If I said every hit record made started on a small label before it was picked up and distributed nationally by a major label, it wouldn't be true. But there was a bunch of examples that range from the huge hits, to records that never made it on either label. In this section, I feature just those types of examples. My goal is not to show every label variation of each issue, but rather to discuss the first and second labels and explain some differences, and to discuss the groups. I have now created two pages. These are the more well known records that hit the National charts, both R+B and Pop. and also some very big regional successes as well. Check out my companion page featuring some lesser known records .
Here's an early one by the orioles. One of the early bird groups, they were idolized and imitated by dozens of vocal groups in the 40's and 50's. Sonny Till took the lead duties most of the time, and had their biggest hit with "Crying In The Chapel". Their first release was in September of 1948 and was issued on the It's A Natural label. The record was a hit, and even sheet music was produced using the It's A Natural label as the source. The record company changed it's name to Jubilee in late November 1948, and were poised to release a Christmas song by the Orioles. In the meantime, the It's A Natural label was discontinued and copies of "It's Too Soon To Know" were then pressed on Jubilee. In spite of the price books you may read, the Jubilee issue is likely the tougher one to find.
Troy Shondell made a ton of records. Three of them hit the pop 100. This one was a smash. "This Time" spent 15 weeks on the charts and was heard on all pop stations across the country. It did have it's humble beginnings. Shondell was originally from Fort Wayne,Indiana, and had a few records prior to this release. He formed his own Goldcrest records (In Indiana) and released "This Time" Three pressings are known on Gold Crest.The first had the label spelled as Goldcreast. The second (shown) was Goldcrest, and the third was the same and had a "Distributed By Liberty" on the label. Liberty issued it and then pressed millions of copies and distributed it.
A huge million selling record by Jiles Perry (J.P.) Richardson, otherwise know by the record buying public as The Big Bopper. Tragically, he was killed in the same February 3rd, 1959 plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly and Richie Valens. Richardson was a Texas DJ on KTRM in Beaumont and was wild and funny, which came across in many of his recordings. Chantilly Lace was originally recorded for Pappy Dailey's "D" record label. Dailey was a promotion director for Mercury and Starday records. Once the record took off, they switched it over to Mercury where the distribution and label name recognition catapulted it into the top ten of Billboard's pop charts, where it spent 25 weeks.
The Quintones were from York, PA and attended William Penn High School. Originally known as the Quinteros, they formed in 1957. Their first release was actually on Chess records called Ding Dong. The second release was on Marvin "Red Top" Schwartz's Red Top records out of Philadelphia. Red Top was responsible for a bunch of vocal group sides including the Philadelphia based students, Gainors, Ivy Tones and more. Oddly enough, the first pressings of the early Red Top label were light blue. Red Top attempted to lease their records to bigger labels, and they did just that with "Down The Isle Of Love". Hunt was a bigger label and had a wider regional distribution plan and capabilities at the time, thanks to their deal with ABC Paramount. The record went on to reportedly sell nearly a million copies.
Jimmy Weston and the Danleers had one huge hit with "One Summer Night". They also released a bunch of quality follow-ups, but they didn't have nearly the impact on record buyers. The group was based in Brooklyn, NY and their first record is featured above. The original pressings had the group listed as the "Dandleers", and it was released on the Amp 3 label. Amp 3 had a deal with Mercury and anything that appeared promising was leased or sold to Mercury for national distribution. Not to be confused with the Danderliers of Chicago, they changed the name to the Danleers, and continued to press records on Amp 3. In fact, some copies exist with the Danleers on one side and the Dandleers on the other. Soon after, they switched to Mercury and enjoyed great success as a one hit wonder.
The silhouettes had a monster record in 1958. They appeared on Dick Clark's Bandstand, had tons of appearances and shows to their credit, but couldn't follow it up with another major hit. Generally speaking, the group was from Philadelphia, and started out as Gospel Tornadoes, then the Thunderbirds, and finally the Silhouettes on most of the rest of their releases. Originally released on Junior, the flip "I'm So Lonely" got the turntable action locally. The DJ's started flipping it and "Get A Job" was a smash. Number one on pop and R+B charts, it sold a million copies quickly. The record was picked up by Ember and distributed nationally. The Junior label release shown is the original. Later brown pressings showed the Junior record company address, and third pressings were blue.
