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BIG Jay's BIG Week In Pop Music History


The Week of April 19th

The '60s


For the week ending on Saturday, April 15, 1967

No. 1 on the Hot 100 Singles chart:

No. 1:  “Game Of Love” – Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders  

Fontana Records – F 1509

Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders, a group from Manchester, England, held the No. 1 slot for just one week on the Hot 100 Singles chart. The name of the lead singer was not taken because of the name of the record label (Fontana) but was a tribute to the drummer of the early band backing Elvis Presley, D.J. Fontana. Fontana left the group not long after “Game Of Love” was the biggest hit in America, while still under contract with Fontana as a solo act. He never had another hit in the U.S. “Game Of Love” was written by Clint Ballard, Jr. who also wrote another future No. 1 song (1975) called “You’re No Good” made most famously by Linda Ronstadt, but originally recorded by Dee Dee Warwick, Dionne’s sister back in 1963. Ballard was also the composer of “Good Timin’” (a No. 2 pop hit and No. 1 R&B smash) by Jimmy Jones in 1960. Ballard died in 2008. Wayne Fontana (real name Glyn Jeffery Ellis) has had more notoriety than just this one lone American hit. After dealing with bankruptcy, Fontana allegedly lit a bailiff’s car afire after pouring gasoline on it; but the man inside the car was uninjured. Fontana (Ellis) was sentenced to a jail-term, and was released after serving his time and has returned to sporadic performing. 

No. 1 on the Easy Listening Singles chart:

The Race Is On” – Jack Jones

Kapp Records - K 651 

The biggest hit on the Easy Listening Singles chart this week in ’65 was there for just a sole seven-day time-period, from Jack Jones on Kapp Records. “The Race Is On” was a cover version of a song that had recently reached No. 3 on the Hot Country Singles chart for one of that genre’s superstars, George Jones; who co-wrote the composition. The tune would be a hit again on the Hot Country Singles chart in 1989 by the group Sawyer Brown. 


No. 1 on the Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles chart:

“Got To Get You Off My Mind” – Solomon Burke

Atlantic Records – 45-2276

This week’s No. 1 Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles chart topper flip-flopped in and out of the peak position with “Shotgun” by Junior Walker & the All-Stars during the last two weeks; with Solomon Burke resting in that slot for this, the third and final non-consecutive seven-day survey period. Burke’s hit on Atlantic Records was produced by Jerry Wexler. Sadly, “Got To Get You Off My Mind” was composed just hours after Burke last saw Sam Cooke on the night he was fatally shot in Los Angeles—the same night Solomon’s wife had written him a letter seeking a divorce! Talk about a one-two punch to the gut. Burke (a Philadelphia native) was named “The Boy-Wonder Preacher” in his childhood, and helped define soul music (even credited in naming the sub-genre of R&B music) in the ‘60s. He was sometimes heralded as the “King of Rock ‘n’ Soul. Burke was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, passing away at the age of 70 in 2010 after being advised not to travel by air; reportedly dying of a blood clot upon landing at the Schipol Airport in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.



For the week ending on Saturday, April 24, 1967

No. 1 on the Top LP’s chart:

Walt Disney Presents: Mary Poppins Original Cast Soundtrack – Various Artists

Buena Vista Records – BV 4026

Having sat in the pinnacle position of the Top LP’s chart for one week for the survey period ending March, 13, 1965, the Mary Poppins Original Soundtrack was in the third week of a new run atop the chart for an additional 13—a total of 14 all together. This release, on Buena Vista Records (Disney) featured songs from the film performed by Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews plus music from comic actor Ed Wynn and others. The songs were all composed by Richard and Robert Sherman, perhaps best known for the ear-worm “It’s A Small World (After All).” The film was the biggest money-winner at the box-office for 1965. 


No. 1 on the Hot Rhythm & Blues LPs chart:

The Temptations Sing Smokey – The Temptations

Gordy Records – G 912

The Temptations Sing Smokey was in the catbird’s seat on the Hot Rhythm & Blues LPs chart this week in ’65 on Gordy Records 

 For the week ending on Saturday, April 24, 1967

LP: The Temptations Sing Smokey – The Temptations-

Gordy Records – G 912 -- Released: March 22, 1965

Beginning with their first national hit “The Way You Do The Things You Do” in ’64, the Temptations had a first-class run with songs written and produced by William ‘Smokey’ Robinson. So, almost instantly after Gordy Records (Motown) released another Smokey-penned single “It’s Growing” (featuring the Motown female backing group the Andantes) they let loose a complete Long Playing album of his songs (some remakes from other artists he had written for) on this week in 1965’s Hot Rhythm & Blues Album chart-topper, The Temptations sing Smokey.

