Survey Digging, December 1969

I thought this morning that I’d dig into a half-dozen radio surveys from December 20, 1969. Why 1969? Because it’s one of my favorite radio years, as I’ve no doubt written many times. But the Airheads Radio Survey Archive only had four surveys from that date, and two of them were from Missouri. So I threw out one of the Mizzou surveys and threw into the mix surveys from the same week from Birmingham, Alabama; Los Angeles and Chicago.

When I take these figurative trips around the country, I generally look at the No. 1 song in each market and a couple more that depend on the date. In this case, I had in mind today’s date of 12/20, meaning the No. 12 and No. 20 records. (No, not all the surveys are from December 20, but then, this ain’t a project for a master’s degree, either. You got problems with it, go talk to Odd and Pop.)

But this time, I ended up adding the No. 2 record as well, because the No. 1 record this week in 1969 at all six stations I checked – stations in Hartford, Connecticut; Albany, Oregon; Birmingham, Los Angeles, Chicago and St. Louis – was “Someday We’ll Be Together” by Diana Ross & The Supremes. (It would top the Billboard Hot 100 a week later.)

With that decided, I headed out, and along the way through these six surveys, I ran into a lot of familiar records and a few that I didn’t know at all.

At Los Angeles’ KHJ, the “Boss 30” for December 17 had B.J. Thomas’ “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” in the No. 2 slot. (The record would spend the month of January 1970 atop the Billboard chart.) At No. 12, we find “Down On The Corner” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, and at No. 20, we run into Gene Pitney’s “She Lets Her Hair Down (Early In The Morning),” a recording of a song I explored at length about a year ago.

In Chicago, WLS’ “Hit Parade” from December 22, 1969, also had the B.J. Thomas single at No. 2. (I should note that many folks will likely remember the record from its use during the bicycle-riding scene in the movie Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid.) One of my favorite instrumentals sits at No. 12 (and the fact that it’s a favorite underlines, I suppose, my affection for  movie themes and for the kind of stuff one used to hear in the mid-1960s on KFAM, St. Cloud’s MOR station): Ferrante & Teicher’s version of the theme from “Midnight Cowboy.” And the No. 20 record in Chicago was Dusty Springfield’s “A Brand New Me.”

St. Louis’ KXOK printed its weekly survey on a narrow piece of paper and called it the “KXOK Bookmark.” At No. 2 on the bookmark forty-three years ago today was “La La La (If I Had You)” by Bobby Sherman, while the No. 12 spot was occupied by Neil Diamond’s “Holly Holy” and the No. 20 spot was taken up by Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son,” the flip side of the previously mentioned “Down On The Corner.”

In New Haven, Connecticut, on December 20, 1969, WAVZ’s “Hit Power Survey” had “Leaving On A Jet Plane” by Peter, Paul & Mary in the No. 2 spot. The Archies were in the No. 12 slot with “Jingle Jangle,” and at No. 20 was Aretha Franklin’s superlative reworking of the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby.” Aretha’s version went to No. 17 on the pop chart and to No. 5 on the R&B chart.

On the other side of the country on the same day, at KRKT in Albany, Oregon, the No. 2 record was the Grass Roots’ “Heaven Knows,” while the No. 12 spot was held down by another one of my favorites from late 1969: “Backfield in Motion” by Mel & Tim. And at No. 20 in Albany sat a double-sided single by Tommy James & The Shondells that I know little about, as I’d heard neither “She” nor “Loved One” until this morning.

And I actually know less about one of the records we’ll list from the survey of December 19, 1969, at WSGN in Birmingham, Alabama. The No. 12 record in the station’s survey is “What a Beautiful Feeling” by the California Earthquake, and at No. 20, we find “Don’t Let Love Hang You Up” by Jerry Butler. I finally heard the Butler record (and loved it) this morning, but I’ve never heard the California Earthquake record, as I can’t find it anywhere. (I’m not sure the latter record is all that important, as it barely made it into the Billboard charts, bubbling under at No. 133 for one week; it was the band’s only appearance in or near the charts.) Observant readers will note that I skipped past the No. 2 record at WSGN. It was “Fancy,” Bobbie Gentry’s first-person tale of a young Southern girl who makes it big after being reluctantly pimped out by her desperate mother. The record went to No. 33 on the pop chart and to No. 26 on the country chart. (Reba McEntire’s 1991 cover did better on the country charts, going to No. 8, but Gentry’s original is the better record.)

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2 Responses to “Survey Digging, December 1969”

  1. porky says:

    did you ever wonder who the male voice was on “Someday We’ll Be Together?” I always did and once read that it was Johnny Bristol, coaching Diana Ross in the studio (“sing it pretty”). It surprised me that after almost ten years in the studio she would still need coaching.

    Anyone heard this story? Any thoughts?

  2. whiteray says:

    Not sure about the coaching (I always thought it was your basic soul/gospel call and response stuff), but according to Wikipedia (and an online scan of the 45 label), Bristol produced the Supremes’ version of “Someday We’ll Be Together.” He also co-wrote the song and recorded it with Jackey Beavers as ‘Johnny & Jackey’ in 1961. Here’s the 1961 record: (You might note the name of Fuqua on the record label as co-writer and publisher. The omnipresent Harvey, I would assume.)

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