EVERY Billboard #1 hit discussion thread 1958-Present

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by alphanguy, Jan 29, 2016.

  1. I Love Music

    I Love Music Forum Resident

    Stagger Lee
    was Lloyd’s musical take on the murder of William “Billy” Lyons by Stagger Lee Shelton, a tale that became legendary in the American South shortly after the incident occurred in 1895 and which eventually moved into song through a variety of interpretations.

    Here’s how the St. Louis Globe Democrat newspaper originally reported the shooting in December 1895:

    “William Lyons, 25, a levee hand, was shot in the abdomen yesterday evening at 10 o’clock in the saloon of Bill Curtis, at Eleventh and Morgan Streets, by Lee Sheldon, a carriage driver. Lyons and Sheldon were friends and were talking together. Both parties, it seems, had been drinking and were feeling in exuberant spirits. The discussion drifted to politics, and an argument was started, the conclusion of which was that Lyons snatched Sheldon’s hat from his head. The latter indignantly demanded its return. Lyons refused, and Sheldon withdrew his revolver and shot Lyons in the abdomen. When his victim fell to the floor Sheldon took his hat from the hand of the wounded man and coolly walked away. He was subsequently arrested and locked up at the Chestnut Street Station. Lyons was taken to the Dispensary, where his wounds were pronounced serious. Lee Sheldon is also known as ‘Stag’ Lee.”

    Billy Lyons later died from his wounds, and Stag Lee was tried for the killing. The first trial ended in a hung jury amidst major political controversy. Stag Lee was convicted in a second trial and served time before being pardoned by the Missouri governor. Less than two years after his release, Stag Lee killed a man while robbing his house, was sent to prison again, but due to political pressure received yet another pardon from a different governor. Stag Lee died of tuberculosis in the prison hospital before his release.

    Stagger Lee
    was recorded by Lloyd Price with the Don Costa Orchestra at Bell Sound Studios in New York City. Stagger Lee was originally serviced to radio stations as the B-side of You Need Love in early November 1958. Billboard, however, recognized the hit potential of both sides and listed both as Spotlight Picks in their November 3, 1954 issue:

    [​IMG]

    Radio stations ultimately preferred Stagger Lee and soon the single was racing up the charts.

    Lloyd Price recorded a less violent version of Stagger Lee for his appearances on American Bandstand and the Saturday Night Beech-Nut Show at the request of Dick Clark or ABC-TV (accounts vary). The dreadful, sanitized re-recording of Stagger Lee with the happy ending became known as the "Bandstand Version":

     
  2. RayS

    RayS Forum Resident

    Thanks for posting that version - I didn't know that it existed. It's sort of like the latter-day "Tom & Jerry"s where they are pals. :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2016
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  3. happy2behere

    happy2behere Forum Resident

    Location:
    NY NY
    Certainly sanitized but far from dreadful.
     
  4. tim_neely

    tim_neely Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    Central VA
    Yeah. The "Bandstand Version" was a complete re-record, and, as if to make up for the toned-down lyrics, the band swings harder and faster, with a grittier sax solo.
     
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  5. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    Location:
    Arizona
    That Bandstand version is awful, lyrically. Too bad there isn't a way to put the original vocals on the new instrumental backing.
     
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  6. I Love Music

    I Love Music Forum Resident

    The mono version of Stagger Lee is posted in the video by alphanguy.

    The original ABC-Paramount single (45-9972), released in November 1958, had the mono mix as does the mono The Exciting Lloyd Price LP (ABC-277), released in early March 1959.

    The original stereo mix of Stagger Lee was first issued in early March 1959 as a single (ABC-Paramount 45-S-9972) and on the stereo The Exciting Lloyd Price LP (ABCS-277).

    For reference, here's the stereo mix (disregard the picture of the original mono 45 in the video):



    The stereo version of Stagger Lee is the one found on almost all CDs (Steve did a nice stereo mastering on the Vintage Music Volume 2 CD). The mono 45 version has appeared on a couple of Reader’s Digest CDs.

    I prefer the mono mix of Stagger Lee to the stereo. Although some individual elements of the recording are better heard in stereo, the stereo version is lacking a bit in the middle and it does not match the overall impact of the original mono 45.
     
