Friday, December 2, 2022
Thursday, December 1, 2022
Our Wednesday started with some very sad news ...
After celebrating our very first JOEL WHITBURN DAY on Tuesday (Joel's Birthday), we learned Wednesday Morning that Joel's wife Fran had passed away.
Fran was paralyzed after a parasailing accident several years ago ... and had been in poor health recently. Such a sad year for a family that brought us so much joy over the past 50+ years. (I will forever regret not making the trip up to Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, to visit with Joel and tour his incredible Music Vault ... both of us speculated how much "The Two Frans" might enjoy each other's company, even if it just meant a trip to the mall while us two Record Geeks talked shop. Every year there was always a reason to put it off ... all on my end as Joel's invitation was an open-ended one to come up ANY time and tour the facility.)
Paul Haney of Record Research told us ...
Family say the musician, who was in one of the best-known rock bands of the 1970s and 80s, died after a short illness.
“She passed away peacefully at hospital this morning, Wednesday, November 30th 2022, following a short illness. She was in the company of her family. We kindly ask that you respect the family’s privacy at this extremely painful time and we would like everyone to keep Christine in their hearts and remember the life of an incredible human being, and revered musician who was loved universally. RIP Christine McVie.”
The British American rock band, founded in London in 1967, sold more than 100m records worldwide, making them one of the most successful groups ever. Their best-known songs include Dreams, Go Your Own Way and Everywhere.
The band paid tribute to the singer-songwriter McVie in a statement on Wednesday night following news of her death. “There are no words to describe our sadness at the passing of Christine McVie. She was truly one-of-a-kind, special and talented beyond measure.
“She was the best musician anyone could have in their band and the best friend anyone could have in their life.
“We were so lucky to have a life with her. Individually and together, we cherished Christine deeply and are thankful for the amazing memories we have. She will be so very missed.”
Despite its tumultuous history, Fleetwood Mac became one of the best-known rock bands of the 1970s and 80s, comprising Mick Fleetwood, Christine and John McVie, as well as Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.
Originally known as Christine Perfect, her maiden name, she started out with the blues band Chicken Shack. They had a hit with a cover of Etta James’ I’d Rather Go Blind, featuring McVie on lead vocals. After marrying John McVie in 1968, she left the band a year later and joined Fleetwood Mac in 1970.
After the lineup kept changing, in 1974 Nicks and Buckingham joined, an era that McVie called “pretty sensational”. She added: “We had our fights here and there, but there was nothing like the music or the intensity onstage. We weren’t doing anything in Britain, so just decamped to America and fell into this huge musical odyssey.”
Their 1975 self-titled album featured hits written by McVie: Over My Head and Say You Love Me. Christine and John McVie divorced in 1976.
Rumours, released in 1977, became one of the best-selling albums of all time and included hits such as Second Hand News and You Make Loving Fun. In addition to several multi-platinum tracks, the record sold more than 40m copies worldwide. Speaking of that particular period, McVie said to the Guardian that “we were having a blast and it felt incredible to us that we were writing those songs”.
McVie also released solo albums, the second of which, 1984’s Christine McVie, featured the hits Got a Hold on Me and Love Will Show Us How.
She took a hiatus from the band in 1998. “I just wanted to embrace being in the English countryside and not have to troop around on the road,” she said to the Guardian. “I moved to Kent, and I loved being able to walk around the streets, nobody knowing who I was. Then of course I started to miss it.”
In 2014 she returned and the band’s most recognisable lineup toured together, followed by an album with Buckingham in 2017 called Lindsey Buckingham Christine McVie.
McVie’s death comes two years after Fleetwood Mac co-founder Peter Green died at the age of 73.
In the summer of 2019, I was a featured on-screen interview for director Matt O’Casey on his BBC4-TV digital arts channel "Christine McVie, Fleetwood Mac’s Songbird." I also narrated a portion of the film. The cast includes Christine McVie, Stan Webb of Chicken Shack, Mick Fleetwood, Stevie Nicks, John McVie, Christine’s family members, Heart’s Nancy Wilson, Mike Campbell, Neil Finn, and producer Richard Dashut. The debut broadcast was on Friday September 20th of that year.
