#788: Rockin’ Band by Del Erickson
Peak Month: August 1961
10 weeks on Vancouver’s CKWX chart
Peak Position #4
WX DISC-overy of the Week August 5, 1961
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
Delmar Walter Erickson was born in 1943 in Hennepin, Minnesota. Buddy Clyde was host of the Dance Party show on CKWX. He wrote these liner notes for the album, Presenting Del Erickson on Thunderbird Records TBLP – 1001. Buddy Clyde stated, “I’ve been asked to write a few glowing words about the young gentleman you’re about to meet. When I’m sold on something I have a tendency to get a bit carried away. (Just ask any of my listeners). And Del Erickson is an artist that isn’t very hard to get sold on. Starting out as an actor in motion pictures, Del has appeared in Blackboard Jungle, Diary Of Anne Frank, Hot Rod Girl and Blue Angel, just to name a few. Also ninety major T.V. productions. From motion pictures to recording Del has succeeded in having two “single” hits. Now he enjoys his new found career as a disc jockey in Vancouver, B.C., of course singing is still a major part of Del’s active life. This album has established a new plateau in his varied and exciting career. Right now I’m going to ask you to open a bottle of your favourite refreshment, relax and enjoy Del Erickson in person…”
In Hot Rod Girl, Del Erickson played a rebellious teenager who gets himself killed in a drag race. Del starred in 1956 in a film with Deborah Kerr and Leif Erickson (no relation) called Tea And Sympathy. The film included the iconic line of dialogue after a woman tries to console her male friend and their encounter ends with an awkward kiss. Laura (Deborah Kerr) says to Tom (John Kerr) “Years from now, when you talk about this, and you will, be kind.” Del Erickson also starred in the movie Take a Giant Step in 1959. This was a movie billed with the following text from the movie poster: “Here is the real rage behind the tormented ‘blue jeans’ generation… Here’s what makes them tick… what makes them tough… what makes them tremble… what makes them take a giant step.”
His other film that year was Blue Angel, set in West Germany in 1956. Del Erickson plays Lohmann, a bright 17-year-old student who always does his homework. He is referred to by his teacher as “my best pupil.” He is teased by his classmates. Lohmann is tripped in the hallway and falls in front of his teacher, as girlie photos from a strip club called the Blue Angel are scattered on the floor. The photos were placed in the pages of Lohmann’s books by his classmates. As the plot unfolds the teacher goes to the Blue Angel and ends up falling in love with one of the strippers.
In the fall of 1959 Del Erickson recorded a single “Two”/”Time” on a very small independent record label named Ray Note. “Time” got some airplay on KFXM in San Bernardino (CA) in November of the year. In 1960, Del Erickson appeared on the first episode of the CBC TV series, Cariboo Country.
Del Erickson became a DJ on CKWX from Monday to Friday from 10:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. and on Sundays from 12:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. He was first listed as a CKWX DJ on an edition of the Fabulous Forty on November 19, 1960. While spinning discs on CKWX, Erickson recorded several singles. The first was “Two”, reviving his first single release from 1959, which climbed to #1 on the station in March, 1961. It bumped off “Surrender” by Elvis Presley from the top spot. His second Top Ten hit on WX was “Rockin’ Band”.
Hear the beat of the rockin’ band, working up a storm,
Hear the beat of the rockin’ band, listen to it roar.
Gone, gone, gone, yeah, it’s gone.
If you ever get that beat, man, it drives you mad,
My rockin’ friends won’t lose that beat, yeah, they got it bad.
Gone, gone, gone, yeah, it’s gone.
Hear the beat of the rockin’ band,
hear the beat of that sound.
Hear the beat of the rockin’ band,
well, it’s gone, gone, gone.
Take a load off that troubled mind, let the world go by.
Listen to the musical beat, come on and give it a try.
Come on and hear that band, man, it’s gone.
“Rockin’ Band” was only a hit on CKWX and didn’t chart anywhere else. In the 1950’s a lot of slang words and phrases came into the mainstream of teen jive talk from the jazz culture. If you were “in the can,” you were in jail. “Dig” meant to understand completely what someone was saying. A “lid” was a hat. To “send” someone was to move or inspire them. If you were part of a live band and you were “wailing,” you were playing your instrument very competently and in a spectacular fashion. There was a phase people used to assure them they were telling the truth, by adding “word from the bird.” To let someone know you thought their sense of fashion and style were superb, you could tell them “baby, you’re the ginchiest.” And annoying people who were out of line were “cruisin’ for a bruisin’.”
Another word that caught on from the jazz scene was “gone.” There were two ways in which the word could be used. If you were head over heals about someone your friends could say you were “real gone.” “Gone” was also used to refer to a stellar musical performance. It wasn’t just great, it was “gone,” or beyond great. In “Rockin’ Band” Del Erickson tries to impress his listeners with how super the band is by describing it as “gone.”
CKWX was starting to get bumped in the listener ratings by CFUN by the end of 1961. Jim Bower of Vancouvertop40radio.com writes that by early 1962 “DJs Buddy Clyde, Del Erickson and Nick Sands, [were] playing M-O-R music, as was Cal George…” Someone reading this may know exactly how long Del Erickson remained at CKWX playing M-O-R music after the station stopped publishing the Fabulous Forty on March 3, 1962.
In 1964-65, Del Erickson starred in a TV show, The Baileys of Balboa, about a beachcombing family. Erickson also had a role as an office boy in The Cara Williams Show, a TV series also in 1964-65. The plot featured office associates, Frank and Cara. Both are divorced, but fall in love with each other. They secretly get married. This is because the company they both work for forbids inter-office dating. The plot involved close calls of being found out as being married and living at the same address.
Speaking of “gone,” there is virtually nothing on the Internet about whatever happened to Del Erickson after the mid-60’s.
