From the Land of Band Box Records

Slay Ride in Colorado!

September 7, 2019

Frank Slay & the Colorado Connection

I came across this December, 1970 article in Cash Box Magazine which reinforces several of my entries relating to Colorado being fertile ground for record producer Frank Slay, Jr., obtaining local talent.  This article comes well after Slay had brought several Colorado area ‘garage groups’ onto his Chicory record label which he founded in late 1963.

Swan Records

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Slay and Crewe

Slay had earlier connected with singer/song writer Bob Crewe – initially to have a singer to cut demo’s of Slay’s compositions.  In short order the duo would begin writing and producing together – landing jobs at Swan Records which was formed out of Philadelphia in late 1957.  Swan was founded by Tony Mamarella and Bernie Beinnick and part owner American Band Stand host Dick Clark who stay connected to the label until the payola investigations forced him to relinquish his position there.

Rocker Freddy Cannon would anchor the label keeping it afloat for several years until the Beatles came along and provided a much needed influx of income with the release of “She Loves You”, which bombed on the first attempt before the group was a known commodity but a tremendous success upon second issue in January of 1964.

Chicory Records

When Swan Records began experiencing it’s decline, Slay elected to make a move to Los Angeles where he would start up Chicory Records in November of 1963.  A few years would pass and then probably in early 1966 Slay would begin to visit Denver, Colorado for various teen music events including KIMN’s “Battle of the Bands”.  His first release by a Colorado connected group – “The Fender Benders” was released “Scooter” b/w “Head ‘N’ Shoulders – 1,2,3.

Slay’s Chicory label came hot on the heels of his first label “Claridge” which began cutting discs in the fall of 1965 and continued on into 1978.  After signing the Fender Benders, Slay would cut records with The Rainy Daze, The Boenzee Cryque, The Monocles and the Higher Elevation all out of Colorado.  Later members of the Cryque would be Rusty Young and George Grantham who went on to form Poco.  Two members of the Higher Elevation were former Monocles – a Greeley, Colorado group.


Boenzee Cryque

The Monocles

The Higher Elevation

Uni Records

Uni Records would take the master for “That Acapulco Gold” by the Rainy Daze and it would become the label’s first charting record reaching a modest number 70 probably due in part to being banned on several radio stations.   Slay would then bring over his recording of “Incense and Peppermints” by the Strawberry Alarm Clock and that one would go all the way to the top of the charts (it was first released on the obscure “All-American” label.)  The Strawberry’s would place four more singles on the Hot 100 – none composed by Gilbert and Carter.

The Strawberry Alarm Clock was originally named “Thee Sixpence” but changed their name due to a conflict in names with another band.

Denver’s Rainy Daze

The song was penned by University of Colorado students Tim Gilbert and John Carter.  Gilbert along with his brother Kip were both members of the Rainy Daze and had both been members of Colorado’s Rising Sons” out of Denver in 1965.  Tim Gilbert would also release one Uni single in 1967 as a solo artist working again with John Carter on writing and Slay producing.

The duo of Gilbert and Carter would write songs for a group called The Yankee Dollar recording for Dot Records in the summer of 1968

John Carter enjoyed a productive life in music beyond the 1960’s working at Atlantic Records and then in an A&R capacity for Capitol Records and signing Bob Welch, The Motels and Sammy Hagar to the label,  He would sign Tina Turner to Capitol and revived her career – working with her on her highly successful “Private Dancer” LP.

Carter and Gilbert would compose “Union Man” for Mick Emeson who recorded the song on Colorado’s Crested Butte label.  Mick was a former member of Boulder, Colorado’s “Pleasant Street Blues Band” and before that Denver’s Galaxies and a group called Climax.

Boulder’s Pleasant Street Blues Band – circa 1966

Carter passed away in May of 2010 a victim of cancer.

Later Years – John S. Carter

Claridge Records

As mentioned – Slay started up Claridge Records before Chicory – The label met with very little success until Slay brought the Denver-based group on-board.  Sugarloaf first hit the pop charts with “Green-Eyed Lady” in the summer of 1970, on the Liberty record label where they first worked with Frank Slay as producer.  Slay and group would release three singles on Liberty before moving to United Artists and Brut records – all the while working with Slay.

