6) Sunny´s big leap forward: The RCA Victor years
Two small RCA Victor promo cards + back (+/- 6 x 8,5 cm)
The "Wheel of fortune"-episode all of a sudden opened doors for Sunny Gale, that had been closed when she started her search for a first record company. Suddenly, the same companies discovered that the elegant singer with the youthful looks and very distinctive voice could be a good investment after all.
So, at the end of 1952, Sunny Gale thanked Larry Newton for having given her the so much needed break to record her first songs, and spread her wings. She flew right to one of the big record companies, RCA Victor. RCA had been the first company to have switched from 78 to 45 rpm´s. It´s also the company, that released three versions of "Wheel of fortune", including the very first one, sung by Johnny Hartman. "Little" Sunny had achieved quite big things in just 6 months !
The first two songs Sunny Gale recorded for the record company with its famous logo were « I laughed at love / Father time ». In the Billboard Picks of June 28th 1952 the title track « I laughed… » received following comments:
« Sunny Gale makes her bow on the label with a breezy rendition of a slick rhythmic item » In een andere bespreking in hetzelfde weekblad heet het : « Miss Gale is caught in a solid reading of a tuneful ballad that has the stuff of a big side »
These encouraging words were confirmed by a score of 86 % by a team of 4 Billboard reviewers. (31)
Again, it soon became once more confirmed that record companies were keeping a close eye on what their competitors were doing, trying, releasing. As soon as Sunny´s version of "I laughed" started climbing in the charts, Decca came up with a version by none less than Louis "Wonderful World" Armstrong. This one though turned out to be no real commercial threat.
The flip side « Father time » was a slower song, somewhat in the same style as « Wheel of fortune ». It´s not the same song as the one released by the Poni-tails, also in the 1950´s.
« There’s some mighthy fine warbling there » according to the Billboard reviewers. (32) The customers seemed to agree. This first Sunny Gale single for RCA became a Top 15 hit, and remained for two monts in the hitparade.(33)
Tips for collectors
In fact, almost all known Sunny Gale sheet music seem to be from her RCA Victor era. Not only were music and lyrics of the A sides released, but also the B sides, each time with different front covers.
Except for the most obvious hunting ground, eBay USA, there are also a number of specialized auction sites that are worth while exploring. Just to name one -a magicien can´t explain all his tricks in his trade- www.musicsongsheets.com certainly is a good place to complete the research.
"Normal" prices for Sunny Gale sheet music are around 6-7 $. However, while some of her sheet music appear regularly on auction sites, others almost never do. Some only appear once a year, some even less. Once you know which ones are common, which ones aren´t, you´ll know when your bids certainly shouldn´t stick to the 6-7 $ average price. Unless of course you have an endless patience to complete your collection. I´ve paid up to 12.50 $ for one or two copies, and never regretted it: no similar ones have appeared since then.
Notice that the Australian Sunny Gale sheet music sometimes have a different front cover than those of their American counterparts. Some of these will be shown in this article. The message for "completists" therefor is, check every now and then sites such as eBay Australia !
An interesting website to know in which year specific RCA Victor singles were released is 45rpmrecords.com.
During the month of August 1952, Sunny Gale recorded a second single for RCA Victor. The two songs selected for this second attempt were “Tossin’ And Turnin’/You Could Make Me Smile again". The instrumental parts were delivered by the Sauter-Finnigan combo. Again, the Billboard comments were very encouraging: “Miss Gale injects sincerity in this powerful rendition of the beautiful new ballad. Ork backing (…) is stylish.” according to the weekly magazine. (34)
This "stylish backing" by the orchestra is even more obvious in “You could make me smile again”. The way the combo delivers its always difficult balancing act between power and restraint is absolutely top notch. Together with Sunny Gale´s wonderful vocals, it gives the song an extraordinairy dreamy atmosphere. The record buyers either didn´t notice it, or were taken away by other songs and singers. The single didn´t sell very well, and is therefor one of the more difficult ones to find. The same is true for the two sheet music connected to this effort. Especially "You could make me smile again” turned out to be a very difficult one to find. So, if ever it comes along, don´t hesitate to look beyond the 10 $ limit...(35)
The lack of commercial success however didn´t mean Sunny Gale started thinking about quitting or relaxing. On the contrary, the following months turned out to be quite hectic ones... (36)
coin for a jukebox or a jackpot at Palumbo´s,
with a 1 cent mounted in the center
In September 1952, the then 41 year old Frank Palumbo opened a third night club halfway South Street and the Italian Market, in South Philadelphia. Palumbo´s grandparents once started out with a boarding house for Italian immigrants. It actually was in that former boarding house, a large building that their grandson started with his entertainment imperium. He befriended Frank Sinatra, and was well liked for his philantropy. He bought animals for the local zoo, and financed parades for children. There´s also a playground in Philadelphia carrying his name.
