Fred and his readers discuss Conway Twitty, Beverley Knight, song credits and more.
THE GREATNESS OF KING GEORGE
I'm extremely excited about seeing George Strait capture the record for most-ever Billboard country No. 1s all to himself this week, with "Give It Away" becoming his 41st, and breaking a tie with Conway Twitty. But I also feel obligated to salute the late Mr. Twitty for holding onto this particular record for such a long time, and with such class and dignity.
But for exactly how long did he hold the record, or at least a share of it?
Eddy Arnold ended up with 28 No. 1s on the country charts, if you count all of the chart-toppers on the Best Sellers, Most Played by Jockeys and Juke Box charts of the 1950s. Conway Twitty scored his 28th No. 1 on Dec. 15, 1979 with "Happy Birthday Darlin'," tying him with Eddy for the most ever at the time. Then, of course, Conway kept adding No. 1s until he ended up with 40, never being passed by anyone else (although Merle Haggard did get within one No. 1 of Conway's total, three times between June 1984 and February 1985).
Therefore, Conway could be considered to have held at least a share of the record for 26 years, nine months and two weeks.
However, as you've demonstrated in the past, you and Billboard only recognize the country No. 1s from the Best Sellers chart during the 1950s, and not the Juke Box and Jockeys singles charts. Therefore, I'm guessing that your total of No. 1s for Eddy Arnold is 22, and not 28, if you take away the six songs that only topped the Juke Box and/or Jockeys chart. Therefore, Conway assumed a share of the record a little bit earlier, and from someone else.
Under this scenario, Merle Haggard's "Cherokee Maiden" became his 24th No. 1 on Nov. 6, 1976, to make him the artist with the most ever No. 1s. Conway scored his 24th No. 1 on May 8, 1977, with "Play, Guitar Play," to tie Merle for a share of the record. Merle then went four years before getting another No. 1, and Conway was off and running on his own much faster pace, and was never passed again.
Thus, if you do not count the Juke Box and Jockeys charts, you have Conway holding at least a share of the No. 1 record for 29 years, four months and three weeks.
Any way you slice it, an impressive reign for such a great legend. And now another legend takes his place and begins his reign.
This was one of those chart feats you could see coming a few years away, and it finally happened this week. You won't be surprised to learn that George Strait earning his 41st No. 1 on Hot Country Songs is the lead item in this week's Chart Beat. Take a look to read more about Strait's achievement.
You've been reading this column long enough to know that Billboard only counts the Best Sellers chart prior to the introduction in 1958 of the survey we now call Hot Country Songs. That means Eddy Arnold's official total of No. 1 singles is 22.
Thanks for figuring out how long Twitty held the record -- my English skills are better than my math skills, so I appreciate your time and effort.
Could you please tell me whether Jamelia or Beverley Knight have ever released anything in the United States or if they plan to? They're fantastic British ladies but don't always seem to get the credit that they deserve.
Do you have any personal favorites by them?Jamelia's "Superstar" is ace as is "Keep This Fire Burning" by Knight. Thanks for your time; looking forward to many more years of your column.
Durham, United Kingdom
I'm more familiar with Beverley Knight than Jamelia. I own a couple of Knight's CDs and wrote liner notes for a British R&B collection a few years back that included one of Knight's hits.
I can't find any evidence that either woman has had product released in the United States. Neither one has appeared on any domestic Billboard chart and, when you try to order their CDs online, the only albums available are imports.
Knight first charted in the United Kingdom in 1995 when she was signed to the Dome label. She is currently an EMI artist, appearing on the Parlophone imprint. In March the label released "Voice," a greatest hits collection.
Jamelia has been charting in the United Kingdom since 1999. Her third studio album, "Walk With Me," will be released on Tuesday (Sept. 25). Like Knight, she is also signed to Parlophone.
THE SECOND TO THE LAST WORD ON CREDITS
[After reading] this week's editions of Chart Beat and Chart Beat Chat, two questions sprang to mind. Hopefully you can clear these up.
First, in your list of charting American Idol contestants, I didn't see Jennifer Hudson included. Wouldn't she count, as "One Night Only" -- credited to Deena Jones & the Dreams -- has her vocals?
Secondly, in Chart Beat Chat, you mention Herb Alpert's "Diamonds" features guest vocals by Janet Jackson and Lisa Keith. Is this the same Lisa Keith who released a solo album (which sounded quite a bit like Amy Grant) in the early '90s? I can't recall the name of her single top 40 hit, though.
Thanks in advance!
Paul E. Pratt
Hopefully Jennifer Hudson (who I hear is incredible in the "Dreamgirls" movie) will have recordings released under her own name soon, but as long as the credit reads "Deena Jones & the Dreams," it's not officially a Jennifer Hudson recording. It's unusual but not unprecedented for a credit to go to a fictional character. See the next e-mail for the very last word about uncredited vocals.
Regarding your other question, the Lisa Keith who was uncredited on Herb Alpert's "Diamonds" is the same singer who released an album titled "Walkin' in the Sun" in 1993. Two of her singles charted on the Hot 100: "Better Than You" peaked at No. 36, also in 1993, and "I'm in Love" stalled at No. 84 in 1994.
WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
With all the discussion lately about how to count songs where the label credit is not given to the actual performer, I would like to weigh in with my opinion. I don't expect to change any Billboard policy; this is only me expressing an opinion to get it off my chest.
I hate frauds. I hate liars. I hate being lied to. I like honest people. What this miscrediting boils down to is dishonesty. Lying. Fraud. And I strongly disagree with it. It causes me to form a very negative opinion of the entire music industry. Sometimes it seems like everyone in it is a liar. OK, I'll make an exception for you. You're a good guy.
It's bad enough when a member of a band records a solo song and the credit goes to the band. You remember "Yesterday," "Someday We'll Be Together," "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "Careless Whisper," and so forth. That is dishonest.
What is worse is when one singer (or even musician) contributes a huge part to the recording and receives no credit. You keep mentioning "Bad Blood" as an example. I agree. Elton John got robbed. We also had songs like "What Are We Doing in Love" and "Whenever I Call You Friend" as beautiful examples. Now the discussion has moved to "Diamonds." I agree again. Janet Jackson got robbed. I would even extend this opinion to musicians, like Larry Knechtel on "Bridge Over Troubled Water." I don't know who got paid what amount of money for the performance, or who is getting the royalties. That's the sort of thing that keeps lawyers in business and is none of my business. But as a listener, I feel cheated. Someone is being dishonest with me.
But the worst case is when the song gets credited to the wrong recording act altogether. You remember "He's a Rebel," "The All-American Boy" and "Shaving Cream." This is just downright lying. It goes so far that I think it should be illegal.
And people in the industry, like Billboard for instance, should make an effort to give proper credit rather than being an accomplice by perpetuating the lies.
Forest Grove, Ore.
One of the places where I walk a fine line in selecting letters for Chart Beat Chat is the choice between continuing debate on an issue and running it into the ground. I feel like we're right on the precipice with the conversation about credits (though not because of your e-mail), so we're going to put the issue to rest with your missive.
To be honest, if you were a first-time writer, I'm not sure I would have run your letter, but you are a long-time Chart Beat Chat contributor and I appreciate the depth of your feelings, even if I don't agree with them.
Let's talk about uncredited appearances for a moment. They don't just happen on recordings. I'm sure you're familiar with many films where an actor makes an appearance but doesn't take any credit. In "She's Having a Baby," for example, there are uncredited cameo appearances by Woody Harrelson, Dan Aykroyd, Ally Sheedy, Bill Murray, Michael Keaton and Matthew Broderick. Aside from all their "Road" pictures, Bing Crosby also made uncredited appearances in some of Bob Hope's movies. If you saw Woody Allen's brilliant "Annie Hall," you might remember seeing Truman Capote, Paul Simon and Marshall McLuhan in the film, but none of them appear in the credits. Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts starred in "The Mexican" -- Gene Hackman was also in the movie, but his performance was uncredited.
There are all kinds of reasons artists choose to not take a credit, whether it's in a film or on a recording. They might be working on another project and not want to take the spotlight away from something else they hold more dear, or they might be making an artistic contribution purely out of friendship. Whatever the reason, credits are determined ahead of time with all parties having full knowledge of how those credits are going to read. I can assure you that Elton John didn't walk into a record store and purchase Neil Sedaka's "Bad Blood" single and shout, "Where the hell is my name?" Since Sedaka was signed to John's Rocket Records, Elton's uncredited vocals were no doubt added to help support Neil. Elton wasn't robbed, and neither was Janet Jackson on "Diamonds." It shouldn't be a surprise that she would contribute uncredited vocals to the man (Herb Alpert) who was the founder of her record label (A&M) at the time.
There are also reasons why people don't take credit under their own name. I can speak from personal experience. In 1974, I wrote an episode of the animated "Star Trek" series that was running on NBC. Since I worked for NBC at the time, it was considered a conflict of interest to write for an NBC show. As much as I wanted to see my name on the screen for my very first television work, I chose to write the episode under the name John Culver.
That doesn't mean I'm happy that "He's a Rebel," recorded by Darlene Love, was credited to the Crystals, as was the follow-up, "He's Sure the Boy I Love." It clearly wasn't Darlene's choice to be the anonymous voice on a No. 1 single.
But I do disagree with your point about songs like "Yesterday." There are a number of reasons an individual couldn't or wouldn't release a solo recording while a member of the group. They might not want to give any indication that the group was splitting or they might not be able to contractually release any solo material. They might also feel that while a member of a group, any work they do comes under the aegis of that group. I didn't feel deceived because "Yesterday" was a Beatles' single instead of a song credited solely to Paul McCartney.
Finally, while I don't make decisions about these matters, I think it would be inappropriate for Billboard to not list the credits exactly as they appear on a recording. Can you imagine how I would have felt if TV Guide had listed my animated "Star Trek" episode as being written by Fred Bronson when I had a very good reason for writing it under a different name?
Larry, despite disagreeing with some of the issues you raised, I do appreciate your expressing your thoughts and always look forward to your e-mails.