MIKE SMITH’S HOT HUNDRED UK HITS
Whilst American performers and songs remained strong in the charts, British acts were making their mark. The number one chart position was shared out equally between British and American acts in 1959, with each nation getting eight of the sixteen chart-toppers. Cliff Richard, who had emerged in 1958, gained his first two number ones in this year. The year also saw debut hits for Billy Fury and Adam Faith who both went on to considerable success during the first half of the 1960s. 1959 was also the most successful year for pianist Russ Conway, who enjoyed two number one hits out of five Top 10 chart entries. The year witnessed the arrival of Craig Douglas, who enjoyed several hits into the first couple of years of the 1960s, mostly by recording covers of American hits. Lonnie Donegan and Marty Wilde continued strongly with the careers they had begun earlier, with Wilde enjoying four Top 10 hits, and Donegan gaining five Top 20 hits.
Established Americans Elvis Presley, the Everly Brothers and Connie Francis continued their success with more hits in this year. However, it was also a year of sadness, as in February, a plane crash in the USA took the lives of Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and rising star Richie Valens. A number of posthumous hits, including a number one, kept Buddy Holly's name at the forefront of pop music. The writer of Holly's number one, Paul Anka, who had shot to fame in 1957 with his song "Diana", had a good 1959, with three Top 10 entries, although things fell away quickly as the 1960s opened. The year also saw the emergence of singer-songwriter Neil Sedaka, who enjoyed considerable success for the first few years of the 1960s, and fellow New Yorker, Bobby Darin enjoyed two chart-toppers in 1959.
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 1958 entries which featured in the January 1959 charts, and may even have reached their peak in the early months of 1959. You may not agree with my choices, but these were UK chart hits* that had plenty of air play on the music radio stations of the day, such as Radio Luxemburg.
* One song in the list was not a hit in the UK - details given in song info.
Title: It's Only Make Believe
Conway Twitty (1 Sep 1933 - 5 Jun 1993) was born in the state of Mississippi, USA. He began playing music at high school, and formed a band in the army during the early 1950s. After leaving the army he pursued a musical career, changing his name, and spending time at Sun Studios in Memphis. In 1958 he recorded this song for MGM which went to the top of the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. After a few smaller pop hits he moved into Country Music in the mid-1960s and enjoyed massive success, achieving over 30
number ones in the US Country Chart by the 1980s. He died whilst on tour, aged 59.
Title: Come On, Let's Go
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 of the 1960s he was
more of a film star than a Rock 'n' Roll performer. 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: Tom Dooley
The Kingston Trio was formed in the San Francisco area, California, USA, and they began performing around 1957 as a folk group. They were given a recording contract by Capital Records, and their first album was released in June 1958. A track on the album, "Tom Dooley" was released as a single, which reached number one in the USA. They continued successfully in the USA, but made little lasting impact in the UK. With inevitable personnel changes over the years, the group, without any original members, continued performing into the 21st century.
Title: The Day The Rains Came
Jane Morgan was born on 3 May 1924 in Massachusetts, USA. As a youngster she moved to Florida and began piano and singing lessons. In 1948 she went to Paris, France and joined a dance band there. She already spoke French, so was able to sing in their language, which helped her to become a cult star amongst the society people of Paris. She returned to the USA in the early 1950s, and soon won a recording contract. This song was her break-through, which had the same song on the B-side sung in French. During the 1960s she recorded a number of albums and appeared on TV, as well as performing live in Las Vegas and other locations. She retired from singing in 1973, but has performed at some benefit concerts since then, most recently in 2009.
Title: To Know Him Is To Love Him
The Teddy Bears were a group formed by Phil Spector
(born 26 Dec 1939 in New York City) after he graduated from high school in Los Angeles, Califormia, USA. The lead singer was Annette Kleinbard, and drums were played by Sandy Nelson who would have few drum-based instrumental hits in the early 1960s. The song went to number one in the USA, but follow-ups
fared badly, and Spector broke up the band within a year. He went on to become a famous record producer in the 1960s, inventing his "wall of sound" with groups The Crystals and
The Ronnettes etc. Annette Kleinbard changed her name to Carol Connors and became a successful song writer - mostly for film soundtracks.
Title: As I Love You
Shirley Bassey was born on 8 Jan 1937 in Tiger Bay, Cardiff, Wales. She went on to become an international star with countless hit singles and albums throughout the world. She began singing professionally in 1953, and performed up and down the UK. She signed a recording contract in 1956, and had her first Top 10 hit in 1957 ("Banana Boat Song"). "As I Love You" was her first number one. She had her own TV show during the 1970s,
but during that decade, most of her recorded success was with
albums rather than singles. Since then she has performed in
numerous live concerts in the UK, USA and Europe; and has continued performing into the 21st century. By 2015 she had scored 33 hit singles and 39 hit albums. She was honoured with a Damehood in 2000, and was back in the recording studios in 2014.
