My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Week ending 10/13/12: #1 albums this week in country music history

1967: Bobbie Gentry – Ode To Biliie Joe (Capitol)

1972: Charley Pride – A Sunshiny Day (RCA Victor)

1977: Elvis Presley – Moody Blue (RCA)

1982: Willie Nelson – Always On My Mind (Columbia)

1987: Randy Travis – Always & Forever (Warner Brothers)

1992: Garth Brooks – The Chase (Capitol)

1997: LeAnn Rimes – You Light Up My Life: Inspirational Songs (Curb)

2002: Elvis Presley- 30 #1 Hits (RCA)

2007: Rascal Flatts- Still Feels Good (Lyric Street)

2012: Little Big Town – Tornado (Capitol)

9 responses to “Week ending 10/13/12: #1 albums this week in country music history

  1. Daniel November 12, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    Bobbie Gentry’s debut album ,Ode to Billie Joe, was historic as it was the first ever #1 Pop and Country album ever.( it even charted #5 on the Billboard Black Album charts). It would have an international sale of 1.5 million, a staggering sum for the era. With the massive single, Bobbie would sell 5 million records in 1967. The success would spill over into 1968, with O.T.B.J adding another half million in sales. It proved once and for all that country women could move albums. Bobbie single handedly smashed that door down. Soon after Bobbie’s gold debut, Loretta Lynn would also have her first gold album, Don’t Come Home A Drinkin. In 1968,Tammy Wynette and Jeanie C. Riley would add their names to country women with gold albums on their resume.

    • Paul W Dennis November 13, 2012 at 6:27 am

      If ODE TO BILLY JOE had never existed , I’m sure that that Loretta and Tammy would have had gold albums. Gentry’s album was, perhaps, historic but not terribly influential. Loretta Lynn had already broken through before Gentry with six top five singles ( two #1s according to Cashbox) before anyone ever heard of Roberta Streeter ‘s alter ego

  2. Daniel November 14, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Paul: A gold album in 1967-68 was a million dollar sale or about 250,000 copies. That’s what Loretta and Tammy sold. Bobbie sold 1.5 million albums, knocking the Beatles St. Pepper off the number one slot for two weeks.. Not influential? She received a whopping ten grammy nominations(including album, single and song) of the year. She would go on to win four. O.T.B.J had 7 covers alone in 1967. Today, it has over 100 covers and 50 million in record sales. She wrote every song on the album save one.. Her ‘Mississippi Delta’ is the first Southern Rock song ever. A #1 country single in the 1960’s could have had a sale of less than 50,000 copies if it did not cross-over. Loretta’s ‘Coal Miners Daughter’ sold 250,000 singles peaking at #81 pop. Tammy’s ‘Stand By Your Man’ sold 750,000 single peaking at #19 pop. Bobbie’s ‘Ode to BillieJoe’ sold 3.5 million singles#1 pop(four weeks). Jeanie C.Rileys ‘Harper Vally PTA’ sold 5 million singles #1 pop,#1 country.

  3. Paul W Dennis November 14, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    Look Daniel or Skytorch or Skylark or whatever you want to call yourself. Bobbie Gentry was a talented singer, songerwriter and performer – that’s all. That enough, but it’s all.

    Your assertion that “Mississippi Delta” was the first southern rock song, is beyond absurd – it’s an insult to the dozens of southern country boys and black blues singers who were making music when Bobbie was still a bobbysoxer.

    If you ever want to nominate her to the One-Hit Wonder Hall of Fame, I’ll be happy to second the nomination for you

    • Daniel November 15, 2012 at 1:04 am

      Wow.. mean and nasty. As for the Southern Rock comment, you have a right to your opinion but I am cetainly not alone in mind. The 2011 compilation ,’Delta Swamp Rock’, with Skynard, The Allman Brothers, Bobbie Gentry ect. on Soul Jazz records states the same view in the linernotes. In my humble opinion, “country boys’ and “black blues singers” while laying an important foundation and influence were never what is today considered classic Southern Rock. As for the one hit wonder jab, 11 U.S pop hot 100 singles with four going top forty( and 3 top three U.K hits and four #1 Canadian country hits) ;may not be a hit machine but is a respectable run in anyones book. It is even more noteworthy considering women received only one out of 12 rotation plays on 1960’s era radio and that Bobbie actually wrote many of hers.

  4. Ken Johnson November 15, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Bobbie Gentry did indeed bring a different perspective to country music than what other female country singers were offering at that time. Her acoustic folk-song approach was far different than the typical steel guitar laden hits of that era by Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn & Connie Smith. However I don’t think a case can be made that Gentry served as a major influence for subsequent female country singers. As someone who was alive during that era I recall that Gentry seemed to be generally regarded as a pop act rather than a country performer. She was at best marginally accepted by country listeners. Other than “Ode To Billie Joe” the only other recordings that achieved significant country success were the duets with Glen Campbell.

