DEAR JERRY: I know you have discussed the rampant release of cover records in the early 1950s, and how that way of doing business faded over time.
But was there one particular record that brought about the change?
Lester Dowell, Milwaukee
DEAR LESTER: No one recording is responsible for making cover records a thing of the past.
As much as anything, I believe the increasing number of outstanding performances by big name stars caused the labels to think twice about investing in copying hits by other musicians.
Another factor is the influx of singer-songwriters, such as Paul Anka, Lloyd Price, and later Freddy Cannon, who controlled their own music.
Consider these numbers: from 1950 through 1959, there were 151 No. 1 hits. Of those, 111 faced competition for sales by one or more cover records.
Note how the number of covers is inversely proportional to the rising of the rock era, in part because no one really wanted to cover Elvis Presley's hits.
Remember, a cover record is one issued around the same time, specifically to compete with the original or the established hit.
Parodies, kiddie discs, foreign pressings, and low budget, poor quality department store "ghost" records do not qualify as covers.
Here are the lucky 40 chart-toppers that did not have to do battle at the cash register with a cover disc.
Following the year is the number NOT covered/total No. 1 hits that year:
"A Guy Is a Guy" Doris Day
"It's in the Book" Johnny Standley
"You You You" Ames Brothers
"Doggie in the Window" Patti Page
"St. George and the Dragonet" Stan Freberg
"Little Things Mean a Lot" Kitty Kallen
"I Need You Now" Eddie Fisher
"Hot Diggity (Dog Ziggity Boom)" Perry Como
"I Want You, I Need You, I Love You" Elvis Presley
"Don't Be Cruel" Elvis Presley
"The Green Door" Jim Lowe
"Too Much" Elvis Presley
"(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear" Elvis Presley
"Diana" Paul Anka
"Honeycomb" Jimmie Rodgers
"Wake Up Little Susie" Everly Brothers
"Jailhouse Rock" Elvis Presley
"April Love" Pat Boone
"Don't" Elvis Presley
"Sugartime" McGuire Sisters
"Catch a Falling Star" Perry Como
"Twilight Time" Platters
"Witch Doctor" David Seville
"All I Have to Do Is Dream" Everly Brothers
"The Purple People Eater" Sheb Wooley
"Hard Headed Woman" Elvis Presley
"Little Star" Elegants
"Bird Dog" Everly Brothers
"It's All in the Game" Tommy Edwards
"It's Only Make Believe" Conway Twitty
"To Know Him Is to Love Him" Teddy Bears
"The Chipmunk Song" Chipmunks
"Stagger Lee" Lloyd Price
"Venus" Frankie Avalon
"The Happy Organ" Dave "Baby" Cortez
"Lonely Boy" Paul Anka
"A Big Hunk O' Love" Elvis Presley
"Mack the Knife" Bobby Darin
"Mr. Blue" Fleetwoods
"Why" Frankie Avalon
The cover record strategy was fading fast, and in the '60s they were but a relic of yesteryear.
DEAR JERRY: Being a Michelle, I was thrilled when I first heard the Beatles singing "Michelle," on the "Rubber Soul" album.
With their version being on LP only, who then made singles of "Michelle" around that same time? I'd like to collect them all and make a CD.
Michelle Bonham, Hilo, Hawaii
DEAR MICHELLE (MA BELLE): "Rubber Soul" came out in the U.S. the first week of December, 1965. Over the next two years, I located 13 singles and three extended plays with "Michelle."
Having listened to each track, I am pleased to report that no two are alike a playlist benefit if you load them all on one CD.
Our order is mostly chronological, though a few were issued at the same time making the sequence too close to call; those are listed together:
Bud Shank (World Pacific 77814)
David & Jonathan (Capitol 5563)
Iguanas (Dunhill 3001)
Billy Vaughn, His Orchestra & Chorus (Dot 16809)
Les Baxter and His Orchestra with the Balladeers (HBR 456)
Spokesmen (Decca 31895)
Overlanders (Hickory 1362)
Nino and the Pulaski Highwaymen (Mira 214)
Band of the Irish Guards (Tower 4226)
Buddy Brisbois (ANB 500)
Walt Harper Quintet (Gateway 767)
Four Tops (Motown EP-6887)
Ace Cannon (Hi EP-49)
Chet Atkins (RCA Victor EP-3531)
Jack Jones (Kapp 847)
Rufus Lumley (RCA Victor 9230)
You shouldn't have too much trouble finding these tracks, and even if you have to buy the singles, most will be under five dollars.
IZ ZAT SO? In case you'd like to add a couple bonus tracks to your collection, here are two more "Michelle" singles from "around the same time," but are not the same song.
The title is the only thing they have in common with Paul McCartney's tune, but that might be enough:
"Michelle," by the Dahills (Musicor 1041), is a 1964 issue by a vocal group whose style is similar to the Mamas and the Papas, or the Vogues.
Italian guitarist extraordinaire Tony Mottola's 1965 "Michelle" (Command 4058) is a beautiful instrumental, stylistically reminiscent of "Maria Elena" by Los Indios Tabajaras.