32. Tony Bennett with Percy Faith & His Orchestra and Chorus – Stranger in Paradise (1955)

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As soon as he replaced Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden sought to establish his presence in Number 10 by immediately announcing a General Election for 26 May. For the first time in an election, television proved to take a prominent role in campaigning for Eden’s Conservatives and Clement Atlee’s Labour. As the polls closed, all the signs pointed toward Eden having made a very shrewd move.

On the day of the election, Tony Bennett’s fortnight at number 1 with Stranger in Paradise was coming to an end. One of many versions in the chart that year of Robert Wright and George Forrest’s song from the 1953 musical Kismet, which had only just arrived in the UK, it marked the start of Bennett’s international success.

Anthony Dominick Benedetto knew he was blessed with a good voice, and had been a singing waiter before being drafted into the US army towards the end of World War Two. He later described his time in the front line as a ‘front-row seat in hell’. Returning to his previous career after the war, singer Pearl Bailey invited him to be her warm-up in 1949. She had invited Bob Hope to watch, and he was so impressed he took his on the road with him. And that was the start of Tony Bennett, one of our last living original swingers.

Tony Bennett’s voice is the best thing about this song. It’s yet another smooth ballad, smothered with the usual arrangement, but he sings his heart out and it’s plain to see why he became so famous. However, the lyrics are also noteworthy. It’s another love song, but we’re a step above the usual fare from these times. For example:

‘I saw her face
And I ascended
Out of the common place
Into the rarest
Somewhere in space
I hang suspended
Until I know
There’s a chance that she cares’

Despite being (to date) his only UK chart-topper, the best was yet to come for Bennett, but he faced several peaks and troughs. He survived the rock’n’roll boom that soon followed, and hit big again in 1962 with his version of I Left My Heart in San Fransisco. Even Sinatra said he was the best singer in the world, but the boom of the Beatles saw Bennett feeling out of place once more, and he faced trying times until he nearly died of a cocaine overdose in 1979. In the 1990s though, he enjoyed a big revival. The illness and eventual death of Sinatra in 1998 perhaps made the world realise the swingers should be enjoyed while they were still around.  Bennett was all over television at the time. His natural charm was perfect for telling tall tales of his career, and that voice was still golden.

Always a supporter of civil rights, and with opinions on the Iraq War and apartheid that have later proven him to be on the right side of history, he’s that rare commodity in music, namely a nice guy AND one hell of a talent. He’s now 91 and still recording and performing, and long may he do so.

Tony Bennett is also the earliest UK number 1 act that I have ever seen live. Performing at a very muddy and wet Glastonbury Festival on Sunday 28 June, 1998, my friends and I sat on bin bags near our tents up on the hill by the Pyramid Stage. We probably began watching him with a sense of ironic detachment, as it certainly wasn’t the sort of music we were into. However, he won us over. Though it’s nearly 20 years ago, I remember we danced, we smiled, and the sun even shone for one of the few times that entire weekend. One of the better ‘legend’ slots in the festival’s history.

Written by: Robert Wright & George Forrest 

Producer: Mitch Miller

Weeks at number 1: 2 (13-26 May)

Births:

Singer Hazel O’Connor – 16 May
Presenter Dale Winton – 22 May

31. Perez ‘Prez’ Prado & His Orchestra, the King of Mambo – Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White (1955)

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As mentioned in my blog for Mambo Italiano, the US and UK were going through something of a mambo craze in 1955. Rosemary Clooney’s tune (with the Mellomen) was a very successful attempt to cash in on this phenomenon, but it was a novelty song. Bandleader Perez Prado was the real deal, though, and the craze was largely due to his success with songs such as Mambo No 5 at the start of the decade. Yes, that’s the song that Lou Bega remade in 1999, and then reworked by none other than Bob the Builder in 2001.

Born in Cuba, he moved to Mexico in 1949 and began his recording career there. He quickly ascended to the top of the mambo scene, developing trademark grunts as he powered his way through fiery, sometimes raunchy tunes. His first hit, Mambo Jambo, appeared a year later. Also in 1950, Spanish-born French composer Louiguy, the man behind the melody of Edith Piaf’s La Vie en Rose, wrote Cerisier Rose et Pommier Blanc. This Latin jazz composition translated as Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White. Lyrics were written in French by Jacques Larue, and English by Mack David, but Prado decided to record it as an instrumental, and it is this version that first went to number 1 in the UK, on 29 April, after its appearance in the movie Underwater!. starring Jane Russell, who dances to it in a famous scene.

