Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1962 Mike Clifford – Close To Cathy

1962 Mike Clifford – Close To Cathy

Mike Clifford was born in Los Angeles in 1949. His father played trumpet for a living. By the time he turned 15, Mike already sang in nightclubs in the area.

In 1959, Mike turned sixteen and released two singles on Liberty Records. Neither of them charted nationally. His first single, Should I, featured vocals from Patience and Prudence, who had hits in 1956 with Gonna Get Along Without Ya Now and Tonight You Belong To Me. Eddie Cochran played guitar on the record.

Helen and John Noga managed Johnny Mathis. Mike’s singing impressed Helen, and she worked with him until he was polished enough to appear on the Ed Sullivan show. Her hard work got Mike a recording contract with Columbia Records.

Lawrence Welk had a chart-topping hit with the single Calcutta in early 1961. The album with the same name included a song Welk co-wrote named Bombay. A third writer added lyrics and Columbia released a single of the song recorded by Mike. The background music on the records closely resembled Calcutta. While the record did not attract much attention in the US, it became a hit in Venezuela and Mike appeared on his own special in that country.

Mike signed with United Artists Records in 1961. The company assigned Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller to produce his next recordings. The first single from the team became his biggest hitClose To Cathy. The record reached #12 on the Hot 100 in 1962.

Dick Clark interviewed Mike on American Bandstand and hired him as a part of the Dick Clark Caravan Of Stars in 1964 and 1965.

Leiber and Stoller also produced Mike’s next single, but What To Do With Laurie only reached #67 on the Hot 100 in early 1963. Mike had one last single spend a week at #96 and that was his last visit to the Hot 100.

Mike has continually worked in the entertainment field up to the present time. He appeared in the film Village of the Giants and sang theme songs for other films. He played the role of Johnny Angel in the first national tour of Grease. From time to time, Mike has recorded commercials and appeared in oldies shows.

In 2017, Mike began producing songs and videos and began posting new recordings. He and Sandy Zacky recorded a tribute to Doris Day with the song Sentimental Journey in 2019 that reached the top ten of the Reverb Nation LA Jazz Music Chart in 2020.

Mike can be followed on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MikeCliffordsWonderfulWorld/


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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1961 Cathy Jean and the Roommates – Please Love Me Forever

1961 Cathy Jean and the Roommates – Please Love Me Forever

Steve Susskind and Bob Minsky met in Junior High School and began singing as a duo in the late fifties. When they competed in a singing competition at Forest Hills High School they came in second behind the duo of Tom and Jerry…who later performed as Simon and Garfunkel. They added two tenors to their group (Jack Carlso and Relix Alverez) and they named their group the Roommates.

The Promo Record Label released the group’s first record, Making Believe. The single was a cover of a Country hit by Kitty Wells. It failed to chart nationally. Gene and Jody Malis managed the group, and after their single failed to catch on, they formed the Valmor record label.

Singer Tommy Edwards reached #18 in 1951 with his single All In The Game. In 1958 he recorded a new version that climbed all the way to the top of the Hot 100 in September. The B-side of the record had his recording of Please Love Me Forever, which managed to reach #61 a few weeks later.

Valmor recorded a cover version of Tommy’s B-side with 14-year-old singer Cathy Jean Giordano. After the recording session ended, the managers decided that the record sounded too sparse, and they brought in the Roommates and added harmony background vocals. The result was the single Please Love Me Forever by Cathy Jean and the Roommates. Because of the way the recording was created, Cathy Jean and the Roommates didn’t even meet until after the record began getting airplay.

Disk jockey Murray The K had a show on 1010 WINS in New York City, and in late 1960 Please Love Me Forever won the title of Boss record of the Week on Murray’s show. The single entered the national charts early the next year and peaked at #12 on the Hot 100 in April 1961.

The Roommates got a free recording session as a thank you for helping out with the Cathy’s recording. Valmor released one of the songs, The Glory Of Love, as a single. The earlier hit versions of the song included a single by Benny Goodman in 1936 and an R&B hit by the Five Keys in 1951. About a month after Cathy’s record started to fade off the charts, the Roommates’ single reached #49.

Cathy never charted again, and she got married and left the music industry. The Roommates continued recording without any additional chart action and disbanded in 1965.

In the late sixties, Cathy recruited some new backup singers and began appearing in oldies shows. She was still performing live through at least 2012, including a performance on PBS.

Bobby Vinton covered Please Don’t Stop Loving Me and his single reached #6 on the Hot 100 in 1967.


