#999: True, True Happiness by Johnny Tillotson
In 1939 Johnny Tillotson was born in Jacksonville. He had four Top Ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100 and ten more in the American Top 40. He took an early interest in appearing on stage and by high school had a talent as a singer. In his teens he got a contract to be in the line-up of regular performers on the Jacksonville TV show, McDuff Hayride, hosted by Toby Dowdy. And in the mid-50s Tillotson had his own variety TV show, called The Velda Show, on WFGA. In 1957, a local Jacksonville deejay, Bob Norris, sent a recording of Tillotson singing at a Pet Milk talent contest. He ended up performing on the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. Cadence Records owner, Archie Bleyer, signed Tillotson to a record contract. “Dreamy Eyes” was his first single released in the fall of 1958. It peaked at #63 on the Billboard Hot 100. It would wait three years before appearing on the pop charts in Vancouver in 1961, peaking at #8, as the song enjoyed a more successful re-issue. In 1959, Tillotson graduated with a B.A. in Journalism and Communications, and then relocated to Manhattan in hopes of a break in the new rock ‘n roll music scene.