Saturday, May 25, 1996

50 years ago: The Ink Spots hit #1 with “The Gypsy”

The Gypsy

The Ink Spots

Writer(s): Billy Reid (see lyrics here)

First Charted: May 4, 1946

Peak: 113 US, 18 HP, 13 GA, 13 RB (Click for codes to charts.)

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

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.38 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Billy Reid was a famous bandleader in London in the 1930s who had the distinction of being the first British songwriter to top the pop charts in the United States. When Welsh singer Dorothy Squires joined his group, he often wrote songs specifically with her in mind – one of which was “The Gypsy.” The song, published in 1945, unfurls a story of someone seeking out the advice of a gypsy fortune teller. The narrator wants to believe his partner is faithful, which the gypsy confirms, although both know it isn’t true. WK

After Reid and his orchestra, fronted by Squires, introduced the song in the UK, WK it became a hit in the United States. Dinah Shore and the Ink Spots both topped the charts with the song, but the Ink Spots’ version was the monster hit, spending 13 weeks at #1 and becoming the biggest hit of 1946. WHC It “seemed tailor-made for the Ink Spots: a smooth melody that could be crooned in Bill Kenny’s high tenor, and a sugary sweet lyric.” TY2

This African-American pop vocal group found success with both white and black audiences. Their early version of doo-wop was fundamental in shaping rock and roll as well as R&B, leading to their induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They racked up more than forty hits from the 1930s to the 1950s. Twenty of those songs were top ten hits and six of those went all the way to the top of the American pop charts.

In addition to the versions by Shore and the Ink Spots, “The Gypsy” charted four more times that year – Sammy Kaye (#3), Hildegarde with Guy Lombardo (#7), Hal McIntyre (#8), and Jan Garber (#14). The song has also been recorded by Louis Armstrong, Quincy Jones, Charlie Parker, Oscar Peterson, and Frank Sinatra. WK It appeared in Revolutionary Road, a 2008 movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. WK


First posted 5/25/2016; last updated 4/4/2023.

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