1971 Peter Nero – Theme From “Summer of ’42”

1971 Peter Nero – Theme From “Summer of ’42”

Bernard Nierow was born in Brooklyn in 1934. He practiced classic piano until he found it too boring and switched over to playing his own fusion of classic and jazz music. He played piano on a Paul Whiteman television special when he was 17 years-old and followed that with nearly a dozen appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and a few visits to The Tonight Show.

He played in clubs in New York and Las Vegas, but struggled to make a living.  Stan Greeson, an executive at RCA Victor, caught his act and signed him to the label. Bernard changed his name to Peter Nero and recorded his first album in 1961. Peter won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist that year, and he began releasing multiple albums each year. He included a large number of recordings that covered theme songs from films and television shows.

Peter won a second Grammy Award in 1962 for Best Performance By An Orchestra Or Instrumentalist With Orchestra – Primarily Not Jazz Or For Dancing. He later received nominations for five other awards.

Peter moved to Columbia Records in 1970.

Michel Legrand composed the music for the film Summer of ’42. Peter created his own arrangement of the Theme From “Summer of ’42” and released it as a single. The record reached #21 on the Hot 100 in 1971.

That single was the only time Peter reached the Hot 100, but two more of his covers reached the top forty on the Adult Contemporary Chart. Brian’s Song, the theme from the television movie, peaked at #30 in 1972. Emmanuelle was the cover of the theme song from the film and reached #37 in 1975.

By the time he stopped releasing new music in the twenty-first century, he had recorded over 60 albums and released more than 50 singles.

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/peter-nero-mn0000039300/biography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Nero

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1972 Daniel Boone – Beautiful Sunday

1972 Daniel Boone – Beautiful Sunday

Peter Greene was born in Birmingham, England, in 1942 and began singing as a member of The Beachcombers in 1958. Singer Tommy Bruce had a #3 record in the UK in 1960 with a remake of Ain’t Misbehaving, and he hired The Beachcombers as his touring band. They renamed the group The Bruisers.

In 1963, Peter changed his name to Peter Lee Stirling and began writing songs. Peter wrote the music and Phil Peters wrote the lyrics for I Belong, a song that came in second in the 1965 Eurovision Song Contest. Kathy Kirby sang the song, which came in second in the competition.

After the Bruisers split up in 1967, Peter became the co-owner of a recording studio in London. He recorded an album as part of the band Hungry Wolf. He also recorded two more albums with the group after it changed its name to Rumpelstiltskin, but none of those albums found their way onto the charts.

In 1971, Peter changed his name to Daniel Boone (yes, he named himself after the American hero). He signed with the Penny Farthing record label. His first single for the company was the original version of the song Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast. The record peaked at #17 in the UK, but failed to reach the Hot 100 in the US.

A year later, Wayne Newton recorded the song and reached #4 on the Hot 100.

Daniel and Rod McQueen co-wrote several songs together and finally found the charts in 1972 with the Daniel Boone recording of Beautiful Sunday. The single peaked at #15 on the Hot 100, but only reached #21 in the UK.

The single did well in several other countries. It sold over two million copies in Japan and remains the best-selling single in Japan by an international act.

Daniel continued working as a songwriter, but never again reached that dizzying level of success on the charts.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Boone_(singer)

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1964/1967 The Hollies – Just One Look

1964/1967 The Hollies – Just One Look

The British Invasion began in 1963, and one of the most successful British groups was the Hollies. In May 1964, their single of Just One Look was released in the US but climbed no higher than number 98. Like many of their early singles, the song was a cover of a previously successful song (in this case, the original was a top ten single for Doris Troy in 1983).

Despite having seven top ten records in England, the group was unable to reach the American top 40 until the single Look Through Any Window got to #32 in late 1965. The group finally hit the top ten in the US the next Summer when Bus Stop made it up to #2. Several more hits came out during the following year, after which the group abandoned their record label (Imperial Records) and signed with Epic Records (a division of Columbia Records at the time, and now a part of Sony Music Entertainment).

Their last big US hit on Imperial Records was On a Carousel, which barely missed the top ten. When that record faded in the early Spring of 1967, each record label released another Hollies single. Epic released the Evolution album the same day as Sgt Peppers and put out the single Carrie Anne, which cracked the top ten (barely; it reached #9). Imperial Records released a second single from their last Hollies’ album, Pay You Back with Interest, which stalled at #28 while Carrie Anne was still climbing the charts.

What happened next was a surprise.

