1961 #1 Singles Albums

1961 #1 Singles Albums

1961 #1 Singles Albums

…and more


In January 1961: Two Steps from the Blues album by Bobby “Blue” Bland released. Bland was an original member of the Beale Streeters and was sometimes referred to as the “Lion of the Blues”. Along with such artists as Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and Junior Parker, Bland developed a sound that mixed gospel with the blues and R&B. An imitator of Frank Sinatra, he was also known as the “Sinatra of the blues”, his music being influenced by Nat King Cole. Bland was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1981, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.

January 9 – 15, 1961: Frank Sinatra’s Nice ‘n’ Easy returns to Billboard #1

January 9 – 28, 1961: “Wonderland by Night” by Bert Kaempfert  #1 Billboard Hot 100

January 16 – 22, 1961: Bob Newhart’s comedy album returns to #1 for a fourth time.

January 23 – February 12, 1961: Bert Kaempfert’s Wonderland by Night is Billboard #1 album.

January 29, 1961, Bob Dylan visits Woody Guthrie

January 30 – February 12, 1961: “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” by the Shirelles #1 Billboard Hot 100. Carole King and Jerry Goffin’s first #1 hit. Also, the first song to reach #1 by an all-girl group.

1961 #1 Singles Albums


In February 1961: Gil Evans’s “Out of the Cool” released [“Where Flamingos Fly]. Recorded at Van Gelder Studio. The Penguin Guide to Jazz selected this album as part of its suggested “Core Collection” calling it “Evans’ masterpiece under his own name and one of the best examples of jazz orchestration since the early Ellington bands.”

February 13 – 19, 1961: soundtrack from the movie Exodus is Billboard #1 album.

February 13 – 26, 1961: “Calcutta” by Lawrence Welk & His Orchestra #1 Billboard Hot 100.

February 20 – March 5, 1961: Bert Kaempfert’s Wonderland by Night returns to Billboard #1 album.

February 23, 1961: “Blues and the Abstract Truth” released by Oliver Nelson Recorded Van Gelder Studio.

February 27 – March 19, 1961: “Pony Time” by Chubby Checker #1 Billboard Hot 100.

1961 #1 Singles Albums


In March 1961: John Coltrane released “My Favorite Things” album. The cover of 1959 The Sound of Music song becomes Coltrane’s most requested song.

In March 1961, Pete Seeger stood trial and was found guilty of obstructing HUAC’s work. At his sentencing he asked if he could sing, “Wasn’t That a Time”? The judge refused Seeger’s request and sentenced him to a year and a day in prison.

March 6 – 19, 1961: soundtrack from the movie Exodus is Billboard #1 album for a second time.

March 20 – April 9, 1961: Lawrence Welk’s Calcutta  is Billboard #1 album.

March 20 – April 2, 1961: “Surrender” by Elvis Presley #1 Billboard Hot 100. Though based on an early 20th century Italian ballad, it was one of 25 songs Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman wrote for Presley.

1961 #1 Singles Albums


April 3 – 23, 1961: written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart in 1934, “Blue Moon” by the Marcels #1 Billboard Hot 100.

April 9, 1961, Greenwich Village folk song fans battled the police for two hours in Washington Square. Ten demonstrators were arrested and several persons, including three policemen, were hurt.

April 10, 1961,  NYC Parks Commissioner announced that an informal referendum would be held to determine if folk singers should be allowed to sing in Washington Square on Sundays.

April 11, 1961,  Bob Dylan played his first solo live gig in New York City at Gerde’s Folk City, opening for John Lee Hooker.

April 11, 1961, NYC Mayor Wagner, announced his support of the ban issued by Newbold Morris, the Commissioner of Parks, against folk singing and guitar playing in Washington Square Park.

April 10 – 16, 1961: Elvis’s GI Blues returns to Billboard #1 album for a third time.

April 16, 1961: about 500 persons attended a rally at in the Baptist Church near Washington Square to protest the the ban against Sunday singing and performing in Washington Square.

April 17 – May 21, 1961: Lawrence Welk’s Calcutta is Billboard’s #1 album.

