Thursday, May 25, 2017

Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale” charted 50 years ago (5/25/1967)

First posted 5/25/2011; updated 4/17/2020.

A Whiter Shade of Pale

Procol Harum

Writer(s): Gary Brooker/Keith Reid/Matthew Fisher (see lyrics here)

First Charted: May 25, 1967

Peak: 5 US, 5 CB, 3 HR, 1 CL, 16 UK, 11 CN, 13 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.76 UK, 10.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 172.44 video, -- streaming


About the Song:

With lyrics about vestal virgins and skipping the light fandango, this song has become a “favorite for university theses.” KL-131 “The song nobody understands” BBC managed to simultaneously sound literary with its allusions to Chaucer while also capturing “what most people thought was going on at these LSD parties.” CR While mostly sounding like a drunk trying to hit on a girl at a party, the words quite possibly mean nothing at all. HL “Even the writer Keith Reid couldn’t explain it” BBC saying it was just “’a lot of abstract phrases.’” CR “Ultimately, it’s probably no more or less than a love song packed full of intentionally bewildered nautical metaphors.” TB

The song resembled nothing else on 1967 radio, RS500 which helped it to top the charts in several countries and has made it a popular cover song, with some 800 known recordings. WK It has also become the go-to song when television and films, such as The Big Chill, are looking to capture the spirit of 1960s counterculture. WK Additionally, the song birthed a fusion of classical and rock music, which gave rise to groups like the Moody Blues. RS500 While commonly believed to be paraphrased or even directly copied from Johann Sebastian Bach, WK the song is merely inspired by his “Sleeper’s Awake” and “Air on a G String” works. WK

Astonishingly, this is the only track recorded by the band’s original lineup RS500 with writing credits originally given only to Brooker and Reid. However, organist Matthew Fisher won a 2006 court case which was supposed to give him a co-writing credit as well. With the case upheld on appeals, his royalties remain under dispute. WK

Resources and Related Links:

  • Procol Harum’s DMDB Music Maker Encyclopedia entry
  • BBC BBC Radio 2 (2004). “Sold on Song Top 100”. CR Toby Creswell (2005). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time. Thunder’s Mouth Press: New York, NY. Page 806.
  • HL Michael Heatley and Spencer Leigh (1998). Behind the Song: The Stories of 100 Great Pop & Rock Classics. London, England: Blandford Books. Page 94.
  • KL Jon Kutner/Spencer Leigh (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits: The Stories Behind Every Number One Single Since 1952. London, Great Britain: Omnibus Press. Page 131.
  • RS500 Rolling Stone (12/04). “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.
  • TB Thunder Bay Press (2006). Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts. Outline Press Ltd.: San Diego, CA. Page 92.
  • WK

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Top 50 Music Executives of All Time

image from

Here’s the top 50 music executives. The record companies with which they were associated are shown in parentheses after each name. This list, as always with DMDB lists, was determined by an aggregation of multiple lists.

1. Berry Gordy, Jr. (Motown)
2. Sam Phillips (Sun)
3. Leonard Chess (Chess)
4. Clive Davis (Columbia, Arista)
5. David Geffen (Asylum, Geffen, DGC, Dreamworks SKG)
6. Herb Alpert (A&M)
7. Ahmet Ertegun (Atlantic)
8. Jerry Wexler (Atlantic)
9. Nesuhi Ertegun (Atlantic)
10. Jac Holzman (Elektra, Nonesuch)

11. Jim Stewart (Stax)
12. Jimmy Iovine (Interscope)
13. Antonio “L.A.” Reid (LaFace, Arista, Def Jam Island, Epic)
14. Irving Azoff (manager for Christina Aguilera, Bon Jovi, the Eagles, Dan Fogelberg, Journey, Maroon 5, No Doubt, Steely Dan, and Van Halen)
15. Mo Ostin (Verve, Reprise, Warner Bros., DreamWorks SKG)
16. Jerry Moss (A&M)
17. Dr. Dre (Death Row, Aftermath)
18. Tommy Mottola (Sony Music)
19. Phil Chess (Chess)
20. Rick Rubin (Def Jam, American Recordings, Columbia)

