More than 40 years ago, a song called ‘Ready ‘n’ Steady’ appeared on the Billboard charts, and for decades, it remained one of the most enigmatic and mysterious songs in chart history.

Ask any collector in the world and they’ll likely regale you with tales of their white whale, that is, something that has eluded their grasps for some time, and remains their most sought-after item.

While most record collectors might trawl the racks for a rare first pressing of their favourite band’s first single, music historian Joel Whitburn spent close to 40 years trying to track down one record in particular; ‘Ready ‘n’ Steady’ by D.A..

What makes this song so special that Whitburn spent close to half of his life trying to add this elusive song into his sizeable collection? Well, it’s mainly the fact that for almost four decades, no one could prove that this song actually existed.

A fake cover of 'Ready 'n' Steady' by D.A.
The mystery of ‘Ready ‘n’ Steady’ even resulted in sleuths mocking up potential covers for the single.

When Billboard began their Hot 100 chart back in 1955, it was made with the intention of ranking the most popular songs of the time, determined by sales of records and sheet music, alongside performances by jukeboxes and DJs.

By 1959, a new chart had arisen to help showcase the tracks that just missed the cut. Dubbed the Bubbling Under The Hot 100 chart, this list illustrated the songs that were just outside of the Hot 100, and could in some cases be used as an indicator of what might be entering the charts in the coming days and weeks.

In 1970, Joel Whitburn formed Record Research Inc., a company that solely existed to research, examine, and discuss the charts. Collecting each and every song to have made the charts, Whitburn soon found himself in possession of one of the world’s largest musical collections, turning himself into the envy of many casual music fans.

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Before long, Whitburn’s company began to publish books which noted not only the chart history of each song, but also served as one of the most important documents for music researchers and historians.

In 1979 though, Whitburn came across something that would serve as a sore point for many years, when a song by the name of ‘Ready ‘n’ Steady’ entered the Bubbling Under The Hot 100 chart.

Hitting #106 on the June 16th, 1979 issue of the chart, the track steadily rose, hitting #103 by the next week, and #102 by June 30th, before vanishing altogether.

Image of the chart placings for 'Ready 'n' Steady' by D.A
Who would have thought such unassuming lines of text would result in a major musical mystery?

Now, to most people, such a song wouldn’t have raised much suspicion. After all, how often did you look at the charts back in the day and see a song that you didn’t recognise, only for it to disappear completely within weeks?

For Joel Whitburn however, that’s where the troubles began. See, as a music historian who served as an expert on these charts, it was his duty to add this track to the collection, to give it a listen, and ensure its details were promptly marked down for future music-lovers. However, Whitburn couldn’t find this song at all.

Credited as being released on the Rascal label, Joel Whitburn soon found himself on a musical wild goose chase trying to track down the song. In fact, the mystery seemed almost solved in 1995, with our musical historian claiming the song may have been recorded by a Chicago punk group named D.A!.

“It’s the only record we’ve never been able to find in the history of the pop charts. Is that crazy?” Whitburn remarked to Salt Lake City’s Deseret News in 1995, offering a $100 reward to anyone who could track the song down.

“We think – we think – that it’s a girl’s rock group from Chicago. Punk group, we think – 1979. And we think that the Rascal label was out of a guy’s home in Detroit.”

This lead came from a small ad placed in a punk-rock guide that listed an address for a Rascal record label. Naturally, Whitburn investigated further, hoping to put an end to this musical mystery once and for all.

“I sent a guy over there to Detroit,” he explained, “and it was just a vacant home, a house that was vacant, all boarded up, shut up.

“There was no business or anything. So we think the guy might have pressed up some records out of his basement or something. Probably sent ’em to radio stations and it got some play in some areas, a couple of Midwest markets or something, and it ‘Bubbled Under.'”

It didn’t end there though. Not only was the song listed as being on the Rascal label, it had a catalogue number of Rascal 002, indicating it was the second release by the label, and likewise meaning there was an equally-mysterious Rascal 001 record still to be found.

