1963 Pastel Six – Cinnamon Cinder (It’s A Very Nice Dance)

1963 Pastel Six – Cinnamon Cinder (It’s A Very Nice Dance)

Bob Eubanks is best known as the first host for the television show The Dating Game, a television show that began in 1966. Prior to that, Bob worked as a disk jockey in Los Angeles. He also owned a chain of nightclubs in California called The Cinnamon Cinder that catered to teenagers. They were more affordable for younger fans of music and offered them a place to go if they weren’t old enough to get into regular night clubs. They also featured rock-and-roll, dance music, and some jazz and R&B music.

Similar to American Bandstand, there was a television show that originated from the clubs.

Russ Regan co-wrote and recorded the Christmas novelty record The Happy Reindeer, which reached #34 on the Hot 100 in 1959. He then worked promoting early Motown records. He convinced the Pendletones to change their name to The Beach Boys when they recorded Surfin‘. In 1962, he wrote the song The Cinnamon Cinder (It’s A Very Nice Dance).

A seven-man band called The Pastel Six recorded and released the song and their single peaked at #25 on the Hot 100 in 1963.

The Pastel Six released an album and a half-dozen more singles but never charted again.

Russ later became the president of President of UNI and 20th Century Records and helped a long list of artists find success in the music business.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinnamon_Cinder
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russ_Regan

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1963 Al Martino – Painted, Tainted Rose

1963 Al Martino – Painted, Tainted Rose 

Jasper Cini grew up in Philadelphia, and his family had the good fortune to be friends with Mario Lanza. When Jasper returned from military service in WW II, Mario encouraged him to become a singer…and to change his name to Al Martino.

Al moved to New York City in 1948 and began recording for Jubilee Records. He appeared on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts and his win on the television show won him a recording contract with a small local label. He recorded Here In My Heart, and the single topped the Hot 100 in 1952. They created a new UK Singles chart that year, and Al’s record became the first #1 record on that chart.

His next single, Take My Heart, reached #12. He moved to England for a few years and successfully recorded and performed in shows there for a half-dozen years. He returned to the US, but he didn’t reach the top 25 again until 1963. His breakthrough record was I Love You Because, which reached #3 on the Hot 100 and topped the Adult Contemporary (AC) chart that year.

Painted, Tainted Rose came next, and the single peaked at #15 on the Hot 100 later that year. Once again, his record did better on the AC chart, where it reached #3.

Most of Al’s success came from records that charted on the AC chart. From 1963 to 1978, Al had over twenty top ten singles on the chart, including four that reached #1. Eleven of his singles reached the top forty on the Hot 100 during that period, but only I Love You Because and I Love You More and More Each Day reached the top ten on the pop chart.

Al played the part of Johnny Fontane in the three Godfather films and sang Speak Softly Love, the theme song from the first film.

Al continued recording new albums until his death from a heart attack in 2009.

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

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1962 The Angels – Till

1962 The Angels – Till

Barbara and Phyllis Allbut, Bernadette Carroll, and Lynda Malzone formed the Starlets in the early sixties. Lynda left the group and Linda Jansen joined as their new lead singer. The group’s manager dropped them and took on Bernadette as a solo artist and the group reduced to a trio.

The group auditioned with producer Gerry Granahan, who initially turned them down. Gerry later changed his mind and brought the group back into the studio to record a song they had auditioned with. The song (Till) was based on a French instrumental and featured English lyrics written by Carl Sigman.

Roger Williams had recorded Till in 1957, and the single reached #22 on the Hot 100. In spite of its mediocre showing on the charts, the record earned a gold record by selling over a million copies.

The Starlets recorded their version of Till in 1961. The group changed their name to The Angels when it was released, and their single peaked at #14 on the Hot 100 in 1962.

Linda left the group in early 1962, and Peggy Santiglia became the group’s new lead singer. Peggy sang lead on My Boyfriend’s Back, which topped the Hot 100 in 1963.

The group reached #25 later that year with the single I Adore Him, but never again entered the top forty. They continued recording singles through 1968, after which the group disbanded for a few years.

Some members of the group reunited beginning in the early seventies, and Phyllis and Linda still lead a group that appears in Oldies shows as The Angels.

Bernadette released Party Girl in 1964 and it reached #47 on the Hot 100. That single was to be her only appearance on the chart.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Angels_(American_group)

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1962 Billy Joe and the Checkmates – Percolator (Twist)

1962 Billy Joe and the Checkmates – Percolator (Twist)

Lewis Joseph Bedell was born in Texas and moved to Los Angeles with his mother when his parents divorced. He performed in a comedy duo with Doug Mattson in clubs across the country. The duo broke up in 1953, but Lew continued appearing as a solo act. He even had his own television show for a brief time on WOR-TV in New York City.

