February 29th ...
It only happens every four years ...
Kinda like Presidential Elections ... or The Olympics ...
But since 2008 was, in fact, a Leap Year,
We decided to take a look back at
The Top Ten Records for EACH Leap Year of The Rock Era, 1956-1980.
(And THIS year, you can tune in and listen along to a VERY special countdown
of these songs all day long today on THE TRUE OLDIES CHANNEL ...
be sure to join SCOTT SHANNON as he takes you back through
LEAP YEAR Rock And Roll History, throughout the day today
on THE TRUE OLDIES CHANNEL!!!)
February 29, 1956:
10. Why Do Fools Fall In Love - Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers: Kicking off the countdown today, we've got future Rock and Roll Hall Of Famers FRANKIE LYMON AND THE TEENAGERS who, in a RARE case of musical justice, circa 1956, placed THEIR version of WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE ahead of the GALE STORM cover version of the same song on this week's Top 40 Chart. (Back in the earliest days of Rock And Roll, thanks to much greater, wide-spread airplay, the "Whitebread Cover Versions" typically outscored the R&B Original Versions on The National Pop Charts. In this case, THE TEENAGERS' version topped BILLBOARD's Rhythm and Blues Chart for five weeks and became a HUGE cross-over pop hit ... as well as a Doo-Wop Classic.) LYMON would go on to become one of Rock And Roll's earliest tragedies, a story presented VERY well in the film of the same name as his all-time biggest hit, WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE.
9. Theme from "Three-Penny Opera" - Dick Hyman: It was DICK HYMAN's version of THE THEME FROM "THREE-PENNY OPERA" that placed highest on the charts in 1956 when no less than SIX versions competed for radio airplay. Three years later, it would go all the way to #1 when BOBBY DARIN covered it as a vocal arrangement now FOREVER immortalized as MACK THE KNIFE, the biggest hit single of 1959 ... but, incredibly, the melody of this song actually dates back to 1928!
8. Band Of Gold - Don Cherry: This is another song that was covered by several artists in 1956, back at a time when the music industry considered the SONG to be more important than the ARTIST who recorded it. The BIGGEST hit version of BAND OF GOLD ... not to be confused with the FREDA PAYNE song of the same name ... was done by DON CHERRY! CHERRY was a big band singer back in the '40's (one website we found says he sang with the JAN GARBER BAND for all of seventeen days!) and, in another case of some friendly chart competition, his 1950 version of MONA LISA went head-to-head with NAT KING COLE's version. (COLE clearly won THAT battle hands-down ... his definitive version peaked at #1 and stayed there for five weeks! ... CHERRY's all but forgotten take stopped at #10.) In the 1960's, CHERRY attempted a career as a professional golfer but, by the '80's, he was back to telling golf stories between songs in his Las Vegas lounge act.
7. See You Later, Alligator - Bill Haley and the Comets: BILL HALEY had already hit the Pop Top 40 a dozen times before ELVIS debuted on the charts with HEARTBREAK HOTEL this week back in 1956 ... in fact, his country-rockin' cover version of SHAKE, RATTLE AND ROLL was a Top Ten Hit in 1954 BEFORE the release of ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK ... and SEE YOU LATER, ALLIGATOR kept the string of rock hits going. (For the record, ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK was actually first recorded by HALEY back in 1954 ... but it didn't chart ... until May of '55, when it was featured in the teen cult classic film BLACKBOARD JUNGLE. Today it is considered by most music historians to be the song that "officially" launched what came to be known as "The Rock and Roll Era.")
February 29, 1960:
10. Let It Be Me - The Everly Brothers: THE EVERLY BROTHERS were the first Dynamic Duo of The Rock Era ... by Leap Year Day, 1960, they had already scored THREE #1 Records. LET IT BE ME became their EIGHTH Top Ten Hit in just three years ... and while they may have been the ones who recorded it first, it has got to be one of the most covered "duets" ever written ... next to their OTHER big smash, ALL I HAVE TO DO IS DREAM, of course!!! Their impact was everlasting ... and the influence of THE EVERLY BROTHERS is still heard in music today.
9. Baby, You Got What It Takes - Brook Benton and Dinah Washington: Speaking of "killer" duets, BABY, YOU GOT WHAT IT TAKES has got to be another one of the greatest duets ever captured on wax. (BROOK BENTON and DINAH WASHINGTON were BOTH successful recording artists on their own for MERCURY RECORDS when they teamed up in 1960 to cut a couple of duets. BROOK being "in her spot" is one of the highlights of this record!)
8. Wild One - Bobby Rydell: BOBBY RYDELL was one of the earliest stars of AMERICAN BANDSTAND and the CAMEO / PARKWAY label ... an overnight Teen Idol Sensation ... and he's STILL out there performing in Teen Idol / Boys of Bandstand Shows in 2008!!! WILD ONE was the second of his six Top Ten Hits.
7. Beyond The Sea - Bobby Darin: This was BOBBY DARIN's follow up hit to last year's Record Of The Year, MACK THE KNIFE, which we told you about in our 1956 LEAP YEAR Chart. BEYOND THE SEA did nearly as well, becoming another one of BOBBY's "signature" tunes, ultimately peaking at #6, and it seems to be every bit as popular today, some 48 years later! (In the past few years alone, it was used over the closing credits of the WALT DISNEY movie smash FINDING NEMO, as sung by British popster ROBBIE WILLIAMS ... and then was the title track of the KEVIN SPACEY film of DARIN's life ... it was also incorporated into a key episode of the television series LOST and recently used in a commercial for CARNIVAL CRUISES ... amongst several others!) Both songs (MACK THE KNIFE and BEYOND THE SEA) came from BOBBY's THAT'S ALL pop standards album, released right at the peak of his rock and roll career ... an album ALL of his friends and advisers told him NOT to make, convinced it would be the equivalent of career suicide to change musical genres when his career was in such high gear. Exactly the opposite happened ... DARIN's career SKYROCKETED from there and today he is regarded as one of the most versatile artists and entertainers of all time.
6. Running Bear - Johnny Preston: Here's another '60's Chart Classic that rarely receives airplay today. JOHNNY PRESTON topped the Pop, Country and R&B Charts with this one ... and way back when, we told you that those background Indian sounds were actually performed by THE BIG BOPPER (who wrote this tune) and his labelmate, Country Legend GEORGE JONES. (It also inspired the name of one of our long-time FH List members, LWHITEDOVE! We covered THAT whole story in our HONEST INJUN Series a few years back!)
5. What In The World's Come Over You - Jack Scott: Singer / songwriter / guitarist JACK SCOTT (he changed his name from GIOVANNI DOMINICO SCAFONE, JR. .... go figure!) first hit the pop charts running in 1958 with his two-sided hit MY TRUE LOVE / LEROY. Both sides made The Top 40 Chart, with MY TRUE LOVE going all the way to #3 and LEROY peaking at #25. Seven other Top 40 Hits followed: WITH YOUR LOVE (#28, also 1958), GOODBYE BABY (a #8 hit in 1959), THE WAY I WALK (#25, also 1959), today's featured track, WHAT IN THE WORLD'S COME OVER YOU (which was in its peak week at #5 back on February 29, 1960), BURNING BRIDGES (#3, 1960, and covered by a number of artists over the years), OH LITTLE ONE (#34, 1960) and IT ONLY HAPPENED YESTERDAY (#28, 1960). After his pop chart hits stopped in 1961, SCOTT pursued a country career ... but never came close to reaching the success he enjoyed earlier in his pop career. By the late '70's / early '80's, he was back performing his hits as part of an oldies show touring package. JACK SCOTT is one of those names that often comes up as yet another GLARING omission repeatedly overlooked by THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME.
4. He'll Have To Go - Jim Reeves: One of Country Music's all-time biggest recording artists, JIM REEVES crossed over in a BIG way in 1960, scoring a #2 Hit with HE'LL HAVE TO GO. (In fact, it was pretty much a one-two punch ... an answer song by JEANNE BLACK, HE'LL HAVE TO STAY ... released literally right on the heels of the REEVES hit ... went all the way to #4!) REEVES hit Billboard's Country Chart an incredible 80 times ... and, what may be MOST amazing about that feat, is the fact that HALF those hits were released AFTER he died in a plane crash in 1964!!!) His other big pop hit was FOUR WALLS, which peaked at #11 in 1957.
3. Teen Angel - Mark Dinning: MARK DINNING hit #1 on both the BILLBOARD and the CASH BOX Charts with this one! TEEN ANGEL was one of the first (and most famous) teen tragedy songs ever released ... and has gone on to become an oldies classic.
2. Handy Man - Jimmy Jones: JIMMY JONES had back-to-back Top 3 Hits in 1960 with HANDY MAN and GOOD TIMIN'. HANDY MAN would go on to become a Top 40 Hit all over again ... TWICE!!! In fact, we featured DEL SHANNON's nearly identical 1964 remake several years ago in FORGOTTEN HITS ... and JAMES TAYLOR had a pretty big hit with it, too, when he recorded it in 1977!)
***1*** Theme From "A Summer Place" - Percy Faith: PERCY FAITH's Movie Theme (from the Motion Picture A SUMMER PLACE, starring TROY DONAHUE and the soon-to-be Mrs. BOBBY DARIN, SANDRA DEE) topped the charts for an incredible TEN WEEKS in 1960 and went on to become the biggest single of the year. It was PERCY's second #1 Record ... he first topped the charts in 1953 with SONG FROM "MOULIN ROUGE" ... and, 48 years later, THEME FROM "A SUMMER PLACE" is STILL one of the most popular and famous movie themes of all time.
February 29, 1964:
10.Um Um Um Um Um Um - Major Lance: MAJOR LANCE would have quite a few of his R&B Hits cross-over to the pop charts in the early '60's. UM UM UM UM UM UM would be turn out to be his biggest. It returned to The Top 40 in 1978 when JOHNNY RIVERS recorded it under the new title CURIOUS MIND.
9. Stop And Think It Over - Dale and Grace: DALE AND GRACE topped the charts with their previous release, I'M LEAVING IT UP TO YOU, at the end of 1963. Their follow-up release, STOP AND THINK IT OVER, would be their last Top Ten (and Top 40) hit.
8. Please Please Me - The Beatles: By February 29, 1964, BEATLEMANIA was EXPLODING here in The United States ... in fact, you'll find THREE of THE BEATLES' earliest U.S. releases firmly planted in this week's Top Ten Countdown. (Of course, as we learned several years ago in our WHO PLAYED THE FIRST BEATLES RECORD IN AMERICA Series, this particular track was nearly a year old already before America was ready to embrace The Fab Four From Liverpool.) Despite ALL legends to the contrary, PLEASE PLEASE ME never OFFICIALLY hit #1 in England OR The United States ... but it IS a classic early LENNON-McCARTNEY tune nonetheless ... and it helped to ignite BEATLEMANIA all around the world back in early 1963 ... well, everywhere but HERE anyway, where the record tanked the first time around. Fact is, VEE JAY RECORDS thought so little of the band, they mis-spelled their name on the record label as "THE BEATTLES" ... with TWO "T's"!!! (That pressing's worth a small FORTUNE today!) In 1964, THE BEATLES would revolutionize and revitalize the recording industry ... and music has NEVER been the same since.
7. Navy Blue - Diane Renay: DIANE RENAY hit The Top Ten with her first release, NAVY BLUE ... a sound-alike follow-up hit, KISS ME SAILOR, peaked at #28 later that year ... and then she was gone. When this record was first released, more than a few people thought she sounded an awful lot like LESLEY GORE! Speaking of whom ...
6. You Don't Own Me - Lesley Gore: YOU DON'T OWN ME is of my VERY favorite LESLEY GORE songs ... a personal favorite of all-time for that matter! (Was it an early example of The Women's Lib / Women's Rights Movement? Perhaps ... if not, it certainly was a FAR cry from HE HIT ME AND IT FELT LIKE A KISS, which we featured during our recent PHIL SPECTOR Series!!!) LESLEY had become quite a regular in The Top Ten during the past year: IT'S MY PARTY topped the charts in early-summer, 1963, followed by JUDY'S TURN TO CRY (#4 in August) and SHE'S A FOOL (#5 in the fall.) YOU DON'T OWN ME, a powerful ballad produced by QUINCY JONES (and co-written by JOHNNY MADARA, who's on our FORGOTTEN HITS Mailing List), would keep that string alive and went all the way to #1 here in Chicago. In fact, LESLEY would go on to have seven more Top 40 Hits by 1967 ... and I'm guessing that, back in 1964 anyway, there were probably a FEW people out there who thought that LESLEY GORE sounded an awful lot like DIANE RENAY. (Go figure!!!)
