Musical Satire MOR Style

lj

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
Here is a catchy tune "Hi Sweetie" sung by Steve & Eydie that perfectly describes the difficult and fast evolving musical environment for MOR/Easy Listening recording artists in the late 60s and early 70s. It is also a bit of a history lesson. Here is a general context and a few clarifying points to the lyrics: "My agent is working on a deal right now in Tahoe." Back then MOR singers were important attractions to entice gamblers to the Nevada casinos. "Got a good connection on the Joey BIshop Show." Guest stars on late night talk shows weren't paid much, but is was good exposure. Bishop's late night show with sidekick Regis Philbin was crushed by Carson and the Tonight Show, and was off the air at the start of 1970--interestingly replaced by the Dick Cavett Show on ABC TV. "My A&R (artists and repertoire) man 17." Well 17 years old is an intentional exaggeration, as the old time A&R reps like Mitch Miller were long gone. Reference is made to "Music City." It was the first large all purpose record store in LA. By 1971, Tower Records would arrive and Music City would become history. The same demise would come to Tower in 2006. "It's hard to find to find material. I'm looking for something in the Hal David and Burt Bacharach bag." MOR singers did not write songs. By 1970, the age of the singer/songwriter had arrived and along with Rock helped lead to the end of MOR programing. "Beatles groovy--did you dig their movies." In 1970, their filmed documentary Let it Be was released. "Got me a new agent, he's gonna make me a star on Broadway--gotta take my clothes off, but it's good exposure." In 1968, the Broadway hit "Hair" opened and revolutionized musical theater with its nudity.

You could say the end of Easy Listening music became official in 1979, when Billboard Magazine's Easy Listening chart transformed into the Adult Contemporary chart. And rather than Tony Bennett you heard Peter Cetera.

The top Easy Listening singers survived quite well. For example, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme became very wealthy via continuous live concert and casino appearances (a lot like Sergio Mendes). Steve was a natural comic. For the younger generation he is probably best known as the manager Maury Sline in the Blues Brothers movies. He and Eydie appeared numerous times on the Carol Burnett Show and the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. I had the good fortune of seeing Steve & Eydie perform live five times-- always before standing room only crowds. Their comedic timing was perfect and their vocals were impeccable. In my lifetime, they were my favorite all round entertainers.

 

Michael Hagerty

Well-Known Member
Contributor
TV appearances in those days were I think $325-ish ($2377.52 adjusted), so if you could get on a variety show and/or a talk show once a month, you were getting way more in the way of exposure than anything else.

Casinos, though---you're right. We just watched part one of the George Carlin documentary on HBO last night and he says he was making $15,000 a week ($121,093 in today's money) at the Frontier in Las Vegas in 1969 (which ended abruptly when he said the "s" word on stage). Carlin wasn't a huge star at that point, so figure the Steve & Eydies of the world were probably good for $25,000 ($201,000 adjusted) a week. The Sinatras, I recall from the time, were getting $50k a week ($402,000 adjusted).

Play a few weeks in Vegas and you're set for the year.

And that was a good thing for Steve & Eydie, who were undeniably talented, but arguably born too late. Had they been 10-20 years older, they'd have been huge. As it was, "Hi Sweetie", which is dreadful, is just a portrait of them trying to find relevance on record. They hadn't been in the Top Ten---even on the Easy Listening chart---since 1963.

In 1979, when I was programming KOLO in Reno, my Curb records rep sent me a single, called to tell me it was coming and asked me to call her when it arrived---before I opened the envelope. It did, I did, and she asked me to put it on the turntable and listen to it with her on the speakerphone and to see if I could guess who it was. Her pitch---if you can't tell me who these people are, you have to put it on the air for a week:

Screen Shot 2022-09-07 at 10.48.32 AM.png

Within five seconds of the vocal, I'm saying "It's Steve and Eydie." Is this what it's come to? Hoping to get airplay by not telling people who this is?"

That, as it turned out, was exactly the strategy.

And it didn't work. Some stations played it for a week or two (most pointing out the obvious---that it was really Steve and Eydie) and it wasn't bad, but it was an anachronism.

It was also Steve & Eydie's last record. If you haven't heard it...

 
Last edited:

lj

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
May I add that "Hi Sweetie" was never promoted to be a hit, rather on the 45 it was the "B" side to the "A" side "For All We Know." "For All We Know" was a huge hit for the Carpenters and the song won an Oscar for best song from the 1970 film "Lovers and Other Strangers." While "Hi Sweetie" had a catchy melody and a great chart by Don Costa, it basically was a "B" side throwaway song. The only meaning to the song is that it precisely describes that musical era for MOR artists and their eventual decline and fall. For me, in music as in life, variety is the key. When the younger generation may only vaguely know Sinatra as a swinger from the old days-- that is very sad. Are there music appreciation classes in schools anymore? Forget it. Folks, Peter Cetera is not a worthy successor to Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett.

Steve Lawrence never had a hit after 1963. However, Eydie Gorme's recording career after '63 on Columbia and RCA was stellar. In '64 she recorded her "Amor" Spanish album and it was a world-wide hit. Her 1966 recording of "If He Walked Into My Life" won a Grammy for best female pop performance. Her 1969 recording of "Tonight I Say a Prayer" made it on Billboard charts to #8 Easy Listening and #45 Hot 100. After 1970, she recorded occasional Spanish language albums and they all charted well on the Billboard Latin chart. But after 1970, Steve and Eydie never had another English language hit.

The Parker and Penny name was a silly thing to do.
 

Michael Hagerty

Well-Known Member
Contributor
May I add that "Hi Sweetie" was never promoted to be a hit, rather on the 45 it was the "B" side to the "A" side "For All We Know." "For All We Know" was a huge hit for the Carpenters and the song won an Oscar for best song from the 1970 film "Lovers and Other Strangers." While "Hi Sweetie" had a catchy melody and a great chart by Don Costa, it basically was a "B" side throwaway song. The only meaning to the song is that it precisely describes that musical era for MOR artists and their eventual decline and fall. For me, in music as in life, variety is the key. When the younger generation may only vaguely know Sinatra as a swinger from the old days-- that is very sad. Are there music appreciation classes in schools anymore? Forget it. Folks, Peter Cetera is not a worthy successor to Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett.

Steve Lawrence never had a hit after 1963. However, Eydie Gorme's recording career after '63 on Columbia and RCA was stellar. In '64 she recorded her "Amor" Spanish album and it was a world-wide hit. Her 1966 recording of "If He Walked Into My Life" won a Grammy for best female pop performance. Her 1969 recording of "Tonight I Say a Prayer" made it on Billboard charts to #8 Easy Listening and #45 Hot 100. After 1970, she recorded occasional Spanish language albums and they all charted well on the Billboard Latin chart. But after 1970, Steve and Eydie never had another English language hit.

The Parker and Penny name was a silly thing to do.
Small correction: "For All We Know" was actually a B-side for Steve and Eydie---the flip of "Did You Give The World Some Love Today, Babe?", which was the single just before "Hi, Sweetie", which was the B-side of a medley of "Love Is Blue" and "Autumn Leaves":




Which not only got airplay, but actually is on an aircheck I have....I just have to track down which one. It peaked at #37 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart.

When I said "Steve & Eydie" hadn't been in the top ten since 1963, I meant the act Steve & Eydie, not either of them separately.

As for the decline of Easy Listening artists and music---that had been a long time coming. There were articles in Billboard as early as '63 about the coming cliff. Singles by non-rock artists weren't selling and, at that point, the biggest-selling albums among adult audiences were Original Broadway Cast and Original Motion Picture Soundtrack albums.

I said in one of the threads here a few years back that Herb Alpert should get credit for extending the careers and record sales of an entire genre of artists, since his albums were usually filed in the "Easy Listening/Instrumental" section, and younger people (myself included) had to browse there to see what Herb had out (Sergio and Petula Clark helped there, too).

Still, Herb largely stopped having hits after '68 (Sergio and Petula, too), and MOR artists needed original (in the sense that it wasn't the cover of an already-established hit) material to chart big (Andy Williams' "Theme From Love Story", Perry Como's "It's Impossible"). And there weren't many of those. By '73'/'74, the MOR artists started losing their record contracts and MOR radio stations morphed to AC for lack of material.

