Today In Pop Music History (12-11-2015)

LITTLE MISS DYNAMITE TURNS 71


 

Image result for Images of Brenda LeeShe recorded one of the most-played Christmas classics on the radio today. 
 
Little Miss Dynamite, a/k/a Brenda Lee, was born Brenda Mae Tarpley 71 years ago Friday. She still holds the record for the most top 40 hits as a teenager with about two dozen. When she scored with her first hit with “Dynamite” at the age of 12, the critics came up with a nickname that lives with her to this day. Little Miss Dynamite stands only 4-9, but has stood tall chart-wise. Her amazing career includes 52 hits on the pop chart and another 34 on the country chart.
 
It’s fitting she was born two weeks before Christmas since she’s best remembered for that classic holiday song…

 


According to Wikipedia, “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” has sold over five million vinyl records. Plus, at last check, it ranks as the #4 most digitially downloaded Christmas song in history. Amazingly, “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” almost wasn’t recorded. With special thanks to radio friend Nichole Choice, here’s an mp3 of the key part of a Christmas countdown show I did back in 1988. You’ll hear the late Johnny Marks, when he was alive in 1980, telling the story behind “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree”…
 
The late Boots Randolph supplied the sax solo on “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree”–and he did so on this, my favorite Brenda Lee song from the summer of 1960, which Jerry Reed wrote…
 
 
How does Brenda Lee sound nowadays? You be the judge….with a live remake of “That’s All You Gotta Do” circa February 2010, complete with a dazzling performance by Clarence Clemons…
 
 
“That’s All  You Gotta Do” was the followup to “Sweet Nothin’s,” Brenda Lee’s breakthrough top 10 in early 1960…but it was that followup single’s B side that made Brenda Lee a superstar. This #1 song…
 
 
My favorite Brenda Lee ballad, though, is 1963’s “Losing You,” which sounded like this…
 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1rRUk9rIqMA

 

 

Finally, vintage Little Miss Dynamite, complete with many tremendous photos, with her 1966 hit, “Coming On Strong”….
 


But that Brenda Lee holiday classic almost didn’t happen. A record executive was initially against the song. When he first saw the title on the sheet music, he reacted by telling Marks, “What? ‘Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree’? Why, that’s sacrilegious!”
 
Marks, though, came through by convincing the executive to listen to a studio take….and to pay careful attention to the lyrics. Two minutes and eight seconds later, the executive’s attitude changed dramatically. “You know what I REALLY like about this song, Johnny?” the executive said. “You’ve got the words ‘the new-old-fashioned way’ in the lyrics.” The exec reasoned that with those lyrics, the song is saying that you can waltz around the Christmas tree. Or fox trot. Or calypso…or whatever dance steps you want. Thus, the executive reasoned that there was nothing offensive about the record…and OKed it. The record flopped when it was released in 1958 and 1959, only selling about 5000 copies or so. Then, once Brenda Lee became a star in 1960, the song reached #22 on the Cash Box chart. 
 

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