Their 4th single “Don’t Call Us – We’ll Call You” returned the group to the Top 10 – The song was actually recorded in Golden, Colorado and in reality was group leader Jerry Corbetta working with session players – none of which were members of Sugarloaf – as well as a vocal group called The Flying Saucers.  The song was intended as a slap back at CBS Records which had rejected Sugarloaf who had turned them down before their Liberty signing.

The Moon

North Denver's Jerry Corbetta

A Very Young Jerry Corbetta in Denver

The Moonrakers

Frank Slay through his working association with Roger Christian and Richard Russell – would come to produce Denver’s Moonrakers post Tower days on the Shamley Record Label.  Three members would go on to join Colorado’s Sugarloaf: Bob Mavitte – Bob Webber and Veeder Van Dorn.

The Moonrakers

Colorado On Chicory Records – The Slay Connection

Colorado On Uni Records – The Slay Connection

Colorado on Claridge Records – The Slay Connection

More Sugarloaf 45 Releases – The Slay Connection and/or Carter & Gilbert

Those Adorable Filtzers!

August 29, 2019

The Paris Sisters

On vinyl – before there were Angles, before there were Ronettes, before there were Chantels, before there were Shirelles…… There were the Filtzer Sisters!

The Filtzers grew up in the San Francisco area and were destined early on to be performers.  In the beginning they thought of themselves as dancers first and singers second.  In an interview, Sherrell Filtzer (the middle sister) recalls that their journey in entertainment didn’t afford them any time for the normal growing up experiences.

They weren’t driven by their parents, who Sherrell described as “normal parents”.  It is rather difficult to discover when the trio became “The Paris Sisters” – but it was early.  Sometime in 1953 they came to the attention of a local California independent record label out of San Francisco –  “Cavalier” where the sisters would cut four tracks.  One single had a Christmas theme and seems to be lost to time.  The second Cavalier 828 has the Paris Sisters working with Jimmy Diamond and His Sparkling Music.  Diamond provided instrumentation for several artists appearing on Cavalier.

The “Zorch/Bully” recording was also released on a 45 format with red wax.

The three Paris Sisters were Albeth (oldest born in 1935, Sherrell born in 1940 and Priscilla born in 1941.  The year after cutting the Cavaliers tracks, the Paris Sisters would leave (thing ditch) school early and immediately head to a local venue where the Andrew Sisters were appearing.  The girls considered the Andrews their heroes and wanted to mold themselves into the same style of singing.

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The Andrews

After several times attending the Andrews’ performances, the sisters were finally noticed – and not just noticed but asked to come up on stage.  Most likely this led to the signing of the Paris Sisters to the Decca record label – home to the Andrews.  The year was 1954.

There was no set ‘lead singer’ and the Paris’ sound was definitely “Andrews” all the way – bouncy – spunky and fun.  Take a listen to their first “Ooh La La” released in November, 1954 and then “Huckleberry Pie” from April of the following year.

Ooh La La

Their voices in those early years conjured up mature female singers – certainly not the 15 and 16 year old girls which Priscilla and Sherell were at the time.  The older Albeth took responsibility for her younger sisters when they were on the road.

There would be a total of eight releases on Decca – The girls would move over to Imperial records in late 1957 and early 1958 for a couple of singles.  The trio would continue on without a label for a few years until early 1961 when they would come into contact with a couple of California boys and everything would change for the Paris Sisters.

Lester Sill and Phil Spector were a curious mix – Sill, the veteran music man who cut his teeth in R&B music with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Modern Records, Charles Brown, Hadda Brooks, Big Mama Thornton and so many more.

Phil Spector was 20 years younger and was coming off his monster hit with his teenage group “The Teddy Bears” and “To Know Him Is To Love Him” on the Dore record label.  The group, which included Marshall Leib, Harvey Goldstein, lead vocalist Annette Kleinbard along with Phil Spector and drummer Sandy Nelson.

Sill an Spector

Annette was still in high school when the song was recorded.  When the Teddy Bears took the road – Goldstein had departed and Nelson was tied up doing session work so they continued on as a trio.  They moved over to Imperial Records where Phil may have learned about the Paris Sisters – who knows”?  There they had only minor success barely denting the Hot 100 with a couple of forgotten tracks.

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Annette by the way would go onto to become Carol Connors and would co-write one of the themes from the first “Rocky” motion picture  – “Gonna Fly Now”.  She also co-wrote “Hey Little Cobra” by the Ripchords and “With You I’m Born Again” by Billy Preston & Syreeta – a number 4 Hot 100 hit in 1979/80,

Carol is a next door neighbor to one of my in-laws residing out in southern California.

Spector started off the Paris Sisters with “Be My Boy” backed wth “I’ll Be Crying Tomorrow”.  This was a major departure for the girls but a logical step for Spector moving from the Teddy Bears into a logical next step.  After much experimenting with each of the girls’ voices, Phil focused on the youngest member, softening her delivery adding a lilting background by the sisters.

It had “Teddy Bears” written all over it.  The song achieved a respectable number 56.

Be My Boy

Then came the big one!

For the second Paris Gregmark release Brill Building Phil called on Brill Building writers Barry Mann and Larry Kolber.  Mann’s credentials were impeccable.  Kolber was no slouch having penned “Forget Me Not” by the Kalin Twins (1958), and would later write “Patches” (Clarence Carter).

(Kolber would pen “Go Fight For Her” for Colorado’s Astronauts in 1964.)

Mann and Kolber

“I Love How You Love Me” was a gem and the crowning achievement moment for the beautiful Paris Sisters.  The song reached number five in the nation and sold a million copies very quickly.   There would be two additional Gregmark chart appearances first with Carol King and Gerry Goffin’s “He Knows I Love Him Too Much” (number 34) and then a Mann Kolber follow up “Let Me Be the One” (number 87).

Below is the flip side to “Let Me Be The One” – “What Am I To Do”.  I would have bought it!

The Paris Sisters made live appearances on the Red Skelton Show, Rowan and Martin, appeared with George Bunrs, and Elvis Presley and performed on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand.

Paris Sisters on Red Skelton – Dusting Off the Dancing Skills

There would be one final attempt by Spector for the Paris Sisters “Yes, I Love You” backed by “Once Upon a While Ago” both written by Phil.  But by then, Phil had already moved on with Lester Sill forming Philles Records having already released 10 45’s and plunging into the world of hit singles and the “Wall of Sound”.

There was a rumor of a Paris Sisters long play on Gregmark but Sherrell says that although they did work on it, the project just seemed to vanish.

The Paris Sisters would achieve one final appearance on the Hot 100 – the Bobby Darin composition “Dream Lover” which fizzled out at number 91.  I love the track – Priscilla on lead was simply captivating and the well produced single.  As the girls moved to Mercury and then Reprise – Priscilla began to assert herself and started composing many of their songs.

If fame slipped away – it wasn’t due to not trying – several of their final songs were composed by proven composers including Carole King with Gerry Goffin, Doc Pomus and Shuman, Burt Bacharach and Hal David and David Gates.  But the days of the “soft sound” for the girls had come and gone.

Albeth and Sherell moved on from music eventually.  Priscilla couldn’t let go.  She had music in her veins and soul.  She would compose many songs and would continue on as a solo recording a few albums but never finding the magic of “I Love How You Love Me”.  Priscilla had been the young one – who didn’t even sing when the group started off – but would prance around in the background  on the stage.

The sisters remained close through their lives.  They may have disagreed on some things but they always respected and enjoyed one another.  Just watch the final segment of the video above and look at the unity of the Paris Sisters delivering “Dream Lover”.

Sherrell worked for many years as the personal assistant to Bob Barker on “The Price Is Right”.    She returned to singing, hiring background singers and performing in Las Vegas for nearly a decade until her retirement.

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Bob Barker – Sherrell Paris

Priscilla would eventually move to Paris, France.  She attempted once to join her Albeth and Sherell for a reunion concert but was forced to cancel at the last minute due to exhaustion.  Priscilla died in 2004 as the result of a fall.  She was 59 years old.  Albeth passed away in 2014 after enjoying a productive life, the latter part residing in Palm Springs, California.  She was 79.

Radio Station 1050 CHUM Toronto – September 9th, 1957

The earliest chart appearance I could locate for the Paris Sisters with a number 37 ranking for “Tell Me More” on Imperial Records

KIMN Denver – May 17th, 1961

This is the first appearance of a Paris Sisters recording on KIMN with “Be My Boy” – which peaked this week at number 23.

KIMN Denver October 11th, 1961

“I Love How You Love Me” would peak in Denver at number 3 – KIMN did not get the spelling correct for the trio.

Paris Sisters Discography

45 – Decca -9-29372 – Ooh La La/Whose Arms Are You Missing – November, 1954

45 – Decca 9-29527 – His and Hers/Truly – December, 1954

45 – Decca 9-29574 – The “Know” How/I Wanna – January, 1955

45 – Decca 9-29488 – Huckleberry Pie/Baby, Honey, Baby – April, 1955

45 – Decca 9-29744 – Lover Boy/Oh Yes You Do – November, 1955

45 – Decca 9-29891 – I Love You Dear (Year Round Love)/Mistaken – May, 1956

45 – Decca 9-29970 – Daughter Daughter!/So Much – So Very Much – May, 1956

45 – Imperial X5465 – (Don’t Stop, Don’t Stop) Tell Me More/Old Enough To Cry- September, 1957

45 – Imperial X5487 – Someday/My Original Love – January, 1958

45 – Decca 9-30554 – Mind Reader/Don’t Tell Anybody – February, 1958

45 – Gregmark 2 – Be My Boy/I’ll Be Crying Tomorrow – March, 1961 – Charted Number 56 Hot 100

45 – Gregmark 6 – I Love How You Love Me/All Through the Night – January, 1962 – Charted Number 5 Hot 100

45 – Gregmark 10 – He Knows I Love Him Too Much/A Lonely Girl’s Prayer – January, 1962 – Charted Number 34 Hot 100

45 – Gregmark 12 – Let Me Be the One/What Am I To Do – Charted Number 87 Hot 100 – April, 1962

45 – Gregmark 13 – Yes I Love You/Once Upon a While Ago – November, 1962

45 – MGM K13236 – Dream Lover/Lonely Girl – Charted Number 91 – Hot 100 – May, 1964

45 – Mercury 72320 – When I Fall In Love/Once Upon A Time – Charted Number 127 – August, 1964

45 – Mercury 72468 – Why Do I Take It From You/Always Waitin’ – August, 1965

45 – Reprise 0440 – Sincerely/Too Good To Be True – February, 1966

45 – Reprise 0472 – I’m Me/You – May, 1966

45 – Reprise 0511 – My Good Friend/It’s My Party – September, 1966

45 – Reprise 0548 – Some Of Your Lovin’/Long After Tonight Is All Over – January, 1967

By Priscilla Paris

45 – York 405 – He Noticed Me/Help Me – June, 1967

By Priscilla Paris

45 – York 409 – By The Time I Get To Phoenix/Me Owns the World – January, 1968

45 – Capitol 2081 – Greener Days/Golden Days – January, 1968

45 – GNP Crescendo 410 – The Ugliest Girl In Town/Stand Naked Clown – August, 1968

(This would be the final Paris Sisters 45)

LP – Unifilms 505 – The Glass House – 1966

LP – Sidewalk DT 5906 – The Golden Hits of the Paris Sisters – 1967

LP – Reprise RS 6259 – The Paris Sisters Sing Everything Under The Sun – 1967

LP – Happy Tiger HT 1002 – Priscilla Loves Billy – 1967

LP – York 4005 – Priscilla Sings Herself – 1967

LP – Out of Town OTD 8003 – Love Is…. – 1978

Those Wonderful Do Overs!

August 25, 2019

Mining the Standards…..

Since I Don’t Have You

I thought I would kick off this Post with this tale:

I have posted previously regarding one of my favorite moments in pop music:  One of my favorite singing groups, the Skyliners, were appearing on American Bandstand back in either very late 1958 or very early 1959.

