Danny Boy by Conway Twitty

#74: Danny Boy by Conway Twitty

Peak Month: November 1959
14 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN Chart
Peak Position #1
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #10
YouTube.com: “Danny Boy
Lyrics: “Danny Boy

Conway Twitty was an American Country and Western singer with three crossover pop hits on the US charts and five crossover hits on the pop charts in Vancouver. He went on to chart 58 songs in the Canadian Country charts between 1968 and 1990 (61 songs on US Country & Western charts). Born Harold Lloyd Jenkins, in 1957 he decided his real name didn’t have the right stuff for the music business and becoming a star. He looked on a map and finding Conway, Arkansas and Twitty, Texas, he put the two towns names together and became Conway Twitty. From his initial #1 hit in 1958, “It’s Only Make Believe”, 25 year old Conway Twitty became known for his blend of country, rockabilly and rock n’ roll.

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Three Stars by Tommy Dee

#76: Three Stars by Tommy Dee

Peak Month: May 1959
11 weeks on Vancouver’s CKWX Chart
Peak Position #1
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #11
Billboard Year-End chart 1959 ~ #81
YouTube.com: “Three Stars

Tommy Donaldson was born in Vicker, Virgina, in 1934. In the late 50s he became a disc jockey at KFXM in San Bernardino, California. He was known on air as Tommy Dee. He was working at KFXM in San Bernardino and was on air on February 3, 1959. A breaking news story told that rock n’ roll stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper had died in a small plane crash in rural Iowa. The day of the disaster, Dee began writing the song. He explained to writer Albert Leichter, “I was on the air, when it happened, the bells went crazy on the tele­type, ‘what’s this!’ I started reading it. I wrote the song, right on the spot: poured my heart out. ‘No, it can’t be true. My friend, next door, had a little Webco (tape recorder). I just put it down as I wrote it, just a strum of the guitar. He told me I should make a record on it. I told him all I meant for it to be was a tribute to play on my show.” Dee had no intention of recording it himself.

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Marina by Rocco Granata/Willy Alberti

#178: Marina by Rocco Granata/Willy Alberti

Peak Month: December 1959
14 weeks on Vancouver’s CKWX chart
Peak Position #3
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #31/#42
YouTube.com: “Marina” ~ Rocco Granata
YouTube.com: “Marina” ~ Willy Alberti
Lyrics: “Marina

Rocco Granata was born in 1938 in Figline Vegliaturo, Calabria, in southern Italy. He is an Italian-Belgian singer, songwriter, and accordionist. When he was ten years old he left sunny Calabria for the coal Belgian mining district. His father had moved to Belgium the year before and intended to return to Italy. But Salvatore felt so lonely in Belgium and sent for his family, his wife Ida and his two young children Rocco and Wanda. At school in Belgium, Rocco continue the solfège lessons he had started in Italy. At the age of fifteen his father let him drop out of school to start working as a mechanic in a Vespa-shop. Vespa and Italian engines were of great interest to Rocco. But his real passion was music.

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One Minute To One by Ricky Nelson

#309: One Minute To One by Ricky Nelson

Peak Month: October 1959
9 weeks on CFUN’s Vancouver Charts
Peak Position ~ #2
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com: “One Minute To One
Lyrics: “One Minute To One

In 1940 Eric Hilliard Nelson was born. On February 20, 1949, while still eight years old, he took the stage name of Ricky Nelson when appearing on the radio program, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. A child actor, Ricky was also a musician and singer-songwriter. who starred alongside his family in the long-running television series, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (1952–66), as well as co-starring alongside John Wayne and Dean Martin in the western Rio Bravo (1959). He placed 53 songs on the Billboard singles charts between 1957 and 1973.

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That's All Right by Ray Smith

#390: That’s All Right by Ray Smith

Peak Month: December 1959
9 weeks on CFUN’s Vancouver Chart
Peak Position ~ #4
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com: “That’s All Right
Lyrics: “That’s All Right

Ray Smith was born in 1934 in the hamlet of Melber, Kentucky, thirteen miles from the town of Paducah where the Ohio River and the Tennessee River meet. Smith was the seventh son of a sharecropper who, in turn, was also the seventh son in Smith’s grandfather’s family. His dad later worked at the atomic bomb plant in Paducah. Smith left his home at the age of twelve. He worked as a gopher on a Coca-Cola Truck and then operated an oven at Kirchoff’s Bread plant in Paducah. As he grew up Ray Smith worked as a curb hop at Price’s Barbecue at 34th and Broadway where he would serve U.S. (KY) Senator Alben W. Barkley, who later became President Harry Truman’s Vice-President. Next he worked as a sole back tacker and tack machine operator at the International Shoe Company.

