The Snake by Al Wilson

#644: The Snake by Al Wilson

Peak Month: August 1968
7 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG chart
Peak Position #2
1 week Hit Bound
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #27 link: “The Snake
“The Snake” lyrics

Allen LaMar “Al” Wilson was born in 1939 in Meridian, Mississippi. By the age of twelve he was singing in gospel choirs. Meridian, Mississippi, was the same hometown where James Chaney, the Civil Rights worker who’s killing, along with two others, led to the infamous “Mississippi Burning” trial. Young Al Wilson was friends with James Chaney and the Wilson family knew the cost of living in segregated Mississippi. Alene Wilson-Harris, a daughter of Wilson, said of her father’s upbringing: “My father, well, he grew up in a very volatile time for a young black man. And, he was, unfortunately, in a position to have to know what it was to actually leave a place because there were life-threatening circumstances and hardships and all of those type of things in order to try and make a life for yourself somewhere else where those factors didn’t exist.”

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Johnny Willow by Fred Darian

#645: Johnny Willow by Fred Darian

Peak Month: August 1961
8 weeks on CKWX chart
Peak Position #5
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #96 “Johnny Willow
“Johnny Willow” lyrics

Fred Darian was born in Detroit in June 1927. After college he began to sing in nightclubs and on TV starting in 1951. “The corner of Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street was the hub of the music industry, a gathering place where hopeful songwriters, music publishers, producers, musicians, singers, disc jockeys and show business executives gathered and congregated daily. Fred Darian entered onto the scene as an ambitious singer, working the graveyard shift, as a fry cook at Coffee Dan’s restaurant. He made the rounds during the days, by performing songs as demonstrations for songwriters to present to record companies and music publishers. His ability to quickly read and perform the songs, without mistakes, made him even more in demand. This was a time when records were cut directly onto acetate, before the advent of tape. More than one take on a song would prove costly to the songwriter. Fred earned a reputation for his ability to interpret a song accurately, with one take.

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My Love Sings by Joey Gregorash

#646: My Love Sings by Joey Gregorash

Peak Month: February 1972
9 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG chart
Peak Position #9
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart link: “My Love Sings

Joey Gregorash was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba. His dad played the violin and young Joey took an interest in learning the instrument. In February 1964 Gregorash saw the Beatles perform on the The Ed Sullivan Show and was turned onto rock ‘n roll. He learned how to play the drums and formed a band called The Mongrels in 1965 with childhood friend John Nykon. Later Gregorash went solo and won a 1972 Juno Award in 1972 for Outstanding Performance-Male for his hit single “Down By the River.” For over a decade Gregorash pursued other interests until in 1987 his single, “Together (The New Wedding Song),” became a hit in Canada.

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So Long Baby by Del Shannon

#647: So Long Baby by Del Shannon

Peak Month: October 1961
9 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #5
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #28 link: “So Long Baby
“So Long Baby” lyrics

Charles Weedon Westover was born on December 30, 1934. He was known professionally as Del Shannon. Westover was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He learned ukulele and guitar and listened to country music. He was drafted into the Army in 1954, and while in Germany played guitar in a band called The Cool Flames. When his service ended, he returned to Battle Creek, Michigan. There he worked as a carpet salesman and as a truck driver in a furniture factory. He found part-time work as a rhythm guitarist in singer Doug DeMott’s group called Moonlight Ramblers, working at the Hi-Lo Club. Ann Arbor deejay Ollie McLaughlin heard the band. In July 1960, Westover signed to become a recording artist and composer on the Bigtop label. Westover changed his name to Del Shannon. It was a combination of Shannon Kavanagh (a wannabe wrestler who patronized the Hi-Lo Club) with Del, derived from the Cadillac Coupe de Ville, which Westover’s carpet store boss drove.

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I Can't Stop Loving You by Roy Orbison

#648: I Can’t Stop Loving You by Roy Orbison

Peak Month: February 1962
8 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #4
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart link: “I Can’t Stop Loving You” Roy Orbison link: “I Can’t Stop Loving You” Ray Charles
“I Can’t Stop Loving You” lyrics

Roy Kelton Orbison was born in Vernon, Texas in 1936. When he turned six his dad gave him a guitar. Both his dad, Orbie Lee, and uncle Charlie Orbison, taught him how to play. Though his family moved to Forth Worth for work at a munitions factory, Roy was sent to live with his grandmother due to a polio outbreak in 1944. That year he wrote his first song “A Vow of Love.” The next year he won a contest on Vernon radio station KVWC and was offered his own radio show on Saturdays. After the war his family reunited and moved to Wink, Texas, where Roy formed his first band, in 1949, called The Wink Westerners.

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Forgive Me by Babs Tino

#649: Forgive Me by Babs Tino

Peak Month: August 1962
10 weeks on CFUN’s Vancouver Charts
Peak Position ~ #6
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #117 “Forgive Me
“Forgive Me” lyrics

There is next to nothing online to be found about Babs Tino. She was from Philadelphia and composed her debut single, on Cameo Records, titled “My Honeybun” in 1957. One of the few narrative threads is found in the liner notes from the 1997 Ace Records album, Early Girls Vol. 2. The liner notes reveal: “Babs Tino had the looks and the talent but failed to get the breaks and therefore barely qualifies as a footnote to a footnote in the history books. Having made a solitary single for Cameo Records in 1957, it seems she did not record again until 1961 when she signed with Kapp Records and had six singles released between then and 1963. Owner Dave Kapp was a pillar of New York’s musical establishment, a man with strongly held views on the linear alignment of musical notes in relation to pitch and tempo, and no-one got through the door at Kapp unless they could count bars and sing in tune. The best arrangers/songwriters (including Bacharach and Leiber & Stoller) were assigned to Tino’s sessions but only her third single, ‘Forgive me’, made any sort of impression ‘bubbling’ under the Hot 100 for one week in 1962 and gaining a UK release. Her fifth single, ‘Keep Away From Other Girls’, was successfully covered in the UK by Helen Shapiro.”

