(I Wanna) Love My Life Away by Gene Pitney

#611: (I Wanna) Love My Life Away by Gene Pitney

Peak Month: January 1961
10 weeks on CFUN’s Vancouver Charts
Peak Position ~ #5
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #39
YouTube.com: “(I Wanna) Love My Life Away
“(I Wanna) Love My Life Away” lyrics

Gene Pitney was born in 1940 in Hartford, Connecticut. He was a songwriter who became a pop singer, something rare at the time. Some of the songs he wrote for other recording artists include “Rubber Ball” for Bobby Vee, “He’s A Rebel” for The Crystals and “Hello Mary Lou” for Ricky Nelson. Pitney was more popular in Vancouver than in his native America. Over his career he charted 14 songs into the Top Ten in Vancouver, while he only charted four songs into the Top Ten on the Billboard Hot 100. Curiously, only two of these songs overlap: “(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Vallance” and “I’m Gonna Be Strong.” Surprisingly “Only Love Can Break A Heart,” which peaked at #2 in the USA, stalled at #14 in Vancouver, and “It Hurts To Be In Love” stalled at #11 in Vancouver while it peaked at #7 south of the border.

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Hey St. Peter by Flash And The Pan

#658: Hey St. Peter by Flash And The Pan

Peak Month: October 1979
10 weeks on CFUN’s Vancouver Chart
Peak Position ~ #9
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #76
YouTube.com: “Hey St. Peter
“Hey St. Peter” lyrics

Johannes Hendrikus Jacob van den Berg was born in the Netherlands in 1946. When he turned 13 he taught himself to play guitar in his family’s tenement home. He played guitar in a band called The Starfighters, based in The Hague. When he was seventeen his family moved to Australia in 1963. The following year, going by the anglicized name of Harry Vanda, he became the lead guitar player for a Sydney band called The Easybeats. A co-founder of the band was George Young. Also an immigrant to Australia, in his case from Glasgow, Scotland, George Redburn Young was a rhythm guitarist. After one of the coldest winters in Scotland on record in 1962, the Young family saw a Television ad from the Australian government promising travel assistance for families seeking a new start with a life in Australia. In 1964 The Easybeats often held band practices in a local laundromat. Vanda and Young became a songwriting duo and scored an international hit in 1966 titled “Friday On My Mind”. The song climbed to #9 in Vancouver, #1 in The Netherlands and Australia, #2 in New Zealand and #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the USA.

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You've Gotta Love Someone by Elton John

#612: You’ve Gotta Love Someone by Elton John

Peak Month: March 1991
12 weeks on CKLG’s Vancouver Charts
Peak Position ~ #8
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #43
YouTube.com: “You’ve Gotta Love Someone
“You’ve Gotta Love Someone” lyrics

Reginald Kenneth Dwight was born in 1947. When he was three years old he astounded his family when he was able to play The Skater’s Waltz by Émile Waldteufel by ear at the piano. When he was eleven years old he won a scholarship as a Junior Exhibitor at the Royal Academy of Music. Between the ages of 11 and 15  he attended the Academy on Saturday mornings. In 1962, by the age of 15, he was performing with his group, The Corvettes, at the Northwood Hills Hotel (now the Northwood Hills Public House) in a northern borough of London. While he was playing with a band called Bluesology in the mid-60s he adopted the stage name Elton John. His stage name, which became his legal name in 1967, was taken from Bluesology saxophonist Elton Dean, and their lead singer, Long John Baldry.

