We end 1956 with another of my favorite songs. I can remember singing along with the radio whenever this played. Let’s see, in 1956, I was 14 years old and a freshman in high school. Those were the days.
A fellow named Melvin Endsley wrote “Singing the Blues” and it was pitched to Marty Robbins, who actually recorded it first. Marty also hit number one on the country chart with the song. When you listen to it, you can hear the country influence in the music. Guy Mitchell heard the Marty Robbins version and wanted to record it himself.
Guy Mitchell was born Al Cernick. He was good looking and he could sing. His family knew he had a great career ahead of him. He was born in Detroit, but when he was eleven, the family moved to Los Angeles. They traveled west by train and while on the train, Al (Guy) would walk the aisles singing at the top of his voice. A man approached the father, gave him a card and told him to have Al come see him when they got to Los Angeles. It was 1938.
By 1947, Al was twenty years old and had made a name for himself all over California. That year he joined Carmen Cavallaro’s Orchestra as a vocalist. In 1949, he won Arthur Godfrey’s “Talent Scouts.” You are up there in years if you remember that program. I remember listening to it as a kid.
In 1951, he got his big break. Frank Sinatra was supposed to record two songs for a single to be released on Columbia Records. Mitch Miller was the producer and orchestra leader. Well, Sinatra didn’t show and the songs needed to be recorded. The band was sitting doing nothing, waiting to play. As they say, they were burning money. So, Mitch Miller remembered this singer he had heard named Al Cernick, he called him and had him record the numbers. They were “My Heart Cried For You” and “The Roving Kind.” Both were top five hits in 1951.
Mitch Miller took Al under his wing and they decided Al Cernick was not the name of a superstar, so they changed it to Guy Mitchell. (The “Mitch” in Mitchell comes from Mitch Miller.)
“Singing the Blues” hit the charts on December 6, 1956 and stayed there for 10 weeks. That was a record. Only Elvis’s “Hound Dog”/”Don’t Be Cruel” had stayed at number one longer at eleven weeks. Ten weeks would never be broken, but it has been tied, by Debby Boone with “You Light Up My Life” in 1977 and Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” in 1981. I hope I live long enough to report on both of those songs.
The quality of this video is pretty bad, but it shows Guy himself singing the song instead of just an audio recording over a slide. He is really a bad lip-syncer, but I have always loved the song.
Next: “Too Much” – Elvis Presley