21. Milt Gabler (Commodore, Decca)
22. Bill Graham (concert promotor, Fillmore Auditorium)
23. Arif Mardin (Atlantic, Manhattan)
24. Clarence Avant (Venture, Sussex)
25. Seymour Stein (Sire, Warner Bros.)
26. Chris Strachwitz
27. Norman Granz (Clef, Norgran, Down Home, Verve, Pablo)
28. Goddard Lieberson (Columbia)
29. Kenneth Gamble (Philadelphia International)
30. Leon Huff (Philadelphia International)

31. Chris Blackwell (Island)
32. Puff Daddy/P. Diddy (Bad Boy Entertainment)
33. Art Rupe (Speciality)
34. Suge Knight (Death Row)
35. Lou Pearlman (Trans Continental)
36. Syd Nathan (King)
37. Mathew Knowles (manager of Destiny’s Child)
38. Swizz Beatz (Full Surface)
39. Neil Bogart (Casablanca, Boardwalk)
40. Rick Hall (FAME Studios)

41. Willie Mitchell (Hi, Waylo)
42. Simon Cowell (Pop Idol, American Idol)
43. Kanye West (Roc-A-Fella)
44. Smokey Robinson (Motown)
45. Scooter Braun (School Boy Records, Raymond-Braun Media Group)
46. Jerry Ross (Heritage)
47. Jay-Z (Roc-A-Fella)
48. R. Kelly (Rockland)
49. Madonna (Maverick)
50. Miles Copeland III (I.R.S.)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Top 20 Music Managers of All Time

Here’s the top 20 music managers (with some of the best-known artists they’ve managed in parentheses) as determined by an aggregation of multiple lists.

1. Andrew Loog Oldham (The Rolling Stones)
2. Brian Epstein (The Beatles)
3. Colonel Tom Parker (Elvis Presley)
4. Peter Grant (Led Zeppelin)
5. Malcolm McLaren (Sex Pistols)
6. Don Arden (Black Sabbath)
7. Allen Klein (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones)
8. Don Kirshner (The Monkees, Kansas)
9. Albert Grossman (Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, The Band)
10. Kit Lambert (The Who)

11. Robert Stigwood (The Bee Gees)
12. Lou Pearlman (Backstreet Boys, N’ Sync)
13. Tony Defries (David Bowie)
14. Irving Azoff (Eagles)
15. Chris Stamp (The Who, Jimi Hendrix)
16. Simon Fuller (Spice Girls)
17. Jon Landau (Bruce Springsteen)
18. Dee Anthony (Tony Bennett, Peter Frampton)
19. Scooter Braun (Justin Bieber)
20. Joseph Jackson (The Jackson 5)

The Top 50 Producers of All Time

First posted 3/14/2012, updated 5/19/2017.

Here’s the top 50 producers (with some of the best-known artists they’ve produced in parentheses) as determined by aggregating the resources listed at the bottom of the page.

1. George Martin (America, The Beatles, Jeff Beck, Paul McCartney)
2. Phil Spector (The Beatles, John Lennon, The Righteous Brothers, The Ronettes, The Shirelles)
3. Dr. Dre (Mary J. Blige, Eminem, 50 Cent, N.W.A., Snoop Dogg)
4. Rick Rubin (Beastie Boys, Johnny Cash, Public Enemy, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Run-D.M.C.)
5. Butch Vig (Garbage, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth)
6. Sam Phillips (Howlin’ Wolf, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley)
7. Brian Eno (David Bowie, Coldplay, Talking Heads, U2)
8. Quincy Jones (Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Jackson, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra)
9. Robert “Mutt” Lange (AC/DC, Bryan Adams, The Cars, Def Leppard, Foreigner, Shania Twain)
10. Brian Wilson (The Beach Boys)

11. Berry Gordy Jr. (Marvin Gaye, The Jackson 5, The Supremes, Stevie Wonder)
12. Chris Thomas (INXS, Pretenders, Roxy Music, Sex Pistols)
13. Brian Holland/Lamont Dozier/Eddie Holland (Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, The Isley Brothers, Martha & the Vandellas)
14. T-Bone Burnett (John Mellencamp, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, The Wallflowers)
15. Daniel Lanois (Bob Dylan, Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, U2)
16. Timbaland (Aaliyah, Missy Elliott, Nelly Furtado, Justin Timberlake)
17. Todd Rundgren (Cheap Trick, Grand Funk Railroad, Meat Loaf, New York Dolls, XTC)
18. Jerry Wexler (Ray Charles, The Drifters, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave)
19. Brendan O’Brien (Black Crowes, Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen, Stone Temple Pilots)
20. Lee “Scratch” Perry (The Clash, Bob Marley & The Wailers)

21. Tom Dowd (Allman Brothers Band, James Brown, Eric Clapton, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Rod Stewart)
22. Joe Meek (Ritchie Blackmore, Tom Jones (singer), Screaming Lord Sutch)
23. Jimmy Page (The Firm, Led Zeppelin, John Mayall)
24. Trevor Horn (The Buggles, Paul McCartney, Simple Minds, Yes)
25. Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo as The Neptunes (Kelis, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake)
26. Glyn Johns (Eagles, Steve Miller Band, The Rolling Stones, The Who)
27. Jimmy Iovine (Dire Straits, Stevie Nicks, Tom Petty, Simple Minds, U2)
28. Steve Albini (Breeders, Nirvana, Pixies)
29. Tony Visconti (Marc Bolan, David Bowie, Sparks, Talking Heads)
30. John H. Hammond (Count Basie, Charlie Christian, Bob Dylan, Bilie Holiday, Pete Seeger, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Ray Vaughan)

31. Nigel Godrich (Beck, Paul McCartney, Radiohead, R.E.M., U2)
32. Bob Rock (Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, Metallica)
33. Alan Parsons (Ambrosia, The Hollies, Pink Floyd, Al Stewart)
34. David Foster (Michael Buble, Mariah Carey, Chicago, Celine Dion, Josh Groban)
35. Norman Whitfield (Gladys Knight & the Pips, Rose Royce, Edwin Starr, The Temptations)
36. Ted Macero (Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald)
37. John Cale (The Modern Lovers, Patti Smith, Squeeze, The Stooges)
38. Max Martin (Backstreet Boys, N Sync, Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Taylor Swift)
39. Bob Ezrin (Alice Cooper, Kiss, Pink Floyd)
40. Roy Thomas Baker (The Cars, Journey, Queen, Smashing Pumpkins)

41. Eddie Kramer (Peter Frampton, Jimi Hendrix, Kiss, Led Zeppelin)
42. Jimmy Miller (Spencer Davis Group, The Rolling Stones, Traffic)
43. Jeff Lynne (Electric Light Orchestra, George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, Del Shannon, Traveling Wilburys)
44. DJ Premier (Gang Starr, Jay-Z, Nas, Kanye West)
45. Smokey Robinson (Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, The Miracles, The Temptations)
46. Shel Talmy (David Bowie, The Kinks, The Small Faces, The Who)
47. Arif Mardin (The Bee Gees, Phil Collins, Aretha Franklin, Queen)
48. Phil Ramone (Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, James Taylor)
49. Dave Edmunds (Johnny Cash, Elvis Costello, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Stray Cats)
50. Ted Templeman (The Doobie Brothers, Van Morrison, Van Halen)

Resources and Related Links:

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Chris Cornell: His Top 20 Songs

image from CBS News

The music world was saddened by the loss of Chris Cornell on May 18, 2017. The voice of Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, and Audioslave committed suicide after a Soundgarden concert in Detroit. He was 52. In honor of Cornell, here are his top 20 songs according to Dave’s Music Database, which compiles sales, chart performance, radio airplay, and best-of lists.

1. Soundgarden “Black Hole Sun” (1994)
2. Soundgarden “Spoonman” (1994)
3. Audioslave “Like a Stone” (2002)
4. Temple of the Dog “Hunger Strike” (1991)
5. Soundgarden “Burden in My Hand” (1996)
6. Audioslave “Be Yourself” (2005)
7. Soundgarden “Pretty Noose” (1996)
8. Soundgarden “Outshined” (1991)
9. Soundgarden “Jesus Christ Pose” (1991)
10. Soundgarden “Fell on Black Days” (1994)

11. Soundgarden “Blow Up the Outside World” (1996)
12. Audioslave “Cochise” (2002)
13. Audioslave “I Am the Highway” (2002)
14. Chris Cornell “Billie Jean” (2007)
15. Chris Cornell “Can’t Change Me” (1999)
16. Audioslave “Original Fire” (2006)
17. Audioslave “Show Me How to Live” (2002)
18. Audioslave “Doesn’t Remind Me” (2005)
19. Temple of the Dog “Say Hello 2 Heaven” (1991)
20. Soundgarden “The Day I Tried to Live” (1994)

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Top100 Keyboardists/Pianists of All Time

image from

This is one of the DMDB’s most diverse best-of lists, with everything from classical (Beethoven, Mozart) to jazz (Dave Brubeck, Herbie Hancock) to R&B (Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder) to pop/rock (Billy Joel, Elton John) to progressive rock (Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman). As always, DMDB lists are determined by an aggregation of multiple lists. Here are the top 100 keyboardists/pianists of all time:

1. Franz Liszt
2. Art Tatum
3. Vladimir Horowitz
4. Chick Corea
5. Thelonious Monk
6. Bill Evans
7. Frederic Chopin
8. Sergei Rachmaninoff
9. Ludwig van Beethoven
10. Oscar Peterson

11. Dave Brubeck
12. Duke Ellington
13. Ray Manzarek
14. Josef Hoffman
15. Keith Emerson
16. Herbie Hancock
17. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
18. McCoy Tyner
19. Ahmad Jamal
20. Earl Hines

21. Billy Joel
22. Count Basie
23. Keith Jarrett
24. Erroll Garner
25. Richard Wright
26. Glenn Gould
27. Sviatoslav Richter
28. Tommy Flanagan
29. Red Garland
30. Horace Silver

31. Fats Waller
32. Bud Powell
33. Jelly Roll Morton
34. Wynton Kelly
35. Jon Lord
36. Gene Harris
37. Jordan Rudess
38. Rick Wakeman
39. Arthur Rubenstein
40. Gregg Rolie

41. Stevie Wonder
42. Alfred Cortot
43. Elton John
44. Steve Winwood
45. Jonathan Cain
46. Claudio Arrau
47. Teddy Wilson
48. George Shearing
49. Al Kooper
50. Martha Argerich

51. Alfred Brendel
52. James P. Johnson
53. John Paul Jones
54. Ray Charles
55. Billy Taylor
56. Nicky Hopkins
57. Andre Previn
58. Arturo Bendetti Michelangeli
59. Jan Hammer
60. Henry “Hank” Jones

61. Willie “The Lion” Smith
62. Nat “King” Cole
63. Billy Powell
64. Hampton Hawes
65. Ron “Pigpen” McKernan
66. Patrick Moraz
67. Bobby Timmons
68. Neal Doughty
69. Janne Warman
70. Tony Banks

71. Walter Gleseking
72. Robert Schumann
73. Sonny Clark
74. Billy Preston
75. Liberace
76. Phineas Newborn Jr.
77. Brian Eno
78. Gregg Allman
79. Evgeny Kissin
80. George Duke

81. Eubie Blake
82. Mose Alison
83. Mary Lou Williams
84. Rod Argent
85. Dennis DeYoung
86. Michael Petrucciani
87. Paul Bley
88. Kerry Livgren
89. Kenny Drew
90. Richard Tandy

91. Brad Mehldau
92. Don Airey
93. Geoff Downes
94. Alicia Delarrocha
95. Marc-Andre Hamelin
96. Roy Bittan
97. Mike Pinder
98. Robert Lamm
99. Vince Guaraldi
100. Joe Sample

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Top 50 Adult Contemporary Acts

image of Elton John, Celine Dion, and Lionel Richie from

According to Billboard magazine, these are the top 50 adult contemporary artists, as determined by their success on the adult contemporary singles charts from 1961-2011. See the original link here.

