Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: One of my favorite hits of the past is “Bluebirds Over the Mountain,” by Ersel Hickey. I still have this Epic single, which I bought in the late '50s. Since I liked the song, I even have Ritchie Valens' version of “Bluebirds.”

Did Mr. Hickey have any other hits? I don't recall anything else by him ever being played. Just based on this one single, I like his brand of rock and roll. So what I'm wondering is if there was ever an album by Ersel? I certainly have not seen one.

That's an unusual name, was he Ersel Hickey at birth? Is he still alive?
—Norman Kalin, Lowell, Mass.

DEAR NORMAN: Rochester-born (N.Y.) and Buffalo-raised, he has always been Ersel Hickey.

Ersel is one of those '50s rock and rollers that you just never hear about. Even the deaths of similar one-hit artists have brought very little media mention.

Inspired by your letter, I found Ersel Hickey and am pleased to report he is very much alive and now living in New Jersey.

Though there would be no follow-up chart hits, Ersel continued recording. He issued at least 18 singles between 1958 and 1984.

Many artists with multiple hits in the '50s didn't get to make an album, so on the strength on just one hit, there would be no Ersel Hickey LP at the time. Epic did issue a four-track, 45 rpm EP (“Ersel Hickey in Lover's Land”), which did not sell well and is therefore quite scarce, and now worth around $200.

In 1985, Ersel and Back-Trac Records teamed to reissue on LP 10 of Hickey's best Epic originals — many in stereo for the first time. Of course this limited edition collection, titled “Ersel Hickey: The Rockin' Bluebird” (Back-Trac P-18750) includes “Bluebirds Over the Mountain.”

Read on for a nearly identical question about another forgotten '50s rocker:

DEAR JERRY: In the late 50's or early 60's, Jerry Stites had a hit titled “Lonely For You.” Did he ever record any other songs, and, if so, what are they? Did he make an album?
—David L. Samp, Milwaukee, Wisc. (

DEAR DAVID: You have the Stites part right, but his first name is Gary. “Lonely for You” (Carlton 508) is a Top 25, Presley-sounding hit from the summer of '59. With Elvis serving in Germany in 1959, Gary was but one of dozens supplying American teens with Presleyish tunes.

Gary had three other chart hits over the next year: “A Girl Like You,” “Starry Eyed” and “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” all on Carlton.

Stites, like yours truly, was born in Denver. Unlike yours truly, Gary did have an album released - named after his biggest hit, “Lonely for You” (Carlton 120).

IZ ZAT SO? Ersel Hickey recalls it took him approximately five minutes to write “Bluebirds Over the Mountain,” his first release, a mid-1958 hit. They recorded it in one take. Needing a flip side, Ersel sat down and in just a few minutes wrote “Hanging Around.”

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