To make matters even more frustrating, the female-fronted DA! insisted that they didn’t record the song, meaning that Whitburn was sent all the way back to square one with this musical mystery.

Check out ‘Dark Rooms’ by DA!:

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In 2002 though, it was thought that a break in the case had finally been made, when Jerry Osbourne’s Official Price Guide To Records listed the record as being worth between $75 and $125. As it turned out though, it had been confused with a record by Christian rock outfit Daniel Amos, whose name was frequently shortened to D.A.

By 2005, the mystery of the missing song still had not been solved, and by the time that Joel Whitburn published the fourth edition of his Bubbling Under the Hot 100 book, the entry for ‘Ready ‘n’ Steady’ had been amended to note that “the existence of this record and artist is in question.”

Although the estimated value of the record was listed at $150, a 2009 edition of Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles made no mention of the song at all, with its author eventually questioning whether the song even existed at all.

By this point, you could likely understand the frustration that everyone involved in this mystery would be feeling.

After all, considering the song had been listed on the Billboard charts for three consecutive weeks, it surely must have existed right? How could a song that didn’t exist have managed to fake its way onto the charts, and rise in positions for three weeks in a row?

Well, at this stage it was looking as though it might have actually been a copyright trap set by Billboard. That is, a fictitious entry designed to catch any plagiarists who may have just copied Billboard’s charts for their own publication without any independent research.

However, the internet wasn’t convinced the song was simply a false entity and one that would keep historians guessing for years to come.

So when some sleuths got down to it in 2016, it was discovered there was a song registered in the United States Copyright Office under the name ‘Ready & Steady’, with its authors listed as D.A. Lucchesi and Jim Franks.

Things kept getting better from here though, with the discovery that the song had been registered in 1986 after being created back in 1979.

However, while it was discovered that that Dennis Armand “D.A.” Lucchesi had since passed in 2005, records showed he was a mortgage broker from California who served as a part-time musician under the name D.A. And The Dukes.

The pieces were finally coming together.

Check out the story of D.A.’s ‘Ready ‘n’ Steady’:

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Eventually, Paul Haney – a colleague of Joel Whitburn’s at Record Research Inc. – tracked down co-author Jim Franks, who finally provided him with a recording of the song that had been so sought-after for so many years.

“Joel Whitburn was collecting everything that made the charts, including the Bubbling Under chart,” Haney explained to the Crap From The Past radio show in July of 2016. “And when this record came out and Joel saw it on the chart, he put a little circle next to it, and he would always fill in the circle when he got the record.

“So he put his little circle by it, and that circle did not get filled in until about a month ago.”

According to Haney, ‘Ready ‘n’ Steady’ was indeed a real song written by D.A. And The Dukes, but had never been pressed onto vinyl. Apparently, a record promoter with connections to a major label managed to catch the group performing live, and after taking an interest on them, claimed he could likely get them onto the charts if they recorded a couple of songs.

Despite feeling quite skeptical, the band recorded a handful of songs, with the promoter soon managing to get ‘Ready ‘n’ Steady’ onto the Bubbling Under chart (but not the Hot 100 chart, with Haney surmising this could have “raised too many eyebrows” if that was the case).

But what about the Rascal label? Well, as it turned out, Rascal was a record label on paper only, run by a relative of the band and named after somebody’s dog, exisiting solely as a name which could be attached to ‘Ready ‘n’ Steady’. A few years later, a real Rascal label would spring up in California, though they didn’t release any records by D.A., much to the dismay of record collectors.

After receiving all of this information from D.A.’s Jim Franks, Paul Haney managed to receive a copy of the song as well, giving it its world premiere on July 8th, 2016 on the Crap From The Past Radio show, and putting an end to one of the most enigmatic musical mysteries of the last few decades.

Check out ‘Ready ‘n’ Steady’ by D.A.:

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