Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: In the early '60s, in Pittsburgh, my mom would dress me for school with the radio banging out the tunes in the background.

To this day, I distinctly remember a song with a swinging '50s-'60s beat, but can only remember a piece of the lyrics. The line I recall is “Four-forty two Canwood Avenue.”

Am I dreaming or is this memory really of a song?
--Bill Gura, Winter Park, Fla.

DEAR BILL: You are not dreaming, though your memory has jumbled a metal container (can) with a narrow, secluded valley (glen).

The correct title is “442 Glenwood Avenue,” and it is one side of a double-sided, 1963 hit by the Pixies Three. On the flip is the wonderfully seasonal “Cold Cold Winter” (Mercury 72208).

Knowing the significance of this tune to your very young years — an assumption based on you not yet dressing yourself — I simply have to share with you a very appropriate letter sent to me in the summer of 1997.

DEAR JERRY: We especially liked the recent letter about the Pixies Three — mainly because we are two of them!

A reader asked about the origin of “442 Glenwood Avenue.” Well, it was not intended to be a real address. When we were given the tune in rehearsal, we asked the writers (Madara & White, also our producers) the same question. They said they picked Glenwood Avenue because nearly every city has one.

There is at least one group that thinks the song was written just for them. In 1964, while performing at a college in Ohio, when we sang “442 Glenwood Avenue,” about 50 guys stood up and sang along with us. Turned out it was the exact address of their fraternity.

“Cold, Cold Winter” was the original A-side of the record. It's often said that the tune is a take-off on the Phil Spector wall of sound, and maybe so. But those who say that need to hear “Orphan Boy” which truly was.

Like you, “Cold, Cold Winter” is also one of my favorites, but dee jays started flipping it over and we fell victim to the deadly split play. I have an old issue of “Music Vendor” that shows both “Cold, Cold Winter” and “442 Glenwood Avenue” in the Top 100. The record actually sold a lot of copies, but neither side made it high on the charts due to play being split between the two songs.

Madara and White couldn't even make up their minds which side was the best. In the studio we spent equal time on both — quite unusual as you know.

More typical was our first record. We did what seemed like a hundred takes of “Birthday Party.” When they said, “It's a wrap!” after one take on the flip side, “Our Love” (which I wrote), I nearly cried. There is even an obvious mistake but it didn't matter — it was just a B-side.

The Pixies Three reunited in the fall of 1991 for Debby and Bonnie's 25th high school reunion. This was an informal show, attended by several dee jays in the Central Pennsylvania area. They spread the word that we were back together and performing, and we did several shows each year for the next couple of years.

In January of 1995 we recorded the CD “Now and Then,” mainly to have something to send to booking agents.

Bonnie lives in Hanover, Pennsylvania and works in York, and Debby lives in Oklahoma City. I now live in Virginia Beach.
—Kaye (McCool) Krebs and Bonnie (Long) Walker

IZ ZAT SO? One year before hooking up with Kenny Gamble, and forming one of the top Soul production teams ever — Gamble & Huff — Leon Huff worked as a rehearsal pianist on the Pixies Three sessions.

Return to "Mr. Music" Home Page