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#440: Velvet Waters by the Megatrons

Peak Month: August 1959
14 weeks on Vancouver’s CKWX chart
Peak Position #6
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #51
YouTube.com: “Velvet Waters

Frank Haywood Henry was born in 1913 in Birmingham, Alabama. He first learned to play the clarinet. But he later learned the baritone saxophone, which became his primary instrument. While in college he became a member of the Bama State Collegians in 1930. That student jazz band became the band for Erskine Hawkins Orchestra in 1934. Heywood Henry was a member of the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra from 1934 into the early 1950s. Hawkins and his orchestra were a house band at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem in the late 1930s. Their sign-off song was “Tuxedo Junction”. Erskine Hawkins Orchestra participated in a battle of the bands with bandleaders Glenn Miller, Lionel Hampton and Duke Ellington. Haywood Henry was one of the musicians in the recording studio for “Tuxedo Junction”, “Until The Real Thing Comes Along”, “Five O’Clock Whistle” and “Bicycle Bounce” – all hit records on the pop music charts.
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Believe Me by Royal Teens

#316: Believe Me by Royal Teens

Peak Month: November 1959
6 weeks on CFUN’s Vancouver Charts
Peak Position ~ #3
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #26
YouTube.com: “Believe Me
“Believe Me” lyrics

Drummer Tom Austin was a founding member of The Royals in 1956 when he was 17 years old. He had been playing the drum since he was a child growing up in Fort Lee, Bergen County, New Jersey. Pianist Bob Gaudio was 14 years old when he became the group’s co-founder. Gaudio had been playing piano since he turned eight in 1950. Gaudio was born in November 1942 in Bergenfield, New Jersey. The two other members of the band were 14-year-old saxophonist, Billy Crandall, from Dumont, New Jersey, and 16-year-old Billy Dalton from Fort Lee.  The Royals opened for a local New Jersey doo-wop group named The Three Friends who had a hit in New York and Baltimore in the winter of 1956-57 titled “Blanche”. After the Fort Lee concert, The Three Friends invited The Royals to come to New York to be the session musicians for their upcoming recording date in the Brill Building at 1650 Broadway. It was there The Royals met The Three Friends manager, Leo Rogers. On the strength of their musical skills, Rogers invited The Royals to be session musicians for numerous recording artists in the building. Rogers promised them that they’d have a shot at recording a record sometime later in 1957.

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Poco Loco by Gene & Eunice

#752: Poco Loco by Gene & Eunice

Peak Month: October 1959
9 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #4
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #48
YouTube.com: “Poco Loco
“Poco Loco” lyrics

Eugene Forrest III was born in San Antonio, Texas, in September 1931. Later he took the name Gene Forrest when he began a singing career. In May 1931, Eunice Levy Frost was born in Texarkana, Texas. Before 1954, Eunice heard Ann Walls playing with Ernie Fields’ Orchestra in Phoenix. Eunice reflects, “when I saw her complete control of the band, for a few minutes she was the queen. They had to do everything she said, it seemed good.” Eunice Levy headed to Los Angeles to fulfill her dream. When she got to Los Angeles she met Gene Forrest at a singing contest. She discovered that Gene Forrest was “a struggling young man trying to make it entertainment-wise…and make big money the fastest way he knew.” The pair hit it off and soon became a singing duo and got involved romantically. Gene & Eunice wrote most of their own songs. Their first single, “Ko Ko Mo”, put “The Sweethearts of Rhythm & Blues” on the map. However, Perry Como covered the song and it became a #2 hit for Como and a #6 hit for The Crew Cuts on the hit parade.

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It Happened Today by The Skyliners

#780: It Happened Today by The Skyliners

Peak Month: November 1959
8 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #7
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #59
YouTube.com link: “It Happened Today
“It Happened Today” lyrics 

Jimmy Beaumont was the lead singer for The Skyliners, a doo-wop group comprised of four males and one female from the Allentown neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The group formed in 1956 as The Crescents. The other members of the group were soprano Janet Vogel, tenor Wally Lester, bass singer Jackie Taylor and baritone Joe Verscharen. By the fall of 1958 The Crescents changed their name to The Skyliners. The group had a #3 hit on the R&B charts in early 1959 called “Since I Don’t Have You“. They made a demo of the song in 1958 which was rejected by 13 record labels until they got a contract with Calico record label, a subsidiary of Laurie Records in New York City. Calico Records made a new recording of the song. Marc Myers, writing for Jazz Wax, writes, “A string arrangement was written and 18 musicians were contracted for the date in New York in early December. Toward the end of the recording, Vogel unleashed a series of “you-ooo” soprano notes behind lead singer Jimmy Beaumont that sounded like a soaring falsetto. Then she crushed the ending with a vocal line that went up, came down slightly and then shot way up to end the song. They were electrifying notes that capped a perfect recording.” “Since I Don’t Have You” appeared on the Pittsburgh pop charts in January, 1959, on January 10 on KQV 1410 AM. It jumped from #26 to #3 the next week and spent two weeks at #1 and spent eight weeks in the Top Ten in Pittsburgh. The song also went to #1 in New York City.

