Here are ten (10) “forgotten” songs from the 1950’s and 1960’s, seldom heard on the radio anymore, in no particular order:
Click on the song title to hear it on YouTube.
1. Gas Money – Jan and Arnie (1958)
Jan and Arnie were two high school buddies, Jan Berry (3 April 1941-26 March 2004) and Arnie Ginsberg (19 November 1939- ), from Westwood, California. Together they had two records that hit he charts, “Jennie Lee” and the song featured here, “Gas Money” (July 1958). A few months later Ginsberg decided to leave the act and study architecture. He was replaced by another of Berry’s fellow students, Dean Torrence (10 March 1940- ). As Jan and Dean they went on to sell millions of records with such hits as “Surf City”, “Honolulu Lulu”, “Drag City” and “Ride The Wild Surf”. They were second only to The Beach Boys as a force in the West Coast surfing music of the early to mid 1960’s.
2. Hey-Ho, What You Do To Me – Guess Who (1965)
Follow-up single to “Shakin’ All Over”. Did not fare as well but should have done better. The Guess Who, with a few personnel changes, went on to sell millions of records such as “American Woman”, “No Time”, Undun”, “No Sugar Tonight” and “Clap For The Wolfman.”
3. Hey Sah-Lo-Ney – Mickey Lee Lane (1964)
Mickey Lee Lane (2 Feb 1941-18 March 2011) was an American songwriter and arranger, working in the 1950’s as a songwriter with Bill Haley and as a pianist with Neil Sedaka. In 1964 he had a hit with “Shaggy Dog” on Swan Records. He followed it up with “Hey Sah-Lo-Ney” featured here. Both songs featured a driving beat at an almost frenzied pace.
4. Run Run Run – Gestures (1964)
The Gestures were a teenage rock band from Mankato, Minnesota. They recorded for Soma Records of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The label, founded by Amos Heilicher (Soma is “Amos” backwards), also had national hits with “Mule Skinner Blues” by The Fendermen (1960), “Liar Liar” by The Castaways (1965) and “Surfin’ Bird” by The Trashmen (1963). The latter was distributed by Soma Records and released on the Garrett label.
5. California Sun – Joe Jones (1961)
Joe Jones had a big hit in 1960 with “You Talk Too Much.” But Jones sang the original version of “California Sun,” later a monster hit for The Rivieras in 1964. Jones claimed to have written “Iko Iko”, a song made famous by The Dixie Cups whom Jones managed. But the Court of Appeals ruled that The Dixie Cups had written the song.
Jones died on 27 November 2005 in Los Angeles, California, from complications from quadruple bypass surgery. He was 79.
6. Little Donna – Rivieras (1964)
Speaking of The Rivieras, “Little Donna” was their follow-up to their big hit “California Sun.” They are best known for their hit “California Sun” written by Henry Glover.
The Rivieras were made up of teenagers from South Bend Central High School. This group should not be confused with the Coed Records East coast Rhythm & Blues group of the same name who had hits in the late 50s and the early 60s. The group was originally called the Playmates, but was forced to change their names as there was already a group playing under that name. As a result, the group decided to rename themselves after the Buick Riviera. The group had their greatest hit, in 1964 with “California Sun”, reaching #5 in the main U.S.pop chart. In fact, “California Sun” was one of the last pure American rock-and-roll songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart before the “British Invasion”, reaching its peak chart position the same week as The Beatles topped the chart with “I Want to Hold Your Hand”. In addition to their one hit, the Rivieras scored three more songs in 1964 that dipped into the Billboard Hot 100: “Let’s Have a Party” (#99), “Little Donna” (#93) and “Rockin’ Robin” (#96). Also that year, their debut album, “Let’s Have a Party”, peaked at #115 on the Billboard 200.
Both personal reasons and drastic changes in pop music led to the split-up of the group in 1966.
Founding member, Joe Pennell, died on April 21, 2011, at the age of 66.
Lead vocalist, Marty Fortson died on September. 26, 2012.
7. Daisy Petal Pickin’ – Jimmy Gilmer and The Fireballs (1964)
Jimmy Gilmer (born September 15, 1940 in Chicago and raised in Amarillo, Texas)
The follow-up to their huge 1963 hit, “Sugar Shack,” this song sold well and charted nicely. But “oldies” radio stations tend to play “Sugar Shack” and ignore “Daisy Petal Pickin.” That’s a shame as this song is a gem in its own right.
During the run of “Daisy Petal Pickin'” on the charts, the British Invasion began with the first hits by the Beatles. The group had difficulty competing with the influx of British artists and did not reach the Top 40 again until 1968, with “Bottle of Wine,” which was written by Tom Paxton. The Fireballs took “Bottle of Wine” to number 9 on the Hot 100. Although Gilmer was still a member of the group, the band was billed simply as “The Fireballs” on that single. Gilmer left the group in 1969 to pursue artist management and record production in Nashville, Tennessee.
8. Got A Match? – The Daddy-O’s (1958)
I couldn’t find much about the artist, The Daddy-O’s. I bought this record back in 1958 when I was 8 years old. I loved it then and I still love it! Over the years I introduced it to my various radio audiences, many of whom had never heard it before but expressed a sentiment that it was a catchy tune and a well-deserved resurrected song. It peaked at #39 on the TOP 100 chart and should have risen higher. But this little ditty on the old Cabot label is to this day, 55 years later, still a toe-tapping gem.
9. “Rockin’ Little Angel” – Ray Smith (1960)
Ray Smith was an American rockabilly musician. Smith recorded for Vee-Jay Records, Tollie Records, Smash Records, and Sun Records during his career, and had a hit with the song “Rockin’ Little Angel” in 1960 on Judd Records. “Rockin’ Little Angel” took a portion of its melody from the 1844 song “Buffalo Gals”. The record sold over one million copies, earning a gold disc. He often recorded material written by Charlie Rich, and was heavily influenced by Elvis Presley.
10. “I’ve Had It” – The Bell Notes (1959)
The Bell Notes were an early American rock and roll group from the East Meadow area of Long Island, New York. The Bell Notes were regular performers in The Bronx in the 1950s, and performed at a bar owned by the father of Ray Tabano; he and Steven Tyler (of Aerosmith) occasionally played between Bell Notes sets and covered their song “I’ve Had It”. “I’ve Had It”, released on Time Records, was a nationwide hit in the U.S. in 1959, peaking at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100. They released four further singles in 1959 – “Old Spanish Town”, “That’s Right”, “You’re a Big Girl Now”, and “White Buckskin Sneakers & Checkerboard Socks” – but only “Old Spanish Town” charted, peaking at #76. In 1960, they signed to Autograph Records and issued “Little Girl in Blue”; two singles for Madison Records, “Shortnin’ Bread” and “Friendly Star” followed. “Shortnin’ Bread” hit #96 in the U.S. and was their last hit; they broke up by 1962.
In 1964, the group appeared in the series of Nu-Trading Rock ‘n Roll Trading Cards.