Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1970 Sandpipers – Come Saturday Morning

Jim Brady, Mike Piano, and Richard Shoff became friends while singing together in a boys choir. They and their friend Nick Cahuernga formed a vocal group. They used the name The Four Seasons until another group began successfully using that name. Nick left the group, and the trio began performing as The Grads.

The Grads recorded non-charting singles for three different labels before signing with A&M Records. When their first single for that label also failed to chart, the group changed their name by selecting a word from a dictionary: Sandpipers. They also began looking for songs to record.

Guantanamera is one of the most famous and popular Cuban songs. Joseíto Fernández popularized the song with his performances beginning in 1929.

The Weavers were one of the most successful (and controversial) folk singers in the early fifties. The group disbanded a few times in the fifties and performed at Carnegie Hall in a reunion concert in May 1963. One song they performed at that concert was Guantanamera. Their version included the group singing in Spanish and then explaining the words with an English translation.

The Sandpiper’s producer suggested they record Guantanamera. They based their arrangement on the Weavers’ live version with their producer doing the narration in the middle of the song. The single was the group’s biggest hit, reaching #9 on the Hot 100 and #3 on the Adult Contemporary chart in 1966. The performance earned the group two Grammy award nominations.

Liza Minnelli starred in the film Sterile Cuckoo in 1969. The theme song for the film was Come Saturday Morning. While Liza recorded the song for an album she released that year, the film used a version recorded by the Sandpipers. They also recorded a second song for the soundtrack. The Sandpipers’ version of Come Saturday Morning was released as a single in late 1969 and peaked at #83 on the Hot 100. The record did better on the Adult Contemporary chart, where it reached #9.

The song received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song in early 1970. The record label reissued the Sandpipers’ single with a different B-side. The publicity from the nomination helped bring attention to the single, and the new single re-entered the charts. It peaked at #17 on the Hot 100 and reached #5 on the Adult Contemporary chart in 1970. The group had one more single reach #94 on the Hot 100 but never reached that chart again after 1970.

Mike left the group in the mid-seventies and the group replaced him with a series of substitute singers. Only Jim and Richard sang on the group’s final single in 1979.


Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1969 Vikki Carr – With Pen In Hand

Bobby began played guitar in Roy Orbison’s backing band in 1962. He later wrote and recorded See The Funny Little Clown, and the single reached #9 on the Hot 100 in the Spring of 1964. After that, Bobby left Roy’s band and concentrated on a solo career.

Four of Bobby’s twenty singles reached the top Forty before he recorded Honey, a song written by Bobby Russell. That single reached number one in 1968 on the Hot 100, the Country chart, and the Adult Contemporary chart. It became his first gold record. He recorded an album named for the single but did not release another single from the album. He wrote about half the songs on the album, one of which was With Pen In Hand.

Johnny Darrell moved to Nashville and managed a Holiday Inn near Music Row until he was discovered and began recording Country music. He covered With Pen In Hand as soon as Bobby’s album came out and had the biggest hit of his career. His single peaked at #3 on the Country chart and almost made it to the Hot 100 (it peaked at #126).

Billy Vera eventually had a number one single with At This Moment in 1987 after Family Ties used the song as part of the drama between Alex and Ellen. His first solo single came much earlier: he recorded With Pen In Hand in 1968 and reached #43 on the Hot 100 and #25 on the Easy Listening chart.

Florencia Bisenta de Casillas-Martinez Cardona was born in El Paso, Texas. Her parents were of Mexican ancestry. In 1962 she signed with Liberty Records and began using the stage name Vikki Carr. Gene Pitney had written the song, He’s A Rebel. When Vikki recorded the song, Phil Spector was listening to the session and rushed out and recorded the song with the Blossoms. He released the single as being by the Crystals, and that version reached number one on the Hot 100. Vikki’s version moved slower and peaked at #115.

She continued recording songs but did not reach the charts again until a few of her singles reached the Adult Contemporary chart in 1966. The biggest hit of her career came with the release of It Must Be Him the next year; the single topped the Adult Contemporary chart and reached #3 on the Hot 100.

Vikki also recorded With Pen In Hand in 1968 after getting Bobby to write some new verses that reflected a woman’s concern for her daughter rather than a man’s concern for his son. She was in London when the song was released, and her appearances there helped the single reach #39. She returned to the US and recorded a concert in November at the Persian Room nightclub in Manhattan. Her record company released an album using the live performances and then released the live version of With Pen In Hand as a single. The record charted on the Hot 100 in May 1969 and peaked at #35 in July. The record reached #6 on the Easy Listening chart and they nominated Vikki for a Grammy award for that performance.

Vikki’s career faded in the seventies. In the eighties, she reinvented herself by recording songs in Spanish and met with greater success. She eventually won three Grammy awards and continued releasing albums as recently as 2014.

Bobby’s version of With Pen In Hand didn’t get completely forgotten. His record company finally released his version as a single in 1972. His version didn’t get any higher than #94 on the Hot 100 but reached #28 on the Adult Contemporary chart.


Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1968 Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra – Some Velvet Morning

Lee Hazlewood grew up in Oklahoma and Louisiana, listening to both pop and bluegrass music. After serving in the army in Korea, Lee got a job as a disc jockey in Phoenix. In 1956 he wrote and produced The Fool, a single that went to #7 on the Hot 100. He then produced and co-wrote a series of instrumentals with Duane Eddy including the non-instrumental Dance With The Guitar Man (which reached #12 in 1962).

Lee wrote Houston and again produced a recording by Sanford Clark in 1964. When Sanford’s version failed to chart, Dean Martin recorded the song in 1965. His country-pop version reached #21 on the Hot 100 and peaked at #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart. That success led to Lee writing and producing songs for Dean’s daughter, Deana.

Another daughter of a famous singer who was seeking a successful singing career was Nancy Sinatra (Frank’s daughter). She had been recording singles that nobody had been buying since 1961, and in 1965, Lee began to work with her. He wrote and produced the single So Long Babe, but the mild country-pop song didn’t succeed any better. Nancy appeared on Hullabaloo (with her original dark hair!) and did not appear comfortable performing.

The next single Lee wrote and produced for her was These Boots Were Made For Walkin’. Lee helped change her appearance as well and the result was a video that led to a million-selling record.

Lee wrote and produced several more hit songs for Nancy, including a duet he sang with her that became the B-side of Sugar Town. In 1967 he produced the duet Somethin’ Stupid, which turned into the biggest record of Nancy and Frank’s career.

Encouraged by his success, Lee formed his own record label, LHI Records. His label signed the Boston area group the International Submarine Band. Gram Parsons was the leader of the group. Their first album didn’t succeed. When the Byrds lost most of their members, Gram left his group and joined the Byrds. He convinced the group to record their next album in Nashville and was instrumental in the recording of their next album, Sweethearts of the Rodeo. Unfortunately, Gram was still under contract with LHI. As the result of lawsuits Lee filed, the court forced the Byrds to remove most of the lead vocals Gram did on the album. Roger McGuinn sang replacement vocals.

Lee and Nancy’s successful collaborations continued through 1968 and included several songs they sang on together. The string ended with the release of Some Velvet Morning. The song came complete with unusual lyrics and they shot an equally strange video for Nancy’s television special, Movin’ With Nancy. The single peaked at #26 on the Hot 100. It was Nancy’s last visit to the top forty. Lee later had a granddaughter named Phaedra as a tribute to the single.

Lee abandoned the music industry by the late seventies. He died from cancer in 2007.


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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1967 The Byrds – My Back Pages

Jim McGuinn grew up in Chicago and attended the Old Town School of Folk Music. He played guitar as a side-musician for the Limeliters, the Chad Mitchell Trio, Joan Collins, and other folk music groups.

Gene Clark had been a member of the New Christie Minstrels, and he joined with Jim to form a duo. They performed in small clubs singing covers of Beatles songs and traditional folk music.

David Crosby joined them, and the trio began performing as the Jet Set. Elektra Records released a single featuring the group but billed them as the Beefeaters to make the group look like part of the British Invasion. The tactic failed.

The group added drummer Michael Clarke in 1964 and Chris Hillman on mandolin a few months later. They acquired a copy of Bob Dylan’s unreleased recording of Mr. Tambourine Man and reworked the folk song into more of a rock mix. In January 1965, Jim went into the studio and, with the aid of the Wrecking Crew, recorded the instrumental backing for the song. Jim, Gene, and David then sang the lyrics over the music. Columbia Records released the single in April, and it topped the Hot 100 in December. You can thank the Beatles for nearly monopolizing the top spot for most of the year.

The group continued to experiment with folk-rock and then expanded into early psychedelic music and even some Country music. Six more top forty singles followed. Their last single to make the top forty came with the release of another Dylan song, My Back Pages. The album version of the song was over three minutes long, but Columbia cut the single version down to two-and-a-half minutes. The record peaked at #30 and then fell off the chart.

The group disintegrated shortly after the release of the album that contained that song. Gene left because of problems with anxiety. Jim changed his name to Roger. Michael quit the group in August because of dissatisfaction with the direction of their music. The group chased David away, and he began working in a new group with Stephen Stills and Graham Nash. Gene left the group, rejoined, and Roger removed him again, all in a matter of only weeks. This left only Roger and Chris in the group. They recruited Gram Parsons and other musicians and continued making music.

The Byrds recorded Sweethearts of the Rodeo, a 1968 album that was an important turning point for Country-Rock.

The group eventually broke up in 1972. Over the next few decades, various combinations of members led bands performing as the Byrds (or, more accurately, sometimes as tribute bands).

The five original members reunited for a performance when the group was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 1991. Gene died shortly after that. The last appearance of the Byrds as a group came in 2000.


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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1966 The Cyrkle – Turn Down Day

Don Dannemann and Tom Dawes met while waiting on line for physicals when they arrived at Lafayette College in 1961. They formed a band called the Rhondells with a few other students and began playing at frat parties. Their group was not connected with Bill Deal and the Rhondels. The other members of the group drifted away except for the keyboard player, Earl Pickens. Marty Fried joined the group as their drummer in 1963.

