Fred Bronson discusses premiums, the birth of rock'n'roll, Elvis Presley, Syreeta, Barbra Streisand, the Coors and more with readers.

IT'S A GUIDE THING

Hi Fred,

I just bought the newest TV Guide. It features Elvis Presley on the cover along with a "never before released Elvis recording." The song is called "That's All Right." Will me buying this issue of TV Guide count as a single sale and help it chart? Just wondering.

Thanks for keeping me interested in music!

Marty LeGere
Magna, Utah

Dear Marty,

You're welcome!

Buying the issue of TV Guide won't affect the position of Elvis Presley's "That's All Right" on the sales chart. That's because the single is a premium -- a free gift you receive when you purchase the magazine. You didn't spend any money on the single itself, so there was no "sale" to count.

There have been many cases of records or CDs being given away as premiums, and they have never counted. Norm Emery of Sanford, N.C., also wrote in about the Elvis single attached to the cover of TV Guide and asked if it would count as a sale, given the chart policy that allows Prince's latest album to be counted when it is purchased as part of a ticket to one of his concerts. The difference is that the price of the Prince album is included in the ticket price, so there is an actual sale taking place.

Since the Prince CD employed a new marketing strategy, our chart department had to figure out how to count it. Since the Prince album was released, a new policy is in place that only allows albums purchased as part of a concert ticket sale to count for chart positions when the consumer has the option to buy the album or not. This marketing strategy was used for the latest album by the Cure.

By the way, Norm had more to ask, so the remainder of his E-mail follows.



THEY NURSED IT, AND THEY REHEARSHED IT...

Hi Fred,

The release of "That's All Right" on July 5, 1954 is being touted as the birth of rock'n'roll, although I always thought it was connected to Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock" in 1955. Why the rewrite of history, and which do you and/or Billboard consider the beginning of the "rock era?"

Regards,

Norm Emery
Sanford, N.C.

Dear Norm,

"That's All Right" was recorded by Elvis Presley on July 5, 1954, so we just celebrated the 50th anniversary of the session, not the release of the record. Still, it's an important date in rock history and deserved to be noted.

To answer your question, the birth of rock'n'roll and the beginning of the rock era aren't the same thing. Just as the industrial era didn't begin with the building of the first factory, the date picked as the beginning of the rock era doesn't suppose that rock'n'roll did not already exist.

Music historians have argued for years about what is the first rock'n'roll record. There are dozens of candidates that were released before July 9, 1955, the date that Bill Haley and His Comets' "(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock" went to No. 1 on the Billboard pop singles chart. One popular choice is "Rocket 88" by Jackie Brenston (with Ike Turner), released in 1951.

The July 9, 1955, date is significant, because it signaled that with a rock'n'roll record at No. 1, the genre had arrived. Many people who have come before me have picked that date as the start of the "rock era," and I concur.

This week's mailbag is filled with Elvis Presley letters. See the next E-mail.



GOLDEN YEARS

Hi Fred,

Elvis Presley's recent No.1 single on the Hot 100 Singles Sales chart, "That's All Right," has just been certified gold, nearly 50 years after it was first issued as a single.

Is this the longest that it's taken for a single to reach gold or platinum status?

Thanks,

Sudesh Krishnan
London

Dear Sudesh,

I'm not aware of any single taking longer than 50 years to be certified gold or platinum. The Recording Industry Association of America awarded a gold single for "That's All Right" to Elvis Presley's estate on Monday, July 5. It is Presley's 52nd gold single.

Although there are incidents of record companies spraying records gold and awarding them to artists as early as 1942 (RCA gave Glenn Miller a "gold" record for "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" in February of that year), the RIAA didn't begin certifying gold records until 1958. The first official gold single was Perry Como's "Catch a Falling Star" -- also on RCA.

The first official platinum single awarded by the RIAA was for "Disco Lady" by Johnnie Taylor in 1976.



REMEMBERING SYREETA

Fred,

I was saddened to hear this week of the much under-reported passing of Syreeta Wright after a long battle with cancer.

