Song: “Eve Of Destruction” by Barry McGuire
Reached #1: September 25, 1965 (their first, 1 week)
The Byrds didn’t sing it. The Turtles, Jan and Dean, and the Grass Roots did. And yet, the #1 version of the song was dashed off by an ex-New Christy Minstrel in one take, and leaked to DJs before it could be polished.
Oh, and the singer renounced the song later in life.
Barry McGuire pretty much kicked around the music business both before and after “Eve”. He did “Eve”, apparently, because he was familiar with 19-year-old songwriter P.F. Sloan’s work (and Sloan did guitar on the single). Reportedly, they did what was supposed to be a demo take on Thursday morning – and by Monday morning, the song was playing on radio in Los Angeles.
A few years after “Eve”, McGuire became a born-again Christian and stopped playing the song in concert for almost 30 years. When he did bring it back, he updated the lyrics to reflect the 2000s before officially releasing a new version in 2009 as “Eve 2012”.
To give an idea of the era the song came out, the song was banned in some parts of the USA for “giving comfort to the enemy in Vietnam” or because it showed “what was wrong with the kids these days” (not wanting to get killed in ‘Nam, I guess)… it also led directly to S/Sgt Barry Sadler’s #1 “Ballad Of The Green Berets”.
Tomorrow… it wasn’t this singer’s first #1, but it’s the one we know him by…
No other songs reached #1 on September 25.