Dick Clark called the young members of the group over to his microphone stand after they completed their big hit “Since I Don’t Have You”.  Clark innocently asked the group how they came to select and record the old standard.  After a brief pause, group lead vocalist Jimmy Beaumont humbly responded something along the lines of “Mr. Clark, we wrote this song”!  Clark was astounded and the record buying public was impressed.

All members of the Skyliners were in high school and in their teens at the time.

It would be easy to imagine that “Since I Don’t Have You” came to us perhaps from Tin Pan Alley in the 1940’s – but no – along with group manager Joe Rock, it was indeed a Skyliners’ composition.  As was their moving follow up “This I Swear”.

After three hit originals (“It Happened Today” another Skyliners/Rock collaboration) the group did indeed turn to a couple of ‘old standards’.  In the spring of 1960 they released “Pennies From Heaven” backed with “I’ll Be Seeing You”.

“Pennies” was composed in 1936 during the great depression by song writer Arthur Johnson and lyricist Johnny Burke.  Bing Crosby took the song to number 1 in the nation that year.  Johnson shared in composing credits for several impressive songs including “Cocktails for Two” (1934), and “My Old Flame” from the same year.

Johnny Burke co-wrote many hit songs placing them on the charts 104 times over the decades.  Seven of his songs went to number one.  His “I’ve Got a Pocketful of Dreams” charted number 1 by Bing Crosby and again by Russ Morgan in 1938.  Later in his career Burke would team up with Erroll Garner to write “Misty” which Johnny Mathis took to number 12 in 1959.

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Johnny Burke

Working with Jimmy Van Heusen, Burke co-wrote “Imagination” which Glenn Miller took to the top of the charts in 1940.


Speaking of “Imagination”, in late 1961 the New York based group The Quotations released the song in a captivating doo wop style on Verve Records.  The song failed to chart nationally but stands as one of my favorites.  The Quotations immediate follow up was “This Love of Mine” – another standard which first appeared in 1941 recorded by Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra with vocals by Frank Sinatra and The Pied Pipers.

Jimmy Van Heusen teamed up with Burke of course but also with lyric writer Sammy Cahn.  Together they wrote “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” (Dean Martin 1960); Sinatra’s “All the Way”; and other Sinatra classics “High Hopes”, “Come Fly With Me”, “Love and Marriage”, “My Kind of Town”, “Pocketful of Miracles”, and “September of My Years”.

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Cahn and Van Heusen – Sinatra’s Boys

Where or When

This one ranks up there very high for me – I ran to the record store back in early 1960 when “Where or When” hit the charts by New York’s Dion and The Belmonts.  The tune would prove to be their biggest hits peaking at number 3.

Famed song writing team Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart wrote the song in 1937 for the Broadway production of “Babes In Arms”.  Hal Kemp and his orchestra took the song to number 1.  Dion and the Belmonts would go back to the well a couple of times following their big hit with a couple of additional ‘oldies’ – “When You Wish Upon a Star” (number 30 in 1960) and a Cole Porter classic “In the Still of the Night” (number 38 – also in 1960).  That one would be Dion’s final chart record accompanied by The Belmonts.  He would go on to place 25 songs on the Hot 100.

“When You Wish Upon a Star” was composed by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington – both working for Walt Disney’s motion picture “Pinocchio” released in 1940.  Harline composed songs for many motion pictures including “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937) and “The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm” in 1962.  Washington was an accomplished pop writer co-writing “The High and the Mighty” (1954); “Town Without Pity” (Gene Pitney, 1961); “Rawhide” (Frankie Laine, 1958); “High Noon – Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin'” (Tex Ritter, 1952); and “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” (Tommy Dorsey, 1932).

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Ned Washington

The Lettermen did a fine rendition in 1963 which only reached number 98.  But I bought it anyway.

