Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: One oldie I like that seems to get played a lot in the Chicago area is “When a Man Loves a Woman,” by Percy Sledge.

Recently, a local dee jay mentioned that Sledge was the only singer in 1966 to have his very first hit go all the way to No. 1. Is this a true statement?

Also, is Mr. Sledge still with us? I haven't heard anything about him in decades.
—Frank Rossi, La Grange, Ill.

DEAR FRANK: Heavens to Murgatroid! This is not even close to being a true statement, considering that over 25% of the 27 total No. 1 hits that year are by artists with no previous chart hits.

In chronological order, here are the eight 1966 chart-toppers by first-timers: “The Sounds of Silence” (Simon and Garfunkel); “The Ballad of the Green Berets” (SSgt Barry Sadler); “When a Man Loves a Woman” (Percy Sledge); “Hanky Panky” (Tommy James and the Shondells); “Wild Thing” (Troggs); “96 Tears” (? and the Mysterians); “Last Train to Clarksville” (Monkees); “Winchester Cathedral (New Vaudeville Band).

Yes, I know Simon and Garfunkel did chart in 1957 with “Hey Schoolgirl,” but that is credited to Tom and Jerry. “The Sounds of Silence” is their first hit by “Simon and Garfunkel.”

As for Percy Sledge, it has been quite a while between his last two album releases.

Following his 1994 CD, the Grammy-Nominated “Blue Night,” Percy devoted his time and energy to live concerts and an international touring schedule.

Only this year did he return to the recording studio, the result of which is the recently-issued 13-track collection, “Shining Through the Rain” (Varese Sarabande 302-066-599-2).

This new CD offers proof positive that Percy's brand of sweet '60s soul is never out of date. Hopefully, it will not be another 10 years before we're treated to his next album.

DEAR JERRY: Please settle a long standing argument between my dad and me. It's over a line in Charlie Rich's hit, “Rolling with the Flow.”

My pop thinks he sings “I've got my angel raising kids, I'm raising hell just like I did,”" but I'm certain that it is “While guys my age are raising kids, I'm raising hell just like I did.”

I have searched many online music lyrics sites, but that proved inconclusive. One page even offered this silly option: “I'll guide my age by raisin' kicks!”

If you can settle this debate, we'll both be forever in your debt.
—Al and Joe Baker, Milwaukee

DEAR AL & JOE: It is indeed time to put an end to this family feud.

You are correct, Al, and yours is also the only line that really makes sense.

It definitely is “While guys my age are raising kids, I'm raising hell just like I did.”

DEAR JERRY: In the late '60s, I heard a tune on the radio just one time. But never again have I heard it, and I feel you may be my only hope of identifying it. Please work your magic, Mr. Music.

My hunch is that either the title, or a key line, is “ I'm Afraid to Go Home.”
—Wendy Burgess, Reading, Pa.

DEAR WENDY: Your mystery tune is indeed “I'm Afraid to Go Home,” a summer 1963 release by that “Sealed with a Kiss” guy, Brian Hyland. “I'm Afraid to Go Home,” his last hit for ABC-Paramount (#10452), probably received limited air play because it did not sell as well as many of his other hits.

IZ ZAT SO? Since Brian Hyland's “I'm Afraid to Go Home” didn't fare well on the charts — spending eight weeks bouncing around the Bottom 40, and peaking at No. 63 — not many folks even knew of it.

Somehow though, Gary Lewis must have discovered a copy.

Two years later, his band, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, reworked the flip side of “I'm Afraid to Go Home,” and ended up with a million-seller for their effort.

That Brian Hyland song is “Save Your Heart for Me,” and it became the third consecutive Top 3 hit for Gary Lewis and the Playboys.

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