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BARRY KOWAL AND THE MAKING OF THE TOP 6000 PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Barry Kowal   
Jul 11, 2014 at 06:07 AM

 BARRY KOWAL AND THE MAKING OF THE TOP 6000

                    BARRY KOWAL AND THE MAKING OF THE TOP 5000
  The idea of compiling a Top 6000 was not an idea that was just happened one day.It was a project that took over 40 years to evolve.

  Barry Kowal was born on Monday,February 23,1953 in Brooklyn,New York,USA. At the age of three (3) he moved to Syosset,Long Island,New York where he lived until April of 1965.

  The first 45 RPM that Barry ever bought was the "Battle of New Orleans" by Johnny Horton in 1959. A song that was banned in the UK  because of the line "We fought the bloody British...". However, a version by Scotish singer Lonnie Donegan was popular in the UK.On his version he says "fought the boomy British..."

    In February of 1963 began to take a strong interest in popular music. Living in Long Island Barry would listen to Radio Station WABC from New York City.Every Tuesday there was the countdown. Barry listened every Tuesday and would write down the entire top 20. The list of the biggest songs of the week were also available for free at Floyd Bennet Department store located one mile from Barry's house. Barry would go there every week.

 Something happened in March of 1963 that influenced Barry. Every night for one week Radio Station WINS from New York City counted down the Top 40 songs of the year for every year from 1962 back to 1956. This inspired Barry to compile a Top 100 for the entire year of 1963 although it was only March. So since February of 1963 Barry began writing down and acquiring the Top 40 survey for each week on Radio Station WABC.So each weekly chart he assigned values to each position beginning in February of 1963 it was like this: 60 points for  #1,58 points for #2,56 points for #3...22 points for #20,20 points for #21,19 points for #22,18 points for #23...3 points for #38,2 points for #39 and 1 point for #40. So if a song was #1 on the chart one week,the next week #3,next week #11 and the following week #31. The song would score 60 points for #1,56 for #3,40 points for #11 and 10 points for #31. So 60+56+40+10=166 points.So the song would receive 166 points for those four (4) weeks on the chart. Then each song would receive a score for it's entire time on the chart. The song with the most points would be #1 for the year,second most amount of points #2,third most amount of points #3,etc.,etc.,etc...

 In June of 1963 Barry changed the value for the #1 position on the weekly chart from 60 points to 70 points. Late in 1963 WABC stopped publishing the Top 40. They began only publishing a Top 14. This idea of only calculating the points for songs that only peak at #14 or higher remains in Barry's calculations to the present day. At the end of 1963 "Be My Baby" by the "Ronettes" was #1 for the year and "He's So Fine" by the "Chiffons". Barry then compiled list for the Top 100 of 1964,Top 100 of 1965 and the Top 100 of 1966.

 In April of 1965 Barry moved from Syosset,New York to Sayreville,New Jersey. Sayreville is in Middlesex County and Barry lived in Middlesex County until August of 1981.