In 1955, Lew and two of his relatives started Era Records. The label had hits with Wayward Wind by Gogi Grant and Chanson d’Amour, by Art and Dotty Todd. In 1958, they also started Doré Records. That label released Phil Spector’s To Know Him Is To Love Him by The Teddy Bears and Baby Talk by Jan and Dean.

Maxwell House advertised their coffee using a fun little instrumental jingle created by Eric Siday in 1961.

Ernie Freeman was an arranger and composer and had played piano on records by the Platters. In 1957, he had a top five hit of his own when he covered the Bill Justis recording of Raunchy. In 1961, Lew asked Ernie to put together a group of studio musicians and record a rock instrumental version of the Maxwell House theme. Lew and Ernie took credit for writing the song when their single got released. They might have initially titled the song Percolator based on the coffee ad.

It was a hot time for any new song related to the twist, and in a moment of brilliance they renamed their new song by appending the word “twist” to the name: Percolator (Twist).

The song doesn’t sound like any other twist records, but the title helped the single reach #10 on the Hot 100 in 1962.

Studio musicians were used to create at least eighteen more singles released using the group name, but none of them reached the Hot 100.

Lew returned to comedy and released a comedy album in 1967. He also recorded a few comedy CDs in the late nineties and 2000 and released them as Lew Bedell. He died from cancer shortly after releasing his last CD.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lew_Bedell
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Siday

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1962 Charlie Drake – My Boomerang Won’t Come Back

1962 Charlie Drake – My Boomerang Won’t Come Back

Charles Edward Springall was born in South London and used his mother’s maiden name for his acting and singing career: Charlie Drake. Charlie started out as a singer, but switched to acting when it became clear that he could not compete with other professional singers.

Charlie began appearing on television in 1953 in a kid show that featured him and Jack Edwardes. Beginning in 1957, he hosted and starred in a series of television comedy shows. Charlie signed with Parlophone Records the next year and they assigned George Martin to produce his records.

His first hit in England was a cover of Bobby Darin’s Splish Splash. The song was already somewhat comedic, and Charlie added sound effects and voice-overs to add to the humor. The single reached the top ten in the UK!

His next single made fun of a song that came in third in the annual Eurovision competition. His version of Volare took him into territory that sounded a lot like something Spike Jones might have done. The record did not do as well as his first release, but still got into the UK top thirty.

Since covering a US hit had worked so well before, Charlie covered the Larry Verne hit, Mr. Custer. The single almost reached the UK top ten in 1960.

1961 finally brought Charlie an international hit. Charlie co-wrote My Boomerang Won’t Come Back with Max Diamond. The record peaked at #14 in the UK. When it came time to release the record in the US, there was some concern about the lyrics and all the sound effects and British humor. They changed the line “Practiced till I was blue in the face” to “Practiced till I was blue in the face.” The record company also edited the record and removed almost a full minute of the recording. The result? A record that reached #21 on the US Hot 100.

When it came time to release the record in the US, there was some concern about the lyrics and all the sound effects and British humor. They changed the line “Practiced till I was blue in the face” to “Practiced till I was blue in the face.” The record company also edited the record and removed almost a full minute of the recording. The result? A record that reached #21 on the US Hot 100 in 1962. It didn’t surprise anybody when the record topped the charts in Australia.

Charlie’s singing career was essentially over after that single. He continued appearing in various comedic shows in the UK and eventually gained acclaim for straight dramatic roles in the eighties.

A stroke force Charlie to retire from performing in 1995. He died in 2006 after a series of strokes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Drake
https://downstairslounge.wordpress.com/2013/12/31/charlie-drake-hobgoblin-of-comedy/

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1961 Damita Jo – I’ll Be There

1961 Damita Jo – I’ll Be There

Answer songs have been around since the twenties. Perhaps the most famous answer song is one that doesn’t appear to be an answer song at all.

Woody Guthrie became tired of hearing Kate Smith sing God Bless America, and in early 1940 he wrote a song he initially titled God Blessed America. The first line was very familiar: “This land is your land, and this land is my land.” The last line of the first verse ended with “God blessed America for me.”

Woody didn’t do much with the song for four years, but in 1944 he rewrote it. The last line of each verse became “This land was made for you and me,” and the song became This Land. The song became a standard for folksingers.

An example from the rock era came about after Neil Sedaka had a top ten hit with Oh! Carol in 1959 and Carole King responded by recording Oh, Neil.

Many answer songs were sung by a woman answering a song sung by a man. The two most successful singles by Damita Jo were each answer songs to two songs originally sung by Ben E. King.