I will always remember her kindness in my handful of encounters with her ... initially at some of the recording sessions for "Rumours" at Larabee Studios in Hollywood, record shopping with her and beau Dennis Wilson at Tower Records, and even at my father's office, who was a stock broker. She really laughed when I mentioned, "If I knew you were on Wilshire and La Cienega talking financial investments, I would have brought my Chicken Shack LP to autograph!" As a weekly columnist for UK's "Melody Maker," she was always delighted to discuss UK music and we made efforts to find a great Indian restaurant in town. Thankfully, George Harrison and Ravi Shankar recommended one literally next door to Doug Weston's Troubadour.
More Joel Whitburn memories from Clark Besch ...
I had forgotten all about when Joel used to send out copies of his Want List to all of the people who bought his books, trying to fill in all of the gaps in his collection! This early one shows several titles I could have helped him out with over the years! lol (Problem was, I didn't want to part with MY only copy either!!! And, as I recall, he was offering top dollar for any and all records that we fellow collectors could come up with.) It was all about the love of the chase back then ... and trying to build the most complete collection imaginable. As his book topics grew, so did his library, expanding to cover ALL genres of music that Billboard covered. This even included VHS video tapes and such when that market exploded.
Boy, SO much of this stuff I had but just never held on to ... never enough space (and no idea that I'd ever be referring back to any of it way back then!)
Today's planned feature (another installment of Henry Diltz's Journal) will run on the site tomorrow (Friday, December 2nd) due to the impromptu rescheduling required after we received the sad, sad news of the passing of Fran Whitburn and Christine McVie.
And, we also want to let you know that this Saturday we'll be running excerpts from Phil Nee's 2003 interview with Mike Smith, lead vocalist of The Dave Clark Five.
And then on his THOSE WERE THE DAYS program Saturday Night, Phil will be playing outtakes and never-before-aired interview segments with Mike ... as well as more clip from the outstanding interview he did with David Gates. (We ran clips from that one last Saturday!)
Wednesday, November 30, 2022
The Illinois Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame has run a special “Story Behind The Song” on their website, featuring Jim Peterik telling the tale about The Ides Of March’s #1 Hit “Vehicle.”
You can view the whole thing here …
I was sad to hear that guitar whiz James Burton fell and broke his hip on Thanksgiving morning. (In the early years, Burton was Ricky Nelson’s guitarist … and even appeared on his television series, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. Years later, when Elvis returned to the concert stage in Las Vegas, Burton was hand-picked by The King to be part of his TCB Band.)
A hip replacement surgery was done immediately at Vanderbilt in Nashville and the surgery was deemed successful ... however, James is far from out of the woods at this time. Just seven weeks earlier, Burton was diagnosed with kidney cancer and had one of his kidneys removed. According to reports published by his family, his remaining kidney is struggling to process all the heavy medication that he has been given through three surgeries and his condition is now considered close to critical. They are asking for your prayers at this critical time. (kk)
A film documentary of the 1969 Live Peace In Toronto Concert (featuring John Lennon and a hastily assembled version of the Plastic Ono Band) premiers in theaters in Canada on December 16th. (At present, there are no plans for a US release … but I’m sure it’ll be turning up somewhere in the not-too-distant future.)
Lennon flew to Toronto to participate along with a make-shift band consisting of Eric Clapton, Klaus Voorman and Drummer Andy White. (In fact, they learned and rehearsed their set list on the plane ride over!) Lennon and Ono were first asked to MC the event … but then decided to perform as well.
The film was shot by D.A. Pennebaker and also includes performances by many of Lennon’s heroes, including Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. Also on the bill: Bo Diddley, Gene Vincent (backed by Alice Cooper’s Band, who also performed with Alice), a brand new band out of The Windy City called Chicago and the originally perceived headliners (until Lennon’s name was added to the bill), The Doors.
