What was the number one song in the UK on 31st July 1959?

By Hayley Beasley Dye

He’s here guys. Heeeeeeeere’s Cliff! British singer, Sir Cliff was number one with Living Doll for 6 weeks.

Now, being a child of the 80s, I have issues with listening to this song because all I can hear is the version he did with the Young Ones. It’s fair to say that version added a certain “depth” to Living Doll that the 50s version didn’t. However, the original is of course, a cute little pop song that gave Cliff his first number one and the best selling single of 1959. Though having said, the lyrics are a little…dated. Cliff compares a woman to a plastic toy and announces that he’s going to lock her up in a trunk, so that no one else can have her. I mean, alarm bells should really be ringing here. Nevertheless, I can see why it was great success for Cliff and those shadows of his back in the 50s. And now as I listen to it, all I can hear is Rik Mayall creepily saying “it’s rrrrreal” in the background. Rather fitting really.

Wikipedia

“Living Doll” was written for the film Serious Charge. Lionel Bart had been approached by film producer Mickey Delamar to write songs for the film. The idea for the song came on a Sunday morning in October 1958 while reading a newspaper and seeing an advert for a child’s doll. The doll was said to “kneel, walk, sit and sing”. Bart recounted, “I was looking at the back pages and there was a small advert for a doll which could apparently do everything. I wrote the song in ten minutes.” The song was written as an up-tempo light rock and roll song (rather than a ballad), and this is how Cliff Richard performs the song in the film.

Unbeknown to Richard, his contract to appear in the film required that there would be a single of one of the film’s songs released. Richard recounts, “I remember passionately refusing to record ‘Living Doll’. There was a day of telephone calls from Norrie Paramor, with me saying I hated the song and that it wasn’t right for us.” Richard did not like what he called its “pseudo-rock” beat. “It did not sound like real American rock ‘n’ roll to us” said Richard. Paramor told Richard “Change it. Do it any way you like, but do it”. While sitting around one afternoon before a show, thinking about what they could do with the song, Bruce Welch, while strumming a guitar, suggested they do it like a country song. Richard and his band agreed and duly rerecorded the song with the slower tempo.

The song was recorded in April 1959 by Cliff Richard and the Drifters and produced by Norrie Paramor. It was first released in the UK in May 1959 on the Serious Charge (EP) soundtrack before being released as a single in July 1959. It was number 1 on the UK Singles Chart for six weeks from July, becoming the biggest selling single of 1959 in the UK with sales of 770,000. Richard was awarded a Silver Disc on 1 November 1959, on the television show Sunday Night at the Palladium. It was a number 1 hit in several European countries, including Ireland, Norway and Sweden and top ten hit in numerous countries. In the US, it was Richard’s first hit single, reaching number 30 on the Billboard Hot 100. It went on to sell over a million copies worldwide and earned the record company’s internally awarded Gold Disc for the achievement. The Gold Disc was awarded to Richard on 17 January 1960, on the Sunday Night at the Palladium again, the night the show achieved its biggest audience and broke previous UK viewing records. The song also won writer Lionel Bart an Ivor Novello Award for best song.

Lyrics

“Got myself a cryin’, talkin’, sleepin’, walkin’, livin’ doll
Got to do my best to please her just ’cause she’s a livin’ doll
Got a roamin’ eye and that is why she satisfies my soul
Got the one and only walkin’, talkin’, livin’ doll
Take a look at her hair, it’s real
If you don’t believe what I say, just feel
I’m gonna lock her up in a trunk so no big hunk
Can steal her away from me
Got myself a cryin’, talkin’, sleepin’, walkin’, livin’ doll
Got to do my best to please her just ’cause she’s a livin’ doll
Got a roamin’ eye and that is why she satisfies my soul
Got the one and only walkin’, talkin’, livin’ doll
Take a look at her hair, it’s real
If you don’t believe what I say, just feel
I’m gonna lock her up in a trunk so no big hunk
Can steal her away from me
Got myself a cryin’, talkin’, sleepin’, walkin’, livin’ doll
Got to do my best to please her just ’cause she’s a livin’ doll
Got a roamin’ eye and that is why she satisfies my soul
Got the one and only walkin’, talkin’, livin’ doll”

The Playlist

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Every UK Number One Song

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