Chapters

Winifred Atwell - Let's Have Another Party. A medley of piano favourites which made Atwell the first British artist with three million sellers.
The Ames Brothers - Naughty Lady of Shady Lane. Fourth million seller for this group which spent 15 weeks on the U.S. bestsellers list.
Hank Ballard and the Midnighters - Work With Me, Annie. Ballard and the Midnighters (who were originally called 'The Royals'), came from Detroit and began as a rhythm and blues outfit before entering the pop charts with a string of million selling hits. They recorded the first version of 'The Twist', made famous by Chubby Checker and helped by the dance sensation that swept the USA and Britain at the turn of the decade. The group followed this classic track with two more million sellers in the same year - Sexy Ways and Annie Had A Baby.

The Chordettes - Mister Sandman. Former college students Jimmy Lochard, Carol Bushman, Nancy Overton and Lynn Evans were originally organised into a group for an impromptu folk festival. They proved successful enough to stay together for four years touring the USA at talent shows, appearing in nightclubs and making regular TV appearances. This song was number one in the USA for seven weeks and spent twenty weeks in the bestsellers chart.

Rosemary Clooney - Hey There!. Fifth million seller for Clooney -a hit song from the Richard Adler/Jerry Ross musical The Pyjama Game. Number one for 6 weeks in the USA with 20 weeks on the bestsellers. But Clooney had two more hits this year which proved far more enduring. The first was This Ole House which has an interesting story behind it and it's worth repeating here. Stuart Hamblen was out hunting mountain lions in Texas one day with a friend when they discovered a dilapidated hunter's hut about twenty miles from the nearest road. Inside the hut they discovered the body of a man, who they assumed was the owner. The cabin was in a shocking state and had they not stumbled across it the body would have remained there undiscovered for goodness knows how long. Hamblen was so moved by this that he wrote his song on the back of a sandwich bag he had with him. Unable to find a suitable publisher, Hamblen published the song himself. Clooney's disc sold over two million copies in the USA alone and topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. Clooney's third million seller this year was Mambo Italiano, which was still selling in 1999!

Nat King Cole - Answer Me, My Love. Released in 1954, this song was also a big seller for Frankie Laine in Britain.

Perry Como - Papa Loves Mambo. Mambo style songs were very popular in the mid 1950s and this one provided Como with his eleventh million seller. His twelfth was Wanted.

The Crew Cuts - Sh-Boom (Life Could Be A Dream). The only million seller for the group comprised of Rudi Maugeri, Pat Barrett, Roy Perkins and Johnnie Perkins who all came from the Toronto Cathedral Choir School in Canada. The song was written and first recorded by James Keyes, Claude and Carl Feaster, Floyd F. McRae and James Edwards -a black group who called themselves The Chords. The song was allegedly written as it was being recorded and the label, Atlantic Records didn't know what to do with it. Eventually the released it on the Cat label, which may have been created just for this one release as it doesn't appear to have had any other releases on it. It became a number 1 bestseller in Los Angeles. The Crew Cuts version then appeared on the Mercury Label and is today considered by many rock historians as the first rock and roll hit! They see it as the beginning of the transition period in which white artists made hit song versions of black artistes rhythm and blues songs.

Doris Day - Secret Love. The sixth million seller for my (allegedly) distant cousin. Written for the film Calamity Jane starring Doris Day and Howard Keel, it became a number one hit on both sides of the Atlantic.

Eddie Fisher - I Need To Know. 7th million seller for this artist.

The Four Aces - Three Coins In A Fountain. Third million seller for this group, written by Sammy Cahn (words) and Jules Styne (music) for the film of the same title -an Academy Award nominated song which spent 18 weeks on the bestsellers list. The quartet's fourth million seller was Stranger In Paradise, from the musical Kismet.

The Four Tunes - I Understand (Just How You Feel). First million seller for this new group. The song was revived by Freddie and the Dreamers in 1964. The Four Tunes, alas, only managed two tunes but both had the same success. Marie also hit the million mark.