So which is it, Paul and Paula or Jill and Ray? If you answered both, you are fairly correct. This is the first of five pop Billboard chart hits the duo had in 1962 and 1963. Ray Hildebrand and Jill Jackson were from Texas, and happened to be at the Le Cam recording studio, which was the basement of Texas radio station KFJZ. Seems a recording session for Amos Milburn Jr. was supposed to take place, but he never showed up. Since they were there, label partner Major Bill Smith decided to give them a listen. He had nothing to lose. They recorded the song "Hey Paula", and it was issued on Le Cam. The label had great success the previous year with Bruce Channel's Hey Baby, so they had proven results. "Hey Paula" started taking off in Atlanta, and Mercury records decided to pick it up for distribution. Having a record called Hey Paula by Jill and Ray is a bit odd, so Mercury changed their recording name to Paul and Paula. A huge hit it was, and several others followed.
The Falcons certainly had a rich history. The group out of the Detroit area formed in 1955, and started out with two lead singers, Eddie Floyd and Joe Stubbs. Their first big hit was the 1959 recording of "You're So Fine" originally released as Flick 001.The record took off like a rocket, and was leased to Unart for national distribution. Shown is the second of two addresses that were used on the label. The first was 18424 Gallagher in Detroit. In 1960, Joe Stubbs was replaced by another legend, Wilson Pickett. An all star group to be sure.
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Larry Hall was a one hit wonder. His first recording of Sandy was on the Ever Green label. Shown above, it has a sticker on both sides that says" "Notice Not For Sale. Discontinued on Ever Green Only Available On Hot. I had seen it before but was now just able to read what the sticker said. I believe there was also a sleeve that was issued, of sorts. I did see another Ever Green label that was operating in 1958, so they may have been threatened by the "original" Ever Green. The second issue was then on the Hot label. And, there was another Hot label too! Freddy Cannon in his early group the Spindrifts were on it, again in 1958, so they were 0 for two. They then landed on the already established Strand label, and was the first big hit for the label. The third and rather common release is on the Strand label. It was a top 20 record in 1959, but he was unable to follow it up with another smash.
Some people call it an instrumental, but purists say that there is talking and singing on the record, so it doesn't qualify. In either case, it is a great record. The Royal Teens "Short Shorts" originally came out on the Power label out of New York. Issue 215 was flipped with a nice instrumental in it's own right, "Planet Rock". Once sales started to mount, it was leased to ABC Paramount for national distribution, and a subsequent run on the billboard pop charts. Bob Gaudio and Joey Villa were key members of the group.
The Megatons had a huge seller called "Shimmy Shimmy Walk" in 1962. Billy Lee Riley was part of the group, and as all instances on this page, they had an earlier label they started with before their record broke wide open. The original pressing was on Dodge from 1961. Dodge was a label from Ferriday,LA. Notice that Billy Lee Riley wrote the song. The Megatons had just a couple other records to their credit.
Johnnie and Joe had a huge hit with "Over The Mountain,Cross The Sea". The release above on J+S is the original, and is a promo. Notice "Cross The Sea" instead of "Across". Also, the original has number 1664 on it, and on the Chess issue it's 1654. Even though you can't see it, on the J+S label dead wax, there is a 6 scratched over the 5 in 1664/1654. The record numbers followed an odd pattern, and J+S had several addresses they used record labels. Many of the promo J+S labels of this recording seemed to have the X over the right side of the label. Johnnie and Joe went on to make several records for many labels including Chess, ABC, and more for J+S.
Here is a classic from the late 50's, on the charts and in record collecting circles. The Edsels began singing together in 1957, and were from Campbell, Ohio. The group released this record in 1958 on the Arkansas based Dub record label. The song got action in Baltimore, Little Rock, and a few other regions, but failed to really ignite. Notice also that the original title on the Dub label was "Lama Rama Ding Dong. Fast forward to 1961, the record was rediscovered and shot up the charts. The label it was re-released on was Twin, a subsidiary of Old Town. The song title was changed and it sold a ton of copies. Not to be outdone, (well actually he was), Dub records owner Foster Johnson decided to re-release the record on Dub again. He was in California, and he used a slightly different take, and his label read Lawndale, California instead of Little Rock, Arkansas. His were basically bootlegs of his own original record.
The all time classic record by Danny and the Juniors called "At The Hop". The story goes that it was going to be "Do The Bop", but Dick Clark persuaded them to change it, as the Bop was a dying fad. A recording of Do The Bop finally was released in the 1980's when Artie Singer rediscovered it. There were
7,000 copies made up 3,500 with Artie Singer on the label, 3,500 without. Blue labels only, all with the count-in. The record originally came out on Singular of Philadelphia, with the name Artie Singer on the label, as shown. When playing the record, there is a count off of 1-4 at the very beginning of the record. If you heard it on the radio in Philadelphia, before it was leased to ABC, you might have heard the count. The second pressing on Singular did not show Singer, but had the count. Reportedly, the Singular issue without the count-in is a boot, and i till need to verify it.
Bobby Day had a rich involvement with the vocal group scene in Los Angeles, in the 1950's . He was a member of the Hollywood Flames, the Satellites, and others. He also recorded many solo sides as well. His biggest hit was Rockin Robin, originally released on Class records. Lesser known is a second label it was issued on in 1964, called Highland. They were best known for having Rosie And The Originals sides and a few other local groups to Los Angeles. Though not much appears to be documented on Highland, they had an 1100 and 2000 series that appeared to re-release records, especially from the Class label.
A classic New York based doo wop from 1957, the Charts scored with Deserie. According to legend, they were booed off the stage at the Apollo theatre when they sung Deserie, but they had the last laugh with some excellent record sales. It was also included on many oldies compilations. Originally on Everlast, it was reissued on Bobby Robinson's early 60's "soul" label called Enjoy. **
Originally from Jacksonville, Texas, Bruce Channel grew up in Grapevine Texas and had one of the major hits of the 1960's. "Hey Baby" was first released on the Le Cam label out of Fort Worth. After sales looked promising, Smash records took it and ran Nationally. Delbert McClinton played the distinct harmonica on the record.
Staying in Texas, we have J. Frank Wilson, with "Last Kiss". Recognize either of the labels? You might not. The absolute original release was on the Le Cam label from Fort Worth Texas. I imagine 500 copies or less were pressed up. It was then released on Tamara records, where they issued another 1000 records in 1964. It says distributed by Colonial, but I can't tie it to the Chapel Hill label. There is no connection. Tamara was based out of Philadelphia. The third and most common label (Not Shown) is Josie. All three labels had a slightly unique version of Last Kiss, so there are three different labels with three different versions of the song. The Cavaliers were not credited on Le Cam.
Oscar McLollie and Jeanette Baker, both had recording histories before they teamed up for their duet "Hey Girl,Hey Boy". Baker had solo efforts and recordings with the Dots. Mclollie had solo releases and issues with a backing group called the Honeyjumpers. Issued on Class first, it was re-released in the mid 60's on the Highland label.
Phil Phillips had a smash record hit in 1959 called "Sea Of Love". Pressed up on the Lake Charles, LA based Khoury's label, it made enough noise to be picked up by mercury for national distribution. The Khoury's label released around 35 different records in their history by some great gulf area artists.
The Bluebelles featuring Patti Labelle, had a hit in 1962 with "I Sold My Heart To The Junkman....or did they? It was actually the Starlets, with a different group's name on the label, ala Bobby Bare. It was released on Newtown, and also on Peak. The latter had a picture sleeve that was available with the early issues, but apparently was released after Newtown.
Detouring into the country western field, Ned Miller had a hit with "From A Jack To A King"....on the second try. Originally released on the powerhouse Dot label, in 1957, the record had an indifferent response. When issued again in 1962 / 1963 on Fabor, it cruised to the number 6 spot on the billboard top 100. On the strength of the hit, an LP was also released on Fabor. For a look at the multi colored vinyl LP edition, go HERE.
Sonny Knight had a long recording history starting in 1953 with songs like "Dear Wonderful", and the novelty song "But Officer". A huge hit for Knight was "Confidential" in 1956. Vita records out of Los Angeles was the first label to press up the vinyl, and Dot was the second. Shown is actually the 2nd press of Dot on the black label. The first Dot label was maroon.
The Beach Boys first record, under the Beach Boys name, was Surfin. Originally released on the Candix label, it was later picked up by Capitol, where the group enjoyed a long history of success. The true first press was on Candix 301, and supposedly there is no mention of Era distribution. I have a promo with Era distribution, which would then indicate a number of variations of Candix exist. The "X" label was actually distributed at Venice beach by father Murray Wilson, indicating an unofficial second press or more accurately, a bootleg of the original. Three label shots of various Candix issues and the X label issue are shown.
The Slades had the first version of "You Cheated" , but the Shields version outsold it. Originally issued on the Los Angeles based Tender label, it was picked up by Dot for distribution. Second presses of the Tender issue show "Distributed by Dot" near the bottom of the label. Quickly, Dot issued under their label, pressing the bulk of the records.
Here is an example of not only a first and second label, but also a first and second name. The Twinkles, Ann and Lillian Storey, had "Bad Motorcycle" released in the late summer of 1957 on Peak records. Peak was part of Joyce records, which issued some of the Crests first sides. Peak issued just a couple of records, Joyce had several issues. "Bad Motorcycle was not considered a big hit for Peak, but they leased the master to Cameo and they had a minor hit in early 1958.
The Robins were a well established group in Los Angeles, starting out as the Four Bluebirds. They recorded for about six years on labels like Hollywood, Aladdin, Savoy, RCA, and then Spark starting in 1954. Smokey Joe's Cafe was a huge hit and was their last release on Spark. Atco, a division of Atlantic records, picked it up and cranked out a lot of records. This 1955 release charted on Billboard, and after it's release, the Robins broke into two groups. Half the group remained as the Robins, and the others went on to huge national fame when they formed Coasters.
From Detroit, the Mello-Tones were the late 50's group that caused the Mello Kings to have to change their name! Rosie Lee was cruising up the charts when the Mello Kings put out Tonite Tonite, using the same name as this group. They changed their name and had a record that charted quite a bit lower than this Detroit group's hit. Rosie Lee peaked # 24, as compare to # 77 for the Mello Kings. The Mello-Tones disc was picked up by the powerhouse Gee label for national distribution.
The Velours just cracked the Billboard top 100 peaking at number 83 and staying for three weeks in 1958 with Remember. The original record was on Jerry Winston's New York based Onyx label and using the orange and black colors as above. There was the usual white and black promos which would be the ultimate first press, and green label copies that would be considered to be a fourth press. Cub records actually pressed these for Onyx. The Orbit release was also a Jerry Winston label, and the red was first. He also followed it with a green colored orbit issue, and then actually pressed the green Onyx.
"To Be Loved" blasted onto the charts in 1961. The Pentagons, led by Joe Jones, had the first of two Billboard hits with this smooth ballad. The group from San Bernardino, Ca, had Fleet International as their first label, but not for long. By the time you heard it on most radio stations, the Donna label was churning them out by the tens of thousands.
This was a number five record in March of 1958. The group was from New Jersey and featured Charles Patrick. Mascot was a New York label that was part of Hull records. These were actually pressed up and shipped to various cities, including Seattle where I knew someone that bought it new as a kid. The record distribution was given over to Argo where it was able to be mass produced and it sold over a million. Another record of note on Mascot was the Pastels Been So Long, before it went to Argo at just about the exact same time.
The Eternals made three records in their career, and two had some good airplay. "Rockin In The Jungle" was their first record and it was issued in 1959 on the Hollywood label. There were many variations and colors, but the orange label appears to be the first, and actually came before the promo. Musictone had an early reissue in 1962. Musictone specialized in reissuing some great songs, and had some originals of their own.
In February 1964, the Devotions hit the Billboard charts for a total of 10 weeks and peaked at number 38 The first issue for Rip Van Winkle, however, was on the Delta label out of New York City. It was pressed up in 1961. Roulette then issued it, still in 1961 on record number 4406. A stock copy was also pressed, but they did not sell. It came back again in 1964 when it did hit the charts as mentioned above (1964), but the record number used was the next in their current series, 4541 (not shown). The Delta and original Roulette records are shown above.
A billboard chart hit in 1958, the oddly named Voxpoppers peaked at number 18 with "Wishing For Your Love". A popish ballad that had that group sound, the Voxpoppers record was originally released on Amp 3 before Mercury sent it out for national distribution. The same scenario played out for the Danleers, also shown in this section.
"You Talk Too Much" was a monster for Joe Jones in 1960. It hit the number three position on the national charts, It was apparently released on the New Orleans based Ric label first. They must have pressed up a load of copies as they are pretty easy to find. Roulette has credit for the Billboard entry, and the greater amount of sales. Jones had one follow up that squeaked into Billboards list, his version of California Sun.
From Turtle Creek, PA, the Vogues had a great harmony sound for the mid to late 1960's. "You're The One" started off their career on the charts, even though they began as and had a release as the Valaires. The first label in this case was Blue Star, and then Nationally it was CO And CE from Pittsburgh. The Billboard hits continued into the late 1960's for this great sounding group!
The Van Dykes made a couple of records in their short career. They tried "Bells Are Ringing" for the King label, but had no action. Then they went to the tiny Spring label and recorded "Gift Of Love", still with little to no response. The Los Angeles based Donna label released Gift Of Love again, in 1961, and it barely made the charts. They were on the right track so they tried "Bells Are Ringing" for the second time, and it stalled in the 90's on the big charts in 1961, for the Deluxe label.
You can't complain too loud when your record hits those charts twice! First, the Viscounts decided to record the Herbie Fields 1953 hit recording Harlem Nocturne in a slightly different style. It reached position 52 on Billboard in 1959, and allowed them to get another two records some widespread airplay. Fast forward to 1965, and here comes Harlem Nocturne again, and it charted slightly higher at #39. It should be noted that Harlem Nocturne was recorded many times before the Fields version, including a fine effort by Johnny Otis.
The second of three issues the Marketts had for the Los Angeles based Union records was called Balboa Blue. It was also their second hit record. Liberty had 2 LP's for the group along with the three singles, before the Marketts jumped ship to Warner Brothers. Both labels above announce the Surfer's Stomp LP, which makes me think they were released simultaneously.
You can still hear "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye" on true oldies stations today. Back in 1967, you heard it a lot more as it was on it's way to the #6 position on Billboard. It lasted a lucky 13 weeks on the charts and was one of just two hits by this Cincinnati based group to make it big. I always thought the original label was Buccaneer, but that appears to be false. There are other reissues on Buccaneer, including the Turtles, so it is a reissue label. Reminds me a little of the Glenville issue for Jimmy Charles.
Colonial was a label from North Carolina that really did very well for itself. This was one of several hit records that started out with Colonial. George Hamilton had a great song that was written by Johnny Dee (John Loudermilk) called "A Rose And A Baby Ruth. Hamilton's vocals shot it up the charts and was just one in a string of hit records for him. ABC picked it up and the promo version is shown. Many of the ABC promos are white, but some are like the one shown. Also of note, the previous record by the Casinos, was also written by John Loudermilk.
Rod Bernard and the Twisters created a classic song in 1958 on a classic label called Jin from Ville Platte, LA. "This Should Go On Forever" was burning it up in the gulf area before Argo got hold and saw it climb to number 20 on Billboard. Argo dropped the Twisters, but it didn't seem to matter for the dozen weeks it parked on the charts. Bernard had one other hit in 1959 called One More Chance, recorded for Mercury.
Johnny Standley had a monster hit in 1952. It was on the charts for 19 weeks and landed at number one for two of em'. It was a funny record, funny and successful enough for him to make a few more. I can still remember hearing "It's In The Book" on a commercial radio station during a visit to Northern California in the late 60's. It's doubtful you would hear it today, except on community or public radio stations. Originally, it was issued on the Magnolia label from Southern California. Both 45's and 78's were pressed, but the 45 is more common. Capitol picked it up and pressed it in both of those formats as well as an EP. Have you ever heard "Clap Your Hands", Get Out And Vote" or Rock And Roll Must Go"? The latter was only on Magnolia from 1960.
What is was,was Football. A funny monologue from Andy Griffith - Deacon as he was called on the record. It was recorded live at an insurance convention, possibly in 1952. First released on the Colonial label from North Carolina, it began selling quickly - too fast for the small but mighty Colonial outfit, so Capitol got involved and it became a smash. The Capitol issue on the right is actually from a multi record set that Capitol released with a cover. The year of release was 1953.
Frank Virtuoso and the Virtues had this 1959 recording hit the Billboard top 100. Spending 16 weeks and peaking at number five, Guitar Boogie Shuffle had a great run on the Hunt label. The first label however, was Sure records from Philadelphia. It was one of three 45's they recorded for the label, and another one of them was a minor chart hit in 1962 as Guitar Boogie Shuffle Twist.
My Hero by the Blue Notes, may have just blipped on the top 100 charts, but it was a huge hit in several cities including Philadelphia. The first issue is shown above on the Philly based Val-Ue label. It entered the Billboard pop charts in October of 1960, peaked at #78, and only lasted 4 weeks total. It was a huge hit in Philadelphia. A later issue showed PO Box 2630, and the record with the latter PO box was also pressed on red vinyl. The second and third pressings are a bit tough to date.They were issued in late 1962 or early 1963 depending on which source you consult. The last record on Red Top before the Blue Notes, was Someday by Donnie Elbert, in 1962. Similarly, Jalynne had it's last recording in 1962 before the Blue Notes. Then, both Red Top and Jalynne issued record number 135, probably simultaneously, as on last gasp for Irving Nathan and Red Schwartz, who actually co-owned both Philadelphia based labels. Val-Ue was also a Philadelphia label.
From Chicago, the Dukays included Gene Chandler when they formed in 1957. He left for the service and returned to the group in 1960. In 1961, Chandler was shown as a single artist on his Vee Jay smash Duke Of Earl - with the un-credited Dukays backing him up. At the same time, Vee Jay acquired the single Nite Owl from Nat, and released it shown as by the Dukays. Gene Chandler was on that record as well. When Duke Of Earl skyrocketed on the charts, Chandler had previously decided to go solo, and continued on with a long list of great records.
The Fool, was a huge hit for Sanford Clark, and got up to number 7 in 1956, spending 21 weeks in total on the Billboard charts. The record started out on a small label based in Phoenix Arizona called MCI records. Once it started selling, Dot records picked it up for national distribution. It came out on the maroon label 78 and 45, then pressed on the black label. The record featured Al Casey on guitar. MCI released around 20 records through 1961, though nothing was as big as The Fool.
Out of Brooklyn, New York, The Echoes cruised onto the Billboard charts with Baby Blue in early 1961. An upbeat song, it reached number 12 on the Billboard charts, and staying on the charts for 12 weeks. It also blew into the top 10 on the R+B charts. The producer was Jack Gold, who worked with several other groups including the G Clefs. It was originally issued on the SRG label. The initials? They stand for Jack Gold's son, Stephen Richard Gold. Gold and his SRG label then leased it to Seg-way and it was a smash hit.
A huge hit for Dick and DeeDee, The Mountain's High was originally released on a label called Lama records out of Hollywood. The flip side "I Want Someone" was test played in the San Francisco market, but it must have been flipped, and once it started selling, they hooked up with Liberty and sold a ton of 45's. It was a big hit then and really stands the test of time today. This was the first of three records issued on Lama by Dick and DeeDee.
The Pastels were a fine group that included Big Dee Irvin
and were not the same group that recorded on the United label. "Been So Long" was recorded for the Hull records subsidiary, Mascot. Once it started flying off the shelves, they leased it to the Chess subsidiary, Argo records. Since you seem to only hear top 10 records on oldies stations these days, this record is one I call a long lost oldie on my radio show. It never used to be that way!
Bruce Channel is no stranger to this page. His "Hey Baby" is listed on it's original Le Cam label, and his follow-up, "Number One Man", also was issued on Le Cam and is seen above. The record peaked at number 52 in April, 1962 on the Smash label, I wonder if the Le Cam record was out at the same time. After all, he just had a huge hit with Hey Baby on the Smash label, so why wouldn't Smash take this next record exclusively? Anyway, the Le Cam label was local in Texas, so the distribution was certainly limited.
Not exactly doo wop or rock and roll from the 1950's, this happens to be one of my favorite songs from 1967.
The group featured Ed King, who would also play with Lynryd Skynyrd . The group was from the west coast, and hit several records that got to the Billboard charts. The first issue was on the All American label, and then it switched over to Uni. I always loved the record - maybe it was the harmony, the fact it was different, or maybe the name of the group.
Even though I don't really actively collect surf, I just can't ignore this great instrumental from the Frogmen.
The Frogmen made just a few records in their short instrumental career. The biggest hit by far was called Underwater. It was a smoking instrumental picking up on the surf scene in southern California, and peaked at number 44 in 1961. You could easily find it a lot higher on west coast local radio station charts,but I could understand why the Midwestern states might have trouble visualizing it. The first issue was on Scott, though it appears it was the Frogmen's second release for the label. Reportedly, the group was a four piece band from Culver City, California, and Rockin Records lists the FIVE members as: Jim Young,Dennis Fowley , Mike Anderson, Raymond Sulivan and Larry Bartone . Adding the " guiro ". a Spanish percussion instrument, gave it that croaking hook. Scott records was a short lived small independent label from the Los Angeles area, not to be confused with several other labels of the same name, mostly on the east coast. The record was quickly moved to Candix records, and proved to be one of the biggest hits on the label. It should be noted that the Beach Boys certainly had a strong hit on Candix with " Surfin ".
Pat Zill had one record that eeked it's way on to the Billboard top 100. "Pick Me Up On Your Way Down" was actually a very nice song, and it should have charted higher. The record was issued on the Sand label, and then was picked up by Indigo as it showed promise. Indigo was a decent local label in southern California, that already had great success with Kathy Young as well as the Innocents. Issued in 1961.
Rusty Bryant was from Columbus Ohio, and was certainly one of the great horn blowers on record. The difference with Bryant is that he started with rock and roll, and almost immediately you could hear those jazz influences. Jumping ahead, by around 1957, his output on Dot was very much indeed jazz. He then picked up his recording career around 1970 and it too was jazz oriented. In late 1953, Rusty Bryant recorded Nite Train on the Carolyn label, a local label in Columbus,Ohio named after the Carolyn Club where Bryant played. Dead wax numbers reflect a King records press. Dot picked up the record and renamed it to "All Nite Long", which is not the Joe Houston song, but really is Nite Train. It is a live recording, and double timed compared to the James Brown song.
Buddy Knox had a number one hit with Party Doll in 1957. Legend has it, he and his band, and a few others, cruised over to Clovis New Mexico. There they spent 60 bucks on three all night sessions with Norman Petty at his studios. They returned to Happy Texas with some tapes and acetates. A local record was pressed up on the Triple D label, named after Dumas Radio station KDDD. The original press actually was done in late 1956, and the publishing on the left center of the record was Blue Moon. In January, it changed to Oliver and Son. The actual amount of records that were pressed seems to range from 1500 to 2500. It was reported first played by Dean Kelley of KZIP radio in Amarillo, Texas. An interesting article about him with Elvis is HERE. It was then that Morris Levy issued it on his newly formed Roulette label, and it hit number one on the Billboard charts.
Flip over the Buddy Knox record on Triple D and you have Jim Bowen and his record "I'm Stickin' With You". Talk about a great two sider! It ran up the charts the same time Buddy Knox's record did, and peaked at number 14. When Morris Levy got the Triple D record, he pulled both sides as individual singles, and on consecutive Roulette issues, the first two produced. When it was released on Roulette, his name was now "Jimmy" and as with the Buddy Knox record, the Orchids became the Rhythm Orchids. Hmm, and the publishing changed on both Roulette records too.
Back in 1959, Marv Johnson had his first top 40 hit with "Come To Me" This stayed on the charts for 15 weeks, and Marv Johnson was up and running. It was the first of nine Billboard chart hits for him, and a distinguished career in the music business. Though the hit was distributed nationally by United Artists, the first pressings were on the Detroit based Tamla label. These were limited in production and may have only been available in Michigan and perhaps a surrounding state or two. The very first press on Tamla did not show the address below the top logo.
In 1954, the Checkers had some good action with White Cliffs Of Dover. It didn't make any of the national charts, but had some great play on R+B stations at the time. It was a Cash Box territorial tip for Los Angeles in March 1954, which suggested juke box operators and radio stations should jump on it there. Interestingly enough, it was issued again in 1960 on the King subsidiary label, Federal. Though the running times show differently, it sounds like the same take to me.
There you have it for some of the national and regional hits. So many records came out on a small label and then moved on the a national label when their record showed so much promise. You can literally find 1000's of these, so the possibilities are endless. Keep checking back. As i find them, I will post for all to see.