This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.
What happened in 1956?
- Archie Roach was born
- Melbourne staged the Olympics Games
- Elvis appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show
- My Fair Lady opened on Broadway
- IBM invented the hard disk drive. It contained fifty 24-inch disks with total storage capacity of 5MB
- High Society was released
- Melbourne were premiers
I'll start the year with the inimitable LITTLE RICHARD.
Any year that starts with him can't be all bad. His song is one of his big ones, Rip It Up.
From real rock & roll to no rock & roll at all, in spite of the title. Around this time mainstream musos were trying to cash in on the craze and completely missing the mark. This is a good example by KAY STARR singing Rock and Roll Waltz.
What a shocker (the song that is, not the singer – Kay's pretty good).
My Prayer started life in 1926 as a song called Avant de Mourir written by Georges Boulanger who was a Romanian violinist, composer and conductor.
Around 1939, Jimmy Kennedy wrote English lyrics to the tune and it was recorded with some success by both Glenn Miller and The Ink Spots. More time passed and THE PLATTERS had a go at it this year.
Many others have turned their hand (or their mouth) to it, but The Platters' version is still the pick of them and the biggest selling as well.
Lincoln Chase wrote song Jim Dandy for LAVERN BAKER.
The song is all about how our hero Jim rescues women from all sorts of improbable situations. The song was successful enough that Lincoln wrote a follow up called Jim Dandy Got Married (I don't know if that counts as an improbable situation).
GENE VINCENT started his adult life in the navy, sailing to Korea at one stage.
Upon his return he was seriously injured in a motor cycle accident (hit by a drunk driver) that damaged his leg so he had a limp for the rest of his life.
He was discharged from the navy on medical grounds and started a band called Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps. He wrote a song called Be-Bop-A-Lula and they recorded a demo.
Capitol Records wanted an artist to compete with Elvis and they got to hear Gene's demo. They signed him immediately and they recorded it for real and it became a big hit and a very influential song indeed.
The charts of the day still contained artists from earlier times, one of whom was FRANKIE LAINE.
Even though he was renowned for singing cowboy songs, Frankie was at heart a jazz singer. This isn't quite jazz, although there are some inflections there. It's more big band pop. A Woman in Love.
TERESA BREWER really is A Sweet Old Fashioned Girl.
Scoobley dooby be doo be doo (etc).
Oh Eddie, what possessed you to record Dungaree Doll? Eddie is, if you didn't know, EDDIE FISHER.
I imagine he was still trying to remain relevant to the young folks but it was already too late. I don't know if you can still remember this one. I can, my sister played it all the time. Deep sigh.
Shirley Goodman and Leonard Lee recorded as SHIRLEY AND LEE.
Shirley and Lee were born only days apart in New Orleans and had several big hits together while they were still teenagers. They wrote those themselves.
They had an interesting style, not singing together, really two separate singers that seemed to work. Here's one of those early songs, one that's become famous as a sort of anthem of New Orleans - Let the Good Times Roll.
I'll finish with The King. ELVIS was already in the mix by 1956, but it was this year that broke him worldwide with Heartbreak Hotel.
He had several more hits this year (and every year for the decade). This is one of them, Don't Be Cruel.
You can find more music from 1956 here.
1957 will appear in two weeks' time.