MIKE SMITH’S HOT HUNDRED UK HITS
In 1958 the British charts were still very much the domain of American singers and songwriters. What British acts there were, with the exception of Cliff Richard, mostly got their hits by covering American originals and getting them in the charts before the US versions were released in the UK. This plan worked quite well, especially as the BBC was inclined to play the British cover rather than the American original. TV helped as well, since the Brits were on hand to sing their latest recording, whereas the Americans had to jump on a plane before getting TV exposure in the UK. It did not always work, and limp copies of hits by the Everly Brothers or Pat Boone cut no ice with the record-buying public who bought records by the top American performers in large numbers. By way of illustration, of the 13 number one hits in 1958, eleven were by Americans, one was a British cover of an American song, and one was a British original.
The year saw the emergence of Cliff Richard who was starring in the TV music show "Oh Boy!", and had his first hit in 1958. Marty Wilde was on the show as well, and he also had his first hit in this year. Tommy Steele, who had come to prominence a couple of years earlier, was still in the charts, but was concentrating more on making films. Lonnie Donegan, the King of Skiffle, was also doing well, although he was pulling away from basic skiffle and was recording some novelty songs in addition. British crooners Michael Holliday, Dickie Valentine and Malcolm Vaughan were very popular on stage and TV, although they were finding hit songs difficult to come by, as young record-buyers wanted to hear Rock 'n' Roll. However, it was the Americans who dominated. As well as the Everly Brothers and Pat Boone, it was Buddy Holly, Connie Francis, and of course, Elvis Presley who were the big names in the British charts of 1958.
These are my personal favourite recordings from this particular year, listed in the order in which they entered the UK hit singles chart. The early part of the list shows late 1957 entries which featured in the January 1958 charts, and may even have reached their peak in the early months of 1958. You may not agree with my choices, but these were mostly chart hits* that had plenty of air play on the music radio stations of the day, such as Radio Luxemburg.
* A few songs in the list were not hits in the UK - details given in song info where applicable.
Title: Wake Up Little Susie
These two brothers had roots in American Country Music, but soon became major Rock 'n' Roll stars. They were Don Everly (born 1 Feb 1937) and Phil Everly (19 Jan 1939 - 3 Jan 2014).
They moved to Nashville in 1955 and made a couple of recordings, but
they did not enter the charts. However, in early 1957 they
signed with Cadence Records and recorded "Bye Bye Love"
which it is said had been turned down by 30 other acts. The
recording reached number two on the USA pop charts and sold a
million copies. "Bye Bye Love" became their first
hit in the UK too, peaking at number six. After three years
with Cadence they moved to Warner Brothers records and the hits
continued. They amassed 29 hit singles by 1968, after which the hits
stopped. They both went solo in the 1970s after a falling
out, and they did not speak for some years. However, they
reunited in 1983 with a sell-out concert at the Royal Albert Hall
in London, and they made a number of concert tours into the 1990s.
Title: Peggy Sue
Buddy Holly is one of the legendary early Rock 'n' Roll stars. He was born in Lubbock, Texas, USA on 7 Sep 1936, and died on 3 Feb 1959. He was highly influential to immerging musicians of the time, and his records are still widely played on radio stations throughout the world.
He had learned to play guitar whilst at school, and he formed a band
after graduation. The band played on local radio, and even
provided the opening act for stars performing in Lubbock, including
Elvis Presley. He and his band moved to Nashville in 1956, and
began making demo recordings, which led to a record contract.
Unusually for the time, his debut single was self-penned, and most
of his output was written by Holly with contributions from band
members and manager Norman Petty. His career flourished with
hit records and TV appearances during 1957 and 1958. He died in a plane crash whilst on a tour of the USA, along with two other stars of the
period, aged just 22.
Title: Reet Petite
Soul singer Jackie Wilson (9 Jun 1934 -
21 Jan 1984) was born in Detroit,
USA. In his early teens Jackie joined a quartet, the Ever Ready Gospel Singers, which became a popular feature of
churches in the area. Jackie was not particularly religious, but enjoyed singing, and this provided an
opportunity. In his late teens he formed a group called the Falcons,
which included his cousin Levi Stubbs, who later went on to lead the
Motown group The Four Tops. He worked with other groups, but
went solo in 1957. He became noted for his dynamic stage
performances, and during one such a performance in 1975 at Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Wilson suffered a heart
attack when only aged 41. Although he was rushed to hospital, he mostly remained in a coma for 9 years until his
death in 1984.
Title: Alone (Why Must I Be Alone)
Petula Clark was born on 15 Nov 1932 in Surrey, England.
She became a child star at the age of nine when she broadcast on
radio for the first time. This led to numerous singing
opportunities on wartime radio. In 1944 she was given her
first film role, and she had appeared in 14 films by 1950.
In the early 1950s she began making records, and her first hit
came in the summer of 1954 when she was 21 years old. Clark went on to become a major international star with numerous world-wide hits,
particularly in the 1960s with songs written and produced by Tony
Hatch. In the 1990s and 2000s she went into stage musicals,
both in the UK and America. She was still recording and
performing in the 2010s, and issued a new album in 2016.
Title: My Special Angel
Malcolm Vaughan (22 Mar 1929 - 9 Feb 2010) was born in south Wales. He first charted in 1955 with "Ev'ry Day of My Life", and achieved nine hits by 1959. He was a big-voiced tenor balladeer, who was first a successful actor. But he was championed by
radio DJ Jack Jackson, and a recording contract with HMV followed. Hit records and TV appearances earned him a place as one of the big British stars of the second half of the 1950s.
