It wasn’t just big sellers in my father’s 45 collection (though there are still more of those to come). Here are a few songs that only made the lower reaches of the Top 40 in the first half of the 1960s. We’ll start with the most famous one.
Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, “The Twist” (#28, September 1960)
Last month we saw two of Chubby Checker’s other hits in this space. It’s at least somewhat curious to me that Dad bought the original rather than the cover (which peaked at #1 the very week this reached its high spot). I don’t know about you, but I might like this take better. Ballard’s “Finger Poppin’ Time” was on the chart at the same time.
Bobby Freeman, “(I Do the) Shimmy Shimmy” (#37, October 1960)
Sandwiched between Freeman’s two #5 hits, “Do You Wanna Dance” and “C’mon and Swim.” I was today years old when I learned about the role that Cincinnati’s King Records played in promoting country and R&B records in the 50s and 60s, including getting James Brown’s career off the ground.
Wanda Jackson, “Let’s Have a Party” (#37, October 1960)
That’s not a typo–Freeman and Jackson occupied #37 on consecutive weeks. This was the first of three trips that the Queen of Rockabilly would make to the Top 40. Wikipedia says she’s still around, and was performing up until last year. Her voice is going to have to grow on me, though.
Stan Kenton, “Mama Sang a Song” (#32, December 1962)
Yes, my father was a minister for quite a few years, but I don’t recall country-flavored gospel (or is it gospel-flavored country?) being among his musical loves. Though I could see him digging on Kenton’s jazz, I’m wondering if one of his parishioners from Bromley gave this 45 to him. It was nominated for Best Documentary or Spoken Word Recording the following spring.
Millie Small, “Sweet William” (#40, September 1964)
The arrival of a certain bundle of joy seven months earlier is no doubt the reason for this record’s presence in the collection. This was Jamaica native Small’s second and final U.S. hit, a follow-up to the #2 “My Boy Lollipop.” She passed away in Britain just this past May, at age 72.