1968 The Mills Brothers – Cab Driver

1968 The Mills Brothers – Cab Driver

Four brothers (Donald, Harry, Herbert, and John Mills Jr.) sang together in their church choir. When they got a little older, they literally sang together on the corner outside of their father’s barbershop. Their father (John Sr.) also sang in a barbershop quartet, and no doubt encouraged the boys to sing as a group.

John Jr. also played the guitar while the boys sang. They were hired by radio station WLW in 1928 and became popular with the station’s listeners. At times, they were called The Steamboat Four or Four Boys and a Guitar, but in 1930 they auditioned for CBS radio in New York as The Mills Brothers. They were hired, and became the first African-American singers to have their own network radio program.

In 1931, the group recorded a cover version of Tiger Rag and their single quickly topped the charts and soon sold over a million copies.

In the next decade, the group had eighteen top ten singles and nine more top twenty singles. John Jr. died in 1936 and their father sometimes filled in for him.

The group’s recording of I’ll Be Around peaked at #17 in 1943. One disk jockey turned the record over and began playing the B-side of the single. Other stations followed suit, and soon Paper Doll reached #1 on the charts. The record went on to sell over eleven million copies.

The group continued recording hit records, but their sales slowed down in the mid-fifties when rock-and-roll began catching fire. The group’s last hit single came in 1968 when they released Cab Driver. The single reached #23 on the Hot 100.

Cab Driver also became their first single to reached the Adult Contemporary (AC) chart, where it peaked at #3. While they never again entered the top forty on the Hot 100, three more of their singles reached the AC chart top forty in 1968-69.

The brothers continued appearing in public, slowly replacing members who retired or died. Often, children of the original members became members of the Mills Brothers.

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

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1967 The Fifth Estate – Ding, Dong! The Witch Is Dead

1967 The Fifth Estate – Ding, Dong! The Witch Is Dead

Five musicians formed The Decadents in Stanford, Connecticut in 1963. They changed their name to The D-Men and began recording for United Artists the next year. Their early music was garage band stuff and they quickly gained a local following.

The band began appearing in television shows that were taped in New York City, and even performed their single I Just Don’t Care on Hullabaloo in 1965.

The band signed with the Redbird label in 1965. They changed their name based to something they saw in a magazine in Chicago, The Fifth Estate. They released Love Is All A Game but the single only became a regional hit.

Songwriter Dan Askew often wrote lyrics for the group, and bragged at a party that the band was good enough to make a hit out of almost any song. Somebody offered Ding, Dong! The Witch Is Dead.

The group actually recorded the song, but their keyboard player wasn’t completely happy with the resulting recording. He added an interlude in the middle and incorporated parts of La Bouree from Terpsichore by the 17th-century composer Michael Praetorius.

The resulting single finally gave the group their first hit record.

The record peaked at #11 on the Hot 100 in 1967. The group toured with an impressive list of much bigger acts and released a few more singles. They even recorded Heigh Ho!, a song from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, but even that couldn’t get them back onto the charts.

The band members went their separate ways in 1970. Eventually, the group was reborn, and it still continues to appear in Oldies shows.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fifth_Estate_(band)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ding-Dong!_The_Witch_Is_Dead
https://www.songfacts.com/facts/the-fifth-estate/ding-dong-the-witch-is-dead

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1966 The Seeds – Pushin’ Too Hard

1966 The Seeds – Pushin’ Too Hard

Singer Sky Saxon moved from Utah to Los Angeles and recorded a few singles that failed to attract much attention. In 1965 he answered an ad from a band called The Seeds and soon became their lead singer. The band produced garage band style music that was proto-punk.

The group released a few singles as The Seeds Featuring Sky Saxon in 1965. Sky wrote two songs that became regional hits in Southern California. Neither record initially charted nationally.

In 1966, Pushin’ Too Hard was re-released, and the single reached #36 on the Hot 100.

The group’s next single missed the charts in 1966 and only reached #86 when their record company reissued the single the next year. They then re-released the group’s very first single, Can’t Seem to Make You Mine, and it peaked at #41 on the Hot 100 in 1967.

Two years after Pushin’ Too Hard peaked on the Hot 100, the group appeared on the last episode of the first season on an NBC sitcom, The Mothers-In-Law. The show identified the group as The Warts and they performed their song as part of a scene that showed off the generation gap between them and the old fuddy-duddies who were the major characters on the show.

The Seeds released a few more singles and recorded a few albums, but by 1972 the party was over.

Sky reignited the group in 2004 and led it on tours until heart and kidney failure caused his death in 2011. Several other original members of the band still continue to lead a group for live appearances.

Neil Norman created a documentary film about the group in 2014. The SeedsPushin Too Hard even has its own website at http://pushintoohard.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Seeds
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pushin%27_Too_Hard

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1965 Dino, Desi And Billy – I’m A Fool

1965 Dino, Desi And Billy – I’m A Fool

Dino Martin was Dean Martin’s son and Desi Arnez, Jr. was the song of Desi and Lucille Ball. Their friend Billy Hinsche joined them and the trio had their own band called Dino, Desi and Billy from 1964 to 1969.

