Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: For the middle 30 years of the 20th century (1940 to 1969), how often did a full year pass without a female vocalist having a No. 1 hit?
—Gilbert Baxter, Paducah, Ky.

DEAR GILBERT: It only happened twice, and in consecutive years: 1941 and 1942. However, there has been no recurrence of this event since '42.

Worth noting is that Dance Bands and Big Bands pretty well dominated the first half of the 1940s, leaving few chart positions for solo vocalists.

So let's review those 30 years, along with the pertinent totals for each.

In parenthesis is the number of No. 1 tunes by either a female solo, a female group, or mixed ensemble with a female lead. Following that is the total No. 1 hits that year. For example:, “1940 (3 of 12)” indicates 12 No. 1 hits in 1940, three of which are by females.

1940 (3 of 12); 1941 (0 of 10); 1942 (0 of 10); 1943 (3 of 11); 1944 (2 of 17); 1945 (5 of 15); 1946 (2 of 20); 1947 (1 of 18); 1948 (2 of 12); 1949 (2 of 17).

1950 (6 of 17); 1951 (2 of 9); 1952 (8 of 16); 1953 (4 of 10); 1954 (6 of 11); 1955 (4 of 13); 1956 (2 of 17); 1957 (1 of 10); 1958 (2 of 23); 1959 (1 of 15).

1960 (4 of 19); 1961 (2 of 21); 1962 (4 of 20); 1963 (8 of 20); 1964 (6 of 23); 1965 (4 of 25); 1966 (4 of 27); 1967 (5 of 18); 1968 (2 of 15); 1969 (3 of 16).

The combined totals for those 30 years are 98 of 487, which means approximately 20% of those No. 1 hits are by the ladies.

DEAR JERRY: I read your recent stories on the Royal Guardsmen, and they bring back many memories.

You see, I recorded all the trumpet parts on those sessions, at the Tampa studio owned by Chuck Fuller.

I had been doing a lot of commercial jingles at the Fuller studio when the Royal Guardsmen asked me to play trumpet.

What is quite unusual about what they wanted played is the band had no idea of how to write the music itself. As a solution, I listened to them pick it out on guitar and learned it note by note. That was definitely one of my most interesting recording sessions.

A year or so after that I played with the Woody Herman Orchestra.

For the last 10 years I have been fronting my own 16-piece jazz orchestra, and recording CDs for California's Seabreeze Jazz label. One of those albums, “Got the Spirit,” was nominated for a Grammy in 2002.

More recently I have been working concerts with the Four Freshmen.
—Dan McMillion, Tampa, Fla.

DEAR DAN: It is very nice to hear from yet one more person involved in what are now among the most famous of all Tampa sessions.

No longer are we befuddled as to the identity of the trumpet artiste on those tunes.

IZ ZAT SO? The first rock and roll No. 1 hit by a female — group or otherwise — is “Hearts of Stone,” by the Fontane Sisters (1955).

It even came in the middle of three consecutive No. 1 hits by women: “Let Me Go Lover” (Joan Weber), “Hearts of Stone” and “Sincerely” (McGuire Sisters).

Now more rock era trivia with a female slant:

The first No. 1 hit by anyone, with “Rock and Roll” in the title, is Kay Starr's “Rock and Roll Waltz” (1956).

The first female to claim the most weeks at No. 1 (i.e., that year's No. 1 of all records reaching No. 1) for an entire year is Lulu. She did it with “To Sir with Love,” which topped the charts for five weeks in 1967.

From 1972 through '75, this same No. 1 of No. 1s honor went exclusively to female acts: 1972, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” (Roberta Flack); 1973, “Killing Me Softly with His Song” (Roberta Flack); 1974, “The Way We Were” (Barbra Streisand); 1975, “Love Will Keep Us Together” (Toni Tennille, voice of Captain and Tennille).

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