This past weekend I listened to Premiere’s rebroadcast of the 9/27/75 AT40. In those days, the crack AT40 staff would often assemble special countdowns to play on the first weekend of each quarter; on this show, Casey reminded us each hour that the following week he would be traveling back to the beginning of the rock era to reveal the 40 Top Rock and Roll Acts of the 1950s. Perhaps it’s obvious why Premiere hasn’t to date offered up this special in the AT40: The 70s series–the audience for 50s music, even by artists whose names still resonate a bit, is small and dwindling with each passing year. Nonetheless, it’s dawned on me over these past few days that I had once heard that show (and had handwritten notes about it), even though it was played before I knew of AT40‘s existence. How could that be?
I went ferreting through my pile of miscellaneous chart-related materials and found what I was looking for in the small, blue, wire-bound memo book that contains other treasures (including notes on a few 1976 episodes of the National Album Countdown). I only noted the artists (not always accurately, as you can see), not the songs Casey spun.
It’s the jarring transition between #11 and #10 on the second page that’s the vital clue to unwind what must have happened.
WSAI originally began playing AT40 in October 1975 (Casey had welcomed it aboard on 10/18) but pulled the plug after the 9/4/76 show. Sufficient was the hue and cry that they brought it back six weeks later, starting with the 10/16 countdown. It’s here that informed speculation starts: they almost assuredly announced the return in advance and decided to kick things off the week before by dusting off and playing the disks from the 10/4/75 50s special–there’s no doubt I would have tuned in, regardless of what Casey had queued up. Why am I saying the weekend of 10/9? That’s the week that “She’s Gone” and “Shake Your Booty” were #10 and #9, respectively. The rest of that week’s Top 10 is on the next page of the pad, courtesy of the Sunday Cincinnati Enquirer. I likely had been hoping to hear the regular offering.
This was a show my father would have loved, and I can only hope that he was in the room with me as it played. I have distinct recollections of hearing “Honky Tonk” at #40 and “Come Softly to Me” at #37, and it may have been that evening that I learned of Dad’s fondness for Jim Lowe’s “The Green Door.” It was a gift to have the chance to hear it, a gift to still have an artifact to remind me.
I did write down the top 10 acts several pages later in the memo book, along with a few of the songs there were featured (several acts got two songs). You can also see one of the pen-and-paper games my sister and I liked to play at the time; it appears I emerged victorious that time.
(For those curious about all the tunes on the show, here’s a link to the cue sheet posted on the Charis Music Group website.)