Prado’s version has a great, memorable opening, with a powerful brass blast before trumpeter Billy Regis performs a lazy drawl on his instrument (this is probably a strange way to describe it but it’s the best I can think of) and then the sultry rhythm takes hold. It’s easy to see why mambo was popular in the UK. Compared to number 1s by Vera Lynn and David Whitfield, this is exciting and exotic. The low horn sound that crops up from time to time is probably the weirdest noise to appear in the charts so far. It’s so deep it almost sounds alien and electronic. The most enjoyable number 1 so far, and the only one to get a reaction from my two-year-old.

Other acts wanted in on the mambo craze, and ‘Man with the Golden Trumpet’ Eddie Calvert’s inferior cover of this track also went to number 1 a few weeks later. It remains Prado’s only number 1, but he continued to enjoy success around the world for years to come. He died in 1989, aged 72, but his music has lived on, and aged very well. In addition to the remakes of Mambo No.5, his track Guaglione was used in a famous advert for Guinness in 1995, which is where I first came across his work. And despite never seeing Underwater!Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White sounds very familiar to me, and I’m certain it’s been used on TV, so if anyone can tell me where, please do!

Written by: Louiguy 

Producer: Herman Diaz

Weeks at number 1: 2 (29 April-12 May)

Births:

Singer Hazel O’Connor – 16 May 

Deaths:

Cricketer Gilbert Jessop – 11 May 

30. Tennessee Ernie Ford with Orchestra conducted by Billy May – Give Me Your Word (1955)

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On 30 November 1954, Winston Churchill became the first, and to date, only UK Prime Minister to still be in the job at 80 years old. However, ill health was taking its toll. He had suffered two strokes and was aware he was slowing down physically and mentally. On 5 April 1955, he announced his retirement. Another sign that the country was moving on from World War Two. The following day, his deputy for 15 years, Anthony Eden, became the Prime Minister. Highly regarded as a man of peace, world events would soon tarnish his reputation and have a lasting impact on his legacy.

Meanwhile, in the UK top 20, a very dull song had been holding on to the top spot for some time. Give Me Your Word, by Tennessee Ernie Ford, became number 1 on 11 March. It was written by bandleader George Wyle and lyricist Irving Taylor. It is considered the first country song to top the charts, although it isn’t really. All the ingredients of 1950s romantic, overwrought ballads are present and correct. The only thing remotely ‘country’ about it is the drawl of Tennessee Ernie Ford.

Ford had added ‘Tennessee’ to his name when he became a radio disc jockey during the 1940s, and taken on the character of a wild, crazy hillbilly. Soon he was releasing singles, and doing very well. The Shotgun Boogie was fast-paced boogie-woogie. He also recorded slower-paced duets with the likes of jazz singer Kay Starr, who had been number 1 in 1953 with Comes A-Long A-Love.

How did Give Me Your Word achieve the same feat? Let alone, for seven weeks? This is a mystery, lost in the midsts of time. I’m not much of a country fan, so I may be biased, but like I said above, this isn’t much of a country song. It had been a B-side originally, to River of No Return in 1954. That’s where by rights it should have stayed. It’s no How Soon Is Now? by the Smiths, for example, where the sheer brilliance of the tune demands it to be promoted from the flip side. To be fair to Ford, he made up for this bland, soppy rubbish when Sixteen Tons became his second number 1 in January 1956.

Written by: George Wyle & Irving Taylor

Producer: Lee Gillette

Weeks at number 1: 7 (11 March-29 April) *BEST-SELLING SINGLE OF THE YEAR*

Births:

Poet John Burnside – 19 March
DJ Janice Long – 5 April

Deaths

Bacteriologist Sir Alexander Fleming – 11 March

29. Ruby Murray with Ray Martin & His Orchestra – Softly, Softly (1955)

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The early months of 1955 saw freezing weather conditions across much of the UK. The plunge in temperature began in January, and despite a thaw at the end of the month, an icy blast returned. Sport and rail services were cancelled, the RAF were forced to drop food and medical supplies, and many communities became completely isolated.

During this extremely cold spell, Ruby Murray, a young rising star from Northern Ireland, had a three-week stint at number 1 with Softly Softly. It was written by Mark Paul and Pierre Dudan, but the English lyrics were provided by Ivor Novello Award-winning songwriter Paddy Roberts. A former child star with a distinctive voice due to an early throat operation, her debut single, Heartbeat, had reached number 3, but Rosemary Clooney and the Mellomen’s Mambo Italiano had run its course, so Murray hit the top.

