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

Monday, October 24, 2011

Rat Ron's Retro Rock Reminiscences: Deadly Ditties Part 2


Darkness falls across the land.

The midnight hour is close at hand!

It's time to play more deadly ditties - novelty records of the past that were perfect for fright night. Dell Rat Ron's back with a couple of creepy ones and I dug up a few of my own.

Time for me to scoot
and say Ron, be my ghost  quest  guest. (dammit!)


 Shady, in our last post 
 I named Mark Dinning's 
 morbid 1960 hit "Teen 
 Angel" as arguably the 
 most popular of all tear- 
 jerkers. Years later, as a 
 teenager hanging out at 
 the Disc-O-Rama, 
 Burnell or Rodney 
 played the following 
 record for me and 
 eventually I had to have 
 a copy of it. I think you 
 might enjoy it, too! 

Ron, please allow me to expand on your intro because this one's a scream. "I Want My Baby Back" is an outrageous parody
of death rock records and you'd swear that you were listening to Ray Stevens. Instead it's Jimmy Cross, an American  producer and singer. Jimmy's "Baby Back" was such a groaner that it was declared The World's Worst Record by a British deejay!
Listen all the way through.  It's the sickest!

"I Want My Baby Back" - Jimmy Cross 
(February 1965, highest chart position #92) 

I want my baby back ribs and all!
Jimmy Cross is a tough act to follow, Ron. 
Who's up next?


 Shady, it's the pair of records that inspired that hilarious 
 Jimmy Cross parody.  Jimmy's "I Want My Baby Back" 
 borrowed its gruesome storyline from "Last Kiss" and 
 "Leader of the Pack," two "serious" tearjerkers that had  
 become smash hits a few months earlier. 

"Last Kiss" - J. Frank Wilson & the Cavaliers 
(Halloween 1964, highest chart position #2) 


"Leader of the Pack" - Shangri-Las (Halloween 1964, 
highest chart position #1) 


Ron, let me follow the "Leader" with a couple of creepy weepies by Dickie Lee. The first one's about about a girl who took her own life.

"Patches" - Dickey Lee (Halloween 1962 highest chart 
position #6) 

Next, dig Dickie's grave goodie about a ghostly girlie.

"Laurie (Strange Things Happen in This World)" - Dickie Lee 
(June 1965, highest chart position #14) 

Ron, back to you!


 Shady, I'm sure you remember the Revels, 
 the California surf rock band featured in 
 my series Instrumentally Yours a few 
 months ago.  The Revels group in today's 
 post is a different act, a 1950s doo-wop 
 vocal group from Philadelphia.  I was 
 introduced to this spooky song of theirs 
 Saturday mornings on the Rock 180 Club.  
 Original pressings of this 45 had "Dead 
 Man's Stroll" as the title. On later issues, 
 the name of the record was changed to "Midnight Stroll" 
 because "Dead Man's Stroll" was considered too disturbing 
 at that time.  Here's to Halloween all year long! 

"Midnight Stroll" - Revels (Halloween 1959, highest chart 
position #35) 

Ron, I hear Mummy calling. 
It's soon time for us to stick 
a pitchfork in it. Let's finish 
our fright fest with 3 more 
final vinyl creepy classics.


First up, the man who taught Alvin and the Chipmunks how to sing. His real name was Rostom Sipan "Ross" Bagdasarian but he decided that the stage name David Seville might be easier to remember. Ya think? Seville was an actor, singer, songwriter and record producer who used a recording studio technique to achieve a string of hits. By speeding up vocal tracks, Seville created funny, high pitched character voices. In the summer of 1958, six months before the Chipmunks became a sensation, Seville used the goofy gimmick to tell the story of his bizarre encounter with a witch doctor.

"Witch Doctor" - David Seville (June 1958, highest chart 
position #1) 


Tongues will be wagging over this piece of trivia.  Kiss icon Gene Simmons reportedly took his stage name as a tribute to this guy, a rockabilly artist from Tupelo, Mississippi who was once an opening act for Elvis Presley. Recording as Jumpin' Gene Simmons in 1964, the artist scored a sizable hit with a cover of Johnny Fuller's 1958 recording about spending the night in a haunted house!

