From the Land of Band Box Records

Jim and John and Jo-Ann

July 21, 2017

1958 – The Twins Jim and John – RCA Victor 1708 – “Teenagers Love the Twins”

The Twins were brothers John and James Cunningham who were born in New York City.  In 1957 the two composed the song “Jo-Ann” which was recorded by the Playmates and became a hit.  They met Alan Freed and worked with him to promote the song before it was taken to the Playmates.  Originally the brothers were sure they would be the ones to release a single but Freed battled with RCA Victor and it just never happened.  All of this took place while they were still in their late teens – Fame and fortune as singers just wasn’t to be.

The duo also recorded as “The Twin-Tones”

“Jo-Ann” was the Playmates first hit record, charting in January of 1958 and reaching number 19.  The twins didn’t realize and profit for composing the song – nor did they make any money from their RCA Victor long play and such was the business back then.


  1. IMO, The Twins’ “Jo Ann” was rough, “not ready for prime time”; The Playmates deserved the hit. However, their “Heart of Gold” is one of the most beautiful records of that – or possibly any – era and remains a favorite of mine. The flip, “Buttercup,” rocks out nicely, too. “Heart of Gold” got decent airplay in NYC, but I don’t know about sales.

    • In an interview John Cunningham said that the same back-up musicians were used for the Playmate’s session on “Jo-Ann” including the same two sax players, Sam “The Man” Taylor and King Curtis.

      Cunningham also speaks about another group cutting a 45 of “Jo-Ann” by the Lancers – Have you heard that one?

    • PS – Cunningham also stated: “….Also and little discussion has ever been made about it, we were actually the first group to use Afro/American backup singers on a record.” Hmmmm?

  2. Unfamiliar with “Joann” by The Lancers, who were on Coral (I think) and other labels.Might he be confused since “Heart of Gold” was on Lancer Records? If I remember, it was a Lieber-stoller production and, possibly, composition. I have the 45 qt home but I’m on vacation 500 miles away….

    Also, it was not uncommon for mixed-race bands to play NYC sessions. Lots of jazz guys did some straight-ahead doo-wop sessions for the money and brought a real professional sound to them. Taylor and Curtis were all over rock as well as r&b and pop sessions. So were Panama Francis on drums and Mickey Baker on guitar, as well as The Cookies on background vocals. I forget the track at the moment, but the latter played on some NYC rockabilly stuff and were pretty convincing. Someone else can help me here.

    Another note: the background vocals and rebel yells on the early Duane Eddy tracks were done by The Sharps, an African-American group with some goo tracks to their name – and several others, including The Untouchables, The Rivingtons and in the later ’60s, Africa.

    Correction: in the comment starting “I do not know…,” the first word of the second sentence is “There,” not “here.” So there!!!!

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: