Trouble by Elvis Presley

#901: Trouble by Elvis Presley

Peak Month: September 1958
4 weeks on Vancouver’s Red Robinson chart
Peak Position #5
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart “Trouble
“Trouble” 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 #1062 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.

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Apple Green by June Valli

#902: Apple Green by June Valli

Peak Month: May 1960
9 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #5
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #29 “Apple Green
“Apple Green” lyrics

In 1928 June Foglia was born in the Bronx, New York. Both her parents spoke Italian. Her dad, from Naples, Italy, worked as a plasterer during the day and was a part-time street singer. He taught her to sing and they listened to opera together all the time. June could hit double high Cs and go way down below an F and still be clear. She worked as a bookkeeper after her high school graduation. June was very shy and “discovered” quite by accident. In late 1950, June’s mother couldn’t attend a friend’s wedding, so June went to represent the family. The big Italian wedding was held on the second floor of a rented hall on Fordham Road, just off Arthur Avenue. After the ceremony, someone invited June up to the microphone. Although she was terrified, never having sung in public before, June managed to get through a couple choruses of the one song she knew well enough, “Stormy Weather.” Well, that “Stormy Weather” brought a lightning strike. Sid Gilbert, uncle of comedian Abe Burrows, was at the same wedding and was so impressed with June’s singing he arranged an audition for Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts T.V. show where she won. She subsequently appeared on Perry Como’s and Ed Sullivan’s TV shows.

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Greatest Moments In A Girls Life by The Tokens

#903: Greatest Moments In A Girls Life by The Tokens

Peak Month: August 1966
7 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #6
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart “Greatest Moments In A Girls Life
“Greatest Moments In A Girls Life” lyrics

In 1955 a doo-wop group called The Linc-Tones formed in Brooklyn, New York. Neil Sedaka was a founding member of the group but left in 1957. They renamed themselves in 1957 as The Tokens. That year they appeared on TV for the first time on The Ted Steele Dance Time. In 1959 the Tokens recorded “Picture In My Wallet” under the name of Darrell & The Oxfords, which became a Top Ten hit in San Bernardino. The Tokens are known best for their number one 1961 hit, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” The song was originally a Zulu folk song called “M’bube” and Anglicized to “Wimoweh.” The Tokens consisted of Jay Siegel, Hank Medress and brothers Mitch and Phil Margo. True rock pioneers, they were among the first to successfully use the falsetto lead voice, a sound that influenced groups such as the Four Seasons and the Beach Boys. The group had their first Top 20 hit in the USA billed as The Tokens with “Tonight I Fell In Love,” in 1961. The song peaked at #27 in Vancouver.

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Look Who's Blue by Don Gibson

#904: Look Who’s Blue by Don Gibson

Peak Month: November 1958
9 weeks on Vancouver’s CKWX chart
Peak Position #8
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #58 “Look Who’s Blue
“Look Who’s Blue” lyrics

In 1928 Donald Eugene Gibson was born in Shelby, North Carolina. His family was poor and he stopped attending school in grade two to help out his sharecropping parents. He developed an interest in music at an early age and was inspired by recording artists like Tennessee Ernie Ford. Don Gibson began performing at local clubs before he was 18. In his late teens he held down a number of jobs including a as soda jerk, baby diaper deliveryman and dishwasher. A friend came home from Paris, France, after World War II with records by the jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. This enhanced Gibson who began to experiment with different styles by his mid-teens. In 1946, he became a regular with the Tennessee Barn Dance in Knoxville, but things weren’t what Gibson expected. The fans wanted old-time country, not Gibson’s brand of crooning. He hung on to the radio job but struggled on $30 a week earned playing beer joints.

