May 1956: Manchester City won the FA Cup with a 3-1 victory over Birmingham City at Wembley Stadium on 5 May. Amazingly, their goalkeeper Bert Trautmann played the last 15 minutes of the game with a broken neck. Ouch. Two days later, the Minister of Health Robin Turton showed just as much regard for health by rejecting a call for the government to lead an anti-smoking campaign, arguing that no ill-effects had yet to be proven. The following day, John Osbrne’s play Look Back in Anger was first performed, at the Royal Court Theatre. Actor Alan Bates was described in the theatre’s press release as an ‘angry young man’, a term that would soon become famous.
For most of that month, and into June, Hull-born singer Ronnie Hilton enjoyed a six-week stay at number one with No Other Love. Only two years earlier his name was Adrian Hill and he had been an engineer in a factory in Leeds. Hilton found fame with his covers of popular American songs of the era. No Other Love was taken from the 1953 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Me and Juliet, and had been a US number 1 that year for Perry Como. Hilton’s version contained more ‘oomph’ than Como’s, who, as always, was content to play it cool.
It’s serviceable enough, a standard ballad of the era. Clearly, the older generation still loved these romantic ballads and weren’t going to be swayed by the rogue pelvis of Elvis Presley, whose debut album had been released a few months previous. However, by the time No Other Love had dropped from the charts, Presley had managed three hit singles. Rock’n’roll wasn’t going away. The following year, Hilton failed in his attempt to represent the UK in the inaugural Eurovision Song Contest. In 1959, Hilton’s last chart hit for some time was The Wonder of You, which Presley took to number one in 1970. Hilton later found fame presenting BBC Radio 2’s nostalgic Sounds of the Fifties. He died of a stroke in 2001, aged 75.
Written by: Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II
Weeks at number 1: 6 (4 May-14 June)
Dramatist John Godber – 18 May
Magician Austin Osman Spare – 17 May
Theatre critic Max Beerbohm – 20 May