Monday, December 20, 2010

Susie Darlin'

Last Monday, we ran our special feature on Robin Luke and his Top Five '50's Hit "Susie Darlin'". Based on the amount of mail (and phone calls) that we got after this piece ran on the website, I think it's pretty safe to say that you guys REALLY dug this piece!

Here is just SOME of the mail we received ... quite unexpected, I must admit ... as was, even more so, the possibility of what just may be the start of a brand new Forgotten Hits Controversy!!! Read on! (kk)

Interesting interview with Robin Luke - amazing that after an entire career in academics he still wants to go out and sing his hits to an oldies audience. I hope he is able to make a few connections through your list and bring his show on the road again after all these years. I'd certainly go and see him!
I hope so, too, 'cause it'd be really neat to see him up there singing again! (kk)

>>>The bedroom was a bedroom (not a studio) and we used a primitive Ampex portable tape recorded with “sound on sound” and one microphone. I would lay down a track and then put on earphones and sing over the original track(s) to put another one on. This went well until a mistake was made, and then we would HAVE TO START ALL OVER! It took about one month to get it right with seven tracks. That is why Susie Darlin' sounds so “mushy” ... because each time a track was laid down on top of the others it took a great deal of high fidelity away. (Robin Luke)

Yeah, it does sound fair / poor ... that's a shame!!! I personally don't remember the song, Susie Darlin', but my older sister sure did!!!! I'll have to show her you're here!!!
Thanks, Robin / Kent!

I guess it's the season to enjoy great music that was recorded in a bedroom.
"Lonely Christmas" just played on my wife's iPod, and that kinda got me thinking ...
David Lewis
Recording "Lonely Christmas" (I think there are EIGHT of me on that!) taught me a quick lesson about the "loss of fidelity" that Robin Luke talked about on his own recording. That's all I was able to do, too ... go back and forth from one reel-to-reel to another ... laying one track on top of another ... and losing SOMETHING every step of the way! (kk)

Kent -

Nice to see the story on Robin Luke about how Art Freeman"discovered" the song "Susie Darlin"" on his honeymoon to Hawaii. Art Freeman was one of those forgotten industry people who was quite successful in the record distribution business, later to be in Cleveland with Concord and Benart Distributors (the Motown Distributor for the label in their early days, and also owned a distribution company in Buffalo, NY, called Scan partnered by Ms. Cora Sawyer, who was one of the first if not the first female owner of a distribution company). This is yet another example of how artists and hits became successful in the golden years of the music industry.
Clay Pasternack
Yes, it was a different time back then ... a much more "hands on" attention was given to these songs and artists that the record labels believed in. (Of course an extra couple hundred bucks inside the record sleeve never hurt either! lol) kk

Thanks for the fascinating back-story and alternate recording of Robin Luke's "Susie Darling, " one of my favorite records of all time. I was 6 years old and in first grade at Cheltenham Elementary when it came out. My mother used to listen to WIBG around the house (the Philadelphia rock channel of the 50's and 60's) so I got exposed to and fell in love with rock and roll at a very young age.

I clearly remember a girl - Janie Faber - the six year old vixen and Cheltenham heart-throb I had such a crush on! :) I never got the girl, and I haven't seen her since, but when I hear the song, I often think of her. Of course, I'm married to my own "Susie Darling" now, so nowadays I'm much more likely to think of my wife!
As a side note, I somehow found out that Robin Luke is or was a professor at a mainland college. I wrote him around 1994, but perhaps the letter didn't get to him yet, as I never got a reply ...
Kent, thanks, once again, for a job well done!
All the best,
Bob Rush
(Dr. Robert - The U.S. Beat for The Beat Magazine)
Robin is / was, in fact a Professor at Missouri State University ... and will be retiring come the first of the year. We thank him again for cooperating with us for our special feature ... obviously, quite a big hit with our readers! (kk)

Is that some interesting stuff or WHAT? We all know the song, but none of us know the history! Now we do!
"Wild" Bill Cody

