Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: One aspect of the record industry that amazes me is how, in the early days of Rock & Roll, an artist could have quite a few singles and yet not have any LP albums on the market.

Three huge stars who seem to fall into this category are Jackie Wilson, Fats Domino, and the late James Brown.

Can you provide the breakdown on each singer?
—Edith McGraw, Lakeland, Fla.

DEAR EDITH: An astute observation, and a topic not previously addressed herein.

Though Jackie Wilson began recording in 1952 — his first two singles being credited to Sonny Wilson — he did not have a solo hit until November 1957 (“Reet Petite”).

Between solo stints — June 1953 through August '57 — Wilson sang lead for Billy Ward and His Dominoes.

Since Jackie had only five singles before his 1959 debut LP (“Lonely Teardrops”), he doesn't really qualify for this distinction.

Neither does James Brown.

Brown's debut single, “Please, Please, Please” issued in March '56, is the first of nine released before his first LP (November '58), titled “Please, Please, Please” to tie in with his only recognizable tune at that time.

Nine may seem like a lot of singles without an LP, but because only one of those charted an earlier album would not have been expected.

Issued the same time as Brown's LP was “Try Me,” one of his biggest hits ever.

Fats Domino, however, is likely the poster boy in the “My First LP Is Long Overdue” category.

By the time Imperial put out the “Fats Domino Rock and Rollin'” LP, in October 1956, the fat man already churned out 26 singles.

Of those, 19 made the R&B Top 15 and four became double-sided hits.

DEAR JERRY: I just found a large box of old records, but I feel they need some kind of cleaning before I let my needle touch them.

In this day of digital formats, I can't find anyone who can advise me on how to safely clean them. Please help!
—Mamie M. Dowell, Evansville, Ind.

DEAR MAMIE: To clean vinyl or polystyrene records, I recommend a liquid soap used with cool or lukewarm water. Then dry them with a soft, lint-free cloth, or lean them against something so they can drip dry.

Never use commercial household cleaners or solvents.

Warning! Do not use running water directly on non-vinyl 78 rpms, most of which are shellac and can easily be damaged by water.

Wipe those 78s clean with a clean cloth, lightly dampened by a shot of water from a spray bottle.

When in doubt, clean only a small area on the side of the disc with the song you like least. Then, if need be, you can abort the mission.

Depending on how many are in that box, it may make more sense to invest in a record cleaning machine. There are some good ones available.

One recommended source is Nitty Gritty, Inc.

IZ ZAT SO? The question this week about Jackie Wilson, Fats Domino, and James Brown brings to mind a fascinating factoid.

Combined, these three Rock and Roll Hall of Famers had 219 hit songs on Billboard's Pop & Rock charts.

Of that colossal total, not a one of those recordings reached No. 1 in the Pop & Rock field.

Not surprisingly, each of these stars held the No. 1 position several times on the R&B surveys.

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