Entertainment lawyer Nat Weiss heard the band perform in Atlantic City in 1964 and they impressed him with their sound. Nat booked the Beatles for some of their early appearances in the US and introduced the group to Brian Epstein (the manager for the Beatles).

Brian began managing the group. He suggested they change their name to the Circle. John Lennon probably suggested they adopt some strange spelling, and they became the Cyrkle. Tom began playing bass and guitar by using a special double-neck guitar that made it possible to swap back and forth.

Don had to leave the group temporarily to meet an obligation with the Coast Guard. During that stretch, Tom played bass on a Simon and Garfunkel tour. Tom came back with a desire to record two songs that Paul had written with Bruce Woodley of the Seekers. The important song was Red Rubber Ball. They convinced Columbia Records to sign the Cyrkle and release that single in 1966. The record reached #2 and provided enough credibility for the group to open for the Beatles on their Summer tour in 1966.

The group’s first album also contained their second singleTurn Down Day. That single only reached #16 and became their last stop on the US Hot 100 top Forty.

Michael Losekamp joined the group playing keyboards. The group recorded a second album and at least eight more singles but gained no additional traction. They threw together the soundtrack of a forgettable film (The Minx) using some of their uncollected singles in 1967. After that, the group disbanded.

Don and Tom went on to successful careers writing jingles. Their most well-known jingles include “Pop Pop Fizz Fizz” for Alka-seltzer and the 7=Up Uncola song. Tom also found success writing songs and produced two albums for Foghat.

Don and Michael reformed the Cyrkle with four additional musicians in 2016 and continue to make appearances on the oldies circuit. The group maintains a website at http://www.thecyrkle.com/home.html.


Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1965 Billy Joe Royal – I Knew You When

Billy Joe Royal grew up in Valdosta Georgia (south of Atlanta). Many members of his family were active in the music industry. Billy sang on his uncle’s radio show when he was 11. He formed his own rock-and-roll band while still in high school and sang in clubs in the Atlanta area. While pursuing a career in music, Billy became roommates with Joe South. Billy recorded a single that went ignored in 1962.

Joe contacted Billy a few years later and asked him to return to Atlanta to record a demo record. Joe had written a song that he wanted to pitch to Gene Pitney. Billy recorded the demo for Down In The Boondocks. Columbia Records eventually heard the demo and signed Billy to a six-year contract in 1965. Columbia released his version of Down In The Boondocks as a single and it reached #9 on the Hot 100.

Billy recorded four more songs Joe had written on his first album. I Knew You When was the follow-up song that Columbia released. The single reached #14 in late 1965. The next single from the album was I’ve Got To Be Somebody, but the record peaked at #38 and was nearly the end of Billy’s career.

In 1967, Billy released several more songs written by Joe that eventually became hits, just not for Billy. His version of Hush peaked at only #52. Billy’s unusual dancing on a video for the single may have helped sink sales when he did his best to almost moonwalk. A hard rock version of Hush by Deep Purple made it to #4 in 1968.

Billy’s version of Yo-Yo didn’t do well but earned a gold record for the Osmonds when they covered the song in 1971 and took it to #3 on the Hot 100.

Billy did have one more hit in 1969 when Cherry Hill Park reached #15.

Billy returned to Nashville in the early 1980s and successfully pursued a career singing Country music. It took a few years, but beginning in 1985 he recorded ten records that reached the top twenty on the Country chart. His biggest hit came in 1989 with his #2 pop-country cover of Aaron Neville’s Tell It Like It Is.

Billy died in his sleep in 2015.


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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1964 Nashville Teens – Tobacco Road

Six British musicians formed the Cruisers in Weybridge. They later recruited not one but two new lead singers in 1962. They changed their name to the Nashville Teens, basing their name on the Everly Brothers song Nashville Blues.

Like many other British groups in the early sixties, they moved to Hamburg, Germany and played in clubs. They also began doing studio work and even backed up Jerry Lee Lewis on his live album. They also played backup music for recordings by other musicians, including Carl Perkins.

When they returned to England, they played in concerts with Chuck Berry. That caught the attention of Mickie Most, who produced their first single in 1964.

John D. Loudermilk wrote the song Tobacco Road as a semi-autobiographical folk song about growing up in Durham, North Carolina. He recorded the song in 1960 but the single was not a hit.

The Nashville Teens recorded a hard rock version of the song in 1964 that peaked at #14 on the US Hot 100 and reached #6 in the UK.

The group next released another song written by John, Google Eye. The record made it into the top ten in the UK but only got as high as #117 in the US.

The group’s only other Hot 100 record came in 1965 when Find My Way Back Home spent one week at #99 and another week at #98. That single and The Little Bird reached #34 and #38 in the UK; afterward, they never again charted in the UK top forty.

The group split up in 1973. One of the original members of the group (lead singer Ray Phillips) reformed the Nashville Teens with a completely new group of musicians in 1980. He has continued replacing members as necessary and still tours as the Nashville Teens.

The group maintains a website at http://www.nashville-teens.com/.