A poster for the 1965 film version of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s ‘The Sound of Music,’ one of many R&H productions that have yielded long-lived economic returns in music, film, and continuing stage productions.
“I see musicals as a very big growth area for investment,” said André de Raaff, chief executive of Imagem Music Groupin April 2009. Mr. de Raaff’s company had just acquired the rights to a mother lode of Broadway hits by music legends Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. Imagem is owned by a giant Dutch pension fund and the European media company CP Masters. The company is believed to have paid some $250-to-$300 million for the rights to the Rogers and Hammerstein treasures. The deal was first reported on April 21, 2009.
Richard Rodgers (1902-1979) and Oscar Hammerstein (1895-1960) were the re- nowned American songwriting team who created a string of popular Broadway musicals in the 1940s and 1950s. “Oscar & Hammerstein,” as they are popularly known, reigned over what is considered the golden age of Broadway. Rodgers did the composing and Hammerstein the writing. The musicals with their songs — and the film versions that typically followed — garnered an impressive array of awards over the years, among them some 34 Tony awards, 15 Academy Awards, two Pulitzer Prizes, and two Grammys. Five of their shows — Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music — became runaway successes and are now regarded as musical icons. The music from these shows — and other Rodgers & Hammerstein work — remains popular among millions around the world and is regarded as a business gold mine.
In the deal that Imagem made, it acquired not only Rodgers & Hammerstein rights, but others as well, covering some 12,000 songs, 900 concert works, 100 musicals, and 200 writers. Among these are compositions by Irving Berlin and Mr. Rodgers’s other collaborator, Lorenz Hart. Irving Berlin’s song “White Christmas” — one of history’s top-selling songs ever — and his hit musical, Annie Get Your Gun, are also included, as are the Rodgers & Hart songs “Pal Joey” and “The Lady is a Tramp.” Imagem made its deal with the New York city-based Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization (RHO), which formerly managed all of this material. Imagem essentially acquired the RHO organization wholesale, retaining its existing management staff.
The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization was created in 1943 to manage the works of Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein.
“The sale represents a transfer of power over one of America’s most famous song catalogs and the licensing rights for future productions of the musicals,” wrote New York Times reporter Patrick Healy. RHO president and executive director, Theodore S. Chapin, who agreed to stay on at RHO, suggested that Imagem’s global reach would help RHO find new licensing deals for their holdings in Europe and Asia. “[S]ince Imagem is global,” he said, “I hope they can help us disseminate the works we represent with a little more moxie.”
Over the years, RHO had run its business fairly conservatively, collecting royalties from tens of thousands of licenses it issued for theatrical productions of R&H works. They also issued thousands of licenses for performances and recordings of their copyrighted songs, musicals, and concert works. Imagem’s deal with RHO covers some 12,000 songs, 900 concert works, 100 musicals and 200 writers. By 1990, for example, RHO was licensing about 3,000 productions a year and its music-publishing division employed about 20 people. RHO had been run in recent years by two Rodgers & Hammerstein heirs — daughters Mary Rodgers Guettel and Alice Hammerstein Mathias, who appeared satisfied with the deal they made with Imagem. Speaking on behalf of the Hammerstein family, Alice Hammerstein Mathias stated: “The collaboration between my father and Richard Rodgers was extraordinary. That they kept everything together, including the management of their copyrights, is a testament to their shared vision, and now that vision will be continued in this promising new venture.” Added Mary Rodgers Guettel: “My father always believed in moving forward. This is a big and wonderful step, and I am thrilled by the new opportunities that André and his team bring to my father’s songs and shows…”
The composer Richard Rodgers, left, and the lyricist Oscar Hammerstein at work in 1953.
Rodgers & Hammerstein
RHO was initially founded by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein in 1943, then for the purpose of controlling their own musicals, and additionally, those of Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, some separate Hammerstein works, and later other properties such as Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun of 1946.