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Carolina Caroline by Jonathan Edwards

#905: Carolina Caroline by Jonathan Edwards

Peak Month: June 1977
8 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG chart
Peak Position #10
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart “Carolina Caroline
“Carolina Caroline” lyrics

In 1946 Jonathan Edwards was born in Aitkin, Minnesota. He was adopted when he was nine months old and was an only child. His adoptive father, who worked for the FBI, moved the family to Virginia when Jonathan was six years old. By the time he was eight Jonathan joined a church choir and began play piano by ear. Later, in high school at a military school, he picked up guitar and started songwriting. Edwards recalled later on in an interview, “I started on a $29 guitar and immediately started putting a band together, writing songs and learning all the contemporary folk songs of the time. I just loved it, loved everything about it, loved being in front of people playing music.” His love of music continued when he went to get a degree in Fine Arts at Ohio University, studying art and painting. Edwards was a regular at local clubs, joining in with bands variously playing rock, folk and blues.

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Masquerade by Edward Bear

#906: Masquerade by Edward Bear

Peak Month: July 1972
8 weeks on Vancouver’s CKVN chart
Peak Position #10
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart “Masquerade
“Masquerade” lyrics

In the mid-60’s Larry Evoy and Paul Weldon were jamming in basements and experimenting with blues rock tunes. In 1966 bass player Craig Hemmings and drummer Dave Brown formed a band with Evoy and Weldon. They got guitarist Danny Marks to join them after he answered an ad. (Marks left the band in 1970 and was replaced by Roger Ellis). After a year they settled on the name The Edward Bear Revue. They got the name from A.A. Milne’s children’s book, Winnie The Pooh, whose central character has the proper name of Edward Bear. In time the band shortened their name to Edward Bear. The band originally was a blues and rock band and opened in 1968 for a Toronto concert with Led Zeppelin as the headliner.

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A-Rab by The Titans

#907: A-Rab by The Titans

Peak Month: February 1962
9 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #10
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart “A-Rab

The Titans were a group from McCleary, Washington, who played rock ‘n roll from 1959 to 1964. Their members included vocalists Willie Washington and Sandy Faye, saxophonist Walt Ratenbury, guitarist Gary Buchanan, pianist Rudy Volkman, Walt Newman and Nick Burris both on bass and Jim Wroughton on drums. On a YouTube post is found this comment: “McCleary, Washington, a small town west of Olympia would produce the very popular Titans. In early 1962, their fantastic instrumental, “A-Rab” would go top ten in Vancouver, BC. I do remember airplay in Seattle, but it didn’t receive the support that it deserved. My older brother saw them one time and he raved about them. They were never able to break into the Seattle dance circuit, so were mostly unheard north of Tacoma.” The Titans gave concerts in places like the Civic Auditorium in Chehalis (WA) and the Red Carpet in Tacoma. The band was inter-racial, with Willie Washington being a featured lead vocalist. From 1960 to 1961, Nick Burris had been part of a band called The Wander’ers, based in Hoquiam, Washington.

Though they didn’t only record instrumentals, the record they released in early 1962 was an instrumental. If the Titans got airplay in Seattle in early 1962 for “A-Rab” while it was peaking on the charts in Vancouver, BC, the song didn’t appear on Seattle’s pop charts. The instrumental was written by Titans bandmate, Gary Buchanan. It spent nine weeks on the CFUN charts and climbed for two weeks into the Top Ten in Vancouver, stalling at #10.

A-Rab by The Titans

“A-Rab” opened with guitar and hand clapping. Hand clapping was a feature of numerous songs in pop music in the early rock ‘n roll era. Some examples of this are found in “Let’s Go” by The Routers, “Mashed Potato Time” by Dee Dee Sharp, “My Boyfriends Back,” by The Angels  and “I Want To Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles. Hand clapping was a way of creating an groovy beat to get listeners to, often, get up and dance. Another feature of “A-Rab” by The Titans is the use of saxophone. Saxophone was a feature of many hit singles in the late 50’s and early 60’s. “Get A Job,” by The Silhouettes, “Tequila,” by The Champs, “Yakety-Yak,” by The Coasters and “Rebel Rouser” by Duane Eddy are examples of songs with a saxophone solo. A third aspect to “A-Rab” is the surf guitar sound. Dick Dale, dubbed the King of the Surf Guitar, pioneered the surf music style drawing on Middle-Eastern music scales and experimenting with reverberation. Dale’s father was Arab and his uncle taught him how to play the tarabaki, or goblet drum. He also heard his uncle play the oud, an eleven-string pear shaped instrument. So perhaps, since the surf guitar sound owed part of its roots to Middle-Eastern music scales, the Titans were inspired to title their instrumental “A-Rab.”

