Friday, August 25, 2006

Today in Music (1956): The Five Satins chart with “In the Still of the Nite”

In the Still of the Nite (I’ll Remember)

The Five Satins

Writer(s): Fred Paris (see lyrics here)

First Charted: August 25, 1956

Peak: 24 US, 32 CB, 26 HR, 3 RB, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

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

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 30.3 video, 64.0 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Author and critic Dave Marsh called it “the most popular doo-wop record ever made.” DM When the song was first released, it only reached #24 on the Billboard pop charts but it became a classic, especially as a doo-wop standard and model of early rock and roll. The song re-charted twice, reaching #81 in 1960 and #99 in 1961.

The song is actually one of two which can claim the origin of the term “doo-wop.” The “repeating nonsense syllables” PW such as “the plaintive ‘doo wop, doo wah’ refrain in the bridge has often been suggested as the origin of the term.” WK Similarly, the Turbans’ “When You Dance” features the chant “doo wop.” WK

The Five Satins’ Fred Paris was inspired to write an R&B song with the same title as Cole Porter’s “In the Still of the Night.” DM The spelling of “Nite” instead of “Night” was to avoid confusion with Cole Porter’s song. WK He wrote it about a former girlfriend he hoped would come back. Unfortunately, she moved from Connecticut to California and he never saw her again. She likely never even knew the song was about her. SF

It was recorded in the basement of St. Bernadette Church in New Haven. The building had great acoustics and was insulated from ambient noise. SF The group’s manager, Marty Kugell, was friends with Vinny Mazzetta, an altar boy at the church. Mazzetta convinced the pastor to let the group record at the church and use the church piano. SF Mazzetta plays saxophone on the recording. SF

After it was recorded, Paris shipped off to Japan and watched from afar as a new lineup including only two of the original members was assembled to tour the United States. Once while hanging out in the barracks, Fred started singing “In the Still of the Night.” The other guys, not knowing he wrote the song, told him he was singing the wrong words. SJ

When Parris was discharged in 1958, he set up a new version of the group with which to tour. SF Interestingly, the original group was called the Five Satins even though they had only four members. The trend was moving toward acts like the Five Crowns and the Five Royales instead of the Four Lads and the Four Coins. SF

The song is featured in the movies Dirty Dancing (1987) and The Irishman (2019). It was also a big hit by Boyz II Men, reaching #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1993.


First posted 3/13/2021; last updated 1/31/2024.

Friday, August 18, 2006

50 years ago: Elvis Presley hit #1 with “Don’t Be Cruel”/ “Hound Dog”

Don’t Be Cruel

Elvis Presley

Writer(s): Otis Blackwell/Elvis Presley (see lyrics here)

Released: July 13, 1956

First Charted: July 27, 1956

Peak: 111 US, 2 HP, 16 CB, 18 HR, 110 CW, 15 RB, 24 UK, 12 CN, 2 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 8.0 US, 10.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 4.0 radio, 37.06 video, 21.09 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Elvis made chart history in 1956 when “Don’t Be Cruel,” backed by “Hound Dog,” topped the chart for 11 weeks. Joel Whitburn, the go-to chart historian for Billboard magazine with his Record Research books, says it is the only single in history to have both sides go to #1. He backs up the claim by pointing out that “Hound Dog” hit the charts first and had the initial buzz, but that airplay began to favor “Don’t Be Cruel.” SF

The single was also the first to top Billboard’s pop, rhythm & blues, and country & western charts. WK Not only was it the biggest song of 1956, CPM but the biggest hit of the rock era for the next 36 years, when Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road” finally bested it. In terms of chart success, there has never been a more successful double-sided hit in history.

Presley recorded “Don’t Be Cruel” on July 2, 1956 at RCA’s New York City. He’d already done “Hound Dog” that day and, after a break for lunch, he started sifting through demos for something else to record. He was struck by the song “Don’t Be Cruel,” written by R&B performer Otis Blackwell, whold’ written “Fever” for Little Willie John. He’d given “Cruel” to the Four Lovers (later the Four Seasons), but encouraged them not to record it after Elvis showed interest. SS

Presley reworked the arrangement on piano, changing the music and lyrics, just as he had done with other Blackwell compositions. WK “The King lays back and lets his supporting cast show their stuff: Bill Black with a virtual bass solo at the top, D.J. Fontana popping the backbeat, the Jordanaires crooning like rock’s first barbershop harmony team, Scotty Moore sketching in some guitar here and there.” DM On top of it all, Elvis invented a new style for himself when he decided to slap the back of his guitar for extra percussion. RS500

Sam Phillips, Presley’s former producer, was floored when he heard the song, saying that the first time he heard it on his car radio he had to pull over. TC Phillips said later, “they have finally found this man’s ability.” TC


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First posted 7/13/2014; last updated 3/26/2023.