Throwback Thursday: Billboard 50 Years Ago

First…while I don’t have an orange Corvette–Daytona Sunrise Orange was my first choice when I decided to look for a 2016 Z06 in earnest, but they are quite scarce so I didn’t want to wait for one–my wonderful wife just bought me a nice substitute:



Yes, it would have been easier to photograph the hat while it was on a table or something, but I liked the challenge of a selfie without a face. Sorry for all of the ceiling in the pic. I am really getting gray…


As I have chronicled before, I used to create my own weekly Top 40 song list. This practice began about this time of year, perhaps a little earlier, in 1972 or 50 years ago. It ended about a year after it started, probably because I discovered jazz and stopped listening to Top 40 radio. It began, in part, because a couple of songs rekindled my interest in music early in 1972.

The major impetus, though, was Dr. Zal beginning to do something similar earlier, in 1971 I think, but he would rearrange the given Top 40 according to his preference. I decided I wouldn’t be constrained at all by the preferences of the American record-buying public. At this time, I was listening to a lot of R&B or as we called it then, Soul Music. Yes, I regularly watched Soul Train for about a year. Many of the songs I listened to and liked would never appear on the Billboard Top 40 chart.

An amazing site,, lists every Billboard Top 40 (and more) going back to 1955, the first “full” year of the Rock and Roll Revolution. (I had no idea Billboard is still compiling this list every week. How do you measure popularity in the era of streaming music?) For the first Throwback Thursday post in three months, I decided to show the Billboard top ten singles on this date 50 years ago. How many do you remember?


1 3 THE FIRST TIME EVER I SAW YOUR FACE –•– Roberta Flack (Atlantic)-7 (1 week at #1) (1)
2 1 A HORSE WITH NO NAME –•– America (Warner Brothers)-9 (1)
3 4 I GOTCHA –•– Joe Tex (Dial)-13 (3)
4 5 ROCKIN’ ROBIN –•– Michael Jackson (Motown)-6 (4)
5 2 HEART OF GOLD –•– Neil Young (Reprise)-11 (1)
6 9 IN THE RAIN –•– The Dramatics (Volt)-8 (6)
7 6 PUPPY LOVE –•– Donny Osmond (MGM)-8 (3)
8 11 BETCHA BY GOLLY, WOW –•– The Stylistics Featuring Russell Thompkins, Jr. (Avco)-8 (8)
9 12 DAY DREAMING –•– Aretha Franklin (Atlantic)-5 (9)
10 13 A COWBOY’S WORK IS NEVER DONE –•– Sonny and Cher (Kapp)-8 (10)


OK, an explanation: using the number one song of the week as a guide, the first number (1) is the current chart position, the second (3) is last week’s chart position, then the song title, artist and label, the next number (7) is the number of weeks on the chart and the last number (1) is the song’s current peak.

The previous week’s number one song, A Horse With No Name by America, was one of the two songs that brought me back to music. As it turned out, the number one song at this time in 1972 would turn out to be the number one song for the entire year. Back to America…I waited too long to buy A Horse With No Name so I wound up having to buy the album on which the song appeared.


See the source image


My album cover does not show “Includes: A Horse With No Name” although it is the same in every other respect. Yes, I still have the album even though I have no way to play vinyl right now. Besides, I also have no idea where the album is.

I remember every song except #10. I am fairly sure I own three of these 45s, which does not include A Horse With No Name. Besides the America album, though, I also have the song in digital form.

You have no idea how much I wish I still had my Top 40 charts. Sadly, they were lost a long time ago. “My salad days, when I was green in judgment.”  – Shakespeare





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9 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: Billboard 50 Years Ago

  1. Although I probably heard all of that top ten at 1 time, I actually remember 6 of them. None would currently be on a playlist for me, due to changes in musical taste. In fact some would have me “change the channel” posthaste.


  2. In spite of my eclectic tastes in music, I care for none of the tunes listed. Currently the five CDs in the garage stereo unit include four surf instrumentals and one classical of Tchaikovsky’s Second Symphony “Little Russian”. Sometimes I’ll include the only soundtrack by the Phoenix Symphony of Elmer Bernstein’s score for the movie “The Magnificent Seven”. Other times I throw in Peter Ustinov’s comedy disk of The Grand Prix of Gibraltar. There are old rock and roll music, Bluegrass, country and western, C. W. McCall, etc. Favorite bluegrass performer Alison Krauss. Her vocals with Yo-Yo Ma of Simple Gifts and The Wexford Carol are sweet listening.

    I love the hat! Not my color, but it looks great on you! I have my own hat design for my truck project which is of course red.


    1. Thanks for sharing, Philip. If it weren’t for A Horse With No Name and one other song, it’s not a certainty I would have found my musical “calling” a year later and by that I mean jazz, more specifically, modern jazz or jazz fusion.


  3. As I am reading your post, I’m listening to Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 on Sirius Streaming 70s on 7. Currently, Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Out of the Question”, #30 on April 13, 1973.
    American Top 40 is my favorite radio program, and I listen to at least parts of it on Saturday and Sunday when they play it multiple times during the day.


    1. I was such an American Top 40 junkie that I would listen to it on Saturday night on the Baltimore station that carried it and then listen to the same show the next morning on the Washington, DC station that carried it. That lasted about a year.

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