Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Like so many who have come before you in the past, I too have a mystery song that no one else can tell me a thing about.

It is a true story type song about a Mexican named Joe Lopez, though his name is actually about five or six words long. In the story, Joe and his sons leave home to fight in the Civil War. While away, the Carpetbaggers raided and burned his home, attacked his wife, etc.

At music shops, they often refer me to “Mexican Joe,” by Jim Reeves. But this is a completely different recording, so please don't suggest that one.
—Desmond Rough, York, Pa.

DEAR DESMOND: No problem, as I know the difference between Jim's “Mexican Joe” and your Mexican Joe.

Your Joe's full name is “Jose Villa Lobo Alfredo Thomasa Vincente Lopez,” which is also the title of the tune you seek (Decca 32322).

Your recollection of the story is quite accurate. You may also recall that Jose's name is so long because he added the names of his sons — all killed in the war — to his own (Jose Lopez).

The singer is the legendary Rex Allen, and this is the flip side of his 1968 hit, “Tiny Bubbles.” However, since “Tiny Bubbles” had become so widely associated with Hawaiian star Don Ho, many stations played only “Jose Villa Lobo Alfredo Thomasa Vincente Lopez.”

DEAR JERRY: I heard a song about 14 years ago on a radio station in Los Angeles. It is about a football player whose blind father had never seen the kid play ball.

The father died the day of the big game and when the coach said that the kid could sit out of the game, the boy declined saying that he wanted to play because now his dad could see him from heaven.

I hope you can identify this song.
—Stacie Anderson, via e-mail

DEAR STACIE: Two different versions — with slightly varying titles — climbed high on the charts in late 1975, which is just about the time you recall.

Which one you heard depends on whether you listened to country music or Top 40 at the time.

First on the charts (November 8, 1975) was “The Blind Man in the Bleachers,” by Kenny Starr. This tune rose to No. 2 on the C&W survey.

One week later, with the title “The Last Game of the Season (A Blind Man in the Bleachers),” David Geddes debuted on the pop chart with a rendition that would ultimately reach No. 18.

By far, “The Blind Man in the Bleachers” is the biggest hit of Kenny Starr's career, and, of 13 chart records, the only one to crack the Top 20.

Geddes managed only two hit singles, the other — his first — is “Run Joey Run,” which reached the Top 5. DEAR JERRY: Is Johnnie Ray the only solo vocalist to occupy the top four positions on the Hit Parade in the '50s?

I recall reading somewhere that he had this distinction, and I also heard Larry King discussing Johnnie Ray once, and he brought up this point. So, is it true?
—Thomas E. Golembiewski, Chicago, Ill.

DEAR THOMAS: I find no week when Johnnie Ray had more than two hits in the Top 5, or three in the Top 7. However, at no time did he have even claim the top two positions.

His sales peak came in early '52. For the week of March 6, 1952, Ray owned half of the Top 6 positions. No. 1 that week is “Cry”, No. 3, “Please Mr. Sun,” and No. 6 is “The Little White Cloud That Cried,” which is the flip side of “Cry.”

IZ ZAT SO? In a chart event nothing short of phenomenal, the Beatles once held all of the top five spots on Billboard's Hot 100.

For the week April 4, 1964, here are the tunes by the Fab Four that made history: No. 1: “Can't Buy Me Love.” No. 2: “Twist and Shout.” No. 3: “She Loves You.” No. 4: “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” No. 5: “Please Please Me.”

Making this feat even more amazing is that none of these titles are flip sides. These are five completely separate single releases.

For the record, the Hot 100 that week also included seven other tunes by the Beatles, giving them 12 total positions. Twelve percent of all singles sales! No wonder we called it Beatlemania.

Return to "Mr. Music" Home Page