My intention with this “Classics Forever” post is to include artists that have produced records that were extremely popular back in the 1950s and 1960s and will continue to be played on the radio for generations to come.
To date I have 72 (30 of which played at Woodstock) artists or bands that meet this criteria:
Paul Anka, Gene Autry, Mo Bandy, Brook Benton, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Booker T & The MGs, Earl Bostic, Jan Bradley, Arthur Brown, James Brown, Betsy Brye, Canned Heat, Jimmy Charles, Ray Charles, Don Cherry, Lou Christie, Jimmy Clanton, Mary Clanton, Patsy Cline, Sam Cooke, Cream, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bing Crosby, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Danny and The Juniors, Dave Clark Five, Mac Davis, Skeeter Davis, Deep Purple, Bo Didley, Dion and The Belmonts, Fats Domino, Patti Drew, Bobby Hebb, John Fogarty, Four Jacks and a Jill, Jay and the Americans, Smily Lewis, Bob Lind, Ricky Nelson, Marty Robbins, The Animals, The Association, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Joe Bennett & The Sparkletones, The Big Bopper, The Box Tops, The Browns, The Bryds, The Buckinghams, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, The Chiffons, The Chordettes, The Cowsills, The Crew Cuts, The Critters, The Del-Vikings, The Doors, The Drifters, The Guess Who, The Ink Spots, The Ronettes, The Tonettes, Ricky Valance, Richie Valens, and The We Five.
In 1969, the three-day Woodstock music festival gathered more than 100,000 fans on a large farm in northern New York state. Thirty famous artists and bands played:
Joan Baez, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Canned Heat, Joe Cocker, Country Joe and The Fish, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Grateful Dead, Arlo Guthrie, Tom Hardin, Richie Havens, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Keef Hardley Band, Incredible String Band, Mountain, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Melanie Safja, Santana, John B. Sabastian, Sha Na Na, Ravi Shankar, Sly and The Family Stone, Burt Sommer, Sweetwater, Ten Years After, The Band, The Who, Quill, and Johnny Winter.
John Cameron Fogerty is an American musician, singer, and songwriter. Together with Doug Clifford, Stu Cook, and his brother Tom Fogerty, he founded the band Creedence Clearwater Revival, for which he was the lead singer, lead guitarist, and principal songwriter. One of their top songs was: “Fortunate Son” (https://youtu.be/ec0XKhAHR5I) (RQ 10). They also had other hits including: “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” and “Bad Moon Rising.”
David Spencer (10 April 1936 – 12 June 2020), known professionally as Ricky Valance, was a Welsh pop singer. He was best known for the UK number one single “Tell Laura I Love Her” (https://youtu.be/TL4dICC1T10) (RQ 9), which sold over a million copies in 1960. He was the first male Welsh singer to have a UK number one single hit.
Jiles Perry Richardson Jr. (October 24, 1930 – February 3, 1959), known as The Big Bopper, was an American musician, singer, songwriter, and disc jockey. His best known compositions include “Chantilly Lace” (https://youtu.be/6LWBX97qDFk) (RQ 10) and “White Lightning”, the latter of which became George Jones’ first number-one hit in 1959. Richardson was killed in a plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa in 1959, along with fellow musicians Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens, and the pilot Roger Peterson. The accident was famously referred to as “The Day the Music Died” in Don McLean’s 1971 song “American Pie”.
Scott Mac Davis (January 21, 1942 – September 29, 2020) was an American country music singer, songwriter, and actor. He first recorded five singles beginning in 1962 which failed to chart. A native of Lubbock, Texas, he enjoyed success as a crossover artist, and during his early career wrote for Elvis Presley, providing him with the hits “Memories”, “In the Ghetto”, “Don’t Cry Daddy”, and “A Little Less Conversation”. A subsequent solo career in the 1970s produced hits such as “Baby, Don’t Get Hooked on Me” (https://youtu.be/JZwiIiWBx24) (RQ10). Davis also starred in his own variety show, a Broadway musical, and various films and TV shows.
We Five was a 1960s folk rock musical group based in San Francisco, California. Their best-known hit was their 1965 remake of Ian & Sylvia’s “You Were on My Mind” (https://youtu.be/IbuzEjEHso0) (RQ 10), which reached No. 1 on the Cashbox chart, #3 on the BillboardHot 100, and #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. The original group split after recording their second album in 1967, but a re-formed band produced three more albums between 1968 and 1977.
The Tonettes, an all girl doo wop group from the Bronx, New York city consisted of sisters Diana and Sylvia Sanchez with Josephine Allen. Manager Lou Ezzo having licensed their debut effort, “Why Keep Me Dreaming,” to the Apollo Record label, sold the girls’ contract to Apollo vice president Charles Merenstein. When Merenstein launched his own label, Doe Records, he brought The Claremonts with him, rechristening the group The Tonettes. He reasoned that the new name had a “snappier” sound that teenagers would better relate to. This was also the reason that he recorded the group on his new label thinking that the Apollo Records label was too historically aligned with the basic sound of R & B. And so in February of 1958 came “Oh What A Baby” (https://youtu.be/rha5gPr56sQ) (RQ 8) backed with “Howie” on the B side. “Baby” was an immediate success, and beside the name change, the sound of the record certainly had a “snappy” sound. It took off up and down the East Coast and had that certain something that made it a favorite at record hops and dances everywhere. Soon Doe Records realized the extent of the appeal of the record and leased the master to ABC-Paramount which gave the record access to nationwide distribution. “Oh What A Baby” was a good seller and a mainstay on radio playlists, throughout the spring.The single hit retail in early 1958, and proved so popular on East Coast radio that ABC-Paramount licensed the disc for national release. Despite charting in pockets of the U.S., “Oh! What a Baby” failed to reach the Billboard Hot 100.After contributing un-credited backing vocals to singer Vince Castro’s single “Bong Bong (I Love You Madly),” The Tonettes cut their follow-up, “Uh-Oh”. When the single failed to catch fire, the trio’s recording career came to a close, and they split in 1962. The Sanchez sisters, Diana and Sylvia, are alive and well. Sylvia is still on the east coast where as Diana has moved out on the West. Sadly, Josie Allen has passed on, and is missed by both of the Sanchez sisters. Diana and Sylvia continue to sing and do little writing,
Marty Robbins was born in Glendale, Arizona, Robbins taught himself guitar while serving in the United States Navy during World War II, and subsequently drew fame performing in clubs in and around his hometown. In 1956, he released his first No. 1 country song, “Singing the Blues” and one year later, released two more No. 1 hits, “A White Sport Coat” and “The Story of My Life”. In 1959, Robbins released his signature song, “El Paso” (https://youtu.be/zWm5WErkffQ) (RQ 10), for which he won the Grammy Award for Best Country & Western Recording. The song began Robbins’ association with western balladry, a style which would become a staple of his career. Later releases that drew critical acclaim include “Don’t Worry”, “Big Iron” and “Honkytonk Man”, the last for which the 1982 Clint Eastwood film is named, and in which Robbins made his final appearance before death.
Over the course of his career, Robbins recorded more than 500 songs and 60 albums, and won two Grammy Awards, was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and was named the 1960s Artist of the Decade by the Academy of Country Music. Robbins was a commercial success in both the country and pop genres, and his songs were covered by many other famous artists, including Johnny Cash, the Grateful Dead and Elvis Presley. His music continues to have an influence in pop culture today, having recently appeared in several contemporary pop culture features, including the video game Fallout: New Vegas, and the series finale of AMC’s Breaking Bad.
