I’M SORRY BY BRENDA LEE
I am just in the mood for some Brenda Lee, and since this song just made it to #1 this week in 1960, why not give it a play? She was born Brenda Mae Tarpley and grew up in Atlanta. She began charting in 1957 but didn’t really take off. Her manager decided a trip to Paris France would increase her popularity. Brenda was set to open at the Olympia Music Hall on March 18, 1959, until the promoter suddenly realized she wasn’t the adult he thought she was. Her manager saved the day by planting a story in the French newspapers that Brenda Lee was a 32 year old midget.
Here is the midget singing a great song…
COME SOFTLY TO ME BY THE FLEETWOODS
This happens to be my top song on the list of #1 songs from this week. This was their first release on Dophin records and stayed #1 for 4 weeks. Six months later, they hit #1 again with Mr. Blue. The Fleetwoods consist of Barbara Ellis, Gretchen Christopher and Gary Troxel. Barbara and Gretchen were born in the same hospital in Tacoma, WA and shared a few days in the maternity ward. They would be school mates, although attending different high schools until their senior year. They sang for school events and later added Gary, and with him, they sang a song called, “Come Softly”. They sang it at a class assembly and then later after a football game. It was suggested they record it so they did so a cappella at Gretchen’s parents’ farmhouse. Gretchen then took a bus to Seattle and found a producer who liked it so much he started his own label, Dolphin Records.
It took them six tedious months after high school graduation to finally get the song completed and released. The producer/label owner thought the title too suggestive and extended it to Come Softly to Me, although those words are never heard in the lyrics. He also didn’t care for the groups name, Two Girls and a Guy. Their telephone exchange was Fleetwood so they took that name. The single did well in the pacific northwest. Gretchen was attending college and Barbara called one day to tell her she’d have to quit college to go on tour. She talked them into her staying in college unless the song was a hit “nationally”. The song kept selling and on April 11, 1959 they flew to New York to be on the Dick Clark Saturday Night Beechwood Show. When they arrived in the morning to a dark theater, out of the shadows stepped Frankie Avalon who said, “Congratulations. Come Softly to Me just knocked Venus out of the number one spot”.
MOTHER-IN-LAW BY ERNIE K-DOE
Today I opened the Billboard Book of Number One Hits and picked a page. Ernie K-Doe came up with Mother-In-Law, which was the only one of five charted songs to make it higher than #53. Mother-in-Law charted on 3/27/61 and made it to #1 the week of May 22. It lasted only a week after replacing Runaway by Del Shannon. Ricky Nelson with Travelin’ Man replaced Ernie the next week. K-Doe, who legally changed his name from Ernest Kador Jr., was the 9th of 11 children. His father was a Baptist minister in New Orleans. The song was written by writer/producer Allen Toussaint but he tossed it in the trash. Ernie found it there and took it home. Since he was having marital problems and he thought his mother-in-law was responsible for some of them, Ernie later told Toussaint he wanted to record the song. Good move for Ernie who passed away in July, 2001.
GREENFIELDS BY THE BROTHERS FOUR
I just happened to hear this on my iPod and thought it should make its way on the blog. Some will consider this a boring song but not me. As with all the other songs I post here, I loved it. The Brothers Four were from The University of Washington. This was their only top 10 song and they only had one other make it to the top 40, “Frogg”, which I have never heard. I would have thought The Green Leaves of Summer from the John Wayne movie, The Alamo, would have charted but, alas, it peaked at #65. Greenfields made it to #2 and was kept from the top spot by Elvis and Stuck on You.
SINCE I DON’T HAVE YOU BY THE SKYLINERS
Since lead singer Jimmie Beaumont was featured on the rarely heard section with a real clunker, I thought I’d help his reputation as a singer by playing this classic. Here is my question, however. How did this song only reach #12 on the Hot 100? Come on now. It debuted on 2/16/59 so I looked to see what songs were top hits during that time. How would you compare Since I Don’t Have You to such top 5 hits as Venus, Charlie Brown, Stagger Lee, Donna, Alvin’s Harmonica, Come Softly to Me, Pink Showlaces, It’s Just a Matter of Time and Tragedy? Of that list I would put it at #2 behind Venus and just ahead of Donna. How about you?
