Earlier this month we passed the anniversary of the most fabled feat of chart dominance in recorded history—from 1964, when the Beatles had the top five records on the Billboard Hot 100 (and nine of the top 10 in Canada). On this blog, we’ve noted other feats that came close: the week in March 1978 when the Bee Gees were involved in one way or another with four of the top five (and had the top two), and the week in December 1968 when Motown had the top three, each by a different artist. Donna Summer had two of the top three (but not Number One) in June and July 1979, and since Billboard changed its chart methodology in the early 90s, there have likely been other such feats. Yesterday was the 65th birthday of a man who performed a similarly impressive feat of chart dominance, although at the time it happened, it was not nearly so widely known.
During one week in the winter of 1970, the British Top 10 included the following records:
“Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” by Edison Lighthouse
“My Baby Loves Lovin'” by White Plains
“Gimme Dat Ding” by the Pipkins
“United We Stand” by Brotherhood of Man
Four different group names, but the same lead singer on each of them: Tony Burrows. He’d been a professional singer since 1960 and had been a member of a couple of modestly successful groups in England during the 60s. One of them, the Flower Pot Men, renamed itself White Plains in 1969 and promptly scored with “My Baby Loves Lovin’.” Burrows and fellow Flower Pot Man Roger Greenaway collaborated again on “Gimme Dat Ding” (a novelty duet), and they were both members of Brotherhood of Man long enough to sing on “United We Stand.” Working musicians work—so Burrows also signed on with producer Tony Macaulay (whom we have celebrated here before), who wanted him to sing backup on “Love Grows.” He ended up singing the lead, but didn’t get his name on that record, either.
In February 1970, Burrows appeared on British TV’s Top of the Pops, on which top artists sang their hits. He sang lead for three of ’em: Edison Lighthouse, White Plains, and Brotherhood of Man—the only time in the program’s history that one singer appeared with three different groups on the same episode. While White Plains and Brotherhood of Man were actual performing entities, the only time Edison Lighthouse ever appeared as a group was when it needed to be on TV, because it was entirely a studio creation.
Three of the four records appeared on the American charts together. During the week of April 18, 1970, “Love Grows” peaked at Number Five while “My Baby Loves Lovin'” and “United We Stand” debuted at Numbers 91 and 93 respectively. The week after “Love Grows” dropped off the chart (May 23), “Gimme Dat Ding” debuted at Number 65. Burrows’ greatest week in the States came the week of June 27, when “My Baby Loves Lovin'” was Number 13, “United We Stand” Number 14, and “Gimme Dat Ding” Number 17.
(Digression: Transistor radios around the United States were pumping pure bubblegummy pleasure during the week of June 27, 1970. In the Billboard Top 10 that week were “Hitchin’ a Ride” by Vanity Fare and “Which Way You Goin’ Billy” by the Poppy Family, plus the records we’re talking about here, and the Jackson Five’s “The Love You Save” was Number One. Just another reason why we love the 1970s around here.)
Tony Burrows’ sweep of the British charts in 1970 marked the pinnacle of his career in the UK. He finally got records released under his own name in the UK after that, but none were significant hits. His greatest success in the States was yet to come, however—he would sing on “Beach Baby” by First Class, which made the Billboard Top 10 in the fall of 1974.
“Love Grows,” “My Baby Loves Lovin’,” and “United We Stand” have been widely heard on oldies radio in the 37 summers since they dominated the charts, so I needn’t post any of them here, although I’m sorely tempted by “Love Grows” because I believe it’s the greatest bubblegum record of all time, not counting “Sugar Sugar” by the Archies, which is in a class by itself. “Gimme Dat Ding,” however, is much less well known, in the States at least. It was originally intended to be a children’s record, and ended up the theme to a British kids’ TV show. In England, it’s also known for its frequent use on The Benny Hill Show during the 70s and 80s. But if you had the radio on in the States during the summer of 1970I, “Gimme Dat Ding” was inescapable, and eventually rose to Number 9. The gruff voice on the record always makes me think of Arte Johnson’s dirty old man character from Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, and that may have contributed to its popularity in the States as well. In any case, download and listen with care—it’s the kind of record that gets in your head and stays there long after you wish it would go away.