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, October 20, 2011

Rat Ron's Retro Rock Reminiscences: Deadly Ditties Part 1


 Dell Rat Ron is back with 

 more music and memories! 

 Just in time for 
 Ron and I put 

 together a two 
 part series that 
 is guaranteed 
 to creep you 
 out or double 
 your money 

 Some records 
 you'll hear 
 in this series 
 tell stories 
 about close 
 encounters with monsters and aliens. 
 Other songs lay bare the groan pains  
 of teenage romance turned tragic! 

Science fiction and horror movies flourished 
in the 50s and similarly themed novelty ditties along with them.  Records in the so-called death rock category were equally popular!

With that 
I'll step aside 
and say Ron,
be my ghost


 Shady, remember how 
 popular the tear-jerkers 
 about tragic lost loves 
 were when we were 
 young? I believe this 
 first song of mine was 
 the most popular of them 
 all. "Teen Angel," a sad 
 and sappy single by Mark 
 Dinning, spent the first 
 18 weeks of 1960 on the 
 record chart and wound 
 up at #1. 

"Teen Angel" - Mark Dinning (March 1960, highest chart 
position #1) 


 Earlier this year you mentioned "Tell Laura I Love Her," 
 the tragic tale of a stock car race gone horribly wrong.  
 In the USA, the version recorded by Ray Peterson 
 became a top 10 hit. 

"Tell Laura I Love Her" - Ray Peterson (August 1960, highest 
chart position #7) 


 Your follower Thisisme in England reminded us that 
 Welshman Ricky Valance drove his cover of the 
 sorrowful saga to the top of the pops in the UK. 

"Tell Laura I Love Her" - Ricky Valance (August 1960, 
uncharted in USA, #1 in UK) 

Ron, let me cut in and play a few death rock ditties from my youth beginning with a record that my older brother brought home.  I played this one a gazillion times on my tiny tinny turntable. It's Jody Reynolds shedding rock-a-billy tears because his gal made a deadly date with the deep blue sea.


"Endless Sleep" - Jody Reynolds 
(July 1958, highest chart position #5) 


Soon after the deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and
The Big Bopper in a tragic plane crash (the day the music died) Tommy Dee was on the charts with a tearful tribute.

"Three Stars" - Tommy Dee (May 1959, highest chart 
position #11) 


In 1961 Phil and Don gave us the tale of a girl who also died in a plane crash.

"Ebony Eyes" - The Everly Brothers (March 1961, highest 
chart position #8) 


We could have died laughing while listening to some of the wacky novelty records released in the 50s that reflected America's obsession with flying saucers and creatures from outer space. Mild mannered Betty Johnson, for example, was stalked relentlessly by a little blue man.

"The Little Blue Man" - Betty Johnson (April 1958, highest 
chart position #19) 


Sheb Wooley was an actor and singer who used a number of stage names. As Ben Colder he recorded country songs and had a hit with "Don't Go Near the Eskimos," an answer song to Rex Allen's "Don't Go Near the Indians." As Sheb Wooley the performer attained the number one song in the land with a novelty record about an encounter with a one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eater!

"The Purple People Eater" - Sheb Wooley (June 1958, 
highest chart position #1) 


Meanwhile, Texan Jesse Lee Turner discovered that space girls are easy and they also have funny little voices. The question remains, are they the marrying kind?

"The Little Space Girl" - Jesse Lee Turner (March 1959, 
highest chart position #20) 


Was The Blob Steve McQueen's best movie? Perhaps not.
Nor would most people argue that the theme song "The Blob" represented Burt Bacharach's best work. That's right! Burt Bacharach co-wrote "The Blob" with Mack David, Hal David's brother, and it was recorded by Bernie Nee and a group of studio musicians using the name The Five Blobs. The record helped promote the 1958 sci-fi horror flick about a jellylike alien life form that terrorizes the town of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. (Just don't swallow up the Dell, okay?)

"The Blob" - The Five Blobs (Halloween 1958, highest 
chart position #33) 

Keep it right here on SDMM!  
More deadly ditties from Dell Rat Ron and 
yours truly are coming up next time!

