Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: In the early '70s, after one of the WAEB (Allentown, Pa.) dee jays played “Angels Don't Lie,” he made a comment about Jim Reeves having recorded an abundance of songs with girls' names in the titles.

Do you have access to a complete listing of these tunes?

I do know that Jim's wife and I share the same first name.
—Mary Quinalt, Hagerstown, Md.

DEAR MARY: Jim Reeves does have a disproportionate number of titles containing women's names.

In fact, one of his early albums, “Girls I Have Known” (RCA Victor LPM-1685), a 1958 issue, is just that — a collection of a dozen tunes about girls he knew and is willing to sing about.

To those 12, I found another nine, bringing the total to 21:

“Anna Marie”; “Charmaine”; “Dolly with the Dimpled Knee”; “Echo Bonita”; “Goodnight Irene”; “Linda”; “Margie”; “Maria Elena”; “Marie”; “Mary's Little Boy”; “Maureen”; “Mexicali Rose”; “Mona Lisa”; “My Juanita”; “My Mary”; “Naughty Angeline”; “Penny Candy”; “Ramona”; “Sweet Sue, “Just You; and “Wild Rose.”

You will be pleased to find Mary to be the only name appearing in two of his song titles.

DEAR JERRY: When I heard “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” a few years ago, I became a fan of Billy Joe Armstrong and Green Day.

Though it seems the group came on the scene in the '90s, I have heard rumors of a solo release even earlier by Armstrong.

I have searched for the details of such a record, but find absolutely nothing. Is this story true or am I on a wild goose chase?
—Eduardo Rodriguez, Mesa, Ariz.

DEAR EDUARDO: Forget the goose, the story is true.

Your search may be skewed a bit by misspelling his first name, but hindered even more so by including his last name. For this release, the artist credit is merely “Billie Joe.”

Noteworthy too is mention on the label of Billie being “5 Years Old,” and accompanied by Marie-Louise Fiatarone and Orchestra.

The title of this single is “Look for Love” (Fiat 11), and it came out in 1977. Reportedly, Fiat made only about 50, each packaged with a sheet music-photo insert. On the B-side is “Meet Billie Joe,” in which the little tyke is actually interviewed.

The amount of greenbacks recently paid for of this piece — $300 to $500 — is obviously fueled by the popularity of Green Day.

DEAR JERRY: My father has a photo of he and a young Johnny Burnette, taken in the early '50s while working on a Mississippi River barge. Dad was certain even then Johnny would become a star, and he was right.

What I'd like to know is the circumstances of Johnny Burnette's death.
—Pamela Wardlow, Winter Haven, Fla.

DEAR PAMELA: There is an interesting sliver of irony in your father's Mississippi River photo and your question.

For it is on another body of water where Johnny spent the last day of his life, August 14, 1964 (mistakenly reported in some accounts as August 1).

Far from a cotton-carrying Delta barge, Johnny's last ride was aboard a small fishing boat on Clear Lake, about 40 miles north of Santa Rosa, and the largest natural freshwater lake in California. It is one of the west's most popular vacation spots.

Just after dusk, a larger craft crashed into Johnny's — a result no doubt of his boat having no illumination.

The impact of the collision threw Burnette overboard and he drowned.

Another uncanny music connection to this story is the other Clear Lake — the one in Iowa where Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper performed their final concert, then perished in a plane crash.

IZ ZAT SO? The Burnette family outdid the famous Crosby clan in one little known respect: two brothers and two sons, each of which made the charts individually.

The Burnette hit-making foursome is Johnny (“Dreamin',” “You're Sixteen,” etc.), his son Rocky (“Tired of Toein' the Line”), brother Dorsey (“Tall Oak Tree,” “Hey Little One,” etc.) and his son Billy (“Don't Say No”).

The Crosby group of four is Bing (examples unnecessary), his son Gary (“Sam's Song,” “Play a Simple Melody,” etc.), brother Bob (“With the Wind and the Rain in Your Hair,” “Down Argentina Way,” etc.) and his son Chris (“Young and in Love”).

The snafu is all of Gary's hits are with other family members, mostly Bing.

Humorously, the label for “Sam's Song,” Gary and Bing's best known duet, credits “Gary Crosby and Friend.”

As if Bing could ever remain anonymous.

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