In The Misty Moonlight by Jerry Wallace

#519: In The Misty Moonlight by Jerry Wallace

Peak Month: July 1964
9 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN’s chart
Peak Position #2
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #19
YouTube.com: “In The Misty Moonlight
“In The Misty Moonlight” lyrics

Jerry Wallace was born in 1928 in Guilford, Missouri. He loved to sing and on June 1, 1952, he was one of the performers at the eighth Cavalcade of Jazz concert held at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles. Among the other performers was Roy Brown, who by that time had charted over a dozen Top Ten hits on the Billboard R&B chart. Child star Toni Harper, who recorded with Oscar Peterson, Harry James and Dizzy Gillespie in the ’50’s. And Louis Jordan who had 54 Top Ten hits on the Billboard R&B chart, eighteen of which climbed to #1, including “Caldonia”. Also, jump blues singer Jimmy Witherspoon was there to sing his 1949 #1 hit “Ain’t Nobody’s Business”, which stayed on the chart for 34 weeks. (It  was first popularized in 1922 by Bessie Smith and also Alberta Hunter). Wallace’s presence made the bill inter-racial that night.

Continue reading →

Soul Dance by Tommy Leonetti

#520: Soul Dance by Tommy Leonetti

Peak Month: February 1964
9 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN’s chart
Peak Position #4
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #105
YouTube.com: “Soul Dance
“Soul Dance” lyrics

Nicola Tomaso Lionetti was born in 1929 in North Bergen, New Jersey. He had a talent for singing and changed his name. He sang with the Charlie Spivak jazz band and the Tony Pastor jazz Band. In the early fifties, Arthur Godfrey remarked on his television show that, when told they had booked Tommy Leonetti, he thought that it was a trio called “Tommy, Lee, and Eddy.” Leonetti had a minor hit in 1954 on the Billboard Pop chart titled “I Cried”, which peaked at #30. His biggest hit in the USA was in 1956 with “Free”, which peaked at #23 on the Billboard chart. He was a singer with the 1957‐58 cast of Your Hit Parade. He had several appearances on The Steve Allen Show in the 1958-59 season.

Continue reading →

Everyday by Bobby Lee

#521: Everyday by Bobby Lee

Peak Month: June 1961
9 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN’s chart
Peak Position #3
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com: “Everyday
“Everyday” lyrics

Robert L. “Bobby Lee” Viehmeyer, Jr. was born in Peoria, Illinois, in 1941. Between the ages 4 to 10, Robert was plagued with illnesses. He recorded under the name of Bobby Lee on the Decca record label. Perhaps the choice to bill his name this way was that is sounded like the name of teen pop star Bobby Vee. And Lee’s studio recordings resembled Bobby Vee’s “Devil Or Angel” and numerous Buddy Holly recordings. Bobby Lee’s first single release with Decca was “Sugar Love” in 1961, penned by country star Webb Pierce. In this case he sounded a bit like Elvis Presley. Lee recorded several rock ‘n’ roll hits, including a song by Webb Pierce titled “Just Beginning”, in the spring of ’61. The B-side was an old Buddy Holly song titled “Everyday”. This was the side of the disc that DJ’s in Vancouver played on the radio starting in May ’61.

Continue reading →

It's A Cryin' Shame by Gayle McCormick

#522: It’s A Cryin’ Shame by Gayle McCormick

Peak Month: November 1971
7 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG’s chart
Peak Position #4
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #44
YouTube.com: “It’s A Cryin’ Shame
“It’s A Cryin’ Shame” lyrics

Gayle McCormick was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1948. She joined choir in high school and sang high soprano with the Suburb Choir, a 150-voice unit that performed annually with the St. Louis Symphony. By the mid-60s she sang in a band billed as Steve Cummings and The Klassmen, and sang covers of songs by Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight and Tina Turner. In 1967 her band released a single titled “Without You” which peaked at #14 in St. Louis. The following year McCormick released a solo titled “Mr. Loveman” which peaked at #21 in St. Louis. Then in 1969 she joined a band called Smith which subsequently got noticed by Del Shannon. He got Smith signed to Dunhill Records. Smith had a #5 hit with “Baby It’s You” on the Billboard Hot 100. The song had previously been a hit for both The Shirelles and The Beatles.
Continue reading →

Wired For Sound by Cliff Richard

#523: Wired For Sound by Cliff Richard

Peak Month: November 1981
12 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN’s chart
Peak Position #7
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #71
YouTube.com: “Wired For Sound
“Wired For Sound” lyrics

Cliff Richard was born Harry Roger Webb on October 14, 1940, in the city of Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, India. In 1940 Lucknow was part of the British Raj, as India was not yet an independent country. Webb’s father worked on as a catering manager for the Indian Railways. His mother raised Harry and his three sisters. In 1948, when India had become independent, the Webb family took a boat to Essex, England, and began a new chapter. At the age of 16 Harry Webb was given a guitar by his father. Harry then formed a vocal group called the Quintones. Webb was interested in skiffle music, a type of jug band music, popularized by “The King of Skiffle,” Scottish singer Lonnie Donegan who had an international hit in 1955 called “Rock Island Line”.

