1964 Brenda Lee – As Usual

1964 Brenda Lee – As Usual 

Brenda Lee began charting top ten singles on the Hot 100 in 1959, and she had at least one hit in that group every year until 1964. Perhaps it was the British Invasion that slowed down her chart successes, but even that didn’t put an end to her popular singles.

The closest she came to a top ten record in 1964 was a song released in late 1963. As Usual was written by Alex Zanetis, a songwriter who came up with hits for a variety of Country artists. Brenda’s single reached #12 on the Hot 100 and #5 on the Adult Contemporary chart in early 1964. The record also reached #5 in the UK.

While her career waned on the Pop chart, Brenda continued having top ten hits on the Country chart through 1980.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brenda_Lee
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brenda_Lee_discography#1960s

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1964 Tommy Tucker – Hi-Heel Sneakers

1964 Tommy Tucker – Hi-Heel Sneakers

Robert Higginbotham was born in Ohio in 1933. He became a blues musician, recording for primarily for Checker Records.

As Tommy Tucker, he wrote and recorded the hit Hi-Heel Sneakers. The single peaked at #11 on the Hot 100 in 1964.

His next single, Long Tall Shorty, reached #96 later that year, after which Tommy never again charted on the Hot 100.

He continued writing and recording music for a few more years, after which he became a real estate agent. He also did freelance writing, mostly writing about the exploitation of African Americans.

Tommy was only 48 years old when he died in 1982.

Four other artists reached the Hot 100 with Hi-Heel Sneakers. The most successful of those covers came from José Feliciano in 1968. He released his cover version of the song as his follow-up to Light My Fire. The single reached #25 and was his only other single to reach the top forty on the Hot 100.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tommy_Tucker_(singer)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hi-Heel_Sneakers

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1963 Joe Harnell & His Orchestra – Fly Me To The Moon Bossa Nova

1963 Joe Harnell & His Orchestra – Fly Me To The Moon Bossa Nova

In the late fifties, samba music began to change to a new format with the new sound focused in Rio de Janeiro. They eventually applied the name Bossa Nova to this new style of music, the term roughly translating as “new wave.” In 1962, Antônio Carlos Jobim composed the music and Vinícius de Moraes wrote the lyrics for Garota de Ipanema, which became The Girl From Ipanema in 1964.

English-speaking music fans were introduced to the Bossa Nova earlier by two top ten singles that charted in 1963. Eydie Gormé released Blame It On The Bossa Nova in January and the single peaked at #7 on the Hot 100 in March.

Elvis recorded Bossa Nova Baby in January as part of the soundtrack for the film Fun In Acapulco. They released the song as a single when the movie was finally finished, and the record reached #8 on the Hot 100 in November.

Joe Harnell played piano as a member of Glenn Miller’s Air Force Band during World War II. After the war, he began working as a studio musician. He became Peggy Lee’s arranger and accompanist in the late fifties. When he was injured in a car accident in 1962, his record company noticed asked him to work on some Bossa Nova music since the sound had become more popular in Latin countries.

He took the popular song Fly Me To The Moon and arranged Fly Me To The Moon Bossa Nova. The result was recorded by his orchestra and released as a single that reached #14 on the Hot 100 and #4 on the Adult Contemporary chart in 1963.

He followed that success with a remake of the 1928 hit Diane, but it only reached #93 on the Hot 100.

Joe worked as the piano player on The Dinah Shore Chevy Show and later made a living writing jingles. Beginning in 1967, he became the music director for The Mike Douglas Show.

Joe moved to Hollywood in 1973 and began composing music for television and movies. He died from heart failure in 2005.

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

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1963 Orlons – Not Me

1963 Orlons – Not Me 

while still in junior high school, Shirley Brickley, Marlena Davis, and Rosetta Hightower formed Audrey and the Teenettes with two of Shirley’s sisters, Jean and Audrey. When Shirley’s mother would not let Audrey perform in some nightclubs, she and Jean quit the group.

While in high school, the trio convinced singer Stephen Caldwell to join them. Another group in their school was named Cashmeres, and the quartet began calling themselves The Orlons (the brand name of an acrylic fiber).

Len Barry, the lead singer of the Dovells, encouraged the group to audition with his record company, Cameo-Parkway Records. It took three auditions, but Dave Appell finally signed the group to a recording contract. 

Kal Mann had written Teddy Bear, Butterfly, and co-wrote Let’s Twist Again with Dave. Kal co-wrote Mashed Potato Time for Dee Dee Sharp, and the Orlons sang background vocals on the recording. That record topped the R&B chart and reached #2 on the Hot 100 in early 1962.

Dave and Kal co-wrote three songs that took the Orlons into the top five of the Hot 100 and the R&B chart in 1962 and 1963: The Wah-WatusiDon’t Hang Up, and South Street. All three singles sold over a million copies.

