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

Friday, December 14, 2012

Cruisin' 1955 with Jumpin' George!

 It started one summer day in 1970. 

I marched into a record store and bought seven albums.

They were the first seven volumes of Cruisin'.

Over the next two years I added half a dozen more 
Cruisin' long plays to my collection.

Ron Jacobs, Program Director at KHJ Los Angeles
and creator of the Cruisin' series, assembled some
of the greatest deejays of the rock 'n' roll era 
in seamless reproductions of their radio programs.

The air checks featured authentic patter by the
legendary top 40 jocks along with original commercials,
jingles and sound effects.

Each volume of Cruisin' was highly collectible,
not only because of the radio hall of famers
and the classic oldies they played...

but also for the colorful, eye popping
Mike Royer cartoon cover art.

As I salute the Cruisin' series in the months to come, 
I will spotlight a favorite song or two from each volume
and throw in a few other great recordings that
were released the same year.

I will also be displaying nostalgic soda pop
print ads to help bring back the period.

 Let's start our journey where 

 Cruisin' started: Frisco in '55! 

 "Jumpin'" George Oxford 

  KSAN, San Francisco 


The earlier the better I always say, and the early career output of Ray Charles (late 40s to mid 50s) is where it's at for me. It was a time when brother Ray's recordings were
still raw and unpolished. Unpolished is bad and bad is good!

"I've Got a Woman" aka "I Got a Woman" was released as a single in December of 1954 and spent a whopping 20 weeks on the black music chart, going all the way to number one.

 "I've Got a Woman" - Ray Charles (March 1955, 
 highest chart position #1 R&B Singles) 

Rolling Stone ranked "I've Got a Woman" #235 on its list of
the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Frankly, I don't think that I could place that many others above it!


In early March of 1955 "Close Your Eyes" by the Five Keys was beginning its long journey up the record charts on its way to becoming The Mother of All Dell Songs. That same week "Pledging My Love" by R&B vocalist Johnny Ace was reaching its peak at number one on the black music chart and top 20 on the pop singles list.

A song with a more tragic story behind it would be hard to find. The record was released posthumously after Johnny died of a self inflicted gunshot wound. It happened on Christmas Eve 1954. Johnny was backstage at a Houston auditorium between sets of a concert performance. As the story goes Johnny had been drinking and clowning around with a pistol when he accidentally shot himself in the head. He died Christmas day. For decades it was widely reported that Johnny had been playing Russian Roulette but that scenario was disputed by witnesses. Knowing the back story makes Johnny Ace's ballad "Pledging My Love" sound like a death dirge.

 "Pledging My Love" - Johnny Ace (March 1955, 
 highest chart position #17 Hot 100, #1 R&B) 


Dean Martin was one of the few recording artists that my parents and I could agree on.  No question about it, Dean was a cool cat. Better make that rat as in The Rat Pack.

At age six I spent countless hours in the basement sifting through my parents' collection of 45rpm records and playing them on my teensie weensie, teeny tiny tinny turntable. "Memories Are Made of This," Dean's big Christmas season hit, was a favorite of mine back then and it still is today.

 "Memories are Made of This" - Dean Martin 
 (December 1955, highest chart position #1) 

My curiosity soon led me to flip Dean's record over. Imagine my delight when I discovered one of my first killer bees, a lively number entitled "Change of Heart."

 "Change of Heart" - Dean Martin, January 1956, 
 uncharted B side of "Memories Are made of This") 


Before we hit the road, Jack, I give you "Greenbacks," another Ray Charles favorite released in 1955. This is Ray at his underground, bluesy best before he became the darling of the jet set and the Playboy After Dark crowd, added the Raylettes, crossed over into country music and lost me as a fan.

"Greenbacks" went top 5 R&B but never made a dent in the pop chart. It doesn't take Columbo to figure out why. In the mid 50's the so-called Hit Parade was about as vanilla as you could get. It was dominated by big band instrumentals and Caucasian crooners from the World War II era singing pop standards and showtunes and making rhymes with words
like moon and June. Benign ditties like "(How Much Is That) Doggie in the Window" by Patti Page were the kind of songs that my parents listened to on the radio and played on their hi-fi set. The music was safe, sane, sober and sterile - the antithesis of rock and roll and nitty gritty rhythm and blues.

When you examine the lyrics and listen to the
clip that follows you will understand why street wise
sly, slick and wicked R&B numbers like "Greenbacks" rocked the sensibilities of many white middle class Americans and made the church lady grab her hanky and clutch her heart.

 As I was walking down the street last night 
 A pretty little girl came into sight 
 I bowed and smiled and asked her name 
 She said, "Hold it bud, I don't play that game" 
 I reached in my pocket, and to her big surprise 
 There was Lincoln staring her dead in the eyes. 

 On a greenback, greenback dollar bill 
 Just a little piece of paper, coated with chlorophyll 

 She looked at me with that familiar desire 
 Her eyes lit up like they were on fire 
 She said, "My name's Flo, and you're on the right track, 
 But look here, daddy, I wear furs on my back, 
 So if you want to have fun in this man's land, 
 Let Lincoln and Jackson start shaking hands." 

 On a greenback, greenback dollar bill 
 Just a little piece of paper, coated with chlorophyll 

 I didn't know what I was getting into 
 But I popped Lincoln and Jackson, too 
 I didn't mind seeing them fade out of sight, 
 I just knew I'd have some fun last night 
 Whenever you in town and looking for a thrill 
 If Lincoln can't get it, Jackson sure will 

 On a greenback, greenback dollar bill 
 Just a little piece of paper, coated with chlorophyll 

 "Greenbacks" - Ray Charles (November 1955, 
 highest chart position #5 R&B) 

Yes, you heard right. Ray's best laid plans went sideways when the shady lady got up to powder her nose.

 She just slipped out the back, Jack 
 She made a new plan, Stan 
 Didn't need to be coy, Roy 
 Just listen to me 
 She hopped on the bus, Gus 
 Didn't need to discuss much 
 Just went for a pee, Lee 
 And got herself free. 

 Don't miss the next exciting 

 edition of Cruisin' coming soon! 

Have a Shady day!


  1. Heya i am for the first time here. I found this
    board and I in finding It really useful & it helped me out a
    lot. I hope to give something again and help others like you helped me.
    Also see my website :: golden virginia

    1. Virginia - Oh, go on! (LOL) I think something was lost in translation, my friend, but with people exiting the blog world right and left I'll take a comment and a compliment any way I can get it - even from a spammer. I'm glad you are finding Ray Charles and Dean Martin "useful" and I wish you a happy weekend!

  2. Loved the atmosphere you set with the vintage advertisements and of course, the great music. That was really pretty creative of them to include their own patter with it, and the cover art work is still innovative, but I'm sure it set some people to talking back then.

    Also, I had never heard of the Ray Charles song before, and its lyrics really also must have been much fodder for discussion!

    Thank you, Shady, for another musical treat. Have a wonderful weekend~

    1. Hey, Shelly! I loved those original Cruisin' albums. For years I thought they were actual air checks from vintage broadcasts. When compact discs came along the Crusin' series was re-released but I and most other fans were very disappointed. Music licensing problems led to different songs being used in each volume and the editing was rough and unprofessional. Those great originals are only available on vinyl albums as far as I know. Ray Charles knocked me out with both of the early recordings featured here. The first one, "I've Got a Woman," was included on the original Cruisin' record and "Greenbacks" was one from my personal collection. Thanks so much for stopping by, dear friend Shelly, and I wish you a happy weekend as well!

  3. Great stuff Shady, this is going to the top of my list of your best.This post really took me back to those days when like you I first started to get into music and we would look thur my best friends older brothers 45s, we were hooked. I can still remember the first time we put Chuck Berry on that little machine,our lives were never the same. A Dell Rat All Ways GReg

    1. Hi, Greg! I'm so glad you enjoyed this post, good buddy. Thank you very much! You know, I think the love of vinyl records, especially 45s, is a guy thing. Decades ago I belonged to the Keystone Record Collectors and all but one of the members was male. Guys think nothing of spending hours sifting through stacks of records and rummaging through record bins in stores and at flea markets until the sweat pours off their foreheads. Am I right? (LOL) As a child I loved the look of 45s, the feel of them, the smell of them and the sound that magically came from them when they spun on a turntable. No wonder we enjoyed the Dell so much! Thanks again for sharing memories with me, Greg, and have a great weekend!

  4. Hi Shady, I really enjoyed your post. Dean Martin was a favorite in our cafe, we had him on the jukebox. I think that getting to see him on TV and seeing his personality really helped his could see him in your mind while you listened. That was a cool video of Ray Charles' song Greenbacks. I guess we didn't get to experience that one, of course, I was a lot younger then and no way my parents would have it on their jukebox, lol!

    Suzanne has a couple of those Cruisin CDs, I think one is from 1963. It has the commercial for Nash Rambler, and they play that song-oh, the memories of the Rambler! And, your vintage Cola pictures bring it all back-Lucille Ball had her gorgeous moments didn't she! Thank you for this post-this is a great blog!

