55. Frankie Vaughan – The Garden of Eden (1957)

p01bqsyv.jpg

Erstwhile easy listening joker Guy Mitchell may have won the war with Tommy Steele & the Steelmen, as his version of Singing the Blues returned to number 1 after Steele had toppled him, but it was short-lived. Only a week later, on 25 January, scouse crooner Frankie Vaughan began a four-week stint at number 1 with The Garden of Eden, a swaggering, lusty little number, written by Dennise Haas Norwood.

Frankie Vaughan was born Frank Ableson, and took Vaughan as a surname because his Russian grandmother referred to him as her ‘number one grandson’, and she pronounced ‘one’ with a ‘v’. He became a singer at the Lancaster School of Art, but took to boxing during his time in the Royal Army Medical Corps during World War Two, and was also a prize-winning artist. Versatile. He returned to singing during the tail-end of the 1940s, and became known for wearing a top hat and carrying a cane. In 1955 he released what became his trademark tune, Give Me the Moonlight, featuring the rather confident lyric, ‘Give me the moonlight, give me the girls and leave the rest to me’. As sexual equality became an issue in the following decade, this song was subsequently dropped from setlists…

Vaughan’s cover of The Green Door (yep, the one that eventually became a number 1 for Shakin’ Stevens in 1981) had been narrowly kept from the Christmas number 1 spot by Johnnie Ray’s Just Walkin’ in the Rain in 1956, but a month later, he was on top. The Garden of Eden is more interesting than your average easy listening tune of the time, due to its lyrics that hint at infidelity. Whether that’s true or not, the singer is definitely being tempted by someone he’s not supposed to be with:

‘When you walk in the garden
In the garden of Eden
With a beautiful woman
And you know how you care
And the voice in the garden
In the Garden of Eden
Tells you she is forbidden
Can you leave her there’

It makes a change from sappy songs of undying devotion, at least. Not too bad musically, either. Vaughan really booms it out over an acoustic strum that turns into a full-blown swing number. Ironically, Vaughan later claimed to have turned down temptation himself, in the form of Marilyn Monroe. He starred with her in the 1960 movie Let’s Make Love, and said she tried to seduce him, but he was married and turned down the offer. Vaughan often returned to the charts after The Garden of Eden, and found himself back at number 1 with Tower of Strength in 1961.

On 16 February the Toddlers’ Truce was abandoned. This wasn’t a sign of children going to war – until that point, broadcasters agreed not to transmit for an hour once television for children had ended at 6pm, so that parents could put their children to bed. If the BBC tried this while my eldest daughter was being put to bed, there’d be practically no evening schedule at all…

Written by: Dennise Haas Norwood

Weeks at number 1: 4 (25 January-21 February)

Births:

Footballer Gordon Strachan – 9 February

 

54. Tommy Steele & the Steelmen – Singing the Blues (1957)

001-101719.jpg

Guy Mitchell only enjoyed a week at the top of the charts with Singing the Blues before record buyers decided they preferred Tommy Steele’s version, This bizarre turn of events had happened before in December 1953, when Frankie Laine‘s version of Answer Me knocked David Whitfield‘s from the top.

Tommy Steele was enjoying immense popularity at the time, and is considered by many to be Britain’s first rock’n’roll star. Born Thomas William Hicks in 1936, he had been a merchant seaman, and sang and played guitar and banjo in London coffee houses in his spare time. He fell in love with rock’n’roll when a ship he worked on docked in Norfolk, Virginia in the US and he heard Buddy Holly on the radio. He and his group, the Steelmen scored their first hit with Rock with the Caveman in 1956, reaching number 13. It was a rip-off of Rock Around the Clock, but a pretty good one. It was beginning to become common practise for British singers to record covers of songs that were going down well in the US, and release them over here before the imports became better known. Although his version of Singing the Blues hadn’t beaten Mitchell’s to the top spot, it had knocked it down after only a week.

By this point, Elvis-mania had well and truly gripped the nation, and Tommy Steele decided to ape him for his version. Clearly this worked at the time, but his affectation is so obvious now as to sound laughable. His slurring of the opening line is way too over-the-top, and makes Pat Boone sound much more authentic at ripping the King off. Thankfully Steele settles down and things pick up when he drops the impression, but the Steelmen’s backing is almost identical to Mitchell’s, right down to the whistling, so inevitably you compare the two, and when you do, Steele is the loser. Mitchell was a veteran by this point, and sounds relaxed and at home with the material. So, Steele had succeeded in beating Presley to a UK number 1 single, and won the initial battle with Mitchell, but was only in pole position for a week before everybody decided they’d actually preferred Mitchell’s version, which went back to the top for its second of three stints. Perhaps he should have laid off the Elvis impressions and stuck to sounding like Bill Haley & His Comets.

Steele continued to enjoy great fame, however, and his debut album, The Tommy Steele Story, became the first number 1 album by a UK act later that year. Also in 1957, he found himself competing against Mitchell once more, as they both covered Mervin Endley’s sequel, Knee Deep in the Blues. Neither version fared as well, though. He went solo in 1958, and continued with his music until the rise of the Beatles, before wisely concentrating on his film and theatre career, and is still loved by fans from his youth.

Symbolically, as Steele enjoyed his only number 1 to date, the Cavern Club, then for jazz aficionados before later becoming home to the Beatles as they went stratospheric, opened its doors for the first time.

Written by: Melvin Endsley

Weeks at number 1: 1 (11-17 January)

 

53. Guy Mitchell – Singing the Blues (1957)

Singing_the_Blues.jpg

1957 began with political change. Prime Minister Anthony Eden had struggled at the end of 1956 to recover from the debacle of Suez, and perhaps because of this he had suffered ill health. His doctors advised him to quit if he wanted to carry on living, and so he resigned on 9 January. A day later, with no formal process in place at the time, the Conservative Party decided he would be succeeded by then-Chancellor Harold Macmillan. The political situation was so rocky at the time that Macmillan told the Queen he could not promise the government would last longer than six weeks.

The first new number 1 of the year had been in place since 4 January. For the third time, the happy-go-lucky popular crooner Guy Mitchell was back at the top with his version of Singing the Blues. Previously recorded by country star Marty Robbins, it had been written by Mervin Endsley, a musician who had contracted polio at the age of three and had been in a wheelchair ever since. From the age of 11 he spent three years in the unfortunately-named Crippled Children’s Hospital in Memphis. While there he became a huge country music fan and taught himself the guitar. He had written Singing the Blues in 1954 and taken it to Nashville in the hope of getting a hit. And a hit is what he got, several times over.

I wasn’t too flattering about Mitchell’s 1953 number 1s – She Wears Red Feathers and Look at That Girl – but Singing the Blues is a cut above both of them. Produced once more by Mitch Miller (who had given Mitchell his stage name – his real name was Albert George Cernik), Mitchell is in his element here. The country element is hard to detect – this version of Singing the Blues sounds more like the older generation trying to harness rock’n’roll and put their own, safer, stamp on it. And unlike Kay Starr on (The) Rock and Roll Waltz, Mitchell and Miller pull it off. That’s largely down to the song itself, a winning tune set to effectively downbeat lyrics, rather than a naff novelty song with a new genre awkwardly shoved into it.

