1943 #1s: Helen Forrest

Harry James

I noticed that in 1943, Helen Forrest was the singer of three #1 songs with two big bands. Here’s a bit from Wikipedia: “Helen Forrest (born Helen Fogel, April 12, 1917 – July 11, 1999) was an American singer of traditional pop and swing music. She served as the ‘girl singer’ for three of the most popular big bands of the Swing Era…  earning a reputation as ‘the voice of the name bands.'”

Here’s a 1982 quote from her: I live for today, but it is nice sometimes to look back to yesterday. We did not know that we were living through an era – the Big Band Era – that would last only 10 years or so and be remembered and revered forever…it’s hard to believe, but the best times were packed into a five-year period from the late 1930s through the early 1940s when I sang with the bands of Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, and Harry James… They seem to symbolize my life…that was when the music of the dance bands was the most popular music in the country, and I was the most popular female band singer in the country, and Harry had the most popular band in the country. It didn’t last long, but it sure was something while it lasted. Everyone should have something like it at least once in their lives. I’m grateful I did.”

The songs

I’ve Heard That Song Before – Harry James with Helen Forrest on vocals, thirteen weeks at #1, gold record. Written by Styne/Cahn for Youth On Parade.

Paper Doll – Mills Brothers, twelve weeks at #1, gold record. The biggest hit by a vocal group in the decade.

Sunday, Monday Or Always – Bing Crosby with the Ken Darby Singers, seven weeks at #1, gold record. From the film Dixie.

There Are Such Things – Tommy Dorsey with Frank Sinatra and The Pied Pipers on vocals, five weeks at #1, gold record

You’ll Never Know– Dick Haymes and The Song Spinners, four weeks at #1, gold record. A Cappella! From the movie Hello, Frisco, Hello.

In The Blue Of Evening – Tommy Dorsey with Frank Sinatra on vocals, three weeks at #1

Comin’ In On A Wing And A Prayer – The Song Spinners, three weeks at #1; A Cappella!

Taking A Chance On Love -Benny Goodman with Helen Forrest on vocals, three weeks at #1. From the film Cabin In The Sky.

I Had The Craziest Dream – Harry James with Helen Forrest on vocals, two weeks at #1, gold record, From the film Springtime In The Rockies.

That Old Black Magic – Glenn Miller with Skip Nelson and the Modernaires on vocals. From the film Star Spangled Rhythm

Pistol Packin’ Mama – Al Dexter and His Troopers, gold record. “It is said that the massive popularity of this ‘hillbilly’ tune… that was also covered successfully by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters, was a major factor in Billboard’s decision to begin publishing a weekly record chart devoted to the country music genre.”

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