I've never heard the song "Susie Darlin'" before. Why would oldies radio ignore such a great tune? Isn't a song like this part of where rock and roll came from in the first place? Ted Unfortunately, radio has seemed to have adopted a "No '50's / No Early '60's policy" when it comes to oldies ... and that's just wrong ... because you are absolutely right ... this is EXACTLY where rock and roll came from ... and Robin Luke was one of those artists who got in on the ground floor. Even if oldies radio's steady diet is primarily late '60's and '70's ... and now even more and more '80's ... I believe that at least once an hour they should flashback to some of this great music that got us all here in the first place ... and Robin Luke's "Susie Darlin'" is just one of HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS of great '50's songs being completely ignored by oldies radio today. Glad to hear that some of you were able to discover it here in Forgotten Hits ... and (whodathunk!) genuinely LIKED what you heard!!! (Hint, hint, oldies programming know-it-alls ... looks like you're WRONG AGAIN!!!) kk

Hey Kent,

Just wanted to let you know that I heard Scott Shannon give you a nice shout-out about your Robin Luke interview both before AND after he played the song at about 3:15 PM EST.

Way to go Kent and Scott!! Good Radio!! Great Interview!!


Orange, CT
Scott emailed me in the morning and told me he was going to feature it on his show ... naturally, I missed it again ... but heard from quite a few people who DID hear it. I know this is one of his personal favorites! And, obviousl,y WE got some GREAT response to this piece, too! It's nice to do one of these "Vintage Forgotten Hits" tracks once in a while!!! (kk)

Someone (a person I've heard on the net, I don't remember whom) in intro-ing or outro-ing "Susie Darlin'" wanted to think that Dr. Luke's surname was pronounced "Loo-Kay" given that he spent much of his early life in Hawai'i.

This is downright ludicrous, as his native state is, as given in part of the post, California.
Don'tcha just LOVE the misinformation these too-young-to-remember jocks are feeding the youth of today!?!? (lol) How do we FIX this?!?!? (kk)

After listening to Susie Darlin' today, I had forgotten what a great song it is.
Isn't it amazing with all the gadgets and gizmos at anyone's disposal today for recording purposes, how cool the song sounds with just the tapping of a pencil for percussion. I think that simplicity is part of what makes many of those 50s songs great.
Jack (Rock And Roll Never Forgets)
It certainly is light years away from all of the techno-sound of today ... which is exactly the greatest part of its charm! (kk)

>>>Meanwhile, here's an EXTREMELY rare track as recorded by music extraordinaire Mike Curb back in 1962? (kk)
Well, it was more like 1966 (Issued on Tower 202 in the US, and I have multiple copies of the 45 in my collection because I love this version so dang much) ... and he's even backed up by Davie Allan and the Arrows on the record.
Tom Diehl
Hmmm ... Davie's "Theme from 'The Wild Angels'", ALSO released in 1966, was Tower 267 ... so I figured this one must date back a bit further than that ... but now that I see that I typed 1962, I don't think Tower was around that long, was it? You're probably right ... The Sunrays' single "Andrea" (one of MY favorites from 1966) was Tower 191 ... so they must have released a WHOLE lotta singles that year ... or changed their numbering system somewhere along the way! lol) Thanks, Tom! (kk)
Back in February I was visiting Nashville for two days. It was pretty interesting seeing the name CURB literally everywhere! I wish I had all of my pictures from that trip but the tiny little memory card for my camera got lost shortly after that trip! At one corner was one building with CURB in huge letters, and as we drove by, I got the perfect shot of the building. Perhaps my favorite thing about the trip was walking down music row and seeing an online friend of mine, Shana Dyer, who has a salon (
Harlow Salon - Nashville, TN), sitting outside of her salon, and giving my friend and I a grand tour after I introduced myself. I forgot to mention, she's also the daughter of the late great Shelby Singleton, who was still working in the music industry until he passed away. I never got to meet Shelby personally but I'm sure it would've been a thrill, as his name is all over some of the best music of the 60's and 70's.
Out of all of the people in the music industry I'd ever want to meet, Mike Curb is high up there, only so that I could tell him in person how much I love his rendition of Suzie Darling (which is how his copy is labeled ... the Robin Luke 45 calls it Susie Darlin'):
I'm sure I've mentioned how much I love the song via Forgotten Hits a dozen times but one more time couldn't hurt. I love Mike Curb's rendition of the song, and the backing by Davie Allan and the Arrows really does make the song just perfect.
Well, since Robin Luke WROTE the song (and named it for his sister), I've got to trust HIS spelling of her name! (lol) But I agree with you, Mike Curb cut a GREAT rendition of this tune ... I'm a little surprised it wasn't a hit. (Maybe it all goes back to that "raw" feel of the original again, who knows!) We're hoping to hear back from Mike at some point in time ... maybe he'll tell us a little more about this track and ANOTHER one of our Forgotten Hits Favorites, "Shape Of Things To Come" by Max Frost and the Troopers.

