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Billboard's #1 Pop Singles


Max

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And of course... here's Heartbreak Hotel sung live, in one of the best performances... from the 1968 NBC special. I like Elvis to some extent, but I was also dissapointed in how much he domainted the charts in the late 50's. I like more ecclecticism when it comes to music, and when one artist domaintes so strongly, I tend to get tired of them after a while.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olqe-JnHzjU

Its' certainly a testament to his charisma that he could stop a song right in the middle, announce he's out of breath, and pull something like that off. Not many could do that. One little tidbit about Elvis is that Colonel Tom Parker would always insist that any song Elvis recorded as a single, he would get half the publishing rights. He approached Dolly Parton in 1975 requesting to record "I Will Always Love you", and as ususal, the Colonel informed her that he would only record it if she signed over half of her publishing rights. She was excited at first that Elvis wanted to record her song (she was a star by this time, but not the MEGA star she would later become) and she politely turned him down. She stated that the song had already proven itself to be a hit, since she took it to the #1 spot on the country charts in 1974, so she would never sign away any of the publishing rights. And it was a wise move, considering what happened with Whitney Houston later on, Dolly said if she had given in to the Colonel's request, it would have cost her over 2 million dollars.

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Alphanguy, in the 1968 NBC special that you posted, Elvis also once referred to "Heartbreak Hotel" as "Heartbreak Motel"! While I am a Presley fan, I agree with your sentiment that it is never a good thing when an artist is so dominant on the charts. By the way, thanks for sharing that story regarding Colonel Tom Parker (which I never before knew). Parker was very effective and ruthless, and he even "forced" Elvis into making more and more movies long after he got tired of doing them. (It wasn't until the very late-60's that Elvis rebelled against Parker and said enough was enough, as far as moviemaking was concerned.)

Qfan, thank you for shedding insight as to who composed the theme to "Family Affair."

Carl, "Heartbreak Hotel" certainly does have one of the most well-known intros of any rock and roll song. The only other record intros that I can think of which may have similar recognition are those of "In the Still of the Night" (shoo-doo-shoo-be-doo) and the guitar intros to "Johnny B. Goode" and "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction."

"Heartbreak Hotel" was knocked out of the #1 position by "The Wayward Wind" by Gogi Grant. This song spent six weeks at the top spot: the weeks ended 6/16/56, 6/23/56, 6/30/56, 7/7/56, 7/14/56, & 7/21/56.

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Gogi Grant's real name is Audrey Arinsberg Brown. Her only other top 40 hit was "Suddenly There's a Valley," which peaked at #14 in 1955. At the present time, Ms. Grant is 87 years old.

"The Wayward Wind" was the number one song when GL had its final radio episode on 6/29/56.

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I always thought the Wayward Wind sounded like it belonged in a soundtrack for a John Wayne movie or something. It's ok... but never really rung my chimes. She held up pretty well, though... here she is singing it live at the age of 79:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUx5QuIRwNY

Why would she change her name? Audrey is MUCH prettier than GOGI... Gogi sounds like a name that a japanese person would give their dog or something.

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I also feel the same way about "The Wayward Wind" as you two do: its never been a song I've cared for. And in regards to the singer's name change, her first stage name was actually Audrey Grant (and not Gogi Grant). Ms. Grant's record label's owner changed her first name to Gogi apparently because he frenquently ate lunch at a NYC restaurant called Gogi's La Rue. (However, the record owner himself--Dave Kapp--claimed that the name "Gogi" came to him in a dream.)

Elvis Presley's second #1 hit was "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You," which spent one week at the top: the week ended 7/28/56.

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"I Want You, I Need You, I Love You" was the first Presley chart-topper to feature background vocals by the Jordanaires. This very talented group sang on just about every Elvis record until the late-60's, and really added a lot of atmosphere to his songs.

IMO, "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You," is also my very favorite Elvis tune, and deserved to spend far more than one week at #1.

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Carl... that ad just made me think of how you used to be able to buy paper towels and toilet paper in colors to match your room. It depresses me how everyone has become so assimilated that everything is alike. That GM commercial had such a snappy jingle. But back to Elvis... I like "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You" much better than Heartbreak Hotel. I feel it deserved to be the bigger hit.

