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, December 26, 2013

Once I Heard An Angel Sing.....

As we bid farewell to 2013

I'd like to pay tribute

to a lady I adored...

Canadian born legend

of screen and song

Deanna Durbin

One Smart Girl

who touched millions

with her divine voice.

We lost Deanna Durbin in April but
she is immortalized with a rich
legacy of recordings and films.

Deanna Durbin (left) with Judy Garland during the 
 making of the 1936 short musical film Every Sunday.

Deanna Durbin, the singer and actress,
never grew old. She retired from show
business in the late 1940s at the height
of her popularity and fame and
while still in her 20s.

Today's movie audiences expect HD
video and surround sound, but those
who are willing to escape to the past
and experience Deanna's black and
white movies from the mid 1930s
through early 40s are in for a treat.

In the following scene from the 1939
movie Three Smart Girls Grow Up
Deanna mesmerizes as she sings 
The Last Rose of Summer, a poem 
by Irish poet Thomas Moore given
melody by Sir John Stevenson.

"The Last Rose of Summer" - Deanna Durbin 
(song recorded in late 1938 just before
Deanna's 17th birthday/scene from 
1939 movie Three Smart Girls Grow Up)

By the age of 21, Deanna Durbin was the
highest paid woman in America and the
highest paid female motion picture star in
the world - the #1 female box office star
in Great Britain from 1939 through 1942.

Deanna embodied the qualities and values
of the Greatest Generation - strength,
honor, sacrifice, virtue, love of God and
country and love of parents and family.
Deanna proved that square could be cool,
that a girl could shatter glass singing
opera and still be as hip as they come.

In this scene from my favorite Deanna Durbin 
movie, It's a Date, thoroughly modern Deanna
shifts gears and holds the audience spellbound
as she performs the traditional Scottish song
"The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond."

"Loch Lomond" - Deanna Durbin 
(from 1940 movie It's a Date)

Deanna Durbin's singing was the highlight
of all her movies. Hers was a voice so pure,
so glorious and evocative, it implied a
celestial origin and seemed to channel
the saints. I want you to witness in its
its entirety the gripping final scene
and song from It's a Date.

Behold one of the most powerful vocal
performances ever captured on film,
Deanna Durbin's towering rendition of
Franz Schubert's "Ave Maria." Whenever
I watch this scene a spell comes over me,
a reverent silence, a solemn stillness.
My attention is riveted and tears fill
my eyes... to hear an angel sing.

"Ave Maria" - Deanna Durbin 
(from 1940 movie It's a Date)

'Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone;
No flower of her kindred,
No rosebud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
Or give sigh for sigh.

I'll not leave thee, thou lone one!
To pine on the stem;
Since the lovely are sleeping,
Go, sleep thou with them.
Thus kindly I scatter,
Thy leaves o'er the bed,
Where thy mates of the garden
Lie scentless and dead.

So soon may I follow,
When friendships decay,
And from Love's shining circle
The gems drop away.
When true hearts lie withered,
And fond ones are flown,
Oh! who would inhabit
This bleak world alone?
- Thomas Moore

Good night and goodbye, dear Deanna.
Although you are gone your memory
lives on in sound and in pictures.

You are frozen in time, 
forever young, like the 
first flower of spring 
bursting forth from
powdered snow. 
Rest in peace.

Thank you very much, dear reader,
for your friendship and support 
this past year. Here's wishing 
you a safe New Year's Eve
celebration and a happy  
and prosperous 2014!


Friday, December 20, 2013

A Wall of Sound for Christmas!

 My previous post featured 

 The Sounds of the Seasons 

 (the Four Seasons & friends). 

Now I proudly present actual
sounds of the season, but they
aren't traditional carols and hymns.
They're secular songs that bring back
fond memories of Christmases in the 60s.

 Let's get the party started  

 in Spectorian splendor with a 

 Wall of Sound for Christmas! 


It's ranked #1 on Rolling Stone's list of
Greatest Rock and Roll Christmas Songs.

Written by Phil Spector along with famed husband
and wife Brill Building composing team Ellie Greenwich
and Jeff Barry, "Christmas, (Baby Please Come Home)"
by soulful songbird Darlene Love was the only single
released from Spector's 1963 compilation album
A Christmas Gift For You From Philles Records.
The LP showcased the label's artists singing mostly
secular holiday songs enhanced by Spector's
 lavish, multi-layered production style
known as the Wall of Sound.

