My Kind of Country

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

Week ending 5/21/16: #1 singles this week in country music history

Academy+Country+Music+Awards+Artist+Decade+6KPcHTfeigAl1956 (Sales): Heartbreak Hotel/I Was The One — Elvis Presley (RCA)

1956 (Jukebox): Heartbreak Hotel/I Was The One — Elvis Presley (RCA)

1956 (Disc Jockeys): Heartbreak Hotel — Elvis Presley (RCA)

1966: Distant Drums — Jim Reeves (RCA)

1976: What Goes On When the Sun Goes Down — Ronnie Milsap (RCA)

1986: Ain’t Misbehavin’ — Hank Williams, Jr. (Warner Bros./Curb)

1996: My Maria — Brooks & Dunn (Arista)

2006: Wherever You Are — Jack Ingram (Big Machine)

2016: H.O.L.Y. — Florida Georgia Line (Republic Nashville)

2016 (Airplay): Somewhere on a Beach — Dierks Bentley (Capitol)

6 responses to “Week ending 5/21/16: #1 singles this week in country music history

  1. Ken May 22, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    During the 1980’s Hank Jr. generally favored releasing his own compositions as singles although he occasionally revived a Hank Sr. tune. So it was a surprise when Hank’s recording of the vintage standard “Ain’t Misbehavin'” hit the charts in 1986. The song was co-written by blues man Fats Waller who recorded the song in 1929. At least five other versions were released that year including one by Louis Armstrong. Hank said that he loved Waller’s music and often listened to Fat’s recordings on his tour bus. Recorded for Hank’s 1985 album “Five-0” the original version timed out to more than four and-a-half minutes. Significantly edited for single release more than a minute was trimmed by shortening both the intro of the song and a portion of the the instrumental outro at the end. The edited single has never been issued on CD.

    Fats Waller revived the song for the 1943 movie “Stormy Weather.” Here’s a great clip that includes the star of the film Lena Horne. Fat’s facial expressions are priceless.

  2. Ken May 22, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    Though Jim Reeves’ life ended with a plane crash on July 31, 1964 his recording career continued for many years. Jim’s widow Mary and his record label RCA VIctor continued to release and actively promote new singles and albums. This was possible was because of multi-track tape that allowed studio technicians to isolate Jim’s original vocals and then overdub new musical accompaniment and background singers. Also at the time of his death Jim had many unreleased test and demo recordings. Some were recorded in his basement studio with his band. One of those songs “Distant Drums” was written by Cindy Walker. Jim recorded the demo as a favor to her so she could pitch it to another artist. The song’s references to a young couples separation as the man goes off to war was not relevant to that time. But just a few years later massive troop call-ups for the Vietnam War made those lyrics timely. Producer Chet Atkins recorded new instrumental backing for the song on February 9, 1966 and released it a single the next month. It became Jim’s biggest posthumous hit topping the chart for four weeks.

    Roy Orbison was first to commercially record the song in 1963. However his version was not released until late 1965 when it became the “B” side of a Monument single. Roy’s performance is also excellent.

    • Razor X May 22, 2016 at 9:28 pm

      It’s actually quite impressive that RCA was able to get #1 singles from a deceased artist for as long as they did. It’s not an easy thing to do when the artist isn’t around to promote the record — especially a year or two down the road after all the news stories about the artist’s death have died down.

      • luckyoldsun May 23, 2016 at 3:46 am

        When Conway Twitty died in 1993, he had just finished a new, contemporary sounding album for MCA. MCA released it, but radio treated the singles like toxic waste. The first single made it to #62 and the second one didn’t chart at all, so the record label gave up. Of course, Conway was almost 60 when he died. Reeves “benefited” from being only 40 when he was killed.
        The only modern country artist that I can think of who died while he was still in the “major leagues” at radio was Keith Whitley, who was in his 30’s when he died. And they did manage to get a string of hits–including two number 1’s, a top-15 duet with Lorrie Morgan, and a #2 duet with Earl Thomas Conley– out of him post-death. But his “success” was nothing like Reeves’.

        • Ken May 23, 2016 at 9:56 am

          There is no comparison between the attitude of those running country radio stations & the country music industry in Nashville in the 1960’s vs the 1990’s. In the 1960’s far more respect existed for veteran artists that had built their career with a long string of successful records. Radio programmers kept an open mind and had a willingness to at least allow their new music to be heard. Also most acts had a very loyal fan base supporting them that extended the life cycle of record sales. After his passing new Jim Reeves records were readily accepted by programmers and truly regarded as something special. Reeves worldwide fan base also helped to fuel sales of new releases beyond the U.S. border turning a very nice profit for RCA.

          By the 1990’s the country gatekeepers had been replaced by guys with a pop music mentality. Country radio guys, many of them refugees from pop radio, were only looking for the hottest, newest and preferably YOUNGEST acts. They could not wait to bury veteran acts regardless of how good their new releases might be. The Nashville music industry had been overrun by pop guys from New York or L.A. and those that had been in town for a while adopted the same outlook as the carpetbagging weasels & their corporate counterparts to keep their jobs. Most could not wait to put a nail in the coffin of veteran performers so they could pursue the next Garth Brooks. Veteran acts that sold enough units to remain on major record label rosters a few decades earlier were considered disposable in the 1990’s due to expectations of album sales that would total in the millions rather than thousands.

          The country music world that Jim Reeves competed in and the one that Conway Twitty competed in thirty years later was 180 degrees different. While much of Conway’s 1990’s material was indeed worthy some singles were mediocre. In that ultra-competitive climate a veteran act needed to bring their “A” game to every release without exception. As for Keith Whitley promoting his posthumous releases was a significant challenge for RCA. They deserve much credit for being able to sustain his chart life and sales for more than two years after his passing without benefit of concerts, interviews and TV/personal appearances to support their promotional efforts.

  3. Paul W Dennis May 23, 2016 at 6:20 am

    Always loved the music of Fats Waller & Andy Razaf. If a revival of the musical play AIN’T MISBEHAVING ever hits your area, it is worth seeing for the music alone

    I think Reeves’ enormous international success spurred on RCA’s willingness to keep issuing new product, His sales in the UK and Ireland were enormous, both albums and singles. The BBC in 1969 and 1970 even had a Jim Reeves spot each evening where they would play one of his songs.

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