It was originally billed as a “rock and roll revival concert” … hence the rock royalty on board … and over 20,000 fans showed up. Lennon kicked off his set with a rousing rendition of “Blue Suede Shoes” … and also included a couple of his early rock favorites, “Money” and “Dizzy Miss Lizzy,” both previously covered by The Beatles. John then performed The Beatles’ “Yer Blues” (which he had also done on The Rolling Stones’ Rock And Roll Circus television special the year before) and his first two solo releases, the current hit “Cold Turkey” and “Give Peace A Chance,” which closed the show. (Fans also had to endure an 18-minute version of Yoko shieking “Don’t Worry Kyoko” and “John, John (Let’s Hope For Peace),” which I’m sure had early rockers like Berry, Lewis, Vincent, Diddley and Little Richard scratching their heads thinking “We helped to inspire THIS?!?!?”
Meanwhile, Harvey Kubernik sent us this official press release …
New Documentary: 1969 John Lennon Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band Debut with The Doors
Revival69: The Concert That Rocked the World | Hot Docs
The legendary music festival in Toronto that featured John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band, with Eric Clapton, headlining a lineup with other rock legends, including the Doors.
The Toronto Rock and Roll Revival was a one-day event held on September 13th, four weeks after Woodstock. Lennon’s appearance was not publicly revealed until the last moment. The documentary, from director , features never-before seen footage of the concert shot by renowned filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker. Following several film festival screenings, the film opens in Canada on December 16th. It screens on the 17th-20th.
From the November, 2022 announcement: " is a behind-the-scenes story of how a little known, but life-altering music festival came together — against all odds. Young, scrappy concert promoter John Brower worked to make his Toronto Rock and Roll Revival into a one-day event, later coined in rock mythology as “the second most important event in rock & roll history.” And it almost didn’t happen. “The week before the show, tickets weren’t selling,” he says in the film. “All of a sudden the show is gonna be canceled.” Lennon’s appearance saved the day.
"The festival featured such rock legends as Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bo Diddley, the Alice Cooper Band backing Gene Vincent, and The Doors. But it was the 11th hour arrival of Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band that ignited a truly seminal moment for the 20,000 fans at Toronto’s Varsity Stadium."
Chapman lensed exclusive conversations with musicians Alice Cooper, Robbie Kreiger, Alan White, Geddy Lee, Chicago’s Danny Seraphine, Klaus Voormann, and additional interview subjects concert promoter John Brower, film consultant Harvey Kubernik and festival attendee Rodney Bingenheimer, with over 60 minutes of archival footage and audio tapes. His documentary reveals the whirlwind chaos leading up to the festival — the biker gang, threat of cancellation, a mid-flight band rehearsal, and inexplicable luck that culminated in Lennon shedding the mantle of the Beatles and nervously taking the stage with Yoko Ono, Clapton, Voormann, and White.
The film offers rare, recently discovered behind-the-scenes Super 8 verité footage, and including never-before seen 16mm film of the concert shot by D.A. Pennebaker and his crew, told through the eyes of those who were there: the musicians, the mavericks behind the scenes, and other eyewitnesses.
Distribution outside of Canada has yet to be announced.
Revival69: The Concert That Rocked the World | Hot Docs
Buy Tickets Revival69: The Concert That Rocked the World Skip to tickets Directed By: Ron Chapman 2022 Canada, France 97 minutes
If any of our Canadian readers happen to attend one of these showings, we would love to hear from you! (kk)
Motown Records Founder Berry Gordy celebrated his 93rd birthday this week …
And Harvey Kubernik sent along this article to share …
Along with this preface …
Of the 2,000 interviews I've conducted over the last 49 years, my 1995 visit to Berry Gordy's mansion in Bel-Air, Ca. ranks right at the top. It was a delightful, empowering experience. To discuss the origins of his Motown/Gordy/Tamla record labels and for him to answer any and all questions I had about his awe-inspiring life and career was thrilling.
Our conversation was taped for the Motown Museum in Detroit, MI.
Plus, I got to meet and talk to Ewart Abner, the legendary record man and Vee-Jay Records executive about Dee Clark, Nolan Strong and the Diablos!
In 2023, Gordy and William "Smokey" Robinson are being honored by the Recording Academy as MusicCares 2023 Persons of the Year.
Imagine a world without the music of Motown …
Happy birthday BG … from HK.
57 Years On …
And the cast of “Alice’s Restaurant” reunite for a Thanksgiving Dinner (that can’t be beat!!!)