Buddy Clyde, who wrote the liner notes on Presenting Del Erickson, was born Clyde Hatton in Hollister, California (southeast of Santa Cruz) in 1936. He got the “buddy” along the way, referring to himself as “your buddy, Clyde Hatton” on his radio shows. Around 1953 Clyde Hatton worked as an assistant to “Jumping George” Oxford on his R&B show at KSAN in Oakland, getting paid a dollar a week. But, in addition to his monetary remuneration, Clyde got the chance to host his own show, “Clyde’s Capers,” interviewing up-and-coming performers like Johnny Mathis. This exposure got him connected with KPIX-TV where he got a weekly spot called “Teen Time.” Then, at age 19, Buddy got hired in 1955 with KMOR in Oroville, California, north of Sacramento. After that Buddy Clyde Hatton got hired to join KOBY in San Francisco, pioneering rock ‘n roll, prior to coming to Vancouver.
Buddy Clyde joined CKWX on the 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. show, starting the week of April 11, 1960. He moved back to the USA after CKWX moved to a country and MOR format. By 1965 Buddy Clyde Hatton was a DJ at KWIZ in Santa Ana, California. He became a DJ at KSFO in San Francisco in the 1975 and left in 1986. Since then he branched out to make films that have been broadcast on Discovery and Travel TV stations. He told the Orange County Register in 2009 when they tracked him down “I live now with my large family in Bali Indonesia and come out of semi-retirement occasionally to produce and narrate travel adventure films. Just returned from an assignment for TV and college circuit in Iran.”
I wrote to Buddy Clyde Hatton in April 2020 to learn if he knew anything about what happened to Del Erickson. He wrote to tell me “Sadly I lost contact with Del and he seems to not want to be found. Nothing on google or anywhere else on where he went after Vancouver. We had a falling out… and I came back to the USA .”
If anyone knows what Del Erickson did with his life after the mid-’60s, drop me a line.
June 11, 2018
50’s Slang, infoworld.com
Rob Larkin, 20 Slang Terms From the 1950s No One Uses Anymore, Best Life Online.com, New York, December 8, 2017.
Cariboo Country, Full Cast and Crew, IMBd.com.
Del Erickson, RadioWest.ca, December 8, 2006.
Ben Fong-Torres, “DJ knows draw of radio – and the road,” SFGate, May 23, 2013.
email to Ray McGinnis from Buddy Clyde Hatton, April 18, 2020.
“Fabulous Forty,” CKWX 1130 AM, Vancouver, BC, November 19, 1960 (Del Erickson first listed as a DJ)
“Fabulous Forty,” CKWX 1130 AM, Vancouver, BC, August 26, 1961.
For more song reviews visit the Countdown.
I am Canadian, from Toronto, but have lived in NY most of my adult life, since Juilliard School (I am a pianist). Here there is a wonderful late night TV channel called “MeTv” that plays re-runs of old ’50’s and ’60’s TV shows 24 hours a day. One I like a lot is “Highway Patrol”. Problem is it runs at 5a.m.! I happened to catch last night’s episode from 1955, “Father Thief” starring a young actor I had never hear of, Del Erickson. I was very impressed with him so started to look up whatever I could find on internet. Interesting that he may have moved to Penticton, which appears to be a really beautiful place. But when I asked you about what happened to him, I was chiefly interested career-wise. Based on IMDb his acting credits abruptly end not long after they began, in 1964, although they include a large number of TV shows. One wonders how someone of that much acting talent and mention his stunning good looks (which could help) would just suddenly disappear from the scene that way. Of course it does happen to the best of them – the struggle to get noticed, get a good part, and be promoted properly (requiring an endless supply of $) stops everything in its tracks. But also the person very suddenly says for whatever reason – “that’s it, enough, no more of this life” and they’re gone forever. But very sadly, it’s sometime someone of exceptional talent and over-the top good looks (like DE) that meet with a tragic end of some kind, and I only hope that was not the case with him.
Here is that “Highway Patrol” episode. YouTube has the entire series which went on for several years. Seems DE only appeared on that one episode:
I snipped the attached photo from the first minute of that show. He is looking up from his truck at the cop who has just stopped him for speeding – and it’s all downhill for him after that. I think it’s a double-edged sword if anyone is that absurdly good looking. Certainly it can help in any kind of “show business” life but it can also lead to all kinds of trouble if that person encounters the wrong people. What impressed me about his acting was his total naturalness – not influenced at all by the camera, the situation, etc., no over-acting or attempting to make some kind of impression or other – like he was not acting at all.
I grew up in the Lower Mainland, and was a big fan of both Del Erickson and Buddy Clyde. I still have Del’s LP, “Presenting Del Erickson” with Del’s autograph on the front of the cover, and Buddy Clyde’s on the back. I also have a page I kept out of my teenage diary from the sixties, which Del Erickson signed. It says “Hi Nikki, Thanks for the great roller coaster ride at the P.N.E. Best Always, Del Erickson”
I’ll tell you why he wrote that in my diary. One summer, I think it was probably 1960 or 1961, Buddy and Del were at the P.N.E. and as part of a radio station promotion (CKWX I believe), there was to be a draw with the lucky winner going on the roller coaster with Del. Well, though Del was an entertainer, he was actually a bit shy and didn’t want to go on the roller coaster with a stranger. So, before the draw, they asked me if I would go on the roller coaster with him. Naturally I said yes, so when it came time for the draw, Buddy Clyde drew the slip of paper out of the bowl, looked at it and called out my name (I hadn’t even put my name into the draw). Del and I went on the roller coaster laughing like crazy and even though I was terrified (I had never been on the roller coaster before, and never went on it again) I was thrilled that Del wanted to go on it with me!