"I Want to Be Wanted"
(Music: "I Want to Be Wanted" by Brenda Lee)
October 24, 1960 - October 30, 1960
"I Want to Be Wanted" was faraway from Brenda Lee's country-gospel roots. About five thousand miles away. The song came from Italy, where it was included in the original production of Never on Sunday. When Brenda first heard it, there was only a melody, and she had to contact the writers in Italy to have the lyrics sent to her.
"I Want to Be Wanted" was Brenda's second number one single. She followed it with a succession of top 10 songs, including "Emotions," "Dum Dum" and "Fool #1," a song Loretta Lynn wanted to record as her first single for Decca. Brenda's producer, A&R man Owen Bradley, wanted to sign Loretta to Decca but didn't think that song was right for her. Brenda got the song, Loretta got a contract and everyone was happy.
The top 10 hits kept coming: "Break It to Me Gently," "All Alone Am I", and "Losing You," a song that was moving up the Hot 100 when Brenda married Charles Ronald Shacklett, son of a Nashville city councilman, on April 24, 1963. After an eight-day honeymoon, she flew to New York to open at the Copacabana. Billboard gave her a rave review: "Brenda has the fire, the drive, the movement and the vocalistics that led one ringsider to characterize her as a teen-aged Sophie Tucker."
In July, 1963, Decca announced that Brenda had signed a 20-year pact, guaranteeing her $35,000 a year. The new contract included a two-picture deal with Universal. Although she didn't reach the top 10 again after "Losing You," she held her own during the British invasion with top 20 hits like "The Grass Is Greener" and "As Usual." She recorded in London with producer Mickie Most and came up with another top 20 hit, "Is It True?" Her last major hit was "Coming On Strong," which peaked at number 11 in 1966. It was a song that inspired Dutch rockers Golden Earring to mention Brenda in the lyrics of their 1974 hit "Radar Love" ("Brenda Lee is coming on strong ...").
Brenda's final Hot 100 entry was "Nobody Wins," a Kris Kristofferson song that went to number one on the country charts. In 1977, Brenda asked to be released from her contract, six years before its expiration date. Loretta Lynn's manager, David Skepner, arranged for her to sign with Elektra Records. She recorded one single for Elektra, then returned to MCA (which had absorbed its subsidiary, Decca Records) in 1979. That year, she said in a Billboard interview:
"I want to let people know I'm still very much alive and active. A lot of people think that just because they've seen me and heard my records for so many years, I must be a 60-year-old invalid by now. They forget that I started my singing career when I was only 10."
Reprinted from The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits, copyright © 2003 by Fred Bronson.