Letter: No song like an old song

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JOHN Gibbs alleges that it was some sort of embargo on rock 'n' roll and events like the death of Buddy Holly which allowed "the likes of Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson" into the Top 20 (Letters, 26 November). Perhaps somebody who knew the era should set the record straight.

The pre-rock Top 20 did not consist entirely of songs like "Sing Little Birdie" - which Carr and Johnson only sang because it was that year's UK Eurovision entry. The Top 20 often included records by Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole and many other all-time greats. What allowed rock 'n' roll into the Top 20 was the inability of the public to understand what the experts said about it - and in those days, the people who reviewed records and presented musical programmes really were experts. One of them said of an early Presley hit that it set an all- time low for "sheer repulsiveness, coupled by the boredom of mediocrity". Louis Armstrong said of rock 'n' roll that it was "cold soup warmed up" - which should destroy any myth that the Beatles created anything that was new and innovative, or in any way an improvement.

John Cartear

West Harrow, Middlesex