Title: April Love
Pat Boone was born on 1 Jun 1934 in Jacksonville, Florida, USA, but he grew up in Nashville, Tennessee - his parents having moved there when Boone was only two years old. He began recording in 1955, mostly covering black R&B hits
by the likes of Fats Domino and Little Richard for the white American market, but he soon turned to original material - mostly love songs.
He cultivated a clean, wholesome image, which was appreciated by
parents who thought Elvis Presley was too sexual in
performance. His popularity earned him a TV series,
"The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom" (obviously sponsored by
Chevrolet cars), which ran from 1957 to 1960. Boone became something of a teenage heart-throb on both sides of the
Atlantic, and his good looks took him into the film
industry. He made numerous films in the late 1950s and through the
1960s, all for family viewing. The hits dried up in the
early 1960s, and being
a committed Christian, Boone toured with his wife and four daughters
as Gospel singers during the second half of the 1960s and through the
Title: Great Balls of Fire
Jerry Lee Lewis was born on 29 Sep 1935 in Ferriday, Louisiana, USA. He is one of the great Rock 'n' Roll pioneers, and made his hit recordings at the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. He is the only white early Rock 'n' Roll star to play piano rather than guitar. His antics at the piano earned him the nickname "The Wild Man of Rock". He was never far from controversy, and in 1958 he married his 13-year-old cousin, which shocked fans in the UK. Not only was she considered just a child, but this was his third wife, and he was only 22! Adverse comments from the press and public resulted in his May 1958 UK tour being cancelled after just three performances. He continued recording and touring, but In 1968 he turned to Country Music and enjoyed considerable success. However, he returned to Rock 'n' Roll in the late 1970s, and toured with other artists of his era throughout the 1980s and 1990s. He is still performing occasionally in the 21st century.
Title: Kisses Sweeter Than Wine
Jimmy Rodgers was born on 18 Sep 1933 in Washington State, USA.
After serving with the US Air Force in the early fifties, he entered talent contests, and eventually got a recording
contract. His style was that of a Folk/Country singer, rather than the Rock 'n' Roll of the era.
He enjoyed numerous hit records in the USA from 1957 to the end of the 1970s, and had a surprise Top-5 hit in the UK
Title: Oh Boy
The Crickets was the name chosen for Buddy Holly's band. He was the singer on the recording, although he was not credited on the label. For contractual reasons, Holly recorded under his own name and as The Crickets during his short recording career.
Alto Saxophone player Bill Justis (14 Oct 1926 - 15 Jul 1982) was born
in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, but grew up in Memphis, USA. After he left university he joined Sun Records in Memphis
where he arranged the music for several early Rock 'n' Roll stars. In 1961 he moved to Nashville where he
became a successful producer and music arranger. He died from cancer in Nashville in 1982 at the age of 55.
Title: The Story of My Life
Michael Holliday (26 Nov 1924 - 29 Oct 1963) was born in Liverpool,
England. After winning talent contests he was awarded a recording contract with EMI in 1955. This was his
first major hit. More hits followed until 1960, and he enjoyed many appearances on radio, television and the
stage. He had a mental breakdown in 1961 and died from a suspected drug overdose in 1963.
Title: Bony Moronie
Larry Williams (10 May 1935 - 7 Jan 1980) was born in New Orleans, USA. He became an R&B and Rock 'n' Roll singer after befriending Little Richard, and being introduced to Richard's record producer. He enjoyed several hits in the late 1950s, but drug addiction and dealing resulted in him being jailed in 1960 for three years. After that he made several come-back attempts and moved to Los Angeles, but the drug habit continued. He died in Los Angeles from a gun shot wound to the head in 1980, aged 44. It was deemed to be suicide.
Title: You Send Me
Sam Cooke (22 Jan 1931 - 11 Dec 1964) was born in Mississippi,
USA, but he moved with his family to Chicago when he was two. He started
singing with his siblings at a young age, and by his late teens he
was singing with a local Gospel group called the Soul Stirrers who
made a number of Gospel records. In 1957 he signed a
recording contract and began his career as a Soul singer. His first hit was
"You Send Me", which topped the
charts in the USA. It was less successful in the UK, but later releases confirmed him as an international
star. He was shot dead at a motel in Los Angeles in December 1964.
Title: At The Hop
This band originated in Philadelphia, USA in 1955. Lead singer Danny Rapp (9 May 1941 - 3 Apr 1983) formed the band with his friends when they were young teenagers. This song was their only major hit, although they were recording into the early 1960s. Rapp continued performing, with new band members, through to the 1980s as Danny & The Juniors. Two original members of the group had left and formed a new band, and they also toured as Danny & The Juniors. Some members of the group are still performing on the nostalgia circuit. Danny Rapp took his own life with a shot to the head in 1983 at age 41. The song has been featured on numerous 1950s compilation albums since, and is regarded as a Rock 'n' Roll classic.
Title: Jailhouse Rock
The King of Rock 'n' Roll (8 Jan 1935 - 16 Aug 1977) was
born in Tupelo, Mississippi, USA. He and his family moved to
Memphis, Tennessee when he was 13 years old. Soon afterwards
he acquired his first guitar and began playing and singing. He started his recording career at Sun Records in Memphis, USA.
It took several attempts to get Sun owner Sam Phillips to let Presley record, but eventually a session was arranged with guitarist
Scotty Moore and upright bass player Bill Black providing
backing. The resultant track "That's Alright" was
soon on local radio in Memphis, and it became a local hit.
