DEAR JERRY: It is nice to see you have written about Tony Bellus before, though my question about him has never been covered by you or anyone else I know.
Like Tony, I am a Chicago native, one with a memory of a fascinating trivia tidbit told in the 1970s by a WLS dee jay.
It was something quite amazing about the success of “Robbin' the Cradle” compared to records by literally all of the top recording artists of the '60s.
My only other clue about that revelation is how “Robbin' the Cradle,” by a man with only the one hit, did something unsurpassed by any of that era's superstars, such as Elvis, the Beatles, and others.
Please end my frustration and fill in the Bellus blanks.
Ashley McKnight, Kankakee, Ill.
DEAR ASHLEY: It can only be one thing.
None of the industry giants for that same period of time (1959 - 1970) has a hit with more consecutive weeks on the charts than Tony's “Robbin' the Cradle.”
For six months, April 27 through October 25, 1959, “Robbin' the Cradle” held a spot among Billboard's Hop 100 singles.
Not one of the Top 50 singles artists during those years surpassed Tony's unbroken run of 26 weeks with any of their records.
I'd say your description of this feat as “fascinating” and “amazing” is appropriate.
But wait. There is some fine print to take into account.
Bobby Darin, who is among that era's Top 50, quickly matched Tony's streak with “Mack the Knife.” For about two months in the fall of '59, the charts included both “Robbin' the Cradle” and “Mack the Knife.” With each lasting 26 weeks, they tied for the longevity title of 1959.
Five other hits endured as long, or longer in one case, but are not by artists in that period's Top 50: Johnny Preston's “Running Bear” (27 weeks); Hank Ballard's “Finger Poppin' Time” (26 weeks); Don Costa's “Never on Sunday” (26 weeks); Henry Mancini's “Moon River” (26 weeks); and Cream's “Sunshine of Your Love” (26 weeks).
Chubby Checker is in the Top 50, and “The Twist” is credited with more weeks overall (39). However, it came out twice (1960 and '62) and neither of those runs reached 26 weeks.
You may be interested to know Tony Bellus is still recording. His latest release is “Won't You Hang Up 'N' Drive” (NRC CD-27).
The message here is how much highway safety is jeopardized by cell phone use.
As Tony recently told me: “I am confident in the value of this song, because headlines are popping up regularly on the issue of driving a vehicle while being distracted by a cell phone.”
The matter is neatly summarized by one particular line in the song: “Won't you hang up and drive? Why risk it all to take that call?”
For more information on Tony's new CD, go here.
DEAR JERRY: I can't seem to find a 1970s song I really liked. Though I'm not certain of the title, I think it is something like “As Years Go By.”
I do remember being told it was only a regional hit.
Joseph A De Hayes, Phoenix, Ariz.
DEAR JOSEPH: You nearly nailed the title, which is “As the Years Go By.” The one-hit group behind this thought-provoking tune is Mashmakhan, a Canadian quartet.
A regional hit is usually a song popular in one or more areas, but lacking sufficient countrywide exposure to make the national charts.
Since “As the Years Go By” reached the Cash Box Top 30, and No. 31 on Billboard, it is a bona fide coast-to-coast hit.
IZ ZAT SO? Without regard to time of issue, here are some long-term hits by just 10 of the all-time Pop & Rock greats:
Abba: 26 weeks, “The Winner Takes It All” (1980)
Beatles: 19 weeks, “Hey Jude” (1968)
Pat Boone: 34 weeks, “Love Letters in the Sand” (1957)
Mariah Carey: 43 weeks, “We Belong Together” (2005)
Elton John: 42 weeks, “Candle in the Wind 1997 (In Loving Memory of Diana)” (1997)
Madonna: 30 weeks, “Borderline” (1984) and “Take a Bow” (1994)
Elvis Presley: 30 weeks, “All Shook Up” (1957)
Johnny Mathis: 39 weeks, “Wonderful! Wonderful!” (1957)
Rolling Stones: 24 weeks, “Start Me Up” (1981)
Stevie Wonder: 26 weeks, “I Just Called to Say I Love You” (1984)