Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: I have enjoyed your very interesting discussion about the identity of the first dee jay in America to play the Beatles.

Your conclusion that the answer is Dick Biondi at WLS in Chicago is correct!

You see, I was there when it all happened, because I was Biondi's personal secretary from May of 1961 to May of 1963.

I remember well that day in late February 1963 when Howard Bedno, the rep for All State Distributors who handled the Vee Jay Records account, first brought “Please, Please Me” to Dick at WLS.

Howard came in late that afternoon, abnormally excited about a new record by a British band that he said was creating quite a sensation in England.

He couldn't wait to play it for Dick, so the three of us rushed into program director Gene Taylor's office, the nearest room with an available turntable.

From its big beat opening, “Please, Please Me” quickly caught Dick's attention and he got a look of mischievous delight that meant he was excited, and I could see the wheels spinning in his head. Plus, he had a gift for knowing a hit when he heard one.

That same evening on his program, Dick played “Please, Please Me” for the first time on the radio in the U.S.

As to the possibility our afternoon dee jay played the song before Dick, it didn't happen and here's why:

After auditioning the record, both Howard and Dick and the Beatles (record) went downstairs to the London House for dinner, where they remained until Biondi returned to begin his show.

Not until the next day could the record have been added to the regular rotation for the rest of the staff to play.

Thanks for this forum and for your many important contributions to pop culture and music history.
—Lorraine Petersen (Boyce), San Diego, Calif.

DEAR LORRAINE: And thanks to you — for not only reliable confirmation of our take on the subject, but also for clearing up the matter of whether an afternoon dee jay played the song before Dick Biondi's shift began.

Since this is a good day for clarifications, let's also dismiss any thoughts about George Harrison providing Beatles music to the radio station in Benton, Illinois:

DEAR JERRY: As to the possibility raised by Skipper T. Spence about the radio station in Benton playing a Beatles song before 1963, it is not possible.

Benton only has the one radio station, WQRL-FM, and it did not begin operations and commence broadcasting until October 1, 1973.

I know because I was an owner of that station from 1985 to 1992.
—Dave Land, Fairfield, Ill.

DEAR DAVE: Your contribution to this saga is appreciated. We now know WQRL could not have played anyone's music in the '60s.

This just in — an important clarification from Mr. Spence:

DEAR JERRY: David Land is confusing my research.

WFRX-AM was a West Frankfort, Illinois station. I did not know of any Benton station until WQRL-FM (a great, long- running oldies outlet) began operations.

Benton is the home of George's sister's as well as the Franklin County seat. West Frankfort, a coal mining community as large as Benton, is in the south end of Franklin County.

Sorry if anyone was confused about the stations, but it was WFRX and not the Benton station that came later.
—Skipper T. Spence, General Manager of WYIR-LPFM (Volunteer), Evansville, Ind.

DEAR JERRY: I need help identifying a hit from the late 1950s. I have been searching for a very long time for this information.

The singer has a bass voice that is somewhat similar to Johnny Cash, but I don't think it is him.

It may be titled “Bye Bye Baby, Goodbye,” mainly because that line is sung throughout.
—Sharon Lindy, Oak Park, Ill

DEAR SHARON: Only half of those words are used in the title.

It is “Goodbye Baby,” a Top 10 hit for Jack Scott in early '59 (Carlton 493).

Both men sing bass, but Johnny Cash's voice is more gruff than that of Jack Scott. Of course your comparison is understandable since it has been so long since you've heard “Goodbye Baby.”

DEAR JERRY: I always enjoy your answers and comments about music from films, and now I get to ask my two movie-related questions.

What year did the Academy Awards (the Oscars) begin?

When did they begin televising the ceremony?
—Kim Gilmore, Tampa, Fla.

DEAR KIM: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences began their annual award event May 16, 1929.

On March 19, 1953, broadcasting live from Hollywood's RKO Pantages Theatre, NBC-TV first televised the Academy Awards Presentation.

The Academy introduced the “Best Song” category in 1934, and the Oscar went to Con Conrad (music) and Herb Magidson (lyrics) for “The Continental.”

This is one of the dancin' tunes from the Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers musical, “The Gay Divorcee.”

IZ ZAT SO? It is truly amazing that not until April 18, 1966 did NBC broadcast the Academy Awards show in color!

NBC is, after all, the network that inaugurated experimental TV broadcasting in color in 1953, and always seemed to lead the way with that format.

By the mid-'60s most of the top NBC shows were in color, yet the annual Oscar Awards remained black-and-white until 1966.

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