Come go with me / part 2
By: Benoit Vanhees © 2010
Structure of the article / Part 2
7) Halo Everybody ! A remarkable publicity campaign
8) A first LP
9) Musical chairs
10) The Decaa Years
11) The 1960´s and ´70´s: Fade in - fade out
12) Always Sunny in Dixieland !
13) Disco Sunny
14) A cosmopolitan career
15) Private life
7) Halo Everybody ! A remarkable publicity campaign
In December 1955, the cosmetics and soap pruducer Colgate launched a remarkable publicity campaign for its shampoo Halo in the United States. The innovative move consisted in working together with one of the main US record companies. Publicity agency Sherman & Marquette managed to built the necessary commercial bridges to the headquarters of RCA Victor. Colgate´s purpose was to boost its sales of Halo shampoo within the segment of teenagers. To do so, it wanted to be prominently present during popular music programs for teens. The idea was, that a number of recording stars would act as ambassador for Halo shampoo. This led to a deal with RCA Victor and a large group of influential DJ´s.
Except for about 10 popular male singers from the RCA pool, also a number of female singers would be involved, including Sunny Gale. The others were the three Fontane Sisters, June Valli, Sunshine Ruby, Eartha Kitt, Mary Rose Bruce and Dolores Martell.
Each of these artists would record a jingle entitled "Halo everybody halo". (You can listen to it, by using the link added in footnote (65) Although the artists wouldn´t be paid for making this jingle, Colgate would in turn send them to 178 DJ´s from 100 different American towns, spread all over the country. These DJ´s would promote one of the latest records of the participating artists.
In the case of Sunny Gale, that promotion would be for her single "Love me again", from August-September of that year. At the end of the songs involved, the DJ would then play the Halo jingle. The parcel send by Colgate to each of the 178 DJ´s specified clearly:
"Use only after playing of latest pop release of (artist´s name) and the DJ intro, as per copy attached."
The DJ´s themselves could decided for themselves which songs they wanted to promote. Colgate on the other hand kept sufficient flexibility, to extra stimulate the Halo sales in those parts of the country, where the campaign didn´t seem to result in immediate rising success. To do so, Colgate could assign between minimum 5 and maximum 40 ads to the 178 DJ´s.
This campaign was remarkable in two ways. On the one hand, such an interwoven commercial co-operation between a cosmetics company and a record company was something completely new. On the other hand, it was quite surprising that Colgate selected radio programs as the best way to reach teenagers. Especially since 1 million dollar was involved in this campaign. One would rather have expected they would have aimed for the immensely popular TV shows, like more and more other companies were doing. (66) Especially since a TV commercial was better suited to immediately show to a large audience the incredible "glorifying" effect the use of Halo shampoo was supposed to have on hair.
RCA Victor seemed pleased by the results of the co-operation between Sunny Gale and the Du Droppers, and decided to give a second release a try. In January 1954, this led to "Close to me", combined with "Just in case you change your mind". (67)
The A-side is a slow waltz in 4/4, based on the soundtrack of the movie "The Joe Louis story", about the famous heavy weight boxing champion. As far as we have been able to trace things back, Sunny Gale´s recording of this song was the first time the melody was recorded with lyrics. A passionated singer tells her lover that although he´s not around, he´ll always be very close to her, wherever he might go. The orchestra was conducted by the very respected Joe Reisman.
The B-side is more up tempo, and the song seems to have been born in the same Feel Good Street as Doris Day´s funny version of "Be my little baby bumblebee" (68)
The promotion for this single in Billboard involved a full page add, on which Eartha Kitt, Sunny Gale and Lou Monte each got 1/3rd.
Sunny Gale also went to St Louis, Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washinton together with Jerry Field and publisher Jack Gold, to promote this new release. (69) We haven´t been able to find more details on how this promotion was done: via interviews on local radios, via concerts etc.
Because the nice sales results of "Mama´s gone goodbye" apparantly were not confirmed by "Close to me", a new single was soon released. This time, RCA Victor tried to find commercial success for Sunny Gale with "Dream dream dream / Don´t cry mama"
The A-side is once more a slow waltz. The combination of the style of the melody, the accentuated violins and the background vocals result in something far too sweet and sirupy. Fortunately enough, the flip side is once more one of those happy ditties, performed flawlessly by Sunny Gale. The young lady claims in the song that she was followed "at least one mile" in the streets by a young man. And apparantly, this seems to be enough for her, to start dreaming about marriage and kiddies. One major obstacle remains: convincing mama...
A non-identified quartet was responsible for the happy back up vocals. Unfortunately, whatever component RCA Victor changed to the formula, the large public, the record buying public continued sulking.
On Saturday, May 1st, Sunny Gale participated in the opening show of the new touristic season in Hershey Park, a large amusemtpark in Hershey, Pennsylvania. To try to stop the declining popularity of ballroom dancing, manager George W. Bartels had decided to invite a number of popular performing artists. Sunny Gale was the one who started the show, which probably took place in the beautiful Starlight Ballroom.
The Starlight Ballroom in the 1930´s (?)
Genuine Curteich Chicago C.T. Art Colortone #32
Hershey Park is a large amusement park, with an outdoor swimming pool, a rose garden, a sunken garden which used to be illuminated at night by an electric fountain, a zoo with lions, a museum, tennis cours, a sports stadium etc. It was built in 1907 by the Hershey Chocolat Factory nearby for its staff. Later, the amusement park was accessible for the rest of the public too. (70)
In July, Sunny Gale´s third single for 1954 was released. It was called "Goodnight sweetheart goodnight / Call off the wedding". The A-side was a cover of the popular R&B hit by the Spaniels. Gloria Mann, who was also from Philadelphia and sounded somewhat like Sunny Gale, already recorded it in May. (71) Her version was followed in June by yet another cover, performed by the very talented close harmony trio The McGuire Sisters. The three sisters from Ohio reached the best score for this song, peaking at #7. Still, Sunny Gale, together with the Joe Reisman Orchestra managed to turn the July-version into a nice #25 hit. (72)
The B-side of this single was once again a slow waltz. In "Call off the wedding", all of a sudden someone appears during a wedding ceremony, claiming that it should be called off. Indeed, the singer then explains that in fact, she was meant to marry the groom, just as he had promised her, before they had a quarrel. In the same year, waltz queen Patti Page recorded "Go on with the wedding", which might have been an answer song to this waltz.
Tips for collectors
If you´re looking for "Goodnight sweetheart", why not try to find this RCA Victor EP, destined for the Japanese market. It isn´t easy to find, but the nice cover surely makes the chase worth while. Some eBay sellers only mention the Ames Brothers or June Valli in the descriptive title if they sell it, so don´t just look for Sunny Gale items, but also try every now and then if this EP don´t show up in the Ames Brothers-items. That´s the way how I found my copy years ago
Recording was once again alternated with shows and touring. In the first half of July, the Les Elgart Orchestra, the Canadian close harmony group the Crew Cuts and Sunny Gale attracted 8000 people in 6 days time in the (Arcade) Convention Hall, at the small sea side city Ashbury Park, N.J. (73)
The Arcade Convention Hall in Ashbury Park N.J...
... and the ball room
After this succesful show ih the R&B-friendly town, Gale went southwards, to that brightly illuminated magnet called Las Vegas. She was booked from July 17th till the 31st by the Hotel/Casino The Thunderbird. (74)
The following post card shows how the place must have looked like in the 1950´s.
In August, the blonde thrush once again recorded a new single. The RCA-management this time selected "Smile / An old familiar love song"
"Smile" was of course the famous instrumental, written by Charlie Chaplin for his movie "Modern Times" from 1936. Then, in 1954, John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons added lyrics to this beautiful, sentimental melody. Several artists added the song to their repertoire, starting with crooner Nat "King" Cole, who reached # 10 in the Billboard Bestsellers Chart. (75) David Whitfield also covered the song, and saw his effort rewarded with a #25 position.
RCA Victor decided to entrust this potential hitsong to their trush Sunny Gale, as it requested someone who certainly could bring it "affetuoso" or "with feeling". The promotional back up in Billboard magazine consisted in an attractive 1/2 page ad, entitled "Here´s the hit". (76)
Reactions probably will have been divided. While some might have considered Gale´s performance as somewhat too pathetic, others will have seen it as yet another proof of her striking versatility. Whatever one´s opinion, and even if already several other artists had covered the song, Gale still reached #19 in the Billboard Bestsellers Chart, quite a nice result with such a difficult song. After reaching that position, sales declined quickly, and after only 5 weeks, the song no longer was present in this hit list. Quite a different situation occured in the Cashbox hitparade. She remained 16 weeks in it, reaching a #10 position in this hit list of the juke box industry.
RCA Victor clearly was convinced that a large part of Sunny Gale´s audience consisted of romantic waltz-lovers. So, once again, the B-side of this newest release was a waltz. Indeed, "An old familiar love song" is a really nice mid-tempo waltz, that probably has been quite succesful with dreamy ballroom dancers.
Samuel B. Mann collection
Dave Mann, here in 1942, while performing with
the Charlie Spivak Orchestra
This well crafted song was composed by Dave Mann, who also wrote tbe well known songs such as Wee small hours, There I´ve said it again, Don´t go to strangers, No moon at all and the famous Somebody bad stole de wedding bell. Mann´s aunt was the mother of Jerry Field, who was married to Sunny Gale for a while. It´s a small world sometimes.... This information and the copy of the picture was kindly provided to the author by Samuel B. Mann, Dave´s son in February 2015.
Autumn came along, and with it some dark clouds above Sunny Gale´s entourage. It´s not really clear what happened exactly, but the result was the dismissal of Gary Romero (Arch Music), her manager since the Derby days. (In April 1955, he introduced a legal complaint, claiming his dismissal did not happen in accordince to the normal procedural rules. The complaint was withdrawn, after both parties decided to try to come to an agreement outside the court. After Sunny Gale paid an unknown (additional ?) sum, Romero indeed abstained from further juridical steps. In the early 1970´s, it became clear both were friends again, as will be seen in a later chapter.
Meanwhile, in October 1954, the 17th "Anniversary Banquet and Show" from the Music Operators of New York Inc. took place in the impressive Grand Ballroom of the prestigious Waldorf-Astoria hotel.
The impressive hotel with its two giant towers is situated in Park Avenue. In 1954, the yearly "Anniversary Banquet and Show" brought together about 1000 people working in the juke box industry, the record companies and the music business. Several top artists were performing that day, including Liberace, the Barry Sisters, Betty Madigan, Jill Corey and Patti Page. Sunny Gale also had the opportunity to meet again with Vaughn Monroe, with whom she previously had worked together. (77)
In the meantime, some new dark clouds had appeared above Sunny Gale. After the conflict with Gary Romero, the relation with RCA Victor had somewhat turned sour. Was she unhappy about unsufficient promotion or the fact that still no LP of her had seen the light ? Or was she somwhat dissatisfied with the songs the A&R department was sending her way ? Whatever reason there might have been, Sunny Gale started talks in November 1954 with... Capitol Records ! Quite a surprise, given the fact that it was Capitol who had torpedoed her possible #1-debut. Or was it exactly that kind of agressive or at least ambitious marketing that she was hoping for ? RCA Victor certainly did not appreciate it, and pushed the red STOP-button, making it plain clear that they did not intend to open yet the cage, and release their thrush. Indeed, Gale´s contract with RCA Victor only came to an end in April 1955. Capitol on the other hand seemed quite interested in Gale´s talents. The Californian record company issued a statement that they planned to resume talks with her in 1955. (78)
More or less in the period, one of the biggest stars of Captitol made some solid and always welcome promotion for Sunny Gale. On October 22nd 1954, the NBC radio program "The Frank Sinatra Show" was dedicated to the blonde singer from Philadelphia. Than not yet "Ol´" Blue Eyes sang "Wrap your troubles in dreams", before playing Sunny´s "Smile" for the large audience. Sinatra ended the show with "The gal that got away". (79)
Two old postcards of the majestic Astor Hotel.
