My name is Cal and I was born in Oakland, California in 1945. My musical memories began when I was 5 years old ( I was already listening to the top hits of the day on the radio). The first record that I heard was a song called “My Heart Cries For You ” by Guy Mitchell (this song entered the national charts during the last part of December in 1950).
Among some of the popular artists of this time period were Patti Page, Perry Como, Eddie Fisher, Guy Mitchell, Jo Stafford, Johnnie Ray, Teresa Brewer, Frankie Laine, Nat ‘King’ Cole, Tony Bennett , The Ames Brothers and The Four Aces. These were some of the artists that introduced me to pop music. My mother wrote songs in her earlier years (she even had a song published in the year 1928) but her overall experience in trying to get her songs published was a bad one. Her interest in popular music, however, persisted and I would come to share this interest. Music has been an important part of my life and it all began in 1950. In the early 1950’s I used to watch the TV program called “Your Hit Parade”.
This program would feature the Top 7 songs in the country each week (this was one of my favorite TV shows from the early 1950’s to the year 1959 when it would go off the air). Some of the performers on this show would include Dorothy Collins, Snooky Lanson, Russell Arms and Gisele MacKenzie. These were traditional pop artists and it became increasingly more difficult for them to sing some of the top hits of 1957, 1958 and 1959 (I think The Chipmunk Song was the final nail in the coffin for this show in 1959). I enjoyed many of the classic hits of the early 50’s but it wasn’t until Christmas of 1956 that my interest in music would lead me into the early stages of being a record collector. I received a record player for Christmas that year and the first record that I bought was “Honky Tonk” by Bill Doggett. Some of the other early entries into my collection would be “Just Walking In The Rain” by Johnnie Ray, “Singing The Blues” by Guy Mitchell, “Come Go With Me” and “Whispering Bells” by The Dell Vikings, “Diana” by Paul Anka” and “Don’t Be Cruel” by Elvis Presley. My weekly allowance would give me the chance to buy many of the new hits from the early days of rock and roll. Our local record store in East Oakland was called Radio Margo and it was located on 75th Avenue and MacArthur Blvd. In the early 1960’s I probably had about slightly less than 100 records (not exactly a big collector but that would change in the decade of the 1970’s). With the advent of rock and roll, I was now being exposed to rhythm and blues. I was also being exposed to country crossover hits. As the years rolled by, many radio stations would play “oldies” (they always seemed to be some of the same songs). What happened to the rest of the songs that we used to hear on the radio? In the 60’s, KYA used to advertise a record store in Berkeley called “Music City” (this store was located on Alcatraz Avenue). This was where you went to find the seldom heard oldies (I bought a few hard to find records here). I listened to the music frequently and it got to the point that I could identify a song from the first couple of notes. This ability was to get the ultimate test somewhere around the year 1965. I was attending Oakland City College (later it became Merritt College) and took a class in music appreciation (this was a class where we had to listen to classical music and be able to identify the names of these classical works). I could identify pop songs readily, but could I do this with classical music? The answer was yes, to my surprise (my abilities to identify pop songs easily had transferred over to the realm of classical music). I have a love of many types of music (my website will reflect my likes). I love to listen to music but I’m not greatly blessed with musical talent. I tried to learn to play the guitar, but that wasn’t a success (neither was the piano). I sang a little bit, but mostly in the shower. Listening to the music was my favorite pastime, but I yearned to hear many of the songs that the local radio stations seemed to have forgotten. All of this would change in the early 1970’s with a trip to an Alameda Flea Market. The Island Drive-In was a drive-in movie theater at night and a large flea market on the weekends. One Saturday afternoon, when I was helping a friend sell some stuff at this flea market, we had the opportunity to roam the flea market looking for treasures. We spotted someone who had a pile of old 45’s (some of these songs were not played much on the radio anymore). I bought a bunch of these records and this was to be the beginning of my journey into record collecting. I came back the next week and found more records for my collection (I would soon be addicted to going to flea markets). My collection was growing rapidly (in the early 1970’s it was still easy to find old records at cheap prices). It was not uncommon to find boxes of records for $5.00. I was soon to meet other crazed record collectors. Walt was the guy that traded me many of the old music surveys that I have now in my collection (these surveys helped me to find more of the long forgotten songs of the rock era). Dan was the record collector that also liked to collect jukeboxes (he knew how to fix them,). He lived in Pacheco, California and he had a large 78 rpm jukebox in his kitchen. One of the songs on this jukebox was a hard to find record by Alice Jean & The Mondellos called “A Hundred Years From Today” (this was one of my most wanted records at the time). The lead singer for this group was Alice Jean Wilton (they were from Pittsburg, California)
Bob was a record collector from Concord, California. We formed a flea market record business at a flea market in Castro Valley, California. We sold old 45’s from the rock era and lots of record albums from earlier days. We also had a radio program on radio station KWUN in Concord. This program was called “Collector’s Showcase” and it featured many of the long forgotten sounds from the rock era (our friend from Pacheco, Dan, was also on some of our early shows). Frank was a big record collector from San Jose and so was his friend, Bill. Bill was known for this book that he carried when he went to the flea market (it was a book that had all the Billboard Top 100 hits from 1955 to 1969). Bill eventually gave me that book (I still have this book, even though some of the pages have fallen out). Bill was the record collector that made an eventful trip to the Alameda flea market on a Saturday afternoon. The biggest item for collectors in the early 1970’s was to find a record by Elvis Presley on Sun Records (this was his original label). These records were worth over $100 (they are worth MORE today). Record collectors usually awoke early with the roosters (you had to get an early start to find your treasures). Defying all record collecting logic, Bill shows up at this flea market in the afternoon. One of the stalls has a bunch of clothes on the table. Behind the clothes was an object that appeared to be a record. It had a yellow label (the Sun Record label was yellow). Bill carefully moved the clothes and picked up the record. It was one of the early Elvis recordings on Sun. Trying not to look excited, he asked the owner how much they wanted for the record. The response was 5 cents. Bill gave them 10 cents and told them to keep the change (we were a clever group).
My record collection soon had more than 4,000 records (I also have more than 700 albums, more than 100 cassette tapes from the rock era and over 100 country music tapes). I have also added many CDs to my collection. I used the old music surveys to make cassette tapes. All the songs in my collection that made the local surveys (1956-1964) are listed by the month that they first entered the charts. The tapes that I made for particular months would be the basis of many of my articles on this website. I have recorded over 4,000 songs from the rock era. In the 1990’s I developed an interest in the music of the pre-1950 era. I found a tape called “Nipper’s Greatest Hits 1900-1919”. Nipper was the dog that was on the logo for RCA Victor records (he was listening to a phonograph and the caption read “his master’s voice”). RCA Victor was one of the first recording labels and the songs on this tape were from original artists from this time period. I bought a book by Joel Whitburn called “Pop Memories 1890-1954”. This book would be the basis for many of my tapes on the early years. Technology has changed but I still use my cassette tapes (I have recorded over 1600 songs from the early years). Pop music has undergone many changes during the 20th Century. Join me as we travel through the portals of time to the different eras of the music that entertained Americans. Ask me any questions you might have about the music. I will do my best to answer these questions. 🙂 🙂 🙂
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Bing Crosby, Artist Of The Century
Elvis Presley, The Top Rock & Roll Performer Of The Century
The Beatles, The Top Group Of The Century
The Andrews Sisters, The Top Female Group Of The Century
“Candle In The Wind, 1997”, Top Selling Song Of The Century
Billy Murray, The Top Performer Of The Pioneer Era Of Recorded Music-America’s First Recording Superstar
Thomas Edison, he started it all with his invention of the phonograph
Jo Stafford, The Top Female Performer Of The Century
Eddy Arnold, The Top Country Performer Of The Century