    1. Hi, Karo! Welcome to Shady Dell Music & Memories and thank you so much for becoming a follower. I wish you and Suzanne could locate all the vinyl albums in the Cruisin' series (1955-1970) so that you could hear all the original embedded songs, DJ patter, jingles and commercials. As I told our Texas friend Shelly (above) when they released the series on CD they had to leave out many of those original tunes and use substitutes. If you want some memories that will hit close to home you guys should buy the 1962 volume of Cruisin' which features Russ "The Weird Beard" Knight on KLIF, Dallas. Thank you once again for joining my party, Karo. I am equally excited about your fine rock-a-billy blog and I invite all my readers to go over and check it out. Have a super weekend, my friend!

  5. Hi Shady, I didn't know there was a Crusin CD for 1955, wow, it must be good! I have the Cruisin for 1963 and 1964. I hope to get a few more before long.

    Love Ray Charles. I'm glad I didn't hear 'Greenbacks' before now-I wouldn't have understood it then, lol. He had such a tumultuous life, but, what he gave to us! I appreciate everything he went through just to deliver the goods as he did!

    And, Dean Martin, so smooth! He was my favorite of the 'Ratpack'. His stage presence and charisma pulled that group off. I used his song 'Memories' on a video we made of Scootie's first Birthday celebration. It brings tears to my eyes. Scootie was just sitting in his highchair looking around at us and his birthday table wondering "what the heck?" He casually drops a napkin and watches it float to the floor! And, the song just fits the scene.

    I don't remember Johnny Ace, but he had a good sound, and, what a tragic end.

    This was great, Shady, with the Cola pictures. Lucille Ball made a good pinup! Have a great weekend-hope it's cooled down some in your neck of the woods!♫

    1. Hi Barbara!...uh, I mean Suzanne! Here in Central Florida it cooled down nicely last night but they're calling for another warm up a few days from now! You'll have to send another cold front over to me. As I told your husband it's too bad you can't hear those original Cruisin' albums because they were far better than the CDs both in terms of song selection and editing. Even so, the CDs do bring back that golden era of top 40 radio. Dean Martin made singing, acting and show hosting all seem effortless. As an entertainer yourself you know that's the mark of a real pro. Johnny Ace is just one of the many tragic stories in the history of rock 'n' roll. I feel gloomy every time I listen to his posthumous hit record. Thank you very much for coming by for a visit, dear friend Suzanne, and thank you for pointing me in the direction of Karo's site. It's terrific! (Does the other Suzanne know Karo?) Have a safe and happy weekend!

  6. Hello, Shady!! It's been awhile, my friend, but I could not stay away! My husband and I saw the movie, "Ray" the same year we were married and we both fell in love with his music. Of course, we had heard him before but that movie introduced us to songs we were not familiar with. We spent the entire next year listening to Mr. Charles constantly and now I'm thinking I need to get out those cds and do a bit of reminiscing myself. I really enjoyed the soda pop ads, cover art and print ads you shared. Very cool stuff! I hope all is well with you, Mrs. Shady and Toto! Hugs to you ~

    1. Hi, Jenn June! I had to click over to your profile to make sure it was you, dear friend, and to make sure I haven't been missing any of your posts. I am so happy to see you! At one point I collected all of Ray Charles' earliest recordings, the bluesy stuff released on Swingime from 1949 to 1952 and his early Atlantic material leading up to his big hit "What'd I Say Pt. 1 & 2" in 1959. As I stated in the post, my enthusiasm for Ray faded when he crossed over into pop and country and western styles. My Toto developed a cancerous tumor on her paw and we were very concerned that she might not live to see Christmas. She needed to have her toe amputated, a serious operation for a 13.5 year old dog, but I'm happy to report she's made a remarkable recovery and seems to be doing fine. Thank you very much for remembering and asking about my pooch. I hope you, your big man and your little man are all doing well and will enjoy the holidays to the fullest. Thank you very much for coming to see me, dear friend Jenn!

  7. Hi dear Tom. I'm so sorry I'm late my friend. My blog reading is slipping away from me again. Anyway, I'm here now! Gosh, so much for us to read today. I shall have to keepo scrolling upwards to make sure that I haven't missed anything. I love those vintage advertising signs. Everything back then seemed so much better than now - or is that just me getting old?!! (No, don't answer that please!!!!). The album covers on that Cruisin series of LP's were fantastic. As you say, they would be a collector's item for the artwork alone, never mind the record inside the sleeve! Dean Martin was just great, wasn't he. Always sounded as if he had had one too many Martini's, but a wonderful voice, and I still love listening to him now. (They don't make them like that anymore! Likewise, the smoothness of Perry Como). I also loved Ray Charles, especially Take These Chains From My Heart. Another wonderful post dear Shady. I know I've said this SO many times, but we all really do appreciate all the hard work that goes into these posts. Thank you!! Smooches coming your way.

