The Number Ones

July 10, 1961

The Number Ones: Bobby Lewis’ “Tossin’ And Turnin'”

Stayed at #1:

7 Weeks

In The Number Ones, I’m reviewing every single #1 single in the history of the Billboard Hot 100, starting with the chart’s beginning, in 1958, and working my way up into the present.

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The biggest hit of 1961 is about being in a state of such romantic desperation that you can’t even sleep: “I kicked the blankets on the floor / Turned my pillow upside-down.” But “Tossin’ And Turnin'” doesn’t sound stressed or sad or sleep-deprived. Instead, it’s jubilant: a frantic and half-drunk hard-R&B pound with one of the most deliriously fun saxophone solos of an era that wasn’t exactly short on deliriously fun saxophone solos.

Bobby Lewis, an R&B singer with roots in both Indianapolis and Detroit, didn’t become a star on the back of “Tossin’ And Turnin’,” a song that Fireflies frontman Ritchie Adams wrote with Jackie Wilson in mind. Lewis only had one more hit after “Tossin’ And Turnin’,” which is a hell of a statement about the mercilessness of the music business. But with “Tossin’ And Turnin’,” Lewis left a mark, gifting the world with history’s greatest insomnia-themed party anthem.

GRADE: 7/10

BONUS BEATS: Here’s the Replacements covering “Tossin’ And Turnin'” on the B-side of their 1987 single “The Ledge”:

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