1959 Billy & Lillie – Lucky Ladybug
Bob Crewe grew up in New Jersey and studied architecture in New York City. His interest in music won out, and in 1953 he met Frank Slay Jr., a piano player from Texas. The two of them began working together to create songs, with Bob focused on the lyrics and singing and Frank creating the music.
In 1957, a demo they created led to a session Bob produced with the Rays vocal group. They had previously recorded two other singles with the group, but that time they recorded the hit single Silhouettes. Bob and Frank owned the small Philadelphia record label XYZ Records and released the Rays single on their label. When the record generated significant local sales, Cameo-Parkway Records licensed the single and took it into national distribution. The single reached #3 on the Hot 100 and a cover version by the Diamonds also reached the top ten.
The Philadelphia-based Swan Records signed Bob and Frank to a deal, and they began writing and producing records for that label.
Billy Ford played trumpet and led bands beginning in the mid-forties. In the early fifties, he formed Billy Ford & the Thunderbirds and recorded a few singles. Swan Records paired Billy with singer Lillie Bryant and turned to Bob and Frank to produce records with the duo. They wrote and produced Lah De Dah using lyrics that included the titles of several other songs that had recently been on the charts, including their previous hit, Silhouettes. The single made it to #9 on the Hot 100 in 1958.
Bob and Frank also wrote and produced Billy & Lillie’s next single, but Bells, Bells, Bells reached #88 on the Hot 100 and quickly disappeared. When the group appeared on American Bandstand and sang Lah De Dah, Dick Clark suggested that Bob and Frank write another song like that. They took his advice and wrote and produced Lucky Ladybug for Billy & Lillie. The single sounded a great deal like Lah De Dah but still reached #14 on the Hot 100 in 1959.
Billy & Lillie never reached the charts again.
Bob later teamed up with Bob Gaudio of the Four Seasons, and the two of them wrote and/or produced many of that group’s hits. He wrote many other hit records for other artists, and they inducted him into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame in 1985.
Frank produced several top ten hits for other groups and almost reached the top forty himself in 1961 with Flying Circle, a rock-and-roll instrumental version of Hava Nagila.
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