"Haunted House" - Jumpin' Gene Simmons (Halloween 1964, 
highest chart position #11) 


One of the best known spooky songs was co-written and performed by singer Bobby Pickett. Imitating veteran horror actors Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, Bobby spoofed the two most popular dance crazes of the early 60s, The Twist and The Mashed Potato, and whipped up the "Monster Mash."

"Monster Mash" - Bobby "Boris" Pickett (Halloween 1962, 
highest chart position #1) 

Thank you Dell Rat Ron 
for coming back here to
your old haunt and taking
us on a Halloween tour 
of the wax museum!

Have a Shady day!


  1. Hi there Tom! Hope your weekend went well dear friend. Oooooh! These posts are getting really scary now, especially for a cowardy-custard like me!! I have always loved the Monster Mash , so you saved the best one til last as far as I'm concerned. It is brilliant, isn't it?! I used to love all the old black & white scary films with Vincent Price, Boris Karloff and the like. As always, really interesting facts in this post, such as the piece about Gene Simmons and, also, David Seville, who created The Chipmunks. The Addams Family also brought back memories today. Leader Of The Pack is another one I've got on my Jukebox here at home. Thanks for another great post and have a good week dear Tom'

  2. Oh, I don't know why, but I Want My Baby Back had me laughing so hard I had tears. His accent on that song just struck me because I wasn't expecting it and then the words...

    Laurie, on the other hand, gave me the creeps. I've heard that story, but never as a premise for a song.

    They were still playing Monster Mash in the late 70's and early 80's at Halloween dances. It's just one of those that will be forever associated with Halloween.

    The other songs this morning were great, too, and your posts are ALWAYS enjoyable. Thank you so much to you and Ron for sharing with us!

  3. I am so impressed with how you manage to come up with these well-researched selections week after week and continue to keep your audience enthralled and spell-bound! You and Ron both have remarkable talent, Tom and I have been wondering whether you would be able to market your considerable productions in some format? So you could reach a far wider audience!

    On the side...I feel rather 'left out' not celebrating Halloween here, although I must add that when I was in one of our more upmarket departmental stores this past week, I noticed they were selling Trick or Treat selections themed on little pumpkins and witches' hats. I have never noticed anything like this previously in SA, so perhaps the seed is slowly germinating. You have clearly had fun setting the scene for a really 'creepy' Halloween with your latest musical offerings. With Christmas not far off, I guess you're busy preparing something equally exciting and nostalgic.

  4. Thisisme - I never took you for a cowardly-custard, dear friend! (Sounds scrummy.) I'm sorry if some of these Deadly Ditties gave you the creeps. I figured that you'd be familiar with "Monster Mash" and that you often bop to "Leader of the Pack" on your own jukebox. I'm glad you appreciated that last video which included clips from House on Haunted Hill and many other horror classics. Vincent Price was my favorite character actor in horror films and I was inspired to use his rap from Michael Jackson's Thriller to introduce today's post. Thank you very much for stopping by, dear Thisisme. Have a ball with your daughter, your granddaughter and dear Alfred!

    Shelly - I'm glad you listened to the outrageous parody record "Baby Back" from start to finish because Jimmy Cross grabs you by the funny bone and never lets go. That record was made at a time when Mad Magazine and sick jokes were at the height of their popularity. I agree that "Monster Mash" is a perennial favorite and will probably still be popular 50 years from now. Thank you so much for coming over for a chill and a chuckle, dear friend Shelly, and make it a great week!

  5. Hi, Desiree! It's interesting to learn that Halloween has not been a tradition for you in SA but there are now signs that it is being promoted in your region. I can't thank you enough for your validating comments concerning my blogging efforts. I love to make a meaningful connection with people. I love to entertain them and make them laugh. It fills me with great joy to know that you and I have made a connection and that you enjoy my writing and blogging style. My friend Ron has been contributing songs and stories to the blog for quite some time now. I have learned a great deal from him and we are enjoying our collaboration. Thank you again, dear friend Desiree, for warming me with your sincere compliments. I know that Ron will thank you, too. Your remarks are deeply appreciated as are you!

