Survey Digging: April 29, 1961

It’s a rainy day – the third such in a row here in St. Cloud – and there are rumors of snow in the weather forecast. That’s not likely to make me any more enthusiastic about the day. But instead of spending the first portions of the morning moping – there will be time for that type of indulgence later in the day, if I wish – I thought I’d take a look at a long-ago radio station survey from an April 29.

I had no specific station in mind when I searched at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive, so I was pleasantly surprised when the first page of listings offered surveys from April 29, 1961, from both WDGY and KDWB in the Twin Cities. I went with KDWB and its Fabulous Forty. Here’s the station’s Top Ten from fifty-three years ago today:

“Running Scared” by Roy Orbison
“Bumble Boogie” by B. Bumble & The Stingers
“Runaway” by Del Shannon
“Blue Moon” by the Marcels
“Hello Mary Lou” by Ricky Nelson
“I’ve Told Every Little Star” by Linda Scott
“Just Call Me Lonesome” by Eddy Arnold
“Mother-In-Law” by Ernie K-Doe
“Trust In Me” by Etta James
“On The Rebound” by Floyd Cramer

Well, that looks like your average schizophrenic mix from the early 1960s: A little bit of what I would now call country-tinged pop rock, a doo-wop classic, some sweet pop and country, a New Orleans novelty, once very nice R&B ballad and a Nashville-tinged instrumental. Then there’s “Bumble Boogie” by B. Bumble & The Stingers, a group of Los Angeles session men who took Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight Of The Bumblebee” and turned it into a boogie-woogie session that went to No. 27 in the Billboard Hot 100.

Familiar names stud the rest of the KDWB survey, for the most part: Elvis Presley, Steve Lawrence, Arthur Lyman, Brenda Lee, Ferrante & Teicher, Ray Charles, Marty Robbins and the Everly Brothers are the ones that pop out at me. Finding all those folks on the same survey is one more indication of how broad a swath Top 40 cut in those days.

There were a few unfamiliar names in the station’s survey. The Cajun duo named Rusty & Doug and their take on “Louisiana Man” baffled me for a few moments until I realized they were the Kershaw brothers. Their version of Doug’s “Louisiana Man” – which Second Hand Songs says is the first version recorded – is actually pretty good, and it did well on the country chart, reaching No. 10; it bubbled under the Hot 100 at No. 104. It eventually reached No. 2 on KDWB, which seems like an anomaly: Of the Top 40 stations whose charts are available at ARSA, the only place where the Kershaw’s “Louisiana Man” did any better was at stations in Houston and San Antonio.

The variety of records listed in that survey from April 29, 1961, makes for some interesting juxtapositions: Adam Wade’s lush “Take Good Care Of Her” at No. 26, just below guitarist Al Caoila’s take on the theme from the TV show Bonanza is one. Another comes at the bottom of the survey, where Presley’s “Surrender” sits at No. 39 and the No. 40 record is Lawrence Welk’s version of the theme from the TV show My Three Sons. It peaked at No. 55 in Billboard.

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One Response to “Survey Digging: April 29, 1961”

  1. Yah Shure says:

    “Louisiana Man” certainly would have felt right at home with those who’d dug “The Battle Of New Orleans” just two years earlier. Its success at KDWB might’ve stemmed from the station’s pre-630 heritage as country daytimer WCOW and WISK, way up the dial at 1590. Until WDGY threw its hat in the ring in 1977, Twin Cities country was confined to signals with marginal coverage (even KTCR-FM on 97.1) or sunset sign-offs.

    It didn’t chart, but the Bob Moore version of “My Three Sons” is the one I remember. Not sure if I would’ve heard it when it first came out in 1959 or when it was reissued in ’61. It sounds much closer to the theme used on the show than the Welk rendition (and its “Calcutta” tag.)

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