Renamed A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector,
the album was released the day that President Kennedy
was assassinated. The long play sold poorly at the time
as did Darlene's single which remained uncharted.
"Christmas, (Baby Please Come Home)" has since
become one of Darlene Love's signature songs.
Listen to lady Love's powerful pipes as she
 rides Spector's Wall of Sound like a
champion surfer conquering a
50-foot wave at Waimea Bay!

 "Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)" 
 Darlene Love (Christmas 1963, uncharted) 
 from album A Christmas Gift For You 
 From Philles Records (Phil Spector) 


Brian Wilson and Mike Love wrote the Christmas
song "Little Saint Nick" and the Beach Boys
adapted it to the melody of their car hit
"Little Deuce Coupe." "Little Saint Nick"
was released on a single two-and-a-half
weeks after the assassination of JFK.
Like many other great records that
were introduced when the nation
was mourning the death of the
president, "Little Saint Nick"
had problems gaining radio
exposure and chart action.
The record reached #3
on Billboard's special
Christmas Singles Chart
but missed the Hot 100.

During the 1964 holiday season, a revised
version of "Little Saint Nick" appeared on
The Beach Boys' Christmas Album.
Over the years the festive song
has become a seasonal favorite.

 "Little Saint Nick" - The Beach Boys 
 (Christmas 1963, highest chart position 
 #3 Billboard's Christmas Singles/#69 Cash Box


In the mid 60s, Motown's most popular acts
also released Christmas recordings. The label's
hottest girl group, The Supremes, waxed the
holiday ballad "Twinkle Twinkle Little Me."

The song was released in November 1965 on
the Supremes' album Merry Christmas and
in December on a single as the B side of
"The Children's Christmas Song," another
track from that Harvey Fuqua produced LP.

 "Twinkle Twinkle Little Me" - The Supremes 
 (Christmas 1965, highest chart position #5 
 Billboard Holiday Singles Chart 
 from album Merry Christmas


Very little seems to be known today about
Judy Brown, a pop vocalist who recorded
a handful of singles in 1961 on the tiny
Skyla record label. Judy's voice sounds
similar to that of Kathy Young who,
along with her group the Innocents,
had a hit with "A Thousand Stars"
at Christmas time 1960.

One year later, during Christmas season 1961,
it was Judy's turn to cry "Dear Santa...
(send me a boy to love)."

 "Dear Santa" - Judy Brown 
 (Christmas 1961, uncharted) 


The soul group known as the Intruders helped lay the  
foundation of The Sound of Philadelphia. Crafted by  
Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, TSOP was one of the
most successful hit making formulas in pop history.

"Every Day is a Holiday," the uncharted B side
of "Old Love" (#35 R&B), was one of my
favorite songs on the 1968 Intruders album
Cowboys to Girls.  The antithesis of sweaty,
gritty James Brown funk and intense deep soul,
the joyful, light, breezycool "Every Day is
a Holiday" lent itself nicely to the holiday
spirit during Christmas season 1969.

 "Every Day is a Holiday" - The Intruders 
 (Christmas 1969, B side of "Old Love") 


Last but not least, one of my earliest childhood
memories. "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"
was recorded in 1952 by 13 year old Jimmy Boyd.

I had just turned three years old when my
parents bought me that children's 45 rpm
record and I played it every Christmas
throughout the Fifties.

Little Jimmy's singing is sweet and pure, light years
away from today's music. When I listen to this old
record it takes me back to the safe, secure world
that I grew up in 60 years ago.  I feel very lucky
to have been around to experience the waning
years of The Age of Innocence that is no more.

 "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" 
 Jimmy Boyd (Christmas 1952 
 highest chart position #1) 

 I hope you enjoyed this 

 Wall of Sound For Christmas 

 ...some of the best holiday 

 records from years past. 



Friday, December 13, 2013

Sounds of the Seasons

It's that time of the year when we
enjoy the sounds of the Seasons.

No, "Seasons" isn't a typo.
I'm pleased to report that


are back on SDM&M and they
brought along some friends.

Let's play Six Degrees of


and meet today's guests.
Wonder Who they are...


When "Sherry" became a chart topping hit in the
fall of 1962 and the follow-up, "Big Girls Don't Cry,"
reached #1 two months later, the Four Seasons
were well on their way to becoming one of the most
popular and successful recording acts of the decade.

The third single released by Frankie Valli and his
group was the top 25 charting Christmas record
"Santa Claus is Coming to Town."

 "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" - The Four Seasons 
 (Christmas 1962, highest chart position #23) 

Many people don't know that the now famous
Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons made some
excellent records years earlier in the 50s.


