Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: On their Dec. 3rd broadcast, Evening Magazine (NBC-TV) did a segment on the most popular Christmas or holiday songs as voted on by their viewers, and the first one they mentioned, and played a snippet of, was "Donde Esta Santa Claus," by Augie Rios.

While listening, I realized that I have never heard another song by him, which I guess makes him an authentic one-hit wonder.

With some OHWs, especially one-off groups (e.g., USA for Africa), they fall into the one and done category only because they simply didn't make any more records.

Usually it's not caused by a lack of follow-up releases. It's that, for whatever reason, what they did record just didn't click with the powers that be (radio programmers, jukebox operators, etc.).

In which category do we put Señor Rios?
—Ricky Delfino, Staten Island, N.Y.

DEAR RICKY: Like nearly all one-hit artists, Augie is among those with follow-up releases that just didn't click.

He was a 12-year-old in 1958 when "Donde Esta Santa Claus" (Metro 20010) originally came out, and it, along with "The Chipmunk Song," were the two hot new novelties that year. As you know, both quickly became holiday perennials.

In 1959, Augie followed "Donde Esta Santa Claus" with two more very commercial singles, either or both of which could easily have put him back on the charts: "Hop, Skip and Jump" (Metro 20016) and "The Teacher Walked Out of the Room" (Metro 20027).

Rios continued to record in the 1960s, but with very little to show for his efforts. Among those releases are: "I've Got a Girl" (Shelley 181); "Augie Stay Home" (Shelley 185); "When You Dance" (Shelley 186)" and "Linda Lu" (Shelley 192).

Each of these came out in late 1963 or '64, meaning the success of numerous British Invasion artists left about 25% less room on the charts and radio station playlists for American performers.

DEAR JERRY: In our home, circa 1944, we frequently played a record on our wind-up Victrola.

I seem to remember it may have been by a trio or quartet, similar to the Ink Spots.

Some of the words I recall are: Rosanna Charing Cross, I hope someday you will be my bride.

The music was beautiful, but I don't recall the title. Can you offer any help?
—Bob Duncan, Evansville, Ind.

DEAR BOB: Apart from a slight flaw in the lady's name, and a missing preposition, your memory of the title, the time frame, and the style of music is admirable.

This tune is "Rose Ann of Charing Cross," with Rose Ann being a nurse attending to wounded British soldiers during World War 2.

Charing Cross is where the hospitalized soldier crosses paths with Rose Ann. Located in Westminster, London Charing Cross is one of the busiest railway stations in the UK.

For those traveling by tube, the Charing Cross Underground station is about a three block walk from London Charing Cross, and is just across from Trafalgar Square.

Several performers recorded "Rose Ann of Charing Cross," but the only one matching your description is by the Four Vagabonds (members: John Jordan; Robert O'Neal; Ray Grant; and Norval Taborn).

For my money, their record is also the best version, and it, along with Peter Piper's (Hit 7033), were the most successful overall.

Here are some other familiar names who also waxed "Rose Ann of Charing Cross": Mitchell Ayres; Blue Barron and His Orchestra; Bing Crosby; Shep Fields; Dick Jurgens and His Orchestra; Sammy Kaye; Gene Krupa; Abe Lyman; Russ Morgan; and the Three Suns.

Enjoy the Four Vagabonds' "Rose Ann of Charing Cross" right hear.

IZ ZAT SO? WW2 may have inspired more real time recordings than any other single event in history, and the music of the Four Vagabonds was no exception.

All three of their 1943 releases carried a wartime theme: "Rosie the Riveter" (Bluebird 30-0810); "Rose Ann of Charing Cross" (Bluebird 30-0811); and "Comin' in on a Wing and a Prayer" (Bluebird 30-0815).

IZ ZAT SO? When Tom T. Hall wrote "Harper Valley P.T.A." he could never have imagined what a cultural phenomenon he'd created.

Not only did Jeannie C. Riley's 1968 recording top both the pop and country charts in the U.S. and Canada — the first time ever accomplished by a female — but that one little phonograph record inspired a feature film (1978) AND a TV series (1981). That too had never happened before.

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