Song of the Day, April 14: The Hits of Tony Burrows
April 14, 2016 Leave a comment
Tony Burrows was born in Exeter, Devon, England on April 14, 1942. As he celebrates his 74th birthday, let’s celebrate his unusual place in chart history. In his late teens he sang with the Kestrels, a group that included future hit songwriters Roger Greenaway and Roger Cook. He bounced through a number of bands while becoming known as a talented session singer. As the Bubblegum pop movement created chart space for an array of one-off studio-only groups, Burrows became the voice of a blast of songs in 1970. In the spring and summer of that year, he provided lead vocals for four Top 20 songs by four different groups; three of those songs were on the chart at the same time. Four years later, he had his biggest US hit with a fifth band. No other singer has charted so many Top 40 hits with so many groups. Let’s take a look!
- Edison Lighthouse charted with Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Grows), written by hitmaker Tony Macaulay with Barry Mason. It was Burrows’ first big success, entering the chart on Feb. 21, 1970 and peaking at #5 for three weeks starting March 28. The Lighthouse darkened after one more minor hit a year later.
- White Plains hit with My Baby Loves Lovin’, written by Burrows’ buddies, Rogers Greenaway and Cook. It entered the Hot 100 at #91 on April 18, 1970 and spent one week at #13 [June 27]. This band also managed one more tiny hit, a couple of months after their baby left the scene.
- The Brotherhood of Man debuted the same week with United We Stand, written by Tony Hiller and Pete Simons. This was a vocal trio featuring Burrows, Johnny Goodison, and Sunny Leslie. Their hit also went to #13, one week after White Plains. This was Burrows’ longest-charting US concern, with two more minor hits. The Brotherhood continued without him, charting one more time in 1976 with Save Your Kisses For Me [#27].
- Burrows recorded the (frankly obnoxious) novelty song Gimme Dat Ding with Roger Greenaway, released under the name the Pipkins. It entered the chart on May 28, 1970, the week Edison Lighthouse departed, and made it all the way to #9 on July 18. This duo was a true one-hit wonder.
- Four years later, Burrows was part of a long-term band, the First Class. They debuted on July 20, 1974 with Beach Baby, written by Gillian and John Shakespeare, which went to #4 on October 5. The group didn’t hit the Top 40 again, but they managed some mid-chart singles.
Despite all this success, his only single under his own name stiffed. Melanie Makes Me Smile (also by Macaulay and Mason) only made it to #87 in a four-week run in June 1970. It was, however on the chart at the same time as White Plains, the Brotherhood of Man, and the Pipkins, giving Burrows four Hot 100 hits under four names at the same time. The three bigger hits were all in the Top 20 at the same time; the week of July 4, 1970, they clustered at #12, #13, and #15.
Tony Burrows’ music was never intended to change the world, but his easygoing vocals fit nicely into the early 70s Hot 100 and he gave us a handful of fun pop tunes. Most listeners never knew how much he ruled the airwaves, however briefly.