Believe it or not, but this elegant palace was demolished in 1967 !
After having tried out the posh Waldorf-Astoria, Sunny Gale still had to test the accoustic qualities of that other famous hotel, the Astor on Time Square. She did so at the end of November 1954. Together with Charley Applewhite and Russell Arms, she was responsible for a pleasant musical cocktail, to entertain the annual meeting of the NSA. I´m of course not talking about the National Security Agency, but the National Showmen´s Association, which is something quite different of course. There were more than 800 guests on their 17th annual meeting, that lasted a complete week, and included two banquets and a gala evening. (80)
Sheet music and RCA Record Bulletin, Dec. 13th 1954
In the last days of 1954, the follow-up single "Let me go lover / Unsuspecting heart" was released. It would become Sunny Gale´s last single that would reach Billboard´s Bestseller´s list. Indeed, a number of angry young men were radically changing the musical landscape and the taste of the teenagers and the young folks. Within a few months, names such Bill Haley and of course Elvis Presley were dominating the charts with their "savage" rock´n´roll... Just in the same way as the transition from the silent movies to "talkies" resulted in the end of many careers, the rock´n´roll wave that swept the States, had a very serious impact on quite a large number of careers in the music industry.
Singers who had been often in the Bestsellers lists in the first half of the 1950´s, all of a sudden got it quite difficult to maintain their status and success. Only a number of hughly successful stars such as Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney or Patti Page managed to limit the damage. Many other big stars of the early fifties had to produce serious efforts to avoid sliding into complete obscurity. The new generation took over with authority, and got backed up by extremely enthousiastic record buyers. Very gifted singers such as Sunny Gale would no longer reach the hitparade as a result.
Part of the full page ad for Unsuspecting heart
Billboard Nov. 27th 1954, p. 35
The original title of the waltz "Let me go lover" was something quite different. When country singer Jenny Lou Carson wrote it, she came up with the lyrics "Let me go devil", matching perfectly with a serious text about alcoholism. Singer Georgie Shaw, yet another songbird from Philadelphia recorded it in the way Carson had intended it. The not very happy theme didn´t result in lots of sales, but clever marketeers didn´t give up to easily.
First, the title was changed into "Let me go lover", and the theme immediately became more recognizable (or less taboo) for many people. Then, a nice young singer was hired, to perfom the new version in the very popular TV program Studio One. That was on Tuesday November 16th, 1954. The success 18 year old and heavily pregnant Joan Weber generated with her TV appearance was phenomenal. The day after the TV program, many music shops received phone call after phone call, asking if this song was available on record. This enthousiasm went on for weeks, and then, six weeks later, Weber was #1 on Billboard´s 3 different charts: the one for the Bestsellers, the one assembled by DJ´s and the one from the Juke Box industry.
The music industry however didn´t wait 6 weeks... Very alert reactions in this business are absoulutely necessary to be able to stay at least afloat, let alone to make hugh benefits.
Joan Weber´s TV appearance took place on November 16th: not less than 4 important singers recorded the song during the weekend of Nov. 19th/20st ! Patti Page gave it a try for Mercury, Teresa Brewer was Coral´s secret weapon, sultry Peggy Lee was Decca´s hope for success. For RCA Victor , it was Sunny Gale who was chosen to convince the record buying public. Within weeks, a dozen versions were available, all competing with each other for the audience´s favors. Each record company rushed its vinyl output to record shops, juke boxes and to DJ´s. According to some estimations, 1 million copies were produced within the week after Weber´s TV appearance... (81) Although the public clearly wanted to hear the "real thing", and gave Joan Weber the #1 spot, the other record companies made sure they too had their share of the profits.
On the B-side of Gale´s version, buyers found another excellent song, called "Unsuspected heart". This one too had been first put on record by Georgie Shaw. Than, Frankie Vaughan followed. The gals too didn´t remain passive. The Terri Stevens attempt is rather a bleak one, but the otherwise unknown Fay Brown gave the world a breathtakingly good version. (Unfortunately, this version no longer seems available on Youtube.)
RCA invested seriously in advertising this new release. On Nov. 27th, they bought a full page in Billboard for promoting it. The ad consisted of pictures taken during "uforgettable recording sessions", which resulted in "a new orthophonic high fidelity recording".
Early 1955, at the same time as Joan Weber was skyrocketing to the #1 position, Sunny Gale reached the #17 position, selling 120 000 copies. Although her career in the music business still would go on for 20 years, this was the last time she reached the Top 40. (82)
5 differently colored 10 inch-mini LP´s with 4 Sunny Gale songs.
The green one below is an autographed copy
Tips for collectors
- Early 1955, the low budget record company Royale issued a so called 10 inch mini LP (45 rpm) of Sunny Gale. Although Gale still had a record contract with RCA Victor, Eli "Obie" Oberstein, who was sometimes linked to the A&R department of RCA, issued the 10 inch via his own record label. Oberstein was specialized in buying the master tapes of bankrupt record companies. A part of what he bought, he resold, while other mastertapes got a second or a first chance on his Royale label. Oberstein bought the complete Derby catalogue, and among the collection of mastertapes were these 4 Sunny Gale songs. This 10 inch is certainly worth while acquiring. Not only does it have nice 1950´s cover artwork, but it also contains the two songs meant for Sunny Gale´s 4th Derby single, who was never released.
- As shown, the 10 inch was issued in differently colored sleeves, but they all contain the same 4 Sunny Gale songs. On the flip side, you´ll find 4 not particularly interesting instrumentals by an orchestra. Oberstein regularly clashed with the US "Guild" of musicians and performers, because he often hired cheaper European orchestras as a fill up for his records.
- The yellow and blue copies seem the most easy to find, the green one with the B&W picture also appears every now and then on eBay. The orange one seems to be the most difficult one to find, except for the green one with the reddish picture, which I only saw once in 6-7 years time going weekly on eBay USA. But collecting them all only matters to completists. One nice yellow copy will do for those who would like to discover the early work of Gale.
- Of course, every collector´s dream is to find an autographed copy. It has been years since such a copy appeared on eBay USA.
- You should not pay more than 10 $ for the yellow and blue ones in VG+/VG++ condition, while 12-15 $ for the orange one seems to be a reasonable price, given the fact that they are not so easy to find. For an autographed copy, 20 $ seems to be a reasonable price. Such a price reflects the fact that these records are relatively rare, but also that there aren´t (yet ?) that much of bidders for Sunny Gale items. If you see an autographed copy come along, don´t hesitate to bid, it might take several years before another one shows up.
- Apparantly, the coloring products used on these sleeves wasn´t of top quality: very often, these 10 inches seem to show traces of ring wear, especially on the upper and lower 2-3 centimeter.
- Royale also issued two Sunny Gale EP’s, which we already presented earlier. They are "Sunny Gale & Orchestra", which contains the same 4 Sunny Gale songs as you will find on this 10 inch, and the EP with the red cover called "Sunny Gale sings", containing the 2nd and third Derby singles. (See also Discography)
- In January 1955, Sunny Gale´s employer at that time, RCA Victor issued a box containing 10 EP´s, a musical cocktail of their top recording artists. This interesting set was called the "RCA Party Platter." Only 3 female artists were withheld for the Party Plattern Dinah Shore, June Valli and (of course !) Sunny Gale. From every artist which was included in this set, two songs were selected. The two Gale songs were "Am I a toy or a treasure" and "Looking glass", so not her most known songs. (83)
In april 1955, Eli Oberstein sold the Sunny Gale and Jaye P. Morgan masters to Decca. In the same period, Gale was once again looking for a new employer, a search which included talks with Decca. One of the main reasons for her dissatisfaction was that RCA Victor was having talks with Kay Starr. So, while in November ´54, Gale had talks with Capitol, the employer of Starr, Starr was now having talks with RCA Victor, employer of Sunny Gale.
The main problem consisted of important similarities between the repertoire of both songbirds. But, since Starr was selling better than Gale, the blonde singer from Philadelphia was fearing that the best songs would go to Starr, and that she would be left with the left overs. However, even if she had met several times the management of Decca, apparantly RCA Victor was able to reassure her. Sunny Gale indeed decided to remain yet another year with RCA. However, the next year, as we will see, the Gale-saga would eventually take her to another record company. (84)
In May 1955, a musical event took place, I surely would have liked to experience. Sunny Gale and a number of her colleagues got a contract from the City Investing Company, the owner of 8 riverboats. These 8 steamships made cruises both day and night in Washington, Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore and Houston. The CIC hired following artists to give live performances on their boats:
- Bill Haley and his pleasant band, the Comets were rocking the boat on May 21 in Philadelphia
- Sunny Gale´s glamorous concerts took place on May 21 (New York) and May 28-30 in Philadelphia
- Georgia Gibbs was swinging with her Nibs on May 27th and 28th in Washington and between May 29the and 31st in Baltimore
- Joan "Let me go lover" Weber finally was booked for May 28th-29th, delivering shows in New York
I´ve often tried to imagine how these boat rides have been like: Sunny Gale singing softly or ´con animo´ fractions of her large repertoire on board of the riverboat... The skyline of New York or Philadelphia, the town where she grew up slowly moving along... The audience dressed up for the occassion in accordance with the 1950´s elegant dress code, men in tuxedos like James Bond or the Platters, women in dark green or blue velvet cocktaildresses... It must have been quite a sight and really a magical show... (85)
Constantly: one of the most difficult to find sheet music of Sunny Gale´s repertoire
Have you noticed Sunny Gale´s new look !
Somewhere in the course of June 1955, Sunny Gale´s 14th single for RCA was released. It combined "Constantly/A little you".
This one is one of those 45 rpms that should be present in any serious 1950´s record collection ! Especially the A side "Constantly"is a gemm ! A nice cha-cha-cha-like popsong, particularly well suited for Sunny Gale´s reckognizable way of singing and phrasing: putting the stress on certain syllables, making them deliberately sound longer than necessary... But the flip side too is a very nice uptempo popsong. No ballad this time, but two top notch pop songs !
By now, we know the routine of the music industry: as always, the birth of a new vinyl baby has to be announced with as much as possible buzz in the specialized press. Especially since every week of every month brought several new releases from many record labels...
RCA Victor once more bought a full page ad in Billboard, on which it brought to the attention of the record buying public 4 new releases. The publicity was for Terry Stevens, Tim Kirby, Betty Johnson and Sunny Gale. (86) Good to know: both songs of this single were added to the Sunny Gale CD called "Greatest hits". Given the fact that both songs are top quality, that was a very wise decision. I was less happy with the title of the CD, as it contains several songs, including these two ones, which weren´t "great hits" at all...
