Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Beginning in 1964, it seemed there was always a British group on top of the US charts.

In that regard, please tell me the first full year after '64 that no UK act had a No. 1 American hit.

Also, did many Canadian performers make good in the states before Celine Dion came on the scene?
—Ray Hendricks, Frankfort, Ill.

DEAR RAY: As for your first question, many years passed before it happened. They didn't call it the British Invasion for nothing.

From early 1964 through '95, the Beatles (group and solo), Rolling Stones, Petula Clark, Herman's Hermits, Elton John, and a flurry of other UK artists frequented our top chart position.

Then, from September 2, 1995 through February 22, 1997 no UK act hit No. 1, making 1996 the first full calendar year — and the answer to your question.

Britless though we were in '96, we did have two chart-topping hits by foreign-born artists: Canada's Celine Dion (“Because You Loved Me”), and Spain's Los Del Rio (“Macarena”).

Which segues beautifully into question two:

From the 1920s through the beginning of the Celine Dion era (1990), dozens of Canadian-born acts succeeded in the lower 48 — which is exactly the number of examples I'll provide.

Listing is chronological by first year on the US charts:

Guy Lombardo (1927); Hank Snow (1949); Four Lads (1952); Crew-Cuts (1954); Diamonds (1956); Paul Anka (1957); Jack Scott (1958); Beau-Marks (1959); Bobby Curtola (1963); Ian & Sylvia (1963); Oscar Peterson (1963); Guess Who (1965); Buffy Sainte-Marie (1966); Joni Mitchell (1968); The Band (1968); Steppenwolf (1968); Leonard Cohen (1968); Andy Kim (1968); Neil Young (1969); David Clayton Thomas (1969, with Blood, Sweat & Tears); Burton Cummings (1969, with Guess Who); Gordon Lightfoot (1969).

Anne Murray (1970); Poppy Family (with Terry Jacks) (1970); Edward Bear (1970); Stampeders (1971); Ocean (1971); Five Man Electrical Band (1971); Chillwack (1972); April Wine (1972); Bachman-Turner Overdrive (1973); DeFranco Family (1973); Maynard Ferguson (1973); Rush (1974); Gino Vannelli (1974); Rick Danko (1977); Trooper (1978); Nick Gilder (1978); Bruce Cockburn (1980); Martha and the Muffins (1980); Loverboy (1981); Bryan Adams (1982); Men Without Hats (1983); Corey Hart (1984); Kim Mitchell (1985); Tom Cochrane (1986); k.d. lang (1988); Sarah McLachlan (1989).

Again, these are just 48 examples of the better known acts. We know there are others and did not intend to compile a complete listing.

DEAR JERRY: After fruitless searches, I'm unable to identify a song. I hope you will know it, since I have heard you are the best at this sort of thing.

My friend Ken says when he was a child, his aunt had Alzheimer's and could not remember anyone's name. Yet she could recall a portion of one song, which she often sang to him.

The line she kept repeating is “can do, can do, the horse can do.” That may even be the title.

Ken made it my mission to identify this song for him.
—Christine M. Woo, Mesa, Ariz.

DEAR CHRISTINE: Being the best at this sort of thing, I dare not let you and Ken down.

Auntie provided useful information, though none of it would help you identify the title. In fact, nowhere in the lyrics is the title heard. It is “Fugue for Tinhorns,” written by Frank Loesser in 1950 for one of Broadway's most famous shows, “Guys and Dolls.”

Three tinhorns (Stubby Kaye, Johnny Silver, Douglas Deane) in this song, and scene, are evaluating the potential of three racehorses: Paul Revere, Valentine, and Epitaph.

Each bettor states a case as to why his pick will win (i.e., “can do, can do.”)

Besides the 1950 Original Cast recording (Decca DL-8036), numerous other collections exist of “Guys and Dolls” tunes, my favorite being by Bing Crosby (Paul Revere), Dean Martin (Valentine), and Frank Sinatra (Epitaph).

This “Guys and Dolls” album (Reprise 2016) came out in 1964, one of a series from “The Reprise Musical Repertory Theater.”

IZ ZAT SO? In 1955, when Hollywood decided to bring “Guys and Dolls” to the silver screen, they recruited three of the Broadway show's stars: Stubby Kaye, Vivian Blaine, and Johnny Silver.

Key additions to the film cast include Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, and Jean Simmons.

The original Broadway production ran for three years (11/24/50 - 11/28/53), giving 1,200 performances.

With 1,143 performances, the 1992 “Guys and Dolls” ran nearly as long (4/14/92 - 1/8/95) as the original, making it the 20th Century's longest-running revival of a Broadway musical.

Next week we'll have some more interesting Broadway trivia.

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