DEAR JERRY: Your recent coverage of artists whose first few chart hits reached No. 1 drives me to ask for the same info, but based on their first record made.
Especially interesting would be to have this info for the 1950s and '60s.
Leona Reznick, Covington, Ky.
DEAR LEONA: It definitely is interesting, and I am therefore driven to look into it.
Using both Billboard and Cash Box, here are two decades of fortunate artists who topped the nation's charts with their first commercially-issued American record:
1950: Eileen Barton ("If I Knew You Were Comin' [I'd've Baked a Cake])"
1952: Al Martino ("Here in My Heart"); Johnny Standley ("It's in the Book"); Jimmy Boyd ("I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus")
1955: Bill Hayes ("The Ballad Of Davy Crockett")
1957: Tab Hunter ("Young Love")
1958 Danny and the Juniors ("At the Hop"); Silhouettes ("Get a Job"); Champs ("Tequila"); Laurie London ("He's Got the Whole World in His Hands"); Elegants ("Little Star"); Teddy Bears ("To Know Him, Is to Love Him"); Chipmunks (Alvin, Theodore & Simon) With The Music Of David Seville ("The Chipmunk Song")
1959: Fleetwoods ("Come Softly to Me"); Santo & Johnny ("Sleep Walk")
1960: Johnny Preston ("Running Bear"); Hollywood Argyles ("Alley-Oop"); Larry Verne ("Mr. Custer")
1961: Marcels ("Blue Moon"); Del Shannon ("Runaway"); Joe Dowell ("Wooden Heart"); Highwaymen ("Michael"); Marvelettes ("Please Mr. Postman")
1962: Gene Chandler ("Duke of Earl"); Dee Dee Sharp ("Mashed Potato Time"); Little Eva ("The Loco-Motion"); Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers ("Monster Mash"); Tornadoes ("Telstar")
1963: Rooftop Singers ("Walk Right In"); Paul & Paula ("Hey Paula"); Ruby and the Romantics ("Our Day Will Come"); Chiffons ("He's So Fine"); Lesley Gore ("It's My Party"); Essex ("Easier Said Than Done"); Tymes ("So Much in Love"); Dale & Grace ("I'm Leaving It Up to You"); The Singing Nun ("Dominique")
1964: Kingsmen ("Louie Louie"); Dixie Cups ("Chapel of Love"); Peter & Gordon ("A World Without Love"); Gale Garnett ("We'll Sing in the Sunshine")
1965: Gary Lewis and the Playboys ("This Diamond Ring"); Freddie and the Dreamers ("I'm Telling You Now"); Byrds ("Mr. Tambourine Man"); McCoys ("Hang On Sloopy"); Toys ("A Lovers Concerto")
1966: Simon & Garfunkel ("The Sounds of Silence"); SSgt. Barry Sadler ("The Ballad of the Green Berets"); Percy Sledge ("When a Man Loves a Woman"); Napoleon XIV ("They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haa!"); ? (Question Mark) and the Mysterians ("96 Tears"); Monkees ("Last Train to Clarksville"); New Vaudeville Band ("Winchester Cathedral")
1967: Bobbie Gentry ("Ode to Billy Joe"); Box Tops ("The Letter"); Strawberry Alarm Clock ("Incense and Peppermints")
1968: Archie Bell and the Drells ("Tighten Up"); Mary Hopkin ("Those Were the Days")
1969: Zager & Evans ("In the Year 2525 [Exordium & Terminus"]); Steam ("Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye")
Included are four acts whose first record is merely an earlier issue of the same tune that hit No. 1 after being reissued with a slight label change:
First issues of Paul & Paula's "Hey Paula" credit Jill & Ray
Freddie and the Dreamers' "I'm Telling You Now" was first on Capitol but the hit ended up on Tower, a Capitol subsidiary
The Strawberry Alarm Clock's "Incense and Peppermints" was first credited to Thee Sixpence
Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders' "Game of Love" was originally Fontana 1503, but the hit was Fontana 1509
There are five No. 1 tunes originally issued by very small companies, that were picked up and nationally distributed by an established label:
Archie Bell and the Drells' "Tighten Up" Ovide 228/Atlantic 2478
Silhouettes "Get a Job" Junior 593/Ember 1029
Danny and the Juniors "At the Hop" Singular S-711/ABC-Paramount 45-9871
? (Question Mark) and the Mysterians "96 Tears" Pa-Go-Go 45-102/Cameo C-428
Zager & Evans' "In the Year 2525 [Exordium & Terminus"]) Truth X4KM-8081/RCA Victor 74-0174
Included are three acts with previous recordings issued under different names: Sam Cooke (Dale Cook); Simon & Garfunkel (Tom & Jerry); Napoleon XIV (Jerry Sims/Jerry Simms); and the Byrds (Beefeaters).
Also included are solo acts previously in groups (e.g., Gene Chandler with the Dukays), or groups whose individual members recorded earlier, whether solo or with other groups (e.g., Hollywood Argyles, Rooftop Singers, and Monkees).
Then there is Teresa Brewer and Shelley Fabares, whose first solo records were preceded by them in a duet. Teresa Brewer teamed with Bobby Wayne on "Copper Canyon," and Shelley Fabares with Paul Petersen on "Very Unlikely." Neither are excluded for being part of a duet.
Artists with solo recordings issued outside the country, made before their first U.S. single, are excluded (e.g., Anton Karas and Kyu Sakamoto).
IZ ZAT SO? Of the 60 artists, for whom lightning struck favorably with their first records, only one equaled that success with follow-ups.
The Monkees' second hit, "I'm a Believer," followed by their fifth, "Daydream Believer" were No. 1 on Billboard. Their third, "A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You," and sixth, "Valleri," topped the Cash Box charts.
Just three others managed to revisit the top of the charts at any time:
The Fleetwoods' third single, "Mr. Blue" (1959)
The Byrds' third, "Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)" (1965)
Simon & Garfunkel's ninth, "Mrs. Robinson" (1968), and 12th, "Bridge Over Troubled Water" (1970)
Deserving honorable mention are these two acts, whose second records peaked at No. 2:
Del Shannon "Hats Off to Larry" (1961)
Gary Lewis and the Playboys "Count Me In" (1965)