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Margie by Fats Domino

#902: Margie by Fats Domino

Peak Month: June 1959
8 weeks on Vancouver’s CKWX chart
Peak Position #8
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #51
YouTube.com: “Margie
“Margie” lyrics

In 1928 Antoine “Fats” Domino was born in New Orleans. Both of his parents spoke Creole, a unique twist on the French language in Louisiana. Fats had seven siblings and he was the youngest of the bunch. Harrison Verrett, a brother-in-law, taught young Fats to play piano while he was a child. Domino took to the ivories with a passion and was playing to audiences in honky tonks by the age of ten. In his teens he worked at many jobs helping to cover the families household expenses. These ranged from a position with the Crescent City Bed Factory to delivering ice from an ice truck. While these day jobs helped him make a living, by the age of fourteen he quit public school and was practicing the keyboards to develop his own unique style. After getting married in 1947, he gained a reputation as a formidable talent with his live performances at the Hideaway Club in New Orleans. This got him on the radar of bandleader, Dave Bartholomew, who helped secure a deal with Imperial Records for Domino in 1949.

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The Great Duane by Ritchie Hart

#1398: The Great Duane by Ritchie Hart

Peak Month: December 1959
7 weeks on CFUN chart
Peak Position #12
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com link: “The Great Duane

Charles Gearheart was born in Goose Creek, Kentucky, a village near Louisville. He moved to Phoenix, Arizona, when he was in high school. He was billed as Ritchie Hart on the recommendation of his local record company, Felsted. He had a backing band called the Heartbeats. Hart had one notable attempt at having a hit record. Late in 1959, Hart had an appearance on American Bandstand to support his debut single, “The Great Duane”. The song climbed to #12 in both Phoenix and Vancouver.

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Boom Boom Baby by Crash Craddock

#1087: Boom Boom Baby by Crash Craddock

Peak Month: December 1959
7 weeks on CFUN chart
Peak Position #7
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com: “Boom Boom Baby
“Boom Boom Baby” lyrics

In 1939, Billy “Crash” Craddock was born in Greensboro, North Carolina. He was the youngest of thirteen children. The Craddock’s were a clan that were tight, knit with the threads of love of family and music. Craddock’s dad played harmonica, spoons, wash board and buck danced. His whole family mother harmonized as they sang old gospel song and folk tunes. Craddock would listen to Little Jimmy Dickens, Faron Young and others on the radio. It would only take him a time or two to learn the lyrics and tune by heart. One brother paid little Billy Craddock a nickel for each song he could sing word-perfect. He learned to play guitar when he was just six. When he was eleven, Craddock entered a talent contest on a local TV station. He was voted the winner for fifteen weeks in a row. Craddock got his nickname, “Crash,” from playing football in high school. Inspired by Elvis Presley, Crash Craddock formed a rockabilly band with one of his brothers called The Four Rebels. And he got a record deal with Sky Castle Records in Greensboro and released a single titled “Smacky-Mouth” in 1957.

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True, True Happiness by Johnny Tillotson

#1107: True, True Happiness by Johnny Tillotson

Peak Month: October 1959
6 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #8
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #54
YouTube.com: “True True Happiness
“True True Happiness” Lyrics

In 1939 Johnny Tillotson was born in Jacksonville. He had four Top Ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100 and ten more in the American Top 40. He took an early interest in appearing on stage and by high school had a talent as a singer. In his teens he got a contract to be in the line-up of regular performers on the Jacksonville TV show, McDuff Hayride,  hosted by Toby Dowdy. And in the mid-50s Tillotson had his own variety TV show, called The Velda Show, on WFGA. In 1957, a local Jacksonville deejay, Bob Norris, sent a recording of Tillotson singing at a Pet Milk talent contest. He ended up performing on the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. Cadence Records owner, Archie Bleyer, signed Tillotson to a record contract. “Dreamy Eyes” was his first single released in the fall of 1958. It peaked at #63 on the Billboard Hot 100. It would wait three years before appearing on the pop charts in Vancouver in 1961, peaking at #8, as the song enjoyed a more successful re-issue. In 1959, Tillotson graduated with a B.A. in Journalism and Communications, and then relocated to Manhattan in hopes of a break in the new rock ‘n roll music scene.

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Igmoo by Stonewall Jackson

#1222: Igmoo by Stonewall Jackson

Peak Month: October 1959
5 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #9
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 #95
YouTube.com: “Igmoo (The Pride of South Central High)
“Igmoo (The Pride of South Central High)” lyrics

In 1959 country and western singer, Stonewall Jackson, had a Top Ten hit in the spring of that year called “Waterloo” that spent 13 weeks on the record survey on CKWX peaking at #4. Jackson was born in Tabor City, North Carolina, about 35 miles northwest of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on the border dividing the Carolinas. After serving for four years in the US Navy, Stonewall Jackson moved to Nashville and in time he got an audition with the Grand Ole Opry. He got a break when he recorded a song written by George Jones called “Life To Go”. The song Stonewall Jackson sung was from the perspective of a murderer who has been in jail for eighteen years and will remain for life. It peaked in 1958 at #2 on the Billboard Country chart.
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