In the early 1940s, by the time Rodgers and Hammerstein came together for their extended collaboration, they had each had separate careers. They were both over 40 by then. Hammerstein had success in the 1920s, helping create stage hits with operetta-style musicals such as Rose-Marie of 1924 and The Desert Song of 1926.
Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart on the cover of Time magazine, Sept 26, 1938.
In 1927, his hit musical Show Boat (with Jerome Kern) broke new ground on Broadway on a number of fronts, becoming the first, as they say, to integrate “book, music and lyrics” into a coherent whole. Show Boat, known for Paul Robeson’s classic performance of “Old Man River,’ also broached social issues, including addictive gambling, alcoholism, racism and interracial marriage. Hammerstein, in fact, would become known as a key innovator and “book writer” on Broadway — making the story, not the songs or the performers, central to the production. Still, by the early 1940s, Hammerstein’s good fortune had evaporated and he went for about ten years without a hit show. Richard Rodgers on the other hand, working with lyricist Lorenz Hart, had composed the scores for a number of hit shows that included, On Your Toes (1936), Babes in Arms (1937), The Boys From Syracuse (1938), Pal Joey (1940), and By Jupiter (1942). More than 80 popular tunes came from those works. Both Rodgers and Hart were featured on the cover of Time magazine in September 1938. But Hart’s health was in decline and he passed away in 1943.
Oscar Hammerstein II on the cover of Time magazine, October 20, 1947.
Rodgers and Hammerstein, who had worked together on occasion in the past, came together again in the early 1940s to work on what would became Oklahoma! This production furthered what Hammerstein had started in Show Boat — focusing on story, and integrating all aspects of the musical around plot and characters. Oklahoma! began the string of major Rodgers & Hammerstein successes, five of which are explored in more detail below. Between them, Rodgers and Hammerstein had a prolific output over the years. Hammerstein wrote an estimated 850 songs; Rodgers composed more than 900. Their work, either seperately or together, is found in more than 40 Broadway musicals, and indirectly in many others, as well as Hollywood films and television adaptations. Hammerstein died at the age of 65 shortly after the opening of The Sound of Music in 1960. Rodgers died in 1979 at age 77.
Rodgers & Hammerstein Gold
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s ‘Oklahoma!’ opened in March 1943 and ran for 2, 212 performances.
Oklahoma!, the first musical written by Rodgers & Hammerstein — about a cowboy and his farm-girl romance in the early 1900s when Oklahoma was a territory — opened on Broadway in March 1943. It was a box-office smash and ran for an unprecedented 2,212 performances. In the decade before Oklahoma!, no Broadway show had run over 500 performances. Oklahoma! is regarded by some as the first real phenomenon in modern Broadway history. Notable songs in the production include: “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’,” “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top,” “People Will Say We’re in Love,” and “Oklahoma!.” Some of this music appeared on the popular music charts over multiple decades. “People Will Say We’re in Love” was a No.1 song in 1943 and “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'” and “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top” also topped the charts. New York Times writer Stephen Holden later observed that this musical “helped to define a national mood of optimistic self-assurance that persisted for two decades, until the assassination of John F. Kennedy. … And perhaps more than any Broadway show before or since, it addressed America’s urban and rural cultures in a language that both could understand.” A 1955 film adaptation starred Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones. The film’s soundtrack was No. 1 on the 1956 album charts. For years the play has enjoyed numerous revivals, national tours, and foreign productions, including one in 1999 starring Hugh Jackman and Josefina Gabrielle in London. Oklahoma! continues to be a favorite play for school and community productions.
Cover of cast album from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s ‘Carousel,’ which first opened on Broadway in April 1945.
Rogers & Hammerstein’s Carousel opened on Broadway on April 1945 and ran for 890 performances. In London, the show opened in June 1950, and ran for 566 performances there. Among Carousel’s notable songs are “If I Loved You,” “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over,” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” The play was adapted for a Hollywood film in 1956 and also a made-for-television special in 1967. The 1956 film version starred Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones. A 1994 Broadway revival won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical Revival.
