Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1955 The Sunnysiders – Hey Mister Banjo

1955 The Sunnysiders – Hey Mister Banjo

Lindley Armstrong Jones was a bandleader who adopted the stage name “Spike.” That became a household name when he formed Spike Jones and His City Slickers in the early 1940s. They usually created music that poked fun at hit recordings other artists had, exaggerating the musical styles and adding sound effects with comedic results. The group first hit the charts in 1942 with the wartime single Der Fuehrer’s Face and a fun Movietone film. That record reached #3 on the charts, but their biggest hit record was the original Christmas tuneAll I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth.

One of the City Slickers in the forties was Freddy Morgan, who played banjo and sang. In the early fifties, while still a City Slicker, Freddy performed in several bands with Jad Paul, another banjo player. They were in The Banjo Maniacs, The Happy Harts, and the Sunnysiders. Jad finally joined Freddy in the City Slickers in 1954.

Margie sang with The Ray Anthony Orchestra and later with Gene Autry. In 1955, she joined the Sunnysiders. Freddy, Paul, and Margie recorded at least three songs together as the Sunnysiders in 1955. The first two releases got lost in the shuffle, but the third single, Hey Mister Banjo, bounced to #12 in the Hot 100. Freddy and Norman Milkin (another City Slicker) wrote the tune, and a live performance on BandStand Revue even survived to reach YouTube.

Kapp Records put together an album using songs from the Sunnysiders and the Happy Harts, but sales were slim and the group soon disbanded.

Jed and Freddy continued with the City Slickers, although Jed left in 1958. Jad pursued a solo career, initially working at Los Angeles television station KTLA, where he appeared with other ex-City Slickers on the weekly program Polka Parade. In 2008, Jad got inducted into the National Four-String Banjo Hall of Fame.

Margie continued recording as a solo act. In 1957, she finally reached the Hot 100 again with a song written by Dave Burgess of the Champs. Her single I’m Available peaked at #9. No hits came from additional recordings, and Margie left the music field in the mid-sixties.


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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1984 Dwight Twilley – Girls

1984 Dwight Twilley – Girls

Dwight Twilley grew up in Tulsa Oklahoma. He met Phil Seymour when the two went to a showing of Hard Day’s Night in 1967, and the two formed a band named Oister. Dwight played guitar and piano, Phil played bass and drums, and the two took turns singing lead and harmony vocals. They briefly moved to Memphis, but when fame and fortune didn’t find them, the duo departed for California in 1974.

The pair signed with Shelter Records in LA, a record company that was owned by Tulsa native Leon Russell and British record producer Denny Cordell. Denny changed the band’s name to the Dwight Twilley Band, which inevitably caused friction with Phil. Shelter Records had a studio in Tulsa, so they were able to record music closer to home.

The group produced their first single in Tulsa and immediately had a hit record. I’m On Fire peaked at #16 on the Hot 100 in 1975. The pair was in England, working with producer Robin Cable at Trident Studios when the record hit the charts. The tracks they created there were set aside, and they returned to the US to record on Leon’s home studio.

They appeared on American Bandstand and performed the song they intended to use for their follow-up singleShark (In The Dark). Their record label was concerned that because of the success of the film Jaws, their record would be ignored as a novelty release. A different single was selected instead, and it flopped.

The two owners of Shelter Records got into a lawsuit, delaying the release of their album for ten months. In the meantime, Phil provided some backup vocals for Tom Petty on Breakdown and American Girl.

Bill Pitcock IV had begun playing lead guitar on many of the group’s recordings, and he became an official member of the band for their second album. They released the album in 1977, but it failed to do well. Phil left the band, and Dwight began a solo career with Bill on guitar and some backup vocals from Susan Cowsill.

Dwight’s contract with Shelter expired in 1981, and he took advantage of the expiration to move to EMI America Records. His second album on the label came out in 1984. The single Girls featured Tom Petty singing backup vocals, and that helped propel the single to a familiar spot: #16 on the Hot 100. The single also reached #2 on the Billboard Rock Chart. His next single only reached #77, and that was the last time Dwight successfully charted.

Numerous collections of previously released songs from both the band and Dwight’s solo career have appeared over the years. Dwight recorded his most recent album in 2014.


