Texarkana Gazette

Same song was a hit for two artists at the same time

- Doug Davis Columnist

Think of the weirdest scenario possible for the story line for a TV movie about the music business.

Start with the story of a song that had already made the top of the country music charts AND was on its way to the top of the pop music charts but was kept out of that No. 1 slot by another recording of the same song by another artist! Now – as weird as that story sounds, all that was actually happening this month in 1956 to a young country singer named Sonny James.

Capitol Records producer Ken Nelson had just received a tape of a song in the mail

titled “Young Love” and after listening to it decided the song would fit Sonny James (real name: James Hugh Loden). Sonny didn’t really care for the song but he did agree to record it.

“Young Love” was recorded with only a straight brush on a snare drum, Sonny’s acoustic flat-top guitar and a stand-up bass. The lead guitar part was later added by

Pete Wade.

“Young Love” entered the country music charts December 22, 1956 and made its way to No. 1 where it stayed for 9 weeks. It was on the country charts for 24 weeks.

And it looked like that same recording would also conquer the pop music charts as well, but Dot Records’ Randy Wood thought Sonny’s record success would only shine on the country harts so he signed teenage idol Tab Hunter to a recording contract and rush-released his version of “Young Love” on Dot Records for the pop music market.

In those days music publishers tried to get as many artists as possible to cover their tunes. This would mean more income from the same song and sometimes more than one version became popular and that resulted in even more income.

The Sonny James version jumped on the pop charts at

No. 22 - then skipped up to No. 12 – then up to No. 3.

But about that time, Tab Hunter’s version entered the pop charts. Hunter’s version jumped up to No. 4 as Sonny James’ version made it to No. 2.

Tab’s record slid down to No. 3 then back to No. 4 before jumping to No. 1 –while Sonny James version was held at No. 2.

Tab (real name: Arthur Andrew Kelm) Hunter’s recording career was short lived while Sonny James went to to place 72 songs on the country music charts, including 23 No. 1s, between 1953 and 1983. Twenty-one of his 72 country charted records also scored on the pop charts.

Sonny James joined The Grand Old Opry in 1965 and was inducted into The Country Music Hall Of Fame in 2006.

Sonny James died in 2016 at age 87.

 ?? (Photo courtesy Doug Davis) ?? Sonny James.
(Photo courtesy Doug Davis) Sonny James.
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