The number of clubs he owned sometimes went up, then went down again. The club he opened in 1952 had the same address as his two other ones, the 20th Century and the Club 13. Each of these clubs had its own entrance, a different entrance policy and therefor a different public. Palumbo´s third club was situated on the first floor while Club 13 was in the basement and the 20th Century on the floor ground. His third club had a very elegant bar, room for 300 guests and a dancefloor. Palumbo planned to have two new artists each week to entertain his guests. During the opening week, he had managed to book the Dizzy Gillespie band and Bill Darnell, for the second week no less than the Art Tatum Trio and the heroin of this article. (37)
The Retroscoop Collection
Left: a rather odd singing duo
Right: A very (!) rare Australian sheet music
During the month of October ´52, a third record for RCA Victor was in the making. The management of the record company decided to try something new, and came up with the idea of a duet. The male counterpart would be Vaughn Monroe (°1911). The songs selected were « Jump back honey / So so »Billboard discovered « some exciting results » in the effort. (38) And indeed... Monroe may sound somewhat as a jolly good Santa Claus, but mixing those two different voices resulted in an OK output. In the mildly rocking « Jump back honey » (with a "twanging guitar !) the two are still searching in how to make it work. But in « So so », a slow waltz in 4/4 it began to work out fine indeed.
We can pick up again Sunny Gale tracks from November ´52 onwards. In that month, her name appeared once again on the marquee of the Paramount Building in New York, together with that of the enigmatic « Operation Secret » and that of the close harmony-group the Four Aces. Those who planned these concerts didn´t do their homework very well though. There were elections going on at exactly the same day in the Big Apple. As a result, the number of visitors of the concert hall was somewhat disappointing. (39)
Next important stop for Sunny was the 15th Midnight Benefit Show of the Amsterdam News on December 12tn. This annual happening in support of the Welfare Fund of this weekly publication took place in the famous Apollo Theatre in Harlem. (West 125 th Street). Sunny Gale was one of the artists that would perform during that benefit concert.
The "Amsterdam News" was created in 1909 in Harlem, and its main public was the Afro-American community in New York. In the 1940´s, it was one of the four biggest newspapers for this cimmunity in the USA, with a circulation of more than 100 000 copies. Sunny Gale was in excellent company that night. Not only actor/comic Milton Berle was there, but also Ella Fitzgerald, The Ink Spots, Duke Ellington and Vic Damone used the same stage on that memorable night. The Apollo was a nice reference on Gale´s growing CV, although her being there might not have pleased everyone of course. Both Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan´s careers started in the legendary concert hall, that celebrated its 75th birthday recently. (40)
Also in December Â´52, a one page advert appeared in Billboard. In it, the 3 leading figures of the non-profit organisation United Cerebral Palsy and presidential candidate Eisenhower expressed their grateful appreciation in the name of 500 000 children and adults to all the artists that took part in the « 18 hours celebrity parade ». One of those artists to have shown her kind heart by putting her shoulders under this initiative by participating in this benefit concert was Sunny Gale. (41)
To be as complete as possible, we also have to point at the so called ´telescription´ from 1952 in which we can see Sunny Gale performing the song "A good man is hard to find", a song that apparantly hasn´t been released on vinyl. (?) In another telescription, yet another title that hasn´t been released on vinyl, called "I wish I could Shimmy".
Telesciptions were short black & white films of less than 5 minutes, somewhat comparable to those made by the company Snader. These short films are in fact the precursors of the modern video clips. In 1952, Studio Films from Cleveland Ohio made about 500 telescriptions, starring Connee Boswell, Betty Clooney (Rosemary´s sister, both George´s aunts), June Valli, the Ink Spots etc. In June ´52, Studio Films signed a contract with United Television Programs (UTP), which became the sole distributor of those telescriptions. Studio Films´ catalogue consisted of 545 telescriptions, totalling 30 hours of television broadcast. The agreement stipulated that Studio Films would add 15 new telescriptions each month. Telescriptions allowed television companies to bridge the time between two programs, or to make musical programs.
We haven´t been able to find much information about Studio Films, UTP nor about the Sunny Gale telescription. I assume it has been made during her RCA Victor period, but I haven´t found any confirmation about it. It´s also strange that the song doesn´t seem to have been released on vinyl. Given the tricky copyright legislation, I can´t add the short film to this website, even if its purposes are solely didactic. But of course, if you represent a 10 digit company who wants to encourage such nice initiatives, or if you live next to Bill Gates or Tadashi Yanai, you can always contact me :-) I´d gladly seek a company who can put the 16mm film I own on CD rom, and add it to this tribute to Sunny Gale, to the delight of all her fans !
