Wednesday, May 27, 2015

#1 - 1955 - 1963

Because I didn't really discover the radio until 1964, it's hard for me to accurately describe the relative popularity of songs and how they charted before this date.  Everything I know about the popularity and success of these records (as far as chart history is concerned anyway) I've learned from books like the ones offered through Joel Whitburn's Record Research Company.

From 1964 on, I can speak pretty intelligently on the relative popularity of these tunes ... and will do so in the upcoming chapters of this new Forgotten Hits series.  

Meanwhile, for the years 1954 - 1962 (covered in Joel's brand new "Chart Comparison" book), I can only report the facts as he shows them in his book.  

Here goes:  

We don't really hit our first #1 chart discrepancy until 1957.  In July of that year, The Everly Brothers hit #1 in both Cash Box and Music Vendor Magazine with their first big hit, "Bye Bye Love".  It failed to reach #1 in Billboard.  That's because Elvis' "Teddy Bear" topped the Billboarod chart for seven weeks.  By comparison, Cash Box showed it at #1 for three weeks and Music Vendor showed it at #1 for four weeks.  As such, it's kinda hard to imagine a record as big as The Everly Brothers' first big hit NOT reaching #1 in all three publications.  

Billboard also awarded extra weeks at #1 to "Jailhouse Rock", which also topped their chart for seven weeks, compared to just three weeks in Cash Box.  Incredibly, it didn't reach #1 at all in Music Vendor.  Two other records that reached #1 that year in Billboard without doing so in either of the other publications in 1957 both belonged to Pat Boone ... "Don't Forbid Me" for one week ... and "April Love" for six.  (How does a record big enough to top Billboard's Chart for SIX WEEKS not register a #1 ranking in either of the other major trade publications???)  Perry Como also hit the top spot in Billboard with "Round And Round" without climbing that high in Cash Box or Music Vendor ... so did Buddy Holly's "That'll Be The Day" ... certainly a "perceived" #1 Record if there ever was one.  A record that MAY have deserved a #1 showing, topping the charts in both Music Vendor and Cash Box but NOT in Billboard, was "Raunchy" by Bill Justis.  Again I can't speak for the TRUE popularity of this record at the time because I wasn't there to witness it.  Hindsight, however, tells me probably not ... although it WAS his ability to play this tune that earned a young George Harrison a spot in The Quarrymen, the group that would evolve into The Beatles several years later!  

We saw another example of this kicking off 1958 when "The Stroll" by The Diamonds made it to the #1 spot in both Cash Box and Music Vendor ... for two weeks, no less ... without ever doing so in Billboard.  Incredibly, this was the only instance in 1958 where this occurred.   

There were times when a record topped the chart in Billboard but never reached #1 in the other publications.  These include "Hard Headed Woman" by Elvis, "Poor Little Fool" by Ricky Nelson (the very first #1 Record on the brand new Hot 100 Pop Singles Chart), "Little Star" by The Elegants and "Bird Dog" by the aforementioned Everly Brothers.  The main culprit here depriving these records a #1 showing in Cash Box and Music Vendor seems to be "Patricia" by Perez Prado, which held down the top spot for four consecutive weeks in both publications, despite a one week showing at the top in Billboard.  

1959 gave us a two-week chart-topper by Della Reese, "Don't You Know" that never reached #1 in Billboard.  It did rank as the top record in both Cash Box and Music Vendor, however.  The only Billboard #1 Hit that year NOT to reach #1 in at least one other publication belonged to Elvis Presley ... his "A Big Hunk O'Love" topped the Billboard Chart for two weeks in August of that year.  Elvis DID top the Music Vendor chart for two weeks with "(Now And Then There's) A Fool Such As I" without doing so in Billboard or Cash Box ... and "My Heart Is An Open Book" by Carl Dobkins, Jr. spent THREE weeks at #1 in Music Vendor without hitting the top in either of the other trade publications.  

