Johnny Holliday
WHK, Cleveland
Increase Records INCM 2009
Released September, 1973
Johnny Holliday then......Johnny Holiday now.
Johnny Holliday's amazing radio career - from legendary rock radio dj to his 24-year run as the voice of the NCAA Champion Maryland Terrapins - not to mention his long run on ABC Radio and TV - is told in his forthcoming autobiography, Johnny Holliday: From Rock to Jock, published this coming September by Sports Publishing, Inc., L.L.C. Click the book's title to go to the official website.

SIDE ONE: Johnny Holliday Theme Harlem Shuffle - Bob & Earl (2:47) Salute to Warrensville Heights High Tigers Nitty Gritty - Shirley Ellis (2:12) Budweiser® Commercial Dang Me - Roger Miller (1:47) WHK Action Central News Promo Chapel Of Love - The Dixie Cups (2:45) 1964 Rambler Commercial Since I Fell For You - Lenny Welch (2:53) Kahn's Weiner Commercial The Girl From Ipanema - Getz/Gilberto (2:44) SIDE TWO: "My Mommy Listens To WHK" Promo The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss) - Betty Everett (2:11) Coca-Cola Commercial - The Limelighters Talk Back Trembling Lips - Johnny Tillotson (2:35) WHK Cash Quiz Jackpot Promo It's All Right - The Impressions (2:48) Miss Teenage Cleveland Announcement Funny - Joe Hinton (3:07) American Lamb Council Commercial - Jane Wyatt Remember (Walkin' In The Sand) - The Shangri-Las (2:18) WHK Radio Wonders Basketball Team Announcement Suspicion - Terry Stafford (2:28) WHK Color Channel 14 Jingle.

The Johnny Holliday in CRUISIN' 1964 was the "original" Johnny Holliday - lots of disc jockeys were "assigned" that name in later years - and in this, the year the Beatles invaded the U.S., he was No. 1 in the ratings from 3 to 7 p.m. on WHK, Cleveland.

Holliday, if possible, went even faster than B. Mitchell Reed (CRUISIN' 1963), probably thanks to his experience announcing sports in Cleveland, and every word was perfectly enunciated, thanks, perhaps, to his two seasons of Cleveland summer stock. Plus: he savored the rhymed cliche unlike any other ("let's click the turnstiles in our wax files," "headed for the tipety-top of the ol' pop crop") and went absolutely bananas over alliteration ( he broadcast not from a studio, but from a "platter patrol"). In the vales of verbal virtuosity, Johnny Holliday was the Master Mouth, a Tour de Force de Tongue.

(Holliday, who had been with WHK since 1959, wasn't just known for his speed and sleight. Over the years he'd won dozens of public service awards and while with WHK organized station basketball and softball teams which raised over $100,000 for local charities.)

For much of America, 1964 moved almost as rapidly as Holliday's mouth, for this is when Top 40 radio stations began clocking the time in "Beatle minutes before (or after) the Beatle hour" and reported the temperature in "Beatle degrees." For a while there, the four "mop-tops" had five of the top 10 places in the singles chart, three of the top five albums. And when the "fab four from Liverpool" appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show," an astonishing 73 million people were watching - nearly 45 percent of the entire U.S. population! Beatlemania had struck.

Of course the Beatles didn't control the record charts. they merely seemed to. Roy Orbison was back with Oh, Pretty Woman; Marvin Gaye, Mary Wells and the Supremes were there for Motown; the Four Seasons sang Dawn and Rag Doll; Barbra Streisand recorded People; the Drifters cut the classic Under The Boardwalk; the Beach Boys continued their '60s chart run with I Get Around; Ray Charles released Busted; Nino Tempo and his sister April Stevens won the "best song" Grammy with Deep Purple; and all were joined by the Swingle Singers, Tony Bennett, Al Hirt, Andy Williams and the Singing Nun.

As is often the case, TV Guide probably told more about America than any other text, for here were listed "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.," "The Munsters," "Bewitched," and "Peyton Place." And between those wonderful shows came charging the White Knight and the White Tornado and, singing and grinning insipidly, the wonderful Doublemint Twins. Only "Shindig" and "That Was the Week That Was" seemed related in any way to youthful reality.

And reality was grim, as three civil rights workers - Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James E. Chaney - were murdered by the KKK in Mississippi...the Warren Commission Report made the claim that Oswald did it alone...Lyndon Johnson stormed into the White House over Barry Goldwater...and the U.S. began bombing North Vietnam - four of several incidents that put young America on the march again.

Such matters were seldom mentioned on Top 40 radio, certainly not on Johnny Holliday's "wonderful funderful platter patrol." Here everything was designed for your driving and dancing pleasure, the latter of which was recognized in the middling (No. 44) hit by Bob & Earl, Harlem Shuffle, a better-than-average how-to discoteque song that mentioned the names of several dance steps - the Hitchhike, the Fly, the Pony, etc. - and provided instructions for another, the Monkey.

A bigger hit was Shirley Ellis' Nitty Gritty, which sounds as if it were recorded live, but probably wasn't. A few months asfter this song was released, Shirley cut one of the catchier novelty records of the period,The Name Game. Her husband (and songwriter) Lincoln appeared on both records, singing the bass part in Nitty Gritty, in the lyric in The Name Game.