In 1962 there seemed to be a popular fascination with things to do with Arabia. Ray Stevens had a Top Ten hit called “Ahab The Arab” released in May of that year. “Ahab The Arab” portrayed a “sheik of the burning sands” named Ahab. He is highly decorated with jewelry. Each night he hops on his camel named Clyde on his way to see Fatima, who is the best dancer in the Sultan’s harem. Fatima is described with a modified quote from the 1909 hit, “I’ve Got Rings On My Fingers”: “with rings on her fingers and bells on her toes and a bone in her nose, ho ho.” During the ride, Ahab “speaks” (actually, produced ululations that parody the Arabic language) to Clyde the camel. When Ahab finds Fatima in her tent, she is ironically engaged in stereotypically Western behavior: “eating on a raisin, and a grape, and an apricot, and a pomegranate, a bowl of chittlins, two bananas, three Hershey bars, and sipping on an RC Cola, and eating a Moon Pie, listenin’ to her transistor, watchin’ the Grand Ole Opry, and readin’ Mad Magazine while she sung, ‘Does your chewing gum lose its flavor?'” Ahab woos Fatima with another mock Arabic chant, this time a quote from the song “Let’s Twist Again” by Chubby Checker. Fatima, portrayed by Stevens in falsetto, responds to Ahab’s advances with laughter and an English utterance that Ahab is “crazy.”

Later in 1962 the film Lawrence of Arabia was released and went on to win seven Academy Awards in early 1963, including for Best Picture and Best Director. Peter O’Toole was nominated for Best Actor but lost out to Gregory Peck for To Kill A MockingbirdLawrence of Arabia concerned the life of a World War One British Army officer who witnessed some of the uprising of the Arab Revolt (1916-1918), a movement for Arab independence from the Ottoman Empire.

“A-Rab” seems to be the only single the Titans ever released. What happened to most of the members of The Titans in the years after they split up in 1964 remains obscure. The Day’s End was a band started in 1966 by former Titan drummer, Don Torbet, all comprised of former members of Franklin Pierce High School near Tacoma. The band later morphed into A New Day’s End and performed in concert until 1972. Former Titans vocalist, Sandy Faye, went on to be vocalist for a Pacific Northwest band called The Regents from 1963 to 1967.

The Titans did reform to play their instrumental rock and did gigs between 2001 and 2004 in places like Lady Luck Steak House and Wiley’s Golden Oldies record store, both in Tacoma. In some of these concerts they were on a double bill with Gail Harris, a female vocalist who appeared with the Wailers, a band from Tacoma.

September 18, 2017
Ray McGinnis

The Titans – McCleary, WA (1959-1964 & 2001-2004), Pacific Northwest
The Regents – Tacoma, WA 1963-1967 and 1999-2011, Pacific Northwest
Days end – Parkland, Washington (1966-1968 & 2001-2002), Pacific Northwest
The Wander’ers – Hoquiam, WA (1960-1961), Pacific Northwest
Ray Stevens, “Ahab The Arab,” 1962.
Ahab the Arab,”
Lawrence of Arabia, Columbia Pictures, 1962.
Tim Mills (comments), “A-Rab” (The Titans),, February 11, 2016.
The Man Known as “the King of the Surf Guitar,” Dick Dale,, Washington D.C., November 4, 1994.

