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“Streisand Rising”
1961-1965

Kismat Konnection rip

Barbra Streisand during rehearsal for 'Funny Girl' in New York City, January 1964. (AP photo)
Barbra Streisand during rehearsal for 'Funny Girl' in New York City, January 1964. (AP photo)
     Between 1963 and 1965, at a time when rock and roll music was overwhelming just about everything in sight, a little known singer named Barbra Streisand managed to put not just one, but seven albums of American standards on the Billboard top-selling music charts.  How this came to be, and the story of Streisand’s rise to stardom in those years, is sometimes overlooked in her long and accomplished career.

     Born in 1942 and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Barbra Streisand had a tough start in childhood.  Her father, a grammar school teacher, died when she was 15 months old.  Her mother — left with young Barbra and an older son Sheldon — took a job as a bookkeeper and moved in with her parents.  As a little girl growing up, Barbra sang in the hallways of her apartment building.  “Barbra started to sing as early as she could talk,” her mother later recalled.  Young Barbra set her sights on becoming an actress, framed in part by what she saw on television.  In 1949, her mother remarried, to Louis Kind — a step-father of conflict for Barbra and not a happy time. A sister, Roslyn, was born in 1951. 

Young Barbra, 1950s.
Young Barbra, 1950s.
    In school, Barbra sang in the choir, got good grades, but did not date or seek to be popular and was pretty much a loner.  She worked part-time jobs — at a Chinese restaurant and as an usherette in a local theater, the latter to see the latest films.  She kept to her dream of becoming an actress, attended local playhouses and summer acting camps. Barbra’s mother did not encourage her daughter to pursue a career in show business. In fact, she told Barbra she was not attractive enough to succeed. However, she did take her once to audition as a child, and also later to make acetate recordings in Manhattan.

     In 1959, Barbra graduated high school, fourth in her class, but did not attend college.  With her sights set on acting, she moved to Manhattan.  She was 17 years old.

 

Vagabond Days

Barbra Streisand at the Bon Soir nightclub, 1960.
Barbra Streisand at the Bon Soir nightclub, 1960.

     During her early days in Manhattan, Streisand occasionally lived with friends, carrying a folding cot around.  She was something of a vagabond and dressed in the latest thrift-store chic.  She worked odd jobs and tried to enter the famous Actors Studio, but failed.  She tried some off-Broadway acting, appearing in one play that ran only a few times.  Although her heart was set on acting, in June 1960 she entered and won a singing competition at a local Greenwich Village bar, the Lion, with no singing experience.  “They laughed when she stood up to the microphone,” Pete Hamill would later write of the audience’s reaction to her clothes and her first club appearance, “but when she sang there was no contest.” “They laughed when she stood up to the micro-phone, but when she sang there was no contest.”  
                      – Pete Hamill
She then put together a night club act with the help of a friend and began performing in other Greenwich Village gay bars, such as The Bon Soir, where she was well received.  By 1961, she began venturing beyond Manhattan, appearing in clubs such as the Caucus Club in Detroit, the Crystal Palace in St Louis, and the Town and Country Towers room in Winnipeg, Canada.  Those who heard her sing were quite taken by her performances and her voice.  But not everyone understood or appreciated her interpretations.  A few early reviewers called her quirky, but one noted “a confidence beyond her years”and predicted that despite her unusual singing style and vintage clothes, she could go “right to the top.”  Back in Manhattan she was attracting a growing following at clubs such as the Bon Soir and the Blue Angel, and in some corners of the music industry. While club performing, she met Jack Paar, the late-night TV talk show host, who asked her to appear on his show.  She made her national TV debut on The Jack Paar Show April 5th, 1961 and made a second appearance on May 22, 1961.


Mike Wallace & Broadway

     Streisand also began appearing on a late night New York-based TV talk show called PM East, a show that Group W and Westinghouse created to compete with Jack Parr.  One of the hosts of that show was Mike Wallace, later of 60 Minutes fame, but with whom Streisand struck a chord.  Her first show there was in July 1961, and she became something of regular, appearing more than a dozen times through 1961 and 1962.  On the show, in addition to singing, she also became known as a talkative and sometimes zany guest, engaging Wallace and the others in lively exchanges.  By December 1961, she had also prepared an audition tape of her club songs for RCA Records, but no contract was offered. 

Barbra Streisand, 1962.
Barbra Streisand, 1962.
    In 1961, after some Broadway auditions in the late fall, she landed a small acting and singing part as a secretary in the musical I Can Get It For You Wholesale, a Depression-era story about a unscrupulous businessman in the garment district.  When the show opened on Broadway on March 22, 1962, Streisand had the stage to herself in one scene doing a song and skit bemoaning her secretarial plight.  She gave a spirited performance, which by one account brought audience attendee Leonard Bernstein to his feet applauding wildly.  Bernstein was sitting in the VIP orchestra section that night, and the audience agreed with his reaction, giving Streisand a sustained ovation for her performance.  “What we had witnessed, and what brought Bernstein’s enthusiasm,” wrote John Bush Jones also in the audience that night, “was the Broadway debut of an unknown nineteen-year-old performer named Barbra Streisand.”  Streisand was later nominated for, but did not win, a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.

