CashBox, Slot Cars & Galveston

For many, Billboard Magazine was the premiere trade publication in the music industry. But it had competitors. Record World  and CashBox were the most notable. CashBox was published weekly from July 1942 to November 1996. It was revived in an online version in 2006. At left is CashBox’s take on the top 20 hits from 52 years ago this week. Their methodology differed slightly from Billboard and some radio programmers preferred it. A quick glance shows the eclectic nature of our musical tastes back then; a rare week with no Beatle tunes in the top 100.

For your listening pleasure, here’s a link to a YouTube Playlist featuring the top 20.

CashBox still lives, reinvented as the online-only magazine with the consent and cooperation of the family of George Albert, the late president and publisher of the original publication, in 2006. The data used to create the charts comes from Digital Radio Tracker, “a global broadcast monitoring source that tracks radio airplay of songs in the US and worldwide on more than 5000+ radio stations.”

For those of us in the radio biz, Joel Whitburn is the ultimate music survey historian. His company, Record Research Inc. published a history of the CashBox singles chart data covering October 1952  through 1996. Joel’s cannon of writing on the subject of popular music is as wide as it is deep. From singles to LPs. From Rock to R&B and Country, if you’re a data nerd, Joel has a telephone-book sized publication that is right up your alley.

Remembering Slot Cars:

My Strombecker slot car set wasn’t anything like Bruce Wayne’s. The shot on the left was actually taken on the set of “The Green Hornet,” created on the same lot and produced and narrated by William Dozier the guy behind the ABC Batman television series.

Slot cars became a thing when Lionel first offered the toys in their 1912 catalog. The hobby reached its peak in the 1960s when Aurora marketed the Thunderjet-500, a new flat-commutator (“pancake”) motor design that many of us remember in “HO” style cars. Strombecker and Tyco were also in the slot car space until it faded from our focus in the 1970s.

But for a decade, these cool toys were “Video Games” for children of the 60s.

Shop Talk:

Dick Taylor’s fascinating blog post on the challenges facing radio. As you read it, think about how it spills over to every legacy enterprise facing big tech’s incursions into their time tested business models.

Marc Maron has been on my podcatcher from the beginning. Here’s a best of post from 2019, Seth Resler’s take on the magic sauce that makes this podcast a winner. Lots that applies to whatever you do for a living. Via @jacobsmedia
Much More Music: The Story of “Galveston”

In March of 1969, males who were coming of age were watching developments in Vietnam with growing trepidation. The fighting was covertly expanding into Cambodia and we began to hear news of older friends who were dying in an undeclared war that few believed we could win.

The sting of the violence at the 1968 Democratic Convention was still fresh, as was our horror at the killings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy. The “Leave It To Beaver” world painted for us on Television was disintegrating, even as our conquest of the Moon was coming to its June climax. The Beatles gave their last public performance atop the Apple Corps building at 3 Savile Row in London in January and we couldn’t help but feel a page in our own life stories was turning.

52 years ago this week Capitol Records “Galveston“,  Glen Campbell‘s thirteenth album, was climbing the charts. The the former Beach Boy stand-in and Wrecking Crew member was, arguably the biggest star in the music business. His summer replacement for the Smothers Brothers Show, “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour”, got full billing in January.

Fueled by Jimmy Webb‘s title track, the “Galveston” LP spent eleven weeks at number one on the Billboard country chart, kept at bay on the album chart by the Broadway Cast Soundtrack from “Hair”. Webb at first refused to say if the song had a pacifist. As the proletariat rose against what was happening in Southeast Asia, he was more direct in his statements, that yes, it was an anthem against war and not just a song about a soldier that simply wished he were somewhere else. For Campbell, it would continue the profitable partnership with producer Al Delory that saved his career when his label had doubts about his future.