For more song reviews visit the Countdown.

Livin' High by Vince Everett

#908: Livin’ High by Vince Everett

Peak Month: October 1963
8 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #8
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart “Livin’ High”

Of all the Elvis Presley soundalikes, two stand head and shoulders above the rest: Ral Donner and Vince Everett. Ral Donner, with songs like “You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Until You Lose It,” often sounded like a tamed down Elvis after Presley finished his service in the U.S. Army. In contrast, Vince Everett contained the dynamic, raucous energy on Elvis’ earlier recordings. Vince Everett was the name of the character Elvis Presley played in the 1957 movie, Jailhouse Rock. In that movie Elvis’ Vince Everett is sent to jail for manslaughter. Vince Everett has a cellmate, Hunk Houghton, who was a country and western singer. In Jailhouse Rock, Vince Everett forms a bond with his cellmate. After serving his sentence he and Hunk Houghton are part of the same band and find fortune and fame.

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My Wheels Won't Turn by Bachman-Turner Overdrive

#909: My Wheels Won’t Turn by Bachman-Turner Overdrive

Peak Month: May 1977
8 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG chart
Peak Position #11
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart “My Wheels Won’t Turn
“My Wheels Won’t Turn” lyrics

Randolph Charles Bachman was born in 1943 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. When he was just three years old he entered the King of the Saddle singing contest on CKY radio, Manitoba’s first radio station that began in 1923. Bachman won the contest. When he turned five years he began to study the violin through the Royal Toronto Conservatory. Though he couldn’t read music, he was able to play anything once he heard it. He dropped out of high school and subsequently a business administration program in college. He co-founded a Winnipeg band called The Silvertones with Chad Allan in 1960. In 1962 the band became Chad Allan and the Expressions, and was renamed The Guess Who? in 1965 with their first big hit, “Shakin’ All Over.” The Guess Who dropped the question mark in their title a few years later.

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Indian Giver by Annette with the Up Beats

#910: Indian Giver by Annette with the Up Beats

Peak Month: May 1961
8 weeks on Vancouver’s CKWX chart
Peak Position #8
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
Peak Position on Music Vendor ~ #107 “Indian Giver
“Indian Giver” lyrics

Annette Joanne Funicello was born in Utica, New York in 1942. In 1955 she began her professional career as a child performer at the age of twelve when Walt Disney discovered her performing as the Swan Queen in a dance recital of Swan Lake at the Starlight Bowl in Burbank, California. She became one of the most popular Mouseketeers on the original Mickey Mouse Club. As a teenager, she became a pop singer and shortly after an actress in a series of films popularizing the successful Beach Party genre alongside co-star Frankie Avalon during the mid-1960s. On July 17, 1955 Annette Funicello made her television debut during the live broadcast of Disneyland’s opening day ceremonies. She participated in a song and dance routine promoting the upcoming debut of Walt Disney’s new television show, The Mickey Mouse Club. Following the shows premier on Monday, October 3, 1955, The Mickey Mouse Club became an immediate hit. Its army of small, amateur mouse-eared stars took America by storm. It wasn’t long before the young audience of boys and girls developed a particular interest in a little dark haired girl named Annette. Just as she had appealed to Walt Disney himself, when he discovered her at a dance recital, Annette emerged as a favorite among many children across the USA, launching her into television stardom. As a result she appeared on numerous magazine covers and a variety of Disney branded merchandise.

Walt Disney took advantage of Annette’s talents and popularity by featuring her in several Mickey Mouse Club serials, such as The Further Adventures of Spin and Marty and The New Adventures of Spin and Marty. He eventually gave Annette a twenty episode serial of her own, simply titled Annette, during what would be the shows final season. Following the cancellation of The Mickey Mouse Club in 1959, Annette was the only mouseketeer to remain under contract with Disney. The Mickey Mouse Club did, however, appear in re-runs well into the 1960s.