Barbra Streisand signing recording contract with Columbia's Goddard Lieberson, Oct 1962.
Barbra Streisand signing recording contract with Columbia's Goddard Lieberson, Oct 1962.
     Streisand continued making TV appearances during 1962 — NBC’s Today Show in April 1962, CBS’s The Garry Moore Show in May 1962, and four times on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson between August and early December 1962.  Her recording career was also taking a turn for the better.  By the fall of 1962, three record labels were interested: Atlantic, Capitol, and Columbia.  Capitol made an offer, but Streisand agreed to sign with Columbia on October 1st, negotiating creative control over her material and album covers.  That fall she was also auditioning for new Broadway shows.  But it was her appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show December 16, 1962 singing “My Coloring Book” and “Lover, Come Back To Me” that helped introduce Barbra Streisand to a larger, more mainstream national audience.

 

Barbra Streisand's 1st studio album, Feb 1963.
Barbra Streisand's 1st studio album, Feb 1963.
    On February 25, 1963, her first studio album for Columbia Records was released, The Barbra Streisand Album, which included her interpretations of eleven pop standards.  The album was very well received and first appeared on the Billboard albums chart the week of April 13, 1963.  It would peak at #8 on that chart and 18 months later achieved “gold” sales status — i.e., 500,000 copies or more.  It would also win 1963 Grammy Awards for Album of The Year and Best Female Vocalist.

One of the album’s songs, “Happy Days Are Here Again,” wasn’t much more than a jingle before Streisand’s interpretation — “sung so slowly that suddenly all the hidden irony and banality of it come shaking out like loose nails,” wrote one reporter in Time magazine. The Barbra Streisand Album, meanwhile, remained in the Top 40 for 74 weeks.

Barbra Streisand meeting JFK at White House Press Correspondents dinner, May 1963.
Barbra Streisand meeting JFK at White House Press Correspondents dinner, May 1963.
          Through the spring of 1963, she continued doing the night club circuit — Miami’s Eden Roc, The hungry i in San Francisco, and Basin Street East in New York where she opened for bandleader Benny Goodman.  TV appearances continued as well — Johnny Carson in early March 1963, a repeat appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, March 24, 1963, and The Dinah Shore Show, May 12, 1963.  Among those who saw Streisand’s performance on Dinah Shore was President John F. Kennedy, resulting in an invitation for her to sing at the White House Press Correspondents Dinner on May 24, 1963, when she met Kennedy.  Columbia Records, meanwhile, in April, had re-released Streisand’s “Happy Days” song for radio play to gain her more public exposure.  By July 1963, a young Pete Hamill was writing about Streisand’s rising star — “Goodbye Brooklyn, Hello Fame” — in The Saturday Evening Post.  That summer, she landed the role to play the famed comedienne Fanny Brice in the Broadway musical Funny Girl, slated to open in early 1964.

Barbra Streisand's 2nd studio album, Aug 1963.
Barbra Streisand's 2nd studio album, Aug 1963.
     The Second Barbra Streisand Album was released in August 1963, surpassing the first, jumping into the Top Ten on the Billboard charts and peaking at #2.  The record stayed at the #2 spot for three weeks and was certified gold after 13 months.  By late September 1963, after completing a good month of performances at Hollywood’s Cocoanut Grove, Barbra Streisand was commanding a nightclub salary of $15,000 a week.  Throughout 1963, she had played at clubs all across the country.  Reported Look magazine that November: “From coast to coast, hypnotized patrons line up outside nightclubs to hear her almost overwhelming presentations of such items as ‘Happy Days Are Here Again’ and ‘Cry Me a River’.  She puts every nerve ending, muscle tendon and female oomph unit she has into a song; at the end of an evening, the audience is washed out.”  Two major TV appearances came as well — one on NBC’s Bob Hope Comedy Special, broadcast September 27, 1963 and the other on October 6, 1963 on The Judy Garland Show (CBS).  Her performance on Judy Garland’s show would earn Streisand an Emmy nomination for Best Variety Performance, the first time a guest star had ever received such an honor.

     In mid-January 1964, Funny Girl had its first public showing in Boston, but it bombed, in part because of a snow storm, but also poor reviews.  The play was reworked by Jerome Robbins, who gave Streisand more songs and comedy, placing more of the show’s success or failure on her performance.  Meanwhile, her third album — simply titled The Third Album — was released in February 1964.  The cover featured a photo of Streisand performing from The Judy Garland Show.  This album was also a hit, reaching #5 on Billboard’s album chart.  It also certified gold.