Title: Kiss Me, Honey Honey, Kiss Me
Although this record and the one above were issued several weeks apart by Bassey's record company, Philips, "As I Love You" was slow to take off. So, Philips issued this single. Bassey then performed "As I Love You" on TV which boosted sales of that recording. As a result, the two records chased each other up the charts and eventually stood in the top three simultaneously in January 1959. They were separate physical records with different catalogue numbers, not two sides of the same disc. They presented two styles for the singer, with "As I Love You" being a romantic ballad, and "Kiss Me" being an up-tempo number. These were her last hits for Philips, after which she moved to EMI's Columbia label.
Title: You Always Hurt The one You Love
Connie Francis was born on 12 Dec 1938 in Newark, New Jersey, USA. She
participated in many talent contests as a young teenager, and even made some records, but did not score her first hit until 1958. She often recorded older 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 continued performing live, with some long breaks, into the 21st century.
Title: Chantilly Lace
The Big Bopper (24 Oct 1930 - 3 Feb 1959) was born in Texas, USA. He became a radio disc jockey on a Texas radio station in 1949, and eventually rose to Programme Director. He was also writing songs for other acts, but was encouraged to record this one himself. He had been calling himself The Big Bopper on his radio shows, and used the same name for the record. It reached number 6 in the USA, and so he began touring with other Rock 'n' Roll artists. He died in the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly and
Ritchie Valens on 3rd Feb 1959.
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 his recording of "Rebel Rouser" became an international hit in 1958. Eddy enjoyed numerous hit singles and albums during the 1960s, and
has continued making live appearances into the 21st century.
Title: Baby Face
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 was his first hit with an old song, rather than a contemporary song written in the Rock 'n' Roll era, and was his final UK Top 10 hit.
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
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.
This was the last Buddy Holly record to enter the charts in his lifetime.
Title: Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
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. This recording was their only number one in the UK, and turned out to be their final visit to the UK Top 10.
Title: I'll Be With you In Apple Blossom Time
There seems to be no biographical information about this American artist on the internet. What is known is that she was a member of the Ray Charles Singers (nothing to do with the R&B singer) who were a group of mainly backing singers who also appeared on the Perry Como TV show in the 1950s, backing Perry. Rosemary June was brought out from the group on one edition of the show, and given the chance to sing solo. She made records during 1958, released in the UK on the Fontana label, but none appeared in the UK charts. However, in early 1959, this record (on the Pye International label) took off in the UK, although it did not chart in the USA. Further releases failed in the UK.
Title: One Night
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: I Got Stung
This recording was a double A-side with record 15 above. Whilst "One Night" is a sultry slow-tempo song, this number is an upbeat Rock 'n' Roll song. This original recording was re-released in January 2005, again as a double A-side with "One Night", and again went to number one.
Title: Last Night On The Back Porch
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
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 to each other 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: High School Confidential
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". Personal-life controversy led to his May 1958 UK tour being cancelled after just three performances. Nevertheless, there was still a market for his records in the following year.
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: The World Outside
The Four Aces were formed in Philadelphia, USA by lead singer Al Alberts in 1950. They were a close-harmony quartet, who amassed a large number of hits in the USA during the 1950s. They were sucessful in the UK as well, scoring seven hits, four of which made the Top 10. This hit was their final visit to the UK charts. Over the years, the original members have been replaced, and the current line-up has no original members, who all died between 2009 and 2013.
Title: (All Of A Sudden) My Heart Sings
Canadian Paul Anka was born on 30 Jul 1941, in
Ottawa, Canada. 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
songs recorded by other performers including Buddy Holly, Tom Jones and Frank Sinatra. He continued recording
(mostly albums) and performing throughout the remainder of the
20th century, often in Las Vegas, and was working well into the
2000s. In 2005 he issued an album, "Rock
Swings", featuring big band arrangements of rock hits.
A follow-up in similar style, "Classic Hits, My Way",
was issued in 2007. His most recent album was released in
Title: A Pub With No Beer
Slim Dusty (13 Jun 1927 – 19 Sep 2003), was an Australian country
music singer-songwriter, guitarist and producer, with a career spanning nearly seven decades. He was born as
David Gordon Kirkpatrick, near Kempsey, New South Wales, Australia - the son of
a cattle farmer. He adopted the stage name "Slim Dusty" in 1938 at 11 years of age. In 1951, Dusty
married singer-songwriter Joy McKean and, with her help, achieved great success around Australia.
McKean was Dusty's wife and manager for over 50 years.
Title: Does Your Chewing Gum Loose It's Flavour (On The Bedpost Overnight)
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
popular performer, with many TV and concert appearances in the UK, and became known as The King of Skiffle. Between 1956 and 1962 he had 32 hit singles.
Although the hits dried up in 1962, he
continued performing to loyal fans, and also worked as a record
producer at Pye Records. He died from a heart attack at age
Title: My Happiness
Connie Francis recorded many older songs, and this hit was yet another. An unpublished version of the melody with different lyrics had been written by Borney Bergantine in 1933. However, new lyrics were written by Betty Peterson Blasco in 1948, and a recording was in the USA charts that year. Connie Francis' version was a major hit, selling over one million copies in the USA.
