Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: A few years ago I thought I read in the newspaper that SSgt. Barry Sadler, of “Ballad of the Green Berets” fame, had been shot while in South America. It reported him to be in critical condition, but I never read any more about him. No one I have talked to knows anything about this. Did I just dream this? If not, what happened to him?
—Ed T. in West Va. (

DEAR ED: Barry Sadler, once a Staff Sergeant (SSgt.) in the army's Special Forces (Green Berets), reportedly was shot during a 1988 robbery attempt at his then-home in South America — Guatemala to be exact.

During a skirmish with the thieves, Sadler, having survived numerous Viet Nam conflicts, took a bullet in the head resulting in brain damage. But he didn't die then.

He returned to the U.S. and, a little over one year later (November 5, 1989), died of heart failure in Tennessee. I have yet to learn that his death came as a direct result of the shooting, though there is surely a connection.

Though not commonly known, apart from his No. 1 hit, “Ballad of the Green Berets” Sadler was also an accomplished writer, with a very successful book series to his credit: “Casca: The Eternal Mercenary.”

He penned an amazing 22 novels in this series, which have collectively sold several million copies.

The central character in the series, Casca, was a Centurion in the Roman Army. As the story goes, when Christ was dying on the cross, Casca speared him to put an end to his suffering. Christ then told Casca that he would live until His return to earth. Though Casca could not die, he did endure the miseries of mortal men.

Throughout the series, Sadler places Casca in various wars, always fighting on the side of righteousness. These books are well-researched and have a devout following. Websters can learn more about another side of Barry Sadler at:

DEAR JERRY: There is a bluesy song used during a Gap TV commercial. It may be titled “Jump, Jive and Wail.” It is used during their khaki pants ad, along with a team of jitterbug dancers.

Please tell me more about this tune. Is it available on a CD?

There are plenty of hits used for commercials, but has any song that started out as a commercial been released and made the charts?

Finally, who sang “Life is a Rock but the Radio Rolled Me.”
—S. Bradford via e-mail (

DEAR S.: I have Louie Prima's “Jump, Jive and Wail” on at least one CD, perhaps the most appropriate one: “Louis Prima — Collectors Series” (Capitol CDP 7-94072-2). It seems commercial makers and film producers have recently discovered the exciting music of Louis Leo Prima.

You may recall mention awhile back in this column of another track, also in this CD collection, “Just a Gigolo-I Ain't Got Nobody (Medley),” featured in “Mad Dog and Glory,” starring Robert DeNiro.

As to your closing questions:

In 1971, the Hillside Singers managed a Top 15 hit with “I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony),” which they adapted from a Coca-Cola TV spot.

One year earlier, the Carpenters rose to No. 2 with “We've Only Just Begun,” adapted from a TV commercial for an insurance company.

“Life is a Rock but the Radio Rolled Me,” a Top 10 hit in 1974, is by a group named Reunion.

DEAR JERRY: Not long ago I bought a CD version of an old LP, “The Jesters Meet the Paragons,” which I remember hearing at a friend's house in the late '50s.

One song I seem to recall on the original vinyl album is “Diamonds and Pearls;” however it appears to have been left off the CD.

Now I'm wondering if my memory is failing me. Can you shed any light on this little mystery?
—Eileen S. Ingala, Salem, Ky.

DEAR EILEEN: Yes, but the spotlight shines on your failing (sorry) memory.

We should, however, cut you some slack because the names of the groups involved are so darned similar. “Diamonds and Pearls,” a Top 20 hit in 1960, is by the Paradons — not the Paragons.

IZ ZAT SO? The lead singer on Reunion's “Life is a Rock but the Radio Rolled Me” is Joey Levine, former lead voice of the '60s bubble gum group, the Ohio Express.

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