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• 1989 – SHE DRIVES ME CRAZY / Fine Young Cannibals
• 1979 – WHAT A FOOL BELIEVES / The Doobie Brothers
• 1969 – AQUARIUS/LET THE SUNSHINE IN (The Flesh Failures) / The 5th Dimension
• 1959 – COME SOFTLY TO ME / The Fleetwoods
• BONUS 1 – AQUARIUS / Ronnie Dyson (‘Hair’ Broadway Version)
• BONUS 2 – AQUARIUS / Various Artists (‘Hair’ Original Off-Broadway Version)
Welcome to another installment of #1 Songs On This Date!
Since it began in early January, 162 distinct number one singles from the years 1956 through 1995 have been featured – with hundreds more to follow.
They’re all part of a permanent archive that’s being built at HouseoftheHits.com which will ultimately feature ALL 837 different number one singles as listed in 2,080 weekly national music charts published by Billboard® within that 40-year timeframe.
Fortunately, HouseoftheHits has every one of those charts – plus secondary data – as published in the essential Joel Whitburn’s Record Research series (CD-ROM and eBook edition formats).
Everything is stored digitally on a HouseoftheHits computer – as are all 837 number one singles (in high-quality audio) from the music vault.
With the availability of precise data and the HOTH song files – together with some amazing technology – approximately 600 – 700 of those Billboard® chart-toppers will be presented this year – with the remainder to follow in early 2017.
As the archive grows you will have continual free access to the accumulating repository, indexed by Decade, Month and Year. Plus, EVERY Title and Artist will be (blue) hyper-linked for smooth, easy navigation from song to song – with more great features to be added along the way.
Again, it will contain every #1 single in America, plus interesting commentary about each song (written by yours truly) and presented with a crystal clear High-Definition audio version of the complete original hit to instantly play as often as you wish.
The ever-expanding library is found HERE and you can bookmark this link for future instant access.
Due to copyright issues, some audio song files may not play on smartphones, tablets and connected devices. A PC, Mac or laptop may be required.
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#1 / April 20th, 1989
SHE DRIVES ME CRAZY
Fine Young Cannibals
Number One: 1 week
Replaced: THE LOOK / Roxette
Succeeded by: LIKE A PRAYER / Madonna
Borrowing pages from the handbooks of iconic 4 Seasons vocalist Frankie Valli and Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees on the art of falsetto singing, Roland Gift, the lead vocalist for Britain’s Fine Young Cannibals, turned an average-at-best song – originally titled She’s My Baby then renamed She Drives Me Crazy – into an international #1 record. His distinctive vocal timbre made the difference and the record difficult to forget.
American movie director Barry Levinson had heard some of FYC‘s work in a previous film before approaching the trio about writing some new material for his own upcoming flick called ‘Tin Men.’
Several new songs were penned for Levinson by Gift and group bassist David Steele, with She Drives Me Crazy being among them. Both that tune and the group (as the house band) appeared in his film – exposure which no doubt helped propel the single to #1.
But Fine Young Cannibals was eaten alive (figuratively speaking, of course) at Billboard’s top tier of its Hot 100, feasting for just this week in ’89.
[Trivia Bits] FYC’s David Steele and guitarist Andy Cox were former members of the ‘2-Tone’ ska band from Birmingham, England known as British Beat in the U.S., aka the Beat in the UK.
The trio named themselves after the 1960 film ‘All The Fine Young Cannibals.’
Other #1 Singles by FINE YOUNG CANNIBALS (2)
• 1989 / GOOD THING
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#1 / April 20th, 1979
WHAT A FOOL BELIEVES
The Doobie Brothers
Number One: 3 weeks
Replaced: TRAGEDY / The Bee Gees
Succeeded by: KNOCK ON WOOD / Amii Stewart
On this date in 1979, the revamped Doobie Brothers scored their second and last number one hit single – and the biggest of the Northern California band’s convoluted lineup history – with a cover version of the Kenny Loggins original recording What A Fool Believes.
Loggins, along with a former keyboard player with Steely Dan named Michael McDonald, had penned the tune as part of the former’s second solo work, Nightwatch, in 1978.
McDonald had joined the Doobie Brothers in 1975 as a keyboardist and occasional co-vocalist with the San Jose group’s co-founder and original lead singer Tom Johnston.
But Johnston departed in 1978, leaving guitarist and sometimes-vocalist Patrick Simmons and drummer Keith Knudsen as the only remaining original Doobies.
When McDonald took over the group’s lead vocals full-time with his clearly black-sounding voice, it completed the transition from their original rock-based sound (Long Train Runnin’, China Grove) to one presenting a much smoother, blue-eyed soul-type vibe.
By late 1978, Michael and company had turned out their own version of What A Fool Believes – a track from the album Minute By Minute – and enjoyed three weeks of chart success at #1.
[Trivia Bits] What A Fool Believes was a double Grammy Award winner in 1980; ‘Record of the Year’ (for producer Ted Templeman) and ‘Song of the Year’ (for composers McDonald and Loggins).
Also, the Minute By Minute album copped ‘Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus’ accolades.
Simultaneous drumming is featured on WAFB, with regular skins player Knudsen and producer Templeman banging away. The latter had been the drummer for the mid-1960’s group Harpers Bizarre (The 59th Street Bridge Song/Feelin’ Groovy).
Other #1 Singles by THE DOOBIE BROTHERS (2)
1975 / BLACK WATER
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#1 / April 20th, 1969
AQUARIUS/LET THE SUNSHINE IN (The Flesh Failures)
The 5th Dimension
Any record or artist achieving a 6-week stay at #1 on the music charts warrants a lot about which to talk.