Carousel, set between 1873 and 1888 in a New England coastal village in the state of Maine, tells the tale of a love affair between Billy Bigelow, a traveling, carefree carnival man, and Julie Jordan, a local factory worker. Billy loses his job just as he learns that Julie is pregnant and, desperately intent upon providing a decent life for his family, he is coerced into being an accomplice to a robbery. Caught in the act and facing the certainty of prison, he takes his own life. When he reaches Heaven, he is denied entry because of his terrible deeds. Years later, Billy is allowed to return to Earth for one day, where he encounters the grown daughter he never knew, now besmirched by her father’s former reputation. Billy seeks to instill in both his daughter and her mother a sense of hope and dignity. When the play first ran, The New York Daily Mirror wrote: “(Carousel is) beautiful, bountiful, beguiling…it is the product of taste, imagination and skill.”. In December 1999, Time magazine named Carousel the Best Musical of the 20th century on its “Best of the Century” list, with the editors adding that Rodgers and Hammerstein “set the standards for the 20th century musical”. Carousel is especially well-regarded in the theater community, and Richard Rodgers called it his favorite musical.
DVD cover of 1958 film version of ‘South Pacific.’
South Pacific, a Rodgers and Hammerstein stage production, opened on Broadway in April 1949. A U.S. tour ran for almost five years in 118 cities from April 1950 through March 1955. Among its popular songs are: “Bali Ha’i,” “Younger than Springtime,” and “Some Enchanted Evening.” Based upon short stories from James A. Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific, Rodgers and Hammerstein, along with co-writer Joshua Logan, won a 1950 Pulitzer Prize for their adaptation. The original production featured Mary Martin as Nellie Forbush a naive young Navy nurse from Arkansas and opera star Ezio Pinza, as Emile de Becque, a French plantation owner. In the story, these two main characters become romantically involved. The story, set in World War II, also involves the frustrations of bored military men stationed on the South Pacific islands with too few women around. Racism is also a part of this story, emerging when Nellie learns that Emile has fathered dark-skinned Polynesian children with a former partner, and another character, Cable, refuses to marry a local Vietnamese girl.
Concert version of ‘South Pacific’ at Carnegie Hall, telecast by PBS in 2006.
The Broadway production of South Pacific was nominated for ten Tony Awards and won all of them, including Best Musical and Best Score. It was the only musical production ever to win all four Tony Awards for acting. The show was a critical and box office hit and also spawned a 1958 film. There were also a number of U.S. and U.K. revivals. In film, Glenn Close, Harry Connick, Jr. and Rade Šerbedžija starred in a 2001 ABC television version of South Pacific. A June 2005 concert version, edited down to two hours, but with all of its music, ran live at Carnegie Hall with stars Alec Baldwin, Reba McEntire, and Brian Stokes Mitchell. This production was also taped and telecast by PBS in April 2006. A recent Broadway revival of South Pacific opened in April 2008 at New York city’s Lincoln Center Theater. This revival won seven Tony Awards, including best musical revival and through early 2009 was still doing a healthy box office. At the show’s 60th anniversary in April 2009, more than a dozen of the remaining cast members from the 1949 production, along with Mary Rodgers, daughter of Richard Rodgers, and Alice Hammerstein, daughter of Oscar Hammerstein, attended a special matinee performance. A national tour based on the 2008 Broadway revival will begin in San Francisco September 2009.
50th anniversary edition DVD for Rodgers & Hammerstein’s ‘The King and I’.
The King And I opened on Broadway in March 1951 and launched the career of relatively unknown actor named Yul Brynner, who played The King. The story is based on the popular 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam, by Margaret Landon, based on a true story about Anna Leonowens, a Victorian Englishwoman who became the governess to the children of the King of Siam in the 1860s.
