Archive for March, 2010


Hello:  In my humble opinion The Diamonds from Toronto, Ontario, Canada were one of the best white doo-wop groups of the 1950s.  The original group consisted of Dave Sumerville, lead, Ted Kowalski, tenor, Phil Levitt, baritone and Bill Reed, bass.  Their first recording contract was with Coral Records in 1955.  Coral released four songs, the most notable being Black Denim Trousers & Motorcycle Boots, a cover version of the original recording by The Cheers.  The Diamonds version was not a big seller and got them only some local recognition.

Their first hit was a cover version of Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers hit WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE.  It was recorded on their new label Mercury Records and would spend 19 weeks on the Top 100 charting at #12 in 1956.  Remember that in the 50s black artists were not played on white radio stations.  Mercury Records, as well as other major record labels were having white artists cover the recordings of black artists, trying to expand their listening audience.

Their second hit of 1956 would again be a cover version of The Willows, THE CHURCH BELLS MAY RING, it climbed the Top 100 to #14.   Their biggest hit would come in March of 1957 with LITTLE DARLIN’ (originally recorded by The Gladiolas).  Little Darlin’ would spend 26 weeks in the Top 100 and chart at #2.  This song is still one of the most popular oldies from the 50s.  1957 would find The Diamonds charting 5 big hits.  They covered The Rays version of SILHOUETTES and put that song at #10, but their next hit would be different.  THE STROLL was written by Brook Benton and was not a cover version.  It was actually written for them.  The Stroll had a 21 week stay on the Top 100 and charted at a high of #4.

1958 would produce 4 more Top 100 hits.  They would be, HIGH SIGN at #37, KATHY-O would climb to #16 and it’s flip-side, HAPPY YEARS would chart at #73.  WALKING ALONG would close 1958 for the group and become a #29 hit.  The next year (1959) would see only one Diamonds hit making the Top 100 and that would be, SHE SAY (Oom Dooby Doom), reaching a high of #14.

By 1961, all the original members had left the group.  One more hit was to come and in the summer of 61 they charted a spin-off of the Danleers, ONE SUMMER NIGHT which charted at #22.  Altogether for Mercury Records they charted 16 songs, 3 Top 10′s and 2 gold records, Little Darlin’ and The Stroll.

The Diamonds were one of the big groups of the 50s rock era.  The Diamonds received national attention once again in 2000, when the original members were invited to sing in the PBS production of Doo-Wop 51 and again in 2004 in another PBS production, Magic Moments-The Best Of ’50s Pop. 

Just listen to their music today and recall all the memories of yesterday.

Till the next time—Joe

Hello again:  He is said to have one of the finest voices of any genre and is considered one of the all time great soul singers.  Jackie Wilson was born on June 9, 1934 in Detroit, Michigan.  He sang with gospel groups and became an amateur boxer.  He joined Billy Ward And His Dominoes as a replacement for Clyde McPhatter and in 1957 left the group for a solo career.

Jackie was signed to the Brunswick Record label and released his first charted record REET PETITE in November of 1957, it became a modest hit at #62 on the Top 100.  His next record would come in April of 1958, TO BE LOVED would go up the charts to #22.  In November of  ’58 Jackie would place his first solo record in the Top 10 with LONELY TEARDROPS making its way up the Top 100 to #7.

March of 1959 would find Jackie releasing  the great soulful, THAT’S WHY (I Love You So).  It would settle in at #13 and his next record, I’LL BE SATISFIED, a song that was almost impossible not to move your body to, went to #20.  In the fall of  ’59 he would release a song from the movie, Go Johnny Go, a movie starring Jackie and DJ Alan Freed.  YOU BETTER KNOW IT  would work its way into the Top 40 at #37.

1960 would be a strong year on the Billboard Music Charts for Jackie.  He would put 6 songs in the Top 100 and 2 of them would become Top 10 hits.  His version of  NIGHT would chart at #4 and become one of his biggest hits.  Another ballad, ALONE AT LAST became a #8 chart topper. In 1961 he would chart, ( can you believe) 10 hits in the Top 100 with MY EMPTY ARMS making it to #9.  The following year 1962 would find 7 more Jackie Wilson songs finding their way to the charts.

