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Solved! The Mystery of The Phantom Record

Record Enthusiasts Gather At Musicmania Record Fair 2015
(Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

For three weeks in the Summer of 1979, a song called ‘Ready N Steady’ by a band named D.A. charted on the Billboard charts.  It never peaked higher than #102.  Then, it vanished.  Never to heard from again.

That’s not entirely unusual, of course.  In the music industry, artists come and go.  However, something made this particular song unique:

No one could find a copy of it.  No one.  It was as if the song had never actually existed.

Billboard via Joel Whitburn
Billboard via Joel Whitburn

Joel Whitburn, a music historian whose name is synonymous with the Billboard charts  (he’s written scores of reference books full of trivia, documenting the history of the standard-bearing sales chart), couldn’t even locate a copy.

Joel, who prides himself on having a copy of every, single song that has ever made the chart, was among countless other record collectors and music geeks who grew ever-frustrated at how elusive this particular song was.

In a 1995 interview about the record, Whitburn said, “We think—we think—that it’s a girl’s rock group from Chicago. Punk group, we think.”

The record company responsible for releasing the song was equally as ambiguous.  Rascal Records hadn’t released anything before or since ‘Ready N Steady’.  Joel, however, felt pretty sure that he had pinpointed the company to Detroit, having found a small ad in a punk ‘zine.  Still, when collectors followed the trail to the address listed in the advert, it led only to a vacant building.

Finally, when Joel released a new version of his regularly updated book documenting all Billboard charts, he pronounced the record as a fake.  Whitburn and several collectors worldwide had turned up empty handed.  Surely, if the record were real, somebody somewhere would have uncovered a copy of it by now.

It remained a mystery as to how the song ever made the chart…and just why someone might fake its existence in the first place.

However, the mystery was solved last week.

The Lost Media Wiki proudly reported the following:

The artists of the song turned out to be Dennis Armand “D. A.” Lucchesi (1945-2005), a California-based mortgage broker and amateur musician, and Jim Franks. Franks is still alive, and willingly gave Paul Haney (on behalf of Whitburn) a recording of the song. It was played on July 8, 2016, on the Crap from the Past radio show on KFAI in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.

 

According to Haney (who appeared on Crap from the Past, explaining the history behind the song), he had spoken with Franks, who told him that the song (as well as three or four other songs) was recorded in 1979 after a major label representative witnessed the band play live. He offered the band studio time and promised that he would help the band get a song on the Billboard charts. Despite its appearance on the charts, the song was never pressed onto vinyl. Because of this, it is unknown if the song even received radio play at the time of its recording.

So, are you ready to hear this record that has confounded the entire music industry for decades?   Brace yourself for the mediocrity.  But here it is:

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