Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Been wracking my brain to come up with the top-rated R&B and C&W artists who never once appeared on any of the Pop/Rock charts.

It seems like every big name I come up with had something cross over, even far-fetched as Hank Williams (“Jambalaya”) and Lonnie Johnson (“Tomorrow Night”).

Who are your choices for this interesting title?
—Cary LaSalle, Terre Haute, Ind.

DEAR CARY: First let's name this dubious honor. How about C.C. (Crossover Challenged)?

You suggest referencing “any” Pop/Rock charts (singles, albums, etc.), but should that include those regionally successful record charts Billboard described as “Bubbling Under the Hot 100”?

Over its life (1959-1985), this addendum listed from a few to a few dozen selections, about 58% of which graduated to the Hot 100.

If we do not count those bubblers, then Mel Tillis is the C&W winner of the C.C. crown. If we do, then we skip over Mel and the answer is Earl Thomas Conley.

The same goes for the R&B genre. Omit those whose highest position came while Bubbling Under and Phyllis Hyman is the pick. Among R&B non-bubblers, Sonny Thompson is most Crossover Challenged.

DEAR JERRY: Because my favorite music decade is the 1960s, I was disappointed to read a blog that says hardly any of the top superstars won a Grammy in the '60s.

Non-winners include the Rolling Stones; Beach Boys; 4 Seasons; Supremes; Connie Francis; Roy Orbison; Brenda Lee; and many others.

If not the giants in the field at the time, then why?
—Martha Proctor, Cleveland

DEAR MARTHA: Grammys in those days mostly went to folks who neither rocked nor rolled.

Despite the immeasurable impact of the British Invasion and the rise of Motown in the '60s, very rarely did an artist from these genres win in any of the key categories, especially Best Rock & Roll Recording.

For 1964, instead of the Beatles' “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” the No. 1 record of the year, Petula Clark's “Downtown” took the Grammy for Best Rock & Roll Recording.

The Best Rhythm & Blues Recording of '64 should have been either “My Guy” (Mary Wells) or “Baby Love” (Supremes) but went to jazz singer Nancy Wilson for “How Glad I Am.”

These are great recordings by Petula and Nancy, but neither is considered R&R or R&B by anyone I know.

The inexplicable choices continue:

The Best Contemporary (Rock & Roll) single of 1965 was another no-brainer. It should have been “(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction” (Rolling Stones), the No. 1 hit of that year AND the entire decade.

Grammy voters instead chose Roger Miller's “King of the Road,” an excellent country ballad that ranks zero on a rock and roll scale of 100.

Proving that two wrongs rarely make a right, “King of the Road,” also won for Best Rock & Roll Male Vocal Performance. My pick would have been “Like a Rolling Stone” (Bob Dylan).

Mysteriously, “King of the Road” also won in identical categories for C&W (see below). If you're asking how it can possibly be both, you are not alone.

As for Best Rock & Roll Vocal Group of 1965, how could it not be the Beatles? Even the Rolling Stones; Beach Boys; 4 Seasons; or Supremes would have been acceptable.

Incredulously, the Best Contemporary (Rock & Roll) Group for '65 turned out to be the Statler Brothers, a country music quartet with only one Top 100 hit for the entire decade (“Flowers on the Wall”).

Oh yes, the Grammy for Best Rock & Roll Recording of 1962 went to Bent Fabric's piano instrumental, “Alley Cat.” No recognition is even made of the umpteen-million-selling hit that defined '62, as well as the first third of the decade: “The Twist” by Chubby Checker.

I know it was the '60s, but what were these people smoking?

IZ ZAT SO? Roger Miller established an impressive record for his records in 1964 and '65.

For those two years, Roger won 11 Grammys, the most ever by anyone in back-to-back years:

Best of 1964: C&W Single; C&W Song; C&W Album; C&W Male Vocal Performance; and New C&W Artist. The first four categories are for “Dang Me.”

Best of 1965: Contemporary (R&R) Single; C&W Single; C&W Song; R&R Male Vocal Performance; C&W Male Vocal Performance; C&W Album. The first five categories are for “King of the Road,” the album is “The Return of Roger Miller.”

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