Newsletter for October 2019



We will be playing some tunes at our meeting this month. Most of you can name the hits of many of the artists from your favorite era but what about the first record that charted for them. Many performers had a release that charted that may have barely cracked the Top 100 nationally or may not have gotten much airplay in your area. We will be playing some of those ‘first charted hits’ by many of the 50’s-70’s performers just to see if they are familiar. I think you will be surprised by some of them. Drop by and hear what they sounded like before the big time hits came. We will also be playing a video about Donnie Fritts. Donnie, a member of our HOF passed away recently and this video was played at a musical celebration recently held in Florence, AL. Many of Donnie’s fiends from the music business, such as Dan Penn, Delbert McClinton and Billy Swann were there performing and remembering Donnie.


Mr Henry ‘Gip’ Gipson, member of the BRC Music Hall of Fame, passed away Tuesday, October 8. ‘Gip’ was known throughout the world for providing a place for music lovers, specifically those who enjoyed the ‘blues’ to come and hear the ‘blues’ live every Saturday night for over 50 years. ‘Gip’s Place’ was his backyard. ‘Gip’ became a good friend to BRC and he will be remembered fondly. ‘Gip’s’ life was not an easy one but he became a Christian many, many years ago and as Romans 8:18 states, ‘For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.’ ‘Gip’ now knows that glory.’ ‘Gip’ was 99.


As mentioned above, many artists didn’t hit big with their first release. It took a while for some and for others it may have been sooner but their first release wasn’t it. Most of you can name first hits for people like Elvis (‘Heartbreak Hotel’), Bill Haley (‘Shake, Rattle And Roll’), Monkees (‘Last Train To Clarksville’), Alice Cooper (‘Eighteen’), Jackson 5 (‘I Want You Back’) and Lesley Gore (‘It’s My Party’). Now keep in mind, I am talking about the Billboard Pop Hits Chart. Not local stations charts, R&B Charts or Country Charts.

So lets look at some ‘first’ pop chart hits for some well-known performers. Clyde McPhatter as a solo artists had many memorial hits and even his first one is but what was it? ‘A Lover’s Question’? ‘Lovey Dovey’? ‘Lover Please’? It was ‘Seven Days’. Making its debut in February, 1956, the song rose to #44. It would be over two years before he cracked the Top 10 when ‘A Lover’s Question’ did it. Of course on the R&B charts he had Top 10 hits long before that one did it on the pop charts.

Here’s one that some of you probably know. Ricky Nelson. Although his first charted hit went to #4 on the charts, it is one he is not remembered for. A cover of Fats Domino’s ‘I’m Walking’ made the charts one week before his flip side of the 45 (‘A Teenager’s Romance’). Fats’ version charted two months before Ricky’s did. It would be seven months before his recordings would be the ones that he is remembered for by most fans.

If Tammi Terrell is mentioned most people think of her duets with Marvin Gaye. They had eight charted hits as a duo. But can you name a release she had as a solo artist? Now I am cheating a little because the song I list here was released as by Tammi Montgomery, her last name at birth. It was August 1963 and it was a song released on the Try Me label written and produced by James Brown, who she was a backup singer for. The song, ‘I Cried’ went to #99 and was on the charts for only 1 week. Good reason you may have never heard of it. If you want to know the first hit she had as Tammi Terrell, it would be ‘I Can’t Believe You Love Me’, debuting in January 1966 on the Motown label.

Beach Boys. Now we all know their long list of hits and can name many of them. But what was their first charted pop hit? Six months before they released a single which had both sides make the charts (‘Surfin’ Safari’/’409′) the guys went to #75 with ‘Surfin”. It came before the group signed with Capitol being released on two different labels, X and Candix. I believe it was a bigger hit on the West coast.

