Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: In 1955 there was a popular rock and roll band named Boyd Bennett and His Rockets.

That summer they had a very big hit with “Seventeen,” but I never again heard a thing about them. Did they make any other records? Did they ever have enough songs to issue an LP? How about an EP?

This band once played the Chicago Theatre, as the opening act for headliner, Patti Page.

Besides Boyd Bennett, I remember other members named “Big Moe” and Skip Pendergraft. —Sharon D. Lindy, Oak Park, Ill.

DEAR SHARON: What you do not recall strikes me as surprising, but only because of all that you do know about Boyd Bennett, as well as his Rockets.

“Seventeen” sailed into the nation's Top 5 that summer, a time when we found only a few rock and roll hits among the best sellers.

Looking at the Top 20 for September 3, besides Bennett's “Seventeen,” the only other rockers in the Top 20 are “Ain't That a Shame” (Pat Boone); “Rock Around the Clock” (Bill Haley and His Comets); “Maybellene” (Chuck Berry); and the Fontane Sisters' version of “Seventeen.”

“Tennessee Rock 'N' Roll,” Bennett's follow-up to “Seventeen,” did not chart, but they rebounded strong with their next release, “My Boy Flat Top,” in November '55. I'll bet you would know this one if you were to hear it again.

I see you remember Big Moe, and it is he (nee: Joe Muzey) who sings lead on both “Seventeen” and “My Boy Flat Top.”

Their cover version of “Blue Suede Shoes” also charted, but its sales were nowhere near those of the Carl Perkins original.

Boyd Bennett became a solo act, and returned in 1960 with a novelty hit, “Boogie Bear,” inspired by Hanna-Barbera's (smarter than the average bear) Yogi Bear cartoon character.

Between 1953 and '63, Bennet — with and without His Rockets — made over three dozen singles for King and Mercury, more than enough tracks for one LP and two EPs.

Two four-track Extended Plays came out in 1956: “Boyd Bennett” (King 377), and “Rock and Roll with Boyd Bennett & His Rockets” (King 383).

A couple of years later, King issued an LP, titled simply “Boyd Bennett” (King 594).

Boyd and the gang are featured on at least one European import CD. Surprisingly, this collection is not titled after one of their hits, but the above mentioned 1955 flop: “Tennessee Rock 'N' Roll” (See for Miles 667677-60252-6).

DEAR JERRY: I just read your column where you talk about 45 rpms and 8-tracks still being made, but you said nothing about vinyl LPs.

Are they still being made? Where can they be bought?

Also, is there a place in the Milwaukee area that sells something that can be used to clean LPs? —Johnny in Wisconsin

DEAR JOHNNY: Long plays are the most common vinyl format and they are likely to be found in most areas of the world.

Even the music store in the tiny town (Port Townsend, Washington, population 8,000) where I live has a decent selection of vinyl albums.

Besides that, eBay and other online sellers offer thousands of LPs every day. Plus, on the Net it's nearly always a buyer's market.

Since that tiny town I mentioned is 2,000 miles from Milwaukee, I can't recommend a source there for record cleaning products.

But before you seek help with this, let me remind you it how easy it is to clean either vinyl or polystyrene records.

Just apply a drop or two of liquid soap to your fingertips, then, while holding the disc under cool or lukewarm running water, gently circle the playing surface clockwise with your fingers.

Then rinse the soap off and stand the record on end against a wall or support and let it drip dry.

Finally, use a soft, lint-free cloth to remove any remaining moisture.

Remember to use just water, and never any type of household cleaner or solvent.

An exception to water clensing is 78 rpms. Most are shellac and can be damaged by water. Wipe 78s clean with a clean cloth, lightly dampened by a mist of water from a spray bottle.

If an automatic cleaning machine is more to your liking, click here for a very good one!

IZ ZAT SO? The self-titled album “Boyd Bennett” ranks as one of rarest and most valuable from rock's first decade (1955 - '65), especially prominent if you set apart ones by either Elvis or the Beatles.

The last one sold that came to my attention changed hands for about $3,000.

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