During the Summer of 2015, a good friend of mine, John, sent me this photo of a 1957 concert ad from Indianapolis, Indiana. And what makes this ad even more fascinating, are the two side stories on the page. One is about a new local group, and the other is the top ten request songs from teenagers on local radio station, WIRE. I’m not sure which paper this came from, as there were three in town, at the time; Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis News, and Indianapolis Times.
First, the ad. Two shows were scheduled for Indianapolis’ Murat Theatre, on April 14th, featuring an interesting blend of talent. For starters, there’s the opening group, The Five Stars, an Indianapolis-based group (more about them, later) whose record “Atom Bomb Baby”, was very popular, locally, as well as in several other markets. Then there was Boyd Bennett and his Rockets, a well-known rockabilly act who had enjoyed a national top five pop hit in 1955 with the song, “Seventeen”.
Patsy Cline was just beginning to enjoy national popularity. Her single, “Walking After Midnight” had recently debuted on the country and pop charts and was beginning it’s chart climb. Faron Young and Ferlin Husky were stars, by this point. Ferlin, already with five top 10 country hits, had just hit number one with his sixth, the classic “Gone”. Faron headlined the show, was already on his twelfth top ten hit, “I Miss You Already (And You’re Not Even Gone)”. And how about ticket prices!!!! $1.25 in advance or $1.50 at the door. A concert with that level of talent, today, would likely have ticket prices well over $100 dollars.
On the left side are the top ten tunes requested by teens, to WIRE evening DJ Bernie Herman. As was often the case in 1950’s and 1960’s radio, it’s an interesting mix of music. The local guys, The Five Stars, were most requested. There’s also Chuck Berry’s “School Days” and “Little Darlin’ by The Diamonds. There’s Elvis (of course), The Del-Vikings’ 1st hit “Come Go with Me”, and Marty Robbins, “A White Sport Coat (And A Pink Carnation)”.
The two most interesting records on his list are “I’m Stickin’ With You” by Jimmy Bowen and “Pledge of Love” by Ken Copeland. While both records were top 20 hits, the artists would achieve greater fame in other circles. Bowen produced hits for the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Nancy Sinatra, in the 1960’s. Then he turned to country music in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. There he worked with acts like The Oak Ridge Boys, Garth Brooks, Hank Williams Jr., and George Strait, among others. Copeland would eventually become the well-known televangelist, Kenneth Copeland.
Also notable,”Party Doll” is listed by Steve Lawrence. His version was a top ten hit, but is largely forgotten, due to Buddy Knox’s version. Perry Como, Ricky Nelson, Fats Domino, and The Coasters also are mentioned.
“Atom Bomb Baby”, is a record that I inherited from my parents’ stash. For years, I was unable to find out much about it until I got this photo. The Five Stars, as mentioned earlier, were a locally-based group, made up of two recent high school grads, with the other three still in high school. They had a sound that I’ve seen described as pop-rock and rockabilly; really, in my opinion, it’s a bit of both. The single, “Atom Bomb Baby”, was released on the small Kernel label, becoming popular in several markets. It eventually attracted the interest of Dot Records, who picked it up for national distribution. Unfortunately, even with national distribution, it failed to make Billboard’s Country or Pop charts.
I am grateful for his sending this to me, especially with it containing the Five Stars information. What a great bit of history! Thanks, John! By the way, if you are reading this, and by chance you happened to have caught one of these shows, why not tell us about it in the comments below?
About Thy Author
Mike the Country Musicologist is a lifelong music and radio fanatic, lover of vintage agriculture, and big sports fan, including the Colts, Reds, Hurricanes, Pacers, Purdue & Butler Universities. He has collected records since childhood, focusing on classic country and top 40 oldies music. After convincing Vincennes University in Indiana to give him an Associate’s Degree in broadcasting, he has spent most of his adult life on the radio, having worked for several stations in Indiana and North Carolina, including his current gig, hosting the weekly World Famous Ultimate Twang Radio Show. Hear the show on Thursdays, 4-7p ET on WSFM-LP/AshevilleFM, which is at 103.3 FM in Asheville, North Carolina, as well as online at ashevillefm.org. Be sure to follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.