There are a hand full of early rockers which just stay with me as defining moments in rock and roll. When I play these today or hear them occasionally on the radio – the thrill is just the same (well maybe not exactly the same as the first time – but still a thrill!)
The Dell-Vikings – “Come Go With Me”
When I used to DJ dances this is one that always brought people out of their seats – A perfect rock and roll composition. There are times when I listen to this that I think it is the perfect unadulterated rocker! Bios always like to lead with the angle that this was an early integrated group which is true – Hooray for that! They formed in the mid 1950’s on an Air Force base in Pittsburgh sometimes listed as “The Del-Vikings” and also “The Dell-Vikings”. At that time the single white member was David Lerchey. There would be personnel changes here and there. One member was along the way Chuck Jackson. There was a period of time when the group split into two factions both touring and recording simultaneously.
“Come Go With Me” charted in March of 1957 reaching number 2 on the R&B charts and number 4 on the Hot 100 – residing there for 31 weeks. They hit the Top 10 again in 1957 with “Whispering Bells” (#5 R&B and #9 Hot 100), and “Cool Shake” (#9 R&B and #12 Hot 100).
The Rebels – “Wild Weekend”
The Rebels were from Buffalo, NY and their producer – DJ Tom Shannon had them cover a Canadian group’s recording – they being The Hot Toddys. When the record became a hit, the Hot Toddy’s version was released on Swan and the group was called “The Rockin’ Rebels”. A bit confusing but I loved both versions. The Hot Toddys also had a hit with “Rockin’ Crickets” #57 in 1959. “Wild Weekend” hit number 8 on the Hot 100 in December of 1962. Shannon had some subtle ties to Colorado, working in the state for a time.
The Silhouettes – “Get A Job”
What a great rock and roll record! If you don’t get up and dance to this one – let’s face it – you will NEVER DANCE! The Philadelphia base Silhouettes would take this one all the way to the top of charts in January of 1958 – #1 for 2 weeks (#1 R&B for six weeks). Oddly, the group would never experience another charting single let alone a monster hit.
Here they are on American Bandstand:
The Showmen – “It Will Stand”
I never, never get tired of this song which hit the charts in September of 1961 and was composed by Norman “General” Johnson – the lead singer for the Showmen and later the front man for The Chairmen of the Board on Invictus Records which was formed by Motown smash hit composers Holland-Dozier-Holland. Now growing up in Denver I never knew what “beach music” was – I thought it was the Beach Boys in California. I only later learned about the Southeast coast genre. And I learned about a great dance, called “The Shag” which I could never engage in without looking like my pants had fallen down and caught around my ankles sending me stumbling across the dance floor. I love “It Will Stand” – Always will. The song was a minor hit – first charting at number 61 in 1961 and then again in 1964 reaching number 80.
The song was featured in the 1989 movie “Shag” with a cast that included Bridget Fonda. It was filmed appropriately enough in South Carolina.
Here is a video from that movie showing the “contest scene” music by The Showmen and a finale rousing couple dancing to Lloyd Price’s “Staggerlee”.
The Astronauts – “Baja”
Colorado’s own Astronauts (formerly the Storm Troupers) were mostly from the college town of Boulder with a couple of exceptions. Several members attended The University of Colorado in Boulder. The group had a great sound and “Baja” remains for me the best surf era instrumental. Got to dance to the Astronauts on a couple of occasions out at the old Elitch Gardens’ Trocedero Ballroom. The song was penned by Lee Hazelwood. The Astronauts recorded three of his compositions. “Baja” barely dented the Hot 100 at number 94 for a single week – their only entry into the charts. It did go to the top in Denver, Colorado however on The Denver Tiger – KIMN radio.
Here is a great article by Colorado Blogger George Krieger: “The Astronauts – Surfin’ The Rockies”
Bo Diddley – “Road Runner”
“Road Runner” entered the charts in early 1960 and reached number 75 – What a great rumbling bass guitar and a great boss sound! I love this first video with the integrated and co-ed guitar threesome in a shortened version – The full version is posted second.