1965 Trini Lopez – Lemon Tree

1965 Trini Lopez – Lemon Tree 

Trini Lopez grew up in Dallas. He left school before he finished so that he could earn money to help support his family. He formed his own band, and they performed in a club owned by Jack Ruby. His band recorded a single that failed to chart, after which he decided to pursue a solo career.

By 1963, Trini had already released nearly two dozen singles, but none of them had charted. He began performing regularly in clubs in Southern California, and  he became a regular at PJs. 

Frank Sinatra started his own record label, Reprise Records, and caught Trini’s act. The result: he signed Trini to a contract and had him begin recording live albums at the club for his label.

Peter, Paul, and Mary had reached the top ten in 1962 with their version of Pete Seeger’s If I Had A Hammer. Trini’s cover version in 1963 reached #3 on the Hot 100, the most successful single of his career.

 

Trini released a string of singles over the next two years. The most successful follow-up was another song that had been a hit by Peter, Paul, and Mary. Their first charting single was a song written by folksinger Will Holt in the fifties, Lemon Tree. That was the group’s first charting single; it reached #35 in 1962.

Trini released his cover version of the song in 1965 and reached #20 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

One more of Trini’s singles reached #39 on the Hot 100, but otherwise he found little success on the chart after 1965. Fortunately, his records continued to chart well on the Adult Contemporary chart. He had three more top ten singles on the chart by 1967 and followed those with four more top forty singles in the next year.

In 1967, Trini also recorded a promotional song, The Blizzard Song. Fans who bought a carton of Fresca (a diet soft drink) got a free record that included that song as well as If I Had A Hammer and two other songs.

Trini appeared in a few movies and television shows, but continued singing for audiences all his life. He died in 2020 after struggling with complications of the coronavirus.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trini_Lopez
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemon_Tree_(Will_Holt_song)

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1964 Gene Simmons – Haunted House

1964 Gene Simmons – Haunted House

Bob Geddins grew up in Texas and moved to California during WW II. He became a professional R&B singer, songwriter, and music producer. He started several record labels beginning in 1948. His most notable song was Haunted House, which he wrote by 1958. He produced the single by Johnny Fuller in 1958. Johnny recorded R&B and rock and roll songs in the late fifties and early sixties, but his local hits never reached the national Hot 100 chart.

Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs recorded a new version of the song in 1964 that he released on Dingo Records about a year before Wooly Bully became a hit on MGM Records. Their single ran over three minutes.

Sam’s single did not chart. Hi Records approached Sam about re-recording a shorter version of the song; when he refused, the label got another artist to record it for them.

Jumpin’ Gene Simmons grew up in Mississippi and began recording for Sun Records in 1958. He often played as an opening act for Elvis, but only had one hit record of his own. He was more than happy to make the changes that Hi Records wanted and he recorded a cover version of Haunted House in 1964. His single was only about two-and-a-half minutes long and radio jumped on the song.

The single peaked at #11 on the Hot 100 and seems to get a lot of airplay every October.

Gene’s next single was The Dodo, but it only reached #83. Two more singles missed the chart completely, and that ended Gene’s music career.

Chaim Witz moved from Israel to the US while still a child. He took up playing the bass and singing and began using the name Gene Simmons as a tribute to the singer from the sixties. He and Paul Stanley formed the band Wicked Lester in 1971. The band eventually included Peter Criss and Ace Frehley and became Kiss in 1973.

https://www.waybackattack.com/simmonsjumpingene.html
https://secondhandsongs.com/artist/14837/all?sort=date#creditedWorkssong
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Fuller_(musician)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jumpin%27_Gene_Simmons

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1963 The Secrets – The Boy Next Door

1963 The Secrets – The Boy Next Door

Four girls in the Cleveland, Ohio, area formed the Sonnets in the early sixties. They were playing at clubs as part of a bill led by the Starfires, who later became the Outsiders (Time Won’t Let Me).

A local talent scout (Redda Robbins) signed the group and had them meet with two songwriters, Johnny Madara and David White. David had been a member of Danny and the Juniors, and the two had co-written At The Hop. They also wrote Chubby Checker’s hit The Fly. In 1963, Johnny and David wrote another hit that Lesley Gore released, You Don’t Own Me.

