Clockwise: Question Mark & the Mysterians; The Association; The Four Tops; Staff Sargent Barry Sadler; and The Righteous Brothers.
The year was 1966, and I was a young lad of 6, living in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, starting elementary school. And while I was finding my way through 1st grade at Delcroft Elementary School, on the other side of the country San Fransiscans were experiencing the first of the Acid Tests, a party structured around the experimentation and use of LSD. President Lyndon B. Johnson was continuing the US presence in Vietnam, despite overwhelming disapproval of the public. The Reverend Martin Luther King is struck by a rock while marching for civil rights in Chicago. Chicago Black Hawk Bobby Hull set a single season scoring records with 51 goals. In June, the final episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show aired. On the other hand, the first episode of Star Trek airs. The National Organization for Women, known as NOW, is founded. Building began on the World Trace Center in New York City. In a press conference in Chicago, John Lennon announces that the Beatles are "more popular than Jesus," sending religious zealots into a tizzy. Soon he meets Yoko Ono at an art gallery, and Beatles fans everywhere start to groan. The Baltimore Orioles win the World Series, the Montreal Canadians win the Stanley Cup, England wins the World Cup, and the Kansas City Chiefs win the American Football League championship, and the Green Bay Packers win the National Football League Championship. The AFL & NFL merge, giving the first Superbowl the following year. And, last but not least, How The Grinch Stole Christmas makes it's broadcast debut on December 18th.
An band form Michigan broke all kinds of boundaries when Question Mark & the Mysterians had a #1 hit on the Billboard chart with 96 Tears, written by lead sing Rudy Martinez, aka "Question Mark". The garage band sound was harkening to a new era in music, and the band was one of the first to be labelled at punk rockers. The are also one of the first Latino rock bands to claim the top spot on the charts. They were also one of the first #1 acts to claim they were from Mars, and to have arrived here via time travel. Check them out...
With lead singer Levi Stubbs on the vocals, it was hard to beat any record put out by The Four Tops. The Motown band topped the Billboard charts with another hit written by the producing team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Edward Holland with the exciting Reach Out I'll Be There. The song was later covered by the great Diana Ross. But it all started with the Four Tops...
The Los Angelos-based The Righteous Brothers were spreading their blue-eyed sould all across the country during the 60s, and this year was no different. Bill Medley and the late Bobby Hatfield, not actual brothers, scored a #1 hit with (You're My) Soul And Inspiration, written by the amazing songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.
Yet another California-based group was spending time atop the charts in 1966, as The Association wowed the public with their harmozing love song, Cherish. The song was written by Terry Kirkman, a member of the band. The song was on top of the charts for three consecutive weeks.
But the #1 song for the year was from an actual soldier, a real member of the famed Green Beret. Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler. He was wounded in action while fighting in South Vietnam. While recovering from the injury, he made a promise that he would give away the rights to a song he had written if he would recover. He did recover, and went on to record The Ballad of the Green Beret. It took the airwaves by storm, and was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for five consecutive weeks. It was also his only hit song.