During the summer holiday that year, Sunny Gale once again showed she cared about helping to make her country a better place to live. On July 28th, she once more took part in a benefit concert. This time, she participated in the 3rd Annual Bandstand Picknick in Philly, an initiative to collect money for children with a mental disability. In 1955, the (American) Bandstand-show helped to raise the money for the refurbishing of a building for medical care.
Of course, participating at such events also was good pulicity. WFIL-TV retransmitted the concerts between 15.00 and 17.00 h and between 20.00 and 20.30 h. Other participants included Gloria Mann, the male trio Somethin´ Smith and the Redheads, Tony Alamo (& the Kaydets), rocking saxophone player Mike Pedicin and singer/model Dolores Hawkins. (87)
The concert took place in Woodside Park, in the western part of Philadelphia, near Ford Road and Edgely Road. There also used to be an amusement park in this hugh "green lung" of Philadelphia. It was created in 1897, and there were among other attractions two roller coasters (the Baby Wild Cat and the Tornado) and a nice Dentzel-carroussel. In the same year as the concert took place, this amusement park however closed its doors. (88)
Billboard ad two 1/2 pages from Aug. 13th 1955 p 26-27
Notice Gale´s typical stage pose
Once sales for "Constantly" were slowing down, RCA launched yet another single in september 1955. The two titles which were selected for this one were "Soldier boy/Certainly baby". The A-side is a rather pompous, bombastic tearjerker. The Edward B. Marks corp., which edited the sheet music for this song, enumerated proudly many of the artists who covered this song, inclusing Ella Fitzgerald, the Four Fellows, Eydie Gormé, Pat O´Day, Burt Taylor, Mel Williams and of course Sunny Gale. (89) One of the Billboard comments about the Fitzgerald-release, noted that "the Sunny Gale competition is formidable." (90) None of these covers reached the Top 40 though. (91)
The spelling mistake from the earlier copies
of "C´est la vie" has been corrected.
The next single, called "C´est la vie / Looking Glass" couldn´t either help forget the song quality of "Constantly". The A-side was once more a melodramatic tearjerker. The songstress certainly is not to blame. As always, Gale is making the best out of what the RCA management sended her way. But an excellent voice won´t change a bad song into a jewel. Especially the arrangements are less than so-so, particularly because of an irritating saxophone. Still, apparantly several record companies believed there was a potential market for such songs. Sarah Vaughan sang the same song on Mercury, while the DeJohn Sisters were asked by Epic to do the same for their label. I´m not acquainted with the Vaughan-version, but it sold quite well, almost reaching the Top 10,but finally stranding on # 11 (92)
Fortunately enough, "Looking Glass" was a far better tune than the somewhat disappointing A-side. It´s a slow waltz, deliciously performed, with delicacy and feeling. One more pearl in Sunny Gale´s treasure chest !
Tips and remarks for collectors
Planetary Music corp., the editors of the sheet music "C´est la vie" first printed a version with a serious spelling mistake in the 3 words of French of the title. Apparantly, they discovered this mistake, because in the later copies, the mistake has been corrected (see photographs)
If you are a completist, you can also add original juke box labels with the titles of the single to your collection. Some eBay sellers add these as a freebie.
In September ´55, Sunny Gale´s trail can be picked up in the southern part of the States. She was booked from 12 September onwards for 2 weeks in the Safari Room in New Orleans. (93) During that intermezzo in the deep south, she was interviewed by Scott Muni of the local radio WSMB. (94) (We haven´t found any information about whether Gale took the opportunity to go to listen to colleague-musicians down in Louisiana. But in 1974, when Gale´s 4th LP was released, it was dedicated to Dixieland music)
The next month, she still was in the South, or at least, she went back. On Tuesday November 15th, she sang in Miami´s most prestigious hotel, the Fontainbleau. The bow-shaped hotel wa built the year before, in 1954. Its modern architecture was quite progressive in those days, and is still admired by many people today. (95)
She finished 1955 in Camden, near the Delaware river, on the border between New Jersey and Pennsylvania. She was booked for 1 week in Chubby´s Cafe, starting from Dec. 26th. (96)
You´ll probably remember that Sunny Gale and her manager Gary Romero had decided to go each their own way back in 1954. I haven´t found out (yet) who took over Romero´s tasks in the meantime. At the end of July ´55, it became known that she was having talks with Noel Kramer and Morris Diamond. Kramer and Diamond were building up a promotional agency. In the running up phase, they quickly assembled a list of famous or influential clients, including Terri Stevens (also from the RCA-Victor dream team), Stuart Foster, jazzman Johnny Eaton (Columbia) and DJ Gene Stewart from radio station WAVZ from New Haven Ct. In November ´55, Gale signed an agreement for a temporary co-operation with Kramer and Diamond. Their promotional agency started in December, and was officially registred as United Record Promotions and Noel R Kramer Associates. (URP) A prudent Gale apparantly waited until 1956 before joining URP too. (97)
Finally, also somewhere in 1955, RCA Victor released a nice and relatively difficult to find EP, called " If I could be with you." (see Discography for more details)
Tips for collectors
As far as I have been able to trace back things, none of the 4 songs were released on a single.
One of the titles however also appeared on the RCA Victor Party Platter 10 EP set.
Until now, I also didn´t come across ads in Billboard to promote this EP, but I´ve only
This EP only rarely shows up on eBay USA. Given on the one hand that there aren"t much bidders (yet) for Sunny Gale items, but on the other hand given the attractive cover, a price of about 12-15 $ for a VG+ copy seems reasonable to me.
Photograph: Will Groff Agency
Enertainment, York, PA
Just before 1955 exhaled its last breath, Sunny Gale recorded yet another single, called "Devotion / On the way to your heart". "Devotion" is a nice, enjoyable ballad, the flip side a waltz, in which a harmonica plays an important role.
RCA Victor grouped its best female singers in a nice Billboard ad, which announced proudly "Here comes the gals". The avairy contained the very talented songbirds Diahann Carroll, Suny Gale, Teddy King, Nan Wynn and Terri Stevens. (98)
The new year didn´t brought commercial success for the Devotion-single, so a new one soon thereafter was released. And since the diminishing sales seemed partly to blame on the extraordinary success of rock´n´roll, Sunny Gale recorded a rock oriented song, called "Rock´n´roll wedding". On the A side, buyers could find a kind of follow-up for "The wheel of fortune", called "Winner take all". Indeed, once again a wheel of fortune plays a key role in the lyrics. Just as the production engineers of Capitol did with the Kay Starr single, the RCA people this time too added the sound of a spinning wheel. Or at least a sound that is supposed to suggest something like that: but frankly, to me, the special effect rather sounds like the rattle of an irritated baby or an overactive Geiger counter.
The US and Australian sheet music for "Winner take all"
Notwithstanding this tiny flaw, still a very enjoyable song, once more thanks to outstanding vocal work by the trush. To get an idea about how contagious Gale´s joyfulness and enthousiasm for her job worked, listen to her live performance in the Alan Freed TV show. (99)
RCA inserted a nice add in the Billboard weekly magazine, using as slogan "You can´t lose: Sunny Gale sings Winner take all". But -undeserved- with no commercial success in the end. (100)
As said earlier, the flip side was an attempt, but not a very lucky one, to catch the rock´n´roll train. Sunny Gale had a marvellous voice for joyful ditties, sensual ballads and even R&B songs. Making her use such a nice tool to craft rocking songs was purely a commercial bet, that didn´t pay off. And frankly, hearing her doing something supposedly "mean and rough" like Brenda Lee in "Sweet nuthin´s" or Wanda Jackson in "Let´s have a party" sounded somewhat wasted, misplaced.
A number of "female Elvis´s" were launched in those days, but to me, it would take singers like Lita Ford, Sass Jordan and Heart´s Ann Wilson to name a few, before female rock really became convincing. But than again, that´s of course nothing more than a personal opinion. I also admit I do not know every single female rocker between A.D 1 from Rock History till the 70´s and ´80´s, so I could be mistaken. But what I do know is, that Sunny Gale´s first attempt to reach the R´n´r audience was but "so-so", to quote the title of an earlier song by her.
On the right, probably the only picture sleeve
ever used for a 1950´s Sunny Gale single
The last Sunny Gale single that would appear for RCA Victor in the 1950´s was "If you really want to know / Try a little prayer" As far as we have been able to retrace, this is Sunny Gale´s only 1950´s single which was issued with a picture sleeve. As no song titles are mentioned, though, it is possible this sleeve also has been used for earlier RCA Victor singles.
As the title "Try..." suggest, the flip side is a pious sounding tearjerker, sung the only way such a song should be sung. However, if you prefer like me Sunny´s more joyful, happy ditties, this single might be a disappointment.
RCA´s publicity campaign this time led to a full page ad for Sunny Gale and Carol Richards. The pictures of both heads were wrapped like a candy, which allowed the use of the slogan "Two sweet hits". However, Sunny´s last effort for RCA Victor didn´t become a hit after all. (101)
|8) Then, at last... a first LP...
Somewhere in the course of 1956, RCA Victor finally decided to release a Sunny Gale LP, an effort called "Sunny and Blue". On this release, Sunny Gale is backed up by the Ralph Burns orchestra. Strangely enough, the LP contains no information about who was the producer, nor where it was recorded. However, there is a short biographical article about Sunny Gale written by Robert Prestegaard on the back of the sleeve.
LP 1: Sunny & Blue (RCA Victor 1277, 1956)
1) Wrap your trouble in dreams (and dream your troubles away)
2) The man I love
3) East of the sun and west of the moon
4) Ain’t misbehavin’
5) Happiness is a thing called Joe
6) Lover man
1) On the sunny side of the street
2) I got it bad (and that ain’t good)
3) He’s funny that way
4) Don’t take your love from me
5) Mad about the boy
6) I can’t believe that you’re in love with me
For those who care about my personal appreciation, I really enjoyed the fabulous A1, the carefree "Sunny" theme song B1, and a very convincing B6. A2 and B2 were not my cup of tea, because of the less cheerful, "bluesy" mood. B5, written by the great Noel Coward (famous for his "Mad dogs and Englishmen") was the nadir of this LP, and as such quite irritating...
Tips for collectors
Two other items related to this LP were released by RCA Victor:
A double EP containing 8 of the 12 songs from the LP. The 2 EP doesn´t contain B3,4,5 and 6
A normal EP, containing B6 and B5 on the one side, B1 en B4 on the flip side
B3 hasn´t been added on either of these two related items. Both were issued with a similar picture sleeve as the LP (For release numbers see Discography)
But, as already mentioned, 1956 saw the end of the co-operation between Sunny Gale and RCA Victor. One particular 7 inch mini-LP summarizes the situation very well: « Meet the girls : An RCA showcase ». While it doesn´t contain any Sunny Gale contribution, we all of a sudden see the name Kay Starr appear among those of Lena Horne, Dinah Shore, the Barbara Carroll Trio, Jaye P. Morgan, Martha Carson, Lurlean Hunter, Teddy King en Gwen Verdon... We´ll see in a while to which other major record label Sunny Gale moved over.
The entrance of Ocean Beach Park, Ct.
In the meantime, on July 10th 1956, Sunny Gale gave live performances in Ocean Beach Park in New London, Connecticut. She was participating at the opening festivities of the new summer season for this popular recreation and amusement park. Two days before she started with her live shows, Duke Ellington already had warmed up the audiences. These concerts took place in the Ballroom. Bad weather however resulted in a slightly disappointing number of visitors.