Mitchell, from the evidence I’ve heard, couldn’t sing a sad song if he tried, and he certainly doesn’t try here. Somehow though, it all gels, with Mitchell turning it into a cheeky come-on over a chirpy backing of whistling, ukulele and backing harmonies. He’s hoping to charm his ex into coming back. And listeners kept coming back to Singing the Blues – his version made it to number 1 for two more week-long stints, making him one of only four acts to have the same number 1 on three separate occasions. The other artists are Frankie Laine with I Believe, Pharrell Williams with Happy and What Do You Mean? by Justin Bieber. At the same time as the Mitchell and Robbins versions were released, they found themselves competing with a third, by up-and-coming rock’n’roller Tommy Steele. More on that next time…

Written by: Melvin Endsley

Weeks at number 1: 3 (4-10 January, 18-24 January & 1-7 February)

Births:

Astronaut Michael Foale – 6 January 

Journalist Francis Wheen -22 January 

Comedian Adrian Edmondson – 24 January 

52. Johnnie Ray – Just Walkin’ in the Rain (1956)

johnnie-ray-just-walking-in-the-rain-1956-78.jpg

Between 22 November and 8 December, 1956, the Olympics took place in Melbourne, Australia.  Great Britain and Northern Ireland won six gold, seven silver and 11 bronze medals. Meanwhile, petrol rationing became introduced on 29 November due to petrol blockades caused by the disastrous Suez Crisis, and on 23 December, the British and French troops withdrew from Suez after pressure from the UN and US. On 19 December, Dr John Bodkin Adams was arrested for the murder of patient Edith Alice Morrell. On a lighter note, Christmas Day marked the start of PG Tips long-running advertising campaign starring talking chimps, with the voices provided by Peter Sellers.

The best-selling single in the UK during this period was Johnnie Ray’s memorable Just Walkin’ in the Rain. This was his second number 1, after the lusty Such a Night in 1954. The song had an interesting genesis: it had been written in 1952 by Johnny Bragg and Robert Riley. They weren’t a songwriting duo – they were prisoners at Tennessee State Prison in Nashville. The pair were walking across the prison courtyard on a miserable rainy day, when allegedly Bragg remarked, ‘Here we are just walking in the rain, and wondering what the girls are doing’. Riley suggested this wold be the good basis for a song, and within minutes Bragg composed a couple of verses. However, he couldn’t read or write, so he asked Riley to write down the lyrics in exchange for a songwriting credit.

One of the better number 1s of the era, at first Ray wasn’t keen on Just Walkin’ in the Rain, but producer extraordinaire Mitch Miller persuaded him to give it a go. With his reputation for songs of heartbreak, Ray was an ideal candidate for a cover, and Miller was proven right. Backed by the Ray Conniff Singers and a mystery whistler (one of the most memorable aspects of the tune), Ray’s version perfectly captures the almost cosy melancholy at the heart of the song. Yes, he’s forlorn and lovesick, but you get the feeling he’s kind-of enjoying feeling sorry for himself. No wonder Morrissey became such a fan – was this track the source of inspiration for Well I Wonder by the Smiths? Well, I wonder. Ray is in fine voice too, and makes the song so much more effective than your average crooner would. It reminds me of the infamous ‘You’re Never Alone with a Strand’ ad campaign of 1959, in which a solitary man walks the wet streets, lighting a Strand cigarette to cheer himself up. The ads were soon dropped due to creating an association of Strand with sad, lonely men. Just Walkin’ in the Rain would have provided a fitting soundtrack.

Despite the cultural shift that rock’n’roll brought about, the number 1s of 1956 were still on the conservative side. Music’s popularity was increasing with the rise of the teenager – the top 20 had expanded to a top 30, and singles by Elvis Presley and Lonnie Donegan threatened to hold the top spot, but were kept away by safer choices by the older generation. Come 1957, however, several big names finally made it to pole position, in a year that was made up of entirely male number 1 singles.