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Danger by Vic Dana

#613: Danger by Vic Dana

Peak Month: July 1963
10 weeks on CFUN’s Vancouver Charts
Peak Position ~ #5
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #96
YouTube.com: “Danger
“Danger” lyrics

Samuel Mendola was born in 1940 in Buffalo, New York. He told reporter J. T. Crawford “I was nine years old and had just started tap dancing,” he says. “My parents asked me if I wanted to take dancing lessons. I said I didn’t because I thought it was just for girls. I wound up taking some lessons and did some local shows. I went to the Ted Mack Original Amateur Hour, which, in those days, was like American Idol. They had variety acts, and people wrote in from all over the country and picked the winners. And I won the Ted Mack Amateur Hour.” When he was eleven, Samuel Mendola was taken to see Sammy Davis Jr. perform in Buffalo. Vic Dana recalls, “They knew I loved the way he danced. He was 27 at the time and was just making it. He didn’t even have top billing at the time. My mother talked to the master of ceremonies and told him a local boy in the crowd had just won the Ted Mack show. So he called me up and asked if I’d dance. I said no because I didn’t have my dancing shoes. My mother said, ‘Yes you do!’ and pulled them out of her purse. So I danced. Apparently Sammy was watching from the wings. When he came out, he asked me to dance with him. We did this little tap challenge. It went over so well, that he asked my parents if I could travel with him. That began a relationship with Sammy that I’ll remember forever.”

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Walking My Cat Named Dog by Norma Tanega

#614: Walking My Cat Named Dog by Norma Tanega

Peak Month: April 1966
7 weeks on CKLG’s Vancouver Charts
Peak Position ~ #3
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #22
YouTube.com: “Walking My Cat Named Dog
“Walking My Cat Named Dog” lyrics

In 1939, Norma Cecilia Tanega was born in Vallejo, California, in the East Bay. Her mother was born in Panama. Her Filipino-American father was a bandmaster in the United States Navy on the USS Hornet. At the age of nine she began taking piano lessons. By the time she was sixteen Norma Tanega was doing piano recitals playing Beethoven and Bartok. She was also exhibiting her paintings at Long Beach’s Main Public Library on Pacific Avenue, and the Municipal Art Center. She studied music and graduated out of Claremont in 1962 with a Masters Degree in Fine Arts. She backpacked across Europe and pursued her artistic and musical passion. Returning to the USA, she moved to New York City and became involved in the folk scene in Greenwich Village.
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Peace Of Mind/Do Unto Others by Paul Revere & The Raiders

#615: Peace Of Mind/Do Unto Others by Paul Revere & The Raiders

Peak Month: December 1967
8 weeks on CKLG’s Vancouver Charts
Peak Position ~ #4
1 Week Hit Bound
“Peace Of Mind”
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #39
YouTube.com:”Peace Of Mind
“Peace Of Mind” lyrics

Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #102
YouTube.com: “Do Unto Others
“Do Unto Others” lyrics

A band called The Downbeats formed in Boise, Idaho, in 1958. Paul Revere Dick started the band originally as an instrumental group. They had their first chart single in Vancouver in 1960. It was an instrumental riff on the piano tune, Chopsticks, which they titled “Beatnik Sticks.” They changed their name to Paul Revere And The Raiders in 1960. Between 1960 and 1976 they released 41 singles. They charted five songs into the Top Ten on the Billboard Hot 100 in the USA. These included “Kicks,” and “Hungry” (1966), “Him Or Me – What’s It Gonna Be?” (1967) and their cover of Don Fardon’s 1968 single “Indian Reservation,” which peaked at #1 for the band in 1971. They were even more popular in Vancouver where they charted over fifteen songs into the Top Ten on the local charts here on the West Coast.
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Can I Get A Witness by Lee Michaels

#616: Can I Get A Witness by Lee Michaels

Peak Month: December 1971
8 weeks on CKVN’s Vancouver Charts
Peak Position ~ #3
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #39
YouTube.com: “Can I Get A Witness
“Can I Get A Witness” lyrics

Michael Olsen was born in Los Angeles in 1945. In 1961, Michael Olsen joined a surf-rock band named The Sentinels. In 1962, they played in concert with The Coasters and The Righteous Brothers. One of the members of the band was John Barata, who later joined The Turtles, Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship. Michael Olsen next joined the Joel Scott Trio. Scott had formerly been the frontman for Joel Hill & The Strangers. The band had a #11 hit in November 1960 in Vancouver titled “Little Lover.” In 1966, he moved to San Francisco and began to bill himself as Lee Michaels, drawing on his first name to become his surname. That year he joined a group named The Family Tree who had some regional hits in a few radio markets in California.