Damita Jo DeBlanc sang lead vocals for Steve Gibson and the Red Caps, and they released singles on RCA Victor Records beginning in 1952. She and Steve became married, but they divorced and she left the group in 1959.

Ben sang lead for the Drifters on the song Save The Last Dance For Me. The single topped the Hot 100 in October 1960. Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman wrote the song. Polio had placed Doc in a wheelchair, and he was inspired to write the song after watching his wife dancing with other men at their wedding reception. The answer song I’ll Save The Last Dance For You clearly uses the same music with some slightly different lyrics. Damita Jo had released two other singles that failed to get her solo career moving, but her single release of I’ll Save The Last Dance For You peaked at #22 on the Hot 100 in December.

Damita Jo’s next two singles did not do well.

Ben left the Drifters. He worked with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, the producers of Save The Last Dance For Me, and the three wrote Stand By Me. The single topped the R&B chart and reached the top ten on the Hot 100 in 1961.

New lyrics were written, and the answer song became I’ll Be There rather than I’ll Stand By You. Damita Jo’s single did even better than her first answer song, reaching #12 on the Hot 100 in 1961. Although the song’s title is the same as songs by The Jackson Five, Mariah Carey, and The Escape Club, it’s completely different from those songs.

Damita Jo’s next single was a cover version of a song that was a top ten record for three artists in 1944. The Andrews Sisters sang the song in the film Her Lucky Night in 1945. Damita Jo’s version of Dance With A Dolly (With A Hole In Her Stocking) didn’t reach the Hot 100 in the US, but the record reached number 3 in Sweden. Her two answer songs were also top three records in Sweden.

Damita Jo never got near the top forty again. She became a jazz performer and recorded ten albums in the sixties. She died from a respiratory illness in 1998.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damita_Jo_DeBlanc
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_Land_Is_Your_Land
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Save_the_Last_Dance_for_Me
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stand_by_Me_(Ben_E._King_song)

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1961 Chuck Jackson – I Don’t Want To Cry

1961 Chuck Jackson – I Don’t Want To Cry 

Singer Chuck Jackson joined the Del-Vikings in the mid-fifties and sang with the group until he left to pursue a solo career in 1959. Luther Dixon caught Chuck’s performance as the opening act for Jackie Wilson at The Apollo Theater. That led to a contract with Wand Records, a subsidiary of Scepter Records.

Chuck co-wrote a song with Luther that became his first successful single. I Don’t Want To Cry peaked at only #36 on the Hot 100 in 1961 but reached the top five of the R&B chart.

In 1962, Chuck recorded a song written by Burt Bacharach and Bob Hilliard, Any Day Now. His single reached #23 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the R&B chart. Burt even introduced Chuck and pretended to play the organ on a television special.

 

Chuck’s 1962 album also included I Keep Forgetting, a song written by Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, and Gilbert Garfield. Chuck’s single peaked at only #55 on the Hot 100, but the song took on a life of its own.

The Checkmates, Ltd. covered the song in 1970, but their single failed to reach the charts. 

Michael McDonald co-wrote I Keep Forgetting (Every Time You’re Near) with Ed Sanford of the Sanford-Townsend Band. Michael’s single reached #4 on the Hot 100 in 1982. Despite the identical title, the song was very different from Chuck’s single. Because some lyrics were close enough to Chuck’s original song, Leiber and Stoller were eventually given co-writing credit.

David Bowie also recorded an actual cover of Chuck’s song on an album in 1984 that did not get released as a single.

Chuck continued recording songs that reached the R&B chart top forty through the mid-seventies. He continued recording albums well into the nineties.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuck_Jackson
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Keep_Forgettin%27

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1960 Fleetwoods – Runaround

1960 Fleetwoods – Runaround

Gary Troxel, Gretchen Christopher, and Barbara Ellis met while in high school in Olympia, Washington. Gretchen and Barbara began singing together, and Gary joined them, just playing the trumpet. Gary began writing his own songs, and those impressed the young women enough that he abandoned the trumpet and joined them on vocals.

The three performed songs they wrote themselves in their appearances. The song Come Softly to Me impressed Dolphin Records, and the company released it as a single. The record rose to the top of the Hot 100 and reached #5 on the R&B chart in 1959. The group didn’t make any changes after scoring their first hit record, but Dolphin changed their name to Dolton Records.

The trio also wrote their second single, but Graduation’s Here barely reached the top forty. DeWayne Blackwell wrote the group’s third single, and Mr. Blue took the group to the top of the charts for a second time in 1959.

Gary had joined the Naval Reserve in 1956, and near the end of 1959, they called him up to active duty. Vic Dana replaced Gary and took over singing chores for live appearances, but did not record any songs with the group.