Other acts planned by Arthur G. Pero for the ´56 summer season at Ocean Beach included square dances, beauty contests, fireworks, shows with bathing beauties in the swimming pool etc. (102)
9) Musical chairs...
But let´s get back for a while to Sunny Gale´s "Adieu" to RCA Victor... We´ve already seen, that the relations between the singer and the record company had serious ups and downs. In september ´54, RCA started its negotiations with Capitol´s recording star Kay Starr. Already at that time, there were some rumours that if Kay Starr would come over to RCA, Sunny Gale would be added to the R&B label "X", a subsidiary of RCA created in 1953, and renamed Vik in 1955. Some articles from that period speculated that RCA was planning to give Sunny Gale the #1 spot on this subsidiary, which would allow the company to give more room to Kay Starr on the main label. Of course, Sunny Gale wasn´t happy at all with these possible reshufflings which were all but a promotion. Two spokesmen of RCA Victor, Manie Sacks and Joe Carlton strongly denied in October 1954 the X-reshuffling. Nevertheless, Gale started negotiations with other record companies, including Capitol and Decca. Kay Starr joined RCA Victor in January 1955. Sunny Gale apparantly got some reassurences, and decided to give it a try, and remain one extra year at RCA.
LP with a handwritten message by Kay Starr
dedicated to a musician with whom she worked together
Talks between Capitol and Sunny Gale didn´t lead to a co-operation. However, there was a significant sign of better prospects with Decca: in 1955 Decca bought the master records of Sunny Gale from her Derby period from Elie Oberstein. And indeed: in 1956, Sunny Gale spread her wings, left the RCA Victor HQ, and joined a new employer: the sign on the wall proved to be right: her new destination was Decca. (103)
Her leaving RCA Victor in 1956, after first having renewed her contract for 1 extra year, indicates that some (serious ?) frictions occured during that extra year. A number of hypotheses should be the subject of more research, to find the answers to the fog surrounding that period of her career. These hypotheses are:
1) friction concerning the release of an LP
It´s not really clear, if the release of an LP was one of Gale´s demands to renew her contract with RCA Victor. In the period between Jan. 1955, when Kay Starr came to RCA, and half 1956, when Sunny Gale left the same record company, RCA Victor released 1 LP from Kay Starr, called "The one, the only". That LP was released in 1955, while Gale had to wait until 1956 to see the release of her LP. On the other hand, Kay Starr sold more records than Gale, so it´s not really unfair that RCA favored their new songbird.
2) friction concerning the way songs were distributed between her and Starr
Since there were some similarities between the repertoire of Gale and Starr, it is not excluded that Gale was unhappy to see some songs go to her competitor. That would mean, that she would have liked to have had the opportunity to record one or more of the following songs and Kay Starr-releases:
- If anyone finds this, I love you / Turn right (1955)
- Foolishly yours / For better or worse (1955)
- Good and lonesome / Where, what or when (1955)
- Without a song / Home sweet home on the range (1955)
- The rock´n´roll waltz / I´ve changed my mind a thousand times (1955)
- Second fiddle / Love ain´t right (1956)
- The things I never had / The good book (1956)
- The brass ring / Touch and go (1956) (104)
3) Unequal promotion (publicity, distribution,...)
Another possible source for friction and finally fraction might be that Sunny Gale blamed RCA Victor to have displayed more efforts to promote Kay Starr´s than her career. It´s only an hypothesis, and it´s not at all clear if she ever felt this way and complained about it. I haven´t come across statements in that sense for example. It could be analysed by counting the number and size of ads in magazines such as Billboard. It would be harder to analyse whether more efforts was put into the distribution of Starr records in juke boxes, among DJ´s etc. Maybe the archives of RCA Victor could provide answers.
Anyway... All this is pure guesswork and speculation of course... Maybe the real story is much more complicated, involving other important reasons than (just) the Starr-angle ... What we do know for sure though, is that Gale left RCA Victor somewhere halfway ´56. In the next chapter, we´ll discover whether she had more luck with her new employer Decca...
Sunny´s new employer didn´t wait until dogs could fly, to send a number of happy ditties in the course of the following months to their new songbird. The first in the row was "Two hearts (with an arrow between / One kiss led to the other", once again originally two R&B songs.
The A-side was originally performed by the Charms. Sunny Gale´s version seemed somewhat influenced by country music. Not only the close harmonies, suggest so, but also the instrumental arrangements, particularly for the piano and the drums. The excellent B-side was a Coasters-song, and Sunny Gale is changing it into a very cheerful version, adding kissing sounds at the right intervals. Or did you really thought that Tarkan was the first artist to come up with this idea ?
The slogan "Six-ational" for a Decca´s ad in the September 8th issue of the Billboard was a somewhat far-fetched one. The full page ad announced the release of 6 new singles, including Gale´s. (105)
In November of the same year, single number 2 was released. This time, Sunny recorded "Hot dog ! That made him mad / Welcome to my heart". "Hot Dog" was yet another -nice- attempt to jump on the rock´n´roll train. In the same week, Wanda Jackson too released a version of this song. None of these attempts though managed to reach the hearts and the pockets of the Teddy Boys ans Bobbysox. You´ll find this song on Sunny Gale´s "Greatest hits" CD, even though it didn´t reach the Top 40.
The Decca-release was betting on two horses: the B-side was a nice ballad, to make sure that the rock-experiment didn´t cut the link with Gale´s old fan base. A nice single, and an excellent addition to any serious unny Gale-collection.
A third single was released, before 1957 took over from 1956. No more rock-experiments, but two interesting ballads, somewhat in the same style as The Platters´s hit "Only you". The 2 songs were "I have you/ Maybe you´ll be there". Billboard´s comments were very positive once again:
« Song has that quasi-religious quality or inspirational touch which may attract a mass audience. Miss Gale sings it with a sincere, simple quality.» (106)
But although indeed she was once again outstanding, it soon became clear that the record buying public was concentrating on other sounds and new names. (107)
Extremely rare: Picture from the Engraving Dept.
from the Detroit Times, dated Sept. 27th, 1956
Stamps and some comments on the back, plus an example
of the picture as it appeared in the Detroit Times
Tips for collectors
During the six+ years I´ve collected Sunny Gale items, I only came across 1 SM, related to a Decca release, the "Two hearts" copy. Should there be others which have been released, you can be assured they are SUPER rare !
Stunning promotion picture from MCA
Sunny Gale´s booking agency
In 1957, Decca launched four new 45 rpms´s of La Gale. Once more, there were some nods and winks to rock´n´roll, but no wild guitars nor crazy drums. Like with most rock songs performed by female singers, the noisiest parts were generally left to saxophone players. None of these singles sadly enough skyrocketed her -like Sputnik- into fame and glory. Because some of the 8 songs involved, were neat little gems indeed. Let´s have a look at each of these recordings:
"Come go with me / Please go" (February)
- A is a nice uptempo doo-wop song by Clarence “C.E.” Quick, with a rocking instrumental intermezzo and superior back up vocals. The Sunny Gale version is very pleasant and well done, but the hit went to the Del-Vikings, one of the first ´interracial´ pop bands. This quintet included Clarence Quick, and their somewhat less up tempo version reached #4, selling more than 1 million copies !
- B is a slow ballad, sung very nicely, but only interesting for the tear jerker-loving audience or the Sunny Gale completists.
"Let’s be friendly / Mirror" (month ?)
- Since I don´t have this 45 rpm, I only can comment on the A side, which is included in the playlist of the "Greatest hits" CD. It is an up tempo, mildly rockin´ and very radio-friendly song
"My arms are a house / Don’t worry ‘ bout me" (June)
- A is a slow waltz, Sunny Gale is backed up by a restrained little organ
- B is an up tempo rocking song. The vocals are to my humble opinion here and there a little bit too "sharp", otherwise once again a fine job
"Who Are We To Say / A Meeting Of The Eyes" (November)
- A is a nice ballad, although to my taste, Gale is overdoing it a little bit here and there, giving the song a somewhat too pathetic air, ain´t that so "Da-ah-rrrling” ?
- But.... but.... Don´t walk away from this single too quickly... Indeed, you´ll find a superb poppy gem on the B-side, here and there accentuated by a similar kind of hammering like you´ll hear in the "The Blacksmith Blues”, I guess to suggest a wildly bouncing heart. Once again, superb and good tempered back up vocals !
Promotional efforts in 1957 included a visit on Friday, July 12th to Alan Freed´s TV program "Big Beat" on ABC. It´s quite funny to read the comments by Billboard´s Charlie Sinclair on that TV show. Sinclair clearly seemed irritated by the Everly Brothers, wasn´t very friendly to Connie Francis and was mocking about Freed´s silly introductions of the stars. Apparantly, when it was Sunny Gale´s turn, Freed clearly said something, just for the sake of saying something: « Here’s that WONDERFUL little girl who really needs no introduction» Not really historical words, and indeed, if he only had this to say about such a fine performer, why the heck didn´t he just shut up ? (108) Furthermore, calling the almost 30 years old Gale a "litle girl" is somewhat ridiculous, and even a bit insulting, although the friendly and easygoing performer surely didn´t mind his saying so.
Gale also visited Dick Clark´s TV program American Bandstand in November ´57, to promote her last single for that year, singing both "Who are we to say" and "A meeting of the eyes". These shows took place in Philadelphia, and Dick Clark always was very inviting when it came to recording artists from that town. (109)
Finally, in December ´57, we can trace back Sunny Gale´s whereabouts once more. At that time, she was performing in the Old Romanian in New York. This was a large restaurant on Broadway, led by Jack Silverman, and it was mainly visited by Jewish business men and people working in the show bizz industry. Gale signed a one month contract, that started on December 4th. (110)
In 1958, the first world fair since World War 2 took place in Brussels. The Russians proudly showed a 1/1 scale model of the Sputnik, the USA send Benny Goodman as a cultural ambassador to its circular shaped pavillion.
Sunny Gale remained under contract with Decca, and recorded 3 singles in that year.
"For crying out loud / I don’t want your greenback dollar"
- One of the rare Sunny Gale singles I wouldn´t recommend, containing two mediocre tearjerkers/ballads, professionally ruined by irritating arrangements and rather childish back up vocals on the B-side. A woman with a high pitched voice is confusing a record studio with a gothic cathedral. Even Sunny Gale herself is overdoing it, with vocals sounding once again here and there a little bit too "sharp".
"Just friends / A certain smile" (mei)
Fortunately enough, the second attempt of that year is a much better effort...
- A is a well done tearjerker, about the end of a love affair, which has been downgraded to a "just friends" status. Backed up by a restrained piano, often playing just one note, but no samba, due to the sad topic.
- On the flip side, a very nice song, sung with grace and style by Gale. The melody is the soundtrack from the French movie “Un certain sourire”. The storyline of this movie was based on teenage writer Françoise Sagan´s second book. She became an instant household name in France and other countries with her first book, called "Bonjour tristesse", or "Hello sadness". This nice ballad was first sung by Johnny Mathis. The Gale-version was added to the “Sunny Gale Sings” CD, so if you don´t have a record player, try to find this limited edition-CD.
