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 check the hundreds of Billboard mags, but by spot checking I find no issues from 1950 through 1962. 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.
Last week we chronicled the 52 Cash Box covers for 1955, and here now are the week-by-week issues for 1956:
January 7: Eddie Fisher
January 14: Ralph Marterie
January 21: Don Michael
January 28: Fats Domino
February 4: Kay Starr; Arthur Murray; Jane Mansfield
February 11: The Platters; Buck Ram
February 18: Jaye P. Morgan; Hugo Winterhalter
February 25: Tony Bennett; Mitch Miller
March 3: Roger Williams; Dave Kapp (of Kapp records)
March 10 (Vik artists): Gisele MacKenzie; Eddie Fontaine; Joe Valino; Richard Maltby; The Chuckles (Teddy, Tommy and Russ); The Boys Next Door; Frankie Lester
March 17 (Verve artists): Ella Fitzgerald; Buddy Bregman; Spike Jones; Count Basie; Joe Williams; Toni Harper; Anita O'Day; Oscar Petersen, named in caption but not pictured
March 24: The Four Coins
March 31 ("Birdland Stars Of 1956" Concert Tour): Count Basie; Sarah Vaughan; Al Hibbler; Lester Young; Joe Williams
April 7: Joe Turner; Ahmet Ertegun & Jerry Wexler (Atlantic Records owners)
April 14: Frankie Lyman (sic) & the Teenagers
April 21: Isobel Burns
April 28: Stan Rubin & His Tigertown Five
May 5 (Capitol Records Tower): Glenn Wallichs; Stan Chambers; Patty Andrews; Kathy Lloyd; Nelson Riddle; Stan Chambers; Yma Sumac; Connie Haines; Beryl Davis; Jane Russell; Billy May; Ray Anthony; Mamie Van Doren; Sheila MacRae; Gordon MacRae
May 12: (Winners of Music Operators Poll 1955): Bill Haley; Fats Domino; Johnnie Ace; Chet Atkins; Hank Thompson; Martha Carson; Johnnie & Jack; Perez Prado; Perry Como; Bill Hayes; Georgia Gibbs; Jaye P. Morgan; The McGuire Sisters; Mitch Miller; Count Basie; Kitty Wells; Webb Pierce; The Four Aces; Ruth Brown; Red Foley
May 19: The Four Aces
May 26: Elvis Presley; Col. Tom Parker; Freddy Martin
June 2: The Four Voices; Allison Young
June 9: The McGuire Sisters
June 16: Perry Como
June 23: Lonnie Donegan
June 30: The Rover Boys
July 7: The Teen Queens
July 14: Teresa Brewer
July 21: Vic Damone
July 28: No photo
August 4: Eddy Howard
August 11: Steve Allen; Gogi Grant
August 18: Norm Prescott & Alan Dary (of WBZ-TV's "Saturday Hop")
August 25: Hugo Winterhalter
September 1: Slim Whitman
September 8: Rusty Draper
September 15: Bill Haley & His Comets
September 22: Doris Day; Louis Jordan
September 29: Cathy Carr
October 6: Bill Buchanan & Dickie Goodman
October 13 (Dot artists): Sanford Clark; Jim Lowe; Johnny Maddox; Billy Vaughn; Gale Storm; Pat Boone; The Fontane Sisters; The Hilltoppers; Randy Wood (Dot Records owner)
October 20: Sammy Davis Jr.
October 27: Patience & Prudence
November 3: Dick Jacobs & the Copacabana Chorus Line
November 10: No photo
November 17: Johnnie Ray
November 24 Bill Doggett (organ) & His Combo: Clifford Scott (tenor sax); Billy Butler (guitar); Shep Shepherd (drums)
December 1: Mantovani & His Orchestra
December 8: Eddie Fisher
December 15: Don Rondo
December 22: Sil Austin
December 31: Perry Como