1962 Marty Robbins – Devil Woman

1962 Marty Robbins – Devil Woman 

Marty Robbins was born in Phoenix, Arizona, the song of woman of a Paiute Indian background. He enlisted in the army during World War II and learned to play the guitar while in the service. He also began writing his own songs.

When he left the military, Marty began playing in clubs in the Phoenix area. He soon appeared on local television and even began hosting his own regular show. Little Jimmy Dickens appeared as a guest star on one of Marty’s shows, and he helped Marty get a recording contract with Columbia Records. Marty wrote his first single, I’ll Go On Alone, and the record topped the Country chart in 1952.

Marty covered songs by Chuck Berry and Elvis in 1955, and that led to his first crossover single the next year. Singing The Blues topped the Country chart and reached #17 on the Hot 100 in 1956.

Marty’s biggest hit came in 1959. He wrote and recorded El Paso and the single topped both the Country chart and the Hot 100. While that was the only time he reached #1 on the Hot 100, he had 15 more #1 Country hits in his career. The record also won Marty his first Grammy Award.

Marty’s had one more big hit on the Hot 100 in 1961 before his records began to disappear from non-Country stations. Don’t Worry reached #3 on the Hot 100 and once again took Marty to the top of the Country chart.

Marty wrote and recorded Devil Woman and the single easily topped the Country chart. His single crossed over to top forty radio and peaked at #17 on the Hot 100. They nominated the record for the 1962 Grammy award for The Best Country and Western Recording, but lost out to Funny Way Of Laughin’ by Burl Ives.

Marty’s next single, Ruby Ann, reached #18 on the Hot 100 and became his last single to reach the top forty on Hot 100 chart. The hits kept coming on the Country chart through 1967.

Marty turned his focus onto race car driving, beginning in the mid-sixties. He competed in 35 NASCAR Grand National Series races and even finished in the top ten several times. 

Marty had bypass surgery after his third heart attack in 1982. While he survived the surgery, he failed to recover and died within a week.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marty_Robbins
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marty_Robbins_discography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devil_Woman_(Marty_Robbins_song)

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1959 Skip & Flip – It Was I

1959 Skip & Flip – It Was I

Clyde Battin was born in Ohio in 1934 and began playing electric bass while a teenager. In 1953 he moved to Tucson and worked on a physical education degree at the University of Arizona.

Larry Wayne Stevens was born in Kansas in 1939. He was adopted when he turned three and his name was changed to Gary S. Paxton. His family moved to Arizona in the mid-fifties and Gary began playing guitar and singing in bands that played Country and/or rock-and-roll.

The two young musicians formed The Pledges, a band made up of college students. Gary wrote Why Not Confess and they recorded the single for Rev Records as Gary and Clyde.

In 1959, the duo recorded a few more songs Gary had written using Duane Eddy’s Desert Palm Studios in Phoenix. Bob Shad signed the pair to his Brent Records label and renamed them Skip (Clyde) and Flip (Gary) for the single. The names were taken from the names of two of Bob’s poodles. He released It Was I from those sessions. Gary was picking cherries in an orchard in Oregon when he heard the song on a transistor radio and realized he had a career in music. The record turned into a hit. The single sold over a million copies and peaked at #11 on the Hot 100.

Clyde and Gary were both credited as writers on their next release. Fancy Nancy peaked at only #71 on the Hot 100.

Marvin & Johnny were a doo-wop group that recorded music in the early fifties. The b-side of their 1954 single Tick Tock was the first recording of Cherry Pie. The next Skip & Flip single was a cover of that song that came out in 1960. The record once again peaked at #11 on the Hot 100. It was to be their last successful single.

The pair co-wrote the novelty song Hully Gully Cha Cha Cha, but it did not reach the Hot 100. The duo released a few more singles before calling it quits in 1963.

Clyde joined the Byrds as their bass player from 1970 to 1973. He later was a member of New Riders of the Purple Sage and then The Flying Burrito Brothers. He worked as a studio musician on many projects and also released five solo albums. Clyde was also a member of The Byrds featuring Michael Clarke and then The Byrds Celebration for a few years in the late eighties and early nineties. Clyde died in 2003.

