Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne

FOR THE WEEK OF November 19, 2001

DEAR JERRY: Who plays the part of Mr. Sandman and says the word “Yes” in the Chordette's recording (Cadence 1247) of “Mr. Sandman”?

Was there a significant reason why that particular person was chosen to say that one word, or was it simply a case of someone being in the right place at the right time?
—Reggie Zippo, via e-mail.

DEAR REGGIE: In the words — oops, better make that word — of the honorable Mr. Sandman: “Yes!”

Yes there is a significant reason why the voice of Mr. Sandman is who it is — because he owned and operated Cadence Records. That “yes” man is Archie Bleyer, founder of Cadence.

In the way of background: from 1949 to '53, Bleyer worked as musical director for Arthur Godfrey on numerous radio and television shows.

Working the Godfrey shows brought Bleyer in contact with one of the show's top vocalists, Julius LaRosa, who greatly impressed Archie. And though many top name stars would eventually record for Cadence — Andy Williams, Everly Brothers, Johnny Tillotson, Chordettes, Lenny Welch, Link Wray, et al — Bleyer formed Cadence specifically to record Julius LaRosa.

The studio opened for business in late 1952, and by the end of January '53, the first LaRosa single, “Anywhere I Wander” (Cadence 1230) hit the charts. One unofficial version of Cadence history reports that they opened on

December 30th, thus their first record release carried the number 1230. Makes sense to me.

In the fall of '54, the Chordettes, and Archie, recorded “Mr. Sandman,” and it raced right to the No. 1 spot.

DEAR JERRY: Your column made me think of an old single my wife has. It's on the Hit Records label and credited to the Boll Weevils, with “My Bonnie (Lies Over the Ocean)” on one side and the Beatles' “Please Please Me” on the other.

Obviously there is some connection between this record and the Beatles, but how much.

Can you tell me more about this record?
—George (not Harrison) Talmadge, Clinton (not Bill), Conn.

DEAR GEORGE (NOT HARRISON): The only connection to the Beatles is that both of these songs are ones they recorded early in their career. “My Bonnie (Lies Over the Ocean),” credited to Tony Sheridan and the Beatles (or Beat Brothers), is their first appearance on record ever (July 1961), and “Please Please Me,” a Lennon-McCartney composition, is their second single (January 1962).

What you and your wife have is what is known as a “ghost” record, not to be confused with a cover record.

A cover is released strictly for the purpose of competing with an original for sales and popularity. A ghost record is one with already popular songs — but versions recorded by completely unknown artists — designed for sale at a budget price, usually about half the cost of regular singles.

Until the mid-'60s, ghost records were very common. The success of the Beatles sparked a few in 1964, when yours came out, but after that they were few and far between.

Based mostly on the Beatles connection, that Boll Weevils disc is now worth from $10 to $15. Many other ghost records are close to worthless. Yours truly, Jerry (neither Lewis nor Lee Lewis)

IZ ZAT SO? The relationship between Cadence owner Archie Bleyer and Chordettes' bass singer Janet Ertel went well beyond the recording studio. The two married in 1954, and remained so until death did they part. Janet died in 1988, and Archie one year later. Keeping things even more all in the family, Janet's daughter, Jackie (Archie's step-daughter), would later become the wife of Phil Everly.

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