Let's Work Together (Part 2) by Wilbert Harrison

#761: Let’s Work Together (Part 2) by Wilbert Harrison

Peak Month: February 1970
9 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG chart
Peak Position #5
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #32

Wilbert Harrison was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1929. Around 1948 Harrison was drafted into the US Navy. In 1950 he was honorably discharged. After his service as a sailor, Harrison became interested in calypso music and taught himself to play guitar. In 1953, Harrison got a record deal with Rockin’ Records. His first releases on Rockin’ Records had a country-pop sound. He moved to New Jersey and got a record deal in 1954 with Savory Records. Harrison worked with R&B stars Big Maybelle and Screaming Jay Hawkins, the latter whose song, “I Put A Spell On You,” was covered by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Between 1954 and 1958 Harrison released six 78 RPM singles that were classic R&B. Harrison is best known as a rhythm and blues singer for his # hit in the spring of 1959 “Kansas City.” That single had the distinction of being the final song to reach #1 that was released on a 78 RPM record. “Kansas City” stayed on top of the Cashbox R&B charts for five weeks and two weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100.

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Time Machine by Dante & The Evergreens

#762: Time Machine by Dante & The Evergreens

Peak Month: September 1960
8 weeks on Vancouver’s CKWX chart
Peak Position #6 CFUN
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #73

Dante & the Evergreens was an American pop group formed in 1959. They group members all attended Santa Monica College in Santa Monica, California. They consisted of baritone singer Bill Young, tenor Tony Moon, bass singer Frank Rosenthal and lead singer Donald “Dante” Drowdy.  Tony Moon had previously been the lead for a doo-wop group called Tony Moon and the Aketones. One of the people Dante & the Evergreens were acquainted with was Dean Torrence of Jan And Dean, who’d recently had a Top Ten hit titled “Baby Talk.” Torrence took the group to meet his managers, Herb Alpert and Lou Adler. Alpert and Adler decided the group could do a cover of one of the songs by another group on their label. The song was “Ally Oop” by the Hollywood Argyles.” Dante & The Evergreen’s version was arranged by Tony Moon. In addition to arranging the song, Moon sang and played guitar. Dante & The Evergreens cover of “Alley Oop” climbed to #15 on the Billboard Hot 100, while the Hollywood Argyles original recording of the song went to #1. Dante & The Evergreens had a a bigger hit with the tune on the East Coast. On WMGM-AM in New York City, their version of “Ally Oop” spent ten weeks in the Top Ten and five of these at #1. They also went to #1 with  “Alley Oop” in Philadelphia, Allentown (PA), and #2 in Toronto, New Orleans, Jacksonville (FL) and Providence (RI).

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Heartbroken Bopper by The Guess Who

#763: Heartbroken Bopper by The Guess Who

Peak Month: April 1972
8 weeks on CKLG chart
Peak Position ~ #6 (CKVN)
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #47

Originally there was a band in Winnipeg called Al & The Silvertones. The band had some lineup changes and became Chad Allen & The Expressions. In time they changed their name again to The Guess Who ?, with a question mark at the end of their name. They had a hit in Canada in 1965 called “Shakin’ All Over,” a cover version of the original by the UK’s Johnny Kidd And The Pirates in 1960. The Guess Who tried to tour in the UK themselves in 1967 to support their single, “His Girl.” However, they didn’t have the proper documentation to perform, and “His Girl” only ended up spending one week on the British singles charts.

