Monday, May 30, 2011


50 years ago in 1961, U.S. President John F. Kennedy said, in a speech to Congress, "I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth." And of course, the U.S. did exactly that in the summer of 1969.

Well in the 50 years since JFK made that speech, there have been plenty of songs recorded about space travel. For example, there's "Moon River", both instrumentally by Henry Mancini and with lyrics by Andy Williams. KISS took their hit, "Rocket Ride" to # 39 on the singles chart in 1978. David Bowie had a # 15chart hit with "space Oddity" in 1973 (so obviously those aren't questions in this quiz - or are they?). This week's quiz is based on songs about space and space travel. See how many you can guess.

Thanks to our pal John H. in Kingston, Ontario for the idea.


1. This singer, songwriter, producer discovered the group Genesis and produced their first album, 1967's "From Genesis To Revelation". By then, he'd already had a top 20 'space' hit of his own all over the world. In fact, he wrote and produced several hits during the mid 1960's. He also later worked with 10cc and The Bay City Rollers and was the 'King' of the record charts for several years. Who is this singer and can you also name his 'space' hit from 1965?

2. Reginald Kenneth Dwight is a legend in pop music with dozens of hits to his credit. Well actually, they're credited to the name he took when he entered the music business. His 'space' hit happened in 1972 and 'rocketed' up the charts. OK, I practically gave you this one, but if you know your music, you should already have known it. Can you name the singer and his 'space' hit?

3. This musician was a member of Lester Lanin's dance band out of New York in the 1950's and later worked as an accompanist for Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich, Maurice Chevalier and Peggy Lee. Later on in the 1970's, he became the band leader for TV's Mike Douglas Show. His name was Joe Harnell and in 1963, his instrumental 'space themed' hit zoomed up the charts, landing in the Top 20. You'll need to rhyme with June and spoon for this one. So what's the name of this hit?

4. He played keyboards on several hits for The Beatles. In fact, he was the only 'outside' musician credited on a Beatles record. Previously, he'd been in Little Richards' band and met The Beatles while on tour with him in the early 1960's. This amazing performer had a couple of 'space themed' hits during the 1970's. Can you name either one?

5. It wasn't Sputnik, but this 'spaced themed' song was named after a famous satellite and was the first North American # 1 hit for a British group. It was an instrumental and the year was 1962. The same group, The Tornados, had another minor hit the next year called "Ridin' The Wind" but that one only made it to # 63 on Billboard's singles chart. Do you know the name of this 'space' hit?


1. Jonathan King was an undergraduate at Cambridge University in England in 1965 when he hit the charts with "Everyone's Gone To The Moon", which went to # 17 on Billboard's Hot 100. For many years, he was the BBC correspondent on pop culture based in New York. Other hit songs he wrote and produced include 1965/66's"It's Good News Week" by Hedgehoppers Anonymous.

2. Elton John took his 'adopted' name from two other members of the group Bluesology, Elton Dean and Long John Baldry. Elton's first North American Top Ten hit was "Your Song" in 1970. His 'space' song was "Rocket Man" from the summer of 1972.

3. Joe Harnell recorded the bossa nova instrumental "Fly Me To The Moon", which debuted on the charts in December of 1962 eventually making it to # 14 on Billboard's singles chart. He was a producer at Kapp Records in New York and was asked to record some Bossa Nova instrumentals. He decided to record "Fly Me To The Moon" and in 1963 it became a hit. In 1973, Harnell moved to Hollywood where he wrote many film and television scores for which, in 1986, he won an Emmy Award. Joe Harnell died of heart failure in 2005.

4. Billy Preston had a couple of 'space' songs hit the Top Ten during the 1970's. In 1973, his "Space Race" song made it to # 4 on the charts, but two years prior to that, Billy took "Outta-Space" to # 2.

5. It was the first 'rock' hit by a British group in North America. English producer Joe Meek recorded the instrumental "Telstar" as the 'A' side of a 45 single along with the B side, "Jungle Fever" in 3 just hours. Ironically, the same year as The Tornados # 1 success, another British artist, Acker Bilk, took his clarinet instrumental, "Stranger on The Shore" to the top of the North American singles chart.

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