 In February of 1967 Barry compiled his first all-time chart. The Top 250 of All-Time.Which was really very primitive compared to what he does now.He used Radio Station WABC's year-end list and his year-end lists for the songs from each year between 1963 and 1966 and the charts of the 40 biggest songs of each year for Radio Station WINS between 1956 and 1962. The Top 30 on that list looked like this:
  1)(I Can't Get No)Satisfaction-Rolling Stones:Radio Station WABC ranked as the #1 song for 1965
  2)She Loves You-Beatles:Barry ranked as Radio Station WABC's #1 song for 1964
  3)Be My Baby-Ronettes:Barry ranked as Radio Station WABC's #1 song for 1963
  4)The Twist-Chubby Checker:Radio Station WINS ranked as the #1 song for 1962
  5)Tossin & Turnin'-Bobby Lewis:Radio Station WINS ranked as the #1 song for 1961
  6)Theme From A Summer Place-Percy Faith:Radio Station WINS ranked as the #1 song for 1960
  7)Mack The Knife-Bobby Darin:Radio Station WINS ranked as the #1 song for 1959
  8)Little Star-Elegants:Radio Station WINS ranked as the #1 song for 1958
  9)All Shook Up-Elvis Presley:Radio Station WINS ranked as the #1 song for 1957
 10)In The Still Of The Night-Five Satins:Radio Station WINS ranked as the #1 song for 1956
 11)You Can't Hurry Love-Supremes:Radio Station WABC ranked as the #2 song for 1966
 12)Help!-Beatles:Radio Station WABC ranked as the #2 song for 1965
 13)Hello,Dolly!-Louis Armstrong:Barry ranked as Radio Station WABC's #2 song for 1964
 14)He's So Fine-Chiffons:Barry ranked as Radio Station WABC's #2 song for 1963
 15)The Wanderer-Dion:Radio Station WINS ranked as the #2 song for 1962
 16)Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow-Shirelles:Radio Station WINS ranked as the #2 song for 1961
 17)There Goes My Baby-Drifters:Radio Station WINS ranked as the #2 song for 1959
 18)Nel Blu Di Pinto Di Blu-Domenico Mondugno:Radio Station WINS ranked as the #2 song for 1958
 19)It's Not For Me To Say-Johnny Mathis:Radio Station WINS ranked as the #2 song for 1957
 20)Don't Be Cruel-Elvis Presley:Radio Station WINS ranked as the #2 song for 1956
 21)Strangers In The Night-Frank Sinatra:Radio Station WABC ranked as the #3 song for 1966
 22)I Can't Help Myself-Four Tops:Radio Station WABC ranked as the #3 song for 1965
 23)A Hard Days Night-Beatles:Barry ranked as Radio Station WABC's #3 song for 1964
 24)My Boyfriends Back-Angels:Barry ranked as Radio Station WABC's #3 song for 1963
 25)Locomotion-Little Eva:Radio Station WINS ranked as the #3 song for 1962
 26)Mother In Law-Ernie K.Doe:Radio Station WINS ranked as the #3 song for 1961
 27)Save The Last Dance For Me-Drifters:Radio Station WINS ranked as the #3 song for 1960
 28)Personality-Lloyd Price:Radio Station WINS ranked as the #3 song for 1959
 29)Tequila-Champs:Radio Station WINS ranked as the #3 song for 1958
 30)Searchin'-Coasters:Radio Station WINS ranked as the #3 song for 1957

 So it doesn't take much brains to see how the list was compiled. I began with all the songs that ranked #1 for the year ranking the more recent songs higher on the chart.Then I did the same for the #2 songs for the year,the #3 songs of the year,etc.,etc.,etc. There are a couple of comments that I would like to make regarding these charts. #1 of All-time should be The Ballad Of The Green Beret by Sergeant  Barry Sadler. However,I did not have that song in my collection and I did not have songs that sold old records close to my home. In 1969 I
managed to purchase "The Ballad Of The Green Beret by Sergeant Barry Sadler" and it placed at #3 on my then All-Time hit list bowing to "To Sir With Love by Lulu" at #2 and "Hey Jude" by the Beatles at #1. Also on the first list one will note that "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow by the Shirelles" the song that radio Station WINS ranked as the #2 song for 1961 is followed by "There Goes My Baby by the Drifters" the song that radio Station WINS ranked as the #2 song for 1959. You do not find the song that radio Station WINS ranked as the
#2 song for 1960 in between the two songs. That is because Radio Station WINS ranked "The Twist by Chubby Checker" as the #2 song for the entire year of 1960. But WINS also ranked "The Twist by Chubby Checker" as the #1 song for the entire year of 1962. That's why you see "The Twist by Chubby Checker" at #4 of all-time on the list. You only get one appearance on the list.

 In 1969 the list still using the same format was expanded to a Top 400 of all-time.

 1970 saw bigger changes. I managed to acquire lists of the biggest hits of each year for Cash Box Magazine between 1950 and 1969. Only going back to 1955. I applied mathematical formulas using the year-end charts.100 points for #1 of the year,99 points for #2 of the year,98 points for #3 of the year...3 points for #98 of the year,2 points for #99 of the year and 1 point for being #100 of the year. In the event of a tie the more recent song would be placed in a higher position than the other songs.On my first list "Hey Jude by the Beatles"
ranked as the #1 song of all-time. Rock Around The Clock by Bill Haley And The Comets ranked in the all-time Top 10. I also expanded the list to the Top 600 of All-Time.

 1971 saw the list expanded to the Top 800 of All-Time and in 1972 the list was expanded to the Top 1000 of All-Time (1955-1971). The list would not be expanded beyond a Top 1000 until 1986.1972 also saw the onset of a new publication that probably has had the greatest impact in the compilation of this list to this date. I began using Billboard Magazine. Using the same formula with WABC and Cash Box Magazine (100 points for #1 of the year,99 points for #2 of the year,98 points for #3 of the year,etc.,etc.). Every songs score would be calculated by their combined scores from WABC,Cash Box and the Billboard chart."Hey Jude by the Beatles" was still #1 for all-time while "Sugar,Sugar by the Archies" was #2 and "Joy To The World by Three Dog Night" was #3.

 1973 saw "American Pie by Don McLean become the #1 song of all-time. "American Pie by Don McLean" would stay at #1 on my Top 100 until 1978.