Imperial Records reissued the first American single, Just One Look. Perhaps because of the recent hit singles the group enjoyed, this time the record got up to #44 on the Hot 100 in 1967, doing even better than that in some markets. The next single from Epic was King Midas In Reverse, a more psychedelic and experimental record from their next album that could not get any higher than #51: the re-release of an older record did better than their new single!

Over the next few years, the Hollies went through some significant changes in both style and personnel (Graham Nash left to help form Crosby, Stills, and Nash). They had a few more top ten records in England but did not have another significant hit record in the US until He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother came out in 1969.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hollies
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hollies_discography

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1971 Led Zeppelin – Immigrant Song

1971 Led Zeppelin – Immigrant Song

From 1963 to 1968, Keith Relf sang vocals and played harmonica in the Yardbirds. The group also had three notable guitarists at one time or another: Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page. The group also included Paul Samwell-Smith on bass for the first three years, Chris Dreja on guitar (and later bass), and Jim McCarty on drums.

The group disintegrated in 1968, leaving Chris and Jimmy to salvage something from the ashes. They added Robert Plant on vocals and he brought along drummer John Bonham. Chris decided to leave and pursue a career as a photographer, and John Paul Jones joined the group. They put on a tour of Scandinavia in 1968, appearing sometimes as The New Yardbirds. Chris owned the rights to the name “The Yardbirds,” so a new name became necessary.

In an earlier discussion of forming a supergroup, Keith Moon had suggested that the idea would go over like a lead balloon, to which John Entwistle offered the correction, “More like a lead zeppelin.” Jimmy remembered that musing and changed the proffered name slightly to Led Zeppelin, and that became the group’s new name.

The group’s first album included a two-sided single that only reached #80 on the Hot 100 (Good Times Bad Times and Communication Breakdown). The group’s second album had a top five hit, Whole Lotta Love.

Their third album release in late 1970 was a critical disappointment, perhaps because of the focus on folk-influenced acoustic music. The only single from the album was  Immigrant Song, which peaked at #16 on the Hot 100 in 1971.

The record is one of the few top forty singles* from the sixties and seventies that does not include the title of the song in the lyrics. Airplay for the song has all but disappeared from the airwaves on oldies stations, perhaps because it is simply too much heavy metal for older listeners.

The group finally became superstars as a result of their fourth album. The album did not have a name, but the group insisted they issue the album with four symbols on the cover (one for each of the members of the group). The album is usually referred to as Led Zeppelin IV.

The first single from the album, Black Dog, only reached #15 on the chart in 1971. The second single did even more poorly; Rock and Roll stalled at #47 in 1972. Even then, metal was a hard sell to top forty radio stations.

The group’s genuine breakthrough came from another song on the album, a song that the group steadfastly refused to release as a single: Stairway To Heaven. It was arguably one of the most important recordings in the rock era, and the album still dominates airplay on Classic Rock stations.

* Other songs with that distinction include Weekend In New England, Rainy Day Woman #12 & 35, A Summer Song, and Strawberry Letter 23. Feel free to mention any others you can think of, but please limit yourself to songs that reached the top forty!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Led_Zeppelin
https://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/becks-bolero-recording-session-may-or-nov-1966.76435/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Led_Zeppelin_discography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigrant_Song

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1970 Aretha Franklin – Don’t Play That Song (You Lied)

eare1970 Aretha Franklin – Don’t Play That Song (You Lied)

Aretha’s recording career began in 1960 when her release of Today I Sing the Blues hit the top ten on the R&B chart. Her first top forty single on the pop charts came from a long-forgotten single. It was a song turned into a chart-topping single in 1918 when it was sung by Al Jolson. Dean Martin covered the song in 1950. Jerry Lewis had a top ten hit with the song in 1956. Aretha’s version of Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody only reached #37 on the Hot 100 in 1961.

It was Aretha’s last appearance in the Hot 100 top forty until 1967, a year when she placed five singles in the top ten.

Two years before she married Ben E. King, Betty Nelson co-wrote Don’t Play That Song (You Lied) with songwriter Ahmet Ertegun. It became the title song for Ben’s third album in 1962. His single reached #2 on the R&B chart and #11 on the Hot 100 that year. It would be 1975 before Ben would again reach the top ten on the Hot 100.

Aretha covered Don’t Play That Song (You Lied) in 1970. The Dixie Flyers provided background vocals for the recording. Her single release topped the R&B chart and reached #11 on the Hot 100 that year.

She earned a gold record for the single when it sold over a million copies and played the song when she headlined at The Fillmore West in 1971.

