Friday, September 4, 2009

9 - 4 - 65

I chose this particular survey to feature this week for a couple of reasons ...

First of all, WLS only listed their Top 20 songs on their Silver Dollar Survey this week ... that's because they ran a SECOND chart listing featuring "The 20 Best-Selling #1 Records" of their brief history as a Top 40 Radio Station. (WLS switched over to Rock and Roll / Top 40 in 1960 ... and quickly became THE leader for teen listening here in Chicagoland. While they weren't the first radio station in town to do so ... we'll eventually be featuring 1950's charts from radio stations like WJJD, WIND and WGN who ALL played Top 40 Rock and Roll at one time or another ... they certainly became the biggest ... and stuck with this format longer than any other radio outlet in town. And, with 50,000 watts behind them, they became an AM Giant in the '60's ... their signal could be picked up in over 40 States and listeners all over the country were diggin' the sounds of The Big 89 on clear nights across America.)

As such, it was nice to see them salute their past, honoring former #1 Records like "I Can't Stop Loving You" by Ray Charles and "Sherry" by The Four Seasons from 1962 and "It's My Party" by Lesley Gore and "My Boyfriend's Back" by The Angels from 1963, right alongside recent chart-toppers from 1965 like "Satisfaction" by The Rolling Stones, "Downtown" by Petula Clark and "Mrs. Brown, You've Got A Lovely Daughter" by Herman's Hermits.

(click to enlarge chart)

The OTHER reason I wanted to feature this particular chart is because of the song that sits at #20 this week. The WLS Silver Dollar Survey lists "Yesterday" by Paul McCartney as the 20th biggest song in Chicagoland!!! Not The Beatles ... but Paul McCartney!!!

Despite showing five weeks of airplay, the song did NOT appear at all on the previous week's chart ... and, in fact, it showed up a week later at #35 ... with only ONE week of airplay noted ... correctly credited as The Beatles!!!

This is a REAL anomaly ... and something that HAS to be very difficult to explain. My FIRST thought was that they did this because when The Beatles performed "Yesterday" live on The Ed Sullivan Show, John, George and Ringo left the stage, leaving Paul McCartney all by himself to perform the song with an acoustic guitar ... but THAT program didn't air until September 12th ... better than a week AFTER this chart first hit the streets.

Even stranger is the fact that "Yesterday" didn't debut on The Billboard Chart until the week ending September 25, 1965 ... THREE weeks later! (In fact, Capitol Records didn't even RELEASE "Yesterday" as a single until September 13th, the day AFTER the Sullivan performance!!! And it wasn't released as a single in Great Britain at all, where it only appeared on the "Help!" LP ... which was released in The U.K. on August 6th.)

This can only mean that WLS had been playing it as a cut off an import copy of the British LP (not at all uncommon, really ... Ron Riley regularly featured British-Only hits on his program, many of which would later become hits here Stateside as well) ... but it WAS unusual to see it charting at #20 when, theoretically, it didn't even EXIST yet to purchase!!! ("Yesterday" would not be included on the domestic "Help" soundtrack album either. In typical Capitol Records fashion, they held back the tracks from Side Two of the British "Help!" LP to squeeze out more album releases here in The States ... as such, tracks like "Act Naturally", "It's Only Love", "You Like Me Too Much", "Tell Me What You See", "I've Just Seen A Face", "Yesterday" and "Dizzy Miss Lizzie" wound up appearing on the U.S. albums "Rubber Soul", "Beatles VI" and "Yesterday ... And Today".)

As such, this is makes for a pretty unique chart ... especially coming from one of the biggest radio stations in the country at the time. (Certainly, it must have helped to fuel demand for the single since you couldn't actually BUY it at the time!!! lol) Perhaps Listener Requests were a factor?

Other favorites from this week's WLS Top 20 include the previous Beatles' single "Help!" (#2 behind the Sonny and Cher Hit "I Got You Babe", now enjoying its fourth week on top of The Silver Dollar Survey ... it would replace it at #1 the following week and hold that top spot for a total of two weeks on its own), "Action" by our FH Buddy Freddy Cannon (#17), "Catch Us If You Can" by The Dave Clark Five (from their OWN recently released film, "Having A Wild Weekend", later renamed "Catch Us If You Can") and "Some Enchanted Evening" (#14) another INCREDIBLE vocal performance by Jay and the Americans.
Songs mentioned a couple of weeks ago when we last featured a 1965 WLS Chart (both of which we promised to feature in today's piece) include "Little Miss Sad" by The Five Emprees (formerly shown as The Five Empressions on that earlier chart) and "The World Thru A Tear" by Neil Sedaka, a GREAT over-looked Sedaka tune that only reached #76 nationally but was a #4 smash here in Chi-Town.

Meanwhile, we've now got a THIRD reason to feature this chart. A few weeks ago we told you that long-time FH Reader Jack Levin was trying to collect The Top 45 45's for September 4, 1965, for his wife's upcoming 45th birthday. In fact, we even ran a list of some of the titles he was still missing in his quest. Here is an updated list, showing the records he still needs to complete this collection. If anybody can help him out with this, please drop me an email and I will forward it to Jack and hook you guys up.