 1978 was a big year of change "You Light Up My Life by Debby Boone" became the #1 song of all-time. Also during the 70s I managed to get back charts for Billboard Magazine(mainly through the Miles Chart Display).So everything was done on a point system. As I told you earlier  about my original formula for the weekly charts on WABC 70 points for #1,58 points for #2,56 points for #3...36 points for #13 and 34 points for #14. So this same formula was applied to the Billboard charts.So now a song would receive points from three surveys,Billboard,WABC and Cash Box. Now I had no weekly Cash Box surveys. So, what I did was this. Suppose a song like Mr. Blue by the Fleetwoods gets 680 points for being the #3 song for the year on the Billboard list that I compiled.Then "Personality by Lloyd Price" ranks as #3 on Cash Box Magazine's year-end survey."Personality by Lloyd Price" will receive 680 points for this ranking. So each song would receive it's score by totalling how many points it would get from WABC,Cash Box and Billboard. Also in 1978 the list was expanded to included songs from 1953 and 1954.

 In 1979 songs from 1950-1952 were included in compilation of the countdown.My January 1980 top 1000 spanned three decades:1950s,1960s and 1970. For the entire year of 1979 "Stayin' Alive by the Bee Gees" held the position as the #1 song of all-time. In January of 1980 "You Light Up My Life by Debby Boone" again became the #1 song of all-time and would hold the #1 position of all-time for all of 1980,1981 and 1982. Also during 1980 and 1981 the list was expanded chronologically. First songs from the 1940s were added to the list then the 1930s and 1920s. During 1980,1981 and 1982 I was busy acquiring more vintage Cash Box singles charts so less was a score on a Cash Box chart substituted with a score from another chart.Also in 1981 Barry moved to Oklahoma.

 In 1982 Radio station WABC after 22 years discontinued it's CHR/Top 40 format. A legend ends while another began that year.In calculating a songs total score the "raw" score was introduced.Which to this date is still used in calculating a song's score. I have already explained how a song received it's score. I mplemented this formula because I noticed that songs that charted in certain years were out performing songs that charted in other years.The score a song gets for it's chart performance on the charts I have called this the songs actual score.Now I will give you two examples of how a raw score is computed. Suppose (hypothetically speaking) "(I Can't Get No)Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones" received an actual score of 600 on it's chart performance in 1965.While "You Light Up My Life by Debby Boone" receives 1200 points for it's performance on the charts in 1977. But in 1965 150 songs (actually it was 151 but I am speaking hypothetical and I want to
deal with round numbers) peaked in the Top 14 (our base for all charts) on the Billboard charts. But in 1977 60 songs (once again,actually it was 107 but I am speaking hypothetical and I want to deal with round numbers) peaked in the Top 14 on the Billboard charts. So to get the raw score for "(I Can't Get No)Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones" we multiply 600 (actual score) by 1.5 (every song peaking in Top 14 =.01)=900 (the raw score).If 100 songs peak at the #14 position or higher then the actual score and the real score are the same. Now to get the raw score for "You Light Up My Life by Debby Boone" we multiply 1200 (actual score) by .6=720 (the raw score). Then this is the score we use to get the score that is used in determining what position a song will appear on the Top 1000 (now Top 5000).

   In January of 1983 I lived in Hollywood. But come February I was living in Cheyenne,Wyoming. Then in October to Fort Collins,Colorado and in March of 1984 when it was back to Wyoming where I stayed until April of 1985.

  1983 saw some more big changes.In 1983 all-time charts began to be used in calculating a song?s score. I felt a song should not receive a score soley on how it performed on the charts but also how the public liked the song even after it was no longer on the charts. Such charts like WCBS-FM?s (New York City)top 500 of All-Time were now included in the calculations on my all-time chart. Later in the 1980s various rock station?s like WNEW-FM (New York City),KISW (Seattle) and KICK (Casper,Wyoming)were included. How were these lists incorporated? I would look at the years these lists span. Suppose they spanned from 1954-1982. Then I would figure out what would be the raw score for the song that performed the best on let?s just say Billboard Magazine?s singles chart during that same period (1954-1982).Then I would figure out what would be the raw score for the song that performed the second best on let?s say Billboard Magazine?s singles chart during that
same period (1954-1982)and then I would figure out what would be the raw score for the song that performed the third best on let?s just say Billboard Magazine?s singles chart during that same period (1954-1982) and so on and so forth. Then suppose a song ranked at #5 on WCBS-FM?s 1983 edition of the Top 500 of all-time. I would look at the chart I just compiled and see what was the raw score for the song that performed the fifth best on let?s just say Billboard Magazine?s singles chart during that same period (1954-1982). A song could then use that score to substitute for the score the song received from WABC for it?s performance on the WABC charts.Then that score would be used in the song?s overall score which determines where the song will rank in the entire Top 1000 (now Top 5000).Using raw scores from all-time charts are still used today in calculating a song?s ranking.