Two more of the group’s songs reached the top forty in 1960. Outside My Window faded after peaking at #28. They had a slightly bigger hit with Runaround, which reached #23.

The Thomas Wayne single Tragedy peaked at #5 in 1959. The Fleetwoods had one last top ten single in 1961 when they released a cover of the song.

The group also released (He’s) The Great Imposter in 1961. Although the single only reached #30 on the Hot 100, it may turn out to be more familiar to many listeners than their other songs thanks to the use of their song in the film American Graffiti.

Singles by The Fleetwoods continued to come out through early 1965. After the start of the British Invasion, it became much more difficult to get airplay for their style of music, and the group disbanded.

Gary officially resigned from the group in 1983 and left Gretchen with ownership of the group name. She recruited new members for the Fleetwoods and has managed the group since then. Gary and Gretchen regrouped and toured briefly with Cheryl Huggins replacing Barbara in 1990 when Rhino Records released The Best Of The Fleetwoods. The group maintains a website at https://thefleetwoods.com/

DeWayne Blackwell continued writing songs for an assortment of artists. He most notably wrote the hit single Friends in Low Places, which was a hit for Garth Brooks in 1990.

Vic Dana pursued a solo career beginning in 1961 and had a top ten hit with the single Red Roses For A Blue Lady in 1965. While he only had one other top forty single on the Hot 100, he scored 15 top forty singles on the Adult Contemporary chart.

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-fleetwoods-mn0000761706/biography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fleetwoods

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1959 The Mark IV – I Got A Wife

1959 The Mark IV – I Got A Wife

Michael McCarth, Leon McGeary, Bob Peterson, and William (Bill) Thomas were members of The Rhythm Makers, a quintet formed in Chicago in the fifties. The group changed its name to the Mark V, and then to the Mark IV when the unnamed fifth member left the group. They appear to have been primarily a doo-wop vocal group.

The first single recorded by the group that charted was Make With The Shake. Drummer Eddie Mascari and pianist Erwin “Dutch” Wenzlaff wrote the song, which peaked at #69 on the Hot 100 in 1958.

While the lower reaches of the Hot 100 normally aren’t very helpful, in this case it was enough to get them an appearance on American Bandstand. That got them noticed by Mercury Records, who signed the group to a recording contract.

Their only other appearance on the Hot 100 came from another novelty record written by Eddie and Dutch. The Mark IV’s single release of I Got A Wife made it up to #24 on the Hot 100 in 1959. A few random artists covered the song as a polka number.

The group recorded a few more singles that failed to chart, and their contract with Mercury ended. One of the members left the group, but they continued performing as The Mark IV Trio into the eighties.

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

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1958 Ricky Nelson – Waitin’ In School

1958 Ricky Nelson – Waitin’ In School

Ricky Nelson was the son of a singer and a bandleader. His parents, Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, began broadcasting their own radio show in 1944. The show featured light comedy about family life. Professional child actors initially played the parts of Ricky and his brother David. The boys began reading their own parts in 1949 when they were 8 and 12 years old.

The family starred in the film Here Come the Nelsons in 1952, and the success of the film led them to replace their radio show with a half hour television show on ABC. The show was one of the most successful sitcoms of all time, running through 1966.

Sixteen-year-old Ricky wanted to impress his girlfriend. She was a fan of Elvis, and Ricky boasted to her that he would also be recording records. The first two songs he recorded became a two-sided hit on Verve Records. Ozzie added lip-synced performances by Ricky to the end of one or two shows each month and that helped turn him into a teen idol.

A Teenager’s Romance and a cover of the Fats Domino record I’m Walking reached #2 and #4 on the pop charts in early 1957. After another single, Ozzie negotiated a better contract and moved Ricky to Imperial Records. His first single for Imperial also became a two-sided hit, with Be-Bop Baby reaching #3 on the chart in 1957.

Ricky’s first hit single in 1958 featured Stood Up as the a-side. The song reached #2 on the charts, held off of the top spot by Danny and the Juniors’ hit At The Hop.

The b-side, Waitin’ In School, gave Ricky his third double-sided hit when it peaked at #18 on the Hot 100. Johnny and Dorsey Burnette wrote the song, resulting in one of Ricky’s strongest rockabilly recordings.

Ricky landed at least seven singles in the top forty in 1958, and another five the next year. Most people know he changed his name to Rick Nelson when he turned 21 in 1961. It may surprise you to learn that he returned to using Ricky when he began a comeback tour in 1985. Later that year, Ricky was killed in a plane crash.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ricky_Nelson
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ricky_Nelson_discography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waitin%27_in_School

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