From FH Reader David Lewis …
Today, I read the recent note you received, from Steve Jarrell, about being part of the stage band at the Sonny Geraci Concert.
I, too, was part of that weekend event in Ohio.
Inside my solo CD, there's a photo, on the left side. It is from the benefit concert's finale.
On stage are musicians from Herman's Hermits, The uckinghams, Gallery, The Archies, The Rip Chords, The Diamonds, Badfinger, The Hollies, Roy Head, Santo & Johnny, Gary Lewis & the Playboys, Dickey Lee, Spiral Staircase, Frank Stallone, Steam, Billy Joe Royal, The Shadows of Knight, The Outsiders, The Raspberries, The 1910 Fruit Gum Company, The Toys and Steve Jerrell.
Sonny Geraci, Roy Head, Billy Joe Royal, Gary DeCarlo and Jimmy Sohns have all passed since this finale photo was taken ... maybe others, as well … but it was a great moment in time. (The hotel was crazy!!!)
- Bobby Scammell
Man, what a show that would have been to see!
Totally dug your CD, too, by the way … we’ll have to talk more about that later!
What a great night for music … and what a good cause as well. (kk)
I have a copy of that Brenda Lee 45, and have had it since 1965. "Thanks A Lot" is a decent up-tempo song of its time and genre.
But ... if you turned it over and played the "B" side, you found a little tune called "The Crying Game." And yes, it's the same tune covered years later by Boy George and used in a 1980's movie.
I have always liked Brenda's take on that song - long before the film came out. My guess is over the years I have played "The Crying Game" 15 or 20 times more often than "Thanks A Lot."
Would LOVE to hear this … can you please send it along so we can share it with our readers? Thanks, Brad! (kk)
Here you go …
I have always thought that Brenda sang the hell out of this one.
I also have three other versions of it ... the Boy George one from the 1980's, and two British versions that I imagine Boy George was familiar with from his youth. They are by Ian and The Zodiacs and Dave Berry.
I can honestly say "Thanks A Lot" isn't a forgotten hit to me, but the flip side I like a lot more - and searched around for other versions of the song a number of years ago.
I've NEVER needed the email reminders ... another (old, from like 1999 or 2000) reminder app from many computers ago, which still works on the Windows10 box I have now, opens the site at the same time every morning (right now it's at around 10:15 am local)
-- Bob Frable
Actually, I think the site itself offers a notification every time something new is posted … but it looks like only a handful of people have ever taken advantage of it. (To tell you the truth, I’m not even sure exactly how you would sign up for this service … but I know that it exists because I get a “subscribers” report as part of my stats. (kk)
Very nice Whitburn page today! Interesting stuff about Joel!
Today, Joel Whitburn was given an official "Joel Whitburn Day" on the Forgotten Hits blog. He passed away this past summer, but when he passed away, I had not much time to ever give tribute in any way. Upon reading all the nice messages on Joel, I KNEW I had a video I don’t think anyone else had. I had some time today to look for the tape. It was one of the early BETA tapes I still had held onto.
I mentioned it in my email tribute I eventually sent out after his passing, but thought it was from the 80's and on the Dinah Shore show. WRONG!
I searched my notes and located the tape. I had not used my BETA machine in a few years, so that was a question mark, but plugged it in and it worked like a charm! As I look around within five feet in every direction, I have 13 Whitburn books currently and one has been open beside me for months. I sold or traded probably 10 more, including the very first one I ever had, the 1970 first RR book.
This TV show Joel appeared on was October, 1990 ... so old that even Paul Haney had not started working at Record Research yet! The show was the midday network syndicated "The Home Show," hosted by Gary Collins and Dana Fleming! I think I knew Joel was to be on and got the tape rolling just a day or two after I had taped the "Story Behind John Lennon's Death" as told by the guy who took the last photo of John alive, Paul Goresh. You'll see the end of the show on the video below.
On the Home Show, Joel was a young 51 with 100,000+ records already! I THINK you will see RR's Paul Haney's FIRST book he bought from the company, the 1986 Top Pop Singles book sitting on the table in front of the hosts. Later, you see Joel moving aside his 1970 book, I believe!! Nice job placing it in the way. STILL, he never gets to really plug his books properly. Maybe he did at beginning and I missed taping that.