The Sonnets changed their name to The Secrets, and they worked with Johnny and David and recorded The Boy Next Door. Their single on Philips Records reached #18 on the Hot 100 in late 1963.

The Secrets released three more singles in 1964, but not even an appearance on American Bandstand could get them back on the charts. They disbanded in 1965, although some of them reunited in the nineties and played in oldies shows.

David and Johnny went on to write or co-write other hits for Len Barry, including 1-2-3.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Secrets
https://www.discogs.com/master/373602-The-Secrets-The-Boy-Next-Door

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1962 Johnny Tillotson – Send Me The Pillow You Dream On

1962 Johnny Tillotson – Send Me The Pillow You Dream On 

Johnny Tillotson was born in Jacksonville and grew up in Northeastern Florida. While in high school, he began singing on local television shows. He competed in a singing contest in Nashville and his performance led to a three-year contract with Cadence Records. His first single for the company became a song he wrote himself, Dreamy Eyes. The single peaked at only #67 on the Hot 100 in 1958.

Johnny had similar results with a handful of singles over the next few years, but then reached #2 on the Hot 100 in 1960 with his single Poetry In Motion. The backing musicians in Nashville included Boots Randolph, Floyd Cramer, and Floyd “Lightning” Chance.

Johnny had a series of successful singles over the next five years. A reissue of Dreamy Eyes even reached #35 on the Hot 100 in 1962.

Country singer Hank Locklin wrote and first recorded Send Me The Pillow You Dream On in 1949. The first two times he recorded and released the song it did poorly, but his third effort in 1957 reached #5 on the US Country chart. The single also reached the pop charts, but it was a little too Country for most pop stations; as a result, the single only reached and #77 on the Hot 100.

Johnny covered Hank’s song in 1962. His single peaked at #17 on the Hot 100, #11 on the Country charts, and #5 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

The single even reached #21 in the UK, making it Johnny’s second most successful record there.

They inducted Johnny into the America’s Pop Music Hall of Fame in 2014.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Tillotson
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Send_Me_the_Pillow_You_Dream_On

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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 inearly 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 Annette – First Name Initial

1960 Annette – First Name Initial 

Annette Joanne Funicello became one of a few actors/singers who appeared using just their first names. She was only twelve years-old in 1955 when Walt Disney saw her at a dance recital. He was casting the Mickey Mouse Club and signed Annette as his last Mouseketeer. 

Besides appearing on the shows as one of the Mouseketeers, Annette also appeared in some of the show’s serials. After the success of her roles in the second and third Spin and Marty serials, Annette became the star of her own serial, Walt Disney Presents: Annette. She sang the song How Will I Know My Love in the show, and the popularity of the song led to its release as a single in 1958.

Music producer Tutti Camarata, another Disney employee, aided Annette’s singing career by having her sing each song twice. This double tracking made her singing sound much fuller than her solo singing voice.

Annette had a top ten single in 1959 with Tall Paul. The song was rumored to be about Paul Anka, who appeared to have a crush on Annette, but he has denied that the song was about him. It had to be one of the shortest top ten singles of all time, clocking in at only minute and thirty-eight seconds.

Her next three singles failed to even reach the top forty, but she returned there with First Name Initial near the end of 1959. That single ran a more reasonable 2 minutes and nineteen seconds and again credited her backup singers as The Afterbeats.

After another pair of hit records in 1960, Annette’s singing career faded away, but she made up for that with an acting career that included the Beach Party movies.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annette_Funicello
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walt_Disney_Presents:_Annette

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1959 Tony Bellus – Robbin’ The Cradle

1959 Tony Bellus – Robbin’ The Cradle 

Anthony J. Bellusci grew up in Chicago and began recording for Shi-Fi Records in 1958 as Tony Bellus. One song that he wrote and recorded became his most successful single the next year. The single had an unusual mixture of styles: Tony sang and played the accordion, the music had a rockabilly feel, and the backup singers were a Latino group.