I don't think anyone sees Peter Cetera as a worthy successor to Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett. Certainly at the time, my generation wasn't looking for "the next" Frank or Tony----that didn't come until the arrival of guys like Michael Buble'.
 

lj

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
Michael--I'm glad you referenced 1973-74 as sort of a cut off point for MOR. For example, in the spring of 1974 Andy Williams hosted the Grammy Awards on TV. He announced Perry Como's "And I Love You So" as a nominee for best pop male vocal performance. This song was a huge hit in the UK at #3 on their singles chart and made it to #29 on Billboard's Hot 100. Perry lost, but I got to thinking that this might be the last hurrah for both Andy and Perry--and it was. But the early '70s were huge for both singers. In addition, Como's "It's Impossible" was #10 Hot 100, and Williams "Love Story" was #9. Reporters said when Como performed at the new International Hotel in Vegas the excitement was palpable, as when Elvis and Streisand appeared at the same hotel. In addition, Williams "Theme From the Godfather" made it to #34 Billboard Hot 100. But alas, all good things must come to an end.

And yes, for sure Herb personally helped "save" MOR for a few more years, and helped people like Perry and Andy to stretch out there hit making up to '73-'74.
 

Michael Hagerty

Well-Known Member
Contributor
Michael--I'm glad you referenced 1973-74 as sort of a cut off point for MOR. For example, in the spring of 1974 Andy Williams hosted the Grammy Awards on TV. He announced Perry Como's "And I Love You So" as a nominee for best pop male vocal performance. This song was a huge hit in the UK at #3 on their singles chart and made it to #29 on Billboard's Hot 100. Perry lost, but I got to thinking that this might be the last hurrah for both Andy and Perry--and it was. But the early '70s were huge for both singers. In addition, Como's "It's Impossible" was #10 Hot 100, and Williams "Love Story" was #9. Reporters said when Como performed at the new International Hotel in Vegas the excitement was palpable, as when Elvis and Streisand appeared at the same hotel. In addition, Williams "Theme From the Godfather" made it to #34 Billboard Hot 100. But alas, all good things must come to an end.

And yes, for sure Herb personally helped "save" MOR for a few more years, and helped people like Perry and Andy to stretch out there hit making up to '73-'74.
"And I Love You So" is such a great song (written by Don McLean). It actually made it to #16 at KHJ in Los Angeles, which given the state of Top 40 in mid-1973, is saying something.

As for losing the Grammy, hey, Perry lost to Stevie Wonder's "You Are The Sunshine of My Life". No shame there. In 1969, one of the nominated songs in that category was Ray Stevens' "Gitarzan". Yikes!

It lost to Harry Nilsson's "Everybody's Talkin'".
 

lj

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
Here is Perry Como's beautiful recording of the Don McClean composition "And I Love You So". Whoa--it has nearly 3 million views on YouTube!! Perry's voice was always as smooth as silk. On the 1974 Perry Como Xmas show DVD, Richard Carpenter had an "extra" at the end where he discussed the career of Como, which he said was both his and Karen's favorite pop vocalist. He said that Perry like him and Karen when done working for the day just went home--unlike Sinatra.

 

lj

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
"And I Love You So" is such a great song (written by Don McLean). It actually made it to #16 at KHJ in Los Angeles, which given the state of Top 40 in mid-1973, is saying something.

As for losing the Grammy, hey, Perry lost to Stevie Wonder's "You Are The Sunshine of My Life". No shame there. In 1969, one of the nominated songs in that category was Ray Stevens' "Gitarzan". Yikes!

It lost to Harry Nilsson's "Everybody's Talkin'".
Any other year Perry could have won a Grammy with "And I Love You So." But yeah, there is no way he could have beaten Stevie Wonder's "Sunshine of My Life"--sorta his signature song.
 

Michael Hagerty

Well-Known Member
Contributor
Michael--I'm glad you referenced 1973-74 as sort of a cut off point for MOR. For example, in the spring of 1974 Andy Williams hosted the Grammy Awards on TV. He announced Perry Como's "And I Love You So" as a nominee for best pop male vocal performance.
Just for fun, I decided to pull up the Billboard Easy Listening chart for that exact week---March 2, 1974.

Man, it's a mess. A ton of country crossover, including three singles by Charlie Rich ("A Very Special Love Song", "The Most Beautiful Girl" and "There Won't Be Anymore", released by his former label, RCA to cash in on his sudden hot streak).

