December 18, 2012
It’s easy to forget sometimes that Brenda Lee was one of the most successful female artists of the late 1950s and 1960s. She placed 53 singles in the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart during that time period, including two that reached number one.
During the fall of 1961 she released the two-sided hit, “Fool #1/Anybody But Me.” The A side reached number three on the BILLBOARD Chart and the flip climbed to number 31.
She tended to rotate booming ballads and rocking material. Her voice was a good instrument for both types of songs. After he pop career wound down during the early 1970s, she switched to country music. She was inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame in 1997.
November 27, 2012
“Autumn Leaves” by Roger Williams was the first instrumental song to reach number one during the rock and roll era. There were four BILLBOARD MAGAZINE pop singles charts in operation during late 1955 but Williams big hit only topped The Best Sellers In Stores Chart. It reached the top of the chart on October 29, 1955, and remained there for four weeks. The amazing thing is that it did not top any of the other charts as the single sold over two million copies.
Williams sound was anything but rock and roll but he managed to sell tens of millions of albums and singles in a career that would last until his death in 2011.
“Autum Leaves” remains the biggest selling piano tune of all time.
November 22, 2012
Little Richard had had over a dozen hits, 1955-1957. 1958 started off well with “Good Golly Miss Molly” but “Oh My Soul” proved to be the last top 40 hit of his career when it reached number 31 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.
If Elvis had worried parents of 1950s teenagers, then Little Richard scared them to death.
Just about all of his releases were high-octane fueled rock and roll and maybe that fact hurt him in the long run. Any of his compilation albums are worth seeking out. “Ooh My Soul” may not be one of his more memorable songs but it is the equal to any that are in his catalogue.
November 14, 2012
James Barry Keefer was born May 7, 1949, and by 1966 had signed a recording contract. He produced four chart singles, 1966-1967.
He is best remembered for his biggest hit, “98.6.” His music had a pop sound and had a 1950s teen idol vibe about him. “98.6” reached number seven on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart during early 1967.
His career came to a halt during 1968 when he was drafted into the army. He toured with Frank Zappa in the mid-1970s and released several singles for his label but never had any commercial success. He has continued to perform down to the present day.
November 12, 2012
Mitch Miller, (1911-2010), is best remembered for his television series, 1961-1964, SING ALONG WITH MITCH. A chorus would sing popular songs and the lyrics would appear at the bottom of the screen. Television watchers were invited to sing along.
During the 1950s and 1960s, Miller was one of the most powerful figures in the music industry. He was the head of artists and repertoires for the Coplumbia label. This meant he signed the artists and decided what songs would be released. He was very succesful with such artists as Tony Bennett, Patti Page, Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, Marty Robbins, and Johnny Mathis. His major fault was he hated rock ‘n’ roll and passed on such artists as The Beatles, Buddy Holly, and Elvis Presley. It finally cost him his job when Columbia became a major player in signing rock and roll artists.
Considering his dislike of rock, it is ironic that his biggest hit replaced “Rock Around The Clock” as the number one song in The United States. “The Yellow Rose Of Texas” was an old Civil War era song and he had his usual chorus sing the lyrics. It sold a million copies and reached number two in England. It was the number one song on all three BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Charts.
Best Sellers In Stores Chart – 9/3/55 – 6 weeks at number one.
Most Played By Disc Jockeys Chart – 9/3/55 – 6 weeks at number one.
Most Played In Jukeboxes Chart – 10/1/55 – 6 weeks at number one.
Miller would remain active until near the end of his life, passing away at the ripe old age of 99, in 2010.
November 8, 2012
Jody Miller, born 1941, began her career during 1963. While she is best remembered for her series of country singles issued during the 1970s, her early career resulted in a number of singles making it onto the BILBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.
Her biggest chart hit was an answer song. Early in 1965 Roger Miller had a huge country and pop hit with his “King Of The Road.” During April of 1965, she issued “Queen Of The House” in response. It reached number 12 on the Pop Charts.
Her country material always a bright and catchy feel to it and in many ways was more of a pop fit than her biggest hit. She continues to perform down to the present day.
October 26, 2012
Les Baxter, 1922-1996, was a producer, arranger, and orchestra leader. He scored dozens of B films during the 1960s and 1970s.
He was also a prolific recording artist. He released just over 60 albums during his career, which sold tens-of-millions of copies. He released fewer singles but had nine reach the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart during the 1950s with two reaching the number one position.
“Unchained Melody” was one of the most recorded songs of the 20th century. Written by Alex North with lyrics by Hy Zaret, it originally appeared in the film UNCHAINED and was nominated for an Oscar. The most famous version was recorded by the Righteous Brothers who reached the top 20 with the song three different times.
It was Les Baxter, however, who had the biggest hit. It did not top the Best Sellers In Stores Chart or The Most Played In Jukeboxes Chart but did manage two non-consecutive weeks on top of the Most Played By Disc Jockeys Chart beginning May 14, 1955.
Baxters version was a thing of beauty filled with a lot of strings. A memorable song from the pre-rock and roll era.