Tales from the Atomic Age

Sopranos in the Sky

Italian Renata Tebaldi, about the same age as Maria Callas, became a star at the same time, sparking a rivalry; Renata also performed often at the Met starting in 1955, more than a year before Maria's debut. The situation became gossip-worthy with an October 1956 Time magazine article that claimed Callas had likened herself to Tebaldi in unflattering terms: "It would be like comparing champagne with cognac, or better with Coca-Cola!" Tebaldi triumphed over Callas when she won ... MORE ››

Top 100 Lists


"Catch the Wind" is one of two hits by Donovan on the list of the Top 100 Weather Songs of the '50s and '60s! Check out all the climate-controlled tunes ... MORE ››

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Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs

I've heard the question about Sam the Sham's professional name come up more than once: was he really a sham? He's admitted to his vocal limitations, that he can't play more than five chords on the organ and has a tendency to clown around onstage. He and the guys in his group weren't Egyptian as their costumes would suggest, nor had they any middle eastern background. Those first three traits wouldn't really qualify as deceptions; the last might, but come on, we were all in on the joke! If there was even a hint of a sham, it was in promoting the band as having "The Memphis Pharaoh Sound" ... MORE ››

Vinyl Attack Sammy Turner

by Sammy Turner

Johnny Bienstock started the Bigtop label in 1958 as a recording arm of Hill and Range music publishers. In no time he chalked up a minor hit with Bobby Pedrick, Jr.'s "White Bucks and Saddle Shoes," then a few months later the company's breakthrough hit came rushing in from out of the not-too-distant past, the kind of thing The Platters ("My Prayer" ... MORE ››