If you know me at all, I am and always will be a “Rocker”. But enjoying Ballads played an important part of my life. Well, first off I love to dance and it allowed me to meet girls when I was a Teenager. If I am totally honest one or two of my favourite songs are ballads, but I always love real Rock and Roll.
When I first became interested in “Our Music” it would have been around 1953, so a very different Hit Parade existed and R&B was hard to find, but with great effort we found it. I had an old “AM” Radio and I would attach a wire to the back as an antenna and late at night you would get the “skips” and I would get some great US Stations that played the new music.
In Toronto, CHUM Radio went total Rock and Roll on May 27, 1957, my birthday and it still holds the record for the longest Running Hits or Chum chart from 1957 to 1986, 29 years. In 1954 Elvis made me love Rock and Roll as did Fats, Little Richard, Bill Haley etc., but the ballads.
It’s very difficult for me to admit that one of the ballads from 1958 maybe my absolute favourite song, but I’m not sure. I loved to “Slow Dance” sometimes called “Grinding” because it meant I could hold a “Girl” close. I was a teenager, a male so what did you expect.
Not being a George Clooney in the looks department, dancing allowed me to date some of the prettiest girls in school, certainly not my looks.
I will take you back 65 years and admit openly to the songs that I really enjoyed that where “Ballads”.
The first year I really discovered Ballads would be 1954, three years before American Bandstand would hone my Dancing skills. So let’s get started.
I was only 14 but the first “Ballad” I really enjoyed and still do was:
The Penguins – Earth Angel
Doo Wop on TV
From Back to The Future “Marty McFly” (Michael J Fox who was a musician in Vancouver)
(drunk, he accidentally shot himself on Christmas day 1954)
Johnny Ace – Pledging My Love
I am now 15. Girls are becoming a priority, I am still a Rocker, but need to do the slow dancing. These are my songs from 1955
Not only did I see this group in Person at Maple Gardens, but I loved the voice of Tony Williams
My Dad enjoyed this group also, but The Great Pretender was my favourite (and I listened to the lyrics which for me was different)
The Platters – The Great Pretender
Then came Only You
I am and always will be a Rocker but two other songs from that year made me want to ask a girl to dance (it took a lot of courage, but I was getting better)
The Nutmegs – Story Untold
The Last song for me that year would have two great recordings, one from a blind singer and the other from Roy Hamilton. (My absolute favourite version of this song would come 10 years later by “The Righteous Brothers”.)
Al Hibbler – Unchained Melody
Roy Hamilton – Unchained Melody
I was becoming a better dancer and had more courage to ask girls to dance and I was 16, look out!
This song will remain one of my all-time favourites, forever. Recorded in a Church basement, then attempted to be re-recorded professionally but, you guessed, it the use the basement recording.
The Five Satins – In the Still of the Night
The “B” side of Heartbreak Hotel helped me with the girls
Elvis – I Was The One
Also that year, Elvis – Love Me
I still have this Album
The Dells – Oh What a Night
The Heartbeats – A Thousand Miles Away
Recorded in late 56 and into 57
The great voice of Clyde McPhatter I enjoyed
Clyde McPhatter – Treasure of Love
The Flamingos had this out, but I actually enjoyed this version and purchased it
Pat Boone – I’ll Be Home
The Genie was out of the bottle, Rock and Roll was full throttle and the new ballads just did not stop. This will be the last I remember for 1956, but there were just so many
Ivory Joe Hunter – Since I met You baby
Sam Cooke, what a great voice and the girls loved to dance to “You Send Me”. Unfortunately he would be shot to death in 1964, which is still questionable.
Sam Cooke – You Send Me
Live on the Ed Sullivan Show /
My next close dancing song would come from a Group called “The Rays”, everybody loved this one.
The Rays – Silhouettes
Ed Sullivan /
I really liked this song, stupid name for a groups “The Dubs” but just a great song.