'Saturday Evening Post', 21 March 1964.
'Saturday Evening Post', 21 March 1964.
Rock ‘n Roll

     Streisand was pumping out her repertoire of old standards at a time when the rock ‘n roll revolution was underway. The market for rock ‘n roll music was exploding, transforming the industry and changing popular culture.  In the early 1960s, “girl groups” such as the Shirelles and Crystals were prominent on the singles charts, and by 1963, the Angels, the Chiffons, and Martha and Vandellas were making their mark.  Jan & Dean, the Four Seasons, Little Stevie Wonder, and the Supremes had hits too.  In 1964, the Beatles took over much of the popular scene, following their February 9th appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show  — the first of three.  By early April 1964, Beatles singles held the top five spots on Billboard’s Hot 100 — among them, “She Loves You,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” and “Please, Please Me.” Other artists, including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, the Beach Boys, and various Motown groups, were also cranking out new songs and albums.  But Streisand’s standards held their own, especially on the Billboard albums chart.  And there was more to come.


Funny Girl Fame

Barbra Streisand, star of 'Funny Girl,' Time cover story, 10 April 1964.
Barbra Streisand, star of 'Funny Girl,' Time cover story, 10 April 1964.
     By late March 1964 Funny Girl had opened on Broadway and the play and Barbra Streisand received glowing notices.  She was later nominated a second time for a Tony award — Best Actress in a Musical.  In early April 1964, Capitol Records — not her label, Columbia — recorded the original cast album for Funny Girl in New York.  Most of the songs on the 17-track album were those of Streisand’s from the play.  Capitol rush-released the album in mid-April 1964 and it quicky sold 400,000 copies in one month, making it the fastest selling Capitol record up to that time.  Then she appeared on the cover of Time’s April 10th edition, featured in a story simply titled “The Girl,” touting her acting and singing talents in Funny Girl.  “Her impact was instant and stunning,” wrote Time of her performance, adding, however, that her looks were nothing special. But her on-stage moxie was.  “People start to nudge one another and say, ‘This girl is beautiful,'” explained Time, describing how early audiences were discovering her.  Streisand knew she didn’t have the knock-out good looks that might smooth her way to stardom.  Some even suggested she have a surgeon attend to her nose, to which she replied: “That would be cheating. It wouldn’t be natural, know what I mean?” With Streisand it was the talent, the voice, and the energy that came through.  The glamour came, too.

Barbra Streisand, Life magazine cover story, 22 May 1964.
Barbra Streisand, Life magazine cover story, 22 May 1964.
     In May 1964, she was on the cover of Life magazine, featured in a story with her then husband, actor Elliot Gould, whom she had met in I Can Get It For Your Wholesale.  Wrote reporter Shana Alexander in her profile: “Today, Barbra Streisand is. . .Cinderella at the ball, every hopeless kid’s hopeless dream come true. . . Even more remarkable is the sudden nationwide frenzy to achieve the Streisand ‘look'” — from hair style to eye make-up.  By late June 1964, Barbra Streisand had signed a $5 million deal with CBS. By late June 1964, Barbra Streisand had signed a $5 million deal with CBS to do as many as ten TV music specials. Meanwhile, her album People, released on September 1, 1964, knocked the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night album out of the no.1 spot. The People album also won Streisand her 2nd consecutive Grammy for Best Female Vocalist. By October 31, 1964 — a time when the rock and roll genre was growing and getting stronger — there were five Barbra Streisand albums on the Billboard albums chart.

Streisand's 1964 single 'People' hit No. 5.
Streisand's 1964 single 'People' hit No. 5.
     In addition to competing with Beatles’ albums such as A Hard Day’s Night which had been released in June, there were a number of other rising artists with new albums.  Among these, for example, were the Beach Boys with their All Summer Long album released in mid-July.  In August, both the Animals from the U.K. and Bob Dylan had new albums.  October brought still others: The Kinks’ You Really Got Me, the Rolling Stones’ 12×5 album, and the debut album of Simon & Garfunkel, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. Sam Cooke’s Ain’t That Good News came out in December 1964.  And there were others.  Still, amid this, Streisand’s work rose in the popular arena. Her release of the single “People,” for example, climbed into the Top 40 in late May 1964, peaking at #5, but remaining on the Top 40 list for 12 weeks through August.

 

LBJ to Top-of-The-Charts

     In 1965, Streisand began the year by entertaining newly elected President Lyndon Johnson at the Democratic Inaugural Gala on January 18th in Washington, D.C.  On April 4th she attended a civil rights fundraiser in Selma, Alabama where she sang “That’s A Fine Kind of Freedom.” A week later, at the Grammys she took home the Best Female Vocalist award for “People.”At a civil rights fundraiser in Selma, Alabama she sang “That’s A Fine Kind of Freedom.” A week after that, on April 14th, she completed the taping for her first TV production, “My Name Is Barbra,” a one-woman musical special entirely her own show without any guest stars.  Some people at CBS feared the program would be a disaster. When it aired on April 28th, the critics loved it and it earned high audience ratings (see video clip). The TV show was followed by the companion album, My Name Is Barbra, released in May 1965.  A single from the this album, “My Man,” released in June 1965, made the Billboard Hot 100 in July, peaking at #79 and remained on the chart for six weeks.  Her first TV show meanwhile, was nominated for five Emmy Awards, winning all five at the September ceremony, including two for Streisand herself.

