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, September 14, 2014

Cruisin' 1957 With the Rockin' Bird

 It's time to salute another volume 

 of the Cruisin' series and gaze 

 at a few more nostalgic 

 soda pop print ads. 

 The year is 1957.  Let's cruise 

 east to Philly where a deejay 

 known as The Rockin' Bird 

 is flying high at a radio 

 station called Wibbage! 

 Joe Niagara - WIBG, Philadelphia 


Joe Niagara loved doo-wop and this one,
"A Thousand Miles Away" by the Heartbeats,
was one of the best group ballads of the 50s.

 "A Thousand Miles Away" - Heartbeats 
 (February 1957,  highest chart position #53) 



In the spring of 1961 former Heartbeats leader "Shep"
Sheppard gave us another classic doo-wop ballad,
this time with his new group Shep & the Limelites.
"Daddy's Home" nearly topped the pop chart,
halting at position #2 while Roy Orbison's
"Running Scared" and Ricky Nelson's
"Travelin' Man" took turns at #1.

 "Daddy's Home" - Shep & the Limelites 
 (June 1961, highest chart position #2) 



In the fall of 1957 South Carolina rock 'n rollers
Joe Bennett & the Sparkletones achieved an impressive
19 week chart run with the frantic paced "Black Slacks,"
a record that finished in the top 20 and gained them
national exposure. To me the Sparkletones sounded
like The Everly Brothers hopped up on Jolt Cola.
I dug what those boys were puttin' down!

 "Black Slacks" - Joe Bennett & the Sparkletones 
 (October 1957, highest chart position #17) 

If "Black Slacks" fit your musical taste try "Penny Loafers
and Bobby Socks" on for size. The Sparkletones' follow-
up single was released in December of 1957 and halted
just shy of the top 40. Although not as big a hit as
"Black Slacks," "Penny Loafers and Bobby Sox" is my
Pick to Click, one of the rockinest records of the 50s!

 "Penny Loafers and Bobby Socks" 
 Joe Bennett & the Sparkletones 
 (December 1957, highest chart position #43) 

By 1957 when I was 7 years old I had already been
playing deejay more than two years in my downstairs
game room. I spent hours at a time sifting through
 stacks of 45s that belonged to my parents and
teenage brother, listening, learning and
evaluating the songs on both sides.

"Don't Be Cruel" and "Hound Dog" by Elvis Presley,
"Wake Up Little Susie" by the Everly Brothers and
"Peggy Sue" by Buddy Holly were a few of the
45s left behind by my brother when he joined
the Air Force and moved away. I played
those records countless times on my
tiny tinny toy turntable.


My parents loved Johnnie Ray and bought his records.
Although merely a child I could tell that Johnnie had
a certain something, a soulfulness, that set him
apart from most pop singers of the WWII
generation. Johnnie infused songs like "Cry"
and "The Little White Cloud That Cried,"
the A and B sides of a hit 1952 single,
with a pre-rock 'n' roll R&B hipness
that made a connection with young
people. Johnnie became a teen idol.

In 1956 Johnnie waxed "Just Walkin' in the Rain,"
a single that rode the U.S. chart more than half
a year and spent 7 weeks at #1 in the UK.

 "Just Walkin' in the Rain" - Johnnie Ray 
 (single charted 28 weeks from August 1956 
 to March 1957,  highest chart position 
 #2 USA/#1 UK at Christmas 1956) 

My favorite Johnnie Ray single, "Yes Tonight, Josephine,"
came out in the spring of 1957. The record, produced by
Mitch Miller, shot to the Top of the Pops in the UK but
performed more modestly in the U.S., only reaching the
top 20. "Josephine" was closer to rock 'n' roll than the
pop pabulum they were singing on Your Hit Parade
and I spun this platter a gazillion times!

 "Yes Tonight, Josephine" - Johnnie Ray 
 (May 1957, highest chart position #18) 

 Don't miss the next thrill packed 

 episode of Cruisin' coming soon! 

Have a Shady day!


  1. Hi Shady Del Knight,

    Thanks for the post! I love the soda pop ads, so retro :) and the references to doo-wop. I haven't heard any of those songs, so a great insight into the different genres of the 50's and to hear you loved to DJ as a kid, so it sounds like your love of music began at a very tender age and is as natural as breathing :)

    1. Hello, dear Allie-Millie! I am very happy to see your smiling face this morning. (It's still dark outside at 7 am U.S. Eastern time, a sign that the days are getting shorter.)

      That's correct. Thanks to my older brother and the stacks of 7-inch singles bought by him and left to me, I developed a love of rock 'n' roll and rhythm and blues at a very early age and began hosting mock radio shows and record hops in the game room of my basement. In my early 20s I landed a job as a disc jockey but began a career in television before I could even start. I'm sure that this blog with its call letters SDMM fulfills my need to play host and entertain friends with music and other forms of entertainment,

      I'm glad you learned through this post about Johnnie Ray and other American doo-wop and rock 'n' roll acts of the late 50s.

      I thank you very much for coming to my party, dear friend Allie-Millie, and I will chat with you again soon. Good night to you and have a wonderful week ahead!

  2. It was fun listening to songs that played when I was 3 & 4 and probably was playing with dollies! Interesting background on Shep..I wonder how many bands broke up because of egos getting in the way? Then to be shot & killed...fame' s not all it's cracked up to be. He had a great voice..I thought he sounded like the Heartbeats before I read he was the lead singer in the group. Loved the vintage soda ads! Growing up, and even today, Coke was the main drink in my part of Chicago. I however have gone to the Pepsi side of life these days! (Although I don't drink much pop anymore.) It's neat that you had your destiny in entertainment started so young. My older brothers were into the Motown sound when I was young. That's the records left at home when they left! The temps here in Ohio are cool and it's county fair week. That always means Summer is done for me! Hope you have a great week down South!

    1. Hi, YaYa! Thank you very much for coming to this week's platter party, dear friend!

      It pleases me a great deal that you were motivated to do extra reading about James "Shep" Sheppard. His early death at age 34 was one of the many tragic stories in pop music history. In fact, when I looked up the exact date Shep was shot and killed, January 24, 1970, it instantly triggered memories of two other black artists I know of who died around the same time and at nearly the same age. On January 17, 1970, one week before Shep died, Billy "Motor Mouth" Stewart, the plump singer who had a hit with a version of "Summertime," drove his new T-Bird off a bridge and drowned in a river. Billy would have turned age 33 two months later. On February 24, 1970, one month after Shep's death, Darrell Banks, the Detroit soul man who gave us "Open The Door To Your Heart," was shot and killed at the age of 32. Then, of course, there's Sam Cooke, who was shot and killed at the age of 33.

      I miss the 50s, YaYa. Soda pop was good for you, smoking cigarettes turned you into a champion athlete (4 out of 5 doctors agreed), and we consumed or used countless other products that we now know are hazardous to our health. DAMN!

      The York Interstate Fair is wrapping up its 10 day run this evening. Autumn is indeed in the air up your way while here in Florida there is only a slight hint that the seasons are changing.

      Thank you again for being such a great friend, dear YaYa. I hope you got to see Eddy this weekend and I wish you a safe and happy week ahead!

  3. Good Day, Monsieur Le Shade! Well, I have to say, unlike YaYa and probably more of your blogmates, I was around for these tunes! Oh, I just love 'Just Walkin in The Rain!' Even for an 8 or 9 year old, I could croon to this one. We heard it a lot and my parents even hummed to it!. I'll bet Martin and Sinatra even took turns at that song!

    The Heartbeats and Shep and The Limelites sounded pretty similar to me. I like both songs, good slow dancers, with dreamy tones. I never heard of Joe Bennett and the Sparkletones, but you say they sound similar to the Everly Brothers-add some Chuck Berry to that, and, 'by George', I think you've got it!

