Rock ‘n’ Roll Trivia
Who had a hit with ‘Purple Haze’ by Jimi Hendrix?
by John Robinson
Q: Didn’t someone else have a hit with Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” or am I having a ’60s flashback?
A: Flashback or not, you’re right. Dion released it as his 1969 follow-up single to “Abraham, Martin and John.” It actually charted higher than Hendrix’s 1967 version; Dion made it to No. 63 compared to Jimi’s No. 65.
Q: I remember a silly song from the ’50s about Martians coming down to Earth that used snips of rock and roll songs. Can you tell me what and who it was?
A: You might have in mind the Buchanan & Goodman 1956 single, “Flying Saucer Parts 1 & 2.” The original working title for the record was “Back To Earth Parts 1 & 2.” Bill Buchanan and Dickie Goodman conceived the idea of a radio program being interrupted by a flying saucer invasion, along the lines of Orson Welles’ “War Of The Worlds” broadcast. New York deejay Alan Freed got ahold of the recording and played it on his program. Because of the exposure, it zoomed to No. 3 and started the “break-in” record craze, a practice of using bits of rock and roll songs edited into scripted dialogue.
Q: Who did the original version of “Ballroom Blitz?”
A: “Ballroom Blitz” was a No. 5 hit in 1975 for the British band Sweet (who originally named themselves Sweetshop). The song was used in several movies, including the 1992 film “Wayne’s World,” where actress Tia Carrere sang the song. Other movies that used “Ballroom Blitz” include “Bordello of Blood,” “Daddy Day Care,” and “The Sandlot: Heading Home.” A musical influence on the style of “Ballroom Blitz” was drummer Sandy Nelson’s 1961 Top Ten single, “Let There be Drums.”
Q: No one believes me that “My Darlin’ Clementine” was a rock and roll song.
A: They probably don’t believe it because it’s never perceived that way. It was written back in 1884 under the original title “Oh My Darling Clementine” and originally hit the pop charts in 1941 by Bing Crosby. But there WERE a couple of rock and roll versions in 1960: Jan & Dean released it under the title “Clementine” in February of that year; one month later, Bobby Darin released his version. Jan and Dean’s single stalled at No. 65 while Darin’s surpassed it, making the Top 40 at No. 21.
Q: Is Gilbert O’Sullivan his real name or was it made up?
A: Gilbert O’Sullivan was a pop star who had a nice handful of hits in the early ’70s, the most popular being “Alone Again (Naturally)” in 1972. His manager, Gordon Mills, decided to change O’Sullivan’s first name Ray to Gilbert, making it a play on the songwriting team name of Gilbert and Sullivan. Ray hated the name but went along with it, as Mills also had been responsible (and successful) for changing Gerry Dorsey’s name to Engelbert Humperdinck (after the composer of “Hansel & Gretel”) and Thomas John Woodward’s name to Tom Jones (anticipating free publicity from the current hit film “Tom Jones”).
Q: Which Beatle album has the song “Here, There and Everywhere?” I’m trying to find it.
A: You’ll find it on the Beatles’ 1966 “Revolver” album. Paul McCartney wrote the majority of the song, inspired by the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.” Paul has stated that he was trying to sing it in the style of Marianne Faithfull.
John Robinson grew up in Stockbridge and graduated from Stockbridge High School in 1969.
He’s been an author, TV host, columnist, actor, producer, emcee and radio broadcaster. Robinson’s favorite music of all time includes surf, psychedelia, garage bands, Motown and just plain ol’ good-time rock ‘n’ roll. To read more rock ‘n’ roll trivia, “Paranormal Michigan” stories, and lots more, check out Robinson’s books on his author page at facebook.com/johnrobinsonauthor.
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