For the background on this blog series, see this post.
For Valentine’s Day, it’s appropriate that Frankie Lymon’s first hit, “Why Do Fools Fall in Love,” would debut around that holiday. A couple of One-Hit Wonders round out a fairly routine week across the charts.
February 12, 1955: It’s a quiet week, but the “Sincerely” era begins on the Best Sellers chart, where the McGuire Sisters reach #1 to start a six-week run there. They replace the Fontane Sisters, who are now atop the Juke Box chart with “Hearts of Stone.” “Sincerely” is also the darling of the Disc Jockeys, and the McGuires will owe their eventual 10-week #1 total for this song to radio alone.
The few debuts this week include a One-Hit Wonder, Lenny Dee, with his instrumental “Plantation Boogie.” Two “Earth Angel” versions (Crew-Cuts and Penguins) finally climb onto the Juke Box chart, and a third, by Gloria Mann, debuts on the Best Sellers.
February 18, 1956: Juke Box operators and patrons still love Dean Martin’s “Memories Are Made of This,” at #1 for the fourth week on that chart. There is fragmentation at the other top spots: Kay Starr reaches the Best Seller #1 slot with “Rock and Roll Waltz.” The Platters enjoy their first week at #1 on both the Top 100 and the Disc Jockey charts.
Speaking of Dean Martin, if you want the most up-to-date word on the man, you should scoot on over to this blog: ilovedinomartin, run by Dino Martin Peters. Apart from keeping track of new releases and events, the blog simply provides amazing entertainment.
There is a smash debut this week, “Poor People of Paris” by Les Baxter, His Chorus and Orchestra. It’s an instrumental with some la-la vocalization, and its title is incorrect. The song is French in origin, and when it was described by transatlantic phone, the man on the American side heard the title as “Les Pauvres Gens” (Poor People), when it was actually “Pauvre Jean” (Poor John). Whatever the title, Baxter’s hit debuts in the Top Ten on the Best Sellers chart, and at #25 on the Top 100. The Disc Jockeys drive it into the Top Ten as well, but it’s still a week away from a low-level debut on the Juke Box chart.
An iconic debut: “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, which steps into the fray at #15 on the Best Sellers chart. There’s no radio or juke box action, so it’s not a Top 40 hit on the Top 100 yet.
February 16, 1957: While Elvis Presley collects a second week at #1 on the Best Sellers with “Too Much,” he doesn’t do that well elsewhere. Tab Hunter’s version of “Young Love” tops the Top 100 and the Disc Jockey charts, and on the latter, Hunter replaces Sonny James’s original “Young Love.” On the Juke Box chart, Guy Mitchell hangs on to log a tenth week at #1 with “Singing the Blues.”
While last week brought “Marianne” to radio in both the Terry Gilkyson and the Hilltoppers versions, this is the first week as Best Sellers for both recordings. There, Gilkyson outpaces the Hilltoppers by 14 spots, but on the Top 100, the Hilltoppers win by four places.
On the Best Sellers chart, Guy Mitchell debuts with “Knee Deep in the Blues,” and it is listed there with its flip, “Take Me Back Baby.” However, because the flip charted independently and reached only #47, it doesn’t appear at all in the Top 40 book.
In the tradition of cowboy songs, Fess Parker and Bill Hayes, who competed previously with versions of “Ballad of Davy Crockett,” now lock horns over “Wringle Wrangle.” Hayes won round one, but Parker will take this battle.
Jazzy female singer Chris Connor scores her only Top 40 hit, reaching that level for the first time on the Top 100 with “I Miss You So.” While she will spend just three weeks at #40 or higher, the song will linger on the Top 100 for a total of 28 weeks.
Betty Johnson, who charted in December with “I Dreamed” and has been in the Top Ten on the Jockey chart for a little while, just now debuts on the Juke Box chart. A year and a week from now, she will give us one of the strangest Top 40 hits ever. I’ll bring you that one when the time is right.
February 17, 1958: “Don’t” by Elvis Presley remains atop the Best Sellers chart, but “At the Hop” by Danny and the Juniors logs its seventh week at #1 on the Top 100. The Jockeys have made “Sugartime” by the McGuire Sisters #1 on their chart, but they will peak no higher than #5 on the two sales charts, so perhaps the song was not as big a #1 as it would seem.
Two very radio-friendly songs make their Best Sellers debut this week—but they’re a couple of weeks away from their Jockey debut. “26 Miles (Santa Catalina)” by the Four Preps and “Witchcraft” by Frank Sinatra are uncharacteristic sales-only hits for these artists. That could have happened in part because the Jockey list is sluggish and almost static this week.
February 16, 1959: Lloyd Price’s “Stagger Lee” logs a second week at #1. A notable debut is by a One-Hit Wonder: Thomas Wayne with the DeLons, who will take “Tragedy” into the Top Ten. Thomas Wayne Perkins is the brother of Luther Perkins, of Johnny Cash fame. Other than that, it’s an extremely quiet week on the Hot 100, as far as significant debuts go.
For your listening pleasure, give these One-Hit Wonders a spin. Lenny Dee, who recorded “Plantation Boogie” (Decca 29360), was born Leonard DeStoppelaire in Chicago. He played one of those big-sounding organs that are either used as solo instruments or not at all, because they overpower every other instrument within ten miles.
Thomas Wayne recorded “Tragedy” (Fernwood 109) with the DeLons. A Mississippi native, he died in an auto accident in 1971, at the age of 31. His brother, Luther, died at age 40 in 1968 when he fell asleep while smoking. Luther was Johnny Cash’s lead guitarist, the originator of the clicking guitar so prevalent on the Cash hits.
And for those who can’t get enough, or will get too much, of Valentine’s Day, here are the Teenagers featuring Frankie Lymon as well.
Wednesday, the biggest hit-making bandleader of all time. See you then!
Lenny Dee, Plantation Boogie
Thomas Wayne with the DeLons, Tragedy
The Teenagers featuring Frankie Lymon, Why Do Fools Fall in Love
2 hours ago