By Gary: I got an email today from a cousin who had an inquiry about a particular song. The song she inquired about was the 1967 Leonard Cohen song “So Long Marianne”. She said there was another artist who covered it around or after the same period.
Brian Hyland was born November 12, 1943, in Brooklyn/Queens, New York City, where his first musical experience ranged from church choir at nine, to clarinet and guitar, to his first local harmony group, the Delfis. In 1959, they cut a demo record and made the rounds of New York City record labels. Finally, with much persistence, after many closed doors, Brian was signed as a solo artist to a management contract, where he cut demos for band leader Sammy Kaye’s publishing company. Kapp Records heard a demo and signed Brian at age 16. That became his first record “Rosemary” and was followed that summer of 1960 by the now infamous “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini,” which got a nod from Brian’s cousin by marriage, Larry, of The Three Stooges, on their local New York TV Show, Three Stooges Fun House, although they wouldn’t meet till eight years later in Hollywood. In 1961, the song was used as a successful brainwashing technique in the classic Billy Wilder movie comedy, “One,Two,Three” starring James Cagney. It was Brian’s first Gold Record, selling millions world wide and racing to #1 in the U.S. briefly edging ahead of Elvis’ all time biggest hit, “It’s Now Or Never,” as well as reaching the top of the charts in Japan, where he toured and performed in a TV special.
Not to be deterred, by this simple twist of fate, Brian quickly moved on to ABC Records, in 1961, sharing their short pop roster with The Impressions and Ray Charles, where he cut a string of chart records with the NY writing/production team of Gary Geld and Peter Udell. In 1961, the top twenty “Let Me Belong To You” and “I’ll Never Stop Wanting You. Then in 1962, “Ginny Come Lately,” went to #21 in the U.S. while reaching #5 in England and top ten all over Europe. This was followed that same year by “Sealed With A Kiss,” reaching #3 in the U.S. and England, top ten in Germany, and another world wide hit. He also recorded German versions of both songs.
Brian was constantly on the road, appearing on American Bandstand often, once hosting the show, as well as the Saturday Night Show, and many popular local TV music shows around the country, as he put on endless miles doing bus tours, including The Caravan of Stars (“as many miles as anyone” says Dick Clark) and one nighters. In 1963, he headlined a tour in England with Little Eva, appearing on TV shows Thank Your Lucky Stars and Jukebox Jury as well as the live BBC radio show Saturday Club, where he heard and became an early Beatles fan. And while doing several annual tours in South America with Neil Sedaka during Carnival, he heard the early Bossa Nova artists. He was never without his acoustic Martin guitar and was always open to, and absorbing new musical influences and changes.
His following early “country-rock” chart singles (which John Fogerty told him were “ahead of their time”) included in 1962, the #25 single “Warmed Over Kisses (Left Over Love),” “I may Not Live To See Tomorrow” and in 1963, “I’m Afraid To Go Home.” About this time, Brian performed an engagement in Greenwich Village at the Cafe Wha? with a young comedian named Richard Pryor. He then moved on to Philips Records, where in 1966 he recorded an album produced by Snuff Garrett with the musical assistance of now legendary musicians Leon Russell and JJ Cale, which included the top twenty singles, “The Joker Went Wild” and “Run,Run,Look And See.” He went on to record two albums and chart singles for DOT Records, including his 1969 hit remake of the Thomas Wayne song “Tragedy.” In 1970, Brian cut his third Gold Record with the Curtis Mayfield/Impressions song “Gypsy Woman,” which went to #3 in the U.S. and sold well over 3 million internationally, followed by his tenth album with six original songs and another hit single, a version of Jackie Wilson’s classic “Lonely Teardrops,” which he co-wrote or co-produced with Del Shannon on UNI Records.
Vocally & artistically Brian is called “chameleonesque” for all his musical changes, having produced Hits for five different labels & successfully recorded everything from Novelty to Pop Ballads; to Folk Rock and Country Rock; to Pop Rock and Pop Soul, over more than a decade, but quite modestly having spent more than half of his life on the road and in the studio both writing and living his music, Brian feels he has just begun to Rock! In 1975, while on a tour of Indian Country in the Southwest with the Native American rock group XIT, he learned that ABC/Anchor Records in England had reissued his original recording of “Sealed With A Kiss” b/w “Ginny Come Lately,” due to popular demand, and it surprised everyone by becoming a hit again, thirteen years later, the second time around!..going to #7 in England as well as charting again in Europe.
In the late seventies, with songwriting partner Rosmari, he turned his focus to writing and they spent a couple of years in New Orleans working with legendary writer/producer/artist, Allen Toussaint, which resulted in the album “In A State Of Bayou” on Private Stock Records, including three original songs. He later recorded a couple of original songs with help from members of The Band, Rick Danko and Garth Hudson at their Malibu studio, Shangri-La, and then joined Rick on one of his solo shows. In the early 1980’s Brian’s recording of “Ginny Come Lately” was included on the soundtrack album Lemon Popsicle 5 from the British movie Baby Love. The release in Germany of “Brian Hyland, Original Favourites” LP/CSS, was a partial collection of his Hit singles, however after twenty seven years Rhino Records released the first Brian Hyland Greatest Hits on LP/CSS in March of 1987. It includes fourteen of the twenty-two hot 100 chart singles Brian scored over an eleven year period from 1960 to 1971. Other releases include: an LP of Brian’s German language recordings on Bear Family Records in Germany; a 16 track CD on Warners in Germany, “The Golden Gate Collection;” a CD3 on Old Gold Records in England; a CD3 on MCA Records in the U.S.; a 20 track CD “Let Me Belong To You,” MCA Germany; a 27 track CD on Euro; “the Bashful Blond” in England; another English CD on Music Club; And available on CD in the U.S. and Canada, a release in May 1994 on MCA, “Brian Hyland, Greatest Hits” an 18 track CD including hits from all five labels!
While recording three duets for the album “Albert West and Friends” on Cherry Records & the Dutch charts, Brian performed on TV shows in Germany, Belgium and a Dutch TV special in Aruba. He also made two separate appearances on the U.S. TV show “Rock & Roll Palace” with Wolfman Jack; on Nashville Now, including a special from the Cayman Islands; and “The Daniel O’Donnel Show” in Dublin. He continues to tour around the U.S. and the world with songwriting partner Rosmari and their favourite rock drummer, son Bodi, performing classic Rock & Roll. . new & Gold!
While continuing to write new music and record, they are also compiling material for a book about the long and winding Rock & Roll road . .Among others, Brian has contributed original pen & ink art to the Rock Art Auction for Am Far; to the Rock & Roll Cookbook for the National Music Foundation; performed for the Special Olympics; recorded on annual Christmas Albums for Children’s Hospitals nationwide and a song for “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer; The Movie.”
In his Mac Music Studio, STONE BUFFALO TRAX Brian plays an acoustic Taylor guitar, a custom ’68 Fender Telecaster, a custom “Vintage” ’57 Fender Stratocaster, a custom Cort Bass, a Roland U20 keyboard/Synth, and Harmonica. They are currently writing and recording at home in California , continually adding to an archive of classic R&R, as well as a trilogy of CD’s beginning with “Turquoise Moon” for independent release.
STONE BUFFALO ©2001
As of 2009, Brian Hyland continues to perform in the U.S. & Internationally, with his wife Rosmari on background vocals and percussion, and their son, Bodi, assisting on drums.