Over The Rainbow

Another favorite do over of mine, this one was recorded by the Bronx singing group “The Demensions” released in May of 1960 and reaching 16.  A west coast group covered the song quickly in June of 1960, the Baysiders with both versions sounding very similar in arrangement.  The Baysiders version was just too late and unfortunately was released by a budget label “Everest”

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The Baysiders stuck with the formula following with “Look For the Silver Lining” – written clear back in 1919 by the legendary Jerome Kern and B.G. DeSylvia; and then “The Bells of St. Mary’s” which was even an earlier composition – from 1917 written by Douglas Furber and Emmett Adams.The Demensions also followed the re-do path with “Zing Went the Strings of My Heart” (1960); “Ave Maria” (late 1960); “Young at Heart” (1963) and “My Foolish Heart” (March of 1963 – their only other charting record – #95).  The song was composed by Victor Young along with Ned Washington of “Pennies From Heaven” fame (above) in 1949.

“Over the Rainbow” was composed by one of the greatest song writers of all time – Harold Arlen – His credits seem endless: “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive”; “Blues in the Night”, “Ding Dong The Witch is Dead”, “Get Happy”, “It’s Only a Paper Moon”, “Let’s Fall In Love”, “One for My Baby” and “Stormy Weather” to name a few.

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The Incomparable Harold Arlen

Blue Moon

Blue Moon had a couple of run’s on the Hot 100 charts during the rock era – the first being a reissue of an Elvis Presley Sun Records recording – this time on his new label RCA Victor.  The Song topped out at number 55 in the fall of 1956.  Only one other Presley Sun track would make the charts that being “I Don’t Care If The Sun Don’t Shine which first came out on Sun 210 in 1954.  As an RCA Victor release in 1956 it would top out at number 74.

The Marcels completely reworked the standard – almost to an unrecognizable degree – taking the doo wop/rocker all the way to number 1.

“Blue Moon” was also composed by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart in 1934.  The following year Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra took the song all the way to number 1.

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Glen Gray and His Casa Lomas

Anything Goes

Re-Do’s wouldn’t be complete without a Cole Porter tune being thrown into the mix.  The Santa Cruz, California group Harper’s Bizarre took the bouncy little ditty to number 43 in 1967.

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The song was composed by Porter for a musical he scored in 1934 of the same name.  Some big names would record the song including Frank Sinatra in 1955, jazz singer Chris Connor also in 1955.  Others would include Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Stan Getz along with Gerry Mulligan doing an instrumental version as well as the great Count Basie.

Big numbers were the norm for Cole Porter with “Don’t Fence Me In”, “Night and Day”, “Just One of Those Things”, “Begin the Beguine” and “I Love Paris” being fine examples.

Harper’s Bizarre started of their career as “The Tikis” recording for the Autumn record label before crossing over to Warner Bros., releasing their number 13 version of a Simon and Garfunkle tune, “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)”.  They drew the inspiration for their name from the magazine “Harper’s Bazaar” – choosing the name supposedly to keep their true identity of being the “Tiki’s” masked as to not alienate Tiki fans.

Mr. Cole Porter

Harper’s Bizarre would also dip back into the standard’s bag to record Glenn Miller’s “Chattanooga Choo Choo” this time charting at number 45.

Choo Choo was a Mack Gordon and Harry Warren composition penned in 1941.  Mack and Warren presented the world with a real gem composing “At Last” in 1942 made most famous by Etta James in more recent times – charting number 2 R&B in 1961 and number 47 Hot 100.

Glenn Miller took the song to number 2 in 1942.

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Mack Gordon (real name Morris Gittier) often working with Harry Warren had involvement in composing  “Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?” (1933), “I’ve Got A Gal In Kalamazoo” (1942); “The More I See You” (1945), “There Will Never Be Another You” (1942) – both later covered by Chris Montez – “You Make Me Feel So Young” (1946) and “You’ll Never Know” from 1943 – a “Best Original Song” bestowed by the Academy Awards.

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Mac Gordon

Harry Warren (real name Salvatore Antonio Guaragna) also contributed to “Lullaby of Broadway” (1935); “Jeepers Creepers” (1938); “September in the Rain” (1937); “You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby” (1938); all number 1 hits.


Harry Warren

Deep Purple

“Deep Purple” started off in life as strictly an instrumental piano piece – composed in 1923 by Peter DeRose.  Several artists would release the song including Colorado’s Paul Whiteman.  The song was tremendously popular and so song lyricist Mitchell Parish wrote lyrics for it 15 years after it first appeared.