Continue reading →

Bye Bye Love by Webb Pierce

#524: Bye Bye Love by Webb Pierce

Peak Month: June 1957
5 weeks on Vancouver’s Red Robinson Teen Canteen chart on CKWX
Peak Position #2
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #73
YouTube.com: “Bye Bye Love
“Bye Bye Love” lyrics

Michael Webb Pierce was born in Monroe, Louisiana, in 1921. By the time he was 15 Pierce had learned to play guitar and had a weekly 15-minute show on KMLB-AM in Monroe. He joined the U.S. Air Force in 1942. After the war ended he and his wife, Betty Jane Lewis, moved to Shreveport, Louisiana. In 1947 they appeared regularly on KTBS-AM on their morning show Webb Pierce with Betty Jane, the Singing Sweetheart. Webb Pierce worked as a manager of a men’s furnishing section of a Sears Roebuck department store. In 1949 the couple signed with 4-Star Records in California. Webb was successful, but Betty Jane was not. Their changing musical fortunes led to divorce in 1950.

In 1950 he got signed onto the Louisiana Hayride and was an instant hit. He switched record labels to Decca Records in 1951 and later that year his second single release, “Wondering”, shot to number one on the national Country charts. His next two singles, “That Heart Belongs To Me” and “Back Street Affair” also topped the charts. Webb Pierce delivered songs dripping with emotion as his tenor voice reached willing radio and jukebox listeners who rushed to their local record stores to snap up his latest releases. Between 1951 and 1957 Webb Pierce had 30 consecutive Top Ten hits on the music industry Country charts in the USA. Of these, thirteen climbed to number one. In 1954 he had his first crossover hit with his #1 country tune “More And More”, and in 1955 his single “I’m In The Jailhouse Now” spent 21 weeks on top of the Country charts.

His string of Top Ten Country hits was momentarily interrupted when “Someday” stalled at #12 in 1957. But his next single release, “Bye Bye Love”, became his second crossover hit in June 1957.

Bye Bye Love by Webb Pierce

“Bye Bye Love” was written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant. They had a string of hits including “Wake Up Little Susie”, “Bird Dog”, “Problems” and “All I Have To Do Is Dream” among others, for the Everly Brothers. They wrote “Raining In My Heart” for Buddy Holly, and “Last Date” for Floyd Cramer. They also co-wrote “Love Hurts” which was introduced in December 1960 as an album track on A Date with The Everly Brothers, but was never released as a single (A-side or B-side) by the Everlys’. The first hit version of the song was by Roy Orbison who climbed the Australian pop charts to #5. They also wrote “She Wears My Ring”, a Top Ten hit in Vancouver for Jimmy Bell in 1961. Matilda Genevieve Scaduto was born in 1925. Boudleaux Bryant was born in 1920 in Shellman, Georgia. The two met in 1945 and eloped two days later. He nicknamed her Felice and the name stuck. She was 19 when they married. Boudleaux Bryant also wrote a number of songs on his own including “Devoted To You” for the Everly Brothers in 1958.

“Bye Bye Love” was recorded by the Everly Brothers and climbed to #2 on the Billboard pop chart and #1 on the Cashbox singles chart in July 1957. It was ranked as the #7 song for the year by Cashbox and #11 by Billboard. The Everly Brothers recording debuted on the pop charts in the USA on May 25, 1957. Webb Pierce made a recording of the song within a few weeks. His version of “Bye Bye Love” debuted on the pop and country charts on June 15, 1957. The Everly Brothers version of the song was in the Top Ten of the Billboard Country chart for 21 weeks. Both the Everly Brothers and Webb Pierce’s versions of “Bye Bye Love” shared the number one spot on the Country chart for five weeks from July 13 to August 10, 1957. The Everly Brothers version returned to the number one spot on the Billboard Country chart on September 7. By that time Webb Pierce’s version had fallen off the chart. On the pop chart Webb Pierce’s “Bye Bye Love” stalled at #73.

