Friday, August 25, 2006

50 years ago: The Five Satins chart with “In the Still of the Nite”

First posted 3/13/2021.

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 (Click for codes to singles charts.)


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


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

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

When the song was first released, it only reached #24 on the Billboard pop charts. However, it has gone on to become 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 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 spelling of “Nite” instead of “Night” was to avoid confusion with Cole Porter’s “In the Still of the Night.” WK

The Five Satins’ Fred Paris wrote the song while travelling by train between Philadelphia and his hometown of New Haven as a U.S. Army recruit. 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. 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.


Resources and Related Links:

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 singles 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

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Elvis had already shaken the music world with two chart toppers 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, calls it 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, WHC 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 took a demo by Otis Blackwell and reworked the arrangement on piano, changing the music and lyrics, just as he had done with other Blackwell compositions. WK Elvis recorded “Cruel” on July 2, 1956 at RCA’s New York City studio with his regular band featuring guitarist Scotty Moore, bassist Bill Black, and drummer D.J. Fontana. The Jordanaires provided backup vocals. WK

They recorded eight takes of the song after they’d already knocked out thirty takes of “Hound Dog” in the same session. WK 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


Resources:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Elvis Presley
  • TC Toby Creswell (2005). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time. Thunder’s Mouth Press: New York, NY. Page 162.
  • RS500 RollingStone.com (2011). “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
  • WHC Joel Whitburn (1999). A Century of Pop Music. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 77.


Related Links:


First posted 7/13/2014; last updated 10/28/2022.

Friday, August 4, 2006

50 years ago: The Platters “My Prayer” hit #1

My Prayer (Avant de Mourir)

The Platters

Writer(s): Georges Boulanger, Carlos Goemz Barrera, Jimmy Kennedy (see lyrics here)


First Charted: June 29, 1956


Peak: 15 US, 11 HP, 12 CB, 13 HR, 12 RB, 4 UK (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 5.22 video, 17.87 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“My Prayer” has been recorded in fourteen languages and been a hit in five decades. BD It originated as an instrumental entitled “Avant de Mourir,” which translates to “before dying.” BD French violinist George Boulanger composed the instrumental in 1926, the same year he died.

Jimmy Kennedy added English lyrics to the song in 1939 and retitled it “My Prayer.” That year, versions charted by Glenn Miller (#2) and the Ink Spots (#3). Ambrose, Denny Dennis, and Vera Lynn all recorded versions in 1939 as well. In 1951, both Dick Haymes and the Orioles recorded the song. Patti Page did so in 1955.

Others to record the song over the years include Chet Atkins, Pat Boone, Solomon Burke, Glen Campbell, Harry Connick Jr., Ray Conniff, Bing Crosby, Jimmy Dorsey, Shelley Fabares, Ella Fitzgerald, the Four Seasons, Lionel Hampton, Honeycombs, Engelbert Humperdinck, Jay & the Americans, Tom Jones, Gene Krupa, Brenda Lee, Mantovani, Dean Martin, Wayne Newton, Roy Orbison, Gene Pitney, Jimmie Rodgers, Jerry Vale, and Bobby Vee. WK

The biggest version, however, was recorded by the Platters, who took it to #1 in 1956. Bob Dylan called their version “a rapture in blue.” BD He also referred to the Platters’ Tony Williams as “one of the greatest singers ever…There’s nobody that beats this guy. He took his spirituality with him into the pop world.” BD Dylan also praised the group, saying “they carry their soul with a cooler-than-thou looseness, offhand and urbane, exuding hipness the way James Dean exhaled cigarette smoke.” BD

The Platters’ version of “My Prayer” appeared in movies, including Mischief (1985), October Sky (1999), and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008).


Resources:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for The Platters
  • BD Bob Dylan (2022). The Philosophy of Modern Song. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster. Pages 183-8.
  • WK Wikipedia


First posted 11/6/2022.