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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1960 Dorsey Burnette – (There Was A) Tall Oak Tree

1960 Dorsey Burnette – (There Was A) Tall Oak Tree

Dorsey Burnett and his brother Johnny were born in the early thirties and grew up in Memphis. They each learned to play guitar and also shared an interest in boxing. Each of them won a local Golden Gloves championship. They became friends with another young boxer, Paul Burlison.

After high school, Paul joined the army and Dorsey briefly pursued a career as a professional boxer before working other odd jobs. Johnny and Dorsey both worked on steamboats and would spend their spare time writing songs and playing their guitars.

By 1953, Paul got out of the army, and the three young men formed their own musical group. In 1956 they moved to New York City and began performing as the Rock And Roll Trio. Three wins on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour got them a contract with Coral Records, a few television appearances, and the chance to work on a Summer tour headlined by Carl Perkins and Gene Vincent.

The trio released a few records that failed to chart. After a fight with his brother, Dorsey quit the group and another bass player took his place in the group. They had a few more failed singles, and the group disbanded completely in 1957.

The brothers decided to get Ricky Nelson to record some of the songs they had written. They simply sat on Ricky’s doorstep until he agreed to listen to some of their music. The brothers impressed Ricky enough that he later recorded several of their songs, including Believe What You Say and It’s Late.

The brothers released several rockabilly singles between 1958 and 1960 with little to show for their efforts.

Dorsey wrote the song Tall Oak Tree and offered to let Ricky record it, but when Ricky turned it down, Dorsey recorded the song himself. The single reached #23 on the Hot 100 in 1960.

Dorsey co-wrote Hey Little One, and that single reached #48 on the chart later that year. Glen Campbell covered the song in 1967 and did about the same on the pop chart, reaching #54 on the Hot 100. Fortunately, Glen’s version also reached #20 on the Easy Listening chart and #13 on the Country chart.

Dorsey released several more singles in the next year, but none of them even reached the Hot 100. Meanwhile, his brother Johnny had four top twenty singles in 1960 and 1961. Johnny died in a boating accident in 1964, and Dorsey’s career faded quickly.

In the early seventies, Dorsey became a born-again Christian and returned to singing Country music. He recorded albums and singles through the end of the seventies and racked up four top forty Country singles during that time. He died from a heart attack in 1979 at the age of only 46.

Dorsey’s son Billy became a member of Fleetwood Mac for six years, beginning in 1987.

Dorsey’s nephew Rocky Burnette had a top ten hit with Toein’ The Line in 1980.


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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1958 Johnny Cash – Ballad Of A Teenage Queen

1958 Johnny Cash – Ballad Of A Teenage Queen

Johnny Cash grew up in Arkansas during the Great Depression. He enlisted in the Air Force in 1950 and worked as a Morse Code operator listening in on Russian transmissions. When he got out of the military, he moved to Memphis. He found work selling appliances while he played guitar and sang with the Tennessee Two: guitar player Luther Perkins and bass player Marshall Grant.

Johnny signed with Sun Records and began recording for Sun in 1955. He had two records reach the Country top forty the first year. So Doggone Lonely reached the top five on the chart and came with Johnny’s studio recording of Folsom Prison Blues on the B-side.

Johnny got his first number one record on the Country chart in 1956 when he wrote and recorded I Walk The Line. The single also reached the Hot 100, where it peaked at #17. Another number one and two more top ten Country singles followed, but it was 1958 before Johnny had much of a presence on the pop chart again.

Jack Clement grew up in Memphis and played steel guitar in bands. He then began pursuing a career in music after a stint in the Marines. Sam Phillips hired Jack as an engineer and producer at Sun Records. Jack discovered Jerry Lee Lewis and produced Whole Lot Of Shakin’ Goin’ On. In 1958, Jack wrote the song Ballad Of A Teenage Queen. He and Sam produced Johnny’s recording of the single with Johnny backed up by the Tennessee Two. The single reached #1 on the Country chart and peaked at #14 on the Hot 100.

Jack also wrote Johnny’s next single,  I Guess Things Happen That Way. The single once again took Johnny to the top of the Country chart. It also did slightly better than his previous record on the Hot 100, reaching #11 later in 1958. Jack also wrote Ring Of Fire, which was Johnny’s next big hit on the Hot 100 in 1963. Jack went on to write and produced dozens of Country hits for a long list of artists.

Johnny’s most successful Hot 100 single was Boy Named Sue, which reached #2 in 1969.

