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Billboard's #1 Pop Singles

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In the past, I have posted a list of Billboard Magazine's #1 Pop Singles, as well as a series of slideshows (that I was unable to finish sharing with you, because YouTube removed them) prepared by a YouTube poster. Now, given the availbility of what is on YouTube, I would like to start a thread whereby each #1 single is presented for all to listen to.

Our journey will begin in 1955, and the specific Billboard pop charts that I will be using as reference will be the "Best Sellers in Stores" chart (for records prior to August 1958) and the "Hot 100" chart (for songs from August 1958 forward). I will try to post one song a day, though I can't guarantee that will happen. I'm sorry, but I am not going to continue this thread through the present day: that's because I find the state of pop music to have been so dreadful for quite some time. (At the very latest, I will stop sometime in the mid- or late-90's.) Finally, let's keep our fingers crossed that I can find an embeddable playing of every number one hit; chances are that some number one hits are still not on YouTube (so I will have to skip to the next chart topper in those cases).

There were a total of ten number one hits in 1955 (a number that is historically very low). This does not include "Mr. Sandman" by the Chordettes, because that song began its seven week run at #1 in late 1954. Thus, the first "new" #1 hit of 1955 was "Let Me Go, Lover!" by Joan Weber. This song was number one for two weeks: the weeks ended 1/22/55 & 1/29/55. (Note that the dates listed on the video below are not quite correct.)

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/2hyLRbRCCLU" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Despite the huge success of this song, Weber was a one-hit wonder (meaning that she never had another Top 40 hit). The biggest factor causing the downfall of her career was that her newborn child kept her from being able to promote future records. Sadly, Weber died in a mental institution at age 45.

Edited by Max

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The second number one hit of 1955 was "Hearts of Stone" by the Fontane Sisters. This song was #1 for one week: the week ended 2/5/55.

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/SmZ0AeH_crg" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

The Fontane Sisters' version of this song was a cover. "Hearts of Stone" was initially recorded by a black doo-wop group, the Jewels, and failed to achieve any commercial success. Then, another black doo-wop group--The Charms--had a #1 R&B hit with the song. As you might suspect, the Fontane Sisters' cover was released after the Charms' version of the song became such a huge hit. (Note that the practice of white pop artists covering popular R&B hits was very common during the mid-50's.)

Although the Fontane Sisters (Geri, Marge, and Bea) had a total of five songs that made the Top 40 (if we're only including songs that charted in 1955 or later), "Hearts of Stone" was the group's only #1 hit.

Edited by Max

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"Hearts of Stone" was succeeded at #1 by "Sincerely" by the McGuire Sisters. "Sincerely" spent six weeks at the top spot: the weeks ended 2/12/55, 2/19/55, 2/26/55, 3/5/55, 3/12/55, & 3/19/55.

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/-FFUeGB_Bbo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Like "Hearts of Stone," "Sincerely" was first recorded by a black doo-wop group. (In this case it was the Moonglows, who had a huge R&B hit with the song.) And the McGuire Sisters--Christine, Dorothy, and Phyllis--sang in the same "pop" style as did the Fontane Sisters. However, the McGuires were considerably more famous and successful when compared to the Fontanes. Apart from "Sincerely," the McGuire Sisters' most well-known hit came in 1958 with "Sugartime" (which reached the top ten).

Edited by Max

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Thanks to WCBS-FM I am familiar with two of these. I never heard of Hearts Of Stone. I am not a huge fan of these Sister acts and feel the male versions (four lads, four preps, four whatevers) tended to have a better sound and better songs. Sincerely and songs like it I don't get the appeal. These synchronized singing acts I think always work best with catchy gimmicky songs like Mr Sandman.

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I am not a huge fan of these Sister acts and feel the male versions (four lads, four preps, four whatevers) tended to have a better sound and better songs. ... These synchronized singing acts I think always work best with catchy gimmicky songs like Mr Sandman.

Qfan, I agree 100% with you on this. Thank you so much for sharing your insight.

