Year
1958
Month Day
March 14

First Gold Record awarded to Perry Como for “Catch a Falling Star”

For as long as most people have been buying popular music on records, tapes and compact disks, the records, tapes and disks they’ve bought have carried labels like “Certified Gold!” and “Double Platinum!!” Those labels have been in use since the early days of the rock-and-roll era, when a young trade organization called the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) created and trademarked its precious-metals-based scale for measuring music sales. On March 14, 1958, the RIAA awarded its first official Gold Record—it had gifted an unofficial gold-sprayed record to Glen Miller in 1942—record to to Perry Como for his smash-hit single “Catch A Falling Star.”

Those who’ve been conditioned to believe that rock and roll wiped out everything in its path on its way toward dominating late-20th-century pop music may be surprised to hear that Perry Como was such a viable commercial artist fully two years after the arrival of Elvis Presley. Como, a 50-something holdover in a cozy cardigan sweater, stood for everything that youthful rock and roll did not, after all. Where rock and roll promised sex, excitement and social change, Como’s act evoked much more staid pursuits. Yet “Catch A Falling Star” was not the only hit record for Perry Como in the early years of the rock-and-roll “revolution.” Songs like “Hot Diggity” and “Round And Round” more than held their own against more rebellious fare, and while they might not have been “cool,” they didn’t need to be in order to find an audience in late 1950s America.

It is certainly worth noting, however, that the RIAA waited until Elvis Presley’s string of pre-Army hits was over before codifying what was formerly a loose, PR-driven process and creating an objective standard (500,000 sales) for the Gold Record. After the first Gold Record was awarded to Perry Como for “Catch A Falling Star,” the RIAA’s next honoree was Laurie London for “He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands.” And while Elvis Presley was the third artist to receive such an honor (for “Hard Headed Woman” in August 1958), his single Gold Record through the end of 1961 had him tied on the RIAA’s list with Lawrence Welk (whose “Calcutta” was certified Gold in February 1961).

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Jack Ruby sentenced to death for murdering Lee Harvey Oswald

Jack Ruby, the Dallas nightclub owner who killed Lee Harvey Oswald—the accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy—is found guilty of the “murder with malice” of Oswald and sentenced to die in the electric chair. It was the first courtroom verdict to be televised in U.S. ...read more

Birmingham Six released from prison

In the face of widespread questioning of their guilt, British authorities release the so-called “Birmingham Six,” six Irish men who had been sent to prison 16 years earlier for the 1974 terrorist bombings of two Birmingham, England, pubs. On November 21, 1974, two Irish ...read more

Mack Truck founder killed in car crash

John “Jack” Mack, who co-founded Mack Trucks, Inc.—then known as the Mack Brothers Company—with his brothers Augustus and William, is killed when his car collides with a trolley in Pennsylvania on March 14, 1924. After the Mack brothers sold their company to investors in 1911, it ...read more

Albert Einstein is Born

On March 14, 1879, Albert Einstein is born, the son of a Jewish electrical engineer in Ulm, Germany. Einstein’s theories of special and general relativity drastically altered man’s view of the universe, and his work in particle and energy theory helped make possible quantum ...read more

JFK’s body moved to permanent gravesite

On March 14, the body of President John F. Kennedy is moved to a spot just a few feet away from its original interment site at Arlington National Cemetery. The slain president had been assassinated more than three years earlier, on November 22, 1963. Although JFK never specified ...read more

The FBI debuts “10 Most Wanted Fugitives” list

The Federal Bureau of Investigation institutes the “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list in an effort to publicize particularly dangerous fugitives. The creation of the program arose out of a wire service news story in 1949 about the “toughest guys” the FBI wanted to capture. The ...read more

Mikhail Gorbachev elected president of the Soviet Union

The Congress of People’s Deputies elects General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev as the new president of the Soviet Union. While the election was a victory for Gorbachev, it also revealed serious weaknesses in his power base that would eventually lead to the collapse of his ...read more

Alexander Hamilton is named captain of artillery company

On March 14, 1776, Alexander Hamilton receives his commission as captain of a New York artillery company. Throughout the rest of 1776, Captain Hamilton established himself as a great military leader as he directed his artillery company in several battles in and around New York ...read more