"A good man is hard to find » might be the Eddie Green composition from 1918. The short film shows Sunny Gale walking around in a room with the portrait of a dark haired man in her hands. (42)
In January ´53, Sunny Gale´s new single was released. The two titles on this one were “Teardrops on my pillow / A stolen waltz”, and she was accompagnied by the Ralph Burns Orchestra.
Although the title suggests otherwise, “Teardrops...” is a happy uptempo ditty. It was written and composed by Fanny Wolff and Deborah Chesler. The latter was the manager of the top-R&B band The Orioles. As far as we have been able to retrace things, Sunny Gale was the first to record "Teardrops...". The Orioles recorded it the next month, and it became the flip side of “Hold me, thrill me, kiss me”. (43)
This time, sales are rewarding, especiallu in Washington and New York. Philadelphia and Chicago too gave it a good response, while the Middle West once again looked in other directions. RCA also encountered distribution difficulties in St. Louis. (44)
Billboard ad Jan. 3rd 1953 p 27 (1/2 page)
"Teardrops..." apparently was quite popular with DJ’s. On January 10th, the song is on the n° 1 spot in Billboard’s « disk jockeys pick », beating big shots as Vic Damone, Doris Day and Nat King Cole. In February, Sunny Gale was elected on the 2nd place in the list of "Most Promising Female Vocalist" by DJ´s. (45) "Teardrops..." reached the #12-position in Billboard´s Best Selller´s list, doing better than than "Wheel of fortune".
"A stolen waltz", the B-side of the single too was quite popular, and also reached the Top 20. (46) It´s a slow waltz, instrumentally somewhat in the same style as Patti Page´s "Tennessee Waltz", but with the distinctive vocals of Sunny Gale. The lark is accompagnied by some kind of barrel organ. This must have been a favorite song of many couples, romancing on the dance floor. Sales were very satisfying in her loyal hometown Philadelphia, but she also conquered many new hearts in Dallas and Pittsburgh.(47)
A report edited by the Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI), one of the three American performing rights organizations along with SESAC and ASCAP gave "Unannimous approval" to Gale’s performing the "Stolen Waltz". Cash Box, a magazine for the juke box industry however, expected more from another version by Dick Thomas. (48)
The BAM in Brooklyn, NY in 1910 and in the ´30´s
On Febryary 6th, Sunny Gale was performing live ib the prestigious Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), in the Lafayette Avenue, NY. The BAM, is located in the Sharp Building, a neo-classical construction from 1907 generally used for opera and theatre shows. Other big names performing that same night were the Ink Spots, Count Basie, Eartha Kitt, Lena Horne, the Four Tunes, Willie Bryant and Red Buttons. (49)
On March 7th, a horizontal ad of 1/3rd page in Billboard has real "Good news". And indeed, amidst the many new releases that month, there´s also the newest of "la Gale". With the "How could you / I feel like I’m gonna live forever"-release, RCA has combined two happy sounding tunes on one vinyl disc.
The backing vocals on "How could you" start relatively modest, with some "doo-doo-doo’s" here and some "ohhhh’s" there, but play a much more important role in the second part of the song.
Billboard ad March 7th 1953
The same formula is used in the solid and happy tune "I feel like I’m gonna live forever". In this case however, it is the orchestra which first plays a modest role, and than joins in with much energy in the second part, producing a Sinatra-like instrumental back up, and is one of my favorite Sunny Gale songs. It´s one of the songs from the funny Broadway musical "Hazel Flagg".
Hazel is a young girl from a small town. One day, doctors think she´s going to die, because she is supposed to have been in contact with radio-active Radium. A magazine concentrates its attention on the tragic event, and offer Hazel a trip to New York. When it becomes clear that the diagnosis was a mistake, Hazel decides not to tell anyone, for fear of losing the opportunity to see the Big Apple. In the musical, one of the songs Hazel is singing is the vibrant and optimistic "I feel like I’m gonna live forever".
Strangely enough, the efforts of RCA to put a hype in motion with ads announcing "Sunny Gale with another big hit" didn´t caught the imagination of a large public. Quite a pity, because this is really a vibrant single, that deserves a place of honor in every good music collection. It certainly should be in whatever Sunny Gale collection !