    As Paul alluded to, country music in general was growing exponentially during the late 1960’s and female acts were gaining stature. More and more full time country radio stations were exposing the genre to new audiences in regions of the U.S. that never had the consistent opportunity to hear country performers. A rising tide lifts all boats and that’s what was happening to country music in that era. An unprecedented number of syndicated country music TV shows on local affiliates even in Northern U.S. cities and appearances by country acts on network variety shows offered country acts significant exposure. Female country acts in particular were beneficiaries of that exposure leading to top selling albums Though not certified “gold’ both Connie Smith (1965 & 1966) & Loretta Lynn (1966 & 1967) charted #1 country albums prior to Gentry’s arrival on the scene.

    Because of chart methodology Gentry’s total overall album sales fueled the success of the “Ode To Billie Joe” album on the country chart. If the country record dealers surveyed at that time by Billboard deemed an album to be “country” then all total sales for that LP contributed to it’s chart position. (Same situation for Black/R&B music) That’s why country stars that crossed over including Eddy Arnold, Glen Campbell & Johnny Cash had an easier path to the #1 position than acts that were exclusive to the country format. Gentry was another. However her subsequent solo albums performed marginally. Obviously it was the “Ode To Billie Joe” song that fueled sales not Bobbie Gentry per se’.

    When Reba McEntire revived “Fancy” two decades after Gentry’s version most country fans had no idea that Gentry had originally recorded it. Only after prompting them with a mention of “Ode To Billie Joe” did most of them have any concept who Bobbie Gentry was. She was a one-hit wonder.

    I don’t buy the argument that because of Bobbie Gentry’s gold album status other female country acts realized any benefits. Don’t confuse individual accomplishment with influence.

    • Daniel November 15, 2012 at 2:00 pm

      Ken: I enjoyed reading your respectful, thoughtful insight. I agree with portions of what you said. I too lived through the era. You might be surprised to learn that Fancy was indeed a major hit for Bobbie. It charted #31 pop, #26 country, #8 adult contemporary and #65 r&b.In Canada, #1 country, #26 pop #8 adult contemporary. It spent four solid months on the hot 100.It sold a million singles in North America. Bobbie received a pop female grammy nomination and an Academy of Country top female nod for the song. I have the Capitol Records ad proclaiming the million sale framed in my house. It was a far bigger hit for Bobbie on radio than Reba. Reba sold her version on albums. Her cover only charted #8 country. Reba had to fight to get the song recorded because her label thought the song had too stong an association with Bobbie. To date it was been released on Reba six albums( including Greatest Hits volume 2 with 8 million in sales). Bobbie was no one hit wonder.Her singles that stalled in the middle rungs of the pop singles chart outsold most #1 country hits. Bobbie’s single, Oklahona River Bottom Band, #54 pop sold 200,000 copies. While it is true Bobbie only had two gold studio albums, The Delta Sweete,#111 , Fancy #96 (on the top 200 album chart) sold well into the six figures.These were respectable chartings for a female solo artist. Dustry Springfields classic, ‘Dusty In Memphis,’ peaked at #99 on the top 200 album chart. Most country artists of this era sold well below 100k per album. Bobbie’s ouput was also well received in Europe thanks to her four year running variety show on the B.B.C. Bobbie had six studio albums chart on the top 200. She made a stunning 3.5 million at Capitol 1967-74. It became public record when musican Bobby Paris was awarded 1% of her royalties(35,000) in a lawsuit. Bobbie’s biggest international hit’ , I’ll Never Fall in Love Again’ was #1 pop in the U.K, Australia and charted big in over 20 countries. Sales were 300,000 (ceritified gold) in the U.K alone. It was such a big hit Bobbie attended the London premire of the musical ‘Promises, Promises’ on the arm of Burt Backarach and Hall David.

  5. Daniel November 16, 2012 at 12:41 am

    First I want to apologize for the horrific typos. I recently have had eye surgery and my vision is blurred. I will make one more observation and than call it a quits. I firmly believe the one two punch of Bobbie Gentry and Jeanie C. Riley had a major impact for all female country artists. Both artists were viewed as hip, helping to make country cool ,not cornball, long before Barbra Mandrell. They were splashed all over tv. They achieved a mainstream audience and success, not a small nitche of the market. Jeanie and Bobbie both had millions selling debut albums. Obviously both suffered from only having one way to go after placing the bar so high. Neither would ever match their stunning debuts.Jeanie would lose her fortune through bad managment. Bobbie would conquer Vegas and retire a multi millionare on her own terms . In spite of both having songs bigger now,(than the memory of their careers), they played a vital role in pushing the sexist door of the music business a little bit more open.

    • Ken Johnson November 16, 2012 at 9:56 pm

      I respectfully disagree. Both Bobbie Gentry and Jeannie C. Riley essentially had “impact songs” that drove their fame. The fact that neither was able to replicate their initial success on later releases pretty much tells the story. I fail to see how their hits affected other female country acts or made country “cool.” In the late 1960’s very little of country music was considered “cool” by the mainstream audience other than perhaps Johnny Cash & Glen Campbell. Pop music was at a creative zenith and country could not truly compete in that arena. Much of country music remained hard core fiddle & steel guitar honky tonk songs.

      There were crossover records BEFORE Bobbie & Jeannie (i.e. Patsy Cline) and there were crossover records AFTER them (i.e. Donna Fargo) You can choose to believe that those two artists “..had a major impact for all female country artists….” but please know that opinion is not widely shared. Those women were very talented artists but not influential at the level that you ascribe to them

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