The one that jumps out at me, though---and reminds me why NOBODY in the radio business had any regard for the Billboard Easy Listening chart---is the Allman Brothers' "Jessica", which moves from #30 to #29. This is a record that peaked on the HOT 100 at #65, but it got to at least #29 Easy Listening?

I was wildly liberal in my interpretation of Adult Contemporary in the early 70s and I didn't play "Jessica".

As for traditional Easy Listening/MOR artists on the March 2, 1974 chart of 50 singles, it's a really short list:

6. Barbra Streisand-The Way We Were
11. Johnny Mathis-Life Is A Song Worth Singing
36. Englebert Humperdinck-Free As The Wind
39. Frank Sinatra-You Will Be My Music
47. Sammy Davis, Jr.-Singin' In The Rain

So, yeah---it was pretty much OVER.
 

Michael Hagerty

Well-Known Member
Contributor
Here is Perry Como's beautiful recording of the Don McClean composition "And I Love You So". Whoa--it has nearly 3 million views on YouTube!! Perry's voice was always as smooth as silk. On the 1974 Perry Como Xmas show DVD, Richard Carpenter had an "extra" at the end where he discussed the career of Como, which he said was both his and Karen's favorite pop vocalist. He said that Perry like him and Karen when done working for the day just went home--unlike Sinatra.

This is also just immaculately produced. There's only one other song I think of as "the perfect performance of a perfect song, perfectly produced"---Glen Campbell's "Wichita Lineman". This absolutely stands shoulder to shoulder with it.
 

AM Matt

Forum Undertaker
Back in January of 1970, The Brooklyn Bridge (featuring the late Johnny Maestro) did a song called "Free As The Wind" (from their debut 1969 Buddah album & also released as a "Dual 45" stereo single) BUT it is not the Englebert Humperdinck 1974 song.
 

lj

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
This is also just immaculately produced. There's only one other song I think of as "the perfect performance of a perfect song, perfectly produced"---Glen Campbell's "Wichita Lineman". This absolutely stands shoulder to shoulder with it.
Yes indeed. Song: Wichita Lineman plus Composer: Jimmy Webb plus Singer: Glen Campbell Plus Arranger: Al De Lory equals pop music masterpiece.
 

lj

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
A few words about several other MOR artists associated with Como and his "It's Impossible" album: (1) Ray Charles and the Ray Charles Singers. He used to joke about being "the other Ray Charles." He was a master vocal arranger and worked with Como for decades. In 1964, the Ray Charles SIngers went to #3 on the Billboard chart with "Love Me With All Your Heart" followed by another hit "AL Di La." His singers are used effectively on the track "Everybody is Looking For An Answer." (2) Don Costa produced and provided arrangements to the "It's Impossible" album. Steve Lawrence used to joke that Sinatra stole him away as an arranger. Costa created signature arrangements for Sinatra such "My Way" and "New York, New York." He also arranged Sammy Davis Jr "Candy Man."

 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
It sounds like the 1973-74 era was nearly the last straw of MOR and instrumental music. The trend apparently started in 1955. The Perez Prado smash hit "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White" stayed on top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart for ten weeks (and was the top single of 1955 per Billboard), followed by another big smash, Bill Haley & The Comets' "Rock Around the Clock" (the second biggest single of 1955). It was like a passing of the baton, as "rock and roll" artists would start appearing on the charts after Haley's groundbreaking success, with Prado's single a major "last hurrah" of instrumental music.

The first Billboard issue of January 1956 lists the top 100 singles. And that's another trend that fell by the wayside in later years--look at the number of cover versions of "Autumn Leaves" there are this week:

Code:
  9. AUTUMN LEAVES ..... R. Williams .....Kapp ...... 7
 49. AUTUMN LEAVES ..... M. Miller .......Columbia ..62
 80. AUTUMN LEAVES ..... V. Young ........Decca .....99
 83. AUTUMN LEAVES ..... S. Allen ........Coral .....67
100. AUTUMN LEAVES ..... J. Gleason ......Capitol ...68

A lot of artists covered Beatles songs in the 60s, but I can't recall if there was a week when so many of the same composition would appear in that era.
 

