Those Good Old Country Cross Overs
There have always been country “crossover” songs since the inception of the first ‘country’ popularity chart which debuted in January of 1944. At that time the records were referred to as “Folk” records and so the first chart acknowledging this was “Most Played Juke Box Folk Records” before modifying the title to “Most Played Juke Box Hillbilly Records for a short time in 1947.
Along the way Billboard as it was prone to do featured multiple charts and simultaneously produced charts including “Most Played in C&W Juke Boxes”, “Best Selling Retail Folk Records”, and “Best Selling Retail Folk (Country and Western) Records – first time “Country & Western” was used.
Beginning in late 1962 the charts became “Hot Country Singles” and continued forward right into 1990 before amending the title to “Hot Country Singles and Tracks”. This was done (as it was with other genres of music) to accommodate tracks from long plays which were not released as singles but achieving considerable air play.
In 2005, Billboard finally settled on just plain old “Hot Country Songs”.
The ‘Babe Ruth’ Rating System
In the early years and continuing for many years, chart position was based on what country DJ’s were spinning as well as retail sales. Things changed in 1990 when the trade publication switched over solely to actual radio airplay – very carefully monitored electronically.
The airplay was then weighted more or less via math formulas based on each station’s “Arbitron-estimated” audience. Whew! What would Jimmie Rogers have thought about that? Probably the same thing that Babe Ruth would have thought about resting a player every 10 days and video challenge replays.
At any rate – all this aside – when I was in the early stages of purchasing 45 rpm records, every once in awhile there would come along a little ditty which would make an appearance on my favorite Denver-based radio station – KIMN “The Denver Tiger”.
Not pop or rock and roll – but pure country and western – these little ditties were… So I must admit that over the course of the 1960’s I added many of these to my collection and enjoyed playing them in the privacy of my bedroom.
There is no way I would have taken these along with me to a sock hop or broken them out for my friends to enjoy. If the Barnum Gang had caught me walking down the street with my little 45 box and found – say a “Little Jimmy Dickens” record inside – I most certainly would have been pounded right on the spot – and deservedly so.
So what follows is my personal choices for those country artists who ‘crossed over’ onto the Hot 100 charts. Looking back I am very happy that they did and if there are any members of the Barnum Gang out there reading this – all I can say is I am surprised you can read.
Carl Butler (Carl Robert Butler)
Born in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1927 – Died September, 1992
Columbia 4-42593 – Don’t Let Me Cross Over – Charted Number 1 Country for 11 Weeks
Crossed over onto the Hot 100 Charts on February 9th, 1963 – Charted Number 88 – On Hot 100 for two weeks
This would be Butler’s only appearance on the Hot 100 – He place 14 songs on the Country Charts – This song was his only number 1 Country placement
Little Jimmy Dickens (James Cecil Dickens)
Born December, 1920, Bolt, West Viriginia – Died January, 2015
Columbia 4-43388 – “May The Bird Of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose – Charted Number 1 Country for two weeks
Crossed over onto the Hot 100 Charts on October 15th, 1965 – Charted Number 15 – On Hot 100 for 10 weeks
This was Jimmy’s only appearance on the Hot 100 – He placed 19 songs on the country charts but only had this one number one hit. He is in the Country Music Hall of Fame – He was nick named “Tater”.
Johnny Horton (John LaGale Horton)
Born April, 1925 in Los Angeles, California – Died in November of 1960 in a car accident in Texas
Columbia 4-41339 – The Battle of New Orleans – Charted Number 1 Country for 10 weeks
Crossed over into the Hot 100 on April 27th, 1959 – Charted Number 1 for 6 weeks – On Hot 100 for 21 weeks
Johnny crossed over 10 times onto the Hot 100 and enjoyed two additional Top 10 hits with “Sink The Bismark” in 1960 (number 3) and “North to Alaska” in the Fall of 1960 (number 4) – All three of those songs went to number 1 on the country charts – Was also known as “The Singing Fisherman”.