Paul Albert Anka (born July 30, 1941) is a Canadian-American singer, songwriter, and actor. He became famous with hit songs including “Diana” (https://youtu.be/1Nie88qy6I4) (RQ 10), “Lonely Boy” (https://youtu.be/fv-Gjc6fzlc) (RQ 10), “Put Your Head on My Shoulder” (https://youtu.be/D-Z9szBmK2A) RQ 9) and “(You’re) Having My Baby”. He wrote the theme for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, one of Tom Jones’ biggest hits “She’s a Lady”, and the English lyrics to Claude François and Jacques Revaux’s music for Frank Sinatra’s signature song “My Way”, which has been recorded by many, including Elvis Presley. Two songs he co-wrote with Michael Jackson, “This Is It” (originally titled “I Never Heard”) and “Love Never Felt So Good”, became posthumous hits for Jackson.
Dion and the Belmonts were a leading American vocal group of the late 1950s. All of its members were from the Bronx, New York City. In 1957, Dion DiMucci (born July 18, 1939) joined the vocal group The Belmonts. The established trio of Angelo D’Aleo (born February 3, 1940), Carlo Mastrangelo (October 5, 1937 – April 4, 2016), and Fred Milano (August 26, 1939 – January 1, 2012), formed a quartet with DiMucci. The name the Belmonts was derived from the fact that two of the four singers lived on Belmont Avenue in the Bronx, and the other two lived near Belmont Avenue. After unsuccessful singles on Mohawk Records in 1957 and then on Jubilee Records (“The Chosen Few”; Dion & the Timberlanes not the Belmonts), Dion was paired with The Belmonts. The group signed with Laurie Records in early 1958. The breakthrough came when their first Laurie release, “I Wonder Why” (https://youtu.be/ylnQXpMd1Yg) (RQ 10), reached No. 22 on the Billboard Top 100 chart, and they appeared for the first time on the nationally televised American Bandstand show, hosted by Dick Clark. Dion said of the Belmonts, “I’d give ’em sounds. I’d give ’em parts and stuff. That’s what ‘I Wonder Why’ was about. We kind of invented this percussive rhythmic sound. If you listen to that song, everybody was doing something different. It was totally amazing. When I listen to it today, often times I think, ‘Man, those kids are talented’.” Dion and the Belmonts were the sound of the city. Their roots were doo-wop groups like the Flamingos, the Five Satins, the Dells, acts who developed their sound in urban settings on street corners, mimicking instruments with their voices, even complex jazz arrangements. They followed the hit with the ballads “No One Knows” (No. 19) and “Don’t Pity Me” (No. 40), which they also performed on Bandstand. This early success brought them their first major tour in late 1958, with the Coasters, Buddy Holly and Bobby Darin, followed by the historic and tragic Winter Dance Party tour featuring Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. On February 2, 1959, after playing the Surf Ballroom, Holly arranged to charter a plane. Dion decided he could not afford the $36 cost to fly to the next venue. According to Dion, $36 was the same price his parents paid for monthly rent. He told Holly no. Shortly after midnight, on February 3, 1959, the plane crashed near Clear Lake, Iowa, with Holly, Valens, The Big Bopper, and the pilot, Roger Peterson, all being killed. Bobby Vee, then an unknown artist, performed in Holly’s place at the next concert. Later, Jimmy Clanton, Frankie Avalon, and Fabian were hired to finish the tour in place of the three deceased headliners. As of January 11, 2017 with the death of Holly’s tour guitarist Tommy Allsup, Dion is the lone surviving member of the original Winter Dance Party lineup. (The lone surviving Belmont, Angelo D’Aleo, was not on the tour, as he was in the US Navy at the time.). In March 1959, Dion and the Belmonts’ next single, “A Teenager in Love” (https://youtu.be/1fgnEDi7bq0) (RQ 10), broke the Top Ten, reaching No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 28 on the UK Singles Chart. Written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, it’s considered one of the greatest songs in rock and roll history. It was followed by their first album, Presenting Dion and the Belmonts. Their biggest hit, “Where or When”, was released in November 1959, and reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the group making another national appearance on American Bandstand. Although publicity photos show the group as a trio without Angelo D’Aleo, he performed on all of their recorded material; these photos were presented for promotional reasons owing to his departure to serve in the U.S. Navy. After leaving the Belmonts, he recorded “Runaround Sue” in 1961 (https://youtu.be/ik57HLn0Nm0) (RQ 10).
The Woodstock Music Festival began on August 15, 1969, as half a million people waited on a dairy farm in Bethel, New York, for the three-day music festival to start. Billed as “An Aquarian Experience: 3 Days of Peace and Music,” the epic event would later be known simply as Woodstock and become synonymous with the counterculture movement of the 1960s. Woodstock was a success, but the massive concert didn’t come off without a hitch: Last-minute venue changes, bad weather and the hordes of attendees caused major headaches. Still, despite Woodstock was a peaceful celebration and earned its hallowed place in pop culture history. The Woodstock Music Festival was the brainchild of four men, all age 27 or younger, looking for an investment opportunity: John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfeld and Michael Lang. Lang had organized the successful Miami Music Festival in 1968 and Kornfeld was the youngest vice president at Capitol Records. Roberts and Rosenman were New York entrepreneurs involved in building a Manhattan recording studio. The four men formed Woodstock Ventures, Inc., and decided to host a music festival. The initial plan for Woodstock called for the event to be held at Howard Mills Industrial Park in Wallkill, New York. Wallkill town officials got spooked, however, and backed out of the deal, passing a law that eliminated any possibility of holding the concert on their turf. Woodstock Ventures explored a few other venues, but none panned out. Finally, just a month ahead of the concert, 49-year-old dairy farmer Max Yasgur offered to rent them part of his land in the White Lake area of Bethel, New York, surrounded by the verdant Catskill Mountains. With the concert just a month away, the four frantic partners jumped at the opportunity and paid his asking price. With no efficient way to charge concert-goers, Lang and his partners decided to make Woodstock a free event. Originally, about 50,000 people were expected. But by August 13, at least that number were already camped out on location and over 100,000 tickets pre-sold. As an estimated one million people descended on Woodstock, its organizers scrambled to add more facilities. Highways and local roads came to a standstill and many concert-goers simply abandoned their cars and trekked the rest of the way on foot. Eventually, about half a million people reached the venue. Woodstock officially ended on Monday, August 18, after Hendrix left the stage. Leaving Woodstock wasn’t much easier than getting there. Roads and highways quickly became jammed again as festival-goers made their way home. Cleaning up the venue was a mammoth task and required several days, many bulldozers and tens of thousands of dollars. In 2006, Bethel Woods Center for the Arts opened on the hill where the Woodstock Music Festival took place. Today, it hosts outdoor concerts in its beautiful pavilion. There’s also a 1960s museum on site. Many popular musicians have performed at Bethel Woods, including some who took the stage at Woodstock such as Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Santana, Arlo Guthrie and Joe Cocker. Woodstock is perhaps best described by Max Yasgur, the humble farmer who lent his land for the occasion. Addressing the audience on day three he said, “…You’ve proven something to the world…the important thing that you’ve proven to the world is that a half a million kids, and I call you kids because I have children who are older than you are, a half a million young people can get together and have three days of fun and music and have nothing but fun and music and God bless you for it!”
