“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” is a song by American rock band “Blue Öyster Cult” from the band’s 1976 album “Agents of Fortune.” This week in 1976 it became the band’s hit when it peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the USA. The song was rumored to be about suicide, but it actually deals with the inevitability of death, and the belief that we should not fear it. “The Reaper” made it to number 7 in Canada and also charted in The UK and Ireland.
This week in 1985 “a-ha” went to number 1 on the USA singles chart with “Take On Me,” making them the first Norwegian band to top the chart in the USA. The song reached number 1 in 27 countries and remained on top of the Eurochart Hot 100 for nine weeks.
The video for “Take On Me” featured the band in a pencil-sketch animation method called “Rotoscoping” combined with live action and won six awards at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards.
This week in 1978 “Toto” released their hugely successful self-titled debut album. Both band and album were initially not well received by critics, with an article in “Rolling Stone” magazine calling Toto “the kind of dull debut you’d expect from a bunch of career session players” and lacking “at least two elements crucial to good rock: a singer and a writer.” The article went on to say that three Toto members sang “passably” while calling a fourth, the lead vocalist, “terrible.” In spite of critical opinions like this, Toto quickly gained a following, with the album reaching the top 10 in the USA, Australia, Sweden, Canada and West-Germany. The album also delivered three chart singles – “Hold the Line,” “I’ll Supply the Love” and “Georgy Porgy.” “Hold The Line,” Toto’s debut single, reached number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and is today considered a rock classic by many.
A song by American singer-songwriter Lesley Gore, “It’s My Party,” from her 1963 debut studio album “I’ll Cry If I Want To,” went to number 1 in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA. Gore was 16 when she recorded this song, which led the media to call her “The Teen Queen.” Gore was driving when she heard the song on the radio for the first time. She had never heard her voice through a car radio before, and initially didn’t recognize it as herself, thinking somebody else had recorded her song,”
“It’s My Party” is about the discomfort a teenage girl feels at her birthday party when her boyfriend Johnny disappears, only to return later in the company of Judy, who is “wearing his ring”, indicating Judy has replaced the birthday girl as Johnny’s love interest.
This week in 1981 a cover version by Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin topped the singles chart in the UK.
On 11 October 1962 The Beatles made their debut on the UK charts with the single “Love Me Do.” John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote it in 1958 when John was 17 and Paul was 16. They made time for songwriting by skipping school. They had written songs before, but “Love Me Do” was the first one they liked enough to record. The song peaked at number 17.
In 1964 it was released in the United States where it became a number one hit. It also topped the Australian and New Zealand charts. Re-released in 1982 as part of EMI’s Beatles 20th anniversary, “Love Me Do” re-entered the UK charts and peaked at number 4.
The Beatles came very close to releasing another song as their first single. At their September 4 recording session their Manager, George Martin decided their first single should be a song called “How Do You Do It?” which was written by someone else. The Beatles were not happy but did some lackluster takes of the song before they were allowed to record “Love Me Do.” Eventually, Martin changed his mind and went with “Love Me Do.” “How Do You Do It?” became a hit for Gerry & the Pacemakers in 1964.
This week in 1984 David Bowie scored his sixth UK number 1 album with “Tonight.” However, reception by critics was poor, with most finding a lack of creativity. Bowie himself would later call “Tonight” not one of his stronger efforts. The album featured the singles, Tonight,” “Loving The Alien” and the top 10 hit “Blue Jean.”
In 1969 Canadian singer and songwriter Andy Kim had two hit singles, “Rainbow Ride,” which made the US Top 50, and “Baby, I Love You,” which got to number 9 in the USA and number 1 in Canada. Over the next few years, he had a few minor hits but after September 1971 he did not have a top 100 single until…
In 1974 he released the self-written “Rock Me Gently which went to number 1 in the USA on 28 September.” The song also topped the chart in Canada and made the top 10 in the UK and South Africa.
This week in 1981 “Soft Cell,” a British synth-pop duo consisting of Marc Almond and Dave Ball, hit number 1 in the UK with an electronic cover of “Tainted Love,” a song originally released by the American soul singer Gloria Jones in 1964. The song also topped the charts in a number of other countries.
While often thought of as a one-Hit Wonder, Soft Cell had a number of other hits in the UK but Tainted Love was their only number 1.
On this day in 1965 The Beatles started a three-week run at number 1 on the U.S. singles chart with “Help!,” the title of their second film and the group’s ninth U.S. number 1.
“Help!” was written by John Lennon with some help from Paul McCartney. John once said that the song was one of his favourites among the Beatles songs he wrote. During an interview with “Playboy” in 1980, he recounted: “The whole Beatles thing was just beyond comprehension. I was subconsciously crying out for help”.
This week in 2005 a life-size bronze statue of Phil Lynott, designed by Irish sculptor Paul Daly, was unveiled on Harry Street in Dublin. The ceremony was attended by his former “Thin Lizzy” band members Gary Moore, Brian Robertson and Scott Gorham. Lynott had a string of hits with “Thin Lizzy,” including “Whiskey in the Jar”, “The Boys are Back in Town” and “Jailbreak.”
In the 1980’s Lynott increasingly suffered drug-related problems, due particularly to a heroin addiction. In 1985 he had a final chart success in collaboration with Gary Moore. ” Out in the Fields” reached number 3 on the Irish singles chart, number 2 in Norway and Sweden, and number 5 in the UK.
Phil Lynott died of pneumonia and heart failure due to septicemia at the age of 36.