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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1983 Naked Eyes – Promises Promises

1983 Naked Eyes – Promises Promises

Pete Byrne and Rob Fisher formed the British New Wave group Neon in 1979. They recruited by several other musicians and recorded at least two singles before breaking up in late 1981. Pete and Rob formed the group Naked Eyes, while the rest of the group formed Tears For Fears.

Naked Eyes recorded their first album in 1982. The first single was a cover of (There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me. Burt Bacharach and Hal David wrote the song in the early sixties, and a series of less than successful recordings followed in the US.

Lou Johnson was the first to reach the Hot 100 with the song. He performed the song on American Bandstand, but only reached #49 in 1964.

Sandie Shaw topped the UK charts with her single in 1965, but the record peaked at only #52 on the Hot 100. Sandie was one of the most successful female singers in the UK in the sixties, but simply never did well in the US.

Dionne Warwick recorded the original demo of the song. She did not release a single version until 1968. Her single only reached #65 on the Hot 100. Her next singlePromises, Promises, was another Bacharach/David composition that did much better, peaking at #19.

R. B. Greaves hit #2 with Take A Letter Maria in 1969 and followed that with his version of (There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me the next year, but couldn’t get any higher than #27.

In January 1983, Naked Eyes released their remake of the song in the US. The single reached the top ten on the Hot 100. The record initially failed to chart in the UK, but after the single’s success in the US, their record company pushed the record again. Sadly, it only got as high as #59 in the UK that Summer.

The group’s next single failed to chart at all, but ironically, their third release was entitled Promises, Promises. It had the same title as Dionne’s single but was a completely different song that the duo had written themselves. The record reached #11 on the Hot 100 but again did poorly in their native country, where it only reached #95. Jellybean produced a 12-inch remix that added Madonna doing spoken vocals.

The group did not tour to support their music because of the difficulty of reproducing their music live. After their second album produced no additional hits, Pete essentially ended the group when he moved to California and began doing session work for other artists.

Rob died in 1999 after surgery for cancer.

Pete recorded a solo album in 2001 and reformed Naked Eyes and recorded another album in 2007. He has led a touring band since 2008, primarily performing in the Summers as part of various eighties group events.


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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1982 Buckner & Garcia – Pac-Man Fever

1982 Buckner & Garcia – Pac-Man Fever

Jerry Buckner and Gary Garcia began working together to record music and released their first  single in 1972. The record was Gotta Hear The Beat, credited to Animal Jack. It was a novelty record that consisted mostly of the title repeated over and over with some music in the background. I couldn’t listen to it all the way through even once.

The duo moved to Atlanta and appear to have worked for radio stations, writing jingles and doing voice work. In 1981 they released their first charting record, Merry Christmas In The NFL. This time the credit on the label went to Willis “The Guard” & Vigorish. Willis was a character played on Atlanta radio by Bob Carr, and Vigorish was a fake group name. The single peaked at #82 on the Hot 100 in 1980 but returned to the air every Christmas for years to come.

The duo finally struck gold when the hit video game Pac Man inspired them to create the single Pac Man Fever. When no major record label showed any interest in their song, they got it released by a local record company, BGO Records. Airplay on an Atlanta morning show produced instant local sales, after which CBS Records quickly signed them up for national distribution.

The single peaked at #9 on the Hot 100 and eventually sold over two million copies. The duo put together a group and appeared on American Bandstand. They showcased their hit single and also played their follow-up single, Do The Donkey Kong. It turned out that turning a video game into a hit single was more difficult than they thought, and the second single failed to reach the Hot 100 at all.

CBS Records wanted an album, so they recorded an entire album of video game-related songs that did not sell as well as the single did.

And then the party was over. They wrote and recorded E.T., I Love You based on the film, but Neil Diamond’s surprise release of the unauthorized song Heartlight prevented their song from even being released.

In the nineties, CDs all but put an end to vinyl records, but their record label refused to release their album on CD. The group reunited and re-recorded the songs from their album and released them on a CD. They even recorded a second album which included a re-recording of E.T., I Love You.

Gary died in 2011.

Jerry became a successful arranger and songwriter. He wrote a song that Anne Murray turned into a top ten Country hit and he co-wrote Wreck It, Wreck-It Ralph! He wrote music for movie soundtracks and continued creating jingles for national campaigns.


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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1981 Rick James – Super Freak

1981 Rick James – Super Freak

James Ambrose Johnson Jr. grew up in Buffalo, New York. He played in several bands before joining the US Naval Reserves to avoid the draft. He deserted from the military and moved to Toronto in 1964. He got into a fight and was rescued by Levon Helm and Garth Hudson of Levon and the Hawks (which would later evolve into The Band). He joined them on stage and impressed them enough to get an invitation to join their group, which they renamed The Sailorboys.

Singer Shirley Matthews suggested James begin using the stage name Ricky Matthews, the name of a cousin who had died. His name morphed into Ricky James Matthews and settled into Rick James. The Sailorboys became The Mynah Birds. They even recorded The Mynah Birds Hop for Columbia Records.

Some lineup changes took place, including the addition of future Buffalo Springfield member Bruce Palmer. In 1966, Neil Young joined the group, and they recorded the song I’ve Got You (In My Soul) for Motown Records. The song was never released as a single because it sounded more than a little like the single Little Girl by Van Morrison and Them.

The band’s manager stole the group’s advance money, and when the band complained to Motown, the now ex-manager told Motown that Rick was AWOL and wanted by the US military. Rick was subsequently arrested and went to prison for a year.

Neil had met Stephen Stills in 1965 and he and Bruce decided to go looking for him. They pawned the Mynah’s equipment, bought a hearse, and drove to Los Angeles.After a week, they had given up finding him and decided to drive to San Francisco instead. They got stuck in traffic on Sunset Boulevard. Stephen and Richie Furay were driving the other direction and spotted Neil. They turned around and drove after him until they met up. The net result: Buffalo Springfield.

When Rick got out of prison, he moved to LA and crashed on Stephen’s sofa. He awoke the next morning to find Jim Morrison meditating in the room.

It was a small world back then.

Rick spent the next decade starting and dissolving bands. In 1976, that finally paid off with the formation of the Stone City Band in Buffalo. The group signed with Motown and recorded their first album.

In 1978, Rick recorded his first solo album with the Stone City Band helping with the music. The album sold over two million copies. It contained his first hit single, You And I. The record topped the R&B chart and reached #13 on the Hot 100.

Several more gold records followed. In 1981, Rick released the single Super Freak. The record was just a little too funky for many radio stations, but it topped the Dance Club chart and reached #3 on the R&B chart. The single peaked at #16 on the Hot 100.

Rick’s career peaked and then declined rapidly. His 1989 album was only released in the UK, and in 1990 his label dropped him completely.

His career was reignited that year by MC Hammer when the mega-hit U Can’t Touch This sampled Super Freak. It took a lawsuit, but Rick finally got writing credit for the use of his music.

Rick’s drug use led to complications with the law, leading to imprisonment in the mid-nineties.

Rick struggled with diabetes, suffered at least one major stroke, and a heart attack, and his poor health finally overwhelmed him. He died in 2004.


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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1980 Carole King – One Fine Day

1980 Carole King – One Fine Day

Carol Joan Klein grew up in New York City and her mother began teaching her to play the piano when she was very young. Carole was born with perfect pitch; when she heard a note played, she could identify it. While in high school, she formed a group named the Co-Sines and changed her name to Carole King. She also began making demo records with her friend Paul Simon. When she turned 16, ABC Records released her first single in 1958, The Right Girl. She wrote the song and Don Costa arranged and conducted the music.

Carole continued writing songs, often with the man who became her first husband, Gerry Goffin. They wrote several hit songs together. They wrote the song The Loco-motion, their babysitter, Little Eva, recorded the song, and the single reached #1 on the Hot 100 in 1962. Carole finally reached the charts herself that year when the single It Might As Well Rain Until September peaked at #22. Carole recorded a few other singles over the next five years with no success. She did, however, write or co-write at least 118 songs that reached the Hot 100.

Carole and Gerry wrote a follow-up song for Little Eva: One Fine Day. They based the song on the aria Un bel di vedremo from Madama Butterfly, an opera written by Puccini. They recorded a demo of the song that featured Carole playing piano and singing. They intended the song for Little Eva, but for some reason, she did not record it.

When they were unable to figure out a good arrangement for the song, they passed the demo tape along to the Tokens. The Tokens kept the piano part that Carole had played on the demo and added vocals by the Chiffons and arranged the musical backing for the record. The resulting single reached #5 on the Hot 100 in 1963.

Seventeen years later, Carole recorded Pearls: Songs of Goffin and King, an album of remakes of songs she and Gerry wrote together. Her remake of the early Chiffons single put One Fine Day back on the charts. The single peaked at #12 on the Hot 100 in 1980. It also turned out to be Carole’s last top forty solo single on the Hot 100.


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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1979 Sniff ‘n’ The Tears – Driver’s Seat

1979 Sniff ‘n’ The Tears – Driver’s Seat

Paul Roberts was the singer and songwriter for the first version of Sniff ‘n’ The Tears in England in the early seventies. The band couldn’t find a recording contract, so Paul ended the band and moved to France. He recorded a few demos in France in 1975. Drummer Luigi Salvoni heard the demos and convinced Paul to reform the group and record an album for Chiswick Records. Paul wrote all the songs and Luigi produced the album, which was completed in 1978.

The first single off the album gave the group their only chart hit. Driver’s Seat reached #15 on the US Hot 100 in 1979. The single only got up to #42 in the UK despite an appearance on Top of the Pops because their record label did not have a working distribution agreement when the group began promoting the record. The record also reached #8 in the Netherlands.

The group released a second album in 1980. Everybody left the group except Paul after the album failed to produce a charting single. Paul recruited guitar player Les Davidson and three more musicians and recorded two more hitless albums. The group fell apart in 1983.

Paul released two albums as a solo act, but neither one sold well.

In 1991, a European advertising campaign for Pioneer music used Driver’s Seat as the principal soundtrack for the thirty-second commercial. The 12-inch remix single shot up to the top of the charts in the Netherlands and led Paul to reform Sniff ‘n’ the Tears with Les and three new group members.

Driver’s Seat keeps showing up periodically, including the soundtrack of the 1997 film Boogie Nights and a 2012 episode of The Walking Dead. Between 1992 and 2017, the band recorded four more albums.


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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1978 Dolly Parton – Two Doors Down

1978 Dolly Parton – Two Doors Down

By the time she was ten-years-old, Dolly Parton appeared regularly on radio shows in Knoxville. At thirteen, she recorded her first single and got to appear on the Grand Ole Opry. She moved to Nashville and began a successful career as a songwriter the day after she graduated from high school. In 1967, Dolly became a regular on the Porter Wagoner Show and the two went on to record a long series of hit records.

Dolly had her first appearance on the Hot 100 in 1963 when her #1 Country single Jolene crossed over and reached #60 on the pop chart. It was also the first of four consecutive #1 Country singles.

Brenda Lee had her last top forty single on the Hot 100 in 1967 and her last top forty single on the Adult Contemporary (AC) chart the next year. In 1975, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil wrote the song Here You Come Again and presented a demo to Brenda to use as a comeback tune. Brenda passed on the song but still found a pair of Country top forty singles that year. B. J. Thomas recorded the song on an album, and Dolly selected the song as the title single for an album in 1977. She insisted on including a steel guitar on the song to help prove that her version of the song was truly Country. It turned out to be an excellent choice since the single topped the Country chart. An extra benefit showed up: in spite of having a steel guitar in the mix, the single crossed over to the pop charts and reached #3 on the Hot 100. That became Dolly’s first time to reach the Hot 100 top forty.

In early 1978, while that single was still charting, Zella Lehr covered a song from Dolly’s album that Dolly wrote herself. Dolly had included a version of Two Doors Down on her album. When Zella’s very country version of the song jumped up into the Country top ten, Dolly was reluctant to compete with that single. Instead, Dolly took stock of her recent success in the pop world and recorded a new, decidedly more pop version of the song. Her single version even had some disco touches. The single only reached #19 on the Hot 100 but peaked at #12 on the AC chart (it did not appear on the Country chart). From that point on, all pressings of her album included the new version of her single, annoying Country fans and making the early copies of her album a collector’s item. The original version eventually showed up only on an Australian CD in 2000.

While Dolly continued to have hits on the Country chart, she rarely crossed over to the pop charts. Her only big solo hit on the Hot 100 was the chart-topping title song from the film 9 to 5. She also topped the chart with a song written by the Bee Gees and co-produced by Barry Gibb, her duet Islands In The Stream with Kenny Rogers.


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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1977 Stephen Bishop – Save It For A Rainy Day

1977 Stephen Bishop – Save It For A Rainy Day

Stephen Bishop grew up in San Diego. After seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, he convinced his brother to buy him a guitar. After learning to play it, he formed his first band in 1967. The Weeds did their best to appear as a British Invasion band.

After the Weeds broke up, Stephen moved to Los Angeles and pursued a career as a songwriter. Not much happened until a friend gave one of Stephen’s demo tapes to Art Garfunkel. Art recorded two of Stephen’s 1975 album, Breakaway. Those recordings helped Stephen finally get a recording contract with ABC Records, and he recorded his first album in 1976.

Stephen’s first single from his debut album was Save It For A Rainy Day. The recording featured a guitar solo by Eric Clapton and backup vocals from Chaka Khan, but the single only reached #22 on the Hot 100 in 1977. The record did better on the Adult Contemporary (AC) chart, where it reached #6.

His second single from the album had Andrew Gold on guitar rather than Clapton but did much better on the charts. On And On reached #11 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the AC chart. The single spent 28 weeks on the Hot 100, an unusually long time for the early seventies.

Stephen appeared in a series of films with cameos where his role was listed as “charming”: “Charming Guy”, “Charming Trooper”, and “Charming G.I.” The most notable was a folk singer listed as “Charming Guy With Guitar” in Animal House. John Belushi smashed a guitar over Stephen’s head in the film; Stephen kept the guitar.

Stephen’s last solo hit came when he recorded the theme song from the film Tootsie. The single It Might Be You peaked at #25 on the Hot 100 in 1983. The record also reached the top of the AC chart.

Stephen had a lot of success as a songwriter. He wrote Separate Lives, which they used in the film White Nights. The single by Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin hit #1 on the Hot 100 in 1985. The song received a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Original Song but lost out to Lionel Richie’s Say You, Say Me (which was from the same film).

He also wrote songs that are part of the soundtracks of at least a half-dozen other films, including Yvonne Elliman’s Your Precious Love from Roadies.

Dozens of artists have recorded other songs Stephen wrote.


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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1976 Yvonne Elliman – Love Me

1976 Yvonne Elliman – Love Me

Yvonne Elliman grew up in Honolulu, the daughter of a Japanese father and an Irish mother. She practiced playing several different instruments beginning at age four and became most proficient on the guitar. While in high school, she joined the folk group We Folk and competed in talent shows. After graduation, she took the advice of one of her teachers and moved to London in 1969 to work on a career in music.

Yvonne’s big break came when Tim Rice and We Folk cast her in 1970 as one of the singers on the original audio recording for the play Jesus Christ Superstar. Yvonne was cast in the play’s traveling show and played the part of Mary Magdalene.

Her new recording of the song I Don’t Know How To Love Him reached #28 on the US Hot 100 at the same time in 1971 that Helen Reddy’s version peaked at #13. Yvonne moved to New York and joined the first Broadway version of the play.

Yvonne sang background vocals on Eric Clapton’s hit record I Shot The Sheriff and subsequently sang on several of Eric’s albums.

Her second and third albums failed to put any of her singles back on the Hot 100, but in 1977 she recorded a song written by the Bee Gees, Love Me. The single reached #14 on the Hot 100 and #5 on the Adult Contemporary (AC) chart.

Barbara Lewis had the Dells doing backup vocals on her first single, and Hello Stranger reached #3 on the Hot 100 and the top of the R&B chart in 1963. Yvonne covered the song without the Dells and her single reached #15 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the AC chart in 1977.

Meanwhile, the Bee Gees had begun work on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack and wrote How Deep Is Your Love for Yvonne. Robert Stigwood was in charge of the film, and when he insisted that the Bee Gees perform the song in the movie, they instead had her sing If I Can’t Have You. The single turned out to be her most successful release when it reached #1 on the Hot 100 in 1978.

Yvonne released two more singles that weren’t very successful and then chose to retire from performing so she could spend more time raising her kids. She released a new album in 2004; she wrote all the songs on the album.

Since then, Yvonne has continued to perform in public on a limited basis.


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