While Webb Pierce’s version of “Bye Bye Love” charted for five weeks in Vancouver, peaking at #2. The Everly Brothers version of the song also peaked at #2. Webb Pierce’s version first appeared on May 24, 1957, and fell off the charts at the end of June. The Everly Brothers original version of “Bye Bye Love” debuted on CKWX on July 7, 1957, for a nine week chart run in Vancouver.

Don Everly remembers he and Phil were on a tour in Mississippi the first half of June 1957. “The record came out while we were on the road down there (Mississippi). Then one day Mel Tillis came up to us and said, “Hoss, I got some bad news for you. Webb Pierce has covered your song.” Phil remembers that moment, telling Rolling Stone in 1986, “Mel just looked down and shook his head, like, “It’s all over boys, forget it.” It was like, Jesus, such bad luck, you know?” Don continues, “Disaster. I almost fainted. I called Archie Bleyer up in New York. I said, “Something terrible’s happened.” He said, “What?” I said, “Webb Pierce has covered our record.” And he said – I’ll never forget this – he said, “Webb who?” He didn’t even know who Webb Pierce was! He said, “Forget about that – the record’s hittin’ pop.” I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about.”

“Bye Bye Love” is a song contrasting the fate of two people who used to be lovers. The woman met another man who “stepped in.” The song is sung from the perspective of the guy she left behind. Seeing his “ex” with her new beau, he remarks “she sure looks happy, I sure am blue.” Elsewhere in the song he sings “goodbye to romance that might have been.” Was the dating relationship rather brief while she was his “baby?” It seems the lived romance was more on the hoped for horizon, not part of a long and solid past. However brief, the guy feels empty, lonely and like he could die. Now he vows “I’m through with romance, I’m through with love.” During their romance his “lovin’ baby” concluded he wasn’t the man she hoped for and she was through with him.

On the local AM Top 40 pop charts, “Bye Bye Love” by Webb Pierce climbed to #1 in Akron (OH), #2 in Vancouver and #4 in Toronto.

Other notable versions of “Bye Bye Love” include Ray Charles track on his 1962 album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. In 1970 Simon And Garfunkel recorded a live version of the song for their 1970 Grammy Award winning album Bridge over Troubled Water. In 1974 George Harrison recorded a revised version that included one new verse. Harrison’s version, recorded in a minor key, was one of the tracks in his album Dark Horse. The song appears in the 1979 film All That Jazz and sung by Roy Schneider and Ben Vereen. And in 1995 “Bye Bye Love” was part of the soundtrack to the film Bye Bye Love, whose plot was about a divorce. In the film it was The Proclaimers from Scotland who sang the song.

Webb Pierce continued to have big hits on the Country charts in the late ’50s and into the ’60s. “I Ain’t Never” was a number one country hit in 1959 and peaked at #24 on the Billboard Hot 100. Among his hits were “Fallen Angel” (1960), “Sweet Lips” (1961), “Cow Town” (1962), “Sands Of Gold” (1963) and “Memory No. 1” – a number one hit in 1964. But between 1965 to 1982 Webb Pierce only had four Top 20 hits from the 29 singles he released. Other newer country stars had begun to replace him as a regular in the Top Ten Country charts.

The music industry weekly, Cash Box magazine, named Webb Pierce the top male vocalist every year from 1952 to 1956 and again from 1961 to 1963. In total there were 54 songs Webb Pierce charted into the top 10 of the Billboard and Cash Box country music charts. Fifteen of his hit singles peaked at number one. While he was a member of the Grand Ole Opry for some years, he resigned from the Opry in early 1957, objecting to the commissions they charged for concert bookings. A number of his hits were duets. He had a number one hit in 1956 with Red Sovine singing “Why Baby Why”. In 1957 he had a duet with Kitty Wells titled “Oh So Many Years”, and in 1964 they teamed up to record a #2 hit called “Finally”.

Pierce promoted himself in the early 1960’s by driving one of his two limousines, each decorated inside and out with some 1,000 silver dollars. In the early 1970’s, he built a $30,000 guitar-shaped swimming pool at his home. The swimming pool attracted over 3,000 tourists a week. Ray Stevens and other neighbors got a court order bar them from the area. Over the years Webb Pierce got a reputation as a hard drinker. He went into semi-retirement in the early ’80s. Webb Pierce died at the age of 65 of pancreatic cancer in 1991.

September 4, 2019
Ray McGinnis

References:
Webb Pierce, 65, Dies; Was Country Singer,” New York Times, February 26, 1991.
Kurt Loder, “The Everly Brothers: The Rolling Stone Interview: Thirty Years of Heart-melting Music and Heart-wrenching Sadness,” Rolling Stone, May 8, 1986.
Tony Russell, “Felice Bryant: Gifted Songwriter with Many 1960s Chart Hits,” Guardian, May 20, 2003.
Felice and Boudleaux Bryant bio,” Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

For more song reviews visit the Countdown.