Public performances followed, including numerous appearances on the
"Louisiana Hayride" radio show which was broadcast to half
the USA. Eventually he became famous enough for RCA records to
buy out his Sun contract and take him to Nashville, in 1956.
He rose to be arguably the biggest music star of the 20th century, with world-wide record
sales of over one billion. Also in 1956 Elvis made his movie
debut in the film "Love Me Tender". By the end of
1969 he had completed 31 films. He made no more movies after
that, instead concentrating on live concert performances, including
many in Las Vegas. His home in Memphis, "Graceland", is now a museum and major tourist
attraction, and his recordings continue to be heard throughout the world.
Title: Love Me Forever
Marion Ryan (4 Feb 1931 - 15 Jan 1999) was born in
Middlesbrough, England. She began as the singer with the Edmundo
Ros orchestra, and then sang with the Ray Ellington Quartet from
1953. She became a TV star when she joined TV musical quiz show "Spot The
Tune", in which she sang the first few words of a song that
contestants had to identify. The show ran for seven years from 1956. A contract with Pye Records resulted in several record
releases - mostly covers of American hits, but they were largely
unsuccessful in the charts. This recording was her only hit single.
In 1967 she retired after her (second) marriage. Her new husband was the millionaire impresario Harold Davison, who handled Frank Sinatra.
The couple moved to Florida in 1988, where she died eleven years
later, at age 67.
Title: You Are My Destiny
Canadian Paul Anka was born on 30 Jul 1941, in Ottawa. He went to New York at the age of 14 to audition for a record deal. His first release, the self-penned "Diana" was a world-wide smash, and his career grew from there, becoming one of the biggest recording stars of the Rock 'n' Roll era. He wrote most of his big hits himself, and he also wrote for other performers including Buddy Holly, Tom Jones and Frank Sinatra. He has continued recording and performing into the 21st century - even straying into Sinatra territory by recording an album featuring big band arrangements of rock hits, in 2005.
Trumpeter, Eddie Calvert (15 Mar 1922 - 7 Aug 1978) was born in Preston, Lancashire, England. After World War II, he began playing trumpet with popular dance bands of the day. He very soon became well-known, appearing on radio and TV as "The Man with The Golden Trumpet". His first hits were covers of American songs, and he enjoyed two chart toppers in 1953 and 1955 respectively. His popularity waned in the 1960s, and he emigrated to South Africa where he continued to perform and record for the local market. He died from a heart attack at his home in Johannesburg, aged 56.
Title: Magic Moments
Perry Como (18 May 1912 - 12 May 2001) was born in Pennsylvania, USA
to Italian immigrants. In 1933 he took part in a talent spot, singing with a dance band and was immediately offered a
job with the band. By 1943 he had his own radio show, and a recording contract with RCA.
His first hit in the UK came in 1953 when "Don't Let The Stars
Get In Your Eyes" reached number one in the charts. The mid 1950s and 1960s saw him
with many hit records, plus his popular TV show that was broadcast in the UK as well.
Between 1953 and 1962 he scored 20 hits in Britain, of which eleven
reached the Top 10. Although his hits initially dried up at the end of 1962, he returned to the UK
charts with a series of ballads in the early 1970s, with three
hitting the Top 10.
Title: Catch A Falling Star
This recording was a double A-side with song 19 above.
These hits turned out to be Como's last visit to the top of the UK singles charts, although he enjoyed several
more Top 10 entries.
Alma Cogan (19 May 1932 - 26 Oct 1966) was born in east London,
England. She began singing when just 14. By the early 1950s she was appearing regularly on the big radio
shows of the time. A recording contract followed and from 1954 to 1961 she had 21 hits.
Most of her hits were light novelty songs, and she became known as
"The Girl with the Giggle in Her Voice". In the late 1950s
she frequently appeared on television, and became famous for her huge ball
gowns which she designed herself. By the early 1960s her
popularity in the UK had dwindled, but she remained successful in
Sweden, Denmark and Germany, and had several hits in those countries
until 1965. She died in 1966 from ovarian cancer at the age
Title: Buona Sera
Singer and band leader Louis Prima (7 Dec 1910 - 24 Aug 1978) was
born in New Orleans, USA, to Italian immigrant parents. He decided at a young age that music was to be his life,
joining a band in 1929. He moved to New York in 1934, formed
his own band, and began recording. He remained in New York for
some while, performing in clubs there, but a new manager arranged
for him to play in several cities on the east coast, plus St Louis
and New Orleans. His reputation increased during the war
years, when Swing music was at its height of popularity. He continued performing
throughout the 1950s, notably with singer Keely Smith who he married and
later divorced. In 1967, Prima landed a role in Walt Disney's animated feature
"The Jungle Book", as the raucous orangutan King Louie.
He performed the hit song "I Wan'na Be like You" on the soundtrack.
He died from a brain stem tumor in 1978.
Title: Stood Up
Ricky Nelson (8 May 1940 - 31 Dec 1985) was born in New Jersey, USA. After a one-off recording in 1956, which resulted in his first hit, he signed a deal with Imperial Records and his career took off. He began TV appearances, and built a strong fan base. With Elvis Presley in the army from 1958 to 1960, there was little competition for Nelson. However, he never enjoyed the same level of popularity in the UK that he did in the USA where he had 17 Top 10 hits, as opposed to just four in Britain. He died in a plane crash in 1985.
Title: Good Golly Miss Molly
Little Richard (Richard Penniman) was born on 5 Dec 1932 in
Macon, Georgia, USA. Like so many singers from the South, Richard started his career by singing Gospel
music. He left his home in 1948 and began performing with various touring bands. In the early 1950s
he formed his own band and again began touring. After meeting with record producers, he had his first hit
record in 1956, and the hits continued through the 1950s. This
recording was his ninth hit in the UK.
