“IF music be the food of love, play on, give me excess of it”. In which case William Shakespeare – who wrote those words almost 500 years ago – would be delighted with how long the charts have lasted. Steve Canavan reports
That Great British institution, the countdown of the UK’s 40 top selling singles, is celebrating its 60th birthday.
From the first ever number one – Al Martino’s Here In My Heart in November 1952 – to the current chart-topper, Robbie Williams’ Candy, the traditional way of finding the nation’s favourite song is still going strong.
Blackpool, it’s fair to say, has played a big part in the history of the charts, with the town producing some of the biggest names in music over the years.
Chris Lowe, one half of the Pet Shop Boys, was born in the town in 1959 and played trombone in a local seven-piece band called One Under the Eight. Lowe, now 53, didn’t do too badly for himself - eventually meeting up with pop partner Neil Tennant racking up 22 Top 10 hits and four number ones (West End Girls, It’s a Sin, Always on My Mind and Heart, for the quizzical amongst you).
Graham Nash, who wrote for the Hollies, then went on to play alongside the great Neil Young in the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young Band, immortalised the circumstances of his birth in February 1942 in the first lines of his song Military Madness. The lyrics read: “In an upstairs room in Blackpool, by the side of a northern sea, the Army had my father, and my mother was having me.”
The Cure’s Robert Smith was born on the Fylde, Ian Anderson – the main man in Jethro Tull –grew up in the town and studied at the Blackpool College of Art in the 60s.
More recently the town has produced Victoria Hesketh (better known as Little Boots and a former Gazette employee), Nick McCarthy (bass player in Franz Ferdinand), and X-Factor’s Aiden Grimshaw.
Jodie Prenger has become a household name since winning the BBC’s I’d Do Anything, while Alfie Boe, who hails from up the road in Fleetwood, is an international singing star.
With the town still regarded as the showbiz capital of the North, you can bet your bottom dollar that Blackpool will have a few more success stories if the charts keep going for another 60 years.
To celebrate 60 years of the charts, The Gazette asked some of the resort’s most prominent figures to name the first record they ever bought.
Mayor of Blackpool
Tommy Steele - Little White Bull. For me it wasn’t Cliff, or Elvis, it was always Tommy. I love his personality and I also like him because he’s been married to the same woman for a long time – there is never any controversy with him. I’ve saw him at the Hippodrome and the Palace in Blackpool in the old days, and I met him once at Butlins in Scotland. Last year my grandson bought me tickets to see him perform in Scrooge in Liverpool and he was fabulous. It brought the memories flooding back.
Blackpool FC chairman
Given or bought? I was given The Jam’s Down in the Tube Station at Midnight, which makes me look pretty good. But the first thing I ever bought was probably something by ELO, which isn’t quite as trendy. Then again it might have been something by AC/DC and Black Sabbath. I like my rock music. I used to have long hair and ride a motorbike so it goes with the territory.
leader of Blackpool Council,
Appetite for Destruction – Guns N’ Roses. I was 14 when I got that album. I love everything about them and I still go to see them now. I was there when they played the MEN Arena earlier this year. I love them. I’m rock band lover and they are absolutely brilliant.
UK Top 10 best-selling singles (1952-2012)
1. Something About The Way You Look Tonight/Candle In The Wind 97 - Elton John (1997, 4.9m copies)
2. Do They Know It’s Christmas? - Band Aid (1984, 3.69m copies)
3. Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen (1975, 2.36m copies)
4. Mull Of Kintyre/Girls’ School - Wings (1977, 2m copies)
5. You’re The One That I Want - John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John (1978, 2m copies)
6. Rivers Of Babylon/Brown Girl In The Ring - Boney M (1978, 2m copies)
7. Relax - Frankie Goes To Hollywood (1983, 2m copies)
8. She Loves You - The Beatles (1963, 1.9m copies)
9. Unchained Melody/White Cliffs Of Dover - Robson Green & Jerome Flynn (1995, 1.86m copies)
10. Love Is All Around - Wet Wet Wet (1994, 1.85m copies)
* Most consecutive weeks at No.1 – 16: Bryan Adams - (Everything I Do) I Do It For You in 1991
* Most weeks at No.1 – 18 weeks: Frankie Laine’s – I Believe (in 1953 it topped the chart on three separate occasions)
* Longest time for a track to get to No.1: 33 Years, 3 Months, and 27 Days, Tony Christie “(Is This The Way To) Amarillo” It reached number 18 on its release in November 1971, then topped the chart in March 2005 when Peter Kay released the song in aid of Comic Relief.