The Cruisin series is a collection of records with music from various years. The series not only includes the original songs by the original artists from a particular year but also includes a Disk Jockey (D. J.) from a particular radio station all across North America. Included with the music is original radio advertisements (commercials), some public service announcements, radio station jingles, D. J. banter and numerous other goings on to make the record sound like it was recorded right from a live studio broadcast. This series was originally released on 33 1/3rd r.p.m. record albums in 1972 beginning with the year 1955. Some sources indicate they were released in 1993 and others mention several other different years. After further investigation I have determined that the 1972 release date is in fact correct but that the series was released again several different times and that accounts for the varying dates of release.
I have also determined that there were changes made from the original releases that shortened the total length of the re-releases by eliminating/removing a few songs off of each years records. The cassettes besides having all the same information off the front cover of the album also have this below each year as well A History of Rock & Roll Radio. Also every album, CD and cassette front cover had a colorful drawing of 2 kids wearing clothes from that period. The 2 young kids in this continuing story line were Peggy a pretty blonde girl who has a crush on Eddie who was a red head who mostly dreams about fast cars. One or both would have a balloon above them with what they were either saying or thinking. As the years continued you would see them get a little older, their clothes style would change and things around them would also move along with the times.
On the very first in the series Cruisin& 1955 the two kids are checking out some books from the public library. Eddie is looking out the window as his hot red convertible sportscar as Peggy is looking at him. In this picture Peggy has the balloon above her head as she is thinking to herself, Gee, I wonder if hell ever look at me like that?
The second album in the series Cruisin 1956 with the continuing story on the front cover is with Peggy leaning up against the rear of a 1956 car (hard to tell make or model) with rear tail fins. Eddie is leaning on the side of the car against the door with his right elbow on the roof holding a cigarette in his right hand with a Band-Aid on his left hand. You see a building in the background that has Central High on it, an American Flag flying proudly in the wind and an airplane flying overhead. Peggy says to Eddie There was a rumble at the drive-in last night wasnt there? Eddie replies Why ask me?
The 3rd record in the series Cruisin 1957 continues on the front cover with Peggy standing in her house doorway looking at Eddie who is standing on her front porch with his car behind him you see its nighttime and see a full moon. Peggy says Eddie! I thought you were grounded! Howja get off?. Eddie is standing with his hands in his pockets and says No sweat, Hey! They think Im working!
The 4th record in this series Cruisin 1958 has Peggy sitting in a convertible looking at Eddie who is in a dark green uniform working at a Gas Station. He is washing her car windshield and in the background you see some gas pumps and a sign with the prices on it of $19.9 for Regular gas and $22.9 for Ethyl gas. (Comment: Those prices are really unbelievable, was gas really that cheap in 1958? Holy, Cowabunga Batman!) Peggy asks Listen Eddie, are we going steady or arent we? and Eddie responds Jeez, Peg, lay off! Im lucky to have a job this summer!
The 5th record in the series Crusin 1959 shows Eddie driving down the street with Peggy next to him in the car. There is a huge pair of fuzzy dice hanging from his rear view mirror. Eddie says: It was my Draft Notice hows that grab you?. Peggy replies with: Oh, no, Eddie! Not at a time like this!
The 6th record in the series Cruisin 1960 takes place at a Drive In theater. So we see a sign outside a fence surrounding the parking area that indicates: Psycho and The Time Machine, & Dollar-A-Car-Night. (WOW those were the days when you piled 6 or more inside the car and snuck in a few more in the trunk to see 2 movies for a Buck! We have a Drive-In theater here in Jacksonville and its $4.00 a person for 2 movies on Friday or Saturday nights. My wife and I do go there from time to time on Saturday nights.) We see Peggy sitting in the front seat of a convertible and a strange boy has his arm around her neck. She is glancing back and spots Eddie in an Army uniform in the front seat of a car with his arm around the neck of a strange girl. Peggy looks like she is about to cry and says Its Eddie!