Title: Baby Lover
This follow-up to Petula's previous hit, "Alone" did not fare as well. The song was featured in the film "Six Five Special", based on the TV pop music show of the same name. Petula Clark performed the song in the film, along with other stars of the day who performed their own songs. There would be no more hits for her until 1961 when she reached the top of the charts with "Sailor".
Title: Whole Lotta Woman
Marvin Rainwater (2 Jul 1925 - 17 Sep 2013) was born in Wichita, Kansas, USA. In the early 1950s he began writing songs with reasonable success, and performed with his brothers. By the mid-1950s he had a recording contract and was appearing on televised Country Music shows. This song was his only UK hit of significance, although he continued performing into the 1970s.
Tommy Steele was born on 17 Dec 1936 in Bermondsey, London,
England. He took to performing after a spell in the merchant navy, and got a recording deal with Decca in 1956.
He is regarded as Britain's first Rock 'n' Roll star, having his first hit, "Rock With The
Caveman" in October 1956. By the following year he was
making films, with two released in 1957 including the
semi-biographical "The Tommy Steele Story". His
1958 film was "The Duke Wore Jeans". By the 1960s he was
more of a film star than a Rock 'n' Roll singer. His movies
in the 1960s were more musical-style productions such as
"Half A Sixpence (1967) and "Finian's Rainbow
(1968). He made eleven films for cinema
release and two for TV only between 1957 and 1979. From the
1980s to the 2010s he performed in several long-running stage
musicals, often touring the UK with them.
Title: Maybe Baby
As mentioned with song 9 in this list, Buddy Holly recorded as himself and as The Crickets at this time. Although credited to The Crickets, it is Buddy Holly's voice that is heard on this recording. As well as Holly, at this time The Crickets comprised Jerry Allison (drums) (born 1939), Joe Maudlin (bass) (1940-2015) and Niki Sullivan (rhythm guitar) (1937-2004).
Title: Listen To Me
Co-writer of the song, Norman Petty (25 May 1927 - 15 Aug 1984) was a record producer, and this song was recorded at Petty's studios in Clovis, New Mexico, USA. Petty also recorded other emerging stars of the day, and for a time he was Buddy Holly's manager. Several of Holly's and the Crickets' hits were recorded at Petty's studio.
Title: Swinging Shepherd Blues
band leader, Ted Heath (30 Mar 1902 - 18 Nov 1969) was born in
south London, England. He began playing at a young age and was a member of various dance bands of the time during the 1920s, 1930s and
early 1940s. Heath formed his band in 1945 and began touring the UK and Europe. Radio broadcasts soon followed,
as did a recording contract with Decca.
Ted Heath and His Music was one of the most popular acts of the 1950s - a time when big band music was still
Title: The Grand Coulee Dam
Lonnie Donegan (29 Apr 1931 - 3 Nov 2002) was born in Glasgow, Scotland. His first interest was jazz, and in 1952 he formed his own jazz band. He also performed with other jazz bands, notably Chris Barber's. He was interested also in Blues and created a jazz-blues hybrid called Skiffle. His first hit came in 1956 - "Rock Island Line" - a fast version of the Lead Belly blues number. He became a mainstream performer, with many TV appearances in the UK, and was known as The King of Skiffle.
Title: To Be Loved
This follow-up to "Reet Petite" was a ballad written by the same composers. It did less well in the UK than the previous hit, and it would be 1972 before he was back in the UK Top 10.
Title: Oh Oh I'm Falling In Love Again
This was Rodgers' second hit of 1958. Also in 1958 he sang the opening theme song of the movie "The Long, Hot Summer", starring Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward and Orson Welles. This was followed by his own short-lived televised variety show on NBC TV. For info about Rodgers, see song 8 in this list.
The writer, Daniel Flores (11 Jul 1929 - 19 Sep 2006), was also the saxophone player who takes the lead on this instrumental track. He led the Flores Trio who played on this recording, but as there were various session men in the studio joining in, it was issued under the name of The Champs. It was a number one hit in the USA. Flores also wrote and worked under the name Chuck Rio.
Title: It's Too Soon To Know
This was his
twelfth UK hit and the follow-up to "April Love" which had
been as high as number seven in the UK charts earlier in the year
Title: A Wonderful Time Up There
This was part of
the double A-side with song 35, above. The recording was
initially banned by the BBC for its religious connotations, but the
ban was lifted upon appeal.
Title: Who's Sorry Now
Connie Francis was born on 12 Dec 1938 in Newark, New Jersey, USA. She entered talent contests as a young teenager, and even made some records, but none were hits until the issue of this song written some 35 years earlier. She went on to record several old songs, but usually put a modern Rock 'n' Roll number on the B-side of the discs. Her record success continued into the early 1960s, but she has
been performing live, with some long breaks, into the 21st century.
This was Lewis' third UK hit. He
was recording for Sun Records in Memphis, and his tracks were
released on the London American label in the UK.
Title: Teacher's Pet
Doris Day was born on 3 Apr 1924 in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. She began as a dancer, but soon turned to singing, quickly gaining a chance to sing on a local radio station. By 1939 she was a singer with a dance band, and after a move to Les Brown's band in 1945, she made her first record. With more radio work and concert tours, she was soon offered a chance to star in her own film in 1948. During the 1950s she became an internationally famous film and recording star, augmented by television appearances.