  6. wow Jimmy Cross that was bad. do you think that was his real accent? it sounded kinda exaggerated to me. Moving on, usually when I get dressed in the morning I put on the Solid Gold Oldies channel on the tube and listen as I primp. That song Patches came on recently and at first I liked it and kinda swayed along until the end when she killed herself. I was not expecting that. Definitely a buzz kill.

  7. Amber Blue Bird - It's good to know that you're primpin' to the oldies, dear friend! Yes, both "Patches" and "Laurie" are buzz killers. That's why I recently posted Dickey Lee's bouncy, uplifting hit "I Saw Linda Yesterday" just for the sake of balance. Dickey Lee really offered a mixed bag of material in his career. His first charting single was another weeper, "Oh Mein Papa" and he finished his string of 60s releases with "The Girl from Peyton Place." Thank you very much for coming to visit, dear Amber, and please have a safe and happy week!

  8. These songs were lots of fun. "I Want My Baby Back" had me laughing. Loved the ending so much!
    "Last Kiss" and "Leader of the Pack were huge hits in California.
    It's funny but "Laurie" and "Patches" were two favorites of mine and I was very young! I was a morbid little girl. :)

    The only song I didn't know was "Midnight Stroll" and I liked it. This was a great assortment of Halloween songs you guys. Thanks so much for the memories!

  9. Belle - Thanks for letting me know which of these were hits in California. I don't remember "Baby Back" or "Midnight Stroll" from childhood. Gene Simmons' "Haunted House" was a biggie in my neck of the woods along with "Last Kiss" and "Leader." My Pick to Click from this batch is "Midnight Stroll" because, apart from it's Halloween tie-in, it's an excellent doo-wop recording that I wouldn't mind hearing all year 'round. Thank you for joining the party today, dear friend Belle, and have a pleasant evening in Kelowna!

  10. Hello, this is Orchid and I have some mutual friends,
    I don't have much knowledge about music. So, I am sorry that I am not commenting about your post.
    I admire the way you are commenting sincerely from your heart and with wonderful educational usage of words. I have been wanting to tell you that someday.
    Just wishing you to know there is a little Japanese woman respecting you from east.

    Sincerely Yours, Orchid*

  11. Hello Orchid! I already know who you are because I have seen your comments on the blogs of our mutual friends. I have read and appreciated the thoughtful things that you have written elsewhere and it is an honor for me to welcome you to my blog. You do not need to have any knowledge of American music to belong here, Orchid. Love and friendship are universal and that's what you will find here. I value my friends and always reply to the comments that they leave for me. It would please me very much to have you visit and become a friend. Thank you very much for reaching out, dear Orchid. I wish you a very good day in Japan!

  12. OH Tom...I was entertaining family this weekend and missed when you first posted this musical tribute of creepiness and quirkiness! I was laughing when I first started listening to the selections but you really did advance to quirky and then just plain out creepy.
    Patches was just so pathetic even in its hay day, imho...and don't EVERT expect me to be spending any time night or day in a haunted house. No siree, I scare very easily!
    Thanks for another mixed Halloween Bag of Treats!

  13. Sush - I often wonder why morbidly sad songs like "Patches" go over so well with the listening and record buying public. "Patches" spent 14 weeks on the chart and reached #6. "Honey" by Bobby Goldsboro spent 15 weeks on the chart and went to #1. Records like those are depressing to me. I prefer songs that elevate my mood. A friend reminded me of that another "Patches" hit, the 1970 record released by Clarence Carter. Like Dickey Lee's "Patches," the song tells a story involving death. Yet I enjoy listening to Clarence Carter's "Patches" because it's inspirational. Patches summons the strength and courage to overcome the extreme hardships with which he is faced. I hope all is well with you and your family, dear friend Sush. Thank you very much for stopping by and have a wonderful Tuesday!

  14. Kristina - Looking over this list of oldies but ghoulies, "The Monster Mash" is most likely the one best known to younger generations, truly a Halloween evergreen. If you watch the clip you'll see bits of several fright flicks from my youth. Halloween was my favorite holiday of the year when I was a kid. I always felt safe going out trick-or-treating alone or with a friend. We never thought to take parents along for protection. It was a different world and I miss it. Thank you very much for your visit and your comment, dear Kristina, and have a happy Wordless Wednesday!

