Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Quite some time back, one of your columns told of singers — Charley Pride and Slim Whitman are two that come to mind — who were baseball players before they began recording. Though he didn't play baseball, at least not to my knowledge, didn't Johnny Mathis excell at athletics in some manner. I recall hearing once that he was once an olympian. Please refresh me on this piece of sports and music trivia.
—Shelley Carter, Evansville, Ind.

DEAR SHELLEY: You are correct about Johnny's athletic background, his sport of choice being running track. At both Washington High School and San Francisco State College, he set numerous track records. Chances are (couldn't resist that one) it was those accomplishments that brought him to try out for the 1956 Olympics. However, he did not make the squad. Why? It's not for me to say.

DEAR JERRY: Hope you can settle an argument I have been having with my sister. I claim that in the 1950s, there was a song titled “Wish Me a Rainbow,” which is taken from a movie. My sister says there never was any song released by this title, nor was there a movie that featured the song.

We'll leave the decision up to you.
—Theresa Balanda, Bridgeview, Ill.

DEAR THERESA: The Court of Tangled Tune Topics rules in your favor, though all of this happened one decade later than you recall.

A beautiful recording of “Wish Me a Rainbow” became a pop hit in early 1967, by the Gunter Kallman Chorus (4 Corners 138).

“Wish Me a Rainbow” is featured prominently in the 1966 film “This Property Is Condemned,” starring Natalie Wood and Robert Redford.

DEAR JERRY: Back when the big bands were going strong, Don Cornell was the featured singer with one. But which one and during what year or years?
—Bill Lemur, Rochester, NY (

DEAR BILL: Don Cornell kicked off his solo career in 1950. For about five years before that he was the featured vocalist with Sammy Kaye's orchestra.

Some of the Cornell-Kaye team's biggest hits are “That's My Desire, Serenade of the Bells, Careless Hands” and “It Isn't Fair.”

DEAR JERRY: Can you tell me, according to Billboard, what album was the country's best selling albums for 1962 and also for 1963?
—Winnie Williams, Brenham Tx. (

DEAR WINNIE: Yes, but why stop there? Here are the top albums for each year during the 1960s:

1960: “The Sound of Music” Original Cast Recording (Various Artists).
1961: “Blue Hawaii” Soundtrack (Elvis Presley).
1962: “West Side Story” Soundtrack (Various Artists).
1963: “Days of Wine and Roses” (Andy Williams).
1964: “A Hard Day's Night” (Beatles).
1965: “Mary Poppins” Soundtrack (Various Artists).
1966: “The Monkees” (Monkees).
1967: “More of the Monkees” (Monkees).
1968: “The Graduate” Soundtrack (Simon & Garfunkel).
1969: “Hair” Original Cast Recording (Various Artists).

Among these individual champs, the grand winner of the decade is “West Side Story.”

IZ ZAT SO? As you now know, the Monkees are the only '60s act to claim the No. 1 album in two consecutive years.

Elton John topped this trick the following decade, when for three straight years he had the top album: “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” (1973); “Elton John's Greatest Hits” (1974); and “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy” (1975).

Elton John and the Monkees stand alone in this department, a feat no other stars can claim.

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