Lost Or Forgotten Hit Records – Novelty Records
Far too many hit records get buried in the sands of time, but the sands seem to storm more solidly on novelty records. Here are a dozen novelty records that seem to have been misplaced by radio stations:
My Daddy Is President by Little JoAnn. Once upon a time we loved our president; I’m thinking, of course, of the days of Camelot when JFK was in the White House. This song from 1962 wasn’t really sung by Caroline, but she does show up in the pictures in the video.
The Princess and the Punk by Barry Mann. I’m only slightly embarrassed to admit I bought a K-Tel album simply to get a copy of this forgotten oldie. Barry wasn’t a stranger to novelty records since his first solo hit record was Who Put the Bomp in 1961. This hit followed a long time later (in 1976), but along the way he also wrote any number of hit records for other artists. Perhaps his biggest success was You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’, perhaps the most played record of the century.
Little Blue Man by Betty Johnson. This record was one of four top forty records for Betty in 1957-58, although this video was created as a school project by Tyler Holtman. Betty’s career didn’t end with those four records, but it rapidly faded with her last two charted records: the novelty records Hula Hoopa (about the hula hoop craze) and You Can’t Get To Heaven On Roller Skates.
Everybody’s Free To Wear Sunscreen by Baz Luhrmann. Long before there was rap we had spoken word songs. This 1999 single was based on a speech that dispensed advice to a graduating class of 1997. This one has aged better than most of the novelty spoken words of the past (I can only cringe when An Open Letter To My Teenage Son by Victor Lundberg flies through the airwaves).
Astronaut (Parts 1 and 2) by Jose Jimenez. Jose was a character created and played by Bill Dana. This record pretended to be an interview with the person chosen to be the first US astronaut to be sent into outer space. Listen at your own risk: the record is probably too politically incorrect to be played anywhere anymore.
I Knew the Bride When She Used To Rock and Roll by Nick Lowe. The song may only be mildly a novelty, but the video makes up for it. The song was produced by Huey Lewis (and some of the News are probably playing on it as well) and Huey plays the harmonica parts.
The Bird On My Head by David Seville. Before he invented the music of the Chipmunks, David came up with the idea of speeding up his voice. The result was his first big hit, the number one smash The Witch Doctor. His follow-up record again used a funny voice but didn’t quite have the impact as his previous hit.
The Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor by Joe South. Yes, that Joe South (who later wrote dozens of successful songs for other artists and won a Grammy award for the best song of 1968 he wrote and recorded). He started his career in 1958 with a novelty crossover record. The title of the song references the 1958 novelty records by Sheb Wooley and David Seville. While Joe would later write most of his own records, this song was written by J. P. Richardson, a disc jockey who recorded his own novelty records as the Big Bopper.
Little Space Girl by Jesse Lee Turner. We continue down the road of speeded-up voices with this entry, a novelty record from 1959. Fortunately, David Seville’s success with the Chipmunks mostly put an end to these annoying outer space voices.
Macarena Christmas Remix by Los Del Rio. Just in case you weren’t already tired of hearing the Macarena, this present arrived just in time for the holidays nearly two years later. Somebody had the bright idea of interspersing parts of the original record with various other Christmas songs, and the resulting train wreck somehow made it up to #57 in the Hot 100. At least we got new outfits in the new video.
Your Nose Is Gonna Grow by Johnny Crawford. Johnny’s career is known primarily as a star on the Rifleman television show from 1958 to 1963. As he got older, he also managed a recording career as well. This was the second most successful of his four top forty singles, but he somehow managed to stretch his recordings into two greatest hits albums.
Got a Girl by the Four Preps. The Four Preps had a string of over a dozen chart records from 1956 to 1964. Near the end, they recorded this ode to the misery of competing with teen idols. While most of the group went on to obscurity, Ed Cobb wrote several successful songs and Glen Larson wrote countless television scripts and created a string of successful television series.
I Got A Wife by The Mark IV. I guess once you’ve got a girl, if you’re lucky you eventually get a wife. Well, if you’re lucky she doesn’t turn into this wife!
This list barely scratches the long, long list of novelty records that have seemingly vanished from the radio waves…stay tuned for more!
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