Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Helping Out Our Readers

Got a musical mystery that you can't solve? Why not run it by our team of oldies experts here at Forgotten Hits? You'd be AMAZED by how many of these we've solved over the years. Check out some of the recently received queries below!

Hey Kent,
Do you know of any site or place I could find out how many sales a song sold?
Like Up Up and Away?
I could have sworn that we ran a link for a site like this before that showed ACTUAL sales for all of the big hit records ... but I can't find it anywhere in the archives. Let's see if we get any response by running this in our "Helping Out Our Readers" feature.
The thing you have to remember is that a lot of the record companies misrepresented the actual sales of a record to avoid having to pay royalties ... according to the "official statistics," Motown Records NEVER had a million seller ... they didn't want their artists knowing how well their records were doing because then they'd come asking for more money!
According to Joel Whitburn's latest book, "Up, Up And Away" sold UNDER half a million copies ... which is virtually IMPOSSIBLE to believe. It was a HUGE hit and a National Top Ten Record. Anybody out there aware of an accurate site that'll give us these figures? (kk)

Recently I was putting together an MP3 disc of the top 100 songs for 1966. I also was trying to figure out other songs that were popular that year. One list I ran across listed that I Feel Good was also popular that year as well as You Don't Try Too Hard by the DC5. I looked at the top 100 for 1965 and noticed that I Feel Good By James Brown actually was in the top 100 for that year. I was curious just how much it may have overlapped in to 1966 and was the DC5 tune a charter that year? Oh yes I'm asking these partially because I don't have direct access to any of the Whitburn books. I have one, but unfortunately for me it's not in Braille.

Can, or has a song, made the top 100 in two consecutive years?
A number of songs have made The Top 100 Year-End Countdowns more than once, depending on WHEN during the year they were released. (I suppose "I Feel Good" could be one of them, debuting on the charts in mid-November of 1965 ... but "Try To Hard" by The Dave Clark Five came out in April of '66!!! So that one's gotta be a mistake!)
Typically, Billboard cut off their qualifying period to make the Year End Chart at the end of November ... that gave them time to calculate the necessary statistics in order to compile the chart in time for their year end issue. As such, songs that began climbing the charts in December spilled over into the following year's statistics. (Typically, a song first climbing the charts in December wouldn't peak until January or February anyway, so I pretty much agree with this method ... and it's the one they've used all along.)
Consequently, a song that was already doing well in October and November ... as well as December and January ... COULD theoretically make the Year-End Chart for BOTH years.
Where things go astray sometimes is when you look at some of these "hindsight" charts ... not necessarily the most accurate means of measuring music popularity unless you clearly establish the criteria used upfront ... and, even then, somewhat debatable.
For example, I have NEVER agreed with The Record Research Chart that puts "I'm A Believer" by The Monkees as the #1 Record of 1966 ... because it simply isn't the case ... but because Joel Whitburn established this information based on the date that a record first reached its peak on the charts, it has greatly distorted reality here.
"I'm A Believer" was a HUGE #1 Hit ... it topped Billboard's Hot 100 Singles Chart for SEVEN WEEKS ... but it REACHED #1 on December 30, 1966 ... that means that out of the 49 days it held down the top spot on the charts, only TWO of those days occurred during 1966! Everywhere ELSE on the planet at the time, it was considered to be one of the largest records of 1967 ... as it should be ... but because Whitburn's books have been cited as "The Music Bible" for the past 40 years, most statistics circulating since place "I'm A Believer" as a 1966 hit. (Reality check: "I'm A Believer" debuted on Billboard's Chart on December 10, 1966 ... and stayed on the chart for 15 weeks. That means it spent 21 days on the chart in 1966, two of which were at #1; the other 84 days (including 47 of which were ALSO spent at #1) occurred in 1967.
Confusing things even further, Billboard established what they called a "frozen chart" in the '70's ... meaning that because their year-end issue was now a "double issue", no new chart was issued for the last week of every year, thus giving all of these records an extra week at their previous week's chart position. Eventually that changed and an "unfrozen" chart was published on Billboard's website ... but for a few years there, records were earning extra "unqualified" points for their appearance on what was really a non-existent chart. (I know this is WAY more information than you asked for ... but I was on a roll!!! lol) kk

FOLLOW-UP re: I GOT YOU (I FEEL GOOD): Checking the Billboard Year End Charts for both 1965 and 1966, I don't see "I Got You" by James Brown appearing on EITHER Year End Chart!!! Which only goes to prove that a record released at the wrong time of the year could also be PENALIZED by not earning enough points in either half of its eligibility periods to qualify for a year-end chart position ... which REALLY sucks if you think about it because "I Got You" was a #3 Billboard Smash ... and is probably Brown's best-known track today ... but because its chart points were defused, having been split between November of '65 and December and January of '66, it ends up not showing up on the chart at all ... and THAT ain't right!!! (kk)
"I Got You" does not appear on the Top 100 for either 1965 or 1966, probably because it hit its peak near the end of the year. (Billboard's chart year was December - November).
-- Randy Price

