December 12, 2019
If ever anyone deserved a number one single, it is Johnny Rivers. In a career that spanned over a half-century; he produced close to two dozed chart singles, in addition to being a songwriter, producer, and owning his own record label.
He had come close to the top of the charts when his live cover of “Memphis” peaked at number two.
While Rivers composed a number of songs, “Poor Side Of Town,” was his only top ten hit that he wrote himself. It became the number one song in the United States for the week of November 12, 1966.
May 25, 2012
Johnny Rivers catalogue of singles during the mid-1960s through the mid-1970s was the equal to just about any American solo artist. Led by the number one hit, “Poor Side Of Twon,” they sold tens of millions of copies.
He had a commercial down turn in the late 1960s. While the quality of his material remained high, they did not chart as high as his classic work during, 1964-1967.
“These Are Not My People” was a Joe South composition and Rivers gave it a gritty and sparse performance. Released during early 1969, it peaked at number 55.
He would have a commercial comeback during the 1970s and has continued to tour and record down to the present day.
April 24, 2012
I recently listened to a Greatest Hits album by Johnn Rivers and the high quality hits just flowed out of the speakers one after another.
“Secret Agent Man” was the title song of the television series of the same name. Released during early 1966, it peaked at number three on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.
It remains one of the better single releases of his career, which is saying alot. The uncredited guitar solo and the drums which provided the foundation for his vocal remain a good listen over 45 years after its original release.
April 4, 2012
Just about any single issued by Johnny Rivers on the Imperial label is worth a listen and when you gather them all together onto a compilation album, the results are spectacular.
“Under Your Spell Again” is one of his lesser known singles.” It was written by Buck Owens and has charted a number of times on the country charts but Rivers took it in a pop direction. It was not among his biggest hits as it only reached number 35 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.
Despite it being a somewhat forgotten song in the Johnny Rivers catalogue, it remains another fine listen.
October 25, 2011
Johnny Rivers had the knack of taking other people’s songs and turning them into his own unique creations.
“Rockin’ Pneumonia And Boogie Woogie Flu” was originally released during 1957 by Huey “Piano” Smith and his backing group, The Clowns. It was a huge Rhythm & Blues hit selling over one million copies. Smith was (currently retired at age 77) a New Orleans boogie style pianist.
Rivers transferred the song to a rock ‘n’ roll sound and it remains one of the more rocking performances of his career. Released October 7, 1972, it reached number six on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.
It proved that a good song always remains a good song when performed by a good artist.
October 15, 2011
I remembers thinking when I heard Johnny Rivers was going to issue a cover of The Beach boys classic, “Help Me Rhoda” that a disaster was in the making. He had Brian Wilson’s blessing, however, and everything turned out well. Released September 12, 1975, it rose to number 22 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.
He was wise enough not to try to imitate The Beach Boys original version, but rather adapted the song to his strengths. It was a little more rocking than the original and the beat was more precise.
Rivers always had the ability to take others people’s songs and turn them into his own unique creations and this was one.
July 8, 2011
Beginning in 1964, Johnny Rivers issued 14 singles in a row which made the American top 40. That streak came to an end during mid-1968 when “Look To Your Soul” peaked at number 49. He would not have a top 40 single until until 1972.
“Right Relations” was released November 23, 1968 and reached number 61 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart. It was one of his weaker single releases as it did not have the structed beat that his songs were known for.
“Right Relations” was a forgettable song that quickly disappeared into his superior catalogue of work.
June 7, 2011
Johnny Rivers placed 29 songs on the American Singles Chart during his career. His first two hits were covers of Chuck Berry songs.
He released “Maybelline” August 15, 1964. It would reach number 12 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.
Rivers would move his version in a pop direction and while it rocked, he was not a guitarist of Chuck Berry’s caliber. Still, it was catchy and helped to set him on the road to stardom as a singles artist.
June 2, 2011
“Look To Your Soul” was released April 6, 1968 and only made it to number 49 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart. It would usher in a less commercial part of Johnny Rivers career. He had issued 13 top 40 singles, 1964-1968, but it would be four years before he would have another.
His singles in the interim were of the same quiality but the music world and the world itself was quickly changing and the music of Johnny Rivers was not, as his pop songs were being replaced by the crunching guitar chords of of rock ‘n’ roll.
I have always appreciated the gentle approach of “Look To Your Soul” and the other material he recorded during the period. It is music that has stood the test of time well and is well worth seeking out today.
May 23, 2011
Johnny Rivers produced many hits during his career, with nine making the American top ten. “Poor Side Of Town” would be his only number one hit reaching the top of the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart during the November of 1966.
His first group of hits were usually up-tempo rock/pop songs. “Poor Side Of Town” represented what would be a successful change of style as it was a story-telling ballad. It was the kind of material that fit his soulful voice well.
Johnny Rivers remains an under apprecaited music figure of the 1960’s and 1970’s. “Poor Side Of Town” finds him at his best.