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Carl and Alphanguy, it's amazing that aside from politics, I seem to agree with you two on just about everything!

Regarding those wonderful commercials that Carl posted, I wanted to state that Oldsmobile at the time sold about one million cars each year (only Chevrolet and Ford sold more); it still is so sad how that brand just withered away. Also, if you click on the link http://www.timecovers.com, you will be re-directed to a URL that has every single cover of Time magazine until the present day.

The first black artist to have a number one hit in the rock era was The Platters. (Prior to 1955, African Americans such as Nat King Cole, William "Count" Basie, and possibly others had chart-toppers.) The first of this doo-wop group's three number one hits was "My Prayer," which spent two weeks at the top: the weeks ended 8/4/56 & 8/11/56.

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"My Prayer" was originally a 1926 French song titled "Avant de Mourir." In 1939, the song was first given English lyrics. Prior to this chart-topper, the Platters already had three huge hit records: "Only You" (#5 in late 1955), "The Great Pretender" (#2), and "(You've Got) The Magic Touch" (#5). (The latter two songs reached their peak positions earlier in 1956.)

Ironically, the Platters' record label--Mercury--never really wanted them in the first place. Mercury actually wanted another Los Angeles doo-wop group, the Penguins (who had a top ten hit in early 1955 with the unforgettable "Earth Angel" on the tiny DooTone record label), and only took the Platters because Buck Ram (who managed both groups, but was actually much more interested in the Platters because they were a profitable touring group) told Mercury executives that they could have the Penguins only if they were willing to accept the Platters (who had zero hits prior to arriving at Mercury) as well. Of course, the Penguins would wind up being a one-hit wonder, and the Platters would become the most successful doo-wop group of all-time.

Undoubtedly, the Platters' greatest asset was lead singer Tony Williams. His voice has to be among the most beautiful of all 1950's vocalists.

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My Prayer is a beautiful song. It's so delicate and goes through such an emotional journey. Tony Williams was amazing.

My favorite songs of the Platters are With This Ring, and Harbor Lights (and then Smoke Gets In Your Eyes).

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While "My Prayer" is not my favorite Platters song, I do have to say that its ending is tough to beat.

My favorite songs of 1956 are "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" by Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers and "In the Still of the Night" by The Five Satins. Unfortunately, neither song reached #1 (these records peaked at #6 & #24, respectively).

Elvis Presley's biggest hit was the double-sided smash "Don't Be Cruel"/"Hound Dog." This record spent eleven weeks at number one: the weeks ended 8/18/56, 8/25/56, 9/1/56, 9/8/56, 9/15/56, 9/22/56, 9/29/56, 10/6/56, 10/13/56, 10/20/56, & 10/27/56. (By the way, although "Don't Be Cruel" and "Hound Dog" are two different songs, this double-sided record only counts as one of Elvis' 17 chart-toppers. Likewise, "Don't Be Cruel"/"Hound Dog" only counts as one of 1956's eleven #1 hits.)

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

"Don't Be Cruel" happens to be my second favorite Presley song. As for "Hound Dog," the song was written by the legendary team of Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller and originally recorded by Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton in 1952 (and became a number one R&B hit for her the following year). IMO, I think the fact that these two songs were together (on one record) is what largely accounted for the massive popularity of "Don't Be Cruel"/"Hound Dog." If "Hound Dog" was released on its own as a single (instead of being the B-side to "Don't Be Cruel"), I don't believe that the combined success of each song would have been as big as this double-sided hit was (alone).

The 11 weeks that "Don't Be Cruel"/"Hound Dog" spent at number one marked a new record for longevity in the rock era. (It should be noted, however, that there were songs prior to 1955 that spent more than eleven weeks at the peak position.) This record would not be equaled or exceeded until "End of the Road" by Boyz II Men spent 13 weeks at the top in 1992. Currently, the record for most weeks at #1 is held by "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men, a song that began its 16 week chart-topping run in December 1995.

To the best of my knowledge, there are only three other number one records in the rock era where the B-side was just as prominent as the A-side. They are as follows:

"Come Together"/"Something" by The Beatles (1969)

"It's Too Late"/"I Feel the Earth Move" by Carole King (1971)

"I'm Sorry"/"Calypso" by John Denver (1975)

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