Billboard had FOUR #1 Records in 1960 that didn't top the chart in any other publications.  They were "Mr. Custer" by Larry Verne, "I Want To Be Wanted" by Brenda Lee, "Georgia On My Mind" by Ray Charles and "Stay" by Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs.  There was never an instance in 1960 when records topped the other two charts without hitting #1 in Billboard.   

That being said, "Georgia On My Mind" and "Stay" were both monster hits ... and well deserving of their #1 berths.  They failed to reach the top in the other two publications because The Drifters' "Save The Last Dance For Me" occupied that position ... for six weeks in Cash Box and five weeks in Music Vendor.  By comparison, it only held the #1 spot in Billboard for three weeks.  In hindsight, "I Want To Be Wanted" and "Mr. Custer" may not have deserved their #1 status, although "Mr. Custer" WAS a pretty big novelty hit at the time.  

1961 saw TWO instances where a record topped the chart in both Cash Box and Music Vendor but failed to do so in Billboard.  "Exodus" by Ferrante and Teicher kicked off the year this way ... and then in October of that year it happened again when Roy Orbison hit the #1 spot with "Crying".  

Once again Billboard ranked Pat Boone at #1 while the other two publications took a pass ... this time it was "Moody River" that received this honor.  At year's end, The Marvelettes also had a Billboard-only #1 Hit with "Please Mr. Postman".  Honestly, I believe that ALL of the above-named titles are worthy of at least a week's worth of #1 status.
1962 shows two records topping the charts in Cash Box and Music Vendor without doing so in Billboard.  The first one to do so was "Mashed Potato Time" by Dee Dee Sharp.  It happened again with Elvis' "Return To Sender" toward the end of the year.  (I just HAVE to believe that "Return To Sender" deserved a universal #1 showing.  It missed in Billboard because of The Four Seasons hit "Big Girls Don't Cry".) 

Joey Dee and the Starliters had a three-week #1 run in Billboard without ever reaching the top spot in the other trade publications.  Tommy Roe achieved the same honors for two weeks with "Sheila" ... and Connie Francis spent a solo week at #1 in Billboard only in March with "Don't Break The Heart That Loves You".   


Probably the most OBVIOUS omission from 1963 would have to be "Louie Louie" by The Kingsmen.  It was everything that "Dominique" by The Singing Nun wasn't ... and despite supposedly being banned from any number of radio stations around the country, it still managed to top the charts in both Cash Box (two weeks) and Music Vendor.  Only Billboard denied it its rightful berth at #1.   

Another #1 Record from 1963 that topped two out of the three national charts was "Hello Mudduh, Hello Fadduh" by Allan Sherman (an absolutely deserving novelty hit, big as it was at the time).  Again, Billboard was the lone hold-out.  The Tymes hit #1 in both Billboard and Music Vendor with "So Much In Love", topping the chart for a week in each of those publications.     

There were other assorted #1 Records that year that topped at least one of the charts ... "The End Of The World" by Skeeter Davis was probably the most deserving.  (It hit #1 in Music Vendor but stopped at #2 in both Billboard and Cash Box).  Other debatable #1's include "Sally Go 'Round The Roses" by The Jaynetts (#1 in Music Vendor only) and "Be My Baby" by The Ronettes (#1 in Cash Box only and, in hindsight, a very deserving #1 record.  The impact of this record was enormous.)   

I asked Randy Price, curator of The Super Charts, a ranking that takes into consideration a record's overall chart performance based on all three major trade publications, if some of OUR "worthy #1's" would have hit the top when weighted by the full scope of research used by all three trades.  Here are a couple of examples he sent me ...   

Bye Bye Love by The Everly Brothers - #2 (for 5 weeks!)
Raunchy by Bill Justis - #2
The Stroll by The Diamonds - #2
Louie Louie - #2
The only two titles from your list to actually hit #1 on The Super Charts are 
Exodus by Ferrante and Teicher
and Crying by Roy Orbison