Saturday, November 27, 2004

50 years ago: The Chordettes’ “Mr. Sandman” hit #1

Mr. Sandman

The Chordettes

Writer(s): Pat Ballard (see lyrics here)


First Charted: October 11, 1954


Peak: 17 US, 18 HP, 17 CB, 13 HR, 11 UK, 14 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 79.3 video, -- streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

This “vocal group favorite” JA was first recorded by Vaughn Monroe and released in 1954 as the B-side of “They Were Doin’ the Mambo.” WK It was followed by multiple covers in late 1954 and early 1955 by the Four Aces (#5 US, #9 UK), Buddy Morrow (#20 US), the Lancers (#28 US), Dicky Valentine (#5 UK), Chet Atkins (#13 CW), and Max Bygraves (#16 UK). There were later chart versions by Bert Kaempfert (1968, #12 AC) and Emmylou Harris (1981, #10 CW, #37 US). The Andrews Sisters, Marvin Gaye, Bette Midler, and the Supremes have also recorded the song.

However, the Chordettes had the first – and most successful – charting version. Theirs topped the Billboard, Cashbox, and Your Hit Parade charts. The Chordettes were a female vocal group comprised of Carol Buschmann, Lynn Evans, Jinny Osborn, and Nancy Overton. They formed in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. They were known for their “barbershop-type close harmony…with a doo wop and pop twist.” DD

“Mr. Sandman” is “an excellent example of their main form, singing close harmony a cappella with minimal accompaniment.” SF This was the first chart hit for the foursome. They went on to reach the top 40 on the Billboard pop charts eight more times, including four top-10 hits. Their next biggest hit was “Lollipop,” which reached #2.

Their version features an iconic male voice in the third verse in simply responding, “Yes?” one time after the quartet sings “Mr. Sandman.” The voice was supplied by Archie Bleyer, the founder of Cadence Records, the company which released the Chordettes’ version of the song. WK The version by the Four Aces is featured in the movie Back to the Future when Marty, played by Michael J. Fox, first realizes he’s in 1955. WK


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for The Chordettes
  • DD DailyDooWop.com
  • JA David A. Jasen (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 134.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia


First posted 9/8/2021.

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