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

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Rat Ron's Retro Rock Reminiscences: Hickory Shtick, Part 2

As you recall 
from my 
previous post 
my old high 
school buddy 
and Dell Rat 
Ron Shearer 
spent his pre- 
Dell years 
hanging out 
at Smith 
Village, a 
furniture and 
appliance store 
near his home
in Jacobus, PA. 

Ron perused 
the Billboard 
and Cashbox lists and helped Bill Mitzel, the 
man in the record department, order vinyl 

Smith Village became a distributor for Hickory Records, the Nashville based indy label that was founded in the 50s as a country imprint but added pop and rock acts to its roster a decade later. Here once again is the Hickory label band called The Sparkles and another rare dance party clip from back in the day.

"The Hip"/"Oh Girls, Girls" - The Sparkles 
(1966, uncharted) 

(There are definitely some potential Dellettes in that crowd!) 

One of the most successful 
acts on Hickory Records was 
Sue Thompson and this is 
where I step aside and let 
Ron continue his story. 

Ron, be my guest! 

Sue Thompson was the big R&R lady 
at Hickory. Most of Sue's singles were 
WSBA Pick Hits of the Week. They 
included "Sad Movies (Make Me Cry)"... 

"Sad Movies (Make Me Cry)" - Sue Thompson
(October 1961, highest chart position #5)


"Norman" - Sue Thompson
(January 1962, highest chart position #3) 

"James (Hold the Ladder Steady)"...

"James (Hold the Ladder Steady)" 

- Sue Thompson (November 1962, 
highest chart position #17 ) 

"Willie Can"...

"Willie Can" - Sue Thompson
(January 1963, highest chart position #78) 

I believe all of them were written by 

John D. Loudermilk, the same country 
writer who wrote "Then You Can Tell Me 

Ron, let me stop you there because I would like to offer some fine yet very seldom heard sides by Sue Thompson, songs that elevated her above the novelty ditties for which she became famous.

For example, listen to the outstanding A and B sides of Sue's first Hickory release:

"Throwin' Kisses" - Sue Thompson
(1961, uncharted) 

Here's the fab flip of that first release,
an exquisite, Brenda Lee styled ballad.

"Angel, Angel." - Sue Thompson
(1961, uncharted) 

Or how about this bluesy killer bee?

"It Has to Be" - Sue Thompson (April 1962, 
uncharted flipside of "Two of a Kind") 

Or this powerful ballad which cracked the pop singles top 40:

"Have a Good Time" - Sue Thompson 
(July 1962, highest chart position #31) 

Finally, here's my Pick to Click among all Sue Thompson recordings, "Paper Tiger."

"Paper Tiger" - Sue Thompson 
(February 1965, highest chart position #23) 

Here's Sue performing my favorite song on Hullabaloo:

Then came the one R&R 
song which I bought: 
"Bread and Butter" by 
The Newbeats. I saw 
The Newbeats live at 
Hershey Park. Acts 
that appeared along 
with them in the free 
show included The 
Olympics and The McCoys (before Rick 
Derringer and a couple 
of others became part of Johnny Winter's 
band which he called Johnny Winter And.

"Bread and Butter" - Newbeats 
(September 1964, highest chart position #2) 

And Ron, allow me to present another lesser known and seldom heard Newbeats song that has become one of my favorites in recent years.

"Shake Hands
(and Come Out Crying)" - Newbeats 

(March 1966, highest chart position #92) 

And finally, let's wrap up our Hickory shtick with a very rare record. It's the first single released on the Hickory label by Larry Henley, lead singer of the Newbeats. Listen and I think you'll agree that Larry sounded like Gene Pitney back then.

"It's Happening Again" - Larry Henley 
(January 1963, uncharted) 

Shady, the last time I visited Jacobus and 
stopped in at Smith Village, I was told 
that Bill had a very successful country 
music record shop somewhere around 
the Maryland Line. 

Ron, the discount department store called Mailman's was where I did most of my record shopping but I remember
my parents taking me to Smith Village Jacobus on several occasions. Thanks for the memories, my good friend!
Between the two of us we came up with some rare relics that deserved to be heard!

Thanks again to original Dell Rat 
Ron Shearer for accepting my invitation to



Have a Shady day!


  1. That was quite a trip down memory lane Ron & Shady. That first one by the Sparkles didn't do as much for me as the girls dancing in the clip. Some of them almost had some very attractive outfits on that captured my attention. The other thing that got me on this edition was that singer with the Newbeats that has the high pitched voice. It amazes me to watch guys like that putting out such a unique sound. All in all another very good one guys. Thanks

  2. Odie - You say there were girls in that Sparkles video? I didn't notice! (LOL) Yes, Larry Henley of the Newbeats certainly had a unique voice. It's interesting to note that Henley became better known in more recent years as a Grammy award winning songwriter. He co-wrote Bette Midler's #1 hit "Wind Beneath My Wings" which won Song of the Year and Record of the Year in 1989. Have a great day, Odie!

  3. Thanks Ron and Shady. I enjoyed these songs so much.

    I remember Sue Thompson's songs very well. "Sad Movies", "Norman" and "Paper Tiger" were the most popular I guess. I thought they were all wonderful, especially "Angel, Angel" and "It Has to be You".

    I have certainly learned to like the Newbeats more and more since your blog. I always did like, "Bread and Butter". I thought "Shake Hands" should have done better on the charts and also "It's Happening Again". They are both great songs.

