The first-ever Billboard Music Chart was released 50 years ago this summer–and something about the first #1 song needs to be addressed.

Back in the days of jukeboxes, several companies jockeyed for supremacy in tracking America’s most popular songs. Billboard (which began in 1894 as a publication tracking billboard advertising) got into the game on July 27, 1940, with its first-ever chart. Tom sends this scan.

Note the song “I’ll Never Smile Again” by Tommy Dorsey’s orchestra, featuring a young singer named Frank Sinatra. This first-ever #1 hit on Billboard was written by Tom’s mom, Ruth Lowe of Toronto. Strange that this has been forgotten by Canadians. The woman deserves special consideration from the Junos and the Canadian Walk of Fame, don’t you think? After all, even the Grammys gave her an honorary award in 1981…

Check out the lower half of the chart, too.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

3 thoughts on “The first-ever Billboard Music Chart was released 50 years ago this summer–and something about the first #1 song needs to be addressed.

  • August 4, 2020 at 1:25 pm
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    Wouldn’t 1940 be 80 years ago?

    Reply
  • August 4, 2020 at 6:39 pm
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    Canadians are the worst at knowing their history, the people involved, and their impact on the world at large. It’s been a long term problem, never fixed by our lackluster school system.
    The most comprehensive acknowledgement of our history was compiled by Mel Hurtig when he published the Canadian Encyclopedia in the early ’80’s. Surprise, surprise no one has done a digital version or updated it all.
    How typically Canadian!

    Reply

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