Broadcasting, Music, Music Countdowns, Radio, Retro Rock

1967 Dynamite Top 40 Hits

I discovered top 40 radio in early 1967 as an 11-year-old boy in Roanoke, Virginia.  Finding WROV 1240 AM that year, expanded musical horizons in my life and set up a future course for me working as a radio DJ.

Attending Oakland Elementary School, I was familiar with the Beatles and viewed “The Monkees” TV series on a weekly basis but my knowledge of pop/rock music was limited.

Christmas 1966, I was gifted 3 albums that whetted my appetite for popular music at that time: “Boots” by Nancy Sinatra, “Gary Lewis & the Playboys Greatest Hits” and The Monkees’ self-titled debut album.  Santa Claus also left a record player underneath the Christmas tree that year.

My parents were not rock fans so I didn’t inherit any guidance on this popular type of music. My father listened to country music on WSLC 610 AM while my mother favored the smooth “Middle of the Road” format on WDBJ 960 AM. 

In the winter months of 1967, I was curious about radio and started my lifelong love of music. Located in our living room was a huge RCA stereo console, which featured an AM/FM radio. I spent many afternoons exploring various local Virginia stations after I got home from school.

It was also in this time period that I bought my first record album: “More of the Monkees.”  This was the second LP released by the TV rock band and featured the mega number 1 hit “I’m a Believer.”

Forward to spring break 1967: with no school happening, I found an AM desk-top tube radio in our kitchen. The stations that I listened to that week both had Top 40 formats: WROV 1240 AM and WPXI 910 AM.

Then on my 12th birthday in May 1967, my parents gave me a transistor radio. From that point on, I was hooked on top 40 radio and WROV.

Legendary Top 40 WROV 1240 AM was the top-rated radio station in Roanoke during the mid to late 60s and also throughout the 70s decade. The two DJ’s that I distinctly remember from WROV back in ‘67 are Jack Fisher and Fred Frelantz.

WROV DJs Fred Freelantz and Jack Fisher. Photo courtesy of WROV History Website/Pat Garrett.

My radio listening expanded during the “summer of love” in ’67, as I commandeered the desk-top tube radio from our kitchen and permanently kept this device in my bedroom. During daylight hours, I exclusively listened to WROV.

WROV DJ Jack Fisher in front of the station building. Photo courtesy of the WROV History Website/Pat Garrett.

Unlike my small transistor radio, the devise in my bedroom could pick up radio stations that were located hundreds of miles away from my Virginia home. On many nights that summer, I would tune in 50,000-watt, clear channel AM radio stations, such as WLS 890 Chicago and WABC 770 New York.

Dan Ingram plays the #2 song on WABC with this 7/29/67 aircheck: “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procol Harum.

I still have fond memories listening to top 40 radio during 1967.  For the remainder of this article, I will be sharing what I consider to be the best songs played on top 40 music stations 55 years ago.

As a guide, I used the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1967 survey for songs I selected with my countdown. For chart information, I utilized, “The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits” by Joel Whitburn.

Below are the top 10 songs of 1967 according to Billboard:

1          “To Sir With Love”                   Lulu

2          “The Letter”                              The Box Tops

3          “Ode to Billie Joe”                    Bobbie Gentry

4          “Windy”                                    The Association

5          “I’m a Believer”                        The Monkees

6          “Light My Fire”                         The Doors

7          “Somethin’ Stupid”                  Frank & Nancy Sinatra

8          “Happy Together”                    The Turtles

9          “Groovin'”                                 The Young Rascals

10        “Can’t Take My Eyes off You” Frankie Valli

Songs listed below are 1967 singles that I like but fell outside my top 20 countdown, randomly placed with no ranking.  It was extremely hard excluding these outstanding songs from the final listing:

  • Soul Man—Sam & Dave
  • The Letter—The Box Tops
  • Light My Fire—The Doors
  • To Sir with Love–Lulu
  • Expressway (To Your Heart)—The Soul Survivors
  • Somebody to Love—Jefferson Airplane
  • Ode to Billie Joe—Bobbie Gentry
  • Pleasant Valley Sunday—The Monkees
  • All You Need is Love—The Beatles
  • Gimme Little Sign—Brenton Wood
  • Mirage—Tommy James & the Shondells
  • I Had too Much to Dream (Last Night)—The Electric Prunes
  • Friday on My Mind—The Easybeats
  • Here Comes My Baby—The Tremeloes
  • Reflections—The Supremes

As Casey Kasem used to say on his American Top 40 show: “It’s now on with the countdown.”