Born in Shreveport, Louisiana – February, 1925 – Died December, 1996
Capitol 4533 – Hello Walls – Charted Number 1 Country for 9 Weeks
Crossed over into the Hot 100 on April 10, 1961 – Charted Number 12 – On Hot 100 for 16 weeks
Faron Young had crossed over three times to the Hot 100 before the arrival of “Hello Walls” and would do so two more times during his career. Faron ranks as number 24 all-time among country musicians – He placed 89 songs on the Country Charts including five number 1’s. – Also known as the “Hillbilly Hearthrob”.
Ferlin Husky (Ferlin Eugene Husky)
Born in Cantwell, Missouri – December, 1925 – Died March, 2011
Capitol 4406 – Wings of a Dove – Charted Number 1 Country for 10 Weeks
Crossed over onto the Hot 100 Charts on March 2nd, 1957, Charted Number 4 – On Hot 100 for 27 weeks
Ferlin Husky crossed over three more times after Wings of A Dove to the Hot 100 – Ferlin ranks as number 75 all-time among country musicians – He placed 51 songs on the Country Charts including two number 1’s – Ferlin also recorded as “Simon Crumb” and “Terry Preston”
I like the YouTube video with Ferlin performing his big cross over hit backed by a group of rhythm clapping countrified folks – Probably the Grand Ole Opry crowd
Tammy Wynette (Virginia Wynette Pugh)
Born May, 1942 in Tremont, Mississippi – Died April, 1998
Epic 5-10398 – Stand By Your Man – Charted Number 1 Country for three Weeks
Crossed over onto the Hot 100 Charts on February 1st, 1968 – Charted Number 19 – On Hot 100 for 16 weeks
Tammy had crossed over twice before “Stand By Your Man” – This was my favorite by her – I had a chance to see her in Denver along with Alan Jackson and Randy Travis but she fell ill and couldn’t make the performance at the Denver Auditorium. She passed away not long after. Tammy was truly the “First Lady of Country Music” – ranking #30 all-time on the Country list of musicians – placing 73 songs on the Country Charts including 20 number 1 songs!
Tammy sadly underwent very poor health having 15 operations as well as developing an addiction to pain medication prior to her death.
Bobby Bare (Robert Joesph Bare Sr.)
Born April, 1935 in Ironton. Ohio
RCA Victor 47-8183 – Detroit City – Charted Number 6 Country
Crossed over onto the Hot 100 Charts on June 15th, 1963 – Charted Number 16 – On Hot 100 for 12 weeks
Bobby crossed over seven times – not including his 1958 appearance as “Bill Parsons” with “All American Boy” actually more a rocker than country – charting at number 2. Bobby had only a single number 1 country hit with “Marie Laveau” a song which failed to cross over. He enjoyed 70 country charting singles and ranks number 54 all-time Country musicians.
My kids didn’t give a hoot for Bobby Bare but they did enjoy “Daddy What If” recorded with his son Bobby Junior in 1973 when I played it for them as they got older. That song did cross over landing at number 41.
Patsy Cline (Virginia Patterson Hensley)
Born September, 1932 in Winchester, Virginia – Died in plane crash on March 5th, 1963
Decca 31205 – I Fall To Pieces – Charted Number 1 Country for 2 Weeks
Crossed Over onto the Hot 100 Charts on May 22nd, 1961 – Charted Number 12 – On Hot 100 for 20 weeks
What might have been had Patsy lived well beyond her young 30 years – She crossed over 13 times with her highest ranking single coming in at number 9 in 1961 – “Crazy”. She has a rather low all-time country ranking (225) due to her abbreviated time on earth. She had 20 country charting records – four of them posthumous.
Dave Dudley (David Darwin Pedruska)
Born May, 1928 Spencer, Wisconsin – Died December, 2003
Golden Wing GW 3020 – Six Days On The Road – Charted Number 2 Country
Crossed over onto the Hot 100 Charts on June 8th, 1963 – Charted number 32 – On Hot 100 for 11 weeks
Dave would cross over one more time with “Cowboy Boots” (number 95 in late 1963). Dudley ranks number 111 all-time country – He had one number one country hit “The Pool Shark” in 1970. He placed 41 records onto the country charts
The Statler Brothers
Original group was Don Reid, Harold Reid, Phil Balsley and Lew DeWitt. When DeWitt
Columbia 4-43315 – Flowers on the Wall – Charted Number 2 Country
Crossed over onto the Hot 100 Charts on November 13th, 1965 – Charted Number 4 – On the Hot 100 for 13 weeks
When DeWitt fell ill in 1983, he was replaced by Jimmy Fortune – He would be the only change in their long time lineup. DeWitt passed away on August 15th, 1990 – The original lead vocalist for the group was Joe McDorman but he did not continue on with them as they became “The Statler Brothers”.
