Tales from the Atomic Age

Sopranos in the Sky

The greatest of all modern operatic sopranos, by general consensus, is Maria Callas, born in New York City in 1923 of Greek ancestry. After moving to Athens during her teens and taking voice lessons, she returned to the U.S. and became a huge star in the 1950s, making her first of many appearances at the Metropolitan Opera in 1956 in the 18th-century Italian opera Norma, leading to high-profile fame over the next 15 years; curiously, she was nominated for six Grammy... MORE ››

Top 100 Lists

Elvis Presley

Elvis locks down the #1 spot on the Top 100 Two-Sided Hits of the '50s and '60s with "Don't Be Cruel" and "Hound Dog," then shows up 13 more times! ... MORE ››

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The Impressions

Mayfield displayed a knack for storytelling with the exotic "Gypsy Woman," featuring his soon-to-be-familiar falsetto lead vocal against a castanet backing seldom heard in popular hits. It reached the top 20 on the pop charts in December and hit number two on the R&B charts (behind The Marvelettes' Motown monster "Please Mr. Postman"). Big follow-up hits didn't appear right away, but Mayfield songs in '62 like "Grow Closer Together," "Little Young Lover" and "Minstrel and Queen" were outstanding Impressions efforts deserving of more attention. With a contract that allowed him the freedom to write and produce outside artists, Curtis composed and produced "Mama Didn't Lie" for Jan Bradley, a big hit on Chess in early '63. A clash with the Chess brothers over royalty payments... MORE ››

Vinyl Attack Bill Pursell

♦ Our Winter Love ♦
by Bill Pursell

By the time Oakland, California-born Bill Pursell arrived in Nashville, Tennessee in the early 1960s, he had studied classical music at Rochester, New York's Eastman School of Music and traveled the country with a jazz trio. A few years on the road was enough to convince him to settle in one place and reconsider his earlier decision to stray from his classical... MORE ››