He DOES get to tell his story nicely and also show off his ORIGINAL and UNPEELED mint "Butcher Cover" LP. When the hosts ask about it, I could tell his mind was saying "Oh man, do I really have time to tell this story?"
He talks about his record collection and his tools of the trade. It is like a time machine when he talks of Osborne and Goldmine price guides and "Discwasher"!!! I still have all of those within five feet!
He speaks of his radio show with Bob Barry at WZTR-FM at the time. Flashing back, Bob was a co-DJ with my hero, Ron Riley in Milwaukee days of the 50's! I hope my pic of Bob and Ron gets in the documentary on Ron's life in the making right now.
Joel tells how to keep your records in good shape and, of course, I didn't do great at it then. Anyway, Joel gets tested with a one minute limit to find 45s from the hosts and even MTV rap show hosts, Ed Lover and Dr. Dre (???) of the show "Yo! MTV Raps." Hmm, musta missed that one. haha
Anyway, here's the blast from 32 years ago past and thanks to Joel for giving us so many great books of history! Not bad for a VERY old BETA tape, right? It’s on my youtube channel now, but who knows how long??
Many congrats on that impossible test kk put you thru! Could not believe the story of DA.
Winner Winner D.A. Dinner!
And now that "phantom record" is on YouTube for all to hear.
It's great that future generations will be able to hear the music that we remember (or in this case don't even remember.)
Would you happen to know …
Did JOEL do these? I never bought one, but this from Oct 1971 BB looks like it is likely FROM Joel's research, at least.
I don’t think so … Billboard always kept their own archives … they were just a complete mess (and Joel showing them how unorganized their own charts were helped sell them on the idea of letting him maintain the library.)
But way back when I remember that you could purchase copies of certain charts directly from Billboard. (I always went for the Year End Charts first!) I think these VERY expensive collections may have been a way for Billboard to cash in on all of Joel’s research by cutting out the middle man! (lol) kk
From The Wisconsin State Journal 3-27-1988.
I enjoyed the last sentence ...
He SHOULD be in the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame … AND should be on that cover he mentions but for his books!
With Joel’s credentials … plus the fact that he was a voting member of The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame for YEARS … I agree that he belongs there. (Joel confided in me that he ultimately quit The Rock Hall because of the way the voting was run … or perhaps more accurately, manipulated. What a shame. Great Idea … Best of Intentions … they just let the politics of it all get in the way of allowing The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame to serve its true purpose. (kk)
Billboard Magazine remembers and salutes Irene Cara …
And her #1 Smash “Flashdance … What A Feeling!” (kk)
Actress / singer Irene Cara poses for a portrait in Los Angeles, California, 1983. (Photo by Harry Langdon / Getty Images) Getty Images
Tuesday, November 29, 2022
As promised, here is the 1st Annual Forgotten Hits Joel Whitburn Day, kicking off with this proclamation by Chuck Buell ...
Next, how about the answers to our Joel Whitburn Trivia Contest, with answers and commentary provided by long-term Record Research Employee Paul Haney ...
Q 1: Name the Wisconsin city where Joel Whitburn born?
A: Wauwatosa – A bit of a tricky question ...
While Joel was raised and lived most of his life in Menomonee Falls, he was actually born in Wauwatosa, which is another suburb of Milwaukee.
Q 2: What was Joel Whitburn’s middle name?
A: Carver – A somewhat unusual middle name, it derived from his ancestors, some of which had the surname of Carver.
Q 3: Joel’s wife, Fran, is a native of which Central American country?
A: Honduras – Joel and Fran both attended Elmhurst College in Illinois, but they didn’t meet until Joel’s younger sister Julie introduced her friend Frances Mudgett (who had come to the U.S. to study) to Joel. Just one problem ... Fran was already engaged to someone else! Fran eventually broke up with her other beau and ended up marrying Joel in 1964. Much of Fran’s side of the family still lives in Honduras to this day.
Q 4: Name the sport that Joel played on a semi-pro level in the 1960s.
