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50 Song Hits



Compiled by Roger Lee Hall


In 1961 there was a wide variety of songs heard on radio, movies and television. Just consider these different categories:

Country: "Big Bad John" -- Jimmy Dean
Italian melody: "Surrender" -- Elvis Presley
African melody: "The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh)" -- The Tokens
Afro-American folk song: "Michael (Row The Boat Ashore) --
The Highwayman
Movie song: "Moon River" -- Henry Mancini (Oscar winner for Best Song)
Vintage song with upbeat tempo: "Blue Moon" -- The Marcels
Rhythm & Blues: "Hit The Road, Jack" -- Ray Charles
Dance: "Let's Twist Again" -- Chubby Checker

On a personal side, 1961 marks the 50th anniversary of my first song, "Dream World," and first record, "The Soho Serenade," written while stationed in the U.S. Army and included in my multmedia memoir, "Free As The Breeze" -- Confessions of a Struggling Songwriter.

50 Song Hits From 1961

Look at this list and see how many of these songs you know
(arranged in alphabetical order not by record sales)

1. Apache (Jerry Lordan) -- Jordan Ingmann and His Guitar

2. Barbara Ann (Fred Fassert) -- The Regents/ The Beach Boys

3. +Big Bad John (Jimmy Dean) -- Jimmy Dean

4. +Blue Moon (Rodgers-Hart) -- The Marcels

5. +The Boll Weevil Song (Otis-Benton) -- Brook Benton

6. +Calcutta (Pockriss-Vance) -- Lawrence Welk & Orchestra

7. Calendar Girl (Greenfield-Sedaka) -- Neil Sedaka

8. Crazy (Willie Nelson) -- Patsy Cline

9. Crying (Orbison-Melson) -- Roy Orbison

10. Dedicated To The One I Love (Paulin-Bass) -- The Shirelles

11. Every Breath I Take (Goffin-King) -- Gene Pitney

12. Flaming Star (Wayne-Edwards) -- Elvis Presley

13. Hello Walls ((Willie Nelson) -- Faron Young

14. His Latest Flame (Doc Pomus-Mort Schuman) -- Elvis Presley

15. +Hit The Road, Jack ((Percy Mayfield) -- Ray Charles

16. A Hundred Pounds Of Clay (Elgin-Dixon-Rogers) -- Gene McDaniels

17. I Fall To Pieces (Cochran-Howard) -- Patsy Cline

18. +I Like It Like That (Kenner-Toussaint) -- Chris Kenner

19. I'll Be There (King-Leiber-Stoller) -- Damita Jo

20. Let's Twist Again (Mann-Appell) -- Chubby Checker

21. +The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh) (Peretti-Creatore-Weiss-Stanton) -- The Tokens

