Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: I am trying to confirm something I heard decades ago, either on American Top 40 or a similar syndicated music show.

I remember this piece of trivia referring to the Beatles as the only group having each of their principal albums reach No. 1, during their years together.

I know this doesn't apply to miscellaneous (not Capitol-Apple) releases from companies who merely jumped on the Beatle mania bandwagon.

Is this claim true? If not, which LPs are the exceptions?
—Richard McGraw, Owensboro, Ky.

DEAR RICHARD: Album sales are one area where it's hard to overstate the Beatles' supremacy, though this statement, if as you recall, is a wee bit exaggerated.

Of the 17 Capitol-Apple albums, from early 1964 through early '70, only three failed to reach No. 1: “Something New” (1964); “Yellow Submarine” (1969); and “Hey Jude” (1970).

Then again, each of these peaked at No. 2, as close to the crest as possible.

Though I don't agree, someone may have disqualified “Yellow Submarine” for being a soundtrack, and “Hey Jude,” a compilation of 1960s singles. Still the claim is untrue because of “Something New.”

Regardless, among all artists with at least 10 hit albums, no one matches the Beatles' mind-boggling portion of LPs that reached No. 1: from 83% to 94%, depending on how you score it.

Most significant among non-Capitol product is Vee-Jay's “Introducing the Beatles,” their first U.S. LP.

Issued January 10, 1964, about 10 days ahead of “Meet the Beatles,” the Vee-Jay collection zoomed up to No. 2. That would be its peak thanks to the stranglehold on No. 1 by “Meet the Beatles.”

“Introducing the Beatles” is far and away the most successful non-Capitol or Apple LP.

With 19 No. 1 albums overall (1964-2000), the Beatles have about twice as many as the rest of the Top 10 in that department. The only other artist with double-digit No. 1s is Elvis, with 10.

DEAR JERRY: One of my 45s is “Fortuneteller” by Bobby Curtola, a fellow I didn't even know until I got a computer.

Now wired and connected to the world, I see Curtola is one of the most popular singers in Canadian history.

He sounds really great so I am surprised he didn't become bigger in the U.S. If he did I just missed it. Mostly, I would like to know the name of the very familiar sounding female group singing with him on “Fortunteller.”

I can't think of their name but I do recognize their distinctive sound.
—Myra in Detroit

DEAR MYRA: You should, especially if you are familiar with Roy Orbison's “Blue Bayou,” or the angelic voices behind Bobby Helms on “My Special Angel.”

These gals and guys are the Nashville-based Anita Kerr Singers, who appear on more hit records than anyone not named the Jordanaires.

Besides Bobby Curtola — who I think is teriffic, by the way — Roy Orbison, and Bobby Helms, here are just a FEW more folks whose recordings benefit from backing by the Anita Kerr Singers: Bill Anderson; Ann-Margret; Bobby Bare; Pat Boone; Patsy Cline; Perry Como; Red Foley; Al Hirt; Homer & Jethro; Burl Ives; Brenda Lee; Willie Nelson; Elvis Presley; Jim Reeves; Charlie Rich; Hank Snow; Wynn Stewart; Mitchell Torok; Jimmy Velvet; Bobby Vinton; Faron Young; and dozens more.

IZ ZAT SO? With vocal harmonies as beautiful as the Anita Kerr Singers, one would expect them to have a few hit records of their own. Well, they do.

In 1960, billed as the Little Dippers, Anita, along with Floyd Cramer and a few Nashville friends, hit the Top 10 with “Forever” (University 210).

Two years later, now as Anita and Th' So-and-So's, they scored again with “Joey Baby” (RCA Victor 7974) and a nice follow-up, “To Each His Own” (RCA Victor 8050).

Probably Kerr's sweetest single is the late '63 coupling of “Guitar Country” and “Waitin' for the Evening Train” (RCA Victor 8246). On both sides the Anita Kerr Quartet sings as Chet Atkins plays guitar.

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