We’re back in the realms of slushy ballad here. With syrupy strings as her backing, Murray is in fine voice. She sounds quite sensual at the start, to the extent you wonder if it’s going to get quite saucy. Alas, it’s merely another tender love song. It’s pleasant enough I suppose if you like that sort of thing, which 1955 record buyers obviously did.

Ruby Murray’s career peaked that year, with a Royal Command Performance, and a single in the charts every week for a full year. She had a few more hits as the decade drew to a close, but sadly it seems Murray’s lasting legacy is that her name became Cockney rhyming slang for going for a curry. It was adopted in the classic sitcom Only Fools and Horses, and seems to have stuck ever since. It’s even in the Oxford Dictionary of English now.She spent her last few years, after a battle with alcoholism, entertaining staff and fellow guests at a nursing home. She died of liver cancer in 1996, aged only 61.

Written by: Mark Paul & Pierre Dudan/Paddy Roberts (English lyrics)

Producer: Norrie Paramor

Weeks at number 1: 3 (18 Feb-10 March)

Births:

Singer Howard Jones – 23 February 

 

 

 

28. Rosemary Clooney with the Mellomen – Mambo Italiano (1955)

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A lot of writers will tell you that sometimes their best work comes when they’re hard-pushed to meet a deadline. This is how Bob Merrill came up with Mambo Italiano. He was already a renowned hitmaker. Indeed, this became his fourth UK number one, after She Wears Red Feathers, (How Much is That) Doggie in the Window? and Look at That Girl. Merrill was looking for a way to cash in on the craze for mambo music in New York in 1954, and considered Rosemary Clooney the best artist for the job. The problem was, he couldn’t think of a tune and he was running out of time, until one night he was eating in an Italian restaurant and it came to him. He quickly scribbled his idea on a napkin, rang the studio from the restaurant payphone and dictated the whole thing to producer Mitch Miller and the studio pianist.

Whether this explains the fact the lyrics are often either lazy, stereotypical Italian (basically, any Italian word an American would have known, and some Spanish as well) or actual gibberish, I’m not sure. let’s face it, Merrill had written borderline offensive songs before (She Wears Red Feathers), and been very successful with it. In less enlightened times, who was going to stop him? He gets away with it on Mambo Italiano for two reasons. One, the tune is so catchy. Two, Rosemary Clooney’s performance.

Clooney (actor George Clooney’s aunt, if you didn’t know. I didn’t until recently) throws herself into the song completely, and does a very good impersonation of an Italian despite her Irish-American upbringing. This is in part due to the many Italian musicians she worked with. She’s the embodiment of the lusty temptress, and she even throws in some feral growling at times. It’s easily the sexiest number one yet. So hats off to Clooney. With this and This Ole House, that’s two good number 1s in a row. Mambo Italiano has been covered many times since, with Dean Martin’s being probably the most notable. Martin was Italian-American and didn’t seem to have a problem with the song. In fact, neither did Italy, as it became popular there in 1956 thanks to a cover by Carla Boni. I guess as far as national stereotypes go, ‘those Italians are always horny and we like their food’ is one of the better ones.

Mambo Italiano knocked Dickie Valentine’s Finger of Suspicion off the top spot for a week, before Valentine took over again for another fortnight. A further two-week stint followed for Clooney, and then her time at number 1 was over. She continued to have television and music success for many years, but also suffered from several nervous breakdowns, depression, prescription drug addiction and money problems. She continued to perform though, until succumbing to lung cancer in 2002, aged 74.

And who were the Mellomen, who were credited alongside Clooney on this track? They were a very popular singing quartet, that’s who. At this time they consisted of Thurl Ravenscroft (also the voice of Tony the Tiger, who helped out Clooney on This Ole House), Max Smith, Bill Lee and Bob Hamlin. They went under several guises through the years, and together, and separately, they recorded with Elvis Presley, Bing Crosby and Doris Day, as well as providing voices for Disney films including Alice in Wonderland (1951) and The Jungle Book (1967).