Title: Stagger Lee
Lloyd Price was born on 9 Mar 1933 in Louisiana, USA. He began singing and playing piano at a young age. He made his first record in the early 1950s, and was at No 1 in the American R&B charts with "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" in 1951. It was "Stagger Lee", however, that shot him to fame, reaching number one in the USA pop charts in late 1958. Several hits followed into the early 1960s. He is still occasionally performing, but is also running a southern-style food company.
Title: Petite Fleur
Chris Barber is a British jazz musician, bandleader and
trombonist. He was born on 17 Apr 1930 in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, England, and attended the
Guildhall School of Music in London. In 1953, Barber and Monty Sunshine (clarinet) formed a band, calling it Ken
Colyer's Jazzmen, to capitalise on their trumpeter's recent band-playing in New Orleans. The group also included Lonnie
Donegan. Barber's big break-through came in 1959 when the band's version of "Petite Fleur", featuring the
clarinet solo by Monty Sunshine, spent twenty-four weeks in the UK Singles Charts, and
sold over one million
copies. He has never stopped playing, and has performed in concert into the 21st century.
Billy Eckstine (8 Jul 1914 - 8 Mar 1993) was born in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania, USA. He went to Chicago in 1939 and joined Earl Hines' Orchestra, staying with the band as
vocalist and trumpeter until 1943. He then formed his own band and scored a number of hit records. He became
a solo vocalist in 1947 and, with his rich baritone voice, went on to international stardom, performing and recording
until the 1980s. He returned to Pittsburgh after suffering a stroke in 1992, and died
there when he was 78 years
Title: Side Saddle
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
during the day, worked
as a rehearsal pianist for the stars. This resulted in a recording contract,
appearances on TV, and his becoming a major star during 1959. His hits
went on into the early 1960s, but he continued performing right up until his death.
Title: Wait For Me
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.
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. By 1943 he had his own radio show, and a recording contract with RCA. The mid 1950s and 1960s saw him with hit records and his popular TV show that was broadcast in the UK as well. His first run of hits continued until 1962, but he returned in 1971 with another series of hit singles, when he was nearly 60 years of age! Como died in his sleep at his home in Jupiter Inlet Colony, Florida, USA six days before his eighty-ninth birthday.
Title: Manhattan Spiritual
Reg Owen (3 Feb 1921 - 23 May 1978) was a British musician and composer, born in east London, England. He began playing the saxophone at the age of 15, and in 1945 began arranging music for the bands of Ted heath and Cyril Stapleton. He began writing film scores from 1957, and enjoyed this instrumental hit in 1959, which also charted in the USA, reaching number 10. He relocated to Brussels, Belgium in 1961, working as a composer, conductor, and arranger in Europe. He moved to Spain in the 1970s, and died in Málaga at the age of 57.
Title: The Love Game
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
singing in local venues in 1958 when they were invited to appear on
the BBC TV music show Six-Five Special. Following the
appearance they gained a recording contract with EMI. Despite
early promise, they only achieved three hit records between May 1958
and February 1959 - less than a year. They continued making
records into the 1960s, but none reached the charts.
Doesn't Matter Anymore
entered the charts in the wake of Holly's death in a plane crash
on 3 February 1959. Holly had been on tour in the USA with
Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper who all perished in the
accident. It will never be known if the publicity surrounding
his death led to the heavy sales of this record, but it was his
first (and only) number 1 in the UK. It peaked at number 13
in the USA. Nevertheless, it is a very good, well produced
record that has stood the test of time.
Billy Fury (17 Apr 1940 - 28 Jan 1983) was born in Liverpool, England. He bought his first guitar at age 14, entered talent contests, and by 1958 was writing his own songs. He was spotted by impresario Larry Parnes, who put him on tour, and arranged a recording contract with Decca. He also appeared on the TV pop show "Oh Boy!", and released this, his first record in 1959. He went on to considerable success, and had amassed 26 hit singles by the end of 1966. Heart problems, which he suffered from childhood, led to surgery in the early 1970s. He did some touring and recording in the very early 1980s, but his heart problems worsened, and died in London in January 1983, aged just 42. On 19 April 2003 a bronze statue of Fury was unveiled at the National Museum of Liverpool Life.
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!",
which brought him to the attention of a wider audience. His
first hit came in 1958 (see 1958, song 65), and 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.
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"
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
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.
The Light Of The Silvery Moon
this time, Little Richard was already running out of steam in the
charts. He would have no more Top 10 hits in the UK.
See song 11 in this list for info about him.
Ricky Nelson (8 May 1940 - 31 Dec 1985) was
born in New Jersey, USA. After a one-off recording in 1956, he signed a deal with Imperial Records and
the hits started. He also began TV appearances, and with Elvis Presley in the army from 1958 to 1960,
Nelson had the opportunity to build a strong fan-base.