A: Basketball – At 6’6”, Joel excelled at basketball. He even had a court built directly above his famous record vault at his home in Menomonee Falls. Every week we’d play a pickup game and once in a while I had the nearly impossible task of guarding him and took more than one of his elbows to the chops. Joel had an outstanding mid-range shot that he rarely missed.
Q 5: What year did Joel Whitburn publish his first reference book?
A: 1970 – Joel started his weekly research in September of 1965. By 1968, he began typing up individual artist cards. However, it wasn’t until 1970 when he published his first actual book, simply titled Record Research. One of his first customers was a West Coast DJ by the name of Casey Kasem. Coincidentally, American Top 40 launched at almost the exact same time as Joel’s company.
Q 6: “The Joel Whitburn Record Research Report” column debuted in Billboard magazine in what year?
A: 1973 – In early 1973, Joel and Billboard publisher Claude Hall came to an agreement. In exchange for advertising his books, Joel would write a column that would focus on different chart facts and feats. Thus, in the Billboard issue dated February 3, 1973 (on page 22), the first column was published. Many consider it to be a precursor to the Chart Beat column, which Paul Grein started in 1981.
Q 7: When discussing his favorite recording artists, Joel often mentioned “the three E’s” – Name them.
A: Duane Eddy, The Everly Brothers and Elvis Presley – Joel’s favorite artist of all-time was Duane Eddy. It was a huge thrill for Joel to become good friends with Duane. In fact, Duane and his wife Deed attended Joel’s daughter Kim’s wedding in 1994. What a thrill it was for me to spend over an hour drinking beer and talking with Duane about his life and career at the reception that day. For the record, the other two artists in Joel’s all-time Top 5 were Ricky Nelson and The Beatles.
Q 8: According to Joel Whitburn, what was the worst 45 rpm record of all-time?
A: “There Is A Tavern In The Town” by Wally Cox – This non-charted novelty song by TV’s “Mr. Peepers” was released in 1953. Joel bought it without hearing it and once he did listen to it, he instantly regretted it! Just a couple weeks before he died, he played it for me and once again reiterated the fact that it was “the worst song ever recorded.”
Q 9: What year was Joel Whitburn inducted into the Menomonee Falls High School Fine Arts Hall of Fame?
A: 2015 – Joel was honored when his Alma Mater notified him that he would be inducted into their Hall of Fame. Over the years, I have made similar pleas for Joel to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a non-performer. Maybe someday …
Q10: Name the title and artist of the so-called “phantom record” that Record Research employee Paul Haney tracked down for Joel Whitburn in 2016.
A: “Ready ‘N’ Steady” by D.A. – Ever since it first appeared on Billboard’s Bubbling Under chart in the summer of 1979, Joel always kept a lookout for this record. We even offered a reward for anyone who could produce this record. I’ll never forget the day we got the recording in the mail ... Joel was so excited to finally cross the final record of his want list. The whole story has been well documented elsewhere, but I will say that tracking it down has been a big highlight of my 30+ years of working at Record Research.
Here's a copy of this elusive track, sent in by Paul Haney himself, so our readers can enjoy it. (It's actually not a bad little track!) Really weird how this managed to chart based on Billboard's strict criteria at the time ... and yet somehow it managed to bubble under for three weeks, peaking at #102.
From Joel's own "Top Pop Singles" book:
"Rock band formed in San Francisco, California. Led by Dennis Armand ("D.A.") Lucchesi (vocals) and Jim Franks (guitar) with Stu Blank (piano), Ira Walker (bass) and Dean Revello (drums). Also know as D.A. and the Dukes. The 'Bubbling Under" charts published by Billboard in 1979 showed the label and number as Rascal 102, even though there were no actual records pressed. (Although there would later be an actual Rascal record label started by Lucchesi's brother, David). For several years, this was thought to be a "phantom" recording. An investigation by Record Research in 2016 finally unearthed he actual recording, which never made it past the studio master stage. Dennis Lucchesi died on 8/18/2005 (age 60)."
How Billboard gathered ANY information on this unknown track (or even knew about it!), is beyond me ... yet incredibly, they charted it ... a record that didn't actually exist, a record you couldn't really buy and a record that virtually NOBODY had ever heard!!! (lol)
Here it is today, in Forgotten Hits, for of our curious readers out there ...