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This Ain't Love by The Nocturnals

#650: This Ain’t Love by The Nocturnals

Peak Month: February 1966
9 weeks on CFUN’s Vancouver Charts
Peak Position ~ #5
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart “This Ain’t Love

The Nocturnals started as an instrumental band called the Rousers in the late 1950’s in Haney, BC. Haney  was a town east of Vancouver. Their sound changed over time and they renamed themselves the Nocturnals. Now based in Vancouver, the band consisted of Bill McBeth on drums and lead vocals, Ron Henschel on guitar, Chad Thorp organ, Wayne Evans on bass, and Roger Skinner and Carl Erickson on saxophone. The Nocturnals became affiliated with 1410 CFUN, an AM radio station in Vancouver. On this pop music station The Nocturnals did many promotional appearances during noon hour sock hops at schools and special events. They were referred to as the “Funtastic Nocturnals” and were featured on shows hosted by DJ’s Red Robinson, Fred Latremouillle and “Jolly” John Tanner.

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Autumn Of My Life by Bobby Goldsboro

#651: Autumn Of My Life by Bobby Goldsboro

Peak Month: August 1968
6 weeks on CKLG’s Vancouver Charts
1 week Hit Bound
Peak Position ~ #3
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #19 “Autumn Of My Life
“Autumn Of My Life” lyrics

Bobby Goldsboro was born in Mariana, Florida, in the Florida Panhandle in 1941. Shortly after his birth his family moved 35 miles north to Dothan, Alabama, where he was raised. Goldsboro learned is musical skills as he grew, by the age of twenty-one, Goldsboro became a guitarist for Roy Orbison. From 1962 to 1964 Goldsboro toured with Orbison, including the tour where The Beatles appeared as the opening act on the UK tour with Orbison as headliner. He roomed with Roy Orbison and they became close friends. In 1962, Goldsboro released his first of four singles on Laurie Records. Only one of these, “Molly,” made the Billboard Hot 100, and only marginally. In 1964 Goldsboro had his first of sixteen Top 40 hits in the USA with “See the Funny Little Clown.” Having switched labels, United Artists had sent him three songs to choose from in advance of recording, hopefully, a hit record. But after sitting and listening to the three songs, Bobby thought none of them were hit material. So he sat down in his parents living room and wrote “See The Funny Little Clown.” The song peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 when Goldsboro was turning 23 years old. but didn’t appear on the CFUN charts in 1964. That year Goldsboro was the opening act on tour with the Rolling Stones. Subsequently, he was the opening act on a tour headlined by the Four Seasons. The following year he was the opening act on tour with The Beach Boys.

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Simple Song Of Freedom by Tim Hardin

#652: Simple Song Of Freedom by Tim Hardin

Peak Month: August 1969
7 weeks on CKLG’s Vancouver Charts
1 week Hit Bound
Peak Position ~ #6
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #50 “Simple Song Of Freedom
“Simple Song Of Freedom” lyrics

Tim Hardin was born in Eugene, Oregon, in 1941. Before he was born, Hardin’s mother had previously been employed as a classical pianist. And his father had earned a living as a bass player. But it was his strict grandmother who spent much of the time raising him. Hardin considered his childhood an unhappy one. After he dropped out of high school in 1960, he  joined the United States Marines. Like numbers of other soldiers, Tim Hardin developed a heroin addiction. Once he was discharged in 1961, Hardin got involved in the folk music scenes in Greenwich Village and in Boston in the early ‘60’s. He enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Art in Greenwich Village. However, he was expelled due to skipping too many classes. In 1964, Hardin got to audition with Columbia Records. However, he was still using heroin and his audition was a fiasco and he got no contract with the label. Fortunately, Tim Hardin found his way to Verve-Forecast Records by the end of 1965. He released his first single in February 1966 titled “How Can We Hang On To A Dream?” The single was his first from his Hardin debut album titled Tim Hardin 1. It was a hit in England and the Netherlands. One of the other tracks on the album was “Reason To Believe,” was a hit for Rod Stewart in the early 1970’s.

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The Gypsy Rover by The Highwaymen

#653: The Gypsy Rover by The Highwaymen

Peak Month: December 1961
7 weeks on CKWX’s Vancouver Charts
Peak Position ~ #6
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #42 “The Gypsy Rover
“The Gypsy Rover” lyrics

Dave Louis Fisher was born in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1940. In high school, Fisher had been part of a doo-wop group named The Academics. In 1958, Fisher helped form The Clansmen as a collegiate folk quintet of four freshmen at Weslayan University in Middletown, Connecticut. According to Joseph Murrells in his book, The Book of Golden Discs, Dave Fisher was the quintet’s lead singer and arranger. The other original members of the group were tenor Bob Burnett (born in Providence, RI), bass Steve Butts (born in New York City), baritone Chan Daniels (born in Argentina) and guitarist Steve Trott (born in Glen Ridge, NJ). The name, The Clansmen, they reasoned, was suggestive of Irish and Scottish clans, reflecting the Celtic roots of the songs the folk group performed. However, in the Civil Rights era with growing awareness of the violent acts and images of the Ku Klux Klan (known as the Klansmen), The Clansmen was not going to be a wise choice for the folk group to bill themselves if they wanted to go far. When they signed with United Artists at the end of 1959, they were given a new name, The Highwaymen. The name was inspired by the lines from lines by British poet, Alfred Noyes, “A highwayman comes riding…riding…riding,” from his 1906 poem The Highwayman. 

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