Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1959 The Mystics – Hushabye

Al Contrera, Albee Cracolici, Phil Cracolici, Bob Ferrante, and George Galfo were five singers in Brooklyn who formed the Overons in the late fifties. The group signed with Laurie Records and had to come up with a new name. Following their manager’s suggestion, they each wrote a new name on a piece of paper and dropped the names into a hat. Somebody pulled one piece of paper out of the hat and their name became The Mystics.

They recorded Wimoweh (the song the Tokens turned into The Lion Sleeps Tonight) and Adam And Eve, but their record label did not like the results.  The label hired Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman to write a new song for the group. Their first offering was A Teenager In Love. The label gave that song to Dion and the Belmonts, who turned it into a #5 single in 1959.

The writers based their next try on the first lines of an old lullaby, All the Pretty Horses. The group recorded Hushabye as a doo-wop tune, and the single entered the charts in May 1959. The record got a bump when Alan Freed began signing off his Saturday night show with the song. The record spent 15 weeks on the Hot 100 and finally peaked at #20.

The Mystics only reached the Hot 100 one more time when their next single spent a week or two at #98.

The lead singer left the group in 1960, and Jerry Landis took his place for a brief time. Jerry left and rejoined his partner Tom, and the pair eventually began appearing as Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.

The next lead singer who joined the group was  John “Jay” Traynor. Jay left the group to form Jay and the Americans and sang lead on She Cried, a #5 single in 1962.

The Mystics disbanded in 1961.

The Beach Boys covered the song on their All Summer Long album in 1964 with Brian and Mike sharing lead vocals.

Jay and the Americans picked up Jay Black as a replacement when the first Jay left the group. After their series of hit singles stalled in 1966, they recorded an album covering oldies in 1968. This Magic Moment reached #5 in early 1969 and three more charting singles followed. They reached #62 with their cover of Hushabye.

Perhaps the limited success of the new version of Hushabye had an unanticipated effect: the original five members of the Mystics reformed the group in 1969 and began appearing in oldies shows. From time to time the lineup changed, but at least two original members of the group still appear as shown on their website at https://www.theoriginalmystics.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mystics
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jay_and_the_Americans

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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1958 Gene Vincent – Dance To The Bop

Vincent Eugene Craddock was born in Virginia in the mid-thirties and got his first guitar as a gift when he was 12 years old.

In 1952, he enlisted into the Navy and served a tour of duty during the Korean War. He reenlisted in 1955 and used his re-enlistment bonus to buy a motorcycle. The Navy discharged him after an accident left him with a limp and permanent pain.

He shuffled his name and became a member of a band that played rockabilly music. The band became known as Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps and began playing in local bars in the Roanoke area. They recorded a demo of a song Gene wrote, Be-Bop-A-Lula, and that proved sufficient to get them signed to a publishing contract with Bill Lowery and a recording contract with Capitol Records. They recorded their first album in 1956 and Capitol hoped that Gene would be their answer to Elvis.

Capitol selected Woman Love for their first single, a song written by Jack Rhodes (who had just written the hit record Silver Threads And Golden Needles). A producer at Capitol Records selected Be-Bop-A-Lula to be the B-side of the single. Since they stood to only make money from the B-side, The Lowery Group sent promotional disks around to radio stations, promoting Be-Bop-A-Lula before Capitol sent out their records. As a result, the B-side was getting airplay and sales and became the hit. The song reached the top ten on the Hot 100 in 1956 and became the biggest hit of Gene’s career. Later that year, the film The Girl Can’t Help It included the footage of the group performing their hit.

After a few line-up changes, the group finally had another hit in 1957 when Lotta Lovin’ reached #13 on the Hot 100 and #7 on the R&B chart. Capitol released Dance To The Bop near the end of the year and the single peaked at #23 in 1958. Gene never reached the Hot 100 again.

He did have a few more records chart in the UK in 1960 and 1961. He played in Hamburg during the Beatles’ third trip to Germany and even played the Cavern Club in Liverpool. A video exists that puts together interviews with the Beatles talking about the influence Gene had on their music.

