As a certain cartoon moose used to say: “And now for something completely different…”
Don’t worry, Vintage-Nitro is all about fast cars, custom rods and racing. But I found this among my material from the 1968 Autorama, and just had to share it with everyone.
It is the CKLW All-Time Top 300 from May, 1967, and was probably handed out at the CKLW booth at the ’68 Autorama.
If you grew up in the Detroit area during the sixties, CKLW needs no introduction. CKLW was actually a Canadian AM radio station located across the river in Windsor, Ontario; but it was powerful enough to be heard throughout South Eastern Michigan and beyond.
If you had a time machine and could go back to the era before FM radio, you would probably find CKLW and WKNR programmed on the buttons on 99% of the GTOs, Mustangs, Chargers and Corvettes in the Detroit area. Except for news and ball games, few gear heads listened to anything else.
Perusing the song titles in this list brings back lots of great memories. Most of the songs don’t have any automotive connections, although I spotted GTO by Ronny and the Daytonas at 151 on the list and the Beach Boy’s Little Deuce Coupe holding down spot number 253.
Even the sappy love songs and finger snapping dance numbers bring back lots of racing memories. These songs were the soundtrack of our lives during the sixties and we listened to them on the way to and from the drag strip, while building model cars in the basement and working on real cars in the garage. I know many of these songs played over the PA system during down time at Detroit and Motor City Dragway.
According to the booklet, the order of songs was “based on votes mailed and phoned in by it’s (CKLW) listeners listing their favorite all time records.”
Detroit is the home of Motown, so I was surprised to see that the highest rated Motown song only reached number seven on the list. Even more surprising was that the mighty Beatles failed to crack the top five.
My guess is that Beatles fans voted for many different songs (I counted 23 Beatles tunes on the list!) which diluted the votes for any single Beatle title.
The top ten, in reverse order: (Note the song titles are links to the songs on iTunes and the comments are reprinted from the CKLW All-Time Top 300 handout)
Detroit’s singing sweethearts honor the Top 300 with nine entries into the Motor City Hall of Fame. Born on stage, at a local amateur show, in the early sixties, the home town sound of Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, Florence Ballard is now famous the world over. The girls, as they are called at Motown, have an unbroken string of hits and the number ten entry on the Top 300 is one of their super samples.
Paul, Mark, Phil, Harpo and Smitty comprise one of the most powerful and exciting groups in the world. Unlike the Boston Paul Revere, who rode a horse, this one hails from Portland, Oregon, and rides herd on four zany minstrels known as the Raiders, who are the musical minutemen who have captured the hearts of a nation as stars of television’s “Where The Action Is.” Terry Melcher, Doris Day’s talented son, arranged and produced the classic you made number nine on the Top 300.
In 1964 English born Petula Clark was a resident of France … a young lady who had sold 20,000,000 copies of her hits in Europe alone. In 1965, composer and conductor, Tony Hatch, presented America with her record of DOWNTOWN. In 1967, Petula Clark is firmly established as the top gal in the record business. Her upbeat, big band number eight song on the Top 300 won Petula a Grammy award and was just the beginning of her conquest of U.S. charts. Short and sweet, Pet records in five languages and maintains a non-stop schedule of concerts and TV appearances.
About five years ago, five Detroiters got together to do some harmonizing. They’ve been singing together ever since thanks to the writing talent of Smokey Robinson and the guiding hand of Berry Gordy, Jr. Melvin, Eddie, Paul, Otis and David make the musical dedication of number seven from the Top 300 to MY GIRL.
For the hung-up minds that predicted a Beatle burn-out after their unparalleled successes of 1964, the boys, in mid-’65, served up final proof that this amazing “foursome was just getting into gear. In one of pop music’s outstanding examples of brilliant versatility, YESTERDAY became not only the Beatles’ biggest of 1965, but also the Lennon-McCartney song most recorded by other artists. The highest ranked Beatle hit on the Top 300, YESTERDAY is just one of the group’s twenty-two all timers on the list. What next from the pacesetters? Whatever, count on hearing it first on Radio 8.
Another of the four United Kingdom products to make the tip of the Top 300, the Animals’ THE HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN is an example of how a British group’s deep appreciation of American blues can pay off with a mammoth modern smash. Reaching the top of the charts across the nation in 1964, RISING SUN was previously known only to folk freaks. The hit consistency of Eric Burden and his men guarantees the Animals’ fan much more to come . . . perhaps to challenge number five on the Motor City Top 300.
The surprise song hit of 1966 was originally released by Philips Records as a B side. The song itself was written the morning of the day after the death of President Kennedy. After being up all night in sorrow, Bobby wrote the song. It must remain as one of the greatest songs ever written and recorded. You’ve ranked SUNNY as the number four entry on the list of all time favorites.
One of the most hauntingly beautiful love songs of any era, CHERISH was born in Los Angeles, late last summer. The song was written by group member, Terry Kirkman, and leaped to the top of the music heap, overnight. The number three all timer is a never-say-die smash that everyone enjoys hearing again and again.
1963 was the year of LOUIE LOUIE. Rhythm to move feet — a rousing musical experience that has become a theme for today’s generation. A perennial favorite, LOUIE LOUIE has sold over three million copies. And, it continues to sell, day after day. The Kingsmen “hail from the same part of Oregon as the group behind the number nine memory maker on the Top 300.
Above ’em all, the Stones rule! The Number One spot in the Top 300 goes to I CAN’T GET NO SATISFACTION. As the record that probably captured the mood of the summer of ’65 betten than any other, SATISFACTION shot the Stones up to the exclusive cloud occupied by today’s superstars. The hit by leader/composer Mick Jagger closed the Stones’ 1965 concert at the Cobo Arena, successfully blowing the minds of the more than 12,000 in attendance and even further assuring the group and their song a permanent groove in the all time Hit Parade.
If you are interested in seeing the entire Top 300, I have compiled the list into four 75 song lists:
Most of these songs are available on iTunes or through the Amazon Music Library. The links above are affiliate links and I receive a small commission when someone buys a song through these links.