When “Kokomo” went to No. 1 in November 1988, it gave the Beach Boys the longest span of chart-toppers in the history of the Billboard Hot 100. Some 24 years and four months had elapsed between the time “I Get Around” achieved pole position in 1964 and the coronation of “Kokomo.” That beat the previous record of 23 years, 11 months and two weeks set by George Harrison with the time span between “My Sweet Lord” to “Got My Mind Set on You.” The current record-holder is Cher, with 33 years, seven months and three weeks between “I Got You Babe” in 1965 and “Believe” in 1999.
“Kokomo” also put Terry Melcher in the record books with the second-longest span of Hot 100 No. 1s for a producer at the time: 23 years, four months and one week between the Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Kokomo,” right behind Quincy Jones with 25 years, one month and one week between Lesley Gore’s “It’s My Party” and Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana.”
The Beach Boys had a long run on Capitol, but the Hollywood-based label wasn’t the first to release records by the group. The quintet’s first charted single, “Surfin,” was issued on the Los Angeles-based Candix imprint. That 45 rpm record debuted on the Hot 100 the week of Feb. 17, 1962, at No. 93 and moved up the chart so slowly, it was never awarded a bullet. “Surfin” peaked at No. 75 in its sixth chart week and disappeared from the list the following week. Although it launched the Beach Boys’ career, the song ranks at No. 48 on their all-time top 50.
When is a Beach Boys hit not a Beach Boys hit? When it’s “Caroline, No.” The final track on the Beach Boys’ famed “Pet Sounds,” the song was issued as a single before the album was released, but wasn’t credited to the group. It was issued as a Brian Wilson solo effort, peaking at No. 32 in 1966.
The Beach Boys’ West Coast sound was heard all over the globe. In the United Kingdom, the first single to chart was “Surfin’ U.S.A.,” which only managed to peak at No. 34. The next single to chart, “I Get Around,” fared much better, rising to No. 7. But the fivesome had to wait until 1966 to collect its first No. 1 in Great Britain, when “Good Vibrations” captured the crown. The only other Beach Boys single to top the charts in the United Kingdom was “Do It Again.” That 1968 release was only a No. 20 hit on the Hot 100.••••