Sunday, 6 April 2014

The Beatles did stop The Rolling Stones hitting the top!

As part of the process of checking who has had the biggest climb to the top I came on something very odd concerning the established fact that the Beatles and Rolling Stones never put out at the same time singles that would compete with one another.
While I was looking at the charts for 1963, I came across the charts for the run up to Christmas. It clear shows a Rolling Stones record being held off the top by none other than the Beatles!
Of course at the time nobody would have been aware of this fact, simply because there was no official chart of the day. Instead several charts would show different records top. The most popular charts of the period were the New Musical Express top 30 and the Melody Maker which by 63 was a top 50. It also used the most record shops to complete it's survey, however this was only a fraction of the stores in the UK. Some of the major stores didn't supply sales data to any of the charts! The chart later adopted as "official" by the first chart books made by Guinness, was made by a record trade magazine called Record Retailer. It is still considered by most chart fans to be very unrepresentative of the time. For one thing it excluded Extended Players from the top 50, as it had it's own EP chart. Both the Melody Maker and New Musical Express allowed them into it's listings. However the NME chart did allow albums into it's listing, plus listed AA records as two separate chart entries, which both The Maker and Retailer didn't. 
The unfairness of these charts and the lack of coverage of the shops means that the 60's charts are very unrepresentative of what actually was selling in the country as a whole. Which means that The Real Chart can show for the first time how a record by the Rolling Stones was threating the Mersey group from the start. Whilst in the Record Retailer the Stones stopped short of the top ten at number 12. 
Of course we can't actually say what record buyers were buying in the missing major stores, because the chart isn't broken down that way.  But it doesn't need a genius to work out that Harry Secombe's  If I Ruled The World, was selling better there than in other record shops! It's much higher position, clearly better than in the other charts, points to this. Also amongst the teenage pop tunes it stands out like a sore thumb, the kind of record that Dad was buying rather than his kids! In the other countdowns it's best position was with the Retailer chart, but it wasn't top ten! It's worst was the NME chart were it was late entering the 30 and was lower down in it. You can quite imagine that NME editorial board wasn't too keen on having an interview with Harry spread in it's paper! Harry's not really 'new music' is he? Of course with the record in the other charts, NME had to let it enter their chart.
In the chart for the 15 of December we see Marvin Gaye heading up the chart to number 17. This record is one that would not appear in the countdowns of the other charts. Further down (not shown) is a record from Rolf Harris, all about a kid screaming his head off having lost his mum! Up from 42 to 34. Again it failed to make the charts.
Back to the Beatles and Stones battle. They had two different fan bases at that time. The Beatles appealed to the rockers somewhat, but the largest percentage of their fans were teenage girls. The Stones however, had the Mod movement backing them. It was clear with all the hype that the Beatles had the upper hand. It seems odd that Stones would record a Lennon & McCartney track given the rivalry between the two bands, where it not for the fact that the Band's manager had been working for Brian Epstein as a publicist promoting the Beatles! That said, even in the years to come in the story of the Rolling Stones you can't imagine them covering a Beatles track again!!   

Footnote: these charts are unsorted so they are missing data from them, hence the lack of weeks and sales symbols.