Day One Performers (Friday, August 19, 1969). Including one of their songs:
Sri Swami Saldidananda (Opening speech)
Richie Havens “Here Comes the Sun” https://youtu.be/I9KSxqCShBY
Sweetwater “Motherless Child” https://youtu.be/xE-kpa-8_Ik
Bert Sommer “She’s Gone” https://youtu.be/IAP3m9WfvHo
Ravi Shankar “Complete Recording” https://youtu.be/zVE_eNVZyRo
Tom Hardin “If I Were a Carpenter” https://youtu.be/3s7mh_Uda6c
Melanie Safka “Lay Down” https://youtu.be/zDQcgVJuGbk
Arlo Gutherie “Alice’s Restaurant” https://youtu.be/m57gzA2JCcM
Joan Baez “We Shall Overcome” https://youtu.be/RkNsEH1GD7Q
Day Two Performers (Saturday, August 20, 1969). Including one of their songs:
Quill “Drifting” https://youtu.be/pvAJEtiawfg
Country Joe (McDonald) & The Fish (See Post 6: Failing to Produce a Million Dollar Record)
Santana “Evil Ways” https://youtu.be/nPauXWjY4T
John B. Sebastian “Darling Be Home Soon” https://youtu.be/rBXL7FaPod4
Keef Hartley Band “Rock Me Baby” https://youtu.be/mc8-QXY4SdA
Incredible String Band “Come With Me” https://youtu.be/2uIyxn9PCr8
Canned Heat “On the Road Again” https://youtu.be/6smtAY8dXSI
Mountain “Beside the Sea” https://youtu.be/Jl6kAHO-cVc
The Grateful Dead “Turn On Your Lovelight” https://youtu.be/aJhnOq2q3ag
Day Three Performers (Sunday, August 21, 1969). Including one of their songs:
The Who (See Post 21: Featured Artists from the 50s and 60s)
Jefferson Airplane “White Rabbit” https://youtu.be/EUY2kJE0AZE
Joe Cocker “With a Little Help from My Friends” https://youtu.be/nCrlyX6XbTU
Country Joe and The Fish “Thing Called Love” https://youtu.be/5RiLM4Id1SY
Janis Joplin (See Post 4: Featured Artist of the 50s and 60s)
Ten Years After “I’m Going Home” https://youtu.be/3_p_CoubEYI
The Band (See Post 6: Artists Failing to Make a Million Dollar Recording)
Johnny Winter “I Can’t Stand It” https://youtu.be/3CTfwAg_k9Q
Sly and The Family Stone (See Post 14: Featured Artists of the 50s and 60s)
Blood, Sweat and Tears (See Post 12: Featured Artists of the 50s and 60s)
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (See Post 51: Classics Forever)
Paul Butterfield Blues Band (See Post 12: Featured Artist of the 50s and 60s)
Sha Na Na “Duke of Earl” https://youtu.be/2a3FtmVpvtk
Jimi Hendrix (See Post 3: Featured Artist of the 50s and 60s)
The origins of the Guess Who date back to 1958, when Winnipeg singer/guitarist Chad Allan formed a local rock band called Allan and the Silvertones. After several lineup changes, the band stabilized in 1962 under the name Chad Allan and the Reflections, which included Allan and keyboardist Bob Ashley, plus future Guess Who mainstays Randy Bachmanon guitar, Jim Kale on bass, and Garry Peterson on drums. The band released their first single, “Tribute To Buddy Holly”, on Canadian-American Records in 1962. They then signed with Quality Records and released several singles in 1963–64, which gained some regional notice around Winnipeg but made little impact in the rest of Canada. One single was mis-credited to Bob Ashley and the Reflections. In 1965, the group changed their name to Chad Allan and the Expressions after an American group called The Reflections released the hit single “(Just Like) Romeo and Juliet” (https://youtu.be/T-gB8AILvrk) (RQ 9) They released the garage rock album Shakin’ All Overin January 1965. That album’s single, a cover of “Shakin’ All Over” by Johnny Kidd & the Pirates, was the band’s first major hit, reaching No1 in Canada, No. 22 in the United States, and No27 in Australia. Their American label, Quality Records, disguised the single by crediting it to Guess Who?, as a publicity stunt to generate speculation that it was by a more famous British Invasion band working incognito. After Quality Records revealed the band to be Chad Allan and the Expressions, disc jockeys continued to announce the group as Guess Who?, effectively forcing the band to accept the new name. They released their second album, Hey Ho (What You Do to Me!) in late 1965; it was credited to Chad Allan and the Expressions with “Guess Who?” displayed prominently on the cover.
Transitional Years (1966–1968)
Keyboardist Bob Ashley left the band in late 1965 due to the rigors of touring. He was replaced by 18 year-old Burton Cummings, formerly of Winnipeg group the Deverons, who also took on lead vocal duties in conjunction with Chad Allan. Just a few months later, Allan departed; he returned to college and then became a media personality with the CBC . This left Cummings as the sole lead singer. With Allan departed, the “Chad Allan and the Expressions” subtitle was dropped from the band’s releases, and they were billed solely as The Guess Who?. (The question mark would be dropped in 1968.) After Allan’s departure in 1966, guitarist Bruce Decker, a former bandmate of Cummings in the Deverons, joined for a few months. The band then settled as a quartet with Cummings on vocals and keyboards, Bachman on guitar, Kale on bass, and Peterson on drums. This lineup released the album It’s Time in the summer of 1966. Decker, despite being pictured on the cover of the album, did not participate in the recording. Conversely, some contributions by Allan (recorded before he left the group) can be heard on the album, though he is not credited. The band continued to release singles that were moderately successful in Canada, and “His Girl” entered the UK charts in 1967. The band traveled to the United Kingdom to promote the single, but this was a financial mistake as the song quickly dropped off the charts. They were unable to book shows or obtain work visas while in the UK, and returned to Canada heavily in debt. Later in 1967, the Guess Who were hired as the house band for the CBC radio show The Swingers, and as the house band for CBC television program Let’s Go, which was hosted by their former bandmate Chad Allan. They initially performed hit singles by other artists, but the CBC producers encouraged them to develop more of their own music as well. This gave the Guess Who greater exposure in Canada and financial stability for the next two years. After seeing the Guess Who on Let’s Go, record producer/sales executive Jack Richardsoncontacted the band about participating in an advertising project for Coca-Cola. This project became a split album titled A Wild Pair with Ottawa band the Staccatos (soon to rename themselves Five Man Electrical Band). The album could only be purchased by mail order from Coca-Cola. Richardson served as the Guess Who’s producer until their classic-era dissolution in 1975, and they were managed during that entire period by Don Hunter.
The beginning of their Classic Era (1968–1970)
Richardson signed the Guess Who to his Nimbus 9 label and production company, and personally financed the recording of a new album in late 1968. They were also signed to RCA for distribution outside of Canada. The band transitioned from their original garage rock roots to a more mature pop-rock sound with soul and jazz influences. Wheatfield Soul was released in early 1969 and achieved success in both Canada and the United States. The single “These Eyes” (https://youtu.be/ARoqKjb3lWo) (RQ 10) reached the top ten in the United States and became a gold record with sales of more than one million copies. The follow-up album Canned Wheat was released in September 1969, and featured the double-sided hit single “Laughing”/”Undun”. For their next album, the band adopted more hard rock influences. American Woman was released in January 1970 and became a substantial worldwide hit. It was their first album to top the Canadian albums chart, and their first to reach the top ten on the American albums chart. The title track reached No1 in both countries and was also a substantial hit in the United Kingdom. This made the Guess Who the first Canadian band to achieve a chart-topping single in the United States during the Billboard Hot 100 era. (Canadian doo-wop group The Crew Cuts had a number one single in 1954, before that chart was instituted.) “No Time” (https://youtu.be/Gzlq_aEJ008) (RQ 10) and “No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature” (https://youtu.be/yMG-Mi9I0-k) (RQ 9) also reached high on the singles charts in both Canada and the United States.