He died in a plane crash whilst on tour in the USA.
Be Anyone Else But You
recording was part of a double A-side with song 39 above.
Frankie Avalon was born on 18 Sep 1940 in
Philadelphia, USA. He was on American television playing
trumpet by the time he was 11. Two singles showcasing Avalon's trumpet playing were issued on RCA Victor's "X"
label in 1954. It was In 1959 that he became a teenage
heart-throb following the release of "Venus". The song was
an American number one for 5 weeks. In the USA he had 31 hit
singles from 1958 to late 1962. Teamed frequently with Annette Funicello, Avalon starred in a number of popular
beach-party comedy films during the mid-1960s. The wholesome and romantic coupling of "Frankie and Annette" in summer movies such as
"Beach Party" and "Beach Blanket Bingo" became iconic figures in American films during that
era. He still occasionally performs.
Fool Such As I
Presley's seventeenth Top 10 single in the UK, and was issued
whilst he was still serving in the US Army. It was
listed in the UK as a double A-side with "I Need Your Love
Softly To Me
were a mixed-gender trio from Washington State, USA.
Gretchen Christopher, Barbara Ellis
& Gary Troxel, their first hit was this song, which went to
number 1 in the USA. Whilst they remain a one-hit wonder in
the UK, they scored a total of eleven hits in America, with three
of those making number 1. They continued performing in to
the 1970s, but two members retired from the act, leaving just Gretchen
Christopher by the end of the 1970s. She went on to form a
new Fleetwoods act in the 1980s, but all three have released solo
Neil Sedaka was born on 13 Mar 1939 in Brooklyn, New York, USA. He is an American pop singer, pianist, composer and record producer. Since his music career began in 1957, he has sold millions of records as an artist and has written or co-written over 500 songs for himself and others, collaborating mostly with lyricists Howard Greenfield and Phil Cody. When Sedaka was 13, a neighbour heard him playing piano and introduced him to her 16-year-old son, Howard Greenfield, an aspiring poet and lyricist. They became two of the legendary Brill Building's composers in New York City. Sedaka co-wrote several hit songs for Connie Francis as well as others, and began his own singing career in 1958. His first UK hit was this song, which led to a run of Top 20 hits in the early 1960s. After his rock 'n' roll style went out of fashion, he reinvented himself in the early 1970s with a series of ballads which charted between 1972 and 1975. He continues to perform in concert in the USA and overseas in the 21st century.
Waited So Long
Anthony Newley (24 Sep 1931 - 14 Apr 1999) was born in east London, England. He started an acting career as a teenager, and made several films during the 1950s. It was in one film, "Idol On Parade", a 1959 comedy, that he sang a few songs that launched him into a singing career, with a number of chart hits during the early 1960s. He teamed up with Leslie Bricusse in the early 1960s and they began writing stage musicals together. The first was "Stop the World - I Want to Get Off" in which Newley also performed, and which was a hit show in London and on Broadway. This was followed by "The Roar of the Greasepaint - the Smell of the Crowd" (1965) and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), based on the children's book by Roald Dahl. He also continued his acting career in film and on television, with some stage work through the 1970s and 1980s. He died in Florida from cancer at age 67.
Joan Regan (19
- 12 Sep 2013) was born in Romford, Essex, England. Her
singing career began in 1953, when she made a demo record, and
signed a recording contract with Decca Records, with whom she had
six Top 20 hits. The hit "May You Always" was with
the HMV label, after which she signed with Pye Records and had a few more
minor hits. After her hits dried up she relocated to
Florida, USA, and married a doctor there. She had an
accident in 1984 which left her paralysed and unable to speak, but she recovered after
a year. She returned to the UK in the 1990s and began
performing again and recorded a couple of albums. She died
in 2013 at the age of 85.
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!".
His first hit came in 1958, which started a career that continued into the 21st century, with more than 130 hit
singles and 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.
This was pianist, Russ Conway's second number 1 hit of the year. He had now become very popular with plenty of TV exposure, particularly on "The Billy Cotton Band Show", and was hitting number one in the Sheet Music chart as well. He would have three more Top 10 hits during 1959.
Guitarist, Bert Weedon (10 May 1920 - 20 Apr
2012) was born in East Ham, London, England. He began learning classical guitar at the age of twelve, and
decided to become a professional musician.
In his teens during the 1930s, he led groups such as the Blue Cumberland Rhythm Boys, and Bert Weedon and His
Harlem Hotshots, before making his first solo appearance at East Ham town hall in 1939.
After the war he worked with a number of bands, but also worked as
a session musician, backing several recording stars of the
1950s. In 1957 he published his guitar tutorial guide "Play in a
Day", which many subsequent stars have said helped them learn
to play the instrument. It sold a million copies. In
1959 he was asked to record for the newly-launched Top Rank label,
and this hit was one of eight hits he enjoyed until 1961.
