Model Girl by Johnny Maestro

#924: Model Girl by Johnny Maestro

Peak Month: March 1961
9 weeks on Vancouver’s CKWX chart
Peak Position #6
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #29 “Model Girl
Lyrics: “Model Girl

John Mastrangelo was born in New York City in 1939. He began his career in 1957 as the original lead singer of the Crests, one of the first interracial groups in the music industry. Initially, The Crests had three African American members (one female), one Puerto Rican, and one Italian American (Johnny Maestro). Patricia Van Dross, older sister to famed R&B singer Luther Vandross, sang with Johnny Maestro while The Crests were signed to the Joyce Record label. Before The Crests signed with Coed Records, Patricia left the group because her mother didn’t want her 15-year old daughter touring with the older guys. After a regional hit with “My Juanita”/”Sweetest One” on the Joyce label, The Crests charted a song titled “Pretty Little Angel” that was a Top 20 hit in Buffalo, New York, in May 1958. Their follow-up hit, called “16 Candles” climbed to #2 in early 1959 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #9 on CKWX in Vancouver.

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The Dreamer by Neil Sedaka

#937: The Dreamer by Neil Sedaka

Peak Month: July 1963
7 weeks on CKLG’s Vancouver Chart
Peak Position ~ #5
CFUN Twin Pick Hit of the Week ~ July 6, 1963
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #47
YouTube: “The Dreamer
Lyrics: “The Dreamer

In 1939 Neil Sedaka was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Brighton Beach beside Coney Island. His paternal grandparents immigrated to America from Constantinople, Ottoman Empire, in 1910. His fathers side of the family there were Sephardi Jews and his mother’s side Ashkenazi Jews from Russian and Polish background. Sedaka is a cousin of the late singer Eydie Gorme. When Neil was eight years old he listened to a show on the radio called The Make-Believe Ballroom that opened his world to appreciation for music. Within a year Neil had began learning classical piano at the age of nine at the Julliard School of Music. His progress was impressive and Arthur Rubinstein voted Neil as one of the best New York High School pianists after he turned 16 years old.

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Bang A Gong by Witch Queen

#921: Bang A Gong by Witch Queen

Peak Month: June 1979
7 weeks on CKLG’s Vancouver Chart
Peak Position ~ #11
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #68
YouTube: “Bang A Gong
Lyrics: “Bang A Gong

Witch Queen was a band from Montreal. They were assembled as a studio band by Montreal-based producers Gino Soccio and Peter Alves at the height of the disco craze. Soccio was born in 1955 in Verdun, Quebec. In 1976 Soccio was a local session musician, aspiring composer and University of Montreal student in philosophy. His musical tastes were primarily progressive rock, jazz and classical music. However, local Montreal producer Pat Deserio hired Soccio to contribute keyboards on the musical project Kébekélektrik (pronounce it like “Quebec Electric”). Soccio was asked to craft a disco record containing four songs: an arrangement of Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero”, a popular cover of Space’s “Magic Fly”, and two original compositions, “Mirage” and “War Dance”. The latter became a hit on the US Billboard Hot Dance Chart in 1978.

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China In My Hand by T'Pau

#982: China In My Hand by T’Pau

Peak Month: April 1988
9 weeks on CKLG’s Vancouver Chart
Peak Position ~ #13
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube: “China In Your Hand
Lyrics: “China In Your Hand

Carol Ann Decker was born in 1957 in the Merseyside region of Lancashire. She formed the band T’Pau in 1986 with guitarist Ron Rogers. Ronald Phillip Rogers was born in Shrewsbury, England, in 1959. Decker met Rogers in the gigging circuit in 1981. Decker remembers trying to get initial interest even prior to forming T’Pau by sending demos to record companies. “The knock-backs from the labels were never constructive. They would just listen to the cassettes and send them back with a standard letter. Then, towards the end, it got even worse when we would get feedback with a multiple-choice table, and the responses ranged from ‘Not quite what we are looking for,’ to ‘Don’t give up your day job.’ I imagine those punky little A&R guys thought it was funny, but it really wasn’t.”

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Something Good by Utah Saints

#920: Something Good by Utah Saints

Peak Month: December 1992
9 weeks on CKLG’s Vancouver Chart
Peak Position ~ #13
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #98
YouTube: “Something Good
Lyrics: “Something Good

Jez Willis was born in 1968 in Brampton, UK. With Tim Garbutt, Willis formed the electronic music duo the Utah Saints in 1991. The duo met as music promoters and DJs for the Mix club in Harrogate, a 40 minute drive north of Leeds. In 1990 they formed Mega Dance Metal Allegiance. The duo were asked years later in an interview if they’d ever been to Utah in the United States. Tim Garbutt commented, “we did play there once in about 1996 and we had a stage invasion. It’s very different to Dubai; everyone should go there once in their lives. We often get emails from people in Utah with very weird requests.” Their work involved sampling other recordings and weaving them into their tracks. Jez told Digital Spy, “music is all about opinions, but we always try to do something interesting with a sample and put it in a different context, because that’s what’s interesting to us… people recognise it sonically, but they can’t place it initially.”