Overton Amos Lemons (July 5, 1913 – October 7, 1966), known as Smiley Lewis, was an American New Orleans rhythm and blues singer and guitarist. The music journalist Tony Russell wrote that “Lewis was the unluckiest man in New Orleans. He hit on a formula for slow-rocking, small-band numbers like ‘The Bells Are Ringing’ (https://youtu.be/AKsnw0ZH7gY) (RQ 7) and ‘I Hear You Knocking’ (https://youtu.be/Jz6jIcLAnmg) (RQ 7) only to have Fats Domino come up behind him with similar music with a more ingratiating delivery. Lewis was practically drowned in Domino’s backwash.”
The Crew-Cuts were a Canadian vocal quartet, that made a number of popular records that charted in the United States and worldwide. They named themselves after the then popular crew cut haircut, one of the first connections made between pop music and hairstyle. They were most famous for their recording of The Chords’ hit record, “Sh-Boom”. They all had been members of the St. Michael’s Choir School in Toronto, which also spawned another famous quartet, The Four Lads. Maugeri, John Perkins, and two others (Bernard Toorish and Connie Codarini) who later were among the Four Lads first formed a group called The Jordonaires (not to be confused with a similarly named group, The Jordanaires, that was known for singing backup vocals on Elvis Presley’s hits) and also The Otnorots (“Toronto” spelled backwards being “Otnorot”), but they split from the group to finish high school. When the Four Lads returned to Toronto for a homecoming concert, John Perkins and Maugeri ran into each other and decided that they could themselves have a musical future. They joined with Barrett and Ray Perkins in March 1952. cord, “Sh-Boom” (https://youtu.be/CikEbEtnBcE) (RQ 10).
“Sleep Walk” (https://youtu.be/xGc7oRXObCs) (RQ 10) is an instrumental steel guitar-based song written, recorded, and released in 1959 by brothers Santo & Johnny Farina. (The BMI Repertoire database and the original release credits three Farinas as composers including sister Ann.) It was recorded at Trinity Music in Manhattan, New York City, New York. “Sleep Walk” entered Billboard’s Top 40 on August 17, 1959. It rose to the number-one position for two weeks in September (the 21st and the 28th) and remained in the Top 40 until November 9. “Sleep Walk” also reached number four on the R&B chart. It was the last instrumental to hit number one in the 1950s and earned Santo & Johnny a gold record. One of the first covers was by Betsy Brye (stage name of Bette Anne Steele), also in 1959. It was released on a single by Columbia Records as catalog number DB 4530. Although Santo & Johnny wrote lyrics for “Sleep Walk”, they never recorded a version with the lyrics; Brye’s version includes these lyrics.
The Chordettes were an American female popular singing quartet, usually singing a cappella, and specializing in traditional popular music. They are best known for their songs “Mr. Sandman” (https://youtu.be/PKnPrbPK5vA) (RQ 10) and “Lollipop” (https://youtu.be/vaXmOBVqkBg) (RQ 9).
After performing locally in Sheboygan, they won on Arthur Godfrey’s radio program Talent Scouts in 1949. They held feature status on Godfrey’s daily program, and in 1950 cut their first LP, a collection of standards titled Harmony Time. for Columbia Records. Three more LPs followed.
In 1953, Godfrey’s music director and orchestra leader, Archie Bleyer, founded Cadence Records. He signed a number of Godfrey regulars and former regulars, including the Chordettes, who had a number of hit records for Cadence. Beginning in January 1954, the group sang on the Robert Q. Lewis Show, a weekday afternoon program on CBS-TV.
The Chordettes had released a couple of singles with Arthur Godfrey on Columbia in 1950-51 but didn’t cut a solo single until their breakout hit Mr. Sandman, released in late 1954 and which went on to become a #1 1955 hit. Archie Bleyer himself is on that record along with the group; Bleyer stripped down the sound to highlight the girls’ voices. They also hit #2 with 1958’s “Lollipop” and also charted with a vocal version of the themes from Disney’s Zorro (U.S. #17) (1959) and the film Never on Sunday (U.S. #13) (1961). Other hits for the group included “Eddie My Love” (U.S. #14), “Born to Be With You” (U.S. #5), “Lay Down Your Arms” in 1956, and “Just Between You and Me” (U.S. #8) in 1957. Their cover of “The White Rose Of Athens” hit the Australian Top 15 in May, 1962. The US single “In The Deep Blue Sea” was a one-week Music Vendor entry four months later (#128).
Crosby, Stills & Nash (CSN) was a folk rock supergroup made up of American singer-songwriters David Crosby and Stephen Stills, and English singer-songwriter Graham Nash. They are noted for their lasting influence on American music and culture, and for their intricate vocal harmonies, often tumultuous interpersonal relationships, and political activism. CSN formed in 1968 shortly after Crosby, Stills and Nash performed together informally in July of that year, discovering they harmonized well. Crosby had been asked to leave The Byrds in late 1967, and Stills’ band Buffalo Springfield had broken up in early 1968; Nash left his band The Hollies in December, and by early 1969 the trio had signed a recording contract with Atlantic Records. Their first album, Crosby, Stills & Nash, was released in May 1969, from which came two Top 40 hits, “Judy Blue Eyes” [#21] (https://youtu.be/kVUwrifwKrI) (RQ 7) and “Marrakesh Express” [#28] (https://youtu.be/0TYq9RjdYYU) (RQ 9). They still needed a keyboardist; Ahmet Ertegun suggested Canadian Neil Young, who had played with Stills in Buffalo Springfield, and after some initial reluctance, the trio agreed, signing him on as a full member. The band, was then named Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, started their tour, and played their second gig at Woodstock Festival in the early morning hours of August 18, 1969.
Richard Steven Valenzuela (Born in Los Angeles, CA on May 13, 1941 – February 3, 1959), known professionally as Ritchie Valens, was an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist. A rock and roll pioneer and a forefather of the Chicano rock movement, Valens was killed in a plane crash eight months into his recording career. He was only 17 years old at the time. After the February 2, 1959, performance in Clear Lake, Iowa (which ended around midnight), Holly, Richardson, and Valens flew out of the Mason City airport in a small plane that Holly had chartered. Valens was on the plane because he won a coin toss with Holly’s backup guitarist Tommy Allsup. Holly’s bassist, Waylon Jennings, voluntarily gave up his seat on the plane to J.P. Richardson, who was ill with the flu. Around 12:55 am on February 3, 1959, the three-passenger Beechcraft Bonanza departed for Fargo, North Dakota, and crashed a few minutes after takeoff for reasons still unknown. The crash killed all three passengers and pilot Roger Peterson instantly upon impact. As with Holly and Richardson, Valens suffered massive and unsurvivable head injuries along with blunt-force trauma to the chest. Valens was the youngest to die in the crash Valens had several hits, most notably “La Bamba” (https://youtu.be/Coy8Hoa1DNw) (RQ 10), which he had adapted from a Mexican folk song (an interesting side note: he didn’t speak Spanish, he just memorized the lyrics). Valens transformed the song into one with a rock rhythm and beat, and it became a hit in 1958, making Valens a pioneer of the Spanish-speaking rock and roll movement. He also had an American number-two hit with “Donna” (https://youtu.be/20cFuSHzJrg) (RQ 9) and “Come On Lets Go” (https://youtu.be/rEuBtgmlqI8) (RQ 9).
The Ronettes were an American girl group from Spanish Harlem, New York. The group consisted of lead singer Veronica Bennett (later known as Ronnie Spector), her older sister Estelle Bennett, and their cousin Nedra Talley. They had sung together since they were teenagers, then known as “The Darling Sisters”. Signed first by Colpix Records in 1961, they moved to Phil Spector’s Philles Records in March 1963 and changed their name to “The Ronettes”. The Ronettes placed nine songs on the Billboard Hot 100, five of which became Top 40 hits. Among their most famous songs are: “Be My Baby” (https://youtu.be/jSPpbOGnFgk) (RQ 10), “Baby, I Love You” (https://youtu.be/zgOONhI3FnM) (RQ 8), “(The Best Part of) Breakin’ Up” (https://youtu.be/K04WwAL-3eg) (RQ 9) and “Walking in the Rain” (https://youtu.be/tBBys5TLxCI) (RQ 10). In 1964, the group released their only studio album, Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica. That year, the Rolling Stones were their opening act when they toured the UK. The Ronettes opened for the Beatles on their 1966 US tour, becoming the only girl group to tour with them, before splitting up in 1967. In the 1970s, the group was briefly revived as Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes. Their song “Be My Baby” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. Rolling Stoneranked their album Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica No. 422 on its list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The Ronettes were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004, and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
The Cowsills were formed in the spring of 1965 by brothers Bill, Bob, and Barry Cowsill; their brother John joined shortly thereafter. Originally Bill and Bob played guitar and Barry played the drums. When John learned to play drums and joined the band, Barry began playing bass. After their initial success, the brothers were joined by their siblings Susan and Paul along with their mother, Barbara. A seventh sibling, Bob’s twin brother Richard, was never part of the band during its heyday, although he occasionally appeared with them in later years. The band’s road manager for most of their career was Richard “Biggie” Korn. When the group expanded to its full family membership by 1967, the six siblings ranged in age from 8 to 19. Joined by their mother, Barbara Cowsill (née Russell), the group inspired the 1970s television show The Partridge Family. Barbara, who would become known to their fans affectionately as “Mini-Mom” due to her diminutive stature, joined the group just in time to record the band’s first album, including the hit single “The Rain, The Park & Other Things” (https://youtu.be/foepOwQlXpI) (RQ 8) with Bill on lead vocals. It sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold record. With the success of “The Rain …”, the band quickly became a popular act in the U.S., and achieved significant airplay in England and other parts of Europe. “The Rain, The Park and Other Things” reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Four Jacks and a Jill originally formed in 1964 without a “Jill” under the name “The Nevadas”. Subsequently, they became the first group in South Africa to wear their hair long and they changed their name to “The Zombies” (different from the well-known British group). Later they added lead singer Glenys Lynne and changed the group’s name to “Four Jacks and A Jill”. The group included Clive Harding (bass guitar), Keith Andrews (rhythm guitar and organ), replaced by the late Mark Poulos (guitar and organ) 1966-1967 and subsequently Till Hanneman who joined in 1967 (rhythm guitar, organ and trumpet), Bruce Bark (lead guitar, harmonica and saxophone), Tony Hughes (drums) and Glenys Lynne (lead vocal and organ). In South Africa, they had a hit song, “Timothy”. In 1968 they cracked the American charts with the song “Master Jack” (https://youtu.be/A0WvXpyufT8) RQ 6), hitting the Billboard Hot 100 at no. 18 and reaching no. 3 on the Adult Contemporary chart. The song also reached no. 10 on Cashbox and went to no. 1 in South Africa, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). The follow-up single, “Mr. Nico”, peaked at no. 98 in the United States. That was their last hit in the U.S., but the group continued to score hits in their native country.
Jay and the Americans are an American rockgroup popular in the 1960s. Their initial line-up consisted of John “Jay” Traynor, Howard Kane (born Howard Kirschenbaum), Kenny Vance (born Kenneth Rosenberg) and Sandy Deanne (born Sandy Yaguda), though their greatest success on the charts came after Traynor had been replaced as lead singer by Jay Black. Soon they signed with United Artists Records. With Jay Traynor singing lead, they first hit the Billboard charts in 1962 with the tune “She Cried,” which reached #5 (later covered by The Shangri-Las, Aerosmith, and others). The next two singles did not fare as well, and Traynor left the group. Empires’ guitarist Marty Sanders (né Kupersmith) joined the group. He brought David Black (né Blatt) of “The Empires” in to take Traynor’s place (after David first agreed to adopt the name Jay Black), and Black sang lead for the rest of the group’s major hits. They recorded “Only in America”, a song originally meant for The Drifters. Other notable hits for Jay and the Americans were “Come a Little Bit Closer” (https://youtu.be/ZuWkVqum6a8) (RQ 10) in 1964, which hit #3, and “Cara Mia” (https://youtu.be/pXfNGRcDYpM) (RQ 10+) in 1965, which hit #4. They also recorded a commercial for H.I.S. Slacks and a public service announcement for the Ad Council, featuring a backing track by Brian Wilson and Phil Spector. Two tracks from this era later found favor with the Northern Soul crowd: “Got Hung Up Along The Way” and “Living Above Your Head”. In 1966, the group was featured in the Universalcomedy film, Wild Wild Winter, singing “Two of a Kind” at the film’s finale, with surf band The Astronauts depicted as providing backup instrumentals. As of February 2017, the song has been released only on the 1966 soundtrack LP. In 1969, they rcorded an album of their favorite oldies called Sands of Time, which included “This Magic Moment” (https://youtu.be/pKfASw6qoag) (RQ 10), which was originally done by the Drifters. The single went to #6 in early 1969. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in May 1969. “This Magic Moment” was the last top ten record for Jay and the Americans, although a follow-up album, Wax Museum, in January 1970, did yield the #19 hit single “Walkin’ In The Rain” (https://youtu.be/xrkJoTaHqvc) (RQ 10+), first recorded by The Ronettes. Their next singles failed to chart, and the band grew apart, but the demand for appearances remained. (Around the same time the band recorded “This Magic Moment,” Jay and the Americans member Sandy Yaguda produced a Long Island teen sextet called The Tuneful Trolley. Their late-1968 Capitol LP, Island In The Sky — a hybrid of Beach Boys and Beatlesque psych-pop—was reissued in 2008 in the UK on Now Sounds.) From 1970 to 1971 Jay and the Americans’ recording band included Walter Becker and Donald Fagen (of later Steely Dan fame) on backup bass guitar and electric organ.