Title: Sweet Little Sixteen
Chuck Berry (18 Oct 1926 - 18 Mar
2017) was born in St Louis, Missouri, USA. He started performing in the early 1950s, and in 1955 began his recording career with "Maybellene" which reached number one on the US R&B chart. By the end of the 1950s he was an established star, and he had more hits during the 1960s.
He often courted controversy and had two spells in prison.
This never seemed to adversely effect his popularity, and he continued performing into the 21st century.
He died in March 2017 at the age of 90. In June 2017 a new album,
"Chuck", was released comprising new recordings made
over a few years, his first album of new material since 1979.
Title: Happy Guitar
This single was taken from the soundtrack of Steele's film "The Duke Wore Jeans". This was Steele's third film, made at a time when singing stars were encouraged to branch out into different aspects of show business. It was also a time when not everyone had a TV, but many people went to the cinema
weekly, and were thus able to see their favourite singers
Title: Tom Hark
This band was led by Jack Lerole (1940-2003). He was a South African penny whistle player and singer, who grew up in a township outside of
Johannesburg. He formed a band with his brother (Elias) and friends, playing Kwela music based on the penny whistle (jive flute). They signed with EMI South Africa and recorded several songs including Tom Hark. Although Jack Lerole left the band in the early 1960s, he continued as a musician until the end of the 1990s.
The Mudlarks were a British family trio from Luton, England, comprising brothers Jeff Mudd (born 1935) and Fred Mudd (1937-2007), plus sister Mary Mudd (born 1939). They were invited to appear on a BBC TV music show (Six-Five Special), and they quickly earned a recording contract. They only achieved three hit records during the period 1958 to early 1959.
Title: Wear My Ring Around Your Neck
This was Presley's 13th Top 10 hit in the UK and the start of 17 consecutive Top 10 hits through to November 1962. By the time this was in the UK charts, Presley had already been drafted into the US Army, where he would be for two years.
Title: Tulips From Amsterdam
Max Bygraves, (16 Oct 1922 - 31 Aug 2012) was an English entertainer, comedian and singer, born in Rotherhithe, London, England. After the second world war, he went into show business and was pretty much an all-round entertainer. He had radio series where he sang and acted, and began appearing in some comedy films. His first hit record came in 1952, and during his long career, he had 18 hit singles, plus 12 hit albums in his "sing-along" series. A major comedy TV star in the 1960s and 1970s and TV game show host in the 1980s, he retired to Australia in 2008 and died there in 2012.
Title: On The Street Where You Live
Vic Damone was born on 12 Jun 1928 in New York to Italian immigrants. He entered a talent show in 1947 and was awarded a recording contract the same year. Hit records followed as did a radio series, and by the 1950s he was a major star - also appearing in films. He retired in the early 2000s. This was his only significant hit in the UK.
Title: Kewpie Doll
This was Como's 12th hit in the UK, and came at the peak of his popularity in both the USA and UK.
Title: Stairway of Love
This was Holliday's second Top 10 hit, and confirmed him as a major star in the UK.
There had been a release between this and his January 1958 number
one, but that had stalled at number 26 on the UK charts.
Strangely, the follow-up to this recording only reached number 27,
before he had his second chart-topper in January 1960. He had
no hits during 1959.
Title: Twilight Time
The Platters formed in Los Angeles in 1952. By 1955 they had their first hits in the USA, quickly followed by hits in the UK. There were several personnel changes, even during their hits period. Subsequently, changes have been frequent, and ex-members have formed new groups also called The Platters, which led to various legal challenges. Such legal activity continued right up to 2014, even though most of the original members had died by then. The current line up has no original members.
Title: Witch Doctor
Don Lang (19 Jan 1925 - 3 Aug 1992) was born in Halifax, Yorkshire, England. He was a singer and trombone player who found fame after he was asked to record the theme song to a BBC TV music show called "Six-Five Special", and to form the resident band on the show. The show ran weekly from Feb 1957 to Dec 1958. In 1958 Lang issued this cover of the American "chipmunk" song "Witch Doctor". This was his only Top 10 hit.
Title: All I Have To Do Is Dream
The Everly's follow up to "Wake Up Little Susie" was this hit from the same song writers. It is regarded as one of the all-time great Rock 'n' Roll love songs, and is frequently heard on oldies radio stations.
This song was a double A-side with song 51 above.
Title: Johnny B Goode
Another Rock 'n' Roll classic from Chuck Berry, but it was never released as a single in the UK, so never entered any
British charts. It is ranked at Number 7 on Rolling Stone Magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Title: Crazy Love
This follow-up to his previous Top 10 hit was disappointing in failing to reach even the Top 20. The next release, "Midnight" would fare no better. 1959 would, however, see him with three Top 10 hits.
Title: Book Of Love
This was the Mudlarks' second of three hits in the UK singles charts. At the end of 1958, the Mudlarks were voted top British vocal group by readers of the New Musical
Express. Jeff Mudd then left the group, having been called to do National Service.
He was replaced by David Lane (born David Burgess,
1938–2010). Mary Mudd married David Lane in 1962.
Title: Big Man
They were four Californian students who were seen by a record executive when they entered a talent contest in 1956. Their records were soon in the USA charts, and three singles made it to the UK charts. They broke up in the 1960s, but Belland and Larson continued song writing, and both eventually became TV producers. However, three of the group (including Belland) have reformed and are performing nostalgia concerts.
Title: A Very Precious Love
The song was from the film "Marjorie Morningstar", staring Natalie Wood and Gene Kelly. Despite Doris Day being a major film star at the time, she was not in this movie!. Gene Kelly sang the song in the film, and several acts recorded it.