Annette’s solo music career began in 1958 while her serial Annette, was airing on The Mickey Mouse Club. During a hayride scene in one of the episodes, Annette sang what was meant to be a hokey ballad called “How Will I Know My Love,” complete with juice harp and miniature accordion. As a result of Annette’s rendition her friend Laura apologizes for being previously critical of the song.

After the episode aired, thousands of fans called the studio asking where they could buy the record. It was then Walt Disney met with Annette and announced he was signing her to a recording contract. With panic in her voice Annette responded, “But Mr. Disney, I don’t sing. You know I don’t sing”. Disney arranged for Annette to work with Tutti Camarata, a famous musician, arranger, and record producer who had previously worked with other recording artists including Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Ella Fitzgerald. Camarata also brought in The Sherman Brothers as composers, who would come to call Annette “their lucky star” due to the success they found in working with her.

Following the successful release of “How Will I Know My Love”, it was decided that Annette’s next record would be aimed toward the Rock and Roll market, which at the time was practically uncharted territory for a female artist. “Tall Paul,” her second single was recorded and released by March of 1959. It reached number seven on the Billboard chart. With rock and roll instrumentation overpowering her soft voice during the recording sessions, the Shermans and Tutti developed the “Annette Sound.” This was a method of double tracking Annette’s voice and adding echos. In 1959 Annette began what would become a long time professional relationship with Dick Clark when she made her first appearance on American Bandstand singing “Tall Paul”. She also joined Dick Clarks Caravan of Stars that year, a bus concert tour across the country with other teen idols.

Although uncomfortable being thought of as a singer, Funicello had a number of hit records in the late 1950s and early 1960s, mostly written by the Sherman Brothers and including “Tall Paul,” “First Name Initial,” “O Dio Mio” and “Pineapple Princess.” But after “Pineapple Princess,” which peaked at #11 on the Billboard charts and #1 in Vancouver, Annette had trouble getting on the Billboard Hot 100, never mind any more Top 40 hits. “Dream Boy” barely made the Hot 100, stalling at #87, though it made the Top 20 in Vancouver. Her next twenty single releases, beginning with “Indian Giver,” missed the Billboard Hot 100. But in Vancouver, “Indian Giver” caught on and made the Top 10.

Indian Giver by Annette with the Up Beats

“Indian Giver” was co-written by Aaron Schroeder, Cynthia Weil and Wally Gold. Aaron Schroeder had been writing hits for Elvis Presley including “A Big Hunk Of Love,” “It’s Now Or Never,” “Good Luck Charm,” Stuck On You” and others. Schroeder also produced a number of hits for Gene Pitney including “Town Without Pity,” “Only Love Can Break A Heart” and “(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance.” Wally Gold was the manager and member of a traditional pop group called The Four Esquires who had some minor hits in the late 1950’s. He co-wrote “It’s Now Or Never” and “Good Luck Charm” with Aaron Schroeder. Gold also co-wrote “It’s My Party,” a hit for Lesley Gore in 1963, and “Because They’re Young,” a hit for Duane Eddy in 1960. Cynthia Weil is known mostly as a successful member of a songwriting team with her husband, Barry Mann. Weil co-wrote many songs with Barry Mann including “Don’t Know Much” for Aaron Neville and Linda Ronstadt, “Hungry” for Paul Revere And The Raiders, “Somewhere Out There” for Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram, “(You’re My) Soul And Inspiration” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” for the Righteous Brothers, “On Broadway” for The Drifters.

It has been said that to err is human. Perhaps it is also true that to stereotype is human. Terms like Indian Giver have been objected to by Native North Americans who find the term derogatory. Many non-Native people now agree. Indian Giver has been an expression used by non-native people to describe a person who gives a gift (literal or figurative) and later wants it back. It is in this connotation that Annette’s “Indian Giver” is meant. She complains in the song that the guy in her life gave her kisses, “then you took your lips away. You’re just an Indian Giver, and you think it’s smart. Hey Mr. Indian Giver, Indian Giver, give me back your heart.”