20.   White Rabbit—Jefferson Airplane

Peak Positions on Billboard Charts:  #8 Hot 100, 81st Biggest Song of 1967

Written by Jefferson Airplane’s vocalist Grace Slick. Lyrics uses figurative language from two Lewis Carroll books: “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass.”  “White Rabbit” was a standout performance at Woodstock in 1969.

19.   Kind of a Drag—The Buckinghams

Peak Positions on Billboard Charts:  #1 Hot 100, 16th Biggest Song of 1967

Band from Chicago, Illinois. “Kind of a Drag” was the first of 3 consecutive top 10 hits and 5 top 40 charting singles in 1967.  Song has outstanding horn section.

18.   Respect—Aretha Franklin

Peak Positions on Billboard Charts:  #1 Hot 100, 13th Biggest Song of 1967

Otis Redding penned this song in 1965. Two years later, Aretha Franklin went to Muscle Shoals recording studio in Alabama and re-created Redding’s composition into an anthem.  “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” became Franklin’s first number 1 hit and is considered her signature song.

17.   Groovin’—The Young Rascals

Peak Positions on Billboard Charts:  #1 Hot 100, 9th Biggest Song of 1967

First number 1 hit for New Jersey formed band. Song is in both the Grammy Hall of Fame and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s “500 Songs that Shaped Rock & Roll.”  The Rascals dropped “Young” from their name at the end of 1967.

16.   Happy Together—The Turtles

Peak Positions of Billboard Charts:  #1 Hot 100, 8th Biggest Song of 1967

Only number 1 hit for the band. Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan formed a duo called “Flo and Eddie” after breakup of the Turtles. Song is in the Grammy Hall of Fame.

15.   Daydream Believer—The Monkees

Peak Positions on Billboard Charts:  #1 Hot 100, 94th Biggest Song of 1967

Song written by John Stewart. Last number 1 hit by the band. Davy Jones of the group sings lead vocals on the track.

14.   We Ain’t Got Nothin’ Yet—The Blues Magoos

Peak Positions on Billboard Charts: #5 Hot 100, 65th Biggest Song of 1967.

Psychedelic rock band from New York City. A one hit wonder. Considered in the sub-genre “Frat Rock” category. Tune has catchy organ-guitar riff.

13.   The Rain, The Park & Other Things—The Cowsills

Peak Positions on Billboard Charts:  #2 Hot 100, 49th Biggest Song of 1967

Debut smash for Newport, Rhode Island family band. Sold 3 million records. Reached number 1 on the Cashbox Top 100 chart. A quintessential “Sunshine Pop” selection.

12.   Sweet Soul Music—Arthur Conley

Peak Position of Billboard Charts:  #2 Hot 100, 17th Biggest Song of 1967

“Sweet Soul Music” was co-written by Arthur Conley and Otis Redding. Lyrics honors some of the biggest R&B artists from the mid 60s:  The Miracles, Lou Rawls, Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding and James Brown. Brass instruments create a rich sound on the tune.

11.   On a Carousel—The Hollies

Peak Positions on Billboard Charts: #11 Hot 100, 42nd Biggest Song of 1967

“On a Carousel” is a perfect pop song, written by Hollies band members Allan Clarke, Graham Nash and Tony Hicks.  Melodic tune and vocal harmonies are rich on popular recording.

10.   I Was Made to Love Her—Stevie Wonder

Positions on Billboard Charts:  #2 Hot 100, 14th Biggest Song of 1967

Stevie Wonder was just 17 years old when “I Was Made to Love Her” was a hit. The musical prodigy played clavinet and harmonica, while the legendary Funk Brothers provided premier bass, drums and guitar backup on this Motown classic.

9.     Never My Love—The Association

Peak Positions on Billboard Charts:  #2 Hot 100, 20th Biggest Song of 1967.

“Never My Love” peaked at #1 on the Cashbox Top 100 chart.  Popular wedding song over the past 55 years. Second most played song on radio and TV during the 20th century according to BMI.