Title: Return To Me
Dean Martin (7 Jun 1917 - 25 Dec 1995) was born in Ohio, USA into an Italian immigrant family. In his late teens he began singing with local dance bands. It was in the early 1940s that he changed his name to Dean Martin, then after world war two he teamed up with comedian Jerry Lewis, and they performed as a singing-comedy duo. His recording career began in 1948, and his first chart entry in the UK came in 1953, followed by a succession of hits during the 1950s. In 1965, Martin launched the weekly Dean Martin Show on American TV, which ran until 1974. By this time he was a major international star with numerous films under his belt as well. He continued performing in cabaret until the end of the 1980s, and died from lung cancer in 1995 at the age of 78.
Title: Purple People Eater
Sheb Wooley (10 Apr 1921 - 16 Sep 2003) was born in Oklahoma, USA. Raised on a farm in Oklahoma, he became a cowboy and rodeo rider, and he sang with local Country Music bands. In the late 1940s he became a professional Country singer, and began acting. He appeared in dozens of Western films in the 1950s to 1970s, including the TV Western series "Rawhide". This novelty song was just the start - he scored a large number of hits in the US Country Music charts, mainly in the 1960s. This was his only hit in the UK.
Title: Rave On
Another hit credited to Buddy Holly rather than The Crickets. 1958 saw six hits for Buddy Holly/The Crickets, often released quite close together, and Holly sang on all of them.
Title: Sugar Moon
This was Boone's tenth Top 10 hit in the UK, but he would not have another until December 1961. There were, however, eight lesser hits during that gap.
Title: Sick and Tired
Fats Domino (26 Feb 1928 - 24 Oct 2017) was born in New Orleans, USA. His father and uncle were musicians and Domino learned to play piano at a young age. He was seen by a band leader who invited Domino to join the band, and a recording contract followed in 1950. Fats Domino (given the nickname Fats after Fats Waller) soon had a number of hits in the US R&B chart. His records started appearing on the US pop chart from about 1956, and hits continued into the mid 1960s. He continued performing and recording until the early 1980s, when he chose to retire to New Orleans. His house was badly damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 when he was 77, following which he performed at a few benefit concerts to raise money for rebuilding the parts of New Orleans that were devastated by the hurricane. He died of natural causes at age 89.
Title: Beep Beep
The Playmates were a trio from Connecticut, USA. They played at University, and after graduation began touring the USA and Canada, playing in small venues. Signed to Roulette Records in 1958, they had a couple of Top 40 singles before having a Top 5 hit in the USA with the novelty record "Beep, Beep". It describes an apparent road race between the drivers of a Cadillac and a Nash Rambler. In the UK, because of a directive by the BBC that song lyrics must not include brand names, a new version of "Beep Beep" was recorded, replacing the brand names with the generic terms limousine and bubble car. Despite the re-recording and popular radio play, the record failed to enter the charts in the UK.
Title: Sally Don't You Grieve
Lonnie picked another Woody Guthrie song (see song 35 in this list) for his follow-up. Although Guthrie's original lyric was about the second world war, non-topical lyrics had been provided by Malvina Reynolds, a USA folk song writer.
Title: Endless Sleep
Marty Wilde was born on 15 Apr 1939 in south London, England. Whilst performing live in
1957 he was spotted and signed up to Philips records. In 1958 he began appearing alongside Cliff Richard on the
TV pop show "Oh Boy!", and charted with this hit. More hits followed during the next couple of years,
nearly all covers of American hits. The hits dried up in the early 1960s, but he continued to perform on the oldies
and nostalgia circuits into the 21st century, most recently in 2017.
Title: The Only Man On The Island
This was Steele's eleventh hit in the
UK, and is a cover of an American hit. The original was recorded by Vic
Damone, and his version was also a hit in the UK, reaching number 24 in August 1958.
Title: I Know Where I'm Goin'
George Hamilton IV (19 Jul 1937 - 17 Sep 2014) was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina,
USA. He began performing as a teenager, and rose to be a major Country Music singer, with huge record sales
and numerous entries on the American Country Music charts. Country Music has never been big in the UK, and only
two of Hamilton's singles charted there. He continued to perform right up to his death from a heart attack at
the age of 77.
The Kalin Twins were Hal (16 Feb 1934 - 24 Aug 2005) and Herbie (16 Feb 1934 - 21 Jul 2006) Kalin. They were born in Port Jervis, New York, USA. They had a couple of early records issued which failed to reach the charts, but in 1958, when 24 years old, they recorded this hit which reached number 5 in the USA but went to number 1 in the UK where it stayed for five weeks. Subsequent releases fared poorly in the USA, and failed completely in the UK, making them one-hit wonders in Britain. They eventually gave up performing, but came back for special live concerts in 1977 and 1989. This hit single is now regarded as a Rock 'n' Roll classic, frequently appearing on 1950s compilation CDs.
Perez Prado (11 Dec 1916 - 14 Sep 1989) was born on the island of Cuba. He became a professional musician in Cuba, then moved to Mexico in 1949 to form a band and to record for RCA. He specialised in playing Mambos and other Latin-style dance music. His records became very popular and he toured the USA during the 1950s and 1960s. From the 1970s he lived in Mexico, but continued to record and tour for the Central American and South American markets.
Title: Hard Headed Woman
Another major hit from the King of Rock 'n' Roll. This recording was part of the soundtrack for his 1958 film "King Creole", and was on the soundtrack album. This was recorded at Hollywood, California, USA, rather than Nashville, USA, where his studio albums were recorded.