Judy Garland - The Man That Got Away. The hit song from A Star Is Born, written by Ira Gershwin and Harold Arlen and performed by one of the greatest singing stars of all time. Judy Garland was born Frances Gumm on 10th June 1922 in Grand Rapids, South Dakota. From the age of three she toured vaudeville with her sisters and at the age of twelve she was signed to MGM pictures. Her first film was a 'short' with Deanna Durbin (One Sunday Afternoon - 1935). Four years later she was immortalised in movie history for ever more by playing the part of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz and singing 'Over The Rainbow' -arguably her greatest triumph, even though legend has it that the song was almost dropped from the movie before shooting commenced. But the toll of being a child prodigy weighed heavy on Judy's tender shoulders and constant battles with her weight and over-enthusiastic studio chiefs, happy to prescribe slimming tablets and anti-depressants began to have an effect as early as 1950 when she pulled out of the movie Annie Get Your Gun due to a nervous collapse. However, she revived her movie career with a number of hit films and continued to be a powerhouse on stage, even though her private life was far from happy. Judy Garland embodied the spirit of show business and the old adage ‘the show must go on’ and go on it did. She was performing right up until her tragically early death on 22 June 1969, in London, England.
Bill Haley and his Comets - Shake Rattle and Roll. The first million seller for Haley although for many, not the song that is forever synonymous with the birth of Rock and Roll. William John Clifton Haley was born on 6th July 1925 at Highland Park, a suburb of Detroit, Michigan. Coming from a musical background it was not surprising that by the age of 13 he became a professional guitar player and vocalist with a country-and-western troupe. In 1940, at the age of 15 he formed his own group to play at local events. In 1951 he made his first recordings (Rocket 88 and Rock The Joint) for a small American label before switching from country-and-western to a more rhythm and blues based sound in 1952 with Crazy Man, Crazy. This first million selling disc for Haley followed in 1954 but it was his second disc of this year Rock Around The Clock -recorded on 12th April, that became Rock and Roll's anthem. Written by Max C. Freedman and Jimmy De Knight (real name James Myers) Rock Around The Clock became one of the most enduring songs of all time having sold in excess of 22 million records. It was this song more than any other that helped launch the frenzy of Rock and Roll that swept through America and Britain in the 1950s. Social commentators will have their own theories about why this first ever wave of ‘youth culture’ swept through both countries like wildfire, but suffice to say that the facts speak for themselves. Rock Around The Clock has been featured in at least 14 different films, been recorded in 35 different languages and there are over 140 versions of it worldwide. It topped the charts for 7 weeks in the USA in 1955 and for 5 weeks in the UK, and it wasn’t finished there. It spent 22 weeks in the bestsellers list and reappeared for another 14 weeks when it was reissued twenty years later in 1974. The chances are we have not heard its last.

Kitty Kallen - Little Things Mean A Lot. First solo million seller for Kitty that spent nine weeks in the number one slot in the USA as well as topping the UK charts. She followed this million seller with another -In The Chapel In The Moonlight.

Glenn Miller and his Orchestra - The Glen Miller Story. Released in various forms (10 inch LP / 12 inch LP) to coincide with the Glenn Miller Story biopic starring James Stewart.

Patti Page - Cross Over The Bridge. 11th million seller for Patti.

Hank Snow - I Don't Hurt Any More. Second million seller for 'The Singing Ranger'.

Jo Stafford - Make Love To Me. 7th million seller for Jo.

Joan Webber - Let Me Go, Lover. 18 year-old Joan's only million seller. The producer of TV's 'Studio One' was talked into plugging this song in a play about a disc jockey involved in a murder. TV viewers heard snatches of the record no fewer than six times during the broadcast and as a result the record buying public placed no fewer than 500,000 orders from Columbia records within a fortnight. Thought to be the first million seller influenced by concentrated TV 'plugging'.

David Whitfield/Mantovani - Cara Mia. The first British male singer to have a million selling disc in the USA with 18 weeks on the bestseller list.

Slim Whitman - Secret Love. Slim's version of the Doris Day hit. This was followed by Rose Marie, which became a million seller in 1955 when it also topped the charts for 11 consecutive weeks in the UK.

Link Wray and his Ray Men - Rumble. Instrumental group that sold a million records with their first recording. Wray then disappeared for four years before resurfacing for a massive hit with 'Rawhide' and then vanished from sight yet again, this time for considerably longer. But the world hadn't heard the last of Link Wray and in 1971 he made his first album called, appropriately: 'Link Wray'.