In 1956 Frankie and his group the Four Lovers
became one of the first white R&B acts in the
record business. The Four Lovers specialized in
romantic ballads, but it was an uptempo recording,
"You're the Apple of My Eye," that first got them
noticed. The single went to #62 on the pop chart,
high enough to land the Valli boys a coveted
spot on The Ed Sullivan Show.

It's the flip side of "Apple," however, that thrills me
me to the core. "The Girl in My Dreams" was a cover
of a ballad recorded by Jesse Belvin and Eugene Church
using the stage name The Cliques. Listen to a young
Frankie Valli and the Four Lovers performing their
version of "The Girl in My Dreams."

 "The Girl in My Dreams" - The Four Lovers 
 (June 1956, uncharted B side of 
 "You're the Apple of My Eye) 

1964 was a huge year for the Four Seasons. 
The original Jersey boys landed seven top 40 
singles on the chart in that twelve month span 
including the #1 hit "Rag Doll."  Is it any wonder
a Brooklyn act calling themselves the Four-Evers
(aka Four Evers), one that produced a group
harmony sound that mimicked the Four Seasons,
was believed by some to be Frankie Valli and
company making records under another name?
Remember when the Four Seasons
were The Wonder Who?


What originally began as a "joke" falsetto 
recording by Frankie Valli turned into the
release of four singles by the Four Seasons
using the name The Wonder Who?

The first and most successful single released by
The Wonder Who? was a rendition of the Bob Dylan
song "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," a top 10
hit for Peter, Paul and Mary in 1963.

 "Don't Think Twice" - The Wonder Who? 
 (December 1965, highest chart position #12) 

The third single released by the Four Seasons as
The Wonder Who? was "The Lonesome Road,"
a song first recorded in 1927 and subsequently
waxed by more than 200 name artists.

 "The Lonesome Road" - The Wonder Who? 
 (July 1967, highest chart position #89) 


Now let's hear some of the great recordings that were
made by those Four Seasons imitators, the Four-Evers.
With a few breaks along the way, the Four-Evers
might have rivaled the success of the Four Seasons.

Featuring Joey DiBenedetto on lead vocals, the
Four-Evers performed excellent white New York
vocal group doo-wop. Late in 1961 the Four-Evers
recorded an exciting up tempo arrangement of
"You Belong to Me" and released it early in '62.
 The Four-Evers' record actually predated by a few
months the ballad version of "You Belong to Me"
that became a hit for the Duprees. This, ladies
and gents, is the stuff of which dreams are made!

 "You Belong to Me" - The Four-Evers 
 (March 1962, uncharted) 

In 1963 the Four-Evers began working with
Bob Crewe, the man who helped write and produce
many of the hit records made by the Four Seasons.
Crewe enlisted Bob Gaudio of the Four Seasons to
produce the Four-Evers' debut single for Smash.

"Lover, Come Back to Me" was released around
the time President Kennedy was assassinated.
Like many other great records that fell through
the cracks while a stunned nation was mourning
the loss of the chief executive, "Lover Come
Back to Me" failed to chart.

 "Lover, Come Back to Me" - The Four-Evers
 (November 1963, uncharted) 

The Four-Evers achieved their biggest hit with
"Please Be Mine," a song written by Bob Gaudio.
Less than 100 Smash singles were reportedly pressed
before the title was changed to "Be My Girl." The
record spent the month of June 1964 struggling up
the chart and finished at a disappointing #75.
Win, place, show or scratch, "Be My Girl"
is nuthin' but great Brooklyn doo-wop!

 "Be My Girl" ("Please Be Mine") - The Four-Evers
 (June 1964, highest chart position #75) 

My eyes roll back in my head when I listen
to the glorious harmony on this last featured
Four-Evers release. As one You/Tube commenter
raves, this record is "the pinnacle of white, NYC
doo wop in the early 60's. Magnificent lead with
great background vocals." I agree wholeheartedly!

 "(Say I Love You) Doo Bee Dum" - The Four-Evers
 (September 1964, highest chart position #119) 


Meanwhile, Bob Crewe was also busy creating a female
version of the Four Seasons, and in 1964 the Rag Dolls
were born. Like the Pixies Three, our local girl group
stars, the Rag Dolls were a trio consisting of lead
singer and popular session vocalist Jean Thomas
along with Mikie Harris and Susie Lewis.

In the fall of '64 the Rag Dolls barely cracked
the Hot 100 with their first single, "Society Girl,"
an answer song to "Rag Doll."

In the winter of '65 the Rag Dolls again harnessed
the sound of the Seasons with their follow-up 
"Dusty" which made a convincing run at top 50.

 "Dusty" - The Rag Dolls 
 (Feb. 1965, highest chart pos. #55) 

Thanks for joining the fun!