Written by: Johnny Bragg & Robert Riley

Weeks at number 1: 7 (16 November 1956-3 January 1957)

Births:

KLF member Jimmy Caughty – 19 December

Iron Maiden guitarist Dave Murray – 23 December 

Violinist Nigel Kennedy – 28 December 

Deaths:

Artist Nina Hamnett – 16 December

51. Frankie Laine – A Woman in Love (1956)

frankie-laine-a-woman-in-love-philips-78.jpg

Only eleven years after the end of World War Two, the United Kingdom’s reputation as a superpower took a battering that it never really recovered from. Suez. Nasser’s plans to nationalise the Suez Canal company had shocked the UK and France, and plans began to remove him, partly to protect what was left of the British Empire. After meeting with President Eisenhower, Chancellor Harold Macmillan misread the situation and believed the US would not stand in their way. In fact, Eisenhower was insisting on a peaceful solution.

On 24 October, the UK, France and Israel agreed in secret that Israel would invade Sinai. Then, the UK and France would heroically intervene, and engineer the situation so that Nasser could not nationalise the company. Pretty shameful, sneaky stuff. The Israelis attacked on 29 October, expecting retaliation, Nasser’s army instead withdrew. On 5 November the Anglo-French assault began, soon overwhelming the Egyptian army. By 6 November, the UN insisted on a ceasefire, and Eisenhower was furious. There had also been a backlash in the UK, and the consensus now was that Prime Minister Anthony Eden should have acted in the summer before public opinion had turned. Before replacing Winston Churchill, Eden had a reputation as a man of peace. By going to war, and subsequently claiming the meeting between the UK, France and Israel had never taken place, Eden’s reputation was permanently damaged, and parallels were later drawn between him and Tony Blair. By mid-November, newspapers began demanding his resignation.

Throughout the short-lived but infamous conflict, the UK’s number 1 single was Frankie Laine’s cover of A Woman in Love. It had been written by Frank Loesser for the Broadway musical Guys and Dolls. The Four Aces had some success with their version in the US, but the golden touch of Laine surpassed this in the UK. It became his fourth and final number 1 on these shores (a record at this point), after I Believe, Hey Joe and Answer Me, all back in 1953.

As usual, Laine gives it his all, over a tango drumbeat and parping, swinging brass, but I’m already struggling to remember the tune two minutes after hearing it and it’s left me rather cold. Frankie is insistent that the woman he’s bellowing at is in love with him as it’s all in her eyes. I’m not sure shouting this at her is the right way to go about persuading her, though.

Laine had many more years of good fortune, on TV, record and film. Although not personally a fan, he is now considered somewhat a bridge from the pop of old to rock’n’roll, not so much because of his style, but the way he expressed his voice, putting more soul into his performances than your average swinger of the time. He was also one of the first white performers to cover black artists. His reputation as a social activist is impressive – he was the first white artist to appear on Nat King Cole’s TV show when he was unable to get a sponsor, purely because he was black. He later performed for free for supporters of Martin Luther King, and devoted a large amount of his time to the Salvation Army and homeless charities. His final recording, Taps/My Buddy, was dedicated to the firefighters who helped during the 9/11 terrorist attack, and he insisted all profits went directly to them. Frankie Laine died of heart failure on 6 February, 2007, aged 93, his ashes scattered in the Pacific Ocean.

Written by: Frank Loesser

Weeks at number 1: 4 (19 October-15 November)

Births:

Director Danny Boyle – 20 October 

Singer Hazell Dean – 27 October 

Actress Juliet Stevenson – 30 October 

Screenwriter Richard Curtis – 8 November 

50. Anne Shelton – Lay Down Your Arms (1956)

anne-shelton-lay-down-your-arms-1956-78.jpg

On 15 October, the RAF officially retired the last Lancaster bomber. Along with the Spitfire, the plane was synonymous with World War 2. Yet another sign that the country was moving on from the war. You wouldn’t think that by looking at the number one single of the time, however. 

Lay Down Your Arms was a Swedish song, originally called Anne-Caroline, by Åke Gerhard and Leon Landgren, but the English lyrics were from Paddy Roberts, who had written Softly, Softly, a 1955 number one for Ruby Murray. It was a boisterous military march-themed love song, in which the protagonist is telling her soldier boyfriend that the conflict is over, so he needs to get himself home, lay down his arms and surrender to hers. Clever, eh?