April 19, 1961, the Federal Communications Commission authorized regular FM stereo broadcasting starting on June 1, 1961.

April 20, 1961,the Borough President’s Community Planning Board 2, a semi-official Greenwich Village community planning board, voted to uphold Park Commissioner Newbold Morris’ ban against folk-singing in Washington Square Park.

April 23, 1961, an off-off-Broadway musical with Park Commissioner New-bold Morris as the villain was staged between police barriers on a street near Washington Square Park.

April 23, 1961: Judy Garland recorded Live at Carnegie Hall.

April 24 – May 21, 1961: “Runaway” by Del Shannon #1 Billboard Hot 100.

1961 #1 Singles Albums


May 4, 1961, NYC’s ban against fold singing in Washington Square Park was upheld by the State Supreme Court.

May 7, 1961,  folk singers marched back into Washington Square Park yesterday and sang for the first time in four weeks without hindrance from the police. They sang a capella. They had discovered that Park Department ordinances require a permit only for “minstrelsy” – singing with instruments, but not for unaccompanied song.

May 12, 1961, NYC Mayor Wagner announced that folk singing, with instrumental accompaniment, would be permitted in Washington Square “on a controlled basis.”

May 14, 1961,  from the NYT [May 15]: Washington Square yesterday afternoon saw the peaceful coexistence of scores of folk singers and hundreds of their fans, swarms of playing children, thousands of Sunday strollers, chess players, sun worshipers and fifty-five policemen.

May 22 – June 11, 1961: Elvis’s GI Blues returns to Billboard’s #1 album for a fourth time.

May 29 – June 4, 1961, “Travelin’ Man” by Ricky Nelson #1 Billboard Hot 100.

1961 #1 Singles Albums


June 1, 1961,  regular FM stereo radio broadcasting with a multiplexed signal began in the U.S. In Schenectady, NY, WGFM (owned by G.E.) was first on the air, at 12:01 a.m. Eastern time. Zenith’s WEFM in Chicago, IL, followed and KMLA in Los Angeles, CA. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval specified the starting day. Field tests for stereo FM had begun in Mar 1959 to evaluate various competing systems.

June 5, 1961, a grand jury cleared William French of charges associated with the April 30 Washington  Square demonstration.

June 5 – 18, 1961, “Running Scared” by Roy Orbison #1 Billboard Hot 100. The song is unusual in that it has no chorus, but simply builds to a vocal climax.

June 19 – 25, 1961, “Moody River” by Pat Boone #1 Billboard Hot 100.

June 22 & 23, 1961, Tony Sheridan and The Beatles do first session recordings for Bert Kaempfert with the following songs: My Bonnie (Lies Over the Ocean); The Saints (When the Saints Go Marching In); Why; Cry For a Shadow; Ain’t She Sweet;Take Out Some Insurance On Me Baby and Nobody’s Child.

June 25, 1961, Bill Evans’ album Sunday at the Village Vanguard recorded.

June 26 – July 9, 1961, “Quarter to Three” by Gary U.S. Bonds #1 Billboard Hot 100.

1961 #1 Singles Albums


July 6, 1961,the Appellate Division of the NY State Supreme Court unanimously reversed a lower court decision that had supported the city’s former ban on folk singing in Washington Square.

July 10 – August 27, 1961: “Tossin’ and Turnin’” by Bobby Lewis #1 Billboard Hot 100.

July 24 – 30, 1961, the original Broadway cast album for Carnival! is the Billboard #1

July 31 – August 27, 1961, Stars of a Summer Night by various artists is the Billboard #1 album.

1961 #1 Singles Albums

In August 1961, Tony Sheridan and the Beatles or Beat Brothers release “My Bonnie/The Saints (Go Marching In) in Germany.

August 28 – September 3, 1961: based on a German folk song and made popular in the US by Elvis in the film G.I. Blues , “Wooden Heart” by Joe Dowell #1 Billboard Hot 100.

August 28 – September 17, 1961, Elvis Presley’s Something for Everybody is Billboard #1 album.