Hmmm ... interesting, too, to see that somebody named M. Libert has added THEIR name to the songwriting credit on Curb's version ... when the Robin Luke single CLEARLY shows that HE wrote this song alone. What the heck is up with that?!?!? (kk)
I had the same question ... who is M. Libert and how did his name end up on the Mike Curb version's songwriting credits? This might be a better question to ask Mike Curb, as M. Libert isn't listed on the official ASCAP listing for the song so it must've only been added during the period of time Curb did the song.
Well, changing the spelling from Susie to Suzie certainly doesn't warrant co-songwriting credit ... nor does changing an odd word or two here and there ... unless, of course, you're in The Eagles where Randy Meisner has stated that Don Henley and Glenn Frey seemed to adopt a "change a word, keep a third" policy when it came to THEIR songwriting collaborations. (lol) However, this to me would seem to be more of an ethical issue here ... making any kind of SIGNIFICANT change would have had to be run by (and then approved by) the song's original writer first ... and, based on the reaction I got when I showed this to Robin Luke, I'd have to say it's pretty safe to assume that this "courtesy" never happened.

In fact, Robin was APPALLED to see another name credited to his song, which he told me he wrote 100% on his own, both words AND music ... so SOMETHING fishy is going on here. (In all fairness, the Mike Curb record never even charted ... so I can't imagine that the royalties for his record added up to all that much ... but we're talking PRINCIPLE here!!!)
Here's what Robin Luke told me:
Hi Kent:
I do not remember this (of many) covers. The authorship by M. Liebert is also phony, as I always received credit for the words ... and lyrics ... as I wrote it!
I wonder when this version was recorded. Is “M. Liebert” Mike Curb’s real name? He doesn’t even get the words right! A nice upbeat version though!
I’d love to have a copy.
All the best,
Robin Luke, Ph.D.
Well, it doesn't set right with me either, Robin ... so we're going to try and get to the bottom of this. (Check out our website and do a search for Bobby Parker ... you'll see a similar piece we did on Bobby's recording of "You Got What It Takes", a song LONG associated with Marv Johnson and, reportedly, cowritten by Motown Founder Berry Gordy ... yet, in actuality, written, recorded, copyrighted and released a year BEFORE by Bobby Parker! Who knows ... maybe this is the way the big music industry honchos got to BE big music industry honchos way back when!!!) We'll report back on any other findings we come across.
Mind you, I'm not pointing any fingers here ... but at the very least some apology ... and financial restitution ... would seem to be in order. (And let's not forget MY 10% cut, too! lol)
Thank you Kent. I really appreciate it.

That's none other than Davie Allan backing Mike Curb on that great Robin Luke song.
Robin gave them a great Ricky Nelson meets Buddy Holly sounding tune to work with and, as you can hear, the Mike Curb version centered mainly on his vocal. Mike Curb should have continued as an performing artist but he grabbed the business part of it.
I certainly can see why Mike Curb wanted to cut "Susie Darlin'" and I'm glad Davie Allan has that one in his portfolio.
Speaking of Ricky Nelson, his family will be on Larry King Live December 27th at
9 pm EST.

I absolutely LOVE that version of Susie Darlin' by Mike Curb --- any idea how I can get a copy?

Well, it sounds like Tom Diehl's got four copies ... maybe HE'LL sell one to you! (lol) kk

By the way, a number of artists recorded "Susie Darlin'" over the years ... most notably Tommy Roe, who took HIS version back into The Top 40 in 1962. (Maybe THAT'S where I got my 1962 reference from?!?!?) In fact, "Susie Darlin'" was Tommy's follow-up hit to his chart-topping record "Sheila", which DEFINITELY had sort of a Buddy Holly-feel to it.

We'll feature Tommy's version here today, which, by the way, properly credits Robin Luke as the sole songwriter on this tune ... so just what was Mike Curb thinking when he released HIS version??? Enquiring minds want to know! (kk)