1958 Top Ten Pop Countdown Podcast
Teens take over the Pop charts as Billboard unveils the Hot100, silly hits abound, Folk is back and the Jet Age dawns with foreign language songs like “Volare.”
Welcome to the Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown Show, I’m your host, Christopher Verdesi. Every week on Chartcrush, we do a deep dive into a year in pop music and count down the top ten songs according to our recap of the weekly pop charts published at the time in the music industry’s top trade publication, Billboard magazine. This week on Chartcrush, we’re turning the clock back to 1958, Rock’s “toddler year,” the terrible twos and threes when Rock and Rock’s teenaged fans with their frenzied fandom and record buying, really took over the Pop charts, kind of like how a toddler takes over the house.
American society gave birth to Rock ‘n Roll, now it had to tame it and assimilate it. Of course there’ve been many times since the ’50s when music’s youngest fans have planted their flag and made the Pop charts exhibit “A” in the generation gap, but the mid-to-late ’50s was the first time, and it wasn’t a gap, it was a chasm.
Columbia Records’ head of A&R, Mitch Miller, one of the most powerful men in the music biz, called Rock ‘n Roll, in 1958, “musical baby food” and “the worship of mediocrity,” adding that it’ll never last, and kids only like it because their parents don’t. In a French magazine, Frank Sinatra wrote that Rock is “the most brutal, ugly, desperate, vicious form of expression it’s been my misfortune to hear. It fosters almost totally negative and destructive reactions in young people.” And these sentiments resonated broadly because the music was so different, yes, but also, juvenile delinquency was making headlines.
Court cases involving teens doubled from 1948 to 1957. Juvenile arrests in New York tripled in the ’50s, and as early as 1954, a subcommittee in the U.S. Senate was investigating links between juvenile delinquency and media. 1955, a banner year for movies about juvenile delinquency: Rebel Without a Cause starring James Dean as an emotionally confused middle-class suburban teen, and Blackboard Jungle, adapted from author Evan Hunter (a.k.a. Ed McBain’s) book about the crime and violence he’d seen during an aborted teaching stint at a Bronx High School. That had “Rock Around the Clock” in its opening sequence, which helped push the song to #1, but also cemented the link in people’s minds between teenage hooliganism and Rock music.
Of course not all parents in the ’50s thought Rock ‘n Roll was going to turn their kids into juvenile delinquents, but not many households had more than one TV, radio or record player. And consumer headphones? Nope, not for another ten or fifteen years. So parents heard the music, saw the TV shows and were more clued in to their kids’ media and culture than most people in later years can imagine, whether they wanted to be or not. For ones that didn’t, transistor radios and portable record machines made great birthday or Christmas gifts. Stack your 45s on the spindle, drop the needle, instant dance party, but in your room, or better yet, over at a friend’s. “What do I have to do stop this racket and get a little peace and quiet around here?” “I don’t want you kids futzing with my hi-fi.” Tech to the rescue!
So Rock’s toddler year: things did get pretty silly, and we’ll hear that this hour. But more broadly, ’58 was a formative year in society’s grappling with a distinct “youth culture” that hadn’t been a thing before 1950 and was both formed and reflected by, but impossible without, mass media, and as separate from family as you could get in those days. Looking back, music: an even bigger influence on “youth culture” than even the most peppery anti-Rock ‘n Roll crusaders in the ’50s could’ve credibly asserted or even imagined. Which of course is why we even talk about these silly sonic artifacts decades after they first cast their spell on a willing but unsuspecting public. So with that, let’s count down some songs, shall we?