5. California Sun - The Rivieras: Although The British Invasion was just starting to get under way here in The States back on February 29, 1964, thanks to artists like THE BEACH BOYS, THE SURFARIS and these guys, THE RIVIERAS, Surf Music was ANOTHER hot sound of the era. In fact, CALIFORNIA SUN went all the way to #5 that year and the song is still quite popular today, continuing to receive regular oldies airplay. Ironically, the band was from South Bend, Indiana, more than a few miles away from the nearest ocean (or the CALIFORNIA SUN for that matter!) This single was no sooner recorded (right here in Chicago, btw) than guitarists MARTY FORTSON (who also sang the lead vocal) and JOE PENNELL left the band to join the Marines. (In fact, FORTSON later recalled hearing the song played on the radio while he was being shot at in Viet Nam, wondering if, perhaps, he had made the wrong career decision!) Their manager, BILL DOBSLAW, who later took over the lead vocal duties, recruited new musicians for their low-charting follow-ups LITTLE DONNA / LET'S HAVE A PARTY and ROCKIN' ROBIN. (Despite peaks in the 90's for these two singles on the National Charts, both were Top Ten smashes here in Chicago.) Their brand of "surfing-up" some oldies (JOE JONES first recorded CALIFORNIA SUN back in 1961, but his version stopped at #81 ... LET'S HAVE A PARTY was an ELVIS tune that saw some chart success by WANDA JACKSON ... and ROCKIN' ROBIN, of course, was a #2 smash for BOBBY DAY) coupled with the Midwestern Garage Band Sound of the day made for an interesting combination and CALIFORNIA SUN became an instant classic. All of these hits were released on their very own "RIVIERA" record label and we've given Indiana's RIVIERAS The "FORGOTTEN HITS Treatment" a FEW times now these past few years!
4. Java - Al Hirt: AL HIRT (who always reminded me of SEBASTIAN CABOT for some reason ... and, to the best of my knowledge anyway, was NEVER confused with either LESLEY GORE or DIANE RENAY) was quite a television fixture back in the mid-'60's. Early on, he spent time in both JIMMY and TOMMY DORSEY's combos and later headed his own Dixieland band (with famed clarinetist PETE FOUNTAIN.) In fact, next to HERB ALPERT himself, HIRT just may have been the most recognized trumpet player in America at the time! (Ironically, it was DIANE RENAY's hit NAVY BLUE that knocked HIRT out of the #1 Spot on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Chart back in March of '64!) JAVA was written by New Orleans legend ALLEN TOUSSAINT (HIRT was ALSO from New Orleans) and the single was produced by Nashville legend CHET ATKINS, who probably first saw it as a country song (since Nashville session man extraordinaire FLOYD CRAMER had also cut the tune.) In fact, both TOUSSAINT's version and CRAMER's version were piano instrumentals, showcasing their musical strong suit. It was HIRT who added the "HONEY IN THE HORN" and made JAVA the hit it became. RCA billed him as "AL 'The King' HIRT" (pretty amazing in that ELVIS also recorded for the label!) Hardly a sex symbol, (he, at times, weighed as much as three hundred pounds) he recorded his follow-up LP BEAUTY AND THE BEARD with soon-to-be ELVIS movie co-star (and not so secret girlfriend) ANN-MARGRET.
3. Dawn - The Four Seasons: By the time DAWN peaked at #3 on the National Charts, THE FOUR SEASONS had already topped the charts three times with SHERRY, BIG GIRLS DON'T CRY and WALK LIKE A MAN. Today they've been forever immortalized in JERSEY BOYS, a MUST-SEE musical depicting the highs and lows of their entire career.
2. She Loves You - The Beatles: Despite the encouragement from PAUL's father to "un-Americanize" the lyrics and sing "yes, yes, yes" instead of "yeah, yeah, yeah", THE BEATLES stuck to their guns and had their second biggest hit of the year in America ... and their biggest British hit ever!
***1*** I Want To Hold Your Hand - The Beatles: This is the one that started it all over here ... targeting their recording for "American ears", THE BEATLES really nailed it with I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND ... even CAPITOL RECORDS couldn't deny it this time ... and a HUGE advertising campaign (along with appearances on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW and CARNEGIE HALL) paved the way for JOHN, PAUL, GEORGE and RINGO to enter into the open arms of their biggest, worldwide audience yet. BEATLEMANIA was here to stay. (Don't believe me? Flip through your radio dial today, 40+ years later, and count how many BEATLES songs you hear in a single day. It's frickin' AMAZING!!!)
February 29, 1968:
10. Baby Now That I've Found You - The Foundations: The British-based band THE FOUNDATIONS (who also had members as widely dispersed as Trinidad and The West Indies) are one of those rare bands that had TWO huge Top Ten Singles in the '60's and then faded into obscurity ... yet you continue to hear BOTH of their hit records on pretty much a DAILY basis. BABY NOW THAT I'VE FOUND YOU was their first U.S. Chart Hit and it ultimately peaked at #8 on the Cash Box Chart. Their monster follow-up, BUILD ME UP BUTTERCUP, topped the Cash Box Chart in early 1969 (and has now been forever immortalized in the closing credits of THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY.)
9. Bottle Of Wine - The Fireballs: THE FIREBALLS went through several musical cycles during their long chart career. When they first hit the charts (way back in 1959), it was with the instrumental hit TORQUAY, which went to #35 in Cash Box Magazine. Three more instrumental hits followed: BULLDOG (#23, 1960), VAQUERO (#99, 1960 ... hey, I didn't say they were BIG hits, LOL) and QUITE A PARTY (#27, 1961.) In 1960, BUDDY's buddy, NORMAN PETTY (the man who had helped to guide BUDDY HOLLY's career), introduced a young singer by the name of JIMMY GILMER to the band. They hit it off and, three years later, had the biggest selling single of 1963 when SUGAR SHACK went all the way to #1. The similar-sounding DAISY PETAL PICKIN' went to #15 the following year and then things were pretty quiet for the group again. (Ironically, their 1966 single WHAT I AM stiffed on the charts ... but was turned into a Top 20 Hit when TOMMY JAMES AND THE SHONDELLS cut it as SAY I AM, and released it as the follow-up to their #1 smash HANKY PANKY.) In 1967, they happened to come across a fun, sing-along tune called BOTTLE OF WINE, a song that folk singer TOM PAXTON had been playing around with for a few years. THE FIREBALLS "rocked" it up a little bit and soon had their last Top Ten Record with BOTTLE OF WINE.