In June, Sunny Gale started touring again on the East Coast, promoting this new release. (111)
A Billboard-journalist, commentating on this second effort for ´58 too seemed more enthousiastic about it, than with her previous release: "These are Miss Gale’s two strongest efforts in some time » That´s a much nicer and certainly more diplomatic way to put it, than I did, no ? (112)
"Wheel of fortune / Three o’clock"
- As said previously, Eli Oberstein bought the Sunny Gale masters in 1954 from the bankrupt record company Derby. After having added "Wheel of fortune" on an EP and 10 inch issued by his own budget label Royale, he sold the Gale masters to Decca. In 1958, Decca decided to give "Wheel" once more a try. (In the Retroscoop article on the Tommy Edwards-song "All in the game", we have described yet another song which was re-released after several years: that re-worked sung became a n° 1 hit in 1958). According to Billboard, the Decca release was a new recording. The differences with the original song though -if there are any- appear to be minimal.
- The B-side is actually much more interesting, in my not always humble opinion. Sunny Gale plays the schoolgirl, waiting impatiently for the bell to ring, so that she can go to the rockin´ joint, where she can dance around the juke box. In the meantime though, she´ll have to survive historylessons, chemistry and more of that irrelevant waste of time... The McGuire Sisters too made a song about the same kind of teenage impatience, called "Ding dong".
In 1959 Decca issued just one more Sunny Gale single, called “Oh what it seemed to be / The gypsy told me so”. This is in fact another 45 rpm I wouldn´t recommend. Although Gale is doing her utmost, even she can´t turn mediocre songs into something good, just by vocal artistry.
Clearly, the Decca management didn´t believe anymore in Sunny Gale, who hadn´t been able to deliver "winners" for them. After that last try in ´59, the co-operation between the two was ended.
As far as we have been able to check, Decca only issued singles by Gale, no EP, no 10 inch, and certainly no LP. A number of Gale singles for Decca though, were released on the British sister label Brunswick.
11) The 1960’s en 70’s : Fade in, fade out…
The 1960’s saw the emergence of plenty of new young bands. California for example was the breeding ground for surf music, with bands like the Beach Boys and Jan & Dean.
For Sunny Gale, a period of bunnyhopping between record labels begun, including brief stays under the wings of less rich companies. Her first safe haven was a new player on the record market, called Warwick. The small record company, situated on New York’s 7th Avenue was led by band leader Morty Craft. His record company was a department of the Canadian company United Telefilm Records, which aimed at the new stereo- and Hi-Fi-hype. (114)
Her first recording for Warwick in February 1960 received a warm welcome from music journalist and the specialized press. Billboard gave four stars out of five to “What do you want to make those eyes at me for". The comments accompanying this well deserved nice score explained the result, by pointing out that: « The lark presents the oldie with a vibrant bright approach ».
And indeed, this first attempt on Warwick was once again such a happy little ditty that seemed custom made for la Gale, with superb orchestral arrangements from the Ralph Burns Orchestra.It was not the first time, Sunny Gale worked together with the Burns-outfit. Previous team work went back to Gale’s LP “Sunny & Blue”.
The flip side of “What do you want….” was a song called “Falling star”.Billboard gave it a score of three stars, I would add a couple of planets to that. Indeed, although somewhat less sparkling than the A-side, it contains very nice and inventive piano parts, suggesting in a very convincing way a falling star. (115)
Warwick’s second attempt to relaunch Sunny Gale was recorded in May 1960. The two songs featuring on this 45 rpm were “Churchbells may ring / My foolish heart". One certainly can not say Warwick threw left overs to la Gale. On the contrary: both songs were once again pf high quality standard. Supported by the Stanley Applebaum Orchestra, Sunny Gale too once again skillfully did what she was supposed to do. Her crafty performance on both sides simply was sparkling. The same formula of putting a cheerful song on the A-side and a slightly more introverted or sentimental ballad on the flip was chosen. "Churchbells" indeed is a very happy and pleasant song, even including some kind of Glockenspiel to suggest churchbells, while the B-side is a top notch ballad.
Warwick / United Telefilms also invested in promotion of the single. The record company published a full page ad in Billboard Magazine for The Craftsmen and Sunny Gale.
According to the publicity, Sunny Gale sounded “ Never better, never greater “ as on “Churchbells”. (116) Further promotion of the single was made possible by participating once more at the American Bandstand show on Thursday June 23rd, 1960. (Episode 754).
So: the small but ambitious record company provided nice songs, top quality orchestra´s and invested in publicity. Sunny Gale too did her part of the efforts to convince the record buying public. Unfortunately, these attemps only received a lukewarm response. No new audiences were won, and sales once again mainly occured in Philadelphia and New York.
Sunny Gale’s third Warwick-single was released in September 1960, and followed the same pattern as the previous two. Once again a joyful sparkling popsong on the A-side was combined with a ballad on the flip side, and once again, no spectacular rise in sales, just confirmation by a loyal fan base. The two titles selected were “Where have you been all my life / It’s your turn". The somewhat childish back up vocals on “Where have you been” are of the same category as those on “Walking back to happiness” by Helen Shapiro. Slightly irritating, but not to that extend, that one should neglect this fresh song.
For the moment being, Warwick´s trust in Sunny Gale wasn´t affected by the sales results, which weren´t bad, but weren´t a smash hit either. The company released a fourth Sunny Gale single in 1961, combining the tracks “Sunny / Please love me forever”
The A side should not be confused with the bestseller by Bobby Hebb (and Boney M), who died in August 2010, while the research for this biographical article took place. Gale’s “Sunny” is for more than just one reason one of those songs that seems to have specially been written for her. Of course, there is the funny coïncidence that the title is the same as her own artistic first name. Except for that, no one seemed better suited to put so much “joi de vivre” into the song than la Gale. There is even a reference to a “Wheel of fortune” that turned her life “upside down” ! So, “Sunny” really was a hand in glove song for the blonde singer.
Billboard’s art critic who listened to this fourth Gale-output by Warwick seemed relatively pleased, giving it a score of three out of five stars. In his comments, he described the song correctly as a “Happy ditty”, with back up vocals “that swing neatly”. He was less enthousiastic about the B-side, considering it to be a “weak effort”. I’m not completely agreeing with this comment. OK: “Please love me forever” is a sentimental “tearjerker” in 6/8, sung in a somewhat high pitched voice, combined with over the top sentimental backing vocals. And yet… As so often, Sunny Gale’s arts and crafts approach of her musical career resulted in something nicely done with this song. Quite difficult to explain in what the Gale approach consists, but I’m quite sure, many other female singers would have messed up the job.
"Please love me forever" was not a new song. Tommy "It´s all in the game" Edwards introduced the song in 1958. In the early 1960’s, different artists released their version. It was a minor hit for Cathy Jean & The Roomates, who reached a # 12 with this sentimental ballad. (And to be as complete as possible, the same Roomates would provide well done back up vocals to Sunny Gale in 1964). (117)
Extra promotion followed on March 31, 1961 when Sunny Gale once more visited Philadelphia’s “American Bandstand”-host Dick Clark. His popular TV-show was an efficiënt tool for boosting up record sales.
Finally, a fifth and last Gale-single was released by Warwick, prposing the songs “Please don’t tell him / Near you”. This release goes back to somewhere around May 1961. At the end of that month, an ad by Warwick was published in Billboard, proudly announcing “New smashes on Warwick and Seven Arts”.One of these “smashes” was Gale’s “Please don’t tell him”, the others being releases by show bizz-figure Dean Barlow, the Cordials and en the Genies. (118)
In “Please...”, Sunny Gale imitates in a funny way a teenager, who’s having a hard time, because her loverboy is going to marry another girl.
But to me, it’s actually the flip side “Near yo”, that makes this record an absolute must have for all serious Gale collectors. It’s a very nice and catchy song, with excellent Perez Prado-like chachacha orchestral arrangements. Sunny Gale certainly left Warwick in style !
One last white rabbit Warwick came up with, was a new Sunny Gale LP. And frankly, it´s no exaggeration to call it a superb one !
LP 2: "Sunny" (Warwick W 2018, 1961)
1) Old rocking chair (Hoagy Carmichael)
2) He loves and she loves (Ira & George Gershwin)
3) Did you ever see a dream walking (Mack Gordon – Harry Revel)
4) Sunny (Slay Jr. – Crewe)
5) It might as well be spring (O. Hammerstein II, R. Rodgers)
6) Blacksmith blues (Jack Holmes)
1) Near you (Kermit Goell – Francis Craig)
2) To ev’ry girl, to ev’ry boy (Barry Parker – Jerry Samuels)
3) Everybody loves my baby (But my baby don’t love nobody but me) (Jack Palmer – Spencer Williams)
4) The very thought of you (Ray Noble)
5) Teardrops on my pillow (Herman Standlee)
6) Dance with a dolly (Terry Shand – Mickey Leader – Jimmy Eaton)
While I´ll admit the choice of the two first songs was somewhat odd and making me fearing the worst for the LP, things go in a much better direction immediately afterwards.
Track A-3 indeed is ab-so-lu-te-ly fabulous. I was very pleased to hear it was re-used with much effect in the 2009-movie “Precious”. Precious is a young Afro-American woman, with among several others a very serious weight problem. It therefor was a rather funny intermezzo, seeing her walking through the ghetto streets, being watched with amazement by the macho young males from her block, while Sunny Gale’s performing her sparkling song “Did you ever see a dream walking”…5 stars out of 5 !
A4 and A5 remain in the four stars-tier. The excellent orchestral arrangements of “It might as well be spring" make it a better version than the one by Rosemary Clooney’s, which isn’t bad by the way.
Another excellent cover is Sunny’s way of handling the “Blacksmith Blues". mag er zijn. Also watch out for Gale’s rendition of B1, B3 en B6.
Tips for collectors
- This LP was released in mono and stereo. The latter no longer was a complete novelty, having being introduced in 1958. However, stereo recordings from that period still weren’t of a perfect quality. In the early 1960’s, much progress had been made, making stereo sound still a strong sales argument. Therefor the word “stereo” is written all over the front cover of the LP. eo-uitgaven dateren weliswaar van 1958, maar klonken in die tijd nog niet perfect. (« ping pong stereo »)
- Sunny Gale first recorded “Teardrops on my pillow” in 1952. It all of a sudden reappeared on this LP.
After a stint of almost two years at Warwick’s, Sunny Gale made (at least) three “touch-and-go’s” in small record companies. As many other well established names from the 1950’s, she experienced difficulties in convincing the largest record companies to give her a contract. So, she had to knock on several doors of smaller record labels, to be able to go on releasing singles. Unfortunately, it is quite difficult to put these releases in the correct chronological order.
In the early 1960’s, teenagers in the US were faced with the launch of several dance crazes. The “Mashed Potatoes”, the “Wah-tusi”, the “Limbo Rock” and of course the very succesful “Twist” boosted the record sales in a confident USA with its young and dynamic looking president. After largely failed attemps to reach the rock’n’roll public in the late 1950’s, Sunny Gale now tried to get her hooks into the twist craze, recording a funny “Papa mama do the twist / It’s a pity to say goodnight “ for Stage Records.
Apparantly, the song was also released in Japan by the British record company London. With all due respect for the very gifted songstress, this attempt is not one of her best release. Although it’s a nice cover from a song which featured in the movie “Let’s twist”, her vocal contribution has too many somewhat “sharp” edges scattered across the song.