The emphasize of this album (and their signature song) was “My Girl” already a number one Hot 100 and Hot Rhythm & Blues single earlier in the year. Other Temptations’ cuts also released on singles included: the ‘B’ side of “It’s Growing” called “What Love Has Joined Together” and the ‘B’ side of the Norman Whitfield-written song “Girl (Why You Wanna Make Me Blue)” called “Baby, Baby I Need You.” Oddly, the other singles Smokey wrote and produced including “I’ll Be In Trouble” along with the two abovementioned ‘A’ sides were not incorporated in this set. Instead, the odds and ends, along with “Since I Lost My Baby” were released later in the year on the LP Temptin’ Temptations. Some of the remakes on The Temptations Sing Smokey were Robinson (along with others) songs “You Beat Me To The Punch” the Mary Wells hit, and “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me” initially a Miracles hit.  

This LP was made up of what is thought of as the ‘classic’ Temptations ensemble with David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams and Otis Williams. By the end of ’65, and the comparative disappointment of Temptations singles after “My Baby” (especially “Get Ready” which gained admiration years later) Berry Gordy, Jr. was unwavering about bringing in Norman Whitfield, Ivy Joe Hunter and William ‘Mickey’ Stevenson to produce and write a preponderance of the vocal group’s songs. Whitfield ultimately ran the show for the Temptations through the early ‘70s; giving them several of their later principal hits and superstardom.


The '70s


For the week ending on Saturday, April 19, 1975

No. 1 on the Hot 100 Singles chart:

“Philadelphia Freedom” – The Elton John Band

MCA Records – 40364

This was the second and final week for one of Elton John’s biggest hit 45 RPM releases to wear the crown at the tip of the Hot 100 Singles chart this week in ’75; “Philadelphia Freedom” on MCA Records. listed as by The Elton John Band, was written specifically as a single with a treat on the B side; Elton’s duet with John Lennon during Dr. Winston O’Boogie’s last live performance at Madison Square Garden in NYC.


No. 1 on the Easy Listening Singles chart:

“He Don’t Love You (Like I Love You)” – Tony Orlando & Dawn 

Elektra Records – 45240

Tony Orlando & Dawn had been on Bell Records for the first nearly five years of their existence. Their first four singles were listed as simply Dawn. For the next six 45 RPM discs, the act was renamed Dawn featuring Tony Orlando. The act had been renamed again near the end of their association with Bell Records to become Tony Orlando & Dawn.  In early ’75, they signed with Elektra Records and had their first Hot 100 Singles chart leader in two years (following their previous No. 1 songs; “Knock Three Times,” and “Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree”) with “He Don’t Love You (Like I Love You)”—a remake of the 1960 Jerry Butler Vee-Jay Records song “He Will Break Your Heart.” The Ice-Man’s title was different, but the song remained the same. Dawn was originally made up of Ellie Greenwich and “Sugar Sugar” singer Toni Wine. After “Knock Three Times,” Dawn was actress/singer Telma Hopkins and singer Joyce Vincent. Throughout their recording career, the Dawn ensemble was produced and arranged by a founding member of the Tokens, Hank Medress and Dave Appell. “He Don’t Love You (Like I Love You)” was to become a three-consecutive-week No. 1 song on the Hot 100 Singles chart, beginning with the week ending on May 3, 1975.   

No. 1 on the Hot Soul Singles chart:

“L-O-V-E (Love)” – Al Green

HI Records – 45-2282 

This record was Al Green’s 11th straight Top 40 Hot 100 Singles chart hit, and was his fifth No. 1 song on the Hot Soul Singles chart, this week in ’75. “L-O-V-E (Love)” on HI Records (distributed by London Records in the U.S.) was one of Green’s mainstream hits to NOT sell over one-million copies—rare for him during the early to mid-‘70s. The song was taken from the album Al Green Is Love. “L-O-V-E (Love)” was in the last of two consecutive weeks in the No. 1 spot on the Hot Soul Singles listing and was co-written by the future preacher and his lead guitar player Mabon Lewis (Teenie) Hodges. Teenie’s nephew is none other than rapper/actor Aubrey “Drake” Graham. 


For the week ending on Saturday, April 13, 1974

No. 1 on the Top LPs & Tape chart:

LP: Physical Graffiti – Led Zeppelin 

Swan Song Records – SS 2-200 

It was the first of six back-to-back weeks at the apex of the Top LPs & Tape chart for Led Zeppelin’s 6th studio album Physical Graffiti on Swan Song Records; their first release on their own label. It had been over two years since the band released an album, and this one was a double-disc LP set, featuring some new songs and leftovers from their previous record Houses Of The Holy. Physical Graffiti’s most memorable songs included “Kashmir,” and the only charting single from the set, “Trampled Under Foot.” 


