Gary: ‘While driving to the golf course the other day, we were listening to Sirius Radio’s “50’s on 5” and they played “It’s almost tomorrow” by the Dreamweavers. My wife said it had been years since she had heard that song and that it was never played anymore.
Well she was correct. The only reason we heard it because I pay for Sirius Radio and they play nothing but 50’s music, 24 x 7, which means they have to go way beyond the top 40 or 50 or even the top 100 for a specific year.
It is not that difficult to think back to when you were a teenager, going to parties and what songs you danced to. Well in Toronto we were deluged by Cover Records on the radio so the originals were difficult to listen to. We never had a true Rock and Roll Station until on my 17th Birthday, May 27, 1957 “CHUM Radio” played Top 50 Rock and Roll records 7 x 24.
Now before that we had to pick up the American Stations. For most of you who do not know where Toronto is situated, we are only 90 miles from the US Border, but only 40 miles straight across Lake Ontario. We picked up George Lorenz, “The Hound” who loved R&B; yes the REAL R&B, and all of the recordings that we had such a huge problem in purchasing. Example: Instead of Sh-Boom by the Chords, we got the Toronto Group “The Crew Cuts” (yuck).
I placed a call to my partner Russ Strathdee and asked him to think about the parties he went to and the music “That the Teenagers” played not just the hit parade of the day.
I remember the first time I heard “Annie had a baby” by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, it was banned so we wanted it more, great times.
Now Russ is one year my senior, but he skipped a grade, so he was in High School (Earl Haig Collegiate), but I was still in grade 7, So the 1953/54 period he would be much more familiar with.
I have already written 1954, but I realize now just how important some of the music from 1953 was. I was only 13 in Public School, so I am not doing 1953 from memory and I will make it short and just add the songs I think are important.
The main example is “Gee” by the Crows – my first introduction to Rock and Roll was that song. Some of my influence in 1954 actually came from 1953. I will do my best.
Long before “The Twist” would be recorded (written by Hank Ballard) The Midnighters were getting a new generation’s attention. In Canada we had just the “Hit Parade” featuring mainly white boring music; but out of the US we found these more exciting songs that were even banned by some radio stations. This meant, at 14, we just wanted to hear them all the more.
We had “Your Hit Parade” on Television – very controlled programming with white singers who just could not sing, nor were they interested in the new Music called Rock and Roll.
There was a very catchy tune called “Tweedlee Dee” by Georgia Gibbs. Not bad but kinda boring until you found the original by Lavern Baker.
I was only 14, and I was really loving the new music, but it was so hard to find. If you listened to the radio stations (in Toronto) in 1954, not much was happening. But the movement was growing and music with Rhythm, Soul and very danceable, were starting to make it to the airways.
Now I purchased this song in the late 90’s by Ray Sharpe, but in 1954 J B Lenoir was just rockin’. He was a great blues guitarist that would leave us in 1967. I found the original “Mama Talk to your Daughter” from 1954.
There was so much starting to happen in 1954, it’s very difficult to talk about the songs that nobody ever plays anymore, because I was 14 and I am stretching it to admit to hearing all of this music in that particular year.
We had only AM Radio – Records were 78 rpm and people like Mitch Miller at Columbia controlled the distribution system; it was very difficult for us to find, listen to and actually purchase a lot of these records. But as teenagers always do, we found a way.
I’m sure in this age of Downloading from the Internet, our system of music acquisition was archaic, in today’s younger eyes, but I think it was so much more exciting than today’s system in 2013, yet I’m sure kids of today would vehemently disagree.
I will leave 1954 here and if you have songs that I agree should be added, send them to me. The songs I will talk about, will not be top 20, maybe not top 100, but songs that have value and were important