8.     San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)—Scott McKenzie

Peak Positions on Billboard Charts: #4 Hot 100, 48th Biggest Song of 1967

The Mamas and Papas’ John Phillips wrote this song for his friend Scott McKenzie. “San Francisco” became the anthem for the “Summer of Love” in 1967, as thousands of young people flocked to the Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco, California, searching for peace, love and tranquility.

7.     Bernadette—The Four Tops

Peak Positions on Billboard Charts:  #4 Hot 100, 82nd Biggest Song of 1967

One of Motown’s greatest bass lines is found on this song.  Levi Stubbs provides outstanding vocals on the Four Tops last top 10 hit of the 60s.  I rank “Bernadette” as the 8th best Motown single of the Detroit years with the recording company.

6.     Ain’t No Mountain High Enough—Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell

Peak Positions on Billboard Charts:  #19 Hot 100, 87th Biggest Song of 1967

I rate Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell’s single as the best Motown duet of all-time and the second greatest song during the 1961-1971 time period with the record company founded by Barry Gordy. With instrumentation by the Funk Brothers and Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Terrell/Gaye are marvelous on this toe-tapping tune.

5.     I Can See for Miles—The Who

Peak Positions on Billboard Charts: #9 Hot 100, 98th Biggest Song of 1967

The Who’s first top ten hit in the U.S.  Rolling Stone places “I Can See for Miles” as the second greatest song by the British band.  Pete Townshend’s soaring guitar and Keith Moon’s driving drum playing, makes this one of the best rock singles from the 1990 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees.

4.     Incense & Peppermints—Strawberry Alarm Clock

Peak Positions on Billboard Charts:  #1 Hot 100, 23rd Biggest Song of 1967

Psychedelic rock band formed in Glendale, California. Founding member Ed King went on to fame with Lynyrd Skynyrd.  Recorded songs in the “Sunshine Pop” genre. “Tomorrow” was a second top 40 hit for the band.

3.     For What It’s Worth—Buffalo Springfield

Peak Positions on Billboard Chart: #7 Hot 100, 27th Biggest Song of 1967

Originally called “For What It’s Worth (Stop, Hey What’s That Sound).” Stephen Stills wrote and sang lead vocals on the single.  Became an anthem during the 1967 “Summer of Love” and is considered one of the greatest protest songs from the 20th century.

2.     Penny Lane—The Beatles

Peak Positions of Billboard Charts:  #1 Hot 100, 55th Biggest Song of 1967

“Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” were originally set to appear on the Beatles “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album. Instead, both songs were released as a double-A sided 45-rpm single.

Paul McCartney’s masterpiece “Penny Lane” uses many instruments not associated with most Beatles songs:  flutes, piccolos, oboes, trumpets and a flugelhorn. “Penny Lane” is my second favorite Beatles song of all-time and was the first 45-rpm single that I bought with my own money during the spring of 1967.

  1. Whiter Shade of Pale—Procol Harum

Peak Positions of Billboard Charts:  #5 Hot 100, 38th Biggest Song of 1967

British band Procol Harum came through with another 1967 “Summer of Love” anthem with their song “A Whiter Shade of Pale.”  The single sold over 10 million copies world-wide, inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and is number 57 on the Rolling Stone “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list.

The music was composed by band member Gary Brooker and Matthew Fisher, while lyrics were written by the group’s Keith Reid. Melody on the song has a classical music feel, with an outstanding mixture of organ and bassline. This is a brilliant piece of music, in my humble opinion.

“A Whiter Shade of Pale” is my second favorite song of all-time and Procol Harum’s chef d’oeuvre is my number 1 top 40 single of 1967.

Now that I have submitted what I consider to be the most significant top 40 hits of 1967, I am curious to find out your opinions on this topic.  What are your favorite songs on my countdown?

Obviously, I do not want to come across as authoritative with my critique of superb pop hits from 1967. The songs that you might feel are the best, may be completely different from my selections.

Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts and comments below on what you consider to be the fantastic top 40 hits of 45 years ago.  I look forward reading your responses. Rock on!

