DEAR JERRY: Since you identified the uncredited girl singer with Sonny James on "Are You Mine," I'd like your help with a similar mystery.
I have the original Cameo 45 of Bobby Rydell's "Swingin' School," but there is no mention on the label of this frequently heard back-up vocalist.
She provides the "la-las," and the "oh Bobby, oh, everything's cool, we
plan to go to a swingin' school."
Megan Smith, Passaic, N.J.
DEAR MEGAN: A similar mystery indeed.
Not even Sonny James knew who sang with him on "Are You Mine," and he told us it was probably just a session singer who was in the Capitol studio at the time.
We eventually learned her alliterative name is Darla Daret, and that she later made several records for the Swan label, using the name Patty Saturday.
Now let's close the case on your mystery.
The unidentified woman prominently heard on "Swingin' School" is Willarene "Willa" Ward.
With her younger sister, Clara Ward, and their mother, Gertrude Ward, they first came to prominence in the mid-1940s performing as the Ward Trio.
Clara Ward (April 21, 1924- January 16, 1973), often working as the Famous Ward Singers of Philadelphia, had a very successful career in gospel music.
Though not credited, perhaps at their request, Clara and Willa, occasionally found time to lend their voices, separately and together, to secular recordings, especially for Philadelphia-based Cameo/Parkway Records.
Very few music lovers knew they were listening to the Ward sisters backing Dee Dee Sharp on the No. 1 hit, "Mashed Potato Time."
Willa also sang with Dee Dee Sharp on her 1962 "Songs of Faith" album.
DEAR JERRY: Most of my singles collection is from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Like many collectors, I file them alphabetically by label name, then by artist.
After that is where I differ from most, because I organize them by peak chart position.
Based on just my stash, it seems that Capitol had the most No. 1 hits
during those years. Would you agree?
Clint LaForge, Newport News, Va.
DEAR CLINT: I do agree, and I suspect you have more than one or two Beatles and/or Beach Boys Capitol records.
Perhaps your inventory has fewer Columbia releases because they eschewed rock music for so many years. Still, they nearly equal Capitol's success in this analysis.
Your thought-provoking comments stirred my interest in which labels had the most No. 1 hits, on either Billboard or Cash Box, for the 30 years you reference.
With the parent company and relevant subsidiaries, I'll add some of their top-selling artists, and the number of chart-toppers for each.
Labels listed have a minimum of 25 No. 1 hits from 1950 to 1980.
This is not necessarily a career total, though it is in some cases. It represents their recordings exclusive to that company, for those three decades.
Most tunes were No. 1 on Billboard and Cash Box; though each magazine had top-ranked titles that never reached No. 1 on the other's charts.
1. Capitol/Apple/Tower (82)
Beatles (19); Paul McCartney/Wings (8); Beach Boys (4); Helen Reddy (4); Ringo Starr (3); Glen Campbell (2); George Harrison (2)
2. Columbia/Epic/Barnaby (81)
Simon & Garfunkel/Paul Simon (6); Tony Bennett (4); Bobby Vinton (4); Doris Day (3); Ray Stevens (2); Chicago (2)
3. RCA Victor/Colgems (67)
Elvis Presley (21); Perry Como (8); Eddie Fisher (6); Monkees (5); John Denver (5)
4. Motown/Tamla/Gordy (62)
Diana Ross/Supremes (16); Michael Jackson/Jackson 5 (11); Stevie Wonder (8); Temptations (5); Marvin Gaye (4); Gladys Knight (3); Commodores (3)
5. Decca/Coral/Brunswick/MCA/Rocket (44)
Elton John (9); Ames Brothers (3); Olivia Newton-John (3); Brenda Lee (2)
6. Warner Bros./Reprise/Elektra/Asylum (37)
Eagles (5); Association (3); Doors (3); Petula Clark (2); Frank Sinatra (2); Nancy Sinatra (2); Doobie Brothers (2)
7. Mercury/Smash/Philips/Fontana (34)
Patti Page (5); Platters (4); Four Seasons/Frankie Valli (5)
8. Atlantic/Atco (26)
Aretha Franklin (3); Young Rascals (3); Drifters (2)
IZ ZAT SO? This week's research turned up a surprising accomplishment by Elton John.
For 30 years from 1970, when he first appeared on the U.S. charts, into 2000, Sir Elton had at least one Top 50 hit every year.
This includes duets with Kiki Dee; Jennifer Rush; Aretha Franklin; George Michael; and Leann Rimes.
Among this astounding feat, there are eight No. 1, 26 Top 10, and 68 Top 100 songs.