In the same year, probably in June ’62 she recorded “Crying in the chapel / Love me again" for the Terrace-label. These two so-so tearjerkers were produced by Jack Gold. “Crying...” was a cover of an Orioles-song. The somewhat faster song “Love me again", contains a number of low notes. It seems or sounds obvious, that trying to catch these isn’t Gale’s strongest asset. I wonder how she looks back at these recordings. To this admirer of hers, even her phenomenal versatility didn’t help to change these songs into something pleasing for the ears.
Very rare Riverside 45
Probably in the first half of 1963, there was yet another release by Sunny Gale, this time issued by the famous label Riverside (RF 4558). The label oddly enough misspelled her name as "Sunny Gail". This rare record combines the songs "I know I know/Honeymooning". It isn´t yet a part of my Sunny Gale collection, therefor the A side is still unknown to me. However, Marginal Records "Greatest Hits" CD contains the flip side of this single. It´s a very cheerful ditty, with "hubah-hubah-hubah" back up vocals, and orchestral arrangements that somewhat reminds me of Cliff Richard.
It is probable that a number of other recording sessions took place in this period, possibly for Riverside, as the "Greatest Hits" and "Sunny Gale Sings" CDs contain some other titles, we haven´t yet been able to trace. On the other hand, we found a reference to a cocktail party in Philadelphia in May 1963, with Sunny as the guest of honor. The party was organised by Alsam Distributors and Riverside Records, and took place in the R.D.A. Club. (119)
In December 1963, the songstress found a new employer. This time, she got a contract from Canadian-American Records.
Before ’63 turned into ’64, Can-Am released the single “Too bad for you / I’m telling my heart". Nothing really spectacular, although the flip side is a nice country ballad. (120)
The next year, Can-Am released (at least) two, maybe more singles, which are almost impossible to find. I’ve never seen them on eBay USA for at least 5 years, and as a dedicated Sunny Gale collector, I’m nearly every week having a look at that auction site. Every now and then however, they appear on Gemm.com. (Since this site enlarged its scope, GEMM no longer stands for Global Electronic Music Marketplace, but for Global E-commerce Mega Marketplace. However, since these records are rare, prices of 20 $ or more are not uncommon. Which is not the same thing as saying they are justified.
As I do not own these 45’s, I can only partly evaluate the 3 Can-Am releases of Sunny Gale I’m aware of:
“I wish I didn’t love you so / I’m not sorry”
- A: Some music lovers surely will like this song, but to me it’s a terrible tear jerker. The back up vocals by the Roomates (yes, with one “m”) nor the versatility of Gale don’t turn it into something pleasing to the ears. By the way, the Roomates were living in Queens, New York, just as did Sunny Gale in those days.
- B: ?
“ I really loved him so / I’m telling my heart”
- A: A nice poppy song, also included on the Greatest Hits CD, and sounding somewhat like “Be my baby” from the Ronettes
- B: Nice country-ballad, which already had been released on the first Sunny Gale single for Can-Am in Dec. ‘63
It is not excluded that Canadian-American also issued “Be my baby / ???” as a 45 rpm.
- A: To me, one of Sunny Gale’s worst performances: her version of the Ronettes-song, which is also included on the “Greatest Hits” CD just doesn’t sound likei t should, with especially in the chorus strange things taking place
- B: ?
In April ’64, Can-Am released an LP by Sunny Gale. It contains a number of covers of songs, made popular by girl groups such as the Crystals and the Shirelles and female singers such as Lesley Gore en Doris Troy in the early 1960’s. Young Dee Dee Sharp did something similar in 1962 on her “All the hits “-LP.
Strangely enough, the Can-Am LP doesn´t seem to mention (at least not in large letters) the name of Sunny Gale.
LP 3: Goldies by the girls
(Canadian- American CALP/SCALP 1015, 1964)
- It’s my party (Lesley Gore)
- Be my baby (Ronettes)
- Loco-motion (Little Eva)
- Will you still love me tomorrow (Shirelles)
- He’s so fine (Chiffons)
- Too bad for you
- Da doo ron ron (Crystals)
- Loving you
- I will follow him (Little Peggy March, Dusty Springfield)
- Just one look (Doris Troy)
- When he kisses me
Tips for collectors
- All the copies of this LP seemed to have vanished from the Earth’s surface. Not only I’ve never seen it for sale, but even the makers of the Can-Am discography only found a black & white picture of the cover. This picture seems to be the only proof that the LP indeed has been issued at one time. (121)
- Those who want to get at least some idea about this LP, can find three of the titles on the “Greatest Hits" CD: “Be my baby”, “He’s so fine” and “Just one look”. Apparantly, the makers of this CD did find a copy of this LP ?
- As far as I know, no sheet music connected with the playlist of this LP has been edited.
In 1965, at least two new Sunny Gale singles were release, more specifically on the Blaine label. On both 45 rpm’s, a song by French crooner Charles Aznavour was included. We might disagree, but I certainly wouldn’t go that far to say that this song material was the golden catch, the magic stuff Sunny Gale needed to revitalize her career...
The singles were
- “Once in every lifetime / Stay” (Aznavour’s “Reste”)
- “March of the angels (“Marche des anges”)/ Let the rest of the world go by”
Of course, this is quite a subjective point of view, but to me, the only song that deserves a nice applause is “Let the rest of the world…", a well done country ballad reminding me of her "I´m telling my heart" of the previous year.
Sunny Gale didn’t leave much traces of her whereabouts in this period. The only clue we stumbled upon took place in September 1965. In that month, she was one of the artists invited to participate in a musical show in the historic Pick Congress-Hotel in Chicago. This hotel is a majestic buiding with 850 rooms at the Chicago lake front.
The show was the musical part of the yearly convention of Music Operators of America, in which several heads of the lucrative U.S. coin machine industry (juke boxes etc.) were represented. There also were several foreign guests. Other artists playing during that convention were Al Martino and a thenonly 19 year old rising country star, called Dolly Parton. (122)
Between this MOA-covention and 1968, we didn’t find (yet) any traces left behind by Sunny Gale. And then, all of a sudden, RCA (Victor), Gale’s former employer decided to release once again a single of the songstress. This surprising move was called “Our love is a sad song / Georgie Porgie". The reasons for this step indeed are rather obscure. However, no other attemps were made by RCA after this ’68-release, until the 1970´s. (see chapter 13, Disco Sunny)
Both songs were composed by someone simply named “Knight” (no first name), and the orchestral arrangements were from Herb Bernstein. “Georgie Porgie” is a superb song à la Shirley Bassey (think “Diamonds are forever”).
12) Always Sunny in Dixieland !
Sunny Gale, probably in the 1970´s
A new decade, a new look...
In the late 1960’s, early 1970’s, Sunny Gale continued to give live performances. It goes without saying though, that the specialized press was paying less attention to such shows, concentrating rather on new bands and sounds. Therefore, it’s rather difficult to piece together the path followed by the blonde singer . Only sporadically, the music press of that time contains references to what Sunny Gale was doing.
For example, in September 1971 Billboard mentioned that the blonde oriole was performing in beautiful Puerto-Rico. This country wit hits wonderful nature has its own constitution, but its sovereignity remains in the hands of the United States. It was and still is very popular with American tourists.
Gale was doing shows in the Cocolobo Room of the El Flamboyan, a hotel in the capital San Juan, one of these hotels particularly popular with US tourists. At the same day, there was a live performance by Al Hibbner. (123)
We’ll have to skip to September 1973, when the New York Magazine provided us with a new piece of the puzzle. An ad in the magazine indeed informed the public that “Big Band Nights” would take place in the Matterhorn Sports Club, a sports club on the 6th Floor of the Grand Central Terminal. These Big Band Nights included concerts by Sunny Gale and the Gene Krupa All Stars
This ad appeared both in the Sept. 3rd and 17th issue, so possibly Sunny Gale’s engagement lasted a certain period. The public was reminded that these concerts could be combined with dancing and cocktails. (124)
Apparantly, these concerts were triggering things again for Sunny Gale. Indeed, surprise-surprise, in 1974, the small record label Trimble issued a 4th and last LP by the blonde songstress. After the derby hat from the beginning of her career, she now switched to a straw hat with a red ribbon. With “Sunny sings dixieland blues”, she once more proved her versatility as a singer. Maybe she already decided during her trip in the 1950’s to New Orleans to release one day a dixieland LP. Unless of course since that first visit, she returned several times, without leaving traces in the press of those new visits. (125)
This new LP was a surprise in itself, but there was yet another one: the LP mentions that Gary Romero, her very first manager from her Derby days has resurfaced. They broke up over some money issues in the 1950’s, but apparantly, the two had reconciled again. Romero even wrote one of the songs on this LP ! The liner notes on the back of the LP inform us, that he has written “2 serious books” since he and Gale broke up their professinal relation. Another name from the past played a crucial role in the recording of this LP. Eddie White not only produced it, but wrote 7 of the 10 songs on this LP. White had been the one who had managed to introducé Sunny Gale in the 1950’s at the important booking agency MCA. (126)
The cheerful voice of Sunny Gale is extremely well adapted for the merry Dixieland sound. Also, after a career of 20 years, one can’t detect the slightest lack of enthousiasm or dedication in Gale’s performance. Furthermore, she was backed up by the excellent Saints and Sinners Dixieland Band.
So, this fourth LP seems to have been in more than one respect an “old pals project". Several people, who had been active many years in show bizz and knew each other , put their hands together, to deliver something very nice. A project not aimed at commercial success, but rather something the people involved enjoyed very much doing. Nice to see, that the old friendships had remained strong enough, to overcome some old conflicts, no ?
LP 4: Sunny Gale sings Dixieland Blues
Produced by: Eddie White for Whiteway Productions Inc.
Recorded at: Dimensional Sound Inc.
Engineer: Bob Halsall
Album design: Ron Warwell
Cover photo by: Bill Weltman
© & Produced 1974 Audiofidelity Brothers, Inc. Thimble Records, a division of Audiofidelity Enterprises Inc. , 221 West 57th street New York N.Y. Unless stated otherwise, all songs ASCAP
1) The sunshine of your love (Eddie White & Mack Wolfson)
2) The dixie-doo (E. White & M. Wolfson)
3) Schemes (E. White & M. Wolfson)
4) Baddest kind of blues (E. White, Gary Romero & J D’Agostino)
5) Rickety tickety melody (E. White, J. Lowe & M. Wolfson)
1) Dixieland blues (E. White & Edward Cooper)
2) Birmingham rag (Grace Lane & Mort Garson)
3) Smile ! smile ! smile ! (George Weiss & Hugo & Luigi)
4) Southtown U.S.A. (Billy Sherrill)
5) Sunshine State (E. White, M. Wolfson & S. Wayne)
Charles “Red” Richards: Piano
Herb Hall: Clarinet
Vic Dickenson: Trombone
Franklin Skeete: Bass
Doc Cheetham: Trumpet
Ronnie Cole: Drums
Charles Macey: Banjo
Side B: Same as on A, except for:
John Williams: Bass
Herman Autrey: Trumpet
Jackie Williams: Drums
The common marketed single and the white "DJ copy",
which was send for free to DJ´s for promotion purposes
At least one single has been released by Thimble: it combines the songs “Birmingham rag / Sunshine State” (see discography)
Tips for collectors
- Limited sales in the past at the same time mean some difficulties for collectors to find this LP. Still, every now and then it appears on eBay USA or GEMM. The job is easier than finding Goldies by the girls for sure ! But when you see it, grab your chance, and don´t let it pass by ! You won´t regret it, as it is a very nice arts & crafts-LP by talented, gifted musicians !
