WXPN Most Memorable Musical Moment #2 - Discovering the Sacred Store

To most of you reading this, the idea that you can hear a great song on the radio and then go buy it, either online or at a local store, might seem like the height of obvious. However, to an eleven year old in 1965 with a solid year of listening to top forty radio under his belt, this amazing revelation was unquestionably the next most life changing moment after seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan the year before.

Shortly after that momentous night in February 1964, I quickly discovered top forty radio which was then playing all the Beatles hits and so much more. In 1964 Philadelphia, there was only one rock station, WIBG at 990 AM, commonly known as "Wibbage", and I listened to it as much as was humanly possible, even moreso in the summer when there were that many more hours available to listen. Check out this weekly WIBG survey from 1964 courtesy of the Herman's Hermits website.

The WIBG top fifty for the week of November 16, 1964
  1. RINGO - Lorne Green
  2. LEADER OF THE PACK - The Shangri-Las
  3. COME A LITTLE CLOSER - Jay & The Americans
  4. BABY LOVE - The Supremes
  5. HAVE I THE RIGHT - The Honeycombs
  6. YOU REALLY GOT ME - The Kinks
  7. SHE'S NOT THERE - The Zombies
  8. IS IT TRUE - Brenda Lee
  9. EVERYTHING'S ALRIGHT - The Newbeats
  10. THE DOOR IS STILL OPEN - Dean Martin

  11. Ain't That Lovin' You/Ask Me - Elvis Presley
  12. Time is On my side - Rolling Stones
  13. Mr. Lonely - Bobby Vinton
  14. Reach Out For Me - Dionne Warwick
  15. I'm Into Something Good - Herman's Hermits
  16. I'm Gonna Be Strong - Gene Pitney
  17. Mountain Of Love - Johnny Rivers
  18. Don't Ever Leave Me - Connie Francis
  19. Right Or Wrong - Ronnie Dove
  20. Slaughter On 10th Avenue - The Ventures

  21. Walkin' In The Rain - The Ronettes
  22. Needle In A Haystack - The Velvelettes
  23. Little Marie - Chuck Berry
  24. Come See About Me - The Supremes<
  25. Sha La La - Manfred Mann
  26. Sidewalk Surfin' - Jan & Dean
  27. Big Man In Town - The 4 Seasons
  28. Dance Dance - The Beach Boys
  29. Who Can I Turn To - Tony Bennett
  30. Ain't Doin' Too Bad - Bobby Bland

  31. Shaggy Dog - Mickey Lee Lane
  32. The 81 - Candy & The Kisses
  33. Going Out Of My Head - Little Anthony & Imperials
  34. Gone Gone Gone - The Everly Brothers
  35. The Wedding - Julie Rogers
  36. Swim/That Little Old Heartbreaker - Bobby Freeman
  37. Ain't It The Truth - Mary Wells
  38. We Could - Al Martino
  39. Oh No Not My Baby - Maxine Brown
  40. Too Many Fish In The Sea - The Marvelettes

  41. She Understands Me - Johnny Tillotson
  42. My Love Forgive Me - Robert Goulet
  43. Saturday Night At The Movies - The Drifters
  44. Keep Searchin' - Del Shannon
  45. The Jerk - The Larks
  46. Any Way You Want It - The Dave Clark 5
  47. Run Run Run - The Gestures
  48. Amen - The Impressions
  49. Almost There - Andy Williams
  50. I Just Can't Say Goodbye - Bobby Rydell
Top forty radio back then was as much about the deejays as it was about the music. This flyer shows the WIBG lineup of air personalities circa 1965, courtesy of George Anthony's Radio Memories website.

So sometime in late May or early June 1965, after more than a solid year of top forty radio listening, I was out with my family on a routine visit to Gimbel's Department Store in Cheltenham, an activity that could not be more mundane for most kids. I was wandering aimlessly through the store, killing time while my mom or grandmom was shopping nearby, when I happened onto the record deparment. The display rack of 45 rpm singles of every song on the current WIBG playlist was such an unexpected shock that it took me a few minutes to process the magnitude of the discovery. My first few single purchases were:
  • Ticket to Ride b/w Yes It Is - The Beatles
  • Mr. Tambourine Man - The Byrds
  • I Can't Help Myself - The Four Tops
  • Silhouettes - Herman's Hermits
Even though at that point I had a number of Beatles albums, somehow the whole singles thing had escaped me. It didn't take long to get in the swing of weekly visits to the record store, which in those days was more often than not, a department store. Gimbels, Strawbridges, Wanamakers, and Sears all had record departments, even appliance stores like Gerhard's in Glenside had singles. E.J. Korvettes' record department always had a large selection of oldies at three for a dollar. New release singles listed for $0.99 but any record store worth it's salt would discount them, the best price being $0.69 each. The first large size record store that I remember was Sam Goody's on Chestnut Street in downtown Philadelphia, which was about the size of a supermarket.

In order to pinpoint the approximate week of this huge discovery, I searched the internet for radio station surveys from 1964 and 1965, the number of which that are available for online viewing is surprisingly limited. The Herman's Hermits website has quite a few, among which is this survey for the week of June 4, 1965 from WLS in Chicago, which contains all four of my first singles in the top ten.

The WLS top ten for the week of June 4, 1965
  1. Silhouettes - Herman's Hermits
  2. Wooly Bully - Sam The Sham
  3. Help Me Rhonda - The Beach Boys
  4. Mr.Tambourine Man - The Byrds
  5. Back In My Arms Again - The Supremes
  6. It's Not Unusual - Tom Jones
  7. Just A Little - The Beau Brummels
  8. Ticket To Ride - The Beatles
  9. Mrs. Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter - Herman's Hermits
  10. I Can't Help Myself - The Four Tops
Two of those first four singles are still in my collection, scans of them can be seen at the beginning and end of this post. Beatles trivia - scroll back up to the top and click on the image of the Beatles' "Ticket to Ride" single in order to read the fine print on the label. It says "From the United Artists Release Eight Arms to Hold You" which was the original name of the movie that was later re-titled as Help! before it was released. My number one and two XPN memorable moments document the two most pivotal events that have defined life as I've known it for all the years since, and my appreciation for music continues to grow with each passing year.

Next week: My next two concerts, Cream in 1968 and Blind Faith in 1969, both at the Spectrum, with pictures.


Anonymous said…
Great post. I can hear almost every one of those songs as I read down the lists.

Say, who wound up seeing Help more times, you or me? ;-)
William Kates said…
Back then the Keswick Theater in Glenside was a movie theater, movies ran continuously, and you could pay your fifty cents on a Saturday and then watch Help! over and over all day. I lost count after the 15th or 20th time. It was much easier for our kids to do the same, watching Help! over and over on video, although perhaps not quite the enveloping experience on the small screen.

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