Have a Shady day!


  1. Oh Yay Tom, I was hoping you'd have Purple People Eater in todays hit parade! And I do remember all those tear jerker songs of tragedy. Running Bear I think played on the juke box in our Jr High with much frequency! I don't even remember who sang that one!

    Yay I can't wait to hear what creepy tunes you stir up next!

    Double Bubble Boil and Trouble Maker...YOU!

  2. Sush - That's right! I forgot to include "Running Bear" by Johnny Preston in this series so I'll post it here. The record was already on the charts two weeks by Halloween 1959, went to #1, and remained on Billboard for an astonishing 27 weeks... more than half a year!

    Thanks for coming up with a great deadly dittie of your own, dear friend Sush, and thank you very much for joining my Halloween party this morning!

  3. Oh, this was fun this morning! I wonder if Sheb knew his Purple People Eater would have found enshrinment in our national conscience? Who would have thought it was destined to ourperform some of the more serious classics of the day?

    The little blue man made me laugh. I also didn't realize there were so many songs that had tragic death as a theme. In fact, I was trying to think of some contemporary songs that have tragic death as a theme, and perhaps it's the early hour now as I'm thinking, but I can't come up with one. I know there are some, but just can't come up with them now.

    Thanks to you and Ron for the fun education this morning!

  4. Shelly - I'm hopelessly stuck in the 60s and hardly ever listen to modern music, so I can't help you think of contemporary tearjerkers. However, I did think of another weepy wonder that was not included in this series. "Honey" by Bobby Goldsboro charted during the spring of 1968 and went to #1. That one's drifting off topic, though, because the teen tragedy records that I'm spotlighting revolve primarily around Final Destination type mishaps, not death from illness. Thank you very much for taking part in the festivities, dear Shelly, and have a wonderful day and weekend!

  5. That was fun even though I had never heard of a lot of yours and Ron's selections. It sure brightened up my lunch break here at work. Thanks a lot guys & have a great weekend.

  6. Odie - Thanks for coming over during your lunch break for some spooky tunes. There were actually two of these records that I didn't know beforehand: "Three Stars," Tommy Dee's tribute to Buddy Holly and the others, and "Little Space Girl" by Jesse Turner. I hadn't heard "The Blob" in ages but I have seen the movie several times. Like I always tell you, good buddy, I'm learning right along with you. Thanks so much for stopping by, Odie, and have a great day up there!

  7. Im gonna have nightmares about the little blue man now. that was crazy weird.

  8. Amber Blue Bird - There's a little blue man in everyone's life and I'm happy to report that mine wuvs me to bits! Thank you for taking your brave pills and coming over to face these deadly ditties, dear Amber! Stay safe, stay happy and stay tuned for part 2 coming next Monday!

  9. Hi dear friend Tom! I really enjoyed this post, as I was so into all those tearjerkers of the 60's! I used to play Ebony Eyes by The Everly Brothers over and over again! How lovely that I got a mention here, with reference to Ricky Vallance. I loved Tell Laura I Love Her. Another one that I have in my jukebox, is Terry by Twinkle when her boyfriend was killed in a motorcycle crash. Perhaps that one didn't make it in the United States. So good to hear all these songs today. Thank you both!

  10. Thisisme - Hello, dear friend! I learned something new from you today. I don't remember "Terry" by British vocalist Twinkle (real name Lynn Annette Ripley) but I looked the record up in my research book and discovered that it was on the Billboard Bubbling Under chart in the USA for four weeks, Jan. and Feb. of 1965, and made it to #110. In the UK the record charted in December 1964 and went to #4 but was banned by the BBC and Ready, Steady Go! program because the tale of a young man killed in a motorcycle accident was considered in bad taste. Thank you very much for coming by and for your informative comments, dear friend Thisisme! Alfred will soon be on your doorstep!

  11. Me again Tom! I love it how you do all your research, and took the trouble to look up that information about the song Terry. Yes, Alfred will be here soon :) it's 11.25 here, so I really must snuggle down now !!