8. Green Tambourine -The Lemon Pipers: By 1968, Rock and Pop Music had taken a turn to a much heavier, harder-edged sound ... so it was QUITE a surprise when Bubblegum Music caught on and became VERY popular back in 1968. GREEN TAMBOURINE by THE LEMON PIPERS went all the way to #1!
7. Nobody But Me - The Human Beinz: NOBODY BUT ME by THE HUMAN BEINZ is one of those party songs that's pretty much never been off the radio since it was first released back in 1968 ... all the more ironic since the ORIGINAL version (written and recorded by THE ISLEY BROTHERS) completely tanked when it was released back in 1962!
6. I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight - Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart: It was the mention of THIS song in our original LEAP YEAR Series back in 2004 that prompted us to do our BOYCE AND HART Series a few years ago ... and you'll soon be reading it again here in 2008 (with BRAND NEW commentary from BOBBY HART himself!!!) TOMMY BOYCE and BOBBY HART had been hitting the pop charts for the past couple of years by supplying hit music to THE MONKEES. (In fact, BOYCE AND HART had originally auditioned to be the musical act on the show but were designated as the show's "musical producers" instead.) In addition to THE MONKEES THEME, they provided the group with their #1 Hit LAST TRAIN TO CLARKSVILLE, the smash B-Side STEPPIN' STONE (first done ... without any success ... by PAUL REVERE AND THE RAIDERS), WORDS and VALLERI (a song recorded in 1967 but not released until later in '68, where it ALSO topped the pop charts.) They also were responsible for some great LP tunes like I WANNA BE FREE, GONNA BUY ME A DOG and SHE, amongst others, many of which became embedded in our consciousness by repeated plays on their weekly TV series. In 1968, BOYCE AND HART finally tried to make their OWN mark in the music biz as recording artists ... and this one was a biggie! I WONDER WHAT SHE'S DOING TONIGHT (not the same song as the BARRY AND THE TAMERLANES hit, as we showed you a few months back) hit #7 in Cash Box (and was a #2 smash here in Chicago.) In the mid-'70's, they teamed with MICKY DOLENZ and DAVY JONES and toured as DOLENZ, JONES, BOYCE AND HART: THE SONGS OF THE MONKEES (by the Guys Who Sang 'Em and the Guys Who Wrote 'Em.) I just happened to be at SIX FLAGS in St. Louis the night they broke the all-time attendance record back in 1976 ... and their only studio LP is REALLY pretty good stuff!!! (I also remember hearing them in the studio on WGN's ROY LEONARD radio program at the time, discussing how they now wanted to be taken more seriously as artists by appealing to an older audience ... I couldn't help but think that perhaps the FIRST, most logical step in that direction toward CHANGING this perception MIGHT be to stop billing yourselves as MicKY, and DaVY and TomMY and BobBY! LOL)
5. Dock Of The Bay - Otis Redding: Sadly, Soul Singer / Songwriter OTIS REDDING didn't live long enough to see his biggest hit record make the charts ... he died in a plane crash in December of 1967, three months before DOCK OF THE BAY hit #1. We recently told you (as part of our BUTTON PUSHERS Series) that THIS is the song that the disc jockeys on our list are MOST tired of playing on the air!!!
4. Theme from Valley Of The Dolls - Dionne Warwick: When we first featured DIONNE WARWICK's soundtrack smash, THEME FROM VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, as part of our CHICAGOLAND #1's Series, we were fortunate enough to be able to share a VERY rare tape of a competing version of this song released by an unknown band called NATTY BUMPO ... a clip submitted by one of our long-time list members who just happened to be the ex-wife of one of the band members! (At the time, she told us that, playing it for our music list would probably increase the number of people who'd ever actually heard this particular version of the song ten fold!!!) The other side of this single was ALSO a Top Ten Hit for DIONNE WARWICK ... I SAY A LITTLE PRAYER went all the way to #4 three months earlier!
3. Spooky - The Classics IV: THE CLASSICS IV had one of the smoothest sounds on record back in the late '60's. Their hits SPOOKY, STORMY, TRACES and our previously featured FORGOTTEN HIT, EVERY DAY WITH YOU GIRL, were all National Top 20 Hits. (In fact, SPOOKY, STORMY and TRACES all peaked at #2 on at least one of the National Charts!) Lead vocalist DENNIS YOST deservedly gets a lot of the credit for the for the band's success ... but when guitarist J.R. COBB and bassist / keyboardist DEAN DAUGHTRY teamed with CLASSICS IV producer BUDDY BUIE in the mid-'70's to form THE ATLANTA RHYTHM SECTION, the hits just kept on coming ... including an ARS remake of THIS one (that went all the way to #15!!!)
2. I Wish It Would Rain - The Temptations: THE TEMPTATIONS experimented with a wide variety of styles in the '60's ... and all of them seemed to work. Whether recording the traditional MOTOWN SOUND on early hits like THE WAY YOU DO THE THINGS YOU DO, MY GIRL and GET READY ... or pushing the musical envelope with more elaborate tracks like I WISH IT WOULD RAIN, CLOUD NINE and I CAN'T GET NEXT TO YOU ... or literally re-inventing themselves with over-the-top songs like PSYCHEDELIC SHACK, BALL OF CONFUSION and PAPA WAS A ROLLIN' STONE, virtually EVERYTHING they touched turned to gold. I WISH IT WOULD RAIN peaked at the #2 position early in 1968 ... and is yet another TEMPTATIONS classic.
***1*** Love Is Blue - Paul Mauriat: Man, this one was ALL over the radio back in 1968 ... it didn't seem to matter WHAT station you listened to ... PAUL MAURIAT took the French song L'AMOUR EST BLEU and made it an American favorite ... it topped the charts for SEVEN incredible weeks in February and March. The song was first performed by VICKI LEANDROS as Luxembourg's entry into the Annual Eurovision Song Contest in 1967, where it finished in fourth place! Despite the fact that she later recorded the song with lyrics that same year in 19 different languages, it sold moderately at best. All the more surprising then that, in a year where American Music took a turn toward harder, heavier, more sophisticated rock, this one captured our hearts by storm ... and as an INSTRUMENTAL, no less! (By the way, ANDY WILLIAMS' wife CLAUDINE LONGET, attempted a vocal arrangement that competed with MAURIAT's hit for a short time on the charts ... her version stopped at #71. She was reportedly SO upset by this lack of chart success that she went out shot skier SPIDER SAVICH in a fit of rage! j/k) DIDJAKNOW?: In 1971, PAUL MAURIAT admitted for the first time that, under the pseudonym DEL ROMA, he wrote an instrumental called CHARIOT back in 1962 that became a #1 Record throughout Europe for PETULA CLARK when she recorded it with newly written French lyrics. A year later, when English lyrics were written, it went to #1 here in the States, too ... you know it better as I WILL FOLLOW HIM by LITTLE PEGGY MARCH!
9. Heart Of Gold - Neil Young: NEIL YOUNG didn't really have a lot of "pop" success as a solo artist ... only three of his solo releases made The Top 40 ... but this one was HUGE ... and it went all the way to #1. The on-again, off-again member of CROSBY, STILLS, NASH (and sometimes YOUNG) also topped the LP chart with HARVEST, the album from whence this single came!
8. Sweet Seasons - Carole King: After writing literally hundreds of hit songs for other artists, CAROLE KING released her TAPESTRY album in 1971 and finally enjoyed some MAJOR chart success of her very own. (It was the Album Of The Year in fact ... and remains one of the best-selling and most popular albums of all time!) The follow-up LP, MUSIC, spawned the hit single SWEET SEASONS in 1972.
7. Everything I Own - Bread: I always thought that this was one of BREAD's most beautiful love songs ... then, after seeing them in concert, and learning that DAVID GATES actually wrote the song not about one of the lost loves of his life but rather his father's recent death ... the lyrics take on a whole new, even more powerful meaning in that context. Listen closely to the words the next time you hear this song with that thought in mind ... and I'm sure you'll come away with a whole new feeling about this song. (Better yet, give SCOTT SHANNON a call today and ask him to play it!!!) An absolute BREAD favorite.
6. The Lion Sleeps Tonight - Robert John: Although the definitive version of THE LION SLEEPS TONIGHT will always be the one recorded by THE TOKENS (who took it to #1 in 1961), ROBERT JOHN didn't do too badly with his 1972 remake ... it peaked at #2!!! In fact, he had a little bit of "inside help" on this one ... former TOKENS member HANK MEDRESS produced JOHN's version. ROBERT JOHN first hit the charts back in 1958 under his REAL name, BOBBY PEDRICK, JR. when, at the ripe old age of 12, his song WHITE BUCKS AND SADDLE SHOES went to #74 on the Billboard Chart. His high falsetto voice was the perfect tool for some other remakes after the success of THE LION SLEEPS TONIGHT ... his version of THE MYSTICS' hit HUSHABYE went to #77 later that same year and, after topping the charts with his biggest hit, an original tune called SAD EYES in 1979, remakes of HEY THERE LONELY GIRL (#31, 1980), SHERRY (#70, 1980) and BREAD AND BUTTER (#68, 1983) followed.
5. Let's Stay Together - Al Green: AL GREEN scored the BIGGEST Hit of his entire career when LET'S STAY TOGETHER went all the way to #1. Has a day EVER gone by since 1972 when you HAVEN'T heard this one on the radio?!?!? REVERAND AL hit a universal nerve when he recorded THIS tune.
4. Down By The Lazy River - The Osmonds: I don't care what you say ... THE OSMONDS rocked out pretty good on this one. It topped the charts here in Chicago (as did their two previous singles, ONE BAD APPLE and YO-YO.) In fact, brothers MERRILL and ALAN wrote DOWN BY THE LAZY RIVER, proving that the boys COULD rock when they wanted to! (This ALSO gives me yet ANOTHER excuse to tell my ALL-TIME favorite OSMONDS BROTHERS Story: According to ALAN OSMOND, LED ZEPPELIN's road manager once invited THE OSMONDS to come backstage and meet the band. After a short visit, "One of the band members asked us if we would like to come up on stage with them for their final song, when they played STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN." Their manager didn't think it was a very good idea, concerned about the image of LED ZEPPELIN having ANYTHING at all to do with THE OSMONDS! But the members of LED ZEPPELIN insisted. A production assistant "escorted us up the back stairs and to the right side of the stage. The audience, which never stopped applauding to get ZEPPELIN to come back for an encore, were surprised as THE OSMONDS revealed themselves from the back of the stage with ZEPPELIN following. We stood stage right and watched the greatest performance of their song.") Now that's even cooler than the time THE OSMONDS hired world champion karate guru CHUCK NORRIS to teach them some new, "masculine moves" that could be incorporated into their dance choreography! (Also true!) And you thought these guys were just a bunch of wimps!
3. Hurting Each Other - The Carpenters: Certainly one of the hottest recording acts of the '70's, HURTING EACH OTHER was just one of 13 songs released by THE CARPENTERS that went into The National Top Ten in an all-too-brief recording career.
2. Precious And Few - Climax: At one time or another, we've featured ALL of the hit songs recorded by THE OUTSIDERS, the band that SONNY GERACI fronted back in the '60's. You may recall that PRECIOUS AND FEW nearly came out as an "OUTSIDERS" track, too, but a lawsuit between former band members as to who really had the rights to the name caused GERACI to change the name on his release to CLIMAX. It was worth it ... PRECIOUS AND FEW went all the way to #1, something THE OUTSIDERS were never able to do themselves!
***1*** Without You - Nilsson: Here's another one of my '70's favorites ... originally written and performed by BADFINGER on their NO DICE album, NILSSON really made this one his own. (It became a HUGE hit again 22 years later for MARIAH CAREY.) BADFINGER was ALSO on this week's Top 40 Chart with their new single, DAY AFTER DAY. One of the earliest FORGOTTEN HITS features we ever did traced this song from its inception ... starting with the original PETE HAM demo track through the BADFINGER recording ... into the NILSSON monster power ballad masterpiece and up through the MARIAH CAREY remake. A good song is a good song is a good song ... no matter WHO does it ... and THIS is a GOOD song!
February 29, 1976:
10. Love Hurts - Nazareth: A GREAT remake of the EVERLY BROTHERS / ROY ORBISON tune. I first heard this performed by a bar band down in Daytona Beach, Florida on Spring Break in early 1976 ... and they did a note-for-note, letter-perfect version. (In hindsight, for all I know, it could have BEEN NAZARETH!) LOVE HURTS would turn out to be NAZARETH's One Hit Wonder, ultimately peaking at #8. DIDJAKNOW?: NAZARETH were from Scotland and they took their name from the first line of the classic BAND hit THE WEIGHT! ("I pulled into NAZARETH...") (take a load off, Frannie!!!)
9. Love To Love You Baby - Donna Summer: The Queen Of Disco just HAD to be DONNA SUMMER ... and this was the one that started it all ... LOTS of heavy breathing going on during THIS track! Recently, DONNA stirred up a WHOLE lot of discussion as to whether or not she truly belongs in THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME ... personally, I think that there was QUITE a bit of rockin' and rollin' goin' on under the sheets during the extended dance mix of THIS tune back in 1976!!!
8. December, 1963 - The Four Seasons: THE FOUR SEASONS scored one of the biggest comebacks ever seen on the pop charts ... after not placing a song in Top 10 since 1967, they came back strong with the back-to-back hits WHO LOVES YOU (#3) and DECEMBER, 1963 (#1) in 1975-76. And, as we mentioned way back in 1964, their music is hotter now than ever thanks to the success of JERSEY BOYS!!!
7. Dream Weaver - Gary Wright: After launching SPOOKY TOOTH in the late '60's, GARY took his first solo hit all the way to #1 in early 1976. He would go on to display his keyboard prowess during recording sessions with the likes of GEORGE HARRISON, RINGO STARR, ERIC CLAPTON, STEVIE WINWOOD, ELTON JOHN and many others.
6. Lonely Night (Angel Face) - The Captain and Tennille: After the HUGE success of LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER the year before, THE CAPTAIN AND TENNILLE went back to the NEIL SEDAKA songwriting well one more time for this one. Although nowhere near as big a hit, it DID top the Cash Box chart, and really does fall into the FORGOTTEN HITS category ... you rarely EVER hear this one on the radio. NEIL SEDAKA's big '70's comeback was launched by ELTON JOHN, who signed him to his ROCKET RECORDS label. SEDAKA'S BACK became a best-selling album in 1975 and that's where DARYL DRAGON and TONI TENNILLE found LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER, which, in their hands, went on to become the biggest pop hit of 1975. (To their credit, they did some pretty incredible arranging ... SEDAKA's original version is pretty limp and, to my ears, showed NO hit potential.) You can even hear TONI TENNILLE sing "SEDAKA'S BACK" during the fade-out at the end of the record. SEDAKA's follow-up album, THE HUNGRY YEARS, did even better on the charts and it's from THIS LP that THE CAPTAIN AND TENNILLE took LONELY NIGHT (ANGEL FACE). DRAGON was a keyboard player for THE BEACH BOYS in the early '70's (and TONI TENNILLE was perhaps the first female BEACH BOY when she joined the group as a background vocalist!) In fact, it was BEACH BOY MIKE LOVE who dubbed DARYL "THE CAPTAIN" in the first place because of the hats he used to wear on stage. They went on to have nine Top 40 Hits in the '70's and even had their own TV show for a while. (And, as ALL of our FORGOTTEN HITS Readers now know, TONI TENNILLE is a HUGE WILD BILL CODY fan!!!)
5. 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover - Paul Simon: OK, tell the truth ... did anybody out there actually COUNT them?!?!? I've never been convinced that SIMON really told us all fifty ways! 50 WAYS TO LEAVE YOUR LOVER became PAUL SIMON's FIFTH Top Ten Hit after splitting with his 1960's singing partner ART GARFUNKEL ... and it topped the charts just a couple of weeks earlier.
4. Take It To The Limit - The Eagles: First off, let me say that I am a HUGE EAGLES fan (although this is NOT one of my favorite EAGLES songs.) However, I find it necessary to right a wrong that's been going on for these last several rounds of EAGLES "Farewell Tour" performances. TAKE IT TO THE LIMIT was written by then-EAGLES bassist RANDY MEISNER. (Prior to joining THE EAGLES, MEISNER had been around the musical block ... he was an original member of POCO as well as part of RICK NELSON's STONE CANYON BAND.) When he presented TAKE IT TO THE LIMIT to THE EAGLES for recording consideration, they loved the song. All of their previous hit singles had been written and / or sung by leaders GLENN FREY and DON HENLEY ... so it was quite an achievement when MEISNER's TAKE IT TO THE LIMIT was chosen to be released as a single. FREY and HENLEY reportedly changed two words of RANDY's lyrics ... and then insisted on song co-writing credit. Furious, MEISNER agreed for fear that his song wouldn't be recorded otherwise. (He eventually re-recorded it as a solo artist and changed those two words back!!!) For years after MEISNER left the band, THE EAGLES would not perform this song live in concert. This time around, it's back in the line-up. GLENN FREY gets big laughs when he tells the audience that while we're all out here enjoying what we believe to be one of THE EAGLES' final performances, their managers are actually backstage planning EAGLES REUNION TOUR VII. However, when he announces TAKE IT TO THE LIMIT (which HE now sings in concert), he describes it as "a song we wrote with RANDY MEISNER," implying more than a passing credit as to the origins of the song. Employing my official FORGOTTEN HITS SOAP BOX, I just wanted to set that story straight today! (By the way, in the most recent EAGLES' GREATEST HITS CD Package, FREY acknowledges that TAKE IT TO THE LIMIT was THE EAGLES' VERY first Gold Single. Although they had had #1 Records earlier in their career, NONE of them had actually sold a million copies. In all fairness, THE EAGLES were probably better known as an ALBUM band than as a singles band ... but he goes on to state "on the record" that he is VERY proud of RANDY MEISNER for delivering THE EAGLES' VERY first Gold Single!!!) Last year THE EAGLES (minus RANDY MEISNER ... he's been gone since 1977) released their first album of all new material in 28 years ... and it went right to the top of BILLBOARD's Album Chart.
