The Billboard Music Charts Are as Old as Bugs Bunny

Wild Hare and Tommy Dorsey's "I'll Never Smile Again"

Gary Trust, associate director of charts for Billboard magazine, has a fun item noting the launch of the famous Billboard music charts in the weekly edition dated July 27, 1940:

The maiden 10-position “National List of Best Selling Retail Records” was the first to poll retailers nationwide on record sales.

The new chart was billed as a “trade service feature,” based on the “10 best selling records of the past week” at a selection of national retailers from New York to Los Angeles. In addition to stores specifying in recordings, the potpourri of contributors included Sears, Roebuck & Co. in Chicago, J.B. Branford Piano Co. in Milwaukee and Nolen’s Radio Service Shop in Birmingham, Ala.

The issue also contained top-ten song lists for the East, West, Midwest and Southwest U.S. regions.

One way to frame just how long ago this was, as Trust does and we are doing again here, is to embed the song that topped the very first charts – “I’ll Never Smile Again” by Tommy Dorsey, with vocals by The Pied Pipers and Frank Sinatra. Another is to mention some of the people from the musical world born that same year. They include John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Smokey Robinson and Frank Zappa.

Then there’s the fact that on the same day—Saturday, July 27, 1940—Warner Bros. released the first official Bugs Bunny animated short, bundled with the feature film Ladies Must Live. Wild Hare interestingly enough did not name the rabbit. That happened in the next short, Elmer’s Pet Rabbit. Wild Hare is also remembered for introducing the look and voice of famous sidekick Elmer Fudd.

Previously on Fishbowl:
Billboard Hot 100 Moves to Front of Book