I read the Statler Brothers’ autobiography authored by Harold. What a great life the group led – life long friends – not turn by internal struggles (or drugs) – forming and living in their hometown of Staunton, Virginia where they converted their old school into their business office – and where each year for many years they would hold their “Happy Birthday U.S.A.” event attracting thousands and providing support for Staunton and other causes.
The Statlers’ garnered the Country Music Association award of “Vocal Group of the Year” consecutively from 1972 through 1977 and then again in 1979, 1980 and one final time in 1984. The award host one year called the award the “Statler Brothers” category.
Saw them twice – Once in 1969 in Albuquerque at the Johnny Cash/June Carter show (along with Carl Perkins) and then again toward the end of their travelling career at the “Stampede” in Greeley, Colorado performing on an outdoor stage with their traveling bus parked next to it. Very simple and humble and a great performance.
Skeeter Davis (Mary Francis Penick)
Born December, 1931 Dry Ridge Kentucky – Died September, 2004
RCA Victor 47-8098 – The End of the World – Charted Number 2 Country
Crossed over onto the Hot 100 Charts on January 26th, 1963 – Charted Number 2 – On Hot 100 for 17 weeks.
What a truly soulful country voice the talented Skeeter had – She grew up on a farm one of seven siblings. “The End of the World” being perhaps one of the most nostalgic recordings that I can imagine for my own enjoyment. Skeeter was ranked all-time country number 122 and placed 41 singles on the country charts.
She started off as part of the duo “The Davis Sisters” pairing up with Betty Jack Davis who died tragically in a car accident in 1953 before the girls could get going. Skeeter crossed over eight times – including the delightful and bouncy “I Can’t Stay Mad at You” number 7 in 1963.
Her first cross over was an “answer song” “(I Can’t Help You) I’m Falling Too)” as was her second cross over “My Last Date (With You)” – What a pair – Floyd Cramer and Skeeter Davis.
Jimmy Dean (Jimmy Ray Dean)
Born in August, 1923 in Plainview, Texas – Died June 2010
Columbia 4-42175 – Big Bad John – Charted Number 1 Country for 2 Weeks
Crossed over onto the Hot 100 on October 2nd, 1961 – Charted number 1 for five weeks – On Hot 100 for 16 weeks
My wife just commented on the Jimmy Dean Sausage commercials which have begun to run once again on television – He founded that company way back in 1969! Dean sold his sausages to Sara Lee in 1984 for $80 million bucks!
Jimmy placed 13 songs on the Hot 100 – He once again entered the Top Ten with the ballad “P.T. 109” alluding to John F. Kennedy’s legendary past. Dean ranks number 205 all-time country with 26 songs charting. His only other country number 1 was “The First Thing Ev’ry Morning (And the Last Thing Ev’ry Night) from the summer of 1965. Dean was an amiable personality and had quite a presence appearing on TV and motion pictures and actually hosting multiple Johnny Carson shows. Unfortunately he passed away just before being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame – but he did know that he had been chosen.
Born April, 1925 Rains, Utah – Died March, 2016
Fabpr 114 – “From A Jack to a King” – Charted Number 2 Country
Crossed over onto the Hot 100 on December 29th, 1962 – Charted Number 6 – On Hot 100 for 13 weeks
Ned Miller is one of the exceptions on my list – not being a high ranking country singer – (no ranking ascribed by Joel Whitburn) – He only placed 11 songs on the country charts with “From a Jack to a King” being his first chart record on both Country and Hot 100 – He crossed over one additional time and that was that.
