Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: A music-loving friend and myself have often debated the whole record sales chart system, and the following is a topic we recently discussed.

We both find some chart entries to be absolutely ludicrous, and seemingly unthinkable. And since we are again in the midst of the holiday season, here are a couple of examples:

Two of the biggest Pop & Rock Christmas hits of all time are “White Christmas,” by Bing Crosby, and “The Chipmunk Song,” by the Chipmunks. Okay, no problem with that; however, how is it possible for these both to also be among the biggest on the Rhythm & Blues charts — which they are?

Are Crosby and the Chipmunks R&B artists? Not by any stretch of the imagination.

Are these tunes performed in a R&B style? Absolutely no way.

Are either of these by black artists? Of course not.

Then how do they end up topping such charts as Billboard's “Harlem Hit Parade” and “Hot R&B” Sides”?

I'll bet a week's pay neither of these — and many others that are similar mysteries — were customer favorites at any of Harlem's juke joints.
—Leonard Waronker, Huntsville, Ala.

DEAR LEONARD: I cannot disagree with a single point you make. Much of the music charting, especially in the days before scanning technology, seems to have been handled by some of Florida's voting machines.

Not being involved with the industry's chart gods in labeling artists, or songs, as one breed or another, I can offer no explanation.

DEAR JERRY: We still have a set of Beatles dolls that we bought in the mid-'60s. There is one little doll of each member, including their guitars. They are still in the original box.

What with the recent TV movies and the Beatles return to the top of the record charts, have these dolls now become big ticket items in the collectibles field?
—W.J. Newman, Fremont, Ky.

DEAR W.J. .. or should I say “Hello New-man!”

Not many who bought the set of Beatles dolls in 1964 still have them, but of those who do, very few knew to keep the instruments and all of the original packaging. For this bit of brilliancy, you'll surely be rewarded if and when you decide to sell the toys.

Though the Beatles marketplace seems unaffected by recent doings, it as long been bullish. I would expect that your Fab Four dolls could easily fetch $1,000 to $1,200.

DEAR JERRY: I really need your help to get the information on the 1950s song, “Tropicana.”

This was once “our song,” but when my husband died I smashed the record. I didn't want to ever play it again.

Now, years later, I would once again like to hear “Tropicana,” but I lack the necessary details. That's where you come in.
—Julie Drake, Lancaster, Pa.

DEAR JULIE: “Tropicana,” by Monty Kelly and His Orchestra (Essex 325), spent a month or so on the Hit Parade in the summer of 1953.

Trumpeter Kelly had only two other charted records, the 1953 follow-up to “Tropicana,” titled “Three O'clock in the Morning,” and, in 1960, “Summer Set.”

IZ ZAT SO? Since our Huntsville compatriot has raised the matter of non-R&B songs that rode high on the R&B charts, here are few more:

“You're All I Want for Christmas” (Frankie Laine); “Surfer Girl” (Beach Boys); “Primrose Lane” (Jerry Wallace); “Why” (Frankie Avalon); “Poor Little Fool” (Ricky Nelson); “Walk Right In” (Rooftop Singers); “Secretly” (Jimmie Rodgers); and “Devoted to You” (Everly Brothers).

Return to "Mr. Music" Home Page