And there you have it ... all ten answers to this year's trivia contest.
Did anybody get 'em all???
In fact, we had FOUR folks on the list who knew all of the answers to the questions presented in this year's contest ...
Ed Erxleben, Randy Price, Scott Paton and Colin Donahue (who prefaced his answers with the comment "Damn, Kent, I didn't do this much research for my college essays!") ... got all of 'em right ...
And it was Ed Erxleben of Oak Lawn, Illinois whose name was drawn out of our proverbial "hat full of qualifiers" to claim the Record Research Book of His Choice. (Which was, by the way, TOP POP SINGLES, 1955 - 2018)
You can take YOUR pick of the litter (with literally dozens and dozens to choose from) at The Record Research Website. EVERY book will make an EXCELLENT edition to your music book library! (kk)
Twenty of Joel Whitburn's books line the shelf of my library. Two of them are gifts from Joel himself, inscribed by Joel personally. I've purchased several more than that.
When a new edition came out, I would donate the old one to the library. Some I had to discard because they were just too worn out. His books were often a buyer's guide for me introducing me to new music and artists.
After having collected Record Research chart books since the first one in 1970, It was my pleasure to talk to Joel on the phone when we were both attempting to complete our collections of Music Vendor chart data for the period of January-April 1964. Those issues are missing from the Library of Congress collection, and issues from that period were only occasionally offered on eBay. At that time, each of us had a few issues that the other didn't and we sent each other scans of the charts from those issues. Eventually, we were able to track down all the issues from that period, so Joel was able to include complete chart data in Record Research's Hit Records book, featuring the history of the Music Vendor/Record World pop charts, and I was able to incorporate that data in my SuperCharts for those months.
It was with great sadness that I learned of Joel's passing earlier this year, and I'm happy to see that his name, and the Record Research company, will be kept alive under the able management of Paul Haney and Joel's daughter Kim Bloxdorf.
– Randy Price
I never had the good fortune to meet Joel Whitburn in person, but, happily, I had several nice conversations with him over the phone.
My first acquaintance with his flagship book, “Top Pop Singles,” was when I started working at “American Top 40” in 1976. This compendium of all the Billboard Hot 100 hits was like the Holy Grail, and I treated the well-worn, yellow paperback with great reverence. At the office, we never referred to the book by its actual title ... it was always “The Whitburn.”
It wasn’t until I left AT40 that I took the plunge and bought my own first copy of a Record Research book. This started a tsunami of acquisition that continues to this day. Ardent record and book collector that I am, over the past 40-some years, I have purchased almost every book that Joel and his staff have created. I am a completist collector, just as he was. A few days ago, I received my copy of the new Gavin Report book, and it was bittersweet knowing that it was Joel Whitburn’s final project.
My admiration for Joel could not be greater, and not just for his invention and industry in creating such a valuable resource for music lovers and historians, but because he spent his life pursuing his passion and created a great professional and personal life for himself and his family.
Whenever I reach for “The Whitburn,” I will remember the really good man behind it.
Hope you and the family have a nice Thanksgiving in store.
Gotta throw my hat in the ring on the Whitburn trivia contest.
Having purchased nearly every one of his books over the past 40 years, I surely wouldn't mind winning one of the remaining volumes I need.
My responses are below.
Thanks, and all my best to you and your family.
Joel Whitburn’s sudden and unexpected death earlier this year hit all of us who knew him or purchased volumes from his vast catalog of reference books hard. (It all sounds a little too “It’s A Wonderful Life”-ish, I suppose … but you never really realize how many lives a person has touched until they’re gone. Joel Whitburn was part of MY life every single day since I first discovered his books back in 1973. There hasn’t been a single day since that I haven't consulted at least one of them for one reason or another.)
The latest Record Research book to be published is “The Gavin Report: 1958 – 2000.” This project was very near and dear to Joel’s heart. We talked for several years about how cool it would be to gather all of these influential reports into one historic volume, both acknowledging it to be a near impossible task … I mean, who saved all of these weekly newsletters for the past 64 years?!?!
