Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne

FOR THE WEEK OF May 31, 1999

DEAR JERRY: As a teenager in the late '50s, and barely a teenager, I briefly heard a song on the radio titled “Kathleen.” For many years now I have searched for this title, not knowing who performed it nor which label released it.

One day while in a used record store I asked the owner about such a song. He then disappeared behind some shelves. When he returned he had a single with the same title and asked me to listen and see if it was the song I was looking for.

After hearing just the first three notes, I knew this was the song I had heard so long ago. The artist is Wally Lewis and the label is Dot. Of course I bought it on the spot.

I find no record that this song reached the Top 100. Did it? When was this song popular and was it just a regional hit?
—Jerry Brown, Chandler, Ariz. (

DEAR JERRY: “Kathleen” never did make the national charts, though it wasn't for lack of effort.

In late January 1958, Wally Lewis put out his original release of “Kathleen” (Tally 117), which received a favorable review from Billboard magazine but didn't chart.

In early February, country star Sonny James issued a terrific cover version (Capitol 3888). Despite being well-reviewed it too failed to chart — especially surprising given Sonny's notoriety coupled with Capitol's distribution muscle.

In mid-February, Dot Records, apparently believing this tune had potential, leased “Kathleen” from Tally and released it again (Dot 15705).

Nationally, the third time was not the charm. The reviews again were favorable but sales not so good.

I see you are in the Phoenix valley, which is one of the areas where “Kathleen” did become a regional hit.

DEAR JERRY: A friend asked who sang “Do You Want to Dance.” I informed her it was Bobby Freeman, from 1958. She was puzzled until I sang a few bars, but then she said the version she is looking for is slower but is definitely the same song.

Can you help us find it on disc? It is sung by a woman in a very sultry style, and is from more recent times. I have heard it used on soundtracks and on television. Any help would be appreciated.
—Anne Mott (

DEAR ANNE: Bobby Freeman had the original hit, in 1958 as you point out, then the Beach Boys revived the tune in 1965.

Two slowed-down versions followed, first by the Mamas and the Papas, in 1968, and by Bette Midler, in 1973. Only the Midler track is by a female so that must be the one she recalls. Both can be easily found on either records or CDs.

DEAR JERRY: I am looking for any information I can get on the singer Delbert McClinton. Can you provide me with a source?
—Thomas Sokal, Beach Park, Ill.

DEAR THOMAS: Not long ago, January to be exact, “Rock & Blues News” featured Delbert McClinton as one of its four lead subjects for their premier issue. The others are Fats Domino, Jack Scott, and Lowell Fulson.

The focus of this slick magazine is “the working performers of the golden age of rock, rhythm and blues.”

You may contact them at P.O. Box 601014, Sacramento, CA 95860, or visit their web site by clicking here.

IZ ZAT SO? One standout, uncredited guest appearance by Delbert McClinton that you have heard a thousand times is on “Hey Baby,” the No. hit by Bruce Channel. McClinton plays harmonica on that track.

Delbert is also credited as the one who first gave harmonica lessons to John Lennon.

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