By the end of 1964, the battle lines were drawn. One group from each side of the Atlantic had emerged above all others as the cream of each country’s crop. That Christmas, the friendliest of pop contests was all set: the Supremes vs. The Beatles — and both of them won.
Both groups had enjoyed an unbelievable year of success, especially in the American market. By the time December dawned, the Motown trio, after five consecutive singles that charted below the pop top 20, had scored two giant No. 1s in a row with ‘Where Did Our Love Go’ and ‘Baby Love.’ In the same time frame, the Liverpool quartet placed a mind-boggling 28 tracks on the Hot 100, in many cases scoring hits with both sides of their releases. Four of their singles were No. 1s.
Each group had one more single to come in 1964. For the Supremes it was ‘Come See About Me,’ for The Beatles, ‘I Feel Fine.’ The game was afoot. The Supremes charted fully three weeks ahead, in mid-November, at No. 66. In early December, ‘I Feel Fine’ joined the race, going straight to No. 22.
On the Hot 100 of 19 December, ‘Come See About Me’ completed its climb to No. 1, the Motown girls’ third of the year. But they didn’t claim the Christmas chart-topper, because on the following chart, The Beatles overtook the Supremes and ‘I Feel Fine’ reigned for three weeks, becoming the first champ of 1965.
Then, amazingly, back came the Tamla single, getting its own back by replacing the Scousers for a second week at the summit in mid-January. ‘She’s A Woman,’ the flipside of ‘I Feel Fine,’ became a No. 4 hit itself, giving The Beatles a total of 30 singles chart entries for the calendar year of 1964. The battle of the giants would continue into 1965 and well beyond.
‘Come See About Me’ is on the original album Where Did Our Love Go, which can be bought here.
Follow the 60s Motown playlist.