This 7th record in the series Crusin 1961 takes place in a soda/malt shop. Both Peggy and Eddie are at the counter. Eddie has a malt in his hand and Peggy has a cola in front of her with a straw in it. In the back is an old Wurletzer jukebox to the right of it is a stand with newspapers on it. The headlines on the newspaper can be partially seen as Bay of Pigs and below the paper it reads Herald Express 5 cents. (Note: the Bay of Pigs was a failed invasion of Cuba 1961 during the time that John F. Kennedy was president. It was a US supported attack by Cuban exiles in an attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro.) Now back to our story in the soda shop, Eddie and Peggy. On the counter are 2 books that have Olympic Junior College on them and outside the shop window you see a parked 1961 Oldsmobile.
Peggy is facing Eddie to his side and says: Its not just us Eddie! Its the entire world Eddie replies with I dunno, Peg
The host D. J. for this record is Arnie Ginsburg from WMEX in Boston, Massachusetts. Arnold Ginsburg began his professional career in the early 1950s as a radio engineer on WORL, 950 AM in Boston. In 1957 he went to WBOS 1600 AM in Boston where he had his own radio show. In 1959 he moved over to WMEX, 1510 AM radio in Boston until 1967. He next worked at WRKO FM radio in Boston but his former boss at WMEX served his new station with a court injunction, enforcing a no-competing clause. Because of this he was offered a position in sales until leaving there in 1970. He became the General Manager of WBCN radio in Boston until 1972 when he became the General Manager of WWEL radio in Boston. In 1979 he next became a partner of WXKS, FM known as Kiss 108 radio in Boston. He became the co-owner of WVJV TV in Boston in 1985. Arnies most famous nickname was Woo Woo also known as Arnie Woo Woo Ginsburg because of the train whistle he would imitate from time to time. He was considered Bostons #1 disk jockey for the years 1956 to 1967.
Cruisin 1961 begins with the Arnie Woo Woo Ginsburg theme song performed by a small local group called The 3Ds. It comes go this: Gather round everybody, youre all about to hear, the show thats going to make you, smile from ear to ear. Its Arnie Ginsburg, on the night train show. He plays the old and new, the swinging and the blue, he plays all the records, especially for you. Its Arnie Ginsburg, on the night train show, cmon Arnie, lets go, go, go. The intro. music and singing ends and then you hear Arnie say: And a frantic friendly Friday night in Boston town, old aching adenoids, Arnie Ginsburg, woo woo for you you on the night train show. (In the background you can hear a faint version of the 1952 hit Night Train by Buddy Morrow and his Orchestra playing. He then continues to say: All set with all the tops in pops, a brand new WMEX (pronounced wem ex) tune dex, top 20 coming your way.
This is followed by Blue Moon by the group The Marcels. This version of the song is considered a novelty version of the original done by Glen Gray & his Orchestra that was a #1 hit for them in 1935. My favorite version of this song was performed by the King himself, Elvis Presley in 1956 but it only peaked at #55 for him. This version by The Marcels went to #1 on the pop chart where it stayed for 3 weeks. Their version was a slow to medium doo-wop type sounding song and was their only ever #1 hit. This integrated R&B group from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania named themselves after the hairstyle of their lead singer Cornelius Harp who at the time was sporting the marcel look. This group had a total of 4 records on the pop charts in the early sixties but their only other hit to reach the Top 40 was Heartaches that peaked at #7 for them in 1961.
Following this song we hear Arnie again saying: Checking the WMEX dont be late for your date on a Friday night (coo coo whistle sound then he says), coo coo time, its 8:05. And youre getting ready for the big show next Wednesday night. This is quickly followed by an announcer who says: The WMEX traveling tower of talent, spotlights the 1961 heart fund. Then Arnie begins to speak again saying: Dance to your favorite records, with all the Big X disk jockeys, Fenway, Dan Dunovin, Melvin X Melvin and Arnie Ginsburg. Well all be looking for you at the Hyde Park municipal Building, Wednesday night, February 22nd. Then we hear the other announcer jump back in with: Plenty of surprises, in person, recording star Freddy Cannon, The Fabulous Continentals, The Diamondtones and The Rhythm Kings. Back to Arnie who says: Its the WMEX traveling tower of talent, all proceeds go to the 1961 heart fund coming to the Hyde Park municipal Building, Wednesday night, February 22nd.
