Saturday, February 1, 1997

50 years ago: Al Jolson hit #1 with Songs He Made Famous

First posted 9/29/2020.

Songs He Made Famous

Al Jolson

Released: November 1946

Charted: January 18, 1947

Recorded: 1913-1946

Peak: 125 US, -- UK, -- CN, -- AU

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

Genre: traditional pop


Song Title (date when original version of song charted, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. April Showers (1/28/22, 111 US)
  2. Swanee (5/8/20, 19 US, sales: 1 million)
  3. California, Here I Come (5/3/24, 16 US)
  4. Rock-A-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody (8/10/18, 18 US)
  5. You Made Me Love You (9/20/13, 17 US)
  6. Ma Blushin’ Rosie
  7. Sonny Boy (1928)
  8. My Mammy (6/9/28, 2 US)


3.650 out of 5.00 (average of 4 ratings)


About the Album:

Songs He Made Famous was a collection of songs featured in The Jolson Story, a movie musical telling the somewhat ficitionalized story of Al Jolson. The movie tells of a young Jolson discovered at a burlesque show and how he runs off to join the act after his Jewish father forbids it. He later ends up as part of a minstrel show when the blackface entertainer passes out drunk and Jolson takes his place.

Jolson meets an up-and-coming dancer Julie Benson (modeled after Jolson’s real-life wife Ruby Keeler) and they fall in love. She is not fond of show business, however, and wants him to quit. He eventually does, refusing to sing for any reason. However, he is persuaded to sing the song his parents danced to at their wedding when he attends their anniversary party. He is then coaxed into going to a nightclub, where the crowd demands a song. He ends up taking over the show. Julie leaves, knowing he’s happier than he has been in a long time. The movie won Academy Awards for Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture, and Best Sound Recording.

Songs He Made Famous featured re-recordings of Jolson’s biggest hits from 1913 to 1928 and served as the soundtrack for the movie. It was initially issued as a 4-record 78 rpm set in 1946 and rereleased as a vinyl LP in 1949. With 25 weeks at #1 and 61 weeks on the Billboard album charts, it ranks in the top 10 for albums of longevity and top 50 #1 albums from 1940-1954. JW:566-7 A second collection of re-recordings from the movie was issued as Souvenir Album and spent 10 weeks atop the album chart.

The re-recorded versions of My Mammy and April Showers charted, hitting numbers 18 and 15 respectively and both selling a million copies. “The Anniversary Song” wasn’t featured on the soundtrack, but the single hit #2 and was also a million seller.

Resources and Related Links:

  • Al Jolson’s DMDB Encyclopedia entry
  • 45
  • PM Joel Whitburn (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954. Record Research, Inc.: Menomonee Falls, WI. Pages 233-5.
  • JW Joel Whitburn (2002). Billboard Pop Hits: Singles & Albums 1940-1954. Record Research, Inc.: Menomonee Falls, WI.
  • WK Wikipedia

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