However, in this instance, I feel the real story of Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In by the 5th Dimension is the source from which the song medley came – ‘Hair,’ the Off and On-Broadway ‘American Tribal Love-Rock Musical.’ So some of my allotted space will be devoted to commentary about the latter.
PS. Where can one find a good ‘tribal love-rock musical’ these days?!
First off, however, is the Southern California vocal quintet The 5th Dimension, led by vocalist Marilyn McCoo, who recorded a terrific cover version of the two-song medley from ‘Hair.’
Ditto for the record’s producer, “Bones” Howe, who expertly executed the same role on virtually all of their hits, along with those of The Association (Cherish, Never My Love, Windy).
McCoo’s voice is heard on Aquarius, with her then-fiancé Billy Davis, Jr. belting out the lead vocal parts on Let The Sunshine In.
The gentleman cranking out those amazing bass guitar riffs throughout the latter tune of the medley is none other than the great Joe Osborne, a member of the ensemble of L.A. studio musicians famously known as The Wrecking Crew.
[Trivia Bits] The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical ‘Hair’ produced 5 cover version singles on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1969 – all but one of which were Top 5 hits: Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In (#1) – and a platinum-seller. Where Do I Go/Be-In/Hare Krishna from The Happenings (#66), Three Dog Night‘s Easy To Be Hard (#4), Good Morning Starshine by Oliver (#3) and The Cowsills with Hair (#2) – also a million-plus seller.
All the music from ‘Hair’ was co-penned by a team of three writers – original cast members James Rado and Gerome Ragni, along with Canadian tunesmith Galt MacDermot.
Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. were married in July of ’69 – one source of inspiration for the 5th Dimension to record their second #1 hit: a cover version of the Laura Nyro-penned original of Wedding Bell Blues, which followed that summer. (BILL!!)
The label for which the 5th Dimension recorded, Soul City, was owned by singer Johnny Rivers (Secret Agent Man, Poor Side Of Town, Baby I Need Your Lovin’‘).
Other #1 Singles by THE 5TH DIMENSION (2)
• 1969 / WEDDING BELL BLUES
Bonus Trak 1
(‘Hair’ Broadway Version)
After it’s brief off-Broadway run, Hair’s Broadway debut, complete with frontal nudity, took place at the Biltmore Theatre on April 29, 1968.
The original Broadway ‘tribe’ (cast) included song authors James Rado and Gerome Ragni, Lynn Kellogg, Lamont Washington, Sally Eaton and Shelley Plimpton (reprising their off-Broadway appearances), Melba Moore, Steve Curry, Ronnie Dyson, Paul Jabara and Diane Keaton.
Among subsequent Broadway cast members: Ben Vereen, Keith Carradine, Barry McGuire, Ted Lange, Meat Loaf, Kenny Seymour (Little Anthony and The Imperials), Joe Butler (Lovin’ Spoonful), Peppy Castro (Blues Magoos), Robin McNamara, Heather MacRae (daughter of Gordon and Sheila MacRae), Eddie Rambeau, Vicki Sue Robinson, Beverly Bremers and Kim Milford.
For a number of the above, appearing in ‘Hair’ revitalized stalled careers, while the newer, unknown performers used the experience and exposure as a musical launching pad for their future solo recording or acting endeavors.
The production, which ran for four years and 1,750 performances, closed on July 1, 1972.
Bonus Trak 2
(‘Hair’ Original Off-Broadway Version)
The original off-Broadway production of ‘Hair’ opened at the Public Theater on October 17, 1967 and ran for a limited engagement of six weeks. The original cast soundtrack album was recorded two weeks later.
That record received a Grammy Award in 1968 for ‘Best Score from an Original Cast Show Album’ and sold nearly 3 million copies in the U.S. by December 1969.
And from that LP, here’s one you’ve likely never heard. It’s the ensemble cast with the first recorded version of Aquarius.
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#1 / April 20th, 1959
COME SOFTLY TO ME
Number One: 4 weeks
Replaced: VENUS / Frankie Avalon
Succeeded by: THE HAPPY ORGAN / Dave “Baby” Cortez
This two gal-one guy trio hailed from Olympia, WA., with both girls – Barbara Ellis and Gretchen Christopher – growing up together in the same neighborhood and attending the same elementary and junior high schools.
Singing was their common passion and inevitably they formed a duo known as the Saturns. That permutation eventually became a trio called Two Girls and A Guy when vocalist Gary Troxel was added.
A self-penned tune – called ‘Come Softly’ at the time – was the first original number in their repertoire which the group first performed during a high school assembly and then at a post-football game dance.
Not long after, a Japanese-American singer named Pat Suzuki introduced Two Girls and A Guy to the head of Dolphin Records in Seattle, Bob Reisdorff, who signed the trio to his label. But not before changing their name to The Fleetwoods and amending their signature song’s name to Come Softly To Me (to avoid possible sexual innuendo with the original title).
With sparse instrumental accompaniment and no drums or percussion, the record climbed to the top of music charts across America in early 1959 and hit Billboard’s peak on this date – its first of four weeks there.
[Trivia Bit] Along with Reisdorff, the trio derived their new moniker from the telephone exchange nomenclature that was used universally for numbers across the country back in the day – in their case it was FL (Fleetwood).
Other #1 Singles by THE FLEETWOODS (2)
• 1959 / MR. BLUE
Produced & Written By: Rick Murray Hunter / HouseoftheHits.com
Songs Source: The Music Vault of HouseoftheHits Inc.
Billboard® Chart Data: Joel Whitburn’s Record Research (eBook Editions)
References: The Billboard Book Of Number One Hits (5th Edition) by Fred Bronson
The Archives of RollingStone.com
Record Sleeve & Label Graphics: Courtesy of 45cat
Other #1 Songs on This Date Posts are HERE