Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: My sister and I have a little trivia dispute, which we are willing to let you resolve.

So often we read or hear of how big a hit this or that song became, but I have never seen a discussion anywhere about the best-known song that didn't make any of the charts.

I picked “Happy Birthday to You,” but my sister went with “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Which of us do you choose as the victor?
—Melody Bigman, Lakeland, Fla.

DEAR MELODY: It certainly is appropriate to get a musical question from a Melody.

Over the past 100 years, more than a half-dozen artists have charted with varying versions of “The Star Spangled Banner.” From as early as 1892 (Gilmore's Band) to as recently as 1991 (Whitney Houston, Faith Hill), popular renditions of the National Anthem are found.

The same sales success cannot be said for “Happy Birthday to You,” though it may be the most frequently sung song ever. I know I hear it every year in mid-August.

This makes you the winner, though we do have some lovely parting gifts for sis.

DEAR JERRY: Here is a difficult request, though you usually have answers for even those.

A friend and I work at a local college radio station, and we both feature lots of oldies. One we play is “Can't Fine the Time,” by a group named Rose Colored Glass.

We have checked countless sources and still cannot find a single bit of information about either the song or the group.

What can you tell us?
—Terry Lombardo, Des Plaines, Ill.

DEAR TERRY: In Dallas, in late 1970, Bill Tillman formed Rose Colored Glass, along with Bobby Caldwell, Mary Owens, and Larry Meletio.

The quartet quickly produced two hits, “Can't Find The Time” (Bang 584) and “If It's Alright with You” (Bang 588), both in 1971.

In '74, Tillman joined Blood, Sweat & Tears and his debut album with them, “Mirror Image,” came out that same year.

For the remainder of the decade, Tillman contributed considerably to BS&T, playing any of four saxophones as well as the flute. He also wrote musical scores for the group.

DEAR JERRY: In your recent discussion of “Autumn Leaves,” not once do you mention Ferrante & Teicher's version. I can swear it's the only version I ever heard of this tune.

I was on ski patrol at the time, and remember flying down the hills on sunny, crisp days to their twin pianos playing “Autumn Leaves” — as though I too drifted like leaves in the wind.

Was I just dreaming?
—Clara McArthur, Federal Way, Wash.

DEAR CLARA: My guess is you were wide awake, clearly the preferred state of consciousness when zooming down the slopes.

However, since the writer asked only about charted hit versions of “Autumn Leaves,” we mentioned only those. Ferrante & Teicher did record “Autumn Leaves” (United Artists 1506), as did many other performers. Some of these likely received some spins here and there, but only the ones we listed became hits.

IZ ZAT SO? “Happy Birthday to You” may not be the stuff of which hits are made, but there certainly is no shortage of recorded versions.

For the consummate “Happy Birthday to You” collection, consider “The Birthday CD.” Since it contains 50 different instrumental versions of that song, it would make excellent background music for a birthday party.

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