Fred Bronson discusses the Righteous Brothers' Bobby Hatfield, Clay Aiken, commercial singles and coincidental birthdays with readers.

ROCK AND ROLL HEAVEN

Hi Fred,

My husband woke me up as he was getting ready for work this morning to tell me Bobby Hatfield had died. What a great loss for all of us Righteous Brothers fans. I grew up listening to their wonderful music.

I was just talking to my husband about them the other day while watching my favorite show, "American Dreams." I think Clay Aiken would be wonderful on that show and he should play the tall skinny Righteous Brother (I could never remember which was which). I am still hoping for this.

Do you have an idea if we might see Clay on "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve"? I think it would be wonderful for Clay as well as the show. Would it do any good to write to ABC about it?

I really appreciate all your info and insights.

All the best,

Cathy Vogt

Dear Cathy,

Like you, I was saddened to learn of the death of Bobby Hatfield. I grew up in Los Angeles, not far from where the Righteous Brothers lived in Orange County. Our top 40 radio station, KRLA, was a big supporter of the duo and played the Moonglow single "Little Latin Lupe Lu" as soon as it was released, as well as all subsequent singles.

Your suggestion of having Clay appear as Bill Medley on "American Dreams" is excellent. Ironically, when he was a contestant on "American Idol" I kept suggesting he find a way to sing my favorite Righteous Brothers song, "Just Once in My Life," the follow-up to "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'." If there had been a week where the theme was Carole King songs, maybe he could have sung "Just Once in My Life" on the show.

As for "New Year's Rockin' Eve," the show wanted Clay to appear, but he has a conflicting engagement and isn't available. I did my best to make it happen anyway, but to no avail. I promise you, writing ABC would be pointless because the Dick Clark folks really wanted him to be on the show.



SINGLE STATUS

I remember as a teenager and young adult buying 45s all the time. I must have over 1,000 singles. I'd especially buy a single of my favorite artists before the album was released. I'd also buy singles of artists when I had no desire to own their album.

My question is this: Don't you think CD singles would be more popular today if they were marketed like the old 45s? I mean, just a paper sleeve, or a sleeve with artwork that didn't cost an arm and a leg for just one or two songs? I think the reason CD singles are not popular is that they cost too much these days. You can buy blank CDs for next to nothing, much less than blank cassettes used to cost. I just the think the recording industry is missing out on tons of sales because singles are so overpriced.

Ray Faircloth
Cordele, Ga.

Dear Ray,

The new issue of Billboard, cover dated Nov. 15, examines the issue of singles in a digital world. While many factions have had the intent to kill the single, the format may be stronger than ever, thanks to paid digital downloads.

Record companies have declined to issue many hit songs as commercial singles so consumers will buy entire albums instead, but the record-buying public hasn't always gone along with the plan.

There has been a healthier market for singles in other countries, where they are sold in a slimmer jewel case, although not always at a reasonable price.



THE ADAMS FAMILY

Hi Fred,

That was certainly an interesting note in "Chart Beat Chat" about birthdays. However, there is something I would like to add that I think you might find interesting.

What are the odds of finding two singers with very similar names with the same birthdays? Pretty slim, I would imagine. But there are two musicians who were born on Nov. 5, exactly 15 years apart from each other. They are Bryan Adams, who turned 44 this week and Ryan Adams, who turned 29 the very same day. Strange but true.

Larry Cohen
Trumbull, Conn.

Dear Larry,

I don't think Bryan and Ryan attended each other's birthday parties, but it is a fascinating piece of trivia! They are not the only pair of similarly named singers sharing the same birthday this week as Nov. 8 is the birthday of two Bonnies: Raitt and Bramlett.

There are some other birthday oddities. Two men best known for composing stage musicals were born on March 22: Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Three singers with the same initials were born on May 2: Lesley Gore, Larry Gatlin and Lou Gramm.

And Aretha Franklin and Elton John, who duetted on "Through the Storm" in 1989, were both born on March 25. In that same vein, Tom Jones, who covered Prince's "Kiss," also shares Prince's birthday of June 7.



NO VISIBILITY ON RADIO

Dear Fred,

I am amazed that Clay Aiken's "Invisible" is still not charting on The Billboard Hot 100 (as of Nov. 15). It is getting more airplay on top 40 radio than his previous single, "This Is the Night," which reached No. 1 on sales alone. Why is this so?

Al Garcia
Everett, Wash.

Dear Al,

"Invisible" has been gaining airplay every week, and is doing well on two other Billboard charts. Clay Aiken's follow-up to "This Is the Night" is No. 21 on the Adult Contemporary tally and is a new entry at No. 35 on the Mainstream Top 40 list.

To appear on the Hot 100, "Invisible" needs to have enough airplay to show up in the top-75 of the Hot 100 Airplay chart. The song from the "Measure of a Man" album is actually very close to achieving that, and I expect it to debut on the Hot 100 next week.

Of course, if RCA were to release a commercial single of "Invisible" (and I've suggested they do so, with Aiken's cover of Neil Sedaka's "Solitaire" as a B-side), it would likely sell enough copies to reach No. 1 on the Hot 100.

Meanwhile, if you'd like to hear the debut single from Clay's roommate, tune in to The Billboard Radio Countdown anytime starting Monday (Nov. 10). Our "pick-to-click" is the first release from "American Idol" finalist Kimberley Locke, "8th World Wonder."