22. +Michael (Row The Boat Ashore) (arr. D. Fisher) -- The Highwayman

23. +Moody River (Gary Bruce) -- Pat Boone

24. Moon River (Mancini-Mercer) -- Henry Mancini/ Andy Williams

25. +Mother-in-Law (Alan Toussaint) -- Ernie K. Doe

26. Peppermint Twist (Dee-Glover) -- Joey Dee & The Starliters

27. +Please Mr. Postman (Holland-Bateman-Gorman) -- The Marvelettes

28. +Pony Time (Convay-Berry) -- Chubby Checker

29. Pretty Little Angel Eyes (Boyce-Lee) -- Curtis Lee

30. +Quarter To Three (Barge-Guida-Royster-Anderson) -- Gary U.S. Bonds

31. +Runaround Sue (DiMucci-Maresca) -- Dion

32. +Runaway (Shannon-Crook) -- Del Shannon

33. +Running Scared (Orbison-Melson) -- Roy Orbison

34. Run To Him (Goffin-Keller) -- Bobby Vee

35. Shop Around (Gordy-Robinson) -- The Miracles

36. Spanish Harlem (Leiber-Specter) -- Ben E. King

37. Stand By Me (King-Leiber-Stoller) -- Ben E. King

38. +Surrender (adapted by Pomus-Shuman) -- Elvis Presley

39. +Take Good Care Of My Baby (Goffin-King) -- Bobby Vee

40. Theme from THE MISFITS (Alex North) -- Don Costa

41. Those Oldies But Goodies (Politti-Curinga) -- Little Caesar & The Romans

42. +Tossin' And Turnin' (Ren-Adams) -- Bobby Lewis

43. Town Without Pity (Washington-Tiomkin) -- Gene Pitney

44. +Travelin' Man (Jerry Fuller) -- Ricky Nelson

45. Walk On By (Kendall Hayes) -- Leroy Van Dyke

46. Wild In The Country (Weiss-Peretti-Creatore) -- Elvis Presley

47. +Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? (Goffin-King) -- The Shirelles

48. +Wonderland By Night (Chase-Neuman) -- Bert Kaempfert & Orchestra

49. +Wooden Heart (arr. by Kaempfert-Twomey-Weisman-Wise) --
Joe Dowell

50. You Don't Know What You've Got (Until You Lose It)(Hampton-Burton) -- Ral Donner

+ = from Billboard Top 1000 Singles, 1955-1996, compiled by Joel Whitburn

Singers with most recordings listed:

Elvis Presley = 4
Patsy Cline = 2
Ben E. King = 2
Roy Orbison = 2
Gene Pitney = 2
The Shirelles =2
Bobby V
ee = 2


No. 1 Songs from 1961

Arranged by number of weeks at No. 1 and alphaebtical titles for tied weeks (according to The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits by Joel Whitburn)

Tossin' And Turnin' -- Bobby Lewis (7 weeks)
Big Bad John -- Jimmie Dean (5 weeks)
Runaway -- Del Shannon (4 weeks)
Wonderland By Night -- Bert Kaempfert (3 weeks)
Pony Time -- Chubby Checker (3 weeks)
The Lion Sleeps Tonight (3 weeks)
Blue Moon -- The Marcels (3 weeks)
Take Good Care Of My Baby -- Bobby Vee (3 weeks)
Calcutta -- Lawrence Welk & His Orchestra (2 weeks)
Runaround Sue -- Dion (2 weeks0
Michael Row The Boat Ashore -- The Highwayman (2 weeks)
Travelin' Man -- Ricky Nelson (2 weeks)
Quarter To Three -- Gary U.S. Bonds (2 weeks)
Hit The Road Jack -- Ray Charles (2 weeks)
Surrender -- Elvis Presley (2 weeks)
Will You Love Me Tomorrow -- The Shirelles (2 weeks)
Mother-in-Law -- Ernie K. Doe (1 week)
Please Mr. Postman -- The Marvelettes (1 week)
Wooden Heart -- Joe Dowell (1 week)
Moody River -- Pat Boone (1 week)
Running Scared -- Roy Orbison (1 week)
The Boll Weevil Song -- Brook Benton (1 week)
I Like It Like That -- Chris Kenner (1 week)

Are you celebrsating an anniversary for 1961?

To inquire about ordering a personal CD of pop songs from 1961, write to:

Song Hits From 1961






Recommended Recordings

Billboard Top Hits: 1961

Top Rock n' Roll Hits of 1961

Billboard Top Pop Hits: 1961

Top Pop Hits of 1961

Billboard Top Country Hits: 1961

Top Country Hits of 1961

Billboard Top Movie Hits: 1960s (Soundtrack Anthology)

Billboard Top Movie Hits 1960s

Songwriter Memories


Read about songs from the 1950s and '60s, including a chapter about Elvis Presley from 1955-1956, in these this illustrated disc playable on any computer, with music files by songwriter Roger Hall:

"Dream World" - Songs, Poems and Stories




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AMP Song Links


A Century of American Songs (1861 - 1961)

Cowboy Songs Corral

Early Elvis in Cleveland

National Carry A Tune Week

Popular Songwriters

50 Song Hits 1956

50 Song Hits 1957

50 Song Hits 1958

50 Song Hits 1959

50 Song Hits 1960

Tune Lovers Society



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