As observed and documented by Lewis and Clark in their journal, trading with Native Americans had a very unusual aspect, as understood by European settlers. Any trade, once consummated, was considered a fair trade. If on one day beads were traded for a dog from a tribe, days later, the trade could be reversed. Upon surrendering the beads, the tribe expected the dog back. The original idea of “giving” in this fashion connotes trade ~ “I’ll give you this, and you give me that” ~ and not presents or “gifts.” The phrase originated, according to researcher David Wilton, in a cultural misunderstanding that arose when Europeans first encountered the indigenous people on arriving in North America in the 15th century. Europeans thought they were receiving gifts from First Nations peoples like the Algonquian, Huron, Iroquois, Seneca and others. Meanwhile, the First Nations peoples believed they were engaged in bartering. This resulted in the Europeans judging the behavior and customs of the First Nations peoples as ungenerous and insulting. However, the First Nations people intended bartering as a way of establishing relationship and peace between peoples.

In her song, Annette complains, “You said I’d be your pretty little squaw.” The chroniclers of Plymouth colony, William Bradford and Edward Winslow, referred to “the squa sachim, or Massachusets queen” in their entry for September 20, 1621. This reference, published in London in 1622, is the earliest attestation of the word in English. In 1624, Edward Winslow, the governor of Plymouth colony, referred in the 1624 publication, Good Newes from New England to “The squa-sachim, for so they call the sachem’s wife.” Ten years later William Wood of Lynn, Massachusetts, wrote in the 1634 publication, New Englands Prospect: “If her husband come to seeke for his Squaw’.” These published examples show that the English settlers in eastern Massachusetts had learned the word squa(w) as “woman” from their Massachusett-speaking neighbors by 1621 and were using it as an English word by 1634. The expression squa-sachim, literally “woman chief,” is actually in Pidgin Massachusett, the correct Massachusett for “chiefly woman” being sonkusq. The English learned squa(w) and other words via the pidginized form of Massachusett that the local American Indians regularly spoke with them in and around the Boston area. However, the word is not generically applicable across all the First Nations groups in North America. “Squaw” has been used over the centuries by settlers not only as a description of a woman chief in a given tribe, but commonly as a derogatory term connoting a second-class type of person. More controversially, an Algonquin word spelled differently, but sounding the same as squaw, meant vagina. Across indigenous communities in North America, on reserves and in residential schools, the word squaw was used derisively by non-native teachers, principals, police, government officials and neighbors.

Another reference in “Indian Giver” is that Annette sings that she’s going to go “on the warpath.” In popular culture depicted in many Hollywood Western films, American Indians (often white Hollywood actors with make-up dressed up as American Indians) would go on the warpath. But in First Nations culture if there was a decision about going to war against white settlers or another First Nations tribe, a council was held. At the council tribal leaders choose to go on either the warpath or the peace path. Western nations when faced with tensions with other countries often seek a diplomatic solution before resorting to warfare. So it is unfair to label First Nations peoples as particularly warlike. They choose to go on the war path at times and opted for the peace path on other occasions.

In the song, Annette’s backup singers, sing “honest injun.” The spelling, “injun” is a corruption of the word “Indian.” As taught by indigenous Anishinaabe elder and historical interpreter at the Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site (Winnipeg, Manitoba), Allen Sutherland, the word “Indian” itself comes from the Italian “In Dio” which means “in (or of) God,” or “belonging to God.” For European colonizers people who were native to the lands they settled were referred to as “In Dio” or the Spanish “En Dios.” According to the Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins, by William and Mary Morris, in the 19th Century the phrase “honest injun” appeared in the 1876 novel 1876 by Mark Twain titled The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The term was used both as a compliment, but also in some news stories sarcastically. Later, it came to mean about the same thing as the American  phrase, “scout’s honor,” which was a pledge of truth and honesty.