The real sounds of the season

are coming up in my next post.

I hope to see you then, my friend!

Have a Shady day!

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Fire Sign, a Hammer, a Bell, a Beat and Cannon Blasts From the Past!

 I'm Shady Del Knight 

 and I've got proof 

 that old school COOL! 


Freddy Boom Boom Cannon's hit single "Action" was
the theme song of Where The Action Is, the mid 60s
music/variety TV series produced by Dick Clark.

Action featured taped lip sync performances by
popular recording acts.  Paul Revere and the
Raiders were the show's house band and
clown princes until they left in season 2
and were replaced by the Robbs.

Unlike Clark’s studio-bound American-Bandstand,
segments of Action were recorded on location
at beaches, pools, parks and recreation areas.

Linda Scott and Steve Alaimo, 
 series regulars on Where the Action Is

In the spring and fall, the Action crew hit the road,
 taping all over the country. In summer, much of
the Action took place on Malibu Beach. Winter
segments were shot at Big Bear Ski Resort.
Where the Action Is was a promotional vehicle
for tourist destinations as much as it was
for the recording artists it showcased.

A rockin’ rollin’ reveille call to good times,
Freddy Cannon's single “Action” cracked
the top 20 and flirted with the top 10.

 "Action" - Freddy Cannon 
 (September 1965, highest chart pos. #13) 

Freddy's 45 was a two-fer and I played
the B side often.  It's all about nonstop
partying in a fictional surfside town
called Beachwood City, not to be
confused with Beachwood Canyon
 in the Hollywood Hills where one
of my favorite sci-fi/horror films,
Invasion of the Body Snatchers,
was filmed in the mid 50s.

 "Beachwood City" - Freddy Cannon 
 (September 1965, B side of "Action") 

Clearly, Freddy Cannon was determined to stamp out
ballads in our lifetime. In 1965, Boom Boom put the
Gazzarri girls through their paces with the rocker
that launched his career in the late 50s.

 "Tallahassee Lassie" - Freddy Cannon 
 (July 1959, highest chart position #6 
 Live on Hollywood A-Go-Go, April 24, 1965) 

 Happy birthday, 


 ...74 years old this week! 


Songwriter/producer/musician Gary Usher was 
one of the key figures in the Southern California 
surf rock and sunshine pop movement of the 60s. 
Along with Brian Wilson, Usher co-wrote songs  
for the Beach Boys and produced records for  
the Byrds and Chad & Jeremy. Usher assembled 
the studio group the Hondells and another called  
Sagittarius, named after his astrological sign.  

Sagittarius personnel included Glen Campbell
singing lead with backing vocals provided by
Beach Boy Bruce Johnston and Terry Melcher,
the son of Doris Day. In the summer of 1967
Sagittarius released "My World Fell Down,"
an atmospheric, psychedelic single influenced
by Beach Boys' studio-produced masterworks
"Good Vibrations" and Pet Sounds.  Top 40
radio failed to embrace Usher's experimental
recording and it became only a minor hit.
Nevertheless, "My World Fell Down" is
today considered one of the greatest
psychedelic pop nuggets of the 60s.

 "My World Fell Down" - Sagittarius 
 (July 1967, highest chart position #70) 


Four years later he would find himself in leg irons,
sentenced to 20 years hard labor in his acting role
as a member of The Dirty Dozen; but in 1963,
Trini Lopez (2nd from right) was riding high
on the pop chart singing a song of freedom.

"If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)"
was written by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays.
The folk anthem was first recorded by the
Weavers and later by the popular folk trio
Peter, Paul and Mary. The version waxed
by Texas born singer/guitarist Trini Lopez
was the most successful, reaching #3 in
the U.S. and #1 in 36 other countries!

 "If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)" 
 Trini Lopez (September 1963, 
 highest chart position #3) 


Feast your ears on a couple of 
bitchin' surf rock tunes from 1960!

The Teen Beats, an instrumental act that credits 
Don Rivers and the Califfs on the label, 
crushes it with "The Slop Beat."

 "The Slop Beat" - The Teen Beats 
 featuring Don Rivers and the Califfs 
 (March 1960, uncharted) 

The killer bee is another surf garage
instrumental that SHREDS!

It's an infectious workout called  
"Califf Boogie" - COWABUNGA!!!

 "Califf Boogie" - The Teen Beats 
 featuring Don Rivers and the Califfs 
 (March 1960, B side of "The Slop Beat") 

 Join me next time 

 for more proof 

 that old school COOL! 

Have a Shady day!