The Chiffons were an American girl group originating from the Bronx, a borough of New York City, in 1960. The group was originally a trio of schoolmates: Judy Craig, Patricia Bennett and Barbara Lee; at James Monroe High School in the Bronx in 1960. In 1962, at the suggestion of songwriter Ronnie Mack, the group added Sylvia Peterson, who had sung with Little Jimmy & the Tops at age 14, sharing lead vocals with Jimmy on “Say You Love Me”, the B-side of the Tops’ 1959 local hit “Puppy Love”. The group was named the Chiffons when recording and releasing their first single, “He’s So Fine”, written by Ronnie Mack, produced by The Tokens of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” fame, and released on the Laurie Records label. “He’s So Fine” hit No. 1 in the United States, selling over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. (This sales figure would have qualified the record for platinum status under the current [as of 2011] RIAA certification standards, effective since 1975, that lowered the “gold” certification threshold to 500,000 copies and set the “platinum” threshold at 1 million.). The Chiffons immediately released their first LP He’s So Fine (which charted at #97) and began a round of touring around the US. Within a few months, the group released their second LP, One Fine Day (https://youtu.be/KvyOqKhKWQ4) (RQ 10). The group also released two singles in 1963 as the Four Pennies (with Sylvia on lead) on the Laurie Records subsidiary Rust, but they abandoned the Four Pennies name as the success of “He’s So Fine” became clear. This first hit was followed by other notable tunes such as Gerry Goffin and Carole King’s “One Fine Day”, “Sweet Talkin’ Guy” (https://youtu.be/UAPaGi7HuKo) (RQ 10) and “I Have A Boyfriend” (This last song was playing on the Dallas, Texas radio station KLIF on November 22, 1963 when the announcement was made that President John F. Kennedy had been shot). As the 1960s progressed, Peterson assumed a more prominent role in the group, singing lead on the Chiffons’ “Why Am I So Shy”, “Strange, Strange Feeling”, “The Real Thing”, “Up On The Bridge” and “My Block” (written by Jimmy Radcliffe, Carl Spencer and Bert Berns).
Eric Hilliard Nelson (Born in Teaneck, N.J. on May 8, 1940 – died in a DC3 plane crash on December 31, 1985). Sadly, he was only 45 years old at the time. Known professionally as Ricky Nelson until his 21st birthday when he officially dropped the “y” and simply became Rick Nelson, was an American rock ‘n’ roll star, pop pioneer, musician, singer-songwriter and actor. From age eight he starred alongside his family in the radio and television series The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. As the result of his early success as an actor, he became one of the greatest “heartthrobs” in history. As a teenager, he fell in love with two young ladies (as they were teenagers at the time, no long term relationship developed). Ricky ended up marrying Kris Harmon on April 20, 1963. They had four children together. Kris was the daughter of Tom Harmon, an American football player. Their marriage was rocky at times as Kris wanted Ricky to stop traveling doing concerts. Ultimately, in December of 1982, they were divorced. In 1957, he began a long and successful career as a popular recording artist. As one of the top “teen idols” of the 1950s, his fame led to a motion picture role co-starring alongside John Wayne and Dean Martin in Howard Hawks’s western feature film Rio Bravo (1959). He placed 53 songs on the Billboard Hot 100, and its predecessors, between 1957 and 1973, including “Poor Little Fool” in 1958, which was the first number 1 song on Billboard magazine’s then-newly created Hot 100 chart. He recorded 19 additional Top 10 hits including: “Stood Up” in 1957, “Be-Bop Baby” (https://youtu.be/DK90tMEJax8) (RQ10) in 1957, “Never Be Anyone Else But You” (https://youtu.be/ft8d5Ik8jeE) (RQ 10) in 1959, “Hello Mary Lou” (https://youtu.be/zLkCWT2neuI) (RQ 10) in 1960, “Travelin’ Man” (https://youtu.be/CZ_973A44mA) (RQ 10) and “Garden Party” (https://youtu.be/PECmjB9df0w) (RQ 10) in 1972. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on January 21, 1987. In 1996 Nelson was ranked No. 49 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time.
Robert Von “Bobby” Hebb (July 26, 1938 – August 3, 2010) was an American R&B and soul singer, musician, songwriter, recording artist, and performer known for his 1966 hit entitled “Sunny” (https://youtu.be/ubvYQxTXO3U) (RQ 10).
Hebb was born in Nashville, Tennessee. His parents, William and Ovalla Hebb, were both blind musicians. Hebb and older brother, Harold Hebb, performed as a song-and-dance team in Nashville beginning when Bobby was three and Harold was nine. Hebb performed on a TV show hosted by country music record producer Owen Bradley, which earned him a place with Grand Ole Opry star Roy Acuff. Hebb played spoons and other instruments in Acuff’s band. Harold later became a member of Johnny Bragg and the Marigolds. Bobby Hebb sang backup on Bo Diddley’s “Diddley Daddy”. Hebb played “West-coast-style” trumpet in a United States Navy jazz band, and replaced Mickey Baker in Mickey and Sylvia.
On November 23, 1963, the day after John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Bobby Hebb’s brother, Harold, was killed in a knife fight outside a Nashville nightclub. Hebb was devastated by both events and sought comfort in songwriting. Though many claim that the song he wrote after both tragedies was the optimistic “Sunny”, Hebb himself stated otherwise. He immersed himself in the Gerald Wilson album, You Better Believe It!, for comfort.
“Sunny” was recorded in New York City after demos were made with the record producer Jerry Ross. Released as a single in 1966, “Sunny” reached No. 3 on the R&B charts, No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100, and No. 12 in the United Kingdom. When Hebb toured with The Beatles in 1966 his “Sunny” was, at the time of the tour, ranked higher than any Beatles song then on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. BMI rated “Sunny” number 25 in its “Top 100 songs of the century”.
The Ink Spots were an American vocal jazzgroup who gained international fame in the 1930s and 1940s. Their unique musical style presaged the rhythm and blues and rock and roll musical genres, and the subgenre doo-wop. The Ink Spots were widely accepted in both the white and black communities, largely due to the ballad style introduced to the group by lead singer Bill Kenny.
They charted 48 songs between 1939-1952. Seven of their recordings were No1 hits:
“Address Unknown” (https://youtu.be/B00wg2o-SG4) (RQ 9). 1939.
“We Three” (https://youtu.be/AQ_Lzh_S-2c) (RQ 8). 1940.
“I’m Making Believe” (https://youtu.be/BuO5Jiqn9q4) (RQ 8). 1944.
“Into Each Life Rain Must Fall” (https://youtu.be/ayGkA-vxrMc) (RQ 8) With Ella Fitzgerald. 1944.
“The Gypsy” (https://youtu.be/yovIyTnUr5I) (RQ 10). 1946.
“To Each His Own” (https://youtu.be/0G5wqiLiPHg) (RQ 10). 1946.
The Critters were an American pop group with several hits in the 1960s, most notably “Mr. Dieingly Sad” (https://youtu.be/KYjI7S8pEZU) (RQ 10+), a U.S. and Canadian Top 20 hit in 1966. As in this example, The Critters produced wonderful harmonies together! The group formed in Plainfield, New Jersey, United States, in 1964 when singer-guitarist Don Ciccone (February 28, 1946 – October 8, 2016) went to see the band in which a friend of his, saxophonist Bob Podstawski, was a member. This local group was the Vibratones, comprising Jim Ryan (lead guitar), Ken Gorka (bass), Jack Decker (drums), and Chris Darway (keyboards) along with Podstawski. Ciccone was impressed by the group and asked Podstawski if he could arrange an audition with them. The group was taken by Ciccone’s playing ability and the fact that he also wrote songs. Ciccone was asked to join with the group renaming themselves “The Critters”, in emulation of similar band names like the Animals.
