DEAR JERRY: In the 1950s and '60s, I worked at a record shop in California. As such, I got to see the weekly issues of Billboard and Cash Box.
Since we had them both racked side by side, I was struck that Cash Box almost always devoted most of the front cover to a photo of one or more big names in the music business.
But until around the British Invasion, I can't remember a Billboard cover with a photo of anyone or anything. Just text, like the old Wall Street Journals.
Am I remembering this correctly?
Now to my real questions:
Since 1955 is regarded as the beginning of the Rock era, how often did Cash Box picture a Rock & Roll artist? Did that change much in 1956, when the R&R dam burst?
Bill Smith, Houston
DEAR BILL: I did not review the hundreds of Billboard mags, but by spot checking I find no issues from 1950 through 1962 with photo covers. Beginning in January 1963, most of their covers had a small photo.
It should be noted that most pre-1950 issues had large cover photos, before they switched from magazine format to tabloid.
As for the 52 Cash Box covers for 1955, here is a description of who is pictured on each. Next week I'll do the same for 1956, and we'll see how things changed:
January 1: Johnny Desmond
January 8: Billy Vaughn; The Fontane Sisters
January 15: Joni James
January 22: Crew-Cuts; Ed Sullivan
January 29: The Four Aces
February 5: The DeJohn Sisters
February 12: The (Three) Chuckles; Bill Darnell; Betty Clooney
February 19: Red Foley
February 26: The Moonglows
March 5: Sarah Vaughan; Hugo Peretti & Luigi Creatore
March 12: Caterina Valente
March 19: Kitty Wells; Johnnie & Jack (Johnnie Wright was Kitty's husband)
March 26: Jaye P. Morgan
April 2 (Winners of Music Operators Poll 1954): Kitty Wells; Webb Pierce; Joe Turner; Les Paul & Mary Ford; The Four Aces; Eddie Fisher; Kitty Kallen; Patti Page; Ralph Marterie; The Midnighters; Ruth Brown; Hank Snow; Pee Wee King
April 9: Georgia Gibbs
April 16: Guy Lombardo
April 23: Bill Hayes
April 30: Teresa Brewer
May 7: Sonny Graham; Hugo Winterhalter
May 14: Ted Heath
May 21: Milton Berle; Susan Hunter
May 28: The DeCastro Sisters; Fabor Robinson
June 4: Art Mooney
June 11: Webb Pierce
June 18: Bill Haley & the Comets
June 25: The Sunnysiders (Marge Rayburn; Jad Paul; Freddy Morgan)
July 2: No photo
July 9: Carl Smith
July 16: Frank Sinatra
July 23: Alan Dale
July 30: Nick Noble
August 6: Hank Snow
August 13: Priscilla Wright
August 20: Les Paul & Mary Ford
August 27: Gisele MacKenzie
September 3: Ernest Tubb; Justin Tubb
September 10: Sammy Davis Jr.
September 17: Ed McLemore (of the Big "D" Jamboree)
September 24: Mitch Miller
October 1: Perry Como
October 8: No photo
October 15: Joni James
October 22: Billy Vaughn; Gale Storm; Pat Boone
October 29: Rusty Draper
November 5: The Four Lads
November 12: No photo
November 19: Tennessee Ernie Ford; Cliffie Stone
November 26: Danny Kaye
December 3: Faron Young
December 10: Ted Jarrett
December 17: Bill Hayes
December 24: Perry Como
December 31: Barry Gordon; Art Mooney