Aretha continued releasing hits that reached the top forty of the Hot 100 and the top ten of the R&B chart as recently as 1998.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aretha_Franklin
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aretha_Franklin_discography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don%27t_Play_That_Song_(You_Lied)

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1970 Jack Blanchard & Misty Morgan – Tennessee Bird Walk

1970 Jack Blanchard & Misty Morgan – Tennessee Bird Walk 

Jack Blanchard was born in 1942, and Misty Morgan was born in 1945. They were each born in the same hospital in Buffalo, New York, and grew up in Ohio. They didn’t meet until 1963, when they had both moved to Florida. Jack was working as a comedian while Misty played piano for a living. Within a few years, they were married.

They worked together on singles on Wayside Records beginning in 1968. Their second single, Big Black Bird (Spirit Of Our Love), reached #59 on the Country chart in 1969. Their big break came from their next single. Jack wrote Tennessee Bird Walk, a comedic novelty tune that topped the Country chart in 1970. The single also crossed over to pop and reached #23 on the Hot 100. The record was  nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group, but the award went to If I Were a Carpenter by Johnny Cash and June Carter.

Jack also wrote their next singleHumphrey The Camel, which didn’t sound very different. The record again did well on the Country chart where it reached #5. It failed to find a footing on the pop charts and peaked at only #78 on the Hot 100.

The pair never reached the Hot 100 again. They continued recording records that were somewhat successful on the Country chart through the mid-seventies. They had five more top forty hits and eight other charting records by 1976. 

They did not record any new material from 1976 through 1994. The duo then began recording again and had released a dozen albums by 2012.

Misty died from cancer in 2020 at the age of 75.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Blanchard_%26_Misty_Morgan

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1969 Mary Hopkin – Goodbye

1969 Mary Hopkin – Goodbye 

Mary Hopkin was born in Wales. After years of singing lessons, she joined the folksinging group Selby Set and Mary. She won on an episode of the BBC television show Opportunity Knocks in 1968. The Uber-thin model Twiggy told Paul McCartney about the winning performance, and Paul signed Mary to a contract with the new Apple Records label.

Gene Raskin’s wife was a folk singer, and he wrote new English lyrics with his wife for Dorogoi dlinnoyu, a Russian song from the 1920s. He promoted the song to The Limeliters, a folk trio that included Glenn Yarbrough. They included their recording on an album in 1962, but never released it as a single.

Gene and his wife appeared annually at the Blue Angel club in London and usually closed the show with the song. Paul McCartney heard the song at one of the shows, and tried unsuccessfully to get several artists to record the song.

One of the first recordings Paul produced for Mary was a cover version of Those Were The Days, which topped the UK chart in 1968. The single only reached #2 on the Hot 100 in the US, but it topped the Adult Contemporary chart for over a month.

Paul wrote and produced Mary’s next single (although he credited it to Lennon-McCartney as was normal for the pair at that time). Goodbye peaked at only #13 on the Hot 100 and #6 on the AC chart in 1969, although it reached #2 on the UK chart.

Mary’s third single covered Temma Harbour, a song by Philamore Lincoln. The record was not produced by Paul; it barely reached the top forty on the Hot 100, peaking at #39. 

Paul pressured Mary into recording a cover of the Doris Day hit, Que Sera Sera. Mary refused to release the song as a single in the UK, and it stalled at #77 on the Hot 100 when it was released in the US.

Mary sang Knock Knock, Who’s There in the 1970 Eurovision competition, and finished second. The single reached #2 in the UK and #11 on the AC chart, but could not do any better than #92 on the Hot 100. 

Mary married Tony Visconti, who also produced her second album in 1971. He also produced several albums for David Bowie, and Mary sang some background vocals for David and Tom Paxton and other artists in the mid-seventies. She and Tony divorced in 1981.

Mary retired from singing for a few years to begin raising a family. She began recording albums again in 1989. She released her most recent album, A Christmas Chorale, in 2020.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Hopkin
https://www.the-paulmccartney-project.com/song/those-were-the-days/

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1969 New Colony Six – Things I’d Like To Say

1969 New Colony Six – Things I’d Like To Say

The New Colony Six was a group formed in Chicago in the mid-sixties. The initial lineup included Ray Graffia on vocals, Chick James drums, Pat McBride on harmonica, Wally Kemp on bass, and Gerry Van Kollenburg on guitar. Craig Kemp played the organ in the group until 1966. When he left, Ronnie Rice joined the group, playing the organ and guitar as well as singing.