In March of 1963 he released BABY WORKOUT, another great soul shaker that went to #5 on the Top 100.  Jackie continued charting records in 1964, ’65 and  ’66 but 1967 was in the wings and so was his classic recording of (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) HIGHER AND HIGHER, it would climb to #6 and become his biggest hit.  It also would be his last Top 10 hit on the pop charts but he would still chart records till 1972.

On September 29, 1975 while performing at the Latin Casino in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Jackie collapsed after suffering a stroke on stage.  He spent the rest of his life in a nursing home and on January 21, 1984 at the age of 49, Jackie Wilson passed away.  During his solo career he charted 62 hit records and in 1987 he was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

He was the complete entertainer.  He had great moves on stage and a voice that was classical.  Jackie Wilson is one of the best from the “Golden Era Of Rock And Roll”.

Till the next time—Joe

Hello:  Born on July 30, 1941 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  Paul has been performing since the age of 12.  His first recording was, I CONFESS, for RPM Records in 1956.  He came to New York in 1957 to audition for Don Costa at ABC-Paramount Records and was given a contract to record for that label.

His first record came in July of 57 and went straight to the top of the charts.  DIANA, written by Paul, as would be the case with many of his hits had a 29 week stay on the music charts and established him as a teen-idol.  In January of 1958 Paul would send another record into the top 10,  YOU ARE MY DESTINY would settle in at #7 on the Top 100.  His next record in April of 58 would find both sides in the top 20.  CRAZY LOVE would chart at #15 and LET THE BELLS KEEP RINGING would stop one place lower at #16.

1959 would be a great year for Paul.  He would place 4 songs in the top 100 and 3 would climb into the top 10.  One of those hits would become his biggest hit, LONELY BOY would become his second #1 record and stay at the top spot for 4 weeks.  PUT YOUR HEAD ON MY SHOULDER was a #2 hit and IT’S TIME TO CRY went all the way to #4.  1960 would find Paul hard at work again.  His first hit would become a slow dance favorite, PUPPY LOVE would become the #2 hit in the U.S.  His next recording would be, MY HOME TOWN, (a favorite of mine) and would also make the top 10 at #8.  In total Paul would place 8 songs on the Pop Charts in 1960.  1961 would find 8 more Paul Anka songs on the charts with TONIGHT MY LOVE, TONIGHT peaking at #13 and DANCE ON LITTLE GIRL making the Top 10 at #10.

In 1962 Paul would sign to record for RCA Victor Records and in his first year with that label he would place 4 records in the Top 100 with 3 of then in the Top 20.  LOVE ME WARM AND TENDER  the first RCA release would go to #12, his follow-up, A STEEL GUITAR AND A GLASS OF WINE at #13 and in November, ESO BESO (That Kiss) would run up the charts to #19.  After 1964, Paul would not be in the Top 100 until January of 1969 when GOODNIGHT MY LOVE would move onto the charts and settle in at #27.

Paul would not hit the Top 10 again until 1974 with his new label United Artists.  His first offering for that label would become a million seller, (You’re)HAVING MY BABY became a #1 record for 3 weeks, giving Paul one of his biggest all-time hits.  His stay with United Artists would last until 1977 and account for 4 Top 10 hits and a #1.  In all he would put 60 hits on the charts.

Paul wrote “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” for Buddy Holly, “She’s A Lady” for Tom Jones and the English lyrics to “My Way”, for both Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley.  He also wrote the theme for TV’s The Tonight Show.  He also appeared in the movies Girls Town in 1959, The Longest Day in 1962 and later in Captain Ron in 1992.  Paul has been a favoite for many years in Las Vegas.  My mother saw him in the 70s in Vegas and as he performed, he walked by her table and held her hand.

One of the very first records I ever bought was Diana.  His recordings of Puppy Love, Put Your Head On My Shoulder and The Times Of Your Life still fill the dance floors at my dances.  He is still going strong in a career that has spaned  6 decades (1956-Present).

