1958 The Applejacks – Mexican Hat Rock
Dave Appell worked arranging music for Naval big bands during World War II. After the war, he began arranging dance music for orchestras. He signed with Decca Records and began recording with his own small group as the Dave Appell Four. Decca got him to change the name of his group to the Applejacks and released singles beginning in 1954. Sweet Patootie Pie was a typical single.
Tone-Craft released a single credited to Dave Appell and His Appell-Jacks in 1955. In 1956 they released two records on the President label, once again using Applejacks.
After a short stint in Las Vegas, the band returned to Philadelphia and began working for Cameo-Parkway Records. Dave played guitar on some recordings and did engineering, arranging, and even producing others for the label. His band provided the music backing Charlie Gracie on his breakthrough record, Butterfly in 1957.
John Zacherle, the Cool Ghoul, hosted a Saturday night horror movie show in Philadelphia and later New York City. The Applejacks provided the music for Zacherle’s album and his top ten novelty single, Dinner With Zach.
Dave arranged and recorded an instrumental called The Mexican Hat Rock in 1958 and had it released as the Applejacks. The single was a rock version of the Mexican national dance, Jarabe Tapatío. The single peaked at #16 on the Hot 100.
The next single from the group was another instrumental, Rocka-Tonga. They changed the song title to Rocka-Conga, but it still peaked at only #38.
The Applejacks released quite a few more singles, but the only other charted record was their version of the Bunny Hop. The single reached #70 in 1959.
As the leader of the Cameo-Parkway house band, Dave worked on records for Chubby Checker, The Dovells, The Orlons, Bobby Rydell, and Dee Dee Sharp. He even co-wrote many of their hits, including The Bristol Stomp, Let’s Twist Again, South Street, Don’t Hang Up, Wild One, and Do The Bird.
In the seventies, Dave produced a series of hit records for Tony Orlando and Dawn.
Dave died in 2014.
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