Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: For many years I have been trying to find out who sang the theme song on the 1950s TV show, “Bat Masterson,” starring Gene Barry.

I have searched everywhere, including every web site I can find, yet no one seems to know the identity of this singer.

One thing my search revealed is that I am not the only one asking this question.

My husband says if anyone knows his name, it is you.
—Renee DeJane, Haines City, Fla.

DEAR RENEE: Unfortunately, I do not know your husband's name. I just call him Mr. DeJane.

Where I can be of much greater assistance is with your “Bat Masterson” mystery.

Not surprisingly, their TV episodes make no mention of who sings the theme, heard during the closing moments.

Film credits in those days, the '50s and early '60s, usually last about a minute and are limited to just the primary cast.

Nowadays they can run 10 minutes, with anyone having anything whatsoever to do with the project being acknowledged (i.e., Pet Food Supplier, Fuel Cap Polisher, etc.).

Most noticeable to me is our mystery man's distinctive voice — one I knew I'd heard elsewhere, but couldn't place.

Then to the rescue came Pogo, the possum who for 27 years starred in his own comic strip.

In 1956, Simon & Schuster published “Songs of the Pogo,” a book by Pogo creator Walt Kelly. Keeping with the musical theme, an album of the same title came out at the same time (AA AR-2).

While adding the “Songs of the Pogo” LP details to one of our reference books, I noticed a couple of its 18 cuts are sung by Walt Kelly. Wondering how Kelly sang made me curious enough to play the album.

This is when I discovered the three tracks credited to Mike Stewart: “Whence That Wince?;” “Whither the Starling”; and, appropriately enough, “Evidence.”

Other than my aural comparison, there is no rock-solid evidence; however, I am certain Mike Stewart is the singer of the “Bat Masterson” theme. His voice and style is that distinct.

Oh yes, Walt Kelly can indeed sing.

Case closed.

DEAR JERRY: I was thrilled by your recent column with the information about both versions of “Three Stars.”

This is because Dick Pike, who does the narration on Ruby Wright's version (King 5192), is my father.

He spoke of how he was asked to do it by a shady entrepreneur who knew Tommy Dee's original version (Crest 1057) was sold out, and that Crest was unable produce copies fast enough for demand. This fellow quickly produced a cover by Ruby Wright and my dad.

Maybe it was because of Crest's difficulty meeting demand, but for whatever reason only the Wright-Pike version charted in the UK.

It even made the British Top 20 and was on their charts for about three months.

Despite the obvious sales success on both sides of the Atlantic, King paid my father a grand total of 13 cents!

I learned of this when I found his one and only royalty check in our attic and asked him about it.

Dad passed away in 2004, but he is fondly remembered by eight children and many grandchildren.
—Laurie Pike, Los Angeles

DEAR LAURIE: Thanks for sharing some fascinating details, some of which we could never have learned otherwise.

Perhaps Dick found such humor in his generous royalty check he couldn't bring himself to cash it. If it were me, that check and a copy of the record would be on the wall in a frame.

Makes one wonder if Ruby Wright enjoyed a similar payday from King Records.

Coincidentally, Ruby also passed away in 2004, at the age of 90.

IZ ZAT SO? We have written recently about the three versions of “Three Stars,” by Tommy Dee, Ruby Wright, and Eddie Cochran.

Let's also mention six lesser-known tribute records, all of which came out shortly after the February 3, 1959 tragedy that claimed the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper:

Lee Davis “Three Young Men” (Cub 9026); Scott Wood “Three Friends” (Beat 1008); Ray Campi “Ballad of Donna and Peggy Sue” (D 1047); Benny Barnes “Gold Records in the Snow” (D 1052); Loretta Thompson “Buddy - Big Bopper - Ritchie” (Skoop 1050); and Hershel Almond “The Great Tragedy” (Ace 558).

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