High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Summer Means Fun (Part 1) ----- Spring Fever & Summer Love

Bruce Brown made a splash in
1966 with his documentary film,
The Endless Summer

The movie followed a couple of surfer dudes on a safari around the globe in search of the perfect wave. As the
pair hop scotched from one exotic locale to another
(Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Hawaii and
California), they managed to stay one step ahead of
winter’s chill. For those lucky guys, the fun never had
to end.

The idea of an Endless Summer captured

my imagination back then and it has since
became a powerful metaphor for keeping
the spirit of youth alive no matter what
your age.

Do it, Dell rats! Just do it!

There are those among us (you know who you are) who, to this very day, still believe that life did not exist beyond the Shady Dell.

To prove them wrong, I have decided to take a one month vacation - not from publishing this blog - just a one month break from Dell songs.

To help you spring into the Endless Summer of 2009,
I'm kicking off a 6-part series called Summer Means Fun.
In the coming weeks, I'll share with you some of my favorite warm weather songs of the 60's along with the memories associated with them.

I'm not going to bore you with the usual suspects, though. No "Surfin' U.S.A." In fact, no Beach Boys songs whatsoever.
I have come to trust the Jan and Dean brand for nearly all of my west coast surf rock needs.

You can bet your sweet bippy that some of the selections
I present in this series will be songs that you haven't heard in quite a while.

Let's get the party started and kick off the warm weather season with a rousing piece of pop from Philadelphia songbird Diane Renay, the perky, bubbly little lady with the powerful pipes. Although Diane Renay was a solo artist, her recordings are categorized as girl group. Unfairly dismissed in some circles as a one-hit-wonder, Diane was one of the best female vocalists of the girl group era.

As was the case with many other domestic artists and groups, Diane's career suffered collateral damage from Beatlemania and the ensuing British invasion. Diane Renay's signature song, "Navy Blue," which deserved to be #1 in the land, instead stopped at #6 on the Billboard chart. In the wake of the Beatles phenomenal success, the deck was stacked against recording artists like Diane.

In 1964, the U.S. pop charts became infested with Beatles. At one point in April, the Liverpoolians held down all 5 of the top positions on Billboard:

1) “Twist And Shout”
2) “Can’t Buy Me Love”
3) “Please, Please Me”
4) “She Loves You”
5) “I Want To Hold Your Hand”

Later that same month, the Beatles heaped on two more top 10 hits: “Love Me Do” and its flip side, “P.S. I Love You.“
The Beatles' dominance of the mass media, the record charts and radio playlists had many American born teen idols and old fashioned doo-wop style vocal groups entering Pleas of Nolo Contendere.

As much as I liked "Navy Blue," it was Diane Renay's less successful follow-up single, "Kiss Me Sailor" that really blew me away. It’s another example of the sparkling clean Brill Building production style that I love. “Kiss Me Sailor” is an expertly crafted song, with the diminutive thrush delivering even more vocal punch and pizazz than she did on “Navy Blue.” Breaking into the top 30 in May of 1964 with no less than 8 songs by UK artists forming a glass ceiling above her, Diane's "Kiss Me Sailor" was one of the top feel-good songs of the decade!

Love springs eternal.

It's as perennial as the grass.

Springtime brings young lovers out of the woodwork and out of the house. Jumping ahead in time to the spring of 1966, here's one of Jerry's kids, Gary Lewis, with a WSBA Land favorite..."Green Grass."

A pair of Pennsylvania vocalists gave us one of the best summertime songs of 1963.

Marcy Jo (aka Marcy Joe) was born Marcy Rae Sockel in Pittsburgh.

Marcy Jo teamed up with Hazleton product Eddie “Concrete And Clay” Rambeau
to record the beautiful duet, “Lover’s Medley.”

"Lover's Medley" combines “The More I See You,” a top 20 hit for Chris Montez in 1966, with “When I Fall In Love,” a top 10 hit for the Lettermen in 1961. For some reason, "Lover's Medley" failed to catch on with the record buying public.
The song made only the slightest dent in Billboard’s Bubbling Under chart, holding down position #132 for just one week before vanishing.

In spite of its poor chart showing, "Lover's Medley" became
a regional hit across the Susquehanna Valley thanks to a significant amount of exposure on WSBA radio. The song
was big on Ed Hurst’s Steel Pier Show and a chart topper
in the Baltimore market thanks to heavy promotion on
The Buddy Deane Show on WJZ-13.

Mr. Eddie Rambeau posted the following
comment about "Lover's Medley" on
YouTube: "Brings back many memories
of myself and Marcy Jo traveling around
promoting this record. Amazing that it
got to be the number 1 record in Baltimore
and just piddled around with the rest of the
country.  So thank you Baltimore."

Thank you very much for your comment, Eddie!

From the lost and found department, here are Marcy Jo
and Eddie Rambeau with their seldom heard Swan song
from August 1963, “Lover’s Medley.”

Another song that immediately comes to mind when I think back to that special summer of 1963 is "Easier Said Than Done" by the Essex, a quintet of U.S. marines based at
Camp LeJeune, North Carolina.

The Essex consisted of four guys and a girl, Anita Humes; yet, their signature song, "Easier Said Than Done," is also classified as a girl group sound. As I mentoned earlier, solo female artist Diane Renay falls into the girl group category, as does Lesley Gore. The confusion doesn't end there.
In the wacky world of pop music classification, certain recordings by all male groups or solo male artists are categorized by many music experts as girl group sounds!

"Easier Said Than Done" was a smash hit for the Essex.
The record started playing on WSBA in early June and spent three months on the Billboard chart, including two weeks at number one.

It was great to be alive in the summer of 1963, 
the final year of innocence in America.

As Terry Jacks expressed it a decade later,

We had joy, we had fun,
we had seasons in the sun.

We were having so much fun in the summer of 1963 that we didn’t even notice a chill in the air coming from the direction of Dallas. The end of innocence would come later that year on November 22nd.

But the wine and the song
like the seasons have all gone.

Part 2 of Summer Means Fun takes you where the boys are. Eddie Rambeau's back along with a few of the other male recording artists who helped make our Central PA summers so memorable. I hope you'll join me a few days from now for my tribute to the boys of summer!

Have a Shady day!


  1. Hi S.D. Knight,
    I enjoyed the new post in your blog. I wanted you to know that in last Sunday's paper, Jim McClure mentioned the Shady Dell and reminded readers to tune into your blog. Long live the music and memories!
    A fan, avid S.D. blog reader and admirer,


  2. Thanks a lot for your comments! Stay tuned for the big one year anniversary bash on July 20th! There'll be hot dogs, rides, clowns, and balloons for the kiddies! (LOL)


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