Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne

FOR THE WEEK OF October 8, 2001

DEAR JERRY: While reading your column in my local paper, it occurred to me that you may just be able to answer a musical question that I have had for decades.

I have consulted with a friend in the radio business (Tom Kennedy), and he has, in turn, asked several dee jay friends of his. No one even has a clue about this song!

Since you seem to be an expert, I thought, why not ask. The worst that can happen is you say that you don't know either.

Around 1959, when I was just getting into rock and roll, there came along an instrumental called “Moonlight Madness.” In it, the only words spoken on the entire record are at the beginning, where someone says “I Play For You, Moonlight Madness.” I believe it was on the piano, but I'm not sure.

At the time, I collected the weekly Top 99 surveys from my local Philadelphia AM station. I am sure this song was on one of them, but the surveys have disappeared over time.

Please, Jerry. I need your help and would appreciate anything you can come up with on this record. It has been driving me, and a few of my friends, crazy for over 20 years.
—Bill Schneider, St. Petersburg, Fla.

DEAR BILL: I simply cannot pass up the opportunity to assist in the preservation of what sanity you and a few of your friends still possess.

A recording titled “Moonlight Madness” did indeed come out in 1959, and it must be the one you seek. The artist credited on this single (Coral 62077) is Lee Stone. Does that name sound familiar?

On the flip side is “ A Prayer and a Penny.”

Stone followed “Moonlight Madness” with back to back “Oh” songs: “Oh, What a Feeling” and “Oh My Goodness” (Coral 62129). None of his titles charted nationally.

As long as I'm buried in research for 1959, let's tackle one more question about a song from that year.

DEAR JERRY: I have just two questions for you.

First: Can you locate the name of the group that recorded “If Only I Had Known,” which came out in the late '50s or early '60s? It was a regional hit in the Fort Worth-Dallas area.

A few years later, Bruce Channel recorded this same song, and I do have his version, but it's not as good as the original.

Second: Is there a price guide available for 45s and LPs, especially those from the 1950s?
—Mike B. in Milwaukee

DEAR MIKE: Once again, we find ourselves in 1959, musically speaking.

“If Only I Had Known” came along that year, backed with “Sooner Or Later” (Le Cam 706), and the singing group is the Team Mates.

Interestingly, this is the group's second single in '59, and also the second release of “Sooner Or Later.” Just a few months before release of “706, they issued “Sooner Or Later” backed with “I Just Might” (Le Cam 701).

As for the Bruce Channel connection, before “Hey! Baby” and other hits on Smash, he too recorded for Fort Worth-based Le Cam Records.

Channel's follow-up to the No. 1 hit, “Hey! Baby,” was “Number One Man” (Smash 1752). On the reverse side of that is his version of “If Only I Had Known.”

As for your second question: for over 25 years, we have produced the official series of music price guides, and “The Official Price Guide to Records” covers nearly every 45 and LP made.

Either check with your local bookstore, or visit our web site (link below) for more information.

IZ ZAT SO? Bruce Channel (pronounced like the perfume and not the waterway) had the million-seller of “Hey Baby” on Smash (#1731), in 1962.

However, the song first came out on Le Cam 953, in 1961. It didn't really click until Smash, a then-fledgling subsidiary of Mercury, picked it up.

“Hey! Baby” is among the first half-dozen hits for Smash, founded in 1961 — their first being “I'm a Fool to Care,” by Joe Barry.

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