DEAR JERRY: When I was young and buying all the pop records I could afford, I also had Christmas albums by all the big stars at the time.
Among them were Chubby Checker & Bobby Rydell, Connie Francis, Brenda Lee, Elvis, Paul & Paula, Chipmunks, Nat King Cole, and others I have forgotten.
Still, one of the most popular of all the stars was mysteriously absent from my collection. And that is Ricky Nelson.
I have always wondered why Rick never recorded any holiday tunes. Has any explanation ever been given for this? Was there perhaps some religious entanglement involved in that decision?
Maureen Hesselman, Toledo, Ohio
DEAR MAUREEN: There are entanglements to explain, since Rick did indeed record a few Christmas tunes. It's just that the general public never knew about such sessions, the first of which took place in November 1960, because Imperial would not release them.
Nearly 40 years later, one of these tracks “Jingle Bells” turned up on the four-CD boxed set, “Legacy.” Also in this collection is “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire),” recorded by Rick in the early '60s.
Now you can add two Rick Nelson tunes to your rock and roll Christmas collection.
So please tell Dawn Halloran Charouhas that her father has always gotten the credit for “Carol of the Drum” from my family.
Babette Hiestand, Madison, Conn. DEAR BABETTE: I could not tell Dawn any better than you have. I know she will be pleased by your kind gesture.
DEAR JERRY: While watching American Movie Classics (AMC) recently, they ran one of those old-time short subjects about the early days of Hollywood.
The theme song of this piece is “Hooray for Hollywood,” and while listening closely to it I caught a line I don't quite understand. I wrote it down, and here is what I caught:
“Hollywood … where anyone at all from Shirley Temple to Amy Semple is equally understood.”
Shirley Temple we all know, but what about Amy Semple? Of course, it could also be Amy Simple, which sounds the same but seems a less likely name.
I gather the point is that anyone, from the very famous (Temple) to the not-so-famous (Semple) is understood. Is Semple then a real person who was just not famous, or a made-up name?
One person I asked about this said she thought Amy Semple is Shirley Temple's real name. If true, that explains the whole thing.
Zoni Mandell, Tampa, Fla.
DEAR ZONI: Though Semple and Simple do sound very similar, Amy and Aimee are absolutely indistinguishable. The lady they sing of in “Hooray for Hollywood” is Aimee Semple.
Aimee is neither a made-up person, nor a woman lacking fame. Though her Hollywood-related notoriety is vastly different than Shirley Temple's, it does involve a Temple Angelus Temple to be exact.
In 1923, Semple's Temple, located in Los Angeles' Echo Park community, opened its doors to Aimee's Foursquare evangelical gatherings.
Two years earlier, in Oakland, California, Aimee Semple (also known as Sister Aimee, and as Aimee Semple McPherson) became the first woman in history to broadcast a sermon on the radio.
Apart from Temples and Semples, my favorite line from “Hooray for Hollywood” is: “They come from Chillicothes and Paducahs, with their bazookas, to get their names up in lights.”
As for Shirley Temple's real name, she was born Shirley Jean Temple.
IZ ZAT SO? You always got your money's worth with a Rick Nelson single, and quite often 20 times to be exact both sides became chart hits.
For the entire rock era, only five acts charted more double-sided hits than Nelson: Elvis (52); Beatles (26); Fats Domino (24); Pat Boone (21); and Nat King Cole (21).