By Dan Lane
In the US, Billboard had been compiling a weekly chart based on record sales since 1940, but here in the UK a song’s popularity was measured not by its physical sales, but by sales of the accompanying sheet music.
In 1952, Percy Dickins, one of the founders of the New Musical Express (which later became the NME) decided to produce a chart based on UK record sales. Dickins compiled the chart by telephoning 20 record shops up and down the country every week and tallying up their biggest-selling singles. The first ever Top 12 (which was actually a Top 15 given that sales of the Number 7, Number 8, and Number 11 singles were tied) was published in the New Musical Express on November 14, 1952.
American crooner Al Martino took the inaugural Official Singles Chart Number 1 with his track Here In My Heart. He would hold onto the top spot for nine consecutive weeks, a feat which has only been beaten by David Whitfield’s Cara Mia (10 consecutive weeks), Rihanna’s Umbrella (10 consecutive weeks), Frankie Laine’s I Believe (11), Wet Wet Wet’s Love Is All Around (15) and Bryan Adams’ (Everything I Do) I Do It for You (16).
Jo Stafford, who would go on the become the Official Singles Chart’s first female chart topper, debuted at Number 2 with You Belong To Me, while Nat King Cole’s Somewhere Along The Way entered at Number 3. Bing Crosby’s The Isle of Innisfree entered at Number 4, and Guy Mitchell’s Feet Up (Pat Him On The Po Po) completed the first ever Top 5.
Further down the chart, Frankie Laine’s High Noon and Vera Lynn’s Forget Me Not were tied for Number 7. Doris Day And Frankie Laine’s Sugarbush and Ray Martin’s Blue Tango were joint Number 8, and Max Bygraves' Cowpuncher’s Cantata and Mario Lanza’s Because You’re Mine were joint Number 11.
The first ever Official Singles Chart was as follows:
|1||Here In My Heart||Al Martino|
|2||You Belong To Me||Jo Stafford|
|3||Somewhere Along The Way||Nat King Cole|
|4||The Isle Of Innisfree||Bing Crosby|
|5||Feet Up (Pat Him On The Po-Po)||Guy Mitchell|
|6||Half As Much||Rosemary Clooney|
|7||High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me)||Frankie Laine|
|7||Forget Me Not||Vera Lynn|
|8||Sugarbush||Doris Day And Frankie Laine|
|8||Blue Tango||Ray Martin|
|9||The Homing Waltz||Vera Lynn|
|10||Auf Wiederseh'n Sweetheart||Vera Lynn|
|11||Cowpuncher's Cantata||Max Bygraves|
|11||Because You're Mine||Mario Lanza|
|12||Walkin' My Baby Back Home||Johnnie Ray|