The Headline News and Key Facts of 1964
On the National Scene
Lyndon Johnson crushes Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater with the most
overwhelming popular vote in American history, more than 61 percent.
A presidental commission headed by the Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren concludes
that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination of President Kennedy.
Three civil rights workers are murdered in Mississippi.
Congress enacts the civil rights legislation.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wins the Nobel Peace Prize.
In February the 24th Amendment to the Constitution makes the poll tax unconstitutional. Even though
most folks can now file taxes online, deduct for an arsenal of different items, and take tax credits for
vehicles, that has not stopped the institution of ridiculous taxes over the years.
In July President Johnson signs the Medicare bill and the Great Society is under
In August Congress approves the Tonkin Gulf Resolution authorizing President Johnson
aggression.""to take all necessary means to repel any armed attack against forces of the United States
and to prevent further aggression."
In December President Johnson announces substantial increase in aid to South
Vietnam "to restrain the mounting infiltration of men and equipment from the Hanoi regime in support
of the Vietcong.
Dr. Luther L. Terry, the Surgeon General, releases a report linking cigarette
smoking to lung cancer and other diseases.
Jimmy Hoffa is sentenced to 8 years for jury tampering.
Soviet Union begins using spy satellites.
Jack Ruby sentenced to death for Oswald murder.
New York hosts a money losing World's Fair.
A gallon of gasoline costs 30 cents.
The Ford Mustang is the most popular car of the era.
Hasbro introduces the GI Joe doll.
A bar in San Francisco introduces topless and later that year the bottoms come
Rock 'n' roll has its first major shakeup in nearly a decade when in late January "I
Want To Hold Your Hand" by The Beatles tops the US Pop charts.
In February The Beatles appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show receives record ratings as
Beatlemania explodes worldwide.
Four of the six #1 records between February and June are by the Beatles, a feat
surpassed only by Elvis Presley in 1956.
Bands from England flood American shores with the Merseybeat sound overtaking the
airwaves through June, resulting in the term "The British Invasion". By summer however American acts regain their
footing with the two resident hit-makers The Beach Boys and The Four Seasons topping the charts in
The next wave of the British Invasion featuring groups based in blues and R&B such
as the Rolling Stones, Kinks and Animals follows by mid-summer and their raunchier style quickly makes the more
restrained pop-sounding Merseybeat bands obsolete.
The second musical explosion of the year happens when Motown strikes back with its
biggest hits to date by the Temptations, Four Tops and its newest group The Supremes who score three #1's in the
final five months of the year.
The Rhythm & Blues Charts are discontinued for 1964 as Billboard magazine feels
they've become indistinguishable from the Pop Charts. In just over a year they'll resume publication of The R&B
Charts when the style of music becomes more popular than ever.
Feminist stances are taken in Dionne Warwick's "Don't Make Me Over" and Lesley Gore's
"You Don't Own Me", marking the first time in mainstream rock that hit records espouse those emerging
Sam Cooke, soul music's biggest star, is shot and killed by a woman at a hotel on December 10th. It is rock
music's most publicized casualty since Buddy Holly's death in early 1959.
Ford introduces the sporty Mustang.
The St. Louis Cardinals edge the New York Yankees in the World Series 4 games to
Jim Brown leads the Cleveland Browns over the Baltimore Colts in the NFL
Cassius Clay (soon to be Muhammad Ali) scores a stunning upset over Sonny Liston to win
the world's heavyweight championship.
Arnold Palmer wins fourth Masters.
Jim Ryan at age 17 runs a 3:50 minute mile.
Movies and Television
Beatles invade the U.S. on February appearing first on the Ed Sullivan
The Beatles first film, "A Hard Day's Night" opens to rave reviews as the Beatles
abandon their pop-band image for more complex songs on the soundtrack.
"My Fair Lady is the year's big Oscar winner.
Peter Sellers introduces his classic character Inspector Closeau in The
Pink Panther. Other popular movies included The Carpetbaggers
and From Russia With Love.
The new season's most popular series are Bonanza, The Andy Griffith Show,
Bewitched, Gomer Pyle, USMC and
Click Here for Billboard's Top Ten
hits of the day in 1964.