Gary became a very successful producer. He was a member of The Hollywood Argyles and produced their chart-topping single Alley Oop. He also produced the Bobby “Boris” Pickett hit The Monster Mash and released the single on his own record label. He produced Cherish and Along Comes Mary for the Association and Sweet Pea and Hooray For Hazel for Tommy Roe. Gary began working on Country music and even won a Grammy award for Best Inspirational Performance in 1972. Gary died in 2016.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skip_%26_Flip

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1961 Linda Scott – I Don’t Know Why (I Just Do)

1961 Linda Scott – I Don’t Know Why (I Just Do)

Linda Joy Sampson grew up in New York and New Jersey in the late forties and early fifties. While still in high school, Linda auditioned for Arthur Godfrey’s radio show. Arthur hired her, and she sang on the show for three years. Epic Records released a recording of Linda singing In Between Teen, listing her name as Linda Sampson. The single failed to chart.

When she was sixteen, Linda signed a recording contract with Canadian-American Records, and recorded her first album. Her first single came from the 1932 play Music in the AirI’ve Told Ev’ry Little Star reached #3 on the Hot 100 in early 1961. The record sold over a million copies and earned Linda a gold record.

Linda wrote her next single herself. Don’t Bet Money Honey peaked at #9 on the Hot 100 later that year. It also reached #3 on the Adult Contemporary (AC) chart and #22 on the R&B chart. Linda also wrote music and additional lyrics for the nursery rhyme Starlight, Starbright. Her record company used the recording as the b-side of the single, and it reached #44 on the Hot 100.

Her third single also came from her album and again featured Linda covering a classic song from the thirties. Fred E. Ahlert and Roy Turk published I Don’t Know Why (I Just Do) in 1931, and several artists had hit recordings with the song that year. The song became popular again in 1946, thanks to a #16 recording by Tommy Dorsey that featured vocals by Stuart Foster. Linda’s version of I Don’t Know Why peaked at #12 on the Hot 100 in 1961. The record also gave her the best showing she had on the AC chart, where it reached #2.

In 1962, Linda appeared in Chubby Checker’s film, Don’t Knock The Twist. She played a fictionalized version of herself and performed Yessiree, a song she again wrote herself. The single peaked at #60 on the Hot 100 that year.

Linda kept recording singles through at least 1967 and had three more singles reach the top twenty on the AC chart, but she never again reached the top forty on the Hot 100.

Although her solo career faded, Linda sang backup vocals on hits by other artists. Her most notable appearance on another record came in 1969 when she sang on the single I’m Gonna Make You Mine by Lou Christie.

Linda retired from show business in the early seventies and enlisted in the army. She went to work as a laboratory assistant at Fort Sam Houston. After ending her military service, she eventually began teaching music at a Christian Academy in New York City.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linda_Scott
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%27ve_Told_Ev%27ry_Little_Star
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don%27t_Bet_Money_Honey
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Don%27t_Know_Why_(I_Just_Do)

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1960 Johnny Preston – Feel So Fine

1960 Johnny Preston – Feel So Fine

Singer John Preston Courville was born in Port Arthur, Texas, in 1939. He began performing in singing competitions across the state and formed his own band, The Shades. Jiles Perry Richardson (aka The Big Bopper) caught one of John’s shows and offered to let John sing on a song he had written.

John recorded the novelty song Running Bear at a studio in Houston in 1958. The Big Bopper and Country singer George Jones supplied the Indian chants in the record’s background. Mercury Records signed John to a recording contract as Johnny Preston. Seven months after the 1959 plane crash that killed The Big Bopper and Buddy Holly, Mercury released Johnny’s single. The record topped the Hot 100 and the charts in the UK in early 1960. Somehow it also reached #3 on the R&B chart.

Johnny’s next single was the rockabilly single Cradle Of Love. The lyrics featured lines from several nursery rhymes. The record peaked at #7 on the Hot 100 and stalled at #2 on the UK chart.

Shirley and Lee had a string of top three singles on the R&B chart starting in 1952, including the #1 R&B hit Let The Good Times Roll that managed to reach #20 on the Hot 100. The duo peaked at #2 on the R&B chart in 1955 with the single Feel So Good.

Johnny’s reworked the song into a rockabilly record entitled Feel So Fine. The single became Johnny’s third hit in 1960. It reached #14 on the Hot 100.

