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Steve Lawrence Reached Number One 50 Years Ago This Week

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The early 1960s were a very different music era as it was caught between the second half of the 1950s, when Elvis Presley and the other founders of rock and roll brought an excitement to the American music scene, and The Beatles era of the mid-to-late 1960s that changed American music and culture. As such, all manner and styles of music became hits. Songs such as “Sheila” by Tommy Roe, “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do,” by Neil Sedaka, “The Stripper” by David Rose, “Sherry” by The Four Seasons, “Stranger On The Shore” by Mr. Acker Bilk, and dozens of other very different and sometimes forgettable songs topped the charts. This brings us to Steve Lawrence.

He was born Sidney Liebowitz in 1935. He had his first hit single during 1952 with “Poinciana” for King Records. During the mid-1950s he was a regular on Steve Allen’s Tonight Show. He was drafted in 1958 and served as the vocalist for the United States Army Band. While he was in the service he kept releasing records. Enter Gerry Goffin and Carole King.

The songwriting team had a very successful 1963 as a dozen of their songs reached the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. While Steve Lawrence is a name that may not usually be associated with Goffin and King, he recorded four of their compositions, which became hits during 1963. “Poor Little Rich Girl,” ”Walking Proud,” and “I Want to Stay Here,” a duet with his wife Eydie Gorme, all became hits but it was the fourth Goffin/King song that became the highlight of his career.

“Go Away Little Girl” was a somewhat unusual song in that it was not about perusing the girl but asking the girl to go away so the guy wouldn’t be tempted. It was a light and breezy pop song and topped the Billboard Easy Listening chart for six weeks. It also became a radio pop staple and 50 years ago this week reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 Pop Singles Chart where it remained for two weeks. It was the only number one of his career.

The career of Steve Lawrence now extends back over 60 years, but 50 years ago this week he ruled the music world.

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