Monday, August 11, 2014

Casey Kasem's American Top 40 Yearbook (1979)

From the book American Top 40: The Countdown of the Century by Rob Durkee (2000):
With 20,000 copies published in the spring of 1979, [Casey Kasem's American Top 40 Yearbook] covered the 52-week period from November 5, 1977, to October 28, 1978, printing every Top 40 chart plus a biography and photo of all 174 artists who had a Top 40 hit in the survey period. Initially, the plan was to publish AT40 yearbooks annually, but only one book ever appeared.
Because of today's online resources, there's really no need for such a book anymore, but browsing through one is a fun trip for any Top 40 fan.  Let's take a look:

The majority of the book is artist biographies.  Biographies include a photo of the act, artists' birth dates/birthplaces, a history of the act (more famous acts understandably get more column space than one hit wonders), and a complete Top 40 history for that act. Here's a sample page (click to enlarge):

The second section of the book consists of essays about current music genres.  The essays, written by various music journalists, are followed by year-end Top 40 lists of hits, artists, albums, songwriters, etc.  Methodology for determining these lists is never mentioned.

  • Pop single Top hit: "Shadow Dancing" by Andy Gibb.  Top singles artist: Bee Gees.
  • Pop album  Top album: Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.  Top album artist: Bee Gees.
  • Soul  Top hit: "Serpentine Fire" by Earth, Wind & Fire.  Top artist: Earth, Wind & Fire.
  • Country  Top hit: "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys/I Can Get Off on You" by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.  Top artist: Dolly Parton
  • Disco  Top hit: "Last Dance" by Donna Summer
  • Jazz  Top album: Feels So Good by Chuck Mangione
  • Songwriters Barry, Robin, & Maurice Gibb
  • Producers (3 way tie) Albhy Galuten, Barry Gibb, and Karl Richardson

The final section of the book consists of the weekly Top 40 charts, starting with the November 5, 1977 chart (with "You Light Up My Life" by Debby Boone in the top spot) and ending with the chart from October 28, 1978 ("Hot Child in the City" by Nick Gilder).

The final page of the book, "How Does Casey Kasem Know So Much About Pop Music," is an acknowledgement to Billboard magazine and Joel Whitburn at Record Research.

The book (©1979) is long out of print; original price: $4.99.  Today's best online prices for used copies are $6.77 on Amazon, $22.95 on, and $14.99 on eBay.

For more AT40 stuff, click here.  Also, go check out The Hits Just Keep On Comin' by friend o' the blog and radio expert, JB.  And don't forget to look into finding a copy of American Top 40: The Countdown of the Century by Rob Durkee (2000).

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