Monday, May 2, 2011

Put it in the blender and hit 'pulse'

Although his music never topped the pop charts,
Little Richard would become a crossover star
with seven gold records.
Can you tell us what the following five songs have in common?
Heartbreak Hotel, Elvis Presley
Blue Suede Shoes, Carl Perkins
Why Do Fools Fall in Love, Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers
Long Tall Sally, Little Richard
Magic Touch, Platters

If you guessed they are all from the same year, you're correct. All five were ranked among the Top 10 on Billboard's Pop chart this day in 1956.  More significantly, they were also among Billboard's Top 10 R&B songs -- the first time that ever happened.

"Heartbreak Hotel" was Elvis' first No. 1 song, and it was monster hit, staying in the top spot for an impressive eight weeks.  We didn't need Danny & the Juniors to tell us that rock 'n' roll was here to stay. Bill Haley and the Comets had sounded the alarm three years earlier when "Rock Around the Clock" became the first rock hit to reach No. 1 -- also for eight weeks. 

Now, with Elvis hitting the national stage, there would be no turning back. The once distinct lines between pop and R&B would blur, and music by black artists like Little Richard -- whose "Long Tall Sally" was riding No. 1 on the R&B chart on May 2 -- and Fats Domino would easily blend into the pop mix.

At least among radio stations that felt the earth shake and weren't bound by unyielding guidelines. 

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