Rebel Yell by Billy Idol

#434: Rebel Yell by Billy Idol

Peak Month: March 1984
10 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG chart
Peak Position #7
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #46
YouTube.com: “Rebel Yell
“Rebel Yell” lyrics

William Michael Albert Broad was born in 1955 in Middlesex, England. His father was a typewriter salesman and his mother was a nurse. When he was a four-year-old, his family moved to New York City, taking a transatlantic voyage on the S.S America. He arrived with a banjo given to him by his maternal grandparents. When he was seven his family moved back to England. As William had acquired an American accent, his classmates teased him and called him “a yank.” William Broad, after all, had learned to say elevator and not lift, cops instead of bobbies, and man instead of mate. This began his identification as an outsider. From his early years in America, William Broad got turned on to the music of Little Richard, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash. He also liked a 1955 single by the Cadillacs titled “Speedoo”. He was inspired by the music of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, David Bowie and others. He taught himself how to play guitar and joined a band in his teens. Continue reading →

The Actress by Roy Orbison

#435: The Actress by Roy Orbison

Peak Month: April 1962
13 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #8
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com: “The Actress
“The Actress” lyrics

Roy Kelton Orbison was born in Vernon, Texas in 1936. When he turned six his dad gave him a guitar. Both his dad, Orbie Lee, and uncle Charlie Orbison, taught him how to play. Though his family moved to Forth Worth for work at a munitions factory, Roy was sent to live with his grandmother due to a polio outbreak in 1944. That year he wrote his first song “A Vow of Love”. The next year he won a contest on Vernon radio station KVWC and was offered his own radio show on Saturdays. After the war his family reunited and moved to Wink, Texas, where Roy formed his first band, in 1949, called The Wink Westerners.

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Sunshine Girl by The Parade

#436: Sunshine Girl by The Parade

Peak Month: May 1967
8 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG chart
Peak Position #3
2 weeks Hit Bound
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #20
YouTube.com: “Sunshine Girl
“Sunshine Girl” lyrics

Jerry Riopelle was born in Detroit in 1941, and raised in Tampa, Florida. He moved to Los Angeles after he graduated from high school. And he played drums for the Hollywood Argyles. He became a staff writer for Screen Gems. He was subsequently hired by Phil Spector as both a staff writer and producer. A number of the songs he wrote, and others he produced, made the Billboard Hot 100. He wrote songs that were recorded by Herb Alpert, the American Breed, Joan Baez, Brewer & Shipley, Rita Coolidge, Kenny Loggins, Meat Loaf, Leon Russell, Shango, John Travolta and the We Five. Riopelle also composed songs for both film and television. He produced a record titled “Home Of The Brave” for Bonnie & The Treasures in 1965 which peaked at #77 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was also recorded by Jody Miller whose version was a Top Ten hit in Vancouver (BC). In 1966 he also produced a Top 40 hit for April Stevens and Nino Tempo titled “All Strung Out”.

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Talking In Your Sleep by Gordon Lightfoot

#437: Talking In Your Sleep by Gordon Lightfoot

Peak Month: July 1971
8 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG chart
Peak Position #3
1 week Hit Bound
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #64
YouTube.com: “Talking In Your Sleep
“Talking In Your Sleep” lyrics

Gordon Meridith Lightfoot Jr. was born in Orillia, Ontario, on November 17, 1938. His parents, Jessica and Gordon Lightfoot Sr., ran a dry cleaning business. His mother noticed young Gordon had some musical talent and the boy soprano first performed in grade four at his elementary school. He sang the Irish lullaby “Too Ra Loo Rah Loo Rah” at a parents’ day. As a member of the St. Paul’s United Church choir in Orillia, Lightfoot gained skill and needed confidence in his vocal abilities under the choir director, Ray Williams. Lightfoot went on to perform at Toronto’s Massey Hall at the age of twelve when he won a competition for boys who were still boy sopranos. During his teen years Gordon Lightfoot learned to play piano, drums and guitar.

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Love Song  by Simple Minds

#438: Love Song by Simple Minds

Peak Month: February 1982
10 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #4
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com: “Love Song
“Love Song” lyrics

James “Jim” Kerr was born in 1959 in Glasgow, Scotland. He stammered during his childhood and early adolescence. When he was 18 he formed a band in 1977 called Johnny and the Self Abusers. He used the pseudonym Pripton Weird, and played keyboards. He was one of the bands’ lead vocalists. Within eight months they changed their name to Simple Minds, a nod to a line from David Bowie’s song “Jean Genie”. Another Glaswegian, Charles “Charlie” Burchill, was also born in 1959. He learned to play guitar and was one of the founding members of Simple Minds. A third Glasgow boy was Derek Forbes, born in 1956. He learned to play bass guitar in his teens. A fourth Glaswegian born in 1959 was Brian McGee. He learned drums from a young age. McGee, Burchill and Kerr met in high school and formed a band called Biba-Rom! Norman Michael “Mick” MacNeil was from the Isle of Barra, Scotland, and born in 1958. He learned to play keyboards.