Gerry and Ray wrote the group’s first single, I Confess. While the record peaked at only #80 on the Hot 100, it reached #2 in Chicago in 1965. The only single they released during the next two years that reached the Hot 100 was a song Gerry and Ray co-wrote with Pat. Love You So Much peaked at #61 on the Hot 100, but it got enough airplay in the New York area that I bought a copy of the single.

By the end of 1967, Les Kummel had taken over duties on the bass. The group finally reached the national top forty in 1968 with I Will Always Think About You, a song written by Ron and Les. The single peaked at #22 on the Hot 100 in 1968.

Ray and Gerry wrote the group’s next singleCan’t You See Me Cry, but it only reached #52 on the Hot 100.

Another tune from Ron and Les became the group’s biggest hit. Things I’d Like To Say peaked at #16 on the Hot 100 in late 1968.

While the group never reached the top forty again, they did place five more singles on the Hot 100 before disbanding in 1974. Four of those singles did reach the top forty on the Adult Contemporary chart between 1969 and 1971.

Some members reformed the group for a reunion show in 1988, and The New Colony Six has been appearing publicly since then. Ray currently leads the group, which maintains a website at https://newcolonysix.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Colony_Six

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1968 Leapy Lee – Little Arrows

1968 Leapy Lee – Little Arrows 

Graham Pulleyblank was born in England in 1939 and began work as a comedian at the Panorama Espresso Lounge in 1955. Within a year he appeared at the Metropolitan Theatre in London as Lee Graham. In 1958, he had a featured role in the show Large as Life at the London Palladium

Lee also sang in clubs part-time. He released his first singleIt’s All Happening, as Leapy Lee in 1962. He became friends with Ray Davies of the Kinks and nearly recorded Sunny Afternoon before the Kinks did. Ray instead wrote and produced King of the Whole Wide World for Lee in 1966. Ray’s brother Dave even played guitar on the record, but the single failed to chart.

In 1968, Lee recorded Little Arrows, a song written by Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood. The record reached #2 in the UK and Australia and got up to #16 on the US Hot 100. Lee’s version of the song had a slight Country feel to it, and as a result, the single also peaked at #11 on the Country chart in the US. The record sold an astonishing four million copies worldwide!

Lee recorded more than a dozen singles, two of which at least got into the US Country top 100. They sent him to prison for two years in 1972 as the result of a bar fight, and that slowed down his career.

Lee eventually moved to Spain, where he continues to write a regular column for the Euro Weekly News

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/leapy-lee-mn0000116716
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leapy_Lee
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Arrows

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1968 The Sweet Inspirations – Sweet Inspiration

1968 The Sweet Inspirations – Sweet Inspiration

Emily “Cissy” Houston (who was also known as Cissy Drinkard) formed the family gospel group The Drinkard Singers in 1938. Emily was the mother of Whitney Houston. Another member was her sister, Lee Warwick, who became the mother of Dee Dee and Dionne Warwick. The group started recording as The Gospelaires. By 1960, the group included Dee Dee, Dionne, and Doris Troy and was billed as the Sweet Inspirations. They sang backup vocals for recordings by Aretha Franklin and other R&B artists.

Burt Bacharach discovered Dionne in 1962, and she sang on demos for him before releasing her own singles. Doris Troy left the group in 1963 and her career as a solo artist kicked into gear with the top ten single Just One Look. Cissy Houston took her place in the group. The initial hits for Doris and Dionne used the Sweet Inspirations for background vocals.

Dee Dee signed with Mercury Records in 1965 and left for her own solo career.

Three new members joined Cissy in the group after those departures: Sylvia Shemwell, Estelle Brown, and Myrna Smith. They were constantly in demand as background singers for recordings by other artists, and not just for R&B records. In 1967, they sang on Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison and the Jimi Hendrix single Burning of the Midnight Lamp.

In 1967, the group also recorded their first album and released two top forty R&B singles. The group also recorded their first gospel album that year. Their record company released the album as Songs Of Faith & Inspiration by Cissy Drinkard & The Sweet Inspirations.

In 1968, the group released the single that successfully got them into the top forty on the pop charts. Sweet Inspiration reached #18 on the Hot 100 in 1968 and peaked at #5 on the R&B chart.

The group toured with Elvis Presley as an opening act and also sang background vocals for his performances.

The group had a few more minor R&B hits before Cissy left the group for her own solo career in 1969. The group’s lineup changed periodically, but they continued to release new albums through the mid-seventies. One last album came out in 2005 as part of a brief reunion by most of the original members.

A current group still makes appearances and maintains a website at http://sweetinspirations.org/index_files/page0003.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sweet_Inspirations
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Drinkard_Singers

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