Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Among my collection of records is a Philips single by a group named the Definitive Rock Choral. The song is the peculiarly titled “Variations on a Theme Called Hanky Panky,” backed with “Picture Postcard World.”

Do you know the identity of anyone in the Definitive Rock Choral? No one else I've asked has a clue.
—Kristie Miller, Decatur, Ala.

DEAR KRISTIE: They didn't label themselves Definitive Rock Choral for nothing. This ensemble is a collection of some of New York's top talent at the time, which, by the way, is 1968.

Writer, engineer, arranger, singer, and all-around session man, Mike Lendell, is credited with the idea of “Variations on a Theme Called Hanky Panky” — an arrangement of “Hanky Panky” in various musical styles.

While searching the Net for more session details, I came across a newsgroup posting by Lendell (nee Mike Rashkow), himself.

“Among his very interesting DRC recollections are these tasty morsels:

“Ellie Greenwich and I worked out the rough arrangements. Then we cut the tracks at Bell Studio.

“I know that Jerome Richardson, a great jazz man, is on sax. Herb Lovell is the drummer, and I think Joe Macho plays the bass.

“I had made arrangements for Cornell Dupree (later with Aretha Franklin) to fly in from Texas but he came in late so Alan Ferguson was our guitarist.

“The strings and vocals were done at Bell Studio about a week later. There were a lot of vocalists used, including Johnny Cymbal, Ron Dante, Toni Wine, Ellie Greenwich, Tommy West, Terry Cashman, and a Puerto Rican girl whose name I don't remember.

“The late Jimmy Radcliff does the James Brown parody vocal, where the line “I can't stand it, I can't stand this song” is sung. ”

DEAR JERRY: How many of Bobby Vinton's hit songs include the name of a color in the title? Quite a few, I'll bet.
—Jo Ann Kellerman, Lakeland, Fla.

DEAR JO ANN: Okay, out comes the calculator.

Here are Bobby's colorful hit titles, in chronological order:

“Roses Are Red (My Love)” (1962); “Blue on Blue” (1963); “Blue Velvet” (1963); “Petticoat White (Summer Sky Blue)” (1966) (you get two colors with this one); and “Red Roses for Mom” (1967). Besides those five, here are three more we'll categorize under honorable mention:

“White Christmas” (one of four tracks on “Songs of Christmas,” which charted in 1964); “What Color (Is a Man)” (1965 hit that deals with many colors); and “Blue Clarinet” (flip side of 1964 hit, “Dum-De-Da”).

To cover all the bases, here are 15 Bobby Vinton LP tracks with a color in the title: “Am I Blue; Blue, Blue Day; Blue Hawaii; Blue Moon; Blue Skies; The Grass Is Always Greener; Greenfields; Have You Ever Been Lonely (Have You Ever Been Blue); Lavender Blue; Little Miss Blue; Misty Blue; Mr. Blue; My Blue Heaven; Song Sung Blue;” and “Two Purple Shadows.”

Thus we have come up with 23, most of which lean toward shades of blue.

We of course did not count ones where the word of color is not used to indicate an actual color (i.e. “St. Louis Blues; Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” etc.).

IZ ZAT SO? Bobby Vinton, born in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, is the son of popular band leader, Stan Vinton. At just 16, Bobby formed his first band, which played clubs in the Pittsburgh area.

Those gigs helped finance his education at Duquesne University, where he graduated with a degree in Musical Composition.

While at Duquesne, he became proficient on nearly every instrument in the band: piano, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, drums, oboe, etc.

Anyone who has seen his live shows know that he can sit in for just about anyone in the band.

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