Were You (On Our Wedding Day)
This was Lloyd Price's follow-up to
"Stagger Lee". It had a very similar sound, but
did not manage to breach the Top 10. Info about Lloyd Price
is with song 25 in this list.
Only I Could Live My Life Again
This was her follow-up to "The Day The Rains Came". Unfortunately it fared badly in comparison to the previous chart-topper. She had one more minor hit in 1960 before disappearing from the UK charts. For info about Jane Morgan, see song number 4 in this list.
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.
Another song from the husband and wife songwriting team gave the Everly Brothers their second hit of 1959, although this one just missed out on a Top 10 placing. September 1959 would see them back up at number 2, however.
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
UK chart topper. He remained very popular through the 1960s, although he would change musical direction a few times.
He made a number of successful recordings for a couple of years
from 1959, featuring old songs with a big band backing. In
1962 he joined Capitol Records to replace Frank Sinatra who had
left to form his own record label. This resulted in a few
albums from Darin of standards and new ballads in a pseudo-Sinatra
style. However, in 1966 he returned to mainstream pop.
He had had a weak
heart for most of his life, and he died following heart surgery at the age of 37.
Teenager In Love
This was Marty's follow-up to his hit
"Donna". It turned out to be his biggest hit,
reaching number 2 in the UK charts. He has continued
performing into the 21st century, and still sings "A Teenager
In Love", even though he turned 75 years of age in 2014!
A quick follow-up to his previous release
which had only entered the UK charts on 5th May. This was a
bigger hit, giving him his second and last Top 10 entry in the UK.
This instrumental was Eddy's third UK hit
and his first Top 10 entry. Four more Top 20 hits came his
way until April 1960 when he was back in the Top 10.
of New Orleans
This was Donegan's follow-up to
"Chewing Gum", and was a cover of the American hit by
Johnny Horton which reached number one in the USA and number 16 in the
On Your Collar
Her follow-up to the ballad "My Happiness"
went one chart position better, and was her first Rock 'n' Roll Top 10
hit since "Stupid Cupid" in August 1958.
This was Cliff's first number one. He
would have 14 number ones by 1999. This release was a
mellower song than his previous hard Rock 'n' Roll hits, and would
set the trend for most of his singles to follow.
This was Anka's second of his three Top 10
hits of 1959 - this one being the biggest. It was also his
second number 1 in the USA.
The Country Music singer Stonewall Jackson
was born on 6 Nov 1932 in Tabor City, North Carolina, USA,
although he grew up in Georgia, USA. Stonewall is not a
nickname or stage name; he was actually named after the Confederate
General, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. After serving in the US
Navy in the early 1950s he moved to Nashville, where he was able
to develop a career as a Country singer. He signed a
recording contract in 1958, and enjoyed success in the USA Country
charts. He continues performing, and has appeared on the Grand Ole Opry
during the 21st century. Jackson lives on a farm in Tennessee,
USA, and has a son called Stonewall Jackson, Jr.
Big Hunk o' Love
Another big hit for Elvis who was still in the US Army, and which reached number 1 in the USA. It was recorded on 10 June 1958 in Nashville, Tennessee, USA whilst Presley was on army leave. That was the last time he recorded until he left the army on 5 March 1960. His next hit single in the UK would not come until April 1960.
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.
was born on 12 Aug 1941 on the Isle of Wight, England. He
was a milk delivery man (milkman) before he became a professional
singer. He had signed with the newly-launched Top Rank
record company, and his first release was a cover of "Teenager
in Love", but Marty Wilde had the bigger hit with that
song. This cover of Sam Cooke's song took him to the top of
the charts, and gave him instant stardom. He enjoyed seven
Top 10 chart entries from 1959 to 1962, with a tally of 11 hits overall -
mostly covers of American originals. He has continued to perform
in nostalgia shows and on cruise ships into the 21st century.
Freddy Cannon was born on
4 Dec 1940 in Massachusetts, USA. He is said by some to the
be last of the raw Rock 'n' Roll performers. He learned to
play guitar at a young age, and cut his first record in 1955 with
a group called The Spindrifts. His first solo success came
with this song which had been written as a poem by his
mother. The record company called in the writing and production team of Bob Crewe and Frank
Slay who composed the tune and rewrote some of the lyrics.
The single was a success in the USA, reaching number 6 on the
charts and selling a million copies. Released in the UK on
the fledgling Top Rank label it peaked at number 17. Cannon
had a few more hits until 1962, and like many of his
contemporaries, he continues to perform on the nostalgia circuits
in the 21st century.
Conway's follow-up to his two previous number ones did not do quite as well, but a Top 5 entry was respectable enough. Again, he wrote this tune himself, and so enjoyed success in the sheet music chart as well. Two more hits were yet to come in 1959.
