Still time to rock around the clock (without unwinding)
Column by Jim Bishop
What a pleasant stroll down to the corner of memory lane and nostalgia avenue. A childhood friend from my Pennsylvania hometown sent me a (pop) quiz with questions related to artists and music of the 1950s era. Despite pressing demands, I couldn’t resist jumping right on the musical bandwagon.
Here’s several sample questions. See if you can answer these without scanning down several paragraphs for the answers.
a). In the Everly Brothers’ 1957 ballad, what time did “Little Suzie” finally wake up?
b). Who “turns on your magic beam and brings me a dream”?
c). “Everybody’s always pickin’ on” who?
d.) He had a top 10 hit with “Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb.” Who was he? I’m going to toss in some bonus points here: What TV show was Kookie on? What was his profession? Who kept pestering Mr. Kookson for his tonsorial utensil? She had her own top 10 hit the same year (1959); name it.
a). “The movie’s over, it’s 4 a.m., and we’re in trouble deep.”
b). Mr. Sandman, a No. 1 song for The Chordettes in 1954.
c). “He’s a clown, that Charlie Brown … ”
d). Edd (Kookie) Byrnes, who was a car attendant on the popular Warner Brothers TV show, “77 Sunset Strip.” The pert, persistent gal who couldn’t get Kookie to part company with his comb – Connie (Cricket) Stevens; her top 10 solo hit, “Sixteen Reasons (Why I Love You),” none of which was very compelling.
How did you fare? Maybe you weren’t even born when these scintillating songs permeated the airwaves of AM top 40 radio. The scary part was, I got all 18 questions correct without a single peek at the answers.
Wonder if I’d score as well on a current-events test?
The 1950s music scene was unlike any other before or after that ebullient era, with a broad range of artists and musical genres vying for the upper echelons of the pop charts – from Patti Page and Connie Francis to Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Rick Nelson, from the Dubs and Del-Vikings to Duane Eddy and Johnny and the Hurricanes.
If still with me, crank up your memory machine with a few more musical trivia queries:
1. The year 1958 was probably the best year ever for novelty songs. At least three shot all the way to No. 1 that year. Name the songs and the artists.
2. Robert Walden Cosotto had the biggest-selling song of 1959 with this unlikely tune from a German musical theater production. Name it. A year later, who did Robert marry?
3. While “Charlie Brown” may be The Coasters most-recognized song, their biggest-selling record was “_____________ ” both composed by the prolific song-writing duo (Jerry) Lieber and (Mike) Stoller. The group didn’t even want to record it because they felt they were being typecast as lightweight comic artists.
4. Considered the song that officially launched the rock era in 1955, “Rock Around the Clock” was actually released a year earlier but barely charted. That changed overnight when the song was used over the opening/closing credits of the film, “_____________,” starring Glenn Ford. The rest, my friends, is music history.
5. Elvis’ first hit, in 1954, was? On what label?
6. In 1957, __________ left the music business to pound a pulpit instead of a piano. But the the “Wild Man” of rhythm and blues has resurfaced on a number of occasions, including singing the praises of mash potatoes and gravy in a _______ commercial.
7a. Canadian-born Paul Anka was only 15 when he had a number one smash in 1957, “___________.”
7b. Another bonus: His plaintive ditty, “Puppy Love,” was written to what star?
7c. Which leads me to ask, Who is the “Oh Carol” in Neil Sedaka’s 1959 ode?
8. Danny and the Juniors had the biggest-selling song of 1958; name it. Their follow-up hit prophesied, “Rock and Roll is here to stay, it will never die …”
1. “Witch Doctor,” David Seville, aka Ross Bagdasarian; “Purple People Eater,” Sheb Wooley; “The Chipmunk Song,” David Seville and the Chipmunks; the seasonal selection sold more than 7 million records between 1958 and 1961.
2. The late Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife” from “Threepenny Opera” was #1 for nine weeks in 1959. He married Sandra Dee in 1960.
3. “Yakety Yak.”
4. The film was “Blackboard Jungle.”
5. “That’s All Right,” on Sam Phillips’ SUN label.
6. “Little Richard” Penniman scored big in a recent Geico commercial.
7b. Of course, everyone’s favorite Mouseketeer, Annette Funicello. I had a crush on her, along with just about every other early-adolescent in the country. Annette did quite well on the pop charts with simplistic serenades like “Tall Paul,” “First Name Initial” and “Pineapple Princess.”
7c. A young Carole King. Ms. King wrote and recorded an answer song, “Oh, Neil,” that was not especially cordial to her admirer. I’ve played it on my monthly “Warped Records” show on WSVA radio.
8. “At the Hop,” No. 1 for five weeks.
I know, I know … this diminutive dinosaur shouldn’t even be movin’ and groovin’ to this antediluvian music – not even “Brontosaurus Stomp” by The Piltdown Men – but I’m not quite ready to trade my rock and roll shoes for a pair of bedroom slippers.
Yes, I can still do the stroll, the bunny hop, the jitterbug and the bop, even if I need to sit a spell between numbers.
So, with the Drifters, I declare, “Save the last dance for me … ”
P.S. (Prehistoric Songs): Yours truly serves up a full hour of platter chatter from the 1950s at 9 p.m. each Friday on the “Friday Night Jukebox” on 91.7 FM, WEMC; online at www.wemcradio.org. Listener requests are welcomed.
Jim (Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used To Be) Bishop is a regular contributor to The Augusta Free Press.
If you are going for 642-432 or 350-018, make sure that you have already done 642-444. This will make the former courses as easy as a piece of cake. Later you can also go for advanced courses like 650-251 and 70-291 as well as 70-293.