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  7. I Love Music

    I Love Music Forum Resident

    This.
    I agree that the “Bandstand Version” makes for an interesting listen (that’s why I posted it!) with the band cutting loose a bit more than on the original, but I can’t get past the revised lyrics, perhaps because I’m so familiar with the original lyrics and the event they describe. In that context, the "family friendly" rewrite with its happy ending comes off as self-parody, and I could see why some might include it on a novelty or comedy compilation.
     
  8. alphanguy

    alphanguy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Missouri
    Yeah... the Mono version is much better. It sounds more "cohesive" if that makes sense.
     
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  9. alphanguy

    alphanguy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Missouri
    Next on the list is "Venus" by Frankie Avalon, #1 from March 9- April 12, 1959.

     
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  10. I Love Music

    I Love Music Forum Resident

    Although he began his musical career as a trumpet-playing child prodigy recording instrumentals and then later played trumpet in a Philadelphia rock combo (Rocco And The Saints), Frankie Avalon is best known, of course, as a teen idol and for singing Venus.

    Venus was originally pitched to fellow Philadelphia native Al Martino who liked the song and wanted to record it as an album cut. When the song was brought to Avalon’s attention, he instantly recognized its hit potential and recorded it shortly thereafter in New York City. On Venus, Avalon ditched the nasal delivery that was characteristic of his earlier recordings and sang in his normal voice, and his backing combo was replaced by an orchestra. I have always enjoyed the arrangement of this song with the bells and chimes over a soft calypso-like beat. The female background vocals are a nice touch too.

    Avalon appeared twice on Dick Clark’s Saturday Night Beech-Nut Show in a span of five weeks to promote the song. The more interesting of the two appearances, in my opinion, is the second one on March 14, 1959 when Venus had reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 (and Dick Clark’s Top 10). Following Frankie’s performance, Dick presents him with a gold record for Venus and a solid gold watch with the Chancellor 45 label inside the crystal:

     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2016
  11. alphanguy

    alphanguy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Missouri
    I have to say... I think with "Venus", the stereo version is far superior to the Mono mix.
     
  12. Manapua

    Manapua Forum Resident

    Location:
    Honolulu
    I was a child when this came out but had 2 teenaged girl cousins from whom I gained an appreciation for this kind of music. Frankie, the Bobbys Rydell, Vee and Vinton and a whole lot of other teenaged dream acts. I too love the arrangement and while Avalon's vocal is serviceable, the female backup ooohs give the song an ethereal quality that I enjoyed in a lot of girly pop hits of the era (think Johnny Angel). An enduring pop hit that stands the test of time.
     
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  13. tim_neely

    tim_neely Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    Central VA
    I find it interesting that Al Martino had the first chance to record "Venus." How different things might have been if he and/or his people had recognized the song's potential.

    In 1959, he had just signed with the new 20th Century Fox label, which was one of several attempts by movie studios to diversify into the music business. Warner Bros. and United Artists both started labels around the same time, and Paramount, rather than starting its own, bought an established label (Dot). 20th Fox was by far the least successful of these.

    Martino had his initial success with "Here in My Heart," which he recorded for the short-lived BBS label from Philadelphia (owned by the same man, Dave Miller, who had started the Palda, Essex and Media labels and would finally become wealthy by peddling 101 Strings LPs on Somerset). It became his only #1 U.S. single in 1952, and it also was #1 on the first British singles chart later that same year. He immediately signed with Capitol, and he quickly had a top-20 single with his new label, "Take My Heart." But he almost immediately stopped charting, and he spent most of the rest of the 1950s in Europe, allegedly to escape a mob contract. His recorded output slowed to a trickle after 1954, and Capitol dropped him in 1957.

    By 1958, Martino had returned to the States, and he briefly signed to MGM's Cub subsidiary, for whom he made a new version of "Here in My Heart." He then was one of the first artists signed to 20th Fox, and he was there until early 1961. He had two charted singles and half a dozen more that didn't, and he also made two albums for the label. In 1961, Martino returned to Capitol, where he finally had sustained success.
     
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  14. I Love Music

    I Love Music Forum Resident

    Al Martino also gave Frankie Avalon his first big break in the music business. Frankie recalls how that came about in this clip:



    Here’s footage of a young Frankie Avalon playing Tenderly on trumpet from that Jackie Gleason Show:

    http://www.yourememberthat.com/media/1699/Jackie_Gleason_and_a_Very_Very_Young_Frankie_Avalon/
     
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  15. I Love Music

    I Love Music Forum Resident

    For a brief look at a latter-day Frankie Avalon playing the trumpet, some may remember this performance from American television in 1981.

