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

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lloyd Thaxton's Greatest Hits, Pt. 3

We continue now with more of my favorite songs related to The Lloyd Thaxton Show!

(November, December 1964)

“Mountain of Love” – Johnny Rivers

I remember watching Johnny Rivers’ guest appearance on Thaxton in the autumn of 1964.

My first exposure to Johnny Rivers had come earlier at my cousin's house when he invited me to listen to three of Johnny's albums that were recorded live at the famed Whisky a-Go-Go on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood.

I loved Johnny Rivers’ soulful voice and his energetic interpretations of blues and country standards. The albums featured a distinctive hook – a chorus of squealing go-go girls that sang along in the background and cheered at the end of each song. Nice touch! I enjoyed the three LPs so much that I soon bought my own copies.

I have never been a big fan of live albums. The producer in me usually prefers studio recordings because of the artistry involved in the mix down; yet, those Johnny Rivers albums won me over and to this day I never tire of hearing them.

When Johnny Rivers performed on Lloyd Thaxton, he lip-synced to his newly-released recording, “Mountain of Love,” an excellent cover of the Harold Dorman hit from four years earlier.

Harold Dorman's 1960 "Mountain of Love" single did well on the national chart, finishing at #21.

Johnny Rivers’ version of the song surpassed Dorman's achievement, breaking into the Billboard top 10 and halting at #9.

(November 1964 thru January 1965)

“Thou Shalt Not Steal” – Dick and DeeDee

My mom turned thumbs down on “Thou Shalt Not Steal,” asserting that it was wrong to quote the bible in a secular song. My mother’s protests did not prevent me from groovin' to the sound of Dick and DeeDee. "Thou Shalt Not Steal" began climbing the Billboard chart as I was turning 15. I found it to be one of the freshest, most exciting sounds to emerge domestically since the start of the British invasion.

Since I watched Lloyd Thaxton religiously (pun intended) I was especially thrilled when I tuned in one day to find the Los Angeles pair on the show lip-syncing to "Thou Shalt Not Steal," a rousing rendition of singer/songwriter John D. Loudermilk’s composition. "Thou Shalt Not Steal" was the most soulful recording Dick and DeeDee ever released, and became their second biggest hit, reaching #13 on the chart.

Dick and DeeDee also appeared in the pilot of Where The Action Is, the music television series created by Dick Clark.

Although they sang love duets, Dick and DeeDee were not a romantic couple, merely singing partners who had met in school. Dick St. John’s original name was Richard Gosting. During the act’s 60’s recording career, DeeDee was Mary Sperling. When Mary retired in the 1970s, Dick kept the act alive by touring with his wife Sandy who took over as DeeDee.

Dick died tragically in December 2003 after suffering head injuries in a fall from a ladder at his home near Los Angeles. Three of my other favorite recording artists died around that same time, all within the span of one year: Edwin “Agent OO-Soul” Starr (April 2003); Bobby Hatfield of the Righteous Brothers (November 2003); and Jan Berry of Jan & Dean (March 2004). If there’s a rock & roll heaven you know they’ve got a hell of a band!

The Newbeats also recorded a version of “Thou Shalt Not Steal” in 1964. The recording session actually predates by a few months the release of the Dick & Dee Dee hit version. Oddly enough, the Newbeats rendition was not released as a single until five years later during the summer of 1969. Perhaps the delayed release was intended to allow the song to blend in with the new Age of Aquarius, sunshine pop, and Jesus rock movements. A fine recording that sounds similar to Dick & DeeDee's, "Thou Shalt Not Steal" by the Newbeats was nevertheless somewhat of an anachronism on the late 60s record charts. The song bubbled under at #128 but failed to make the Hot 100.

Stand by for more Lloyd Thaxton gold coming up in my next post!

Have a Shady day!

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