Rodgers and Hammerstein had the benefit of a 1946 film version of the novel preceding their own work, which was first proposed as a musical to them by the actress Gertrude Lawrence who wanted and got the leading role. In the production, The King is largely considered to be a barbarian by those in the West, and he seeks Anna’s assistance in changing his image, if not his ways. Although both Anna and King hold fast to their respective traditions and values, they grow to understand and respect one another, and become involved in a unique kind of love story. This Rodgers and Hammerstein production resulted in a number of hit songs, including: “I Whistle a Happy Tune”, “Hello, Young Lovers,” “Getting to Know You,” “We Kiss in a Shadow,” “Something Wonderful,” “I Have Dreamed,” and “Shall We Dance?”
Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-Fat in 1999 film, 'Anna and The King'.
Many credit Rodgers & Hammerstein with creating a fair picture of the orient in this production; a picture of the East with dignity, without resorting to any of the clichés often found in western productions. One reviewer, noting the careful attention to staging, costumes, etc., touted the production as promoting “a flowering of all the arts of the theater”.
In 1956, a Hollywood film adaptation was made starring Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr. It won five Oscars including one for Brynner as Best Actor. The King and I returned to Broadway in 1977 and 1985, and also as a short-lived 1972 TV sitcom, Anna and the King. Yul Brynner, over the course of 34 years, played The King more than 4,600 times, first on stage, then on the big screen, and also on the television series. In the first week of January 1985, as Brynner began his final engagement in the play at the Broadway Theatre, a new Broadway record was set for advance ticket sales in a single week, grossing $1,541,547. Another Hollywood film version, Anna and The King, starring Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-Fat , was produced in 1999, though with many differences from the musical production.
Poster for the 1965 film verison of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘The Sound of Music.’
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music presents the story of the von Trapp family of Austria fleeing their Nazi oppressors during World War II. It was adapted from Maria von Trapp’s autobiography, The Trapp Family Singers. In The Sound of Music, Maria Rainer is the cheerful teacher to Georg von Trapp’s seven children, who also helps lead the family to safety over the Alps to Switzerland in flight from the Nazis. The Sound of Music opened on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on November 16, 1959. It starred Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel. The production left a number of memorable songs, including “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” “Do-Re-Mi,” “My Favorite Things,” “So Long, Farewell,” “Sixteen Going on Seventeen,” and “Edelweiss.” On June 15, 1963 The Sound of Music closed at the Mark Hellinger Theatre, New York, after 1,443 performances. The show also had a long run in London, closing on January 14, 1967 at the Palace Theatre after six years and 2,385 performances — one of the longest running American musicals ever in London.
A movie version of The Sound of Music produced in 1965 by 20th Century Fox starred Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. It won five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. The film premiered at the Rivoli Theatre in New York city in March 1965, where it ran for 93 weeks.In 2005, Box Office Mojo listed The Sound of Music as the third-biggest-gross- ing film of all time at the domestic box office. The movie’s initial run in the U.S. release lasted four-and-a-half years, prompting Variety magazine at the time to proclaim it the “all-time box office champion.” In 2005, Box Office Mojo listed The Sound of Music as the third-biggest-grossing film of all time at the domestic box office, at $911.5 million, adjusted for inflation. Only Gone with The Wind and Star Wars grossed more. When the home video version first became available in 1979, it set sales records and hit the Billboard Top 40 video sales chart, remaining on the chart for more than 300 weeks. Today, The Sound of Music remains one of the top grossing films of all time and is perhaps the world’s most popular musical ever made. The motion picture soundtrack, released by RCA, has sold over 10 million copies worldwide, and home video sales of the film in VHS and DVD formats, have done quite well too.
Over the years, the works of Rodgers and Hammerstein have held up quite well for their musical and production values, although receiving sharp criticism at times for being too sugary and too goody-goody in terms of the social values conveyed. In 1993, New York Times writer Stephen Holden offered this synopsis of the Rodgers and Hammerstein era: “Once upon a time, America dreamed of itself as a singing fairy tale for grown-ups, with a happy ending. Norman Rockwell painted this storybook country, and Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein wrote its songs. More than just pop confections, they added up to a kind of secular catechism that sweetly but firmly instructed people on the rules of behavior in a world where America knew best and good triumphed over evil…”
Rodgers & Hammerstein -- 'too sugary'?
