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 “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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You're My World by Cilla Black

#444: You’re My World by Cilla Black

Peak Month: July 1964
9 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #2
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #26 “You’re My World
“You’re My World” lyrics

Pricilla Maria Veronica White was born in 1943 in Liverpool. Once out of high school she got work as a cloakroom attendant at the Cavern Club, a jazz club where The Beatles also performed. As a staff member of the club, she ended up doing some spontaneous performances on stage. The Beatles heard her perform and were dazzled by her voice. Soon she was booked under the billing, “Swinging Cilla,” at the Casanova Club. She guest starred with several local bands including Merseybeat Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. An article in the local music paper, Mersey Beat, featured Cilla. Written by the paper’s publisher, Bill Harry, he identified her in the article mistakenly as Cilla Black, not by her actual surname Cilla White. But the word-on-the-street from the article had people talking about this new local Merseybeat performer, Cilla Black. So Cilla White decided to take on Cilla Black as her stage name.

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King Of The Whole Wide World by Elvis Presley

#445: King Of The Whole Wide World by Elvis Presley

Peak Month: October 1962
10 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #4
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #30 “King Of The Whole Wide World
“King Of The Whole Wide World” lyrics

Elvis Aaron Presley was born on in a two-room house in Tupelo, Mississippi, on January 8, 1935. His twin brother, Jessie Garon Presley, was stillborn. When he was eleven years old his parents bought him a guitar at the Tupelo Hardware Store. As a result Elvis grew up as an only child. He and his parents, Vernon and Gladys, moved to Memphis, Tennessee, in 1948. The young Presley graduated from high school in 1953. That year he stopped by the Memphis Recording Service to record two songs, including “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin”, song #1104 on this Countdown. Elvis’ musical influences were the pop and country music of the time, the gospel music he heard in church and at the all-night gospel sings he frequently attended, and the black R&B he absorbed on historic Beale Street as a Memphis teenager. In 1954, Elvis began his singing career recording “That’s All Right” and “Blue Moon Of Kentucky” at Sun Records in Memphis.

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(The Best Part of) Breakin' Up by The Ronettes

#446: (The Best Part of) Breakin’ Up by The Ronettes

Peak Month: May 1964
9 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #4
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #39 “(The Best Part of) Breakin’ Up
“(The Best Part of) Breakin’ Up” lyrics

Veronica Yvette Bennett was born in Spanish Harlem in 1943, on the island of Manhattan. In the fall of 1955, at the age of 12 she began to sing with her sister Estelle Bennett, then 14. An older sister, Estelle was born in East Harlem in 1941. Veronica and Estelle sang in a trio with their cousin Nedra Talley, who was born in 1946, making her the youngest of the trio, at age nine. In 1957 Veronica, who had shortened her name to Ronnie, formed a group. It consisted of Ronnie, her sister Estelle, and their cousins Nedra, Diane, and Elaine. The five girls learned how to perfect their harmonies first at their grandmother’s house, and they became proficient in songs such as the Spaniels’ “Goodnight Sweetheart”. They wanted to have a Frankie Lymon sound-alike, so they coaxed their cousin, Ira, to join the group. They entered a Wednesday night amateur show at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem. Their appearance was a disaster and Ira, Diane and Elaine quit the group the next day. The original trio renamed themselves Ronnie and the Relatives. In August 1961 they released a single with Colpix Records on the May label titled “I Want A Boy”. They followed with another release in January 1962 titled “I’m Gonna Quit While I’m Ahead”.

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Handle With Care by the Traveling Wilburys

#447: Handle With Care by the Traveling Wilburys

Peak Month: April 1989
13 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG chart
Peak Position #9
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #45 “Handle With Care
“Handle With Care” lyrics

The Traveling Wilburys is the name of a supergroup formed in the late 80s by George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, the frontman for the Electric Light Orchestra – Jeff Lynne – and Bob Dylan. George Harrison was born in Liverpool in 1943. Harrison remembers cycling past a home in his neighborhood that was playing “Heartbreak Hotel” by Elvis Presley. The encounter with the song got him hooked on rock ‘n roll. He subsequently was influenced by Little Richard and Buddy Holly. Harrison’s father bought him his first guitar in 1956 when Harrison was 13 years old. After Paul McCartney joined John Lennon’s group, the Quarymen, McCartney suggested that his friend, George Harrison, join the group. Harrison became one of the Quarrymen in early 1958, though he was still only 14. They changed their name to the Silver Beatles and then the Beatles in the spring of 1960. They group headed to Hamburg, Germany, on August 17, 1960, for a three-and-a-half month stint. In early 1961 the Beatles returned for more engagements in Germany. On June 22, 1961, Bert Kaempfert produced “My Bonnie”, “Ain’t She Sweet” and eight other songs. Later in 1961, “My Bonnie” climbed to #4 on the Hamburg pop charts and #32 on the German pop charts.