    All of your coke and 7up posters are really cool Shady. Also, the slide show of Johnnie Ray is so good, with him at that old micraphone. Love old black and white photos. I have a couple of the 'Cruisin' CDs and really enjoy listening to them, even with the DJs talking!

    Thank you for this colorful post Shady! Again, your posters and photos are really great! I hope you are doing well, and staying cool. Our weather is beginning to fluctuate now between stifling and cooler! Have a wonderful week, see you soon!♫

    1. Hello, dear Suzanne! I'm glad you called me Monsieur Le Shade and not Marquis de Sade! I don't want my tunes to torture you! (LOL)

      I'm thrilled to know that Johnnie Ray resonates with you. My parents loved him and he was hip enough to suit me as well. I liked his record "Josephine" even more than "Rain."

      I collected the whole Cruisin' series, 1955-1967, on vinyl albums when they were first released around 1969/1970. Years later the series was expanded to include 1968, 1969 and 1970 volumes and released on compact disc. Unfortunately, the CDs contain different song lineups and the editing tends to be rough in spots.

      Your weather turns cool before mine every year, dear Suzanne, and it won't be long before you're shivering and shaking over there in Ft. Worth. We're still enduring 90+ degree heat every day.

      Thank you very much for dropping by for a visit, dear friend. Say hello to Karo and Scootie for me and have a great week, Suzanne!

  4. I never played DJ. That must have been much more fun than when I played teacher and librarian. I remember one of the Jacksons doing a cover of Daddy's Home (not Michael). I think one of the older brothers left the group for a while and had that one hit. I wondered why "black slacks" is a saying of sorts. Now I know the reason. Thank you, Sir Shady.


    1. Hi, Janie Junebug! Thank you very much for coming over, dear friend! Yessum, that would be Jermaine Jackson who sang a cover of "Daddy's Home" as seen in this nice clip:

      I preferred his later solo recordings, including "Let Me Tickle Your Fancy":

      In the 50s there were quite a few vocal group names and song titles that made reference to fabrics or popular clothing styles. "Black Slacks" and "Penny Loafers and Bobby Socks" are two examples. "Bobby Sox to Stockings" by Frankie Avalon and "Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots" by the Cheers, a group that included future TV game show host Bert Convy, are two more examples.

      Thank you very much for your visit and kind comments, dear friend Janie. I hope you and your bow-wows enjoy the week ahead!

  5. Wow, Shady, "let's go to the hop"!!! With some of these songs, I was ready to put on my saddle shoes!
    It's so funny, when I was listening to ," a 1000 miles away", I was about to say, "geez, that songs just like "Daddy's home" and there it WAS, the next song!!! True!
    Didn't they glamourize those soda pops back then, I love 'em , although, I try to stay away from 'em!
    Now is this "Johnny Ray" the same "Johnny Ray" they sing about in one of my fav songs from the 80's" "Come on Eileen", by the Dexys Midnight Runners? Here is the first lines of the song:
    " Poor old Johnny Ray
    Sounded sad upon the radio
    He moved a million hearts in Mono
    Our mothers cried
    Sang along, who'd blame them"
    I guess I agree with you , Penny Loafers is my fav on this post with Black Slacks coming in a close second---but then, again, Just walking in the rain, is a great classic! Have a great week,Shady!

    1. Hi, Toni! Thank you for dropping in, dear friend! It's been many years since I drank soda pop - probably even longer than it's been since I had a beer or a cigarette. I don't miss it at all and I hate to see so many of today's kids risking obesity and other health problems by consuming so many soft drinks every day.

      I'm naming you Dean of the College of Musical Knowledge for pulling out those lyrics to the 80s new wave recording "Come On Eileen." I wasn't even familiar with the lyrics and it does seem like they give a nod to Johnnie Ray and refer to the impact he had on young and old alike in the 1950s.

      I'm glad your ears like "Penny Loafers" as much as mine do. It was one of the first records I bought when I got interested in the rock 'n' roll revival in the late 60s and early 70s.

      Thank you once again for taking time to be here, dear friend Toni. I wish you a safe and happy week ahead!