Title: Think It Over
Another chart hit for The Crickets with Buddy Holly as lead vocalist. This was the last hit issued by The Crickets which featured Buddy Holly.
Joe Henderson (2 May 1920 - 4 May 1980) was born in Glasgow, Scotland. He was taught piano by his mother, and by his teens he was a professional in local dance bands. He was on the same record label as Petula Clark in the early 1950s, and they made a few records together. He worked through the 1960s and 1970s, but died suddenly in 1980, aged 60. The instrumental track "Trudie" was his biggest hit, which although only reaching 14 in the record charts, was number one on the sheet music chart, becoming the best-selling sheet music of 1958.
Title: Splish Splash
Bobby Darin (14 May 1936 - 20 Dec 1973) was born in New York City,
USA. Darin began writing songs in 1955, and wrote a few numbers for Connie Francis. He also began arranging
music for artists on Atlantic Records, with whom Darin had been signed. This song was his first hit, which started
a career that lasted through the 1960s, although he would change musical direction a few times. He had had a weak
heart for most of his life, and he died following heart surgery at the age of 37.
Title: Yakety Yak
The Coasters were formed in October 1955 as a spin-off of the Robins, a Los Angeles-based rhythm and blues group. The Coasters had a string of hits in the late 1950s - often with humourous overtones. Their most memorable songs were written by the songwriting and production team of Leiber and Stoller. The hits dried up in the 1960s, but various configurations of band members toured as The Coasters in the USA for several decades.
Title: Everybody Loves A Lover
This record turned out to be Doris Day's last UK hit of the 1950s. Her next and final hit song would come in 1964 ("Move Over Darling"). For notes about Doris Day, see song 39 in this list.
Peggy Lee (26 May 1920 - 22 Jan 2002) was born in Jamestown, North Dakota, USA. Her
break came when she was discovered by bandleader Benny Goodman. Lee was a Blues-influenced Jazz singer and also a
songwriter, with such hits as the songs from Disney's "Lady and the Tramp", in which she also sang and voiced
a few characters. She began recording in 1946, and a number of hits
quickly followed. With radio, TV and hit albums,
she soon became an international star, and continued as such for five decades. Ill health in the late 1990s forced her
to retire and she died, aged 81, in Los Angeles in 2002.
Title: Poor Little Fool
This release from Nelson fared much better in the UK than his previous record (song 27 in this list). In the USA it went all the way to number one. This hit established Nelson as a major star, and plenty more hits followed in the USA, but not so many in the UK.
Title: Stupid Cupid
This was Connie's second and last number
one hit in the UK,
although several further Top 10 hits would follow. It was a double A-side with song 79 below.
Title: Carolina Moon
This recording was a double A-side with song 78
Francis recorded many older songs, and was very successful with them.
Title: Got A Match
Russ Conway (2 Sep 1925 - 16 Nov 2000) was born in Bristol, England. He joined the Royal Navy in 1942, remaining in service until 1955. After the navy he began playing piano in night clubs and as rehearsal pianist for stars. This resulted in a recording contract with EMI. He appeared on TV, especially on the Billy Cotton Band Show, where his boyish grin captivated the female audience. He was major musical star by 1959. Although he composed most of his own hits, this early recording was written by American composers.
This was Dean Martin's last hit of the 1950s, and his last Top 10 hit until 1969. This Italian song had been chosen as Italy's entry in the 1958 Eurovision Song Contest, where it came third. The original Italian recording by Domenico Modugno also entered the UK charts, reaching number 10, and the USA charts where it made Number 1.
Title: Rebel Rouser
Duane Eddy was born on 26 Apr 1938 in Corning, New York, USA. His family moved to Arizona when he was a young teen, and he started playing guitar with a friend when he was 16. They got a few gigs on a local radio station, where Duane met Lee Hazlewood, who would help develop the "twangy" guitar sound that was Eddy's trademark. He began recording in 1957, and the recording of "Rebel Rouser" became an international hit in 1958. Eddy enjoyed numerous hit singles and albums after that, mostly in partnership with Lee Hazlewood. Eddy continues to make a few live appearances in the 21st century, and frequently posts on social media.
Title: Bird Dog
The Everly Brothers' fourth
successive Top 10 hit was written by their regular composer, Boudleaux Bryant, although without his wife Felice. The record was successful on both sides of the Atlantic, going all the way to number one in the USA, and selling over a million copies.
Title: Move It
Cliff Richard was born on 14 Oct 1940 in Lucknow, India, whilst his parents were working in that country. He returned to England with his family in 1948. He formed a band in 1957 and a year later he was chosen as a singer for the TV Rock 'n' Roll show "Oh Boy!". "Move It" was his first record release, which started a career that continued into the 21st century, with more than 130 hit singles, over 50 original albums, spanning 50 years plus.
In the early 1960s he also starred in several musical films, notably
"The Young Ones" and "Summer Holiday". He also achieved a number one single in five different decades, and is the most successful British recording
artist of all time.
Title: Born Too Late
The Poni-Tails were three high school girls from near Cleveland, Ohio, USA. At the time of this hit they were Toni Cistone, Patti McCabe (died 1989), and LaVerne Novak. After a few flop recordings they scored on both sides of the Atlantic with this hit. Subsequent releases fared badly. The group disbanded in 1960 and they all left the music business.
Title: Little Star
The Elegants were a five-piece band from Staten Island, New York, USA. The record was a number one hit in the USA, but peaked at 25 in the UK. After this success, the band, still in their teens, toured with artists such as Buddy Holly, Dion and the Belmonts, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis. However, none of their subsequent singles reached the charts, making them one-hit wonders. Nevertheless, they continued to tour and perform live into the 21st century.
