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

Saturday, January 29, 2011

1963: Congress Releases Records..... Wins Widespread Popular Support!

Translation: Records on the Congress label
 sold like hot cakes thanks to Shirley Ellis,
 the company's top recording act!

Shirley's first big hit, "The Nitty Gritty" was the kind of sonic tonic that grief stricken Americans needed to begin the healing process in the weeks following the assassination
of President John F. Kennedy. Like "Louie Louie," the controversial hit record by the Kingsmen that charted at the same time, "The Nitty Gritty" contained lyrics that were wide open to interpretation. The important thing, however, is that both songs served as a much needed distraction and helped to lift us out of the doldrums.

"The Nitty Gritty," a rip-it-up, go-go style dance number,
had the wind at its back as it steadily climbed the charts during December and reached its zenith at the start of 1964, giving the long-haired British invaders a run for their money.

One year later, in December of 1964, Shirley had her second hit on the charts.

“The Name Game” was a good-natured novelty record that challenged listeners to make a rhyme out of anybody’s name.

In the spring of 1965, a couple of months after "The Name Game" faded off the charts, Congress was back in session and Shirley Ellis was back in business.

Shirley struck paydirt again with "The Clapping Song," another entertaining recording in the novelty pop soul vein.

As much as I love deep soul, Motown and southern R&B,
I also thoroughly enjoy feel good pop soul like these songs
by Shirley Ellis.

Other favorites in the
same category include:

"Puppy Love"
by Barbara Lewis
(January 1964)

“The Shoop Shoop Song
(It’s in His Kiss)”
by Betty Everett
(March 1964)

“The Birds
and the Bees”
by Jewel Akens
(January 1965)

Every time I hear songs like those they lift my spirits. No heavy messages, no social commentary, no political protests, no put-downs...just lighthearted fun that continues to bring out the kid in me and you. that actually allows you to forget your troubles for a while instead of focusing
on them. Now there's a concept!

This act of Congress sets me free from my worries. Let's wind up our popcorn party with two more rare Shirley Ellis performance clips!

Del Del Bo Bel

Bonana Fanna Fo Fel

Fee Fy Mo Mel...


Have a Shady day!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Shady Dell in Winter, with Fireplaces Burning and Records That Keep Turning...

As much fun as the

Shady Dell was in summer...

It was pure magic in winter. 

I spent several

New Years Eves at the Dell.

New Year’s 1969-70 is

particularly memorable

because I went to the Dell

in the middle of a blizzard.

When it was time to leave, John Ettline brought an ice scraper and shovel out to the parking lot and kindly helped me to extricate my car from the snow. That’s so John.

Let's go back 44 years to January of 1967 when three awesome ballads occupied slots inside the Dell jukebox
at the same time. These three cuddle classics warmed
our nights and our hearts all winter long.

Aaron Neville's debut hit single, "Tell It Like It Is" got the jump on the other two records, arriving at the Dell in early December. By mid-January, Neville's signature song had reached its peak of popularity and dreamy-eyed couples were swaying to the sound several times a night.

At the same time that "Tell It Like It Is" was breaking into the top 5 on Billboard and Cash Box, the two other featured Dell ballads were also making their chart ascent, both of them armed with a bullet.

By the mid 60's, Tommy Roe was transitioning from a respectable rock-a-billy singer to one who plied his trade with bubble gum and nursery rhyme pop...(not that there's anything wrong with that).

With a doo-wop sound and style held over from the late 50's when they called themselves the Legends, the Casinos were very much an anachronism on the 1967 pop music landscape.

Tommy Roe and the Casinos were not the usual suspects in
a Dell jukebox lineup that favored soul artists like the Temps and Tops; but these vanilla recording acts contributed two more essential winter time slow jams to the Dell, “It’s Now Winter’s Day” and “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye.”

In the years following its release, “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye” was undoubtedly played at thousands of weddings because it's tailor made for such occasions. At the Dell, it took the jaws of life to pry couples apart once the Casinos started to croon the lyrics to their syrupy song. Dell knights and Dellettes, locked in tight embrace on the dance floor, made all kinds of silly promises to each other while under the intoxicating influence of this dreamy ballad.

By January of 1967, Tommy Roe’s voice was already a familiar one at the Dell.

The previous June, Tommy’s infectious pop hit “Sweet Pea” (#186 on my Dell 200) had been an irresistible treat that the gang sampled many times during the early weeks
of summer vacation.

Please watch this "Sweet Pea" video
all the way through. The little girl who
performs with Tommy is adorable and
together they create a rare and magical
moment in the history of rock!

After witnessing the delightful chemistry between Tommy Roe and that girl, I read the YouTube comments and found two that I would like to share with you. They provide some closure for those of you who might be wondering whatever happened to that exceptionally poised young lady.

I found a comment that this girl left on
my channel a few months ago when she
was asking me where she could get a
copy of this clip to show to her

I contacted Tommy Roe about this video and he clearly rememberd it and the cute young lady.  I also got in touch with the girl in the video whom we'll call "Sweet Pea" and passed on Tommy's contact info to her. She was
so delighted. She and Tommy had a
sort of reunion and she received an autographed photo from Tommy.

When winter came, Tommy was back in the box with an even bigger Dell hit, the evocative ballad “It’s Now Winter’s Day.”

If you spent the winter of '67 at the Dell, I'm sure that you remember "It's Now Winter's Day." Here's an opportunity for you to use your imagination. Put yourself back in the barn huddled in front of that fireplace with fellow Dell rats on a frigid night in January 1967.

Outside it's chilling.
The mercury is dropping down

to minus ten below ("feels like" temp)

It's snowing hard. Your folks called you plumb loco for going out on a wretched night like this, but you just had to be there with the gang.

Feel the warmth radiating from the roaring blaze. John just threw another log on the fire. It must have had some wet snow on it because it’s starting to sizzle. Can you hear it?

Meanwhile, out on the barn's dance floor, guys and girls are falling in love all over again to Tommy Roe’s cold gold classic.

And so

in the dead of winter... 

there was life at the Dell…

and a palpable sense

of amicability...

and a roaring fire  

and a smoky haze...

body heat...

and romance...

that I still 
can smell...

Essence that

I liked so well...

(Clairol Herbal)…

Have a Shady Day!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Joanna and Her Jukebox Jems Prove Beyond a Shadow That Retro Rocks!


Joanna, my good
friend and loyal 
blog follower in
the UK, responded
to the lists sent in
by Wanilianna,
Jerre, Belle and
Thisisme by
assembling a
rockin' retro
song list of
her own!

"The songs are from
what used to be my
parents' favourite
tape," wrote Joanna,
"and bring back a lot of
memories from when
my brother and I were
little. We'd play these
tunes and dance around
the table in our dining
room! And right now
they fit in nicely with
my love for retro stuff."

Joanna's love of retro is proudly displayed on
an Oxford-based fashion photography blog with a retro twist.
Joanna, a native of Poland who has been been living and studying in the UK for the past four years, is an up and coming model. Retro-Story features a growing collection of Joanna's modeling images captured exclusively by her talented partner Adrian Krajewski.

More of Joanna's modeling and Adrian's expert photography
in a bit, but right now, without further ado, let's find out which of her parents' oldies filled Joanna with all of that girlhood glee!

"These might not be my favourite songs of
all time," Joanna explained, "but they are
very special to me nonetheless. Here goes
(in no particular order)."

1. "At the Hop" - Danny and the Juniors
(February 1958)

2. "Breaking Up is Hard to Do"
- Neil Sedaka (August 1962)

3. "Oh! Carol" - Neil Sedaka
(December 1959) 

4. "Lollipop" - Chordettes (April 1958)

5. "Diana" - Paul Anka (October 1957)

6. "Adam and Eve" - Paul Anka
(April 1960)

7. "Mr. Lonely" - Bobby Vinton
(December 1964)

8. "Rock Around the Clock" - Bill Haley
(July 1954)

9. "Hello Mary Lou" - Ricky Nelson
(July 1961)

10. "The Great Pretender" - Platters
(February 1956)

Joanna, this list is  all killer - no filler!  These songs bring back fond memories of my childhood in the 1950's and 60's and it's so cool knowing that they were also a part of your youth decades later.   I uncovered some related trivia for you.

"Diana," one of singer/songwriter Paul Anka's biggest and best known hits remained on the Billboard chart for an astounding 29 weeks (more than half a year) and yet it never managed to reach #1. "Diana" had momentum when
it got to the #2 position in September of 1957, but it was blocked from the top spot four weeks in a row by "Tammy," the Debbie Reynolds love ballad taken from her hit movie Tammy and the Bachelor.

Debbie Reynolds 

While we're on the subject, Joanna, did anyone ever
tell you that you look very much like pert and petite
Debbie Reynolds did in the early and mid 50's?


"Rock Around the Clock" was the granddaddy of all rock 'n roll songs. The jumpin' jitterbug classic by Bill Haley and his Comets was a #1 best seller and represented a cultural shift. Until then the type of song that had been rewarded with radio play and record sales was a smooth, civilized ballad
like "The Great Pretender." Placid and polite, the Platters' "Pretender" followed the example set by Bill Haley's tune, climbing to #1 and remaining on the chart for nearly half a year! My parents owned copies of "Rock Around the Clock" and "The Great Pretender" and as a young boy I played them to death on my tiny tinny record player.

Ricky Nelson's hit "Hello Mary Lou" is noteworthy because it was actually the B side of an even bigger hit "Travelin' Man." Seems to me that the decision makers at Imperial Records could have reaped two chart toppers instead of one if the songs had been released as the A sides of two separate 45's. As it was, "Travelin' Man" went to #1 and "Mary Lou" barely broke into the top 10, stopping at #9. I still remember waking up on New Year's Day 1986 to the news that Rick had died in a plane crash, one of the greatest tragedies in rock history.

