Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1964 The Swinging Blue Jeans – The Hippy Hippy Shake

Bruce McCaskill formed the Bluegenes in 1957 but left the group in 1959. The group initially focused on playing jazz-influenced skiffle music, but changed members and focus after being booed off the stage in Hamburg. The group began playing rock & roll. They also changed their name slightly, becoming the Swinging Blue Jeans.

Chan Romero was born in Montana in 1941. He was only 17-years-old when he wrote Hippy Hippy Shake. Chan’s single was released in the US in 1959 but failed to chart. The record did, however, reach #3 on the Australian music charts. All the versions that followed his original single were little more than direct covers of the song.

Paul McCartney heard the song when it was released in the UK, and the Beatles began performing the song in their shows in clubs in London and Germany. A recording made at the Star Club in Hamburg in 1962 survived and has been remastered. The Beatles also played the song in 1963 on a BBC broadcast, but they never released a studio recording of the song.

In late 1963, The Swinging Blue Jeans released their version of The Hippy Hippy Shake. The single was an international hit, reaching #2 on the UK chart and #24 on the US Hot 100. The group had a few more hits in the UK but didn’t enter the top forty again in the US.

One last version of the song charted in the US when The Georgia Satellites released their version in 1988. The single peaked at #45 on the Hot 100 and #13 on the US Mainstream Rock chart.

A great deal of turnover in the group followed when their records stopped charting. Terry Sylvester sang and played guitar in the group from 1966 to 1968 before leaving to replace Graham Nash in the Hollies.

Two different groups performed for years following different original members of the group. Alan Lovell joined the group as a guitar player in 1981 and had the foresight to file for ownership of the group’s name. Alan no longer appears in performances, but he supervises his group. They are still active at the present time even though no original members of the Swinging Blue Jeans are still in his group.

The vocalist who sang lead on their hits formed the second group. They appeared for a time as Ray Ennis’s Blue Jeans after their lawsuits over the other group’s name failed.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Swinging_Blue_Jeans
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chan_Romero
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippy_Hippy_Shake

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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1963 Major Lance – Hey Little Girl

Major Lance was born in Mississippi but fate moved his family to Chicago. There he attended Wells High School with a few notable classmates: Curtis Mayfield and Jerry Butler. Major and his friend Otis Leavill formed a group named the Floats with two young women in the mid-fifties, but the group never recorded any music. Major’s dancing at their appearances was notable enough to get him a job on Time For Teens, a local television show. As a result of being on the show, Major recorded his first single. Curtis wrote and produced I Got A Girl. The single came out on Mercury Records in 1959 but failed to chart.

Major worked various jobs for a few years. Carl Davis was a record producer at Okeh Records who had produced Duke Of Earl for Gene Chandler. Curtis started writing and arranging songs for the label, and Otis started working as an assistant and talent scout for Carl. Those two helped get Major signed to the label.

Most of Major’s singles were written by Curtis and produced by Carl, and the Impressions often provided backup vocals.

In the early sixties, one of the new dances that started was The Monkey. 1963 saw a growth in the Monkey’s popularity thanks to two hit singles: The Monkey Time by Major on Okeh Records and Mickey’s Monkey by the Miracles on Motown Records. Major’s single reached the charts about a month before the Miracles and peaked at #8 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the R&B chart. The recent hit, Dance Monkey, is not related to either of the two songs or the dance.

The team put together Major’s next singleHey Little Girl, which sounded more than a little like his previous hit record. The single was not as big a hit but still made it to #12 on the Hot 100 and #13 on the R&B chart in 1963.

The next year would bring Major his biggest hit, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um. He only had three more top forty singles on the Hot 100 after that but continued to reach the top forty on the R&B chart through 1970.

The growth of Major’s popularity in the UK because of the Northern Soul movement caused Major to move to England in 1972. He recorded a live album there before returning to the US. He recorded for at least a half-dozen other labels through 1982 without reaching the charts again.

Major had at least a dozen children. One of his daughters was Keisha Lance Bottoms, who became the mayor of Atlanta in 2018.

Major had a heart attack in 1987 that all but ended his career. He died from the effects of heart disease in 1994.

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/major-lance-mn0000671746/biography
https://www.allmusic.com/artist/otis-leavill-mn0000894018/biography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_Lance

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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1962 The Dovells – Hully Gully Baby

Five students at Philadelphia’s Overbrook High School formed a vocal group called the Brooktones in 1957. The group recorded the song No, No, No that lead vocalist Len Borisoff had written, but the record only did well locally. The group disbanded until Len returned from the military and reformed the group. A few lineup changes followed.

Len, Jerry Gross, Arnie Silver, Jim Mealey, and Mike Freda were the members who began recording the group’s hit records in 1961. Mike suggested renaming the group the Deauvilles after a hotel in Miami. That was too hard to spell, so they compromised on using The Dovells as their new name.

Name changes also became popular with the individual members of the group. Len became Len Barry, Jerry became Jerry Summers, and Jim became Danny Brooks.

The group first recorded a new version of No, No, No, and the song again failed to chart. They went into the studio to record a cover of Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers’ 1957 song Out In The Cold Again. A promoter for their record company joined them and told them about an exciting idea. The Stomp was a new line dance at the Goodwill Fire Hall in Bristol, a suburb of Philadelphia. He played the group Every Day Of The Week. The dancers were using the record by a group called The Students for the Stomp. If you listen to that single first, you will probably recognize the derivative guitar work on the Dovell’s recording of Bristol Stomp that they came up with that night. The record by the Students doesn’t appear to have charted except as the B-side of an R&B single, but the Bristol Stomp went to #2 on the Hot 100. The hit earned them the chance to perform in the film Don’t Knock The Twist, introduced in the film by Chubby Checker.