Till the next time—Joe

Hello:  Lloyd Price was born on March 9, 1933 in Kenner, Louisiana.  His first recording LAWDY MISS CLAWDY was a #1 R & B hit on the Specialty Records label in 1952.  That song featured Fats Donino on piano.  In 1953 he was drafted in the Army and served untill 1956.  In 56 he formed his own record company KRC Records and recorded the first single for that label, JUST BECAUSE.  The song was leased to ABC-Paramount records and climbed up the Top 100 to #29 in 1957.

It was his second single for ABC in December of 1958 that took Lloyd to the top of the charts, STAGGER LEE went to #1 where it stayed for 4 weeks and sold a million copies.  Lloyd returned to the charts a few months later with, WHERE WERE YOU (On Our Wedding Day)?, it charted at #23 on the pop charts.  Just about 2 months later in April of 1959 another Lloyd Price classic started climbing the charts, PERSONALITY became a #2 hit and another million seller and in August of 59 his follow-up record also climbed the charts.  I’M GONNA GET MARRIED went all the way to #3 and was certified gold.  He would chart 2 more hits in 59, COME INTO MY HEART at #20 and its flip side WONT’CHA COME HOME at #43.

In 1960 he would place 7 songs in the Top 100 with LADY LUCK, at #14 and in June, QUESTION would start its climb to #19.  That would be the end of the big hits on ABC-Paramount.  In 1962 Lloyd would form Double-L Records with Harold Logan and record his last Top 20 hit.  Lloyds version of MISTY would enter the Top 100 in October of 1963 and reach #21.  Wilson Pickett would get his start on Lloyds, Double-L label in 1963.

Lloyd has appeared on Dick Clarks, American Bandstand and in 1993 he toured Europe with Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and Gary U.S. Bonds.  I can remember seeing him play at a rock & roll show in my hometown of Rochester, N.Y. in the late fifties.  It was a package show with many top performers of the day.  Lloyds band supplied the music for the artists that evening and they were great.  He sounded so good and tore the place down with Stagger Lee.

The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame came calling and made him a member in 1998.  In his recording career he charted 24 songs on the pop charts and many others on the R & B charts (Rhythm & Blues).  There are good CD’s featuring his many hits that are available.  Lloyd Price is an American classic and his great music lives on.

Till the next time—Joe

Hello:  Todays artist is a personal  favorite of mine.  Jack Scott, born Giovanni Dominico Scafone Jr. on January 24, 1936 in Windsor, Ontario, Canada and moved to Hazel Park, Michigan in 1946.  He has been called the greatest Canadian rock and roll singer of all time.

In 1957 he signed a contract with ABC-Paramount Records and recorded two good selling local hits for that label, BABY, SHE’S GONE and TWO TIMIN’ WOMAN.  In 1958 he switched record labels and signed with Carlton Records and his first hit for that label was the double-sided smash, MY TRUE LOVE a #3 hit and LEROY, charting at #11 on the Billboard Top 100 and earning Jack a gold record for sales of over 1 million copies.  Later in 1958 Jack would put another huge record in the Top 10, GOODBYE BABY would move up the charts to #8 in the country.

Jack served in the United States Army during most of 1959.  In the summer of 59 he would chart another Top 40 hit with, THE WAY I WALK, a #35 hit on Billboard Charts.  At the beginning of 1960, Jack would change record labels and move to Top Rank Records.  His first hit for that label would be his second million seller, WHAT IN THE WORLD’S COME OVER YOU climbing all the way to #5 in the country.  His follow-up record charted even higher, BURNING BRIDGES moved all the way up to #3  and had a 17 week stay on the Top 100.

Jack charted 8 more songs between 1960-61 but none would climb into the Top 10.  He again changed record labels in 1961 when he signed with Capitol Records and cut some great sides for them.  One of my favorites for Capitol came in 1961, A LITTLE FEELING (CALLED LOVE) and its flip side NOW THAT I.  A Little Feeling only charted at #91, can’t figure that one out.  It was one of the best records out at that time.

He had a small country music hit on Dot Records in 1974 with YOU’RE JUST GETTIN’ BETTER.  Jack Scott had more U.S. singles (19) in a short period of time than any other recording artist, not counting the Beatles.  Jack also wrote all of his hits with the exception of Burning Bridges.