#10 (#13) The Platters – Twilight Time
At #10 is a Black vocal group, heirs to a long tradition on the Pop Charts. 15 years before Rock ‘n Roll, The Ink Spots had notched three of the year’s top ten songs. And they stayed hot even after another Black vocal group, The Mills Brothers, debuted, scored the #1 hit of 1943 and nearly repeated in ’44. Then The Ink Spots were back with the #1 song of 1946. Things cooled off in the Crooner years, but The Mills Brothers returned to the year-end top ten in ’52, and The Four Knights in ’54. In ’55, Rock ‘n Roll hit and our act at #10, under the tutelage of L.A. songwriter-producer-arranger Buck Ram, updated the vocal group sound with more prominent lead vocals and rhythms. Ram finagled them a deal with Mercury, and they scored four top tens in the first eight months of 1956: romantic make-out classics like “Only You” and “(You’ve Got) The Magic Touch,” and the biggest of all, “The Great Pretender,” all Buck Ram songs. But it was a version of one of Ram’s old songs from the ’40s that became their first appearance in a yearly top ten, in 1958. #10 on our countdown, it’s The Platters’ “Twilight Time.”
Mercury wanted to sign a different group that Buck Ram was managing, The Penguins, on the strength of their top ten hit in early ’55, “Earth Angel.” Ram gave them The Penguins, but only on the condition that they also sign The Platters. “Twilight Time,” The Platters’ fifth top ten hit and the #10 song according to our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown Show ranking for 1958.
#9 (#12) The Champs – Tequila
At #9, an instrumental that burst into the American Pop consciousness by accident, and has never left. It was a jam session, based on a Mambo song “Como Mi Ritmo No Hay Dos” (“There Is No One Like You”) by Cuban musician Cachao, recorded in three takes by a group of L.A. studio musicians to put on the B-side of a single. A deejay in Cleveland started playing the B-side, and it shot to #1 for five weeks in March and April. Some critics have called it “the birth of Latin rock.” Here are The Champs “Tequila.”
“Tequila,” #9 in our 1958 Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown. Danny Flores, the man behind “Tequila,” playing the dirty saxophone and saying “Tequila.” And he got the sole writing credit on the song, but had to use a pseudonym, Chuck Rio, because he was under contract with another label. After it was a hit, the nameless ad hoc studio group actually became The Champs, but the law of diminishing chart returns applied on their follow-up instrumentals, “Too Much Tequila” and “Tequila Twist.” But keep an ear out, we haven’t heard the last of “Tequila” this hour!
#8 (#11) Conway Twitty – It’s Only Make Believe
Well we’re down to #8, and I have a confession to make: we’re actually counting down the top 13 songs of 1958 on this week’s show. How’s that? Well, when we crunched the data for the nearly 500 songs that made the charts in the year, same as we do for every year, there were three two-way ties among the top ranked songs. And they’re all in a row! Which is beyond unusual! But the next six songs we’re going to hear are a series of three two-way ties on points using our ranking method. And since this is the Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown Show, that’s how we’re going to present them: tie at #8, tie at #7 and tie at #6.
So the first of our two songs tied at #8 is the chart debut by a future Country star who’s perhaps best known for his duets with the “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Loretta Lynn in the ’70s. It’s not a Country song, though; it’s a Rockabilly song, and he’s one of many major Country stars in the ’60s and beyond that scored their first hits in the ’50s as Rockers. Here’s Conway Twitty’s first hit, “It’s Only Make Believe.”
Conway Twitty, born Harold Jenkins but wanted a more memorable stage name, so he looked at a map and saw Conway, Arkansas, and Twitty, Texas. “It’s Only Make Believe,” #1 for two weeks in November ’58. Lots of folks first hearing that record thought it was Elvis, who’d just shipped out to Germany after being drafted into the Army. Twitty didn’t become a Country artist until after the British Invasion in the mid-60s, and Country radio was slow to embrace him after years of cutting Pop and Rock records. But he wasn’t the first and won’t be the last Rocker to make the switch. Hootie & The Blowfish’s Darius Rucker and Aaron Lewis of Metal band Staind, two 21st century examples.
