January 1961 - The Shirelles begin a new wave of "girl groups" as they top the charts with the Goffin/King composition "Will You Love Me Tomorrow".February 1961 - Brooklyn, NY singer songwriter Neil Sedaka has his third US Top Ten hit as the single "Calendar Girl" goes to #4. February 1961 - Queens, NY doo wop group The Capris have a surprise #3 hit with "There's A Moon Out Tonight" recorded almost two years before.March 1961 - Memphis, TN singer Carla Thomas, the daughter of R&B singer Rufus Thomas, hits #5 R&B, #10 Pop with the song "Gee Whiz (Look At His Eyes) which she had written at age 15.March 1961 - Chubby Checker keeps the dance hits coming in '61 with "Pony Time" #1, "Let's Twist Again" #8, and "The Fly" #7.March 1961 - After leaving The Drifters, Ben E. King has his first Top Ten solo hit with "Spanish Harlem" written by Jerry Leiber and Phil Spector. In December he hits #4 with "Stand By Me".April 1961 - A doo wop reworking of the pop standard "Blue Moon" goes to the top for Pittsburgh, PA vocal group The Marcels. May 1961 - New Orleans R&B singer Ernie K-Doe tops the Pop and R&B charts with the song "Mother-In-Law" written and produced by Allen Toussaint.April 1961 - California surfer and guitarist Dick Dale puts out the instrumental "Let's Go Trippin" on his own Deltone label. The song is a regional hit in California and goes to #60 nationally. The song is  considered the first surf rock hit.May 1961 - Grand Rapids, Michigan native Del Shannon has a #1 hit with "Runaway", complete  with a solo featuring an early version of a synthesizer called the Musitron.June 1961 - "Travellin' Man" is #1 for 21-year-old teen idol Ricky Nelson off his sixth album.June 1961 - Norfolk, VA singer Gary U.S. Bonds hits the top of the charts with the single "Quarter to Three" which goes on to sell over a million copies. June 1961 - "Raindrops" by Chicago R&B singer songwriter Dee Clark hits #2 Pop, #3 R&B. The song is Clark's fifth R&B Top Ten hit.July 1961 - New Orleans R&B singer Chris Kenner hits #2 on both the Pop and R&B charts with the single "I Like It Like That".July 1961 - Gladys Knight & The Pips, a family band from Atlanta, GA score their first hit with "Every Beat of My Heart" #1 R&B, #6 Pop.July 1961 - Bobby Lewis of Detroit, MI goes to #1 with the single "Tossin' and Turnin". August 1961 - The house band at Memphis label Stax Records, The Mar-Keys, have a #3 hit with the instrumental single "Last Night".August 1961 - Phil Spector produces Yuma, AZ singer Curtis Lee and they hit the US Top Ten with the single "Pretty Little Angel Eyes".September 1961 - Bobby Vee continues his chart succes  with the #1 single "Take Good Care of My Baby" by the songwriting team of Goffin/King,September 1961 - Wesleyan College folk group The Highwaymen have a #1 hit with "Michael (Row The Boat Ashore)". October 1961 - Rockville, CT singer songwriter Gene Pitney hits #13 US with the movie theme "Town Without Pity". October 1961 - Ray Charles tops the US charts (#6 UK) for the second time with the single "Hit The Road Jack". October 1961 - Bronx, NY singer Dion DiMucci, formerly of Dion & The Belmonts, hits #1 US, #11 UK as a solo artist with the single "Runaround Sue" on Laurie Records.October 1961 - Producer Phil Spector scores again with the San Francisco, CA act the Paris Sisters, who reach #5 US with "I Love How You Love Me".November 1961 - American country singer Jimmy Dean has a #1 US, #2 UK crossover hit with the American folklore single "Big Bad John".October 1961 - After releasing his first album in 1960, Johnny Hallyday, tops the European charts with his cover of "Let's Twist Again".November 1961 - The Beach Boys, a group from Hawthorne, California featuring vocal harmonies, have a regional hit with their first single "Surfin".December 1961 - Inkster, MI girl group The Marvelettes bring Motown their first US #1 hit with the single "Please Mr. Postman".December 1961 - Country singer Patsy Cline continues the crossover success of "the Nashville sound" with her hits "I Fall to Pieces" and "Crazy", the latter song written by Willie Nelson.December 1961 - Brooklyn, NY based vocal group The Tokens hit US #1  with their doo wop hit "The Lion Sleeps Tonight".
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