Dang Me was another first hit, the first of 10 Top 40 songs Roger Miller had in just two years - an exceptional record for a boy who'd come out of the dusty backdrop of touring country and western shows. (He'd been a drummer and comedian.) Dang Me, like most of Roger's hits, was self-penned and notable for its humorous lyric, off-beat rhyming, compelling rhythm and infectious melody. His biggest hit, King of the Road, came six months after this one.

They were called the Dixie Cups and were discovered by Joe (You Talk Too Much) Jones in New Orleans, signed to the legendary Red Bird label (owned by George Goldner, Phil Spector, Shadow Morton, Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller - the white New York r&b pantheon), and hit with a song by Spector and Jeffy Barry and Ellie Greenwich: Chapel of Love. It was No. 1 three weeks in a row.

One of the more unusual songs on CRUISIN' 1964 isn't a "song" at all, but a commercial for Rambler, an automobile whose ad agency acquired the rights to a 1958 hit by the Playmates called Beep Beep (CRUISIN' 1961) and wrote new lyrics. Of course the "song" was still about the mighty little Nash.

Since I Fell For You was Lenny Welch's biggest song - he had seven chart records in the '60s - and the title, along with Johnny Holliday's introduction, tells you all you need to know: "For the sad, suffering secretaries...from elbow deep in the ballad bowl..."

For The Girl From Ipanema, bossa nova at its best, the man who generally is regarded as the top tenor saxophonist of the 1950s, Stan Getz, joined Joao Gilberto, the creative Brazilian guitarist so closely associated with the premier exponent of bossa nova, Antonio Carlos Jobim, who wrote the song. And Joao's wife, Astrud, sang it.

In the oddly titled Shoop Shoop Song, Betty Everett offered simple advice: "If you want to know/If he loves you so/It's in his kiss..." The song gets its title from what the vocal backup group is saying throughout: "Shoop, shoop...shoop, shoop..."

Time for another word from Madison Avenue, so attuned in 1964 to the pop music marketplace. Singing the Coca-Cola jingle: the folk trio the Limeliters, featuring the tenor voice of Glenn Yarbrough. So recognizeable was this version of the "song," Glenn found he had to include it in his nightclub act when he broke from the Limeliters for a solo career.

Johnny Tillotson had 17 hits on the Cadence label when he moved to MGM and recorded Talk Back Trembling Lips, a song about hurt feelings and putting on a false front ("Don't let her know that you're breaking in two...") that sounds very Frankie Avalon-ish. Maybe that's because both Tillotson and Avalon got started in the Year of the Adenoid, 1958.

The Impressions started in 1958, too, but they provided one of the smoothest soul sounds of both decades, thanks in large part to their lead vocalist, who also wrote much of their material, Curtis Mayfield. All have gospel backgrounds, which is clearly evident on all their records. Their biggest hit of 1964 was It's All Right.

Funnily enough, a year earlier Joe Hinton had a hit called You Know It Ain't Right. Now he had one called Funny (How Time Slips Away). This is another song about a guy running into an old love, and how it hurts. Joe really gets it on with the high part of his voice on this one.

Sure is gettin' weepy on Holliday's "palpitatiin' platter parade." Here comes another Red Bird act, the Shangri-Las, four (later three) teenaged girls from the Bronx - Soul from Sheepshead Bay! - singing their first plaintive love song, Remember (Walking In The Sand). The seagulls overdubbed for atmosphere were considered innovative at the time. The next thing the girls recorded was their No. 1 Leader of the Pack.

The final song from "your Buckeye Buddy" is Suspicion, a ballad taken by Terry Stafford from a then two-year-old Elvis Presley album, "Potluck." Terry sings it almost exactly the way Elvis did - same phrasing, same vocal timbre, the works. Oddly enough, ol' El put Suspicion on the backside of one of his singles that same year and it didn't move, while Terry's carbon-copy went to No. 3.

Oh, well. When somebody asked, John Lennon said, "Nothing really affected me...until Elvis."
- Jerry Hopkins

CRUISIN' THE FIFTIES & SIXTIES: A History of Rock and Roll Radio. Conceived and recreated by: Ron Jacobs/Production and Research: Ellen Johnson, Jere Alan Brian, Sandy Gibson, Sharon Weisz, Lyn Layce/Engineering: Bill Hergonson/Art Direction: Paul Gruwell/Cover Art: Mike Royer/Executive Producer: Tom Bonetti/Dedicated to Wacco/All selections are the original performances as released on the following labels: ABC: Joe Hinton, The Impressions/Garrett Music Enterprises: Bob & Earl/ MCA: Shirley Ellis (Congress)/Mercury: Roger Miller (Smash)/MGM: Getz/Gilberto (Verve), Johnny Tillotson, Lenny Welch/Music Productions: Terry Stafford (Crusade)/SSS International: The Dixie Cups, The Shangri-Las (Red Bird)/Vee Jay: Betty Everett. Special thanks to the Radio Advertising Bureau and Milton Malz, WHK Radio. /Produced by RON JACOBS for Increase Records, Los Angeles, California. (P) & © 1973 Increase Records/GRT Music Tapes

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