They managed to pass an audition with Frank Sinatra and signed with his record label (Reprise). Several studio musicians backed them up on their recordings, including a few Wrecking Crew members, and Lee Hazelwood produced their single I’m A Fool. The single reached #17 on the Hot 100 in 1965 when all the members were still younger than 15 years old.

They even got to sing their hit on the Ed Sullivan Show.

They had a second top forty single in 1965. Not The Lovin’ Kind was written and produced by Lee and reached #25 on the Hot 100.

They even got to tour as the opening act for the Beach Boys that year. During the next few years, they also opened for a few other acts: Paul Revere & the Raiders, Tommy Roe, Sam the Sham, the Lovin’ Spoonful and The Mamas & the Papas.

They recorded a few albums and had four more singles reach the Hot 100, but failed to reach the top forty again after 1965. By 1969 the group fell apart.

Dino became an actor, a tennis player, and a captain in the Air National Guard. He died when a jet he was piloting crashed in 1987.

Desi began acting on his mother’s television shows.

Billy continued in music and played as one of the backup musicians for the Beach Boys (his sister married Carl Wilson; it’s a small world).

The group reunited from 1998 to 2010. Dino’s younger brother Ricci took over for Dino, and Dino, Desi, and Billy recorded two more albums and toured together.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You%27ve_Got_to_Hide_Your_Love_Away
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Silkie

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1964 Bobby Bland – There Ain’t Nothing You Can Do

1964 Bobby Bland – There Ain’t Nothing You Can Do

Robert Calvin Brooks grew up in a small town in Tennessee. His father left the family when Robert was quite young, and Robert began using his stepfather’s last name instead, and he became known as Bobby Bland.

Bobby’s mother moved the family to Memphis, and he began singing with gospel groups. He also hung out with members of the Beale Streeters, other wannabe musicians. That group included future stars B.B. King, Rosco Gordon, Junior Parker and Johnny Ace.

Ike Turner had Bobby record a song in 1951, but it was never released.

After a hitch in the army, Bobby returned to Memphis and signed with producer Don Robey and Duke Records. Bobby began recording singles for the label in 1955. After a few unsuccessful singles, Don produced Bobby singing Farther Up The Road, a song co-written by Johnny Copeland and Joe Medwick Veasey. Don bought Johnny’s rights to the song and added his own name as co-writer.

The blues single topped the R&B chart in 1957 and peaked at #43 on the Hot 100.

Fifteen more singles reached the R&B top forty over the next five years; eleven of the records reached the R&B top ten. While most of the records also reached the Hot 100, the best he managed on that chart came when the single Turn On Your Love Light reached #28.

Bobby’s most successful single on the pop chart came in 1964. He recorded Ain’t Nothing You Can Do, and the record peaked at #20 on the Hot 100.

While he never reached the top forty on the Hot 100 again, Bobby continued to place hits on the R&B chart through the seventies. He had more than a dozen additional top ten R&B hits from 1965 through 1974. The record of his singles identifies him as one of the all-time top performers on the R&B chart.

Bobby was 83 years-old when he died in 2013.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_Bland
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Robey

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1963 Jan and Dean – Linda

1963 Jan and Dean – Linda 

Jack Lawrence started writing songs while still in school and sold his first song when he turned twenty in 1932. A few years later, he wrote If I Didn’t Care, which the Ink Spots released in 1939. Their single sold over 19 million copies, which currently ranks it as the ninth best-selling single of all time.

Jack began using Lee Eastman as his attorney. While in the military in 1942, he wrote a song using the name of Lee’s one-year-old daughter, Linda. The song was published in 1946 and recorded by singer Buddy Clark with the Ray Noble Orchestra. His single topped the charts in 1947.

Linda grew up and married Paul McCartney in 1969 and was a founding member of his second group, Wings.

Jan and Dean had a few hits between 1959 and 1962. They became friends with Brian Wilson and he even sang backup vocals on a few of the songs on their 1963 album, Jan And Dean Take Linda Surfin’. The title song from the album was a cover of Linda that they released as their first single that year. 

The single peaked at #28. Jan produced their next single, Surf City, which he co-wrote with Brian. That single topped the Hot 100 a few months later. They rode the surf rock wave until a car wreck nearly killed Jan in 1966.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linda_(1946_song)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_and_Dean

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1962 Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd – Desafinado

1962 Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd – Desafinado

Beginning in the early 1900s, the musical form known as the samba grew in popularity in Brazil. In the late fifties and early sixties, a derivative form of samba came to be referred to as Bossa Nova.

Stan Getz played saxophone with a long list of bands in the forties, including Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, and Woody Herman. In 1953, he helped to form the Dizzy Gillespie/Stan Getz Sextet. He moved to Copenhagen in 1958, and then returned to the US and recorded a solo jazz album in 1961.

Charlie Byrd to play the acoustic steel guitar from his father. During the late fifties, he played classical guitar and jazz at the Washington D.C. club Showboat. His friend Felix Grant, a local radio host, had spent some time in Brazil in 1960 and introduced Charlie to some of the music he heard there.