No. 1 on the Hot R&B LPs chart:

LP: That’s The Way Of The World – Earth, Wind & Fire 

Columbia Records – PC 33280

Earth, Wind & Fire played a cameo in a movie about the music business that was named after one of this song. In fact, this album was the soundtrack for the the film That’s The Way Of The World, produced and directed by Sig Shore. The LP sat atop the Hot R&B LPs chart for the first of an eventual five non-consecutive weeks ranging from this and the following week, and another three at the end of June into July of ’75. The album also topped the Pop Top LPs & Tapes chart for three consecutive weeks from the middle to the end of May. Two breakout singles included the million-selling “Shining Star,” and the title track. “Shining Star” was a No. 1 song on the Hot 100 Singles chart for a sole week at the end of May, and for two straight weeks on the Hot R&B Singles chart earlier in April of ’75. Another track called “Reasons” got substantial radio airplay that year. The nine-man ensemble won a Rock Music Award for Best Soul Album for That’s The Way Of The World, and was nominated for Favorite Soul/R&B album at the American Music Awards in both ’75 and ’76. 

For the week ending on Saturday, April 19, 1975

45 RPM: “Philadelphia Freedom” – The Elton John Band

 MCA Records -- 40364 – Released on February 24, 1975

This record was listed as by The Elton John Band (not just Elton John) and was written specifically as a single (the only one he and Bernie Taupin would ever do that way) with a real treat on the B side; one of Elton’s duets with John Lennon at his last major live performance ever at Madison Square Garden in NYC.

Let’s explore “Philadelphia Freedom” first. Elton Hercules John had been a friend of tennis great Billie Jean King, and saw her team play in the “City of Brotherly Love,” calling themselves the Philadelphia Freedoms—a part of the short-lived World Team Tennis League. King had commissioned a warm-up jacket for Reginald Kenneth Dwight (the future Sir Elton) and in return, he told her he’d put together a song for her. Elton lived up to his promise, and put it to tape at the Caribou Ranch in Colorado during the recording sessions for the soon to be released LP Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy. The song paid tribute to not only King’s tennis team, but toward the entire genre of “Philly Soul.”

The treat for fans on the flip-side of the 45 RPM release was one of the three live tracks recorded at the Garden in Manhattan on November 28, 1974 when John Lennon joined Elton on stage. Lennon was obviously nervous, as he hadn’t performed on a stage for a few years. And wouldn’t you know they chose a song that Paul McCartney had written when Lennon and Sir Paul were teens; “I Saw Her Standing There.” Lennon famously said, “…We thought we'd do a number of an old, estranged fiancé of mine, called Paul. This is one I never sang, it's an old Beatle number, and we just about know it.” Lennon also helped perform “Whatever Gets You Through The Night,” his own solo hit that was No. 1 on the Hot 100 Singles chart just days prior for one week in the middle of November of 1974. Elton performed on that recording and told Lennon it would be a chart-topping single. Lennon disagreed, and Elton made him a bet; if the record DID become a chart-topper, he’d perform with him in a live setting. Never dreaming it would reach No. 1, Lennon thought he could weasel out of the off-handed remark. It turned out he couldn’t…and delivered the goods that night with his then estranged wife Yoko in the audience. They would soon reconcile after Lennon had been seeing May Pang for a couple of years at the behest of Yoko. They also sang Lennon’s “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” that he had sung on the studio recording for Elton which was No. 1 for two weeks at the end of ’74 into the first week of ’75. 


The '80s


For the week ending on Saturday, April 23, 1983

No. 1 on the Hot 100 Singles chart:

“Come On Eileen” – Dexy’s Midnight Runners

Mercury Records – 76189

Dexy’s Midnight Runners had the biggest hit in the U.S. for just one week (booted back out of the slot by the red-hot Michael Jackson) with “Come On Eileen” on Mercury Records. (See below.)