#8 (#10) The McGuire Sisters – Sugartime
Next up, a trio of sisters from the Dayton, Ohio area, discovered by the ubiquitous early ’50s radio and TV personality, Arthur Godfrey. In the wake of Mercury success with The Crew Cuts Pop version of “Sh-Boom” in 1954, upstart labels Dot and Coral were both out with Pop versions of Doo Wop R&B hits by sister acts: Dot had The Fontane Sisters’ “Hearts of Stone;” Coral had this trio’s “Sincerely,” our #3 Chartcrush hit of 1955. After two years with no chart action they were back with this song, which is tied with Conway Twitty at #8 on our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown for 1958. It’s The McGuire Sisters, “Sugartime.”
McGuire Sisters, Ruby, Dottie and lead singer Phyllis, “Sugartime.” It was never #1, but its ten weeks in the top ten was enough to get it into our top ten on the year. The McGuires never charted a record on Billboard‘s Hot100, which launched August 4, 1958, but they appeared often on TV variety shows, and were darlings of Greatest and Silent Generation music fans through the ’60s. That is, until the middle sister Phyllis’s affair with mob boss Sam Giancana became public. But even that blew over, and the McGuires performed for every President from Nixon to G.W. Bush.
#7 (#9) Sheb Wooley – The Purple People Eater
OK, that’s our tie at #8; on to our tie at #7: two of the silliest, wackiest songs in Pop chart history. First up, a sci-fi adjacent novelty hit the year Sputnik fell back to earth and The Fly and The Blob were in theaters. At first M-G-M Records rejected it, but reconsidered after execs noticed young staffers spinning it on lunch breaks and having a ball. It’s Sheb Wooley’s “The Purple People Eater.”
I told you we hadn’t heard the last of our #9 song, “Tequila!” Now most people assume that “The Purple People Eater” is a purple creature that eats people. Listen again: it’s a one-horned cyclops of indeterminate color that eats purple people. Which of course would be totally racist if there were purple people, but seems somehow less threatening since there aren’t. Sheb Wooley, better known at the time as an actor in TV and movie Westerns, but his recording career went all the way back to 1945, and continued into the ’60s on the Country charts, including the #1 Country novelty “That’s My Pa” in 1962. In the late ’60s into the ’70s he was a regular on the Country variety TV show Hee Haw.
#7 (#8) David Seville – Witch Doctor
The chirpy, otherworldly voice of the “Purple People Eater,” of course, an effect achieved by recording a voice on tape, then playing it back at a faster speed. And the guy who first used it on a hit record is the other act in our tie at #7 in our countdown. As you listen, remember: no one at the time had ever heard sped-up voices like this on a record before. Here’s Ross Bagdasarian, under his pseudonym David Seville, “Witch Doctor.”
“Witch Doctor” hit #1 at the end of April 1958 and “Purple People Eater” just weeks later in early June. By the end of June, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson was out with “The Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor” on the flip-side of his big hit, “Chantilly Lace.” By Christmas, the guy who had started it all with “Witch Doctor,” Ross Bagdasarian as “David Seville” was unleashing “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)” on an unsuspecting world. That too topped the charts for four weeks. Before he started experimenting with tape speeds, Bagdasarian wrote the #1 hit that launched Rosemary Clooney’s solo singing career in 1951, the Mitch Miller-produced “Come On-a My House.”
#6 (#7) Elvis Presley – Don’t
Now in the car down on lover’s lane, at the drive-in movie or up at make-out ridge, or on the sofa when mom and dad were out for the evening, or during an unauthorized babysitting drop-in, when things were going too far, getting too amorous, too handsy, what’s the one word the guy didn’t want to hear? Well that word is the one-word title of our first song in yet another two-way tie at #6 in our Chartcrush countdown for 1958. It’s the song that was peaking on the charts in February and March just as its singer was reporting to basic training in Texas, a major news event heralded “the world’s most famous haircut.” Here’s Elvis Presley’s “Don’t.”