Arnie then says: Arnie Ginsburg, woo woo, for you you, on WMEX. We got a lot of requests for this one, looks like its going to be another wem ex winner. Its the Jive Five and My True Story. It begins to play and you hear this lovely slow lullaby type R&B love song. This vocal group was formed in Brooklyn, New York City in 1959. They had only 4 hits on the top 100 pop charts in the 1960s this hit debuted on 3 July 1961 peaking at #3. Their only other hit to reach the Top 50 was Im A Happy Man in 1965 that peaked at #36. After the death of this groups only bass singer of the 5 members Norman Johnson they decided to change the spelling of their name to Jyve Fyve. This song is followed by an Adventure Car Hop advertisement home of The Ginsburger. This old-fashioned fast food restaurant was a place you could pull up in your car and have your food delivered right to your car window by a beautiful girl on roller skates. This fast food joint invented a hamburger and name it after Arnie and they ran a special where if you mentioned Arnie Woo Woo Ginsburg when you ordered you would get 2 Ginsburgers for the price of 1.
The 3rd song on side 1 is Nadine (Is It You?) by Chuck Berry. This song made its national debut on the charts on 7 March 1964 and later peaked at #23 on both the pop and R&B charts. Now I have no idea why a song 3 years away is on this album from 1961. Before the song began Arnie said the song was #7 this week on the wem ex top 20 survey. So either the song was released in the north in 1961 and took 3 years to debut on the national charts which I honestly doubt, or someone who picked this song for this record slipped up? Berry as I mentioned earlier in this series had 27 songs on the pop charts from 1955 to 1972. He had 3 records sell over a million copies to include his only #1 hit My Ding-A-Ling in 1972. This song was a novelty song recorded live at one of his concerts where he got the fans in the crowd to sing out some of the verses.
Following this song we hear a short WMEX jingle followed by Wooden Heart performed by Joe Dowell with Ray Stevens on organ. Joes version of this song debuted on the charts on 26 June 1961 and went all the way to #1. Joe was a pop singer who was born on 23 January 1940 in Bloomington, Indiana. This beautiful slow love song was based on a German folk song titled Muss I Denn and some of the verses of Joes song were sang in German. Joe sounded a little like the King himself Elvis Presley who sang the song in his 1960 film set in Germany G. I. Blues. Presleys version appeared on several of his many albums over the years but never as a single on the A-side in the United States. It was however released in Europe in March 1961 as an A-side with Tonight Is So Right For Love on the B-side and it peaked at #1 on the UK pop chart. It was released on an RCA records label but why they failed to release it in the U.S. seems to be a total mystery? It was finally released in the U.S. as a B-side in 1964 with Blue Christmas on the A-side that peaked at #1 for 2 weeks on the pop chart. The B-side did chart separately but never made the Top 100 stalling at #107 on the U.S. pop chart.
Even though I am a huge Elvis fan and love everything he ever released I like Joes version of this song better. Just like I love Terry Staffords version of Suspicion better then Elviss version as well. Joe only had 2 other pop hits during his career in The Bridge Of Love that peaked at #50 in 1961 and Little Red Rented Rowboat that peaked at #23 in 1962. Following this song we hear about a WMEX Mystery City contest. The clue given by Arnie for this contest was: If youre off your trolley, send us a cable. I dont know about you but Im almost 100% sure the Mystery City was San Francisco? The first person to correctly identify the Mystery City via a post card to the station wins a round trip to the Mystery City.
Next up was song #2 on the WMEX top 20 survey in But I Do by Clarence Frogman Henry. This medium paced love song made its national chart debut on 20 February 1961 and peaked at #4 on the pop chart. Henry was born on 19 March 1937 in Algiers, Louisiana, he had 6 records on the pop chart from 1956 to 1962. He is most remembered for his debut single in December 1956 titled Aint Got No Home that peaked at #20 on the pop chart. This R&B soloist was multi-talented in that he could sing like a girl, sing like a frog, he played the piano and the trombone. It was his imitating a frog on his debut single that garnered him his nickname of Frogman.
When this song finished Arnie provided us with some useless information. That was that 1961 was the only year in this decade that read the same backwards and forwards. Also the next time a year could be found that would be read the same way backwards and forwards was 6009. This was followed by a 1961 Ford Falcon Futura commercial sung by what sounds like to be Kate Smith. This advertisement was followed by the biggest selling novelty hit from 1958 in Beep Beep by The Playmates. Another song that appears out of place and does not belong on this album for 1961? This was the groups biggest selling record of the 10 they had on the pop charts from 1958 to 1962. This was their only record to sell over a million copies and it was their highest peaking record when it went to #4 on the pop chart. Side A is finished up with a WMEX station ID and a advertisement to vote next Tuesday.