The National Recording Corporation (NRC) heard Tony performing Robbin’ The Cradle at a show in Chicago and leased the song so they could take distribution of the song to a national audience.

Tony appeared on the weekday afternoon version of American Bandstand in April 1959, and his record jumped onto Billboard’s Hot 100 chart the next week. The single remained on the chart for the next six months, eventually peaking at #25 in August.

NRC went into bankruptcy in 1961, about the time that Tony served in the US military, and the result made it difficult for Tony to continue his recording career.

The company eventually came out of bankruptcy, and Tony returned to Chicago after his service, but he never again reached the charts. He was popular enough in the local area to make a living by appearing in clubs around Chicago for over twenty years.

Tony and his wife moved to Florida in the eighties. He has continued singing in clubs and writing and performing new material, most recently concentrating on Christian music.

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

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1958 Jimmie Rodgers – Are You Really Mine

1958 Jimmie Rodgers – Are You Really Mine

Jimmie Rodgers grew up in Washington state. He learned to play the piano from nis mother and sang in the church choir. He only lasted one year in college before he left to join the military.  Jimmie ended up in Korea, where he bought a second-hand guitar and formed a singing group.

The army transferred Jimmie to a small town near Nashville in 1954. He began playing and singing in a small local club.

Jimmie won $700 when he sang Honeycomb on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts program. The appearance led to a contract with Roulette Records. They released Honeycomb as a single and it topped the Hot 100 in 1957. Four more top ten singles followed in less than two years.

Are You Really Mine reached #10 in 1958 and the single became Jimmie’s last top ten record; it was not even in the top 100 records of the year. 

Jimmie’s next singleBimbombay, peaked at #11, but he didn’t even reach the top forty again between 1960 and 1966.

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/jimmie-f-rodgers-mn0000658483/biography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmie_Rodgers_(pop_singer)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Are_You_Really_Mine%3F

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1957 Lloyd Price – Just Because

1957 Lloyd Price – Just Because 

Art Rupe started the Specialty Record label in the mid-forties, initially specializing in gospel music. He late became interested in the piano music played by Fats Domino in the band led by trumpet player Dave Bartholomew. He took a trip to New Orleans in 1952, and while he was there, he listened to an audition by 19 year-old Lloyd Price.

Lloyd had written the song Lawdy Miss Clawdy. Art hired Dave Bartholomew and his band to create the arrangements and play the backing music for the single, which also included Fats on the piano.

The single was a massive hit, selling over a million copies and topping the R&B chart. Lloyd had four more top ten hits before the army drafted him and sent him to Korea. Before he left, he encouraged Little Richard to audition for the record label.

When Lloyd returned from his stint in the army, he discovered that Little Richard had successfully taken his place at the label. Even Larry Williams, his former chauffeur, had recorded some hit records for his former label. 

Lloyd eventually signed with the ABC Paramount label instead and began recording again. In 1957, he wrote and recorded the single Just Because.

The single peaked at #3 on the R&B chart. It also became the first time Lloyd reached the pop charts, making it up to #29 on the Hot 100 in 1957.

The next year, Lloyd released his version of another old New Orleans standard, Stagger Lee. His single reached the top of the Hot 100 and kicked off a series of hit records on both charts.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lloyd_Price
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawdy_Miss_Clawdy

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1982 Kansas – Play The Game Tonight

1982 Kansas – Play The Game Tonight 

After a few years of swapping members in and out of the group, and a few name changes, the band Kansas began recording on Kirshner Records in 1974. A pair of multi-platinum singles helped solidify the group.

 Steve Walsh sang lead vocals on the band’s biggest hits in the seventies. He left the band because of the new focus of the lyrics on their 1981 album. John Elefante became the band’s new lead singer.

Play The Game Tonight became the band’s first single in 1982. It was their first top twenty single in over four years!

The single reached #17 on the Hot 100, but a new chart helped them out as well. In 1981, Billboard launched the Mainstream Rock chart, and Play The Game Tonight popped into the new chart at #4 the next year. Singles from Kansas continued to reach that chart for years, and two more of their singles even made it to the top ten on the new chart.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kansas_(band)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kansas_discography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Play_the_Game_Tonight

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