He ranks with the top legends of rock and roll and with the exception of  only a few, he developed one of the finest voices and put together a great body of work that has stood the test of time.  People say to me, why is Jack Scott not in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame?  My answer—”Beats the hell out of me”.

Check out Jack Scott’s great web site at: www.jackscottmusic.com.

Till the next time—Joe

Hello Again:  Bill Haley is credited by many with popularizing rock and roll music in the early 1950s.  He was born William John Clifton Haley on Ju.ly 6, 1925 in Highland Park, Michigan.  With his group the Comets he would record some of the most popular early rock music and one that would become one of the biggest hits of all-time.

Bill Haley And His Comets would chart their first rock record in 1953, a tune called, CRAZY, MAN, CRAZY and it would settle in at #12 on the Top 100.  That song was on the Essex Records label.  In 1954 they signed with the Decca Record label.  Their first hit for Decca came in August of 54 with the rock classic, SHAKE, RATTLE AND ROLL a #7 hit on Billboard’s Top 100 and a million seller.  But, in May of 1955 a song featured in the movie Blackboard Jungle starring Glenn Ford would set the world of rock and roll on its ears.  ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK would make a fast rise to the top of the charts and stay at #1 for 8 weeks.  It would become one of the most popular rock songs ever and Bill Haley was quickly given the title “Father of Rock and Roll”.  Rock Around The Clock also became the first record ever to sell over 1 million copies in both England and Germany.  Rock Around The Clock also charted again in 1968 and in 1974.

More hits would soon follow and Bill would chart another Top 10 hit in 1955 with BURN THAT CANDLE, reaching #9.  1956 would find Bill not missing a beat when he put another classic hit record in the Top 10.  SEE YOU LATER, ALLIGATOR rose to #6 in the country.  Bill followed that with 7 more hits in 1956.  After 56 Bill and The Comets would place  7 more records on the charts but none would rise higher than #22, that song was, SKINNY MINNIE.

In 1958 Bill’s group released an instrumental record, WEEK END as The Kingsmen on the East West Records label and it charted at #35 on the Top 100.

Another fact, Rock Around The Clock was the first #1 rock and roll record on the pop charts and Crazy Man, Crazy was the first rock and roll record on the charts.  Altogether Bill Haley and His Comets would chart 28 songs on the pop charts and they were elected to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1987.

Bill passed away on February 9, 1981 at the age of 55.  What he left us was a legacy of great music that to this day sounds as good as when  it was first played.  There is not an oldies dance that I spin tunes at, that someone doesn’t ask for one of his hits, after all he is the “Father of Rock and Roll”.

Till the next time—Joe

Hello:  Today’s artist was born Francis Avallone on September 18, 1939 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  He worked in bands, performed on radio and TV with Paul Whiteman in the mid-1950s.  He was a singer and a pretty good trumpet player with the band Rocco & His Saints in 1956.  That band included another future teen idol, Bobby Rydell.

Frankie Avalon, as the world of pop music would know him charted his first hit record on the Chancellor Records label in January of 1958.  DEDE DINAH would become Frankies first major chart hit and reach #7 on the Billboard Top 100.  In the summer of 1958 another Top 10 record, GINGER BREAD would go all the way to #9.  Just to end the year on a good note he would place a  ballad, I’LL WAIT FOR YOU at #15.  A great year just ended, what would he do to start 1959?  Only record his biggest hit record of all time, VENUS.  Frankie took Venus to #1 where it stayed for 5 weeks.  1959 would be a great year for Frankie, his next record would place both sides on the Top 100 and both sides in the Top 10.  BOBBY SOX TO STOCKINGS would chart at #8 and A BOY WITHOUT A GIRL would be a #10 hit. Wow, what a year, can’t get any better than that right, WRONG.  His next record, JUST ASK YOUR HEART flew up the Top 100 to #7.  Not done yet, Frankie would end the year with his second #1 record, WHY.  A quick re-cap, 5 Top 10 records, 2 of which went to #1.