Side 2 begins with a very different version of the The Arnie Ginsburg them song this time sung by Freddy Boom Boom Cannon. Freddys version goes like this Arnie Ginsburg the guy with the swinging show. Down in Boston, Mass hes the guy that the kids all know. If youre feeling blue, hell make you smile, at 1510 on your radio dial. Arnie Ginsburg on WMEX radio. The theme song seems to ends abruptly and goes right into the song Tossin & Turnin by Bobby Lewis. This very fast dance tune that sounds like a different version of The Twist that was a big #1 hit this year by Chubby Checker. Lewis was an R&B singer born in Indianapolis, Indiana on 17 February 1933 and this was his debut release. Bobbys song was the biggest selling record of the year, it debuted on 24 April 1961 and it peaked at #1 where it stayed for 7 consecutive weeks on the pop chart. He had 4 singles on the charts in 1961 and 1962 but none came close to the success that his debut single did.
Arnie come on following this song to mention that Bobby was on Dick Clarks American Bandstand that very same afternoon. He then says: You know Im going to be on TV with my own series next year sponsored by the Plumbers union and were going to call it The Unflushables. This is followed by the WMEX Teacher of the Day contest. Students nominate their favorite Teacher on a postcard and every day a winner is pulled and that Teacher wins a prize. After this contest announcement we hear Daddys Home by Shep & The Limelites. This slow and very beautiful R&B song was this groups debut single and it went all the way to #2 on the pop chart in 1961. They had 6 songs on the pop charts from 1961 to 1963 but none of the other 5 songs made it into the Top 40 and because of this they are considered a one-hit wonder group. This group formed in New York City and was named after their lead singer James Shep Sheppard and the groups name has been spelled Limelites and Limelights over the years.
Up next is a quick Pal Mal rock commercial sung by The 3Ds followed by the #1 song this week in Boston Runaway by Del Shannon. This fast paced, rocking pop hit was Shannons debut single that debuted nationally on 6 March 1961 and quickly shot up the chart to peak at #1 where it stayed for 4 weeks. Del was born Charles Westover on 30 December 1934 in Coopersville, Michigan. While he was in the U.S. Army stationed in Germany he was discovered as a disk jockey with his own radio show by Ollie McLaughlin a producer and disk jockey himself from Ann Arbor, Michigan. After he was honorably discharged from the Army he first began to write music and he began to sing and compose his own music. In 1965 he composed the hit song I Go To Pieces performed by the British duo of Peter & Gordon that peaked at #9 on the US pop chart. Del had 17 songs on the US pop charts from 1961 to 1981 but only his debut single went to #1 and it also was his only record to sell over 1 million copies. On 8 February 1990 Shannon died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the age of 55 in Santa Clarita, California.
Following this song is a very quick WMEX 1510 AM jingle sung by some unknown person in a very deep voice. We then hear the very first version released on a single of Barbara-Ann sung by The Regents. This song debuted on 15 May 1961 and peaked at #10 on the pop chart. This all white vocal group that formed in the Bronx, New York City, New York had only one other song on the charts with their #28 hit in 1961 titled Runaround. This was not the same version of the song performed by The Three Chuckles in 1954 or the one done by The Fleetwoods in 1960. The biggest, best and most well known version of Barbara Ann was done by the fabulous Beach Boys in 1966 when it peaked at #2 on the pop charts. My 3rd favorite version of this song was previously performed by the duo Jan & Dean but only appears on a few of their albums. After this song finishes we hear a very funny promo for the stations morning disk jockey Fenway.
We then hear Lee Dorsey singing his hit song Ya Ya. This was Dorseys debut single that made its national debut on 11 September 1961, peaked at #7 on the pop chart and sold over a million copies. Lee was born Irving Lee Dorsey on 24 December 1924 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He had 9 records on the pop chart from 1961 to 1969 and had one other big hit in 1966 with Working In A Coal Mine that peaked at #8. Lee began his career as a championship prizefighter in the early 1950s calling himself Kid Chocolate, he died of emphysema on 1 December 1986 at the age of 61. When this song finishes we hear a commercial for the 1961 widetrack Pontiac.