Thank you for a wonderful set of songs, Joanna.

You struck old gold!

"I've only started  
modeling this
past year so
I'm still learning 
a lot and all the
is really fantastic."

- Joanna

Joanna, I am very surprised by what you wrote.  When I look at the world class images
in your blog portfolio it is hard to believe that you are so new to modeling!

Maybe I shouldn't
be surprised at all.

Your love of all things
retro reveals you to be
precocious - an old soul -
wise far beyond your years.

Thank you, dear friend Joanna, for sharing with us your parents' songs and your avocation!

Who's next?

If you have a Top Tunes list I'd love to see it.  It would be fascinating to discover which songs meant the most to you in your youth or which ones resonate now in the present. Why not do what Wanilianna, Jerre, Belle, Thisisme and Joanna did? Make a list, submit it in the form of a comment and I'll get it posted. It can be a list of your favorite songs, the most exciting songs, best songs from a particular time period similar to my mid 60's Dell survey...anything you like!




Have a Shady day!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thisisme and Thisisher List of Favourites!

"In 1962/63, I was at the

local coffee bar, listening

to all these records.....

and usually sitting there all

evening with a single bottle

of Coca-Cola, in those lovely

shaped bottles." - Thisisme

My friend and loyal blog follower Thisisme lives in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, the South Hams district in the county of Devon, England.

Thisisme has access to miles of pristine coastline that comprise the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, an area dedicated since 1960 to the preservation of scenic wonders and native wildlife.

Thisisme writes about her life in this idyllic setting
and a wide variety of other entertaining, informative and inspirational subjects
in her blog entitled Southhamsdarling.

Thisisme responded to my recent post in which I listed the 200 Greatest Hits of the Shady Dell by sharing with us her own list of song favorites. Thisisme owns a vintage 1962 jukebox and has it stocked with baby boomer classics.

"As you can imagine, being a child
of the 60's, I love it!" Thisisme
exclaimed in a recent post. "It has
one hundred old 45's on it, ranging
from Elvis to Cliff Richard, Brenda
Lee, Roy Orbison, Jim Reeves, Connie
Francis, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Buddy Holly, The Four Tops, and The
Supremes, to name but a few.

The good thing about the juke box
is that, being surrounded by fields,
I can play it as loud as I like (and
I do! Usually I'm bopping away whilst listening to the music. Nothing like
a good bop to cheer you up!!)

Here is my list of my Top Twenty
favourite hits of the early-mid
sixties, Shady, (in no particular

"I Can't Stop Loving You" by
Ray Charles (June 1962)

"She's Not You" by Elvis Presley
(August 1962)

"Poetry in Motion" by Johnny Tillotson
(December 1960)

"Cathy's Clown" by The Everly Brothers
(June 1960)

"Runaway" by Del Shannon
(May 1961)

"I Want To Hold Your Hand" by
The Beatles (February 1964)

"Take Good Care of My Baby" by
Bobby Vee (October 1961)

"Baby Love" by The Supremes
(November 1964) 

"In Dreams" by Roy Orbison
(March 1963)

"Needles and Pins" by The Searchers
(April 1964)

"Lipstick On Your Collar" by
Connie Francis (July 1959)
(Upload by a YouTuber in Devon, UK!)

"It's My Party" by Lesley Gore
(June 1963)

"Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow"
by The Shirelles (February 1961)

"He's A Rebel" by The Crystals
(November 1962)

"You Don't Have To Say You Love Me"
by Dusty Springfield (July 1966)

"Out of Time" by Chris Farlowe
(November 1966)

"Reach Out I'll Be There" by
The Four Tops (October 1966)

"Good Vibrations" by The Beach Boys
(December 1966)

 "Distant Drums" by Jim Reeves
(April 1966)

"Halfway to Paradise" by Billy Fury
(May to October 1961)

Thank you very much for sending in
your fab list of Twenty Favourite Hits,

When I watched that "...Hold Your Hand" video the unbridled excitement took me over and I was teleported back to the start of 1964 when the unprecedented Beatles craze began stateside. That's powerful.

Ultimately, "Out of Time" is Shady Del's Pick to Click from your list because it's stupendous yet seldom heard, but every song's a winner here and so are you, my dear friend!

Who's next?

If you have a Top Tunes list I'd love to see it.  It would be fascinating to discover which songs meant the most to you in your youth or which ones resonate now in the present. Why not do what Wanilianna, Jerre, Belle and Thisisme did? Make a list, submit it in the form of a comment and I'll get
it posted. It can be a list of your favorite songs, the most exciting songs, best songs from a particular time period similar to my mid 60's Dell survey...anything you like!




Have a Shady day!