What Was At No. 41?

In the absence of anything else within my expertise to write about today, and in the interest of getting to chores less interesting but more vital than this blog, I thought I’d take today’s date – 4/19 – and use that to find a few records to write about. We’ll change that date to No. 41 and go find out what tunes lay just outside the Billboard Top 40 on a few years in and around our sweet spot. We’ll start with 1962.

In the third week of April 1962, Etta James and her cheeky “Something’s Got A Hold On Me” held down the No. 41 spot on the pop chart. With its pop-styled arrangement, its gospel chorus background and James’ bluesy vocals, the record is a little bit of a mish-mash. But James is in fine voice, making it worth a listener’s time. The record peaked at No. 37 on the pop chart and No. 4 on the R&B chart.

Three years later, a sweet slice of Chess R&B was in spot No. 41, as Billy Stewart’s “I Do Love You” was heading up the chart to No. 26 on the pop chart and No. 6 on the R&B chart. Stewart, who passed on early at the age of thirty-two, had only one other record go higher in the pop chart: “Sitting In The Park” went to No. 24 (No. 4 R&B) later in 1965. In 1969, Chess released “I Do Love You” in 1969, but it went only to No. 94 the second time around. (Somehow, as Yah Shure points out below, I managed as I looked over Billy Stewart’s entry in Top Pop Singles to read right past his biggest hit of all, the No. 10 “Summertime” from 1966. Thanks for the catch, Yah Shure!)

Memphis R&B was sitting in spot No. 41 three years later, as Sam & Dave’s classic “Thank You” was just under the Top 40 during the third week in April 1968. The record had peaked earlier at No. 9, giving the duo of Sam Moore and Dave Prater their second Top Ten hit; “Soul Man” had gone to No. 2 during the autumn of 1967. On the R&B chart, “Thank You” went to No. 4 and was the last of seven Top Ten hits for Sam & Dave on the R&B chart.

Okay. I’m going to let Wikipedia describe the No. 41 record as of April 19, 1971: “‘The Battle Hymn of Lt. Calley’ is a 1971 spoken word recording with vocals by Terry Nelson and music by pick-up group C-Company . . .  The song is set to the tune of ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic.’ It offers a heroic description of Lieutenant William Calley, who in March 1971 was convicted of murdering Vietnamese civilians in the My Lai Massacre of March 16, 1968.” The record, which turns my stomach in its approval of Calley and his actions, went to No. 37 on the pop charts and, says Wikipedia, No. 49 on the country chart. (The story of the My Lai Massacre is here.)

When we get to 1974, it’s time for some Philadelphia-style soul with the Spinners, whose “Mighty Love, Pt. 1” was holding down the No. 41 spot as the calendar moved toward the final third of April. The record had earlier peaked at No. 20, the seventh of an eventual seventeen Top 40 hits for the Spinners. (They had thirty-five records in or near the Hot 100.) “Mighty Love, Pt. 1” spent two weeks on top of the R&B chart; the Spinners wound up with thirty-four records in the R&B Top 40, with six of those going to No. 1.

And then, we find the Starz rocking it with “Cherry Baby” at No. 41 during April 1977. The band, formed in New York, had eight singles in or near the Hot 100 between 1975 – when the band was called the Fallen Angels – and 1979, but the very catchy “Cherry Baby” was the only record by the band to ever climb into the Top 40, where it peaked at No. 33.

A Legend Gone
I should note today the passing of Dick Clark, the man who for years brought rock ’n’ roll into our living rooms. Other bloggers will no doubt pay tribute to the man better than I can: I rarely watched American Bandstand or any of the other shows with which he was connected, so I have no memories to tap. I have only respect, so I will let others tell the tales and simply provide a closing video as a farewell to the man. It’s a clip from Bandstand with Link Wray performing “Rawhide,” likely from early 1959, when “Rawhide” was in the charts.

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3 Responses to “What Was At No. 41?”

  1. Yah Shure says:

    WJON’s Mike Diem had mentioned to me that Dick Clark’s wife, Kari, was from St. Cloud. I hadn’t realized at the time that they’d only recently married.

    Carole Stacke and I were discussing Dr. Hook’s “When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman” in the WJON lobby at the time it was a current hit. I was a bit surprised that such an, um, “older person” would be so familiar with the act. Carole laughed, then sheepishly admitted that she still watched ‘American Bandstand’ religiously. Still a teenager at heart!

    ‘Where The Action Is’ was habitual viewing for me, but my fondest memories stem from Clark’s Saturday night Beech Nut Top 10 show on ABC. My siblings and I marveled at how the finger snapping during the Chordettes’ performance of “Lollipop” sounded exactly as it had on the record. The fact that they managed to pull it off while decked out in formal-length white gloves did not escape the scrutiny of the Shure kids.

    Don’t forget Billy Stewart’s biggest hit of all, the #10 “Summertime” from 1966. It was his only radio exposure in the Twin Cities.

  2. porky says:

    Not to sound like a jerk but how could you have such an obvious love for music and not have Dick Clark in there somewhere?

    I came late to Billy Stewart but what terrific records he made! And disco band GQ re-did “I Do Love” and took it to #20 in 1979.

    It was kind of ridiculous to have the charade of bands playing “live” on Bandstand; some did early in the game. That Link Wray clip is phenomenal but where is his guitar cord?

    Starz had a locker-room hit called “Cool One” that involved the old movie theater pop-corn box trick. If you’re of a certain age you’ll know what it involved……

  3. whiteray says:

    @porky: The last segment of the post and the Link Wray video dealt with Dick Clark.

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