IMAGE OF A GIRL BY THE SAFARIS
I was in the mood for this tonight so I am adding it to the list of Oldies of the Week. The Safaris only had two chart songs, this one and “The Girl With the Story in Her Eyes. Image made it to #6 after reaching the Hot 100 on 6/6/60. Girl With a Story only lasted 3 weeks and peaked at #85. I thought it should have been a top 40 hit but I guess I was one of a few with such thoughts. I think I will add it here just to show the Hot 100 how wrong they were all these years later. On YouTube there is a clip of the group singing Image in what I believe is 1989. They released a remake of this song in 1989, also on YouTube. I will put it here too so you will have the entire career of the Safaris.
The Girl With The Story in Her Eyes:
My Image of a Girl (Is You) 1989
I was downloading some of the new Taylor Swift CD to my iTunes when I decided I was going to add another song to this list tonight. Since it is almost midnight here, I will show this as an update on 10/20. The song is one of my favorites, ever. It is country, which should make a certain someone in Boise happy. This song, Love Story, was my cell phone ring tone until I found Chantilly Lace by the Big Bopper and now use it. You know, “hello this is the Big Bopper speaking….”
Love Story just never gets old to me. This clip of it is cool because someone went to a lot of work to collect clips from numerous movies that fit the story line of romance between two people. See how many of the movies you can identify. I was not very good at it myself. Since I love Titanic, I did see when Jack looked up at Rose….cool part of the movie.
If you don’t like country, give this a try anyway. It was a very popular song and crossed over from just country. That is because it is very good, catchy and enjoyable. Let your foot pat the ground as you listen.
Tonight after I left the Gym (24 Hour Fitness), I turned on the iPod and a song came on that I just love. It made me think of sharing it here. The song is Without You by Johnny Tillotson.
Tillotson was born in Jacksonville, Fla and raised in Palatka where one of my best friends lives. I will have to send her a note about this. He was a guest on Toby Dowdy’s TV show (guess you had to live in Palatka to know this little known fact) and got his real break when Lee Rosenberg, owner of Southern Bell music, heard him on a Pet Milk talent show in Nashville. He signed with Cadence records, the same label the Everly Brothers first used. His second release was Dreamy Eyes but it peaked at #63 in 1958. Released again in 1961, it went to #35.
Without You is my favorite Tillotson song but his biggest hit was Poetry In Motion, which made it to #2 in 1960. His most underrated hit was She Understands Me, which made it to #31 in 1964.
I started to post this song earlier but got side tracked by Johnny Angel, which is playing on the rarely heard section. This song, Johnny B. Goode, is the ring tone on my Droid for Johnny D. I use songs from the 50′s and 60′s as ring tones for a number of my friends. What better ring tone for Johnny D than Johnny B. Good.
In researching the song I see it peaked at #8 which seems too low. This is a great song that should have been a number one, or at least top 5. The #1 songs in the summer of ’58 included The Purple People Eater, Hard Headed Woman, Poor Little Fool, Volare, Little Star and It’s All in the Game. Johnny B. Goode is as good as any of those. This was Chuck Berry’s last top 10 until My Ding-a-Ling 14 years later, which was his only #1.
This song was always a favorite. It was sort of the anti-parent or boyfriend/girlfriend song of the early 60′s. My friend Richard loved to hear this song since he related it to his parents, at least that is how I remember it. This song made it to #2 on the Hot 100 and as a special post, I will have a quiz to ask which song kept it from becoming #1. It made it to the Hot 100 on 12/28/63 and stayed #2 for 3 weeks. Any other time and it would have been her second #1, after It’s My Party. Do you know the name of it yet?