It wasn’t until his number one smash, “Southern Nights” finished it’s chart run in 1977 that Campbell’s career as a hit maker would began to fade. He would record 30 more albums plus seven “Live” collections before dementia silenced him. But at a pivotal moment when so many of us were unsure about our futures, “Galveston” became an anthem we could call our own, turning up the volume on car radios whenever it came around in radio rotation. (Video)

Today in History:

Popipn’ Fresh – Born today in 1965

1959: Hawaii becomes a state as President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs the Hawaii statehood bill.

1960: Dean Martin and Rick Nelson joined John Wayne and Walter Brennan in “Rio Bravo“, which premieres in theaters on this date.

1964: “Shut Down: Volume 2” is released by The Beach Boys. Despite the onslaught of Beatlemania, the LP was listed by Cash Box as fourth-biggest selling rock album of 1964 and received a Gold certification from the RIAA in 1966.

1965: Poppin’ Fresh, the Pillsbury Dough Boy is introduced.

1967: Steve Winwood announces that he is forming “Traffic” with Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood and Dave Mason.

1974: The Stylistics release “You Make Me Feel Brand New“.

1978: California Jam II is held in Ontario, CA. Over 250,000 people attend.

1979: Sister Sledge releases “We Are Family“.

1982: Teddy Pendergrass is severely injured in a car accident in Philadelphia resulting paralysis from the waist down.

1985: Capital Cities Communications Inc acquires ABC for $3.5 billion. It’s first transfer of ownership of a TV network.

1992: Donna Summer receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

1993: The Rolling Stones reveal that Darryl Jones will be the replacement for Bill Wyman. Wyman had announced that he would no longer be touring with the band.

1994: The city of Kenner, Louisiana, names a street after “Personality” singer, Lloyd Price.

1995: In New York, Madonna celebrates the premiere of her ‘Bedtime Story’ video with a pajama party. The gathering hosted 1,500 guests dressed in pajamas with teddy bears.

1997: Joni Mitchell announces that she had reunited with the daughter she had given up for adoption many years earlier.

2000: The U.S. Postal Service issues a 20-cent stamped postcard that features the historic Ryman Auditorium, the home of the Grand Ole Opry for more than 30 years.

2016: Legacy Recordings released ‘Elvis Presley: The Album Collection.’ The 60 CD box set included all of the albums RCA released during his lifetime.

Happy Birthday to:
(1926) Peter Graves (d. 2010)
(1927) George Plimpton (d. 2003)
(1932) John Updike (d. 2009)
(1933) Kevin Dobson (d. 2020)
(1939) Charley Pride (d. 2020)
(1959) Irene Cara
(1963) Vanessa Williams

Today’s Quote Worth Re-Quoting: “It’s nice to be cool, but it’s much cooler to be nice.” ~Jamie Dormon

One for the road:

“Well here is where it all ended,” writes John Batdorf, below the YouTube link to Batdorf & Rodney’s 1975 release Somewhere In The Night.  This was the last record B&R released. Clive Davis was so Hell-bent on us getting a hit that he had us rush into the studio and release our version before anyone else did. Clive never really ‘got’ us to be quite honest. I am sure he was hoping for Arista’s version of Simon and Garfunkel which we weren’t anything like. Clive was executive producer and wanted Mark (Rodney) to sing unison with me on the verses. He said my first version sounded too much like a solo act. We tried adding Mark but Clive didn’t like the blend. He decided to bring in David Pomerantz to be ‘Mark’ on the verses. Neither one of them could handle the high notes on the chorus so I doubled myself. What a major cluster F%!$#! Where was Ahmet (Ertegun) when we need him??”

Soon after the duo broke up, Batdorf formed the group Silver releasing a one hit wonder, “Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang” in 1976. The most successful single of his career reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100. Barry Manilow took “Somewhere In The Night” into the top 20 this week in 1979, but we still prefer the B&R version. (Video)

Thanks for listening!

Scott Westerman
Host and Producer – Rock and Roll Revisited
Author: Motor City Music – Keener 13 and the Soundtrack of Detroit