The UK was hit by not one, but two aquatic disasters on 31 January, 1953. The car ferry MV Princess Victoria was sailing from Stranraer, Scotland, to Larne in Northern Ireland, when it sank in the Irish Sea, killing 133 people, including several high-ranking Northern Irish politicians. Also that night, the North Sea flood began, killing hundreds of people on the east coast in England, Scotland and Belgium.
So it seemed appropriate that that week’s number one was a gloomy ballad. Outside of Heaven had hit the top a day earlier. Sammy Gallop and Chester Conn had written this from the perspective of a spurned lover on the outside looking in at his lost love’s new life. Unable to let go, he walks past her house, and is even around on her wedding day, suggesting he is at best a glutton for punishment, or at worse, indulging in a spot of stalking…
‘On your wedding day I stood in the crowd
I could hardly keep from crying out loud
There goes the kiss my lips have known’
Outside of Heaven was given added appeal by being sang by one of the era’s heart-throbs – Eddie Fisher. Following a spell in the Korean War, the US actor and singer went on to be one of the most successful singles artists of the first half of the decade. Later, Fisher began hosting his own variety show in the US, Coke Time with Eddie Fisher (I’m assuming this was blatant sponsorship for a certain soft drink rather than an open confession to a drug habit).
Unlike the character in his song, Fisher had no problem moving on from partners. He married actress Debbie Reynolds, the first of his five wives, in 1955, and a year later they had their first child, Star Wars (1977) star Carrie Fisher. Carrie and Debbie, of course died tragically within a day of each other in December 2016. I’m getting ahead of myself here though, and there’s more Eddie Fisher to come yet.
Written by: Sammy Gallop & Chester Conn
Producer: Hugo Winterhalter
Weeks at number 1: 1 (30 January-5 February)