John Santangelo was an Italian immigrant who worked as a brick-layer in New York City. In the early 1930s, John met a woman and fell head over heels in love with her. She complained to him that she had to buy sheet music to learn the lyrics to her favorite songs and Santangelo began printing and distributing inexpensive single-sheet flyers filled with song lyrics, ignorantly violating copyrights while satisfying the needs of his woman and apparently thousands of other music fans as he began to make enough money to quit laying bricks and work full-time gathering and publishing his collections of lyrics. After a few years, the law caught up with Santangelo and he was convicted of copyright infringement and served a year in the pokey. During his confinement, he shared his life story with a fellow inmate, disbarred attorney Edward Levy, who convinced Santangelo that once they had served their time, they should partner up and go legit - this time legally obtaining the rights to reprint the song lyrics. Shortly after regaining their freedom in 1940, they founded Charlton Publishing and in 1943 began publishing Hit Parader, with Levy making sure all lyrics were obtained legally and properly. Charlton soon began printing other lyrics oriented titles such as Song Hits (title was purchased from another company), the R&B oriented Rock & Soul and Country Song Round-Up (1949). Charlton was unique in that they established an all-in-one business, headquartered in Derby, Connecticut where their magazines were assembled, written, edited and even printed within the same 150,000 square foot building allowing them to better manage costs and quality control. They eventually branched out into comic books and at their peak, Charlton published 80 different titles and employed more than 250 people. When they finally closed up shop in 1991, eight employees were writing and printing the last two titles, Hit Parader and Country Song Round-Up. History lesson over - we're here today for a Song Hits cover gallery from 1976 (Volume 40!) in response to overwhelming demand generated by our previous Song Hits post here at The Hideaway.
The Song Hits cover layout was redesigned for the April 1976 issue (yes, that is an obscured picture of Paul and Linda) and would remain the same well into the Eighties. With the artist picture taking up 75% of the prime real estate and an easy to read though abbreviated song title listing taking up the remaining 25%, the magazine looked almost as modern as the rest of the music magazines on newsstand shelves at the time.
In addition to the dozen monthly 50¢ issues of Song Hits, there were ancillary $1 issues published throughout the year such as Song Hits Yearbook (Summer 1976), Song Hits Annual (Winter 1976-77) and Song Hits Of The Super '70's issues from March, May and July. Those last three issues featured songs from throughout the decade and offered "words to over 110 songs" compared to the regular monthly issue's "words to over 60 hit songs." In addition, the monthly issues featured three artist profiles an issue (one each for pop/rock, soul and country) while the Super issues featured six artist profiles though it looks like both the Yearbook and Annual issues from 1976 offered just three artist profiles as well.
Thanks to all the eBay and Amazon vendors for posting the pics used in this post.