Paul Anka's follow-up to "Crazy Love" did not do any better - both records peaked at 26 and spent one week on the chart. Things would improve in the following year, however, when he would score three Top 10 hits.
Title: A Certain Smile
Johnny Mathis was born on 30 Sep 1935 in Texas, USA, but his family moved to San Francisco, where he grew up. His father encouraged him to sing, and he was having voice lessons from the age of 13. He began singing in clubs in 1955, and was soon given a recording contract. His crooning style was very popular with the older generation, and TV appearances increased his popularity. He issued dozens of albums of ballads and standards, as well as having
some success in the singles market. He
has continued performing into the 21st century.
Title: King Creole
This song was the title track to the film of the same name, starring Elvis Presley. It was the last movie Presley made prior to national service in the army, and the last film he made in black and white. The song was not issued as a single in the USA!
Title: It's All In The Game
Tommy Edwards (17 Feb 1922 - 23 Oct 1969) was born in Richmond, Virginia, USA. He was an R&B singer who first recorded this song in 1951. That version did reasonably well, but it was not until 1958, when he recorded this new version, that he became well-known, and began making TV appearances. Further records did not
fare as well, and his popularity
waned. He died after suffering a brain aneurysm, near
Richmond, Virginia, at the age of 47.
Title: Western Movies
The Olympics were formed in 1957 in Los Angeles, California, USA by Walter Ward (1940-2006), comprising high school friends and a cousin. After this major hit, they continued recording through the 1960s, but only one minor hit made the charts in the UK.
Title: Say Mama
Gene Vincent (11 Feb 1935 - 12 Oct 1971) was born in Norfolk, Virginia, USA. He joined the US Navy in 1952, but after a motoring accident that broke his leg, he left the navy. Following that he formed a group and began playing around Norfolk, Virginia. He was spotted and was given a recording contract with Capital records. His first release, "Be-Bop-A-Lula", reached number 5 in the USA, and number 16 in the UK during 1956. He made many more records, but none made the Top 10 on either side of the Atlantic. Nevertheless he recorded and toured throughout the 1960s, mainly in the UK and other parts of Europe. He died from a ruptured stomach ulcer in California during 1971.
Title: More Than Ever
Italian songs were very popular in the 1950s, and Vaughan recorded this English version to rival the Italian
language version, "Come Prima", by Marino Marini. Marini's version actually did better in the UK charts, reaching number two. This was Vaughan's last Top 10 entry, and his penultimate hit. He had nine hit singles in the period 1955-1959.
Title: Tea For Two Cha Cha
Tommy Dorsey (19 Nov 1905 - 26 Nov 1956) was a famous American band leader during the 1930s, 1940s, and early 1950s. He was born in Pennsylvania, USA, and had performed with his brother, Jimmy, in different bands during the 1920s. Tommy formed his own band in 1935, and within a couple of years he had his own radio show. During the 1940s, Frank Sinatra was a singer with the band, and they made numerous records together. Dorsey died in 1956, aged just 51, but the band continued under the leadership of Warren Covington. It was in this new situation that the band recorded this hit, which was a million-seller in the USA.
Title: Hoots Mon
Lord Rockingham's XI was the house band on the British pop music TV show "Oh Boy!" which was broadcast on Saturday evenings during 1958-1959. The band was formed and fronted by bandleader and musical director Harry Robinson (1932-1996), and included Hammond organ player Cherry Wainer (1935-2014), jazz baritone saxophonist, and later broadcaster and writer, Benny Green (1927-1998), plus tenor sax player Red Price (1933-1984). The band broke up when the TV series finished.
Title: Summertime Blues
Eddie Cochran (3 Oct 1938 - 17 Apr 1960) was born in Minnesota, USA, but moved with his family to California in the early 1950s. He began playing music at high school, and writing songs with Jerry Capehart, who became his manager. His first success came when he performed the song "Twenty Flight Rock" in the
1956 film "The Girl Can't Help It", prompting Liberty Records to offer him a recording contract. More hits followed, but his career was cut short when he was killed in a road accident whilst on tour in England. The song has been covered by various acts, and is regarded as a Rock 'n' Roll classic.
For his third UK hit, a ballad on his second album "Ricky Nelson" was selected. Written in 1944, the song had previously been a hit for Vaughn Monroe and the Mills Brothers, both in 1949. Since 1958 the song has been recorded by numerous artists, making the song a standard. This Ricky Nelson version was not issued as a single in the USA.
Title: Love Makes The World Go Round
This track was Como's 15th hit single in the UK, and his ninth Top 10 entry. The B-side of this record was "Mandolins In The Moonlight", which was separately listed in the charts, reaching number 13, and spending 12 weeks on the charts. He would have a few more hits until mid-1962, but would then return big-time in the early 1970s.
Despite the song-writing pedigree, this track only just scraped into the Top 20. Nevertheless, Connie Francis would bounce back with Top 10 hits in the following years.
Title: High Class Baby
Cliff's follow-up to his debut single was another Rock 'n' Roll number by the same songwriter. Cliff was still appearing regularly on the TV pop show "Oh Boy!" at this time, giving him plenty of exposure to the public, and he was becoming a major star.
Hits entering the chart during December 1958 will be found at the beginning of the 1959 page.
Acts with most appearances in this list:
Buddy Holly/The Crickets: 6 (combined, as Buddy Holly was lead singer on all six records)
Composers with most appearances in this list:
Norman Petty: 6
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