GDBY2LV

Well-Known Member
I think the themes from Love Story and The Godfather had similar numerous chart entries in the 70’s. A rare occurrence for sure.
 

lj

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
His antics with Carol Burnett were really good. He adapted well to all sorts of silly skits, so it's no wonder he was on the show so frequently - he really fit in well with that cast.
Here is Steve Lawrence singing "I've Gotta Be Me" from the 1968-69 Broadway musical "Golden Rainbow", which starred himself & Eydie Gorme It was Sammy Davis Jr. who made this song a hit. Critics disliked "Golden Rainbow's" story line, but grudgingly had to admit the musical score was pretty good written by Walter Marks. I thought the score was magnificent. Golden Rainbow may have been the last Broadway musical show of its kind where every song you could remember and hum--essentially like in the old days of Rodgers & Hammerstein and Lerner & Lowe. After 1970, it seemed the emphasis was on the lyric not the melody--a la Stephen Sondheim--and a Broadway musical was lucky to have just one catchy song you could remember. Golden Rainbow had top-notch arrangements by Pat Williams and Marvin Hamlisch. The entire original cast album is on YouTube and I'll post it later.

 

Michael Hagerty

Well-Known Member
Contributor
Here is Steve Lawrence singing "I've Gotta Be Me" from the 1968-69 Broadway musical "Golden Rainbow", which starred himself & Eydie Gorme It was Sammy Davis Jr. who made this song a hit. Critics disliked "Golden Rainbow's" story line, but grudgingly had to admit the musical score was pretty good written by Walter Marks. I thought the score was magnificent. Golden Rainbow may have been the last Broadway musical show of its kind where every song you could remember and hum--essentially like in the old days of Rodgers & Hammerstein and Lerner & Lowe. After 1970, it seemed the emphasis was on the lyric not the melody--a la Stephen Sondheim--and a Broadway musical was lucky to have just one catchy song you could remember. Golden Rainbow had top-notch arrangements by Pat Williams and Marvin Hamlisch. The entire original cast album is on YouTube and I'll post it later.

Another case of Steve not being able to catch a break. He releases "I've Gotta Be Me" in December of 1967. Zilch on the Hot 100. Yeah, it peaked at number 6 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart, but so did Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" two years earlier, so that's how credible that chart was.

Sammy Davis, Jr. covers it just under a year later and gets to #11 on the Hot 100, with not just MOR but significant Top 40 play (it peaked at #7 at KHJ).

Trivia: Steve Lawrence's "I've Gotta Be Me" was the first single on Don Kirshner's Calendar Records...#1001. Only the Archies would have hits.

Further fun fact: Patrick Williams (discussed here in the forum a few days ago) did the arranging, producing and conducting for Steve's single.
 

Michael Hagerty

Well-Known Member
Contributor
It sounds like the 1973-74 era was nearly the last straw of MOR and instrumental music. The trend apparently started in 1955. The Perez Prado smash hit "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White" stayed on top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart for ten weeks (and was the top single of 1955 per Billboard), followed by another big smash, Bill Haley & The Comets' "Rock Around the Clock" (the second biggest single of 1955). It was like a passing of the baton, as "rock and roll" artists would start appearing on the charts after Haley's groundbreaking success, with Prado's single a major "last hurrah" of instrumental music.

Well, yeah---kinda. Perez was the last big instrumental before the rock and rollers started showing up in numbers, but there were instrumental successes after that, too---94 of them made the top 20 of in the 1960s (nine got to #1), including, of course, Herb & the TJB.