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Snoopy's Christmas by The Royal Guardsmen

#764: Snoopy’s Christmas by The Royal Guardsmen

Peak Month: December 1967
5 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG chart
Peak Position #1
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart

The Posmen were a band from Ocala, Florida. They were all students at Lake Weir High School. With the British Invasion, they decided to change their name to the Royal Guardsmen, giving themselves a British sounding name. When their debut single, “Snoopy Vs. the Red Baron,” became a hit single late in 1966, they began touring. The band consisted of Billy Taylor on organ, Tom Richards and Barry Winslow on guitar, drummer John Burdett, bass player Bill Balough and singer Chris Nunley. Their first single, “Baby, Let’s Wait,” climbed to #11 in Sarasota, Florida in the fall of 1966. They recorded “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron” which became a #2 hit in the US and a #1 hit in Vancouver. This got Vancouver hooked on the Royal Guardsmen sending their follow-up single, “The Return of the Red Baron,” to #2 while it only peaked at #15 in the USA. Initially, the Royal Guardsmen got into legal trouble with their records about Snoopy since they hadn’t got permission from Peanuts cartoonist, Charles Schultz, to use Snoopy and the Red Baron in their songs.

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Tell Me What He Said by Helen Shapiro

#765: Tell Me What He Said by Helen Shapiro

Peak Month: May 1962
8 weeks on CFUN chart
Peak Position ~ #8
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
CFUN Twin Pick April 11, 1962

In 1946 Helen Kate Shapiro was born in East End, London. She is the granddaughter of Russian Jewish immigrants and her parents, who were piece-workers in the garment industry, attended Lea Bridge Road Synagogue. Although too poor to own a record player, Shapiro’s parents encouraged music in their home. Helen had to borrow a neighbor’s record player to hear her first hit single. Shapiro played banjolele as a child and sang occasionally with her brother, Ron, in his youth club skiffle group. Helen had a deep timbre to her voice, atypical in a girl who was still a child. Her elementary school friends gave her the nickname “Foghorn.” When she turned ten years old, Helen Shapiro became a member of Susie and the Hula Hoops, with her cousin, 60’s pop singer, Susan Singer. Shapiro also participated in a school band which included Marc Bolan (then using his real name of Mark Feld, and later founder of glam rock group T. Rex) as guitarist.
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She Wears My Ring by Jimmy Bell

#766: She Wears My Ring by Jimmy Bell

Peak Month: June 1961
7 weeks on Vancouver’s CKWX chart
Peak Position #4
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
Peak Position on Music Vendor Chart ~ #118

James Sweenety Jr. was born in Nashville in 1922. He was the second oldest of thirteen children. At 5’8″ James was a gifted football player from a young age and was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943. After being honorably discharged, he worked as a carpenter. To make some extra cash he became lead singer of a group called The Five Bars. Shortly after, they changed their name to The Varieteers. The quartette appeared in June 1948 on Appointment With Music, an NBC show hosted by Snooky Lanson on the local NBC affiliate in Nashville. On Lanson’s show they sang a 1930’s pop standard, “I’m All Dressed Up With A Broken Heart.” The Varieteers had made a recording of the tune in 1947. In the following years the Varieteers had brushes with success. This included appearing in concert in Hollywood in 1953 with Spanish-American bandleader, Xavier Cugat and singer Abbe Lane. Over his career he recorded as Jimmy Sweeney, Jimmy Bell and Jimmy Destry. Continue reading →

She Knows by Bobby Darin

#767: She Knows by Bobby Darin

Peak Month: September 1967
7 weeks on CKLG chart
Peak Position #6
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #105

Walden Robert Cassotto was born in the Bronx in May, 1936. His mother, born in November 1917, was pregnant with him when she was only sixteen, giving birth to him when she was seventeen. In the 1930’s, being a pregnant teenager was very improper. So she gave birth and was introduced to her son as his older “sister.” In order for the deceit to be pulled off, young Robert was raised by his grandmother, Polly, who he understood was his mother. And he understood that his “mother” had given birth at a later stage in life. His “mother” was a showgirl in her earlier days and so not the “grandmother type.” So the ruse was successful. It was not until 1968, when he was 32 years of age, that he discovered that his older sister, Giovannina Cassotto, was actually his mother. In his childhood, Robert learned to play piano, drums and guitar. According to his biographies, Walden Robert Cassotto suffered from rheumatic fever as a child. Bobby’s real sister, Vivienne, said years later, “my earliest memory of Bobby as a child was about his rheumatic fever. We couldn’t walk on the floor because just walking across the floor would put him in agony. I remember Bobby crying and screaming and my father having to pick him up and carry him to the bathroom, he was in so much pain. I remember being told all my life, “Bobby’s sickly. You have to be careful, and you have to protect him.” Between the ages of eight and thirteen, Bobby had four illnesses with rheumatic fever. Each one damaging his heart muscle more severely than the previous illness.
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I Need Somebody by ? (Question Mark) And The Mysterians

