1960 Hot Rod Lincoln
Jesse Lee Shibley was a disk jockey who moved from Arkansas to Washington in 1948. Folks there called him Arkie, probably a shortened form of Arkansas. He hosted a regular Country show on KBRG. He recorded the song Hot Rod Race which credited George Wilson as the songwriter. He recorded the song in a talking blues style.
When he couldn’t interest a record label with his recording, he created the Mountain Dew record label. The record listed Arkie Shibley and his Mountain Dew Boys as the singers. The single peaked at #5 on the Country chart in 1951.
Several cover versions were recorded, and Tiny Hill’s version reached #29 on the pop chart. All the versions of Hot Rod Lincoln owe more than a little to Arkie’s record.
Arkie recorded four sequels to the song that followed the drivers into court, but none of them did very well.
Singer/songwriter Charlie Ryan recorded an answer song in 1955 with backing from the Livingston Bros. Their single, Hot Rod Lincoln, failed to chart.
Charlie Ryan and the Timberline Riders released an updated version of his song in 1959. That version did much better; it reached #33 on the Hot 100 and #14 on the Country chart early the next year.
When Charlie’s second release began to fade, Johnny Bond released a cover version of Hot Rod Lincoln with slightly different lyrics. His single did better, peaking at #26 on the Hot 100 in 1960 without touching the Country chart.
One more notable cover version of the song exists. Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen peaked at #9 on the Hot 100 in 1972 with their single.
The 1976 book Star-Making Machinery by Geoffrey Stokes used the single to describe the state of the music business and how the production and marketing of the single affected the band and their music.
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