Elvis Presley’s “Don’t,” listed as a double-A-sided single on the Best Sellers chart with its upbeat flip-side “I Beg of You.” On Billboard‘s pre-Hot100 Top 100 chart, which ranked sides separately, “Don’t” reached #1 and “I Beg of You” peaked at #6. This ranking stuff can get complicated! Even though Elvis was in the Army from ’58 to 1960 and that obviously interrupted his career, he recorded a bunch of songs between basic and AIT in June, and his label, RCA, made sure there was plenty of material to release while he completed his two years of service. Totaling up the chart points for all singles that factored into our 1958 ranking, Elvis was back as the #1 artist of the year after getting edged out by Pat Boone in 1957.
#6 (#6) The Kingston Trio – Tom Dooley
Our tie at the #6 spot on our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown for 1958: two songs with military nuances. In 1866 Civil War vet Thomas Dula returned home to the mountains of western North Carolina: hillbilly country, where he moved back in to the house he’d shared before the war with his lover Anne Melton, and Anne’s husband James, who apparently was fine with the arrangement. Soon Anne’s distant cousin Pauline joined the household as a servant and Thomas started sleeping with her. Apparently Anne was fine with that. Then yet another cousin Laura moved to the area, and Thomas took up with her too. But then, syphilis. And finger pointing. And everything unraveled. Laura ended up getting the blame and was found stabbed to death in a shallow grave, pregnant with Thomas’s unborn baby.
Now there are lots of versions of that story, but they all have the same ending, which is a matter of public record. Thomas was tried, convicted and hanged for Laura’s murder despite lingering questions about his guilt. Now the Appalachians where all this went down was America’s most fertile region for folklorists, and sure enough, there was a local poem about the events, which found its way to our San Francisco act that’s tied with Elvis at #6. They didn’t mean to, but with this song they brought back Folk to the top of the Pop charts. They pronounce the “a” at the end of the name in the hillbilly dialect that makes “opera” “opry,” so Tom Dula becomes “Tom Dooley,” the title of the song. In the intro, they call it a love triangle. Now that you know the story, you know it’s more like a hexagon. Here’s “Tom Dooley” by The Kingston Trio.
At the start of the ’50s, bandleader and Decca’s just-hired head of A&R, Gordon Jenkins, plucked Folk group The Weavers out of New York’s Greenwich Village, and they scored four top five hits including the biggest of them, “Goodnight Irene” and “On Top of Old Smoky.” But members Pete Seeger and Lee Hays were blacklisted when their ties to communist groups surfaced in the McCarthy era, and Folk completely disappeared from the Pop charts, until The Kingston Trio’s “Tom Dooley,” which we just heard in a tie for #6 on our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown Show for 1958.
They were out of North Beach in San Francisco: a club called The Purple Onion, a Beatnik hub, and “Tom Dooley” was a cut off their debut album. Capitol Records didn’t view them as a singles act at all until DJs started playing “Tom Dooley,” and once it was issued on a 45 it rose into the top ten for 12 weeks including a week at #1 just before Thanksgiving, after which Folk became one of the hottest sounds in music and labels scrambled to sign just about any act they could find: Peter Paul & Mary, Joan Baez, New Christy Minstrels, Bob Dylan and many others.
#5 Domenico Modugno – Nel Blu di Pinto di Blu (Volare)
So ties at numbers 8, 7 and 6 in our ranking for 1958, but from here to #1, it’s just a straight countdown, and at #5, another left-field hit. The “Jet Age” began in 1958. Literally. The first passenger jet flights. National Airlines. Boeing’s 707. The world was getting smaller and smaller, and Americans were eager to travel, learn and engage. Billboard and the trades took notice when Neapolitan bandleader Renato Carosone’s “Torero,” sung in Italian, cracked the top 20 in May of ’58. But everyone took notice when our #5 song, also by an Italian singer and sung completely in Italian, shot to #2 in only its second week on the Hot100 in August, and went on to become the bestselling single of the year. That despite the availability of a bilingual version by well-known crooner Dean Martin. Deano’s version got to #15, but here’s Domenico Modugno, who co-wrote the song, the #1 version of “Nel Blu di Pinto di Blu” better known as “Volare.”