Witchcraft by Elvis Presley

#525: Witchcraft by Elvis Presley

Peak Month: November 1963
8 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN’s chart
Peak Position #4
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #32
YouTube.com: “Witchcraft
“Witchcraft” lyrics

Elvis Aaron Presley was born on in a two-room house in Tupelo, Mississippi, on January 8, 1935. His twin brother, Jessie Garon Presley, was stillborn. When he was eleven years old his parents bought him a guitar at the Tupelo Hardware Store. As a result Elvis grew up as an only child. He and his parents, Vernon and Gladys, moved to Memphis, Tennessee, in 1948. The young Presley graduated from high school in 1953. That year he stopped by the Memphis Recording Service to record two songs, including “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin”, song #1097 on this Countdown. Elvis’ musical influences were the pop and country music of the time, the gospel music he heard in church and at the all-night gospel sings he frequently attended, and the black R&B he absorbed on historic Beale Street as a Memphis teenager. In 1954, Elvis began his singing career recording “That’s All Right” and “Blue Moon Of Kentucky” at Sun Records in Memphis.

Continue reading →

Twist My Arm by Tragically Hip

#526: Twist My Arm by Tragically Hip

Peak Month: August 1991
9 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG’s chart
Peak Position #5
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com: “Twist My Arm
“Twist My Arm” lyrics

In the early 1980’s bass player Gord Sinclair and guitar player Rob Baker were students at Kingston Collegiate Vocational Institute in Kingston, Ontario. They had performed at the collegiate’s Variety Show in a band they called The Rodents. In 1984 Baker and Sinclair were in their early twenties. The Tragically Hip formed in 1984 in Kingston, Ontario when the duo added drummer Johnny Fay and lead singer Gordon Downie. Their name came from a skit in the movie Elephant Parts, directed by former Monkee’s guitarist Michael Nesmith. The Tragically Hip added Paul Langois, a guitar player, to their line-up in 1986. When they performed at the Horeshoe Tavern in Toronto in the mid-80’s, they were sign to a recording contract with MCA after the company president, Bruce Dickinson, saw the band at the tavern. A self-titled EP (Extended Play) was released in 1987 with a couple of singles that got some airplay. The group was launched.

Continue reading →

Apeman by The Kinks

#527: Apeman by The Kinks

Peak Month: January 1971
9 weeks on Vancouver’s CKVN chart
Peak Position #5
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #45
YouTube.com: “Apeman
“Apeman” lyrics

The Kinks were an English rock band formed in 1963 in Muswell Hill, North London, by brothers Ray and Dave Davies and Pete Quaife. Known as a British Invasion band in North America, the Kinks were one of the most significant and influential bands of the era. The Kinks first came to prominence in 1964 with their third single, “You Really Got Me” written by Ray Davies. It became an international hit peaking at #1 in the UK, #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #5 in Vancouver on CKLG. Extremely influential on the American garage rock scene, You Really Got Me has been described as “a blueprint song in the hard rock and heavy metal arsenal. In 1965 the Kinks toured internationally headlining with other groups including Manfred Mann, The Honeycombs and The Yardbirds.
Continue reading →

Unknown Soldier by The Doors

#528: Unknown Soldier by The Doors

Peak Month: May 1968
7 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG chart
Peak Position #3
1 week Hit Bound
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #39
YouTube.com: “Unknown Soldier
“Unknown Soldier” lyrics

The Doors were a psychedelic rock band from Los Angeles featuring Jim Morrison on vocals, Robbie Kreiger on guitar, Ray Manzarek on keyboards and drummer John Densmore. In 1965 Morrison and Manzarek were UCLA film students. They met each other for the first time on Venice Beach. Morrison had graduated and was living a vagabond life, sleeping on the beach, taking drugs and writing poetry. Morrison told Manzarek, “I was taking notes at a fantastic rock ‘n’ roll concert going on in my head.” Then he sang “Moonlight Drive” to Manzarek. Discovering their addition interest in music, the two decided to form a band. Jim Morrison was born in Melbourne (FL) in 1943. He was the oldest child and his father was a U.S. Naval officer. Morrison suggested the name of the band. It came from the novel by Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception. Huxley’s novel, in turn, drew inspiration from poet William Blake’s “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.” In that poem Blake writes: “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.” The Doors signed a record contract with Columbia Records in the winter of 1965-66.

Continue reading →

Sign Up For Our Newsletter