Top 10 Johnny Rivers Songs

Johnny Rivers Songs

Photo: United Artists Records, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Our Top 10 Johnny Rivers songs list looks back at the songs of a singer that took famous rock songs and made them even more famous. While Johnny Rivers did compose his only number one hit entitled The Poor Side Of Town, the singer had many hits that were written by the likes of artists such as Chuck Berry, Willie Dixon and many others. While Johnny Rivers has been releasing music in every decade since the 1950s, his golden period occurred during the 1960s and into the 1970s.  Johnny Rivers catalog is filled with songs that cross many musical genres. Great singers have the ability to sing any style with great success. That’s the story of Johnny Rivers

# 10 – Gypsy Wind

We open up our top 10 Johnny Rivers songs list with a little known song from 1998. The great song “Gypsy River,” was released on Johnny Rivers’ album Last Train To Memphis. Over forty years later Johnny Rivers still sounded amazing. The song’s swaying groove is vintage Johnny Rivers. Don’t miss this one.

# 9 – Mountain Of Love

Johnny Rivers covered many classic songs throughout his wonderful career. Some of them were huge hits that Johnny Rivers would always make his own. “Mountain of Love,” was one of them. Johnny Rivers released “Mountain Of Love,” as a single in 1964. It was released on Johnny Rivers’ album entitled In Action. The single turned out to be a big hit for Johnny Rivers as it broke the Billboard Hot 100’s top 10 peaking at number nine. The song was originally recorded in 1960 by Harold Dorman who also composed the song.

# 8 – Baby, I Need Your Lovin’

Many people may be surprised from a commercial point of view that Johnny Rivers version of Baby I Need Your Lovin’ actually charted higher than the original Four Tops version. So many fans always associate the song with the Four Tops. But the fact of the matter is that Johnny Rivers’ version was a smash hit in 1967 peaking all the way up to number three on the Billboard Hot 100. Just take a listen to how great this version is.

# 7 – Seventh Son (Live At Whiskey A Go Go / 1965)

Continuing with our top 10 Johnny Rivers songs we turn to the great blues song “Seventh Son.” Once again a great Willie Dixon song was recorded by a popular music artist and turned into a top 10 hit. Johnny River’s version of the great Willie Dixon song peaked at number seven on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.  The song became a number one hit for Johnny Rivers in Canada. The song was released on the album Meanwhile Back at the Whisky à Go Go in 1965.

# 6 – Summer Rain

In 1968, Johnny Rivers released the marvelous album Realization. This great record stands as one of the most underrated albums of the 1960s. There were so many great songs on this record we wanted to present on this top 10 Johnny Rivers songs list, but there was just not enough room. However, we think you will really enjoy this fantastic song “Summer Rain.” It’s one of the best recordings of Johnny River’s career.

# 5 – Slow Dancing Swayin To The Music

What we love about Johnny Rivers songs is that they covered so many musical genres yet all defined a certain soulful sound that was delivered with that grooving pitch-perfect voice of Johnny Rivers. This one was a big hit in the 1970’s. A great romantic soulful tune that so many people fell in love with. The song “Slow Dancing Swayin To The Music,” was released in 1977. It was a top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. It would become Johnny Rivers last top 10 hit on the Hot 100 of his career. The song was written by Jack Tempchin. Out of all the Johnny Rivers songs released, this one is a big-time favorite among many fans.

# 4 – Secret Agent Man

Continuing with our top 10 Johnny Rivers songs list we turn to one of the coolest songs ever written. The song “Secret Agent Man,” was written by P. F. Sloan and Steve Barri. The song appeared as the theme song for the American television show Secret Agent which aired between 1964 and 1968. It was a show that originally aired in Britain as Danger Zone between 1960 and 1962. Johnny River’s recording of “Secret Agent Man,” was a big hit for the singer. The song peaked all the way up to number three on the Billboard Hit 100 in 1966.

# 3 – Memphis

The legendary song “Memphis.” has been recorded by so many rock and roll greats. The song was originally written by Chuck Berry who released it as a single on Chess Records in 1959. You don’t get more legendary than Chuck Berry in rock and roll history. Nonetheless, Johnny Rivers is the man who had the biggest hits with the song. Released on his album At the Whisky à Go Go, Johnny Rivers’ version reached all the way up to number two on the Billboard Hot 100. His version also hit number one in Canada and Germany.

# 2 – Rockin’ Pneumonia And The Boogie Woogie Flu

Johnny Rivers’ “Rockin’ Pneumonia And The Boogie Woogie Flu,” stands as one of the best mergers of multiple musical genres on record of all time. Utilizing elements of rock and roll, blues, and funk, Johnny Rivers came up with a song for the ages. This is about as fun as it gets. And what a title! The song “Rockin’ Pneumonia And The Boogie Woogie Flu,”  The song’s title was a reference to the Asian flu in the 1950s. The song is actually from that decade. The song was written by Huey Smith in 1957. Johnny River’s version was released in 1972. The song hit number six on the Billboard Hit 100.

# 1 – The Poor Side Of Town

We close out our top 10 Johnny Rivers songs list with the singer’s biggest hit of his career.  The classic song “The Poor Side Of Town,” stands as Johnny Rivers’ only number one hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The tale of an ex-girlfriend’s flight back to her former lover from the arms of a rich man is a classic story that resonated well across the nation in 1966. The song was written by Johnny Rivers and Lou Adler. The song was later covered by The Fifth Dimension, Nick Lowe, and various other artists. The definite version though belongs to Johnny Rivers.

Updated October 31, 2023

Top 10 Johnny Rivers Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

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  1. Avatar Rick Peak May 16, 2022

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