(click to enlarge chart)
Dino, Desi and Billy (like thousands of OTHER kids across America) picked up guitars and bought drum kits hoping to emulate the sounds of their favorite new artists of the day. Depending on your point of view, THESE kids were either blessed or cursed by the fact that the parents of two of the members were already established American icons. (There were cynics on both sides of the fence on this issue ... some would argue that this group couldn't possibly fail, due to these established family connections ... while others HOPED that they would for that very same reason!!!)
Dino's father was Dean Martin, whose #1 Hit "Everybody Loves Somebody" topped the 1964 WLS Chart we featured last week in Forgotten Hits. Martin, of course, was well known as a singer, an actor, a television star and a top-drawing Vegas show act ... the consumate entertainer. Desi's parents were Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, stars of perhaps the most revered show in television history, "I Love Lucy." Billy was Billy Hinsche, a neighborhood friend and school mate, who completed the trio ... and went on to become a touring member of The Beach Boys Band as well as Carl Wilson's brother-in-law. (Today he still performs regularly with any number of acts ... and participates from time to time with our Forgotten Hits mailings!)
Their break-through hit, "I'm A Fool" (which incorporated that popular "Louie Louie" riff a few months before The McCoys would ALSO use it in their #1 Hit "Hang On Sloopy"), became a #17 Billboard Hit ... but here in Chicago, it was HUGE, going all the way to #4 on The WLS Chart. (You'll find that McCoys Hit debuting on the chart featured this week at #35! You'll also learn about ANOTHER all-time classic rock song inspiration for "I'm A Fool" in Billy Hinsche's comments below!) Sadly, "I'm A Fool" is another one of those GREAT records that seems to have slipped through the cracks on most oldies playlists ... so we're hoping that by featuring it here today, we might just inspire a few of the jocks on the list to feature it on THEIR radio programs, too!
Also in The Top Ten this week was the local hit "Little Miss Sad" by The Five Empressions (aka The Five Emprees), a song that we'll be featuring in a couple of weeks in another one of our WLS Survey features. Other songs included in this week's Top 40 Countdown that seem to have fallen off of the Oldies Radar include "Looking Through The Eyes Of Love" by Gene Pitney, in at #21, "Who'll Be The Next In Line" by The Kinks, right behind it at #22 ... (I know, I know ... why play this one when you can play "You Really Got Me" four times a day instead!!!) ... and "I'm A Happy Man" by The Jive Five, which sat one spot lower at #23 this week in '65.
A few more surprises can be found a little futher down the chart: "Moon Over Naples" by Bert Kaempfert was the #26 record, followed by one of MY favorites by Chad and Jeremy, "I Don't Wanna Lose You Baby", a song we featured AGES ago in Forgotten Hits. Below that came "Candy" by The Astors, "Give Me All Your Love" by Gerry and the Pacemakers, "A Little You", a GREAT little long-forgotten tune by Freddie and the Dreamers, "I'm Alive" by The Hollies, "I'll Take You Where The Music Is" by The Drifters, "Drums A Go-Go" by The Persuaders, "A World Thru A Tear" by Neil Sedaka, another one of my favorites, "Mohair Sam" by Charlie Rich (that's the song that Elvis kept playing on his jukebox over and over and over again the day he met The Beatles!), "It's Gonna Take A Miracle" by The Royalettes and another local hit, "Trouble With A Woman" by Kip and Ken.
Clearly, there was some GREAT representation by The British Invasion Artists looking at that list of titles above. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Tom Jones, The Dave Clark Five, The Yardbirds and The Fortunes ALSO scored Top 40 Hits this week with "Help!", "Satisfaction", "What's New Pussycat", "Catch Us If You Can", "Heart Full Of Soul" and "You've Got Your Troubles", respectively.
American acts in The Top Ten included Sonny and Cher (who not only had the #1 Record with "I Got You Babe" but also held down the #33 spot with "Just You"), The Beach Boys with "California Girls" (#3), Billy Joe Royal with "Down In The Boondocks" (#7), "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me", the eternal favorite by Mel Carter (in at #8) and Bob Dylan, who sat at #10 with his big hit "Like A Rolling Stone."
Another over-looked classic held down the #14 spot ... TV Star Patty Duke had a HUGE hit record that week that radio rarely remembers with a song called "Don't Just Stand There", a virtual Lesley Gore / "You Don't Own Me" clone.
Today we're featuring three of my favorites from this week's countdown ...
"I'm A Fool" by Dino, Desi and Billy, "A Little You" by Freddie and the Dreamers" (when's the last time you heard THIS one?!?!?) and "Don't Just Stand There" by Patty Duke.
Aww ... what the heck!!!
Sorry ... but I've just GOTTA feature "Mohair Sam", too ... this one is just WAY too good a song for radio to continue to ignore (although our radio buddy Phlash Phelps has played this one for me a few times on XM60s!!!)
AN EXCLUSIVE FORGOTTEN HITS BONUS!!!:
I asked Billy Hinsche to share a few Dino, Desi and Billy memories with our readers ... and we hit the motherlode!!! GREAT stuff here, Billy ... thank you SO much for sharing this with us!!!
At your request, I have written a short piece on Dino, Desi and Billy ... use whatever you like!
Dino Martin and I were longtime best friends and classmates in grammar school (Good Shepherd of Beverly Hills) and started out as a duo - just me and Dino, following the lead of Chad & Jeremy and Peter & Gordon, and both of us just playing 6 string acoustic guitars.