Johnny’s next two singles failed to chart, and he released two singles that only reached #73 and #97 in 1961. He continued recording and releasing singles through 1968, but failed to reach the Hot 100 again. He continued performing through 2009 before heart problems slowed him down. His heart finally gave out, and he died in 2011.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Preston

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1958 Dion and the Belmonts – I Wonder Why

1958 Dion & the Belmonts – I Wonder Why

Three young men from the Bronx formed one of the earliest doo-wop groups in the mid-fifties. Angelo D’Aleo, Carlo Mastrangelo, and Fred Milano called themselves The Belmonts, a name that came from the Bronx neighborhood they lived in.

The group began recording for Mohawk Records in 1957. Their first record was based on a song written in 1884 by Percy Montrose. Oh, My Darling Clementine was first recorded in English in 1941 when Bing Crosby released the song as Clemintine and his single reached #20. You may be more familiar with Huckleberry Hound singing the song in cartoons.

The Belmonts’ version of the songTeenage Clementine, had new lyrics. Fred sang lead on the record. It did not chart.

Meanwhile, Mohawk Records was working with another Bronx native, Dion DiMucci. The label used Hugo Montenegro (who later had a hit with the theme song from The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly) to record a song with Vic Damone. A group called the Timberlanes sang backup vocals on The Chosen Few. Mohawk Records wanted to replace Vic’s vocals with Dion’s, so he recorded new lead vocals for the song without ever meeting the Timberlanes. Dion’s single became a minor hit on the East Coast but also failed to chart nationally.

Bob and Gene Schwartz owned Mohawk Records and got the four singers to work together on We Went Away, which they released on the Mohawk label in 1957. Mohawk listed the artists on the record as Dion With The Belmonts. The single did not chart.

Bob and Gene formed Laurie Records and signed the group to their new label. In May 1958 they released I Wonder Why by Dion and the Belmonts and the single reached #22 on the Hot 100.

The group’s next single was a balladNo One Knows, which did even better. It reached #19 on the Hot 100 later that year.

The group’s last single in 1958, Don’t Pity Me, only reached #40. The group was a party of the Winter Dance Party tour that resulted in the death of Buddy Holly. They offered Dion a seat on the plane that crashed and killed all aboard, but he turned it down. He didn’t want to pay the $36 fee for the flight since that was the amount of his parents’ mortgage payments.

The group’s next single, the classic A Teenager In Love, peaked at #5 on the Hot 100 and brought them into the national spotlight.

Three more top forty singles followed before Dion left the Belmonts to pursue a solo career in 1960.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Belmonts
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dion_and_the_Belmonts
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oh_My_Darling,_Clementine

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1962 The Duprees – Have You Heard

1962 The Duprees – Have You Heard

In February 1952, Joni James began recording for MGM Records. She had seen the sheet music for You Belong To Me and became the first artist to record the song, but MGM released another of her recordings as a single instead. Jo Stafford covered the song and her version first charted in August and went to number one on the charts. MGM released Joni’s version as her second single, but it did not chart because of Jo’s success.

Joni did not lose out completely in 1952 as her recording of Why Don’t You Believe Me topped the chart later in the year. The next year she followed that with the single Have You Heard, which reached #4.

New Jersey high school students Michael Arnone, Tom Bialoglow, John Salvato, Joe Santollo, and lead singer Joey Canzano (later known as Joey Vann) formed a doo-wop group in the early sixties. George Paxton, a former bandleader who also produced records, signed the group to his Coed Records label. The group began recording in 1962.

The Duprees covered You Belong To Me in 1962 and their single peaked at #7 on the Hot 100.

Their next single took the melody of Tara’s Theme from Gone With The Wind and recorded the song with new lyrics. My Own True Love reached #13 before fading off the chart. Their next single only reached #91, and they followed that with Gone With The Wind, which stopped at #89.

They reached back into Joni’s hits, and their version of Why Don’t You Believe Me put them back into the top forty, although it stalled at #37.

The group’s last hit came late in 1963, when they once again recorded one of Joni’s hits. They reached #18 on the Hot 100 with their release of Have You Heard.

