Saturday, July 30, 2005

50 years ago: The Platters chart with “Only You”

First posted 3/13/2021.

Only You (And You Alone)

The Platters

Writer(s): Ande Rand, Buck Ram (see lyrics here)


First Charted: July 30, 1955


Peak: 5 US, 3 CB, 4 HR, 17 RB, 5 UK, 19 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


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


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 6.0 radio, 90.18 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

Buck Ram signed the Platters and managed them, but was primarily a songwriter. His first big success was with “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” which was a hit for Bing Crosby. 500 He wrote “Only You” originally with the Ink Spots in mind, but they never recorded it. He stuck the sheet music in a box where his assistant, Jean Bennett, later discovered it. Ram said the song was rubbish, but she put it on top of his piano where the Platters’ lead singer Tony Williams found it and insisted they record it. 500

They recorded this song in 1954 for Federal Records, but it wasn’t released. When the doo-wop group moved to Mercury Records in 1955, they re-recorded it and scored a hit when it was released in May. It went to #1 on the Billboard R&B chart and hit #5 on the pop chart.

Herb Reed, the bass singer, said the group “tried it so many times, and it was terrible. One time we were rehearsing in the car…and the car jerked. Tony went ‘O-oHHHH-nly you.’ We laughed at first, but when he sang that song—that was the sign we had hit on something.” WK Ram, however, had a different take. He said Williams’ voice broke in rehearsal but they kept the effect on the recording. WK

The Hilltoppers also recorded the song in 1955, reaching #8 on the U.S. charts and #3 in the UK. In 1959, Franck Pourcel took an instrumental version of the song to #9 on the Billboard Hot 100. Ringo Starr recorded it in 1974 and took it to #6. Harry Connick Jr., Brenda Lee, Little Richard, Reba McEntire, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, and the Statler Brothers also recorded versions. WK


Resources and Related Links:

Friday, July 15, 2005

100 years ago: “Give My Regards to Broadway” went to #1

Give My Regards to Broadway

Billy Murray

Writer(s): George M. Cohan (see lyrics here)


First Charted: June 17, 1905


Peak: 15 US, 3 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)


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


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.11 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

George M. Cohan “virtually invented musical comedy” LW by pioneering the idea that a show could maintain “a proper narrative structure interspersed with songs.” LW Cohan was an untrained musician who “professed to write only simple songs with simple harmonies and limited ranges” PS “and a melody line that rarely exceeded four beats.” LW His brilliance was in making them attractive and memorable.” LW

He was “the dominant force on Broadway during its heyday,” LW predating future musical theatre greats like Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, and Richard Rodgers. “His best work, like Irving Berlin’s, synthesized the idea of American-ness, useful in a country of so many young immigrants.” LW

In 1904, he wrote, composed, produced, acted, and danced in his first Broadway musical, Little Johnny Jones, inspired by real-life jockey Tod Sloan. In addition to “Yankee Doodle Boy”, the show featured “Give My Regards to Broadway”. The song “could only have been sung by an opinionated, cocky young man with a very high opinion of his own worth.” LW Cohan was a natural.

With “music and melody [that] seem to fit any era and transcend fads and styles” PS “Regards” is “arguably…the most memorable and greatest hit from the 1900 – 1910 decade.” PS It has proved to be “one of those enduring favorites that never gets old or outdated.” PS Billy Murray and S.H. Dudley both charted with the song in 1905, taking it to #1 and 4 respectively. Eddie Buzzell sang the song in its first screen appearance for the 1929 film version of Little Johnny Jones. It was also used in Yankee Doodle Dandy (1941), Give My Regards to Broadway (1948), Jolson Sings Again (1948) and With a Song in My Heart (1952). The 1968 play George M! featured Joel Grey singing it in his portrayal of Cohan.


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for George M. Cohan
  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Billy Murray
  • LW Alan Lewens (2001). Popular Song – Soundtrack of the Century. Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 16.
  • PS ParlorSongs.com

First posted 7/15/2014; last updated 4/22/2021.

Saturday, July 9, 2005

50 years ago: “Rock Around the Clock” launched the rock era

We’re Gonna Rock Around the Clock

Bill Haley & His Comets

Writer(s): Max Freedman/Jimmy DeKnight (see lyrics here)


First Charted: May 10, 1954


Peak: 18 US, 12 HP, 18 CB, 14 HR, 3 RB, 15 UK, 16 (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 20.0 US, 1.44 UK, 25.0 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 72.33 video, 60.60 streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

Happy birthday, rock and roll! On July 9, 1955, Bill Haley & the Comets hit #1 on the Billboard singles chart with “Rock Around the Clock.” While arguments can be made for multiple songs as the beginning of rock and roll (check out the DMDB list of the top 100 rock-n-roll origins songs), “Clock” is generally regarded as the place keeper that separates the pre-rock era from the rock era. As the best selling rock record of all time, KL it makes for a more than suitable launching pad.

Although he started as a yodeler (!), Haley converted to rock when he saw its effect on audiences RS500 covering covers of “Rocket 88” and “Rock the Joint” in 1951 and 1952. TC In 1953, Freedman, a 63-year-old Tin Pan Alley writer, and Myers, Haley’s agent, reworked the blues number “My Daddy Rocks Me with a Steady Roll” for Haley. SJ Dave Miller, who signed Haley to Holiday Records, wouldn’t let him record it because he disliked Myers. BR Sonny Dae & His Nights tackled it in October 1953, SF but it flopped. Haley got another shot when he jumped to Decca and “Clock” landed on the B-side of novelty song “Thirteen Women.” SF

Haley “brought a country and western swing flavour to the R&B changes so that it sounded like sophisticated hillbilly music (admittedly and oxymoron).” TC His version fcused more on the bass and drums than the melody, KL making for a song with youth appeal in an era dominated by adult contemporary fare. In addition, Haley’s teen idol appeal was limited. He was plump, balding, and over thirty, so his teen idol appeal was limited, but as Haley said, “‘I started it all. They can’t take that away from me.’” HL He explained, “We premiered this music…We put country and western together with rhythm and blues.” TC

Initially, the record company didn’t know what to do with it, calling the single a “novelty foxtrot.” SF However, when featured in the movie The Blackboard Jungle, its rioting teen audience trumpeted it as their theme for alienation and hostility. SJ Billboard’s Top 40 chart was only a few months old SF when this went #1. The song was revived in 1974 as TV series Happy Days’ opening theme


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Bill Haley
  • original post on Facebook
  • BR Fred Bronson (2007). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (4th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 1.
  • TC Toby Creswell (2005). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time. Thunder’s Mouth Press: New York, NY. Pages 517-8.
  • HL Michael Heatley and Spencer Leigh (1998). Behind the Song: The Stories of 100 Great Pop & Rock Classics. Page 186.
  • JA David A. Jasen (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 165.
  • KL Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh. (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits. Page 35.
  • RS500 Rolling Stone (2004). ”The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”
  • SF Songfacts.com
  • SH Arnold Shaw (1974). The Rockin’ ’50s. Page 138.
  • SJ Bob Shannon and John Javna (1986). Behind the Hits: Inside Stories of Classic Pop and Rock and Roll. Page 171.


First posted 7/9/2010; last updated 9/8/2021.