The southwest Ohio city of Cincinnati has had its share of top singers and musical groups over the years, and many of them have made a significant impact on Billboard Magazine's popular music charts.
The Cincinnati singers span virtually all music genres, including female vocalist and film star Doris Day, the R&B sounds of The Isley Brothers, the smooth soul songs of Mel Carter, bubblegum tunes from The Lemon Pipers and the country-rock sounds of Pure Prairie League.
Other singers from the Queen City include groups such as Otis Williams & The Charms, Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods and The Casinos, plus artists such as Larry Hall, Carl Dobkins Jr. and Lonnie Mack, who are known primarily for one major hit recording.
Some artists are often considered to have a Cincinnati connection, but aren't included in this column. They include The Mills Brothers, who hailed from Piqua, Ohio, Rosemary Clooney, a native of Maysville, Ky., and Andy Williams, who lived in Cincinnati for a few years in the early '40s.
This column takes a look at a dozen recording artists from Cincinnati who had at least one remembered chart selection, and most had multiple hits. To hear any of the mentioned songs, simply click on the title.
- DORIS DAY was born Doris Kappelhoff in Cincinnati in 1922, and her music career began as a Big Band singer in 1939. Her biggest hit in that era was as a vocalist with Les Brown's orchestra in 1945, when "Sentimental Journey" sold more than 5 million copies. In all, she made more than 600 recordings and appeared in 39 films. Other major hit records included "Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered" (1949), "A Guy Is A Guy" (1952) and "Whatever Will Be, Will Be" (1956).
- THE ISLEY BROTHERS formed as a family gospel group in Cincinnati in the early 1950s, and they moved to New York in 1957. Originally a trio consisting of brothers O'Kelly, Ronald and Rudolph, they later added brothers Ernie and Marvin. They had their first major charter with "Twist And Shout", which went to No. 17 in the summer of 1962. Other notable hits included: "This Old Heart Of Mine" (No. 12, 1966), "It's Your Thing" (No. 2, 1969) and "That Lady" (No. 6, 1973).
- MEL CARTER began singing on Cincinnati radio stations at the age of 4, and at age 9, he performed live on stage in a show headed by Lionel Hampton. His first significant chart hit was "When A Boy Falls In Love" (No. 44 on Billboard in 1963), and his biggest hit, "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me", went to No. 8 and remains one of the most-played oldies of all-time. Among his other hits is "Band Of Gold" (No. 32 in 1966). The multi-talented performer also has a long list of film and TV credits.
- THE LEMON PIPERS are one of the first successful "bubblegum" groups, and their "Green Tambourine" was the first such song to reach the top of the national pop charts in early 1968. The song sold more than 2 million copies, and it also went to No. 7 in the U.K. Ivan Browne was lead singer for the group, which was formed in Oxford, Ohio, 28 miles northwest of Cincinnati. Before dropping out of sight, the group had subsequent 1968 charters with "Rice Is Nice" (No. 46) and "Jelly Jungle" (No. 51).
- BO DONALDSON & THE HEYWOODS was a septet that took "Billy Don't Be A Hero" to the top of the charts in the spring of 1974. Donaldson was the group's keyboardist, and Mike Gibbons was lead singer. A follow-up, "Who Do You Think You Are" charted at No. 15 nationally.
- OTIS WILLIAMS & THE CHARMS was a quartet that had its biggest hit-- "Hearts Of Stone" -- which was a million seller, topping the R&B charts and reaching No. 15 on the Billboard pop charts. The group had later success with such records as "Ling, Ting, Tong" (No. 26, 1955) and "Ivory Tower" (No. 11, 1956).
- CARL DOBKINS JR. is a lifetime Cincinnati resident who started singing at age 16, and his best-known record and his biggest hit ("My Heart Is An Open Book") went to No. 3 when he was age 18 in the summer of 1959. He had three other Billboard Hot 100 charters, including "Lucky Devil", which went to No. 25 in early 1960. He left the music business full-time in the mid-1960s, although he continues to perform occasionally at oldies festivals.
- THE CASINOS were a nine-man group headed by lead singer Gene Hughes. They hit it big with the well-remembered "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye", written by John D. Loudermilk, in the early months of 1967 on the Fraternity label out of Cincinnati. The song went to No. 6 nationally, and the flip side ("I Still Love You") was a minor charter in some areas, but the group fell into the one-hit-wonder category.
- LONNIE MACK was born in Indiana, but in his mid-teens, he began performing in Cincinnati in the early '60s, and he soon became a session artist for the Fraternity label. In the summer of 1963, he had a big instrumental hit with "Memphis", and the record went to No. 5 nationally. His follow-up ("Wham!") was also a moderate charter, climbing to No. 24 on Billboard.
- PURE PRAIRIE LEAGUE was a country-rock band from nearby Waverly, Ohio, which had its first success in Cincinnati. The group charted at No. 27 on Billboard with "Amie" in 1975, and five years later, they had a No. 10 national hit with "Let Me Love You Tonight."
- MARTY BALIN is best known as the founder and one of the lead singers of the psychedelic rock group Jefferson Airplane, and later, Jefferson Starship. After becoming a solo artist, he had a national Top 10 single with "Hearts" in the summer of 1981.
- LARRY HALL was only 18 years old when "Sandy" climbed to the No. 15 position on the Billboard pop music charts in the winter of 1960, and some consider him as the first one-hit-wonder artist of the '60s. Although he didn't have any other significant hits, Hall produced such big charters as "Suspicion" for Terry Staffrord and "The In Crowd" for Dobie Gray.