  12. Thisisme - Every visit of yours is extra special to me and I thank you for following up. I'm glad you had a chance to read my research findings before turning in for the night. Isn't it funny how many records were banned back then for having "taboo" themes. How times have changed! Thanks again, dear friend Thisisme!

  13. Hi, Shady!

    I just finished enjoying your maudlin and crazy songs, as well as how you presented my input as well. You know, neither of us included Cathy Carroll's "Jimmy Love" in the sad song category. I guess there are too many songs to remember at one time, as I've seen with "Honey" and Running Bear". I hadn't heard "The Little Blue Man", "The Little Space Girl" or "The Blob" in decades. I think the blue man is really Elmer Fudd in disguise and the little space girl is Alvin's chipmunk sister (LOL). I never knew "The Blob" was one of the earliest Bacharach/David tunes. When I was in the musical "Mame" at York Little Theater, the resident director, Bert Smith, told me his one and only movie credit was having acted in "The Blob". I was impressed. Enjoyed "Endless Deep" also. Did you know that Sheb Wooley was a neighbor of Roger Miller's. Roger Miller used to hang out with Wooley, where they lived in Oklahoma, and I guess Sheb pretty much was his mentor. Always liked Ben Colder's "Still #2" and Roger's "You Can't Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd". While I'm at it, do you remember Homer and Jethro's "Battle of Cucamonga", in respond to Johnny Horton's #1 hit, "Battle of New Orleans?" Better go now. Keep up the great work, and keep attracting such interesting people to your blog.

  14. Ron - You're snowing me with a couple of these song titles, good buddy. I don't remember "Still #2" or "Battle of Cucamonga." I loved novelty records but wasn't into country music at the time which explains why I missed those two. My parents, always determined to steer me away from rock and roll and toward "good music," bought me a Roger Miller album in 1965 and to my surprise I actually enjoyed it and played it often.

    Engeland swings like a pendulum do,
    Bobbies on bicycles, two by two,
    Westminster Abbey the tower of Big Ben,
    The rosy red cheeks of the little children.

    Thanks for reporting in, Ron, and I'll be meeting up with you in Part 2 on Monday!

  15. Oh how I love 'Tell Laura I love her', ahhh. Glad you enjoyed the post today with shots from the 60's - I'd loved to have been in Paris during that era. Now must get back to my packing - Alfred has sooo much stuff! ;)

  16. Gawgus - Hello, my globetrotting friend! I'm so pleased that you found time to drop by in the middle of packing for your trip to mum's. Is Alfred taking a doggie bag with him? :) Thank you for your comment, dear friend. Have a safe journey and a delightful reunion with your loved ones in merry old England! (Make sure mum takes plenty of pictures of Alfred with the kids!)

  17. Shady, you and Ron have captured the attention of all the "boils and ghouls" out there in bloggerland with this post! Love it! "Teen Angel" and "Tell Laura I Love Her" were great old hits I remembered. I am now a big fan of the late Jody Reynolds, had to listen to "Endless Sleep" three times yesterday. Wow, 41 years after this hit he was recognized with a "Rock & Roll Legend" star. I have a vague recollection of "Three Stars". So sad. A few years ago we stopped in Clear Lake, Iowa, and had lunch. It was surreal to stand there near those corn fields and imagine the crash site had not changed much in all these years. (I've never forgotten the reported convo between Waylon & Buddy before the plane's crash) To think Richie Valens was only 17!

    "The Little Blue Man" made me laugh and how I loved "The Purple People Eater" when I was a kid. I see Sheb Wooley (High Noon) often in the old westerns we watch sometimes.

    What lurks next up the sinister sleeves of Shady and Ron? Perhaps a tale of a young man who was "out on a date in his daddy's car?"

    Thank you, Shady, and also for putting up with my silliness! ☺

  18. Shady and Ron, Did you forget "People From Another World" by the Jive Five. Even one of the best Doo Wop groups did a monster song.


