Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: I'm sure you'll agree that “Blue Christmas” has become a seasonal standard, and it seems there are hundreds of different recordings of it on records and CDs.

In fact, many years ago I knew someone who owned a Christmas album that contained nothing but one version of “Blue Christmas” after another. There must have been more than a dozen different vocal and instrumental versions — ranging from Elvis, of course, to Ernest Tubb.

Appropriately, the title of the LP is “Blue Christmas.”

Have you ever heard of such a thing? Isn't a recorded collection of assorted versions of just one tune highly unusual? Did many copies sell?

Please refresh my memory and list all the artists heard on the “Blue Christmas” LP.
—Frank Ferriolo, Madison, Wisc.

DEAR FRANK: You are correct. An album or CD with many recordings of the same song is almost unheard of, though a couple others do come to mind. Rhino issued two volumes titled “The Best of Louie Louie,” each with assorted versions of “Louie Louie.”

As for “Blue Christmas” (Welk Music Group 3002), a 1984 issue, this album came out as a special promotional item to radio stations from the song's publishing company (Welk Music). Thus, no copies were ever intended to be sold.

Featured are 15 different renditions of “Blue Christmas,” by the following artists: Elvis Presley; Living Voices; Chet Atkins; Willie Nelson; Mickey Gilley; Lawrence Welk; Jim Reeves; Ernest Tubb; Tammy Wynette; Jackie Gleason; Glen Campbell; Beach Boys; Danny Davis and the Nashville Brass; Johnny Mathis; and Merle Haggard. Rounding out the collection are five other Welk Music Christmas songs: “Christmas Is” (Percy Faith); “Mele Kalikimaka” (Bing Crosby); “Ding-A-Ling the Christmas Bell” (Lynn Anderson); “Christmas in Los Angeles” (Lawrence Welk); and “Brazilian Sleighbells” (Percy Faith).

As with many promotional-only releases that hit the collectors market, a premium is attached simply because of the limited distribution. “Blue Christmas” usually sells for around $75.00.

DEAR JERRY: A question came up while listening to my old 45 rpm of “Loving You Has Made Me Bananas,” recorded by Guy Marks (ABC 11055).

Guy Marks' voice, especially when speaking, sounds suspiciously like that of the late Steve Allen. Since I am aware that Allen engaged in a musical hoax here and there, I am led to suspect he may have been just having some fun and recorded “Loving You Has Made Me Bananas” under the name Guy Marks.

Then again, maybe the similarity in their voices is just a coincidence. Please shed some light on this musical mystery if you can.
—James S. Boczarski, New Port Richey, Fla.

DEAR JAMES: Prepare to be tunefully enlightened.

Though both were actors, musicians, and comedians, Steve Allen and Guy Marks are not the same person.

Marks worked primarily on television, with supporting roles in such programs as “The Joey Bishop Show” (1961), “The John Forsythe Show” (1965), and “Rango” (1967).

Guy Marks, whose only charted hit is “Loving You Has Made Me Bananas” (1968), died November 28, 1987, at the age of 64.

IZ ZAT SO? Unlike many stars, Steve Allen (1921 - 2000) did not adopt a stage name. His full name is Stephen Valentine Patrick William Allen.

Guy Marks' given name is Mario Scarpa, for example. Allen's long-time wife, Jayne Meadows was born Jayne Cotter. As a testament to his notoriety, Steve Allen played the role of himself in over two dozen films and shows.

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