Tag Archives: 1950s music

A last look at my box of records

One last look into my box of records – and the first story I found this time was a number of 45s and LPs of Duane Eddy.  In fact – in a second look these cover virtually everything of Duane’s from Rebel Rouser forward.  To balance it out – or maybe distort the collection – is Charlie Drake’s version of ‘Splish Splash’ – Bobby Darin’s version had not appealed to me and my parents and any way, we had seen Charlie Drake in person – well ‘on-stage’ actually.

His ‘Dream Lover’ did, though, and as a result I got to see both Eddy and Darin in London during their 1960 tour.  Stage presence was not a strong point of Duane’s performance.  He just stood there and played – and the theatre crowd loved it.

The second half was Bobby Darin – and he sat at the piano and we had minimal performance but a distinct presence.  There was a nod toward rock with ‘Splish Splash; an outstanding ‘Dream Lover’ and then his new genre of swing-style ‘Mack the Knife’ followed by ‘Beyond the Sea’, ‘Clementine’ and a few more that I didn’t write down!

However, not everyone appreciated the change; it was not quite the ‘rock ‘n’ roll we expected.  However – he recognised the challenge, and thanked the audience for their requests, but if they didn’t mind he would stay on the stage and carry on singing!

Now – what else is there in my box that brings back memories?  Ah, a clutch of Billy Fury records.  Now there was a performer.

A part of the Larry Parnes collection of British performers toured Britain at the end of the 1950s and into the 60s.  We were on a Youth Club day trip to Great Yarmouth – primarily to see the evening performance of our idols.  We were on the Britannia Pier where Billy and Marty Wilde, Adam Faith, Joe Brown and the like could walk unmolested down the sea front between performances.  One such stroll killed all the passion for them as far as the girls were concerned when one of them said: “Look – they’ve got make-up in their ears!”

A more local venue for the travelling show as far as we were concerned was the Broadway Cinema in Letchworth, Herts.  Here they were regular visitors – and so were we – and it was one night in 1960 when I first heard Billy Fury sing ‘Wondrous Place’.

The stage curtains were drawn across.  The front of the stage was empty and the lights were dimmed – then, from one side there appeared the slight figure of Billy in a soft spotlight to provide a breath taking performance of his new record to a packed auditorium where you could have heard a pin drop.  It peaked at 25 in the pop-charts – why it never made number 1 I’ll never know but it still sends shivers down my spine – in fact it just has because I listened to it on You Tube!

I think this is all for now.  Now you know what my memories box is all about.  Do you have one?  If you do we’d love to hear about it.

More from my box of records

Let’s pick up from where we were last Saturday – with US funny man called Stan Freberg.  As I said – he’s in my box twice. The ‘British’ disc has Lonnie Donegan’s ‘Rock Island Line’ on one side and the take on Mr Presley’s ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ on the other.

Well – in the summer of 1956 I went on a holiday camp holiday with my parents – probably Butlin’s at Clacton. There Butlin’s provided their typical on-camp entertainments of the time and every evening Red Coats performed to Stan Freberg’s fantastic version of ‘Rock Island Line’.  But they also did the other side of their disc – Harry Belafonte’s then very popular ‘Banana Boat Song’.  As I write this I can still recall situations from both pieces – particularly from the Banana Boat when the ‘Belafonte’ character was singing and when he sang: A beautiful bunch a’ripe banana, Hide thee deadly black tarantula he stepped away saying, very clearly, ‘I don’t do Spiders’.

Be it Rock ‘n’ Roll, Skiffle or Calypso Stan Freberg certainly had his finger on the pulse of 1950s pop music.

At this time, opportunities to see the new and the great performers in the flesh were rare for teenagers like me in rural Cambridgeshire.  However – there is one ‘live’ performer that sticks in my memory box.  Many of his disks remain safe and secure in my boxes and his performances in real life are still embedded in my memory box.

Who is this individual?  Well, if you are of my sort of age, records such as ‘Be Bop a Lula’, ‘Blue Jean Bop’ and ‘Pistol Packin’ Mama’ may help.

It’s Gene Vincent – an archetypal rocker who moved to England in the late 1950s and toured small halls across the country.  One of these small halls was that of the canteen of the Kayser Bondor factory in Baldock, Hertfordshire.  It was used for regular dances and ‘not quite’ performers.  Sad to say Gene was one of those but when I was sitting on the edge of the low stage while the black leather clad rock icon performed, at times inches from me, and once standing on my fingers, is another lasting memory.

The Bondor factory ceased production in 1983 and was redeveloped by Tesco as a Superstore. The original façade remains but the factory has ‘gone’.  I wonder how many of today’s ‘visitors’ realise that they are in the land of Gene Vincent!

Anyway – I’ll call it a day here and come back next Saturday – same time, same place – with the third part of what’s in my ‘Memories Box’.