Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Like many of my American teen peers, I got pretty well caught up in the music and groups from England in the mid-'60s. Now I have a couple of questions about some songs from that period.

I need help identifying a somewhat popular song by a British group, one that may have either been by the Searchers, Bachelors, or another of the smoother sounding groups. It's definitely not a harder sound, such as sometimes associated with the Rolling Stones or Dave Clark Five.

The title might be “Why Do I Have to Cry,” or “My Life May Soon Be Over.”

Those are the only clues I have for you. Hope you have more success with this than I.

Otherwise, I'd like to know if there were any No. 1 hits in the US in the '60s, by British stars, that did not become hits in their native land?
—Ron Lewiston, Evansville, Ind.

DEAR RON: I'll serve up a blend of both success and failure in solving your musical mystery.

Successful in that I believe the title you seek is “Teenage Failure,” an early 1966 release (Columbia 43490) by that smooth sounding British duo, Chad and Jeremy.

It's been a few years since I've heard it, but I don't recall they mentioned the actual title more than once in the lyrics, thus making it more difficult to identify.

Part two is a very interesting topic, one to which I had previously given no thought.

Like most music lovers in the 50 states, I just assumed that any No. 1 song here by a UK act would have been equally popular, if not more so, on their side of the Atlantic.

The Beatles and Rolling Stones notwithstanding, that supposition would have been flawed.

I now find four US chart-toppers that did not appear at any position on Great Britain's New Musical Express Top 30.

They are “Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter” and “I'm Henry the VIII, I Am” (Herman's Hermits, 1965); “Over and Over” (Dave Clark Five, 1965); and “To Sir with Love” (Lulu, 1966).

Most peculiar in this pack is the film title song by Scotland's Lulu.

“To Sir with Love,” held No. 1 on Billboard for five weeks — longer than any other recording that entire year. Yet in the UK, the hit was the flip side, “The Boat That I Row,” which made it as high as No. 6 while “To Sir with Love” was nowhere to be found on the charts.

As we already knew from that American Revolution fiasco, the two countries have not always agreed. “The Boat That I Row” did not appear anywhere on the US Top 100.

IZ ZAT SO? For the 1960s, the Beatles became the first English act to have a No. 1 vocal in America: “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (1964).

Lesser known is that over a year before the Fab Four landed stateside, three other British-born acts claimed the top chart position with instrumentals: “Stranger on the Shore” (Mr. Acker Bilk); “The Stripper” (David Rose); and “Telstar” (The Tornadoes).

Note to nit-pickers: we realize David Rose is considered an American artist but he was born in London.

Coincidentally, all three of these very different tunes reached No. 1 just a few months apart, all in 1962.

Also worth noting is that two of the other three No. 1 instrumentals in 1960 and '61 are by folks born outside the US and the UK.

“Theme from a Summer Place” is by Canadian Percy Faith, and Germany's Bert Kaempfert gave us “Wonderland By Night.”

The third, “Calcutta” is by Lawrence Welk, who's widely mimicked Slavic accent made listeners forget he is a native of North Dakota.

Finally, here is a somewhat relevant trivia tidbit: For three weeks in early '57, Guy Mitchell's “Singing the Blues” became the first rock-era song to perch at No. 1 simultaneously in both the US and UK.

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