In the halcyon years of the ‘British Invasion’ of America – 1964 and 1965 – who were the two most successful acts? Well The Beatles were obviously the first. But who was the second? The Rolling Stones? The Animals? The Who? Guess again . . .
The Who had no hits in the US until 1967, and it wasn’t until 1966 that The Animals got into the top five of British acts in the US. And while The Stones were always popular it wasn’t until 1966 that they came close to rivalling The Beatles in chart success.
The bands that America was most excited about (other than The Beatles) were Billy J Kramer & The Dakotas, Herman’s Hermits and The Dave Clark Five. Other bands that followed in the wake of The Beatles and formed part of the flood of British Invasion groups were The Searchers, Peter & Gordon and The Nashville Teens.
American record companies scrambled to sign anything with long hair and an English accent. Some acts, like Chad & Jeremy, were significantly more successful in America than at home in the UK.
The first US number one of 1965 was by Petula Clark. Other stateside chart-toppers early in that year were provided by The Beatles, Freddie & The Dreamers (pictured), The Rolling Stones, Herman’s Hermits and Wayne Fontana.
The US Department of Labor counteracted by announcing it would not issue many British rock bands with work permits or visas.
Although at Number One in America with Game of Love, Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders were refused work permits on the grounds that “The artists are insufficiently well-known in America to warrant them working here”.
Other British groups to suffer similar treatment included The Hollies, The Zombies and The Animals. Although the Department of Labor refused to admit it, the action was widely interpreted as an attempt to protect the careers of America’s star acts.