DeRose would also compose “A Marshmallow World” and 1949 Christmas hit and “Wagon Wheels” in 1934 performed by both Bing Crosby and Paul Robeson.

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Peter DeRose

The biggest hit version came out in 1939 by the Larry Clinton Orchestra – achieving a number 1 ranking and holding the top spot for nine straight weeks.

Now fast forward to 1963 – New York born brother and sister duo Nino Tempo and April Stevens release the song as their second Atco single and take it to number 1.  The hit convinced them to stick with the oldies and in succession they would record “Whispering” (another Paul Whiteman song – number 11); “Stardust” (number 32 in 1964 – a Hoagy Carmichael/Mitchell Parish standard); “Tea for Two” (number 56 – 1964) and “I’m Confessin’ (That I Love You)” a 1930 Guy Lombardo hit (number 99 – 1964).

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Brother and Sis

Stevens had earlier recorded a song called “Teach Me Tiger” which was banned on many stations due to it’s suggestive lyrics (give me a break!).  Early in her career she knocked several years off her birth date to compete with the many teen female singers hitting the charts at the time during the 60’s. – Her youthful looks didn’t hold her back either.

April was born Caroline Vincinette Lo Tempio and brother Nino was born Antonio Lo Tempio – They are both still living – April 90 years old today and Nino 85 years of age.


Soul singer Billy Stewart took this George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward classic to number 10 in 1966 (number 7 R&B).  Stewart placed 11 songs on the charts during a career that was cut short when he died in an automobile accident in early 1970 – He was 32 years old.  Like many others, Stewart would immediately follow his “Summertime” success with another track from the past “Secret Love” – a song composed by Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster in 1953 for the musical “Calamity Jane”.  Doris Day took the song to number 1 in 1954 – where it enjoyed four weeks at the top

Paul Francis Webster – co-writer for “Secret Love” also gave us “Love Is A Many Splendored Thing” (1955); “The Shadow of Your Smile” (1965); a couple of Pat Boone hits “Friendly Persuasion” (1956) and “April Love” (1957); the Johnny Mathis songs “A Certain Smile” (1958) and “The Twelfth of Never” (1956); “The Green Leaves of Summer” rendered by the Brothers Four (1960); and “Somewhere My Love” from “Doctor Zhivago” (1966) – a very impressive list!

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Paul Francis Webster

“Summertime” was composed in 1934 for the 1935 production of “Porgy and Bess”.  “Summertime is a true classic ‘standard’ and has been recorded over 25,000 times!  Billie Holiday took the song to number 12 in 1936.  It would be Sam Cooke’s second Hot 100 appearance coming after his debut and only number 1 hit, “You Send Me”.  Cooke’s “Summertime” only managed to reach number 81.

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My Mammy

The Happenings were a group that habitually dipped back into the Tin Pan alley bag of tunes.  The song was the New Jersey group’s 5th charting record, reaching number 13 in 1967.

“My Mammy” is probably best remembered as an Al Jolson mainstay – first from 1927 in the film “The Jazz Singer” and then singing it two more times in motion pictures – “The Singing Fool” (1928) and “Rose of Washington Square” (1939).

Somewhat surprisingly, the first artist to perform the song way back in 1918 was William Frawley who was a vaudeville performer – who would later become “Fred Mertz” on the very popular “I Love Lucy” television program.

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“My Mammy” was written by a trio of composers – Walter Donaldson, Joe Young and Sam M. Lewis.

Donaldson contributed to “Carolina In The Morning” from 1922; “Little White Lies” (1930); “My Blue Heaven” (1927); and “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby” in 1925.  Sam Lewis to his credit delivered “Dinah” (1925); “How You Gonna Keep ’em Down on the Farm (1919 with Donaldson); “I’m Sitting On Top of The World” (1925; and “Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody” (another Jolson classic 1918).

Donaldson & Lewis

Of course there are many, many more examples of dusted off oldies and classic standards brought to us during the rock and roll era.  Solid song composing when placed in the right hands – stands the test of time!