Thursday, June 1, 1972

50 years ago: Paul Whiteman “Three O’Clock in the Morning” hit #1

Three O’Clock in the Morning

Paul Whiteman’s Orchestra

Writer(s): Julián Robledo (music), Dorothy Terriss (lyrics) (see lyrics here)

First Charted: June 1, 1922

Peak: 18 US, 13 GA, 17 SM (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 3.5 US, 1.0 (sheet music)

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


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The music for “Three O’Clock in the Morning” was composed as a piano solo in 1919 by a Spanish composer named Julián Robledo who moved to Argentina in the early 1900s. SM In 1921, Theodora Morse, under the pseudonym of Dorothy Terriss, added lyrics which “changed it from a ribald drinking song to a ballad.” TY2 The singer says he wants to dance “forever, dear, with you” or at least until three in the morning.

It was incorporated into the Greenwich Village Follies of 1921. It was notable for its use of a chiming clock which opens and closes the song. During the stage presentation, Richard Bold and Rosalind Fuller sang the song while ballet dancers Margaret Petit and Valodia Vestoff rang the chimes. WK

Frank Crumit (#5, 1921) was the first to record a vocal version of the song. Carl Fenton (#5, 1922), Joseph C. Smith (#5, 1922), and Ben Selvin (#8, 1923) were among those to helm full orchestral versions, but Paul Whiteman had the biggest hit version (#1, 1922). His version was one of the first 20 recordings in history to sell more than a million copies, WK ultimately selling 3.5 million copies of the record and another million of the sheet music. The song was revitalized in 1930 by Ted Lewis (#2) and again in 1953 by Monty Kelly (#21). PM

Others who have recorded and/or sung the song include Judy Garland, Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Harry James, Bert Kaempfert, Guy Lombardo, Mitch Miller, Thelonious Monk, and Oscar Peterson. WK The song was used in several movie musicals including Presenting Lily Mars (1943), Margie (1946), That Midnight Kiss (1949), and The Eddy Duchin Story (1956). F. Scott Fitzgerald referenced the song in his novel The Great Gatsby and it was used in the 1974 movie version of the book. It has also appeared in Belles on Their Toes (1952), When Brendan Met Trudy (2000), and The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001).


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First posted 1/29/2023.

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