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Jeremy by Pearl Jam

#944: Jeremy by Pearl Jam

Peak Month: November 1992
9 weeks on CKLG’s Vancouver Chart
Peak Position ~ #11
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #79
YouTube: “Jeremy
Lyrics: “Jeremy

Jeffrey Allen Ament was born in 1963 and grew up in a village in northern Montana. He began to play guitar in his teens. In the early 80s he had a band called Deranged Diction. They moved from Montana to Seattle. In 1984 Ament was asked to join the Seattle grunge band Green River. In 1988 he formed a band called Mother Love Bone. The band was recording their debut album in 1990, but the lead singer died of a heroin overdose, and the band split up. In 1990, Ament cofounded grunge band Temple Of The Dog, featuring Soundgarden lead singer Chris Cornell. Concurrently, Jeff Ament cofounded Pearl Jam. The “Jam” came from attending a Neil Young concert where the musician had extended “jams” of different songs on stage.

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Wheels Of Life by Gino Vannelli

#979: Wheels Of Life by Gino Vannelli

Peak Month: May 1979
10 weeks on CFUN’s Vancouver Chart
Peak Position ~ #15
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #78
YouTube: “Wheels Of Life
Lyrics: “Wheels Of Life

Gino Vannelli was born in Montreal in 1952. During his childhood he was exposed to jazz music and cabaret. His father was a cabaret singer and his mother had a good ear for music. Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich and Ed Thigpen were among the drummers that inspired young Gino. At the age of eleven, Gino was one of a group of elementary school-age drummers trying to audition for a Montreal band named The Cobras. He arrived home from school later than usual to announce he had been picked to be the new drummer for the band after impressing them with his rendition of “Wipeout”. In 1964, five years prior to the Jackson 5’s debut hit “I Want You Back” on Motown, Gino Vannelli happened to join a band in Montreal called the Jacksonville Five. And that Montreal band happened to tailor itself to Motown-sound-alike tunes when The Supremes, The Miracles, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder and Mary Wells were all topping the charts. By 1966, Gino Vannelli became the lead singer of the Jacksonville Five when he replaced the current lead singer who couldn’t hit the high notes on Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual”.  He was fourteen.

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Money Can't Buy It by Annie Lennox

#995: Money Can’t Buy It by Annie Lennox

Peak Month: May 1993
8 weeks on CKLG’s Vancouver Chart
Peak Position ~ #8
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube: “Money Can’t Buy It
Lyrics: “Money Can’t Buy It

Ann Lennox was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1954. Lennox recalls, “When I was very young, we had a salmon pink Dansette record player. Someone gave me birthday money and the first record I think I bought was Mary Poppins followed by Procul Harum’s “Whiter Shade of Pale“. Both records are magical and transporting. I used to visit my grandparents in the countryside and would always go into the recesses of a cupboard to pull out a box full of old 78 rpm records which I’d play over and over again, especially the Vilja song from The Merry Widow, which I was obsessed with. My dad blew my mind when I was six years old because he built his own Gramophone. He had the albums for every Rodgers & Hammerstein musical and he switched his homebuilt record player on and you heard this crackling sound and then ‘Boom!’ I remember walking to school singing “I Enjoy Being A Girl”. To buy a vinyl album, you had to record player and you have to have speakers, and this is a great thing because that means people are going to listen to your music not on a cell phone, but they’re going to listen to it out of a sound system, which is what we all did when we were growing up. The important thing about vinyl releases is that people buy them and actually put them on the turntable and listen to a side, because we chose the tracks to be played in a particular order, and that was really important.”

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Lust For Love by Images In Vogue

#906: Lust For Love by Images In Vogue

Peak Month: December 1983
8 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG’s chart
Peak Position #13
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube: “Lust For Love
Lyrics: “Lust For Love

Images In Vogue was formed in April 1981 in Vancouver, by co-founders Gary Smith and Don Gordon. Gordon was a guitarist and Smith played bass guitar. Kevin Crompton played percussion and Joe Vizvary played synthesizers. The band’s manager was Kim Clarke Champniss, later to become a MuchMusic VJ. Images In Vogue began recording new material and sent demos to the UBC college radio station CITR and Co-op Radio in the Downtown East Side. Images In Vogue’s website states that their first concert in Vancouver was on September 26, 1981, at “Electra – Vancouver’s First Fashion Dance.” In October the band began to record their first EP.

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One Step At A Time by Brenda Lee

#976: One Step At A Time by Brenda Lee

Peak Month: February 1957
4 weeks on Vancouver’s CJOR’s chart
Peak Position #4
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #43
YouTube: “One Step At A Time

Brenda Mae Tarpley was born in 1944 in Atlanta, Georgia. Her parents were poor. During her childhood, young Brenda shared a sagging iron bed with her brother and sister in a series of three-room houses. They had no running water. Here parents were from job to job. After the stock market crash in 1929, Brenda’s mother would recall “you could hardly buy a job.” The region was devastated by an infestation of the boll weevil. Brenda started singing solos each Sunday at the Baptist church where her family attended. In her 2002 autobiography, she wrote “I grew up so poor, and it saddens me to see the poverty that is still there. A lot of my family have never done any better. Some of there are just exactly where they were when I was a kid. And in a way, there is still something inside of me that is a part of that, the part that doesn’t expect much. Little things make them happy, and that’s the same with me.”

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