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16 thoughts on “1967 Dynamite Top 40 Hits

  1. Laurie Russell says:

    Wow! What a fabulous list. Like you my father listened to country music and my mother hated it and was a huge fan of the Big Band era music! I agree with all your top ten except for Somethin Stupid as I don’t even remember this song. I have always love Motown artists and their songs!! I have also loved the Association and their songs as they take me back to parties in Debra Hazelwood’s basement… a time of “young love”! As well as The Monkees! I was the perfect age when they came out! A Whiter Shade of Pale and Stop Hey What’s That Sound are two classics I have always loved!! Though I must admit in later years I discovered an album with Robin Thompson singing a Whiter Shade of Pale that was absolutely amazing!! Great article and wonderful song choices.

  2. paul says:

    Top 4 for me are White Rabbit (pychedelicocity), For What it’s Worth ( Great Protest- right up with later 1971 & Stills Ohio) , Ain’t No Mountain and Groovin’ (nostalgia)

  3. Bernard Johnson says:

    Beautiful music was made in the 60’s, especially 1967. I was only 10, but music gave me solitude during my adolescence years. Your list has some wonderful pieces. My Number 1 would be “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”. Marvin and Tammy. They made numerous duets but this one was their best, in my opinion.
    The Beatles ruled that era and Penny Lane was no exception. No 1967 list of music would be complete without the Rascals “Groovin”. Not only on a Saturday afternoon but all day long!
    To me, The Monkeys weekly show was “Must TV”….. to me! 😄. Daydream Believer was cool, but I’m a “Last Train to Clarksville” dude and was my favorite, but came out in 66. (Hate to deviate from the specified time period).
    I must put Gladys Knight and the Pips on the list with “Heard it Through The Grapevine “. Harmony and Step Show could not be beat.
    I can not leave out the the “Godfather of Soul” James Brown. “Cold Sweat” I still remember my Grandmother blasting that song on her big floor model radio.

  4. What a great year 1967 was!! I probably started listening to my little AM radio about this time. I remember watching The Monkees every week. Too hard to pick a favorite but The Rain, The Park & Other Things by The Cowsills will always be etched in my mind as an early favorite.

  5. In a rare move, I’m going to stick only to songs that reached #1.
    So I’ll go with from #10 to #1 in my estimation (I’m sure that the top 4 are all too predictable).:
    #10 – Incense and Peppermints (Strawberry Alarm Clock)
    #9 – Ruby Tuesday (Rolling Stones)
    #8 – Happy Together (Turtles)
    #7 – Respect (Aretha Franklin)
    #6 – Windy (The Association)
    #5- Light My Fire (The Doors)
    #4 – Hello Goodbye (The Beatles)
    #3 – Strawberry Fields Forever (The Beatles)
    #2 – All You Need is Love (The Beatles)
    #1 – Penny Lane (The Beatles)

    Okay, you talked me into it: Honorable non #1 mention = “Mellow Yellow” by Senator Bobby & Senator McKinley (as voiced by Bill Minkin), which peaked at #99 on March 1.

  6. David Hardie says:

    Like Laurie Russell 1967 meant the Monkeys and The parties at Debra Hazelwood’s basement. For What It’s Wirth was very profound, Groovin by the Rascals a great song to just relax to, Bernadette, Whiter Shade of Pale, Windy, Never My Love, Daydream Believer, R-E-S-P-E-C-T and the young love of 1967. You have to include from the summer of love , Are You Going To San Francisco. Great list.

  7. Larry Dowdy says:

    1967 was quite the year for music. Imagine the Beatles, Stones, Supremes, Doors, Monkees and Aretha on the radio with new music. Then there was Bobbie Gentry and her “Ode To Billie Joe”…to this day, the third of June at the Tallahatchie Bridge is still a mystery. As far as my favorites from ‘67:
    1) Hello Goodbye – Beatles
    2) Daydream Believer – Monkees
    3) Respect – Aretha Franklin
    4) Ruby Tuesday – Stones
    5) Something Stupid – Nancy & Frank Sinatra (sorry, I can’t explain why)

  8. Mark Skelton says:

    Thanks David !
    If I had to choose 3 favorites that you listed here, they would be:
    For What it’s Worth, Buffalo Springfield
    A Whiter Shade of Pale, Procol Harum
    Light my Fire, The Doors
    Other favorites of 1967 are:
    Purple Haze, Jimmy Hendrix
    White Rabbit, Jefferson Airplane
    …..and of course anything by The Beatles

