Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Ask Mr. Music by Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: A few years ago, you wrote about hit makers of the 1940s, or earlier, who at that time were still living.

My question is similar, but specifically about the Pop & Rock stars of the '50s. Of that decade's top artists, how many are still standing, and what are their ages?
—Marianne J. Duffy, Evansville, Ind.

DEAR MARIANNE: They may not all be standing, but each and every one in this group clearly has a pulse.

Compiled per your request is a list that does not likely exist elsewhere, of the still-living stars whose careers either began or flourished in the '50s. There may be others. Some of these folks are also among the top acts of the '60s, and a couple of them gained fame in the '50s as a lead singer of a group, then established themselves as a solo performer.

All are listed according to their age on June 1, 2010, and those the same age are in day of birth order. For example, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Mathis are both 74, but Lewis is one day older than Mathis.

From Tony Martin, soon to be a centurion, to youngster Brenda Lee, who just qualified for Medicare, here they are:

Tony Martin (97)
Jimmy McCracklin (88)
Johnny Otis (88)
Kitty Kallen (88)
Kay Starr (87)
Doris Day (86)
Roger Williams (85)
B.B. King (84)
Stan Freberg (83)
Tony Bennett (83)
Chuck Berry (83)
Ed Ames (82)
Patti Page (82)
Andy Williams (82)
Fats Domino (82)
Vic Damone (81)
Eddie Fisher (81)
Bobby Bland (80)
Joni James (79)
Little Richard (77)
Lloyd Price (77)
Jimmie Rodgers (76)
Pat Boone (76)
Steve Lawrence (74)
Jerry Lee Lewis (74)
Johnny Mathis (74)
Jack Scott (74)
Frankie Valli (73)
Etta James (72)
Duane Eddy (72)
Ben E. King (71)
Connie Francis (71)
Neil Sedaka (71)
Johnny Tillotson (71)
Dion DiMucci (70)
Frankie Avalon (70)
Freddy Cannon (70)
Jerry Butler (70)
Smokey Robinson (70)
Cliff Richard (69)
Paul Anka (68)
Bobby Rydell (68)
Bobby Vee (67)
Brenda Lee (65)

DEAR JERRY: Having read the complaints voiced by your readers about the lack of good sense by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, you just might be willing to listen to my gripes. This time it's about another similar outfit, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, which supposedly honors worthy writers from all styles of music.

My number one grievance with them is their inexplicable overlooking of Conway Twitty.

For starters, Conway wrote hundreds of hits for himself and others, including 19 of his own No. 1 hits! That anyone wrote that many chart-toppers is amazing!

Consider also the many who are already in the SHOF who, though talented, have resumes that are but a drop in the bucket compared to Conway's.

Is he the Connie Francis of songwriters? Mmmm, they both recorded for MGM.

Who else would you add to the list of deserving but denied composers by the Songwriters Hall of Fame?
—Ernest Camfield, Louisville, Ky.

DEAR ERNEST: I can add a few names to the list, but none are as conspicuous by their absence as Conway Twitty. Forget for the moment his mind-boggling success in all other respects, the man is an industry giant based only on his writing. Absurd? Yes, but I'm sure it has nothing to do with MGM.

Three more glaring omissions: How about the incomparable Hank Thompson, and those two great Georgia-born talents: Ray Stevens and Joe South?

All three are regarded as spectacular writers and they more than qualify for SHOF induction.

IZ ZAT SO? The beginning of the singer-songwriter era is generally thought to be the early '60s, and understandably so.

However, the first Rock Era singer to reach No. 1 with his own composition came along much earlier: Buddy Knox with “Party Doll,” in March 1957.

Six months later, Paul Anka followed suit with his homage to “Diana,” and Buddy Holly with “That'll Be the Day.”

As evidenced by two Buddys and a Paul, the singer-songwriter concept is indeed a bit older than is widely regarded.

Seven years before “Party Doll,” the C&W and R&B fields had their own singer-songwriting stars. Among those are Hank Williams and Fats Domino, both renowned for writing their own tunes.

Jerry Osborne answers as many questions as possible through this column.
Write Jerry at: Box 255, Port Townsend, WA 98368


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All values quoted in this column are for near-mint condition.

Copyright 2010 Osborne Enterprises- Reprinted By Permission

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