    For those who don’t remember or haven’t had the opportunity to see it before, Dick Clark calls a(n) [insert your favorite adjective] group of musicians to the stage (and don’t forget your beverage, Mick Fleetwood!) to join a “virtual” Bill Haley (who had passed away earlier that year) & His Comets in a performance of Rock Around The Clock (a Billboard number one on the pre-Hot 100 and pre-Top 100 Best Sellers in Stores, Most Played by Jockeys, and Most Played in Jukeboxes charts). The occasion was the 25th Anniversary of American Bandstand on ABC-TV.

    Several musicians who appear in this clip have had a #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 either as a solo artist, producer, or as part of a group, and/or have played on one as a session musician, and those songs will appear later throughout this thread:

     
  16. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    Location:
    Arizona
    Aw man! That was a stellar performance, and every one of those guys are fantastic musicians! I have recordings from every single one of them!
     
  17. I Love Music

    I Love Music Forum Resident

    Several stereo masterings of Venus that I have heard over the years have closely matched the original stereo 45 (Chancellor S-C 1031, released May 1959), including the one Steve mastered for CD several years ago. The original stereo version of Venus also appears on the stereo 15 Greatest Hits LP (United Artists 6382) released in 1964.

    Frankie’s echo-laden vocal is pushed back in the original stereo mix. I have heard some stereo remixes, however, that have moved Frankie’s vocal more toward the front of the mix.

    The original mono 45 of Venus was released in January 1959 (Chancellor C-1031, heard in post #184) and also appears on the mono The Hitmakers (Chancellor CHL 5009, 1960) and A Whole Lotta Frankie (Chancellor CHL 5018, 1961) LPs. The mono mix of Venus is available on only a few CDs including the Reader’s Digest CDs I mentioned earlier in my Lloyd Price post.
     
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  18. alphanguy

    alphanguy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Missouri
    Next is "Come Softly To Me" by the Fleetwoods, #1 from April 13 -May 10, 1959.
     
  19. tmwlng

    tmwlng Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denmark
    Gorgeous song... Heard it for the first time not too long ago, but it really stays with you. Light and easygoing - but not in the bad sense.
     
  20. Hey Vinyl Man

    Hey Vinyl Man Forum Resident

    Beautiful song by one of the more underappreciated vocal groups of that period. They were certainly appreciated at the time, with two #1 hits, but - possibly as a result of that success! - you rarely hear The Fleetwoods mentioned among the great acts of their time now. Also memorable among record collectors because the original pressing was on Dolphin Records, which had to change its name to Dolton immediately afterward because the publishing company already had dibs on the Dolphin name. Their version of "Goodnight My Love," while not a very big hit, is quite possibly my all time favorite version of that song.

    Gary Troxel was briefly in the news again in 2000 when he lost a Supreme Court case over grandparents' rights...I remember reading about it in the New York Times and thinking his name sounded familiar - and then the article confirmed that it was the same guy.
     
  21. Donfrance

    Donfrance Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vesoul, France.
    I wonder if Poor Little Fool - Ricky Nelson had an influence on Teenager in Love - Dion. Is it me or does it have something similar? Even voice wise.
     
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  22. Donfrance

    Donfrance Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vesoul, France.
    This is one of the best threats, I read so far. It's like reading a music encyclopedia with extra marks in the sidelines. Just love it.
     
  23. Donfrance

    Donfrance Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vesoul, France.
    Lovely, I only knew this song from the Four Tops.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2016
  24. EdogawaRampo

    EdogawaRampo Forum Resident

    Gorgeous...and so bizarre. I mean that in a good way. Their quiet blend has almost a psychedelic, hypnotic effect on me. I've loved this group since I first heard them for myself some time in the early 1970s. I recently picked up a still sealed Dolton hits album in true stereo and WOW.
     
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  25. Donfrance

    Donfrance Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vesoul, France.
    I wonder if the fact that their were less "different" music style radio stations available in that time, has had anything to do with that? I do agree with the statement that the quality of songwriting

    Fantastic, good for him. I don't like the song myself but my kids are a huge fan.
     
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