Barbra Streisand's 1965 single makes Billboard in July.
Barbra Streisand's 1965 single makes Billboard in July.
     Musically in 1965, the rock ‘n roll juggernaut was as strong as ever.  Among artists with No.1 hits that year were: The Beatles, The Supremes, Petula Clark, The Righteous Brothers, The Temptations, The Beach Boys, The Four Tops, The Byrds, Sonny & Cher, The Rolling Stones, and others.  Many of these groups had top albums as well.  In the midst of this, Streisand’s second album in 1965 – My Name is Barbra, Two – was released in October.  It made the Billboard album chart in November, peaking at #2.  It would also sell 500,000 copies and reach gold certification within three months and remain on the charts for 48 weeks.

     On December 1st, 1965, Streisand’s career took a new turn, as she signed her first film contract — a four-picture deal beginning with the film adaptation of Funny Girl, which would not reach the big screen until 1968.  Meanwhile, her albums were selling like crazy, and would continue to sell through the 1960s, boosted in part by her TV specials. In fact, during the decade, nine of her albums would each chart in the Top 10.

Barbra Streisand
Albums: 1963-65

The Barbra Streisand Album
February 1963

The Second Barbra Streisand Album
August 1963

Barbra Streisand: The Third Album
February 1964

Funny Girl (Broadway cast album)
April 1964

People
September 1964

My Name is Barbra
May 1965

My Name is Barbra, Two
October 1965

 

Just Getting Started

     In six short years Barbara Streisand had taken the world by storm. From the early vagabond days of carrying a folding cot around in 1960, to entertaining at the White House and launching her own TV specials in 1965, Barbara Streisand had rocketed to the top of popular music, Broadway, and prime-time television. She was now 23 years old, a millionaire, and one of the world’s most popular female recording artists. But there was still much more to come. There were 30 or more albums ahead, a career in film (acting, directing and producing), mega concerts, political activism, and a whole lot more. Barbra Streisand was just getting started.

See also at this website, “Memory & Cats”, which includes Streisand singing the poignant song “Memory” (by aging feline Grizabella) from the hit play, Cats. Additional stories on music can be found at the “Annals of Music” page. Thanks for visiting – and if you like what you find here, please consider making a donation to help support this website. Thank you. – Jack Doyle

 

October 1965 - 'My Name is Barbra, Two'.
October 1965 - 'My Name is Barbra, Two'.

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Date Posted: 10 May 2008
Last Update: 30 August 2015
Comments to:
jdoyle@pophistorydig.com

Article Citation:
Jack Doyle, “Streisand Rising, 1961-1965,”
PopHistoryDig.com, May 10, 2008.

_____________________________






Sources, Links & Additional Information

Barbra Streisand, auditioning years, 1962.
Barbra Streisand, auditioning years, 1962.

See Barbra Streisand’s official website, and any number of other sources, including books, videos, magazine & newspaper articles, websites, and other sources, including those cited below, to learn more about her career.

“Barbra Streisand, 29th AFI Life Achievement Award,” American Film Institute, 2001, AFI.com

John Bush Jones, Our Musicals, Ourselves: A Social History of The American Musical Theater; Brandeis University Press, 2003.

Pete Hamill, “Good-Bye Brooklyn, Hello Fame,”Saturday Evening Post, July 27, 1963.

“Barbra Streisand: New Singing Sensation,” Look, November 19, 1963.

Shana Alexander, “A Born Loser’s Success and Precarious Love,” Life, May 22, 1964 (cover story with cover & inside photos by Milton H. Greene).

Earl Wilson, “Barbra Streisand’s Secret, Once a Chinese Waitress, Reno Evening Gazette, April 1, 1964, p. 16.

James Spada Barbra: The First Decade, the Films and Career of Barbra Streisand, Citadel Press, 1975.

James Spada, Streisand: The Woman and The Legend, Doubleday, 1981.

Randall Riese, Her Name Is Barbra, Birch Lane Press, 1993.

James Spada, Streisand: The Intimate Biography; Time Warner Paperbacks,1996.

Barry Dennen, My Life With Barbra: A Love Story, Prometheus Books, 1997.

Diana Karanikas Harvey and Jackson Harvey, Streisand: The Pictorial Biography, Running Press Book Publishers, 1997.

James Spada, Streisand: Her Life, Random House Value Publishing, 1997.

Barbra Streisand,” Wikipedia.org.

The Barbra Streisand Music Guide,” BJSMusic.com.

Barbra Streisand: The Early TV Appearances,” Barbra-Archives.com.

The Streisand Story,” BarbraFile.com.



 

“Candle in the Wind”
1973 & 1997

Marilyn Monroe, 1950s.
Marilyn Monroe, 1950s.
      “Candle in the Wind” is a name of a song performed by Elton John and written by he and collaborator Bernie Taupin in 1972.  The song was originally written as a tribute to Hollywood movie star Marilyn Monroe who died at the age of 36 in August 1962.  Taupin had been inspired by the phrase “candle in the wind” when he heard someone use it to describe Janis Joplin, the blues-rock singer who died of a heroin overdose in 1970.