3. All By Myself - Eric Carmen: We told you once before that ERIC CARMEN had to re-record his vocal on this #1 Hit SEVEN TIMES because everyone felt that he sounded too much like PAUL McCARTNEY! After placing five hits in The Top 40 with THE RASPBERRIES, CARMEN didn't miss a beat with his solo career ... NEVER GONNA FALL IN LOVE AGAIN, SUNRISE, SHE DID IT, CHANGE OF HEART, I WANNA HEAR IT FROM YOUR LIPS, HUNGRY EYES and MAKE ME LOSE CONTROL all followed ALL BY MYSELF into The Top 40. (Although I've always LOVED this song, CELINE DION's over-the-top version ... and several lame AMERICAN IDOL auditions ... have nearly RUINED it for me for life!!!)
2. Theme From S.W.A.T. - The Rhythm Heritage: How many more TV Shows are they going to ruin the memory of with big screen remakes? (At the original time of this writing back on LEAP YEAR, 2004, it had just been announced that STARSKY AND HUTCH were going to be the next victims!) Hearing "new" versions of THE THEME FROM S.W.A.T. and SHAFT aren't all bad 'though ... a whole new generation of music fans are discovering this "brand-new music" for themselves! THE RHYTHM HERITAGE topped the charts with their funky THEME FROM S.W.A.T. back in 1976 ... later that year they hit The Top 20 once again with the theme from the TV Show BARETTA.
***1*** - Love Machine - The Miracles: NOBODY thought that THE MIRACLES would survive after the departure of SMOKEY ROBINSON ... boy, were WE wrong!!! LOVE MACHINE topped the pop chart in 1976 ... something SMOKEY himself wouldn't do for nearly four more years!!! (In fact, you'll find out just HOW he did it in our 1980 LEAP YEAR Countdown ... which is coming up next!!!)
February 29, 1980:
10. Romeo's Tune - Steve Forbert: STEVE FORBERT was, in every sense of the word, a music troubadour ... he left Mississippi for New York in 1976 and played pretty much anywhere they'd let him, even strumming his guitar and singing in Grand Central Station for a while to earn a few bucks while passing the hat. He eventually got noticed and started to get work in many of the bars in and around Greenwich Village, ultimately working his way up to opening act status for '80's favorites like THE TALKING HEADS and JOHN CALE. FORBERT's maintained a bit of a "cult" following ever since. Back in the early '80's, my sister used to date STEVE's bass player, DANNY COUNTS, so I got to know him pretty well. He once told me that back in the early days he would cross paths with THE BEAVER BROWN BAND quite often while playing the East Coast bar-circuit ... some of you FH old-timers may remember the feature we did on JOHN CAFFERTY and the boys as part of our BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN tribute article. Ironically, it was a member of SPRINGSTEEN's E STREET BAND that helped land FORBERT a late-'80's recording contract with GEFFEN RECORDS ... seems STEVE was performing at a BUDDY HOLLY tribute concert in New York City (backed by HOLLY's original CRICKETS, by the way) when GARRY TALLENT heard him and reccommended him to the folks at Geffen. Despite the Top Ten success of ROMEO'S TUNE, however, STEVE's career pretty much went nowhere after that and, short of a small, loyal cult following, he's pretty much become just another forgotten oldie.
9. Working My Way Back To You / Forgive Me Girl - The Spinners: THE SPINNERS started their recording career nearly FIFTY years ago when they were discovered by the legendary HARVEY FUQUA of THE MOONGLOWS and had their first Top 40 success with his TRI-PHI RECORDS label back in 1961 (THAT'S WHAT GIRLS ARE MADE FOR, #27). The Top 40 Hits continued as they moved on to MOTOWN RECORDS (I'LL ALWAYS LOVE YOU, #35 in 1965) and V.I.P. RECORDS (IT'S A SHAME, #14 in 1970) before signing with ATLANTIC RECORDS in 1972, where their unique sound went through the roof. Between 1972 and 1976, THE SPINNERS hit The Top Ten six times on the Pop Charts, with soulful pop classics like I'LL BE AROUND (#1 in 1972), COULD IT BE I'M FALLING IN LOVE (also #1, 1973), ONE OF A KIND LOVE AFFAIR (#8, 1973), THEN CAME YOU (yet another #1 Record, this time recorded with DIONNE WARWICK...or do you say WARWICKE?), GAMES PEOPLE PLAY / THEY JUST CAN'T STOP IT (#2, 1975) and THE RUBBERBAND MAN (also #2, 1976.) Their medley of the old FOUR SEASONS hit WORKING MY WAY BACK TO YOU (coupled with a brand new piece of music called FORGIVE ME GIRL) also shot straight up the charts, peaking at #2 early in 1980. THE SPINNERS would try the medley-thing a couple more times ... once, quite successfully (their version of the SAM COOKE classic CUPID, coupled with I'VE LOVED YOU FOR A LONG TIME, would hit #4 later that year in 1980) ... and once NOT so successfully (they also took THE CARPENTERS' hit YESTERDAY ONCE MORE and "medleyed" it with NOTHING REMAINS THE SAME, #52 in 1981.) By the way, ALL of these new tunes were written by MICHAEL ZAGER, who had some chart success of his own in the mid-'70's after leaving TEN WHEEL DRIVE.
8. Desire - Andy Gibb: ANDY GIBB seemed to have it all when he first broke through on the pop charts back in the late 1970's. He was the youngest brother of THE BEE GEES and all seven of his first chart singles were written by his big brother BARRY and made The Top Ten. Soon he was on the cover of every teenage magazine, playing to sell-out crowds all over the world, appearing on Broadway, dating DALLAS Actress VICTORIA PRINCIPAL and co-hosting the television series SOLID GOLD. Sadly, drink and drugs got the better of him and we lost ANDY in 1988. DESIRE, written by all three of the BEE GEES / BROTHERS GIBB, would be ANDY's last Top Ten Hit.
