#911: Cindy’s Gonna Cry by Johnny Crawford

Peak Month: September 1963
7 weeks on the C-FUN-TASTIC FIFTY
Peak Position: #3
Twin Pick Hit of the Week ~ August 24, 1963
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #72
YouTube.com link: “Cindy’s Gonna Cry
Lyrics: “Cindy’s Gonna Cry”

John Ernest Crawford was born in 1946 in Los Angeles. He got into acting as a child star and by the age of  nine was one of the Mouseketeers in the first season caste of the The Mickey Mouse Club in 1955. Crawford was asked in 1982 about how he got picked for the show. He recalled, “I went on the audition and I did a tapdance routine with my brother, and we also did a fencing routine. Then they asked if we had anything else we could do. My grandmother told me to tell them that I imitated ’50s singer Johnny Ray. I stepped forward and did my imitation of him singing “Cry” and that was what got me into the Mouseketeers.” Though he was cut from the show in 1956 after Disney cut the caste from 24 to 12, Crawford continued to get acting roles. Between 1956 and 1958 he appeared in episodes of The Lone Ranger, The Loretta Young Show, Sheriff of Cochise, Wagon Train, Crossroads, Whirlybirds, Mr. Adams and Eve and Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theater. The latter featured an episode that became a syndicated TV show called The Rifleman. Johnny Crawford played Mark McCain, son of Lucas McCain (Chuck Connors). In 1959 Crawford was nominated for an Emmy Award for his role in The Rifleman. The show ran from 1958 to 1963.

While he was starring on The Rifleman, he also appeared in an episode in 1961 of The Donna Reed Show alongside child stars Paul Petersen and Shelley Fabares. Paul Petersen had also been a Mouseketeer with Johnny Crawford. That same year Johnny Crawford released his first single, hoping to become a teen pop star. The song was titled “Daydreams“, and charted to #2 in Vancouver, but only #70 on the Billboard Hot 100.

In Vancouver Johnny Crawford consistently outperformed on the local charts compared t0 the Billboard chart. His next release, “You Love Is Growing Cold”, climbed to #16 in Vancouver, while the song didn’t crack the Hot 100. Others that did better in Vancouver include “Patti Ann” (#5 Vancouver/#43 Billboard), “Cindy’s Birthday” (#3 Vancouver/#8 Billboard), “What Happened To Janie” (#7 Vancouver/did not chart ~ Billboard). Among the songs that made the Top 20 in Vancouver was “Cindy’s Gonna Cry”.

Cindy's Gonna Cry by Johnny Crawford

“Cindy’s Gonna Cry” is a song about a couple who are engaged. The guy realizes he loves someone else, call off the engagement, and ask for the ring back that he gave to Cindy. The lyrics tell that Cindy has been very faithful and giving. However, her fiancé recognizes that he doesn’t feel the same.

In a 2013 article in the Private Lives section of the Guardian, a person posted “I am in my mid-20s and engaged to be married to a very sweet guy in a few months’ time. We share a house and have been together since we met at university. However I recently kissed a mutual male friend on several occasions and am overwhelmed by my feelings for him. While my fiance is like a best friend, I feel that our spark has gone. Yet the thought of leaving my cosy, safe relationship and starting over terrifies me. How can I get married feeling like this and given the situation with my friend?” Guardian readers responded with similar advice like the following: “Be brave. Be an adult. You’ve got to talk to your fiancee about this. The feelings for the other guy are one thing, but concerns about your relationship and impending marriage are the main thing. Turn this around and what would you hope your fiancee would do in the same circumstances? Chances are you would want honesty, even if it hurt.”

“Cindy’s Gonna Cry” is a song co-written by Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann. The husband and wife songwriting team wrote many songs 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, “Walking In The Rain” for the Ronettes and Jay and The Americans, “I’m Gonna Be Strong” for Gene Pitney, “Blame It On The Bossa Nova” for Eydie Gorme, “Here You Come Again” for Dolly Parton, “Make Your Own Kinds Of Music” and “It’s Getting Better” for Mama Cass, and “Rock ‘N Roll Lullaby” for B.J. Thomas.

In addition, Barry Mann wrote (or co-wrote) “Footsteps” and “Come Back Silly Girl” for Steve Lawrence, “I Love How You Love Me” for the Paris Sisters, “Patches” for Dickey Lee, “How Much Love” with Leo Sayer and “Sometimes When We Touch” with Dan Hill. Barry Mann also had a Top Ten hit he wrote in 1961 titled “Who Put The Bomp (In the Bomp, Bomp, Bomp)”.

And Cynthia Weil also wrote (or co-wrote) “Running With The Night” and “Love Will Conquer All” for Lionel Ritchie, “He’s So Shy” for the Pointer Sisters, and “If You’re Ever In My Arms Again” for Peabo Bryson.

After “Cindy’s Gonna Cry”, Johnny Crawford had more successes with his single releases in Vancouver in 1964 with “Judy Loves Me” (#12 Vancouver/#95 Billboard) and “Sandy” (#15 Vancouver/#108 Billboard). Between 1961 and 1964 Johnny Crawford charted nine songs into the Top 20 in Vancouver and just 3 songs into the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100.

In subsequent years Johnny Crawford appeared as a guest star in Mr. Ed, The Big Valley, Little House On The Prairie, Hawaii Five-O and Murder, She Wrote. Starting in 1992 he formed the Johnny Crawford Dance Orchestra, playing vintage tunes from the 1920’s and 1930’s. For fifteen consecutive years his band played at the Beverly Hills Hilton for the Director’s Guild Awards. In 2011 his band released an album titled Sweepin’ The Clouds Away. In 2019 it was disclosed that at the age of 72 Johnny Crawford was suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Update: Johnny Crawford died at the age of 75, on April 29, 2021.

July 19, 2019
Ray McGinnis

David Weigand, “Johnny Crawford: Western Star to Vintage Singer,” SF Gate, June 7, 2009.
A Johnny Crawford Interview,” TV Collector, December 14, 1982.
Johnny Crawford,” Mickey Mouse Club Cast.
“I Am Engaged but Have Feelings for Another Man,” Guardian, February 15, 2013.
Johnny Crawford has Alzheimer’s. Played Chuck Connors’ son Mark McCain on The Rifleman,” Life & Times of Hollywood.com, March 2, 2019.
Cynthia Weil bio,” mann-weil.com.
Barry Mann bio,” mann-weil.com.
Mike Barnes, “Johnny Crawford, Young Star of ‘The Rifleman,’ Dies at 75,” Hollywood Reporter, April 29, 2021.
C-FUNTASTIC FIFTY,” CFUN 1410 AM, Vancouver, BC, September 7, 1963.

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