Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: I am a collector of novelty records, which includes songs about pop icons, such as Elvis and the Beatles.

I spotted one in a recent sales catalog, listed by the seller as “Beatle Bug Boogie.” It sounds a bit like an instrumental, but either way, if it's about the Beatles I'd want it. They are asking $25.

Do you know anything about this record? If you think the price is fair, I'll order it.
—Jarrod Kneff, Rochester, N.Y.

DEAR JARROD: The asking price is okay for a used but not abused copy. One in near-mint condition could have a $50 price tag.

But wait! Don't call yet!

The price is irrelevant because, although a novelty in its own way, this record has nothing to do with the Beatles. In fact, it came out in 1954, about 10 years before anyone even considered recording a Beatles novelty.

Perhaps it is an innocent mistake on the seller's part, but the correct title of this tune is “Beetle Bug Boogie.” That alone, however, would not rule out a legit Beatles connection.

Several authentic 1960s Beatles novelties intentionally spell their name as if they were insects (e.g., “The Beetle”; “Beetle Bebop”; “Beetle Bug”; “Beetle Bug Jump”; “Beetle Dance”; and “Beetle Mania”).

“Beetle Bug Boogie” (Arcade 120), by Jimmy Collett, is a hillbilly bopper about the boogie-woogie goings on at “an old bee hive … the place where the beetle bugs meet every night at nine, and a doodle bug band plays the beetle bug jive.”

Among the fun-loving, creepy-crawling regulars are: caterpillars; glow worms; spiders; flies; tater bugs; skeeters; centipedes; grasshoppers; Japanese beetles; June bugs; ants; and, since it's their hive, some honeybees.

It is no surprise to learn their dance of choice is the jitterbug.

DEAR JERRY: Thanks to your piece about “Sioux City Sue,” by Elton Britt, his is now my favorite version of this often recorded song.

But no matter whose I hear, from A (Gene Autry) to Z (Zeke Manners), they all make what I consider a geographical mistake.

Do you have any idea what I'm talking about?
—“Denver” Sue McBride

DEAR DENVER SUE: I think I do.

Every recording I have of “Sioux City Sue” begins with “I drove a herd of cattle down from old Nebraska way, that's how I came to be in the state of I-o-way.”

Assuming traditional usage of “down” meaning south, and “up” indicating north, a cattle drive from anywhere in Nebraska to Sioux City would not involve going south.

Sioux City, separated by the Missouri River, borders the northeast tip of Nebraska.

A more geographically correct itinerary, while maintaining the one-syllable cadence, would be “I drove a herd of cattle IN from old Nebraska way, that's how I came to be in the state of I-o-way.”

There is, however, another possibility.

Though the object of this cowhand's affection identifies herself as Sioux City Sue, not once is it said that either one of them is actually in or even near Sioux City.

If the rendezvous point is anywhere south of the Sioux City-Waterloo-Dubuque parallel, the thundering herd could indeed be heading “down.”

Now let's see what's on Milwaukee Sue's mind:

DEAR JERRY: Imagine my surprise to be reading about my uncle, Trooper Jim Foster, in your column.

I used to visit him at his place, Foster's Lazy Acres, in Lutz, Fla. He had a small recording studio there and we used to listen to all his records. He also had a Sunday TV show, “Bring 'Em Back Alive,” on channel 10 in Tampa.

After his Florida Highway Patrol career, he served 10 years in the Florida House of Representatives. He later worked for the Division of Forestry and the Dept. of Motor Vehicles and Highway Safety. He retired in 1988.

Jim died in 1996 while building his dream cabin in the hills of Tennessee. He was 62.

I am going to send the article to my dad, now 81, who still misses his only brother. Thank you for the opportunity to remember my uncle and smile. It is indeed a small world.
—Sue (Foster) Labinski, Milwaukee

IZ ZAT SO? Thousands of celebrity novelties exist, spoofing entertainers, politicians, sports figures, and anyone or anything in the news, yet rarely do you find them on the charts, much less among the Top 40.

In keeping with mention of Elvis and the Beatles, here are two exceptions: “The All American Boy,” by Bill Parsons (a.k.a., Bobby Bare), about Elvis being drafted, which reached No. 2 in 1958, and “We Love You Beatles,” by the Carefrees, No. 39 in 1964.

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