DEAR JERRY: The media coverage of Bob Hope's recent 100th birthday inspired a music question for which we have no answer. No problem, though, since it seems right up your alley.
I am wondering who is the person still living that had the earliest No. 1 hit.
If Bob Hope made a No. 1 hit, he could be the obvious winner, but I really don't think he did.
Who is your pick for this honor?
Doris Killian, Lakeland, Fla.
DEAR DORIS: You are correct about Bob Hope on both counts, even though he did occasionally record and even had a few chart hits with duets.
Among his singing partners are Shirley Ross (“Two Sleepy People,” 1939); Bing Crosby (“The Road to Morocco,” 1945); and Margaret Whiting “Blind Date,” 1950).
Even if “Two Sleepy People” reached No. 1 it still wouldn't be quite as early as “Begin the Beguine,” a No. 1 single in November 1938.
Since this exceptionally famous song is by the very-much-alive Artie Shaw, I would have to choose him as the answer to your question. Shaw turned 93 this past May 23.
In looking over the list of pre-1938 No. 1 hits, there are some by artists whose current status is simply not documented anywhere that I know. Obviously it would not be wise to simply assume anyone born 90 to 100 years ago is still with us, so I went with Artie, about whose pulse there is no question.
It is a duet by a man and a woman and it is really sexy. It is the most beautiful song I've ever heard and I'd love to hear it again but have no way of finding out what it is.
There is another foreign song, one really popular in 1973, that I hope you can identify. Maybe it was saying something that wasn't allowed on radio because it disappeared shortly after its release, never to be heard again.
I probably have the spelling wrong but it's something like “Mama cu mama saw mama mawcu mawsaw.
Any ideas about either of these?
Hazy Hartman, San Juan Bautista, Calif.
DEAR HAZY: You provided enough clues to pin down both tunes.
First is “J'Taime … Moi Non Plus,” a 1969 hit by Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg (Fontana 1665).
In France and England, this sensuous little number topped the charts that summer.
The second song is “Soul Makossa,” a Top 40 hit for Africa's Manu Dibango (Atlantic 2971).
DEAR JERRY: As a youngster, I was always doing experiments around the house.
Since some of them blew up, usually in the kitchen sink, my father bought me a novelty record titled “Roger Boom,” which I think is by Larry Hooper. It probably came out in the late '40s or early '50s.
Do I have the title and artist correct?
Roger Getz, Lititz, Pa.
DEAR ROGER BOOM: Are you sure Larry Hooper didn't record this tune with you in mind?
You have the artist correct; however, the title is just different enough to make it difficult to search for information. It is “The Ballad of Roger Boom,” backed with “The Fourth R (Religion)” (Coral 61763).
Larry Hooper, long-time bass singer on the Lawrence Welk Show, had this release out just in time for Christmas of 1956.
IZ ZAT SO? At just 21 years of age, Artie Shaw became the No. 1 lead-alto sax and clarinet player in the New York area, constantly in demand by radio stations and recording studios that could have their pick of many skilled musicians.