Thursday, April 4, 2013

Gary Lewis and the Playboys - Part 1

About a week ago we received an inquiry about the Gary Lewis and the Playboys hit "Sure Gonna Miss Her". Well, we've got some new information to share with you today ... along with some very rare tracks, thanks to the incredible collections (and wealth of knowledge) from some of our illustrious readers!  

It all started here ... read on ...  

>>>I came across an interesting situation regarding Gary Lewis & The Playboys' "Sure Gonna Miss Her" (1966). I was a bit too young to recall the song at the time but remember hearing the song from the early 1970's on. I decided to purchase the original Liberty 45 on ebay and was confused when I played it! A totally different song - NO Hal Blaine drums for one thing. I'm guessing what happened is they must have re-recorded it for a Greatest Hits - Playboy's album (maybe before Gary went into the service?) DJ's most likely were using the Greatest Hits album by the 1970's and it's the album version that I became a fan of! I think this maybe one of the few times when the original hit recording was actually NOT as good as the album version! (John Evanich III)  

>>>Maybe somebody out there can shed some light on this one. Gary Lewis rerecorded all of his hits over the years ... but I wouldn't think so for a greatest hits album this early on. Any ideas? (kk)  

As for "Sure Gonna Miss Her", the song has never been the 45 version, even in the earliest appearances on LP. It was supposedly finally the 45 version in stereo on the Legendary Masters CD, but there's still something that does not sound right to me. Just like the Seekers' "Morningtown Ride" and "Look At Me Girl" by Bobby Vee don't sound exactly like the 45 versions to me still on the Legendary Masters series that is supposed to have the first time 45 versions in stereo of these. There's something missing or whatever as to my memory. Great series, tho. On the Gary Lewis CD, they also use the non-movie version of "Way Way Out!" which is (like "Sure Gonna Miss Her", the LP version) ... quite lame compared to the movie version of the song. Loved that movie!! 
Clark Besch 

Actually, the single take, remixed to stereo, has been on many cds since Ron Furmanek remixed it for the Legendary Masters cd (where he had it run about 16 seconds longer than the single did). I have that mix on their "10 Best" cd from Cema Special Products. Also, within the last few years, the original mono single mix was featured on the Collectors Choice (and now Real Gone Music) set Gary Lewis & The Playboys - The Complete Liberty Singles. The original stereo album version (an alternate take) is on cd as well but it's harder to find these days.  
Tom Diehl    

Tom sent us copies of all of these variances ... we're featuring the hit single and LP versions ... along with a couple of other surprises ... on the website today. Keep reading! (kk)

Regarding Gary Lewis' "Sure Gonna Miss Her" ... I have heard two versions of the song.
The common(?) version with the opening "mariachi band" horns I believe is the 45 single version. There is also a version with a "spanish guitar" opening instead of the horns (my favorite version) from his "Gary Lewis Hits Again" album.
Also a Gary Lewis "Fun Fact". Gary was the voice behind the theme song to the Saturday Morning NBC cartoon show "The Super 6" back in the mid 60s (which can be found on YouTube).
Uncle T. Jay. 

I did quite a bit of research on this track this past week as I wasn't aware that two drastically different versions existed until I saw this flurry of emails. 

Here's what I've been able to sort out so far ... 

According to the liner notes for both the "Legendary Masters Series" CD and "The Complete Liberty Singles" CD, Gary Lewis and the Playboys first cut the record without the horns ... and a substantial amount of "drum fills" throughout the recording. After this was mastered and planned for release, producer Snuff Garrett decided he didn't really like the recording and wanted to redo it ... so several weeks later he reassembled the musicians and cut the track again. This time he wrote out some horn charts ... and recorded two trombones doing a harmony line at 7 1/2ips ... which he then sped up to 15ips to make it sound like two trumpets. He also played up the flamenco guitar line that opens the songs and comes back in hauntingly throughout. (Glen Campbell was originally considered to do the guitar part ... as was guitar whiz James Burton ... but the role ultimately went to Tommy Tedesco instead, who did an INCREDIBLE job with it.) 

Gary Lewis recalls:
This man plays fantastic guitar. Leon (Russell, who was "instrumental" in all of The Playboys' early hits as both a musician, songwriter and arranger) just wrote out the charts, wrote each individual note and just put it in front of him. He did, like one take, and it was over already.  (Tommy Tedesco is Denny Tedesco's dad ... and Denny Tedesco is the guy who put together the incredible Wrecking Crew Documentary that we've been raving about for the past several years here in Forgotten Hits.) At this point the original version was deemed "inferior" and shelved ... and the new brassed-up version was released and became the hit single.     

As for the different versions and how and where they were released (as questioned by FH Reader John Evanich III above), here is the official explanation:    

The original recording (without the sped up trombones) featured Gary Lewis on drums ... and he's the guy who did all those drum fills throughout the song. Although very similar, this version is most distinguishable as "the one without the horns" ... and it also doesn't have nearly as much of Tommy Tedesco's guitar work on it.  

Several weeks later the band went back into the studio to cut the track again as described above. It was at this point that the original version was shelved with no plans for future release, as the new mix was decidedly better. This single became Gary Lewis and the Playboys' sixth straight Top Ten Hit. 

However, fans who bought the band's next album "Hits Again" were surprised to find the top ten single version on the mono version of the LP ... but the previously recorded "outtake" version on stereo copies of the LP! To complicate matters even further, when Gary's "Golden Greats" Greatest Hits LP came out a short while later, it, too, included the horn-less version of the track! To this day nobody knows how these tracks were mixed up and ultimately released to the market place!  It had to be some sort of mastering error.    

