Lloyd Price's "Stagger Lee" was the number one song for its third of four weeks, but the real story was the rise of "Donna" to its top spot on the Billboard chart as it reached #2 -- this was just three weeks after Ritchie Valens died in the plane crash in Iowa. It was Valens's only top ten record. But the flip side secured Valens's reputation as a rock legend as he took a traditional Mexican song and gave it a driving rock rhythm. It peaked at #22, but stood the test of time and was cited as #98 of VH1's "100 Greatest Songs of Rock and Roll." Los Lobos had a #1 version of the song in 1987 when it was included in the movie bio of Valens, appropriately titled "La Bamba."
Price's "Stagger Lee" was also a product of an adaptation. "Stack-O-Lee" was an old blues standard originally written in the 1920's about an actual shooting. It was Price's only #1 record.
The only other #1 song in the top twenty from 2/23/1959 was "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" which had achieved the top spot in January. Along with "Donna," there were three other songs that achieved runner-up status: "Sixteen Candles," and "The All American Boy" had been there in January and "Charlie Brown" would reach #2 in March.