December 23, 2016

400 The Hollywood Argyles (Gary Paxton and Kim Fowley) “Alley Oop” 1960

Gary Paxton (1939-2016) “produced it and also sang lead vocals” of the song “recorded in 1960 by the Hollywood Argyles, a studio band that…had ‘some claim to being the ultimate reduction of rock’n’roll to a dumb, absurd, bad joke.’…By the late 1960s Paxton had succumbed to the temptations of drugs and alcohol. After moving to Nashville, however, he experienced a religious conversion and resumed his career -- this time as a gospel singer” (The Daily Telegraph (London), 7/30/2016).

The Hollywood Argyles “Alley Oop” 

399 The Gamblers “Moon Dawg” 1960

Canadian Derry Weaver (1940-2013) was involved in the burgeoning rock community of Los Angeles in the late fifties and was a friend of Eddie Cochran. Derry said, “I loved the basic Blues. I asked Eddie: ‘How do you play that?’…You wouldn’t believe how Eddie could play some of this stuff! He showed me. I still use some of those same licks to this very day. Eddie said: ‘Try not to sound white. You have to put your heart and soul into it’” (Paul Vidal, “Derry Weaver,”

The Gamblers “Moon Dawg”

398 Connie Francis (1938- ) “Everybody Is Somebody’s Fool” 1960

“With the arrival of the Beatles, in 1964, Francis’s star dimmed, her conversational, pseudo-rock and roll style yielding to different tastes. Still, she retained a large following and continued to perform and record well into the 1970s.” After a concert in 1974, she was brutally attacked and suffered a series of personal tragedies, including “several failed marriages, two miscarriages,” and mental illness (Nancy Pear, Contemporary Musicians, 1994).

Connie Francis “Everybody Is Somebody’s Fool”

397 Connie Francis (1938- ) “My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own” 1960

“Pop singer Connie Francis was America’s top-selling female recording artist during the late 1950s and early ’60s. Between 1958 and 1964 she recorded more than 50 chart singles…The diminutive young singer with the big, clear voice became a teenage idol, lending her name to sweaters, charm bracelets, diaries, and other adolescent essentials; by the time she was 22 her appeal had extended to films, where she starred in such young-adult favorites as Where the Boys Are and When the Boys Meet the Girls” (Nancy Pear, Contemporary Musicians, 1994).

Connie Francis “My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own”

396 The Fendermen “Mule Skinner Blues” 1960

“Jim Sundquist (1937-2013), who joined with Phil Humphrey (1937-2016) to form the Fendermen in 1958, had a brief but spectacular career built on their one hit: ‘Mule Skinner Blues,’ a rockabilly remake of an old Jimmy Rodgers song…Sundquist was an art student at UW-Madison when he joined forces with Humphrey, then a bread truck driver in Stoughton. The duo shared a birthday -- Nov. 26, 1937 -- and a fondness for Fender guitars. They got their start playing small clubs in the area, getting paid $5 plus free beer” (Dennis Punzel, Wisconsin State Journal, 6/9/2013).

Fendermen “Mule Skinner Blues”

December 16, 2016

395 Percy Faith (1908-1976) “Theme from A Summer Place” 1960

Faith played piano “regularly in silent movie houses and gave his first concert, at the Toronto Conservatory, when he was eighteen. His pianist career was abruptly handicapped after he burned his hands while trying to save his sister from a house fire.…The ‘Theme from A Summer Place’ shocked a lot of older Faith enthusiasts who saw alien signs of Fats Domino in its pounding triplets. This propensity to easy-rock explains why the Ventures later adapted it to their repetitive guitar licks with ease and how Faith helped assemble a disco version called ‘Summer Place ’76,’ recorded just before he succumbed to cancer” (Joseph Lanza, Elevator Music, 2004). 

Percy Faith “Theme from A Summer Place”

394 The Everly Brothers “Cathy’s Clown” 1960

“Cathy’s Clown was about an old high school girlfriend of Don’s…” He said, “The Grand Canyon Suite was my inspiration for the melody. The record had that walking thing with the drums which hadn’t been used in pop music before. That came from the old Philip Morris commercial here in the States and I always liked it” (Roger White, The Everly Brothers: Walk Right Back, 1998). Listed on the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress.

The Everly Brothers “Cathy’s Clown”

393 The Drifters “Save the Last Dance for Me” 1960

The group’s new instrumentation and lead singing of Ben Nelson moved the Drifters towards a more popular pop sound and “less R&B” (Encyclopedia of Rhythm & Blues and Doo-Wop Vocal Groups, 2007). 

The Drifters “Save the Last Dance for Me”

392 Fats Domino (1928-2017) “Walkin’ To New Orleans” 1960

“With a string of astoundingly catchy and danceable hits like 'Ain't That a Shame,' 'I'm in Love Again,' 'Blueberry Hill' and 'Whole Lotta Loving,' Fats influenced Little Richard (who was a speeded-up and straightened-out Fats), Phil Spector, the Beatles, early reggae artists like Bob Marley and Toots Hibbert, Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac and every garage band south of the Mason-Dixon Line that was pretty much obligated to play Fats Domino songs at every senior prom for decades to come” (Charles Young, Rolling Stone, 12/13/2007). 

Fats Domino “Walkin’ To New Orleans”

391 Sam Cooke (1931-1964) “Wonderful World” 1960

The idea of the song started with Herb Alpert and Lou Adler. Cooke developed it into “a perfect pop confection…It had become, as Lou said, a kind of conversation with the listener…Sam always said, ‘You got to be talking to somebody’” (Peter Guralnick, Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke, 2005).

Sam Cooke “Wonderful World”

December 9, 2016

390 Sam Cooke (1931-1964) “Chain Gang” 1960

Sam’s brother Charles said, “We was driving along the highway, man, and we saw these people working on a chin gang on the side of the road. They asked us, “you got any cigarettes?’ So we gave them the cigarettes we had…And Sam said, ‘Man, that’s a good song. Right there’” (Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke). 

Sam Cooke “Chain Gang”

389 Chubby Checker (1941- ) “The Twist” 1960

“’The Twist’ had originally been recorded by the Detroit rhythm-and-blues singer Hank Ballard, but had been released with little success. Clark’s wife re-christened Evans ‘Chubby Checker,’ deriving the name from that of Fats Domino and alluding to Checker’s own portly build and, in October of 1960, Checker appeared in American Bandstand. Although his recording of ‘The Twist’ was almost a note-for-note replica of Ballard’s, it was Checker’s version that topped the charts nationwide” (Contemporary Black Biography, 2001). Listed on the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress.

Chubby Checker “The Twist”

388 Ray Charles (1930-2004) “Georgia on My Mind” 1960

“In March 1979, the Georgia House of Representatives proclaimed 'Georgia on My Mind' the state song and invited Ray to sing it at the capitol in Atlanta. Recognition from the state where he had been born unnoticed fifty years before moved Ray deeply” (Ray Charles Man and Music). 

Ray Charles “Georgia on My Mind”

387 Johnny Burnette (1934-1964) “You’re Sixteen, You’re Beautiful (and You’re Mine)” 1960

“An acclaimed songwriter—in partnership with older brother Dorsey…if he hadn’t been killed in a boating accident in 1964, he would have followed Jerry Lee Lewis and Conway Twitty into a full-fledged country career” (Alan Cackett, Maverick, 2011). 

Johnny Burnette “You’re Sixteen, You’re Beautiful (and You’re Mine)”

386 Billy Bland (1932- ) “Let the Little Girl Dance” 1960

“’I didn’t like the TV shows because you didn’t get paid. You do a show, you sign a check, and they keep it…I said, ‘But I signed a check for eight hundred dollars.’ They said, ‘…You got a choice: eight hundred dollars or play the record’” (John Broven, Record Makers and Breakers, 2009). 

Billy Bland “Let the Little Girl Dance”

December 2, 2016

385 Joan Baez (1941- ) “East Virginia” and “Mary Hamilton” 1960

“In the East, I gave concerts with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, at the time the best-known bluegrass performers to come up from the South. Our collaboration was unprecedented, and caused a slightly humorous reaction among the urban hillbillies and college intellectuals who made up the audience…One reporter said that I sang to ‘troubled intellectuals.’ I saw the review and said…, ‘But I’m not an intellectual’” (Joan Baez, And a Voice to Sing With, 1987). The album Joan Baez is listed on the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress.

Joan Baez “East Virginia”

Joan Baez “Mary Hamilton”

384 Link Wray (1929-2005) “Rawhide” 1959

“Wray's reputation was built on a series of menacing, potently chorded instrumentals…Boasting a sound in marked contrast to the cleaner, country-bred picking style of such '50s guitarists as Scotty Moore and Cliff Gollup, Wray became the model for the heavier approach of later hard rock, metal and punk guitarists” (Chris Morris, Hollywood Reporter, 11/22/2005).

Link Wray “Rawhide”

383 The Tempos “See You in September” 1959

“Pop vocal group from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Mike Lazo, Gene Schachter, Jim Drake and Tom Minoto.” They recorded their top hit with guitarist, Billy Mure. A more upbeat version of the song was #3 on the Billboard charts in 1966, performed by the Happenings, known for their rock versions of jazz classics such as “I Got Rhythm” and “My Mammy” (Joel Whitburn, The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 2004).

The Tempos “See You in September”

382 The Shirelles "Dedicated to the One I Love" 1959

“The Shirelles owed much of their early success to [Florence] Greenberg’s creativity and business savvy. She was a remarkable entrepreneur whose life story has been developed into a Hollywood film… Unsatisfied with her life as a housewife during the 1950s, she entered the music industry with a strong love of music but no formal background (Taylor, Contemporary Musicians, 1994). Originally released in 1959, the song became a hit two years later. 

The Shirelles "Dedicated to the One I Love"

381 Johnny Preston (1939-2011) “Running Bear” 1959

“Preston was born in Port Arthur, south-east Texas, of German and Cajun stock. While at high school he sang in the choir and, after graduation, entered Lamar state college, where he formed a rock'n'roll group, the Shades. The group was soon in demand at local dances and hops. Playing at the Twilight Club in the nearby town of Beaumont, they were seen by [JP] Richardson [aka the Big Bopper], who took the 19-year-old Preston to the Gold Star studios in Houston to record Running Bear.” Richardson “said he was inspired to compose the song by a Dove-soap television commercial” (Dave Laing, The Guardian, 3/7/2011). 

Johnny Preston “Running Bear”