1. Elton John
2. Neil Diamond
3. Barbra Streisand
4. Barry Manilow
5. Kenny Rogers
6. Chicago
7. Billy Joel
8. Carpenters
9. Lionel Richie
10. Anne Murray

11. Dionne Warwick
12. Phil Collins
13. Elvis Presley
14. Gloria Estefan/Miami Sound Machine
15. Whitney Houston
16. Olivia Newton-John
17. Herb Alpert
18. Michael Bolton
19. Celine Dion
20. Andy Williams

21. Frank Sinatra
22. John Denver
23. Bobby Vinton
24. Rod Stewart
25. Glen Campbell
26. Al Martino
27. James Taylor
28. Mariah Carey
29. Helen Reddy
30. Madonna

31. Carly Simon
32. Stevie Wonder
33. Daryl Hall & John Oates
34. Richard Marx
35. Engelbert Humperdinck
36. Dean Martin
37. Linda Ronstadt
38. Dan Fogelberg
39. Tom Jones (singer)
40. Air Supply

41. Diana Ross
42. Cher
43. 5th Dimension
44. Jack Jones
45. The Lettermen
46. B.J. Thomas
47. Johnny Mathis
48. Amy Grant
49. Fleetwood Mac
50. Perry Como

The Top 100 Classic Rock Acts, 1962-1981

image from

These are the top 100 classic rock acts as listed in the yet-to-be-released Dave’s Music Database book, Charting the Classic Rock Songs, 1962-1981. That book speculated on what a classic rock chart would have looked like, had it existed, for the aforementioned years. Songs’ peak positions were tallied to generate a list of the top 100 classic rock artists.

1. The Beatles
2. The Rolling Stones
3. Led Zeppelin
4. The Who
5. Elton John
6. Bob Dylan
7. Pink Floyd
8. The Doors
9. AC/DC
10. Eagles

11. Paul McCartney/Wings
12. Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band
13. Rod Stewart/The Faces
14. Fleetwood Mac
15. Bruce Springsteen
16. Jimi Hendrix
17. David Bowie
18. Creedence Clearwater Revival
19. Paul Simon/Simon & Garfunkel
20. The Kinks

21. Eric Clapton/Derek & the Dominos
22. Queen
23. Billy Joel
24. The Doobie Brothers
25. Steely Dan
26. Neil Young
27. Van Halen
28. Electric Light Orchestra
29. Aerosmith
30. Rush

31. Grateful Dead
32. Chicago
33. Lynyrd Skynyrd
34. Styx
35. Allman Brothers Band
36. Crosby, Stills & Nash/Neil Young
37. The Guess Who
38. John Lennon
39. Journey
40. ZZ Top

41. Bad Company
42. Steve Miller Band
43. The Moody Blues
44. Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship
45. Foreigner
46. Kiss
47. Santana
48. Alice Cooper
49. Van Morrison/Them
50. Jethro Tull

51. Linda Ronstadt
52. The Cars
53. Tommy James & the Shondells
54. Three Dog Night
55. Heart
56. Deep Purple
57. The Police
58. Boston
59. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
60. Genesis

61. Supertramp
62. Black Sabbath
63. The Hollies
64. The Beach Boys
65. The Animals
66. Daryl Hall & John Oates
67. J. Geils Band
68. The Byrds
69. Jackson Browne
70. Grand Funk Railroad

71. James Taylor
72. REO Speedwagon
73. The Band
74. George Harrison
75. Yes
76. Carole King
77. Pat Benatar
78. Paul Revere & the Raiders
79. Roy Orbison
80. Donovan

