When I was growing up in the fifties, the older music that my parents often had playing on radios and in the car was primarily from the forties and early fifties. Joel Whitburn’s Record Research books break popular music into a few simple eras:
- prior to 1940
Statistical reasons lead me to stop the last era at about 1991 and add a new era due to the rise of streaming; the changes in chart activity since the death of singles is significant.
The tenth most successful artist in the middle era is all but forgotten now: Dinah Shore. Since she was turned away from most big bands of the early forties, Dinah went it alone and became one of the first successful solo artists. From 1940 to 1955 she amassed 3 number one singles, 29 more top ten singles, and at least another 20 top twenty singles.
If she is recognized at all now it’s either because of her long history of successful television shows or her affair with Burt Reynolds in the seventies. She did have five top forty singles from 1955 to 1957. Her last record to reach those heights was I’ll Never Say “Never Again” Again. That single reached up to #24 in 1957. Listening to it now, I can easily sing along, but something about the record just doesn’t seem completely familiar…it took a bit of digging, but I finally figured out why: blame Ozzie Nelson. Before he and his family had a television show, before he and his wife had their movie, even before they had their radio show, Ozzie was a bandleader and singer! In 1935, Ozzie Nelson and his Orchestra recorded the song and it got into the top five on the charts.
Somehow, I feel a lot older than I did when I started searching for a lost or forgotten oldie this afternoon.