The singer is Lesley Gore, born in Manhattan and raised in New Jersey. Quincy Jones discovered her while singing in a hotel at the rip old age of 16. Must have been a Holiday Inn with a soda fountain lounge….lol. This was Lesley’s last top 10 song, one of only four actually.
Enjoy, You Don’t Own Me….
I realized I had not added anything to the Oldie of the Week for a long time. Taking care of mom while she recovers from a broken ankle has made it hard to find time to keep up with normal activities. I added a new song to the rarely heard section and also updated the list of all the #1 songs for this week for the years 1955 – 1969. The song I am adding tonight is at the top of my list of the top 3 #1 songs for this week in history.
I noticed I did not have one Paul Anka song on the Oldie of the Week (although I have added some of him on the rarely heard list). What better week to add Lonely Boy, which was #1 this week in 1959. As a bonus, the B side of Lonely Boy will be played as well. It is called Your Love. It did not chart, of course, since Lonely Boy was such a smash hit. But it is a good song in its own right. I have posted lots of history and information about Paul, and those who know me well, know I love his music. I saw him live about 4 weeks ago and he was great, as usual.
Here is Lonely Boy and Your Love….
This is the story of how Elvis had to do an end around to get “It’s Now or Never” released in the U.K. It also involves Ral Donner, an Elvis sound-a-like who had 5 songs in the Hot 100.
“It’s Now or Never” was released in the U.S. 0n 7/18/60 and became #1 on August 15. This was his second post-Army single. However, due to copywrite disputes over the original “O Sole Mio,” RCA could not release “It’s Now or Never” in the U.K. so they put “A Mess of Blues” on an A side with a B side of “The Girl of My Best Friend.” It wasn’t until November that “It’s Now or Never” was released in the U.K.
Now the connection from Elvis to Ral Donner. Born Ralph Donner, Ral was the narrator for the movie, This is Elvis. He had one top 10, “You Don’t Know What You’ve Got (Until You Lose It),” which went to #4 in 1961. Ral’s first charted song was “Girl of My Best Friend,” which went to #19. Elvis heard it and liked the sound so he put it on his album Elvis is Back. It never charted for Elvis.
I have placed both versions here to see which you like best. I vote for Ral Donner over Elvis.
This week in history in 1957, Pat Boone took over the number one spot on the Hot 100 with “Love Letters in the Sand.” He replaced Elvis’ “All Shook Up.” Pat would hold the top spot for 5 weeks and was the reason this new song never made it to #1. It peaked at number 2 for Marty Robbins. The song is “A White Sport Coat (And A Pink Carnation)”
Marty was born in 1925 as Martin David Robinson in Glendale, Arizona. His roots were country, where he charted 94 times from 1952-83. He had his own radio show with K-Bar Cowboys in the late 1940′s. He also had his own TV show in Phoenix in 1951 called Western Caravan. Along with Eddy Arnold, Jim Reeves and Johnny Cash, Marty was among the first Country star to have a big impact on the pop charts. Marty died of a heart attack in 1982 at the age of 57.
“A White Sport Coat (And A Pink Carnation)” spent 26 weeks on the Hot 100, starting on 4/13/57. He followed it up with “The Story of My Life” (peaked at #15), which was the first hit song written by Burt Bacharach. Later Marty would have his only #1, “El Paso,” which reached #1 on January 4, 1960.
Think about how a guy might have dressed for his prom in 1957 as you listen to Marty Robbins. Would he have dared to wear a white sport coat and a pink carnation?
Brenda Mae Tarpley was quite a singer in her day. This is my favorite song by her. What? Who is Brenda Mae Tarpley? She is better known as Brenda Lee from Lithonia, Geogia. Brenda signed with Decca records in 1956 and hit it big (after two clunkers) with “Sweet Nothin’s” in 1959. Her first #1 was released in May, 1960 and was called “I’m Sorry.” She reached #1 again that year, the second and last time, with “I Want to be Wanted.”
This 1962 song only made it to #15, which just goes to show you the public did not always recognize a great song when they heard it. Oh yeah, there is a clue here for anyone trying to get the name of the song for quiz #5.
Where did time go? The song I am adding to the Oldies of the Week is 51 years old this week. It was spent it’s one week at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 starting on May 11, 1959. How can this song be 51 years old when I am only 39, give or take a few years….lol.
The song is “The Happy Organ” by Dave “Baby” Cortez. Dave wrote the song using the title “The Dog and the Cat.” It was meant to be a vocal accompanied by piano. However, the vocal didn’t come off. He didn’t like it at all. It was then he noticed an organ in the corner and said he’d give it a try. It worked, eventually giving him a number one hit.
Before “The Happy Organ” was released he was a studio musician, playing keyboards for Glady Knight and the Pips, the Isley Brothers and the Chantels. He was touring with with Little Anthony and the Imperials, earning $200 per week, when “The Happy Organ” was released. He first heard it played on the radio while listening to a small transistor radio.
Here is “The Happy Organ” by Dave “Baby” Cortez….
It has been a few weeks since I added a 14th oldie of the week. To pick this new one I couldn’t use Annette, who is featured in a song post and a clip from the Mickey Mouse Club. The reason I couldn’t pick Annette, is she never made it to #1 with any of her releases. So, I opened my huge book of all the songs that made the Hot 100 from 1955 to 2006 and whatever page came up, I looked for a #1. Whew, I got lucky and a classic one came up.
It is called “Little Star.” Interestingly, it is one of the one-hit wonders since no other Elegant release charted. The white doo-wop group lived in Staten Island but hung out in Brooklyn, singing on street corners. “Little Star” charted on 7/21/58. The song came from an adaptation of Mozart’s “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” The name Elegants came from a billboard advertisement of Schenley’s Whiskey. The tag line of the ad was “the liquor of elegance.” They only spent one week at #1, but it was still a classic song from the summer of 1958.
Since I was writing about Jan and Dean for Ron earlier today, and put “Jennie Lee’ on the rarely heard section, I decided to put Jan and Dean on the Oldies of the Week page. This was their biggest hit, written by Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. Brian even helps out with backing vocals on “Surf City.” It made the Hot 100 6/16/63 and was #1 for two weeks. This was their first and only #1 song.
While watching the video portion of this clip, be sure to look for a photo of the car Jan was driving when he didn’t quite made the turn at Dead Man’s Curve. His tragic accident was in the same location they sang about in 1964. His accident was in 1966. Seeing the car, it is a wonder he lived.
The other night I watched a movie in which “The Way You Look Tonight” was prominently used and it made me want to post my favorite version of the song here. However, my favorite version did not hit #1. Therefore, I had to get creative.
I noticed that someone else reached #1 with this song, Fred Astaire, in 1936. As you will see, Fred Astaire sang this to Ginger Rogers in the movie Swing Time. It is a very good version and I loved seeing the clip from the movie along with Fred’s singing. How cute is Ginger Rogers in this?
However, the real reason I found the Fred Astaire version is to post the version by the Lettermen. Their version hit the Hot 100 on 9/4/61 and lasted 13 weeks and peaked at #13. They followed up this with “When I Fall In Love,” which peaked at #7, and was one of two top 10 hits. The other was “Goin’ Out of my Head/I Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.”
So here are Fred Astaire and the Lettermen with “The Way You Look Tonight.”
Since I selected Connie Francis for the Rarely Heard song, I decided to double up with a number one from Connie as well.
If someone asked you to name a Connie Francis song, you’d probably think of “Who’s Sorry Now,” “Stupid Cupid” or “Where the Boys Are” before you would name any of her three number one songs. “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool” was the first of three number ones. She also recorded it in many other languages so it became in international hit.
Howard Greenfield had already written hits for Connie with his regular partner, Neil Sedaka, when Connie called him to write a special type of song for her. She wanted a county song she could put foreign lyrics to. When she came back from Europe, she called to see if the song was finished. Howard told her it was not country but he had written a kind of a Laverne Baker type blues ballad. Connie told Howard to skip the ballad and play it up tempo. It was completed in two takes and hit the Hot 100 on 5/9/60. It was her first release after “Teddy,” which is currently on the Rarely Heard section of the blog.
In my iPod I have music broken down into categories, including #1 songs. Today to find the next Oldie of the Week, I put my iPod on #1 songs and hit shuffle. I decided to select the first song in the shuffle. Luckily, it was a great #1, one that has a super beginning. The latest Oldie of the Week is “Walk Like a Man” by the Four Seasons.
When “Walk Like a Man’ topped the chart on 3/2/63, the Four Seasons became the first group in the history of the Hot 100 to have three consecutive number one singles (Note: Santa Clause Is Coming to Town was considered a holiday record and did not count even though it did not hit #1). The Four Seasons were the most successful group in America during 1962-63, and for the 27-week period that began 9/15/62, they occupied the number one position for 13 weeks.
“Walk Like a Man” kept “Ruby Baby” by Dion and “Rhythm of the Rain” by the Cascades from reaching number one.
When looking for the Oldie of the Week I decided to select a song that was #1 during Christmas week. When I looked at the possibilities, one popped out at me….the last song to reach #1 during the 50’s, “Why.”
Frankie Avalon, born Francis Thomas Avallone, had a great 1959. He charted with 5 top tens, two of which reached #1. He started the year with “Venus,” which was #1 for five weeks, and ended the year with “Why,” which was #1 just the week of 12/28/59.
Frankie wanted to be a boxer as a kid but changed his mind to a trumpet player after he saw the Kirk Douglas movie, “Young Man with a Horn” seven times. The family did not have much money so his dad, a frustrated musician himself, borrowed the money and went to a pawn shop and bought a trumpet for $15.
Frankie became a child prodigy on the trumpet, recording for the RCA victor subsidiary, X Records. In addition to playing with Bobby Boyd and the Jazz Bums and Rocco and the Saints, Frankie appeared on TV shows, like “TV Teen Club.” When he was finally coaxed into singing, he had two non-charters before he used the gimmick of holding his nose while singing “DeDe Dinah,” and road the charts to #7 in early 1958.
The song, “Why” was written specifically for Frankie. He thought it was a nice song, but not a number one type song. As “Why” climbed the charts, Frankie was embarking on an acting career. He took acting and voice lessons and won a part in the Guns of the Timberland with Alan Ladd. That followed with a role in The Alamo with John Wayne. He was unable to promote “Why” because he was on location in the middle of Racketville, Texas for four months riding a horse
We all remember the Beach Blanket movies he made later with Annette, but for now, we are here to listen to the last #1 song of the 50’s….”Why” by Frankie Avalon.
During the holiday season, it is only natural that songs related to the season, specifically Christmas, find their way to the Oldie of the Week and the Rarely Heard.
For the Oldie, which has to have been #1, there was only one from which to pick, “The Chipmunk Song” by The Chipmunks with David Seville. David, who is really Ross Bagdasarian, had a number one song earlier in 1958 with “Witch Doctor.” The speeded-up voices in “Witch Doctor” had no name or identity; it was only after that song was a hit that Bagdasarian came up with the Chipmunks. He was driving through Yosemite National Park when a chipmunk in the road refused to budge for his automobile. Inspiration struck. The chipmunk survived.
Ross named his three characters after executives at Liberty Records. Alvin was named for Alvin Bennett, president of the company; Simon was named after Bennett’s partner, Si Waronker; and Theodore was named for Ted Keep, recording engineer. The role model for the mischievous Alvin was Ross’ youngest son, Adam, who had a penchant for asking in September if it was Christmas yet. Bagdasarian figured if his son was asking about the holiday so early, other children were probably doing the same thing.
“The Chipmunk Song” first charted on 12/1/58 and was on the chart 13 weeks, reaching #1 on 12/22/58 for a four week run. Between 1959–1962, the single managed to re-enter the Hot 100, peaking at #41 in 1959, #45 in 1960, and #39 in 1962. (Starting in 1963, Billboard would list re-current Christmas songs on a separate chart.) The song managed to chart on the Hot Digital Songs for the first time in 2005, peaking at #35 on that chart. “The Chipmunk Song” was featured on American Bandstand’s “Rate-A-Record” segment and received the lowest possible rating of 35 across the board.
“The Chipmunk Song” is the last Christmas song to reach #1 on any US single record chart totaling performance of all available records. With the release and popularity of the film Alvin and the Chipmunks in December 2007, “The Chipmunk Song” re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 at #70. At the same time, a remixed version of the song that appears on the Chipmunks’ 2007 album (and soundtrack to the film) Alvin and the Chipmunks: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, peaked at #66 and was credited as “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late) (2007 Version).”
I was at the 24 Hr Fitness before coming home to pick the Oldie of the Week. They were playing some dreadful music as I sweated on an elliptical machine. I would have even preferred Richard Simmons, “Sweating to the Oldies.” But somehow the music planted the seed of something up tempo. The first song that came to mind was “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones.
The Rolling Stones took a back seat to the Beatles, but I liked the early Stones stuff a lot. There are two songs over at the Rarely Heard section from the Stones this week, “Tell Me” and “It’s All Over Now.”
“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” was the Stones first number one. It hit the charts on 6/12/65 and lasted 14 weeks, 4 of which were at #1. They would hit the top spot another seven times, the last in 1978 with, “Miss You.” One other Stones song was #1 for four weeks, “Honky Tonk Women,” which is their biggest overall hit, based on chart history. “Satisfaction” is number two.
A couple of interesting trivia notes about the Stones. Their 1965 release of “Play With Fire” lasted just one week at #96. The guitar player on this record was Phil Spector. And on a 1967 song called, “We Love You,” John Lennon sang backing vocals.
This YouTube version is very interesting. You get to see the Stones live, although they are really lip-syncing to the record and not really singing. Notice the drummer, Charlie Watts, just going through the motions. One last note about the Stones, they got their name from the 1950 Muddy Waters song “Rollin’ Stone.”
As I sat down to update the Oldie of the Week, I had no idea of what I wanted it to be. I had thought of some possibilities during the week, but come Friday night, nothing was jumping out at me.
I prefer the songs from the 50’s and early 60’s but understand there are those (Johnny D., for example) who like songs from the 70’s as well. So I started turning pages and almost selected “Alone Again (Naturally)” by Gilbert O’Sullivan (1972). But his story did not win me over.
Then I came across “(They Long to Be) Close to You” by the Carpenters. It reminded me of hearing Karen Carpenter sing a Christmas song this week. I took time out that day to recall how beautiful her voice was and how sad she is no longer with us. When I looked on YouTube, and found this version, which shows the actual studio recording, I was hooked.
The first fact I had forgotten was who wrote it, Burt Bacharach and Hal David. They wrote such favorites of mine as “Liberty Valence” (Gene Pitney), “Only Love Can Break a Heart” (Gene Pitney), “Blue on Blue” (Bobby Vinton) and their #1 hit, “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” (B.J. Thomas). The next fact was that it was written in 1963 and was first released on the B-side of Richard Chamberlain’s 1963 “Blue Guitar.”
It charted on 6/20/70, lasted 17 weeks and spent 4 of those weeks at #1. It was Herb Albert who suggested Richard Carpenter listen to Dionne Warwick’s version and come up with his own arrangement. Notice in the video how Karen is playing drums. She took up drums when she didn’t want to run track in high school at 7 am. So, she signed up for band and took to drums when her teacher told her it was not normal for a girl to play drums. Karen died on 2/4/83 at age 32 from heart failure from anorexia nervosa.
The music you will hear is the actual 45 played over the video of the recording session. So it will not be in sync.
In 1960, after nine consecutive hits and three #1’s on Cadence Records, the Everly Brothers, signed a 10-year, $1,000,000 contract with a brand-new label based in Burbank, CA: Warner Brothers. Their very first single for the new label was “Cathy’s Clown.” It was their fourth and last #1 single and their third most charted song, behind “All I Have To Do Is Dream” and “Wake Up Little Susie.” “Cathy’s Clown” hit the Hot 100 on 4/24/60 and stayed there for 17 weeks, five of those weeks at #1.
“Cathy’s Clown” was written just after a tour. Home in Nashville, Don and Phil were under pressure from Warner Brothers to come up with a first single. They had recorded eight songs already, but didn’t feel that any of them were right. Phil was living with his parents, and one day Don called and asked Phil to come over to his house and finish a song. Phil helped Don write the verses, and two days later, they recorded “Cathy’s Clown.”
The Everlys had five more top ten songs on Warner Brothers; “Walk Right Back,” “So Sad,” “Ebony Eyes,” “Crying In The Rain,” and “That’s Old Fashioned.” They joined the Marine Corps in 1962 and went on active duty for six months. When they returned, they failed to regain their momentum.
This week I asked a very good friend, Maureen, to select the Oldie of the Week. I told her it had to be a #1 song. She said “Light My Fire” by the Doors. After I stopped laughing, I told her that would be the last song to ever make Oldie of the Week. I hate that song. My best friend, John, and I always get a good laugh about that song….he loves it like Maureen does.
So, when she got a second chance, Maureen came up with a song she loves to sing at Karaoke, “My Boyfriend’s Back” by the Angels. It was the third single to chart for the Angels, after “’Til” and “Cry Baby Cry.”
The Angels were the first while girl group to have a number one record. The Angels were three girls from New Jersey…sisters Barbara Allbut and Phyllis “JIggs” Allbut and friend Peggy Santiglia. Barbara and Jiggs started a group called the Starlets. They sang backing vocals for Lou Christie and others and also did demos, one of which landed on a desk at Caprice Records. They wanted a new name for the group before releasing “’Til” so they put some names in a hat and picked the “Blue Angels,” which was shortened to the Angels.
The Angels did a demo of “My Boyfriend’s Back” for Caprice Records. But people at Mercury Records heard the song and bought the master for their Smash subsidiary. It debuted on 8/3/63 at # 75, and four weeks later, landed at the top of the charts for a 3 week stay.
You can bet Maureen will be singing along, just like she does at Karaoke, when she listens to the Oldie of the Week, “My Boyfriend’s Back.”
I selected a Bobby Vee song, his only #1, for Oldie of the Week because there are so many interesting facts about his career. Many of them involve other pop artist and song writers.
Bobby Vee, born as Robert Velline, learned to play the guitar in high school. He played for a while in a group called the Shadows with his brother Bill. On February 3, 1959, when Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens were killed in a plane crash, the Shadows were asked to fill in on the scheduled show in Fargo, North Dakota.
Bobby was asked to sing that night because he knew the lyrics of six of Buddy Holly’s songs. The audience loved his performance so much that an executive from Liberty records contacted Bobby to sign with the label.
Bobby himself wrote his first charted song, “Suzy Baby.” It hit the Hot 100 on 8/31/59 and lasted 4 weeks and peaked at #77. The Shadows, who were listed on the record, were in need of a piano player. They interviewed an 18-year-old kid who had played with Conway Twitty. He called himself Elston Gunn, but his real name was Robert Zimmerman. He didn’t work out for the Shadows, but did nicely on his own later, as Bob Dylan.
After one other flop, producer Snuff Garrett took Bobby to Clovis, NM to Norman Petty’s studio, where Buddy Holly recorded his hits. It was there they recorded his first big hit, “Devil or Angel” and the second hit, “Rubber Ball.”
As for “Take Good Care of My Baby,” it was written by Carol King and Gerry Goffin. Producer Garrett heard the Carol King demo and wanted it for Vee. However, he would never take material that had been recorded by other artist. Dion had already recorded it but had not released it. Garrett decided to take it anyway and got with Carol King to add the beginning verse, “My tears are falling, cause you’ve taken her away…” Dion did finally release his version on an LP called “Runaround Sue.”
In 1972, Bobby re-recorded “Take Good Care of My Baby” as a ballad. It appeared on the album, “Nothin’ Like a Sunny Day” by Robert Thomas Velline, with no mention of Bobby Vee to be found.
Because of the importance of the song Tracy, being the wedding march for Tony and Tracy and special to me, I am leaving Tracy and the Cuff Links on here. So if you want to hear it again, go for it.
But this is Friday and there needs to be a new Oldie of the Week.
While picking the Rarely Heard song of the week, I decided the deceased Charles Westover should get both ends of the Oldies this week. So the Oldie of the Week is “Runaway”, by Del Shannon.
More cool facts about Del. The Musitron (fancy name for an electric organ) heard in “Runaway” was played by the songs co-writer, Max Crook. In 1967, a live version of this song “Bubbled Under” the Hot 100 at #112. Having written “I Go To Pieces”, he recorded it for himself and released it in 1965. It did not chart. Peter and Gordon took it to #9. Del discovered the group Smith in the late sixties and arranged their version of the Shirelles, “Baby It’s You”. He also produced Brian Hyland’s version of “Gypsy Woman”.
For the musically gifted who read this, the sound that Max Crook came up with in “Runaway” came when he went from A-minor to G on his Musitron. Del heard it one night while playing a club called Hi-Lo and told him to play it again. He wrote “Runaway” using those cord changes.
I selected this version from youtube because it shows Del lip syncing the song and has some very cool dancers. It is worth the play just to see the dancing. Did we really dance like this once upon a time?
I am breaking the rule that the Oldie of the Week has to be a former #1 song. The reason for this exception is a wedding on tomorrow (10/31) of the son of my best friends, John & Kathy. Their son, Tony is marrying a beautiful woman named Tracy. And someone very special to me is named Tracey as well.
To honor both Tracy and Tracey, I have selected the Cuff Links and the 1969 hit, Tracy. This catchy song did make the top 10, peaking at #9. It hit the Hot 100 on 9/13/69. The Cuff Links were really the overdubbed voice of pop singer Ron Dante of the Archies.
The Archies were a studio group created by Don Kirshner, based on the Saturday morning cartoon TV series. Ron Dante was lead singer of the Archies who started charting in 9/68 with Bang-Shang-A-Lang. The Archies had a huge #1 hit (Billboard’s top hit of 1969) with Sugar,Sugar in 7/69, and spent time in the top 5 at the same time as Tracy.
Ron Dante had a very interesting career. He began working with Kirshner at the age of 16. He tried a solo career but did not make it. Kirshner asked him to anonymously sing lead on the Archie sessions for scale and he gladly accepted. Sugar, Sugar was written by Jeff Barry and Andy Kim (yes, that Andy Kim).
The Archies were not the first dummy group fronted by Dante. In 1964, he was the voice of the Detergents, and hit the top 20 with Leader of the Laundromat, a parody of the Shangri-Las, Leader of the Pack.
Dante did not remain anonymous in the 70’s. While in a session singing jingles for commercials with Melissa Manchester, he met the jingle writer, Barry Manilow. They struck up a friendship and Dante produced Barry Manilow’s first #1 single, Mandy.
And now for the song most played on my iPod, Tracy.