In Monroe’s case, too, the phrase was especially appropriate, given her tumultuous life and untimely death.  The song’s opening line, “Goodbye Norma Jean” refers Monroe’s real first name, and the lyrics chronicle her troubled life as a film star and international celebrity.  John and Taupin’s “Candle in the Wind” aptly captures some of the tragedy and mystique that was Marilyn Monroe, and the long-standing public fascination with her life.

Elton John's 1973 album, 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,' included 'Candle in the Wind'.
Elton John's 1973 album, 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,' included 'Candle in the Wind'.
     “Candle in the Wind” was first released on Elton John’s 1973 album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and also appeared on later albums.  A single version of the song reached No. 11 on the U.K. charts in 1974.  It wasn’t released as a single in the U.S. until 1987, when a live version from Elton’s Live In Australia album charted.


Music Player
“Candle in The Wind”
[ lyrics below ]

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In 1990, the song rose to prominence again when John rededicated it to AIDS victim Ryan White, performing it in his honor at the Farm Aid 4 concert and at White’s funeral.  But in 1997, following the death of Princess Diana, John did a remake of “Candle in the Wind” as a tribute to Diana, a personal friend.  This version of the song, with new lyrics, was released as a single and sold wildly throughout the world, peaking at number one in almost every country where it was sold. That part of the story continues below the lyrics and photographs that follow.


“Candle in the Wind”
Original Version
1973

Goodbye Norma Jean
Though I never knew you at all
You had the grace to hold yourself
While those around you crawled
They crawled out of the woodwork
And they whispered into your brain
They set you on the treadmill
And they made you change your name
And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Never knowing who to cling to
When the rain set in
And I would have liked to have known you
But I was just a kid
Your candle burned out long before
Your legend ever did
Loneliness was tough
The toughest role you ever played
Hollywood created a superstar
And pain was the price you paid
Even when you died
Oh the press still hounded you
All the papers had to say
Was that Marilyn was found in the nude
Goodbye Norma Jean
From the young man in the 22nd row
Who sees you as something more than sexual
More than just our Marilyn Monroe


April 1952: Monroe on cover of Life.
April 1952: Monroe on cover of Life.

Candle in the Wind - single sleeve cover, 1974.
Candle in the Wind - single sleeve cover, 1974.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Princess Diana Version

After Princess Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris, France on August 31, 1997, Elton John, who had been a very close friend of Diana’s and the Royal Family, went into a period of shock and mourning. Only a month prior to Diana’s death, John had been rocked by the passing of another friend, Italian designer Gianni Versace, a funeral which he and Diana attended in Milan on July 22nd.

Princess Diana & John at Gianni Versace's funeral, July 1997.
Princess Diana & John at Gianni Versace's funeral, July 1997.

Elton John and Princess Diana had been friends since 1981. He had performed at Prince Andrew’s 21st birthday party at Windsor Castle and received a thank-you letter from 19-year-old Diana Spencer, then engaged to Prince Charles. Prior to his friendship with Diana, John had been a friend of the Royal Family since the late 1970s. He had accompanied Princess Margaret to arts events, participated in Prince Charles’s annual concerts for youth charities, and had been a frequent performer at private royal events. He was also a friend of Sarah Ferguson, and he and former wife Renate were seated in the front row for the wedding of Ferguson and Prince Andrew. At Diana’s death, John was asked by the family to sing at Diana’s funeral and decided to write a tribute for his former friend. After meeting with his writing partner, Bernie Taupin, they found it would not be possible to write a new song in the time available and decided instead to rewrite the former 1973 “Candle in The Wind” song with new lyrics for Diana. George Martin, the music producer who had long been affiliated with Beatles, was also contacted to help produce the song. In production, a string quartet and woodwinds were added to the recording. This version was titled “Candle in the Wind 1997,” and was later released as a single with two other songs “Something About The Way You Look Tonight” and “You Can Make History (Young Again).”


“Candle in the Wind”
Princess Diana Version, 1997

Goodbye England’s Rose
May you ever grow in our hearts.
You were the grace that placed itself
Where lives were torn apart.
You called out to our country,
And you whispered to those in pain.
Now you belong to heaven,
And the stars spell out your name.
And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind:
Never fading with the sunset
When the rain set in.
And your footsteps will always fall here,
Along England’s greenest hills;
Your candle’s burned out long before
Your legend ever will.
Loveliness we’ve lost;
These empty days without your smile.
This torch we’ll always carry
For our nation’s golden child.
And even though we try,
The truth brings us to tears;
All our words cannot express
The joy you brought us through the years.
Goodbye England’s Rose,
From a country lost without your soul,
Who’ll miss the wings of your compassion
More than you’ll ever know.

