DEAR JERRY: I'd like you to know that one of your past columns forever changed my appreciation of music. It was then, about 10 years ago, you introduced me to Nana Mouskouri.
In the months that followed, Nana went from an unknown to being my favorite female singer.
Just a few weeks ago I read a news report from Paris where she announced her retirement, coming on the 51st anniversary of her first recordings and concerts (1957).
One truly amazing thing about Nana is her complete command of so many different languages. Not only does she sing perfectly in each language, but she speaks fluently to her audiences in their local tongue.
How many different languages are represented among her hundreds of recordings?
Also, what is her age now?
Claudia Vischer, Milwaukee
DEAR CLAUDIA: Make that many hundreds of recordings, her worldwide total being approximately 1,500 individual songs.
Equally remarkable is Nana Mouskouri's global output of albums, numbering over 400. Of these about 125 are original studio creations. The others are mostly compilations or repackages of previously issued material.
This international superstar may not have enough wall space for all of her gold and platinum record awards, reflecting global sales exceeding 300 million units!
Nana, in a marketing strategy also successful for Connie Francis in the '60s, recorded in numerous languages. Among these are English; French; Dutch; German; Greek; Spanish; Italian; Latin; Portuguese; Hebrew; Turkish; and Japanese.
Some of her most famous tunes exist in several different languages, using the same instrumental track. Others are only available in one, made exclusively for sales in that country.
Last month (October 13), Nana celebrated her 74th birthday, leaving the question: will she remain retired?
DEAR JERRY: For most of the 20th century, I always thought of Columbia and RCA Victor as the two top record labels. Now with most of the old familiar company names gobbled up by conglomerates and holding companies, which of those are leading the pack in sales?
Mickey Kendall, Denver, Colo.
DEAR MICKEY: I do appreciate the timely onomatopoeia; mentioning “gobble” this close to Thanksgiving.
By the early '80s, six conglomerates controlled most of the nation's recordings: Capitol (EMI); CBS (Sony); RCA (BMG); MCA; Polygram; and WEA.
Now six has become four, as Sony swallowed RCA (BMG). Then a new group, Universal Music, took MCA and Polygram under its wing making them now the industry giant.
Here are today's four Music Groups, with their approximate share of the market, and some of the famous labels they now command.
1. Universal Music Group (35%). Includes MCA; Polygram; Decca; Coral; Brunswick; Kapp; Uni; ABC-Paramount; Dunhill; Blue Thumb; Dot; Chess; Mercury; MGM; Argo; London; Motown; Tamla; Soul; 20th Century-Fox; Casablanca; Vocalion; Impulse; Blue Thumb; Geffen; Island; Verve; A&M; and Folkways.
2. Sony Music Entertainment (23%). Includes RCA Victor; I.R.S.; Colgems; Columbia; Epic; Okeh; Challenge; Arista; Four-Star; and Jive.
3. Warner Music Group (21%). Includes Warner Bros.; Elektra; Reprise; Atlantic; Atco; Swan Song; Rolling Stone; and Bearsville.
4. EMI Group (8%) Includes Capitol; EMI America; United Artists; Liberty; Virgin; and Blue Note.
Independent labels and everyone else (13%).
IZ ZAT SO? Colgems (COLumbia Pictures-Music/Screen GEMS) released just 47 singles during their five years (1966-1970), 11 of which are by the Monkees.
Though all 11 Monkees singles became hits, only three other artists on the label managed to chart, and just barely at that: Lewis & Clarke Expedition “I Feel Good” (1967); Sally Field “Felicidad” (1967); and New Establishment “Sunday's Gonna Come on Tuesday” (1969). None of these three even entered the Top 60.
One significant Monkees' claim to fame is they are one of just four artists in vinyl history to have multiple LPs reach Top Album of the Year status.
No. 1 for 1966 is “The Monkees,” and their follow-up, “More of the Monkees,” is the 1967 winner.
Elvis Presley is No. 1 for 1957 with “Loving You,” and again in '61 with “Blue Hawaii.”
The Monkees and Elvis each have two, but Elton John is the only one to pull this off three times, and in consecutive years: “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” (1973); “Greatest Hits” (1974); and “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy” (1975).