American pop since the mid-1950’s came partly as reaction to the values of Rodgers and Hammerstein. “Certainly rock-and-roll at its rawest represented a spontaneous burst of rebellion by huge segments of American society that found the cultured urbanity of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway songs too sweet, too sophisticated and too pious to speak for them,” offered Holden. Oscar & Hammerstein’s works, in those subsequent years, became for many, too optimistic, too cheerful, too hymnal and churchy, filled with sexual stereotypes, and too professed of American values and hegemony. Yet in their time, those values were mainstream; they were part of the national character, practiced by the majority. By the 1970s and 1980s, of course, Broadway self-corrected, as Hoden notes, producing disturbing and certainly “less-than sugary” works such as Sweeney Todd, Into The Woods, and others.
Holden concluded in his 1993 piece: “The America of Rodgers and Hammerstein — where the good guys won, love conquered all and progress was taken for granted — was itself a dream, a golden bubble of postwar hope and confidence that evaporated more than it burst.” True enough. Yet the Rodgers & Hammerstein works live on in the hearts of many, and still serve the values espoused, tempered, of course, by their own times. Hope and optimism, it seems, even if too sugary, are hard to extinguish. And certainly in terms of musical influence, Rodgers and Hammerstein continue to be heard in the strains of many pop ballads to this day.
Cover of 1996 CD for cast recording of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s musical, ‘The King and I’.
The Rodgers & Hammerstein acquisition by Imagem offers a continuing source of economic value for its new owners. Fees from music publishing rights can be collected from a broad range of uses, and many of these are not vulnerable to piracy. While the major record labels have suffered in recent years with declining sales due to changing technology, music publishing rights are still quite lucrative. This part of the music business has held its value far better than recordings. Music publishers make money when songs are played on the radio, in restaurants and bars, and when any version of a song is used in a movie, TV show, video game, or commercial advertisement. Also, other artists singing Rodgers & Hammerstein tunes — called “cover versions” — require license arrangements and yield standard royalties. The Rodgers & Hammerstein properties already have an extensive track record of doing business of one kind or another, and more is expected.
John Coltrane’s 1961 album includes his historic rendition of ‘My Favorite Things.’
“My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music, for example — made popular during its Broadway run and with Julie Andrews in the film version — has been used in advertising. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the song was used in automobile commercials for Mitsubishi. In 2007, it was used in advertisements for the Skoda Fabia, a mini-car produced by Czech auto maker Škoda, owned by Volkswagen. It was also used that year in Master Card ads, one of which featured actress and singer Penelope Fortier.
“My Favorite Things” has also become a jazz standard, with John Coltrane’s album of the same name becoming a historic landmark of sorts, which helped spark the rediscovery of soprano sax. The song has also been performed by a range of artists in jazz and other styles, including: Stanley Jordan, Grant Green, Carmen Lundy, Dave Brubeck, Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner, Kenny Rogers, Tanya Tucker, Rod Stewart, Sarah Vaughan, The Supremes, the Gimme Gimmes, Kimiko Itoh, Tony Bennett, 2Pac, Barbra Streisand, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Andy Williams, Luther Vandross, and others.
“Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” another Sound of Music song, was used by Australian Idol contestant Guy Sebastian in 2003 when he performed it on Australian TV in the show’s first season there. Sebastian went on to win, becoming the first Australian Idol, and in 2004 he recorded “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” on his No.1 single, “All I Need Is You.” The Rodgers & Hammerstein song was also adapted for National Australia Bank’s “Confidence” TV ad campaign in 2007.
In 1954, Roy Hamilton’s version of ‘You'll Never Walk Alone’, became an R&B No.1 hit for eight weeks and a national Top 30 hit, boosting Hamilton to fame.