Here's what I need: Help & Yesterday - Beatles; Heart Full Of Soul - Yardbirds; Laugh At Me - Sonny;The World Thru A Tear - Neil Sedaka; With These Hands - Tom Jones; Just You - Sonny and Cher; Summer Nights - Marianne Faithfull; I'll Make Your Dreams Come True - Ronnie Dove; Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl - The Barbarians; I Still Love You - The Vejtables; I Live For The Sun - Sunrays; Agent Double-O Soul - Edwin Starr; Somebody New - Rivieras; Millions Of Roses - Steve Lawrence; Midnight Hour - Wilson Pickett; Blowin' In The Wind - Steve Alaimo; Kansas City Star - Roger Miller; September In The Rain - Chad & Jeremy; Give Me All Your Love- Gerry & The Pacemakers; Action - Freddy Cannon; It's Gonna Take A Miracle- The Royalettes
That's 23 singles. The other two will have to come from either Billboard or Cashbox. You wanna talk about some forgotten hits, there's quite a few here. I've got a year to get this together. I've picked up a few at record shows, but many of the dealers have no clue as to what they have and I haven't the time for anything more than a superficial look. Thanks for your help.

I asked legendary WLS Disc Jockey Clark Weber what he remembered about this week's featured WLS Chart ... again, it just struck me as unusual that "Yesterday" would be listed as being by Paul McCartney ... and making The Top 20 at a time when you couldn't really buy the record. Clark contacted Dex Card, the guy who used to count The Silver Dollar Survey down every weekday afternoon and Ron Riley, the "Man In The Know" about ALL things British Invasion-oriented back in 1965 to see if THEY could shed any light on this, too. Here's some of what we got back:

Hi Kent -
What an interesting mystery and a fascinating question. I had been Program Director since July of that year and for the life of me I can’t recall why it was placed at #20!
Ron Riley’s British Billboard was very popular and I do recall that Ron was playing it as a single. It became a monster in nothing flat and perhaps I may have even added it to the regular playlist. However record sales were the measuring stick used for position on the Silver Dollar Survey and certainly not telephone requests. I forwarded your e-mail to Ron, Dex Card, and Darlene Carr, who was my secretary at the time. She compiled the weekly surveys. Perhaps one of them can shed some light on this.

Clark Weber

The Ron Riley / Clark Weber Feud was played up BIG-TIME on WLS ... and it REALLY helped the ratings of BOTH shows ... no matter whose side you were on, people tuned in just to hear what one of them might say about the other!!! As part of this on-going ruse, Clark Weber always took the anti-Beatles position ... while Ron Riley fed us anything and everything British he could get his hands on, even counting down The British Billboard ... often times premiering songs that wouldn't be released here in The States weeks or even months later.

As for my speaking out against the Beatles, it was originally based on the Vee Jay releases. After the station was burned by the hype of Cliff Richards and the other budding British groups, we became gun shy. Those first Beatle releases were pretty bad. I know that several Beatle experts claim that the Capitol releases were the same as the Vee Jay. I was there and I assure you that sound wise they were as different as night and day. The minute we heard the Capitol remixed releases we know they would be monster hits.
My outspoken stance as their records went through the roof was simply a ruse. It inflamed the kids stirring them into a white hot heat and they listened to Riley as he defended their Beatles. They listened to me because they couldn’t believe someone like me was so cool and yet so out of touch! I compounded the problem by meeting the Beatles and saying that I thought Lennon was full of himself and a bit of a jerk. Which he was! Having said that, what four teenagers given all that adoration, exposure and money would have acted any other way? Their songs combined with a lot of studio magic saved the day for the record industry and radio as well! Even today they stand the test of time as one of the greatest rock bands in history.

The 1965 Silver Dollar Survey is strange. It seems it would have been noticed by one of us at the station ... and would have caused a response from listeners and the music industry. It would be interesting to check another survey from that same date. In other words, could this be a forgery? I don't remember the "Number One Hits" being part of a September survey. But as we get older ... memory seems to diminish. For instance ... I don't remember you being PD in July of 1965. I know that Ralph was at the station at that time.

Nope, this is the real deal ... I've been collecting WLS and WCFL Surveys for over 35 years now ... and there are at least a dozen of us fanatics on The Forgotten Hits Mailing List that can claim a COMPLETE collection of EVERY chart ever published ... even if that means a Xerox Copy or a hand-written list covering the periods where WLS or WCFL no longer distributed charts to the public but printed in-store display posters instead. Many of us would visit the record department at Sears or Polk Brothers and write those titles in a notebook each and every week to insure that we never missed a list!!! (We've even got WJJD Charts going back to 1956 and the dawn of The Rock Era ... here again, we're probably only a chart or two away from a complete collection of THESE charts!!!) AMAZING what people held on to, isn't it?!?! But this music meant the MOST to us back then ... and, obviously, it still does!!! (kk)

If anybody else out there connected with the station can shed any light on this topic, we'd love to hear from you!