Ask "Mr. Music"
Jerry Osborne

Now in our 28th year (1986-2014) — Over 2,800 Questions Answered
Most recent column here — 16 years of archived ones are linked below


FOR THE WEEK OF JULY 14, 2014

DEAR JERRY: Your recent summary of the twist craze reminds me of something I once read, about "The Twist," by Chubby Checker, being in the Top 100 longer than any other song.

They did of course point out that it was issued twice and became a No. 1 hit each time.

When talking about this with a friend, who I'll call doubting Thomas, he says I am wrong. He thinks it is the 4 Seasons who hold that record.

Is Tom right or wrong?
—Lance Heathcliff, Evansville, Ind.

DEAR LANCE: Doubting Thomas may not be a good idea, at least on this point. He knows best.

"December 1963 (Oh, What Night)" (Warner Bros./Curb 8168) held a spot on the charts for 27 weeks when first released in 1976, and then, coincidentally, for another 27 weeks when their same vocal returned in 1994 as a remixed, dance version (Curb 76917). In total, the Jersey Boys enjoyed 54 weeks on the charts with "December 1963 (Oh, What Night)."

"The Twist" had an 18-week run, beginning in the summer of 1960, then returned one year later with an even longer stay, 21 weeks, for a total of 39, far fewer than 54.

Now, if we limit the total weeks tally to just one chart entry, the Billboard endurance champ is the 43-week run of "Tainted Love," the 1982 classic by Soft Cell (Sire 49855).

Surprisingly, "Tainted Love" barely made the Top 10, peaking at No. 8. Also, this one-hit wonder British duo never managed to follow "Tainted Love" with another chart record.

Sticking with vinyl era singles, the runner-up to Soft Cell is Paul Davis and his 40-week smash, "I Go Crazy," from 1978.

DEAR JERRY: Did either the Beatles or the Rolling Stones ever have a crossover Rhythm & Blues hit?

There is no question they both did some R&B style songs.

Also, which white singer had the most R&B crossover hits?
—Roxie Somerville, Greenville, S.C.

DEAR ROXIE: It is hard to understand the thinking process used by black music programmers when deciding which white artists they would play, and ultimately include on the regional surveys that heavily influenced the national R&B charts.

Improbable as it seems, "Don't Forbid Me" (Pat Boone); "Tom Dooley" (Kingston Trio); "Bye Bye Love" (Everly Brothers); and "The Chipmunk Song" (David Seville and the Chipmunks) all made the R&B Top 10.

Meanwhile, there were numerous blue-eyed soul tunes more deserving of crossing over, such as: "Green, Green Grass of Home" and "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" (Tom Jones); "Smile," "I Apologize," and "Make the World Go Away" (Timi Yuro); and especially "I'm Movin' On" (Matt Lucas).

There was also an unexpected decision on the part of Billboard that affected everyone in the R&B field for all of 1964, and the year of the British Invasion.

For about 14 months, beginning in Nov. '63, Billboard chose not to publish a Rhythm & Blues chart. Had this not been the case, perhaps the Beatles would have crossed over with their sensational revival of the Isley Brothers' "Twist and Shout."

The Rolling Stones were even more rooted in American R&B in '64, and certainly could have charted with "Time Is on My Side" and others. After the reinstatement of the R&B chart, however, they did crack the Top 20 with "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," making them the first British group ever on our R&B chart.

Two years later, the Spencer Davis Group, with "I'm a Man," would add their name to this very short list.

Three more Stones' hits would also cross over, but with slightly less success: "19th Nervous Breakdown" (No. 32); "Hot Stuff" (No. 84); and "Miss You" (No. 33).

As for the white singer with the most R&B hits, it is of course Elvis Presley. His total of 35 is far ahead of anyone else in this category, and includes 32 in the Top 15, of which 27 made the Top 10, and six reached No. 1.

IZ ZAT SO? From the dawn of the vinyl 45 era (1949), here are the 20 white singers and their songs that crossed over and reached No. 1 on the Black Music charts:

1952: Johnnie Ray ("Cry")
1956: Elvis Presley ("Hound Dog" - "Don't Be Cruel")
1957: Elvis Presley ("All Shook Up" - "[Let Me Be Your] Teddy Bear" - "Jailhouse Rock"); Everly Brothers ("Wake Up Little Susie"); Jerry Lee Lewis ("Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On"); Paul Anka ("Diana"); Jimmie Rodgers ("Honeycomb")
1958: Danny and the Juniors ("At the Hop"); Elvis Presley ("Wear My Ring Around Your Neck"); Everly Brothers ("All I Have to Do Is Dream"); David Seville ("Witch Doctor"); Bobby Darin ("Splish Splash"); Jimmy Clanton ("Just a Dream"); Elegants ("Little Star"); Kalin Twins ("When")
1960: Everly Brothers ("Cathy's Clown")
1962: 4 Seasons ("Sherry" - "Big Girls Don't Cry")
1963: Paul & Paula ("Hey Paula"); Little Peggy March ("I Will Follow Him"); Lesley Gore ("It's My Party"); Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs ("Sugar Shack"); Kingsmen ("Louie Louie")
1981: Hall & Oates ("I Can't Go for That [No Can Do]")
1988: George Michael ("One More Try")

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Previous 2014 columns
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May 5 May 12 May 19 May 26
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July 7 July 14

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