No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary Singles chart:

“It Might Be You (The Theme from “Tootsie”)” – Stephen Bishop

Warner Records – 92-97919 

If you only followed the Hot 100 Singles chart in ’83, you likely didn’t notice too much about this song that peaked at No. 25. But if you switched your gaze to the Adult Contemporary Singles chart, you’d see it placed in the No. 1 slot for the second of two ultimate weeks. “It Might Be You (The Theme From “Tootsie”)” from Stephen Bishop on Warner Records did persist for a long time on the Hot 100—20 weeks as a matter of fact. But it got the traction it needed aimed at so-called “adults,” as the film was quite a huge hit starring Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Terri Garr, Bill Murray and Charles Durning. Bishop had already been a chart-veteran with songs like “On And On,” “Save It For A Rainy Day” and even did the theme from the John Belushi movie Animal House! But the Theme from Tootsie was nominated for an Oscar® for Best Original Song—losing to the Theme from An Officer And A Gentleman— “Up Where We Belong.” The melody to “It Might Be You” was written by Dave Grusin, with lyrics from Alan and Marilyn Bergman. Bishop is quite a songwriter himself, penning “Separate Lives” performed by Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin for the film White Nights. That song was nominated for an Academy Award, losing to “Say You, Say Me” from the same flick; performed and written by Lionel Richie. 


No. 1 on the Black Singles chart:

“Atomic Dog” – George Clinton

Capitol Records – B-5201

This song was the final record to reach the zenith of the Black Singles chart for the P-Funk Organization, with this solo release by Jersey-guy, George Clinton. You may have first discovered Clinton as the leader of the Parliaments with the ’67 hit “I Wanna Testify” like I did on the Revilot Records label. During the late ‘70s and into the ‘80s, Clinton’s Parliament/Funkadelic ensembles included many of the same musicians. “Atomic Dog” came from the Capitol Records album Computer Games using many of the musicians who had been with Clinton for years, but broken up by George in 1981. George was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with members of both Parliament and Funkadelic in 1997 as innovators of Funk music.



For the week ending on Saturday, April 23, 1983

No. 1 on the Top LPs & Tape Chart:

Thriller – Michael Jackson

Epic Records – EPC 85930

Let’s count, shall we! This is the ninth of an eventual 37 non-consecutive weeks at the helm of the Top LPs & Tape Chart for Thriller by Michael Jackson on Epic Records. It was pushed to the top by the incredible success of the single “Billie Jean.”  


No. 1 on the Black LPs chart:

Thriller – Michael Jackson

Epic Records – EPC 85930

Over on the Black LPs chart, Thriller had already been in the No. 1 slot since the week ending on January 29, 1983—four weeks before the Pop explosion. With the January 3, 1983 release of “Billie Jean,” Black record buyers jumped on the album that had already been out since November 30, 1982. The first single taken from the Long Play disc was “The Girl Is Mine” a duet with Paul McCartney that was released as a 45 RPM record even before Thriller was dropped on the marketplace. “The Girl Is Mine” was strong enough to lead the Black Singles chart, and reached No. 2 on the Hot 100 Singles chart; selling 1.3 million copies itself. But the BIG one, “Billie Jean” would go on to become the seventh biggest charting single of the entire ‘80s. 

For the week ending on Saturday, April 23, 1983

“Come On Eileen” – Dexy’s Midnight Runners

Mercury Records – 76189 – Released on June 25, 1982 in the U.K.

Wedged in between the incredible run of the first two No. 1 singles in ’83 from the album Thriller by Michael Jackson was the unlikely American chart-topping 45 RPM on the Hot 100 Singles chart by the British group Dexy’s Midnight Runners. “Come On Eileen,” complete with Celtic fiddle, Irish folk-song lyrics and mentions of ‘50s American Pop star Johnny Ray was at the crest of the chart for just one week.

Led by the voice of Kevin Rowland, Dexy’s Midnight Runners had the biggest hit-of-the-year in the U.K. with “Come On Eileen.” While it didn’t come close to being the principal song of the calendar year in the U.S., the fact that it knocked “Billie Jean” out of the top spot was itself quite an accomplishment. “Come On Eileen” was replaced after that sole week with the next huge single from the “Gloved-One” with “Beat It.”

What made the song from Dexy’s Midnight Runners successful is partly due to the video that was running on Music Television. The song itself was a bit naughty, as it described Kevin Rowland’s first romp-in-the-hay at age 14 in England. But when you add the instrumentation (quite unconventional in the era of synthesizers) it had that unique sound that made it irresistible. That happens in Pop music more than you realize. Sometimes you simply have to stand out to be noticed. In fact, the song utilized some of the musical beats of a couple of ‘60s songs, notably; “Concrete And Clay” originally by the British band UNIT FOUR plus TWO, and “It’s Not Unusual” the first big hit from Tom Jones! Dexy’s Midnight Runners, while successful in the U.K., never had another true hit in America. 


(Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net -- '60s 45 record image by dan; '70s headphones/vinyl record image by dan; '80s cassette tape image by graur razvan ionut.)

Copyright 2013-2014 by Big Jay Sorensen, Hosted by STCNtech (stcntech.com)