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Attack of the One-Hit Wonders: “Rock On” – David Essex

For American audiences, the David Essex story is rather short and fairly typical of one-hit wonders. He appeared out of nowhere, starring in a film about 1950’s rock & rollers called That’ll Be the Day. He wrote his one and only American hit for that film.

He said “Rock On” was an attempt to create a song with 1950’s lyrics and 1970’s music and production. In that, he succeeded wildly. Recorded and released in 1973, the song went to #5 on the Billboard Hot 100, #3 in the UK and #1 in Canada.

Essex followed up that success with another star turn in Stardust, a sequel to That’ll Be the Day that brought his 50’s rocker right into the 1970s. (The two films are notable because Essex’s fictional band, the Stray Cats, inspired the creation of the real-life band fronted by Brian Setzer.)

Alas, Essex was never able to ever follow-up “Rock On” with another hit in the States. But not so in his native England. He charted 18 more singles in the British charts, including two #1s. His acting career has also flourished in the UK. He continues to appear in both live theater and television productions to this day.

So one could say that Essex has rocked on rather well.

Daddy’s Girl: Nancy Sinatra Revisited

Because her biggest hit, “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” was so huge, there is a tendency to overlook the rest of Nany Sinatra’s recording career. That’s a shame because she lent her voice to some very good pop records in the mid to late Sixties. Her partnership with producer-songwriter Lee Hazelwood also saw her blending rock with more country-influenced sounds long before the Eagles and others would explore the same territory in the Seventies.

Nancy was the oldest of Frank’s daughters, born to his first wife (also named Nancy) in 1940. She made her singing debut in 1960 on a TV special that saw Frank teaming with Elvis Presley!

Naturally, she signed to Reprise Records, the label her father founded. Her first few recordings sold in Europe and Japan, but attracted zero interest in the States. What happened that changed her career?

Read more: Daddy’s Girl: Nancy Sinatra Revisited

Fun Facts About Jingle Bell Rock

Love it or hate, you can’t escape it. Every year at Christmas time, you’re going to hear “Jingle Bell Rock” by Bobby Helms. It is unquestionably the most popular of all the rock-inspired holiday flavorings.

Here are some fun facts about this timeless little ditty:

The song was NOT written by Helms. It was actually composed by two marketing guys - Joseph Carleton Beal and James Ross Boothe. They were not young guys either. Beal was in his 50s and Boothe was 40.

Helms has recorded the song on multiple occasions. The original was released on Decca Records in 1957. But Bobby also re-recorded other versions for Kapp, Little Darlin’, Certron, Gusto, Ashley Records and Black Rose Records.

The song has hit the Billboard Hot 100 many times, the most recent was 2016 when it reached #26.

Despite its title, the song has actually been just as popular on country stations. In 1957, it actually received its first airplay on country stations before crossing over to the Top 40 stations. It has also hit the country charts with versions by George Strait, Aaron Tippin, Rascal Flatts, and Blake Shelton & Miranda Lambert.

The most successful cover by a rock artist was Hall & Oates whose version hit #30 in 2005.

We guess once the Jingle Hop had begun, it just never ended!

They’re Good-Bad, But They’re Not Evil

The True Story of the Shangri Las

The early sixties saw the rise of what are now called “the girl groups.” These were usually trios or quartets of female singers, usually working in a R&B vein. The Shirelles are perhaps the prototype, but they were joined by groups like the Blossoms, the Crystals and the Ronettes.

But there was one girl group whose public image was a little more dangerous. They were the Shangri Las.

The girls were all students at Andrew Jackson High School in Queens when they started performing together at school dances and other functions. The act consisted of two pairs of sisters: Mary & Betty Weiss and Margie & Mary Ann Ganser (who were identical twins).

The girls caught the attention of recording entrepreneur Artie Ripp who signed them to the fledgling Kama Sutra label. It was only after being signed that the girls decided to name themselves the Shangri Las (reportedly after their favorite Queens restaurant). There first few recording sessions produced nothing memorable and their first attempt at a single was a flop.

At this point a gentleman named Shadow Morton enters the picture. Morton has once been the boyfriend of Ellie Greenwich, who by 1964, had become a hit songwriter with her new boyfriend, Jeff Barry. When Morton dropped in to Barry & Greenwich’s office on day, a rivalry between Barry and Morton was created in an instant. Morton told Barry that he, too, was a songwriter. Barry called his bluff and asked him to come back in a week with a song.

Read more: They’re Good-Bad, But They’re Not Evil

5 Fun Facts About the Rolling Stones

  1. The drummer at their very first gig was Mick Avory, who went on to become the drummer for the Kinks.
  1. Mick Jagger studied to become a ballet dancer.
  1. Bill Wyman was only invited to join the band because he owned an amplifier.
  1. The Stones played in front 1.5 million people at Rio De Janeiro’s Copacabana Beach in 2006, making it the largest rock concert ever.
  1. Mick Jagger contributed backing vocals and Brian Jones played the oboe on the Beatles song “Baby, You’re a Rich Man.” Paul & John returned the favor, singing back-up on the Stones’ “We Love You.”

In what 60's movie would you find the Cooler King, Scrounger and Big X?

The Great Escape
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