Written by: Bob Merrill

Producer: Mitch Miller

Weeks at number 1: 3 (14-20 January, 4-17 February)

27. Dickie Valentine with the Stargazers and Johnny Douglas & His Orchestra – Finger of Suspicion (1955)

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By the time 1955 rolled around, people were a bit exhausted from a month of honky tonk madness courtesy of Winifred Atwell. Let’s Have Another Party was toppled by Finger of Suspicion, sung by Dickie Valentine with the Stargazers. The Stargazers had twice before took number 1, with Broken Wings and I See the Moon, but this was Valentine’s first of two that year.

Valentine, born Richard Maxwell, had been a child actor, starring in Jack’s the Boy in 1932 when he was only three years old. he moved into music as a teen, impersonating famous singers, before music publisher Sid Green brought him to the attention of bandleader star Ted Heath. He joined Ted Heath’s band in 1949, singing alongside Dennis Lotis and Lita Roza, who had a number one in 1953 with (How Much is That) Doggie in the Window?.   Looking rather like a young Orson Welles, Valentine demonstrated star quality and was voted Top UK Male Vocalist in 1952, and again in 1954. By this point he was a solo artist. Following the success of his Royal Command Performance that November, Finger of Suspicion worked its way to the top.

Written by Paul Mann and Al Lewis, Finger of Suspicion trundles along nicely. At first unassuming, it’s somewhat of an earworm. It’s not a song about crime, unless the crime is taking Valentine’s heart. Yes, the singer is just being a bit of a charmer really. He’s not sleeping well, he’s so in love with this girl, which might explain the song’s stately pace. The Stargazers work well as his backing singers, making up for the abomination that was I See the Moon.

Finger of Suspicion had somewhat of a chart war with Rosemary Clooney and the Mellomen’s Mambo Italiano. She knocked him off the top after only a week, before Valentine took over again for a fortnight, only for Clooney and co. to win out again. 1955 was easily Dickie Valentine’s biggest year of success. with three more top ten hits, before getting the Christmas number 1 spot. The Stargazers had further hits that year, but their time at number 1 was over.

On 23 January, an express train derailed at Sutton Coldfield railway station after taking a curve too fast. 43 were injured, and 17 killed. Four days later, Michael Tippett’s controversial opera The Midsummer Marriage was premiered at the Royal Opera House.

Written by: Paul Mann & Al Lewis

Producer: Dick Rowe

Weeks at number 1: 3 (7-13 January, 21 January-3 February)

Births:

Presenter Kirsty Wark – 3 February

Deaths:

Artist Lamorna Birch – 7 January
Dancer Annette Mills –  10 January
Politician Sir Rhys Rhys-Williams – 29 January

26. Winifred Atwell & Her ‘Other’ Piano – Let’s Have Another Party (1954)

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As 1954 drew to a close, the charts were finally livening up. Rosemary Clooney’s This Ole House had shown the way forward, and a certain song called Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley & His Comets had been getting attention. Unlike the previous December, when record buyers had chosen the solemn Answer Me by Frankie Laine as their Christmas number 1, everyone decided they wanted to spend the festive season having a bloody good knees up. And so on 3 December, Winifred Atwell’s instrumental Let’s Have Another Party went to the top and stayed there until the new year. She had become the first black person to have a number 1.

Winifred Atwell was born in Trinidad & Tobago. She was expected to join the family business and become a pharmacist, but she had loved playing the piano since childhood, and left her home to study music in the US, before moving to London and becoming the first female pianist to achieve the highest grading at the Royal Academy of Music. Substituting for an ill star at the Capitol Theatre, she caught the interest of famous impresario Bernard Delfont with her frenetic honky tonk style of playing. Before long, her version of Black and White Rag made her famous (it was later used as the theme tune to the BBC’s snooker show Pot Black)

Let’s Have Another Party was a follow-up to her hit Let’s Have a Party (see what she did there?). Atwell showcased her skills once more with a medley of ten songs. Easily the longest chart-topper so far, she ran through Somebody Stole My Gal, I Wonder Where My Baby Is Tonight, When the Red Red Robin, Bye Bye Blackbird, The Sheik of Araby, Another Little Drink, Lily of Laguna, Honeysuckle and the Bee, Broken Doll and Nellie Dean. She did this without pause, at a relentless pace, and as old-fashioned as it sounds now, it’s very refreshing to hear something so different to what came before. Atwell had mad skills, you could say. You can imagine people gathering round the gramophone on Christmas Day and actually smiling along to this, or perhaps even going so far as to have a little dance, and it’s a lovely image.