Over the last 60 years, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” — a song from Carousel — has been recorded by dozens of artists, some charting as hit songs in their time of play. Among those covering this song, for example, have been Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Gerry & The Pacemakers, Elvis Presley, Roy Hamilton, Johnny Cash, Tom Jones, Renée Fleming, Nina Simone, Gordon MacRae, Ray Charles, Patti Labelle, the Righteous Brothers, Dionne Warwick, and others. The song is also a popular anthem for European soccer teams and has been used to help raise money for disaster victims and hurricane relief. Jerry Lewis has used the song for years during his Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy telethons. It has also been sung by Joan Baez, Marilyn Horne, Patti LaBelle and others in association with AIDS Walk campaigns and rallies in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Chicago. In 2002, opera star Renee Fleming sang “You’ ll Never Walk Alone” at Ground Zero during first year commemoration of the 9/11 attacks. In 2009 she sang it again, this time globally telecast from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at the Inauguration of President Barack Obama.
“You’ll Never Walk Alone”
When you walk through the storm
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm
There’s a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of the lark
Walk on, through the wind
Walk on, through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk alone
Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk alone
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Some Enchanted Evening” from South Pacific was recorded by a succession of popular artists in the first year of its release, 1949, including: Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Jo Stafford, Bing Crosby, Ezio Pinza (original cast recording), and Al Jolson. But in later years as well, others also did versions of the song, including Willie Nelson, Jay and the Americans, and Barbra Streisand. Jon Bon Jovi did it on the Ally McBeal TV show, and even Harrison Ford did a version in the film American Graffiti. “People Will Say We’re in Love” from Oklahoma! has also been covered by dozens of artists, some resulting in early Top 40 hits — Bing Crosby ( No.2), Frank Sinatra ( No. 3) and The Ink Spots ( No. 11). “Hello, Young Lovers” from 1951’s The King and I was covered that year by Perry Como and Guy Lombardo with Kenny Martin. Earl Grant did the song on his 1958 album The End. Bobby Darin did an upbeat swinging version of the song, and Paul Anka had a popular 1960 version in the Bobby Darin style. Frank Sinatra slowed it down on his 1965 album September of My Years. Marvin Gaye has a version in The Marvin Gaye Collection, a boxed set. Philip Quast covered the song on his Live at the Donmar album, as did Mark Murphy on his 1993 album Very Early. In 2004 Kevin Spacey covered the song on his Beyond The Sea soundtrack for his film about Bobby Darin.
Poster art for a production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s ‘Carousel'.
RHO, despite this history of success, has not been the most aggressive marketer of its portfolio’s possibilities. Primarily, it has been content to steadily licence its shows for stage productions, while limiting the exposure of its classic works in an attempt to protect their value.
It is known, however, that there is increasing demand for use of R&H material in film and television. But in the past, RHO has usually denied these kinds of uses because they sought to uphold the artistic integrity of their work, only licensing it for theatrical production and concerts. Imagem, on the other hand, is expected to seek a fuller range of marketing options.
Imagem’s Playlist Sample List*
“Love & Affection” - Joan Armatrading “As Long As You Love Me”
– Backstreet Boys “Think Twice” - Celine Dion “Numb” - Linkin Park “Take A Bow” - Rihanna “When The Going Gets Tough” - Billy Ocean “You Are Not Alone” - Michael Jackson “Ray Of Light”
– Madonna “Karma Chameleon” - Culture Club “Baby One More Time” - Britney Spears “American Idol Theme” - American Idol “Since You’ve Been Gone” - Kelly Clarkson “Rock Your Body” - Justin Timberlake “I Believe I Can Fly” - R. Kelly “Who Do You Think You Are?” - Spice Girls “All Summer Long” - Kid Rock “Run To The Hills” - Iron Maiden “Thunder in My Heart” - Leo Sayer
____________________ *Imagem Music Group holds rights
to about 100,000 songs. Source: www.imagem-music.com
Imagem, however, is something of a newcomer to the global music and entertainment industry. It was founded in 2008 by ABP, one of the world’s biggest pension funds ($223 billion), in conjunction with Dutch independent music publisher and media company CP Masters. ABP is the pension fund for some 2.6 million persons and employers who work for the Dutch government or its education system. Imagem began building its business by acquiring other music publishing rights and music catalogs. After Universal Music Group bought Bertelsmann’s BMG music-publishing unit, several of its pop music catalogs were spun off to satisfy federal anti-trust regulators — Zomba UK, Rondor UK, 19 Music, and 19 Songs. Imagem picked up these catalogs. Today, Imagem’s collection, includes a number of tunes from pop artists such as those in the box at right, including: Madonna, Linkin Park, Celine Dion, Justin Timberlake and others. From its London location, Imagem manages its back catalog and has a roster of 40 writers creating new music. It also seeks out and signs new talent, recently signing, for example, artists such as Australia’s Jarrad Rogers and the Portico Quartet.
