Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: I have a question that should keep you busy for awhile. I have been unable to find any references to this particular topic online or at the library.

During the 1950s and '60s, how many No. 1 vocal hits do not mention the complete and exact title of the recording in the lyrics?

Obviously, instrumentals are exempt.
—Chris Fairchild, Tacoma, Wash.

DEAR CHRIS: In chronological order, here the ones I can think of that fit the profile:

The '50s: “The Thing” (Phil Harris, 1950); “St. George and the Dragonet” (Stan Freberg, 1953); “The Song from Moulin Rouge (Where Is Your Heart)” (Percy Faith & His Orchestra Featuring Felicia Sanders, 1953); “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” (Bill Hayes, 1955); “Unchained Melody” (Les Baxter, 1955); “The Chipmunk Song” (Chipmunks, 1958); “Come Softly to Me” (Fleetwoods, 1959); “The Battle of New Orleans” (Johnny Horton, 1959); and “The Three Bells” (Browns, 1959).

The '60s: “Sukiyaki” (Kyu Sakamoto, 1963); “Fingertips” (Little Stevie Wonder, 1963); “Lightning Strikes” (Lou Christie, 1965); “The Ballad of the Green Berets” (SSgt. Barry Sadler, 1966); “Sunshine Superman” (Donovan, 1966); “Reach Out, I'll Be There” (Four Tops, 1966); “Ode to Billy Joe” (Bobbie Gentry, 1967); and “In the Year 2525 (Exordium & Terminus)” (Zager & Evans, 1969).

About the only gray area here is the two titles with words in parenthesis.

In “The Song from Moulin Rouge (Where Is Your Heart),” Felicia sings “where is your heart,” but not once is “song from Moulin Rouge” heard.

Likewise, Zager & Evans say “in the year 2525,” but always without “exordium and terminus.”

Moving right along, there seems to be a fascination with No. 1 songs in this week's mailbag:

DEAR JERRY: I once heard that Alabama had more No. 1 C&W hits than anyone. Can this be true?
—Sally Goodman, York, Pa.

DEAR SALLY: Not exactly as stated; however, what they may have meant is that Alabama logged 21 consecutive No. 1 hits — more than anyone in any field of music.

As for C&W No. 1 hits (1944 through 2002), the late Conway Twitty has 40 No. 1 hits, more than anyone, whether country or otherwise. He also had one, “It's Only Make Believe,” that made No. 1 on the Pop charts about seven years before he turned to Country music, making his overall total 41.

Here are the 14 stars that make up the Top 10 slots:
1. Conway Twitty (40)
2. Tie: Merle Haggard (38), George Strait (38).
3. Ronnie Milsap (35).
4. Alabama (32).
5. Charley Pride (29).
6. Eddy Arnold (28).
7. Dolly Parton (24).
8. Sonny James (23).
9. Tie: Buck Owens (21), Kenny Rogers (21), Reba McEntire (21).
10. Tie: Willie Nelson (20), Tammy Wynette (20).

All things considered, George Strait has the best chance to move to the top of this list. If so, based on where the others on the list stand with regard to age and career position, Strait may be extremely difficult to catch.

DEAR JERRY: One of our area's top oldies groups is the Five Satins. Still, I can't find anyone here who knows about the song they put out as a tribute of sorts to some of the great hits.

Do you know of such a recording? Rhea Conklin, New Haven, Conn.

DEAR RHEA: It must be “Memories of Days Gone By” (Elektra 47411), by Fred Parris and the Five Satins.

This tune features snippets of “16 Candles, Earth Angel, Only You, A Thousand Miles Away, Tears on My Pillow, Since I Don't Have You,” and of course their own doo-wop classic, “In the Still of the Nite.”

A 1982 original 45 of “Memories of Days Gone By” can still be had for about $6.00 through the collectors marketplace.

IZ ZAT SO? Absolutely staggering is the percentage of George Strait's chart hits that top the charts.

For his first 21 years, 38 of George's 91 hits (41.5%) reached No. 1, which is nearly one of every two releases.

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