Bob Lind (born Robert Neale Lind, November 25, 1942) is an American folk music singer-lyricist, who helped define the 1960s folk rockmovement in the U.S. and U.K. Lind is well known for his transatlantic hit record, “Elusive Butterfly” (https://youtu.be/T5mD_loFlfg) (RQ 10), which reached number 5 on both the US and UK charts in 1966. Many musicians have recorded songs by Lind, who continues to write, record and perform.
Johnny Desmond (born Giovanni Alfredo De Simone; November 14, 1919 – September 6, 1985) was an American singer who was popular in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Desmond was born in Detroit, Michigan, United States;. As a boy he sang on a local radio station, but at age 15 he quit to work at his father’s grocery. He retained a love of music, and briefly attended the Detroit Conservatory of Music before heading to the nightclub circuit, playing piano and singing. In 1939, he formed his own singing group. The group was first called the Downbeats. After being hired to work with Bob Crosby’s big band in 1940, it was renamed the Bob-O-Links. The group appeared on 15 commercial recordings by the Crosby orchestra, including two charted hits, “You Forgot About Me” (which reached No. 15), and “Do You Care?” In 1953 he recorded “So Nice” (to be your neighbor). (https://youtu.be/wEUgy5yUceU) (RQ 10).
Louis Leo Prima (Born in New Orleans on December 7, 1910 – August 24, 1978) was an American singer, songwriter, bandleader, and trumpeter. While rooted in New Orleans jazz, swing music, and jump blues, Prima touched on various genres throughout his career: he formed a seven-piece New Orleans-style jazz band in the late 1920s, fronted a swing combo in the 1930s and a big band group in the 1940s, helped to popularize jump blues in the late 1940s and early to mid 1950s, and performed frequently as a Vegaslounge act beginning in the 1950s. An example of one of his recordings with Keely Smith: “Just a Gigilo” (https://youtu.be/RrJ7DQojzIY) (RQ 8). From the 1940s through the 1960s, his music further encompassed early R&B and rock ‘n’ roll, boogie-woogie, and Italian folk music, such as the tarantella. Prima made prominent use of Italian music and language in his songs, blending elements of his Italian and Sicilian identity with jazz and swing music. At a time when ethnic musicians were often discouraged from openly stressing their ethnicity, Prima’s conspicuous embrace of his Sicilian ethnicity opened the doors for other Italian-American and ethnic American musicians to display their ethnic roots.
Dorothy Jacqueline Keely (March 9, 1928 – December 16, 2017), better known as Keely Smith, was an American jazz and popular music singer, who performed and recorded extensively in the 1950s with then-husband Louis Prima, and throughout the 1960s as a solo artist Prima and Ms. Smith’s act offered a seamless blend of anarchy and sophistication, with his sassy beast to her cool beauty. A sampling of Keely’s singing: “A Tribute to Keely Smith” (https://youtu.be/UdKPbF2y_0A) (RQ 10). Their physical and musical chemistry brought them a mass following, hit records and $25,000 a week on the Las Vegas Strip, helping make Sin City, then a second-tier desert outpost, a major show-business destination.
The Happenings are a pop music group that originated in Paterson, N. J. in the 1960s. Members of the original group, created in the spring of 1961 and initially called “The Four Graduates” because all had just graduated from high school in Paterson, New Jersey, were Bob Miranda (lead singer), David Libert, Tom Giuliano, and Ralph DiVito. In 1968 DiVito was replaced by Bernie LaPorta and Lenny Conforti also joined to play drums in the touring band.
The band’s original concept and much of its commercial success came as a cover bandplaying classic songs in a unique style. Said Miranda, the group’s concept was to “take a song that’s already proven it could be a hit and put our spin on it”. That “spin” consisted of a combination of rich harmonies on vocals and upbeat tempos marked by prominent percussion and sometimes elaborate orchestration. The group later composed its own songs. The group’s major hits were “See You In September” (1966) (https://youtu.be/7JQS6H2AXdM) (RQ 9), which was originally recorded by The Tempos in 1959, and a cover version of the George Gershwin/Ira Gershwinsong, “I Got Rhythm” (1967) (https://youtu.be/FK62pW35GIw) (RQ 8) updated for the group’s sunshine pop musical style. “See You In September” and “I Got Rhythm” were on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles charts for 14 weeks in 1966 and 13 weeks in 1967, respectively.
The Delfonics are an American R&B/soul vocal group from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. The Delfonics were most popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Their most notable hits include “La-La (Means I Love You)” (https://youtu.be/baNbyst7aW0) (RQ 10), “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)”, “Break Your Promise”, “I’m Sorry”, and “Ready or Not Here I Come (Can’t Hide from Love)”. Their hit songs were primarily written/composed and produced by lead vocalist and founding member William “Poogie” Hart and the musical instrumentation was arranged/conducted by songwriter and producer Thom Bell.
Billy Joe Royal was Born in Valdosta, Georgia (April 3, 1942 – October 6, 2015) to Mary Sue Smith and Clarence Royal, and raised in Marietta, Georgia, Royal performed at the Georgia Jubilee in Atlanta during his teens. He formed his own rock and roll band, and became a local star at the Bamboo Ranch in Savannah in the late 1950s and early 1960s, where his singing style was influenced by African-American performers, including Sam Cooke. Royal was a friend of performer and songwriter Joe South, and recorded what was intended as a demo of South’s song “Down in the Boondocks” (https://youtu.be/dWw9-iygCfM) (RQ 10+). The recording was heard at Columbia Records, who offered Royal a singing contract in 1965 and released his version of the song, produced by South. “Down in the Boondocks” remained his best-known song, reaching number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100, and number 38 in the UK. He followed up his initial success with the singles “I Knew You When” (Top 20, 1965) and “Hush” (1967), also written and produced by Joe South. Another South composition, “Yo-Yo,” just missed the top 40 in Canada and charted poorly in the U.S. when Royal released it in 1967, but a later remake by The Osmonds was a much greater success. His 1969 single, “Cherry Hill Park”, peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100. In the 1970s his recording of “Heart’s Desire” gained popularity among Northern soul enthusiasts and was regularly played in Northern soul nightclubs.
Glenn Robertson Yarbrough (January 12, 1930 – August 11, 2016) was an American folk singer and guitarist. He was the lead singer (tenor, with a unique high frequency vibrato) with the Limeliters from 1959 to 1963. He also had a prolific solo career, recording on various labels. His most known song was “Baby the Rain Must Fall” (https://youtu.be/IoidePq4szw) (RQ 10). By the late 1960s he was miserable and was looking for something else. He quit entertaining to sail around the world. While sailing to Hawaii, he asked himself what he really wanted out of life and he decided that he would rather teach than sing. He sold his Rolls-Royce, Porsche, Bentley and two Ferraris and his house in New Zealand, his banana plantation in Jamaica and an apartment building he owned in Beverly Hills. He used the money to start a school in the mountains outside Los Angeles for disadvantaged, mostly African-American children. He was incredibly gifted as a singer, but he lacked the knowledge and discipline to run a school, so the school ran out of money and he had to close it down in the early 70s. He divorced his first wife, Peggy Goodhart, and married his second, Annie Graves, built and moved into a 57-foot sailboat and spent the next five years on the high seas. Through these years, promoters sent sporadic requests for the Limeliters to get back together, and in 1973 they gave a reunion concert at Chicago’s Orchestra Hall to a sold-out audience. As a singer he was successful, but he was never satisfied. He spent most of his life running away from his great talent and returned to use his gift only when he needed money to support himself.