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Play With Fire by the Rolling Stones

#448: Play With Fire by the Rolling Stones

Peak Month: May 1965
10 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #2
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #96 “Play With Fire
Play With Fire” lyrics

Michael Philip Jagger was born in Dartford, Kent, England, in 1943, some 18 miles east of London. Though his father and grandfather were both teachers by profession, and he was encouraged to be a teacher, the boy had different aspirations. “I always sang as a child. I was one of those kids who just liked to sing. Some kids sing in choirs; others like to show off in front of the mirror. I was in the church choir and I also loved listening to singers on the radio–the BBC or Radio Luxembourg –or watching them on TV and in the movies.” In 1950 Mick Jagger met Keith Richards while attending primary school. They became good friends until the summer of 1954 when the Jagger family moved to the village of Wilmington, a mile south of Dartford. The pair bumped into each other at a train station in 1961 and resumed their friendship.

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Is It True by Brenda Lee

#449: Is It True by Brenda Lee

Peak Month: November 1964
8 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #3
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #17 “Is It True
“Is It True” lyrics

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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What's Causing This Sensation by the Chessmen

#450: What’s Causing This Sensation by the Chessmen

Peak Month: May 1966
8 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #4
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart “What’s Causing This Sensation

In 1959 Guy Sobell became a member of a Vancouver band called The Ken Clark Trio. They drew inspiration from The Shadows, The Beatles and Sweden’s instrumental group the Spotnicks. For the first few years the trio subsisted by playing at frat parties at the University of British Columbia. In 1962 Sobell decided to form a new band. Among the musicians responding to an ad was Terry Jacks, who was 17 years old and studying architecture and a member of a band called The Sand Dwellers. Jacks band had released a single called “Build Your Castle Higher”. Written along with bandmade John Crowe, it was Jacks’ first recording. It was covered by Jerry Cole and His Spacemen as a track on their debut album, Outer Limits. The track was retitled “Midnight Surfer” and Jerry Cole went on to be part of Phil Spector’s group of now legendary session musicians called the Wrecking Crew who played on over 40 #1 hits in the USA. Prior to His Spacemen band, Jerry Cole was a member of the instrumental group The Champs who had a #1 hit in 1958 called “Tequila”. I don’t know if The Sand Dwellers got any royalties from Jerry Cole and His Spacemen.

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Dancing In The Street by The Mamas & The Papas

#451: Dancing In The Street by The Mamas & The Papas

Peak Month: December 1966
8 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #3
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #73 “Dancing In The Street
“Dancing In The Street” lyrics

John Edmund Andrew Phillips was born in Paris Island, South Carolina, in 1935. His father was a military officer and John was sent to Linton Hall Military School from age seven to eleven. He hated the school and its corporal punishment. In his autobiography, Phillips recalls he also thought it was creepy that “nuns used to watch us take showers.” In high school he assembled several doo-wop groups. After he dropped out of a Naval Academy in 1953, John Phillips studied at a men’s college until 1959. In 1958 he formed a doo-wop group named the Abstracts, fashioned after the Four Preps and other popular groups of the era. The Abstracts changed their name in 1959 to the Smoothies. Another member of the group was Philip Blondheim III, who later changed his name to Scott McKenzie. The Smoothies played at night clubs in New York City with chorus girls and comedians.

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No Souvenirs by Melissa Etheridge

#452: No Souvenirs by Melissa Etheridge

Peak Month: December 1989
14 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG chart
Peak Position #8
1 week Hit Bound
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #95 link: “No Souvenirs
“No Souvenirs” lyrics

Melissa Lou Etheridge was born in 1961 in Leavenworth, Kansas. While in high school she was a member of several country bands. She moved to Boston after high school and while in college she performed at clubs in the area. She moved to Los Angeles and caught the attention of Island Records in 1986. In 1988 she made her first appearance on the Vancouver (BC) pop chart with “Bring Me Some Water”. The single peaked at #13 on CKLG in November ’88, and #9 on the Australian singles chart. It was from her self-titled debut album. The single won her a Grammy Award nomination in 1989 for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female.

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