Winchester Cathedral (song)

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For the Crosby, Stills & Nash song "Cathedral", see CSN (album).
"Winchester Cathedral"
American issue of "Winchester Cathedral"
Single by The New Vaudeville Band
B-side Wait For Me Baby
Released October 4, 1966
Recorded July 1966
Genre Pop
Length 2:20
Label Fontana Records
Writer(s) Geoff Stephens
Producer(s) Geoff Stephens

"Winchester Cathedral" is a song released in late 1966 by Fontana Records, whereupon it shot to the #1 spot in Canada on the RPM 100 national singles charts[1] and shortly thereafter in the U.S. on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was released by The New Vaudeville Band, a British novelty group established by the song's composer, Geoff Stephens. Stephens was a big fan of tunes from the British music hall era (or what Americans would call "vaudeville"), so he wrote "Winchester Cathedral" in that vein, complete with a Rudy Vallée soundalike[2] (John Carter) singing through his hands to imitate a megaphone sound.[3] Although the song was recorded entirely by session musicians, when it became an international hit, an actual band had to be assembled. The recording is one of the few charting songs to feature a bassoon. [4] The band toured extensively under the tutelage of Peter Grant, who later went on to manage The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin.[3]

The tune went to No. 4 in the UK Singles Chart.[5] It went all the way to the top in the U.S., however, displacing "You Keep Me Hangin' On" by the Supremes on December 3, 1966. After a one-week run at No. 1, "Winchester Cathedral" was knocked off the summit by the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations", only to rebound to the top spot the following week. After two additional weeks, it was knocked off the top for good by "I'm a Believer" by The Monkees.

"Winchester Cathedral" topped the Billboard Easy Listening chart for four weeks.[6] Cover records by Dana Rollin and The New Happiness reached no higher than No. 70.The Shadows recorded an instrumental version of this song on their album, Jigsaw. The Four Freshmen also recorded a cover of this song on their 1968 album In a Class by Themselves.

Global sales of the single were over three million, with the RIAA certification of gold disc status.[7]

The song won the 1967 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary (R&R) Recording,[8] despite not being a rock and roll song. An initial long-playing album including the song was issued in late 1966 by Fontana Records, also titled Winchester Cathedral. Stephens received the 1966 Ivor Novello award for "Best Song Musically and Lyrically".[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2011-06-28. 
  2. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 38 - The Rubberization of Soul: The great pop music renaissance. [Part 4]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. Digital.library.unt.edu. 
  3. ^ a b "Biography by Steve Huey". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 11 March 2009. 
  4. ^ http://www.democraticunderground.com/101868299
  5. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 392. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 178. 
  7. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 209. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  8. ^ "Winchester Cathedral by New Vaudeville Band Songfacts". Songfacts.com. 1966-12-03. Retrieved 2012-12-31. 
  9. ^ Lister, David, Pop ballads bite back in lyrical fashion, The Independent, 28 May 1994
Preceded by
"Poor Side of Town" by Johnny Rivers
Canadian RPM 100 number-one single
November 28 – December 5, 1966
Succeeded by
"Lady Godiva" by Peter & Gordon
Preceded by
"You Keep Me Hangin' On" by The Supremes
US Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
December 3, 1966
December 17–24, 1966
Succeeded by
"Good Vibrations" by The Beach Boys
"I'm A Believer" by The Monkees
Preceded by
"The Wheel of Hurt" by Margaret Whiting
US Billboard Easy Listening Singles number-one single
December 3, 1966
Succeeded by
"That's Life" by Frank Sinatra