The perfect person to sing a throwback to the war songs of the 1940s was Forces Sweetheart Anne Shelton. She had performed at military bases during the war, and had perhaps avoided death when she was forced to turn down the opportunity to work with Glenn Miller due to prior commitments. This was the tour in which Miller died in a plane crash. Shelton had been the first British artist to record one of the most famous songs of the war, Lili Marlene.

It’s hard to fathom why this got to number one when it did. A month later, after the embarrassment of the Suez Crisis, would be more understandable. At the end of 1956, the UK probably needed to be reminded of a time in which they were the heroes in a war. I can only imagine the older generation were going out in droves and buying this because they preferred it to the new rock’n’roll sounds that were loved by the youth. It’s not terrible, the melody is memorable and I’ve had it swimming round my head since listening to it, but it’s no Rock Island Line or Why Do Fools Fall in Love. Shelton’s vocal is overbearing – I feel sorry for her soldier boy as she sounds like a terrifying lover. He’d probably be safer back on the beach at Normandy. The most noteworthy element of the song is the fact troubled genius Joe Meek was the engineer, learning his trade before becoming a famous producer a few years later  Shelton had a few more hits and attempts at entering Eurovision. As the decades went by she was often brought out for war anniversaries and ceremonies. She died in 1994 of a heart attack, aged 70.

Written by: Åke Gerhard & Leon Landgren/Paddy Roberts (English lyrics)

Weeks at number 1: 4 (21 September-18 October)

Births:

Athlete Sebastian Coe – 29 September 

Deaths:

Scientist Frederick Soddy – 22 September 

49. Doris Day – Whatever Will Be, Will Be (1956)

doris-day-8922-mm.jpg

From 9 August until 9 September, the seminal art exhibition This Is Tomorrow at the Whitechapel Art Gallery featured, among others, Richard Hamilton’s collage Just What Is It that Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing?, It is now considered to be one of the earliest examples of pop art, a decade before the movement really became popular. Hamilton later went on to design the sleeve for The Beatles in 1968.

One day later, a very 50s-sounding song, and one of the most enduring of the era, knocked Who Do Fools Fall in Love from number one. Whatever Will Be, Will Be (usually now known as Que Sera, Sera) has long since surpassed its original use, which was as a vehicle for Doris Day in the Alfred Hitchcock movie The Man Who Knew too Much. Songwriters Jay Livingston and Ray Evans specialised in writing songs for films, and really hit gold here. It may be sugar-coated (courtesy of perpetually squeaky-clean Doris), like most 50s pop, but the cheeriness belies there’s something lyrically deeper going on – often a key ingredient in some of the best pop music.

‘Que sera, sera’ doesn’t actually mean anything. Livingston and Evans created it from a mix of Spanish and Italian. The Italian phrase ‘Che sarà sarà’ (translated as ‘what will be, will be’) is carved into a wall in The Barefoot Contessa (1954), and the two songwriters decided to add some Spanish to the phrase due to the language’s popularity, and probably because it rolled off the tongue easier.

Although Doris Day’s voice leaves some people cold, and is the sort of thing I’d normally run a mile from, I can’t fault her performance here, just like I couldn’t for her previous number one, Secret Love. Although, indeed, ‘the future’s not ours to see’, it’s turned out alright for Day, as by the end she has children of her own, and they in turn are asking her about their future. Yet despite the joy in Day’s voice as the song ends, who knows how the children will turn out? What will be, will be, after all, and the message somewhat pricks the positivity in the production and performance.