  19. Cindy - You're sharp! You should change your name to Clair Voyant, miss smarty pants, because in my next post you will indeed be hearing not one but TWO records in which a young man was out on a date in his daddy's car and the date (and the car) went sideways.

    As usual you know a lot about today's topic and even have your own trivia and anecdotes to share. I shudder when I think of how many rock & roll legends were lost in plane crashes. In addition to the trio eulogized in "Three Stars" there was Patsy Cline, Rick Nelson, Otis Redding & the Bar-Kays just to name a few.

    Cindy, thank you very much for adding so much to the dialogue again today. Your visits are always greatly appreciated. Have a wonderful weekend!

    Jerre - Ha! That's right! You've mentioned that song several times before. Believe it or not I got you covered. I have that recording all set to spin in a future post. I'm glad you got a kick out of Deadly Ditties Part 1 and I hope you'll come by on Monday for more music, memories and madness! Thanks for your comment, Jerre, and have a great weekend, good buddy!

  20. I hope i won't meet that blue guy in a dark alley, Shady!
    it will freak me out!!! lol***

    Have a marvelous weekend!

  21. "Teen Angel" was a favorite of mine as a kid. My parents used to let us listen to the radio in the car and we would always scream, "Turn it up!" when Teen Angel came on.

    We liked "Tell Laura I Love Her" also. Interesting to hear the two versions. They were both good. "Three Stars" was very touching. Those small planes in the old days were not so safe. Even now, I would never get into a small plane.

    "Little Blue Man" made me laugh. I don't remember that one. Of course I do remember Purple People Eater - a great novelty song. I also remember watching "The Blob" on TV with my best friend Linda. We loved horror shows, and they were nothing compared to now.

    I'm excited to see your next post. This was just great!

  22. Lenore Nevermore - You don't want a cute little blue man of your very own? :) I once had an imaginary friend..... until he dumped me! (LOL) Thank you very much for coming over for a look and listen, dear Lenore, and have a wonderful weekend!

    Belle - It was very sweet (and brave) of you to come by and I'm glad you enjoyed these songs. I laugh every time I think of the plot that all of those science fiction movies of the 50s seemed to share. They always start with teenagers having a close encounter with alien creatures. The teens run and tell the local sheriff but no matter how convincing the kids are and how much evidence they produce Barney Fife never believes them, not until much later after the giant tarantula has already eaten half the town! (LOL) Again, Belle, I greatly appreciate your visit and I hope you'll also enjoy Part 2 on Monday. Have a safe and happy weekend, dear friend!

  23. I don't think I could ever thank you for all of the support you give to me. Every comment you leave me is like a special gift from a good friend. You are truly like a guardian angel from God to me. Always helping me and guiding me along the way...

    Just thank you, thank you, thank you!

  24. Lauren - Your comments here are special gifts to me. Someone like you deserves a life fulfilled. If my words help you to reach your goals then I am overjoyed to be of service. Thank you for taking time from your day to brighten mine. Enjoy your Sunday, dear friend Lauren, and have a great week at school!

  25. Wow what a fun post, a little sad and creepy too I am a classic film fan and the blob song popped into my head first. Second song I though of was Monster Bash. Wrong year I know but great for Halloween. Do you know who Franz Waxman was? He wrote the horror movie theme songs for movies like Dr Jeckle and Mr Hyde and The Bride of Frankenstien. Sending hugs your way and wishes for a beautiful day ahead xo

  26. Hi, Katie! I admit that I wasn't familiar with Franz Waxman's name, but I'm delighted that you mentioned him in your comment. I looked him up and found that he worked on four of my favorite Hitchcock films along with those horror movies that you mentioned, plus many other film scores including the Elizabeth Taylor vehicle A Place in the Sun. Jump to the 30 second mark on this clip, watch the supremely talented Miss Taylor, and listen the the riveting musical accompaniment in this classic movie moment, the fainting scene from A Place in the Sun:

    Thank you very much for coming to visit, dear Katie, and have a restful and happy Sunday!


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