#768: I Need Somebody by ? (Question Mark) And The Mysterians

Peak Month: December 1966
7 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG chart
Peak Position #3
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #22

Rudy Martinez was born in Texas and was a dancer on the Arthur Murray show. In the late 50’s and early 60’s Martinez performed at the county fairs and the Shriners’ shows. He recalls, “everybody liked the way I danced.” He and his buddies formed a band in Saginaw, Michigan, in 1962. They called themselves Question Mark and the Mysterians. The name, question mark, was rendered on their record labels as a ? The group’s name was inspired by a Japanese science fiction movie from 1957 titled The Mysterians. The films plot concerned aliens from the obliterated planet, Mysteriod, come to Earth in order to conquer it. The trailer for the movie warned “from behind the moon they come. But what do they want? The Mysterians tell the earthlings that they come in peace. However, the world leaders decide to declare war on the Mysterians, certain they have come to abduct the women. The movie’s trailer invited movie-goer’s to come and “join mankind’s most treacherous battle for survival.” ? and the Mysterians played their first concert at a Greek Orthodox Church in Saginaw. Rudy Martinez was compared to Mick Jagger in the local papers by 1965.

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No by Bulldog

#769: No by Bulldog

Peak Month: December 1972
8 weeks on CKLG chart
Peak Position ~ #7
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #44

Dean Cornish was born in Ottawa, Canada, in 1943. In his childhood, he moved with his single mother to Rochester, New York. At the age of nine he learned to play the ukulele. By the age of eleven Cornish was playing guitar and country songs. In an interview with the National Association of Music Merchants in January 2016, Cornish remembers seeing Elvis Presley on the Tommy Dorsey Show and getting the guitar of his choice by the late 50’s and learning to play songs by Duane Eddy. By his teens he was playing guitar and harmonica in local Rochester bands. In 1962, when he was 19, Gene formed a band called the Gene Cornish Nobles who recorded a couple of singles. In 1964 Cornish joined Joey Dee and the Starliters who had charted a #1 hit in January 1962 called the “Peppermint Twist.” While playing with Joey Dee, Gene met up with Felix Cavaliere and another musician, a drummer named Dino Danelli. The three became the nucleus of what would become The Young Rascals.

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That Greasy Kid Stuff by Janie Grant

#770: That Greasy Kid Stuff by Janie Grant

Peak Month: September 1962
7 weeks on CFUN chart
Peak Position ~ #5
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #74

Rose Marie Casilli was born in Patterson, New Jersey in 1945. A promotional piece for Janie Grant in Billboard Magazine from June 23, 1962, stated that her hobbies were “dancing, swimming and collecting records.” Billboard wrote, “she started singing when she was only 8, making her professional debut at a local dance revue. Gerry Granahan… was instrumental in capturing a recording contract for Miss Grant. He heard her singing at a party and brought her to Caprice where she auditioned for the company’s execs.” The Billboard article noted that she played guitar and wrote songs, including her Top 30 hit, “Triangle,” which peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 at #29. The person who “discovered” Janie Grant, Gerry Granahan, had a minor hit in 1958 called “No Chemise Please.” Granahan started a record label called Caprice. Janie Grant was 16 when her debut single made the Top Ten in Chicago, San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tampa (FL), Vancouver (BC), Arkon and Columbus (OH), and Tucson and Phoenix (AZ).

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