Post by dukelightning on Jun 15, 2022 6:52:06 GMT -5
What a man Joel was. What a major contribution he made to the music industry that fans benefited from for over 50 years. You know his first book on the pop charts came out right around the time that AT40 started in 1970. Speaking of which, Joel Whitburn and Casey Kasem not only died on nearly the same date, June 14th for Joel, June 15th for Casey but both lived to the age of 82. Now that is off the charts. RIP to both!
Joel has always made me feel that being a music nerd is perfectly OK. Here was a man who took a then-obscure hobby, keeping track of the chart movement of songs, and turned it into nothing short of an empire.
Like a lot of you out there, I'd never heard of Joel until I saw Top 40 Hits, first edition, at a B. Dalton Bookseller in Milwaukee. I'd stop in and peek at a few pages until I had the money to buy it. And as usual, I remember the date when I did: July 17, 1983. Incidentally, the #3 song in Billboard that week contains one of my favorite lyric lines which is so appropriate here: "Take your passion and make it happen."
The hours spent almost memorizing the darn book were the inspiration, and a crash course, for the column I started that fall in the school newspaper: "Black Vinyl Doughnuts." It wasn't must-read journalism by any stretch, but as far as I know, no one ever made fun of it, which is an achievement in itself at that age!
How cool was it to know that Joel's company, Record Research, was based right there in Menomonee Falls? After graduating from high school in '85, I could have tried to get a job there, right? Well, it would be literally decades before that idea would ever dawn on me. In fact, through everything -- moving to California, having a career in logistics, starting a family -- I never really tried to get in touch with Joel. We would have had so much in common! Maybe deep down it was enough to soak up the whole experience through his books.
As this sad and sudden news comes, I'm in the middle of a new chart-related project, the results of which you all will see here soon. It's something relatively new to this forum. In deference to Joel, I'll admit it's nothing official, although 3-by-5 index cards -- his original medium -- are playing a huge role.
I'm sure he has met up with Casey by now, and they're sharing their very different perspectives on what made those countdowns work! Goodbye to the original chart hound and a fellow native of Brew City.
Very sorry to hear the news of his passing. My condolences to record research family: Paul Haney (our friend and fellow AT40fg member & poster), Kim Bloxdorf (Joel’s daughter and Record Research vice president) and Brent Olynick (another long-time Rec. Rea. employee).
Joel was (yes) a voting member of Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame since its inception. And his favorite act ever: Duane Eddy (that Joel admittedly was most enthusiastic to vote for).
My other favorite trivia from a 2016 issue of Milwakee monthly: Whitburn once appeared on an episode of the short-lived daytime talk show “Home,” where Linda McCartney and Walter Cronkite tried to stump him by playing clips of songs they thought he couldn’t guess. He guessed McCartney’s pick, Henry Mancini’s “Baby Elephant Walk.” (If you’re reading this post paulhaney, do you know anything about this show or any clips available?)
However, The first time I personally heard Joel on radio was on Dick Bartley’s American Gold (9/19/98) when he recapped the first 15 years of Hot 100 (1958-73), on different segments on the show once on each hour of the program.
RIP Mr. Whitburn and thanks for all you’ve taught about pop memories and books that you’ve given us.
Last Edit: Jun 15, 2022 23:13:38 GMT -5 by rayshae3
Thank you for all of the kind words and memories of Joel Whitburn. Sadly, I don't think there are any clips of that "Baby Elephant Walk" appearance available. As many of you may know, I was a customer for many years prior to becoming one of his key employees for the past 30+ years. Obviously, we are devastated by the loss of our leader, but Record Research will continue to publish new books and we will keep Joel's legacy alive, hopefully for many more years to come.
One more story concerning Record Research Books--Back in the early 1980's , I decided (probably thanks to AT40 and the recaps of the #1's songs) to collect all the number one's of the rock era. I first had to buy a Record Research book to find out what all the #1's were and then spent the next 4-5 years collecting the songs on various LPs and 45s.
I am deeply indebted to Joel and his 'hobby' for letting me know what some of the Top Hits were and for ,as dooofus67 (Mike) indicates, for helping this chart and music geek for not totally feeling like no one else shared this interest.
Condolences to the Whitburn family and the other employees at Record Research.