Thursday, February 26, 2009

There'll Always Be an England

On Casey Kasem's American Top Forty this past weekend, from 1975, he mentioned that there were only six foreign-born women who'd had Number One hits as solo artists - and only one of those was from England. My first thought was that that wasn't very many, but now I think maybe that sounds about right. For one thing, 1975 was a long time ago - Celine Dion was seven years old at the time. And there weren't that many foreign acts period on the charts before the Beatles.

But that figure of only one English woman with a chart-topper seemed a little hinky. And I have to say Casey cheated a little to get there; Lulu, for example, who hit Number One with "To Sir With Love" in 1967, was British, but she was from Scotland, not England. (She turned 19 while the song was in the midst of its five-week stay at the top of the charts, by the way.) Then there was Olivia Newton-John, who was actually born in Cambridge, England. Her father was from Wales and her mother was from Germany, and the family moved to Australia when Olivia was five, which was enough for her to escape Casey's parameters.

So who was the one purely English woman who'd had a Number One by that time? 'Twas the lovely Petula Clark, born and raised in Epsom, Surrey, England. Unlike Lulu, Pet was a vet of the business by the time she became an American star: She was 32 by the time "Downtown" hit the top in January 1965.

4 comments:

Gavin said...

It may not surprise you that the question of Olivia Newton-John's nationality produced an exceptionally dull edit war on Wikipedia.

T. Nawrocki said...

Is it even possible for there to be such a thing as an exceptionally interesting edit war on Wikipedia?

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