The final song on this album is next titled Hideaway by Freddy King sometimes spelled Freddie. King had 5 songs on the charts from 1961 to 1964 and this was his biggest seller and peaked at #29 on the pop chart. This slow R&B song was titled after Mels Hideaway Lounge in Chicago and is in my opinion basically a throwaway song. Im not sure why this song was even selected for this album with so many other great songs from 1961 to chose from? This song was not even in the top 50 songs of the year so I am totally mystified why this song was chosen and who may have picked it to be on this album? I think they should have used one of the songs they chose to replace this song with on the cassette and album re-releases instead but more on that in the next section.
Now for some oddities, omissions, etc. The cassette and the album re-releases did not have Hideaway on them like I mentioned above. Also not on the re-releases were Barbara-Ann, Beep Beep and Blue Moon. Songs on the re-releases that were not on the original album were Peanut Butter by The Marathons and Those Oldies But Goodies (Remind Me Of You) by Little Caesar & The Romans. Also on this album for the first time in the series a few of the advertisements/commercials are different as well.
Full original album track listings and my rating of each song follows below
Side 1 (A)
Arnie Ginsburg Theme -- The 3D's
Blue Moon -- The Marcels (2:15) - 5
WMEX Tower of Talent
My True Story -- The Jive Five (2:30) - 5
Adventure Car Hop commercial Home of The Ginsburger & The 2 for 1 special
Nadine -- Chuck Berry (2:25) - 5
Wooden Heart -- Joe Dowell (2:00) - 5
WMEX Mystery City Contest
But I Do -- Clarence Frogman Henry (2:15) - 5
a 1961 Ford Falcon Futura commercial Kate Smith?
Beep Beep -- The Playmates (3:04) - 5
WMEX station ID
Side 2 (B)
Arnie Ginsburg Theme -- Freddie Boom Boom Cannon
Tossin' & Turnin' -- Bobby Lewis (2:10) - 5
WMEX Teacher of the Day contest
Daddy's Home -- Shep and The Limelites (2:47) - 5
Pal Mal Rock Commercial -- Mal, The 3D's, and Arnie
Runaway -- Del Shannon (2:17) - 5
Barbara Ann -- The Regents (2:12) - 5
Fenway DJ promo
Ya Ya -- Lee Dorsey (2:17) - 4
1961 widetrack Pontiac commercial
Hideaway -- Freddy King (2:34) - 3
TOTAL POINTS: 57 POINTS DIVIDED BY 12 SONGS = 4.75 or 4 3/4 STARS
5 - Great
4 - Very Good
3 - Good
2 - Fair
1 - Poor
0 - This song does not belong on this record
JAGUARDOG'S FINAL THOUGHTS
This was one of the better records in my opinion in this series and I believe the first one to include the biggest selling song of the year on it? Once again, Im not sure why Nadine was on this record 3 years in advance of its national release. Even though I gave the song a maximum of 5 stars I wish another Top 10 song from 1961 was on the album instead. Possibly the second biggest selling hit of the year and one of my all-time favorites by Jimmy Dean in Big Bad John? There are some more great albums coming up in this collection as I continue covering all the years which includes a few more perfect 5 Star rating albums yet to come. I hope you are enjoying this series and will continue to return and read many more to come? Cruisin 1962 is up next with another great song selection on it and is possibly one of the 2 best albums in the entire series. Here is a little hint of some of the great songs upcoming on the 1962 record:
Duke Of Earl
And much, much, more
I am including a list of all the years in this series so everyone can see the radio stations that were included and the D. J. that was used for each year.