Finally, in the song, “Indian Giver,” Annette sings “your promise to be faithful, what heap big smoke” and the backup singers echo “heap big.” The word “heap” was a qualifier used to nuance a description of something. In the 1832 Oxford English Dictionary it cites American novelist, Washington Irving, who remarks, “Look at these Delawares,” say the Osages, “dey got short legs–no can run–must stand and fight a great heap.” While Washington Irving is describing one indigenous peoples, the Delaware, being described by another indigenous people, the Osage, as short-legged who fight a great heap, this is the novelists description. Silent screen director, Alf Goulding, had a film made in 1919 titled Heap Big Chief. If the term wasn’t original to the indigenous people’s, it was attributed to them and popularized in the mind of the general public by novelists and film makers. In the Washington Irving example, “heap” was synonymous with “deal” as in “fight a great deal,” while in the 1919 silent screen movie “heap” is synonymous with “very,” as in “Very Big Chief.” In the 20th Century the term became derisive connoting a person who can’t use proper English when speaking a sentence.

In the spring of 1961 sensitivities about terms like Indian Giver, warpath, honest injun and squaw were far from most listeners minds. The tune made it to the top ten in Vancouver, peaking at #8. Interestingly, the only other radio market where “Indian Giver” made the Top 20 across North America was in Boston, Massachusetts, peaking at #12.

In 1963 Annette was loaned out to American International for ten movies. She starred in her first non Disney film, Beach Party with her long time friend Frankie Avalon. This campy comedy put a spin on the traditional musical with dialogue and songs directly inspired by the humor and musical tastes of teens at the time. The movie was a great success and spawned four more beach themed-movies: Muscle Beach Party, Bikini Beach, Beach Blanket Bingo and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini. From 1963 to 1965 Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon became known as the “King and Queen of the Beach”. While working with American International Pictures Annette also starred in Pajama Party and two racing films: Fireball 500 and Thunder Alley. She made cameo appearances in Ski Party and Dr Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine. In 1968 she played Davy Jones’ girlfriend in the Monkees film HEAD before retiring from the big screen for two decades.

In 1965 Annette was married to Jack Gilardi and gave birth to a daughter (Gina) that same year, and had two more children in the early 70s (Jack Jr. and Jason). By the late 60s she shifted her attention from her career to raising a family. Although she had completely walked away from other aspects of her career, Annette never left television. While staying busy being a mom she would agree to guest star on a large number of popular shows and specials over the next two decades including Fantasy Island, Love American Style and The Love Boat. She was the popular spokeswoman for Skippy Peanutbutter for nine years from the mid 70’s through the early 80’s and she took part in countless television, radio, and magazine interviews. In 1992 Annette founded the Annette Funicello Bear Company which produced collectable designer teddy bears. She died in 2013 after living with multiple sclerosis for twenty-one years.

September 13, 2017
Ray McGinnis

Funicello, Annette, and Romanowski, Patricia. A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: My Story. Hyperion, New York, NY, 1994.
Eudie Pak, Annette Funicello, Original Mouseketeer, Dies at 70,, April 8, 2013.
Bikini BeachAmerican International Pictures, 1964.
Muscle Beach Party
American International Pictures, 1964.
Fireball 500American International Pictures, 1966.
Thunder AlleyAmerican International Pictures, 1967.
How to Stuff a Wild BikiniAmerican International Pictures, 1965.
Beach Blanket Bingo,
American International Pictures, 1965.
Mickey Mouse Club, ABC, 1955-1959.
Allen Sutherland,
Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Alf Goulding, Heap Big Chief, 1919.
Morris, William and Mary. Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins. Collins Reference, New York, NY, 1988.
Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Tom SawyerAmerican Publishing Company, 1876.
Goddard Ives, The True History of the Word Squaw, News From Indian Country, Madison, WI, April 1997.

For more song reviews visit the Countdown.

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