 Because of the use of all-time charts 1983 saw a new #1 of all-time:?The Twist by Chubby Checker? while Bing Crosby?s ?White Christmas? was #2 and "You Light Up My Life by Debby Boone" was #3.?The Twist by Chubby Checker? would remain the #1 song of all-time until 1985.

 1984 saw another big change. I managed to purchase a book that had all the Cash Box Magazine Singles charts from 1950-1981. So now however a song ranked on Cash Box Magazine it?s score for that position would not be substituted with a score from some chart that was not a Cash Box chart.The same rule had already applied for about six years for Billboard Magazine.

    1985 even bigger changes took place. For one the music from the big band era was eliminated from the Top 5000 (then a top 1000).In 1985 only pop songs that peaked after January,1954 (beginning of rock era)were allowed to compete to place on this list. On The list then like now there were some songs that peaked on the US charts prior to 1954. These are R& B songs that are considered rock influence songs.In 1985
and now there is only one song on the list that peaked on the charts in 1951:?Sixty Minute Man? by the "Dominoes". In 1985 like now this is somewhat the oldest song on the chart. If you note songs like ?White Christmas? by ?Bing Crosby? (1942),?It?s All In The Game? by ?Tommy Edwards? (1951) and ?Rags To Riches? by ?Tony Bennett? (1953) all charted in the USA before January of 1954.?But they all also charted after January of 1954. ?Rags To Riches? by ?Tony Bennett? peaked on the Australian charts in 1954. It is because of that reason why they can compete to place on the Top 5000 (in 1985 a Top 1000).Further ?Sixty Minute Man? by the ?Dominoes? only charted before January of 1954.That change made in 1985 still holds until today.

       Another change also took place in 1985.The album charts were now included in the Top 5000 (then top 1000). If the position required an album to be placed on the list I could not use the entire album for one position so I chose the most successful song yet to chart on the list to be put in the applicable position.This idea of placing the most successful cut from an album is still used today.The idea of using the point system took awhile to evolve. At album cuts were positioned on the charts similar to how the singles were placed on my first all-time chart in 1967.At first they were positioned by their year-end rankings on Billboard Magazine?s album charts then later around 1988 they began to be positioned by their year-end rankings on Cash Box Magazine?s album chart. What you had on the Top 1000 back in 1985 was one song would be positioned by it?s score on the singles chart and the next song would be positioned by it?s ranking on Billboard (later Cash Box) Magazine?s year-end album chart. This formula would be phased out during the 1990s.

      Using the album charts gave rise to a new #1 of all-time. That year Led Zeppelin?s "Stairway To Heaven" became the number one song of all time. ?Stairway To Heaven? by ?Led Zeppelin? stayed at #1 until 1988.

 During the late 1980s little by little the size of the list began to expand. In 1986 I had the ?Top 1100 of All-Time?. In 1987 the list was expanded to the "Top 1600 of All Time".

 In 1988 the list was expanded to the "Top 1800 of All-Time". Also in 1988 the entire album of  "Dark Side of the Moon" became the new #1 and has retained that position until now.

 In 1990 the list was expanded to the "Top 2000 of All-Time". In 1991 two editions of the list were released. In January of 1991 I had the "Top 2500 of All-Time" and in September the "Top 2600 of All-Time".

 In 1992 finally the first  "Top 5000 of All-Time" was released. Also that year Australian charts began to be included in compilation of the list. Further in 1992, I began to research vintage album charts and little by little with each new listing of the Top 5000 more and more albums were charted by a point system like the singles were (and still are)rather than by their year-end rankings on Cash Box Magazine.It would take until 1999 to get a point system (exactly like the one used for singles)to be used for all albums cuts charting on the Top 5000.

    In 1998 UK charts began to be used in compilation of the list.But not the more current charts.Primarily the single charts between 1960-1991.

 January of 2003 saw everything go full speed ahead. UK,Canadian and Australian both single and album charts began to be regularly followed and I began researching vintage Aussie,UK & Canadian charts. I began going through back issues of Billboard Magazine's International section.Also on visits to Canada I got old books with back weekly charts from that country. Still using UK,US,Canada and Australian single and album charts more definitively,in 2014 the chart was expanded to the top 6000.That is where we are at now.What holds for the future your guess is as good as mine. 
Last Updated ( Jul 20, 2014 at 02:23 PM )


  
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