DEAR JERRY: Faithful reader that I am, the topics you cover always make me think about something similar that I am curious about.
For example, when you recently answered someone's question about how many No. 1 hits certain recording artists had, it brought to mind this question:
Besides Leslie “It's My Party” Gore, how many others in the 1960s managed to reach No. 1 with their very first U.S. record release?
The guys on the radio make it seem like quite a rare accomplishment.
Kelly Helms, Arlington Ky.
DEAR KELLY: If compared to the many thousands of '60s artists whose first releases either peaked somewhere below No. 1, or didn't chart at all, Leslie Gore is one lucky girl among a minuscule gathering.
Yet, if stacked up against the many artists responsible for ALL 256 No. 1 hits of the '60s on on Billboard and/or Cash Box, Gore is but one of a astounding list of artists to accomplish this feat.
It happened 46 times, and at least once every year of that decade.
In 1963 alone, Leslie's debut year, nine performers turned this trick, perhaps making it seem rather common.
Year by year, here they are:
1960: Johnny Preston ("Running Bear"); Hollywood Argyles ("Alley-Oop"); Larry Verne ("Mr. Custer")
1961: Marcels ("Blue Moon"); Del Shannon ("Runaway"); Joe Dowell ("Wooden Heart"); Highwaymen ("Michael"); Marvelettes ("Please Mr. Postman")
1962: Gene Chandler ("Duke of Earl"); Dee Dee Sharp ("Mashed Potato Time"); Little Eva ("The Loco-Motion"); Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers ("Monster Mash"); Tornadoes ("Telstar")
1963: Rooftop Singers ("Walk Right In"); Paul & Paula ("Hey Paula"); Ruby and the Romantics ("Our Day Will Come"); Chiffons ("He's So Fine"); Leslie Gore ("It's My Party"); Kyu Sakamoto ("Sukiyaki"); Essex ("Easier Said Than Done"); Tymes ("So Much in Love"); Dale & Grace ("I'm Leaving It Up to You"); The Singing Nun ("Dominique")
1964: Kingsmen ("Louie Louie"); Dixie Cups ("Chapel of Love"); Peter & Gordon ("A World Without Love"); Gale Garnett ("We'll Sing in the Sunshine")
1965: Gary Lewis and the Playboys ("This Diamond Ring"); Freddie and the Dreamers ("I'm Telling You Now"); Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders ("The Game of Love"); Byrds ("Mr. Tambourine Man"); McCoys ("Hang On Sloopy"); Toys ("A Lover's Concerto")
1966: Simon & Garfunkel ("The Sounds of Silence"); SSgt. Barry Sadler ("The Ballad of the Green Berets"); Percy Sledge ("When a Man Loves a Woman"); Troggs ("Wild Thing"); Napoleon XIV ("They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!"); ? and the Mysterians ("96 Tears"); Monkees ("Last Train to Clarksville"); New Vaudeville Band ("Winchester Cathedral")
1967: Bobbie Gentry ("Ode to Billy Joe"); Box Tops ("The Letter"); Strawberry Alarm Clock ("Incense and Peppermints")
1968: Archie Bell and the Drells ("Tighten Up"); Mary Hopkin ("Those Were the Days")
1969: Zager & Evans ("In the Year 2525 [Exordium & Terminus"]); Steam ("Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye")
Lists like this always require some parameters, and this one is no exception.
Included are five whose first record is merely an earlier issue of the tune that, when reissued, reached No. 1: Freddie and the Dreamers (“I'm Telling You Now” first issued on Capitol but the hit came later on Tower), Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders (“Game of Love” originally on Fontana “1503 but the hit came later as “1509), Strawberry Alarm Clock (First issues of “Incense and Peppermints” credit Sixpence, reissues are by Strawberry Alarm Clock). Archie Bell and the Drells' “Tighten Up” was first out on Ovide (the hit came later on Atlantic) and Zager & Evans' “In the Year 2525 [Exordium & Terminus”]) came out first on Truth (the hit being on RCA).
Also included are three acts with previous releases issued under a different name: Simon & Garfunkel (Tom & Jerry), Strawberry Alarm Clock (Sixpence), and the Byrds (Beefeaters).
We do not exclude solo acts previously in groups (Gene Chandler), or groups whose individual members recorded earlier, whether solo or with other groups (Hollywood Argyles, Rooftop Singers, and Monkees).
IZ ZAT SO? Among the honored names above is Joe Dowell, whose waxing of “Wooden Heart” topped the charts in 1961.
Well, on the very day spent preparing this week's feature, the following note arrived from Joe:
“Thanks again for your interest in “Wooden Heart” and our plans to do a contemporary version. It looks like my dream to make it a second time is becoming a reality.
“It is not ready yet, but be assured you and your readers will be among the very first to know when it is finished.”
Mighty fortuitous timing, Joe. I truly look forward to hearing your “new” release!