Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Voices on the Pop Charts

                                   ...the Voiceover Hit Parade

Joel Whitburn has made a living compiling statistics from the Billboard® magazine's charts. Back in my days as a Top-40 radio DJ, I relied on his books as an instant source of information about the songs that made it to the Hot 100 Singles chart. I can remember a great deal of the info and trivial information contained in his books because I lived during the timeline – 1955+. However, I did consult with a version of Joel's Top Pop Singles to pull up some statistics for today's blog question – Were there any artists that make their living primarily as voice talents and also had a charting Top Pop single? That sounds like a Casey Kasem AT40 question, doesn't it? I was surprised to find so many. Most are still living and working and two that I'll mention have since passed away.
The earliest I could find on the Billboard® Hot 100 remains one of my favorites - Shifting Whispering Sands by Billy Vaughn. Ken Nordine did the famous narration for this chart topper. It made it to #5 on the Billboard chart and was on the charts most of the fall of 1955. Nordine is also famous for his Word Jazz series of off-beat poetry record albums that sold millions of copies over the years and still have an eclectic following.


The main announcer for the Perry Como Show on TV and voiceover artist Frank Gallop actually had two charted hits. In the first, he had only three lines -”Hey there. Got a match?” which he said twice and the third line was “Hey there. Never mind.” “Got A Match” hit the chart in 1958. But, his best known charted hit was a parody of Lorne Greene's Ringo – "The Ballad of Irving"  (“the 142nd fastest gun in the west”).  Frank Gallop died in 1988.


Green was a voiceover artist in his own right and had the above mentioned powerful hit Ringo, which some bought thinking that it was about Ringo Starr.  But,  the name certainly helped calling attention to the disk in 1964.  Most knew Lorne as Ben Cartright.  He died the year before Gallop in 1987.



The next one I just have to include is Stan Freberg. While his career of chart topping parodies is monumental, he also remains one of the most recognizable voices in Hollywood. His first hit pre-dates the Billboard Hot 100 chart – John and Marsha from 1951 and only has two different words throughout - John and Marsha. Both parts were played by Stan. There was a reenactment of this parody on an episode of "Mad Men."



There were others after John and Marsha. Freberg's first charted single on the Billboard® Hot 100 chart came in 1955 ( the year the chart first appeared in the magazine ) – The Yellow Rose of Texas. He later included that song and other previous hits in this radio show on CBS, which lasted only 15 weeks.



Some have started as performers and now have a large presence in the voiceover industry. I couldn't do a story like this and leave out Beverly Bremers. Today she is a well known voice artist, teacher and coaches others in singing, songwriting, voice-over, acting, and accent reduction. You'll find her million seller "Don't Say You Don't Remember" on the charts in 1971 and 72.



I could go on and on. There have been many over the years. The above are just some I remember. Can you name some that I didn't mention? Please leave your comments.  


2 comments:

  1. Thanks for including me in your blog, Jerry! Keep up the good work. : - )

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  2. Hey Jerry,

    William Shatner popped into my mind, albeit briefly. I do recall his album(s) getting mentioned and his appearances to plug said albums, and his more recent self-parody of the style in which he delivered vocals on said albums. However, I tried searching Billboard's Hot 100 SINGLES chart and found nothing of note that I knew how to confirm, anyway. Apparently he has, more recently, done his version of "Seeking Major Tom."
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RtjOEmIxtQw

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