Saturday Single No. 366

As certainly should have been expected, television and magazines (and to a lesser extent right now) newspapers are in historical mode this week, marking next week’s fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. By the end of next week, we’ll have been inundated with story after story about the events in Dallas that November day in 1963 and how they’ve reverberated through these last fifty years.

And we’ll go all anniversary again next February, when we mark fifty years since the Beatles first came to these shores and showed up in our living rooms via the Ed Sullivan show. That should be a bit more fun than this month’s reliving of the Kennedy assassination.

So we’re going to go back fifty years as well this morning, taking a look at four local radio surveys from fifty years ago today, a little less than a week before the world changed so abruptly and horribly. Given today’s date, we’ll see what records were at No. 11 and No. 16 on those local surveys and find our Saturday Single among them. We’ll also note, as we generally do, which records stood at No. 1 on that day at those stations.

We’ll start here in Minnesota, at the Twin Cities’ KDWB and its Fabulous Forty. Sitting at No. 11 is Tommy Roe’s “Everybody,” a record I’ve certainly heard but to which I’ve never paid any real attention. If, before this morning, someone had played it for me and asked me who I thought recorded it, I certainly would not have said Tommy Roe. I’m pleasantly surprised. Moving five spots down KDWB’s survey, we find Skeeter Davis with “I Can’t Stay Mad At You,” a shooby-dooby-laden record that I am certain I have never heard before. Parked at No. 1 in the KDWB survey, on the other hand, is a record that I’ve heard many times: “Deep Purple” by Nino Tempo and April Stevens.

From there, we’ll head to New England and Springfield, Massachusetts, where WHYN released its Radio 56 Survey. The No. 11 record there fifty years ago today was Joey Powers’ “Midnight Mary,” in which the singer asks his girl to meet him at midnight, just like always. That might have been slightly naughty fifty years ago, and I wonder how it came across to parents and other authority figures. (The kicker, of course, is that the couple is secretly married, which might have eased some moral concerns but also might have worried parents in another direction.) Sitting at No. 16 in Springfield was Barry & The Tamerlanes’ “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight,” an unimpressive record that’s entirely different from the similarly titled Boyce & Hart entry from 1967. (That latter record spelled its final word as “Tonite,” and I wonder as I write if that spelling was a purposeful deed intended to differentiate the two songs/records.) And finally for Springfield, we’ll note that the No. 1 record at WHYN fifty years ago today was the Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie.”

We’ll head west next, stopping at San Francisco’s KEWB, where the No. 11 record on the station’s Fabulous Forty was the Skeeter Davis record that was No. 16 in the Twin Cities. At No. 16, we find “Bossa Nova Baby” by Elvis Presley from the movie Fun in Acapulco. Some of Presley’s movie tunes were worthwhile, but this one doesn’t make that list, making our stop in San Francisco – the only west coast city with a station that released a survey that Saturday – a little disappointing. Sitting at No. 1 on KEWB was “Sugar Shack” by Jimmy Gilmer. (I should have been more precise and noted that the KBWE survey was the only West Coast one offered at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive; our pal Yah Shure checked out oldiesloon for us and reported below.)

Our final stop this morning is KBOX in Dallas. Perched at No. 11 is “Walking Proud” by Steve Lawrence, a record that sounds very much different than I expected. I anticipated sweet Fifties-style pop and got a record that sounds, actually, very rocking for 1963. Given the sound, it wouldn’t surprise me if the famed Wrecking Crew backed Lawrence on the Gerry Goffin/Carole King song. The No. 16 record at KBOX that week was Chubby Checker’s dance song “Loddy Lo,” which showed up over the years, perhaps on vinyl but often as a sing-along, at many, many parties. And the No. 1 record at KBOX in that week fifty years ago was Tommy Roe’s “Everybody.”

So, where do we turn on this Saturday morning? I’m very tempted by “Walking Proud” simply because of the backing. But Lawrence’s voice doesn’t quite work with the backing; there’s a mismatch there. And then, there’s the Roe single. I’m not helped by the fact that, with rare exception, anything I know about Top 40 prior to the Beatles – including a lot of Roe’s records – has been learned long after the fact. Tommy Roe, to the listener portion of me (as opposed to the historian) is the guy who did “Sweet Pea” and “Hooray for Hazel,” both of which I dislike. (On “Dizzy,” I am neutral.)

But “Everybody” is so good that I have to set aside what I hear as his later missteps. Tommy Roe’s “Everybody,” which went to No. 3, is today’s Saturday Single.

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5 Responses to “Saturday Single No. 366”

  1. Steve E. says:

    For Tommy Roe, check out “Pearl,” a midcharter from summer 1970. It’s my favorite single of his. Kind of a ballad but with a soaring chorus. And a nice organ playing throughout. I do disagree on “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight,” the Barry & the Tamerlanes’ record. I like the way each verse ends, and the chorus is joyous. All with some nice echo.

  2. Yah Shure says:

    There was another 11/16/63 west-coast survey at oldiesloon, and since two of the three Crowell-Collier-owned stations have already been listed, here are the Fabulous Forty pickings from the third (KFWB/Los Angeles):

    #11 – “She’s A Fool” – Lesley Gore
    #16 – “Donna The Prima Donna” – Dion
    #1 – “Be True To Your School – KFW-Beach Boys

    I concur with Steve E.’s comments regarding the Barry & The Tamerlanes record. I can never get through IWWSDT without joining in the fun. The record got its point across economically in under two minutes, yet often prompted one to move the spindle arm on the changer over to the right in order to get the 45 to play another time or two.

    Tommy Roe deserves bonus points for having the sense to regularly reinvent his style. “Everybody” must’ve been a strong seller at Bud’s Music Center, since it was sold out at the time my brother asked for a copy. Naturally, there was always something newer and more urgent to buy during the next visit, so titles like “Only In America,” “Needles And Pins” and “Everybody” didn’t make it into the collection until years later.

  3. porky says:

    Love Tommy Roe. His late 60’s bubblegum stuff was right in this nine-year old’s wheelhouse and I really like what he did before that. The pre-hit version of “Sheila” is really great, with a twangy guitar solo.

    “Everybody” is inventive songwriting: modulate up a half-step for the verse, go back down for the chorus. “Dizzy” is also inventive and pretty complex in chord structures and key changes.

  4. whiteray says:

    @Yah Shure: Thanks for checking at oldiesloon. I tend to forget the West Coast stuff there. I was looking at ARSA. And given the votes from you and Steve, I’ll have to give Barry & The Tamerlanes another listen.

  5. Yah Shure says:

    One of the things that drew me into Tommy Roe’s hits – from “Sheila” to “Everybody” and on through “Sweet Pea” and “Hooray For Hazel” – was those larger-than life, heavily-reverbed drumbeats, which sounded so utterly boss on the mono 45 mixes. The first two titles can still be had in mono and stereo (although the stereo LP mix of “Sheila” borders on over-the-top wonkiness) but the superior mono “Sweet Pea” and “Hazel” both fell victim to the great ABC/Dunhill tape vault purge in the early ’70s. A shame, really: “Sweet Pea” just crackles with compressed energy on the 45, while the wimpy surviving stereo mix plays at a faster speed and has already faded to black before the 45 has even thought of doing so.

    That earlier fade was no fluke: the stereo “Everybody” and “Hazel” likewise bail earlier than the mono 45s.

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