Joey by Concrete Blonde

#83: Joey by Concrete Blonde

Peak Month: September 1990
15 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG chart
Peak Position #1
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #19 “Joey
Lyrics: “Joey

Concrete Blonde is a band co-founded in 1986 by Johnette Napolitano and James Mankey. Napolitano was born in Los Angeles in 1957. She was a gifted child in an arts program from a young age. In 1982, she and Mankey began to perform together in Dream 6. Mankey was born in Washington State in 1952. He moved to Los Angeles and was a member of a band called Sparks. Mankey was featured on Sparks first two studio albums in 1971 and 1973. In 1986, Dream 6 signed with I.R.S. Records and it was suggested they change their name to Concrete Blonde. The name was intended to signal both their contrasting hard rock songs with their introspective lyrics. Napolitano played bass guitar, Mankey played guitar and the pair were joined on drums by Chicago born Harry Rushakoff (b 1958). In 1979, Rushakoff was part of the glam-punk band Special Affects who released the album Mood Music. 

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Boom Boom (Let's Go Back To My Room) by Paul Lekakis

#85: Boom Boom (Let’s Go Back To My Room) by Paul Lekakis

Peak Month: April 1987
13 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG chart
Peak Position #1
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #43 “Boom Boom (Let’s Go Back To My Room)
Lyrics: “Boom Boom (Let’s Go Back To My Room)

Paul Lekakis was born in 1966 in New York City. He grew up in Tarrytown, New York – home to Mark Twain, J.D. Salinger, and big band leader Cab Calloway. Lekalis was in the boys choir. He came out at the age of 15 in 1981. At 16, Paul Lekakis got a job waiting tables at Zippers, a gay club in nearby New Rochelle. He dropped out of high school and at the age of 17 he moved to New York City and began studying to become a dancer. “I did some dance industrials,” he recalls, “and auditioned for music videos — but I never got cast. I got the stuff that was like the model/fashion show/dance kinda thing.”

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A Mess Of Blues by Elvis Presley

#89: A Mess Of Blues by Elvis Presley

Peak Month: August 1960
11 weeks on Vancouver’s CKWX chart
Peak Position #1
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #32 “A Mess Of Blues
Lyrics: “A Mess Of Blues

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”. 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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Come Back by the J. Geils Band

#93: Come Back by the J. Geils Band

Peak Month: April 1980
15 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #2
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #32 “Come Back
Lyrics: “Come Back

The classic lineup of the J. Geils Band had five members. They are John “J” Geils on lead guitar; Danny Klein on bass guitar; Peter Wolf as lead vocalist and on percussion; Magic Dick on harmonica, saxophone, trumpet; Seth Justman on keyboards and backing vocals; And Stephen Jo Bladd on drums, percussion, and backing vocals. John Warren Geils Jr. was born in 1946, in New York City. He grew up in New Jersey. He learned jazz trumpet and drums and was part of a marching band in school. He dated Meryl Streep in 1962. In the mid-60’s he switched from jazz trumpet to guitar. In 1966, he formed a jug band named Snoopy and the Sopwith Camels, which was rounded out with Danny Klein and Magic Dick. This was different from the San Francisco band Sopwith Camel who had a Top 30 hit in the winter of 1966-67 with “Hello Hello.” Danny Klein was born in the Bronx, New York, in 1946. Richard “Magic Dick” Salwitz was born in New London, Connecticut, in 1945. He first learned to play the trumpet, and then harmonica and saxophone. Peter Walter Blankfield was born in the Bronx in 1946. In 1964, billed as Peter Wolf, he formed a Boston-area band called The Hallucinations, which included drummer Stephen Jo Bladd. Wolf was later DJ Woofa Goofa on Boston station WBCN, with an all-night blues and jazz radio show. Stephen Jo Bladd was born in Boston in 1942. Seth Justman was born in 1951 in Washington D.C. The J. Geils Band formed in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1968. Continue reading →

Stairway To Heaven by Neil Sedaka

#94: Stairway To Heaven by Neil Sedaka

Peak Month: March 1960
11 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #1
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #9 “Stairway To Heaven
Lyrics: “Stairway To Heaven

In 1939 Neil Sedaka was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Brighton Beach beside Coney Island. His paternal grandparents immigrated to America from Constantinople, Ottoman Empire, in 1910. His fathers side of the family there were Sephardi Jews and his mother’s side Ashkenazi Jews from Russian and Polish background. When Neil was eight years old he listened to a show on the radio called The Make-Believe Ballroom that opened his world to appreciation for music. Within a year Neil had began learning classical piano at the Julliard School of Music. His progress was impressive and Arthur Rubinstein voted Neil as one of the best New York High School pianists after he turned 16 years old.

