1973 – Save The Last Dance For Me
A good song can be a hit for a lucky artist. A Great song can be a hit over and over for lots of artists. Save The Last Dance For Me must be a great song. Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman wrote the song and the first recording came from the Drifters.
While Ben E. King was still singing lead for the Drifters, Leiber and Stoller produced a collection of songs that became their next album. Ben left the group early in 1960 to begin a solo career, and the group’s record company had several songs from the album from which to choose a single. Their first choice for the A-side of a single was Nobody But Me. Fortunately for all involved, Dick Clark insisted they flip the record over because Save The Last Dance For Me would make a much stronger single, and the record company paid attention. The record topped the Hot 100 in October 1960.
Damita Jo recorded the answer song, I’ll Save The Last Dance For You and it became her first charted record. The single peaked at #22 in December 1960.
The DeFranco Family were five members of a Canadian family. The editor of Tiger Beat magazine heard a demo from the group and convinced Charles Laufer to fly the group to Los Angeles to record some additional demos. The group signed with Laufer Entertainment, and that led to a recording contract with 21st Century Records. The group was fronted by thirteen-year-old Tony, who was perfect for pre-teens who felt Donny Osmond and Michael Jackson were getting too old.
The first single from the DeFrancos was Heartbeat – It’s A Lovebeat, which reached #3 on the Hot 100 in 1973. The group appeared on several of Dick Clark’s shows for both lip-syncing and interviews. Their second single petered out when it reached #32. The group’s third (and final) top forty single was their cover of Save The Last Dance For Me. The single reached #18 in the Summer of 1974. The group continued to tour and even played in Las Vegas until they broke up in 1978. They tried to capitalize on a reunion in 1999 and 2000, but since then only Tony and his sister Marisa sing in public.
Emmylou Harris covered the song on her Blue Kentucky Girl album in 1979. Her bluegrass version reached the Country top ten.
It wasn’t the last version to reach the Country chart. Dolly Parton recorded a series of covers of songs that had been hits in the fifties and sixties for an album. She recorded her version of Save The Last Dance For Me with The Jordanaires singing background vocals. She released the single in 1984 and reached #3 on the Country chart. The single also reached #12 on the Adult Contemporary (AC) chart and even snuck onto the Hot 100, where it peaked at #45.
The song had one last spin in 2005 courtesy of Michael Bublé. Michael’s single reached #5 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart. When the song appeared over the closing credits of the film The Wedding Date, enough requests resulted in a music video and a single remix that reached #5 on the AC chart. The single also charted in the Hot 100, but only spent a week at #99.
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