Sadly, Christmas Day 1954 would have been ruined for many once news got out of a terrible air crash. The Prestwick air disaster had occurred at 3.30 that morning, when the RMA Cathay struggled with intense rain and landed short of the runway at Prestwick Airport in Scotland. The aircraft overturned and burst into flames, killing 28 of the 36 on board, including two children and cricket star Kenneth Davidson.

Although the charts in 1954 had often offered up more of the same, the number ones were of more interesting fare than 1953, with a little less crooning and more (dreadful) comedy, jazz and pop. 1954 showed early signs of how unpredictable the UK charts could and would be in years to come.

Written by: Leo Wood/Walter Donaldson & Russ Kahn/Harry Woods/Ray Henderson & Mort Dixon/Harry B Smith, Francis Wheeler & Ted Snyder/Clifford Grey & Nat Dyer/Leslie Stuart/William Penn & Albert Fitz/Douglas & Guy C Rawson/Henry W Armstrong

Weeks at number 1: 5 (3 December-6 January)

Producer: Johnny Franz

Births:

Author Hanif Kureishi – 5 December
Author Louis de Bernières – 8 December
Singer Annie Lennox – 25 December
Politician Alex Salmond – 31 December
Classicist Mary Beard – 1 January
Comedian Jimmy Mulville – 5 January 

Deaths:

Author James Hilton – 20 December

25. Rosemary Clooney with Buddy Cole & His Orchestra – This Ole House (1954)

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It never occurred to me that This Ole House could be about anything other than, well, doing up an old house. To me, and probably most children of the late-70s or early-80s, it conjures up happy memories of Shakin’ Stevens hanging around an old building in the video of his 1981 cover version. What with this, his cover of Green Door, and his love of denim, I think I assumed Shaky was some sort of singing builder as a child. Upon researching the original number one version, by Rosemary Clooney, I found out the dark origins of this chirpy tune, and suddenly the song is probably the deepest UK number 1 up to this point.

Stuart Hamblen was an alcoholic, gambling-addicted singer-songwriter and radio personality. He was constantly getting into scrapes and being bailed out due to his charm. In 1949, he decided to take a different path, converting to Christianity after attending one of Billy Graham’s rallies. He was fired from his radio show for refusing to do beer commercials, and stopped his addictions. While out hunting with a friend, he came across an abandoned shack on a mountain. Upon inspection, they found a dog guarding a dead body. Allegedly, he came up with the lyrics while riding back down the mountain. So, the ‘ole house’ in question is in fact the body you leave behind when you die. Seems obvious when you then read the lyrics, but to be fair, I didn’t do that back in 1981, I was barely reading.

Of course, the fact the tune is so catchy and, (especially by comparison to most number 1s of the day), kind-of rollicking, also obscures the subject matter. It wouldn’t make a bad funeral song. Sod the fact you’re dying, your body has had it anyway, and better times await. Rosemary Clooney belts it out with gusto. Like so many stars of the time, she had been a big band singer first, before rocketing to success with Come On-a My House in 1951, which she hated (yet another ‘house-related’ song). This was one of her most successful years, as that winter also saw the release of the film White Christmas, in which she starred alongside Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye.

Unlike most number 1s of the era, people could actually dance to this! Pop was back at the top. In particular, the piano break is a lot of fun, and best of all, the man with the deep voice singing ‘Ain’t a-gonna need this house no longer…’ is Thurl Ravenscroft, the original voice behind Tony the Tiger! What more could you ask for?

Written by: Stuart Hamblen

Producer: Mitch Miller

Weeks at number 1: 1 (26 November-2 December)

24. Vera Lynn with Frank Weir, His Saxophone, His Orchestra & Chorus – My Son, My Son (1954)

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‘Vera, Vera, what has become of you?’ So Roger Waters sang on Pink Floyd’s Vera from 1980 double album The Wall. It may well be partly because I love that album, but at some point I got it into my head that Dame Vera Lynn had died, a long time back. I was shocked upon researching this to find out she turned 100 on 20 March, 2017. 100! Well done Vera.

What’s more, the Forces Sweetheart achieved an incredible feat in 2017. She released the compilation Vera Lynn 100, making her the first centenarian performer to have an album in the charts. Amazing really, when you consider that she had three singles in the initial UK top 12 back in 1952 (which was actually a top 15 due to tied positions) – Auf Wiederseh’n Sweetheart, The Homing Waltz and Forget-Me-Not. The first of those three had also been the first single by a British performer to be number 1 in the US.