In 1987, Johnny recorded a new version of Ballad Of A Teenage Queen with Rosanne Cash and The Everly Brothers singing backup vocals. They released the single in 1989 and it only reached #45 on the Country chart.


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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1957 Little Joe and the Thrillers – Peanuts

1957 Little Joe and the Thrillers – Peanuts

Joseph Cook was born in Philadelphia in 1922. His mother was a blues singer, and his grandmother was a Baptist preacher, so it’s not surprising that when he was 12 he and three friends formed a gospel quartet. They had a one-hour weekly radio show and even recorded a gospel record in 1949.

Joseph began using the stage name Little Joe.

The Soul Stirrers was a gospel group that performed beginning in 1926. Sam Cooke began singing with the group as their lead vocalist in 1950. When he left the group, they offered to hire Joe to replace Sam, but Joe decided he wanted to sing non-religious music instead.

Joe formed The Thrillers with Farrie Hill, Richard Frazier, Donald Burnett, and Henry Pascal. The group signed with Okeh Records in 1956. Okey released their first single, Do The Slop, with the label showing the group as Little Joe and the Thrillers. The Slop turned out to be a popular dance, but their single, not so popular.

Joe wrote the group’s second single, and it came out in 1957. Peanuts featured Joe’s falsetto and that helped carry the record to #22 on the Hot 100.

The Four Lovers released some records from 1956 to 1958 that sounded similar to Joe’s falsetto. The group changed their name to the Four Seasons and had three number one records in 1962 and early 1963. In late 1963, the group released a cover version of Peanuts from their most recent album. The record didn’t get much airplay because disk jockeys were flipping the record over to the B-side and playing Stay instead. Their record company stopped shipping Peanuts and reissued the single with Stay on the A-side and Goodnight My Love on the B-side. That turned out to be a successful move when Stay reached #16 on the Hot 100.

Little Joe and the Thrillers continued releasing singles until 1961, but never recaptured the magic of their big hit. Joe began performing as a solo act and toured as an opening act for B. B. King and Bobby “Blue” Bland.

Joe created a new group that featured two of his daughters (Delphine and Dinell Cook), their cousin Delores “Honey” Wylie, and Tammi Montgomery. A dance craze started for The Popeye, and the group recorded a song written by John Medora and David White, The Pop Pop Pop Pie. The group used the name The Sherrys. The single reached #25 on the R&B chart and #35 on the Hot 100 in 1962. The Orlons covered the song on their greatest hits album in 1963 but don’t appear to have reached any charts with their recording.

The group even appeared on American Bandstand but could not capitalize on the hit and broke up soon after. Tammi changed her last name to Terrell and left for Motown, where she became Marvin Gaye’s favorite singing partner.

John and David later wrote 1-2-3 and You Don’t Own Me. They joined a group called the Spokesmen and reached #36 with another composition, The Dawn Of Correction, an answer song to Barry McGuire’s The Eve Of Destruction.

Joe kept performing as a solo act based in Boston until his retirement in 2007. He died in 2014 at the age of 91.


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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1956 Eddie Heywood – Soft Summer Breeze

1956 Eddie Heywood – Soft Summer Breeze

Eddie Heywood Jr. grew up in Atlanta. His father had been a popular jazz and blues pianist in the 1910s and 1920s, and he taught Eddie to play the piano. Eddie played professionally by the time he was only fourteen-years-old.

Eddie played with several bands in the thirties and moved to New York City in 1938. Besides leading his own band, Eddie sometimes played piano for artists like Billie Holiday. He put together his own six-man band in 1943, and in 1944 they recorded a version of Begin The Beguine that reached #16 on the Hot 100. The single sold over a million copies and led to several years of successful appearances.

In 1947, partial paralysis of his hands kept Eddie from playing the piano at all for three years.

Hugo Winterhalter played saxophone in several orchestras and taught music. He arranged music and played for Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey, and others through the thirties and early forties. In 1948 he became the music director for MGM Records. He moved to Columbia Records and his orchestra and chorus had their own top ten single in 1949 with Jealous Heart.

In 1950, Hugo moved to RCA Victor. Besides recording a series of hit records, he also arranged music for  Perry Como, Harry Belafonte, Eddie Fisher, and others.

In 1954, Hugo and Eddie recorded Land Of Dreams together, and the single reached #22 on the charts. After that success, Eddie began recording several albums each year.