Gene recorded about a dozen albums before his untimely death at age 36 in 1971.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_Vincent
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Be-Bop-A-Lula

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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1957 Joe Bennett and The Sparkletones – Black Slacks

Joe Bennett, Wayne Arthur, Howard Childress, and Jimmy Denton were teenagers at a high school in Spartanburg, South Carolina, who formed their own rockabilly group in 1956. The boys were ages 13 to 16 but very talented. In early 1957, they went to an audition in their city hosted by Bob Cox, a talent scout for CBS Records. Not only did the group win first place in the contest, but Bob quit his job with CBS to become their manager. He flew them to New York City and got them signed with ABC-Paramount as the Sparkletones.

The group recorded a few songs the same day in the same studio where Paul Anka recorded his first single (Diana); Paul even sang backup vocals on one of their recordings. Their first single became Black Slacks, a song that Joe and Jimmy had written.

The group began appearing all over the country on a long road trip over the next few months. During a stop in Las Vegas, they appeared on the Nat King Cole tv show and performed two of their songs live. The single peaked at #17 on the Hot 100 in October.

Buchanan and Goodman included a short clip from Black Slacks in their Christmas singleSanta and the Satellite. The record was sitting at #32 on Christmas day in 1957. The single was only part 1 of the story, and it ended with instructions to turn the record over to hear part 2.

The film The Borrowers Down Under used Black Slacks on its soundtrack. Perhaps the most unexpected cover of the song came from Simon & Garfunkel when they did a live medley of Black Slacks with their first hit record, Hey Little Schoolgirl.

The group’s second single was Penny Loafers And Bobby Sox. It peaked at #42 on the chart in the last week of 1957. That was their last visit to the Hot 100. By 1961, the group had disbanded.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sparkletones
https://www.forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/joe-bennett-the-sparkletones-on-nat-king-cole-tv-show-doing-rocket-black-slacks.206681/

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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1956 Jerry Vale – You Don’t Know Me

Gennaro Louis Vitaliano grew up in the Bronx. He sang while he worked shining shoes which led his boss to pay for singing lessons. He appeared on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour in 1950 and began singing in nightclubs. He began performing as Jerry Vale.

Paul Insetta signed Jerry to a management contract and arranged for him to record some demo records he had written. Paul was also the road manager for singer Guy Williams, who introduced Jerry to Mitch Miller at Columbia Records. Jerry soon began recording for Columbia Records. He reached #29 on the Hot 100 in 1953 with You Can Never Give Me Back My Heart, his third single for the label.

Ten more singles followed in the next three years, but only three of them charted before Jerry recorded the biggest hit of his career. In 1955, Eddy Arnold was the first artist to record You Don’t Know Me. Jerry’s version charted first and peaked at #14 on the Hot 100 in 1956. Two months later, Eddy’s version reached #10 on the Country chart. Ray Charles released his version of the song in 1962 and his single became the most successful one when it topped the Hot 100.

Jerry had difficulty following up on his hit single. The best he could manage for the rest of the fifties came in 1957 when he reached #45 on the Hot 100 with the single Pretend You Don’t See Her.

Oddly enough, Jerry’s only other top forty entry on the Hot 100 came during the peak of the British Invasion. He recorded Have You Looked Into Your Heart in 1964 and the single peaked at #24 in early 1965. The song also reached the top of the Adult Contemporary chart and was the first of 27 top forty singles on the AC chart. His last visit to that chart came in 1971.

He continued recording albums and had over forty studio albums released by 1974.

Jerry appeared in films but primarily playing himself in the Martin Scorsese films Goodfellas and Casino in the nineties. He also appeared as himself in two episodes of the television show Growing Pains. His music was in constant demand for film soundtracks, and they included several of his songs in the recent Netflix film, The Irishman.

A stroke in 2002 cut short his performing career. He eventually died in 2014.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Vale
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Vale_discography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_Don%27t_Know_Me_(Cindy_Walker_song)

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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1955 The Four Aces – Heart

Beginning in 1949, the New York Yankees major league baseball team began dominating their sport like no other team before or since. By 1964, the team had won the pennant 14 times and won the World Series nine times. It’s no wonder that the novel Douglass Wallop wrote in 1954 became a bestseller: The Year The Yankees Lost The Pennant. The novel was a fantasy about a deal with the devil that led to the Washington Senators beating the Yankees in the final game of the year.

It’s probably just a coincidence that the Yankees lost the pennant to the Cleveland Indians in 1954, the only loss they suffered in a ten-year period.