I used to love WCBS-FM, but then (about a decade ago) the station dropped all 50's & early-60's music (apart from an occasional tune here and there) in an effort to lower its demographics. The only station I know of that still plays songs from this era is 50's on 5, which is on Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

Edited by Max

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Your'e gonna get alot of paticipation from me in this thread... I may drop off when you get to 1994, though. My favorite number one of 1955 came at the end of the year. Now Max... when it comes to radio stations, the larger cities are all dominated by corporate owned stations which play no variety, and rarely anything good. You have to go out to the B.F.E. where I live to find the only independently owned radio stations left. We have a FASCINATING one here in central Missouri (Located in Malta Bend, MO), KRLI. They debuted in 1995 and are still going strong. They will play stuff all the way back to the 1930's, all the way up to the 80's. I had them tuned in just a few minutes ago, and they were playing Gene Pitney's "Moulin Rouge (Where Is your Heart). I didn't think I'd EVER hear that on the radio. If you want to check it out, I think you'd really like it, they stream live!

http://krli.net/listen-live/

Edited by alphanguy74

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Your'e gonna get alot of paticipation from me in this thread... I may drop off when you get to 1994, though. My favorite number one of 1955 came at the end of the year. Now Max... when it comes to radio stations, the larger cities are all dominated by corporate owned stations which play no variety, and rarely anything good. You have to go out to the B.F.E. where I live to find the only independently owned radio stations left. We have a FASCINATING one here in central Missouri (Located in Malta Bend, MO), KRLI. They debuted in 1995 and are still going strong. They will play stuff all the way back to the 1930's, all the way up to the 80's. I had them tuned in just a few minutes ago, and they were playing Gene Pitney's "Moulin Rouge (Where Is your Heart). I didn't think I'd EVER hear that on the radio. If you want to check it out, I think you'd really like it, they stream live!

http://krli.net/listen-live/

Alphanguy, thank you so much for sharing your expertise with us. Like you, my interest in pop music drops off circa 1994. And, I agree that the last #1 song of 1955 was excellent.

KRLI is an awsome station, and I am shocked that any such station exists on "free" radio. Thanks for telling me about it.

The next #1 hit of 1955 was "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" by Bill Hayes. It topped the chart for five weeks: the weeks ended 3/26/55, 4/2/55, 4/9/55, 4/16/55, & 4/23/55. (Note that the dates listed on the video below are not quite correct.)

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/lZoq8yjOvxs" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

As was common at the time, several different artists realsed their own version of this song, though Hayes' version was by far the most successful. In my opinion, however, I just don't care for these silly novelty songs (although I can understand their appeal, because so many youngsters liked them).

Unfortunately, Hayes' musical career fizzled after the huge success of "The Ballad of Davy Crockett." Whether or not he is a one-hit wonder depends on what Billboard pop chart (the magazine had several of them prior to the Hot 100) one is looking at: Hayes never had another song to make the top 40 on the Best Sellers in Stores Chart (which I read was considered the most reliable of the charts, and is the source for all of the #1 hits prior to August 1958); however, on one of the other pre-Hot 100 pop charts (the "Top 100"), another song by Hayes--"Wringle, Wrangle"--peaked at #33 in 1957.

Hayes was thankfully able to find much success as an actor. (Amazingly, I never realized that Bill Hayes the singer was the same Bill Hayes on DOOL until about five years ago; previously, I had thought they were two different people who shared the same name.) Of course Susan Seaforth Hayes is a hugely successful actor as well, but I never knew she had musical talents until the 9/26/11 episode of DOOL, when this husband and wife team sang a duet together at the new Horton Town Square.

Before I conclude, I just wanted to mention that while it is more common for soap stars to achieve musical success after first appearing on a soap, Hayes was not the only case where the inverse was true: Ronn Moss was bassist for a Hall & Oates influenced group called Player, which had a number one hit in 1978 with "Baby Come Back."

