Here’s songs 12-22 on the 2019 Great 88:
“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).
2018: #16, Highest Ranking: #16 in 2018
“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.
2018: not on survey, Highest Ranking: first year on survey
“Quarter to Three” by Gary U.S. Bonds (1961)
In this song, Gary U.S. Bonds sings about staying up til quarter to three in the morning, dancing to the swinging sax of Daddy G. Daddy G is Gene Barge, tenor saxman in an instrumental group called The Church Street Five, which released a song called “A Night With Daddy G” that reached #111 in February 1961. Like Bonds, The Church Street Five were singed to Legrand Records, owned by former record store owner Frank Guida. Bonds wrote a lyric for the song and recorded it (with Daddy G on saxophone) as “Quarter To Three.”
2018: not on survey, Highest Ranking: #11 in 2015
“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.
2018: #13, Highest Ranking: #2 in 2016
“Pretty Little Angel Eyes” by Curtis Lee (1961)
When Curtis Lee and co-writer Tommy Boyce first performed the song for their publisher, he wasn’t impressed. “I thought I told you to write me a hit!” He said again. But Boyce and Lee were convinced that they had written a hit and decided to play it for their publisher’s girlfriend, who immediately loved the song. She convinced her boyfriend that they had a smash on their hands and he finally gave the green light for Curtis to record the tune.
2018: not on survey, Highest Ranking: #54 in 2017
“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.
2018: #21, Highest Ranking: #21 in 2018
“The Loco-Motion” by Little Eva (1962)
That saxophone solo was performed by Artie Kaplan, who was also the contractor for the recording session. Kaplan was a song plugger in Aldon Music’s publishing department and also Aldon’s Music Contractor. Among many other things, he was the one who discovered Tony Orlando while eating lunch at the diner across the street from the Brill Building. As songwriter Barry Mann’s roommate, he was there to see the beginning of Mann’s relationship to songwriter Cynthia Weil.
2018: #9, Highest Ranking: #9 in 2018
“Blueberry Hill” by Fats Domino (1956)
This was written by Vincent Rose, Al Lewis and Larry Stock for the 1940 Western The Singing Hill before they decided it was good enough to be released commercially. The song was used in the movie, where it was heard for the first time performed by Gene Autry.
2018: #26, Highest Ranking: #3 in 2017
“When” by The Kalin Twins (1958)
The Kalin Twins were the first act with twins to make the Top 10 in the US or UK. The next group to do it was The Bee Gees, whose first American Top 10 was “I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You” in 1968. In the UK, it was the #1 “Massachusetts” in 1967.
2018: #38, Highest Ranking: #25 in 2017
“Stay” by Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs (1960)
The song was written by Williams in 1953 when he was 15 years old. He had been trying to convince his date not to go home at 10 o’clock as she was supposed to. He lost the argument, but as he was to relate years later, “Like a flood, the words just came to me.” It became a hit after being put on a demo recording by the group seven years later.
2018: #48, Highest Ranking: #8 in 2017
“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.
2018: #15, Highest Ranking: #15 in 2018
Join us for “The Grooveyard” following “Rick’s Redneck Ranch” each Saturday night at 7 PM. We count down the Grooveyard Top Ten songs from the date in history at 8 PM, and your requests on the Grooveyard Party Hour at 9 PM. Hear us on 88.1 FM on Long Island, by clicking the 88.1 FM link on wcwp.org or via the TuneIn app. or the 88.1 FM button on the WCWP app for Android or iPhones. You can also follow us on Twitter.
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