The Dubs – Could this be Magic
One of the best girl groups, great R&B and Soul, I loved this song and so did the ladies. Man I loved this song, late 57 into 58
The Chantels – Maybe
So many great Soul Ballads and Johnny and Joe had one we all loved.
Johnnie & Joe – Over the mountain, across the Sea
One of the first great Birthday Songs by the Tune Weavers.
the Tune Weavers – Happy, Happy Birthday Baby
Not one of my favourite singers, but she was huge and the girls loved to dance to her music, SO I did too. Unfortunately later in life she had something happen to her, that NO woman should ever.
Connie Francis – Who’s Sorry Now
Live in 58 /
It was a fantastic year for girls and dancing. I missed a few, maybe Don’t by Elvis and couple of others, but It was a great year and I was growing up. American Bandstand was on everyday and I danced. I had a “steady” girl friend and for a 17 year old teenager, life was great.
Could life get any better? – a girl friend, Rock and Roll, a part time job and, OH, yes school, I knew I left out something. Yes I should have done less dancing and more studying, but I also had one of the smartest girls in school and she did help me, somebody had to.
This very well could be my all-time favourite Ballad. Recorded by Jerry Butler and the Impressions, Dick Clark said it was too slow and would not make it. Well it was rare, but Dick was wrong.
Jerry Butler and the Impressions – For Your Precious Love
Jerry Live /
Now I thought “Nobody would ever sing this song better”, Well listen to Kenny Vance and the Planotones
This maybe my favourite / Remember he was the founding member of Jay and the Americans /
This was a great song 4 guys and 1 girl and they called themselves “The Skyliners”
The Skyliners – Since I don’t have You
live 2005 /
This is just a great song. Now Harold Jenkins and the House Rockers, spent a lot of time in Ontario in 57/58, but of course he changed his name to Conway Twitty and released “It’s Only Make Believe”.
Conway Twitty – It’s only Make Believe
Another one of the great birthday songs that signify being 16, The Crests with the great voice of Johnny Maestro
Johnny Maestro – Sixteen Candles
Johnny Maestro live /
Unfortunately, Ritchie had less than a year to live when he released a song about his girlfriend “Donna”
Yes that’s Donna
Ritchie Valens – Donna
Another great R&B Ballad by the “Danleers” and One Summer Night, man we danced to this song.
Danleers – One Summer Night
Then there were the Shield with another R&B Ballad “You Cheated”.
the Shield – You Cheated
The Man from Windsor Ontario was really Rockin’ in 58 but he had some great ballads. Jack Scott(born Giovanni Domenico Scafone, Jr.).
Jack Scott – My True Love
and live /
There were so many great songs in 58 I will end it with the Late Great Earl Grant and “The End”
Earl Grant – The End
1959 would be a great year with some great “Grindin’” songs. The first one is a song a haunting background by another bird group the Flamingos.
the Flamingos. – I only have eyes for you
live Dick Clark /
The next song is an all-time favourite, unfortunately the man who wrote Phillip Baptiste (Phil Phillips & the Twilights) never received ONE CENT to this day because, as usual, the record company. He was paid $6800 for one of the biggest songs, which has been recorded by Del Shannon, the Honey Drippers (Robert Plant) and that’s it. The music business is a very dirty business, to this day.
Phil Phillips and the Twilights – Sea of Love
Robert Plant /
One of the better girl groups would have a great ballad in 1969 and R&B was still alive.
The Shirelles – Dedicated to the One I Love
with the Bandstand Dancers
The next song is really rare, an instrumental (that does not exist anymore) that was a Fantastic song to ask a girl to dance too.
Santo and Johnny – “Sleepwalk”
and live /
Well Antoine would have Judy and me dancing close with this one.
Fats Domino – “I want to walk you home”
The man from Windsor Ontario would have another one of my favourites.
Jack Scott (with the Chantones) – “What in the World’s Come over You” /
on Dick Clark /
One of my favourite singers “Rick Nelson” would record my favourite song of his that year.
Rick Nelson – Never be anyone else but you
1983 live /
There were a lot more that I could have included, but these are the ones that made the biggest impression on me and my girlfriend Judy, but alas 59 would be our last year together. It was a great two years, but we all move on.
The hard edge of Rock and Roll was gone, White Pop was now the standard created by the record companies and at times it got boring, but there were some great songs, like this one.
and live in 1964 /
A new comer would emerge, she was only 16 but under the control of Owen Bradley, she had a # 1 song this year.
Brenda Lee – I’m Sorry
This for me was and is a great song, recorded in an Aircraft Hanger, by a 15 year old Rosie Hamlin. She wrote the poem when she was 14, but again, she was only 15 screwed by the record company and it included decades of legal battles, but she finally won. Unfortunately Rosie left us this year 2017 in March.
Man I love this song,
Rosie and the Originals – “Angel Baby” /
and the late Rosie Hamlin
New Girl friends, so I was dancing again and Kathy Young had a song I enjoyed that year.
Kathy Young and the Innocents – A Thousand Stars
live on PBS
.and in a hotel lobby 2010
A great Ballad from the Safaris in 1960, I just had to find someone to dance with.
The Safaris – Image of a Girl
rehearsal in Hollywood live
This one would come from a TV Star and a TV Show, Connie Stevens and “Sixteen Reasons”.
Sorry, but I like this song /
There were many more great songs that year, BUT I was alone, no girl friend, working and going to school at night, so it was just Rocking on the Weekends.
One of the true great ballads ever written would be a #1 hit for the former lead singer of the Drifters, Ben E. King and “Stand By Me”.
Ben E. King – Stand by Me / live 1961
A Group called The Jive Five would have a great song that year called “My True Story”, I really liked this song and it had a great R&B Groove.
The Jive Five – My True Story
At Little Darlin’s In Kissimmee Florida /
One of the Greatest Ballads, from Blue Hawaii and the King Elvis with, “Can’t Help Falling in Love”, love this song too.
Elvis – Can’t help Falling in Love
From Blue Hawaii /
Aloha from Hawaii /
Another song I enjoyed an unknown named Troy Shondell would have me dancing to “This Time”.
Troy Shondell – This Time
1999 live /
The Great Phil Spector would produce the Paris Sisters and “I love how you love me”
Listen to the Great Production by Phil Spector /
Paris Sisters – “I love how you love me”
/ written by Barry Mann
We will go back to my R&B routes and listen to Slim Harpo and “Rainin’ in my Heart” another song I really enjoy.
This was great “Grindin’ Music” /
Slim Harpo – “Rainin’ in my Heart”
The last for this year we will turn to the Big “O”, Roy Orbison and “Crying”, what can I say, it’s Roy.
Roy Orbison – Crying
1982 / Austin City Limits /
From Black & White Night (great DVD) /
I know I missed a lot of them, but I had a job, going to school and I got engaged, man I was in a different world, sorry I missed some.
Well the engagement ended at the end of 62, so again a different year for me. I graduated from of my Night School courses and moved into the world of Data Processing and Computers. I was still dancing and going to the clubs to see my favourite groups, but my life was busier and more complicated.
The man from the 50’s would have me dancing again with “Bring it on home to me” the great Sam Cooke
Sam Cooke – Bring it on Home to Me
Motown was just starting to emerge and Smokey with the Miracles would have a great song. It was released late in the year so it would extend into 63.
the Miracles – You’ve really got a hold on me
and live in 64 /
In Toronto we had another version from “Little Caesar and the Consuls” (the group Russ still plays with) Smokey was huge but so was Little Caesar but not until 1964 /
You’ve really got a hold on me
This is a song I really liked and my future wife to be danced with the Lead Singer in Florida, well before I met her, The Cascades “Rhythm of the Rain”.
The Cascades – Rhythm of the Rain
A great Soul Ballad that year by Ketty Lester “Love Letters”.
Ketty Lester – Love Letters
and live in 1999 /
Remember I was a little busy this year so I missed a lot, but the great Man Ray Charles, had me on the floor dancing.
