DEAR JERRY: A music-loving friend recently asked me why Country Music has always been Country Music, Classical has always been Classical, and Jazz has always been Jazz, but black music has gone through about a dozen different names.
We may not learn the answer to that question, but I would appreciate a complete rundown of all the different names used by the charts and the industry to identify black music.
Artis Williams, Evansville, Ind.
DEAR ARTIS: Explaining the reasons even those that are actually rational for events in history is sometimes close to impossible. Reporting those events is a far easier task, so we'll just do that.
According to Joel Whitburn's “Top Billboard R&B Singles” reference book, here are the different names given to Billboard's various black music charts:
1942-1945: Harlem Hit Parade
1945-1949: Race Music
1949-1969: Rhythm & Blues
1969-1982: Soul Music
1982-1990: Black Music
As for C&W, about the only change of consequence would be when they dropped the Western reference. In 1962 Country & Western, or C&W, became simply Country which it still is in 2003.
Those who sing Western music certainly know the difference between the two, though the general public often does not.
DEAR ELLEN: Appropriately released just as school let out for the summer of 1959, “Here Comes Summer” became a Top 15 hit by Jerry Keller, not Bobby Rydell.
“Here Comes Summer,” and two dozen other summer-themed oldies, can be found on “25 All-Time Greatest Summer Songs” (Varese Sarabande 030206-61482-4), an easily available, recently issued compact disc. DEAR JERRY: I have been trying for ages to locate a version of Del Shannon's “Runaway.”
The recording I seek came out in the spring of 1975, but I have no idea who the artist is. Since it was a minor hit, I'm betting you can locate some information for me.
Carl A. Weaver, Elmdale, Ill.
DEAR CARL: A version of “Runaway” did chart in March of '75, so it must be the one you're after. The singer is Charlie Kulis, and it came out on Playboy Magazine's fledgling record label (#6023).
DEAR JERRY: The revelation in your column of two “Last Kisses” (Wayne Cochran and J. Frank Wilson) got me thinking about remakes in general.
It is rare when the remake is better than the original, at least remakes of songs that were hits. But sometimes I think the remake is better Joe Cocker's version of “The Letter” besting the Box Tops' original being one that comes to mind.
Is there a particular remake that you prefer to the original? Perhaps readers might even offer some remake favorites?
Ron Von Vegesack, Amsterdam
DEAR RON: Obviously, you are trying to stir up trouble. Still, count me in as one who sometimes rates subsequent recordings an improvement over the original.
For no specific reason, the first one that popped into my head is Rod Stewart's “How Long (Has This Been Going On),” a 1982 issue. I find it to be a more compelling version than the 1975 original by Ace.
Senior level fans of certain artists would probably feel that any remake by that act is better than whatever the original, but that is not really what we're going for here. My being merely an average follower of Rod Stewart is what makes that choice ink worthy.
Readers, what say you?
IZ ZAT SO? Rod Stewart ranks in the Top 10 male vocalists of three consecutive decades for singles sales, '70s, '80s, and '90s.
Only Elvis Presley ('50s, '60s, '70s) and Elton John ('70s, '80s, '90s) have turned that trick during the rock era.