The 101 number one song of the day had to clear several hurdles on its way to the top. The most significant challenge came from the head of the record company who felt a political song was not a good fit for a group known for the striped knickers and buster brown collars.
Those outfits were meant to signify the clothing of the kids who became popular in a series of depression era movie shorts. The group’s music was light and fun loving to match their whimsical on stage appearance. But the spring of 1968 brought two assassinations (Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy) that affected the band members as deeply as most Americans and the song was written to reflect those feelings. But Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records didn’t want to release the song because he felt it would be disastrous for the group and for the companies bottom line. He was wrong. It turned out to be their biggest hit – staying on top for more than a month. It was number one on August 16th, 1968 for the Rascals (People Got to be Free)