It had taken a long time for Britain to recover from World War Two, so it’s no wonder that Dame Vera Lynn was still in vogue in the mid-50s. However, rationing had just come to an end, so I’m sure this would have been symbolic of a need to finally move on from such traumatic times. Perhaps this is partly why My Son, My Son remains her only number 1 single, and the beginning of her decline in fame. It had been written by Gordon Melville Rees, Bob Howard and trumpeter Eddie Calvert, who had scored a number 1 with Oh Mein Papa back at the start of the year.

I feel bad slating this, but the fact she helped a nation keep sane in the war doesn’t make My Son, My Son any easier to enjoy now. Frank Lee’s production is overblown, with backing vocals from a male voice choir that hurt the ears. The lyrics tap into the spirit of songs like We’ll Meet Again by paying tribute to a mother’s son. You can picture a soldier’s mum singing it in-between sobbing over a letter from her brave boy fighting in another country. It seems trite in this day and age, and possibly to the younger generation back then, keen for something with some energy and spirit. Someone like Johnnie Ray, for instance. Having said that, it was the typical-of-the-time Hold My Hand by Don Cornell that knocked Lynn off the top for a second run as bestseller.

During Lynn’s fortnight at number 1, Great Britain defeated France at the Parc des Princes in Paris to win the first ever Rugby League World Cup, on 13 November.

Written by: Gordon Melville Rees, Bob Howard & Eddie Calvert

Producer: Frank Lee

Weeks at number 1: 2 (5-18 November)

 

23. Don Cornell with Orchestra directed by Jerry Carr – Hold My Hand (1954)

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Frank Sinatra’s three-week stint at number 1 with Three Coins in the Fountain came to an end when he was replaced by another crooner. Don Cornell (born Luigi Varlaro) was a super-smooth baritone singer from the Bronx. He had been a singing waiter, until a fight with someone over a racist remark caught the eye (not literally) of a boxing promoter. Varlaro won twenty professional fights, but decided to walk away when asked to throw a fight for money. Sounds like a pretty decent guy, all in all. He became a guitarist but his bandleader Sammy Kaye decided to promote him to frontman and introduced him one night as Don Cornell, without giving him prior knowledge.

Fast forward a few years and Cornell was now doing well as a solo artist. In 1952 he had a hit with I, which, weirdly, was the only song title made up of a single character until Prince’s 7 in 1992. Hold My Hand had been written by Jack Lawrence and Richard Myers and featured in the romantic comedy Susan Slept Here (1954), starring Dick Powell in his final role, and Debbie Reynolds.

The song suffers in comparison to Sinatra’s. Although Three Coins in the Fountain isn’t Ol’ Blue Eyes best, his voice has aged better than Cornell’s, which now sounds a bit too polished. I’ve also had a lot of singers like this to listen to now. Having said that, the orchestra improves it, with little flourishes to keep the ears interested. We’ve had worse. Although record buyers decided they preferred it to Three Coins in the Fountain, Hold My Hand lost out to it in the Best Original Song nominations at the following Academy Awards ceremony. It only went to number 2 in the US, but stayed on top in the UK for four weeks, and then a further week after Vera Lynn had her fortnight of glory with My Son, My Son.

In another example of how God-fearing we still were back then, (see David Whitfield’s Answer Me), the BBC considered banning Hold My Hand for the opening line, the apparently blasphemous ‘So this the kingdom of Heaven’. Cornell agreed to record this again and change it to ‘So this the wonder of Heaven’. Laughable, really.

Cornell’s success tailed off in the UK, though he still performed well in America. He was one of the first stars to be included in the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in 1963. He died in 2004, aged 84.

And what was occurring outside of music at this time? On 13 October, Chris Chataway broke the 5000m world record. Six days later, Britain agreed to end its occupation of the Suez Canal. Colonel Gamel Abdul Nasser had recently come into power in Egypt, and both sides agreed that British troops would be withdrawn in 1956. It didn’t quite work out like that…

2 November saw the radio premiere of Hancock’s Half Hour. One of the most influential comedies of all time, it was written by Alan Galton and Ray Simpson, and introduced the world to troubled comedian Tony Hancock, playing an exaggerated version of himself.

Written by: Jack Lawrence & Richard Myers

Producer: Bob Thiel

Weeks at number 1: 5 (8 October-5 November, 19-25 November)

Births:

Singer Adam Ant – 3 November