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Early Hit By Country Stalwart Sonny James Joins ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ Channel

‘First Date, First Kiss, First Love,’ one of the early Top 10 country hits by the Alabama-born star, is now available to view.

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Sonny James - Photo: Courtesy of Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Sonny James - Photo: Courtesy of Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The official YouTube channel of The Ed Sullivan Show has dug deep into the show’s archive for a 1957 performance by one of the most successful country artists of the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. Sonny James’ “First Date, First Kiss, First Love,” one of the early Top 10 country hits by the Alabama-born star, is now available to view.

The performance came on the April 14 edition of the celebrated variety series, by which time James was already four years into what became one of the most durable chart histories in all of country music. His debut hit at the age of 22, 1953’s “That’s Me Without You,” was the first of 43 Top 10 hits, 63 Top 40s, and 72 chart appearances between then and 1983.

His 1956 single, a version of the much-covered “Young Love,” a US pop No.1 for Tab Hunter, was the first of 23 country chart-toppers. The 2002 edition of Billboard’s Top Country Singles, edited by the late Joel Whitburn, listed James as the 12th biggest artist of the 1960s, and 10th of the 1970s. He died in 2016.

Sonny James "First Date, First Kiss, First Love" on The Ed Sullivan Show

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“First Date, First Kiss, First Love” was written by Dan Welch, whose other co-writes included Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps’ “Street Dance,” and Mary Stovall. James’ recording entered the C&W Best Sellers In Stores chart in the very week of his Sullivan appearance, at No.13, when support was still strong for “Young Love” and its flipside, “You’re The Reason I’m In Love.” His “First Date…” peaked at No.6 in a 12-week run.

That week’s edition of Billboard also reported that James was among the stars signed up to appear the following month at the banquet and floorshow of the Music Operators of America convention in Oakland, CA. The gala evening in honor of juke box and amusement machine operators also featured Bill Haley and the Comets, Pat Boone, and Tony Bennett.

Watch all the latest archival videos from The Ed Sullivan Show on the program’s official YouTube channel.

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