Ray Charles – I can’t stop loving You
and live 1972 /
Well, I was still going to night school, still Rockin’, but no real girl friend. So I was back to the dating scene and learning a lot about the new field of “Data Processing”.
The Beatles would have a great influence this year, but old stand by Beach Boys would have Two great Ballads.
Beach Boys – Surfer Girl
and live in 64 /
My Favourite / In my Room /
and live in 64 /
A great R&B Ballad by Garnet Mimms & the Enchanters “Cry Baby”, love this song.
Garnet Mimms & the Enchanters – Cry Baby
Dale Houston and Grace Broussard got together in 63 and recorded an older song “I’m leaving it up to you”
Dale & Grace – I’m leaving it up to you
My tastes were changing, I was 23, the music was changing, not quite as many dancing ballads in 1963, for me anyways.
This would be a better year for ballads. I was still in the new computer field, was a true “Car Guy” (I think they also replaced the girls). The Righteous Brother would have a great rendition of an old song (my wife’s favourite) You’ve Lost the Lovin’ Feeling. Remember a great Phil Spector Production.
The Righteous Brothers – You’ve lost that Lovin’ Feeling
and live /
We would hear from Motown and the Temptations with “My Girl”.
The Temptations – My Girl
and live /
We would be dancing to a ballad from the Rolling Stones, “Time is on my Side”.
Rolling Stones – “Time is on my Side”
and live on Ed Sullivan /
A great singer from England Dusty Springfield would record another of my favourites “Wishin’ and Hopin’.
Dusty Springfield – “Wishin’ and Hopin’.
and live /
It was 1964 so there had to be a Beatles song and there was “And I Love Her”.
The Beatles – And I Love her
I bought another new car this year, that’s 4 in 5 years. The Beatles or Paul McCartney would record a classic this year.
The Beatles – Yesterday
and live /
I am now 25, still single, but would get engaged later in the year and it would not last. I enjoyed Barbara Lewis this year with a great R&B Ballad.
Barbara Lewis – Baby I’m Yours
and live /
The Big Man, one of my all time Favourites, “Otis” would have me dancing. Man, I love this song and Otis.
Otis Redding – I’ve been Loving You
and live /
I will end the year with an old Al Hibbler Song re-done by the Righteous Brothers. Man, Bobby had a voice.
Righteous Brothers – Unchained melody
and live /
I would get engaged for the last time 3/4 of the way through the year and would be married in 1967. A true Classic would be huge this year for a singer name Percy Sledge.
Percy Sledge – When a man loves a woman
and live /
The Association would be heard from in 66 and in 67 with my favourite Never my Love, but in 66 it was Cherish.
The Association – Cherish
and live in 67 /
It was a different time for me so ballads were not as important, but I was still Rockin’
Aretha would record one of her classics in 67 “A Natural Woman” .
Aretha Franklin – A natural Woman
and live in 67 /
and at the Kennedy
We would be introduced to the Brothers Gibb this year and a great song “To Love Somebody”
The GeeGees – To Love Somebody
and live in Las Vegas in 1997 /
The Association would record my favourite song of theirs “Never My Love”.
The Association – Never My Love
and live in 1968 /
The last two ballads for this year will come from British Groups, The Stones and The Beatles. The Beatles “All you need is Love”
The Beatles – All you need is love
and live /
The Rolling Stones would give us “Ruby Tuesday”.
The Rolling Stone – Ruby Tuesday
and live 1967 Ed Sullivan /
With a new wife, new career change later in the year, and Expo 67 things were changing for me and music was not quite as important, but I was still Rockin’. I will end my little stroll down memory lane in 1967, I was still buying records, still into music, but in three years I would be a father. I have 3 Daughters and 6 grandchildren and the strongest impact ballads had on me was during my Teen and Single years. I know that I have missed or omitted many of your favourite Ballads, but remember, these are the ones that made the biggest impression on an individual who thrives on the Original Concept of Rock and Roll including Rockabilly.
My First Wife Charlene and my 2nd wife and present Love of my Life “Birgit”.