Edited by Max

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Bill Hayes has a very pleasing voice, and over the years he has sang songs on DOOL, but listening to his singing you can hear why he didn't make it big. He is missing that certain something that Sinatra, Cole or Clooney had. He is pleasant but bland.

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I have to say that I never knew that Bill Hayes had this huge hit in the 50's. And all this time I thought he was only on DOOL, and that was his biggest claim to fame. It's amazing how many soap stars had singing careers, although the very BEST of them, Beth Maitland was never signed and had songs released on her, which is a crime against humanity, as she is, IMO... the best singer ever to grace a soap.

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Bill Hayes has a very pleasing voice, and over the years he has sang songs on DOOL, but listening to his singing you can hear why he didn't make it big. He is missing that certain something that Sinatra, Cole or Clooney had. He is pleasant but bland.

I agree with this assessment.

I have to say that I never knew that Bill Hayes had this huge hit in the 50's. And all this time I thought he was only on DOOL, and that was his biggest claim to fame. It's amazing how many soap stars had singing careers, although the very BEST of them, Beth Maitland was never signed and had songs released on her, which is a crime against humanity, as she is, IMO... the best singer ever to grace a soap.

Maitland has such a beautiful voice, and it is beyond sad that she never achieved any success as a singer.

"The Ballad of Davy Crockett" was knocked out of the #1 spot by "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White" by Perez Prado & His Orchestra. Prado's hit spent an incredible ten weeks at the top spot: the weeks ended 4/30/55, 5/7/55, 5/14/55, 5/21/55, 5/28/55, 6/4/55, 6/11/55, 6/18/55, 6/25/55, & 7/2/55. These ten weeks at #1 made "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White" the most successful instrumental (i.e., a tune where no singing takes place) from January 1, 1955 to the present day. Additionally, the record was the most popular song of 1955.

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/zj64NlRnpDY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Prado was one of the first hispanic artists to achieve broad pop success. (The first big hispanic rock and roll star was Ritchie Valens.) His second biggest hit was "Patricia," which peaked at #2 in 1958. Prado also composed and originally recorded "Mambo No.5," which would become a #3 hit for Lou Bega in 1999. (It should be noted that Bega added lyrics to the song, as Prado's version was an instrumental.)

Despite the song's great melody and amazing chart run, "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White" is most famous for being the record that immediately preceded the very first rock and roll song to reach #1. (Although the original versions of "Hearts of Stone" and "Sincerely" were rock and roll songs, the cover versions by the Fontane Sisters and McGuire Sisters, respectively, were not.)

Edited by Max

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I still remember a local restaurant here that used this as background music for their radio commercials. 1955 was certainly a transitional time, considering the biggest hit of the year was a bossa nova, and then the birth of rock and roll happened.

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I still remember a local restaurant here that used this as background music for their radio commercials. 1955 was certainly a transitional time, considering the biggest hit of the year was a bossa nova, and then the birth of rock and roll happened.

During this year of transition, pop music still dominated the Billboard charts. While there were many great rock and roll songs in 1955, only one made it to #1.

"Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley & His Comets was the very first rock and roll song to make it to the top of the Billboard Pop Singles Chart. (Because of this distinction, it is considered to be the most important song ever recorded from the end of World War II to the present day.) This song was extremely popular, spending eight weeks at number one: the weeks ended 7/9/55, 7/16/55, 7/23/55, 7/30/55, 8/6/55, 8/13/55, 8/20/55, & 8/27/55.

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/-mZLpDuuf40" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

"Rock Around the Clock" was actually first released in 1954, but it flopped completely its first time out. The song only became popular after being featured in the opening credits of "Blackboard Jungle," a 1955 film about juvenile delinquents. Furthermore, "Rock Around the Clock" was not the first rock and roll recording to make a major impact on the charts (or on pop culture), as both "Sh-Boom" by the Chords (1954) and "Earth Angel" by the Penguins (early 1955) were two doo-wop songs that made the top ten. (Not to mention that Haley & the Comets' 1954 cover of "Big" Joe Turner's "Shake, Rattle, and Roll" made the top ten as well.)

