Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Would you have any idea in which year the most records came out?

With so many big and small labels active during the heyday of vinyl, I doubt there is any documentation to answer my question. Yet one never knows what you may come up with. You may have sources not available to mortal men.
—Ronald Frisbee, Evansville, Ind.

DEAR RONALD: While it's true I have never seen any such annual accounting of combined vinyl output, I do have among my immortal resources two tools to provide us with an estimate.

First is “The Complete Library of American Phonograph Records,” a beautiful multi-volume set with one publication devoted to each year.

The 1966 book documents approximately 121 (two column) pages of new records that year, the most of any year in the series (1959 through 1968).

After this peak period, the output dropped off steadily each subsequent year. In 1967, for example, the page count drops to 112 — about an eight per cent reduction.

Tool number two is the “One Spot Weekly New Release Reporter.”

Between the beginning of 1959 through mid-'84, when their vinyl reporting service ended, I subscribed to the One Spot Weekly New Release Reporter.

Besides the weekly publication, they also issued a quarterly summary, and by how many pages there are in the four quarterly books making up a calendar year an educated guess can be made.

More listings appear in the 1966 books than any other year, confirming a landslide victory for '66 being the busiest year in the biz.

Both of these sources combine all formats — singles, EPs, and LPs — thus providing a total vinyl report that seems to correspond well with your question.

“The 1966 Complete Library of American Phonograph Records” lists around 100 items per page, or about 12,100 total. But since no publication on earth lists every record made, there may be another 5,000 unreported records made in '66. This is especially likely that year, as it is clearly the peak for tiny label, garage band vinyl output.

Finally, all of this pertains only to domestic releases. Whether or not the rest of the world has a similar history is still a mystery.

DEAR JERRY: Who made the last vinyl record before they were faded out and were replaced with CDs? When did that happen? Who are a few of the biggest recording artists of the '90s?
—Wendy Hamic, via e-mail.

DEAR WENDY: If I am still kicking and writing when the last vinyl record is made, I will let you know. At this time, vinyl is still being made by many record companies, especially in Europe.

For the '90s, here are 20 of the most popular acts (alphabetically): Aerosmith; Michael Bolton; Boyz II Men; Garth Brooks; Mariah Carey; Eric Clapton; Celine Dion; En Vogue; Whitney Houston; Alan Jackson; Janet Jackson; Elton John; R. Kelly; Madonna; Reba McEntire; Metallica; Prince; Puff Daddy; George Strait; and TLC.

Interestingly, these selections represent several diverse styles of music — an unintended outcome. It just happens that the top artists that decade came from all directions.

DEAR JERRY: Regarding the question from Susan Scorpio (New London, Conn.) about “Candy Rapper,”" it was written by me and first performed and recorded by me and an ex-partner, using the name Bird and Macdonald.

Dr. Demento emceed some of our concerts in the '80s at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. We were guests on his syndicated radio program and had two other hit songs on his “Funny Five,” a feature on his show: “Burger Rap” and “Fish Rap.”

After that, and much to our surprise, “Fish Rap” was retitled “Wet Dream” and issued by Kip Adotta.

I have since discovered a couple of other unauthorized versions of my tune
—“Bird” (formerly of Bird & Macdonald and Texas Tuxedo), Sacramento, Calif.

DEAR BIRD: Sounds like something fishy happened. Thank you for the very interesting information.

IZ ZAT SO? One might think with all the records made in 1966, competition at the top of the charts would be stiff.

Well, that is true, but only by 1950s and '60s standards.

That year, 25 different singles reached No. 1, the most up to then.

Then along came 1973, when 36 different tunes reached the top position (35 new and one carried over from 1972).

As happened with total output, the number of chart-toppers also tapered off in later years. Though well past the vinyl era, only eight songs peaked at No. 1 in 2002.

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