And yet, he was able to pull it off … and his dedicated staff worked diligently to make it all happen. Paul Haney, a Record Research employee for over thirty years, told me how much it would have meant to Joel to hold the final product in his hands.
You can buy this book (along with dozens and dozens of others) through the Record Research Website … https://www.recordresearch.com/
Today, we do our small part to help pay tribute to the innovator and entrepreneur that Joel was …
Who knew that there were so many of us chartaholics out there?!?!
But his books tapped into every aspect of the music fan … from record collector to music and chart historian to deejay to program director.
Thank you for joining us in our First Annual Joel Whitburn Day celebration. (kk)
I first talked with Joel back in the mid-70s, shortly after his second paperback music book came out. Since then, I have talked with him a couple of times and been a regular purchaser of many of his books. I've used the books while DJing at a half-dozen stations from Illinois to Alaska. However, I never realized he was an alum at Elmhurst College, Elmhurst IL. For 15 years, I was the faculty advisor for Elmhurst's WRSE-FM, where we used his books regularly. I left there during 2009, but just this week I learned of his association with Elmhust when I read his name in the college's memorium section of its magazine. Thanks, Joel, for helping me sound more informed on the radio than I deserved.
St. Charles, IL
We have two daughters who also graduated from Elmhurst College, so your letter hits close to home.
In all the years I worked with Joel as a colleague, I only actually met him in person once. (I will kick myself for the rest of my life for never making it up to Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, to see his massive, one-of-a-kind record vault, housing EVERY record to make EVERY chart in the three major trade publications. I had an open invitation for YEARS to do so … yet every time we talked about going, another year would pass and, much like The Chicago Cubs said for decades, it always became a case of “Maybe Next Year.” We were both amused by the idea of our “two Frans” getting together, too, while he took me on what could only be the most incredible musical journey.)
While Joel and I talked numerous times over the years of doing Forgotten Hits (of which Joel was a TREMENDOUS supporter, often giving away copies of his latest books to a “lucky Forgotten Hits Reader”) … covering everything from new book ideas, philosophies on how the charts were calculated, to starting the official Top 40 Hall Of Fame … the only time we ever met in person was quite by accident many years before Forgotten Hits was even a glimmer in my eye.
In Joel’s quest to collect every chart record, no matter how minor or seemingly insignificant it may have been, we bumped into each other in a used record store in Oak Park, Illinois, one day. He had a stack of albums under his arm.
By then, I was already a long-time fan and collector of his books, having discovered the very first one in the Rosary College Library in neighboring River Forest. When I saw that such a book existed (this was a “library bound edition” that ran through 1969 … but had an addendum at the end to capture the chart information for 1970), I was completely blown away!!! Where could I get such a book?!?! (Turns out, you couldn’t … not yet, anyway ... he hadn’t made them available to the public yet) … so I would spend my lunch hour in the library every day, copying all of the details of my personal favorites into a huge notebook, rediscovering records I hadn’t heard in years and, in many cases, forgotten all about. (Hmm … maybe Joel’s first book was the subliminal inspiration for Forgotten Hits after all!!!)
Naturally, as soon as I found that you COULD buy a copy, I ordered it IMMEDIATELY. (My first was the little bitty orange 1972 edition, which I still have stored away somewhere, the perfect binding unable to keep up with my repeated use, finally giving way and forever ever after being held together with a massive rubber band! Lol) … but that day we just chatted for a few minutes and he showed me what he had found … and said that he regularly made the rounds to the used record stores wherever he might find himself … Joel himself working from his own, very specialized “Want List” just like the rest of us!
Back then, many of us were regular visitors to the then monthly record shows that were happening all over the Chicagoland suburbs. (Joel’s books BECAME the Want List for many collectors out there … I can’t tell you how many people I would run into at these shows carrying a copy of a book and then verifying their check list to see if the 45 they just found in somebody’s For Sale Bin was one of the ones they needed or not. In fact, in some of Joel’s specialized editions over the years, he would actually PRINT a check box next to the title so that you could keep track of what you still needed to complete your collection! The guy TRULY knew his audience!) kk
You can read our original tribute to Joel when we first learned of his passing …