In 1955, a musical play based on the book became a hit on Broadway – Damn Yankees. Several artists released covers of one song from the musical. While you may recall the name of the song as being You Gotta Have Heart, the actual name was simply Heart. While a cast album contained the song, it doesn’t appear that they ever released a single version from the album.

Eddie Fisher recorded a version of the song in 1955 and his single reached the charts on May 14th and peaked at #6 in late June. While some background singers sang on the record, they weren’t singing harmony with Eddie and the song doesn’t sound exactly like the play.

Several Yankees in the locker room performed the song in the play, so it wasn’t too surprising that the Four Aces released a second version of the song that replicated at least some of the harmonies found in the stage production. Their single hit the charts two weeks after Eddie’s version and peaked at #13 two weeks before Eddie reached #6.

A film version of the play premiered in 1958 that featured most of the original Broadway cast reprising their roles and songs.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_American_League_pennant_winners
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eddie_Fisher_%28singer%29#Hit_songs
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Four_Aces

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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1989 Kix – Don’t Close Your Eyes

Ronnie Younkins, Brian Forsythe, and Donnie Purnell formed the group The Shooze in December 1977. They added Steve Whiteman and drummer Donnie Spence to complete the group. Steve and Donnie Spence took turns singing and playing drums. Steve had a better vocal range, so he became the lead singer.

In 1979, drummer Jimmy Chalfant replaced Donnie Spence. In 1980, they renamed the band The Generators. They signed a contract with Atlantic Records in 1981 and began recording as Kix. The group released albums in 1981, 1983, and 1985 while touring to build up a following.

The group finally broke through with their fourth album in 1988. The first four singles from the album failed to chart, but the fifth single was Don’t Close Your Eyes. The power ballad was the group’s only entry to the Hot 100, where it reached #11. It also reached #16 on the Mainstream Rock chart. The success of that single earned the album a platinum record and finally made it possible for the group to play arenas.

It was 1991 before the group released another album, and the album after that didn’t come out until 1995. The group’s record label dropped them in 1995. Shortly after that, the group disbanded, and the members pursued solo projects.

The core group reformed in 2003 with Mark Schenker replacing Donnie Purnell on bass. The band recorded a new album in 2014 and is still touring. They maintain a website at http://www.kixband.com/.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kix_(band)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Whiteman

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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1988 Basia – Time And Tide

Barbara Stanisława Trzetrzelewska was born in Poland. She began singing with various groups beginning in the late sixties using the name Basia. In 1981 she moved to London. In 1983, she became a member of the British group Bronze with Mark Reilly and Danny White. The group changed their name to “Matt Bianco,” even though there was nobody in the group with that name.

Basia and Danny soon became romantically connected.

The group recorded their first album in 1984 and released the single Get Out Of Your Lazy Bed. The single climbed to #15 on the UK chart. A children’s breakfast show in New Zealand used the song as their theme song.

Basia left the group after their first album to pursue a solo career. She recorded her first album in 1986. A series of six different singles spun out of the album. Smooth Jazz radio stations in the US helped the singles get some traction in that country. The singles Promises and New Day For You each reached the top ten on the US Adult Contemporary chart. Basis’s first single to reach the Hot 100 was the title song from the album, Time And Tide. The single peaked at #26 on the Hot 100 and #19 on the AC chart in 1988. The album eventually earned a platinum record.

Her second album came out in 1990. Three singles from the album reached the AC top forty and she once again had a platinum album. The most successful single from the album was Cruising For Bruising. The single peaked at #29 on the Hot 100 and became her second single to reach #5 on the AC chart.

In 1991, Basia began living with Kevin Robinson, who is now a former member of Simply Red.

Basia recorded her fourth album, The Sweetest Illusion, in 1994. Drunk On Love was the most successful single from the album. The song reached #1 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart in 1994.

When her mother died in 2000, Basia left the music industry and returned to Poland. Mark and Danny convinced her to begin recording again in 2003. She rejoined Matt Bianco and began recording with the group in 2004.

The group broke up again in 2009, and Basia returned to recording solo albums. Her most recent album came out in 2018. Butterflies reached the top five on the US Jazz Album chart and she is still touring to promote the album. She maintains a homepage website at https://www.basiasongs.com/.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basia_discography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matt_Bianco
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Get_Out_of_Your_Lazy_Bed

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