Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: I am a bit confused by a piece I just heard on one of those entertainment news and gossip TV shows.

In short, they said Kelly Clarkson just made musical history by making the biggest jump to No. 1 ever on the Billboard 100 top sellers.

Clarkson's “My Life Would Suck Without You” reportedly sold about 300,000 digital downloads in its debut week, and zoomed from No. 97 to No. 1.

While this is an impressive leap, compare it to the following quote from one of your July 2000 columns, which popped up during an internet search:

“On September 13, 1997, Mariah Carey's “Honey” became the first record to debut at No. 1 on the Hot 100. Just one month later, Elton John's Princess Diana tribute, “Candle in the Wind 1997,” backed with “Something About the Way You Look Tonight,” also debuted at No. 1.

“And it almost happened a third time — that very same month.

“Sandwiched between Mariah and Elton, “4 Seasons of Loneliness,” by Boyz II Men, debuted at No. 2 on September 27.”

My math indicates all three of these 1997 hits out jumped “My Life Would Suck Without You.” Am I wrong?
—Millie Johanson, Milwaukee

DEAR MILLIE: Your math skills are impeccable, though your news source may have omitted one little qualifier.

The point must be a jump from one chart position to another, rather than the highest debut position.

When it comes to the long jump, Kelly Clarkson is no stranger to that event. In 2002, she first set the record for biggest leap to No. 1 when “A Moment Like This” sailed from No. 52 to No. 1.

Kelly now reclaims her throne by a sliver, edging out “Womanizer,” by Britney Spears. Last November Britney moved to No. 1 from No. 96.

DEAR JERRY: Around the time the Monkees became America's top group is when, for the first time ever, I could enjoy music in my Mustang from something other than the car radio.

Making this possible was the introduction of car players for 8-track tapes.

Thankfully, my klutzy Monkees cartridges were soon replaced by cassettes, and finally compact discs.

When did new cars first come with 8-track players, and was there any system used in autos before 8-tracks?
—Earl Grower, Buffalo, N.Y.

DEAR EARL: On April 3, 1965, Ford first announced, via the music industry trades, their intention to offer optional factory-installed players for 8-track cartridges that September with the introduction of their 1966 models.

Not remembered nearly as well as the 8-track is its predecessor, the 4-track cartridge system.

Developed in 1956, ironically in conjunction with Ford Motor Company, 4-track tapes and players didn't get off the ground until around 1962.

Even then, 4-track players could only be obtained as an accessory and not factory-installed.

When Ford opted to go with the 8-track format, it would be the proverbial nail in the coffin for 4-tracks.

A decade later a very similar tape format war ensued, this time with competing video cassettes.

Sony introduced Betamax in 1975, but it was JVC and their VHS format, unveiled in '76, that would become the world standard.

IZ ZAT SO? By the end of the 1960s, audio cassettes took over as the format of choice for music on tape.

Cassettes and vinyl LPs dominated throughout the '70s, with both analog formats finally giving way to the digital revolution in the mid-'80s.

However, just as vinyl records continue to be made by some companies, a few independent labels stuck with 8-tracks until 2004.

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