It was fifty years ago- the year 1968- there were 16 different singles that topped the Billboard Hot 100 that year and on August 17th People Got To Be Free by The Rascals became the 12th song to do so. People Got To Be Free would stay at #1 for 5 weeks. This was the 3rd #1 song in three years for The Rascals- 1966- Good Lovin’, 1967-Groovin’ and 1968 People Got To Be Free would be their final #1. The Rascals had 9 Top 20 hits in that short amount of time- and this was it- their final Top 20 hit.
People Got To Be Free was written by Felix Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati of the group and the song about tolerance and freedom was a song that fit the year well. People Got To Be Free was also a hit #14 on the Black Singles Chart. After this song came out The Rascals would only perform in concert if the concert also featured an African-American act. Some believed the song was written as a reaction to the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr and Robert Kennedy but it was written before the RFK assassination. The song was written in response to where the long-haired band was threatened in Florida after their tour bus broke down.