Syreeta, the former wife and collaborator of Stevie Wonder, was a first-rate singer on her own. One of the very first singles I ever won was her original recording of "Cause We've Ended Now as Lovers," an under-rated angelic ballad that Stevie co-wrote and produced. It was later covered as an instrumental by Jeff Beck. Motown missed a potential standard by instead promoting the flipside, "Harmour Love."

As a writer, Syreeta contributed to soul classics like "Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)," "If You Really Love Me," "I Was Made to Love Her" and "It's a Shame." As a singer, her biggest success came with the top five single, "With You I'm Born Again," a duet with Billy Preston.

A lovely voice has been stilled.

Pat Kelly
Brampton, Ont.

Dear Pat,

Thank you for remembering a great artist and songwriter, Syreeta Wright. Her death was reported by Billboard.com.

I've been a fan of Syreeta ever since I bought a single released on the Gordy label called "I Can't Give Back the Love I Feel for You" by Rita Wright. I didn't know who she was, but she sounded so much like Diana Ross, I was convinced Diana had a sister named Rita Ross, who was using the name "Wright" so as not to capitalize on her famous sibling.

I was wrong, of course. It was only years later, when she started recording albums under the name Syreeta, that I realized who Rita Wright really was. I remained a big fan, and loved her Motown LPs with tracks like "To Know You Is to Love You" and a cover of the Beatles' "She's Leaving Home."

For a long time, I felt that listening to Syreeta was a secret pleasure, shared by just a few people. Eventually, the world got to know her, thanks to the duet with Billy Preston that you mentioned, "With You I'm Born Again," from the soundtrack to the movie "Fast Break."

Syreeta, rest in peace.



A CAREER LIKE BUTTAH

Hi Fred,

Now that Barbra Streisand is back in the news (platinum album, new movie and recent concert), I wondered if she is only considered an album artist these days.

Here in the United Kingdom she still racks up a top 10 hit single with every album release -- I think "The Movie Album" was one of the few not to have a single released from it. What has her singles chart career been like in the United States? I can't recall the last time she had a single on Billboard's Hot 100.

Thanks in advance.

Tayfun Fadil
United Kingdom

Dear Tayfun,

Barbra Streisand has been no stranger to The Billboard 200, but it's been a spell since she appeared on the Hot 100. Almost eight years, in fact, as her last single to chart was her duet with Bryan Adams. "I Finally Found Someone" peaked at No. 8 in December 1996.

A year later, her duet with Celine Dion, "Tell Him," went to No. 58 on the Hot 100 Airplay chart, and in 1999 "I've Dreamed of You" sold enough copies to reach No. 24 on the Hot 100 Singles Sales tally.

I wouldn't say Streisand's singles career is over, however. We've just passed the 40th anniversary of her Hot 100 debut ("People" entered the chart the week of April 4, 1964), so maybe she's ready to begin a second 40-year run.



IT'S SUMMER - WHERE'S THE 'SUNSHINE'?

Fred,

What's taking "Summer Sunshine" by the Corrs so long to reach the Hot 100? It's so catchy and it is summer -- I can't see why it hasn't caught on yet. Is it moving up any of the Billboard singles charts? I know the album debuted at No. 51 and then dropped quickly -- is it the same story for the single?

Sincerely,

Karl Bittner
McLean, Va.

Dear Karl,

I'm afraid "Summer Sunshine" is being ignored by U.S. radio. Looking through the latest issue of Billboard's sister publication, Airplay Monitor, I don't see it getting enough airplay in any format to register on any chart. Unless the airplay picture changes, I wouldn't look for this great Corrs' song to break through to the Hot 100.



BELIEF SYSTEM

Dear Fred,

As always, loved the obscure facts on your list of Hot 100-charting [songs titled] "I Believe," but you forgot my very favorite of the bunch: Diamond Rio's gorgeous smash from last year, a two-week No. 1 country hit that, "I Believe" subsequently peaked at No. 31 on the Hot 100 in summer 2003.

Christian Donovan

Dear Christian,

Thanks. You were one of a multitude of readers who wrote in about Diamond Rio's "I Believe." Unlike them, you actually got your E-mail posted at "Chart Beat Chat." "I believe" it's because you were the first to bring this to my attention.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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