Here's James Brown's all-time biggest pop hit ... if it makes you feel any better, play it TWICE!!! (kk)

I was reading the Trade Martin section today and in it, Trade mentioned his Coed Record days.
When I was a kid living near Toronto, I sent a letter to Coed Records in New York asking about one of their songs (99.9% of all U.S. releases were available in Canada on only a handful of labels owned by a very small number of companies)
Anyway, Coed sent me the record and several other 45's. One of them was called "Flying Blue Angels" by George, Johnny & The Pilots (Coed 555). I no longer have those 45's. Do any of your readers have a copy of "Flying Blue Angels"? Apparently it used to be on You Tube but has been taken down.
Thanks Kent.
Still readin'
Doug Thompson
We can all thank Tom Diehl for a copy of this one! (I had never heard it before ... it actually "bubbled under" in Billboard at #108 back in 1961 but (according to the CHUM Chart Book you were kind enough to send me), never charted there in Canada. I imagine it'll be a real pleasure to hear THIS obscure track after all these years! (kk)
I actually have this 45 ... a neat tune that I picked up for a quarter a couple of years ago ...
Hooray for Forgotten Hits. My trip back to memory lane is complete (at least this time).
Thanks to you and your list members ... or in the case of "Flying Blue Angels", your flight crew. Doug Thompson

Hi Kent,

In my never ending quest to convert my vinyl to digital, I was doing some internet search on some 50's groups. One of the songs I converted was by a group called the G-Clefs. The song is called "Ka-Ding-Dong",and supposedly features Freddy Cannon on guitar. I believe the song went to #24 on Billboard.I was just wondering if Mr. Cannon would verify the fact that he played on it? If so it's another cool piece of trivia to store away in my memory banks.

Freddy Cannon, DID, in fact, play lead guitar on this track ... which got me to thinking ... The G-Clefs' record came out in 1956 ... about three years BEFORE Freddy had his OWN very first hit ... so I wondered if there was any OTHER session work he might have been involved with that our readers might be familiar with.
Freddy told me:
I had a doo wop group called the Spindrifts right after the G-Clefs.
Freddy "Boom Boom" Cannon
After that, Cannon (whose REAL name is Frederick Picariello, btw) began performing with a group he called Freddy Karmon and the Hurricanes. The story goes that Freddy was spotted by Disc Jockey Jack McDermott while performing with his group in Boston and that McDermott encouraged Freddy to pursue a solo career. (It was also then that he became Freddy Cannon ... the "Boom Boom" came later, thanks to the driving, pulsating beat of his music ... and, most likely, because his new last name was "Cannon"!!!)

The very first song Freddy recorded as a solo artist, "Tallahassee Lassie", was written by his mother! The tape was sent to Swan Records in Philadelphia where Frank Slay and Bob Crewe began adding production elements to the raw, original tape. When they pressed a few copies on vinyl, Freddy took one to WMEX DJ Arnie Ginsberg in Boston, who immediately played it on the air. The response was unbelievable! Freddy quit his job as a truck driver and has been a rock-and-roller ever since!
His biggest hits include "Tallahasee Lassie" (#6, 1959); "Way Down Yonder In New Orleans" (#3, 1960); "Palisades Park" (also a #3 Hit in 1962); "Abigail Beecher" (#16, 1964) and "Action" (#13, 1965, which was used as the theme song for Dick Clark's after-school rock and roll television show, "Where The Action Is".) In fact, speaking of Dick Clark, Cannon logged more appearances on Clark's "American Bandstand" than any other artist ... 110 appearances in all!
Freddy told me recently that he owns ALL of his own masters ... and would like to eventually put together a COMPLETE career retrospective that delves deeper into his catalog than the usual Greatest Hits packages. Here's hoping that somebody out there will grab the baton and run with it on this one ... Freddy Cannon is a Rock And Roll Institution and he deserves the artist recognition that goes along with that. (Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame nomination, anybody?!?!?) kk

P.S. You'll find out more about Freddy Cannon in this Boston Herald article ... you'll also get the latest run-down on Freddy's recent show (featuring none other than Bobby Vee and Jack Scott ... amongst others ... on the same bill!):

Hi Mr. Kotal,

I sent this email to Jersey John through a link on oldies music. He replied that this is not his forte and referred me to you and said to say that Jersey John sent me.

