Steven L. Smith, Bellingham, WA Home Inspector (King of the House)


This Day In History: That Louisiana Boy and his #1 Hit from November, 1966

When the Beatles ruled the pop charts, in the mid-1960's, there was a young hitmaker, who had moved from NYC to Louisiana, with his family, when he was a toddler. The young fellow had grown up, not with the British beat, but listening to the New Orlean's legends, not the smallest of those being Fats Domino. This had a huge influence on the young man's performing style.

Back in 1957, this wannabe star, at the tender age of 15, made his way back to NYC (birth place) to meet the famous rock "n" roll deejay, Alan Freed. Freed, who made superstars, liked the kid's music and arranged for a contract with a small record label. There was little success at that label, but it was a good beginning for a kid.

By the early 1960's, the singer had packed-up and moved to Los Angeles where he had developed a huge following as a live club performer with a rock-a-billy beat. The 21-year- old's live performances were so popular that he was hired to be the ongoing star attraction, house band, at a hip new nightclub -- the soon to be legendary Whiskey-a-Go-Go. This is where go-go dancing became elevated to a national craze, with girls in cages suspended high above the dance floor.

Many of the big stars of the 60's -- The Byrds, the Turtles, the Lovin' Spoonful, and others became regular attractions or took up residence at the Whiskey.

The young artist, with his Louisiana beat,  had his first Top 40 hits on the "Imperial" record label. The hit songs, plucked from Chuck Berry's prolific library of tunes, were recorded live at the Whiskey and the hits made it all the way to #2 on the Billboard charts.

One of the artist's songs, featured what ends up being one of the most recognized guitar riffs in rock "n" roll history, see the bottom of this post. Despite having had many chart hits, all of them songs written by others, the only #1 this artist ever had was an original composition. Yep, he wrote it himself and it was a totally different style -- not rock-a-billy but a ballad.

Curious who this might be, and what song I am talking about? Here is a clue: The artist went on to be a top record producer with his own label -- Soul City -- where he discovered the Fifth Dimension. Still not enough information to make a safe guess? Well, to see the original artist perform his only #1 hit, from November 1966, click on the TV. Doing so will cut Lawrence Welk's Geritol off, so you can get to the rock "n" roll.

Bonus: If you were intrigued by the comment above, about this artist having recorded one of the most famous guitar riffs in rock history, here is your chance to find out what I am talking about. The tune was the theme song from a TV show, Secret Agent or Danger Man. Click on Patrick McGoohan's photo, to see and hear these famous guitar licks.

Steven L. Smith

If you enjoy nostalgia and music of yesteryear, click on Elvis' gold record to visit This Day In History. To explore The Stories Behind The Music blog posts click on the electric guitar. 







Comment balloon 7 commentsSteven L. Smith • October 23 2011 07:04PM


Two memorable classics that get me singing whenever they're heard.  You stumped me on the #1 though, did not know that! 

Posted by Kevin J. May, Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida (Florida Supreme Realty) over 8 years ago


Thanks for the musical history tour back in time. I didn't have a clue.


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (eXp Realty of California) over 8 years ago

Didn't know who you were talking about until I clicked!  Remember it well, and that guitar rift!  I liked the show too!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

ANOTHER GREAT SONG!   I remember hearing this one when I was about 13 or 14 years old.

Posted by Sussie Sutton, David Tracy Real Estate for Buyers & Sellers (David Tracy Real Estate) over 8 years ago

Howdy and evening Steve

Steve, Johnny Rivers sure is mighty good. You do such a mighty fine job with these here Musical History blog posts.

Have a good one
Dale in New Hampshire

Posted by Dale Baker, New Hampshire Relocation Real Estate Information (Baker Energy Audits and Commercial Properties Inspections) over 8 years ago

Folks, glad it stumped you. Johnny was a huge star back then and he is still performing and sounds about the same.

Dale, they take a lot of work to get it all right and for graphics. Sometimes I am in the mood.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 8 years ago

Such a mature voice for a baby faced guy.  enjoyed reading about him and love the music.

Posted by Mona Gersky, GRI,IMSD-Taking the mystery out of real estate. (MoonDancer Realty, Dillsboro,NC) over 8 years ago