We have since learned that "Sure Gonna Miss Her" was written by Bobby Russell (he of "Honey" fame), a well-known Nashville songwriter who wrote numerous hit records in the '60's (and even enjoyed his own recording career for a spell.) Russell also wrote "The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia", (featured yesterday in Forgotten Hits), which became a #1 Smash for his then-wife Vicki Lawrence (although Russell himself had envisioned Cher recording this track.)   

The song first appeared on the B-Side of a single released by The Chellows, one of those sound-alike bands that recorded cover versions for Hit Records out of Nashville in the 1960's. (We've covered this label several times before ... in fact Mr. C's Flip Side Radio Show, which originates from Nashville, often features these tracks on his Tuesday Night broadcasts.) Hit Records were designed as budget releases (typically sold in dime stores like Ben Franklin) to dupe the public into buying what they THOUGHT was the hit version of one of their current favorites at a fraction of the cost of a new 45 ... and it worked ... the label existed for several years doing exactly that. 

Incredibly, Bobby's original composition found its way on to the B-Side of The Chellows' cover version of The Four Seasons' hit "Bye, Bye Baby" ... and somehow Gary's producer, Snuff Garrett, heard it and decided that, with a little bit of rearranging, this record could be a hit for his artists, Gary Lewis and the Playboys. (The original Chellows version even features Bobby Russell on lead vocals, sounding a whole lot like Rick Nelson on this record!)    

Thanks to FH Reader Paul Urbahns, (aka "The 'Hit' Man, an authority on the Hit Records label), we have that track to share with you today. And, even more incredibly, once Gary Lewis had a hit with this track, Hit Records re-recorded it to mimic the sound of The Playboys' version and issued it again ... as an A-Side this time ... with a guy named Ed Hardin handling the lead vocal.  (Turns out Ed Hardin was ALSO Bobby Russell, who was now recutting his song that became the inspiration for the hit ... to match the arrangement of the popular version of the record!  Unreal!)  

So today we've got a REAL treat for you in Forgotten Hits ...

First you get the hit single version of "Sure Gonna Miss Her" by Gary Lewis and the Playboys (with the sped-up trumpet intro which, by the way is the version available on BOTH of these CD's, "Legendary Masters" and "Complete Liberty Singles") ...


Along with the original no-horns, drum fills, outtake version that somehow found its way on to a couple of Gary Lewis and the Playboys albums in the mid-'60's. (This is what fans who bought the band's next album "Hits Again" heard if they happened to buy the stereo version of this LP ... the previously unreleased outtake version, which later appeared on Gary's "Golden Greats" LP, too!)

Then, thanks to Paul Urbahns, we've got both the ORIGINAL version of this song, released by The Chellows (but featuring Bobby Russell on lead vocals), released as a B-Side on Hit Records (187, then titled "I'm Sure Going To Miss Her") ... I guess you could technically call this the "demo" that Snuff Garrett followed when he had Gary Lewis and the Playboys record their version of the song) ...


As well as the Hit Records re-issued A-Side of this hit, re-recorded and featuring Ed Hardin (actually Bobby Russell on lead vocals again, using one of the label's stage names, also shared with studio singer Buzz Cason), released to cash in on the Gary Lewis version as Hit Records 247. Actually, this is a pretty damn good recording!

(Seriously ... where else are you going to find this kind of stuff?!?!?) 

VERY special thanks to our incredible coalition of readers who helped to put together today's special feature.

I don't know if you are aware of this or not, but Liberty was a stereo interested label ... so on mono copies of the Gary Lewis and the Playboys Greatest Hits album, the original mono single was included. On the stereo pressings of the same album they used the stereo album version that sounded like the Hit demo. There was not a stereo mix of the single until the CD era.

More about those Hit Records versions from Paul Urbahns below:  

Issued FEB 65 
Written By: Bobby Russell 
Credited To: The Chellows 
Lead Vocal: Bobby Russell

Comment: This is the original version with Bobby Russell singing his own composition, used as a demo for Gary Lewis And The Playboys. A year later the Snuff Garrett produced Gary Lewis version made the charts. See Hit 247. 

Gary Lewis actually recorded two versions of this song, and even he was not sure why according to interviews. But the stereo album version is the same as the Bobby Russell demo. Then apparently Snuff Garrett, who knew Bobby Russell and Buzz Cason (songwriting partners on numerous songs), felt that it needed something extra so a second version was recorded and this time he dubbed in trombones played back at double speed to make them sound like a mellow trumpet. The second version was issued as a single and became a national hit. The original was published by Tennessee Music, but Garrett's arrangement shared publishing. Notice also the slight renaming to the title.

Issued FEB 66 
Written By: Bobby Russell  
In The Style Of: Gary Lewis and The Playboys 
Credited To: Ed Hardin

Comments: This is a sound-a-like of the Gary Lewis And The Playboys recording, written and performed by Bobby Russell. The original non sound-a-like version was issued on Hit 187 under the title, I’m Sure Going To Miss Her.

In a strange move Hit re-recorded song, a year after its initial release again with writer Bobby Russell on lead vocal ... this time they brought in trumpets to recreate the sound of the Gary Lewis hit. 

Hit records are not "note for note" copies but rather a sound-a-like arranged by their own in house arranger to sound as close to the original as possible. The arranger on the second version is definitely Bergen White. The arranger on the first version may have been Bill Justis, but I can't be positive, it maybe Bergen White again. Justis left Nashville for the west coast to do arranging for a while and Bergen White took over doing the Hit Records arrangements.

Paul Urbahns

the "Hit" man

More Gary Lewis tomorrow in Forgotten Hits!