The Dovells followed up their success with a few more dance songs. They built their fourth dance song around the Hully Gully. That was a dance first popularized by a 1959 song by the Olympics. The Dovells released Hully Gully Baby in 1962 and the single peaked at #25.

They hit the charts one last time with a #3 record the next year. They did live performances of You Can’t Sit Down at Murray the K’s shows in the Brooklyn Fox Theater. Murray sat in a chair on the stage and tapped his foot during the entire song. Against all odds, my copy of the album from that show is still hiding somewhere in my office even though I no longer have a record player to play it on.

Danny became tired of the travel and left the group in 1962 (but sometimes still recorded with the group).

Len left in 1963 and pursued a solo career. His single of 1-2-3 reached #2 on the Hot 100 in 1965.

The remaining trio did some studio work and even sang backup vocals on Chubby Checker’s big hit, Let’s Twist Again.

After watching Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In on television, Jerry and Mike recruited Jean Yost and wrote and recorded Here Come The Judge. The record company listed them as The Magistrates and the single reached #54 in 1968. Other different songs with similar titles also showed up on the charts that year, including singles by Shorty Long (#8), Pigmeat Markham (#19) and the Buena Vistas (#88).

Jerry and Mike continued as the core of the Dovells and recruited other singers so they could continue appearing at Oldies shows for several decades. Len even joined them for a few performances from time to time.

Fans maintain a website devoted to the group at https://www.thedovells.com/biography.html

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-dovells-mn0000784670/biography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dovells
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Len_Barry
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hully_Gully

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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1961 Anita Bryant – Wonderland By Night

Anita Bryant was born in Oklahoma and began singing in beauty pageants as a teenager. She became the second runner-up in the Miss America pageant in 1959 and then began recording for Carlton Records.

Her first single to reach the charts was Till There Was You, a song from the Broadway play, The Music Man. Anita’s single reached #30 on the Hot 100 in 1959. The Beatles performed the song in their early concerts and covered the song on their second studio album.

Two more singles followed that year that missed the top forty. Her next hit record was Paper Roses. The million-selling single reached #5 in 1960, and she got to perform the song on Dick Clark’s Saturday Night Beech-Nut Show. Marie Osmond’s version of the song was her first recorded single and also reached #5 in 1973 (and topped the Country and Easy Listening charts as well).

Anita had another top ten record in 1960 with the release of My Little Corner Of The World. Her next two singles again missed the top forty.

One of the biggest records of 1961 was Bert Kaempfert’s chart-topping instrumental Wonderland By Night. A second nearly identical instrumental by Louis Prima also charted, but that version stalled at #15.

Anita’s version of Wonderland By Night finally gave us a version with lyrics. The single didn’t prove to be as popular as the instrumental versions and it peaked at only #18 in 1961. Despite many singles that followed, it proved to be Anita’s last visit to the Hot 100 top forty. By 1964, she had three more singles reach the Hot 100 and a few others that failed to chart, but after that, she didn’t get close to the  Hot 100 again.

Anita accompanied Bob Hope on many of his visits to US troops throughout most of the sixties. She also sang the national anthem at Super Bowl III in 1969.

Anita continued recording albums through 1985, although beginning in the seventies, she focused primarily on Christian and Christmas albums. She also got work advertising orange juice in television and magazine ads.

Anita became a focal point for the battle for acceptance of the LGBTQ community. She became very involved in publicly opposing laws that embraced equal rights and anti-discrimination beginning in 1977. Her efforts made her appearances toxic and shut down her career.

She opened small venues first in Branson and later in Pigeon Forge to restart her singing career, but those attempts drove her into bankruptcy in 2001. She retreated to Oklahoma and worked for ministries and charities.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anita_Bryant
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_Roses
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wonderland_by_Night

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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1960 Ray Smith – Rockin’ Little Angel

Ray Smith was born in Kentucky. His mother taught him to play the piano. Ray left school when he turned 12 and did odd jobs for several years before joining the Air Force in 1952. He played in clubs on the weekends while stationed in California. When he got out of the armed forces four years later he formed his own band, Ray Smith and the Rock & Roll Boys. They set up in Kentucky and began playing at clubs and even had their own half-hour television show.

Sam Phillips signed Ray to a recording contract with Sun Records in 1957.

Ray recorded several songs written by Charlie Rich for Sun Records in 1958. One single, Right Behind You Baby, featured Charlie Rich on piano and a guitar solo by 18-year-old Charlie Walker. Ray and his group appeared on American Bandstand and performed So Young, the other side of the single. None of the releases on Sun Records did well, so Sam Phillips passed Ray along to his brother Judd’s record label.

The melody from the Country/Western tune Buffalo Gals became the basis for Ray’s next single. Jimmie Rogers created some new lyrics, and the song became Rockin’ Little Angel. Judd Records released Ray’s rockabilly version of the song as a single in 1960. It sold over a million copies and reached #20 on the Hot 100.

The label then had Ray cover Put Your Arms Around Me Honey, a song that was a number one hit in 1911. Times had changed, and Ray’s single peaked at only #91. He never reached the Hot 100 chart again.

Ray recorded singles for at least seven more labels before he moved his family to Ontario, Canada, in 1967. He played and clubs in the area and continued recording and had one single reach #70 on the Country chart in 1973.

Ray died from a self-inflicted gunshot in 1979.

The Rockabilly Hall Of Fame has a page devoted to Ray at http://www.rockabillyhall.com/RaySmith.html

http://www.rockabilly.nl/references/messages/ray_smith.htm
https://www.allmusic.com/artist/ray-smith-mn0000872570/biography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Smith_(rockabilly_singer)

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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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