1955 - KSAN - San Francisco, CA - Jumpin' George Oxford
1956 - WKMH - Detroit, MI - Robin Seymour
1957 - WIBG - Philadelphia, PA - Joe The Rockin Bird Niagara (Also known as Wibbage radio)
1958 - WIL - St. Louis, MO - Jack Carney
1959 - KGFJ - Los Angeles, CA - Hunter Hancock (Also called "Huntin' with Hunter")
1960 - WKBW - Buffalo, NY - Dick Biondi
1961 - WMEX - Boston, MA - Arnie 'Woo Woo' Ginsberg
1962 - KLIF - Dallas, TX - Russ 'Weird Beard' Knight
1963 - WMCA - New York City, NY - B. Mitchell Reed (Also known as the WMCA 'Good Guys')
1964 - WHK - Cleveland, OH - Johnny Holiday (Also known as 'The Joy Boys')
1965 - KHJ - Los Angeles, CA - Robert W. Morgan (Also called Boss Angeles) - 1st city used twice
1966 - KJR - Seattle, WA - Pat O'Day
1967 - WQXI - Atlanta, GA - Dr. Don Rose (Also known is Quixie in Dixie)
1968 - WCAO - Baltimore, MD - Johnny Dark
1969 - WPGC - Washington, D.C. - Harv Moore, The Boy Next Door
1970 - WLS - Chicago, IL - Kris Erik Stevens
Cruisin' with Porky Chedwick - WAMO - Pittsburgh, PA
The Cruisin' Years (Best Of) - Compilation of songs, ads, jingles, etc. from 1955 to 1963
Well that about wraps up this time travel back to 1961, now its time to return to the present! Thanks for dropping by to read and rate and please feel free to leave any comments or just a quick note on what radio station or DJ from yesteryear not on the above list you can vividly remember? As always I hope everyone has a Safe and Wonderful Weekend and God Bless, Ron.
BONUS: Billboard's Top 30 Pop Hits of 1961
1. Tossin' And Turnin' - Bobby Lewis Peaked at #1 for 7 weeks
2. Big Bad John - Jimmy Dean Peaked at #1 for 5 weeks
3. Runaway - Del Shannon Peaked at #1 for 4 weeks
4. Wonderland By Night - Bert Kaempfert & His Orchestra Peaked at #1 for 3 weeks
5. Pony Time Chubby Checker Peaked at #1 for 3 weeks
6. Take Good Care Of My Baby Bobby Vee Peaked at #1 for 3 weeks
7. The Lion Sleeps Tonight The Tokens - Peaked at #1 for 3 weeks
8. Blue Moon The Marcels Peaked at #1 for 3 weeks
9. Will You Love Me Tomorrow The Shirelles Peaked at #1 for 2 weeks
10. Michael The Highwaymen Peaked at #1 for 2 weeks
11. Calcutta Lawrence Welk & His Orchestra Peaked at #1 for 2 weeks
12. Travelin Man / Hello Mary Lou Ricky Nelson Peaked at #1 for 2 weeks
13. Quarter To Three Gary U.S. Bonds Peaked at #1 for 2 weeks
14. Runaround Sue Dion Peaked at #1 for 2 weeks
15. Hit The Road Jack Ray Charles Peaked at #1 for 2 weeks
16. Surrender / Lonely Man Elvis Presley Peaked at #1 for 2 weeks
17. Please Mr. Postman The Marvelettes Peaked at #1
18. Running Scared Roy Orbison Peaked at #1
19. Wooden Heart - Joe Dowell Peaked at #1
20. Moody River Pat Boone Peaked at #1
21. Mother-In-Law Ernie K. Doe Peaked at #1
22. The Boll Weevil Song Brook Benton Peaked at #2 for 3 weeks
23. I Like It Like That Chris Kenner Peaked at #2 for 2 weeks
24. Apache Jorgen Ingmann & His Guitar Peaked at #2 for 2 weeks
25. Bristol Stomp The Dovells Peaked at #2 for 2 weeks
26. The Mountains High Dick & Dee Dee Peaked at #2 for 2 weeks
27. Exodus Ferrante & Teicher Peaked at #2
28. Raindrops Dee Clark Peaked at #2
29. Crying Roy Orbinson Peaked at #2
30. Shop Around The Miracles Peaked at #2
The song The Twist by Chubby Checker went to #1 for 1 week in 1960. It was re-released on 13 November 1961 and early in 1962 it peaked at #1 again this time for 2 weeks. Because of this his song is not on the Top hits of 1961 but on the Top hits of both 1960 and 1962. It is the first ever song to go to #1 and then have the same identical version re-released at least a year later and go back to #1 a second time. It was the #13 hit for the entire year of 1960 and it was the #10 hit for the entire year of 1962.
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