October 20, 2017

595 Smokey Robinson (1940- ) and the Miracles “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” 1962

“We set out to…make music for people of all races and nationalities. Not to make black music—we just wanted to make good music that would be acceptable in all circles.… All we were doing, man, was just putting good songs on good tracks, songs that anybody could relate to.… We had good, solid songs that would fit your particular life situation if you were white or Oriental or Chicano or whatever you happened to be” (Smokey Robinson, qtd. in Contemporary Black Biography, 2005). 

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me”

594 Cliff Richard (1940- ) and the Shadows “The Young Ones” 1962

The song is the title track to the film, “The Young Ones,” starring Cliff Richard. “Cliff, like his character in the film, Bongo Herbert, became a pioneer of melding rock ‘n’ roll with traditional popular music, allowing him an extended career as more than simply a rock ‘n’ roll singer” (K. J. Donnelly, Journal of Popular Film & Television, Winter 1998). 

Cliff Richard and the Shadows “The Young Ones”

593 Elvis Presley (1935-1977) “Good Luck Charm” 1962

“when he was doing the stuff with these Nashville pickers, the creativity wasn’t there. They would sit around and read music or do that crude numbers thing [a rough chord chart and musical shorthand known as the Nashville Numbers System], and that’s the way it would come out. And because there was no real creativity, after a while, Elvis just lost his fire in the studio” (Alanna Nash, Elvis Aaron Presley: Revelations from the Memphis Mafia, 1995). 

Elvis Presley “Good Luck Charm”

592 Gene Pitney (1940-2006) “Only Love Can Break a Heart” 1962

“In 1961,...you had to know how to sing. You couldn't just caterwaul, mewl or look pretty and hope for the best from the recording engineer; you had to have a real voice. Nowhere was the competition fiercer than on street corners and subway platforms in the Northeast, where turf battles were fought daily with rhythm and pitch and harmony and the neighborhood referees had ears tougher than those of any ‘American Idol’ panel. The singers left standing, boy-kings like Dion, Frankie Valli and Lou Christie, had serious vocal chops, usually fermented in rampant hormones, two-pack-a-day habits and residual hot-dog brine. Gene Pitney was the David among these Goliaths. He grew up not in the city but in the Connecticut exurbs. His hair was always neatly combed. He went to college. He married his longtime sweetheart and stayed married to her. He looked as if he'd be more comfortable in a choir than on a rock-'n'-roll tour bus. But when he opened his mouth to sing, the playing field was leveled” (Rob Hoerburger, New York Times Magazine, 12/31/2006).

Gene Pitney “Only Love Can Break a Heart”

591 Bobby Pickett (1938-2007) and the Crypt-Kickers “Monster Mash” 1962

Novelty songwriter Gary Paxton (1939-2016) “produced Monster Mash for Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett, a Boris Karloff imitator…Paxton added such atmospheric sound effects as a creaking door, created by pulling a nail from a piece of wood, and bubbling laboratory noises. Within two months the record had sold a million and by Halloween 1962 it had reached No 1 in the US…it was reissued several times and—though it was initially banned by the BBC as ‘too morbid’—reached No 3 in Britain in 1973” (The Daily Telegraph (London), 7/30/2016). 

Bobby Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers “Monster Mash”

October 13, 2017

590 Peter, Paul and Mary “Lemon Tree” 1962

“by the time that [Manager Albert] Grossman “and Peter [Yarrow] (1938- ) went looking for Mary [Travers] (1936-2009), they found Paul [Stookey] (1937- )working as her accompanist. Eventually the three singers met in Mary’s apartment to see what they sounded like. ‘It was seven months before we came out in our first gig,’ says Mary. ‘Seven miserable, beautiful months! Rehearsal after rehearsal, wrong notes, bad tempers, oh, sure we fought, but everybody does, just like a family, but with this underlying love for each other. Then at the end, everything made sense”(Alfred Aronowitz, Marshall Blonsky, Saturday Evening Post, 5/30/1964).

