Hi, The Fireballs are a rock and roll band from Raton, New Mexico. Members included Chuck Harp, George Tomsco, Dan Trammell, Stan Lark and Eric Budd. They first recorded for Kapp Records in 1958. Trammell left the group in 1959. Doug Roberts replaced Eric Budd in 1962. Chuck Harp left the group in 1960 and was replaced by Jimmy Gilmer. He was introduced to the group by their record producer Norman Petty at his studio in Clovis, New Mexico. The same studio where Buddy Holly had recorded.
The Fireballs first charted hit records as an instrumental band. Their first hit made its Billboard Hot 100 debut on September 28, 1959…TORQUAY on Top Rank Records became a Top 40 hit, charting at #39. Their follow-up record, BULLDOG charted in January of 1960 and did even better, climbing to #24 on the Hot 100. Their third release charted in August of 1960, VAQUERO (Cowboy) just did reach the Hot 100, at #99. The Fireballs were back on the Hot 100 in June of 1961 with a #27 hit record…QUITE A PARTY on Warwick Records.
Their next hit record came two years later in September of 1963. The group was now known as Jimmy Gilmer and The Fireballs and they were recording vocal…With Jimmy on the lead they charted the rock and roll classic…SUGAR SHACK on Dot Records. The single climbed the Billboard Hot 100 all the way to the #1 spot, a position it held for 5 weeks. The single remained on the Hot 100 for 15 weeks. The single also reached #1 on the Billboard R&B chart. SUGAR SHACK sold over 1 million copies and was awarded a “Gold Record”.
In December of 1963 the group was back with a follow-up record…DAISY PETAL PICKIN’, the up-tempo beat took it to #15 on the Hot 100. The group would have another Hot 100 record in 1964 with AIN’T GONNA TELL ANYBODY-#53. They would not have another big hit until the end of 1967. The British Invasion with The Beatles getting things going in 1964 and the many other British acts that followed kept many of the American artists off the charts during the mid to late 1960s.
Jimmy Gilmer was still a member in late 1967 when BOTTLE OF WINE on Atco Records made its Billboard Hot 100 debut, but the group was billed as The Fireballs. BOTTLE OF WINE brought the group back to the Top 10, charting at #9 and remaining on the Hot 100 for 14 weeks. There were three other singles, GOIN’ AWAY-#79 in 1968…COME ON, REACT!-#63 in 1968 and LONG GREEN-#73 in 1969 that would reach the Hot 100. Jimmy Gilmer left the group in 1969 to pursue management and record production in Nashville, Tennessee. Doug Roberts passed away in 1981.
The Fireballs continued performing with original members, George Tomsco, Stan Lark and Chuck Tharp, until he died in 2006 at the age of 65. Jimmy Gilmer has returned on occasion as lead vocalist. Jimmy Gilmer and The Fireballs charted a rock and roll classic with their million-seller, SUGAR SHACK…one of the huge hits from the, “GOLDEN ERA OF ROCK AND ROLL”.
Till the next time—Joe