SUMMER SONG #1: THEME FROM 'A SUMMER PLACE"--PERCY FAITH AND HIS ORCHESTRA, 1960

Wednesday marks the official first day of Summer.

So what is the greatest song ever with the word “Summer” in its title.

The winner…

Hands down…

The envelope, please…

“Theme From ‘A Summer Place’” – Percy Faith and His Orchestra. It was the biggest hit single of 1960…and second only to the Beatles’ “Hey Jude” as the biggest single of the entire decade of the 1960’s.

Well, it was one of the biggest instrumentals of all time. Nine weeks at #1.

And it wasn’t even #1 during the summer!

Instead, it was #1 in the late winter/early spring of 1960…and here’s how it sounded.,..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSsiS-v6_6M

If you prefer to see Percy Faith and his Orchestra in action, then here you go…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BaXzeQoWTko

Percy Faith was no fluke. He had the biggest single of 1953 also with “The Song From Moulin Rouge”. Only a handful of acts/artists can lay claim to having two year-end pop #1 hits. The others: Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Paul McCartney, George Michael and Mariah Carey. Plus, Faith and his Orchestra backed many Columbia recording stars like Johnny Mathis, Doris Day, Tony Bennett and Rosemary Clooney.

Why was this song so successful? Well, it was a beautiful romantic ballad…easy to dance to. And it came from a movie starring two of the hottest young starts of the time, Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue. Oh, and the movie? Lots of shenanigans!!!

The story of “Theme From ‘A Summer Place’ “ didn’t stop with Percy Faith’s version. Two years later, the late Dick Roman gave us lyrics to the song…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5auNi2aO9yI

In 1965, so did the Lettermen…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlnNHKJam5s

Finally, with the last of the four charted versions of the song, the Ventures…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2u5xQ3-81c

Faith's version of "Summer Place" won the Grammy for Record Of The Year and a disco version of the song (also by Faith) reached #13 on the Adult Contemporary chart in the mid-70's.

There's a bit of sad irony to the Top two summer songs. Percy Faith died of cancer on February 9, 1976. Exactly five years later to the day--February 9, 1981--Bill Haley died in his home in Harlingen, Texas. While the cause of death was listed as "natural causes, most likely heart attack," the latter years of Haley's life were plagued by alcoholism and bouts with paranoia.

COMING SOON: THE TOP 40 ELVIS SONGS

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SUMMER SONG #2: (WE'RE GONNA) ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK--BILL HALEY AND HIS COMETS, 1955 & 1974

The #2 summer song of all time is also the biggest selling rock and roll single with 25 million copies sold. And it's our rock and roll national anthem.

"(We're Gonna) Rock Around The Clock" by Bill Haley and His Comets was originally recorded April 12, 1954 as the B side of "Thirteen Women"--and it went nowhere at first. James Myers (a/k/a Jimmy DeKnight) refused to give up on the song and when he got it to start the controversial movie, "The Blackboard Jungle," the rest was musical history. As the first bonafide rock and roll single to hit #1, it stayed at the top for eight weeks

"Blackboard Jungle" was controversial because it depicted violence and centered on juvenile delinquincy. Glenn Ford starred as the teacher who turns a group of routy kids into kids who get motivated to learn. Sidney Poitier and the lateVic Morrow were among the stars

"Rock Around The Clock" was revitalized in the 1970's when it became the first theme song for the show "Happy Days." It even reentered the Top 40 in 1974. The song was played at the start of the year 2000 on the "Casey's K2 Kountdown" special although it wasn't the original version that was 2:08 long.