Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Musically speaking, the 1960s is my favorite decade, though I do like many recordings made before and after then.

Thus my offbeat question is to ask if you know of a 1960 hit that later came out by someone different each and every year through '69?

In other words, one or more new versions of that song came along in each of 10 straight years.
—Ginny Lanza, Brookport, Ill

DEAR GINNY: Understood, but I'll take it upon myself to rule out Christmas music. Every year there are new versions of tunes like “The Little Drummer Boy” and “White Christmas.”

That said, my pick is “Georgia on My Mind,” a No. 1 hit in 1960 for Ray Charles (ABC-Paramount 10135).

Written in 1930 by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell, and first recorded that year by Carmichael, many others waxed this tune between 1930 and 1960.

Among those folks are some very popular stars. Here is just a tiny sampling of stars who recorded “Georgia on My Mind” before Ray Charles: Glenn Miller, Mildred Bailey, Dean Martin, Kay Starr, Fats Waller, Billie Holiday, Gene Krupa, and Louis Armstrong.

After Brother Ray's renowned version, recording “Georgia on My Mind” seemingly became the national pastime.

Having located at least one new “Georgia on My Mind” for each year of the '60s, I couldn't resist moving right into the '70s where we made it through yet another decade.

Chronologically, here they are:

1960: Ray Charles*; Lawrence Welk. 1961: Tom O'Neil; Brenda Lee; Pat Boone; Al Hirt. 1962: Patti Page. 1963: Beethoven Ben; Jimmy Smith. 1964: Richard Chamberlain; Ferrante & Teicher. 1965: Righteous Brothers*; Bing Crosby; Peter Anathan. 1966: Jennie Rae; John Gary. 1967: Tony Mottola; Tom Jones; Spencer Davis Group. 1968: Wes Montgomery*; Al Martino; Pucho and the Latin Soul Brothers; Anita Kerr Singers; 1969: Young & Co.; Lou Rawls.

1970: James Brown. 1971: Tim Hardin. 1972: Jerry Reed; Grover Washington Jr. 1973: Herbie Mann. 1974: Michael Barnes. 1975: Gladys Knight and the Pips; Mike Post. 1976: The Band; 1977: Jerry Lee Lewis; Roy Head. 1978: Willie Nelson*; David Bromberg. 1979: Ray Brown with Ernestine Anderson; Charlie Spivak.

In the mid-'80s, “Designing Women,” a TV sitcom set in Atlanta, used “Georgia on My Mind” as its theme song. For that show, Doc Severinsen's instrumental is usually the one heard, but on occasion they featured a version by Ray Charles.

Noted with an asterisk are the four that made one or more of the nation's singles charts.

DEAR JERRY: I have a vague recollection of an Otis Redding tribute song, one probably released soon after his death.

The only line I can recall is “Otis, Otis Redding was his name ... this old world won't be the same.”

Does this sound at all familiar?
—Clarke Kissel, New Orleans, La.

DEAR CLARKE: Very familiar, though its title can make connecting it to Otis Redding difficult.

This track is “A Tribute to a King,” an April '68 release by William Bell (Stax 248).

Otis lost his life in a plane crash, December 10, 1967.

Bell, a Stax stablemate of Redding, is perhaps best-known for “Tryin' to Love Two,” a No. 1 R&B hit in 1977.

IZ ZAT SO? The peach state adopted “Georgia on My Mind” as Georgia's official state song on April 24, 1979.

Before then, another song titled “Georgia,” served as the state song.

That “Georgia” has lyrics by poet Robert Loveman and music by Mrs. Lollie Belle Wylie.

In answering Ginny Lanza's question, “Georgia on My Mind” is the first song that came to me. However, an excellent alternative is “Stardust.”

Paul Fredricksen, of Milwaukee, reports that “Stardust” was recorded by someone during every year from 1927 (when composed) through 2000!

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