Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: When I was a disco dee jay at Baxter's club in New York I received an invitation to a big convention at the International Disco Record Center. You could call it a meet and greet, as there were hundreds disco jocks, plus recording artists and music record company representatives handing out samples of their latest records.

Among the stars on hand was Walter "Fifth of Beethoven" Murphy, and he gave me his new release which I think was a disco instrumental of "A Song of Joy," previously a vocal hit by Miguel Rios.

Not being a collector, I donated all those samples to Baxter's, which I later regretted.

Now I would like to find that Murphy disc again, but it doesn't seem to exist. It isn't listed anywhere. Maybe you can help.
— Disco Dave Sutton, Essex, Md.

DEAR DISCO DAVE: Since it's been nearly 36 years since that Disco Forum, here are some additional details you may have forgotten, though you are right about it being a big deal at the time.

This gala affair was co-sponsored by IDRC and Private Stock Records, and was billed as the industry's first such gathering.

About 500 industry people attended, 321 of which were members of New York's IDRC pool.

Besides Mr. Murphy, the other Private Stock artists meeting and greeting guests were Samantha Sang ("You Keep Me Dancing"), Michael Zager ("Let's All Chant"), and Cissy Houston ("Think It Over").

As for the elusive Walter Murphy single you briefly owned, it will never be found by searching for "A Song of Joy," even though a portion of that music — lifted from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony — is heard during Murphy's "A Night at the Opera" (Private Stock 45,197).

This track is also found on the LP "Walter Murphy - Phantom of the Opera" (Private Stock PS-7010).

Both the single and the LP came out in late May 1978, exactly the same time as the IDRC/Private Stock Disco Forum.

DEAR JERRY: I feel that the story of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" is most fascinating, and though I have done a lot of research on it I could still use some help.

I know Capitol didn't plan to release the single until mid-January 1964, but the insane demand forced them to issue it earlier (December 26, 1963). Yet there seems to be no source of info for the time between then and when it zoomed up the charts nationwide in mid-January.

What were some of the events, such as regional action, that stirred the pot and paved the way for Beatlemania.
—Gerald Wingrove, Honolulu

DEAR GERALD: So you want a little help from your friend?

Okay, once that pot was stirred in America, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" sold an astonishing 1.5 million in just three weeks, thanks in part to these scattered events that begin one day after the release:

December 27, 1963:
"I Want to Hold Your Hand" was the K-Big Record of the Week on WKBW (No. 31) and Pick Hit on WGR (No. 57), both stations in Buffalo, N.Y. These are the first references of the song on any American survey.

January 1, 1964:
On WABC (New York City), it is Hitbound, directly below the Top 25 (i.e., No. 26). January 4:
The single is No. 9 in a group of 10 "Big Top Poppers" on KFXM (San Bernardino, Calif.), essentially No. 49 of the Top 50.

Mistakenly titled "I Wanna to Hold Your Hand," it debuts on the WORC (Worcester, Mass) Top 50 at No. 42. On WENE (Endicott, N.Y.) it is that week's "Pick Hit."

January 5:
At KRUX (Phoenix) it is their "Pick Hit."

On WGH (Newport News, Va.) it sits below the Top 30 as their "Wax to Watch." More impressive is that the WGH survey has the photo from the "I Want to Hold Your Hand" picture sleeve, and a brief story about the band being "responsible for a new fad called beetle - mania (sic)."

January 6:
Interestingly, WIBG (Philadelphia) first plugged the B-side, "I Saw Her Standing There," ranking it No. 87 on their Top 99. Rather than anything by the Beatles, the "Wibbage Sureshot" that week was Eydie Gorme's "The Friendliest Thing," a total bomb that didn't even make the non-rock M-O-R charts. Ouch!

In the northwest, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" debuted on KJR's (Seattle) Top 50 at No. 40.

January 11:
On KROY (Sacramento), "I Want to Hold Your Hand" debuted at No. 1 on the Top 40.

Meanwhile, on the national chart scene that week it entered the Cash Box Top 100 at No. 80, and reached No. 1 two weeks later (Jan. 25).

January 18:
The record then debuted at No. 45 on Billboard's Hot 100, and reached No. 1 two weeks later (Feb. 1).

IZ ZAT SO? Here are a few pre-Beatlemania milestone moments:

The first U.S. station with a Beatles record (shown as the Beattles) on a printed chart was March 8, 1963 when "Please Please Me" hit the WLS (Chicago) Silver Dollar Survey at No. 40. WLS actually began playing the song three weeks earlier (Feb. 15), making them also the first U.S. station with the Beatles in their rotation.

CFUN (Vancouver, B.C.) was the first station in North America with a Beatles record at No. 1. "She Loves You" topped their survey on December 21, 1963. That same chart has "Please Mr. Postman" at No. 19, which was not a single in the U.S.

As noted above, the first station in North America with "I Want to Hold Your Hand" at No. 1 was KROY (Sacramento). It went immediately to the top spot in its very first week (Jan. 6) on their Official Tunedex Top 40.

IZ ZAT SO? When Tom T. Hall wrote "Harper Valley P.T.A." he could never have imagined what a cultural phenomenon he'd created.

Not only did Jeannie C. Riley's 1968 recording top both the pop and country charts in the U.S. and Canada — the first time ever accomplished by a female — but that one little phonograph record inspired a feature film (1978) AND a TV series (1981). That too had never happened before.

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