Twitty's second (and final) Top 10 entry in the UK singles
charts. There had been a minor hit between, and two minor
hits were to follow, but this was his last major hit in the
UK. He went on to forge a highly-successful career in
American Country Music. See song 1 in this list for info
was born on 20 June 1937 at Fort Smith, Arkansas, USA. His
family moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA when he was young, and he
began singing at school. He moved to New York in 1956, and
began a songwriting career. His big hit came in 1959 when
his self-penned "Here Comes Summer" reached number 14 in
the USA but went all the way to the top in the UK. Keller
was reported as saying that he would choose his follow-up with
care, as he did not want to become a one-hit-wonder. But
that is exactly what happened on both sides of the Atlantic.
He continued with his songwriting, and co-wrote "Almost There", a successful single for Andy
Williams in 1965. In 1969 he wrote the English lyrics to "A Man and a
Woman". He also wrote music for films in the 1960s, and
in the 1970s and 1980s he composed and sang jingles for TV
Miles of Bad Road
to "Peter Gunn" only just missed out on a Top 10 placing
in the UK, but it reached number nine in the USA.
This release did not do so well for Connie Francis, following two Top 5 hits, but she had written the song herself, so perhaps it did not have the appeal of the previous hits. One further hit was to come in 1959, and that would reach number 11. But she would be back in the Top 10 in 1960.
Gonna Get Married
Another song from Price, again written with Harold Logan. This was his fourth hit in 1959, all written by Price and Logan. However, there was a downward trend in chart position, with this one faring the worst. Price would have one final minor hit on the UK charts in 1960. For info about about Lloyd Price, see song 25 in this list.
I Kissed You
Back near the
top of the UK charts, after the disappointment of their previous
release (song 53 in this list). It was also a break from
their normal songwriters,
Boudleaux & Felice Bryant, with Don Everly having written this
one himself. If anyone had had any doubts about Don's
songwriting abilities, this proved them wrong. This was
their final hit of 1959, but plenty was to follow in 1960.
A Little Too Much
This was his
follow-up to "It's Late" which had been at number 3
earlier in the year. This one just missed out on a Top 10
placing, and it was his last hit of 1959. The following
year, 1960, would be rather barren for Nelson - just two minor
hits; the higher getting to number 30. But he would be back
in the Top 10 in 1961.
Sue Got Married
hit following Holly's death in a plane crash in February.
The song harks back to his 1957 hit "Peggy Sue". Holly
had recorded the vocal, accompanying himself on guitar, as a demo,
in December 1958, at his New York apartment. Coral, his
record company, wanted to issue more Buddy Holly records, so his
demo recording was augmented with instruments and backing vocals
by studio musicians in June 1959. More Buddy Holly
recordings from various sources were issued over the following
years, with three Top 10 entries in 1963.
Sarah Vaughan (27 Mar 1924 - 3 Apr 1990) was born in Newark, New Jersey, USA. She was interested in singing from an early age, and by her mid-teens, she was performing (illegally) in some of Newark's night clubs. In 1943 she entered a talent contest in New York, which resulted in her being offered a job as singer with the Earl Hines Big Band. She joined Billy Eckstine's new band in 1944, but she left him in 1945 to pursue a solo career. Her style was more jazz-orientated rather than popular, but she still put hits on the pop charts. From the 1960s she concentrated on recording albums, with plenty of live performances, and this continued for the next two decades. She died from lung cancer in 1990 at the age of 66.
Got A Sugar Lip
Donegan's follow-up to "The Battle of New Orleans" was a song by the same songwriter, namely Jimmie Driftwood, and the same American singer, Johnny Horton. This time, Donegan had the charts to himself as neither the original version by Driftwood, nor the cover by Johnny Horton entered the UK charts. Donegan gave the song a faster Skiffle arrangement, as opposed to the folk/country feel of the American versions.
His fourth consecutive
10 hit and his fourth cover of an American original. This
time it was Phil Phillips' USA number 1 hit that Wilde
covered. Sales for Wilde's version were so strong the Phillips' original did not chart at all in the UK. It
can be argued, however, that Wilde's cover was a better production
with more of a Rock 'n' Roll feel, rather than the Phillips
version that was more 'doo-wop' in style.
This was his
second successive number 1 hit in the UK. But this was a
change of musical direction. He had begun with raw Rock 'n'
Roll ("Splish Splash"), moved on to a Rock 'n' Roll love
song ("Dream Lover"), and was now performing an older
song with a big band backing. Sounding more like a Frank
Sinatra recording, this would set the trend for Darin over the
next couple of years. The record-buying public were happy
with it though, giving him four Top 10 hits in this style over
They were were an American instrumental
Rock 'n' Roll band from Toledo, Ohio, USA. They were led by saxophonist Johnny Paris
(1940 - 2006), and included Paul Tesluk on Hammond organ. They signed
a recording contract and started live performances in 1959.
After a small USA-only hit, they recorded this tune which became a
Top 5 hit on both sides of the Atlantic, and sold over a million
copies. They had a further three Top 10 hits in the UK with
similar-sounding records. Johnny Paris, with different band
members, continued performing as Johnny
& The Hurricanes at
home and abroad until his death.