In the same issue of Billboard that “Volare” hit #2 in only its second week, is a mention of a DJ on New York’s WNEW who played eight different records of that song back-to-back. Not to be outdone, a DJ in Connecticut found yet another version, and played nine. Then he played all the “B” sides! The Modugno version was Billboard‘s #1 song of 1958, but it’s #5 on our Chartcrush ranking because three of the four songs remaining in our countdown, numbers 4 through 1, had chart runs that either started in ’57 or ran into ’59, and when you count their full chart runs (as we do for every song), they end up with more points. Billboard‘s year-end charts only count activity for weeks within their chart year.
#4 The Teddy Bears – To Know Him Is to Love Him
We are counting down the top ten songs of 1958 here on this week’s Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown Show. Now, before he was a big-time producer/entrepreneur and inventor of the so-called Wall of Sound heard on records like The Ronettes “Be My Baby” and The Righteous Brother’s, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” and way before he was convicted of murdering actress Lana Clarkson in the ’00s and sentenced to 19 years in prison, where he died, Phil Spector wrote, arranged, played on and produced our #4 song and recorded it with his L.A. vocal group. With lead singer Carol Connors, not to be confused with the ’70s adult film star, it’s The Teddy Bears’ “To Know Him Is to Love Him.”
Teddy Bears, “To Know Him Is to Love Him,” #4 on our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown for 1958, written by future record producer Phil Spector right out of high school, inspired by the inscription on his fathers’ grave. It was #1 for three weeks in December, and stayed in the top ten through most of January. Because it was a hit so late in the year, Billboard couldn’t count most of its chart run so it was only #44 in the ranking published in the December 15, 1958 issue.
#3 Danny and The Juniors – At the Hop
Similar deal with our #3 song, but this one’s run on the charts started in ’57 and carried over into ’58.
Philadelphia had a fertile youth music scene in the ’50s, and as the new host of a local TV show called Bandstand, DJ Dick Clark was right in the middle of it. One day some label guys played him a recording by a Philly Doo-Wop group called The Juvenaires of their song “Do the Bop,” which Clark liked but advised them to rewrite the lyrics and change the name of the group, which they did and the record was a local hit in the Summer of ’57. Meanwhile, Bandstand got picked up by the ABC network, became American Bandstand, and immediately started drawing millions of teenaged viewers in its after school timeslot. In December ’57, the former Juvenaires got their big break when Dick Clark asked them fill in for a no-show act on American Bandstand, and the retitled record by the renamed group shot to #1. At #3 on our ranking, it’s Danny and The Juniors, “At the Hop.”
Danny and the Juniors, “At the Hop,” #3 on our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown for 1958. With seven weeks at #1 in January and February it’s hard to see how it was only #20 on Billboard‘s year-end chart, but it got a second life on oldies radio after ’50s revivalists Sha Na Na played it at Woodstock, and then when it appeared in George Lucas’ pre-Star Wars nostalgia-fest American Graffiti in ’73. Their next single “Rock & Roll Is Here to Stay” cracked the top 20, also in ’58, and they continued putting out records, but were no match for newer Italian-American vocal combos like Dion & The Belmonts and The Four Seasons into the ’60s. American Bandstand, with Dick Clark hosting, continued on TV all the way to 1989.
#2 The Everly Brothers – All I Have to Do Is Dream
At #8, the most successful duo on the charts all the way until the ’80s when Hall & Oates surpassed them. After being signed by Archie Bleyer’s Cadence Records, they were on a roll! Their first Cadence single, “Bye Bye Love” went to #2 in July of ’57, and their second, “Wake Up Little Susie,” was #1 for two weeks in October. After those two upbeat hits, they toned things down and this slower song was their second #1, sitting atop either the Best Sellers or DJ chart for six weeks in May into June ’58. It’s The Everly Brothers’ “All I Have to Do Is Dream.”
