Airdate – Dec 05, 2021
The week of September 4, 1961 saw “Michael” by The Highwaymen peak at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Six weeks later it was #1 on the UK Singles Chart.
However, the #1 UK single during that same September period never made it onto any of North America’s national charts and is rarely heard today.
The British singer who performed the song was also an actor and appeared in several memorable movies including prominent roles in The Great Escape with Steve McQueen (1963) and Von Ryan’s Express with Frank Sinatra (1965).
While playing a rock star by the name of “Johnny Saint-Cyr” in the English TV series, Harpers West One, the production borrowed a page out of Ozzie & Harriet’s playbook by having him sing a song in an episode of the show while surrounded by adoring female fans. Sound familiar? The instant television exposure proved to be the launch pin for the song’s rise to the top of UK Singles Chart. As an aside, it was legendary music producer, Joe Meek’s, first #1 hit.
The song was of the same genre as “Tell Laura I Love Her,” “Teen Angel,” ”Running Bear,” and “Last Kiss.”
Because of this, it’s rise to the top of the charts was challenging in that it was banned by the BBC as were many popular “death discs” during that era.
The song never made it to North America and is rarely heard on this side of the Atlantic.
Too bad as it features a haunting, echoing sound, which became a trademark of Joe Meek’s innovative production style – a style that would give us “Have I The Right” by the Honeycombs in 1964.
But back in September of 1961, Meek had singer/actor John Leyton responding to the enchanting voice of a lost lover’s plea in “Johnny Remember Me,” this week’s Tom Locke moment in time.
YouTube video of this song: