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 single, Santa 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.
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