Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Hi Kent,
First, I'm a big fan of Linda Laurie, and made a CD for myself of (I believe) all of her songs. I recently bought a copy of her rendition of Ruby Red Dress. Helen Reddy had success with it, Linda wrote it, and her rendition is very close to Helen Reddy's. I'll attach a copy of it, if you want to put it on your site.
I always have little projects that I work on and my latest one is getting the original and uncensored releases of 1960's 45's. I only have two so far, Jimmy Dean's (Big Bad John), both releases, and Charlie Drake's (My Boomerang Won't Come Back).
I'm trying to find what I think is the censored version of Lou Christie's Rhapsody In The Rain.
I would have thought that it would be easier to find than the uncensored. I see where you had it on Forgotten Hits a while back. Can you rerun it for me?
Attached is Linda Laurie's "Ruby Red Dress".
Arnold Kirkbride

Scott Shannon may want to feature Linda Laurie's version of "Ruby Red Dress" on his next True Oldies Channel "Rock And Roll Remakes" Weekend. (Helen Reddy retitled the tune "Leave Me Alone" and took it all the way to #1 in Cash Box Magazine in 1973.) Linda Laurie had the novelty hit "Ambrose" back in 1959. (We featured this one recently on the website, too.) For the record, she ALSO wrote Reddy's #1 Hit "Delta Dawn! (And, speaking of #1 Helen Reddy tunes, a short while back we told you the "behind-the-scenes" story behind ANOTHER one of Helen Reddy's #1 Hits, "Angie Baby", written by our Forgotten Hits Buddy Alan O'Day!!! Yes, it's true ... we've become your All-Helen-Reddy-Radio-Connection!!!) lol

Speaking of Scott Shannon, ironically he and I just had a discussion about "Rhapsody In The Rain" the other day! (I think I had mentioned something about it on the site recently and said that I would try to find our salute in the archives and run it again.) That conversation ... and your email ... finally made me do something about it!

So here you go ... along with a little bit of history surrounding both the song and the artist! (kk)

Back in 1966, there were TWO versions of "Rhapsody In The Rain" circulating on the radio.

On the ORIGINAL version, Lou Christie sang the line "We were makin' out in the rain" ...

HARDLY controversial by today's standards ...

but in 1966, it got him banned from radio stations all over the country.

In fact, the ENTIRE ABC / Radio Chain prohibited the playing of the tune!

In a censorship campaign led by Chicago's own Gene Taylor, then Program Director of AM radio giant WLS, ABC Radio went so far as to tell "Time Magazine" that the suggestive lyrics about "makin' out in the rain" and "our love went much too far" along with the obvious rhythmic beat of the windshield wipers could ONLY mean that the couple was having sex in the car in time with the wipers. When Christie re-recorded the lines as "we fell in love in the rain" and "our love came like a falling star," he ALSO slowed down the tempo a bit from the original pressing ... hopefully stopping once and for all the teen-lusting that was going on in the back seat while listening to the other version! (Yeah right ... I'm sure THAT tempo change fooled the teenagers during the charged-up sexual-revolution which was the '60's!)

Not wanting to lose any of the momentum that was building up (please!) for the song ... and in an effort to get it on (come on!!!) the radio again, Christie went back into the studio and recut the track with the substitute line "We fell in love in the rain" in time to still garner enough airplay to take this hit all the way to #16.

In hindsight, it's a pretty sloppy edit ... (no pun intended) ... it sounds very forced (there I go again) and just doesn't fit (enough already!!!) Truth be told, I wonder how much foreplay, I mean forethought Christie put into the tune ... after all, he was just coming (jeez!) off of a #1 Record with "Lightning Strikes" ... so creating another "rain" song was probably much more of his focus than any subliminal message to a bunch of horny teenagers ... the songs are strikingly (ok, that pun WAS intended) similar in overall topic, sound and tempo.
Anyway, today, we feature BOTH versions of the single.

For years, the "banned" version was quite a collectible 45 ... in fact, I remember the Price Guides even listing the number etched in the wax so that the buyer could determine which pressing he was purchasing without actually having to listen to the record!

(Amazingly, just one year later, Van Morrison was "making love in the green grass behind the stadium" with his Brown-Eyed Girl and ran into some similar problems ... according to MOST radio stations, he was "skippin' and a-jumpin'" instead!)

Lou Christie hit The National Top 40 five times between 1963 and 1969 with '60's classics like "Lightning Strikes" (a #1 Single in early 1966), "Two Faces Have I" (#3 in Cash Box and also #1 here in Chicago back in 1963), the aforementioned, controversial "Rhapsody In The Rain" (#16, 1966) and "I'm Gonna Make You Mine", an almost "Bubblegum"-sounding comeback hit that went all the way to #7 in 1969.

Christie (whose REAL name is Lugee Sacco) was famous for his soaring falsetto, rivaling Frankie Valli, who was also starting to hit the pop charts around the same time. Christie first hit the charts in 1963 with his original composition "The Gypsy Cried", (#18, 1963), a song
co-written with Twyla Herbert, ironically a reputed clairvoyant (who also just happened to be 30 years older than he was!) They also co-wrote several of his other hit singles: "Two Faces Have I", "Lightning Strikes" and "Rhapsody In The Rain", a song banned on numerous radio stations around the country. (Lou eventually went in and cut new lyrics replacing the controversial "making out in the rain" line, which became quite a collectible over the years.)

In 1974, he cut my personal favorite track, a version of a song first featured in the 1930 movie "Monte Carlo" called "Beyond The Blue Horizon". Sung in the movie by star Jeanette MacDonald, Christie's version would peeter out at #72 on the Cash Box Chart. (It didn't even get THAT high in Billboard, where it stalled at #80.) This song has since been covered by everyone from Johnny Mathis to Michael Nesmith! Lou's version would also get the "film-treatment" when it was featured prominently in the hit motion picture "Rain Man".

It's an interesting track in that, if you listen REAL closely, you can just barely hear Christie singing (almost off-mike) on the first verse before coming in strong for the big finish. Christie sounds great on what would be his last chart hit.