Mike Kelly took over as the lead vocalist for the group from 1964 to 1977. Mike Arnone took over managing the group and kept it touring on the oldies circuit with replacement singers until his death in 2005. Before his death, he had hired Tony Testa, a former guitar player for the group, to act as music director, and Tony continues to lead the group today. The current lead singer is Tommy Petillo.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Duprees

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1962 Dave “Baby” Cortez – Rinky Dink

1962 Dave “Baby” Cortez – Rinky Dink

David Cortez Clowney grew up in Detroit and learned to play the piano. He soon switched over to the organ, and performed with two doo-wop groups, the Pearls and the Valentines. He began recording singles in 1956.

He used the name “Baby” Cortez for a single in 1956. Honey Baby was not an instrumental, but actually featured Dave’s singing. The record did not chart.

In 1958 Dave released an instrumental singleThe Happy Organ, as Dave “Baby” Cortez. The record did not chart until March 1959, but airplay and sales quickly took off. His single topped the Hot 100 in May. Tequila had topped the chart in 1958, but included the spoken word “Tequila,” so Dave’s record became the first instrumental to reach number one since 1956.

Dave released an endless stream of singles over the next few years, but did not reach the top forty again for a few years. The instrumental Rinky Dink reached #10 on the Hot 100 in 1962. More than a few listeners hear echoes of Mickey and Sylvia’s 1957 hit Love Is Strange in the record. The UK television show Professional Wrestling used the song in its broadcasts.

Dave released a few more records that entered the lower reaches of the Hot 100, but never got near the top forty again. He stopped charting at all after 1966, but released a few more albums in the seventies.

Dave came out of retirement in 2011 and recorded a new album in 2011 using Lonnie Youngblood and His Bloodhounds as backup musicians.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_%22Baby%22_Cortez

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1970 Mountain – Mississippi Queen

1970 Mountain – Mississippi Queen

Felix Pappalardi played bass on folk records in the mid-sixties. He also made a name for himself as an arranger and worked on records by Tom Paxton and Fred Neil. He is probably best known for his work as the producer of several albums by the rock group Cream, including Disraeli Gears. He also produced the Youngbloods album that contained the hit Get Together.

Leslie Weinstein grew up in New York and New Jersey. He changed his last name to West when he joined a Long Island group, The Vagrants, for whom he began singing and playing guitar. Felix helped the group get signed with ATCO Records. Felix produced several records for the Vagrants, but they never achieved more than a few regional hits. He then produced Leslie’s first solo album, Mountain. Felix also played bass on the album and used N. D. Smart on drums, giving fans a preview of what was to come next.

In 1969, Leslie and Felix also recruited keyboard player Steve Knight into their lineup and named their new band after Leslie’s first album, Mountain. The group began playing concerts, and their third appearance was a one hour performance at Woodstock. While neither the film nor the first soundtrack album included the group’s performances, two of their songs finally got included on The 40th Anniversary Edition of Woodstock on DVD. Laurence “Corky” Laing became the group’s new keyboard player shortly after Woodstock.

One song the group recorded for their first album was Mississippi Queen. Corky had written some lyrics and the drum part even before joining the band, and Leslie and Felix helped finish the music. Felix had produced an album for singer/songwriter David Rea, and David helped finish the lyrics for the song.

Felix produced the recording and kept the group recording multiple takes because none of the takes satisfied him. Out of frustration, Corky began counting off the start of the song using a cowbell instead of his drums; Felix liked the feel of the cowbell enough to keep it on the start of the final version of the song.

The single is clearly one of the earliest records that can qualify as heavy metal music. Mississippi Queen peaked at #21 on the Hot 100 in 1970. The group reached #76 with another single in 1971, but that was their last appearance on the Hot 100. Felix had to stop touring because of hearing problems that resulted from sustained exposure to loud music, and he went back to doing studio work.

The group recorded two more albums in 1971 and then disbanded in 1972 when Felix had to stop touring because of hearing problems. Felix returned to doing studio work.

The group released an album that collected assorted live performances in 1972. One of the songs on the album was a new live version of Long Red, a song from their first album. The drum solo at the start of the song has become one of the most sampled pieces of music in history; it has been sampled by well over 500 other records.

Corky and Leslie recruited Jack Bruce from Cream and formed West, Bruce, and Laing in 1973. The group toured and recorded two albums before excessive drug abuse apparently tore the group apart in 1974. Corky and Leslie then reformed Mountain with two new members for about a year.