- As far as I know, no sheet music connected to the playlist of this LP has been edited
13) Disco Sunny
A number of new and important evolutions took place in pop music in the 1970’s: the birth of hardrock and that of disco muisc.
Given Sunny Gale’s versatility, one should not have been completely surprised, if all of a sudden a co-release by Black Sabbath and Sunny Gale (“Sabbath, Sunny Sabbath”) would have appeared in the local record shop. Or what about a duet between Ronnie James Dio and Sunny Gale….
On the other hand, given the way Sunny Gale’s musical career had been intertwined with R&B, a meeting between the songstress and the new disco sound was a more obvious possibility. One that took place…
The early disco song “I wanna know” by Sunny Gale was added as the B-side of the rare 45 rpm by Warren Schatz, called “Soon everything is gonna be alright”. It was issued by the record label Disco-Soul, and seems to be a very much sought after-item on eBay USA. Prices around 30-35 $ are often asked for this rare single. Every now and then, Sunny Gale completists or DJ’s interested in early disco seem to be ready & willing to pay such a sum.
Sunny Gale’s contribution to early disco didn’t remain unniticed. In 1976, RCA released a compilation LP called Disco Express vol. 1. Apparently, good connections between Sunny Gale and the right people at RCA’s continued till the 1970’s. (127)
For Gale, this release probably became the stepping stone for new shows, that would last a few years. New York Magazine for example announced in May 1979, three years after the release of “I wanna know” that Gale, accompagnied by a dsico group would perform in the Coppacobana, a restaurant/disco in 10 E 60th street. (128)
Tips for collectors
- In 2008, the Japanese record label Think! put both Disco Express Vol. 1 and 2 on CD (cat.nr. THCD-097). As this was a limited edition, it is not really easier to find the CD than the original LP.
14) An international career
Sunny Gale’s singing career brought her to every continent of the world. She gave live performances in
- Europe (GB, Germany, France including of course in Paris)
- Africa (Algeria, Morocco including Casablanca and in a number of other unspecified African countries)
- Asia (Japan, Taiwan, Philipines)
- South America (Puerto-Rico)
- Oceania (Australia)
Even this impressive list is probably uncomplete. She often performed in places where US troops were stationed. In 1956 she participated -as did many other US singers- at the “Stars for defense”-series of the Armed Forces. These were special radio programs for the US military forces, both abroad and on US soil.
The Sunny Gale Discography that will be added as Part III in this series will contain the reference of the 16 inch specially made for radio stations of this Sunny Gale participation in Stars for Defense. This discography also contains the references of British pressings of Sunny Gale-singles by Brunswick, as well as those of a Japanese and Spanish EP.
15) Private life
Sunny Gale with her (first ?) husband in 1953
Not much is known about Sunny Gale’s private life. It looks like though she kept her musical career and her private life well seperated. So, no real or fake scandals, no well publiced troubles with alcohol abuse or love affairs with notorious gangsters or a spoiled billionaire son.
She has been married in the 1950’s with an unidentified man, who took care of the publicity aspects of her career. They had at least one daughter together, who was born around 1959. The liner notes of the Dixieland-LP indeed talks about a “pert vivacious Beth Robin” , then 15 years old, who dreamed of becoming a fashion designer. This daughter was described as “the true light in her life”. In the same liner notes however, no mention is made of Gale’s husband and Beth’s father.
Later, she married Jerry Field, but apparantly divorced again somewhere in the early 1960´s. Field died in 1968, hit by a car. (129) We havenÂ´t found any reference to a third husband, which doesnÂ´t mean there hasnÂ´t been one of course.
In her early career, a well filled agenda didn’t allow much room for hobbies. In a biographical article from the early 1950’s in Billboard, she mentioned cooking and fishing. These same two hobbies were still valid in 1974, according to the liner notes of the Dixieland LP, although they now specify she’s specially fond of Italian food. Although her singing career brought her to many bars and restaurants, she apparently kept away from alcohol. She admitted though to have become a “compulsive shopper” in the meantime, not specifying though what she was spending her money at. (130) And although she seems to have been a (modest) smoker, we didn´t come across any ads for tobbaco, as some of her colleagues made. Companies as Lucky Strike or Camel were often trying to find ambassadors from the show bizz world. In fact, as far as we know, Sunny Gale only appeared in the Halo-ad mentioned in this article, but this point needs further research.
Gale stayed in touch with what her colleagues from the showbizz world were doing, often attending concerts. Roger Adrien LaRue from the 3 Pals for example noticed her in the audience, while performing in the Wagon Wheel lounge, W 45 street in New York. (131)
Another piece of information can be found in the liner notes of the Dixieland LP. Sunny Gale was known to master a repertoire of more than thousand songs, so it’s interesting to know what song was her all time favorite. Thanks to the comments on the back of her 4th LP, we now know that of all the songs she knew, it definetely was “When I fall in love” that she prefered. Unfortunately, at least as far as I know, no vinyl release of this song was ever recorded. Indeed, it would have been quite fascinating to hear her perform her own favorite song, to experience how she would have molded it. This privilege will only have been granted to those who had the luck to see her on stage. As the reader will remember, she stopped singing for specific band leaders in the early 1950’s, specifically to have the freedom to sing the repertoire she wanted on stage.
I haven’t found any traces left by Sunny Gale in the 1980’s. However, somewhere in 2008-2009, I received an e-mail from a American woman, who had heard about my intention to make a long biographical article on Sunny Gale from friends of her. In this e-mail, she wrote the following:
“I lived with Sunny (Selma) and her male companion John during the early 90´s. It was unfortunate. She had lost her mind and her family (her daughter lived and worked down the street and had very little to do with her). She lived a very meager existence, almost destitute, in the same apt. bldg she occupied during her singing career, on Queens Blvd in Queens, NY. I only wish I could tell the whole story. Sunny was very kind to all she met and cherished her career as an entertainer. Her stories mesmerized me for hours” (132)
Around 2014, a certain Oleg Frisch, a Russian born singer announced he had found Gale after looking for her wherabouts for 10 years. In February 2015, Samuel B. Mann, son of songwriter Dave Mann confirmed that Frisch found out that sheÂ´s currently still alive, and living in a nursing home in Florida. Unfortunately, sheÂ´s said to be in such bad health, that the staff is keeping away visitors. Frisch told Mann that SunnyÂ´s daughter Beth (°1959) seemed rather "impatient" with her famous mother.
I’d certainly would grab with both hands the opportunity to interview her, if only more was known about her whereabouts. But based on the information above, this chance will probably never come along...
Sunny Gale: looking back at an
interesting show bizz career...
Sunny Gale leaves an impressive string of generally underrated musical pearls behind. Although she didn’t enjoy classical training, her early beginnings in school , at parties and song contests sharpened her musical skills and gut instincts. These helped her to secure a job with the orchestra’s of Jules Helzner and Hal McIntyre. This second stage of her career helped her to further refine her skills, and develop a perfect ear absolutely necessary for being able to work together with an orchestra and back up vocalists.
After this precious learning school, she started her recording career at Derby’s. Followed the well documented Wheel of fortune-episode, and a number of other Derby singles. Although Kay Starr’s Wheel of fortune was the one who reached the top of the charts, all the publicity surrounding this episode certainly helped Sunny Gale to secure even better assignements at RCA Victor and then at Decca.
As far as we know, Sunny Gale never attempted to become a singer-songwriter. Not really a surprise, as this would have been a rarity in the 1950’s. Singer-songwriters, especially female ones is rather a phenomenon that emerged in the 1960’s. (Edith Piaf didn’t write the music of her most famous songs either, although she wrote the lyrics for “Vie en rose”) So, as most of the other female singers from the 1950’s, she sticked to singing covers of modern songs or older vergreens, but in a very distinctive style. In 1953, her repertoire consisted of more than 1000 songs, so at the end of her singing career must have been even more impressive.
The attempts of record companies from the second half of the 1950’s onwards to establish a link between her and the new music styles (rock and twist) were not very succesful. Altogether, she managed to get nine songs into the Top 40, all in the first half of the 1950’s. None of these reached the Top 10.
Gale’s distinctive way of phrasing (f. ex. pronouncing “love” as “llllllove”) or stressing specific syllables has sometimes been compared with that of Johnny Ray. As I’m not sufficiently familiar with his singing style, I’ll refrain from commenting. Her voice sounded very cheerful (Have you ever seen a dream walking,…) or teasing (Hot dog ! That made him mad). Every now and then, it may have sounded just a little bit too “sharp”, although she remained miles and miles away from let’s say Teresa Brewer. (compare f.i. both artists singing "Let me go lover") And anyway, even if Brewer´s voice often sounded somewhat Tweety-like, certainly had no reason to complain about a lack of admirers enjoying that sharp voice. So, my comments on the (very rare) sharp edges of Sunny Gale’s voice are subjective.
It’s difficult to find female singers who sounded somewhat like Sunny Gale. Always risky too, to make such comparisons. I’ve found though at least some similarities with Gloria Mann (who also grew up in Philadelphia) and Judy Wayne.
In 2009, the song “Have you ever seen a dream walking” was used in the movie “Precious”, resulting in some new but limited interest in the singer behind the song. If you want to understand what I mean when I keep stressing how cheerful Sunny Gale’s voice sounded, just go to Youtube, and compare her version of this song with let’s say Bing Crosby’s or the Fats Domino-version from 1962.
Unfortunately, none of our extensive research gave us any clue about the whereabouts of Sunny Gale. Is she überhaupt still alive, or is she learning the angels above how singing really should sound ? (133) Some sources I´ve contacted thought she´s now living in Florida, where she has been active in real estate. But somehow, this information doesn´t fit with those of the previous witness, who claimed Sunny Gale had a "very meager existence, almost destitute" in Queens, New York...
To me, one of Sunny Gale’s nicest songs is “I feel like I’m gonna live forever”. Let me express my deepest hope, that this humble and still far from complete biography after J.C. Marion’s first and more modest attempt will help to make this prophecy come true.
But of course, the “real thing” remains in her musical heritage. So, let me also express the hope, that this biography somehow will have guided some of the readers towards buying (more) old records or newer CD’s of her, or sharing your knowledge about her on radio stations. That way, this fine singer she was really will live forever !
Don´t forget to check Part III on Retroscoop
for Sunny Gale´s discography.
It will be added in the next days.
Looking for clues...
Should you be able to add facts or photographic material
to this article, please do not hesitate to contact me at
firstname.lastname@example.org. I´d be very grateful for instance for
a better picture of the LP "Goldies by the girls", or any
verifiable information about the whereabouts of Sunny Gale.
Acknowledgements and footnotes
We would like to express our gratitude to band leader Bob Wilbur for trying to find out among his colleague-musicians more about Sunny Gale’s whereabouts. Wilbur’s orchestra was the inhouse orchestra of the Joyland Ballroom in Rhode Island. In the mid 1950’s, this orchestra played together with Sunny Gale, when she performed live in the Joyland Ballroom.
We would also like to thank William B. Brahms, webmaster of the Haddon Township Historical Society. His research resulted in a strong conviction that Sunny Gale is still alive, as no documents proving otherwise emerged.
