In July of 1964 Bob Dylan performed “Mr. Tambourine Man” and other songs at the Newport Folk Festival.  For his encore he was joined by Joan Baez on “With God On Our Side.”  Dylan had yet to produce a top twenty single, but he was loved by the folk music crowd and his songs had been popularized by Peter, Paul & Mary with “Blowin’ In the Wind” (#2 in 1963). A year later, back at the same festival, things would be quite different.  A few weeks prior to his appearance, Dylan released his first venture into electrified rock and roll.  On stage he was backed by members of the Butterfield Blues Band.  He performed “Maggie’s Farm” and “Like a Rolling Stone” and got a very mixed response.  He wouldn’t return to the festival for 37 years.  “Like a Rolling Stone” would reach #2 in September.  Bob Dylan wasn’t British.  But his decision to go electric was a direct result of the influence of The Beatles.  And soon The Beatles would reciprocate with more sophisticated and introspective lyrics in their songs.  The British Invasion had become greater than just the number of British artists finding an audience in the states.

From February 22nd  when “She Loves You” joined The Beatles “I Want to Hold Your Hand” in the Billboard top ten and Dusty Springfield’s “I Only Want To Be With You” debuted at #20, to the end of 1964 there were never fewer than two British imports in the top ten and never fewer than three in the top twenty.  The biggest week for the British imports was April 18th when there were nine in the top twenty.  At year’s end, the groups that had initially ridden the Beatles wave to the states were still on the charts.  The first week of 1965 placed The Searchers’ “Love Potion Number Nine” at #4 and The Dave Clark Five’s “Any Way You Want It” at #14.  And The Beatles were still going strong with the week’s #1, “I Feel Fine” and its flip side, “She’s A Woman” at #11.  The invasion launched in 1964 was showing little sign of dissipating.  It appeared that the Brits might be in America to stay.

There was also new blood in the invading force.  While the invasion had been primarily owned by male bands (Dusty Springfield being the notable exception), a solo female artist got into the mix in early 1965.  Petula Clark was an unlikely rock star.  The thirty-three year-old had been recording music since 1949 and had been quite successful in France and all over Europe.  With British acts having such great success in America, record producer Tony Hatch suggested she give the states another try.  She said she would if he had the right song.  When she heard “Downtown” she immediately agreed to record it.  On January 23rd it became the ninth record of the British Invasion to reach #1.  Another solo artist to break into the ranks of the invasion was Tom Jones.  “It’s Not Unusual” reached the top ten in May and “What’s New Pussycat” was #3 in July. 

But just as in the first year of the invasion, most of the acts coming from Britain continued to be bands.  The most prolific of these groups was Herman’s Hermits.  The Hermits had their first U.S. hit record in 1964 with “I’m Into Something Good” (#13).  In 1965, they would place five songs in the top ten, including two number ones:  “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter” and “I’m Henry VIII I Am.”  The Dave Clark Five continued to be one of the top bands with four top twenty records, including their first #1, “Over and Over.” 

The biggest story of 1965 was The Rolling Stones.  But the Stones were far from an instant success.  The Stones were cut from a different cloth than the Beatles.  While The Beatles derived a great deal of their material from early American rock and roll, the Rolling Stones were at their inception a blues band.  They weren’t part of the Liverpool Mersey beat, but originated in London.  The group first charted in the UK in June of 1963 with a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Come On.”  A Lennon/McCartney composition, “I Wanna Be Your Man” was their first single to reach the UK top twenty (#12) and was followed by another Chuck Berry cover, “Not Fade Away” which reached #3 in March of 1964.  In June the Stones toured the U.S. for the first time, even though none of their releases to date had made the top forty.  They were booked on the ABC television show “The Hollywood Palace.”  Dean Martin’s introduction of the group is accurately described by Rich Kienzle of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as a “snarky intro, homophobic eye-rolling and post-performance mockery.” While in the states, the group recorded at Chess records in Chicago which produced their first #1 in the UK, “It’s All Over Now.”  When they returned to the states in October, they still hadn’t produced a top twenty record.  But on October 25th, the Stones appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”  In contrast to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones had more of a bad boy image.  While The Beatles, who had emerged from the earthy clubs of Hamburg, Germany, and the Cavern in Liverpool and then been “cleaned up” by their manager Brian Epstein, the Stone’s manager, Brian Oldham had encouraged a more irreverent image.  The Stones did not dress alike, and for the Ed Sullivan performance, Mick Jagger wore a casual sweater that more resembled a sweat shirt.  The group’s performance of “Time Is On My Side” propelled the single onto the Billboard chart where it peaked at #6 in November. 