  6. Well, I got back in line for another round, lol! Actually, I was browsing your conversation with YaYa, and, it does hit home when we lose an artist we admire so much. I, too looked up Shep, and what a tragedy. And, remembering that wonderful voice, Sam Cooke, who was definitely in the wrong place at the wrong time. Those times were fast and furious for the entertainers, with so much competition, and not enough money for most. Sometimes, the money went to their heads, and they just lost control of themselves, and allowed other things to take over, as David Ruffin, and also, Frankie Lyman did. My goodness, I'm sure the trials were too tempting for most!. And, I am grateful for those who hung on, and blessed us with their talents!

    Well, being a DJ must have been rewarding...I love several DJs in our area from a few radio stations. They always have that certain, cool tone, lol!

    So, okay-done for now! I still like Penny Loafers! Haha! See you, Shady! ♫

    1. Hello again, Suzie-Q! I'm always delighted when you pay a return visit. I am especially pleased to see you and other friends reading each other's comments and doing some extra reading and research on the side to learn more about the artists I introduce. Can you imagine what a great compliment that is for me?

      You named a couple other good examples of music stars who died young. The list is long. Poverty, drinking, drugs and other personal problems were often to blame. Even the King himself, Elvis, with all his fame and fortune, couldn't keep his life from spinning out of control and coming to a premature end. It does seem rather rare to find stars in any field of entertainment who manage to live a long, healthy and happy life.

      I lived in South Central PA and was lucky to have two major media markets, Philadelphia and Baltimore, within reach of my radio and TV antennae. The personalities who hosted music programs in those cities influenced my tastes and fueled my interest in having a career in broadcasting.

      Thank you again, sweet Sue, for being the first class friend you are. Take care and have a wonderful week, dearie!

  7. My Dad had a friend who worked for a local compatible that serviced jukeboxes all across the county (which meant it was a mob business in our town, but I can't delve into that further, lest I get whacked, boss).

    Every month, he brought 45s to us. Many if them were duds by my basement DJ rankings but I'll never forget the times when he brought great ones! My DJ-IN-MY-MIND days were a little later, but some of the great ones included the Everly Brothers, Beatles, Paul Revere & the Raiders, Three Dog Night, Percy Sledge, Eric Carmen....I could daydream about that all day.

    Today, I wish someone brought me anything that got me as excited as those used records did long ago. It was like Christmas. I'd sit on the floor in front of those records for hours, plotting a play list.

    Have a good day. Take care, Shady!

    1. Hi, dear Cherdo! Thank you very much for staying up late to visit me and reminisce. I like what you expressed here about the joy and excitement we experienced in our youth. Quite often it was generated by the simplest things. Many of us have been chasing that high ever since and never capturing it in adulthood.

      I had an experience similar to the one you described. My dad knew a jukebox jobber who had a shop where he sold used records pulled from jukeboxes on his service route. One day in 1964 I went to the shop, sifted through hundreds of 45s and bought what turned out to be two of my favorite doublesiders - Elvis Presley's "Ain't That Loving You, Baby" b/w "Ask Me" and Rick Nelson's "The Very Thought of You" b/w "I Wonder If Your Love Will Ever Belong To Me." I got them for ten cents each. To this day finding those vinyl treasures at a bargain price remains one of my fondest memories.

      Thank you again for coming by, dear friend Cherdo, and for writing such a great comment in which you shared a personal story related to what was presented here. It doesn't get any better than this.

      Have a wonderful week, dear Cheryl!

    2. I must have been half asleep, Shady? "Compatible" was supposed to be "company"...."if" should have been "of"....

      I'm so glad I don't get graded on these posts.


      PS: Please don't start issuing grades. I need to pass this semester.

    3. Ha! With my "shady" comment track record I'm in no position to judge others, dear friend. I must admit, however, that you had me stumped with the word compatible. I chalked it up to my own ignorance and read on. Maybe it was a subliminal slip indicating you think we are very compatible as friends. I hope so, anyway.

      If I was issuing grades I'd give you an A+ as one of my all time best friends. How's that? Thank you again for stopping by, dear Cheryl. The welcome mat and red carpet are always here waiting for you!

  8. Howdy, Shady!!! This is Your friends Abigail and Daisy checking in after a wonderful episode of Crusin'. I love this theme and cannot wait for more. Im sure you know how fond i am of old cars, vintage things and road trips in general.
    Why, just this afternoon i was dropping dad off to get his car from the shop so Daisy and i made a date out of it. I had bluegrass and Everly Brothers tunes turned up and i gathered her up, bed and all and plopped her in the backseat. It was a lovely day and we had the windows down. She laud in the sun coming through the window and had a nice nap! (Thats not much related to your post but i thought you might enjoy it).
    I also love these happy, fun and rosy pop adds. The one that caught my eye was the fall themed RC Cola. The brown tones and wind in the lady's hair and falling leaves is so charming. I also got quite a kick out of Penny Loafers and Bobby Socks. That IS one of the rockinest tunes. So cool.
    Until next crusin' time, see you then!
    -Abigail and Daisy

    1. Hi, dear A & D! I am so pleased to see you here today. As I told Cherdo (above), I love it when a reader friend is inspired to share a personal story based on something they saw or heard in my post. As I read your anecdote I pictured Daisy snoozing in her doggie bed in the back seat of your car. It made me smile. I'm surprised she was able to fall asleep with the music blasting but I suppose she's used to it by now.

      I'm thrilled to know that you enjoyed the blend of high voltage rockabilly and rock 'n roll in the Sparkletones records and that you appreciated the vintage soft drink adverts. If you examine those ads closely they silently speak volumes about the trends, tastes, fashions, attitudes and values of the mid 20th century.

      You are such a dear friend, Abigail. I am always delighted to have you over and I thank you once again for coming. More volumes of Crusin' are in the pipeline (1958 through 1970) so stay tuned, Have a wonderful week!

  9. Hello Shady! I was seven yrs. old when these records came out. I did recognize one of them: Daddy's Home.

    My sister was ten and the one who bought records, so I learned to love Elvis and Ricky Nelson, who you said had hits at the same time as Daddy's Home. I learned to love Roy Orbison when I was around 16.

    I really like Johnny Ray's voice, although I don't remember any of his songs you have written about. I think my favorite song today was 'Yes, Tonight, Josephine." You could have a good time dancing to that one. I'm looking forward to your next post.

    1. Hi, dear Belle! Thank you very much for attending my latest Cruisin' party. Yessum, you and I were both 7 in 1957. You were growing up on the West Coast and I was back East. Over the years, through research and checking top 40 radio playlists, I have come to realize that stations in my region played quite a few records that were not played in your vicinity. I'm glad you remember "Daddy's Home" and that your ears hear what mine do when you listen to Johnnie Ray's "Josephine," not to be confused with the 1960 recording by Fats Domino "My Girl Josephine" aka "Hello Josephine," covered in 1967 and turned into a top 30 hit by Jerry Jaye.

      I am delighted to see you, dear friend Belle. I hope you and your family are doing well and I invite you back here Sunday for the start of a 4-part series that I think a California girl like you will appreciate. God bless!

  10. I love old ads, although I've always thought the old woman in those Coca Cola ads looks kinda scary!

    All these songs made me want to watch "Dirty Dancing"!

    1. Hi, Ashton! You can learn a lot of history by examining old print ads in every category. The soda pop ads are filled with images of families and young people engaging in all sorts of activities. They in particular bring back memories of my youth.

      I'm glad you enjoyed your visit today, dear friend Ashton. I hope your week's been going well and that you'll join me for my new four-part series beginning this Sunday. Until then, take care!

  11. I enjoyed listening to the songs Shady and I'm looking forward to the next instalment!

    1. Thanks a bunch, Sarah! As you can see I have several series running concurrently here on SDMM and I'm always delighted when you pop in to listen and learn. I look forward to your next visit, dear friend Sarah! Good night to you!


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