'Candle in the Wind,' Princess Diana version, and below, John & Diana in earlier times.
'Candle in the Wind,' Princess Diana version, and below, John & Diana in earlier times.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Giant Best-Seller

“Candle in the Wind 1997” carried the label of Elton John’s Rocket Records and was distributed by Hollywood-based A&M Records, a unit of PolyGram. Before the CD shipped, there were reportedly orders for more than 12 million copies in the U. S. alone. By late September 1997, the song took the American pop charts by storm, entering the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 1, smashing the existing record for first-week sales with nearly 3.5 million copies sold over six days from its September 22nd release.At its peak worldwide, the Diana version of “Candle in the Wind” was selling at an estimated rate of nearly six copies per second. The previous first-week sales record of 632,000 had been set in late December 1992 by Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.” All in all, “Candle in the Wind 1997” sold over 11 million copies in the U.S. In the U.K. sales also soared. In its first week the song sold 658,000 in one day, and over 1.5 million copies for the first week. The single would remain at No. 1 in the U.K. for five weeks and eventually sold 4.86 million copies there, becoming the best-selling single of all time in the UK. In Canada, it spent 45 weeks at the top spot and three years in the top 20. Worldwide, it is estimated that the single sold more than 35 million copies. At the peak of its sales, worldwide, it was estimated that nearly six copies were sold every second.

Performing 'Candle' at Diana’s funeral.
Performing 'Candle' at Diana’s funeral.
      As of 2006, “Candle in the Wind, 1997” was ranked as the world’s best-selling CD single in history.  Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” was still ranked as the world’s best selling vinyl single. All artist and composer royalties and record company profits from “Candle in the Wind 1997” were donated to The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.  Many music store retailers, however, did profit on their share of the sales.

Elton John sang “Candle In The Wind 1997” in public, for the first and only time at Diana’s funeral in Westminster Abbey on September 6th, 1997.  John has repeatedly turned down requests to perform the song live and it has never been released on any of his albums.  However, he has stated he will perform the song again if requested by Diana’s sons, which to date has not occurred. At concerts, John performs the original 1973 version.  By September 1999, income to The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund was estimated at $150 million, much of it from royalties generated by sales of “Candle in the Wind 1997.”  Since then the Fund has continued to further humanitarian causes advocated by Diana with its grants, also helping improve the lives of disadvantaged people in the UK and around the world with grants and other assistance.  It  has also championed additional causes by lending the Fund’s name to other important efforts.  More information on the Fund can be found below in “Sources, Links & Additional Information.”  For other stories at this website on the history of music and culture please visit the Annals of Music category page or the Home Page.   Thanks for visiting – and please consider supporting this website.  Thank you. – Jack Doyle

Please Support
this Website

Donate Now

Thank You

 

___________________

Date Posted: 26 April 2008
Last Update: 18 August 2013
Comments to:
jdoyle@pophistorydig.com

Article Citation:
Jack Doyle, “Candle in the Wind, 1973 & 1997,”
PopHistoryDig.com, April 26, 2008.

_____________________________

 

 

Sources, Links & Additional Information

Princess Diana, "cover girl," People magazine, Sept 15, 1997.
Princess Diana, "cover girl," People magazine, Sept 15, 1997.
Candle in the Wind” and “Elton John,” Wikipedia.org.

Richard Harrington, “Elton John: Diana’s Song,” Washington Post, Friday, September 5, 1997; Page D-2.

Bill Carter, “Elton John’s Revised ‘Candle,’ For a Princess and Charity,” New York Times, September 9, 1997.

Reuter, “Elton John’s Diana Tribute Ignites U.S. Charts,” October 1, 1997.

Jon Pareles, “October 19-25; Roll Over, Bing Crosby,” New York Times, October 26, 1997.

Warren Hoge, “London Journal; Two Years On, Diana Is the ‘Forgotten’ Princess,” New York Times, September 1, 1999.

“Candle in the Wind 1997,” Wikipedia.org

The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.

 

 

 

“The Sinatra Riots”
1942-1944

1940s: A  young Frank Sinatra in a CBS studio.
1940s: A young Frank Sinatra in a CBS studio.
      The screaming, adoring fans seen on the Ed Sullivan television show when Elvis Presley performed there in the 1950s, or when The Beatles appeared on the same show in 1964, weren’t the first such displays of fan hysteria for music stars.

In the early 1940s, as radio and recordings were making singers more broadly popular, it became clear they could also draw huge, adoring crowds to their live performances.  And one of the first modern “teen idols” to do just that was a young singer from Hoboken, New Jersey named Frank Sinatra.

Sinatra had begun to make his mark on the music world in 1939 with big band leader Harry James, and then in 1940-42 with Tommy Dorsey.  In July 1940, he had his first #1 hit with “I’ll Never Smile Again.”  By 1942, as his music was broadcast on the live radio show Your Hit Parade,sponsored by Lucky Strike cigarettes, Sinatra began attracting the attention of teenage girls.  The “Bobbysoxers,” as they were called for their rolled-to-the-ankle white socks, were swooning in the aisles for the young singer.

New York fans mob Sinatra, 1943.
New York fans mob Sinatra, 1943.
     In fact,  Sinatra’s vast appeal to this group revealed a whole new demographic for popular music and for marketing.  Sponsors had yet to recognize the vast economic buying power of teenagers and young adults, and had traditionally aimed their programming and sponsorship at the 30-to-50-year-olds.  But that soon changed.

