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.
There is a song by DON COVAY called Believe It Or Not.
Don played rhythm and blues, rock & roll, funk and various other genres of music. Some say that Mick Jagger pretty much pinched his singing and performing style, and the Stones recorded his songs early on in their career.
Believe It Or Not is from the fifties and Don name-checks so many songs I thought I'd use it as the basis for a column. I've haven't included all those he mentioned, there are too many, so it's just the ones I like. They are pretty much in the order he references them.
The first that caught my ear was Peggy Sue, and that, of course, was written and recorded by BUDDY HOLLY.
Buddy and Little Richard were my two favorites from that time; they kept me sane. Their songs are included in today's song, so I can indulge myself.
LITTLE RICHARD is very well represented.
Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, suggested that I only have one song from each artist, but when Richard is in the mix, I'm going to have them all. You have been warned, starting off with possibly his most famous song, Tutti Frutti.
Without stopping for breath, Don managed to mention another song by LITTLE RICHARD.
In this case it's Good Golly Miss Molly.
The prolific song writing and producing team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote the next song for THE COASTERS.
The Coasters didn't really take themselves too seriously, although they certainly recorded some fine rhythm and blues and rock and roll songs. Their songs could go either way. The one Don mentioned is Yakety Yak.
Way back at the school I attended their predominant color for sports and such was purple. Naturally, when this next song became popular, the other schools started singing it, trying to get a rise out of us. We took it on board, and sang it back to them as a token of pride.
If you were listening closely to the initial song you know that I'm talking about The Purple People Eater. This was performed by SHEB WOOLEY.
Those well versed in TV and movies will know that he was also an actor and played Pete Nolan in Rawhide and Frank Miller (one of the baddies) in High Noon. There were many other roles as well but they are just the ones that tickled my fancy. Here's that song.
I said there's going to be several from LITTLE RICHARD, but you can blame Don for that. I hope you're as big a fan as I am (or you at least like him somewhat).
His next song is Long Tall Sally. Way back I had to wait for the Beatles' version to determine what he was actually singing. It's easier these days with the web.
Okay, that's all for Richard. Now we take the musical quality down somewhat. Well, considerably, really. Ross Bagdasarian was a musician who played many instruments and wrote songs that became huge hits for other people. He created a musical persona called DAVID SEVILLE.
He was responsible for all those Alvin and the Chipmunks songs, films, TV programs and what not. He also recorded the Witch Doctor.
Michael Jackson had a really awful version of Rockin' Robin that became a big hit. Fortunately, the original by BOBBY DAY was a lot better.
The song was written by Leon René, also known as Jimmie Thomas (I think his real name is superior). If you're unfamiliar with the original, here it is.
Like Byron, LARRY WILLIAMS was mad, bad and dangerous to know.
He wrote and performed some of the earliest and best of the rock and roll songs. However, he later seriously dabbled in drugs (dealing and otherwise) and violence and died of a gunshot to the head in mysterious, and still unsolved, circumstances. One of those early songs is Dizzy Miss Lizzy, covered by many over the years.
BOBBY DARIN wrote the last song, Splish Splash, as a bet from the disk jockey, Murray the K.
Bobby was up to the task and the song became his first hit. Most people think of Bobby as a singer in other genres, not rock & roll, but he performed pretty much every way possible.