Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: I'm stepping out on a limb here, but your recent column about the popularity in Britain of Guy Mitchell's “Singing the Blues” raises a question with me.

You see, I was a youngster living in England during the 1950s. My heartthrob back then was a singer named Tommy Steele, who also had a top hit with “Singing the Blues.”

I know that Guy Mitchell had the same song on the charts at the time, but I'm sure it was Tommy Steele's version that made the No. 1 spot. Or, did they both?
—Carol Conrad, Odessa, Fla.

DEAR CAROL: It's good that you allowed for both of them to top the UK charts, since that is exactly what happened — albeit with a twist.

For the week of January 5, 1957, Guy Mitchell's “Singing the Blues” supplanted Johnnie Ray's “Just Walking in the Rain” at No. 1. That same week, Tommy Steele's version sat at No. 6.

On January 12, Tommy zoomed right past Guy, taking over the top position, dropping Mitchell to No. 2.

Come January 19, the top two flip-flopped and the Brits once again had Guy at No. 1 and Tommy at No. 2.

The following week Frankie Vaughan's “Garden of Eden” jumped to No. 1 and both of the cover versions of “Singing the Blues” began their chart descent.

As popular as he has always been in England, Tommy Steele never had a chart hit in the US.

Not to be overlooked in all of this is that the first charted hit of “Singing the Blues” came along several months earlier, from Marty Robbins.

Marty's is the original release of this tune — written by Melvin Endsley — and it is the only one to make both the Pop (No. 17) and Country charts (No. 1).

DEAR JERRY: I know it's a long shot, but is the “Seinfeld” story editor, known as Dan O'Keefe, by any chance the same Danny O'Keefe that had the hit song “Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues”?
—Carl Young via e-mail.

DEAR CARL: With both Dans being in the entertainment industry and having the same name, your question is quite understandable.

However, they are two different O'Keefes.

DEAR JERRY: Please come to the rescue and settle a wager I'm having with my wife.

Who is the band that had the big hit, about 60 years ago, of “The Wedding of the Painted Doll”?
—Boris Brubaker, Chicago.

DEAR BORIS: Since you do not reveal the positions taken by you two combatants, I'll provide the answer and let you decide if there is a winner in the Brubaker home.

“The Wedding of the Painted Doll,” from the 1929 film “The Broadway Melody,” reached No. 1 by Leo Reisman and His Orchestra.

Two other recordings of the tune also made the Top 10 that same year — one by Charles King, the other by Earl Burtnett and His Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel Orchestra.

Somewhat surprisingly, Janet M Halliday (Winter Haven, Fla.) also writes to ask who popularized this hit. Now everyone knows.

IZ ZAT SO? Though certainly not a tour de force film, especially by modern standards, there is one honor that is forever claimed by “The Broadway Melody.”

This little song-and-dance picture became the first musical ever to win the Academy Award for Most Outstanding Picture, as announced in 1930.

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