Frank Guida discovered Gary U.S. Bonds and co-wrote his 1960/1961 hits New Orleans and Quarter to Three. He co-wrote the next Orlons single, Not Me, with Gary L. Anderson. 

The single did not do as well as their previous hits, peaking at only #12 on the Hot 100 and #8 on the R&B chart in 1963.

Their next single that year was another song from Dave and Kal. Crossfire stalled at #19 on the Hot 100 and #25 on the R&B chart.

The group reached the R&B top forty 4 more times, but never again reached the top forty on the Hot 100. Marlena left the group in 1963 and Stephen left in 1964. New singers took their places, but by 1968, the group had completely disbanded.

Rosetta had a successful career as a studio musician and sang background vocals for Joe Cocker and others.

Frank went on to write If You Wanna Be Happy, which was a number one hit by Jimmy Soul in 1963.

Stephen and Marlena reformed the Orlons in 1988 and began singing in oldies shows. After Marlena died in 1993, Shirley’s sister Jean took her place. Stephen and Jean still continue to appear as the Orlons with help from addtional singers.

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

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1962 Larry Finnegan – Dear One

1962 Larry Finnegan – Dear One

John Lawrence Finneran was born in New York City in 1938. He and his brother Vinnie grew up working on music together, and he began recording demos.

One of the demos was a song he wrote with his brother, Dear One. Hy Weiss at Old Town Records liked the demo enough to sign him to a recording contract as Larry Finnegan. A single came out in 1962 and peaked at #11 on the Hot 100.

The record reached #1 in Australia and eventually sold over a million copies.

Larry walked the line between Pop and Country for years, but never charted on the Hot 100 again.

He even wrote and recorded a song about a Beatle in 1964, but A Tribute To Ringo Starr – The Other Ringo stalled at #130 (bubbling under the Hot 100).

Larry moved to Sweden in 1966 and even recorded some songs in Swedish on a record label he started himself. In 1967 he moved to Switzerland, and he finally returned to the United States in 1970.

Sadly, Larry died from a brain tumor in 1973. He was only 34 years old.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_Finnegan
https://www.allmusic.com/artist/larry-finnegan-mn0000129899

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1962 Sue Thompson – James (Hold The Ladder Steady)

1962 Sue Thompson – James (Hold The Ladder Steady) 

 Eva Sue McKee was born in Missouri in 1925. She learned to sing and play guitar at a very young age and began performing in public by the time she reached seven years old.

Sue briefly married during World War II. She supported herself after the marriage failed by singing in nightclubs in San Jose. She then married Dude Martin and the pair began singing together and recording duets. She signed a recording contract with Mercury Records in 1950.

Her second marriage also ended in divorce. In 1953, Sue married Country singer/comedian Hank Perry. The pair hosted their own television show in Los Angeles before moving to Las Vegas. Sue began recording solo Country songs and duets with Hank for Decca Records, but they never managed any hits.

In 1960, Sue signed with Hickory Records and began working with songwriter John D. Loudermilk. Wesley Rose produced her first album, and John wrote both of her first two singles. Sad Movies (Make Me Cry) and Norman each sold over a million copies and reached the top ten on the Hot 100 in 1961.

Sue’s best showing the next year came with the single James (Hold The Ladder Steady), another song John wrote. The single reached #17 on the Hot 100 in 1962.

Sue had one more hit with yet another song written by John. Paper Tiger reached #23 on the Hot 100 in 1964. The single nearly topped the Australia chart, but stalled at #2. She never again reached the Hot 100.

In 1965, Sue returned to her Country roots and began recording and releasing Country singles and albums with minimal results. Between 1971 and 1976, Sue recorded albums of duets with Don Gibson, and several of their singles reached the Country chart.

By the nineties, Sue had moved to Las Vegas. She continues to occasionally appear in shows in clubs and casinos.

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

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1961 Don Gibson – Sea Of Heartbreak

1961 Don Gibson – Sea Of Heartbreak

Don Gibson was born in North Carolina in 1928. He joined the Sons of the Soil and began recording music with the group on Mercury Records in 1949.

In 1957, Don worked with producer Chet Atkins and began recording a long series of hit records. He wrote and sang Sweet Dreams, which reached the top ten on the Country chart in 1957. He also wrote and recorded Oh Lonesome Me that year, and his single topped the Country chart and reached #7 on the Hot 100.

Another hit from his initial sessions with Chet, I Can’t Stop Loving You, gave Don his first #1 song on the Country chart. His single peaked at only #81 on the Hot 100 in 1957, but over 700 artists have recorded the song. Ray Charles had the most success with it, reaching the top of three charts in 1962: the Hot 100, the R&B chart, and the Adult Contemporary chart.

Don released more than a dozen other singles that crossed over to the Pop charts, including three that reached the top forty. The last of those singles was Sea Of Heartbreak, which peaked at #2 on the Country chart and reached #21 on the Hot 100 in 1961. Paul Hampton and Hal David wrote the song, one of his hits that Don did not write himself.