Cliff's follow-up to "Living Doll". It was a
similar-sounding recording, and it too went all the way to number
1 in the UK. The B-side was called "Dynamite",
which was an old-style Rock 'n' Roll song that was listed
separately in the charts, peaking at number 16.
(10 Aug 1932 - 28 May 2016) was born in Nashville, Tennessee, USA, and
was an American
Country Music singer, who had this one-off hit on both sides of
the Atlantic. He was interested in music from a young age,
and whilst still in high school, he had a regular radio show on a
Nashville radio station. Along with his band, the Eagle
Rangers, he also provided backing music for visiting Country Music
singers, such as George Jones, Jim Reeves, and Eddy Arnold.
In the 1970s he tried his hand at religious music for
children. In the 1990s Robinson self-published two books, the instruction manual
"Guitar Playing Made Easy" (1992), and the novel "The Guitar" (1994). He
remained active in the music
industry until his death.
Brothers Santo & Johnny were born in Brooklyn, New York; USA (Santo in 1937 and Johnny in 1941). In the late 1940s their father paid for them to have guitar lessons. Within two years Santo was playing a six-string steel guitar in a local band. When he was 12, Johnny joined his brother, playing a normal electric guitar. They began writing songs and came up with this instrumental in 1958. It went to number 1 in the USA, but only reached the Top 30 in the UK. Further releases were not very successful, but they toured the USA, Europe, and other parts of the world. They made several records in Italy, and charted there into the 1970s. In the 21st century Santo is semi-retired but Johnny tours and records new material with his own band.
follow-up to his Top 10 hit "C'mon Everybody" was
somewhat disappointing, in not even reaching the Top 20. In
the USA it did even worse, peaking at number 58. However,
the song is now regarded as one of his classics. More hits
would follow in 1960 including a posthumous number 1. For
info about Cochran, see song 36 in this list.
More Sunrise (Morgen)
Valentine (4 Nov 1929 - 6 May 1971) was born in London,
England. He was a major British singing star during the
1950s. Indeed all his hit records were in that decade, with
this hit being his final singles chart entry. His tally of
hits was 14, including six Top 10s and two number ones. He
had begun singing in the late 1940s, and was signed up as a singer
with the Ted Heath Orchestra in 1949. He enjoyed his early
hits with that band, but he went solo in 1954 and had more hits -
mostly covers of American originals. Although the hits
finished at the end of the 1950s, he remained a popular performer
and had his own TV show in the 1960s. Valentine was killed
in the car he was driving in Wales; the crash also taking the
lives of his pianist and drummer. He was 41.
Your Head On My Shoulder
Anka's third and final hit of 1959 - all three having reached the
Top 10. 1959 was also to be his final year as a major chart
performer in the UK. He would have three smallish hits in
1960 (highest reaching number 28), and no hits at all in
1961. 1962 would see him with a Top 20 entry, but it would
be 1974 before he returned to the Top 10. For more info
about Paul Anka, see song 21 in this list.
was born on 14 May 1938 in east London, England. His first
career was as a boxer before he took up singing. He appeared
on TV shows in the late 1950s, and this song became his first hit
record. He had three further hits, but none rose higher than
number 14 in the UK charts. Subsequently he emigrated to
Australia where he
initially worked as a nightclub singer. He then became a regular host on
the TV show "Melbourne Tonight" in 1968. He then
moved into acting on Australian TV, appearing in drama series and
soaps into the 1980s. He has also appeared in films,
including a role in "Mad Max 2" in 1981.
Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For?
Emile Ford (16 Oct
1937 - 11 Apr 2016) was
born the island of St Lucia in the West
Indies. His mother and grandfather were musicians in St
Lucia. In the mid-1950s, Emile and his family relocated to
the UK, and he attended a London technical college, where he
learned to play a number of musical instruments. He began singing
in 1958, and made a few TV appearances. He formed his
backing band, The Checkmates, and together they won the Soho Fair talent contest
in London during July 1959, which resulted in a deal with Pye
Records. This was his debut single which reached number 1,
where it stayed for six weeks into 1960. It remained on the
singles chart for six months! His hits continued until
1962. In 1969, he set up a recording studio in Barbados,
West Indies, with the help of his father, before moving to live in
Sweden, where he developed a new open-air playback system for stage
second Top 10 hit of the year, has become one of his classic
recordings. Number three in the UK charts was as high as he ever
got, and this track only made number 9 in the USA. However,
he did get three American chart toppers in later years.
Little Girls Sitting In The Back Seat
The Avons were a British pop vocal
group, comprising Valerie Murtagh, born 1936, Willesden, London,
England, and Elaine Murtagh, born 1940, County Cork,
Ireland. They were sisters-in-law, and began as The Avon
Sisters. When Ray Adams, born 1938, Jersey, Channel Islands,
joined the girls, they changed their name to The Avons. They
had three minor hits following this, but were never able to
achieve the same success as their first record.