“All I Have to Do Is Dream,” #2 on our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown for 1958: The Everly Brothers, Don and Phil, actual brothers. Those assertive, folky close harmonies sounded pretty fresh in 1958. As teens growing up in Liverpool, writing songs together in their early pre-Beatles days, John Lennon and Paul McCartney would pretend to be The Everly Brothers. After “All I Have to Do Is Dream,” they weren’t done for ’58: two more top five hits in the year, “Bird Dog” and “Problems.” On total chart points for all eight of their singles that factored into our ranking, they were the third top chart act of the year, behind only Elvis Presley and Teen Idol Ricky Nelson.
#1 Tommy Edwards – It’s All in the Game
And that gets us down to our #1 record, a song that’d been a top 20 hit for the same singer, on the same label, with the same bandleader/arranger, seven years before in 1951. Lots of artists over the years have re-recorded songs. In ’58 with stereo just being unveiled as the next big thing in records, there was about to be a parade of Crooners and Pop singers doing sparkling new hi-fi stereo versions of their old hits from the shellac 78 era. But not too many acts have scored hits with different versions of the same song, and this one, again a remake of his own 1951 hit, was a whopper: #1 for six weeks in the Fall. Accompanied as he was in 1951 by Leroy Holmes and Orchestra, on M-G-M, here’s our Chartcrush #1 song of 1958, Tommy Edwards’ “It’s All in the Game.”
Neil Sedaka re-did his 1962 chart topper, “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do,” as a ballad in 1975, and it got to #8: as far as we know the only other remake of a hit that was also a hit for the same artist. Tommy Edwards’ rock-era remake in 4/4 time of his 1951 hit that was in 3/4 waltz time, “It’s All in the Game,” the #1 song of 1958 according to our Chartcrush ranking. Billboard had it at #9 on the year because it only factored weeks through the end of November. Remember, they have to get their year-end chart tabulated, printed and mailed ahead of New Years, and Edwards stayed on the chart into January.
A few sources make kind of a big deal about that record being the first #1 hit by a Black artist on the Hot100. Which it was. But the Hot100 had only existed for nine weeks, and in the year prior, African-American acts The Coasters, Platters and Sam Cooke had all scored #1s on the earlier Top100 chart. Thanks to counting songs’ full chart runs, though, and our exclusive Chartcrush ranking method (which by the way applies to all years), we’re happy to report that Tommy Edwards not only scored the first #1 by a Black artist on the weekly Hot100 a few weeks after the chart launched, he scored the #1 hit of the year. The first Black artist to top a published Billboard year-end Hot100: Bobby Lewis, with “Tossin’ and Turnin'” in 1961.
So there you have them: our top ten songs of 1958 according to our Chartcrush ranking. Now, Billboard published a year-end top 50 chart in its December 15 issue, and there are some big differences between their “official” top ten vs. ours, as I’ve been mentioning throughout the show. Here at Chartcrush, we base our rankings for all years on performance on Billboard‘s weekly charts, but that was a little tricky for 1958 because again, the Hot100 launched mid-year, in August. Before that, there was a weekly Top100 chart, similar to the Hot100, that started in November of 1955, plus separate weekly Best Sellers and DJ Airplay charts. Billboard discontinued the Jukebox chart in June of ’57.
For our ranking, we used the Hot100 for August to December, obviously, but for the first seven months before the Hot100 debuted, we used our combined ranking that’s derived from the Best Sellers and DJ charts, same as we do for years back to the early ’40s.