With the new decade starting Frankie hit the Top 100, 7 times in 1960.  His biggest records of that year were: DON’T THROW AWAY ALL THOSE TEARDROPS, #22, WHERE ARE YOU, #32, TOGETHERNESS, #26.  I recall hearing Togetherness on the radio on a Sunday morning.  My mother Rose, was making sauce as she did most Sundays and the smell of that sauce was drifting through our home.  I just cranked that old radio up and listened to every word of that song and when it ended I rode my bike up to the corner drug store and bought that 45rpm with the picture sleeve of Frankie.  Today when I hear that song I recall my mom’s sauce and I still can smell it as if she were still here.

In 1961 Frankie would place 3 songs in the Top 100 but none would make the top of the charts.  1962 would find Frankie hitting the Top 30  for the last time with his, YOU ARE MINE, #26.  In 1976 he would make a disco recording of Venus and that would be his last chart single to date.  Venus, disco version would make the Top 50 and chart at #46.  In all Frankie would put 31 songs on the Billboard Music Charts

Frankie co-starred in many beach movies with Annette Funicello and appeared in the movies Jamboree, The Guns Of The Timberland and The Alamo with John Wayne.  Along with his friends, Bobby Rydell and Fabian they were called the boys of bandstand because of their appearances on American Bandstand, starring Dick Clark.  Today with Bobby and Fabian he still does concerts across the country as the Boys Of Bandstand. 

His songs are a part of my oldies dances and just as in 1959 they still fill the dance floor.

Till the next time—Joe

Hello:  While no one artist can be said to invent rock and roll, surly Chuck Berry must be mentioned  with a few select others as a founding father of the genre.  From the very beginning through today his music is a must for any serious rock fan.

Born Charles Edward Anderson Berry on October 18, 1926 in St. Louis, Missouri.  His very first recording for the Chess Records label in Chicago was an instant hit.  MAYBELLENE, was a #5 hit on the Billboard Top 100 in the fall of 1955.  In the summer of 1956 Chuck would place his classic ROLL OVER BEETHOVEN on the charts at #29.  Chuck was just getting started.  1957 would find 3 of his records hit the Top 100 with 2 of them making the Top 10.  SCHOOL DAY would sail up the charts to #3 and ROCK & ROLL MUSIC would hit #8.  Wow, what a year, but as they said in the 50′s, the hits just keep on coming.

Coming they did because 1958 would see Chuck putting 8 songs in the Top 100.  Two of them would become classics.  SWEET LITTLE SIXTEEN would hit #2 and his very next record,( my favorite) JOHNNY B. GOODE would make it to #8.  Chuck would also place  5 songs on the charts in 1959.  Chuck’s legal problems would keep him off the charts from 1961-63 but in 1964 he again would have a good year chart-wise.  NADINE would start the year out and go to #23.  His next song, NO PARTICULAR PLACE TO GO, would make the Top 10 and YOU NEVER CAN TELL would make it to #14.

After 1965 Chuck would leave the charts until 1972 when he would chart his only #1 hit single, MY DING-A-LING, that song would go on to sell over 1 million records.  In all Chuck Berry would put 29 songs on the charts, all on the Chess Records label.  So it was no surprise that in 1986 he was elected in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

Who could ever forget his duck walk on stage while playing his guitar.  Now back to the beginning of the blog.  I would put, Bill Haley & The Comets, Little Richard and Elvis Presley as founding fathers of rock along with Chuck Berry. Who would you select?  Leave a comment or e-mail me at jtroiano@twcny.rr.com.

Chucks music is heard on oldies radio from coast to coast today and many of his songs have been recorded by artists from Johnny Rivers to The Beatles to the Rolling Stones and on and on.  I am always getting requests to play Johnny B. Good at the dances.  Chuck has many CD’s available and his music sounds great.  Guess it gets better with age.

Till the next time—Joe

Hello:  Born Charles Westover on December 30, 1934 in Coopersville, Michigan.  As Del Shannon he would go on to chart 25 songs on the Billboard Music Charts.  His first big hit would come in 1961 on the Big Top records label and would go to #1 in the country.  RUNAWAY would spend 4 weeks at #1 and become the biggest hit of Del’s career.