  9. Darlene Richardson says:

    1967 was a phenomenal year for music and I love just about every song on your list. That year also coincided with when my dad bought his first stereo console (that came with 20 free, mostly country, albums) from Crossroads Mall’s Firestone Tire store, of all places. The Beatles were introduced to my entire 3rd class class at Preston Park Elementary on the Friday before their big debut to America on the Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964 and I became a rock ‘n’ roll fan that day. Of course, I watched that wonderful Ed Sullivan show and the Beatles were my first rock band crush. The Monkees show ran when I was in 6th grade (1966) and just about every kid watched it. For me, THEY were responsible for greatly introducing kids our age to music on a WEEKLY basis because of the show; their songs ran the gamut from sweet/catchy to corny, so we learned to appreciate a wide range of tunes. In 1967 I started junior high and discovered WROV 1240. I personally loved those “be caller 10 and win something” gimmicks and won a few times. I didn’t have a transistor radio like you did, but I was an WROV listener most evenings and on the weekends. It was great fun. There were quite a few other great songs from 1967 that I don’t see on your list, maybe because they didn’t make the top 10, but they got a LOT of play back then:”Wear Your Love Like Heaven” by Donovan, which was a catchy melody also used in commercials to market the Love Brand’s “Baby Soft” spray colognes to teenaged girls; “We Can Fly,” which I believe was the first Cowsills song introduced to the world–it was the song that my brother came to crush on Susan Cowsill over; “Elenore” was the first song from the Turtles in 7th grade that I recall and fell in love with that year; “To Love Somebody” by the BeeGees; “Georgy Girl” by the Seekers, and “There’s a Kind of Hush” by Herman’s Hermits. I agree with your top 10 except for 2 of them. Although I like “Bernadette” and Stevie Wonder’s songs on your top 10, I think “Daydream Believer” belongs in the no. 7 position because just about everyone loved that song and still know the words to this day; and I’d replace no. 10 with Aretha’s “Respect.” Keep up the good work, David. Thanks for poking us occasionally and helping up keep the old braincells from going on life support!

  10. Wayne Alexander says:

    1967 was a great year for Top 40. I also started listening to the radio with my pocket transistor after Christmas 1966, so the songs from 1967 were the ones I remember well. It’s hard to come up with a Top 10 list..
    your selections are good ones.

  11. Charles Sroczynski says:

    Another great list. So many great memories

    In 1967 I’m sure Groovin was my favorite with Light My Fire and Happy Together close behind. Today like Ode to Billie Joe best. I dont know why but i was not a Monkees fan maybe because i was a beatles fan? but have grown to love PVS , Daydream Believer and I’m a Believer
    I’d Add
    Cant Talk My Eyes off you
    -Frankie Valli
    SanFrancisco Nights- Eric Burden
    Brown Eyed Girl- Van M
    Higher and Higher-Jackie Wilson
    Ruby Tuesday-Stones
    Green Green Grass-Tom Jones
    Gentle on My Mind -Glen Cambell
    Gimme Some Lovin -Spencer Davis

    but what would i remove. Hmmm

  12. Sandra K says:

    Love love these blogs! Always a joy to watch and read and wonderful escape to the past. I would say my top favs on your list would be 5) Groovin 4) Reflections 3) Kind of a Drag 2) Respect and being a huge Monkeys fan 1) Daydream Believer. What I didn’t see on the list which was my all time favorite mainly because it was the first record I ever experienced out of a cereal box that we played on my brothers portable record player was Van Morrison’s 1) Brown Eyed Girl. That was the song that began my interest in music albeit I was all of 6 or 7 years old at the time. The other two top songs which will always remain deeply imbedded in my soul were Herman’s Hermits’ 2). There’s a Kind of Hush and The Hollies 1) Carrie Anne Definitely a great time to be alive with some very great music. Thank you for your contribution to keeping it alive.

  13. I love your blogs and these trips down memory lane. It’s almost hard to comment because there are so many different songs, bands, and thoughts/memories around each of them.

    It’s really great that you invite (actually urge as on your fb page) your readers to share their opinions. The reason it is hard for me is that it’s almost too much and I have trouble condensing into words some thoughts about all of it. It’s like trying to express the ocean.

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