Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: I recently lost a bet at work concerning which lasted longer, 45 rpms or 8-tracks. Who would have guessed that some companies are still making 8-tracks?

What I would like to know is when the last 45s were made?
—Jay Hafner, Lancaster, Pa.

DEAR JAY: If you think you lost because you bet on 45s, then it would have been a mistake to pay up on this wager. Vinyl 45s, introduced in 1949 in a ground-breaking format, are still being made. You just don't see them in the shops anymore — not even the ones still called “record” stores.

Among the many well-known artists with 45 rpm singles issued during the 2000s are: Tori Amos; R.E.M.; Chris Isaak; Britney Spears; Sting; Brian Wilson; Elvis Presley; Red Hot Chili Peppers; Hoodoo Gurus; Alicia Keys; Luther Vandross; Aretha Franklin; Tony Bennett; Seal; Barenaked Ladies; Dido; Backstreet Boys; N'Sync; Rick Nelson; Justin Timberlake; Savage Garden; Cracker; Hanson; Jimmy Buffett; Whitney Houston; Pink; Avril Lavigne; Santana; Enya; Marvin Sease; Janet Jackson; Foo Fighters; Bon Jovi; OutKast; Bone Thugs-N-Harmony; Usher; Sheryl Crow; Billy Joel; Bruce Springsteen; Rolling Stones; Paul McCartney; George Harrison; Rod Stewart; Toni Braxton; TLC; Kenny G; Annie Lennox; Mariah Carey; David Byrne; Macy Gray; Ben Harper; R. Kelly; Bryan Ferry; Cher; UB40; Bow Wow; Jennifer Lopez; Mandy Moore; Paula Cole; Celine Dion; Sisqó; Ricky Martin; Shania Twain; and Faith Hill. In fact, you can add nearly everyone recording Country music to this list.

Even the three who became stars via TV's “American Idol” can be had on vinyl in 2003 and '04: Clay Aiken (“Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “Invisible”); Kelly Clarkson (“Before Your Love”); and Ruben Studdard (“Flying Without Wings” and “Sorry 2004”). (Thanks to Larry Benicewicz for preparing this list.)

Unbelievable though it seems, we occasionally find recently-issued 8-tracks at truck stops, or as a format option on oddball TV mail-order offers.

Don't be too hard on yourself. Many a gambling man would no doubt bet against any 8-tracks still being made.

DEAR JERRY: We hear often about when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper all died in that horrible plane crash, but the pilot's name is never mentioned. Who was flying that plane?
— Larry Mac Donald, Bangor, Maine

DEAR LARRY: The answer to your question is included in the official Coroner's Report. Filed February 4, 1959, by Ralph E. Smiley, M.D., Acting Coroner of Cerro Gordo County, Iowa, it reads:

“Jiles P. Richardson, Charles Holley, Richard Valenzuela and Roger A. Peterson, pilot of the plane, were killed in the crash of a chartered airplane when it fell within minutes of takeoff from the Mason City Airport.

“The three passengers were members of a troupe of entertainers who appeared at the Surf Ballroom at Clear Lake, Iowa, the evening of February 2, 1959, bound for Fargo, N.D. and was headed northwest from the airport at the time of the crash in a stubble field, 5 1/2 miles north of Clear Lake, Iowa. The plane was discovered about 9:00 a.m., February 3, 1959, when Mr. H.J. Dwyer, owner of the crashed plane, made an aerial search because he had received no word from Peterson since his takeoff.”

DEAR JERRY: Aretha Franklin's “Respect” is deservedly regarded as one of the greatest soul hits. But what about the original version, by Otis Redding? You never hear it anywhere.

Did Redding's “Respect” even become a hit?
—Dale Hildt, Evansville, Ind.

DEAR DALE: Otis Redding's “Respect” (1965) gets little respect from programmers because his version is not nearly as good as Aretha's (1967). Another factor is that very few listeners would even remember it.

Though it did squeeze into the Top 40, “Respect” isn't even among Redding's own best-sellers. His real payday came in the form of songwriting royalties earned from Aretha's recording.

Hearing the originals of popular songs is always interesting and educational. Still, some covers or remakes are simply superior. Such is the case with “Respect.”

IZ ZAT SO? Seeing Tony Bennett among the artists having post-2000 singles on 45 rpm brings to mind that no other contemporary recording artist can claim such a vinyl span. His first record came out 54 years ago, in 1950.

Being the youthful and active 77 that Tony is, it might be better stated: 54 years and still counting.

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