Would you have any information on this? I can find sketchy info that these two had dealings together when Boyce was with Hart but nothing solid as to actually cutting a record together. My brother is not real sure of the actual label spelling, but when it comes to the music and who sang it, he is usually pretty acurate. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks,

Joann K and Sans A Atlanta GA

Here's a copy of Joann's original email to Jersey John ... thanks for the referral, Jersey John ... we've got this one covered!!! (kk)


I am trying to find music for my brother in his attempt to recreate some of a large vinyl collection that he had some 35 years ago. I have become stalled on a few obscure ones and wonder if you would have any information on, or know where to look for, a Bruce Johnston and Tommy Boyce "Love's Been Good To Me" single. My brother says the 45 was on the Gre(a)y Wynn(d) ?? label and does not remember what was on the flip side. He said he found it at a garage sale and, being a collector, bought it because of the odd label and because Boyce and Johnston together was also unusual.

I have not been able to track this label down, nor have I been able to find this song credited to either artist or even Boyce and Hart. Possibly a demo or studio session? Or a small or single pressing?

Would you have any idea as to where I might find information on this label, and / or the song? My brother is / was the collector and this would be easier coming from him since he had the record and knows the backgrounds on oldies music, but he knows nothing about computers and so I end up being an intermediary since I do the computer searches.

Any information would be greatly appreciated, even a point in a different direction from the blind alley that I seem to have ended in.

Many thanks for your time,

Joann K and Sans A

Atlanta GA

Hi Joann!

I've done some pretty extensive research into the songwriting careers of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart and have never come across such a recording so your email intrigued me. Having read Tommy Boyce's biography and personally interviewed Bobby Hart, I was somewhat skeptical that NEITHER artist would have mentioned such a collaboration so my first instinct was that the recording simply didn't exist ... especially since I DID find a connection between Bruce Johnston of The Beach Boys and Boyce and Hart.

Here (from our in-depth profile of "The Music of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart", available on the OTHER Forgotten Hits Website here: Click here: Forgotten Hits - THE MUSIC OF TOMMY BOYCE AND BOBBY HART) is a little known fact that we turned up along the way:

One of my favorite chart hits by Boyce and Hart bordered on some of the psychedelia that was so popular in the music being released in late 1967 / early 1968. GOODBYE BABY only went to #52 but I think it's one of their better produced tracks. According to BOBBY HART, THE BEACH BOYS agreed. Shortly after the aborted SMILE album, BEACH BOYS' mastermind BRIAN WILSON retreated to his room. "BRUCE JOHNSTON approached me at the point where BRIAN WILSON wasn't producing THE BEACH BOYS anymore and asked if TOMMY and I would be willing to produce their next session." It never happened ... but give a close listen to GOODBYE BABY and see if you don't hear just a little bit of what must have caught BRUCE JOHNSTON's ear.

I asked Bobby about this again during our interview:
FORGOTTEN HITS: I think one of your greatest recordings is Goodbye Baby ... … it has a sound to it that perfectly defines the ‘60’s to me … yet it wasn’t as big a hit as some of the others. If I’m not mistaken, this recording also led to you guys being approached about producing The Beach Boys. What can you tell us about this period?

BOBBY HART: It was a keyboard driven song start that I came up with as opposed to Tommy’s starts, which were mostly guitar driven. Bruce Johnson approached me in the men’s room at a function at our mutual publicists. Unfortunately, we were too busy with our own careers.

So I dug a little bit deeper ... and I'm sorry to report that you're not going to find a record called "Love's Been Good To Me" by Bruce Johnston and Tommy Boyce because such a record simply doesn't exist. Your brother's memory is a little bit distorted after all these years.

The record he's referring to WAS released on Graywin Records (101) ... but is a guitar instrumental recorded by a duo called Johnson (not Johnston) and Harte (not Boyce ... or Hart for that matter!) It's a non-charting single (the B-Side is something called "Pick Rickin'") and if he'd REALLY like to pick up a copy of this single, he can find one here: ... and pretty reasonably priced, too!

Sorry to burst his bubble ... but hopefully we ALSO saved you a TON of time searching for a record that doesn't really exist!!! Thanks! (kk)

Hi Kent,
I'm still amazed that your readers manage to come up with these wonderful, but obscure songs and I get to discover them myself for the first time ... and often from the most obscure clue!! I can't tell you how much I enjoy your blog. I look forward to reading it every time.
Thanks AGAIN for all your great work,
Eddie Burke,
Orange, CT
Thanks to our incredibly knowledgeable readers, we've established quite a track record with our "Helping Out Our Readers" feature. A few more great examples can be found in THIS issue, too! Keep it goin', gang ... you're AMAZING!!! (kk)