Front and back of a rare RCA-Victor promo card (14 x 21,5 cm)
distributed by her official fanclub on Broadway
Tips for collectors
- It´s really not understandable, why none of these two strong songs have been added to the 2 existing Sunny Gale CD´s. Especially because both added a not particularly convincing version by Gale of Noel Coward´s "Mad about the boy" in their playlist. But then again, as another Sunny Gale fan wrote: "Any Sunny Gale is better than no Sunny Gale at all"..
- What is quite strange is that -although the record didn´t sell very well, it´s not difficult to find the two sheet music linked to it. Both often appear on eBay USA, and you certainly should not pay more than about 4 to 6 $ for them.
RCA Victor had a sufficient number of top sellers working for them, to compensate for somewhat disappointing sales. A new attempt was launched in May ´53. The songstress was backed up by the Henri Rene Orchestra, and the RCA-staff gave it a try with the Bob Hilliard-Milton De Lugg tune "Send my baby back to me". (50) On the flip side, RCA added the song "Meanwhile".
Once again, RCA also put the money on the table for ads of 1/3rd of a page in Billboard. "Sunny sales weather ahead", the slogan told readers with a pun. A small photograph of a beaming Sunny Gale was surrounded by a drawned solar halo. (51)
Part of Billboard ad
May 16th, 1953 p. 31
The Billboard reviewers in the meantime kept believing in the sales potentional of the gifted songstress: "Send my baby back to me : Rhythmic item is projected strongly by the thrush. It has an infectuous beat and should do OK on the boxes. Meanwhile : the beautiful ballad is warbled simply and tastefully by the songstress." (52)
This single once again illustrates Gale´s vocal abilities to catch very different moods with brio. While "Send my baby" is yet another happy ditty, she brilliantly gives "Meanwhile” the gloomy mood the lyrics and orchestral arrangements require. The lyrics are about a man who just can´t make up his mind whether he wants to settle down (or just go on enjoying his bachelor´s freedom). So, the songstress advices him to "to paint the town red with wine”, until he knows what he wants. It´s once again a slow waltz in 4/4, and the completely different mood compared to the A-side is really striking. While singer and orchestra are delivering a perfect job, the record buying audience however -once more- decided to spend its dollars to buy other records.
Large RCA promo photograph
(+/- 20,5 x 25 cm)
The trail of Sunny Gale now leads us back to the town she grew up: Philadelphia. "Pop" Sciolla, the boss of Sciolla’s café, "one of the major nabe spots here" offered her a contract to perform in his establishment. Until then, "Pop" had allowed local bands to use the stage. In an attempt to attract a more select customer base, he decided to invest money in top notch performers. On May 4th, he invited Dolores Hawkins and Steve Gibson, while Sunny Gale and Tony Bennett gave a show that took place either in the last week of May or in the first week of June. (53)
Using the new medium television for promotional purposes became indispensable in the early 1950´s. (We already saw the might of this communication tool when we retraced the history of the Wheel of fortune episode). The fame and name of many artists was made (or broken) by television appearances. On June 6th, Sunny Gale was one of the guests of the "Saturday Night Revue". Host was the famous singer/piano player/actor Hoagy Carmichael, a prolific and very highly esteemed composer of popular songs. (54)
The two sheet music for Gale´s "seventh son"
In the summer of ´53, Gale´s "Seventh son" in a row for RCA Victor saw the daylight. "Love me again / Before it’s too late" was the next attempt to reach the top of the chart lists. Apparantly, the record company decided it should put more money into promotional efforts for their lark. On August 29th, a full page ad for the new release appeared in Billboard magazine. (55)
"Before is too late" is once again the result of the co-operation between Fanny Wolff and Deborah Chesler. (Earlier in her career, Gale already performed their "Teardrops on my pillow", while in the early 1960´s, she would once more record a Wolff-Chesler song called "Once in every lifetime") Yet another indication that RCA Victor was trying to help Gale find her way to the top of the charts was their decision to entrust their lark to one of their top band leaders, the well known Hugo Winterhalter. He already had contributed to the success of several songs, including for some hits by Eddie Fisher. (56)
On "Before it’s too late", the listener will clearly hear some tango-influences and even rhythms, while "Once in every lifetime" is a nice, slow ballad, convincingly performed by Sunny Gale. Note the resourceful "pizzicato"-passages, during which the violin playrs pluck the chords of their instrument.
Once again, reception is very well in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and St. Louis, with also good results in Boston. For the first time, Billboard also mentions a good result in Los Angeles. Until then, Sunny Gale mainly sold records on the east coast of the States. Billboard also notes that her sales are mainly concentrated in big cities. (57) Both songs reached Billboard´s Top 25.