  4. Belle - If you wanna feel old (or maybe young) you should know that Sue Thompson will be 86 this summer! Sue was already pushing 40 when she recorded her hits in the early and mid 60s. Her beauty and little girl voice allowed her to pass for a much younger performer and appeal to teenage record buyers. I call the Newbeats "Nashville cats" because they recorded for the Nashville based Hickory Records. Larry Henley was actually from Texas and brothers Dean and Mark Mathis came from Georgia. Dean and Mark recorded a few singles w/o Larry with limited success. Thanks for stopping by, dear friend Belle, and have a safe trip to Nevada!

  5. those girls in The Hip video by the Sparkles knew how to get down! I am totally stealing some of those dance moves :)

  6. Amber Blue Bird - I'm wondering where and when those dance scenes were captured. I thought for a minute I was watching a Russ Meyer movie! Thank you for coming over, dear friend Amber, and have a wonderful evening in Connecticut. I leave you with these words: "black holes.....think about it."

  7. Excellent as always Shady. I particularly enjoyed Sue Thompsons "It Has To Be". I liked the Newbeats as well. The lead singer had a very unique voice! Hope you're doing well Shady.

  8. Alabee - It always gives me a lift when I see that you have stopped by for a visit. I agree with you about Sue Thompson's bluesy "It Has to Be" which features that wailing sax. It's a shame that Sue is remembered best for her cute novelty songs instead of her more serious material. I never tire of the Newbeats and they'll be back on the blog soon. I hope that you are well and that you will stay in touch, dear friend Alabee!

  9. What a nice time reliving the record hops at the Jacobus Fire Hall around age 13, when Sue Thompson became popular, hosted by Chris Huber. They sure were much simpler times, and a much simpler (in more ways than one) me. Thanks for jogging my memory about Sue Thompson's first song. I knew that "Sad Movies" was a pick hit on the Mighty 910 after a less popular, but pretty ballad received a bunch of airplay---and I believe it made 'SBA's top 40. "Angel, Angel" was the side that they promoted, and that Hickory told Bill to promote as well. That song, and "Have A Good Time" were two of the sweetest ballads I've heard in a long time. I'm going to turn in now and dream about Sue singing to me, in that soft, sexy voice.

  10. Ron - Yes, it seems like Sue was robbed of some hits there. The mentality in the music business is to keep repeating a successful formula until the public gets sick and tired of it. Maybe that's why they kept hammering away at the novelties and didn't promote Sue's fine ballads. Thanks again for your many contributions to the blog, good buddy, and have a great weekend in Tulsa town!

  11. I was amazed when you said how old Sue Thompson was! She looked maybe 20 yrs old. What a beauty.

  12. Belle - Takes one to know one, fair lady! I wish you a safe trip to Nevada, my dear friend, and I hope you'll stay in touch, stay safe and have fun!

  13. Norman, ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ... could not get this song out of my mind last night, I used to love that song. Still reeling from the fact that Sue Thompson turns 86 this summer! Enjoyed the video of Paper Tigers filmed on Hullabaloo with that dancing I love to watch. Also, really liked Let's Shake Hands and It's Happening Again. That voice of Larry Henley is something else!
    Shady and Ron did it again, this was great! A big thank you!

  14. Cindy - You deserve a big thank you for maintaining the highest standards of blogging. I am well aware that you are in the midst of a chaotic cross country move and yet you found time to come here, read, listen and post an intelligent comment. Moreover, you made time to post a thoughtful reply to my comment on your blog. You are a grade A blogger and friend, Cindy. Enjoy your weekend!

  15. Hi Ron and Shady, I remember attending many record hops hosted by the "Chris Huber" Ron mentioned in his comment. As I recall he played all my favorites by the Jive Five. I wonder what happened to someone that I danced with that I think was his sister. In any case, enjoyed the post and the comments. Jerre

  16. Hi, Jerre! I'm surprised you didn't see the Newbeats at Hershey Park like Ron did. It's ironic that you are remembering someone you danced with years ago and wondering what became of her. That's the theme of a blog post that I'll be presenting later this month. Thanks for reporting in, Jerre, and have a great weekend!

  17. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a lovely comment

  18. I'm with Odie, those girls in that first clip were AWESOME!! Also, I am stealing those moves (I'm going to try not to break anything while doing so!). Great post, as always, Shady! Thanks so much for sharing, Ron!

  19. Gingey - Thank you for poking me 'cross the pond, dear friend, and have a wonderful weekend in your part of England!

    Joan - I would love to know where that footage was captured because I can't remember any dance shows on TV that had girls who dressed like that or danced like that. Thanks for coming by, dear friend Joanie, and enjoy your weekend!

  20. What a wonderful post! I enjoyed listening to all of the wonderful songs. Big Hugs!

  21. Katie - Big hugs to you as well! Most of these songs were unfamiliar to me when I began my research. I find it exciting to discover something old that is also something new. Thank you very much for your visit and your comment, dear friend Katie, and enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

  22. Wow, what an informative post :) -I love the Angel, Angel track. Thanks for all your lovely comments recently, Shady. Alfred says 'hello'!

  23. G-T - Between you and your mum I'm getting a double dose of Alfred, Ruby Violet, and all of my favorite people including you. I'm glad your stay has been extended and I hope the weather holds out. Thank you for coming by to listen to a few tunes. I'm glad you like "Angel, Angel" as much as I and others do. Cheers!


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