PopularSong.org has been continuously publishing essays (originally as magazine articles) on key artists and their contributions to the craft since 2007. These are not biographies as such, although some contain brief biographical info where it is necessary to develop further understanding. Rather these essays seek to explain the significance of a given artist, and further define their place in the Great American Songbook.
Although many of these artists transcended eras, their most significant contributions — or the focus of a particular essay — is generally based on their activity after 1960.
Please click the links below….
Roy Clark Extraordinary musician and comic TV host personality who made country music more accessible and acceptable to a mass audience.
Neil Diamond 1960s songwriter-turned-entertainer with one of the longest careers in popular song. Well known songs include “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “Song Sung Blue,” and of course, “Sweet Caroline.”
The Four Tops Motown legends whose influence on American pop history is undeniable, topping pop charts in the 1960s and then adult contemporary charts well into the 1960s. Best known songs include “Can’t Help Myself,” “Standing In the Shadows of Love,” and “Reach Out, I’ll Be There.”
Shirley Jones Superior vocalist whose beauty, charm, and acting ability landed her key roles in film adaptations of The Music Man, Carousel, Oklahoma! and others. Well known recordings include “Goodnight My Someone” and, ahem, “I Think I Love You.”
Gordon Lightfoot Whether this Canadian is more significant as a vocalist or a songwriter, we’ll let you decide. Gord defined the pop/folk sound of the 1970s with a gritty, matter-of-fact realism that echoed the influence of Stephen Foster and Woody Guthrie on American pop. Hits include “Early Morning Rain,” “If You Could Read My Mind,” and certainly “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”
Al Martino 1950s crooner who seemingly vanished, then resurfaced in the 1960s as one of the leading AC/MOR vocalists of the day. Best known hits include “Here in My Heart,” “Spanish Eyes,” and “I Love You More and More Every Day.”
Matt Monro Often called the British Frank Sinatra, Monro was a very capable singer who just seemed a bit bland to catch fire in the USA. His lasting impact is that he solidified the style for 1960s era crooners, and recorded a number of mid-level hits that spawned cover versions, which in turn have become more memorable than Monro’s originals. These include “Softly As I Leave You,” “Born Free,” and “Portrait of My Love.”
Gary Puckett So much promise! The Union Gap rode his stunning voice to the top of the pop charts a few times in just about two years in the late 1960s…and then…he just didn’t know what to do with himself. Hits include “This Girl Is a Woman Now,” “Lady Willpower,” and the unforgettable “Young Girl.” If by some chance you have forgotten it, that’s the one that starts “Young girl, get out of my mind…”
Jimmie Rodgers Late 1950s and early 1960s pop vocalist who had hits that some people thought were rock and roll, some people call them country. Other hits were definitely in the crooner style, while others were folk…and yet he was never exactly any one of these things. He had a hit television show and was destined to be one of the all-time greats, until he was assaulted in the late 1960s and suffered debilitating injuries. Hits include “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine,” “Honeycomb,” and “Oh, Oh I’m Falling In Love Again.”
Frank Sinatra This is a duplicate link of the one on our classic era page, we repeat it here because Frank spanned eras like few others.
B.J. Thomas An iconic singer who was simply too down-to-earth to be the international superstar that he actually was. Had massive hits with “Rock and Roll Lullaby,” “Don’t Worry Baby,” and “As Long As We’ve Got Each Other.” But those aren’t his biggest hits, not by a long shot.
Billy Vaughn Saxophonist, bandleader and musical director of Dot Records. In addition to creating million-selling sounds for Pat Boone, Gale Storm, and others. His own hits include “Sail Along Silvery Moon,” “Wheels,” and “Melody of Love.”
Andy Williams First finding success in the 1950s as a member of the Williams Brothers and later as a soloist, Williams helped America define adult contemporary pop during the 1960s and into the early 1970s as the host of a popular television variety show. Hit recordings include “Butterfly,” “Days of Wine and Roses,” and the million-selling non-hit, “Moon River.” Notice we say “non-hit,” because well, it actually wasn’t!