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Happy Jack by The Who

#439: Happy Jack by The Who

Peak Month: April 1967
8 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #2
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #24
YouTube.com: “Happy Jack
“Happy Jack” lyrics

The Who are an English band who emerged in 1964 with singer Roger Daltry, guitarist Pete Townshend, bassist John Entwistle, and drummer Keith Moon. The band enjoyed popular singles, such as “I Can See For Miles”, “Pinball Wizard” and  “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. In Vancouver the band had eleven Top Ten hits, while in the UK they charted fourteen singles into the Top Ten. But in America, between 1965 and 1982, the Who only charted one single – “I Can See For Miles” –  into the Top Ten of the Billboard Hot 100. The band were innovators of new genres in rock n’ roll with their rock operas Tommy and Quadrophenia. The Who early on were known for outlandish antics on stage. At the Railway Hotel in Wealdstone, England, in June, 1964, Peter Townshend destroyed his guitar on stage and smashed it into other instruments. The Who stand alongside The Beatles and The Rolling Stones as among the most influential rock bands from Britain. They had their first Top Ten single in the UK and in Vancouver in 1965 titled “I Can’t Explain”, which peaked at #8 in the UK and #2 in Vancouver.

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Sweet Mary by Argent

#440: Sweet Mary by Argent

Peak Month: May 1971
10 weeks on Vancouver’s CKVN chart
Peak Position #5
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #102
YouTube.com: “Sweet Mary
“Sweet Mary” lyrics

Rodney Terrance “Rod” Argent was born in St. Albans, about 32 kilometers northwest of London. He sang in a children’s choir at St. Alban’s Cathedral. He was trained in classical music. But when he heard Elvis Presley, Little Richard and Big Mama Thornton, his musical tastes changed. In 1961 he wanted to form a rock band and wrote a song called “She’s Not There”. The band got a record contract with Decca and named themselves the Zombies. “She’s Not There” became a #1 hit in Vancouver in October 1964, and a #2 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in December ’64. The song was the Zombies only Top 40 hit in the UK, peaking at #12. Their next release in Canada was “You’d Better Leave Me Be” (“Leave Me Be” in the UK and Australia). The song peaked at #21 in Vancouver (BC) and #1 in Saint John, New Brunswick.  The Zombies had more success with their next release, “Tell Her No”. It peaked at #4 in Montreal, #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the USA, and #10 in Vancouver (BC). But the song failed to crack the Top 40 on the weekly UK charts, stalling at #42.
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Question by The Moody Blues

#441: Question by The Moody Blues

Peak Month: June 1970
9 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG chart
Peak Position #2
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #21
YouTube.com: “Question
“Question” lyrics

Born in 1941 in wartime England, Ray Thomas picked up harmonica at the age of nine. He was in the Birmingham Youth Choir and in October 1958 he joined a skiffle group called The Saints and Sinners. The band split up in June 1959. The Saints and Sinners helped Ray discover how well his vocals were received by audiences. Next, he formed El Riot and the Rebels, featuring Ray Thomas as El Riot dressed in a green satin Mexican toreador outfit. The band won a number of competitions in the Birmingham area. It was here that Ray became known for making an entrance onstage by sliding to center stage on his knees. On one occasion Thomas sent a row of potted tulips flying into the audience. El Riot and the Rebels appeared several times on a local variety show called Lunchbox. They made their debut on Lunchbox on November 14, 1962, and played “Guitar Tango” and “I Remember You”. Mike Pinder joined El Riot and the Rebels on keyboards. On April 15, 1963, El Riot and the Rebels performed at The Riverside Dancing Club in Tenbury Wells as the opening act for The Beatles. Pinder went off to serve in the British Army. When he returned, Thomas and Pinder left El Riot and the Rebels and formed a new band called the Krew Kats.

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Too Late To Worry by Babs Tino

#442: Too Late To Worry by Babs Tino

Peak Month: July 1962
11 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #4
1 week Hit Bound
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com: “Too Late To Worry

There is next to nothing online to be found about Babs Tino. She was from Philadelphia and composed her debut single, on Cameo Records, titled “My Honeybun” in 1957. One of the few narrative threads is found in the liner notes from the 1997 Ace Records album, Early Girls Vol. 2. The liner notes reveal: “Babs Tino had the looks and the talent but failed to get the breaks and therefore barely qualifies as a footnote to a footnote in the history books. Having made a solitary single for Cameo Records in 1957, it seems she did not record again until 1961 when she signed with Kapp Records and had six singles released between then and 1963. Owner Dave Kapp was a pillar of New York’s musical establishment, a man with strongly held views on the linear alignment of musical notes in relation to pitch and tempo, and no-one got through the door at Kapp unless they could count bars and sing in tune. The best arrangers/songwriters (including Bacharach and Leiber & Stoller) were assigned to Tino’s sessions but only her third single, ‘Forgive me’, made any sort of impression ‘bubbling’ under the Hot 100 for one week in 1962 and gaining a UK release.”

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Pledge Of Love by Mitchell Torok

#443: Pledge Of Love by Mitchell Torok

Peak Month: May 1957
6 weeks on Vancouver’s CKWX chart
Peak Position #3
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #25
YouTube.com: “Pledge Of Love
“Pledge Of Love” lyrics

In 1929 Mitchell Torok was born in Houston, Texas. His parents were immigrants from Hungary. Torok learned the guitar at the end of elementary school. A natural athlete, Mitch went to university in Nacogdoches, Texas, on a football and baseball scholarship. While at university he was hired to write a song to mark the one hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Cononco Oil Company. He also cut his first record in the late 40s while hosting a radio show in Lufkin, two hours northeast of Houston, and another radio show in the Houston suburb of Rosenberg.

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