In September, Sunny Gale is back in New Jersey, the east coast state where she was born in 1927. Gale was one of the guests of Charles Mathis from radio station WCMC in the little town of Wildwood. But although this town may not be known internationally, it seems that lots of Americans found their way to this place. Indeed, what would a small town with a limited population otherwise do with 150 clubs and night clubs ? And why would big names such as Bill Haley’s Comets, Louis Prima, Lionel Hampton, the Gaylords etc. bother to visit Mathis and Wildwood, if it wasn´t for the tens of thousands of tourists that were flooding Wildwood during the summer ? In that time, Wildwood had lots of motels, hotels, a nice pier and a famous amusement park. (58)
We haven´t been able to find out in which elegant clubs Sunny Gale performed in Wildwood, but it is more than likely that her radio interview with Mathis was meant to promote such shows. (59)
Superb photograph of Sunny Gale´s booking agency MCA. It was part of a press kit, that also contained a biograhy of 2 pages. On the back of this autographed copy, someone wrote down the name Mort(Nushbaum ???), than an address: 201 Humboldt Street, Rochester NY and the words "Radio Station WHAM". In 2010, this address still is linked to radio and TV-activities, but my e-mail to them didn´t get a reply or didn´t get through the spam filter.
The next month, Sunny Gale once again lend her support to a benefit concert. This time, she was one of the artists supporting the Jimmy Fund Show. The happening took place in the Baybrook nightclub in New Haven, the second largest town in Connecticut. (I was told that there´s still an old law that punishes all those who pronounce the name of this state incorrectly).
The JFS was a welfare initiative that supported the first hospitals that treated children with cancer. (60) One of the driving forces behind the show was redio station WAVZ. Other artists participating in this fund raising event were Bill Kenny (Decca), Ginny Gibson (MGM) and the WAVZ-orchestra conducted by Tiny Markie. (61)
Left: A sheet music without picture of the songstress,
only the reference "as sung by Sunny Gale" above the
songtitle. Right: Billboard ad and sheet music of the flip side
In the second half of November ´53, RCA´s A&R man Joe Carlton proposed a new formula for selling Sunny Gale to the record buying audiences : why not let her work together with the Du Droppers ? This was one of RCA´s pioneering groups, which was well established in R&B circles. (The name of the genre only appeared in the 1960´s). (62) The result of this experiment can be found on the single "Mama´s Gone Goodbye / The Note In The Bottle".
"Singing greater than ever before: Sunny Gale and the Du Droppers" and "Another RCA first exclusive", a rather small ad in Billboard anounces proudly and triumphantly. (63) Maybe RCA concentrated its promotional efforts in R&B magazines, since the Du Droppers were a well respected name in those circles.
Pretending that the end result sounds revolutionarily different than other Sunny Gale singles, would be incorrect. The vocal back up on "Mama’s gone, goodbye" reminded me of the back up vocals on "How could you", with once again lots of "Doo doo doo’s". On the flip side, Sunny first sings 2/3 of the song, and only then we get a harmonious but rather modest R&B/gospel-like contribution by the Du Droppers. About 300 000 copies were sold. Certainly not bad at all, but not the million seller RCA Victor was hoping for either.
Tips for collectors
- Even today, "Mama´s gone goodbye/How could you" remains a popular item for collectors of early R&B music (64)
- An extremely interesting item is the Spanish RCA Victor EP from 1954. The very attractive picure sleeve makes it a very desirable collector´s item. The EP combines the two songs of the "Mama´s gone goodbye"-single with those from a more recent one, called "Smile".
Go to Part Two of this article
Bibliography and footnotes
Remark: Texts which are underlined are links to other websites. The term op.cit. means it´s a textual quotation from the source mentioned in this footnote.
1) His very public divorce from actress Debbie Reynolds didn´t do his career much good, and his new marriage to the fickle actress/widow Elizabeth Taylor didn´t last very long.
Philadelphia also fed Frankie Avalon (°1939) and Fabian (°1942) with this special component in the air.
2) Singer Kay Starr had -as a small child- her own radio program of 15 minutes. In the early 1930´s, when she was 10 years old, she earned 3 $ each night, which wasn´t bad at all in those Depression Days.
3) Liner notes from Sunny Gale´s LP "Sunny and blue" (see discography for more details)
4) Before Sunny Gale´s arrival, Estelle Taylor sang with Jules Helzner´s orchestra. Helzner (° 1918) came from a very musical Jewish family, which left Russia in 1921 for the States. He played clarinet in a band of which his brother Morry was the bandleader. Except for working together with Sunny Gale, he also worked with yet another very good singer from Philadelphia, Gloria Mann.
