DEAR JERRY: While trolling eBay for records, I spotted one on the Tin Pan Alley label titled “Really True” (TPA-127), and it has this most unusual way to credit the artist: “Featuring Billboard's 1954 Disc-Jockey Poll Winner, Carmen Taylor and Orchestra.”
I never heard of this person, so I'm wondering if this claim is true.
J.D. Wellington, Salt Lake City
DEAR J.D: Saying “Billboard's 1954 Disc-Jockey Poll Winner” is both an exaggeration and a misrepresentation.
Tin Pan Alley surely knew that only the top vote-getter in any poll is considered the winner. Furthermore, the claim implies Taylor was a winner in one of the primary pop categories. The truth is she appeared only among the narrow field of R&B singers. Neither winner nor runner-up there, she ranked No. 3 in the Top 15 Most Promising R&B singers. Finishing above Carmen were Roy Hamilton (1), and the Chords (2).
An honest accounting of Taylor's position in that poll would be “No. 1 Most Promising New Female Rhythm and Blues Artist.” Putting it that way would still have provided them with some tasty publicity material.
An unrelated observation about this poll is that the most successful act on the entire list, the Drifters, only made it to the No. 5 position.
Billboard introduced their Annual Disc-Jockey Poll in mid-1947, by posting dozens of industry-related questions pertaining to the previous 12 months (June 1946 - June 1947).
One interesting thing about the results, particularly in the poll's early years, is the number of top-ranked newcomers who never lived up to the voters' expectations, whilst some lower ranked artists launched fabulous careers.
Regardless, we know those crystal balls are sometimes cloudy so we'll give those dee-jays a proverbial mulligan.
Just for fun, examine some of these examples of Most Promising Male and Female Newcomers:
1947 winners: Frankie Laine and Fran Warren
Frankie is a good choice but the venerable Doris Day (4) should have been the top female. That she finished below Rosalind Patton (2) and Jane Russell (3) is inconceivable.
Two other superstars that were inexplicably ranked even lower that year are Sarah Vaughan (7) and Peggy Lee (9).
1949 winners: Bill Lawrence and Mindy Carson
Billy Eckstine (3) and Patti Page (8) should have topped the list. For the women, Patti followed by Kay Starr (7) and Rosemary Clooney (3) makes more sense.
1950 winners: Eddie Fisher and Mindy Carson
No problem with Fisher, but Teresa Brewer (8) would have been a better choice especially since Mindy Carson won in 1949 (on their poll, not mine).
We believe the Most Promising category should be reserved for newcomers. After all, you only get one rookie year.
Tessie was even passed up by Toni Arden (5) and the much lesser-known Kay Brown (6).
Other legends in the Top 15 men that year include: Guy Mitchell (3); Don Cherry (5); Tony Bennett (9); and Dean Martin (13).
1954 winners: Bob Manning and Betty Madigan
The voters misfired in both polls this time. Harry Belafonte (15) and Kitty Kallen (9) should have been on top.
Harry was much too low, even more so considering most of the names above him: Bob Manning (1); Tommy Leonetti (2); Georgie Shaw (4); Charlie Applewhite (6); Rush Adams (8); Joe Foley (9); Gary Crosby (10); Bob Stewart (11); Tommy Mara (12); and David Whitfield (13). None came even close to Belafonte's success, and several of these guys will have you asking “who's he?”
Among the ladies, here are the eight who surprisingly ranked higher than Kitty Kallen: Betty Madigan (1); Peggy King (2); Denise Lor (3); Jill Corey (4); Joyce Taylor (5); Micki Marlo (6) Chris Connor (7); and Connie Russell (8).
Making the result far more mystifying is this exact same dee jay poll ranked Kitty as the No. 1 Most Played Female, and the No. 2 Most Played Artist overall, second only to Perry Como.
First most played … yet ninth most promising? Talk about flying in the face of reason.
Carmen Taylor, who prompted this topic, does not appear anywhere among 1954's Top 20 gals.
DEAR JERRY: Just bought “Celebrate - The Three Dog Night Story 1965-1975” (MCA 10956) a double CD history of the band.
I got quite a surprise near the end of “An Old Fashioned Love Song,” when the singing turned into something I'd never heard before.
I still like it, though it is definitely not the hit song played on the radio in the 1970s.
Do you know anything about this newly discovered oddity?
Pete Musgrove, McMinnville, Ore.
DEAR PETE: You're right about it being a noticeably different track, especially at the 2:45 mark when they go into a strange sequence unlike both the original 45 (Dunhill 4294) and on their “Harmony” LP (Dunhill 50108), both from 1971.
I am at a loss to describe the variance using text, but when a person familiar with the original hears it, they'll certainly know it's different.
For you, the alternative version may be newly discovered, but it has been available on LP since the 1974 collection “Joy to the World: Their Greatest Hits” (Dunhill 50178).
This has nothing to do with the different versions, but “An Old Fashioned Love Song” is shown on some labels as “Old Fashioned Love Song.”
IZ ZAT SO? For anyone wondering why Three Dog Night, who first recorded in 1968, has an album titled “The Three Dog Night Story 1965-1975,” it includes pre-Dog Night solo tracks by Cory Wells and Danny Hutton:
1965 “Say Goodbye to Donna,” by Cory Wells and the Enemy's (sic) (Valiant 714), and Danny Hutton's “Roses and Rainbows” (HBR 447)
1966 “Funny How Love Can Be” (Danny Hutton) (MGM 13502)
Conspicuous by their absence are three singles by the Enemys (with Wells), (MGM 13485 “Glitter and Gold”; MGM 13525 “Hey Joe!”; and MGM 13573 “Mo-Jo Woman”), and Hutton's excellent “Big Bright Eyes” (HBR 453).
Another bonus is the previously unissued Brian Wilson tune, “Time to Get Alone,” recorded in 1967 when Cory, Danny, and Chuck Negron briefly performed as Redwood.
Hear Redwood here: