Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day 07/12/2019

Lots of names make the list when you ask about musical acts that came from Australia and made it big in the US or the UK. I can only think of one that started in the US and left for Australia and hit it big there: Billy “Crash” Craddock. He was born in my hometown, Greensboro, North Carolina in 1939. Billy started singing in a group right out of high school and released his first record on a small local label in 1957; I’m not sure we want to track down Smacky-Mouth.

After a few more non-hits, Billy was signed by Columbia Records. He recorded rockabilly and country tunes, but the best he could manage was reaching #94 on the pop charts for one week in 1959 with Don’t Destroy Me.

Later that year, Billy traveled to Australia on a tour with a few big names: Bobby Rydell, The Everly Brothers, Santo and Johnny, and The Diamonds. Surprise! Billy was the one with the chart-topping single in Australia, not any of those major stars! His recording of Boom, Boom Baby had turned him into an instant teen idol. Four more top ten singles followed in Australia, including his number one cover of One Last Kiss from Bye, Bye Birdie.

Fame can be fleeting for teen idols, and after 1960 his records no longer sold well anywhere. Billy was reduced to working for a living (he even hung drywall for a few years).

In the early seventies, Billy signed with Cartwheel Records and recorded a country cover of the Tony Orlando & Dawn single Knock Three Times. Billy finally had a hit record in the US when the single hit number three on the US Country charts. Twenty top ten country hits followed over the next decade, and top forty country records continued up to the end of the eighties.

His only stop on the US pop charts came in 1974 with the crossover of his #1 country hit, Rub It In. The novelty record did well enough to reach #16 on the pop charts. His follow-up single, Ruby Baby, also hit #1 on the country charts, but only got as high as #33 and failed to get very much airplay.

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