While 1964 had been somewhat of a struggle, The Rolling Stones would establish themselves as superstars in 1965.  In May the group went back to Chess records in Chicago and recorded a Jagger/Richards composition, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”  Upon release, the single shot up the chart, jumping from #26 on June 19th to #4 the next week.  Two weeks later it was #1 where it remained for four weeks.  Billboard ranked it as the third most popular song of 1965 and eventually in 2004 “Rolling Stone” magazine’s panel of judges named it the second greatest song of all time. 

While The Rolling Stones emerged as co-leaders of the British Invasion, The Beatles remained the most productive of Britain’s U.S. entries on the U.S. chart.  The Fab Four had six top top ten records in 1965 with five of them going to #1:  “I Feel Fine,” “Eight Days a Week,” “Ticket to Ride”, “Help!” and “Yesterday.”  Perhaps “She’s a Woman” would have also made it to the top, but being the B-side to “I Feel Fine” limited its potential.

By the end of  1965 the position of British artists on the American music charts was well established and they would remain there in subsequent years.  But the number of artists appearing in the top twenty was diminishing.  In the last week of 1965, only two “invasion” records were listed in the top twenty.  The Dave Clark Five’s “Over and Over” had just reached #1 and The Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out” was at #11 and on its way to #1.  However, the importance of the British Invasion lies in more than the proliferation of British music listened to by the American public.  The Brits had taken American blues and rock and roll and returned it to the states in a form that in turn changed American rock and roll.  The infatuation by U.S. teens of everything British would decline over the next years but the legacy of the “invasion” would continue to shape our music, and even have an impact on our overall culture. 

The number two song on the Billboard chart on December 25th, 1965? – “Turn, Turn, Turn” by The Byrds.  It was a Bob Dylan song that had been “electrified.”  And from that “Rolling Stone” magazine panel that voted “Satisfaction” as the #2 song all-time, what was #1? – “Like A Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan.   The British Invasion had obviously left an enduring mark on American popular music.

The Songs of the British Invasion (1965) presented in order of their debut on the Billboard chart:

Bob Dylan's electric performance at the Newport Festival in 1965 was due to the influence of The Beatles.

title week debuted highest ranking Weeks in Top Twenty weeks on chart
A Wonderful World 1965 6 5 4 6 8
Can't You Hear My Heart Beat 1965 2 20 2 8 11
I'm Henry VIII I Am 1965 7 10 1 8 8
Just A Little Bit Better 1965 9 25 7 4 8
Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter 1965 4 17 1 10 11
Silhouettes 1965 4 17 5 9 10
Herman's Hermits were second only to The Beatles in 1956, having six records in the top ten, including two #1's.

The Rolling Stones perform "Time is On My Side" on the Ed Sullivan Show.

#1 Over and Over------The Dave Clark Five
#2 TURN! TURN! TURN!------The Byrds
#3 I GOT YOU (I FEEL GOOD)------James Brown
#4 Let's Hang On------The Four Seasons
#5 The Sounds of Silence------Simon & Garfunkel
#6 Make the World Go Away------Eddie Arnold
#7 Fever------The McCoys
#8 ENGLAND SWINGS------Roger Miller
#9 EBB TIDE------The Righteous Brothers
#10 I Can Never Go Home Anymore------The Shangri-Las
#11 WE CAN WORK IT OUT------The Beatles
#12 Don't Think Twice------Wonder Who
#13 Flowers on the Wall------Statler Brothers
#14 Puppet On a String------Elvis Presley
#15 Hang on Sloopy------The Ramsey Lewis Trio
#16 FIVE O'CLOCK WORLD------The Vogues
#17 One Has My Name------Barry Young
#18 Sunday and Me------Jay & The Americans
#19 I Will------Dean Martin
#20 I Hear a Symphony------The Supremes

Above: The Billboard Top Twenty the last week of 1965
There were only two British imports.

The Byrds were one of the most successful American bands that developed after the British Invasion -- they had two #1's in 1965, "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Turn, Turn, Turn."

To search and play any top twenty record from 1964 or 1965, click on the appropriate button to the right: