Buddy Holly - The Real Stage Show & Much More

 

BUDDY –  THE STAGE SHOW -  The NME review of Buddy Holly’s appearance at Gaumont’s flagship cinema in Kilburn, North London said “If enthusiasm, drive and down-to-earth enthusiasm are the ingredients necessary for success in the rock ‘n’ roll field, then Buddy Holly & The Crickets are set for a long and eventful run of popularity. They rocked their way through a tremendous belting 25 minute act without letting up for one moment”. Reviewer Keith Goodwin then noted “Without doubt, the Crickets are the loudest, noisiest trio I’ve heard in my life – how these boys manage to make such a big, big sound with their limited instrumentation still baffles me!” He concluded “Take my word for it – this was rock ‘n’ roll like we’ve never heard it before in Britain”. Buddy & the group starred on the 100th edition of Sunday Night At the London Palladium (2nd) and were also seen on the last of the present series of Jack Payne’s Off The Record (27th) - they had filmed their contribution to the latter beforehand.  They were dropped from Jack Hylton’s TV show See You, Soho at the 11th hour when their fee could not be agreed. It’s interesting to note that many critics, and indeed fans, were surprised to find that Buddy was the only Cricket to sing on stage. Buddy summed up his only UK visit by saying “We had a real ball – it was just great!”. Check out 'Your Musical Memories' for a first hand report from a fan who saw Buddy live in Britian.




ROCKY ROAD - It was announced that Jerry Lee Lewis would spend a month touring the UK and that The Treniers (who had come to the UK public’s attention via The Girl Can’t Help It) would be joining him.  The proposed tour was hailed as “The most sensational rock’n’roll package show ever staged in Britain”. Charlie Gracie confirmed arrangements for a five-week return tour. He was to open at the Liverpool Empire (April 7) with tour tickets ranging from 3/6 (17.5p) to 10s (50p). Also confirmed was a tour by the legendary R&B act the Johnny Otis Show – however, Musicians’ Union problems sadly soon put a stop to it.

 DENE’S D-DAY - A much-publicised incident after a show in Gloucester on February 18 resulted in Terry Dene being charged with causing wilful and malicious damage and of being drunk and disorderly. The outcome was that the ABC Theatre chain replaced him on tour with Tommy Steele’s brother, Colin Hicks & His Cabin Boys (and on some shows Marty Wilde).  After some psychiatric treatment Dene was declared fit to return and he faced his “big test day” when he made his “come-back” on an all- star charity show in aid of spastics at the Empress Hall (30th). It was his first appearance since Gloucester and, in show business circles, it was firmly believed that this could be his last chance of continuing as a top star.  Dene, who was no longer backed by the Dene Aces (who were now working with new Decca discovery Bill Kent), sang with Cyril Stapleton’s Show Band. Dene, unusually attired in a grey suit, was the surprise success of the show, receiving a better reception from the 7000 strong audience than any other headliner including such non-R&R notables as Michael Holliday, Alma Cogan, Vera Lynn, Ronnie Hilton, Dickie Valentine and The Stargazers. Another plus was the fact that his screen debut, The Golden Disc, received favourable reviews in the music press who described his performance as “Bright, competent and thoroughly convincing”. Dene’s doctors gave him permission to attend both the film’s British and Swedish premieres. 

 



           Dame Vera and Terry at his "Big Test Day".

STEELE THE SHOW - Britain’s first rock & roll star, Tommy Steele, whose current hit then was the African-slanted ‘Nairobi’, was mobbed by screaming teenagers when he appeared in South Africa.  The cockney rocker was given a royal reception in Cape Town with thousands of teenagers lining the streets to welcome him. Whilst he was overseas, his mother accepted an Ivor Novello award on his behalf for his song ‘Handful Of Songs’, which was named the Outstanding British Composition of 1957.


SMALL SCREEN SCENE - Thanks to new technology, 6.5 Special came live from Paris (15th) where guests included the legendary French-based New Orleans jazz clarinettist Sidney ‘Petite Fleur’ Bechet. A week later it was back to Britain with a special show built around headliner Lonnie Donegan. Among the other acts travelling on the old 6-5 in March were Ted Heath, Russ Conway, Lita Roza and Max Bygraves, hardly the royalty of R&R. Chas McDevitt and his Skiffle group appeared on the top rated Jack Jackson Show (8th) and Larry Page, whose label tagged him ‘The Teenage Rage’, was seen on that show three weeks later. Pink-haired wildman Wee Willie Harris made his third appearance as a guest star on ABC-TV’s fortnightly music show Top Numbers (23rd), and 16-year-old Canadian Paul Anka made the only TV appearance of his current UK tour on Cool For Cats (26th). Jack Jackson, Teddy Johnson and David Jacobs hosted a pilot pop show tentatively titled Saturday Hop, guests on that trial show were Marty Wilde, The King Brothers and The Most Brothers (including Mickie Most), who sang their cover of ‘Whole Lotta Woman’. The biggest teen TV news of the month was the fact that 6-5 Special were dropping comperes Pete Murray, Jo Douglas and Freddie Mills as part of a new “more music less talk” policy. The BBC stressed they were anxious to keep Don Lang on the show and confirmed that future bookings included such rock-free performers as Ted Heath, Eve Boswell and The Mudlarks. Incidentally, the 6-5 Special Stage Show had to cancel a date in Newcastle after local magistrates had only given the show a licence on condition that “no rock’n’roll was included in the performance!”

 BIG SCREEN SCENE - Tommy Steele’s long-awaited second starring film, The Duke Wore Jeans, was premiered at London’s Dominion Theatre (where he had opened his British tour the previous May). It was replaced on March 30th by the film version of 6-5 Special. Across town at the Rialto cinema, Teddy Dene’s movie The Golden Disc succeeded Tommy Sands’ not too successful Sing Boy Sing (13th). Also showing in British cinemas was the all star US movie The Big Beat, which despite its title was top heavy with MOR artists. It did however include notable performances from Fats Domino, The Del Vikings and Canadian cover kings, The Diamonds.




 

BIZ BUZZ- W. H. Smith opened their first record department at their Kingsway branch in London (31) and said they “had extensive plans for the future”’… According to the music press, the British record industry was “staggered by one of the most shattering blows in its history” when the vast cinema-owning Rank Organisation announced that they were to launch their own record label, Top Rank… Norman Petty (who toured the UK with Buddy Holly & The Crickets) was overjoyed to find that his company Nor-Va-Jak owned the music publishing rights to a staggering seven records in the UK Top 30!… Pat Boone was presented with an engraved pair of silver candlesticks for being voted World’s Outstanding Singer and Favourite American Male Singer in the NME poll… The UK music press carried a story that Bill Haley had opened an art gallery in his hometown, Chester, Pennsylvania housing 150 paintings that he had brought as he rocked around the world.

 CHART CHAT - Buddy Holly & The Crickets clocked up four UK Top 20 entries this month, while Elvis had two in the Top 5 and Danny & The Juniors, Paul Anka, Larry Williams, Little Richard, Tommy Steele and Bill Justis had one each. US country star Marvin Rainwater hit with his rockabilly composition ‘Whole Lotta Woman’ and US teen idol Ricky Nelson also made his British chart debut with ‘Stood Up’.

 BRITISH TEENAGE IDOLS -  Fifteen-year-old Jackie Dennis was the most talked about British newcomer on this side of the Atlantic. The kilt-clad Scottish lad, who found overnight fame via 6-5 Special, was expected to earn £50,000 in 1958! (as it happened though, his cover of Billy & Lillie’s ‘La Dee Dah’ was his only notable hit).  Meanwhile, back in the USA, 14 year old Londoner, Laurie London, was rocketing up the chart with ‘He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands’.  According to his label, Capitol, it was selling as fast as Tennessee Ernie Ford’s record breaking 1956 chart topper, ‘Sixteen Tons’. If you are wondering what little Laurie had to do with to do with rock’n’roll, don’t forget that the b-side of this million seller (at least in Britain) was ‘The Cradle Rock’!


POP FLOPS - Among the numerous new releases which failed to chart were Marty Wilde’s cover of Jimmie Rodgers’ US hit ‘Oh-Oh I’m Falling In Love Again’, a song that  was also covered unsuccessfully by Decca’s would-be teen idol Bill Kent. For the record, Marty coupled his version with a treatment of Tommy Sands’ film theme ‘Sing, Boy, Sing’.  Overlooked American releases in the UK included ‘Walkin’ With Mr. Lee’ by Lee Allen, ‘Short Shorts’ from the Royal Teens, ‘All I Want Is Your Love’ by Johnny Otis Show and ‘Oh Julie’ from The Cresecendos. Also falling on stony ground were ‘Rock And Roll Is Here To Stay’ by Danny & Juniors, ‘Ballad Of A Teenage Queen’ from Johnny Cash and a handful of versions of  ‘Big Guitar’, including the original by Irving Ashby

 FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD - Frankie Vaughan’s appearance on the Patti Page hosted The Big Record TV show in the USA went down so well that he was quickly booked for a return visit. He was introduced as “Britain’s No. 1 Recording Star”, and apart from plugging his US release ‘We’re Not Alone’ Vaughan sang ‘Manhattan Tower’ with Patti, Martha Raye and Alan Dale (who starred in Don’t Knock The Rock. The high kicking British crooner, who earlier had specialised in Boyd Bennett covers, also starred on Ed Sullivan’s TV show (30th) and his performance was termed “sensational” by Sullivan.  It was also announced that Frankie’s teen targeted film These Dangerous Years would be released in America under the title Dangerous Youth, and after his TV appearances 20th Century Fox approached him with a view to starring in a Hollywood film later in the year. From a rock point of view, it is interesting to note that during his US visit, Vaughan met Tommy Sands, Pat Boone and top R&R DJ Bill Randle.


 



Alan, Patti, Martha & Frankie Vaughan on Patti Page's show.

BACK IN THE USA - RCA announced that they would be releasing 14 of Elvis’ million selling singles on the aptly titled album, Elvis’ Golden Records – the news was timed to coincide with his entry into the army. Elvis played his last live show in Memphis on the 15th, was sworn into the Army on the 24th and has his world famous locks shorn a day later. Colonel Tom was quoted as saying” My business while Elvis is away will be to make sure his millions of fans won’t forget him. If I didn’t work for him all the time he is gone, I would be ungrateful’.

 Acts on Dick Clark’s popular Saturday night TV show in March included Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Haley, Fats Domino, Huey Smith & The Clowns, Dicky Doo & The Don’ts, The Chantels, The Silhouettes, The Platters, The Diamonds, The Voxpoppers, Johnny Cash and the ghoulish John Zacherle.  Clark’s daytime show, Bandstand, played host to such acts as Ed Townsend, The Spaniels, The Shirelles, Billy & Lillie, Robert & Johnny and Jerry Lee Lewis, who performed an unprecedented three songs on the top rated show. Also appearing on the small screen Stateside were the Everly Brothers, The Rays and Joe Bennett & The Sparkletones who were all seen on Ed Sullivan’s Show, and Sam Cooke who guested on the Steve Allen Show before starting a three-week stint at New York’s swanky Copacabana night club.

 Johnnie Ray, whose forthcoming UK tour was much anticipated, announced that his recent ear operation had changed his voice. The hearing-aid-wearing singer, who had influenced several rock’n’roll stars, said his voice now had more depth and added that his speech was now more articulate. It would appear that his many fans were unimpressed by his new vocal ability, since he was never able to add to the 19 UK Top 20 singles he scored between 1952-57.

 Alan Freed’s Big Beat Show hit the road. Headliners included Jerry Lee Lewis, Frankie Lymon, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Buddy Holly & The Crickets, Chuck Berry, The Diamonds, Danny & The Juniors, The Chantels, Larry Williams and Jo Ann Campbell.  Chuck Berry also spent a week at New York’s famed Apollo theatre starring alongside The Shirelles, The Heartbeats and Big Maybelle.

 Out in Hollywood, Gene Vincent worked on the movie Hot Rod Gang, Jerry Lee completed filming High School Confidential and Elvis put the final touches to A Stone For Danny Fisher, now re-titled King Creole, before he enlisted.

 

 


CHARTAHOLICS CORNER

 If you’re missing the regular dose of charts, here’s some slightly different ones - "square" free lists from the big four hit parades for March 1958.


 

‘RED HOT’ SINGLES - The HOTTEST rock’n’roll hits


US R&B



1   SWEET LITTLE SIXTEEN-CHUCK BERRY

2   TEQUILA - CHAMPS

3   SHORT SHORTS - ROYAL TEENS

4   GET A JOB - SILHOUETTES

5    DON'T/I BEG OG YOU - ELVIS PRESLEY


US C&W


1  BALLAD OF A TEENAGE QUEEN – JOHNNY CASH

2  DON’T – ELVIS PRESLEY

3  THIS LITTLE GIRL OF MINE –EVERLY BROTHERS

4  GREAT BALLS OF FIRE- JERRY LEE LEWIS

5  BREATHLESS- JERRY LEE LEWIS


US POP



1 DON’T/I BEG OF YOU – ELVIS PRESLEY

2 SWEET LITTLE SIXTEEN –CHUCK BERRY

3 TEQUILA – CHAMPS

4 OH JULIE – CRESCENDOS

5  GET A JOB- SILHOUETTES 


UK POP

1. JAILHOUSEROCK - ELVIS PRESLEY

2. DON'T - ELVIS PRESLEY

3. AT THE HOP - DANNY & THE JUNIORS

4. GOOD GOLLY MISS MOLLY - LITTLE RICHARD

5. OH BOY! - CRICKETS