Peter, Paul and Mary “Lemon Tree”

589 Peter [Yarrow] (1938- ), Paul [Stookey] (1937- ) and Mary [Travers] (1936-2009) “If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)” 1962

Peter Yarrow: “Sure, some critics call us commercial…It would be hypocritical for us to sing any other way than we do. We’ve got only three things to contribute: our musical taste, our regard for the folk tradition and our ability to communicate something in our singing. If they want to call us show biz, then let ‘em call us show biz. But if we’re show business, we’re something different, we’re show business with morals”  (Alfred Aronowitz, Marshall Blonsky, Saturday Evening Post, 5/30/1964). 

Peter, Paul and Mary “If I Had a Hammer”

588 Paul and Paula “Hey Paula” 1962

“The story is that Ray Hidebrand (1940- ) and Jill Jackson (1942- ), two young students at Howard Payne College, drove to Fort Worth from Brownsville and showed up at the studio on a day when the scheduled singer didn’t show. They played Major Bill Smith their song ‘Hey Paula’; Smith decided to record it on the spot, and issued it on Le Cam credited to ‘Jill and Ray.’ Mercury Records picked it up for national distribution on their Philips subsidiary but decided to change their names to ‘Paul and Paula’” (Martin Kohout, The Handbook of Texas Music, 2012). 

Paul and Paula “Hey Paula”

587 The Orlons “The Wah-Watusi” 1962

“The Orlons formed in 1960 in Philadelphia. Stephen Caldwell (1942- ) said he got his introduction to music at church, singing in choirs starting at an early age. He and original members Rosetta Hightower (1944-2014), Shirley Brickley (1944-1977) and Marlena Davis (1944-1993) all grew up in the same neighborhood. ‘We used to sing together during parties at each other’s houses,’ Caldwell said. The girls, along with Brickley’s sisters Audrey and Jane, had started an all-girl group called Little Audrey and the Teenettes in the early 1950s. However, the Brickley’s mother wouldn’t let Audrey sing in a club, so she and Jean left. Shirley Brickley, Davis and Hightower joined up with Caldwell and set out to make it big” (Kristen Gaydos, The Citizens’ Voice (Wilkes-Barre, PA), 10/30/2014). 

The Orlons “The Wah-Watusi”

586 Chris Montez (1943- ) “Let’s Dance” 1962

“One of my first regional hits was a ballad, and I really wanted to do that style; the ‘Let’s Dance’ situation didn’t feel right to me at first. There was a female bass player [Carol Kaye] and that made me uncomfortable. I’d never seen one before. So I said to her, ‘I want that bouncy bass sound like Ritchie Valens,’ and she said, ‘I just did his whole album.’ I said ‘You gotta be kidding,’ and I just fell into the groove. I’d never heard of a Mexican rocker before Ritchie Valens, and I want to emulate him to the fullest” (Brett Milano, Offbeat, Oct. 2013). 

Chris Montez “Let’s Dance”

October 6, 2017

585 Little Esther Phillips (1935-1984) “Release Me” 1962

“Born Esther Mae Washington in Galveston, Texas and raised in the Watts area of Los Angeles, she made her musical debut at 12 on an amateur night show at the Barrel House, an L. A. Club operated by rhythm ‘n’ blues promoter Johnny Otis. Her only singing experience had been in the sanctified church but her sister and friend wanted money to buy some white port and lemon juice, the drinking rage in Watts in 1948…Otis was so impressed he allowed her to tag along with his troupe when they were cutting a record. There was some space and time left over so Otis improvised a tune about lady bears in the forest which Esther sang on the spot. They made only one take and the song Double Crossing Blues, sold a million, launching the bright-eyed youngster on an unexpected career as an entertainer” (Phyl Garland, Ebony, Oct. 1972).  

Little Esther Phillips “Release Me”

584 Little Eva (1943-2003) “The Loco-Motion” 1962

“Perhaps the most famous babysitter in the history of rock’n’roll, Little Eva got her big break when her songwriting employers asked her to record one of their songs. Eva Narcissus Boyd was born in 1945 in Bellhaven, North Carolina, and had 15 brothers and sisters. She moved to New York to complete her education. Eva became the regular babysitter for Louise Goffin, daughter of songwriters team of Carole King and Gerry Goffin…Carole King was working out a song on the piano one day when Eva began a dance step, giving Gerry Goffin the idea for some lyrics. The result was a dance song, The Loco-Motion” (The Herald (Glasgow), 4/14,2003). 

Little Eva “The Loco-Motion”

583 The Limeliters “Those Were the Days” 1962

“Founded in 1959, the Limeliters—comprising Glenn Yarbrough on vocals and guitar, Alex Hassilev on vocals and Lou Gottlieb on vocals and bass—was a contemporary folk group in the tradition of the Kingston Trio. Known for their burnished tight harmonies, sophisticated if nontraditional arrangements and witty onstage banter, the Limeliters were wildly successful. Amid the folk revival of the 1960s, they appeared often on television and in live performance, sold records by the hundreds of thousands and became millionaires in the bargain…In 1963, Mr. Yarbrough, restless, left the Limeliters, and the group disbanded. An ardent sailor, he intended to spend the next decade at sea but was persuaded by his record label, RCA Victor, to record solo albums instead” (Margalit Fox, The New York Times, 8/13/2016). 

The Limeliters “Those Were the Days”

582 Janis Joplin (1943-1970) “What Good Can Drinkin’ Do” 1962

“Janis liked the excitement of life on the edge, living between the known and unknown. Where Port Arthur may have formed her impulses, only in Austin did she get to test her wings and practice her style. Austin tutored her in performing, gave her the necessary support and recognition, and shaped her Texas-style public satire. Janis’s life in Austin was the proper jumping-off point for her” (Laura Joplin, Love, Janis, 2005). 

Janis Joplin “What Good Can Drinkin’ Do”

581 The Isley Brothers “Twist and Shout” 1962

“The Isleys’ second hit, in 1962, was ‘Twist and Shout’ (later popularized by The Beatles); the next notable event in the band’s history was the addition, in 1964, of a hot young guitarist who went by the name of Jimmy James. This, of course, was Jimi Hendrix, who recorded his first sides with the Isleys” (Blair Jackon, Mix, 2003).

The Isley Brothers “Twist and Shout”

September 29, 2017

580 Frank Ifield (1937- ) “I Remember You” 1962

“Birmingham is not famous for producing country singers but Frank Ifield was the exception to the rule. The man with the distinctive yodel in his voice was Coventry born, Birmingham raised and Australian bred…Frank demonstrated his abilities as a singer at an early age. As a schoolboy he used to lead the community singing in the bomb shelters during the blitz. By the time he was 13, he was already a seasoned performer and acted as a barker outside Australian tent shows and circuses…He unique yodel was a throwback to when he had a milk round in Moseley as an eight-year-old. He would walk round and call ‘Milki-lay-etee’ to attract householders’ attention” (Sunday Mercury, 2/14/1999). 

Frank Ifield “I Remember You”

579 Brian Hyland (1943- ) “Sealed With a Kiss” 1962, “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini” 1960

Born in Queens, New York, “Brian Hyland was one of the better pop singers of the early 1960s, despite the fact that his first hit was the dire Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Bikini. He compensated that youthful faux pas with the superb Ginny Come Lately, Sealed With A Kiss, and Warmed over Kisses. A big country and folk music fan, in 1963, right at the height of the pop successes, he recorded COUNTRY MEETS FOLK, an excellent collection of country and folk songs” (Maverick, Dec. 2008). 

Brian Hyland “Sealed With a Kiss”

Brian Hyland  “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini”

578 Sam “Lightnin” Hopkins (1912-1982) “Mojo Hand” 1962

“He made a lot of money and spent it, gambling (he was a terrible gambler) and drinking (he was a good drinker, buying rounds for his buddies in the Third Ward). He was the king of Dowling Street, and he reveled in his fame. Much to the frustration of his record companies, he hated to fly and didn’t want to go on package tours. He was comfortable at home, living in a rooming house, working juke joints and icehouses, and cavorting with gamblers and hustlers” (Texas Monthly, June 2007). 

Sam “Lightnin” Hopkins “Mojo Hand”

577 John Lee Hooker (1912/17?-2001) “Boom Boom” 1962

Hooker “exchanged his acoustic guitar for an electric one given to him by blues performer T-Bone Walker. He went on to merge his laid-back Delta style with more visceral urban rhythms…With the rise in popularity of folk music in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, Hooker reached new audiences by toning down him amplification and playing an acoustic guitar more frequently. He was hailed as a great country blues musician, performing in coffeehouses, on college campuses, and at folk festivals in the United States and Europe…When British rock groups…identified Hooker as an influence and recorded his songs, his music reached an even wider audience” (Michael Adams, Salem Press Biographical Encyclopedia, 2016). 

John Lee Hooker “Boom Boom”

576 Vince Guaraldi (1928-1976) Trio “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” 1962

“Following high school, Guaraldi attended San Francisco State College from 1948 to 1949, according to school records. In 1949 he joined the Army and worked as a cook on a ship during the Korean War. Around 1952 he came down an illness so deathly, ‘they measured him for a casket,’ said his son. Back in America, Guaraldi worked in a printing press in San Francisco and almost ruined his future career. ‘He almost accidentally cut his finger off. From then on he was a musician’” (Pete Barlas, Invester’s Business Daily, 12/23/2010). 

“In 1962, San Francisco pianist Vince Guaraldi put out a single, a jazz version of a samba from the movie ‘Black Orpheus.’ It didn’t get far until disc jockeys started playing the B side, which became a hit and snared him a Grammy” (National Public Radio, Fresh Air, 2012). 

Vince Guaraldi Trio “Cast Your Fate to the Wind”

September 22, 2017

575 The Four Seasons “Big Girls Don’t Cry” 1962

“Inspired by fellow New Jersey native Frank Sinatra, [Frankie] Valli (1934- ) took his distinctive voice and started his career in the early 1950s. After establishing one of the entertainment industry’s most notable partnership with songwriter Bob Gaudio…Valli joined the Four Seasons and started racking up hits. Just after performing their song ‘Sherry’ on American Bandstand, the group witnessed a meteoric rise to fame and never looked back” (Louisville Magazine, Nov 2007).

The Four Seasons “Big Girls Don’t Cry”

574 The Four Seasons “Sherry” 1962

Frankie Valli (1934- ): “I think [back on] all of the things I did as a kid, how hard it was getting into the business. I did everything in my power…I worked construction. I went to school to learn to be a hairdresser. I worked at a wholesale florist, where I delivered to florists all over New Jersey. I’d come home and go to to work down at the Shore. The early jobs, I remember, were $5, $6 a night. And I lived in the projects right until the time I became successful. It wasn’t easy, but I was really determined. Just before ‘Sherry,’ I thought that was it. I said to myself, ‘If this doesn’t happen, I don’t know what I’m going to do.’ I was at that crossroads of life” (Wayne Robins, Billboard, 9/7/2013).

The Four Seasons “Sherry”

573 Shelley Fabares (1944- ) “Johnny Angel” 1962

“The Donna Reed Show producer asked Shelley Fabares, who played the part of a teenage daughter, if she would like to sing on an upcoming episode. Shelley replied, ‘Sorry, I can’t sing.’ Weeks later he approached her and asked her to sing. She shook her head no. Then the producer said “Would you like to return to the show next season?’ ‘Oh yes,’ the precocious star answered. ‘Then SING!’ the producer announced. The song taped soon thereafter was titled, ‘I’m Going Steady With a Dream,’ and was UPS’d off to a recording company. This resulted in Shelly recording ‘Johnny Angel,’ that became number one in the nation” (Robert Smith, Total Health, Dec/Jan 1996). 

Shelley Fabares “Johnny Angel”

572 The Exciters “Tell Him” 1962

“Formed in the Jamaica district of Queens, New York City, this aptly named group, which included sole male Herb Rooney alongside Breda Reid, Carol Johnson and Lillian Walker, first came to prominence with the vibrant ‘Tell Him’, a US Top 5 hit in 1962…the single’s energy established the pattern for subsequent releases. ‘Do Wah Diddy Diddy’ (later a hit by Manfred Mann) and ‘He’s Got the Power’ took elements from both uptown soul and the all-female group genre” (The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 2006). 

The Exciters “Tell Him”

571 Bob Dylan (1941- ) “Song to Woody” 1962

“I feel lucky just to know Woody. I’d heard of Woody, I knew of Woody. I saw Woody once, a long, long time ago in Burbank, California, when I was just a little boy. I don’t even remember seeing him, but I heard him play. I must have been about ten. My uncle took me. It stuck in my mind that he was Woody, and everybody else I could see around me was just everybody else” (Jonathan Cott, ed., Bob Dylan: The Essential Interviews, 2006). 

Bob Dylan “Song to Woody”