Aside from "Shake, Rattle, and Roll" and "Rock Around the Clock," Haley & His Comets are best remembered for their 1956 top ten hit, "See You Later, Alligator." Unfortunately, Haley--despite earning the title "Father of Rock and Roll"--never achieved anywhere near the superstar status that Elvis Presley did. His last top 40 hit came in 1958, and he died in 1981 (after struggling with alcoholism and paranoia in the 70's).

Haley was also one of the first popular artists of a rock and roll genre called rockabilly. This genre was a mix of R&B, country, hillbilly, and swing music, and included (among its adherents) Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, and Elvis Presley (although only the very early records of Cash, Orbison, and Presley can truly be considered rockabilly). For his pioneering efforts, Bill Haley (but not the Comets) was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

Before I conclude, I just wanted to say that there has been a book written about the number one hits: "The 'Billboard' Book of Number One Hits" by Fred Bronson. This book starts with "Rock Around the Clock," since it is the first rock and roll record to reach #1. (Unlike the book, I chose to start at the beginning of 1955 so as to give a better historical perspective.) This book is currently in its fifth edition, which ends with Clay Aiken's 2003 chart-topper, "This Is the Night." (Surprisingly, a new edition has not been released since then.)

Edited by Max

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How bizarre that two artists with #1's from the same year would descend into mental problems. I know Bill Haley re-recorded Rock Around The Clock for the theme song from Happy Days, but then it was scrapped after the second season. I wonder why. If you don't mind... i'd kind of like to follow up your youtube links of the hit recording with a version of it sung live, if available. A little something extra to see and listen to (And to see how well they come off in live performance). Here is Bill Haley singing this live in 1972:

Edited by alphanguy74

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If you don't mind... i'd kind of like to follow up your youtube links of the hit recording with a version of it sung live, if available. A little something extra to see and listen to (And to see how well they come off in live performance). Here is Bill Haley singing this live in 1972:

Alphanguy, I am thrilled that you have chosen to do this! Plese feel free to add any other YouTube clips as well.

In the 1972 live performance, Haley still sounded really good.

"Rock Around the Clock" was succeeded at #1 by "The Yellow Rose of Texas," which was performed by Mitch Miller, His Chorus, & His Orchestra. "The Yellow Rose of Texas"--which was an adaptation of a Civil War song--was number one for six weeks (not all of which were consecutive): the weeks ended 9/3/55, 9/10/55, 9/17/55, 9/24/55, 10/1/55, & 10/15/55.

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/5uS5cPfbIjw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

The biggest irony regarding "The Yellow Rose of Texas" knocking "Rock Around the Clock" out of the top spot was that Mitch Miller was perhaps rock and roll's fiercest critic within the music industry. Miller was a very powerful man behind the scenes, given his role as the head of Artists and Repertoire at Columbia Records. (Prior to joining Columbia, Miller was briefly the A&R man at Mercury Records as well.)

Although Miller had a string of hits, "The Yellow Rose of Texas" was his only chart-topper. In 2000, he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. And just last year, he died at the age of 99.

Edited by Max

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Haha..... if he was a fierce critic of Rock and Roll, I can only imagine his opinions of RAP. LOL I remember his obituary, was amazed that was still alive. In my mind, I imagined he'd died at least 10 or more years ago. This is one of the few times a march hits number one on the charts. But marches are popular with many at certain times. Incidentally.. my aunt wrote a march that was used for 3 or 4 years at the opening ceremony of the American Royal in Kansas City. The thing that I always found interesting, growing up in the 70's and 80's, although the Yellow Rose Of Texas was a song I had heard, it was not the song of his that I was most familiar with. Which is odd, since Yellow Rose was the biggest hit of his career. for me, this was the song of his that I was most familiar with (and I liked the most)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CB8F8g1-4Uw

Edited by alphanguy74

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