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The Motown labels (Motown, Tamla, and Gordy) had 7 top twenty hits in 1962: "Please Mr. Postman" (carry-over from 1961), "Twistin' Postman," "Playboy," and "Beachwood 4-5789" by The Marvelettes; "The One Who Really Loves You" and "You Beat Me To The Punch" by Mary Wells; and "Do You Love Me" by "The Contours."

RCA got off to a great start in 1962 with two carry-over hits from 1961.  The Tokens' "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" was the top record at the end of 1961 and continued as the number one song the first week of 1962.  Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling In Love" was number five the final week of 1961 and would climb to the number two spot on February 3rd.  RCA would have two other chart toppers with Neil Sedaka's "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" and another Presley hit, "Good Luck Charm."  Sam Cooke contributed four top twenty songs, including "Twisting the Night Away" which reached number nine.  The label far outdistanced all others with eighteen top twenty records and 1342 power points, over 500 more than second place ABC-Paramount.

The major labels' presence in the top twenty grew slightly in 1962, but it was mostly due to the strong performance of RCA.  While the major's share climbed to 25.5%, RCA accounted for 10.2%.  None of the other majors had a number one song in 1962.  Of the other majors, only Decca managed to make the top ten in power points (#7).  Brenda Lee was primarily responsible for Decca's success with four top twenty records, led by "All Alone Am I" which was a #3 hit.  Burl Ives also contributed significantly with three top twenty entries, "A Little Bitty Tear" being the highest rated (#9).  While Decca's nine top twenty entries was respectable, the other three majors were struggling to hang on to their share of the pop music market.  Mercury ranked #14 in power points primarily due to the novelty record, "Ahab the Arab" by Ray Stevens (#5).  Capitol was only two points behind Decca with Nat King Cole's "Ramblin' Rose" (#2) its best record.  Columbia's top song for the year was the country cross-over "Wolverton Mountain" by Claude King (#6) as the label finished in 16th place, two points behind Capitol.  While the demise of the majors continued in 1962, there was a light at the end of the tunnel, although it was unrecognized at the time, especially for Capitol. Murray Wilson had been promoting his sons' band to labels in the Los Angeles area.  After being turned down by Dot and Liberty, Capitol signed the group in July.  The Beach Boys reached #14 in October with their first top forty record, "Surfin' Safari."  In subsequent years, the California group would make Capitol much more successful.

ABC-Paramount was the most successful of the independent labels, second only to RCA in 1962.  In 1960 the label had lured Ray Charles away from Atlantic.  The singer had significant success in 1960 and 1961, but 1962 was his best year.  While the label had serious doubts, Charles insisted on producing an album of country songs.  "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music" became a top ranked album while "You Don't Know Me" was a #2 single and "I Can't Stop Loving You" reached #1 on June 2nd and held that spot for five weeks.

Cameo and Parkway were sister labels operating in Philadelphia.  Both had great success in 1962, primarily due to the dance craze ignited by Parkway's "The Twist" by Chubby Checker.  If the numbers for the two labels were combined, they would have been the top label of the year.  Cameo's Dee Dee Sharp had three top twenty singles with "Mashed Potato Time" going all the way to number two.  The Orlons were also a successful act for the label with another number two song, "The Wah Watusi."  Bobby Rydell had been the label's biggest star since 1959 and he had another top ten record with "The Cha Cha Cha" (#10). In addition to "The Twist" (#1 – again), Parkway's Chubby Checker placed four other songs in the top twenty.  One of them, "Slow Twistin," was actually a duet with Dee Dee Sharp, although she was never credited on the record.

Vee-Jay records struck gold in 1962 when they released the first top forty record by The Four Seasons.  "Sherry" climbed to number one in October and was followed by "Big Girls Don't Cry" in November.  But as big as The Four Seasons were, and would continue to be, it was perhaps the signing of Frank Ifield to the label that would benefit the label most.  Ifield's "I Remember You" was a hit in the UK for the British label EMI and they were looking for a label to distribute the record in the U.S. Vee-Jay promoter Calvin Carter got him signed to the label.  EMI had been trying to get another British act signed to a U.S. label, but Capitol, which had a right of first refusal to EMI contracts wasn't interested.  The contract for The Beatles was added to the Ifield contract.  Although eventually, after a great deal of legal hassles, Capitol would regain the Beatles, Vee-Jay would manage to distribute a number of Beatles singles in 1964.

Another significant new entry to the charts in 1962 was Motown.  While Barry Gordy's company had already experienced success with its Tamla and Gordy labels, 1962 marked the first entry into the top twenty by the Motown label.  Mary Wells had two top ten Motown records:  "The One Who Really Loves You" (#8) and "You Beat Me to the Punch" (#9).  The Contours' "Do You Love Me" (#3) might have been a Motown hit as Gordy originally wanted The Temptations to record the song, but they were unavailable.

The numbers for 1962 continued to illustrate the fragmented nature of the industry as there were 35 labels that managed to put only one record in the top twenty during the year (up from 30 in 1961).  But the number of labels able to produce a number one record decreased to 14.  Of those, there were two whose only record managed to be a number one record:  Garpax's "Monster Mash" by Bobby (Boris) Pickett and London's "Telstar" by The Tornadoes.  Part of Capitol's reluctance to sign The Beatles was the reality that British groups rarely did well in the U.S.  Laurie London had taken "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands" to the top in 1958, but that was seen as more of a novelty / spiritual song.  Earlier in 1962, Mr. Aker Bilk had a monster hit with "Strangers on the Shore," but that was an orchestral recording.  Rock and roll groups from Britain had not been successful in the U.S.  The Tornadoes were an exception and would continue to be so until everything changed in 1964.

As always, the path to success for most labels was the acquisition of a superstar capable of producing multiple top twenty hits.  For Laurie it was Dion who had four top twenty records in 1962 including "The Wanderer" (#2).  For Epic it was Bobby Vinton with two, including the number one, "Roses Are Red."  And for Musicor, it was Gene Pitney with three, including "Only Love Can Break A Heart" (#2).  The challenge was to keep such a superstar and / or find a new one.  Capitol had found the Beach Boys, but appeared to have fumbled on The Beatles.  Vee-Jay scored big with The Four Seasons, but would soon lose them to Phillips.  Dion would be leaving Laurie for Columbia.  Record label executives could definitely identify with Mary Wells when she sang, "You beat me to the punch, that time; you beat me to the punch, Yeah!"

Click on the appropriate button above to view an historical acccount of the record labels for the year, a chart ranking the popularity of the labels in the Billboard top twenty for the year, or a list of the labels that had records in the top twenty for the year.
Elvis Presley once again led RCA to the top label spot in 1962 with four top twenty entries including a number one with "Good Luck Charm."
"You Don't Know Me" was one of songs from Charles' very successful album,"Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music"
"The Wah Watusi" was one example of the many dance records produced by Cameo and Parkway records.
Barry Gordy had his first top twenty record on the Motown label.
"Telstar" was a rare success for the London label -- British rock groups had rarely done well on the U.S. charts.
Bobby Vinton gave Epic records its first #1 with "Roses Are Red."