5) You´ll find quite a variety of McIntyre-items on auction sites such as eBay USA, from sheet music to photographs, and from vinyl to CD´s. However, we haven´t managed to retrace whether some of the available CD´s contain recordings with Sunny Gale doing the vocal parts
6) By 1953, Sunny Gale had memorised more than 1000 songs ! Often she only needed to hear a song once or twice, to remember both music and words... See: Sunny Gale, the « Wheel of fortune »-girl Foto-rama March 1st, 1953 vol. 1 n° 2 p 36
7) Hal McIntyre was one of the big American bandleaders. Being accepted to work with him was a very nice reference on Sunny Gale´s curriculum !
8) Derby Record´s logo was a bowler hat, known as a "Derby hat"
For a short biography of Larry Newton, see: "Clark to head AB-PT; Top ABC-Para. Post to Newton” Billboard 21 nov. 1964 pp 1 & 8
9) We haven´t been able to establish whether a poem by the Scottish poet Hugh MacDiarmid entitled "Sunny Gale" served as inspiration for this colorful stage name. It even seems to be impossible to find on the internet in which year that poem was written. A Scottish organisation we contacted weren´t able either to pinpoint the year in which it appeared. Anyway, what is certain is that Selma Sega already used this name while singing with Hal McIntyre (see poster) and probable with Helzner, who refers to her as Sunny Gale, not Selma Sega. So, the stage name wasn´t invented at the time she got her first record deal.
10) Billboard Dec. 29th 1951 p 22 op.cit.
11) Liner notes from Sunny Gale´s LP "Sunny sings dixieland blues" op.cit. (See discography)
12) Eddie Wilcox´s career began in the Swing Era, in the famous Jimmy Lunceford Orchestra, a top-ork that was able to compete with those of Duke Ellington or Count Basie.
From 1929 onwards, Wilcox was responsible in the JLO for all the musical arrangements. When Lunceford died in 1947, the Orchestra tried to carry on without its charismatic bandleader, but disbanded about 2 years later.
13) The most famous version of "You showed me the way" probably is the one by Billie Holiday
14) A number of other small record companies had had lucky shots in the Bestseller´s Charts. The record label Tennessee had a bull´s eye with Del Wood´s "Down yonder", while the song "Sin" by the Four Aces was a similar stunt by record label Victoria.
It would lead us too far away from the main subject of this article, the tribute to Sunny Gale, to start digging into the history of the hitparade as we know it today. In fact, other writers have done this already extensively and with the necessary accuracy. Let me just say this: until the first half of the 1950´s, there were two very import hitlists in the USA: the one by the weekly magazine Billboard and one by Cash Box magazine. While the first one mentioned was the best source for the general public, the latter was concentrating on the juke box industry. Indeed, except for record sales, success in juke box machines too was very important for the music industry. The results of records sales weren´t always reflected in the success artists had in joints equipped with juke boxes.
The hitlist of Billboard in fact consisted of three separated lists: a Top 40 of the best selling artists, a hitlist provided by the juke box industry and a list of the favorite songs of the DJ community, the third and extremely important pillar of the music industry of those days.
The formula of the Hot 100 only appeared in August 1958.
15) Billboard Feb. 2nd 1952 « Sleeper » slicings hype disk industry p. 15 / 39 op.cit.
16) Except for Sunny Gale´s and Kay Starr´s Wheel of fortune, there were a large number of other covers.
17) An interesting biographical article on Kay Starr can be found in: "Starr billing : Kay Starr" in : Song Hits May 1952 p 12 (Song Hits magazine can be found for ex. on eBay USA
18) So, this kind of funny experiences with sound samples took place long before Pink Floyd added their famous ones to "Money"...
19) Bob Rolontz: "Video’s a song’s n° 1 hit-maker" Billboard 27 feb 1954 p 1 and 20 "Derby waxing stoked up the excitement about 10 days ago, and since then, every major waxer and a number of lesser firms have moved quickly to cover on the Benjamin-Weiss song." op.cit.
Capitol already had done something similar in 1951, by getting Les Paul & Mary Ford in front of the cameras during the Ed Sullivan show, during which the Fords performed "How high the moon". The TV appearnce boosted solidly the record sale . Source: “Video’s a song’s n° 1 hit-maker” by Bob Rolontz in Billboard February 27th 1954 p 1 en 20
20) Candidates of the TV game "Wheel of fortune" were ordinary people, who had distinguished themselves by an extraordinary, meaningful civic deed. A giant wheel of fortune would determine which trivia question they would get from host Todd Russell. If they answered this question correctly, they could win 1000 $. The program lasted until the end of September 1953.
