Here’s songs 1-11 on the 2021 Great 88:
“A Wonderful Dream” by The Majors (1962)
The Majors were an American R&B and doo-wop group from Philadelphia. The vocal ensemble formed in 1961, and featured as its lead singer Ricky Cordo, who was noted for his prominent falsetto. The group was noticed by producer Jerry Ragovoy, who produced their hit single “A Wonderful Dream”, released in 1962 on Imperial Records. It would be the first of three charting hits for the group.
2020: #50, Highest Ranking: #50 in 2020
“That’ll Be the Day” by Buddy Holly and the Crickets (1957)
Buddy Holly and Jerry Allison, the drummer on the Crickets, saw John Wayne’s movie, “The Searchers”. In the movie, Wayne keeps replying “That’ll be the day” every time another character in the film predicts or proclaims something will happen when he felt it was not likely to happen. The phrase stuck in Jerry’s mind, and when they were hanging out at Jerry’s house one night, Buddy looked at Jerry and said that it sure would be nice if they could record a hit song. Jerry replied with, “That’ll be the day,” mocking John Wayne in the western.
2020: #12, Highest Ranking: #2 in 2016
“I’ve Had It” by The Bell Notes (1959)
The Bell Notes were regular performers in The Bronx in the 1950s, and performed at a bar owned by the father of Ray Tabano; he and Steven Tyler (of Aerosmith) occasionally played between Bell Notes sets and covered their song “I’ve Had It”. New York DJ (WADO) Alan Fredericks saw the group play at a record hop on Long Island and saw the group’s potential. In 1958 he recorded “I’ve Had It” at a recording studio in Times Square.
2020: #36, Highest Ranking: #36 in 2020
“The Wah-Watusi” by The Orlons (1962)
There were three songs about the Watusi dance. This was the second song and biggest hit about the dance. The first was “The Watusi” (by the Vibrations, US #25), and the third was “El Watusi” (by Ray Barretto, US #17).
2020: #9, Highest Ranking: #9 in 2020
“What a Diff’rence a Day Makes” by Dinah Washington (1959)
This was written in 1934 by Maria Grever, who was the first successful female Mexican songwriter. She wrote it as “Cuando Vuelva A Tu Lado,” which translates to “When It returns To Your Side,” but for English consumption the lyricist Stanley Adams rewrote it as “What a Diff’rence a Day Made.” The Dorsey Brothers Orchestra recorded it with the English lyrics in 1934, and their version was a #5 hit. Many artists have recorded it since, but Washington’s version has become the most popular.
2020: #87, Highest Ranking: #21 in 2019
“Rave On” by Buddy Holly (1958)
This was written by Sonny West, Bill Tilghman and Norman Petty and recorded in January 1958 at Petty’s New Mexico studio where Holly laid down most of his hits. It was first recorded by West for Atlantic Records, which released his version in February 1958. Buddy Holly recorded the song later the same year, and his version became a hit.
2020: #25, Highest Ranking: #13 in 2015
“He’s So Fine” by The Chiffons (1963)
Recalling the time he saw songwriter Ronnie Mack’s songs for the first time, Jay Siegel of The Tokens told us: “He came up with a composition notebook with all these amazing songs in it. They had the most incredible lyrics; not intellectual lyrics, but just the things that people speak of in everyday language.” He told us that if Mack lived, “He would have sustained and would have been one of the most successful songwriters of the ’60s.” Mack died in 1963 at the age of 23.
2020: #7, Highest Ranking: #7 in 2020
“In the Still of the Night” by The Five Satins (1956)
The song was recorded in the basement of St. Bernadette Church in the group’s hometown of New Haven, Connecticut. They first tried recording the song in another New Haven building (on Whalley Avenue), but street noise degraded the recording. The church basement had great acoustics and was insulated from ambient noise, making it a perfect place to record.
2020: #2, Highest Ranking: #1 in 2015 and 2017
“Angel Baby” by Rosie and the Originals (1961)
Rosie Hamlin wrote this when she was 14 years old. It began as a poem about a boyfriend, and was based on “Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine)” by The Penguins. Rosie had some experience as a singer with a local band, getting the job by telling them she was 16.
2020: #22, Highest Ranking: #7 in 2019
“Up on the Roof” by The Drifters (1963)
First recorded by Little Eva, this breezy summertime song evokes the high-rise apartments in American cities where urban dwellers could escape from the stresses of daily living by climbing onto the tar “beaches” on the roofs of their buildings.
2020: #3, Highest Ranking: #3 in 2020
“Come Go With Me” byThe Dell-Vikings (1957)
The song was originally recorded by The Del-Vikings in 1956 and was released on Fee Bee Records. Norman Wright was the lead vocalist on this song. When the group signed with Dot Records in 1957, the song became a hit, peaking at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and becoming the group’s highest-charting song. The song was later featured in the films American Graffiti (1973), Diner (1982), Stand by Me (1986) and Joe Versus the Volcano (1990).
2020: #1, Highest Ranking: #1 in 2018 and 2020
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