65) Halo shampoo old TV publicity 1953
66) Joe Martin: “Colgate, Victor, Ad Agency Team in Promotion Tie-in” (Halo every dj, halo) Billboard Dec. 26th 1953 pp 8 & 18
How odd things sometimes can go in the mass media: indeed, wasn´t it a TV show sponsored by the same Colgate that resulted in the previous year that gave Kay Starr´s version of "Wheel of fortune" so much promotion, that it went straight to the #1 position in the hit parade, beating Sunny Gale´s ?
The male RCA artists participating in this publicity campaign were: Spike Jones, Tony Martin, band leaders Hugo Winterhalter and Henri Rene, Pee Wee King, Ralph Flanagan, the Ames Brothers and the Three Suns.
Another 1950´s campaign of RCA and Colgate-Palmolive consisted in releasing records with two different RCA artists. Those records were then send in a special paper sleeve with Halo publicity on it to clients of the cosmetics company. It is still unclear whether also a Sunny Gale song has been released that way. To mention just a few of the participating names: Lionel Hampton, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Paul Whiteman and Bing Crosby. Not really names one would associate with a publicity campaign aiming at teenagers, soo it is possible the real target of that second campaign was quite different as the TV ads.
67) Billboard Jan. 30th 1953 p 24
68) Billboard Jan. 23rd 1954 p 29 and « Music as written »
Joe Louis still is seen by many as the best boxer ever. He remained world champion for almost 12 years, period during which he defended 25 times succesfully his title.
69) « Music as written / New York » Billboard Feb. 2Oth 1954 p 18
Jerry Field is presented in this article as Sunny Gale’s manager, while other sources including the liner notes of one of GaleÂ´s LP claim Gary Romero was the one who performed this job since Gale was signed by Derby Records. Yet another point that will have to be clarified.
70) « Hershey seeks ballroom hypo via Wax Names » Billboard May 1st 1954 p 53
71) « Reviews of New Pop Records » Billboard May 8th 1954 p 24
72) Remembering Sunny Gale
73) « Location Show draws 8000 » Billboard July 31st 1954 p 22
74) « Music as written » Billboard May 15th. 1954 p 20
Some sources indicate that Sunny Gale recorded « Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight » on July 17th, but it isnÂ´t 100 % clear if indeed both activities took place in the same period.
Several big names played the Thunderbird including Gloria Lynne, whose performance there was released as a live LP.
75) Charlie Chaplin / Sunny Gale : Smile
76) Billboard 14 aug. 1954 p 36 Sunny Gale ad for "Smile" (Charlie Chaplin)
77) « Music as written » Billboard Oct. 2th. 1954 p 22
The liner notes on the back side of the LP sleeve of her fourth LP from 1974 De inform us that Romero is once again her manager. Apparantly, he even co-wrote one of the songs.
It is unclear who was Sunny GaleÂ´s manager immediately after Romero having been fired. At the end of 1955 however, in stepped a two man team, Kramer & Diamond. Maybe GaleÂ´s husband Jerry Field filled the gap in between these two episodes ?
« NY Ops fill Walldorf, event aired via ABC » Billboard Oct. 30th, 1954 p 65 and 68
78) « Sunny Gale switch to Capitol nixed when Victor barks » Billboard 20 nov. 1954 p 14
79) Library of Congress collection: Shelf no. RGA 0849 A3 Radio broadcast Oct. 22nd. 1954 8:15 p.m.: Frank sings and plays records by Sunny Gale: 1 digital sound cassette (polyester). Donor name: NBC Radio Collection
80) « Showmen hit N.Y . for NSA fest week » Billboard Nov. 27th 1954 p 74 / Irwin Kirby « Gala NSA ball jams the Astor » Billboard Dec. 4th. 1954 pp 55-56
Probably, the event took place on the 9th floor, which contained a large Louis XV style ballroom, a smaller one in Louis XVI-style and the College Room. These 3 large "rooms" together could contain up to 1100 people. In 1967, the beautiful building was destroyed without mercy...
81) For more information about the events of november 16-20th november concerning Jenny Lou Carson´s "Unsuspecting Heart" see: “Diskers in heated scramble to cover TV’s hit ‘Lover’ ” Billboard 27 november 1954 p 1 & 12
82) Except for Sunny GaleÂ´s version of Let me go lover one also should mention the one of Fay Brown which is also really excellent work.
83) RCA Victor Party Platter EP-box
84) « RCA Signs Terri ; May lose Sunny » Billboard April 15th. 1955 p 13
85) « Record stars for steamers » Billboard May 28th. 1955 p 37)
86) Billboard June 25th. 1955 p 35
87) “Video charity sets day at Woodside Park” Billboard July 16th. 1955 p 53
88) Recently, the beautiful carroussel in the Woodside Park was completely restored
89) Billboard Oct. 1st. 1955 p 36
90) Billboard Aug. 27th. 1955 p 52 op.cit
91) Let me go lover in the hitparade Top 40 hits 1955
92) Billboard Nov. 12th. 1955 p 87
93) « Music as written » Billboard Sept. 3rd. 1955 p 18
94) Billboard Nov. 5th 1955 p 42
95) « Music as written » Billboard Nov. 26th. 1955 p 20
The Fontainbleau was added in 2008 to the U.S. Register of National Historical Places.
96) A US local history study group added a very nice article about the Chubby’s Cafe in Collingswood on their website.
For more information about Sunny Gale’s show, see :« Music as written » Billboard Dec. 3rd, 1955 p 19
97) Except with Sunny Gale, URP also held talks with The Three Suns, Bill Kenny, the Barry Sisters and with Mark VII productions, the company behind Jack WebbÂ´s "Dragnet" TV series
« Music as written» Billboard July 30th. 1955 p 22
« Kramer Diamond Set managem’t, Bally Firm » Billboard Dec. 10th. 1955 p 22 We werenÂ´t able to identify her manager in the post-Romero era. Maybe her second husband Jerry Field ?
98) « Here come the gals » Billboard Jan. 14th. 1956 p 37
99) Sunny Gale live in the Alan Freed show !
100) Billboard March 24th, 1956 p 25 : Sunny Gale "Rock´n´roll wedding"
101) Billboard July 7th, 1956 p 21 : in Carol RichardsÂ´ case it was about the promotion of Intrigue / No one home
102) « New London opener weak » Billboard Jan. 9th. 1956 p 54
103) We werenÂ´t able to determine whether Sunny Gale signed with RCA because she had no manager to encourage or discourage her of doing so.
« Sunny Gale to stay with Victor label » Billboard 9 okt. 1954 p 13 /
« Sunny Gale to join label ‘X’ » Billboard 25 sep. 1954 p 33 /
« Sunny Gale shifts to Decca » Billboard 1 sep. 1956 p 22
104) Kay Starr discography
105) Billboard Sept. 8th. 1956 p 19
106) Billboard Dec. 22nd. 1956 op.cit.
107) Until now, we havenÂ´t found information about Sunny Gale concerts, shows etc that took place in the second half of 1956. This doesnÂ´t mean none took place of course, only that it isnÂ´t easy to compile such information.
108) Charlie Sinclair : « The Big Beat rocks, rolls - and stumbles Billboard July 22nd. 1957 p 20
109) « American Bandstand TV show Dick Clark »
110) « New York » Billboard Dec. 2nd. 1957 p 22
The "Old Romanian" (sometimes written as Rumanian) used to be located in the Allen Street, Lower East End. It must have been quite a large place, that could entertain 500 guests. In 1956 it moved to Broadway. From then on, the name was changed into "New Romanian".
111) « Music as written » Billboard Jan. 9th. 1958 p 12
112) « Review spotlight on … » Billboard May 26th. 1958 p 37 op.cit.
113) « Reviews of new pop records » Billboard Dec. 1st. 1958 p 44
114) Short biography biografie Morty Craft
115) Billboard Feb. 1st. 1960 p 63 op.cit.
116) Ad for "Churchbells may ring" in Billboard May 9th 1960 p 30
117) Billboard March 6th. 1961 p 40 The song was written by a duo called Conley-Selma. We assume this Selma hasnÂ´t anything to do with Selma Sega, Sunny GaleÂ´s real name. The same two songs appeared on a single issued by the British record company London, more specifically on their "American Recordings"-series. (see part 3, Discography)
Cathy Jean and the Roomates didnÂ´t meet during the recording: the mixing of their respective parts took place later in a recording studio. A similar thing happened later with Elton John and Kiki Dee, singing "DonÂ´t go breaking my heart".
"Please love me forever" was also covered by Wanda Jackson (1963) and by Bobby Vinton (1967). The latter hit the jackpot with it: it went straight to the Top 10 and sold more than 1 million copies !
118) Billboard May 29th. 1961 p 3
119) Billboard Jan. 1st. 1963 p 24
120) « Can-Am firm names 4 new distributors » Billboard Dec. 14th. 1963 p 16 We cannot comment on this record, as we haven´t been able to find it, let alone buy it right now. Indeed, the 1960´s singles of Gale are difficult to find.
121) David Edwards & Mike Callahan : « Canadian-American album discography » / Billboard May 2nd, 1964 p 24
122) “Trade gathers in Chicago for MOA” Billboard Sept. 11th. 1965 p 85.
123) “From the music capitals of the world” Billboard Sept. 11th. 1971 p 54
124) “New York Classified” NY Magazine Sept. 3rd. p. 70 and Sept. 17th. 1973 p 101
125) Thimble began to issue LPÂ´s in 1972. Some other names in their catalogue include:
- Pulse feat. Carlo Mastarangelo: Id. (TLP 1, 1972)
- Mount Airy: Id. (TLP 2, 1972 ?)
- Jim Messina & The Jesters: Chihiuahua (TLP 3, 1973 ?)
- Marva Josie: This is MJ (TLP 4, 1973)
- Danser’s Inferno: Creation 1 (TLP 8, 1975)
126) Liner notes of the LP « Sunny Gale sings dixieland blues »
127) Since RCA once paired Sunny Gale with the Du Droppers, we wondered if there was any connection between this "I wanna know" and the big R&B hit of the Du Droppers with the same title, but written by Dolly Cooper ?
128) “Around town after dark”-rubriek New York Magazine May 7th. 1979 p 23.
129) Liner notes LP Sunny sings dixieland blues op.cit.
130) « 1953 Artist Biography Section » Billboard Feb. 28th. 1953
131) Roger Adrian LaRue Biography
132) e-mail from ca. 2008 from Rex Strother, whose two aunts were the famous Bell Sisters. He made a very interesting website dedicated to his famous family members: http://www.bellsisters.com/
I canÂ´t find the name anymore of the lady who also send me an e-amil with this information about daughter Beth, who is also mentioned on the flip side of the Dixieland LP, so we canÂ´t confirm the correctness of the statement with a second source. However, Sunny Gale has indeed lived for a while in Queens.
133) Soundtrack "Precious” (2009)
134) We tried out several possible roads that could lead to more information, but until now, without success.
- a letter to the Gloucester County in New Jersey, where Sunny Gale was born
- an e-mail to the magazine Billboard
- e-mails to a number of musicians who worked with Sunny Gale or might have crossed her path while performing
- the Cultural Service of the US Embassy in Brussels (which didnÂ´t even bother to reply, thank you very much !)