The Friday 5×2: WMGM (1050 AM New York City), 3/11/57

Radio station WHN in New York City changed its call letters to WMGM when they switched to Top 40 in mid-’50’s, then switched back to WHN when they ditched the rock format. They’re now WEPN carrying ESPN Radio. Here’s what their Top 10 looked like 63 years ago this past Wednesday.

  1. Elvis Presley, “Too Much” It looks to me like Elvis had a couple of #1 hits on the charts in early 1957, as “Love Me Tender” was still hot on the charts. This made its way to #1 after that. It also reached #5 on the Country chart and #7 on the R&B chart. Elvis was a real hit machine in the ’50’s and ’60’s.
  2. Perry Como, “Round And Round” This was a #1 national hit for everyone’s favorite Italian barber from Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. Perry was another real hit machine in the ’50’s, mostly on the Easy Listening chart.
  3. Tommy Sands, “Teen-Age Crush” Tommy Sands had been performing since around 1949, but it was his appearance in “The Singin’ Idol” on The Kraft Television Theater in January 1957 that turned him into an instant teen idol and an “overnight success,” partly for singing this song. It reached #2 for two weeks on the Pop chart and #10 on the R&B chart.
  4. Harry Belafonte, “Banana Boat Song” Funny, Mary and I were just talking about him the other night, trying to remember what genre he was big in (Calypso). Harry took this to #5 on the Pop chart and #7 on the R&B chart and this song became an important part of baseball games in the 21st Century..
  5. Fats Domino, “I’m Walkin'” Fats didn’t hve the kind of chart success that Elvis and Perry Como did in the ’50’s, but he had his share of hits. This one reached #5 on the Pop chart and #1 on the R&B chart.
  6. Charlie Gracie, “Butterfly”/Andy Williams, “Butterfly” It was common for radio stations, when the same song was on the survey by more than one artist, to put the both together at the same position. In this case, both Charlie Gracie’s and Andy Williams’s version of “Butterfly” rose to #1 in the US.
  7. Buddy Knox, “Party Doll” Like both Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison, Byddu was from a small town in Texas (in his case, Happy), though he never had the success that the others did. Nevertheless, this was a million-seller and was certified gold by RIAA, rising as high as #2 on the Pop chart and #3 on the R&B chart. The closest he came to reaching the Top 10 was later that yar, when “Hula Love” reached #12.
  8. Harry Belafonte, “Mama Look A Bubu” If I were to ask “what musical artist simultaneously had two hits in the Top 10 in March 1957?” you’d probably say “Elvis.” And you’d be wrong. Harry brought this to #11 nationally.
  9. Terry Gilkyson & The Easy Riders, “Marianne” Terry Gilkyson moved from Phoenixville, Pennsylvania to Los Angeles after World War II and in 1956 formed The Easy Riders with Richard Dehr and Frank Miller. This was their biggest single, earning a gold record. He also wrote the song “Memories Are Made Of This,” later recorded by Dean Martin backed by The Easy Riders. He went to work for Walt Disney Studios in 1960 and wrote music for a number of movies, including “My Heart Was An Island” for 1960’s Swiss Family Robinson and “The Bare Necessities” for 1967’s Jungle Book.
  10. Sonny James, “Young Love” Sonny was a popular singer whose albums were regularly in the Top 10. “Young Love” might be his biggest hit, reaching #1 on the Pop and Country charts, making it his only crossover hit.

and that’s The Friday 5×2 for March 13, 2030.

13 thoughts on “The Friday 5×2: WMGM (1050 AM New York City), 3/11/57

  1. I knew six of these, including some old favorites (Party Doll, Round and Round, The Banana Boat Song). I used to listen to WMGM and I was crushed when they went back to being WHN (and I even remember the date, February 28, 1962). How do I remember silly stuff like that?

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  2. I guess my favorite back in the day was “Marianne”–hadn’t thought of this song in many years. When I was a kid I used to like to sing this one. I wasn’t keeping up much with pop music back then.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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      1. After I moved to San Diego in 1959, I can recall us even singing “Marianne” in school. We used to have regular classroom times spent singing. I wonder if schoolkids still sing like that?

        Arlee Bird
        Tossing It Out

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        1. I couldn’t say, since I have no (grand)children in school these days. My guess, though, is that it’s gone the way of all other “nonessential” subjects in favor of training kids to choose the correct circle to fill in with a #2 pencil on a computer-readable answer sheet.

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  3. Other than “Banana Boat Song” and “I’m Walkin” – I got no clue. But those are good. I hope you can get started on a great weekend, John.

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  4. OMG I remember WHN. I’m not old enough to remember its foray into top 40. After the station reverted to its original call letters, it played standards, the type of music my parents would listen to in the car. And at various times in the 70’s and 80’s, it was also the home of Mets baseball — Ralph Kiner, Lindsay Nelson and Bob Murphy.

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