Saturday, February 15, 1992

Red Hot Chili Peppers chart with “Under the Bridge”

First posted 1/24/2021; last updated 2/27/2021.

Under the Bridge

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Writer(s): Anthony Kiedis/Flea/John Frusciante/Chad Smith (see lyrics here)


First Charted: February 15, 1992


Peak: 2 US, 11 CB, 12 RR, 2 AR, 6 MR, 13 UK, 3 CN, 14 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.4 UK, 1.47 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 193.0 video, 200.0 streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

Prior to this song, the Red Hot Chili Peppers built a following with four albums in the 1980s, but largely amongst the alternative rock crowd. They’d reached the top 20 of that chart four times, but never reached the top 40 of the pop chart. Their only previous song to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 was “Give It Away” (#73), the first single from Blood Sugar Sex Magik. As Rolling Stone’s David Fricke said, the song “unexpectedly drop-kicked the band into the Top 10.” WK

Lead singer Anthony Kiedis wrote the song about the “loneliness and despondency” WK he’d experienced from heroin and cocaine addiction roughly three years earlier. WK He commented that instead of appreciating the love of his then-girlfriend, actress Ione Skye, he “was downtown with fucking gangsters shooting speedballs under a bridge.” WK It was initially a poem he thought was “too emotional and did not fit the Chili Peppers’ style.” WK However, producer Rick Rubin saw the band as more than “a funk band with rapping” SF and convinced Kiedis to share the song with the band.

“Under the Bridge” became the second single from the Magik album after Warners Bros. Record representatives saw the Peppers in concert. Kiedis missed his cue to start singing and the audience jumped in. He apologizied to the record company people afterward, but they said, “Are you kidding me? When every single kid at the show sings a song, that’s our next single.” WK

The song has been called “a seminal component of the alternative rock movement of the early and mid-1990s.” WK Journalist Jeff Apter called it “the bona fide, across-all-formats radio hit that the band had been working towards for seven years.” WK All Music Guide’s Amy Hanson called it “an integral part of the 1990s alterna-landscape.” WK


Resources and Related Links:

Friday, February 14, 1992

50 years ago: Woody Herman hits #1 with “Blues in the Night”

Blues in the Night (My Mama Done Tol’ Me)

Woody Herman

Writer(s): Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen (see lyrics here)


First Charted: December 6, 1941


Peak: 11 US, 12 HP, 1 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)


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

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

Composer Harold Arlen and lyricist Johnny Mercer were approached to write a song for a movie about a jazz quintet riding the rails in search of its big break. There was a scene in which the band members ended up in jail and needed to sing a blues song. Arlen wrote a melody after analyzing recordings of blues songs and then Mercer penned four pages of lyrics. Arlen rarely suggested changes to Mercer’s lyrics, but recommended that the line “my mama done tol’ me” be moved to the beginning. It became the song’s subtitle. SB

When they finished the song, Mercer called singer Margaret Whiting, who’d sung the pair’s songs “That Old Black Magic” and “Come Rain or Come Shine.” She told Mercer she had guests for dinner, but he and Arlen could come over later to share the song. When Mercer found out the guests included Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, and Mel Tormé, he announced, “My God, we’re coming right over.” After they played the song, Garland asked them to play it again and Rooney said, “That’s the greatest thing I’ve ever heard.” SB

The producers of the movie were taken with the song as well – so much so that they changed the name of the movie from Hot Nocturne to Blues in the Night. TY Jimmie Lunceford’s band introduced the song in the movie and took it to #4 on the charts. It charted six times in 1941 and 1942. Dinah Shore (#4) had her first million-seller with the song TY and Cab Calloway (#8), Artie Shaw (#10), and Benny Goodman (#20) also had success with the song. In 1952, Rosemary Clooney charted with the song again (#17). Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald also recorded the song.

However, Woody Herman had the most successful recording of the song. He started as a sideman and singer with Isham Jones’ orchestra from 1934-36. He later fronted his own band and became, in the words of writer Will Friedwald, “the most successful…talent scout in the history of jazz.” SS His initial plan was to record “Blues in the Night” as an instrumental but in a cab ride to the recording session, Mercer taught him the lyrics. SS Mercer and Arlen sat in on the session and reported satisfaction with his performance. SS


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Woody Herman
  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Johnny Mercer
  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Harold Arlen
  • SB Songbook1.wordpress.com
  • SS Steve Sullivan (2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings (Volumes I & II). Scarecrow Press: Lanham, Maryland. Pages 604.
  • TY Don Tyler (1985). Hit Parade 1920-1955. New York, NY: Quill. Page 105.

First posted 2/14/2016; last updated 4/23/2021.

Friday, February 7, 1992

50 years ago: Glenn Miller hit #1 with “String of Pearls”

A String of Pearls

Glenn Miller

Writer(s): Jerry Gray (music), Eddie DeLange (words) (see lyrics here)


Recorded: November 3, 1941


First Charted: January 3, 1942


Peak: 12 US, 6 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US


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

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

This was “onie of the most successful results of the historic collaboration between Glenn Miller and Jerry Gray [the song’s composer] that produced more top 10 records during the fastest time period of any musical team in history.” CU Gray became the chief arranger and musical collaborator for clarinetist and bandleader Artie Shaw by 1939. However, that November, Gray was offered a job by Miller within hours CU of Shaw ditching his band and heading to Mexico. SS As Miller’s arranger, Gray contributed #1 hits “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo,” “Moonlight Cocktail,” “Elmer’s Tune,” and, of course, “A String of Pearls.” CU

The song, introduced on Miller’s Chesterfield radio programs in August 1941, featured “booming sax solos and familiar battle between Miller stars Tex Beneke and Ernie Caceres followed by the challenge between Al Klink and renown veteran jazz saxist Babe Russin.” CU In Smithsonian’s boxsed set of Big Band Jazz, it is described as sustaining “one of the most unusual blue moods in all recorded jazz. The piece has a main melody that is virtually no melody, barely even a riff, and is for most people absolutely memorable once it is heard.” SS

The song was officially recorded for RCA Bluebird on November 3, 1941. It landed at #1 on the Billboard chart of national best-selling records on February 7, 1942 – knocking off Miller and Gray’s “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” It would be knocked from the top by “Moonlight Cocktail,” giving Miller the #1 spot for all but one week during a six month frame from November 1941 to April 1942. CU

The song became “a big band and jazz standard” WK recorded by Enoch Light and the Light Brigade, Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, Harry James, Stan Kenton, and Lawrence Welk. Benny Goodman had a #15 hit with it 1942. In 1944, Miller charted again with a reissue of the song.


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Glenn Miller
  • CU University of Colorado – Boulder (Dec. 2017). “A Number One Hit and Glenn Miller Chestnut
  • SS Steve Sullivan (2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings (Volumes I & II). Scarecrow Press: Lanham, Maryland. Pages 457-8.
  • PM Joel Whitburn (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Pages 313, 586.
  • WK Wikipedia

First posted 4/18/2021.