While Sea Of Heartbreak may have turned into Don’s last entry on the pop charts, he released nineteen more top ten Country songs by 1974. He also had several dozen more top forty Country songs as either a solo artist or half of a duet by 1980.

Don died in 2003.

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

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1961 Tony Orlando – Bless You

1961 Tony Orlando – Bless You

Michael Anthony Orlando Cassavitis grew up in Hells Kitchen in Manhattan until he became a teenager and his family moved to New Jersey. When he turned 15, he formed The Five Gents and began recording demos. The demos impressed Don Kirshner, who hired him to work as a songwriter in the Brill Building in New York City.

Tony also began singing demos for other songwriters, and in 1961, he began releasing his own singles. He first charted with a song written by fellow Brill Building writers Carole King and Gerry Goffin, Halfway To Paradise. Al Nevins, Don Kirshner & Jack Keller produced his single, which peaked at #39 on the Hot 100 in 1961.

Billy Fury covered Halfway To Paradise and reached #3 on the UK chart that same year.

Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil wrote Tony’s second single, Bless You, and he used the same producers again. The record peaked at #15 on the Hot 100 in October 1961.

Tony’s career took a turn over the next few years, as he began to work in the offices instead on records as the general manager of Columbia Records publishing subsidiary April-Blackwood Music. He later became the Vice-President of CBS Music.

In the late sixties, Tony got the itch to record again, and did the lead vocals for a studio group on the song Make Believe. A single got released using the band name Wind and the record peaked at #28 on the Hot 100 in 1969.

A second single by Wind did not do chart. A year later he recorded another song using another anonymous name, Dawn. When Candida became a big hit, he recruited two women as backup singers and began doing appearances as Tony Orlando and Dawn.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Orlando
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halfway_to_Paradise

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1960 Della Reese – Not One Minute More

1960 Della Reese – Not One Minute More

Earl Grant was born in Oklahoma and sang and played piano and organ in clubs while stationed at Fort Bliss in Texas. He signed a recording contract with Decca Records in 1957. His first singleAt The End Of The Rainbow, reached the top ten on the Hot 100 in 1958.

Earl released Not One Minute More in 1959, a song originally written for Elvis. Earl’s single failed to even reach the Hot 100.

Della Reese began recording for Jubilee Records in 1953. Her most successful single was Don’t You Know. The record topped the R&B chart and reached #2 on the Hot 100 in late 1959.

Della’s next single was a cover of Earl Grant’s failed record, Not One Minute More. Della’s version of the song first charted in December 1959 and peaked at #16 on the Hot 100 in early 1960. The record became Della’s third million-selling single.

Della continued releasing singles that reached the Hot 100 through 1966, but Not One Minute More remained her last top forty single on the chart. She recorded her last album in 2006, and her last television appearance came in 2014.

Della died in 2017.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Della_Reese
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Della_Reese_discography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earl_Grant
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Not_One_Minute_More

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1959 Connie Francis – If I Didn’t Care

1959 Connie Francis – If I Didn’t Care

Concetta Rosa Maria Franconero was born in New Jersey and grew up in an Italian-Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn. Encouragement from her father led her to perform singing and playing the accordion in talent shows and pageants. She attended high school in New Jersey when her family moved back to her birth state. While still in high school, she appeared as Connie Franconero in the NBC program Startime Kids.

Arthur Godfrey convinced Connie to stop using the accordion on stage. He also got her to change her name to Connie Francis when she appeared on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts. 

Connie signed a recording contract with MGM Records that granted her ten single recordings. She began recording the singles in 1955. It took two years and nine failed singles before she had a hit record. MGM had notified Connie that her contract would not be renewed before her last recording session. Her father insisted that she record a cover version of a song from 1923, Who’s Sorry Now. She resisted recording the song, but there was just enough recording time in her last session to finish it. The record languished through the end of 1957. She appeared on American Bandstand and later the Dick Clark Beechnut Saturday Night show in early 1958, and her single took off. It reached #4 on the Hot 100 in 1958 and sold over a million copies. Her record label decided to keep her after that.

Turn the clock back to 1939, when The Ink Spots recorded If I Didn’t Care. Their single became one of the most popular songs of all time, selling more than ten million copies.

By the end of 1958, Connie had released four more top forty singles. Her most recent hit had been My Happiness, which peaked at #2 on the Hot 100. Her first release in 1959 was a remake of the Ink Spots’ hit. Her single If I Didn’t Care peaked at #22 on the Hot 100 in 1959.

Connie’s next single, Lipstick On Your Collar, took her back into the top five later that year. She recorded 22 more top forty singles, including two chart-topping singles, and ten more that reached the top ten. Like many other pop singers from the fifties, her career floundered after the British Invasion began in earnest in 1964.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connie_Francis
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connie_Francis_discography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/If_I_Didn%27t_Care

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