Miller did leave his mark as a composer with “Dark Moon” a song which was recorded by many artists including Gale Storm who took it to number 4 in 1957. He also wrote “A Fallen Star” recorded by Jimmy Newman going to number 23 on the Hot 100 also in 1957 and number 2 country. A third Miller composition “Invisible Tears” was recorded by the Ray Conniff Singers and went to number 57 Hot 100 – Miller took the song to number 13 country.
“From a Jack to a Queen” was actually first recorded at Fabor in 1957 – but went nowhere – He came back to Fabor in 1962 after a stint at Capitol and convinced them to re-release the song!
Columbia 4-41393 – Waterloo – Charted Country Number
Crossed over onto the Hot 100 on – Charted Number – On the Hot 100 Charts for weeks
Yep! “Stonewall Jackson” was his actual birth name! Gotta love it. What a voice! Now that’s country. And what a song – I could march around all day back in 1959 listening to Napoleon getting his ‘what fer’.
Born August, 1923 Galloway, Texas – Died July 31, 1964
RCA Victor 47-7643 He’ll Have To Go – Charted Country Number
Crossed over onto the Hot 100 on – Charted Number – On the Hot 100 Charts for weeks
Jim Reeves (“Gentleman” Jim Reeves) was another tragic victim of an accident perishing from an aircraft crash over the State of Tennessee during a business trip. He was piloting the plane at the time when he encountered a severe thunder storm. He was only 40 at the time of his death.
Roger Miller (Roger Dean Miller)
Born January, 1936 Fort Worth, Texas – Died October, 1992
Smash S-1881 – Dang Me – Charted Country Number 1 for six weeks
Crossed over onto the Hot 100 Charts on June 13th, 1964 – Charted Number 7 – On Hot 100 for 11 Weeks
Roger Miller, much like Jimmy Dean – had the charisma to rise within the entertainment industry beyond his country roots becoming a fixture of sorts on television programs. He ranks number 112 all-time country – He crossed over 16 times on the Hot 100 entering the Top Ten five times with “King of the Road” being his most successful recording charting at number in 1965.
Johnny Cash (J.R. Cash)
Born February, 1932 Kingsland, Arkansas – Died September, 2003
Columbia 4-42788 – Ring of Fire – Charted Country Number 1 for 7 Weeks
Crossed over onto the Hot 100 Charts on January 1st, 1964 – Charted Number 17 – On Hot 100 for 17 weeks
Now Johnny can’t really be called a cross over country artist – He started off his career as part of the Sun Records stable of rockabilly singers landing seven of his Sun singles on the Hot 100. Then he signed on with Don Law and his Columbia country roster – and firmly established himself as a wide appealing artists logging in 135 country charts songs during his career and placing 48 of those onto the Hot 100!
Johnny ranks number 4 all-time country trailing only George Strait (number 3), George Jones (number 2) and Eddy Arnold (number 1). Johnny never enjoyed a number 1 Hot 100 song but achieved the honor 13 times on the Country charts over the years. His longest running number 1 on the country charts was his 1958 smash “Ballad of a Teenage Queen” which remained at the top for 10 weeks.
Flatt & Scruggs
Lester Flatt was born in June of 1914 in Duncan’s Chapel, Tennessee – Died May of 1979
Earl Scruggs was born in January of 1924 in Flint Hill, North Carolina – Died March of 2012
Columbia 4-42606 – The Ballad of Jed Clampett – Charted Country Number 1 for three weeks
Crossed over onto the Hot 100 on December 8th, 1962 – Charted Number 44 – On Hot 100 for 11 Weeks
Lester and Earl were both members of the Foggy Mountain Boys which was formed in 1948 – headed up by the legendary Bill Monroe. The duo benefited by recording the theme song for the popular and really goofy television show, “The Beverly Hillbillies”. The duo caught on with the youthful crowd in 1970’s.
Flatt and Scruggs placed 20 records on the country charts and two additional recordings on the Hot 100.
Hank Locklin (Lawrence Hankins Lockin)
Born February, 1918 McLellan, Florida – Died March, 2009
RCA Victor 47-7692 – Please Help Me, I’m Falling – Charted Number 1 Country for 14 weeks
Crossed over onto the Hot 100 Charts on May 23rd, 1960 – Charted Number 8 – On Hot 100 for 22 weeks
Hank ranks number 144 all-time country – He placed 33 songs on the country charts – His other number one country was “Let Me Be The One” in 1953. He had only 3 cross over songs.