The Copa existed from 1948 until New Year´s Eve 1959. The club was situated in the Villa Madrid, 818 Liberty Avenue, near Nixon Theatre and accross its rival, the Carousel. Leonhard Litman died in 2002.
« Pitt Copa builds week around team, songs » Billboard March 1st 1952 p 15
21) This was quite some stunt ! Benjamin and Weiss weren´t even registred as professional musicians. They first had to become members of the American Federation of Musicians or form the American Guild of Variety Artists to be allowed to perform in public. Apparantly, they performed during 1 week, and were paid 1000 $ eacht.You showed me the way" probably is the one by Billie Holiday.
22) "Paramount, N.Y." Billboard May 24th, 1952, p 45 op.cit.
This very detailed account even specifies the entrance prices for the happening: from 0,55 c to 1,60 $. In the same week, there also was a show with Nat King Cole and Alan King.
"Movie review: Rancho Notorious" New York Times May 15th, 1952.
23) "Sunny Gale, the ‘Wheel of fortune’-girl" Foto-rama March 1st 1953 vol. 1 n° 2 p 36
New York Times ad for the Arthur Murray Party Sunday March 30st, 1952
See also: Internet Movie Data Base Imdb.
24) See for ex. Top R&B hits of 1950-1969
25) "But Newton’s shootin’ with Trudy waxing of ‘Breeze’" Billboard 18.04.1953 p 15 and p 43
Nor the fuss due to the Trudy Richards-move, nor the strange behaviour of sheet music editor Leeds managed to keep Kay Starr out of the Top 10. Leeds, the editor of the sheet music for "The breeze" apparantly tried to cause confusion within the DJ-community, by trying to make believe "The breeze" and not "Side by side" was the actual A-side of the single. To do so, they send a mailing to several key DJ´s, which was formulated in such a way, as if Kay Starr had participated in writing it. When big money is involved, some really go to great lengths to get their piece(s) of the cake.
26) "Derby bankruptcy plea filed in N.Y." Billboard Oct. 23rd, 1954 p 18
"Decca to get Eli Oberstein’s Derby masters" Billboard April 9th, 1955 p. 15
“Derby hearing set Nov. 9; Oberstein bids for catalog” Billboard Nov. 6th, 1954 p 28.
It was RCA Victor’s now I am/now I am no longer Artists & Repertoire-man Oberstein who bought the Derby-label and record catalogue for 5800 $. The catalogue consisted of 286 edited and 160 non edited mastersn wit catalgue numbers running from 701 to 863.
"ABC Paramount Head is Rugged but Reasonable" Billboard 18 sept. 1965 p 32 & 48
ABC records existed from 1955 till 1979. The record company was bought that year by MCA, which was Sunny Gale´s booking agency in the 1950´s
From the early 1950´s onwards, the importance of R&B began to rise. This was partly due to the fact that a growing white audience was opening up for it, partly because of better economic perspectives for a growing part of the Afro-Americans, allowing larger record sales.
27) "Clark to head AB-PT ; top ABC-Para-post to Newton" Billboard Nov. 21st, 1964 p 1 & p 8
28) In May 1952, Georgia Gibbs had a #1 hit with « Kiss of fire » : on the flip side of that record, buyers got yet another version of "A lasting thing". It is not excluded that this fact too had a negetive impact on the sales of Sunny Gale´s A-side version: many people who bought Kiss of fire didn´t bother to buy Sunny Gale´s "Thing", since they already had the Gibbs version as a bonus.
29) Jet (Magazine), June 12th, 1952 p. 47
Jet was a magazine for the Afro-American community. The writer of the article pointed to the fact that Bejamin nd Weiss, the two composers of "Wheel of fortune" were an interracial team.
30) Billboard June 7th, 1952 p 36 op.cit
Of course, the historical perspective is such, that the listener of the 21st century can listen to Sunny Gale´s complete output, and compare the different efforts within the same day, something the 1950´s listener couldn´t do. And although this remains a very personal opinion, not necessarily a very humble one, but to me, Sunny Gale´s voice was best suited for cheerful, happy ditties. Even though she certainly proved with songs such as "If I", that she was able to get completely immersed in songs with a different mood. So, maybe after all, it´s just me and my ears, who prefer cheerful songs... Someone who likes sad songs might adore Sunny Gale for her capacity to add drops of sadness between the music notes, while singing such songs.
31) "Billboard Picks" Billboard June 28th, 1952 p 40 op.cit.
32) "Record reviews" Billboard July 12th, 1952 p 38 op. cit.