7. Rock With You - Michael Jackson: It was a much darker (and a lot less controversial) MICHAEL JACKSON that made a remarkable comeback with his OFF THE WALL album in 1979. It revitalized his solo career and spawned FOUR hit singles including this one (which had already hit #1 in January), DON'T STOP TILL YOU GET ENOUGH (also #1 in 1979), the title track, OFF THE WALL (#10) and my personal favorite, SHE'S OUT OF MY LIFE (also #10). He followed OFF THE WALL with one of the biggest selling albums of all time, THRILLER. For those of you who may still be reeling after missing out on that three million dollar record collection recently sold on EBAY, you may soon have your chance to pick up a piece of MICHAEL's NEVERLAND Ranch ... it's up on the auction block now, too! (I just can't decide between THE ELEPHANT MAN's Mask and the hyperbaric sleeping chamber myself!!!)
6. On The Radio - Donna Summer: Disco Queen DONNA SUMMER made her chart debut on our 1976 LEAP YEAR Chart with LOVE TO LOVE YOU BABY. By the time ON THE RADIO came along four short years later, she'd already had NINE more Top 40 hits, including the #1 Records MACARTHUR PARK, HOT STUFF, BAD GIRLS and her duet with BARBRA STREISAND, NO MORE TEARS.
5. Do That To Me One More Time - The Captain and Tennille: We also gave you the low-down on THE CAPTAIN AND TENNILLE in our 1976 LEAP YEAR Countdown, proving that BOTH of these artists had "legs" back in the mid-to-late '70's. DO THAT TO ME ONE MORE TIME would prove to be their LAST big hit, however, topping both of The National Charts earlier this month.
4. Cruisin' - Smokey Robinson: In our 1976 LEAP YEAR Countdown, SMOKEY's former bandmates THE MIRACLES were at the #1 position with their disco hit LOVE MACHINE. It would take ROBINSON four more years before HE would enjoy the same honor ... and this is the song that put him there. CRUISIN' was a #1 Record in Cash Box Magazine. A nice remake by HUEY LEWIS and GWYNETH PALTROW (from the movie DUETS) saturated the airwaves and eventually topped Billboard's Adult Contemporary Chart in 2000 (despite never officially making their Hot 100 listing).
3. Longer - Dan Fogelberg: DAN FOGELBERG had already had a couple of Top 40 Hits prior to LONGER's release at the end of 1979, but THIS is the one that put him on the map (as well as the song lists of virtually EVERY wedding performer from this point forward!) Despite recording some very interesting and engaging uptempo tunes, FOGELBERG was forever branded a wimpy, soft-rock artist after LONGER topped the charts in early 1980. (It would remain the biggest hit of his career.) A very clever (and hysterical) parody ... that sounds EXACTLY like DAN FOGELBERG singing ... takes pot shots at one of his future hits and reworks it as LEADER OF THE BLAND! Sadly, we just lost DAN to cancer a few months back and his fan base came out of the woodwork to sing praises of his recorded catalog. Is there anybody out there who DIDN'T go through a DAN FOGELBERG-faze at SOME point of the late '70's or early '80's???
2. Yes I'm Ready - Teri DeSario with KC: HARRY CASEY (as the leader of KC AND THE SUNSHINE BAND) enjoyed one of the most successful disco-era careers in the mid-to-late '70's with HUGE hits like GET DOWN TONIGHT (#1, 1975), THAT'S THE WAY I LIKE IT (also #1, 1975), SHAKE YOUR BOOTY (#1, 1976), I'M YOUR BOOGIE MAN (yet ANOTHER #1 hit, 1977) and KEEP IT COMIN' LOVE (pretty much a chart failure by comparison ... it stopped at #2 later in '77). He also scored the very first #1 song of the new decade when his pretty ballad PLEASE DON'T GO topped the charts on January 5, 1980. Meanwhile, TERI DeSARIO was trying to hitch a ride on the enormous BEE GEES bandwagon in 1978 when she cut AIN'T NOTHING GONNA KEEP ME FROM YOU, a song written and produced by BARRY GIBB. (It was a very rare BEE GEES flop ... in 1978, NOBODY dominated the charts more than THE BROTHERS GIBB!) The following year, she was asked to duet with KC on the old BARBARA MASON hit YES, I'M READY, and their remake out-performed the original, peaking at #2. (BARBARA's version stopped at #3 in 1965.) Both KC and TERI were born in Florida (he in Hialeah, she in Miami) and they grew up as childhood friends. When her first single stopped at #43, she reportedly called KC and asked if there was anything he could do to help. He agreed to produce her follow-up, but then had to convince her to record the remake. Supposedly, on a flight together to Los Angeles, KC got TERI to at least CONSIDER recording the song by singing it with her as a duet on the airplane. When she saw the positive reaction of the other passengers, she thought it just might have a chance. A follow-up remake of the old MARTHA AND THE VANDELLAS song DANCING IN THE STREETS didn't fare as well ... it stopped at #66 ... and TERI DeSARIO never hit the pop chart again!
***1*** Crazy Little Thing Called Love - Queen: Somehow it almost seems fitting that the #1 Song from our 1980 LEAP YEAR Countdown would feel just as at home back in 1956 (where this Special LEAP YEAR Countdown first began.) FREDDIE MERCURY, the driving force behind QUEEN, HAS to be one of the most under-rated songwriters of our time. This guy could take ANY musical style and adapt it to QUEEN's sound. His classic BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY encompasses operatic technique, a beautiful ballad intro and ending, a head-banging (or at least head-bobbing ala WAYNE'S WORLD) hard-rock mid-section, some of the most incredible vocal work EVER recorded ... and ties them all together coherently in a musical masterpiece. QUEEN enjoyed commercial success with pure pop hits like YOU'RE MY BEST FRIEND, dramatic love ballads like SOMEBODY TO LOVE, foot-stomping arena rock like WE WILL ROCK YOU and letter-perfect disco funk with ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST ... EVERY musical style seemed to work for the band! Then, in 1980, MERCURY went as far away from type as may be humanly possible and recreated the letter-perfect rock-a-billy sound that first came to light in the earliest days of rock and roll ... yet STILL made it contemporary sounding enough to be a MAJOR hit of the times.
Copyright Kent Kotal / Forgotten Hits, 1998 - 2017 ... All rights reserved