Whatever Will Be, Will Be is now a standard, and it would be impossible to name all the cover versions. My personal favourite has to be Sly & the Family Stone’s suitably strung-out recording from his 1973 album Fresh. Stone had a very tough future ahead of him at that point. I also can’t let this blog pass by without mentioning a memorable advert from my childhood, in which the song was rewritten to sell McCain Steakhouse Grills. As you can see here, the new version was sang by a group of hungry builders in a van, and ends with the chorus changed to ‘We hope it’s chips, it’s chips!’ God knows what Doris Day would have thought of it.

Like Secret Love before it, the song won an Oscar for Best Original Song. It became something of a millstone around Day’s neck, as it became the theme tune to her sitcom The Doris Day Show in 1968, which she didn’t enjoy making. By this point her film career was stalling, and she was seen as a symbol of a bygone age. Since the sitcom’s end in the 70s, Day has lived a quieter life, but did release her first album in years in 2011, aged 89. These days, she runs several animal welfare organisations, using her celebrity status to raise awareness. A symbol of more innocent times, Doris Day is no doubt a living legend.

During her second and final (to date) time at number one, Scotland Yard began investigating society doctor John Bodkin Adams. Between 1946 and 1956, more than 160 of his patients died in suspicious circumstances. On 10 September, French Prime Minister Guy Mollet visited London and proposed that France should merge with the United Kingdom. The idea was rejected by Anthony Eden. And on 12 September, Manchester United became the first English team to compete in the European Cup, beating R.S.C. Anderlecht 2–0 in the first leg of the preliminary round.

Written by: Jay Livingston & Ray Evans

Weeks at number 1: 6 (10 August-20 September)

Births:

Actress Kim Cattrall – 21 August

Footballer Ray WIlkins – 14 September 

Actor Tim McInnerny – 18 September

48. The Teenagers Featuring Frankie Lymon – Why Do Fools Fall in Love

the-teenagers-featuring-frankie-lymon-why-do-fools-fall-in-love-1956.jpg

On 22 July, music newspaper Record Mirror published the first ever UK Albums Chart. They had their own version of the singles chart, but it is the New Musical Express charts that I use for this blog, as these are the ones recognised by the Official Charts Company as canon until 1960. The first album at number 1 was Frank Sinatra’s classic Songs for Swingin’ Lovers!. 26 July saw the beginning of the Suez crisis, when Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser shocked the British government by announcing the nationalisation of the Suez Canal. Initially, Anthony Eden believed he had the country’s support in taking military action, and Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell agreed, but in the following weeks he took a more cautious tone.

Meanwhile, the number 1 single in the UK was a breath of fresh air following a few lacklustre affairs. The Teenagers with Frankie Lymon became the youngest act to date to rule the roost, with the classic rock’n’roll and doo-wop number Why Do Fools Fall in Love. At the tender age of 12, New Yorker Frankie Lymon was working as a grocery boy to help his struggling family. He became friends with a doo-wop group known as the Coup de Villes – lead singer Herman Santiago, Joe Negroni, Jimmy Merchant and Sherman Games. There are several versions of who came up with the song, and indeed several court battles have ensued over publishing rights, but a neighbour of the Premiers, as they were known in 1955, handed the group some love letters written by his girlfriend, to use as inspiration. By the time they had their audition with tough producer George Goldner, they were known as The Teenagers. Santiago was either ill, or late, but whatever the reason, Frankie Lymon had a crack at the lead, and the group recorded trheir biggest single and one of rock’n’roll’s most memorable hits. Why Do Fools Fall in Love influenced the Jackson 5 and spawned the girl-group sound, as well as hundreds of imitators. And Lymon was barely a teenager.

For a song recorded such a long time ago, Why Do Fools Fall in Love still sounds fresh. It’s bursting with youthful energy, and a large part of that is down to Lymon’s lead vocal. This was pure rock’n’roll but filtered through the innocence of such a young group with little experience of the world. And the saxophone break is a blast. The song charted highly in the US, but performed even better in the UK. And then, before their career had barely begun, things began to fall apart.

Tensions understandably began to surface when the next single was credited to Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers. Early in 1957, Goldner began pushing Lymon as a solo act, and his departure was made official by September. The Teenagers went through a string of replacement singers, to little success, and Lymon’s career went into freefall. They reunited briefly in 1965 but it didn’t last. He had become addicted to heroin at the age of 15, and died of an overdose in 1968 at his grandma’s house, aged only 25. A tragic victim of the often cruel music industry.

Written by: Frankie Lymon & Morris Levy

Weeks at number 1: 3 (20 July-9 August)

Births:

Sculptor Andy Goldsworthy – 26 July 

Madness guitarist Chris Foreman – 8 August

47. Pat Boone – I’ll Be Home (1956)

pat_boone.jpg

In December 1952 when the singles chart was in its infancy, London was gripped by the worst smog outbreak it had ever known. The Great Smog of London lasted five days and is believed to have killed approximately 12,000 people. Such a shocking number of deaths caused Parliament to get their act together (eventually), and on 5 July the Clean Air Act was passed. 9 July saw toy manufacturers Mettoy introduce Corgi Toys model cars, remembered fondly by boys and girls for years to come. And in the music world, Elvis-mania was finally in full effect on these shores – Heartbreak Hotel, Blue Suede Shoes and I Want You I Need You I Love You had all bothered the charts, but surprisingly not one hit the top. Record buyers chose the safer option instead, and on 15 June, Pat Boone toppled Ronnie Hilton and I’ll Be Home began five weeks at number 1.

Pat Boone was, according to Billboard, the second-biggest charting artist of the latter half of the 50s, only beaten by Elvis. Early Elvis was considered raunchy, suggestive and dangerous. Pat Boone was not, but he sounded very similar and, like Elvis, was fond of taking songs by black artists and tailoring them to a white audience. He had already enjoyed number ones in the US and was about to begin a film career too when I’ll Be Home hit the big time. The song, written by Ferdinand Washington and Stan Lewis, had originally been a hit for doo-wop group The Flamingos. Boone picked Little Richard’s Tutti Frutti as its B-side.

I’ll Be Home is, predictably enough, Elvis-lite, and very similar to Love Me Tender, but written from the point of view of a soldier away on duty, it seems. It features a sappy spoken-word interlude, and is mediocre to my ears. But Boone was and is overtly Christian, which would have pleased the older record buyers back then. As far as I know he didn’t shake his hips either, so Presley had to wait even longer to top the charts. Sometimes there really is no accounting for sense and taste in the UK singles chart.

Nonetheless, Boone was incredibly successful, and could afford to turn down films and songs that didn’t hold up to his strong conservative views – he even turned down the opportunity to work with Marilyn Monroe. DC Comics even turned him into a comic strip. I can’t imagine it would have been very exciting, and I wouldn’t expect a Hollywood adaptation any time soon. The British Invasion ended his peak years and he moved into a more natural genre for him, namely gospel. I may sound rather disparaging of Boone, but it’s hard to work up much enthusiasm for a man who was very vocal in supporting both the Vietnam and Iraq wars. He believed that people should ‘respect their elders’ and blindly follow their Presidents into any folly they may choose. In recent years he has also tried to draw links between gay rights protests and terrorist attacks, claimed Barack Obama was ineligible to serve as President, and compared liberalism to cancer. If I was forced to go see an Elvis impersonator, Pat Boone would be at the bottom of my list.

Written by: Ferdinand Washington & Stan Lewis

Weeks at number 1: 5 (15 June – 19 July) *BEST-SELLING SINGLE OF THE YEAR*

Births:

Joy Division singer Ian Curtis – 15 July 

Deaths:

Writer Walter de la Mare – 22 June 

46. Ronnie Hilton – No Other Love (1956)

hilton_sheet_737.jpg

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)

Births:

Dramatist John Godber – 18 May 

Deaths:

Magician Austin Osman Spare – 17 May 

Theatre critic Max Beerbohm – 20 May