33) J.C. Marion: "Remembering Sunny Gale"2003
In October 1952, RCA Victor released a full page ad in Billboard, to promote their new releases, and a list of singles that were "Going strong". In this latter one, RCA Victor added at the bottom Sunny Gale´s "I laughed at love/ Father time"(RCA 4789). To introduce her to a larger public, a short text give readers some more information about the blonde tuneweaver:
"Prettiest little Gale we’ve seen in a dog’s age is coming up fast in show business. We’re talking about Sunny Gale, whose RCA recording of I LAUGHED AT LOVE is currently spinning on the nation’s leading disc jockeys."
“Gale coming fast” Billboard Oct. 25th, 1952 p 55
34) "Popular record reviews" Billboard August 6th, 1952 p 68 op.cit.
35) It is so scarce, that I only came across one copy, on which a creative American toddler had added some color to the two 1/8 notes on the cover. (actually it was the little son of the eBay seller who was responsible for this arts & crafts) I´ve removed most of it with the Photoscape program. Anyway, I´ve never seen another copy on eBay USA since I bought this one about 2 years ago...
36) J.C. Marion: "Remembering Sunny Gale" 2003
37) "3d room to open soon on Palumbo site" Billboard Aug. 30th, 1952 p 18
Some of the other exclusive entertainment places Frank Palumbo owned at one time or another were the C.R. Club, the Palumbo´s Theatre-Resto, Frank Palumbo´s Click (with its musical band the Clickettes) etc.
Although some of his critics have dropped the word "maffia", there have never been any proof to substantiate this claim.
38) "Record reviews" Billboard Nov. 1st, 1952 p 38 op.cit.
39) “Election hurts stem combos” Billboard Nov. 15th, 1952 p 19
40) Bob Rolontz : « Rhythm & Blues Notes » Billboard Dec. 13th, 1952 p 52
41) Billboard Dec. 20th, 1952 p 13
42) UTP to handle musical films Billboard June 28th, 1952 p. 10 & 20
43) Marv Goldberg’s R&B notes The Orioles discography, 1999
44) "Late reports on « recent buys" Billboard Jan. 10th, 1953 p 26
Chesler also wrote to other songs, performed by -among others- Sunny Gale, « Before it’s too late » (1953) and « Once in every lifetime » Billboard Jan. 3rd, 1953 p 26
45) "1953 Artist Biography Section" Billboard Feb. 28th, 1953
46) "Remembering Sunny Gale" 2003
47) "Coming up in trade" Billboard Jan. 17th, 1953 p 44/48 / Billboard Jan. 24th, 1953 p 32 "Remembering Sunny Gale" 2003
48) Billboard Jan. 10th, 1953 p 38 op.cit.
49) Original Ink Spot activities by date Jan/48-Dec/53
50) Billy Eckstine too recorded this song, but it appeared on the flip side of "I laughed to keep from crying". In the same period, Judy Garland too recorded a song with this title, but it´s not the same composition. The Garland song was written by Jessie Mae Robinson.
51) Billboard May 16th, 1953 p. 31
52) Billboard May 16th, 1953 p. 35 op.cit.
53) "Disk acts for Philly nitery" Billboard May 2nd, 1953 p 13. It brought Sunny Gale to Sciolla´s.
54) The prolific Hoagy Carmichael wrote such well known songs like "Ole buttermilk sky" (1946), Dean Martin´s "In the cool cool cool of the evening" (1950) and the beautyful "Skylark", (1941), so beautifully sung by Linda Ronstadt.
55) Billboard Aug. 29th, 1953 p 51 In the same Billboard, there were also full page ads for Dinah Shore (RCA Victor) and for Teresa Brewer and Eileen Barton (Coral)
56) "Remembering Sunny Gale" 2003
57) "This week’s best buys" Billboard Sept. 5th, 953 p 28
58) "Vox Jox" Billboard Sept. 5th, 1953 p 34 It was in Wildwood N.J. that Bill Haley performed in 1954 for the very first time "Rock around the clock”. The little town with its tens of thousands of tourists every holiday season therefor sees itself somewhat as the birthplace of rock´n´roll.
59) e-mails to an organisation which studies the history of the local radios in New Jersey unfortunately remained without a reply.
60) The history of the Jimmy Fund clinics in itself is a very interesting subject !
61) "Vox Jox / Guesting" Billboard Oct. 17th, 1953 p 38
62) "Gale, Du Droppers paired in disk…" Billboard Nov. 14th, 1953 p 24.
63) Sunny Gale ad for "The note in the bottle" Billboard Dec. 5th, 1953 p 17
64) "Remembering Sunny Gale" 2003