It wasn't long before we realized that having a drummer would be a good idea and we should "go electric" and proceed as a trio. We knew that Desi Arnaz, Jr. (in a younger class) could play drums and so we asked him if he wanted to start a group with us - we asked him during a lunch break out by the basketball court. He was happy to accept the role as our drummer (his older sister, Lucie Arnaz, was our classmate).
We played at local neighborhood parties and made $20 a show. I remember thinking - how do we split this equally?
Our rehearsals began at Lucille Ball's outside playroom and eventually moved to
Dean Martin's large den, that had a small riser for a stage.
Over time, we got better and better as musicians and singers. Jeanne Martin (Dean's wife) picked up the phone one day, called Frank Sinatra and told him that he had to hear us play - she thought we were really good.
We auditioned for Mr. Sinatra as he and Dean listened to us perform a few songs in the bar area of the Martin home - perfect, right ? There they sat - old blue eyes and old red eyes!
After the audition, Mr. Sinatra walked over and asked if we would like a contract on his label, Reprise. Of course, we gladly accepted his kind and generous offer.
We were shocked to learn that we wouldn't be playing on our first recording session but would have professional studio musicians record the tracks instead of us. This hurt our feelings, as we thought we were good enough to record for ourselves but didn't realize how things worked in the LA recording scene even though, apparently, it was commonplace, as we know today. I remember that Jerry Cole played guitar on our first two sides but I don't recall who the other musicians were. On subsequent recordings it shouldn't surprise anyone that the Wrecking Crew played on our sessions though, over time, Dino, Desi and I recorded and were incorporated more and more onto our tracks.
I don't think most people know that the first song we released was a dud, sold nothing and went nowhere ("Since You Broke My Heart" / "We Know"). I wanted us to record "Since You Broke My Heart" after I heard it on a Searchers' LP. I didn't realize at the time that it was written by the Everly Brothers - no wonder I liked it so much. The B side, "We Know," was pitched to us as having been "turned down by the Beatles," so we eagerly agreed to record it, since anything that even came close to being a Beatles' song was good enough for us. Even though we performed "Since You Broke My Heart" on the Hollywood Palace TV Show on November 28, 1964 (Tony Martin hosted and the broadcast was in black & white), it got little airplay.
In 1965 (I was 14 years old), our Producer and A&R man, Jimmy Bowen, brought in a young country gentleman named Lee Hazlewood to try his hand at producing us and it yielded our first and biggest hit, "I'm a Fool" / "So Many Ways". If I'm not mistaken, it went Top 20. Earl Palmer played drums and James Burton played guitar on "I'm a Fool". If I had to guess, I believe that Ray Pohlman played bass, though it *might* have been Carol Kaye -- sorry for the lapse in memory. But give me a break - after all, it's been 45 years !@#$%
It opened the doors for us to tour with the Beach Boys, Paul Revere & the Raiders, Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs, and many tours of our own in both the US and Canada. Over the next 4 years we recorded four albums for Reprise and had six songs that charted on the Billboard / Cash Box Hot 100.
As a result of the success of "I'm a Fool" (written by Red West - yes, THAT Red West & Shindig regular Joey Cooper), we appeared in countless articles and pictorials in Gloria Stavers' 16 Magazine, Tiger Beat, etc., and did all the relevant television shows of the day including Shindig, Shivaree, Hullabaloo, Sam Riddle's 9th Street West, the Lloyd Thaxton show, Where the Action Is, the Joey Bishop show, the Mike Douglas show, the Dean Martin show and Sammy Davis Jr.'s Thanksgiving Day Special for kids. We even made appearances on the Hollywood Squares and the Dating Game.
But the TV appearance that was the most important and memorable was the Ed Sullivan show. It was the first color broadcast of the Ed Sullivan show and we did it at the CBS studios on Beverly Blvd. / Fairfax in LA - not in the studio in NY, so it was historical on several levels.
We were also in the Matt Helm (Dean Martin) spy spoof flick "Murderer's Row" wherein we performed Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart's composition of "If You're Thinkin' What I'm Thinkin'" - one of our charted hits.
You can still see our RC Cola TV commercial on YouTube and filmed at the Hollywood Bowl: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymwK-n2VCms
But getting back to the main topic - I found out many years later that Red West had based 'I'm a Fool" on Elvis Presley's "Dont' Be Cruel". The titles even rhyme! When you compare the two songs you can see the similarities, especially lyrically in the first verse of each song:
"Don't Be Cruel" (Otis Blackwell / Elvis Presley)
You know I can be found
Sitting home all alone
If you can't come around
At least please telephone
Don't be cruel
To a heart that's true
"I'm a Fool" (Red West / Joey Cooper)
You know where I can be found
(Dontcha' know) I'll be waiting by the telephone, girl
While you're out running around, yea
I'm sitting home all alone
I'm a fool, just a silly fool
To be in love with you
I think it is very cool that Dino, Desi & Billy had this connection, albeit minimal, to Elvis.
Thanks for including "I'm a Fool" as a topic in your newsletter.
Dino, Desi & Billy
Dino, Desi & Billy publicity photo taken on Dean Martin's tennis court
Photo credit: © Guy Webster circa 1968
http://www.billyhinsche.com and http://www.myspace.com/billyhinsche
Thanks again, Billy ... this is GREAT Stuff ... and I know that our readers will love it. (I never knew about the "I'm A Fool" / "Don't Be Cruel" connection ... amazing how even 40-something years later we're STILL learning new stuff about this great music that we love!) kk