DEAR JERRY: One of my favorite oldies is “442 Glenwood Avenue,” a mid-'60s recording by the Pixies Three.
I have no idea how it did elsewhere, but they played it like crazy here in southeastern Pennsylvania.
What has me curious is the use of a specific address. Did they just pull this out of the blue, or was it a legit address? If so, for whom?
Brian Bowman, Lancaster, Pa.
DEAR BRIAN: After rummaging through many years worth of mail, I unearthed a letter that came to me in 1997 from two-thirds of the Pixies Three.
Since they address (can't resist the pun) the development of “442 Glenwood Avenue” better than anyone I know, here is that story:
DEAR JERRY: As fans of yours, we especially liked the letter about the Pixies Three mainly because we are two of them!
One of your readers asked about the origin of “442 Glenwood Avenue.” Well, it was not intended to be a real address. When we were given the tune in rehearsal, we asked the writers (Madara & White, also our producers) the same question. They said they picked Glenwood Avenue because nearly every city has one.
Here's an interesting session trivia note: our rehearsal pianist was Leon “Fingers” Huff.
There is at least one group that thinks the song was written just for them. In 1964, while performing at a college in Ohio, when we sang “442 Glenwood Avenue,” about 50 guys stood up and sang along with us. Turned out it was the exact address of their fraternity.
“Cold, Cold Winter” was the original A-side of that record. It's often said that the tune is a take-off on the Phil Spector wall of sound, and maybe so. But those who say that need to hear “Orphan Boy” which truly is in a Spector style.
Like you, “Cold, Cold Winter” is also one of my favorites, but dee jays started flipping it over and we fell victim to the deadly split play. I have an old issue of Music Vendor that shows both “Cold, Cold Winter” and “442 Glenwood Avenue” in the Top 100. The record actually sold a lot of copies, but neither side made it high on the charts due to play being split.
Madara and White couldn't even make up their minds which side was the best. In the studio we spent equal time on both quite unusual as you know.
More typical was our first record. We did what seemed like a hundred takes of “Birthday Party.” When they said, “it's a wrap” after one take on the flip side, “Our Love” (which I wrote) I nearly cried. There is even an obvious mistake but it didn't matter, it was just a B-side.
The Pixies Three reunited in the fall of 1991 for Debby and Bonnie's 25th high school reunion. This was an informal show, attended by several dee jays in the Central Pennsylvania area. They spread the word that we were “back together and performing” and we did several shows each year for the next couple of years.
In January of 1995 we recorded the CD “Now and Then,” mainly to have something to send to booking agents.
Bonnie lives in Hanover, Pennsylvania and works in York, and Debby lives in Oklahoma City. I now live in Virginia Beach.
Kaye (McCool) Krebs and Bonnie (Long) Walker
DEAR JERRY: I read your recent reference to the hit “Asia Minor,” but, while I remember this piece well from my childhood, the name Kokomo rings no bells for me.
I always thought it was Winifred Attwell who popularized this piece of Grieg-snatching, and that it was her version which I heard again and again. Peter Mechen via e-mail.
DEAR PETER: Trinidad-born Atwell (frequently shown as Attwell) may have issued “Asia Minor” somewhere, but none appear on any of the U.S or U.K. charts.
In fact, Winifred didn't chart stateside with anything, though about 10 of her tunes made the U.K. surveys.
“Asia Minor” by Kokomo made the U.S. Top 10 in 1961. There really are no other hit recordings of this tune in this country.
IZ ZAT SO? Titles beginning with “Let's” proved surprisingly lucky for Winifred Atwell. Among her U.K. hit tunes are: “Let's Have a Party; Let's Have a Ding-Dong; Let's Rock and Roll; Let's Have a Ball;” and “Let's Go.”