Gary’s Ballads from the 50s

By Gary: This was published earlier. We had some problems so we broke “Gary’s ballads” into two parts / The ’50s & The ’60s.  So here we go again. Gary!

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.  R&B was hard to find, but with great effort we found it.  I had an old “AM” Radio and attached a wire to the back as an antenna so that late at night I 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 may be 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. 

I will take you back 65 years and admit openly to the songs that I really enjoyed that where “Ballads”.

– Gary
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:
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1954 Recording
1973 Video
From Back to The Future “Marty McFly” (Michael J Fox, who was a real musician in Vancouver)
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Johnny Ace Pledging my love (he accidentally (drunk) shot himself on Christmas day 1954)
1954 Recording
I am not 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 Leaf Gardens, but I loved the voice of Tony Williams
Image result for The Platters the great pretender
My Dad enjoyed this group also, but The Great Pretender was my favourite (and I listened to the lyrics which for me was different)
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)
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The Nutmegs with 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”.
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Al Hibbler  Unchained Melody
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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 – they used the basement recording
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In the Still of the Night by the Five Satins
The “B” side of Heartbreak Hotel helped me with the girls
Image result for elvis i was the one
I was the One
Also that ytwittyear Love Me
I still have this Album
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The Dells Oh What a Night
Image result for the heartbeats a thousand miles away
The Heartbeats  A Thousand Miles Away
Live /
Recorded in late 56 and into 57
The great voice of Clyde McPhatter I enjoyed
Treasure of Love
The Flamingos had this out, but I actually enjoyed this version and purchased it
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I’ll Be Home
The Genii was out of the bottle, Rock and Roll was full throttle and the new ballads just did not stop.  This will be the last one I remember for 1956, but there were just so many…
Image result for since i met you baby 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.
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.
Image result for the rays silhouettes
Silhouettes /
I really liked this song, stupid name for a group “The Dubs” but just a great song.
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
Image result for the chantels maybe
Maybe / The Chantels /
So many great Soul Ballads and Johnnie & Joe had one we all loved.
Over the mountain, across the Sea /
One of the first great Birthday Songs by the Tune Weavers.
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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.
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Connie Francis
Who’s Sorry Now /
Live in 58 /
It was a fantastic year for girls and dancing.  I left out a few songs, 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, 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.
Image result for jerry butler and the impressions
Jerry Butler and the Impressions
For Your Precious Love
Jerry Live /
Now I thought “Nobody would ever sing this song better”, Well listen too 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
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Since I don’t have You /
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”.
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It’s only Make Believe /
Live 1990/
Another one of the great birthday songs that signify being 16, The Crests with the great voice of Johnny Maestro
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Sixteen Candles /
Johnny Maestro live /
Unfortunately, Ritchie Valens had less than a year to live when he released a song about his girlfriend “Donna
Image result for ritchie valensImage result for ritchie valens donna
Yes that’s Donna
Donna /
Another great R&B Ballad by the “Danleers” and One Summer Night, man we danced to this song.
Image result for danleers one summer night
One Summer Night /
Then there were the Shield with another R&B Ballad “You Cheated”.
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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.).
Image result for jack scott my true love
My True Love /
and live /
There were so many great songs in 58 I will end this year with the late great Earl Grant and “The End
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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.
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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, of 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.
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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.
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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 to.
Image result for santo and johnny
Santo and Johnny with “Sleepwalk” /
and live /
Well Antoine would have Judy and I dancing close with this one.
Fats Domino with “I want to walk you home” /
and live
The man from Windsor Ontario would have another one of my favourites.
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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.
Image result for ricky nelson never be anyone else but you
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.

6 responses to “Gary’s Ballads from the 50s


    Thanks Russ for all the great posts I have received from you and Garry over the years. We have met a couple of times over the yrs mostly in the Collingwood area with Wayne Buttery. Although you are a “couple” of yrs older than I , I was there with Little Jackie Shane and many others like Shawn and Jay Jackson. Remember them!!! Lol. (Claudette stoke an 18yr old’s) heart!! Once again. Thanks for all the absolutely outstanding posts. Good health to You and Yours!!! Merry Christmas. Moon

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Hey Moon
      Thanks for the kind words on our blog comments. So glad you are continuing to enjoy all this old stuff.
      Speaking of Shawne Jackson, I was just in touch with her a couple days ago. Still as lovely a person as ever.
      Have a great Christmas, man.
      – Russ


    Should have been my heart, not my 18 yr old’s heart. Lol

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Well done! So many more but thanks for sharing your favorites. I still have about 2000 45 oldies. I loved the rare Bird groups and falsetto voices. I stopped collecting when I went off to college in 1961. They’re all here in sleeves and boxes. My personal favorite is Tonight Tonight by the Mello Kings.

  4. Brilliant feature. I became a pop music fan around 1941-42, songs like ‘Three Little Sisters, Wing and a prayer, San Fernando Valley etc. I joined the RAF in 1951 to the sounds of Guy Mitchell, Perry Como, Frankie Laine etc etc. and came back to Civvy Street in 1957 to the sounds of Fats Domino, Platters, Haley etc. I’m 86 now but still listen to the records from the forties to rhe sixties on Spotify, etc.

  5. I was lucky enough to catch Jack Scott live at a concert in Michigan in August 2018 and chatted with him for a few minutes after the show. At age 82 he sounded great and ‘My True Love’ was as good as when I first heard it 60 years earlier.

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