From the Land of Band Box Records

Who is Billy Murray Anyway?

April 17, 2013

Number 9 All-Time!

Billy Murray - Hit Machine

Billy Murray – Hit Machine

Music chart enthusiasts have long conducted excruciating exercises to rank songs and artists via the popular song charts.  Music VF is a wonderful and extremely deep site dedicated to identifying all charting songs for all-time both in the U.S. and in the U.K.  In their own words “Music VF is “is a database of 100 000+ US and UK music hits since 1900.  You can browse our charts by artist, by year, or by decade … or you can use our search engine on artists names or songs titles.”  The Music VF home page displays a compilation of the “Top 1000” artists of all time.  This is always a subject open to debate due to the very diverse set of circumstances present through-out the years pertaining to the criteria for ranking songs:  sales, airplay, regional reports, jukeboxes for a long time – and so on.

But that aside, here is the current “Top Ten”:

  1. Bing Crosby
  2. Elvis Presley
  3. Paul Whiteman
  4. Guy Lombardo
  5. Jimmy Dorsey
  6. Perry Como
  7. Madonna
  8. Glen Miller
  9. Billy Murray
  10. Frank Sinatra

The above list should raise more questions that it answers – for instance –  where are the Beatles?  (number 11 is the answer).  Most of these top ten’rs hailed from a time when the charts were small – compositions lingered for a long time – and sales figures were of course lower.  But just how did Madonna crack the top 10?  Questions for another time.

Who is Billy Murray?

He was born in 1877 and passed away in 1957.  I don’t recall ever listening to Billy or even hearing about him.  His first charting songs – beginning in 1903 – were released on “music cylinders”.  His first vinyl release occurred in 1906 teaming up with Ada Jones – another artist whom I am not familiar with.  She landed on the charts more than 40 times from 1905 until 1917.

Murray on the other hand first charted in 1903 and landed there a total of 120 times with 15 number 1 songs!  Here is a short list of Murray’s greatest hits:

  • Meet Me In St. Louis, Louis (#1)
  • Give My Regards to Broadway (#1)
  • Navajo (#1)
  • Keep On the Sunny Side (#5)
  • Harrigan (#1)
  • I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now (#4)
  • Alexander’s Ragtime Band (#2)
  • The Camptown Races (#9)
  • For Me and My Gal (#4)
  • K-K-K-Katy (#3)

Whew…. – Move over Fab Four!

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