DEAR JERRY: One of the original Kingsmen, of “Louie Louie” fame, died a few weeks, or maybe even a few months ago. I recall he was 60 years of age. I want to know which of the Kingsmen it is.
No one in my area knows anything about it, or them!
Robert Baldwin, New Hartford, N.Y.
DEAR ROBERT: Then it's time to enlighten the good folks of New Hartford.
It is Rich Dangel on guitar on Rockin' Robin Roberts' “Louie Louie.” Dangel died December 2, 2002, the reported cause of death being an aneurysm.
Active to the end, one day before Rich died, he played at his 60th birthday concert in Tacoma, Washington.
Though not at all the first to record it, but because the Kingsmen are the group most people associate with “Louie Louie,” it is easy to see how they may have gotten tangled up in the Dangel story. However, he is an original member of the Wailers, not the Kingsmen.
Rockin' Robin Roberts and the Wailers recorded “Louie Louie” about two years before the Kingsmen.
Rich Dangel also co-wrote the Tacoma band's first big hit, “Tall Cool One” in 1958 while still in high school.
DEAR JERRY: I remember a popular recording that is mostly an instrumental, from the late '60s or early '70s. The title is something like Manah Mana.
I have been able to find this tune by the Muppets, but I know there was another version before that one that had lots of radio airplay.
Can you help with who did it, and when?
Bob Lohmeyer, Winston-Salem, N.C.
DEAR BOB: First, let's get the title straight. It is “Máh-Ná-Máh-Ná,” and it did indeed reside on the music charts in the summer of 1969 (Ariel 500). The artist is Piero Umiliani.
This wacky tune first came from the film soundtrack of “Sweden Heaven and Hell,” but got more exposure from background use during comedy skits on TV's Benny Hill Show.
As for the Muppets, “Máh-Ná-Máh-Ná ” turned out to be a natural for their entertaining routines.
So who was the Jackie Robinson of the Grammys, becoming the rock artist to break through?
Charlene McPhearson, Tacoma, Wash.
DEAR CHARLENE: If you want to label Bobby Darin a rock star, which I do, then he is music's Number 42.
In 1959, Bobby took home the hardware for Record of the Year (“Mack the Knife”), as well as for Best New Artist.
For the record Decca Records in this case Darin first recorded in 1956. By the time he accepted the award, he already had 15 singles out, and six Top 40 hits to his credit.
However, since the Grammys didn't open for business until 1958, they inexplicably categorized Bobby as a new artist.
Want another opinion? Bruce Partridge, of Tacoma, Wash., nominates the Champs as the breakthrough act. It is true that “Tequila” claimed Best Rhythm & Blues Performance in 1958.
Take your pick.
Now comes another Bobby Darin item:
DEAR JERRY: After listening to Bobby Darin's “Talk to the Animals,” I have to rank it as one of the most cleverly written songs ever.
Lines like “Can I talk in hippopotamus? I'd say why not-amus?” crack me up. Kind of like some of Roger Miller's “maple syruple” lines.
I like the use of non-existent words as well as variations of real words, all for the sake of a good rhyme.
Do you have a favorite silly rhyme that you're willing to share?
Joyce Masters, Lemont, Ill.
DEAR JOYCE: Don't you mean that I'm willing to admit?
Okay, I must confess to having always loved this line from “Lola,” by the Gaylords:
Tony sang in his gondola
Lola I'm fond o' ya
Proving this creative craft still lives, here is a nice example from Bob Dylan's “Moonlight,” written in 2001:
The clouds are turnin' crimson
The leaves fall from the limbs an'
The branches cast their shadows over stone
Won't you meet me out in the moonlight alone
IZ ZAT SO? Call it Mackmania.
“Mack the Knife” won big in 1959 Grammy competition; however, the 1960 winner in both Best Single Vocal Performance, and Best Album Vocal Performance is also “Mack the Knife.”
The winning artist this go-round is Ella Fitzgerald.