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Little Bitty Girl by Bobby Rydell

#95: Little Bitty Girl by Bobby Rydell

Peak Month: January 1960
13 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #1
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #19 “Little Bitty Girl
Lyrics: “Little Bitty Girl

Robert Louis Ridarelli was born in 1942 in Philadelphia. He displayed a musical aptitude as a young child. At the age of eight, his reputation led to an appearance on a talent show on the national television series, TV Teen Club. He won the contest, and the show’s presenter, Paul “The King of Jazz” Whiteman, recruited him into the cast, where he remained for several years. It was here that his name was Anglicised to Bobby Rydell. When he was 15 in 1957, he played drums for Rocco and the Saints, across from trumpet player Frankie Avalon. In 1958 he released “Dream Age” on the small Veko Record label. Two followup releases on Cameo, “Please Don’t Be Mad” and “All I Want Is You” also failed to make a breakthrough. But his third release on Cameo Records, “Kissin’ Time”, got him national exposure. The single climbed to #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #14 in Vancouver’s Sensational Sixty on CKWX in September 1959. A followup, “We Got Love” broke into the Top Ten to peak at #6 on CFUN in Vancouver in late October ’59, matching its peak on the Billboard Hot 100. In all, Bobby Rydell had a hit record on the Vancouver pop charts in 1959 for a total of 21 weeks.

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Those Brown Eyes by the Tarriers

#97: Those Brown Eyes by the Tarriers

Peak Month: June 1957
10 weeks on Vancouver’s CKWX chart
Peak Position #1
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart “Those Brown Eyes
Lyrics: “Those Brown Eyes

The Tarriers formed from a collection of folk singers who performed regularly at Washington Square, at the corner of Fifth Avenue and West 4th Street in New York City during the mid-1950s. Since around the end of World War II, folksingers had been congregating on warm Sunday afternoons at the fountain in the center of the park. Tension and conflicts began to develop between the bohemian element and the remaining working-class residents of the neighborhood. The city government began showing an increasing hostility to the use of public facilities by the public. In 1947, the City of New York began requiring permits before public performances could be given in any city park. The Tarriers were Erik Darling, Bob Carey, Karl Karlton and Alan Arkin. Darling told Wayne Jancik in The Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders. According to Darling, “Karl didn’t really mesh” and left the group before the remaining trio secured a contract with Glory Records in 1956, where the Tarriers scored two hits. The folk group got their name from the 1888 work song “Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill”. The title refers to Irish workers, drilling holes in rock to blast out railroad tunnels. A tarrier is someone who is known to tarry, to dawdle, to delay, to lag behind in their work. As such, choosing the name The Tarriers was a poke at the Protestant work ethic. Decades later a folk song chorus by Charlie King declared “Our life is more than our work, and our work is more than our job.”

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Breakdown Dead Ahead by Boz Scaggs

#99: Breakdown Dead Ahead by Boz Scaggs

Peak Month: May 1980
15 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #2
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #15
YouTube: “Breakdown Dead Ahead
Lyrics: “Breakdown Dead Ahead

William Royce Boz Scaggs was born in 1944 in Canton, Ohio, 60 miles south of Cleveland. His father was a traveling salesman, and the family moved to Oklahoma and next to Texas. While attending a private school in Dallas, Scaggs met Steve Miller while he was 12-years-old. Scaggs was learning to play guitar and was invited to join Miller’s band the Marksmen. In 1961-62 Boz Scaggs joined Steve Miller’s band the Ardells while the pair were studying university in Madison, Wisconsin. Scaggs followed Miller to Chicago in ’62-’63. Then he went to London and Sweden to perform as a solo artist in concert. While in Sweden, Boz Scaggs released his debut album, Boz, in 1965. The album only sold in Sweden and soon went out of print.

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Whip It by Devo

#101: Whip It by Devo

Peak Month: January 1981
15 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #2
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #14 “Whip It
Lyrics: “Whip It

Mark Allen Mothersbaugh was born in 1950 in Akron, Ohio. He attended Kent State University in Ohio and met fellow students Gerald Casale and Bob Lewis. Mothersbaugh played in a rock band called Flossy Bobbitt. Gerald Vincent Pizzute was born in 1948 in a suburb of Akron. Gerald’s father had changed his name to his foster parents whose surname was Pizutte. But when Gerald was four-years-old, his dad changed his name back to his birth name Robert Casale, and Gerald Pizutte became Gerald Casale. Gerald grew up in Kent, Ohio, and attended the university.

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Let's Go by the Cars

#101: Let’s Go by the Cars

Peak Month: September 1979
14 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #1
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #14 “Let’s Go
Lyrics: “Let’s Go

According to music critic, Jason Ankeny, The Grasshoppers were a rock ‘n roll band from Cleveland who formed in 1962. There were several lineup changes and Benjamin Orzechowski joined the band in 1964 and became the lead singer. Ben Orr, who was born in 1947, went on to be a lead singer in the New Wave band, The Cars. Jeff Niesel, of Rolling Stone Magazine writes that members of the Grasshoppers Fan Club included Diane Akins, the president of the club. She remembers meeting Ben Orr when the Grasshoppers were an opening act when the Beach Boys performed in Cleveland in November, 1964.

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