Ronnie Who?

(Pictured: the man in the titular question, identity to be revealed below.)

There are about 150 songs on my One Week in the 40 list; 17 of them are from 1964 and 16 are from 1965. Some of the songs from those years we have discussed in earlier installments. Here are a few more.

Not long ago I stumbled across the 1983 documentary Girl Groups: The Story of a Sound, based on the book of the same name. It’s definitely worth your time to watch, and several groups mentioned in it are on this list. The Chiffons recorded “I Have a Boyfriend,” a Jeff Barry/Ellie Greenwich song that went to #36 for the week of January 4, 1964. Another Barry/Greenwich composition, “You Should Have Seen the Way He Looked at Me,” recorded by the Dixie Cups, hit #39 during the week of November 21, 1964, and will stick in your head for a long time after you hear it. From Motown, the Marvelettes hit #34 with “I’ll Keep Holding On,” which zoomed from #45 to #34 for the week of July 3, 1965, then dropped back to #55 the next week. Patti Labelle and the Blue Belles took a similarly dizzy ride up and down with their version of “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” which zoomed from #41 to #34 (for the week of February 8, 1964) and back to #43 after that.

Male groups that may inspire glimmers of recognition are on the list as well. The Beau Brummels hit with “Laugh, Laugh” and “Just a Little” in 1965 before “You Tell Me Why” squeaked only to #38 for the week of August 28, 1965. While “Laugh, Laugh” was running the charts, the Newbeats (“Bread and Butter”) hit #40 with “Break Away (From That Boy),” on February 20, 1965. The Strangeloves (“I Want Candy”) made #39 with “Cara-Lin” during the week of October 23, 1965. The YouTuber posting the mono mix of “Cara-Lin” says it stomps the stereo version that’s widely available, and I don’t doubt it.

“Rip Van Winkle” by the Devotions was released three different times before it bubbled up to #36 for the week of April 4, 1964—that fabled week in which the Beatles held down the top 5 positions on the Hot 100. It’s not really a novelty record, although it does include Chipmunk-style effects for some reason. Allan Sherman’s “Crazy Downtown” is a novelty, a parody of Petula Clark’s original, and it made #40 during the week of May 8, 1965.

Some familiar female singers make the list. Barbara Lewis (“Hello Stranger”) hit with “Puppy Love,” which is not the same song Paul Anka made famous. It made #38 for the week of March 14, 1964. Lesley Gore hit the Top 10 with her first four singles (“It’s My Party,” “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” “She’s a Fool,” and “You Don’t Own Me”) and went to #12 with another (“That’s The Way Boys Are”) before squeaking into the 40 with “I Don’t Wanna Be a Loser,” which hit #37 for the week of June 20, 1964—and disappeared from the Hot 100 the very next week.

Male singers whose names may spark glimmers of recognition are on the list, too. Major Lance, best known for “The Monkey Time” and “Um, Um, Um, Um, Um,” hit #40 with “Come See,” written by Curtis Mayfield, on April 3, 1965. Roy Head, best known for “Treat Her Right,” hit #39 with his followup hit, “Just a Little Bit,” during the week of December 4, 1965.

And then there’s Ronnie Dove. If you get no glimmer of recognition from the name of Ronnie Dove, I’m not surprised. He’s on this list for “Say You,” his first hit, which made #40 for the week of September 26, 1964. It may surprise you to learn that “Say You” was just the beginning for Ronnie Dove. In a little more than two years after “Say You,” Dove hit the Top 40 nine more times, and would rack up a total of 20 Hot 100 singles by the summer of 1969—but none of them made the Top 10. “Right or Wrong,” “One Kiss for Old Times’ Sake,” and “Little Bit of Heaven” all squeezed into the teens and charted on the Hot 100 for at least 10 weeks; “When Liking Turns to Loving” and “Cry” also peaked in the teens. (Find them here if you’re interested.) I’m guessing he’d be #1 on the list of “most Hot 100 hits without making the Top 10,” although somebody with a better work ethic, or a more searchable database, would be able to say for sure. But because his songs never really made it onto oldies radio, you may never have heard any of them.

There’s one last record from 1964 to talk about in this feature, and we’ll get to it in the next installment.

7 responses

  1. Ronnie Dove is still very well loved in my neck of the woods, the Baltimore metro area, and he still performs at age 80! http://www.capitalgazette.com/neighborhoods/ph-ac-cc-around-pasadena-0305-20160302-story.html

  2. Where’s the “The Hits Just Keep on Comin'” podcast? You could do it like “You Must Remember This” and have scripted episodes but then also have guests sometimes.

    1. I did a couple of podcasts in the early years of this blog, but I can’t see them returning. I don’t listen to podcasts myself (and yeah, I know I’m missing out on a lot, but I just don’t), and I lack the equipment (although it’s easier recording them now than a decade ago). Maybe if I wasn’t doing regular shows on the radio I’d have greater motivation, but as of right now, I don’t.

  3. B.B. King had more Hot 100 hits without a top 10 (36)–but of course he’s much more well known than Ronnie Dove.

  4. a few more:
    Etta James – 28
    Solomon Burke – 26
    Bobby “Blue” Bland – 37 (the most so far!)

    1. See? Better database or stronger work ethic. Thank you, Victor.

  5. Curtis was wrote all of those Major Lance tunes. The man left enormous footprints on the Chicago soul scene, took it worldwide.

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