  15. Hi, Shady!

    I loved your presentation on Part Two as well as reading the comments from your feminine following. Desiree, thank you very much for the compliment, as well as you other ladies who enjoy Shady's blog with my two cents worth included occasionally. Shady has a knack for taking suggestions and stories and presenting them in a very original way. I'm glad he and you enjoy many of the songs and info which I pass on to him, and the unique style in which he presents them. I have so many memories in my head and it is a joy to share them with you, rather than keep them to myself. I was interested to know that South Africa doesn't celebrate Halloween, glad to see Orchid, who is unfamiliar with most of the songs here, enjoy them and the format that Mr. Dell Rat utilizes. It's a credit to him and you, and myself that we can share our experiences from around the world here. Shady, I have to agree that Clarence Carter's "Patches" is far more inspirational and enjoyable than Dickey Lee's, which is really depressing at the end. I was also interested in your comments and information about Mr. Lee I hadn't heard. Thank you all for sharing and have a happy Halloween.

  16. Hi, Ron!

    I agree that the greatest aspect of blogging is making a connection and finding common ground with people of all ages around the world. Again I thank you for helping me to reach out and touch. Your next feature is coming up in a week or so. It's another doo-wopper's delight for Dell Rat Jerre and all of the old schoolers. Thanks for checking in, good buddy, and stay tuned for more!

  17. Good morning Shady!
    Oh my... i think Chipmunks' voice will be stuck in my head today! LOL! Hope you're having a marvelous week so far~
    ps: appreciate your kind words, I'm so touched! Thank you*


  18. Lenore Nevermore - Imagine how it was in the 50s when novelty records using high pitched character voices were played heavily on the radio. "Witch Doctor," "Purple People Eater" and the songs of Alvin and the Chipmunks were often stuck in my head. Even so I'd rather have those ditties running through my brain than violent, misogynistic gangsta rap. Thank you very much for coming over, dear Lenore, and have a delightful day!

  19. Ron, thank you for introducing us to one of the worst recordings ever made! ♫ I want my baby back ribs and all!♫ (Barbequed?) Shady, that's a hilarious shadyism! You are a comedian. :~D The song made me laugh because it was so sick and funny. "Last Kiss" by the Cadavers, uh, I mean Cavaliers, is a song I used to play over and over. I love the Shangri-Las's "Leader of the Pack" and "Midnight Stroll" was down right spooky at the end!

    Strokin' Clarence Carter's "Patches" first came to mind when I saw "Patches" mentioned here but I also loved Dickie Lee's song of the same name. "Haunted House" had amusing lyrics and I had not heard the word "haint" in a long time.(smile) The cyclops in this video was particularly frightening. Shady,I had expected to see "Monster Mash" and see you closed with that great old number. Being a fan of the actor Peter Boyle (Raymond's tv dad), it was fun to see him again as the tap dancing monster in "Young Frankenstein" in the video.

    Shady and Ron, we have been educated, entertained and electrified with this series! Thank you both, it was appreciated! ☠☠☠☠☠

  20. Cindy - I'm tempted to take credit for the sense of humor that you have developed lately. In fact, I'm gonna! It's all because of me! (LOL) I love a lady with a great sense of humor and yours is on display here as well as on your fine blog. I'm glad you noticed my "baby back ribs" line and I thank you for inventing the term "shadyism." As the Big Bopper shouted, "You know what I like!" I've been watching Raymond reruns and it's hard to believe that Peter Boyle is no longer with us. He was a great character actor. Well, you're batting a thousand in my book, Cindy. This is another superb comment and I greatly appreciate all the thought that went into it. Have a wonderful day, dear friend!

  21. what a great post shady! i just love halloween. hope you're doing well!

  22. Hi, Alabee! I'm glad you surfaced just in time for Halloween which for many years was my favorite holiday. I am doing very well, thank you, and I am wishing and hoping that the same is true for you, dear friend. Don't be a stranger. Come back and see me soon. You're missed!


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