 

At The Paramount

     On December 30,1942, when Sinatra played his first solo concert at New York city’s Paramount Theater near Times Square, the Bobbysoxers came out in droves.  After being introduced by Jack Benny, Sinatra walked on stage to loud and continuous shrieks and screams.  “The sound that greeted me,” he later recalled, “was absolutely deafening.  It was a tremendous roar.  Five thousand kids, stamping, yelling, screaming, applauding.  I was scared stiff.  I couldn’t move a muscle. [Band leader] Benny Goodman froze, too.  He was so scared he turned around, looked at the audience and said, ‘What the hell is that?’ I burst out laughing.”  The kids screamed in delight; some even fainted.  They also crowded the back stage door after the show shrieking for his autograph, and spilled over into Times Square, snarling traffic.  Sinatra by then had become a recording sensation. He was so popular at the Paramount, that his engagement there was extended to February 1943.  He played the Paramount for nearly four solid weeks, first with Goodman and then an orchestra led by Johnny Long“Not since the days of . . . Valentino has American womanhood made  such unabashed public love to an entertainer.”   –Time, 1943.   But Sinatra’s drawing power was real, and so was his talent.  Between 1940 and early 1943 he had 23 top ten singles on the new Billboard music chart.  And all through those years, back at Paramount and other venues, the kids continued screaming and swooning for Sinatra.

     “In various manifestations, this sort of thing has been going on all over America the last few months,” wrote one Time reporter who had observed Sinatra’s screaming kids at a July 1943 Paramount performance.  “Not since the days of Rudolph Valentino has American womanhood made such unabashed public love to an entertainer.”  Fans had not swooned or screamed over other singers, such as Bing Crosby.  So what was it with Sinatra?  Something else was going on, the critics surmised.  Although his singing was certainly a factor, some charged it was also Sinatra’s look; his seeming innocence, frailty, and vulnerability that evoked the passions of female fans.  Newsweek magazine then viewed the Bobbysoxer phenomenon as a kind of madness; a mass sexual delirium.  Some even called the girls immoral or juvenile delinquents.  But most simply saw them as young girls letting their emotions fly.  Still, Sinatra fan clubs were cropping up all over America, and not just among teenagers; 40 year-old women were enlisting too.

New York Times story of August 3,1943 on Sinatra appearance with the New York Philarmonic for a night of pop singing at Lewisohn Stadium at City College.
New York Times story of August 3,1943 on Sinatra appearance with the New York Philarmonic for a night of pop singing at Lewisohn Stadium at City College.
      In early August 1943, Sinatra played in New York city at City College with the New York Philharmonic, where a contingent of his fans showed up adding their boisterous approval.  In California, the announcement of Sinatra’s slated appearance for a mid- August 1943 show at the Hollywood Bowl “had thrown Los Angeles high-brow music lovers into a self-righteous williwaw,” reported one account in Time magazine.  When Sinatra arrived by train at the Pasadena station, his fans went “into a squealing ecstasy,” according to Time magazine.  But Sinatra’s symphonic debut at the Bowl was relatively calm.  “As he led into ‘Dancing in the Dark,’only a self-conscious handful of female fans whinnied ‘Oh Frankie!’,”reported Time.  “Halfheartedly, the press photographers posed a couple of shots of Hollywood babes ‘rushing’ an accommodating cop or two.”  Sinatra had drawn the biggest Hollywood Bowl crowd of that season, fattening the gate and no doubt pleasing his hosts.  Sinatra also appeared elsewhere across the country that year on a national tour, including Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he appeared in December 1943 with Philadelphia band leader, Jan Savitt and his Top Hatters.

Frank Sinatra being greeted by fans at Pasadena, CA train station, August 1943.
Frank Sinatra being greeted by fans at Pasadena, CA train station, August 1943.
      In October 1944, when Sinatra returned to New York city’s Paramount Theater –and by then he had also appeared in the films, Step Lively and Higher and Higher — some 30,000 to 35,000 fans, mostly female teens, caused a giant commotion outside the theater. 

Dubbed “The Columbus Day Riot,” the police were called in to diffuse the situation.  Part of the problem had to do with fans who refused to leave the theater after having seen one complete show.  Repeat performances were then being scheduled in tight rotation, running nearly all day and into the night.  In theaters with a capacity for 3,000 to 3,500 fans, sometimes as few as 250 would leave at the show’s end. Some were known to sit through dozens of performances to the point of becoming faint, remaining in their seats for six or eight hours without food and refusing to leave until forcibly removed by attendants.

Frank Sinatra fans waiting on line, Pittsburgh, PA, December 11th, 1943.
Frank Sinatra fans waiting on line, Pittsburgh, PA, December 11th, 1943.
      Sinatra, meanwhile, was becoming a rich young man. Between October 1942, and mid-1943, he made an estimated $100,000 from radio, film, and personal appearances — a huge amount of money in those days.  And his teen audience would prove to be something of a guaranteed market in the years ahead; an audience that would literally grow up with him, being roughly of the same age.  They would follow his music and career, thus assuring Sinatra and his sponsors of a continuing future audience.  “[H]e is smart enough to know,” wrote Time magazine about his fan base in July 1943, “that if he is lucky they will be his adult public ten years from now, [and] will buy the cereals, cigarettes, radios, cars which he hopes to sell.”