  1. The Theme From A Summer Place / Percy Faith #1 (9) 1960
  2. Love Is Blue / Paul Mauriat #1 (5) 1968
  3. Wonderland By Night / Bert Keampfert #1 (3) 1961
  4. Telstar / Tornadoes #1 (3) 1962
  5. Calcutta / Lawrence Welk #1 (2) 1961
  6. Love Theme From Romeo & Juliet / Henry Mancini #1 (2) 1969
  7. Grazing In The Grass / Hugh Masekela #1 (2) 1968
  8. Stranger On The Shore / Acker Bilk #1 (1) 1962
  9. The Stripper / David Rose #1 (1) 1962
  10. Last Date / Floyd Cramer #2 (4) 1960
  11. The Horse / Cliff Nobles & Co. #2 (3) 1968
  12. Classical Gas / Mason Williams #2 (2) 1968
  13. Apache / Jorgen Ingmann #2 (2) 1961
  14. Exodus / Ferrante & Teicher #2 (1) 1961
  15. Walk Don’t Run / The Ventures #2 (1) 1960
  16. The Good, The Bad, The Ugly / Hugo Monenegro #2 (1) 1968
  17. Midnight In Moscow / Kenny Ball #2 (1) 1962
  18. Washington Square / The Village Stompers #2 (1) 1963
  19. Wipeout / The Surfaris #2 (1) 1963
  20. Wheels / The String-A-Longs #3 (2) 1961
  21. Last Night / The Mar-Keys #3 (2) 1961
  22. Out Of Limits / The Marketts #3 (2) 1964
  23. Green Onions / Booker T. & The MG’s #3 (1) 1962
  24. No Matter What Shape / The T-Bones #3 (1) 1966
  25. Soulful Strut / Young-Holt Limited #3 (1) 1969
  26. Pipeline / The Chanty’s #4 (2) 1963
  27. Because They’re Young / Duane Eddy #4 (2) 1960
  28. Java / Al Hirt #4 (1) 1964
  29. On The Rebound / Floyd Cramer #4 (1) 1961
  30. Yellow Bird / Arthur Lyman #4 (1) 1961
  31. Hawaii Five-O / The Ventures #4 (1) 1969
  32. The “In” Crowd / Ramsey Lewis Trio #5 (1) 1965
  33. Memphis / Lonnie Mack #5 (1) 1963
  34. Time Is Tight / Booker T. & The MG’s #6 (2) 1969
  35. Maria Elena / Los Indois Tabajaras #6 (1) 1963
  36. The Lonely Bull / Herb Alpert #6 (1) 1962
  37. Taste Of Honey / Herb Alpert #7 (2) 1965
  38. Alley Cat / Bent Fabric #7 (1) 1962
  39. Let There Be Drums / Sandy Nelson #7 (1) 1961
  40. Mexico / Bob Moore #7 (1) 1961
  41. One Mint Julep / Ray Charles #7 (1) 1961
  42. Walk Don’t Run 64 / The Ventures #8 (2) 1964
  43. More / Kai Winding #8 (1) 1963
  44. Wild Weekend / The Rebels #8 (1) 1963
  45. Asia Minor / Kokomo #8 (1) 1961
  46. Tonight / Ferrante & Teicher #8 (1) 1961
  47. San Antonio Rose / Floyd Cramer #8 (1) 1961
  48. Hang ‘Em High / Booker T. & The MG’s #9 (2) 1969
  49. White Silver Sands / Bill Black’s Combo #9 (1) 1960
  50. Our Winter Love / Bill Pursell #9 (1) 1963
  51. Theme From The Apartment / Ferrante & Teicher #10 (3) 1960
  52. Watermelon Man / Mongo Santamaria #10 (2) 1963
  53. Caste Your Fate To The Wind / Sounds Orchestra #10 (1) 1965
  54. Rinky Dink / Dave “Baby” Cortez #10 (1) 1962
  55. Percolator (Twist) / Billy Joel & The Checkmates #10 (1) 1962
  56. Red Roses For A Blue Lady / Bert Keampfert #11 (2) 1965
  57. Mercy, Mercy, Mercy / Cannonball Adderley #11 (2) 1967
  58. Hang On Sloopy / Ramsey Lewis Trio #11 (2) 1965
  59. Don’t Be Cruel / Bill Black’s Combo #11 (1) 1960
  60. Zorba The Greek / Herb Alpert #11 (1) 1966
  61. A Walk Through The Black Forest / Horst Jankowski #12 (1) 1965
  62. Quentin’s Theme / Charles Randolph Grean Sounde #13 (2) 1969
  63. Tracy’s Theme / Spencer Ross #13 (1) 1960
  64. A Swingin’ Safari / Billy Vaughn #13 (1) 1962
  65. Twine Time / Alvin Cash & The Crawlers #14 (2) 1965
  66. Fly Me To The Moon-Bossa Nova / Joe Harnell #14 (1) 1963
  67. Shangri-La / Robert Maxwell #15 (3) 1964
  68. Desafinado / Stan Getz #15 (2) 1962
  69. Wonderland By Night / Louis Prima #15 (2) 1961
  70. Cotton Candy / Al Hurt #15 (2) 1964
  71. Beatnik Fly / Johnny & The Hurricanes #15 (1) 1960
  72. Perfidia / Ventures #15 (1) 1960
  73. Music To Watch Girls By / Bob Crewe Generation #15 (1) 1967
  74. Baby Scratch My Back / Slim Harpo #16 (2) 1966
  75. Keem-O-Sabe / Electric Indian #16 (2) 1969
  76. Blue Tango / Bill Black’s Combo #16 (1) 1960
  77. Tuff / Ace Cannon #17 (2) 1962
  78. Soul Twist / King Curtis #17 (2) 1962
  79. Smokie Part 2 / Bill Black’s Combo #17 (2) 1960
  80. Batman Theme / The Marketts #17 (2) 1966
  81. Soul Finger / Bar-Kays #17 (1) 1967
  82. Soul Limbo / Booker T. & The MG’s #17 (1) 1968
  83. The Work Song / Herb Alpert #18 (2) 1966
  84. Josephine / Bill Black’s Combo #18 (1) 1960
  85. Pepe / Duane Eddy #18 (1) 1961
  86. Penetration / The Pyramids #18 (1) 1964
  87. Wade In The Water / Ramsey Lewis Trio #19 (2) 1966
  88. Never On Sunday / Don Costa #19 (1) 1960
  89. Let’s Go / The Routers #19 (1) 1962
  90. Look For A Star / Billy Vaughn #19 (1) 1960
  91. Bonanza / Al Caiola #19 (1) 1961
  92. I’ve Got A Woman Part 1 / Jimmy McGriff #20 (1) 1962
  93. I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman / Whistling Jack Smith #20 (1) 1967
  94. Hearts Of Stone / Bill Black’s Combo #20 (1) 1961

