On August 4, 1958, Ricky Nelson‘s “Poor Little Fool” edged out Perez Prado’s “Patricia” to become the first No.1 on Billboard‘s newly-introduced Hot 100 chart. You can read more about that achievement in this dedicated story. But we also thought we’d leaf through some of the other notable entries on that historic debut countdown, remembering some classic singles and some that haven’t quite stood the test of time.
Speaking of which, there was a bizarre novelty at No.91, in the form of an “answer” to Sheb Wooley’s “Purple People Eater,” which had topped the pre-Hot 100 Billboard survey in June. “The Purple People Eater Meets The Witch Doctor” also acknowledged David Seville’s recent big hit of the latter title. The cash-in 45, on the NRC label, was by a teenage Joe South, fully a decade before his rise to southern rock-soul fame with “Hush” and “Games People Play.” It was only a minor national success, but it beat out rival versions by the Big Bopper and Joe Smith to make that first chart.
Fats Domino was represented, at No.95, by the jaunty “Little Mary,” not one of his best-remembered singles, but already his 22nd US chart entry in just three years. The Everly Brothers were at No.92 with their new hit “Bird Dog,” while their previous chart-topper “All I Have To Do Is Dream” was in decline at No.48.
Jackie Wilson, brought some real soul to the 100 with “To Be Loved,” at No.86 and on its way to a No.22 peak. Another soon-to-be-classic, “Summertime Blues,” was at No.84 for Eddie Cochran, en route to the top ten and a later place in both the Grammy and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame.
Chuck Berry was back-to-back on the chart with “Beautiful Delilah” at No.81 and “Johnny B. Goode” at No.80. Fellow rock’n’roll pacesetter Buddy Holly, pictured in our main image, was represented three times, by the Crickets’ “Fool’s Paradise” at No.58 and “Think It Over” at No.27, and by his own “Early In The Morning” at No.41. Read more about the odd story behind that single here. Patti Page made the cut with the punning, military-style Mercury single “Left Right Out Of Your Heart” at No.13, and Bobby Darin was reaching the No.3 peak of his breakthrough hit for the Atco label, “Splish Splash.”
But, as we said earlier, the single holding sway over all the other 99 titles on that first Hot 100 was the one by the the 18-year-old who was the nation’s ultimate pop heartthrob.
Listen to dozens more gems of the first decade of rock’n’roll, and much more besides, in uDiscover Music’s 50s playlist.