To calculate its year-end top 50, Billboard used the Hot100 for August on like we do. And you’d think they would’ve used their combined Top100 chart for the first part of the year, but nope. Instead they went with Best Sellers, which goes a long way toward explaining why all the songs that were in Billboard‘s year-end top ten but not ours peaked before the Hot100, and are much more representative of the adult side of Pop music in 1958. Looking at sales only, in all eras you get the records preferred by older, more affluent fans, which might’ve been just fine with the folks at Billboard, with so many big Rock ‘n Roll hits in the year. Just speculating.
At #10 on its 1958 year-end chart, Billboard had Dean Martin.
No, not his version of “Volare,” it was “Return to Me,” the third of Dino’s four top five hits in his long career. But like his version of “Volare,” it’s bilingual. He sings the last verse in Italian, so along with our #5 song, Domenico Modugno’s “Volare” (Billboard #1 song of the year), that’s two of Billboard top hits of 1958 sung in Italian. “Return to Me” is #23 on our Chartcrush ranking.
The first record ever to be certified Gold for sales of a million by the Record Industry Association of America, was Billboard‘s #7 song of 1958.
Crooner Perry Como’s final top ten hit on the Pop charts, #36 on our Chartcrush ranking, “Catch a Falling Star” peaked at #9 in February ’58 after Como sang it, wearing his trademark cardigan sweater, of course, in a “Sing to me, Mr. C.” segment on his top-rated Saturday night NBC TV show, The Perry Como Show. Fun fact: Perry Como took top male vocalist honors in the 1958 Gilbert Youth Survey of 5,000 American teens, beating Frank Sinatra, Pat Boone, and the 1957 winner, Elvis Presley.
At #6 Billboard had an instrumental.
Billy Vaughn’s “Sail Along Silvery Moon,” Billboard‘s #6 song of 1958; #17 on our ranking. Vaughn was the most successful orchestra leader of the Rock era: 28 charting singles between ’55 and ’66, all with his trademark harmonized “singing saxophones” style. Before that Vaughn had been in vocal quartet The Hilltoppers, who helped put Dot Records on the map in ’52 and ’53 with the label’s only two top ten hits, until Dot honcho Randy Wood made him head of A&R and Musical Director, and the label hit pay-dirt with huge hits by The Fontane Sisters and Pat Boone.
Over on Billboard‘s year-end top ten for 1958, the #5 song was an instrumental by “The Mambo King.”
Now that one just missed our Chartcrush ranking, #11. Cuban bandleader Perez Prado’s “Patricia:” the last #1 on Billboard‘s “Top100” singles chart before the “Hot100” debuted August 4 with Ricky Nelson’s “Poor Little Fool” at #1.
And speaking of Ricky Nelson, as I mentioned earlier, on total chart points, he was the #2 overall singles artist of the year between Elvis at #1 and The Everly Brothers at #3, with seven songs factoring into our ranking.
“Poor Little Fool” was the very first #1 hit on the Hot100 chart, and the biggest of Nelson’s seven chart hits in the year.
And finally, if you rank 1958’s songs using a straight inverse point system that doesn’t reward things like weeks in the top ten or weeks at #1, a method Billboard used for most of its early year-end charts, and, if you count its full chart run that extended into January of ’59, this comes out the #1 song of 1958!
The Big Bopper’s “Chantilly Lace,” 25 weeks on the Hot100, the most of any 1958 song, and it peaked at #6, but its nine weeks on the chart after Billboard‘s November 30 cutoff for the 1958 chart year, ignored. Otherwise it likely would’ve been among Billboard‘s top ten on the year.
Well that’s our show! I hope you enjoyed our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown for 1958. I’ve been your host, Christopher Verdesi. Now if you like what you heard, check out our website, chartcrush.com, where you can find written transcript and links to stream this and other Chartcrush shows on Spotify, plus chart run line graphs and other lid-flippin’ extras. Every week, we count down a different year from the beginning of the charts in the ’40s all the way up to the present, so tune again, same station, same time, for another edition of Chartcrush.