Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Two short questions for you:

Who was the first Rock & Roll artist to have a No. 1 Country & Western hit?

Who was the first Country & Western artist to have a No. 1 Rhythm & Blues or Soul hit?
—Casey Rooney, Dade City, Fla.

DEAR CASEY: Notice how adroitly I convert short questions to long answers.

In February 1956, Elvis claimed the No. 1 C&W spot with “I Forgot to Remember to Forget” (Sun 223).

His previous single, “Baby, Let's Play House” (Sun 217), peaked at No. 5 — making it the first tune in the C&W Top 5 for a R&R artist. This cut is widely regarded as THE definitive rockabilly recording.

As for your second question, these genres almost never intersect, in either direction. Big crossover hits between C&W and R&B border on nonexistence.

If required to pick one, it would be “Wake Up Little Susie,” by the Everly Brothers (Cadence 1337), which ruled the C&W charts in October 1957.

The Brothers again topped the charts — all three of them this time — in 1958 with “All I Have to Do Is Dream” (Cadence 1348), then one last time in 1960 with “Cathy's Clown” (Warner Bros. 5151).

Some may think of the Everlys as more of a rock duo, which is certainly true in the '60s. However, when “Wake Up Little Susie” came out their only other hit was the countrified “Bye Bye Love.”

Then the C&W market claimed them as their own, while giving ground gradually to Rock's influence. By 1961, most Country stations had dropped Don and Phil.

Carl Perkins barely missed being the unchallenged answer, but “Blue Suede Shoes” (Sun 234) stalled at No. 2 on the R&B charts.

Another good reason for choosing the Everly Brothers is that I can't find anyone else with an R&B No. 1 hit that is even the least bit country.

In for a penny in for a pound, so let's just stay with record chart topics:

DEAR JERRY: Through Nov 16,1963, Billboard published an “Honor Roll of Hits” with the songs listed based on the sales of the song title.

Under each title would be all versions on record of that song.

I have never seen any reprints of these, nor has any publication codified the data from the “Honor Roll of Hits.”

Where can this important piece of recorded musical history be found?
—Cal Stout, Des Moines, Iowa

DEAR CAL: In other words, you'd like a reference source for the “Honor Roll of Hits,” something similar to what Joel Whitburn has done for the Billboard best-sellers charts.

Come to think of it, Joel already has all the old Billboard issues, as well as decades of experience working with Billboard to produce dozens of Record Research publications.

So let's ask him!

Hi Jerry!

There is good news regarding the Billboard “Honor Roll of Hits,” which began in 1945. We already have all of those charts scanned and ready to put on DVD.

We're also planning to do the same with all of our Billboard chart books as well the “Hot 100” edtions. All will soon be on DVD.

One nice feature of having them digitally is the charts can be viewed at full size and in full color.

Record Research is hoping to introduce this DVD chart product late this summer. Music lovers can keep up these projects at

Thanks for the inquiry!
—Joel Whitburn, Menomonee Falls, Wisc.

IZ ZAT SO? Over the years, the R&B of the '50s became known as Soul, then later as just Black music.

The name is not all that changed.

For the eight years from 1956 through '63, the number of hits by white artists reaching No. 1 on the R&B-Soul-Black charts is 30.

Accounting for those 30 hits are these 21 acts: Elvis Presley (6); Jerry Lee Lewis; Paul Anka; Jimmie Rodgers; Everly Brothers (3); Danny and the Juniors; Bill Justis; Champs; David Seville; Bobby Darin; Perez Prado; Jimmy Clanton; Elegants; Kalin Twins; Bill Black's Combo (2); 4 Seasons (2); Paul & Paula; Little Peggy March; Lesley Gore; Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs; Kingsmen.

That 30th one, “Louie Louie,” would be the last of its kind.

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