Sticking with the West coast, the early releases by Jan & Dean, I mean Jan & Arnie, I mean, oh well, lets look at this popular duo or trio. Three guys named Jan, Dean and Arnie recorded a song called ‘Jennie Lee’ in Jan’s garage in 1958 (beginning of garage rock??). Just before Jan signed a contract with the Arwin label, Dean left for a six-month Army reserve stint. The label released the 45 as by Jan & Arnie. It would make its chart debut in May, 1958. Three months later another single was released as by Jan & Arnie (‘Gas Money’) and it too would chart. Arnie left for the Navy and from then on it was Jan & Dean who had signed with the Dore label. ‘Baby Talk’ would be the first single released as by Jan & Dean. One more thing. A lot of people get Jan & Dean confused as a take-off or off-shoot from the Beach Boys. The guys recorded in Jan’s garage three years before the Beach Boys were formed and four years before the Boys charted. Just to set things straight.

Dianna, Mary, and Florence would become one of the most popular girls group from the 60’s having twelve #1 hits as the Supremes. But before they began their amazing #1 and Top 40 run of releases, what charted first for them? It came nearly two years before ‘Where Did Our Love Go’ made them a household name. In August, 1962 they released ‘Your Heart Belongs To Me’ which went to #95. The song was written and produced by Smokey Robinson and it would be on their debut LP. The song did not make the R&B charts. It would be their next release that would make that chart. By the way, if you are not familiar with ‘Your Heart Belongs To Me” it is a song about a girl whose boyfriend is off to join the military. Those type songs were quite popular at this time. Might be a good article to write about one day.

One of the ladies who was part of the British Invasion in 1964 was Lulu. When you hear that name I’m sure ‘To Sir With Love’ comes to mind. It went to the top of the charts late summer of 1967. But three years earlier she broke into the charts at #94 with her cover of the Isley Brothers, ‘Shout’. In fact after ‘To Sir With Love’ charted, ‘Shout’ charted again at #96. But it was during the summer of 1964 when the Brits were all over the charts that Lulu first charted. By the way, Lulu was the first to record ‘Here Comes The Night’. Her version was released five months before Van Morrison and Them had a hit with it. Not sure if it charted in the UK but her version did not make it over here. Give it a listen.

How can you not think of ‘Since I Fell For You’ when the name Lenny Welch is mentioned. What a song it was. I put it up there with any of the songs about heartbreak. It went to #4 in the fall of 1963. But almost 4 years earlier in 1960 Lenny had his first charted song with the Eddy Arnold song ‘You Don’t Know Me’. It went to #45.

One of Country’s biggest names had her first pop hit in 1974, seven years after she hit the C/W charts and after 33 C/W hits. Dolly Parton finally crossed over to pop with ‘Jolene’, peaking at #60. She would go on to have five Top 20 hits including two #1 hits.

Carol King would become a super star in the 70’s with hit after hit. She was already a well-known songwriter working at the famous Brill Building with writers and future stars such as Neil Sedaka, Barry Mann, Bobby Darin, Cynthia Weil and Neil Diamond. Her first charted pop hit came in the summer of 1962 when ‘It Might As Well Rain Until September’ debuted in August and peaked at #22. She would have one more pop hit, ‘He’s A Bad Boy’ (#94) before her big break through with ‘It’s Too Late’ in 1971.

One of my favorite singers is Brenda Lee. Again she has so many songs we associate with that name but her first probably doesn’t make that category. At age 12 she hit the pop charts with ‘One Step At A Time’, going to #43. She would have twenty Top 20 songs from 1957-1973. The interesting thing about this song is that it also made the C/W charts but she would not have another C/W hit until 1969 with ‘Johnny One Time’. After ‘Johnny One Time’ made both charts she would only have three more pop hits but began a C/W career having thirty-three C/W hits after that one.

Gotta go. There are so many more interesting song facts such as these to mention but I’m outta room. Hope you learned something of interest. Check out the songs below for more ‘first pop hits’ by other artists. To hear even more, including all the ones mentioned above check out BRC Radio on our website – That specific show is dated 9/29/19.


Bad Girl
The Miracles
(1959 – #93)

Turn Around Look At Me
Glen Campbell
(1961 – #62)

See ya,


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