     In the fall of 1944, Sinatra’s fame brought him into his first round of “up-close-and-personal” politics, as he met with President Franklin Roosevelt in September. Sinatra publicly supported the president’s re-election bid that October.  In New York city, his young fans came out in some numbers to hear a late October speech he made on behalf of Roosevelt at Carnegie Hall.  He also campaigned for Roosevelt in November 1944.  Sinatra by then had also entered the business world, setting up a music publishing business.  But out on the concert circuit, and in the sale of his recordings, Sinatra’s singing continued to enthrall millions of teenagers and young adults.

Frank Sinatra giant marquee at New York's Paramount Theater, October 1944. (photo - Hulton Archive/Getty Images).
Frank Sinatra giant marquee at New York's Paramount Theater, October 1944. (photo - Hulton Archive/Getty Images).
      In January 1945, the New York correspondent for the London-based Guardian newspaper filed this report on Sinatra for readers back home:

. . . The United States is now in the midst of one of those remarkable phenomena of mass hysteria which occur from time to time on this side of the Atlantic. Mr. Frank Sinatra, an amiable young singer of popular songs, is inspiring extraordinary personal devotion on the part of many thousands of young people, and particularly young girls between the ages of, say, twelve and eighteen.

     The adulation bestowed upon him is similar to that lavished upon Colonel Lindbergh fifteen years ago, Rudolph Valentino a few years earlier, or Admiral Dewey, the hero of Manila Bay, at the turn of the century.Mr. Sinatra has to be guarded by police whenever he appears in public. Indeed, during the late political campaign he broke up a demonstration for Governor Dewey, the Republican candidate, merely by presenting himself on the sidelines as a spectator. . . .

Frank Sinatra, 1943 Life magazine photo.
Frank Sinatra, 1943 Life magazine photo.
      . . .It is reasonable to suppose that his popularity with young people was at first a fiction invented by his press agent; it is not uncommon for myths of this sort to be set going by those enterprising gentlemen, and young people have even been hired to riot on a small scale in a music-hall or cinema to demonstrate the popularity of a performer. There is no doubt, however, that the matter has now become a genuine phenomenon.  . .

     By 1946 Frank Sinatra’s recording company, Columbia, estimated that he was selling 10 million records per year.  Yet these were still the early years for Frank Sinatra.  He had another 40-plus years of performing and music-making ahead.

Other stories at this website with Frank Sinatra content include: “Ava Gardner, 1940s-1950s” (long sidebar, “Ava & Frank,” on their relationship); “Mia’s Metamorphoses, 1966-2010” (Frank Sinatra / Mia Farrow marriage & divorce); “The Jack Pack, Pt. 1, 1958-1960,”(Sinatra’s Rat Pack help for JFK’s presidential run in 1960); and “The Jack Pack, Pt. 2, 1961-2008″ (Sinatra falling out with Kennedys, post election; Sinatra & Reagan, etc. ); and, “Sinatra: Cycles, 1968,” a Frank Sinatra song profile. Additional stories on celebrity history can be found at the Celebrity & Icons page. Thanks for visiting – and if you like what you see here, please make a donation to help support this website. Thank you. – Jack Doyle

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Date Posted:  18 March 2008
Last Update:   30 May 2015
Comments to: jdoyle@pophistorydig.com

Article Citation:
Jack Doyle, “The Sinatra Riots, 1942-1944,”
PopHistoryDig.com, March 18, 2008.

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Sources, Links & Additional Information

A 1972 six-disc, boxed set of the early Frank Sinatra-Tommy Dorsey years, RCA-UK, vinyl LPs.
A 1972 six-disc, boxed set of the early Frank Sinatra-Tommy Dorsey years, RCA-UK, vinyl LPs.
CD cover of 1940s Frank Sinatra-Tommy Dorsey recordings, 2005.
CD cover of 1940s Frank Sinatra-Tommy Dorsey recordings, 2005.

“That Old Sweet Song,” Time, Monday, July 5, 1943.

“Symphonic Sinatra,” Time, Monday, August 23, 1943.

“Frank Sinatra Sings to 7,000 at Stadium; Heard With the Philharmonic – Steiner Music Played,” New York Times, Wednesday, August 4, 1943, p. 14.

Sinatra Fans Pose Two Police Problems And Not the Less Serious Involves Truancy,” New York Times, October 13, 1944.

“Youngsters Flock to Sinatra Speech; Overflow Crowd Hears Singer Urge Roosevelt Re-election at Carnegie Hall,” New York Times, Wednesday, October 25, 1944, p. 16.

“Biography of Frank Sinatra,” About the Artist, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C.

“Frank Sinatra and The ‘Bobby-Soxers’,” Guardian Unlimited (London), New York correspondent, Wednesday, January 10, 1945.

“The Life of Frank Sinatra, Part 2,” Originally written and compiled by Gary Cadwallader for Seaside Music Theatre and MaryAnn Eifert for research materials, posted at Summer Wind Productions.com, March 2008.

Frank Sinatra” and “1943 in Music,” at Wikipedia.org.

Antony Summers and Robbyn Swan, Sinatra: The Life, New York: Doubleday, 2005.

 

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