In 1956, Eddie wrote and recorded Soft Summer Breeze. The single peaked at #11 on the Hot 100. The song sounds very familiar, but somehow not quite right because of our familiarity with his other 1956 single overshadows it. They credited Canadian Sunset to Hugo Winterhalter and His Orchestra With Eddie Heywood and that single reached #2 on the Hot 100 two months later.

Neither Eddie nor Hugo reached the Hot 100 again, but they each continued recording.

Eddie again suffered with paralysis in his hands for three years beginning in 1966, but he successfully began playing again in the eighties.

Eddie has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Eddie died in 1989 after struggling with Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.


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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1955 Bonnie Lou – Daddy-O 

1955 Bonnie Lou – Daddy-O 

Mary Joan Okum grew up in Illinois and began singing and playing the violin and guitar while still in high school.

She signed a five-year contract to perform Country music on the Brush Creek Follies barn dance show as Sally Carson in 1941. Since she was only 16 when she signed the contract, she was able to void it a few years later.

In 1945, Mary signed with WLW to appear on the Boone County Jamboree. The show later became named Midwestern Hayride Country & Western Radio Program and she appeared on broadcasts and live shows for the program. Since she could no longer use her prior stage name, she suggested using Mary Jo, but the station insisted that name did not sound Country enough and gave her the stage name Bonnie Lou.

She continued the broadcasts into the fifties and even sang on the Grand Ole Opry a few times.

Bonnie signed with King Records in Cincinnati and reached the Country charts for the first time in 1953 when her single Seven Lonely Days reached #7. A few months later, Tennessee Wig Walk followed it onto the chart and peaked at #6. The single also reached #4 in the UK and became one of the most popular British Football anthems.

Bonnie then began performing rock-and-roll in a format that came to be known as rockabilly. She recorded the single Two-Step Side-Step in 1954. Murry Wilson, the father of the three Wilson brothers in the Beach Boys, wrote the song (which failed to chart).

Her recording contract with King Records expired, and RCA offered Bonnie a new recording contract. RCA wanted Bonnie to move to New York City, so she chose to sign with a local label, Fraternity Records, instead. She recorded the song Daddy-O, which entered the Hot 100 chart in 1955. When the record reached the top twenty, she wanted to leave town to make public appearances, but the radio station she worked for refused to let her off work. When she could not further promote the record, it peaked at #14 in early December. The Fontane Sisters also recorded the song, and three weeks after Bonnie’s record began to fade, their less-Country version reached #11 on the Hot 100.

Midwestern Hayride moved to television on the NBC network and Bonnie continued to appear on the show until it went off the air in 1972. She hosted the Six Star Ranch, a live music radio show on the Mutual network. She also appeared regularly on the Ruth Lyons 50-50 Club, an entertainment and talk show.


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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1988 Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Dreaming

1988 Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Dreaming

Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys met when they were in primary school. From time to time they played in several bands together. In 1977 they assembled The Id, a seven-person group that played at local clubs. They also worked on a side-project concentrating on synthesizers and other electronic experimental music that they called VCL XI. The Id fell apart in 1978, and later that year the two rejoined and renamed their side-project Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD). They released the single Electricity three times in 1979 and 1980, but the single never charted.

In 1980 the group finally had success on the UK charts with their singles even though they still hadn’t reached the US Hot 100. Their first top ten single in the UK was Enola Gay, a protest song about the plane that bombed Hiroshima in World War II. Four more top ten singles followed over the next four years. Souvenir reached #3 and was their biggest hit during that period.

The group expanded to six members in 1985 and recorded So In Love. While the record failed to even reach the top twenty in the UK, it became their first US chart record when it reached #26 on the Hot 100 and #16 on the US Dance chart.

The makes of the film Pretty In Pink asked the group to produce a song for the soundtrack of the film. The song OMD selected did not test well with audiences, so the group wrote a replacement, If You Leave, in less than 24 hours. In 1986, The #4 single became their biggest Hot 100 record, but it failed to even enter the UK top forty.

In 1988, the band opened for Depeche Mode at the Rose Bowl and once again reached the US Hot 100 when the single Dreaming peaked at #16. The record was the first of four OMD singles to chart in the top ten on the US Dance Chart. The group never charted on the Hot 100 again.

Paul left the group in 1988 and formed a new group and took several other members of OMD with him. Andy began working as a solo artist with help from studio musicians but continued to release his records as OMD until 1996 when he declared the band inactive.

Andy and Paul reformed the band in 2006. OMD has appeared in concert sporadically and released new music as recently as 2019. They even released Electricity a fourth time, and while it didn’t chart on the regular UK chart,  it reached the top of the UK Vinyl Singles Chart.


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