81. Janis Joplin/Big Brother & the Holding Company
82. Cream
83. The Grass Roots
84. Traffic
85. The Clash
86. The (Young) Rascals
87. Joe Cocker
88. Ted Nugent
89. America
90. Steppenwolf

91. Cat Stevens
92. The Monkees
93. Bachman-Turner Overdrive
94. War
95. Kansas
96. April Wine
97. Kenny Loggins/Loggins & Messina
98. Ramones
99. Ringo Starr
100. Carly Simon

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Top 50 Rap Acts of All Time

image from Shockwave-Sound blog

This list was created by aggregating 30 best-of-all-time lists focused on rap singers and groups and then factoring in those acts’ overall standing in Dave’s Music Database.

1. Tupac Shakur (2pac)
2. Dr. Dre
3. Eminem
4. LL Cool J
5. Beastie Boys
6. Jay-Z
7. Public Enemy/Chuck D
8. Kanye West
9. Outkast
10. Puff Daddy/P. Diddy

11. 50 Cent
12. The Notorious B.I.G.
13. Run-D.M.C.
14. Lil Wayne
15. Timbaland
16. Snoop Dogg
17. Lauryn Hill
18. Missy Elliott
19. Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five
20. N.W.A.

21. Nelly
22. Ludacris
23. Nas
24. M.C. Hammer
25. Ice Cube
26. Will Smith/Fresh Prince
27. Drake
29. Rakim (solo and with Eric B.)
30. Black Eyed Peas

31. Busta Rhymes
32. A Tribe Called Quest
33. Nicki Minaj
34. T.I.
35. Ja Rule
36. Lil’ Jon
37. Arrested Development
38. Lil’ Kim
39. Fugees
40. Bow Wow

41. Method Man
42. Wyclef Jean
43. Mase
44. Nate Dogg
45. Pharrell Williams
46. Wu-Tang Clan
47. J. Cole
48. Kendrick Lamar
49. Future
50. Scarface

The Top 50 Jazz Musicians of All Time

First posted 12/23/2011; updated 5/3/2017

image from

These are the top 50 jazz artists of all time according to Dave’s Music Database. The list was determined by aggregating 17 best-of lists. It is posted today, December 23, in honor of two of the entrants on this list. Jazz trumpeter and singer Chet Baker was born on this day in 1929. Jazz pianist Oscar Peterson died on this day in 2007. Click on a name to read the artist’s DMDB Music Makers Encyclopedia entry.

Louis Armstrong

1. Louis Armstrong
2. Miles Davis
3. Charlie Parker
4. Thelonious Monk
5. John Coltrane
6. Duke Ellington
7. Billie Holiday
8. Count Basie
9. Herbie Hancock
10. Ella Fitzgerald

Charlie Parker

11. Coleman Hawkins
12. Benny Goodman
13. Charles Mingus
14. Dizzy Gillespie
15. Keith Jarrett
16. Sarah Vaughan
17. Lester Young
18. Bill Evans
19. Dave Brubeck
20. Ornette Coleman

John Coltrane

21. Sonny Rollins
22. Max Roach
23. Art Tatum
24. Bud Powell
25. Django Reinhardt
26. Wynton Marsalis
27. Bix Beiderbecke
28. Fletcher Henderson
29. Stan Getz
30. Oscar Peterson

Duke Ellington

31. Fats Waller
32. Art Blakey
33. Dexter Gordon
34. Mary Lou Williams
35. Chet Baker
36. John McLaughlin
37. Charlie Christian
38. Roy Eldridge
39. Freddie Hubbard
40. Wes Montgomery

Miles Davis

41. McCoy Tyner
42. Joe Henderson
43. Pat Metheny
44. Jimmy Smith
45. Nat “King” Cole
46. Frank Sinatra
47. Scott Joplin
48. Ben Webster
49. Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton
50. Bessie Smith

Billie Holiday