Charlie had the opportunity to hear the new style of samba music when he went on a diplomatic tour of South America in 1961. When he returned to the US, he invited Stan to listen to some recordings by João Gilberto and Antônio Carlos Jobim. Charlie and Stan decided to record an album of similar Bossa Nova songs. Charlie recruited Creed Taylor at Verve Records to produce an album for them.

The album became Jazz Samba and the lead song on the album was an instrumental cover of a song created by Antônio. The original version included Portuguese lyrics written by Newton Mendonça, but the cover version by Charlie and Stan was an instrumental. They edited down the nearly six minute album version and released the shortened version as a single.

The single peaked at #15 on the Hot 100 and #4 on the Adult Contemporary (AC) chart in 1962. Its success helped pave the way for Bossa Nova records in the US.

Charlie recorded dozens of albums for Riverside and Columbia Records and played at the Showboat II club in Maryland. He played at the King of France Tavern nightclub from 1973 until his death in 1999.

Stan recorded several more Bossa Nova albums in the next few years. He recorded the 1963 album Getz/Gilberto with Antônio and João and his wife, Astrud Gilberto. That album contained one of the most successful Bossa Nova singles. Antônio wrote The Girl From Ipanema, which featured vocals by Astrud. The single peaked at #5 on the Hot 100 and topped the AC chart in 1964.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desafinado
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jazz_Samba
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stan_Getz
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Byrd

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1961 The Diamonds – One Summer Night

1961 The Diamonds – One Summer Night 

Four singers from Canada formed The Diamonds in the mid-fifties. They moved to the US and began recording hits by covering songs that had been hits on the R&B chart, beginning with Why Do Fools Fall In Love in 1956. By 1958, the group had recorded over a dozen top forty singles, including three top ten hits.

The Danleers started singing doo wop songs on street corners in Brooklyn in the late fifties. The five members recorded a song written by their manager, Danny Webb. The single One Summer Night reached #7 on the Hot 100 and #4 on the R&B chart in 1958 and sold over a million copies.

The Danleers continued recording for a few more years, but never again reached the charts.

The Diamonds reached #18 on the Hot 100 in early 1959 with She Say (Oom Dooby Doom), but their next nine singles didn’t even reach the Hot 100 at all. By 1960, all but one of the original members of the group had left and been replaced by new singers.

In the Summer of 1961, the group looked to recapture their success by covering the Danleers’ sole hit record. The Diamond’s version of One Summer Night was nearly a direct copy of the original and took the group back up to #22 on the Hot 100.

The single turned out to be the group’s final visit to the charts. The last original member of the group left as well, and Mercury Records dropped them. Touring groups continued singing the group’s songs; sometimes there were multiple groups touring at the same time until lawsuits gave one ex-member control of the group name.

Some of the original members even reunited for a PBS show 2004.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Summer_Night
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Danleers
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Diamonds

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1960 Hot Rod Lincoln

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.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_Rod_Race
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_Rod_Lincoln
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Ryan
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Bond
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commander_Cody_and_His_Lost_Planet_Airmen

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1960 Ferlin Husky – On The Wings Of A Dove

1960 Ferlin Husky – On The Wings Of A Dove

His mother named him Furland Husky at birth, but an error on the birth certificate declared his name to be Ferlin. He dropped out of school and began working truck driver and steel mill worker while playing and singing in honky tonks in the evenings and weekends.

While in the merchant marine during World War II, Ferlin entertained others by making up and telling humorous stories about a character he named Simon Crum. After the war, he began recording. Actor Smiley Burnette convinced Ferlin that he needed to use a stage name, and he released an early version of the song Gone using the name Terry Preston.

Ferlin signed with Capitol Records in 1953 and dropped the pseudonym. He and Jean Shepard reached #1 on the Country chart and #4 on the pop chart with their single Dear John.

They immediately followed their success with an answer songForgive Me John, which reached #4 on the Country chart but only #24 on the pop chart.

Ferlin had two more top ten solo hits in 1955. He continued with his comedy patter about Simon Crum in his live shows and even released the single Cuzz Yore So Sweet credited to Simon Crum on the label; that single peaked at #5 on the Country chart!

In 1957, Ferlin recorded a new version of Gone. The new version of the song featured the horns and backup singers that were common in the emerging Nashville Sound. The single again took Ferlin to the top of the Country chart and also reached #4 on the Hot 100.

Ferlin had seven more singles reach the top twenty-five on the Country chart during the fifties, including a single credited to Simon Crum that reached #2.

The biggest hit of his career came in 1960 with the release of Wings Of A Dove. The single was his last chart-topping hit on the Country chart and also peaked at #12 on the Hot 100.

Ferlin had over two dozen more top forty singles on the Country chart by 1975, but his only other appearance on the Hot 100 was a single that stalled at #94 in 1962. He had heart surgery in 1977 and briefly retired, but eventually returned to appearances on the Grand Ole Opry and limited live shows. Additional heart surgery and pneumonia also affected his career later on.

Ferlin died from another bout of congestive heart failure in 2011.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferlin_Husky
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wings_of_a_Dove_(Bob_Ferguson_song)

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