April 27, 1963 High school freshman Little Peggy March earns a #1 hit with “I Will Follow Him”
On April 27, 1963, Margaret Annemarie Battavio’s very first single, “I Will Follow Him,” reached #1 on the U.S. pop charts. With her 15th birthday only six weeks behind her, and three more years of high school ahead of her, the singer better known as Little Peggy March became the youngest female performer ever to top the Billboard Hot 100, but she’d never crack the top 10 again. Financial exploitation by an unscrupulous manager and a string of disappointing singles thwarted Peggy’s efforts to capitalize on her early success, but if this sounds like the familiar start of a depressing episode of VH1’s Behind the Music, think again. Her domestic career may have peaked while she was still in pigtails, but Little Peggy March pulled herself up by her bootstraps to build a career of impressive proportions in the parallel universe of Europop.
Little Peggy March went on to score hits in Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Japan, but the place that really made her career was Germany. Maybe it was because she learned their language, or maybe it was because “I Will Follow Him” pushed some kind of button in their national psyche, but whatever the reason, the Germans went bonkers for Peggy March. Songs like “I Wish I Were A Princess,” “My Teenage Castle (Is Crumbling Down)” and “Johnny Cool” fell flat commercially in America. But over in Germany, where the magician David Copperfield is revered as a Sex Gott and David Hasselhoff was the first human invited to sing on the toppled Berlin Wall, little Margaret Battavio from Lansdale, Pennsylvania, spent the 1960s and 70s scoring hits like “Telegram aus Tennessee,” winning the Baden-Baden Shlagerfestspiele and raking in the deutsche marks with albums like Hey, Das Ist Musik Für Mich. And if those accomplishments alone do not impress, consider this: In the 1980s, Peggy March also wrote songs that got Europeans to spend money on records by Audrey Landers (of Landers Sisters fame) and by the duo of Jermaine Jackson and Pia Zadora.
After spending the better part of two decades living in Germany, Peggy March eventually returned to the United States where she continues to perform regularly and where she still holds the record for youthful chart achievement that she set on this day in 1963.