred Mann (“Sha La La”) are in or close to the Top 20. So are Julie Rogers, with the now-forgotten “The Wedding,” and crooner Matt Monro with “Walk Away.” Marianne Faithful’s version of “As Tears Go By” and Herman Hermits’ “I’m Into Something Good” make their chart debuts. On the Hot 100, Chad and Jeremy’s “Willow Weep for Me” and the Searchers’ “Love Potion #9” are taking aim at the Top 20. Sandie Shaw, the Animals, and Gerry & the Pacemakers are farther down, along with Petula Clark’s “Downtown,” making its Hot 100 debut at #80.

Elsewhere, the Hot 100 is crowded with future classics: “Come See About Me” (which is #1 for the week of December 5), “Baby Love,” “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” plus lesser hits by the Marvelettes, the Four Tops, and the Miracles. “Leader of the Pack” by the Shangri-Las is on its way out; the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” is on its way up.

And aside from all that, there are these five records from the WOKY chart:

18. “The Lumberjack”/Hal Willis (up from 23). Willis was a Canadian country singer who had toured with Elvis Presley in 1956, and “The Lumberjack” was his lone American hit, going #5 country and bubbling under at #120 pop. He’s a member of the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and was performing as recently as last year, when he turned 80.

28. “Roses Are Red My Love”/The “You Know Who” Group (holding at 28). The “You Know Who” Group was, as best anyone can tell, a group of New York studio players imitating the Merseybeat sound. They appeared on the cover of their lone album in masks. (History does not record whether they were ever seriously mistaken for anybody famous.) Their “Roses Are Red My Love” has nothing to do with Bobby Vinton’s 1963 hit “Roses Are Red.”

29. “Run Run Run”/Gestures (up from 30). The Gestures were from Mankato, Minnesota, and “Run Run Run” was on the Soma label of Minneapolis. “Run Run Run” is the love child of the Beatles and the Ventures. An overlong appreciation is here.

31. “Hawaii Tattoo”/Waikikis (up from 35). Although “Hawaii Tattoo” is likely supposed to be surf music, it bounces along like a country record with a big ol’ steel guitar.

32. “The Crusher”/Novas (debut). We refer here, of course, to Reginald Lisowski, raised in South Milwaukee, who grew up to become the professional wrestler known as the Crusher. He was said to have trained by carrying a beer keg on his shoulders while he ran near Milwaukee’s lakefront. He competed both as an individual and in a tag team with Dick the Bruiser, and in the upper Midwest, where AWA wrestling was a weekend TV staple, he was plenty damn famous. The Novas, from Minneapolis, recorded “The Crusher” as a tribute, and the lead vocal, by Bob Nolan, is an imitation of the Crusher’s famous growl.

During this particular week 50 years ago, Ringo Starr was in the hospital recovering from a tonsillectomy. “How are you, Ringo?” “I feel fine.”

7 responses

  1. “Roses Are Red My Love”/The “You Know Who” Group” – I love that sort of knock-off crap.

  2. Growing up in Milwaukee, I watched the AWA with my dad and my older brother every Sunday after church. My dad was more into it than I was, but I remember the names: The Crusher, Nick Bockwinkel, George “Scrapiron” Gadaski, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, and, of course, the very capable Kenny Jay. The voice of ringside announcer Rodger Kent puts me right back in the moment.

  3. “Run, Run, Run” never sounded better than when Lovable Lou Reigert (the Gestures’ manager) played it every night on the 630 kilocycles. Go for the original mono mix; the stereo split channel-vocals overdubbed onto the mono backing track pales in comparison.

    “The Crusher” never sounded better than it did when my sister and I did a duet of it on the spiffy new reel-to-reel recorder Santa brought me that Christmas. Or maybe I’m just imagining that, having taken a pass on the Novas 45 at the time. The last time I transferred that tape (to then-modern VHS HiFi audio) the oxide was literally flying off the ancient acetate backing on the reel of tape which had come with the recorder.

    I had both the You-Know-Who Group and Waikikis cuts on ‘Shindig,” a Kapp various artists cutout LP purchased at the university bookstore, but it was never returned after I’d loaned it out. The upside: because it contained “Hawaii Tattoo” (a song I’d never heard in ’64) I managed to win $8.40 or so by identifying it on Joe Donovan’s WHAS/Louisville overnight show. Ah, the good old days… when deejays supplemented their meager earnings by winning out-of-market contests in the days when there were overnight contests… and overnight deejays.

    All of us neighborhood kids would gather around to laugh at the AWA wrestling shows telecast from the Calhoun Beach Manor on WTCN-TV. The Crusher and Bruiser taking on Larry “Pretty Boy” Hennig and “Handsome” Harley Race (or “The Dolly Sisters,” as Reggie would call ’em) were always the most anticipated bouts, unless Pampero Firpo happened to be on the same program. Good ol’ Marty O’Neill and Rodger Kent (RIP 11/28/2014) wielding the mikes, all in glorious black and white and all in good fun.

    There was a TV commercial in the late ’80s that copped the line “my secret dreams have all come tru-u-u-ue” from Julie Rogers’ “The Wedding” and my first thought upon seeing it was “who on earth ELSE remembered *that* song?” Can’t recall the sponsor, but it had kids miming a line from different songs (Jackie Wilson’s “That’s Why (I Love You So)” was another.)

    1. On second thought, I think it was actually Jackie’s “I’ll Keep You Satisfied.”

    2. Let this be your occasional reminder, gentle reader, that Yah Shure is The Man.

      1. I say we stick it to “The Man,” ’cause it’s “I’ll Be Satisfied,” not that Billy J. Kramer with the Dakotas hit.

  4. the harmonica solo on “Roses are Red My Love” has the soothing quality of a circular saw. Love it!

    “Run, Run, Run” was an early entry into my discovery of garage rock, in the early 80’s via the Pebbles compilations. Label owner Greg Shaw would basically use 45’s from his collection as the “master” but I heard loads of great songs this way.

    When I worked in TV my boss had a previous gig where he was responsible for the tapes (or film) sent from the wrestlers or promoters that his station would air. He told me the correspondence was addressed “D. Bruiser.”

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