Felix was shot and killed by his wife in 1983.

Mountain reformed a few more times and continued to rotate members for recording sessions and touring. The group’s last new album came out in 2007. Leslie also released more than a dozen solo albums through 2015.

Leslie died just before Christmas in 2020. Corky still leads a group that performs Mountain’s music.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_(band)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mississippi_Queen
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leslie_West
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Vagrants
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felix_Pappalardi

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1981 Four Tops – When She Was My Girl

1981 Four Tops – When She Was My Girl

In 1953, four singers from Detroit formed the Four Aims. The group included Levi Stubbs as their lead singer, and Renaldo “Obie” Benson, Abdul “Duke” Fakir, and Lawrence Payton as background singers. Songwriter Roquel Davis, Lawrence’s cousin, helped the group sign with Chess Records in 1956. They changed their name to the Four Tops because of the prior success of the Ames Brothers.

The group recorded for several labels in the next seven years, but did not record any successful records. Berry Gordy, Jr. had worked with Roquel, and that helped him convince the Four Tops to sign with Motown Records in 1963. They initially sang on the company’s Jazz label, then did some background vocals for the Supremes, and finally got their own hit record when they recorded Baby I Need Your Loving in 1964.

The group recorded over a dozen top forty singles for Motown in the sixties. Their records did even better on the R&B chart, where they had eleven top ten singles.

The Motown company moved to LA in 1972, and several of the label’s older artists whose careers had faded remained in Detroit instead. The Four Tops moved to ABC Records and promptly had two more top ten hits on the Hot 100. They were unable to reach the top forty on the Hot 100 for the following seven years.

In 1981, the Four Tops signed with Casablanca Records. Their first single for the new label was When She Was My Girl. The single peaked at #11 on the Hot 100, gave the group their last #1 hit on the R&B chart.

The group returned to Motown Records in 1983, but their hit-making years were essentially behind them. They teamed up with Smokey Robinson on Indestructible in 1988 and the single reached #35 on the Hot 100, but it became their last appearance on that chart.

The group continued to make appearances on television shows and toured as an oldies group. The lineup remained intact until cancer caused Lawrence’s death in 1997. The four singers had kept their group intact for over 44 years!

Levi stepped out of the group in the early 2000s to fight with his own case of cancer and died in 2012.

Duke and Obie still lead a touring group of the Four Tops with replacement singers as needed to fill out the group.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Tops

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1961 Bobby Vee – Stayin’ In

1961 Bobby Vee – Stayin’ In 

Bobby Vee was born in Fargo, North Dakota, and was almost 16 when Buddy Holly was killed in a plane crash. Bobby and several other friends in Fargo filled in for Buddy’s band at the next scheduled stop on their tour in Moorhead, Minnesota. The performance led to Liberty Records signing Bobby to a recording contract.

Bobby wrote his first single, Suzie Baby, crediting Buddy as an inspiration for the music. The record peaked at only #77 on the Hot 100 in 1959. Bobby’s backup band called itself The Shadows until complaints arrived from a group with that name in England, after which they became The Strangers. One of the members of that band that toured with Bobby was Elston Gunn, who later began using a different name for his solo career: Bob Dylan.

Bobby left the Strangers behind in 1960 and became a solo act. He had two top ten singles that year, Devil Or Angel and Rubber Ball.

In 1961, Bobby’s first single was Stayin’ In. The record barely reached the top forty on the Hot 100, peaking at #33. I didn’t remember hearing the song until I bought his first greatest hits album in 1962.

The b-side of the single also charted, making the record a double-sided hit. Two of the Crickets, Sonny Curtis and Jerry Allison, wrote the song. The Crickets recorded and released the song as the b-side of a single in 1960 a few months after Buddy’s death. It did not chart in the US, but peaked at #26 in the UK.

Bobby’s version only reached #61 on the Hot 100.

Perhaps the two sides of the record competing for airplay prevented either side from becoming a big hit. Bobby didn’t get hurt too badly by the poor showing since later that year he topped the charts with Take Good Care Of My Baby.

Leo Sayer had the biggest hit with More Than I Can Say when his version reached #2 on the Hot 100 in 1980.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_Vee
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_Vee_discography

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