WCFL became a major force in Chicagoland radio in 1966 when it went head-to-head with WLS trying to capture a share of their Top 40 audience.
From 1966 thru 1976, the two stations battled it out, swapping places as Chicago's favorite "teenage" station numerous times in the process. (They also traded off deejays left and right ... nearly a dozen jocks worked for BOTH stations during this Radio Wars Era!)
One perk for us kids growing up during this era was that both stations published their own weekly Top 40 Survey, which you could pick up for free at local record stores (remember those?) all over the Chicagoland area. It was often quite surprising to see the different rankings for the same songs, polling the same audience and retailers ... and how one station might jump on a tune, only to see it go Top 10 or Top 20, while the other station completely ignored that same tune. Sometimes each station featured a different version of the same song, each charting the success of the version they were playing while completely ignoring the other version all together.
Last year, we featured every WLS Hit Parade issued for 1969 as part of our 50 Year Tribute. This year, thanks to collector Jack Levin, we're giving the same treatment to the WCFL charts. (Thanks, Jack!)
But first, a little history ...
The last chart WCFL published for distribution during the pre-1970 era was dated "Week Ending May 23, 1968." Thereafter (skipping what would have been a chart for the week ending May 30th) they began sending a poster instead to each retail outlet that previously distributed their weekly lists. This was meant to be displayed in the stores until the following week's chart was supplied.
That meant that kids like me (and thousands of others just like me) could no longer pick up a copy and bring it home to add to their collection.
Fortunately, there were kids out there FAR more fanatical than I was who actually wrote down the survey every single week in order to keep up with the latest hits as determined by Super 'CFL. Those lists have since circulated among collectors for the past five decades! As such, we now have a listing of EVERY chart WCFL ever published ... in some form or another.
They kept up this practice of sending poster charts thru the Week Ending October 8, 1969 ... and then stopped printing charts altogether. (For some reason, no one has EVER found a copy of the 1969 chart dated "Week Ending August 20th" ... if by some miracle somebody out there has a copy, we would love to see it!)
For the balance of October and all of November and December of 1969, NO charts were distributed ... and then, lo and behold, all of a sudden when we went to the store to pick up our WLS Chart in January of 1970, we found a brand new WCFL Chart available to take home, dated "Week of January 12, 1970."
This practice continued until the station switched formats to "Beautiful Music" in February of 1976. (WLS actually went thru a similar practice of "poster charts only" for a period that ran from March of 1972 thru July of 1973 before going back to their weekly "street sheet" again.)
Starting today (and then running every Sunday throughout the year) we will publish a copy of the WCFL Chart from exactly fifty years ago ... often offering commentary and a few key tracks to help remind you of the music scene, circa 1970. As usual, your comments and memories are always welcome.
But for now, please enjoy the first WCFL Chart of 1970 ... a LONG time coming back then for all of us collectors out there!!! (kk)
(Seriously ... could they have made it ANY harder to read?!?!)
The Dutch group Shocking Blue has the decade's first #1 Record with "Venus," a timeless track that you still hear almost daily today, some fifty years later.
Here in Chicago, Bubble Gum still seemed to rule the day as Tommy Roe, The Archies and Bobby Sherman all have Top 6 Hits ... sharing space in The Top Ten (with no apologies necessary ... because that's the way Top 40 Radio sounded back then!) with Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" and a couple of Motown acts of note ... The Jackson Five enjoying their first hit ("I Want You Back") and Diana Ross and the Supremes enjoying their last (with "Someday We'll Be Together.")
Being a brand new chart, there is really no way to track which records are on their way up or down at this point (that will all change NEXT week ... and from that point thereafter) ... but it's interesting to see hits by The Plastic Ono Band ("Cold Turkey," #38, a John Lennon record that was banned on any number of stations around the country), Elvis Presley with yet another Top Ten comeback hit ("Don't Cry, Daddy," #7), and The Carpenters with their slowed-down cover of The Beatles' tune "Ticket To Ride." (#35 ... already higher than it would ever climb nationally.)
I have always liked Vic Dana's cover of the Neil Diamond tune "If I Never Knew Your Name" ... and Crow's "Evil Woman, Don't Play Your Games With Me" was on our turn-table at home non-stop around this time.
Of the new so-called Hit Bound tracks, only Joe Cocker's "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window" left a lasting impression (and even that one only climbed to #30 on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop Singles Chart.)
However, (being "Forgotten Hits" and all!), I wonder how many people out there remember the Cold Blood song "You Got Me Hummin'"!!! (This one peaked at #29 on the WCFL Chart ... and is one of those tunes that never charted at all across the river on WLS.)
More next Sunday ... and EVERY Sunday in 2020 ... as our 50 Year Flashback continues, spotlighting the WCFL Charts of 1970 ... right here in Forgotten Hits! (kk)