10. Eddie Fisher & Sally Sweetland – I’m Walking Behind You (1953)

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During I Believe‘s original nine-week stint at number 1, Elizabeth II’s Coronation took place. The public holiday on 2 June inadvertently saw the start of the television revolution in the UK, with many families purchasing one specifically to watch a crown be placed on the head of somebody who’d already been Queen for over a year. Also that morning, news reached the world that Mount Everest had finally been conquered. It actually happened on 29 May, but obviously nobody could film from the peak on a smartphone to prove it back then so the news travelled slowly.

On 25 June the serial killer John Christie was sentenced to death for the murder of his wife Ethel. However, he should have been sentenced for more. A further seven bodies were uncovered at 10 Rillington Place in Notting Hill. During the trial, Christie confessed to murdering Beryl Evans. Beryl, her husband Timothy and their baby daughter Geraldine had lived at the flat in the 40s, and in 1950, Beryl’s husband Timothy was hanged for murdering Beryl and Geraldine, despite him insisting Christie had been responsible. Christie had even been a witness for the prosecution. Yet another instance of tragic errors in the justice system that helped lead to the abolishment of the death penalty. The whole shocking, terrible story was made into a film starring Richard Attenborough in 1971 and a BBC television series starring Tim Roth in 2016.

A day later, US star Eddie Fisher returned to the number one spot, this time with accompaniment from the singer Sally Sweetland. When reviewing his previous number one, Outside of Heaven, I remarked that Fisher sounded a little like he was stalking an ex-partner by watching her in the crowd as she married someone else. In I’m Walking Behind You, he takes that a sinister step further. There’s no wrong way of reading these lyrics. Fisher is actually walking down the aisle behind the bride-to-be!

‘I’m walking behind you
On your wedding day
And I’ll hear you promise
To love and obey
Though you may forget me
You’re still on my mind
Look over your shoulder
I’m walking behind’

Shudder. Was stalking an ex considered socially acceptable in 1953? It certainly didn’t stop Fisher bagging another number one, so I’m going to assume so. Frank Sinatra later covered it too. Sally Sweetland is the woman warbling in the background of this forgettable tune, written by the first British songwriter to top the US charts, Billy Reid. Fisher and Sweetland are so loud you can barely hear the musicians, but the song is so average it doesn’t really matter. Sweetland was a soprano who provided backing vocals for the young Tony Bennett. Years later she worked as a vocal coach with her husband Lee, and among their students was one Seth McFarlane, later the creator of animated comedy Family Guy.

This was Fisher’s last number 1 in the UK, possibly because his personal life had begun to cause problems. As mentioned in my blog for Outside of Heaven, he married actress Debbie Reynolds, and had two children, one being Star Wars great Carrie Fisher. They had a very public divorce and he went on to marry Elizabeth Taylor, with who he had been having an affair. Taylor had been married to Fisher’s best friend, the deceased Mike Todd (I wonder if Fisher checked to see if the ghost of Todd was walking behind him in church?). The handsome crooner still had a long career ahead of him though, and three more marriages after Taylor before his death in 2010. One week after reaching the top, Frankie Laine returned to number 1 for another six weeks.

Written by: Billy Reid

Weeks at number 1: 1 (26 June-2 July)

3 Replies to “10. Eddie Fisher & Sally Sweetland – I’m Walking Behind You (1953)”

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