Thursday, July 14, 2011

My Fair Lady Goes to #1: July 14, 1956

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On July 14, 1956, the cast album for My Fair Lady hit #1 on the Billboard album chart. It spent an impressive 15 weeks on top, making it one of the biggest #1 albums in U.S. chart history. What’s incredible, however, is that those chart-topping weeks were spread out over four years time. Billboard magazine named it album of the year – in 1957 and 1958.

Click to see the DMDB page for ‘My Fair Lady’

Even after its final stint at #1, the album stuck around on the charts for roughly five more years. It racked up a total of 480 weeks. Only Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and Johnny Mathis’ Johnny’s Greatest Hits have logged more weeks.

The album had an enviable run overseas as well. Its 155 weeks on the chart weren’t as eye-popping, but still earned the album the distinction as one of the longest-charting albums in U.K. chart history. The album’s 19 weeks atop the chart makes it one of the ten biggest #1 albums in U.K. chart history.

The cast album for My Fair Lady also finds spots in the Grammy Hall of Fame and the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress. Not surprisingly, Dave’s Music Database ranks it one of the top 1000 albums of all time and the 1956 album of the year.

Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner

The musical was written by the well-known team of lyricist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe. After several productions in the 1940s, the pair first tasted major Broadway success with 1947’s Brigadoon. They next worked together on 1951’s Paint Your Wagon before adapting George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion into My Fair Lady. It told the story of Eliza Doolittle taking speech lessons to overcome her Cockney accent and pass for a proper lady.

The show opened on Broadway on March 15, 1956. It ran for 2717 performances, closing on September 29, 1962. It had what was then the longest run in history for a major musical. W-M The production has been called “the perfect musical”. W-M Vic Damone and Sylvia Sims had successful chart covers of songs from the musical with “On the Street Where You Live” (#4) and “I Could Have Danced All Night” (#20) respectively.

“On the Street Where You Live”, as performed in the 1964 movie

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