As 1954 began, Frankie Laine was loosening his grip on the charts, and it would be another two years before he topped them for the final time. On 8 January, trumpeter Eddie Calvert, from Preston in Lancashire, took over from Laine with his cover of Oh Mein Papa.
Oh Mein Papa was, as the title suggests, a German song. It was written by Swiss composer Paul Burkhard in 1939 for the musical Der Schwarze Hecht and became his most successful tune. It concerned a young woman remembering the days her father worked as a clown, and these days, you’re most likely to know it from an episode of The Simpsons, in which Krusty the Clown sings it with Rabbi Hyman Krustofsky (Like Father, Like Clown).
Albert Edward Calvert, born 15 March 1922, came from a family who loved brass band music, but he became particularly interested in the trumpet.
After World War Two, he graduated from amateur to professional dance orchestras. Calvert earned the nickname ‘The Man with the Golden Trumpet’ (aren’t they all golden?) after appearing on the TV with the Stanley Black Orchestra, and the name stuck for the rest of his career. He was a BBC radio and TV star by the time he cut his chart-topping version of Oh Mein Papa.
Oh Mein Papa did as well as Frankie Laine’s initial run at the top with I Believe, remaining there for nine weeks. Impressive, and somewhat bizarre, all things considered, but we’re only on 1954 and rock’n’roll was yet to change the world.
Although classed as an instrumental, a choir occasionally sing the song’s title. Other than Calvert’s trumpet, there is an incredibly dated-sounding organ. In the charts at the same time, was a vocal version by previous number 1 artist Eddie Fisher. Despite his previous success, he was unable to beat Calvert here, whereas in the US, the opposite occurred.
Calvert was the first artist to receive a gold disc for an instrumental record. It was also the first number one to be recorded at the legendary Abbey Road Studios, which was a good few years off becoming the go-to studio for the likes of Cliff Richard and most famously The Beatles.
Written by: Paul Burkhard
Producer: Norrie Paramor
Weeks at number 1: 9 (8 January-11 March)
Writer Iain Banks – 16 February
Actor Anthony Head – 20 February
Snooker player Willie Thorne – 4 March
Swimmer David Wilkie – 8 March
Actor Sydney Greenstreet – 18 January
Royal Navy Captain Ronald Niel Stuart – 8 February
12 February: A report was issued by the British Medical Committee suggesting a link between smoking and lung cancer. It would be some time before the music world took any link on board.