1961 #1 Singles Albums


In September, 1961: Free Jazz by Ornette Coleman released. According to the Internet site, allmusic: As jazz’s first extended, continuous free improvisation LP, Free Jazz practically defies superlatives in its historical importance. Ornette Coleman’s music had already been tagged “free,” but this album took the term to a whole new level. Aside from a predetermined order of featured soloists and several brief transition signals cued by Coleman, the entire piece was created spontaneously, right on the spot.

September 4 – 17, 1961: a Civil War slave song, “Michael” by The Highwaymen #1 Billboard Hot 100.

September 18 – October 8, 1961:  “Take Good Care of My Baby” by Bobby Vee #1 Billboard Hot 100.

September 18 – December 17, 1961: Judy Garland’s Judy at Carnegie Hall Billboard #1 album.

September 26, 1961, Bob Dylan started as opening act for the Greenbriar Boys. He stayed two weeks.

September 29, 1961, Robert Shelton of the New York Times reviews Dylan’s Gerde’s performance. With the headline, Bob Dylan: A Distinctive Folk-Song Stylist, Shelton wrote, “A bright new face in folk music is appearing at Gerde’s Folk City. Although only 20 years old, Bob Dylan is one of the most distinctive stylists to play in a Manhattan cabaret in months.”

1961 #1 Singles Albums


October 9 – 22, 1961: “Hit the Road Jack” by Ray Charles #1 Billboard Hot 100.

October 23 – November 5, 1961: “Runaround Sue” by Dion & the Belmonts #1 Billboard Hot 100.

October 28, 1961,  an eighteen-year-old boy called Raymond Jones, wearing jeans and black leather jacket, walked into the NEMS record-store in Whitechapel, Liverpool, and said: ‘There’s a record I want. It’s “My Bonnie” and it was made in Germany. Have you got it?’

The man behind the counter shook his head. ‘Who is the record by?’ he asked. ‘You won’t have heard of them,’ said Jones. ‘It’s by a group called The Beatles….’ The man behind the counter was Brian Epstein.

1961 #1 Singles Albums


In November 1961, Jimi Hendrix met fellow serviceman Billy Cox. Cox was walking past the service club and heard Hendrix playing guitar inside. Cox, intrigued by the proficient playing, which he described as a combination of “John Lee Hooker and Beethoven”, immediately checked-out a bass guitar and the two began to jam. Soon after, they began performing at the base clubs on the weekends with other musicians in a loosely organized band called the Casuals.

November 4, 1961, Bob Dylan played a concert at Carnegie Chapter Hall, a smaller room than the famous bigger room. There are varying reports on how many people attended the concert. The number ranges between 47 and 53, pretty much all friends and family.

November 6 – December 10, 1961: “Big Bad John” by Jimmy Dean #1 Billboard Hot 100.

1961 #1 Singles Albums


In December 1961: Thelonius Monk with John Coltrane album released.

December 8, 1961: The Beach Boys first single ‘Surfin‘ was released on Candix Records( X records) a small label based in Los Angeles. It peaked at number 75 in the US; it was never released in the UK. On the strength of the song’s performance in the Southern California market, Capitol Records signed the group. Other surfing songs would follow: ‘Surfin’ Safari,’ ‘Surfin’ U.S.A.,’and ‘Surfer Girl.’

December 9, 1961, The Beatles play to 18 people in Aldershot, England.

December 11 – December 17, 1961: “Please Mr. Postman” by the Marvelettes #1 Billboard Hot 100. Released on August 28, the song is notable as the first Motown song to reach the number-one position on the Billboard Hot 100

December 13, 1961, Mike Smith, an A&R rep from Decca Records watched the Beatles perform at the Cavern Club to decide if Decca should offer them a record contract.  In January, Decca told The Beatles that “guitar groups” were on the way out and did not offer them a contract.

December 18, 1961 – January 12, 1962: a South African song from the 1920s, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” by the Tokens #1 Billboard Hot 100.

December 18, 1961 –  May 4, 1962: Elvis Presley’s Blue Hawaii movie soundtrack is his third Billboard #1 album in 1961.

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