1956 LaVern Baker – Jim Dandy
Delores Evans was born in Chicago in 1929. She began singing in clubs in the mid-forties as Little Miss Sharecropper and recorded songs using that name beginning in 1949. Her name became Bea Baker when she signed with Okeh Records in 1951. She finally settled on the name Lavern Baker the next year when she briefly joined Todd Rhodes and his band. She returned to a solo career after leaving the band.
Winfield Scott eventually wrote a few successful songs for Elvis, but his first chart success came when he wrote Lavern’s first chart success, Tweedlee Dee. Her single reached #14 on the Hot 100 and #4 on the R&B chart in early 1955.
The next year she recorded another novelty song, Jim Dandy. Lincoln Chase wrote the song (he later managed Shirley Ellis and also wrote The Name Game and The Clapping Song for her). LaVern topped the R&B chart with Jim Dandy and reached #17 on the Hot 100.
LaVern found her way onto both the Hot 100 and R&B top forty a few more times before the hits ran out in 1962.
In 1966, she recorded an updated version of Jim Dandy: Batman To The Rescue. The single didn’t reach the charts, but years later, somebody created a video for the song using clips from the Batman television show.
In 1985, Black Oak Arkansas covered Jim Dandy and their single reached #25 on the Hot 100.
LaVern released a few more singles in the late sixties and one last album in 1970 before accepting a job as the entertainment director at a Marine Corps Staff NCO club in the Philippines for nearly two decades. She then returned to the US and worked on soundtracks for a few films. She also recorded a live album in 1991 and a new studio album in 1992.
LaVern died in 1997, and they initially buried her in an unmarked grave in New York. In 2008, local historians raised enough money to mark her grave with a headstone.
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