Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Recently, a friend of mine at work stated as a fact that “Wedding Bell Blues,” by the Fifth Dimension, was popular when she was in high school. Since she graduated circa 1963 or '64, I claim she is wrong. I say the Fifth Dimension didn't even exist until after 1965 or '66.

Can you provide any insight into this matter, such as when the song charted, and by whom? Who wrote it, and when? There is nothing riding on this, but I just hate to be wrong!
—A Faithful Follower

DEAR FAITHFUL: If your friend specifically claims hearing “Wedding Bell Blues” by the Fifth Dimension, then she is wrong. Also, it is not possible to have even heard the song, by anyone, “circa 1963 or '64.” Here is what I suspect is causing the confusion:

Laura Nyro wrote “Wedding Bell Blues,” and released her original version, in mid-'66 (Verve-Folkways 5024).

Though Nyro's issue didn't quite crack the Hot 100 (reaching No. 103), it did receive regional play. Since there is not much difference in the overall sound of Nyro's and the Fifth Dimension's recordings, your friend may have heard Laura in 1966, then confused the two in the years that followed.

In mid-'69, “Wedding Bell Blues” became a No. 1 hit for the Fifth Dimension.

You may have also noticed that Fox TV's “Ally McBeal” adopted this tune as her theme song in a recent episode.

DEAR JERRY: A listener wrote to my program asking about a song from the '60s (?). He thought it is called “Hear My Song Sweet Loretta,” and lyrics having something to do with a gondola.

I told him that the closest I could come was “Hear My Song Violetta” (pronounced Vee-o-letta) as recorded by Tommy Dorsey (with Frank Sinatra), and also by Glenn Miller, in 1940. Those lyrics say nothing about a gondola. Any thoughts on this from your vast store of knowledge?
—Jack Baker, Wauwatosa, Wisc. (

DEAR JACK: I am certain your listener writes about the fine 1962 version of “(Hear My Song) Violetta,” by Ray Adams (Laurie 3118).

Not only does the time frame fit, but Ray's waxing includes the “gondola” reference. Case closed.

DEAR JERRY: One of my favorite songs from my school days is “Asia Minor,” by Kokomo. I liked it so much I bought both the Felsted 45 and the LP.

My big question, which has bothered me for years, is: who is this Kokomo? Do you know his real name?
—Lynne Shelbourne

DEAR LYNNE: The one-hit wonder pianist, known as Kokomo, is James Wisner. “Asia Minor” (Felsted 8612) adapted from the classical “Piano Concerto in A Minor,” made the Top 10 in early 1961; however, Kokomo never charted again.

The spotlight in “Asia Minor” is clearly on the piano keyboard, but, for me, it's the sizzling string section that really makes this tune come alive.

DEAR JERRY: My friend says the Shades of Blue were from Detroit. I say they are from Danville, Illinois. Whose right?
—J. Mills (

DEAR J. MILLS: The Shades of Blue hail from Detroit, which makes your friend right. Fellow motor town star, Edwin Starr, is credited with discovering this quartet, best remembered for the summer '66 hit, “Oh How Happy,” issued on Detroit's Impact label (No. 1007).

One by one, the Shades of Blue are: Robert Kerr, Linda Kerr, Ernie Demal, and Nick Marinelli.

IZ ZAT SO? Laura Nyro, who died just a little over a year ago of ovarian cancer, never managed a hit single. However, other artists recognized the potential of her compositions, resulting in several huge hits.

Besides “Wedding Bell Blues,” these examples come to mind: “Stoney End” (Barbra Streisand); “Eli's Coming” (Three Dog Night); “It's Gonna Take a Miracle” (Royalettes, Deniece Williams); “And When I Die” (Blood, Sweat & Tears); “Stoned Soul Picnic” and “Blowing Away” (Fifth Dimension);

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