A few months later in1961 he would chart his second Top 10 hit, HATS OFF TO LARRY, a #5 hit on the Billboard Top 100.  1961 would also see Del score two more big hits, SO LONG BABY at #28 and HEY! LITTLE GIRL, reaching #38.  In the fall of 61 I went to a concert in Rochester, N.Y. and Del was one of the headliners that evening.  After the show I met Del backstage.  He was a real class act and made you feel easy talking to him.  At that time he had Runaway and Hats Off To Larry already to his credit and So Long Baby was climbing the charts. Yes, he really could hit those high notes.

In 1962 he would place a few more songs on the Top 100, the biggest hit being, LITTLE TOWN FLIRT, a #12 hit record.  In 1963 he would record a Lennon/McCartney song, FROM ME TO YOU, it would chart at a modest #77, but would become the first song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney to chart in the United States.

In 1964, now on the Amy Records label he would place a cover version of Jimmy Jones, HANDY MAN, at #22.  At the end of the year he would chart his last Top 10 record, KEEP SEARCHIN’, at #9.  1965 would start out good with STRANGER IN TOWN going to #30 in the country.  After that Del would not chart a record in the Top 30 until 1981 with a re-make of Phil Phillips 1959 hit, SEA OF LOVE, charting at #33.  This would be his last charted single.

Dell wrote the Peter & Gordon classic, I GO TO PIECES.  Sadly, Del Shannon died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on February 8, 1990 at the age of 55.  In 1999 he was inducted in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.  Some music just lives on forever.  Del Shannon’s Runaway and Hats Off To Larry are played on oldies stations from coast to coast. 

Till the next time—Joe

Hello:  Today we look at the musical career of Richard Penniman or as the world of pop music knows him Little Richard.  He was born on December 5, 1932 in Macon, Georgia.  Little Richard recorded for the RCA Victor label in 1951 but didn’t chart any hit records until 1956 on the Specialty Records label.

In January of 56′ he hit the Billboard Top 100 for the first time with Tutti-Frutti, a #17 hit and followed that with another hit record, Long Tall Sally, reaching #6.  What is interesting about his music is that other big named artists of the day were making cover versions of his music.  Pat Boone took Tutti-Frutti to #12 and Long Tall Sally to #8 on the Top 100.  Elvis Presley recorded Long Tall Sally, Reddy Teddy and Rip It Up in the 50′s.  Little Richards music was in demand.

1957 would see him place 6 hit records on the charts.  The Girl Can’t Help It, #49 hit record was the title song from the movie starring Jane Mansfield.  Two months later the classic Lucille climbed up to #21.  There was still more to come before the year ended, Jenny, Jenny would move up the charts to #10 and Keep A Knockin’, from the movie Mr. Rock & Roll starring DJ Alan Freed, would make the top ten at #8.

In 1958 Little Richard would put Good Golly Miss Molly at #10 on the Top 100 and place 3 more hits on the Billboard Charts.  After 1959 he would not hit the Top 40 again until 1970 with a tune recorded on the Reprise Records label, Freedom Blues (#47) and in 1986 with a song from the movie Down And Out In Beverly Hills, Great Gosh A’ Mighty (#42).

In 1961 Little Richard became an ordained minister.  He left Rock & Roll and R & B for gospel music between 1959-62.  He is truly one of pioneers of early Rock & Roll.  The fact that so many other artists have recorded his music is a tribute to his staying power.  In his career he has placed 27 songs on the Billboard singles charts to date.  In 1993 he won a Grammy for Lifetime Achievement and was elected to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1986.

On his records you can feel the power of his music and his stage shows were a jolt of pure energy.  I still enjoy putting on those hits of Little Richard and listen to one of the true giants of Rock & Roll.

Here are a few more of his hits: Slippin’ And Slidin’-1956, Ready Teddy-1956, Miss Ann-1957, Baby Face-1958, All Around The World-1956, True Fine Mama-1958.  I’m happy to say that his original recordings are available on CD.  If you are looking for a large selection of oldies music go to Collectables Music or Amazon.Com.

Till the next time—Joe

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