Madeline Bell (born July 23, 1942) is an American soul singer, who became famous as a performer in the UK during the 1960s and 70s with pop group Blue Mink, having arrived from the US in the gospel show Black Nativity in 1962, with the vocal group Bradford Singers. Bell was born in Newark, New Jersey, United States. She worked as a session singer, most notably backing Dusty Springfield, and can be found on early Donna Summer material as well. Her first major solo hit was a cover version of Dee Dee Warwick’s single “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” (https://youtu.be/c8Rg5kFU1oA) (RQ 10) which performed better on the US Billboard Hot 100 than the original. In 1969, she contributed backing vocals on the Rolling Stones song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”.
Chad & Jeremy were a British musical duo consisting of Chad Stuart and Jeremy Clyde, which began working in 1962 and had its first hit song in the UK with “Yesterday’s Gone”. That song became a hit in the United States in the following year as part of the British Invasion. Unlike the rock-music sounds of their peers, Chad & Jeremy performed in a soft, folk-inflected style that is characterised by hushed and whispered vocals. The duo had a string of hits in the United States, including “Willow Weep for Me” (produced by Shel Talmy), “Before and After”, and their biggest hit, “A Summer Song” (https://youtu.be/VvD0_aeAf2E) (RQ 10) (produced by Shel Talmy). After some commercial failures and divergent personal ambitions, Chad & Jeremy disbanded in 1968.
Robert Knight (born Robert Henry Peebles,April 24, 1940 – November 5, 2017) was an American singer, best known for his 1967 recording of the song “Everlasting Love” (https://youtu.be/bCMmyT33Gic) (RQ 10). Robert Peebles was born in Franklin, Tennessee, United States, in 1940 according to family and official records, though some sources give the year 1945. As Robert Knight, he made his professional vocal debut with the Paramounts, a quintet consisting of school friends. Signed to Dot Records in 1960, they recorded “Free Me” in 1961, a US R&B hit single that outsold a rival version by Johnny Preston.
The Chad Mitchell Trio – later known as The Mitchell Trio – were a North American vocal group who became known during the 1960s. They performed traditional folk songs and some of John Denver’s early compositions. They were particularly notable for performing satirical songs that criticized current events during the time of the cold war, the civil rights movement, and the Vietnam War. An example of which is: “The Marvelous Toy” (https://youtu.be/Z6LbjUt-J7A) (RQ 10). The original group was formed in 1958, by William Chadbourne “Chad” Mitchell (from Portland, Oregon, born December 5, 1936), Mike Kobluk (from Trail, British Columbia, Canada, born December 10, 1937), and Mike Pugh (from Pasco, Washington) when they were students and glee club members at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, United States. They were encouraged by Spokane Catholic priest Reinard W. Beaver, who invited the three to travel with him to New York City in the summer of 1959 and to try performing in the burgeoning folk-music scene.
The Clovers are an American rhythm and blues/doo-wop vocal group who became one of the biggest selling acts of the 1950s. They had a top 30 US hit in 1959 with the Leiber and Stoller song “Love Potion No. 9” (https://youtu.be/Nt7htnE1s4o) (RQ 10+).
Doo-wop – rhythm ‘n’ blues vocal ensemble
Formed in Washington, D.C., in 1946 with constantly changing line-up. After their first single at Rainbow Records, their manager Louis Krefetz brought them to Atlantic in February 1951. There were several incarnations of the group by one or the other of the starting formation. In 1989 they received the Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award. In 1991 they were inducted in the United in Group Harmony (UGHA) Hall of Fame. In 2002 they were inducted into The Vocal Group Hall of Fame. In 2003 The Clovers were inducted into The Doo Wop Hall of Fame.
Scott McKenzie (born Philip Wallach Blondheim III; January 10, 1939 – August 18, 2012) was an American singer and songwriter. He was best known for his 1967 hit single and generational anthem, “San Francisco” (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair) (https://youtu.be/7I0vkKy504U) (RQ 10).
Harold Ray Ragsdale (born January 24, 1939), known professionally as Ray Stevens, is an American country and pop singer-songwriter and comedian, known for his two Grammy-winning recordings: “Everything Is Beautiful” (https://youtu.be/0a45z_HG3WU) (RQ 10) and “Misty” (https://youtu.be/dSO8IzLkkts) (RQ 10). “Everything is Beautiful” was recorded over fifty years ago. As one associated YouTube comment reads “This song wants me to get along with someone.” Oh, how we need this desire in 2021. He also had comedic hits such as “Gitarzan” and “The Streak”. He has worked as a producer, music arranger, songwriter, television host, and solo artist; been inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, and the Christian Music Hall of Fame; and received gold albums for his music sales.
John Joseph Burnette (March 25, 1934 – August 14, 1964) was an American singer-songwriter of rockabilly and pop music. Johnny was born to Willie May and Dorsey Burnett Sr. in Memphis, Tennessee, United States. (The “e” at the end of his name was added later.) Johnny grew up with his parents and Dorsey Jr. in a public housing project in the Lauderdale Courts area of Memphis, which from 1948 until 1954 was also the home of Gladys and Vernon Presley and their son, Elvis.
Johnny attended Blessed Sacrament School, and after graduating from eighth grade he went to Catholic High School, in Memphis. (Early press reports, dating back to 1956, stated erroneously that Johnny attended Humes High School with Presley.) He showed an aptitude for sports, being on the school baseball team and playing linebacker on the football team. Both he and Dorsey were also keen amateur boxers and later became Golden Gloves champions. After leaving high school, Burnette tried his hand at becoming a professional boxer, but after one fight with a sixty-dollar purse and a broken nose or an encounter with Norris Ray, a top paycheck of $150, he decided to quit boxing. He went to work on barges traversing the Mississippi River, where Dorsey also worked. Johnny worked mainly as a deck hand; Dorsey worked as an oiler. After work, they would go back to Memphis and perform songs in local bars with a varying array of sidemen, including another former Golden Gloves champion, Paul Burlison, whom Dorsey had met at an amateur boxing tournament in Memphis in 1949. In 1952, he and his brother, Dorsey Burnette, and their friend Paul Burlison formed the band that became known as the Rock and Roll Trio.
He experienced some success after his Rock and Roll Trio including his third single, “Dreamin” (https://youtu.be/TnkjOHVK-H4) (RQ 10) backed with “Cincinnati Fireball” (Liberty F-55285), released on May 4, 1960, reached number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 5 in Britain. It sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA.
Natalie Jane Imbruglia (born in Sydney, Australia on 4 February 1975) is a singer-songwriter, model and actress. In the early 1990s, she played Beth Brennan in the Australian soap opera Neighbours. Three years after leaving the programme, she began a singing career with her chart-topping cover of Ednaswap’s song “Torn” (https://youtu.be/xSZBIs0gs0E) (RQ 10+).
Her subsequent album, Left of the Middle (1997), sold 7 million copies worldwide. Imbruglia’s five subsequent albums have combined sales of 3 million copies worldwide, and her accolades include eight ARIA Awards, two Brit Awards, one Billboard Music Award, and three Grammy nominations.
Imbruglia has appeared in several films, including the 2003 release Johnny English and the 2009 Australian indie film Closed for Winter. She has modelled for several brands, such as L’Oreal, Gap, and Kailis.
Amongst other philanthropic work, Imbruglia served as a longtime spokesperson for Virgin Unite and campaigns to raise awareness of obstetric fistula.