Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: A friend and I searched in vain for years for a record that came out when we were kids.

Titled “Three Stars,” by Tommy Dee with Carol Kay and the Teen-Aires, it came out in April 1959 as a memorial to the deaths two months earlier (February 3) of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper when their plane crashed in an Iowa cornfield.

Their deaths are said to have closed the first chapter in the history of Rock & Roll, and is so referenced in Don McLean's “American Pie” (i.e., “the day the music died”)

Now in the internet era, we have learned that Eddie Cochran — himself killed a year later in an auto accident — actually released “Three Stars” first.

We have both heard Eddie's version and agree it is not as good as the one by Tommy Dee and Carol Kay, especially with their overpowering sentimental hook: “Gee we're gonna miss you. Everybody sends their love.”

Still, how did the much better-known Eddie Cochran fail to have a hit with “Three Stars”?
—Mike Rice, Sparta, Wisc.

DEAR MIKE: Simple. Eddie's recording did not come out until 1971!

Tommy Dee (née Donaldson) wrote “Three Stars” just a few hours after news of the plane crash stunned the music world.

Two days later, Eddie heard a tape of Dee's narrative and decided to record it, which he did at Goldstar Studios February 5, 1959.

Cochran, a close friend of Ritchie Valens, was too overwhelmed with grief to stick with it. After three takes, he gave up on “Three Stars.”

Eddie's label, Liberty Records, agreed it was not commercial enough and chose not to release his “Three Stars.”

Tommy then gathered vocalists Carol Kay and the Teen-Aires to complement his moving narrative, and by the end of March “Three Stars” (Crest 1057) was on its way toward the nation's Top 15.

Though not much competition for Tommy Dee and Carol Kay, a cover version is worth noting.

For this May '59 release, Dee's narrative is copied by Dick Pike and Kay's vocal part is supplied by Ruby Wright (King 5192).

As to how we eventually got to hear Eddie Cochran's rendition, it is one of the tracks in the 1971 compilation “Legendary Masters” (United Artists UAS-9959).

DEAR JERRY: With more than 63,000 votes cast, 28 of the nominees for 2007 have been inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.

From more than 100 nominated recording stars, music fans worldwide, 18% of which are outside the U.S., gave the most votes (alphabetically) to: Paul Anka; Beatles; Tony Bennett; Pat Boone; Beach Boys; Teresa Brewer; Johnny Cash; Ray Charles; Chubby Checker; Jimmy Clanton; Nat King Cole; Perry Como; Bing Crosby; Bobby Darin; Neil Diamond; Fats Domino; 4 Seasons; Aretha Franklin; Connie Francis; Brenda Lee; Johnny Mathis; Ricky Nelson; Roy Orbison; Patti Page; Elvis Presley; Diana Ross and the Supremes; Neil Sedaka; and Frank Sinatra.

Not surprisingly, Elvis Presley topped all nominees.

Voting begins at the start of each year for a new group of nominees from the 20-year period beginning in 1950.

Each artist must have at least two Top 10 singles or albums, of any genre.

Besides voting for recording stars already nominated, online visitors to the Hit Parade Hall of Fame are encouraged to suggest future nominees.

In the past year, fans gave the nominating committee more than 500 acts to consider. Once nominated, an artist has three years to gain enough votes for Hit Parade Hall of Fame induction, meaning the 2007 nominees NOT inducted are still eligible in 2008 and '09.

Here are the 62 new nominees for 2008: America; Bee Gees; Bread; Buckinghams; Freddie Cannon; Carpenters; Chicago; Eric Clapton; Coasters; Lou Christie; Jimmy Dean; Jackie DeShannon; Del Vikings; John Denver; Diamonds; Bo Diddley; Doors; Drifters; Eagles; Electric Light Orchestra; Four Aces; Tennessee Ernie Ford; Don Gibson; Lesley Gore; Bill Haley and the Comets; Herman's Hermits; Al Hibler; Tommy James and the Shondells; Elton John; KC and the Sunshine Band; Kingston Trio; Andy Kim; Carole King; Little Anthony and the Imperials; Lovin' Spoonful; Monkees; Clyde McPhatter; Mitch Miller; Olivia Newton-John; Pink Floyd; Lloyd Price; Paul Revere and the Raiders; Rascals; Righteous Brothers; Jimmie Rodgers; Kenny Rogers; Linda Ronstadt; Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels; Jack Scott; Del Shannon; Simon & Garfunkel; Dusty Springfield; Gale Storm; James Taylor; Temptations; Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps; Vogues; Jerry Wallace; War; Dinah Washington; Barry White; and Stevie Wonder.
—John Rook, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho (Hit Parade Hall of Fame co-founder)

DEAR JOHN: What a great beginning for the Hall of Fame whose inductees are chosen by the music lovin' fans themselves.

It is very gratifying to see Connie Francis among the charter members, especially since the Rock and Roll Hall continues to ignore her while inducting many lesser-deserving artists. Shame on them!

We look forward to a similar recap about this time next year, announcing the 2008 crop.

IZ ZAT SO? Rock and Roll icon Eddie Cochran began his professional career as a session guitarist for traditional Country artists.

His first session work came in the summer of 1956, at Capitol Records in Hollywood, playing lead guitar for Wynn Stewart and Skeets MacDonald.

Based strictly on the sound, even Eddie's biggest fans wouldn't recognize the 17-year-old lad accompanying Wynn Stewart on “Keeper of the Keys” and “Slowly But Surely” (Capitol 3515).

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