Happy 80th to an American Institution – “Your Hit Parade”

It became a tradition for several generations of Americans.  When radio was king music served as both an escape and a respite from hard times and war.  One show, an instant hit, spanned from the early days of the Big Band era through the days of Rock and Roll and was instrumental in supplying the much-needed breaks from reality.  That show was “Your Hit Parade,” which featured the biggest names in music and some of the greatest songs ever written.  “Your Hit Parade” first hit the airwaves on April 20, 1935 – eighty years ago today.

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“Your Hit Parade” originally began its run on NBC radio, but would move between that network and CBS until 1953.  Its original one-hour set-up featured fifteen of the day’s top songs performed in random order, which were tabulated by a survey, which…

“…checks the best sellers on sheet music and phonograph records, the songs most heard on the air and most played on the automatic coin machines, an accurate, authentic tabulation of America’s taste in popular music.”

The count-down of popular hits that became a staple on the program began later with the “top three” songs left for the end of each broadcast.  The “countdown” version was broadcast for thrity minutes during which people would tune in to see if their favorites had slipped in the rankings.

“Your Hit Parade” was a staple in American homes even before the idea of the disc jockey came into play.  The program was billed as “an accurate, authentic tabulation of America’s taste in popular music” (RHOF) and listening to the episodes today offers a wonderful glimpse into the pulse of the country through the years.  I listen to episodes of these shows often and love them.

Lucky Strike was the long-time sponsor of “Your Hit Parade,”  as you can see in the above ad.  The association between the program and the sponsor continued into Television for the entire run of the TV version of  “Your Hit Parade” (from 1950 to 1959), which was simulcast over NBC Radio.

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“Your Hit Parade” featured the biggest recording artists in the world, over fifty top names appearing during the show’s radio run.  Of those the most popular was Frank Sinatra who appeared regularly as the featured vocalist throughout the 1940s.

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And now…

Lucky Strike presents “Your Hit Parade” –

Following are two episodes that feature “America’s favorite melodies” in the top fifteen, one-hour format:

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The following are two half-hour episodes of “Your Hit Parade” – the first starts off with America’s number 7 favorite song for the week, “All or Nothing At All’ performed by Frank Sinatra:

This one starts with the week’s number 9, “I Heard You Cried Last Night” also performed by Frank Sinatra:

Although Sinatra was the top vocalist featured on the program “the house canary,” co-starring with the crooner during the 194748 season was Doris Day.  Click on the following image for a listen – Doris Day’s rendition of the week’s number 5 song, “That’s My Desire.”

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Day and Sinatra during rehearsals on “Your Hit Parade”

And there you have my anniversary tribute to “Your Hit Parade” – a mere mention of the greatness featured on that program, one that I hope has whet your appetites for more.  I can think of no better way to relax than to listen to the standards performed by the standards.

Happy 80th Anniversary to this American Institution!

In case you’re interested – here’s a list from Jitterbuz.com – the top-selling songs of 1935 as tabulated by CashBox Magazine.

  1. CHEEK TO CHEEK Fred Astaire
  2. ISLE OF CAPRI Ray Noble
  3. WHEN I GROW TOO OLD TO DREAM Glen Gray
  4. RED SAILS IN THE SUNSET Guy Lombardo
  5. LOVELY TO LOOK AT Eddy Duchin
  6. SHE’S A LATIN FROM MANHATTAN Victor Young
  7. I’M IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE Little Jack Little
  8. I WON’T DANCE Eddy Duchin
  9. TRUCKIN’ Fats Waller
  10. IN A LITTLE GYPSY TEA ROOM Bob Crosby

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