Gift Guide

Chart Toppers: The Great Performers of Popular Music Over the Last 50 Years


The ultimate guide to the music of the latter half of the 20th century.

Chart Toppers is a chronological survey of the most important popular music genres since the 1960s. The authors highlight the key solo musicians and groups, explore how their careers developed, survey ...

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The ultimate guide to the music of the latter half of the 20th century.

Chart Toppers is a chronological survey of the most important popular music genres since the 1960s. The authors highlight the key solo musicians and groups, explore how their careers developed, survey their hit songs, reveal where they are now and show their influence on today's music.

In 12 sections the eras and genres cover:

  • 60s pop, from Bill Haley to the Beatles
  • 70s pop
  • 80s pop
  • 90s pop, from boy bands and girl groups to the revival of guitar bands
  • Blues, from Muddy Waters to Howlin' Wolf
  • Heavy metal, from Led Zeppelin to Guns 'N' Roses
  • Jazz
  • Reggae
  • Rock 'n'
  • Rock and rap
  • Soul, the civil rights movement and social issues of the day
  • World music.

The book is illustrated with extensive color photos and CD graphics from notable recordings, and it is jam packed with great information in abundant sidebars. Each section also includes a two-page "gazetteer" of many other examples of the genre or era.

Chart Toppers is a lively presentation perfect for browsing and also provides valuable historical and anecdotal information for serious readers.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This one-volume resource covers over 140 musical performers and musical groups that Brunning (who played bass with Fleetwood Mac and is a teacher) and Pickering (the author of many books for children) feel have made an outstanding contribution to the field of popular music. The first of two sections is a review of famous performers and groups in each decade from the 1960s through 1990s. The second section is a review of artists in specific musical styles, with chapters on the great names in blues, heavy metal, jazz, reggae, rock and rap, rock'and'roll, soul, and world music. Each brief biography discusses the life and times of the performers, other musicians they were involved with, and details on how they achieved their fame. While the majority of the groups and artists receive a two-page spread, much of that space is used for photographs, album covers, sidebars discussing trends, and listings of the artists' most famous recordings. Depending on their musical experience, readers may find they are more familiar with some of the artists than with others. BOTTOM LINE In spite of the limited text, the authors' appreciation of the artists is apparent throughout. Although visually appealing, the book is not particularly scholarly. Most appropriate for middle and junior high school libraries, though public libraries might find it useful as well.—James Langan, Univ. of Pittsburgh, Johnstown, PA
American Reference Books Annual - Josh Eugene Finnell
This title selectively highlights commercially successful musicians with historical and geographical breadth.... Of particular strength is the section covering world music, often a rare genre included in books of this focus.... This reference work is a well-constructed resource written for a specific audience-the casual fan. With colorful photographs occupying most of the entries, this is a highly entertaining reference work on popular musicians but not the most scholarly of titles. It will be a nice addition to any public or school library looking to expand its music reference collection.
SciTech Book News
Brunning, a teacher who has played bass with Fleetwood Mac, and Pickering, [an] author of children's books, provide an illustrated guide to selected popular music performers and group from the 1960s to the 1990s, as well as in the genres of blues, heavy metal, jazz, reggae, rock, rap, rock 'n' roll, soul, and world music. Each artist is profiled in a one or two-page spread that details their early background, success, selected chart-topping albums in the US and UK, and if applicable, why their career ended or where they are now. Artists include the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Bee Gees, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, the Sex Pistols, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Queen, Bruce Springsteen, Hanson, Oasis, REM, Britney Spears, Boyzone, B.B. King, Aerosmith, Miles Davis, Bob Marley, Eminem, Chuck Berry, Elvis, and Diana Ross.
Frontenac This Week/Kingston This Week - Rob Mooy
Bob Brunning and James Pickering have created the ultimate guide to the music of the latter half of the 20th century.
INFOLINK - Melody Connell
Ages 11 and up will enjoy the photos and information in this large book.
VOYA - Laura Woodruff
This oversized, glossy, black-paged album is a survey of big names in popular music from the 1960s to the present. The cover grabs attention with photos of Michael Jackson in performance and headshots of Elvis Presley, Britney Spears, and Eminem. Inside, each two-page spread gives basic information about the group's or performer's background, career, and significance, including photos and top hits, with eleven or twelve names per decade or genre. Following the 1990s are sections on heavy metal, jazz, reggae, rock and rap, rock ?n' roll, soul, world music, and, fortunately, a good index. At the end of each section is a "gazetteer" covering less important performers and supplying supplemental information. Music hits and photos are displayed in circular disks with "holes" in the center, representing old vinyl records. Designed more to entertain than to educate, this resource is nevertheless a useful, quick reference when only a few facts are needed. Nicely up to date, the section on Michael Jackson (1980s Pop) includes his death on June 25, 2009. Although older readers might take issue with inclusions or exclusions, teens will certainly find it an enjoyable and easy read. Reviewer: Laura Woodruff
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780594296614
  • Publisher: Firefly Books, Limited
  • Publication date: 10/15/2009
  • Pages: 344
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Bob Brunning played bass with Fleetwood Mac and is a teacher.

James Pickering is the author of many books for children, including the Big Book of Mighty Machines.

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Read an Excerpt

Introduction to 1960s Pop

During the 1960s there was an explosion of talent in the popular music front in the UK and U.S. Young people were enjoying a lot more freedom than their parents had ever experienced, and the aftermath of the late 50s rock 'n' roll influence encouraged many teenagers to start making their own music.

With a modest outlay, four young people found that they could make a wonderful noise with a set of drums, a bass, a guitar and a microphone. There were certainly plenty of heroes to emulate. The Rolling Stones, the Beatles, the Who, the Shadows, the Kinks and many others achieved phenomenal success in the early 60s and proved that if you had some basic talent, however raw, there was a real chance that you could achieve pop stardom.

In the U.S. the Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix, the Supremes and Little Stevie Wonder were among the most successful performers of the decade.
Many of the performers and musicians were becoming confident enough to write their own songs, something quite new. During the 50s very few performers thought of doing this and relied instead on established songwriters to provide them with suitable material.

The 60s opened the door for huge numbers of young musicians to display their talent, and we are still listening to the great music they produced today.

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents


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