This was his fourth Top 10 hit of 1959, his most successful year in the UK charts by far. He also hit the Top 10 later in November with another of his sing-along party medleys ("More and More Party Pops"). He enjoyed five hits during 1960, although none got higher than number 14. He had a final Top 10 hit in 1961, and two minor hits in 1962. He remained very popular in live performance and continued for three more decades. For info about Russ Conway, see song 28 in this list.
(30 Mar 1913 - 6 Feb 2007) was an American singer, songwriter, and
actor whose career spanned 75 years, from his first concerts in 1930
to his final performance of
the song "That's My Desire" in 2005. He was born in Chicago,
USA to Italian immigrants. He began singing professionally
in the early 1930s, but success was slow to come, and it was not
until 1944 that he made his first record. He joined Mercury
records in the late 1940s and began having some hits, but it was
when he joined Columbia Records (CBS) in 1951 that his career
really took off. In the UK from 1952 to 1959 he had 26 hit
records, with 14 making the Top 10, and four going to number
one. He continued performing for several decades, and made
more albums right into the 21st century. He died from heart
failure in 2007 at the age of 93.
Do You Want
Adam Faith (23
Jun 1940 - 8 Mar 2003) was born in west London, England.
After various jobs behind the scenes in the film and TV
industries, he cut his first record in 1958, but it made no impact
on the charts. Despite this he made a number of TV
appearances, and in late 1959 he was given the chance to record
the song "What Do You Want?", written by Les Vandyke, arranged by
John Barry and produced by John Burgess. This kicked off a
career that saw him rise to be one of the top British musical stars of the early 1960s.
His first two hits went to number
1, and he had a further nine Top 10 hits by 1963, with a tally of
21 hits in all from 1959 to 1966. After the hits dried up he
moved into acting an became a popular actor in TV drama series
("Budgie" 1971-1972; "Love Hurts" 1992-1994),
in several films, and stage plays from the late 1960s to his death.
He died in Stoke-on-Trent, England, whilst on tour with a stage
Connie's fifth and final appearance in the charts of 1959. Once more, it was an
old song that she revived. It just missed out on
a Top 10 placing in the UK, but she got as high as number 7 in the
USA with the record. Another four hits were to follow in
1960. For info about Connie Francis, see song 24 in this
Never Fall In Love Again
Johnnie Ray (10 Jan 1927 - 25 Feb 1990) was born in Dallas, Oregon, USA. He was a heart-throb idol for screaming teenage girls long before the Rock 'n' Roll stars came along. He had started singing on local radio at the age of 15, and he made his first record in 1951, but it was in 1952 that he recorded "Cry", with "The Little White Cloud That Cried" (which he wrote himself) on the B-side. This recording went to number 1 in the USA and sold over two million copies. This hit pre-dated the singles chart in the UK (November 1952), so is not shown as one of his hits in music listings. From 1953, however, his singles were were climbing the UK charts, and by 1957 he had scored three number ones, and a further seven Top 10 entries. He played to packed theatres when he toured the UK, even when his popularity was declining in America. He continued performing until 1989, and died from liver failure the following year. This recording was his final UK hit.
After four Top 10 entries which were covers of American hits, Wilde finally recorded an original song, and it was one that he wrote himself. This gave him a fifth consecutive Top 10 hit. Things did not go so well in 1960, however, when he had three hits, but only one reached the Top 20. 1961 saw him back in the Top 10, but with another American cover. His daughter, Kim Wilde, had a strong chart career in the 1980s, and Marty wrote or co-write several of her hits. For info about Marty Wilde see song 35 in this list.
This was Domino's second best-performing record. "Blueberry Hill" had reached number 6 in 1956, but no others got higher than this single. His final UK chart appearance was to come in 1963. See song 52 in this list for more info.
This was his fourth instrumental hit of 1959, this time, written along with his original partner, Lee Hazlewood. More hits were to follow over the next few years. 1959 also saw him have two albums in the album chart. First was "Have Twangy Guitar Will Travel" which reached number 6 in the UK, in summer '59, then "Specially For You" also peaked at number 6 in the British album chart during the autumn of that year. See song 10 for info about Duane Eddy.
Alma's last hit of the 1950s, and pretty much the end of her chart
career. She had a further three minor hits over
1960-61, but this was nothing like the success at the peak of her
career in the mid-1950s. Over her chart career from 1954 to 1961 she had 21
hits, although only four reached the Top 10. She continued
performing on stage and TV until her untimely death, from cancer,
in 1966 at the age of 34. See also song 17 in this list.
follow-up instrumental to "Red River Rock", which had
reached number 3, did not do as well. Nevertheless it did
establish them in the UK and they went on to have three Top 10
entries during 1960.
Acts with most appearances in this list:
Connie Francis: 5
Composers with most appearances in this list:
Russ Conway: 4
Names in 1959
Comments and corrections to: firstname.lastname@example.org