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Absolutely Right by Five Man Electrical Band

#617: Absolutely Right by Five Man Electrical Band

Peak Month: November 1971
9 weeks on CKVN’s Vancouver Charts
Peak Position ~ #4
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #26
YouTube.com:”Absolutely Right
“Absolutely Right” lyrics

The Five Man Electrical Band was a Canadian mainstream rock band from Ottawa. They had an international hit in 1970 called “Signs.” Their other hits did well in Canada, including “Absolutely Right” and “I’m A Stranger Here.” In 1970 the band released an album called Good-byes and Butterflies. The cover of the album prominently displayed a marijuana plant. The ensuing controversy led to the album being withdrawn and given a different cover with a butterfly composed of neon lights. “Signs” was initially the b-side of “Hello Melinda, Goodbye.” But by accident, the sides were reversed, making “Signs” the A-side, which radio listeners started began calling DJ’s for requests to hear it again.
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Afrikaan Beat by Bert Kaempfert

#618: Afrikaan Beat by Bert Kaempfert

Peak Month: February 1962
8 weeks on CKWX’s Vancouver Charts
Peak Position ~ #5
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #42
YouTube.com:”Afrikaan Beat

In 1923, Berthold Heinrich Kaempfert was born in a village suburb of Hamburg, Germany, called Barmbeck. He learned piano, clarinet, accordion and saxophone during his childhood and youth. He had years of private music lessons at Wilhelm Witt’s private music school in Wilhelmsburg. He later studied at Die Musikschule HAMBURG (Hamburg School of Music). Kaempfert’s career began when his mother used a $285 insurance payment to buy a piano. Prior to the outbreak of World War II, while still 15 years of age, Kaempfert was hired to play with Hans Busch and his Orchestra. He was the youngest member of the band. But once Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, Kaempfert, along with all able-bodied young men, were drafted into the German military. Kaempfert became a bandsman in the  German Navy, initially playing on the Island of Salt on the Wadden Sea. In 1945, Kaempfert formed a band comprised of prisoners-of-war in Denmark. After the war ended, Kaempfert moved back to Hamburg. He was employed at the Esplanade Hotel and his performances were broadcast at the nearby British Forces Network. In 1959, Bert Kaempfert produced In 1959 Bert Kaempfert arranged and produced Die Gitarre und das Meer (The guitar and the sea) for Austrian Freddy Quinn. Quinn had recorded a German-language version of Dean Martin’s big hit in 1955, “Memories Are Made of This.” In 1959 Bert Kaempfert arranged and produced Die Gitarre und das Meer was a big seller in Germany in 1959.

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Moon River by Jean Thomas

#619: Moon River by Jean Thomas

Peak Month: May 1962
10 weeks on CFUN’s Vancouver Charts
Peak Position ~ #6
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com: “Moon River
“Moon River” lyrics

Jean Thomas was born in Weymouth, Massachusetts, in the early 40’s. She grew up in Sarasota, Florida. Since her parents own a summer business in Nantasket Beach, one of the busiest beaches in the Greater Boston area, she returned with her family to Massachusetts each summer. At Sarasota High School, Jean was part of a singing group called Preacher John and the Five Saints. In the fall of 1959, she attended Florida State University in Tallahassee. In 1961, Jean and her brother Don went to New York City to pursue their dreams. They headed over to Paul Anka’s Spanka Publishing Company. They were promptly and signed to a songwriting contract. Jean Thomas did an audition in the Brill Building at 1650 Broadway.

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