In April 2008, Imagem acquired Boosey & Hawkes, a large classical-music publisher, whose catalog includes works of renowned artists such as, Benjamin Britten, Aaron Copland, Serge Prokofieff, Igor Stravinsky, and Sergei Rachmaninoff. This catalog also includes jazz and other works by artists and composers such as Karl Jenkins, Elliott Carter, John Adams, and Wynton Marsalis. Boosey and Hawkes is also involved in the market for music in advertising and film, where revenues are currently growing at about 30 percent annually per annum, according to Imagem. Other clients at Boosey & Hawkes include orchestras, choirs, record companies, and radio stations.
In the April 2009 deal with RHO, Imagem also acquired works by other artists including Adam Guettel, Sheldon Harnick, Jerome Kern, Stephen Schwartz, Kurt Weill, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and others. RHO had represented Andrew Lloyd Webber in the past, including his musicals Cats, Evita, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. At the time of the deal with Imagem, RHO and Webber’s group were in discussions about continuing that relationship.
Actor Hugh Jackman shown on the cover of a DVD for a 1999 production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s ‘Oklahoma!’.
Imagem’s strategy is one of diversification; assembling a mix of pop, classical, jazz, and show tunes, as well as stage productions and their production rights. Imagem (with Boosey & Hawkes) now owns the rights to more than 200,000 songs and reports annual revenues of about $130 million. The company believes that established songs are one of the safest asset classes around since their usage is relatively constant, generating steady royalty income.
Imagem appears eager and willing to go where other established music business interests will not go, and willing also to spend what others will not. In the recently completed Rodgers & Hammerstein deal, other potential suitors included some of the world’s biggest music publishers, among them, Warner Music Group’s Warner/Chappell Music and Sony Corp.’s Sony/ATV Music Publishing. These two had considered buying RHO, but dropped out of the bidding because they considered it overpriced, especially for a catalog of Broadway songs.
“Our purchase of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization is a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire the publishing and theatrical rights of some of the most beloved shows and songs ever written,” said CEO André de Raaff at the time of the deal. He also added: “I personally believe that the world of musicals in which RHO is a leading player will grow further on a worldwide basis and we look forward to adding value to these rights through long term cultivation and development.”
Patrick Healy, “Rodgers and Hammerstein Catalog Sold,” New York Times, April 22, 2009, p. C-3.
Press Release, “Imagem Music Group Buys R&H — Imagem Music Group Buys Rodgers & Hammerstein, Becoming World’s Leading Independent Music Publisher,” The Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization, Updated, May 22, 2009.
Andrew Lloyd Webber, “The Showmen,” Time, Monday, June 8, 1998.
Mary Martin, co-star of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s ‘South Pacific,’ shown on the cover of Life magazine, April 18, 1949, as the show began playing on Broadway.
2003 Motown CD showing the 1960s' group, The Contours.
It was early summer 1962. Berry Gordy, Jr., of Motown Records was in a swivet. He was itching to record a new piece of music he was sure would be a hit record. The name of the song was “Do You Love Me?,” a jumpy dance tune that Gordy thought would be perfect for The Temptations, a new singing group destined to become one of Motown’s top performers. At the time, the Temptations had no hit records, but Gordy believed his new song would be just the ticket to send them on their way. So on that day he was on a frantic search to find the group to record the song. But the Temptations couldn’t be found; they were out working a gospel review. It happened, however, that Gordy ran into another group of Motown artists in the hallways of his studio; a group called The Contours, the group that finally recorded the song.
