Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1966 Brian Hyland – The Joker Went Wild

1966 Brian Hyland – The Joker Went Wild

Brian Hyland grew up in the Queens area of New York City. He played guitar and clarinet and formed the Delfis when he was only 14. The group did not attract a record contract. Brian signed with Kapp Records as a solo act and began recording for their Leader label.

He had some local success with a novelty record, Four Little Heels (The Clickety Clack Song), but it was his next single that got his career rolling.

Brian was only 16 in 1960 when his recording of Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini hit number one on the Hot 100. The single eventually sold over two million copies. His performance of the song on Dick Clark’s Saturday Night Beech-Nut Show was probably cute at the time but seems cringeworthy now because of the very young girl who was used to illustrate the bikini.

That success led to the re-release of Four Little Heels. The second release got some national exposure, but the single peaked at only #70.

Brian signed a record contract with ABC-Paramount Records and began recording for them in 1961. He had four more top forty singles with the label before a string of unsuccessful songs put an end to his recording career with ABC. The B-side of his last charting single for ABC was the 1963 original version of Save Your Heart For Me, which later became a #2 hit for Gary Lewis and the Playboys.

An album of Country-influenced songs did little to advance his career in 1964.

In 1966, Brian signed with Phillips Records and recorded a few more hit singles. Bobby Russell, who later wrote Honey for Bobby Goldsboro, wrote The Joker Went Wild. Brian’s single came out in July and peaked at #20 on the Hot 100. A few months later, he reached #25 with the single Run, Run, Look And See.

His next single, Hung Up In Your Eyes, only reached #58 in early 1967, and the next two singles fared even worse. Brian eventually had another million-selling record in 1970 when Del Shannon produced his cover of the Impressions’ Gypsy Woman, but that was his last visit to the top forty. He recorded eleven studio albums and probably three dozen singles during his career.

Brian is still touring and has a homepage at http://www.brianhyland.com/


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