How many people know that a vice-president of the United States wrote a song that became a number one hit? It’s only happened once in the history of music. Now, Joe Biden could break that record by writing a song for Beyonce but that seems pretty remote to me.
In 1912, Charles Dawes, who at the time was a Chicago bank president, wrote the music for a tune he called “Melody in A Major.” He later became Calvin Coolidge’s Vice President between the years of 1925 – 1929. You can hear this original melody done by violinist Fritz Kreisler, recorded in 1924. Just search for “Charles Dawes Melody in A Major” on YouTube. The tune kind of reminds you of “It’s All in the Game” but it’s not easy to hear what later became such a big hit.
In 1951, Carl Sigman put lyrics to the melody and called the song “It’s All in the Game.” The song was recorded by several people, one of which was Tommy Edwards. That first recording in 1951 got to number eighteen on the Billboard charts at the time, so not a monster hit, but not bad, either. You can also listen to the 1951 version of “It’s All in the Game” on YouTube and it is very nice. I like it as much or more than the hit, but Tommy Edwards was not satisfied with number eighteen.
His career did not do much for the next seven years or so and in 1958, MGM Records was about to drop him from the label. But, technology and rock and roll saved Tommy Edwards. Stereo was just coming into the forefront of recording and Tommy was in the studio and had one more song to cut before he was due to leave MGM; his contract was about to expire. So, he decided to record “It’s All in the Game,” this time in stereo. It was recorded as a rock and roll ballad.
MGM liked what they heard and “It’s All in the Game” was released. It took six weeks to get to the top of the charts and it ultimately became the number one record of the year, 1958. Tommy Edwards was on top, but, unfortunately, he didn’t stay there. He continued to record and while he hit the Top 40 five more times, none of them made the Top 10. By mid-1960, he was not charting anymore.
Tommy Edwards died of a brain aneurysm in 1970 at the age of 47. “It’s All in the Game” is a member of a small club of songs that have hit the Top 30 three different times by different artists. Cliff Richards hit the charts with the song in 1964 and the Four Tops hit in 1970. “It’s All in the Game” will, however, forever be a Tommy Edwards song. It entered the chart on August 26, 1958 and stayed at number one for six weeks.
Next: “It’s Only Make Believe” – Conway Twitty