    1. Hallo, dear Thisisme, and thank you for being here. I published this post a few hours before the horror unfolded in Connecticut. For me and perhaps for you the innocent love songs crooned by Dean Martin will offer some comfort in the midst of our grief. Songs of the 50s like those remind us that we were fortunate to have come of age in a time when we didn't have to worry about teenagers dressed as commandos spraying gunfire inside our school. To be honest with you I wouldn't want to be starting over as a child in America today. It's ironic that you mentioned Perry Como because I am currently working on a future post that will include a song of his. Thank you for expressing sympathy for your American friends on your own blog this morning. Hugs and smooches to you, dear Thisisme!

  8. I really love the cover art for these, it brings out the inner comic book nerd in me! Hope you're having a lovely weekend Tom!

    Emma x

    1. Hi, Emma! I love comic book art. Stay tuned because I have much more alone these lines coming in future posts. I am having as good a weekend as could be expected in the wake of the school massacre that has left our country and much of the world in shock. Thank you very much for thinking of me tonight, dear friend. I hope you're having a terrific weekend in Ireland!

  9. Great tunes Shady. Always love me some Ray Charles but I think the Johnny Ace my favorite of this selection. Cant wait for the next part! Sorry my visits have been so infrequent, but I always enjoy it when I'm here, and I hope you're doing super!

    1. Hello, dear Alabee, and welcome back! It's interesting that you are the first reader to favorite "Pledging My Love." It's a beautiful but sad song with a tragic back story and you are just the type of person who can appreciate that combination. I always look forward to your visits, dear friend, and I wish you a safe, healthy and happy week ahead!

  10. Shady boy - you never fail to please with all of the work you put into your blog! I always get to hear music that's fun to listen to - sometimes it's a trip down memory lane and sometimes its something new, but it's always a treat. I especially liked the addition of the vintage ads - nice touch! And I like the background info you give - usually things I don't already know. Looking forward to continued good reading in the new year. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    1. Hi, karen! These are such sweet comments coming from you and they are very much appreciated. Founder John Ettline enjoyed hosting people at the original Shady Dell. He loved to entertain and show people a good time. That's one tradition I will continue to follow in the year ahead here at the online version of the Dell. I've got lots more vintage soda pop ads to show you and you might be pleased to know that the month of January will feature some of my favorite music from the 80s and 90s. I am honored to have you with me, dear karen, and once again I wish your delightful family across America the very best this Christmas.

  11. Thanks for bringing back "Pledging My Love". I can't even guess how long it has been since I heard that one. I'm still trying to think of the song that it sounds very much like. Have a great holiday season.

    1. Hi, Jerre! "P.M.L." does sound familiar. I'll start racking my brains and let you know if I think of a sound-alike song. I'm glad you stopped by for a visit, good buddy, and I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas!

  12. I love Dean Martin and Ray Charles and all the music of the 50s and 60s. My idol is Elvis! Greetings from Rome.

    1. Hello, Caramella! Welcome to Shady Dell Music & Memories and thank you very much for becoming a new follower. I love your colorful blog and your cute little Rocky and I am following you right back. If you enjoy all things retro you've come to the right place. I offer music and memories spanning more than 50 years. The most important feature of SDMM is our international network of friends that includes men and women of all ages and backgrounds. Thank you very much for joining the fun, Caramella, and I look forward to hearing from you again soon!

  13. Hello Shady! I found you on my daughter caramella's blog. She's adores the 40s, 50s and 60s so no wonder she is following you. I was born in Sicily but lived in New York 1962 to 1976 so I grew up with the music from the 50s and 60s, I guess it rubbed off on my daughter. Your blog makes me so nostalgic for those years.

    1. Hello, Francesca! I am delighted to welcome you and your daughter to SDMM. I guarantee that you will have fun here. As you can see I always take time to "answer my mail" and offer my friends personalized replies. I am already counting you and Caramella among them. I have also joined your site and am eager to get to know you. Much of my favorite music came out of the Brill Building and therefore I know you will enjoy flashing back to the 50s and 60s with me. Thank you again for joining the party, Francesca, and have a wonderful evening!


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