“Do You Love Me?” became a major 1962 hit single for The Contours on Motown’s “Gordy” record label, with Berry Gordy writing and producing the song. The Contours then consisted of singers Billy Gordon, Hubert Johnson, Billy Hoggs, Joe Billingslea, Sylvester Potts, and guitarist Hugh Davis. The group had recorded and released two previous singles — “Whole Lotta’ Woman” and “The Stretch” — but neither had charted. In fact, the Contours were then in danger of being dropped from the label, until that afternoon when fate smiled upon them.
Original Gordy record label 45 rpm recording of 'Do You Love Me?,' first issued in June 1962.
“Do You Love Me?,” released in late June 1962, peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard pop singles chart, and was No. 1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart. An album titled, Do You Love Me? (Now That I Can Dance), was also released in October 1962 — the first album ever released on the Gordy Records label. The single sold over 1 million copies and the album had respectable sales as well.
Music Player “Do You Love Me?”
“Do You Love Me?” was also covered in the U.K. by a group named Brian Poole and the Tremeloes and went No. 1 there for three weeks in October 1963. The Dave Clark Five also did a version of the song in 1964 that went to No. 11 in the U.S. The Contours, meanwhile, became a headlining act for Motown and were part of the first Motor Town Revue tour. Although no other Top 40 hits materialized for the Contours on the pop charts, they did turn out several other successful dance tunes that rose into the R&B Top 40, including, “Shake Sherry”(1962), “First I Look at The Purse” (1965), and “Just A Little Misunderstanding” (1966), among others. By 1967, the group’s seven-year contract with Motown had expired. A year later, after the Contours’ lead singer Dennis Edwards was asked to replace the departed David Ruffin of The Temptations, The Contours disbanded.
Cover of 1988's 'More Dirty Dancing' CD, which includes the Contours' original 1962 hit song 'Do You Love Me?,' which hit the 'Billboard Hot 100' for a second time in 1988.
But then, more than 25 years later, lightning struck again. In 1987 came the movie, Dirty Dancing, starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, which included a memorable dance scene backed by the Contours’ original “Do You Love Me?” song. The film’s soundtrack of 1960s music became wildly successful, and was soon issued in multiple editions, most of which include “Do You Love Me?”. In fact, in 1988, with the release of a follow-up soundtrack album entitled More Dirty Dancing, “Do You Love Me?” became a pop hit for a second time. By July 1988 the song, which was also re-issued as a single, peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. It remained on the chart for eight weeks. The Contours — by then comprised of Joe Billingslea and three new members — joined other 1960s stars, including Ronnie Spector of The Ronettes, Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers and others, on a “Dirty Dancing Tour.” That tour ran for ten-months, entertaining over two million fans in eight countries. Two subsequent CDs — 1989 Dirty Dancing Live In Concert and 1998’s Great Dirty Dancing Hits — also included “Do You Love Me” and other Contours songs, as well as those of other artists. Dirty Dancing soundtracks have sold more than 30 million units worldwide. As the Contours put it on their web site, “Dirty Dancing has been very good to [us].” In recent years, the surviving and replenished Contours have continued to perform in the U.S. and abroad.
Meanwhile, on the web, the Contours’ “Do You Love Me?” has shown up in a range of uses as background music — from Disney animations to one creative Happy Feet adaptation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 music 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 album chart. And there was more to come.
Funny Girl Fame
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.
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.
Barbra Streisand's 1964 single 'People' hits 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.
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
The Third Album February 1964
Funny Girl(Broadway cast album)
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 concert events, political activism, and a whole lot more.
Article Citation: Jack Doyle, “Streisand Rising, 1961-1965,” PopHistoryDig.com, May 10, 2008.
Sources, Links & Additional Information
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.
“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'.
“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 ]
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 as more than
More than just our Marilyn Monroe
April 1952: Monroe on cover of Life.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
. . .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.
“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.