On this Day:
In 1942, Glenn Miller was awarded the 1st ever gold record for selling 1 million copies of “Chattanooga Choo Choo”.
The original gold and silver record awards were presented to artists by their own record companies to publicize their sales achievements. The first silver disc was awarded by Regal Zonophone to George Formby in December 1937 for sales of 100,000 copies of “The Window Cleaner”. The first gold disc was awarded by RCA Victor (under division imprint Bluebird Records) to Glenn Miller and His Orchestra in February 1942, celebrating the sale of 1.2 million copies of the single, “Chattanooga Choo Choo”. Another example of a company award is the gold record awarded to Elvis Presley in 1956 for selling one million units of his single “Don’t Be Cruel” or Decca’s gold record to Jerry Lewis for “Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody”. The first gold record for an LP was awarded by RCA Victor to Harry Belafonte in 1957 for the album Calypso (1956), the first album to sell over 1,000,000 copies in RCA’s reckoning.
At the industry level, in 1958 the Recording Industry Association of America introduced its gold record award program for records of any kind, albums or singles, which achieved one million dollars in retail sales. These sales were restricted to U.S.-based record companies and did not include exports to other countries. For albums in 1968, this would mean shipping approximately 250,000 units; for singles the number would be higher due to their lower retail price. The platinum certification was introduced in 1976 for the sale of one million units for albums and two million for singles, with the gold certification redefined to mean sales of 500,000 units for albums and one million for singles. No album was certified platinum prior to this year. For instance, the recording by Van Cliburn of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto from 1958 would eventually be awarded a platinum citation, but this would not happen until two decades after its release. In 1999, the diamond certification was introduced for sales of ten million units. In the late 1980s, the certification thresholds for singles were dropped to match that of albums.
The first official designation of a “gold record” by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) was established for singles in 1958, and the RIAA also trademarked the term “gold record” in the United States. On 14 March 1958, the RIAA certified its first gold record, Perry Como’s hit single “Catch a Falling Star”. The Oklahoma! soundtrack was certified as the first gold album four months later. In 1976, RIAA introduced the platinum certification, first awarded to the Eagles compilation album Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) on 24 February 1976, and to Johnnie Taylor’s single “Disco Lady” on 22 April 1976. As music sales increased with the introduction of compact discs, the RIAA created the Multi-Platinum award in 1984. Diamond awards, honoring those artists whose sales of singles or albums reached 10,000,000 copies, were introduced in 1999.
In the 20th century, and for a part of the first decade of the 21st, it was common for distributors to claim certifications based on their shipments – wholesale to retail outlets – which led to many certifications which outstripped the actual final retail sales figures. This became much less common once the majority of retail sales became paid digital downloads and digital streaming.
Digital media certification
In most countries, certifications no longer apply solely to physical media but now also include sales awards recognizing digital downloads (in the US and UK since 2004). In June 2006, the RIAA also certified the ringtone downloads of songs. Streaming from on-demand services such as Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal and Napster has been included into existing digital certification in the US since 2013, and the UK and Germany since 2014. In the US and Germany, video streaming services like YouTube, VEVO, and Yahoo! Music also began to be counted towards the certification, in both cases using the formula of 100 streams being equivalent to one download. Other countries, such as Denmark and Spain, maintain separate awards for digital download singles and streaming.
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) was founded in 1996, and grants the IFPI Platinum Europe Award for album sales over one million within Europe and (as of October 2009) the Middle East. Multi-platinum Europe Awards are presented for sales in subsequent multiples of one million. Eligibility is unaffected by time (from date of release), and is not restricted to European-based artists.
The Independent Music Companies Association (IMPALA) was founded in April 2000 to grow the independent music sector and promote independent music in the interests of artistic, entrepreneurial and cultural diversity. IMPALA launched sales awards in 2005 as the first sales awards recognising that success on a pan-European basis begins well before sales reach one million. The award levels are Silver (20,000+), Double Silver (40,000+), Gold (75,000+), Double Gold (150,000+), Diamond (200,000+), Platinum (400,000+) and Double Platinum (800,000+) (per Wikipedia).
First, a Story:
It is a little known fact that Mark Twain had a brother.
His name was Choo Choo…
Second, a Song:
Alton Glenn Miller (March 1, 1904 – disappeared December 15, 1944) was an American big band trombonist, arranger, composer, and bandleader in the Swing era. He was the best-selling recording artist from 1939 to 1942, leading one of the best-known big bands. Miller’s recordings include “In the Mood”, “Moonlight Serenade”, “Pennsylvania 6-5000”, “Chattanooga Choo Choo”, “A String of Pearls”, “At Last”, “(I’ve Got a Gal In) Kalamazoo”, “American Patrol”, “Tuxedo Junction”, “Elmer’s Tune”, “Little Brown Jug”, and “Anvil Chorus”. In just four years, Miller scored 16 number-one records and 69 top-10 hits—more than Elvis Presley (38 top 10s) and the Beatles (33 top 10s) did in their careers.
In 1942, Miller volunteered to join the U.S. military to entertain troops during World War II, ending up with the U.S. Army Air Forces. On December 15, 1944, while flying to Paris, Miller’s aircraft disappeared in bad weather over the English Channel. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
“Chattanooga Choo Choo” is a 1941 song written by Mack Gordon and composed by Harry Warren. It was originally recorded as a big band/swing tune by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra and featured in the 1941 movie Sun Valley Serenade. It was the first song to receive a gold record, presented by RCA Victor in 1942, for sales of 1.2 million copies.
Here is Glenn Miller and his orchestra from the 1941 movie Sun Valley Serenade performing “Chattanooga Choo Choo”. I hope you enjoy this!
Thought for the Day:
“My dad was always there, even though he wasn’t living in our house. He was always on the phone, always just a car ride away. Whenever he had a new recording, we would be the first to get the acetate. And it would say, in Dad’s handwriting, ‘Play it loud.’ “- Nancy Sinatra
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Have a great day!
Dave & Colleen
© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky
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