...and 37 that did the same in the 1970s (with 11 making it to #1):

  1. Fly, Robin, Fly / Silver Convention #1 (3) 1975
  2. Rise / Herb Alpert #1 (2) 1979
  3. TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia / MFSB-Three Degrees #1 (2) 1974
  4. Star Wars Theme / Meco #1 (2) 1977
  5. A Fifth Of Beethoven / Walter Murphy #1 (1) 1976
  6. Gonna Fly Now / Bill Conti #1 (1) 1977
  7. Love’s Theme / Love Unlimited Orchestra #1 (1) 1974
  8. Frankenstein / Edgar Winter Group #1 (1) 1973
  9. Pick Up The Pieces / Average White Band #1 (1) 1975
  10. The Hustle / Van McCoy #1 (1) 1975
  11. Theme From S.W.A.T. / Rhythm Heritage #1 (1) 1976
  12. Dueling Banjos / Eric Weissberg & Steve Mandell #2 (4) 1973
  13. Outa-Space / Billy Preston #2 (1) 1972
  14. Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001) / Deodato #2 (1) 1973
  15. The Entertainer / Marvin Hamlisch #3 (2) 1974
  16. Music Box Dancer / Frank Mills #3 (1) 1979
  17. Express / B. T. Express #4 (3) 1975
  18. Space Race / Billy Preston #4 (2) 1973
  19. Feels So Good / Chuck Mangione #4 (1) 1978
  20. Scorpio / Dennis Coffey #6 (3) 1972
  21. Joy / Apollo 100 #6 (1) 1972
  22. Rock And Roll Part 2 / Gary Glitter #7 (2) 1972
  23. Tubular Bells / Mike Oldfield #7 (1) 1974
  24. Nadia’s Theme / Barry DeVorzon & Perry Botkin Jr. #8 (2) 1976
  25. Hocus Pocus / Focus #9 (2) 1973
  26. Popcorn / Hot Butter #9 (1) 1972
  27. The Rockford Files / Mike Post #10 (2) 1975
  28. Dynomite Part I / Bazuka #10 (1) 1975
  29. Midnight Cowboy / Ferrante & Teicher #10 (1) 1970
  30. Star Wars (Main Title) / John Williams #10 (1) 1977
  31. Amazing Grace / Royal Scots Dragon Guard #11 (1) 1972
  32. Theme From Close Encounters Of The 3rd Kind / John Williams #13 (2) 1978
  33. Theme From Love Story / Henry Mancini #13 (2) 1971
  34. Movin’ / Brass Construction #14 (1) 1976
  35. Overture From Tommy / Assembled Multitude #16 (2) 1970
  36. Tarus / Dennis Coffey / #18 (2) 1972
  37. Tangerine / The Salsoul Orchestra #18 (1) 1976
 