Bill Anderson (James William Anderson)
Born November, 1937 Columbia, South Carolina – Still with us today
Decca 31458 – Still – Charted Country Number 1 for 7 Weeks
Crossed Over to Hot 100 on April 13th, 1963 – Charted Number 8 – On Hot 100 for 13 Weeks
Bill Anderson (also known as ‘Whisperin” Bill Anderson ranks number 31 all-time country – He placed 80 songs on the Country Charts over the years with seven going to the top of the charts. He crossed over five times on the Hot 100 and placed on single Po’ Folks Christmas” on the Holiday Charts in 1968.
Bill was a dynamic entertainer and landed his own television show during the 1960’s. He penned many hits for other country stars including Connie Smith’s number 1 record “Once A Day” which rode the top of the charts for eight weeks.
Vic Dana scored a moderate hit with Anderson’s “I Love You Drops” in 1966 (number 30); He penned Roy Clark’s cross over “The Tips of My Fingers” (number 45 in 1963); and “Mama Sang a Song” which landed on the Hot 100 for Anderson, Walter Brennan and Stan Kenton – all in 1962.
Born February, 1923 Keithville, Louisiana – Died March, 2013
Columbia 4-42352 – Wolverton Mountain – Charted Country Number 1 for 9 Weeks
Crossed over onto the Hot 100 on May 26th, 1961 – Charted Number 6 – 16 Weeks on the Hot 100
“Wolverton Mountain” was a Merle Kilgore composition and would be the 3rd song to cross over for Claude – He would have one addition cross over “The Burning of Atlanta” in 1962 reaching number 53.
Claude ranks number 177 all-time country – He placed 30 songs on the Country Charts
There was actually a “Cliftton Clowers” in real life – based on a Kilgore uncle and a real “Wolverton Mountain” where Clifton resided in the State of Arkansas.
Del Reeves (Franklin Delano Reeves)
Born July, 1932 Sparta, North Carolina – Died in January of 2007
United Artists 824 – Girl On The Billboard – Charted Country Number 1 for 2 Weeks
Crossed over onto the Hot 100 Charts on June 26th – Charted Number 96 – One week on the Hot 100
The song just didn’t do that well nationally but was got considerable airplay in Denver, Colorado on radio station KIMN. “Girl” would be Reeve’s only appearance on the Hot 100 – But he placed a respectable 55 songs on the Country Charts with “Girl on the Billboard” being his only number 1. He ranks all-time country number 108.
He later became a music executive and signed country singer and father of you-know-who Billy Ray Cyrus.
Lefty Frizzell (William Orville Frizzell)
Born March, 1928 Corsicana, Texas – Died July 1975 age 47
Columbia 4-42924 – Saginaw, Michigan – Charted Country Number 1 for 4 Weeks
Crossed Over onto Hot 100 on January 18th, 1964 – Charted Number 85 – On Hot 100 for 5 Weeks
“Saginaw, Michigan” was Lefty’s only cross over appearance – Countrywise he placed 39 songs on the charts with five additional number one’s – all coming very early in his career during 1950 and 1951. He ranks number 92 all-time country.
Trouble with the law as a nineteen year-old – he nearly dropped out of sight but rebounded later first appearing in small honky tonks.
Hank Snow (Clarence Eugene Snow)
Born May, 1914 Brooklyn, Nova Scotia – Died December, 1999
RCA Victor 47-8072 – Charted Number 1 Country for 2 weeks
Crossed over onto the Hot 100 Charts on September 29th, 1962 – Charted Number 58 – On Hot 100 for 8 weeks
Hank Snow is my only out-of-country star among my cross overs – Hank was a major force in country music – landing 85 songs on the charts from 1949 through 1980. He had four number 1 country tunes – and ranks number 25 all-time country.
“I’ve Been Everywhere” is a much recorded tune and still shows up today on commercials and tributes.
He had only one additional cross over “Rockin’ Rollin’ Ocean” in 1960 at number 87 – the song reached number 22 Country.