Buddy Knox is his real name and he was born in 1933 in a place called Happy, Texas. There really is such a place as Happy, Texas. I kinda wish I lived there. The population in 2000 was 647, so it must have been really small when Buddy was born.
Buddy Knox was the first in a couple areas. He was the first artist in the rock and roll era to write his own number one song. And he had the first hit in a new sub-genre of rock and roll called rockabilly. Rockabilly was a marriage between rock and roll and hillbilly (or country) music. Rockabilly evolved into what we might called Tex-Mex today. The sub-genre would become very popular in the late Fifties with artists like Carl Perkins and Eddie Cochran singing what was called rockabilly. Some people say that some of Johnny Cash’s early works can be considered rockabilly.
“Party Doll” was written back in 1948 when Buddy was just 15 years old. While he was going to college, he met several other people who would become influential in the music business. He ran into Jimmy Bowen and Don Lanier and they formed a group called The Serenaders. When Buddy Holly came to town (he was also a Texas boy,) they got a chance to talk to him and Holly told them they should go to Norman Petty’s Studio in Clovis, New Mexico and record their songs. So, they did.
Once in Clovis, they discovered they didn’t have near enough to record a song, so they borrowed people and equipment wherever they could. They didn’t have a complete set of drums, so they used a cardboard box filled with newspaper and placed the microphone inside of it. Buddy’s sisters provided the backup vocals. It was patched together, but they got a recording.
Back home, they managed to get 1500 copies of “Party Doll” pressed and it became something of a local hit. Roulette Records in New York heard about it and soon, the boys were in New York completing a professional recording of the song. Roulette Records named the group Buddy Knox and the Rhythm Orchids. Buddy never did go back to college.
Jimmy Bowen recorded “I’m Stickin’ With You” at the same time and it was a #14 hit in March of 1957. He went on to become of of the most influential record producers in Los Angeles, working with such names as Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. “I’m Stickin’ With You” was originally the flip side of “Party Doll,” but soon got enough airplay that they made it its own record.
“Party Doll” entered the charts on March 30, 1957 and spent one week at the top.
Next: “Round and Round” – Perry Como