- Which superstar's phone was hacked by tabloid journalists?
- Which superstar wants to dance......after he accomplishes a goal?
- A 60's star is honored for his other job
- Another tell-all book is coming from music's most dysfunctional family
Spoken Like A Number One Hit
Hit songs come in all shapes, sizes, and packages, but the rarest of oldies genres is the "spoken word" hit. A few that come to mind are Jimmy Dean's 1961 smash "Big Bad John" and Wink Martindale's 1957 Top 10 hit "Deck of Cards". Sitting atop the Billboard Hot 100 this week in 1964, however, was a spoken word hit by one of the stars of a TV show that was also #1 in the Nielsen ratings that week. It is a song that may or may not have been released to cash in on another group's massive popularity at the time.
The song was a ballad chronicling the relationship between a Western lawman and a notorious real life outlaw. While it was fast and loose with what historians know to be factual about the outlaw, radio listeners and record buyers were willing to suspend disbelief. After all, the artist was the father they probably wished they had each week on TV and a former news anchor for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in his home country. If he couldn't be trusted in song, who could?
This hit was included on an album the star had just recorded that was meant to be a companion piece to his hit TV show. In fact, the single's B-side was the show's theme song with new lyrics added. Timing can be everything when it comes to hit records, and in this case, a song that might never have seen the light of day as a single release at any other moment in music history was now at the pinnacle of the music charts thanks to its very fortunate title sharing the name of a member of music's biggest act.
While there are varying accounts of the song's release as a way to capitalize on the success of a group that had taken the country by storm earlier in the year and had quickly become the biggest band in the world, it certainly didn't hurt that the song's title and that group's drummer shared the same name, and a very unique one at that. To further brand the song with that group, a special promotional copy of the song was sent to both U.S. and Canadian radio stations with the artist providing an intro to the song by assuring radio programmers and listeners that while he was aware there might be confusion, the song had nothing to do with the group and "that wonderful drummer of theirs".
Whether record buyers and radio listeners were simply confused or fascinated by the story in the song, they sent ol' Ben Cartwright to the top of the charts........even if they did think the song was about one of The Beatles.
From the album Welcome To The Ponderosa, where millions of TV viewers spent an hour with Ben and his sons every Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. (Eastern) on NBC......
Golden Hits Radio's Burning Question of the Day
No less than five "answer" songs to what Elvis Presley hit were on the Billboard Hot 100 this week in 1960?
Come back to Everything Oldies tomorrow to find the answer, and leave a Comment below with your best guess!
Friday's Burning Question (and Answer) of the Day
Which Broadway musical (and later, Oscar-winning film), based loosely on the life of a legendary 60's group, made its debut today in 1981?