Last edited:

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
I remember hearing "A Swingin' Safari" on the daytime MATCH GAME on NBC in the mid 60s, and really loving it. One day, Gene Rayburn announced what the title of the theme was, but just said it was by a "German band". Whenever my parents headed out to shop, I would ask them to look for "A Swingin' Safari" on record. And one day they came home with the Billy Vaughn album. It was so close to the Bert Kaempfert version that I was largely happy.

Since the Bert Kaempfert version didn't chart in the US, I can understand why they couldn't get the original at the time. But no matter - today I have both!


 

GDBY2LV

Well-Known Member
There’s a really nice collection that I purchased called 50’s instrumental Hits on Amazon. It’s a 3 disc collection. 20 songs on each disc. It’s actually 50’s and 60’s. It has a great deal of what Michael published above on it. At $15.99 it’s a very good deal. I loved that music as a kid, and still do. Especially Swingin’ Safari and A Walk In The Black Forest. Both used on local afternoon shows here too. My favorites from that era are, Manhattan Spiritual by Reg Owen & His Orchestra, and Swingin’ Shepherd Blues by Moe Kauffman Quartet.
 
Last edited:

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
Well, yeah---kinda. Perez was the last big instrumental before the rock and rollers started showing up in numbers, but there were instrumental successes after that, too---94 of them made the top 20 of in the 1960s (nine got to #1), including, of course, Herb & the TJB.
There were always instrumental successes (I probably should have clarified Prado's hit being among the "MOR instrumentals"), but none dominated the top of the chart like "Cherry Pink" past that point Granted, it was also tied to the film Underwater! which added to its success, but that trumpet hook was probably the biggest attraction to the song. With the influx of rock and roll, the tastes of older listeners were supplanted by an increasing number of rock and roll records (especially Elvis, early in his career) so, instrumental MOR never had the staying power it used to.

I suppose one could arguably say that "Cherry Pink" was a mambo single and not MOR, yet if you compare this to his earliest records from the late 40s and early 50s (which were pure mambo), this was an Americanized/popularized mambo, recorded in the US with Los Angeles studio musicians, that had become part of the mainstream. Maybe instrumental MOR with a mambo flavoring to it is a better description of what it really is. Prado was always chasing a hit, so he would latch onto whatever would sell records, especially after the success of "Cherry Pink." (He even embarrassingly tried to add a rock and roll flavor to his repertoire...it failed miserably. It sounded like the soundtrack to a bad B-movie.)

Many in those lists were not MOR hits either, especially the bulk of the 70s tracks. Rock instrumentals and even jazz cuts appeared on the charts, and it's evident that MOR instrumentals were a fading relic of the past, waning in the 60s (compare the early 60s to the later 60s) and nearly gone by the 70s. It's also interesting that many of the instrumental hits (MOR or not) were tied to films or TV shows.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
There’s a really nice collection that I purchased called 50’s instrumental Hits on Amazon. It’s a 3 disc collection. 20 songs on each disc. It’s actually 50’s and 60’s. It has a great deal of what Michael published above on it. At $15.99 it’s a very good deal. I loved that music as a kid, and still do. Especially Swingin’ Safari and A Walk In The Black Forest. Both used on local afternoon shows here too. My favorites from that era are, Manhattan Spiritual by Reg Owen & His Orchestra, and Swingin’ Shepherd Blues by Moe Kauffman Quartet.
I wonder how much of that overlaps with the playlist I put together. The first 24 tracks were a CD I had put together many years ago, and everything from "Wave" onward were more recent additions. I plan on expanding it further when I have a chance. Since I don't burn CDs anymore, I can create playlists for as long as they need to be without worrying about fitting a cassette or CD.

 
Top Bottom