Songs That Will Live Forever

On June 05, 2023
By Hit Parader

At the dawn of 1954, the concept of Rock ‘n Roll sat on the cusp of pandemonium and Hit Parader proudly stands as one of the first consumer publications to debut the genre to a mass audience, charting some of the first written mentions of Rock and R&B pioneers like Fats Domino, Little Richard, and of course, Elvis Presley.

Hit Parader confidently predicted the eruption of Rock n Roll and by the 1950s business was booming for Charlton Publications. So much so, that a new warehouse was needed in Derby just to keep up with the companies extensive printing needs.  

Thanks in part to the fast charting single “Crazy Man Crazy,” one of the first articles on Rock ‘n Roll was this Bill Haley feature from Hit Parader in October, 1953. 

Bill Haley and The Comets would make history on the charts less than two years later when “Rock Around the Clock” became the first #1 song in the Rock genre.

The aftermath of Hurricane Diane cut a watery trail through the Atlantic Coast and Connecticut. Eleven inches of rainfall caused massive flooding that claimed the lives of hundreds of victims in the Connecticut Valley area. The Hit Parader grounds were submerged in 18 feet of water. $300,000 worth of paper inventory, mats, art work, and plates, among other things, were destroyed by the flood in minutes.

However, despite newfound successes, destruction and swift financial turmoil crippled the Hit Parader empire, when on Friday, August 18th, 1955, a natural disaster struck that changed everything for the staffers at Charlton and Hit Parader, and even threatened to close the company's doors down permanently.

"When the flood came through," Burton N. Levey, cousin to co-owner Ed Levy and Charlton executive, said, "we had to get on top of the building because the water was rising, and a helicopter landed on the roof and took us off—that's how I got out of there! I watched my car float down the river."

After the disasters of the warehouse flood, wages to employees were gashed, costs were cut, and any new forms of income the magazine could drum up were considered. 

In 1959, as a matter of recourse to help diversify sales, Hit Parader began commissioning session musicians to ‘cover’ the hit songs being mentioned in the actual magazine. Now, fans and readers of Hit Parader had instant access to not only the words to their favorite songs, but could enjoy the songs themselves at home for only 69¢. 


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