Friday, November 12, 2021

First appearance of "My Favorite Things" on a Christmas album? It wasn't Jack Jones

 


Jack Jones is often credited as the first artist to include the song "My Favorite Things" on a Christmas album, but Jones was beaten to the punch by several years by another artist: Pete King.

"My Favorite Things," from the Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II musical The Sound of Music, wasn't intended to be a Christmas song at all. It contains some mentions of snowflakes and sleigh bells, though, and quickly became associated with the holiday.

The Sound of Music
 opened on Broadway in 1959, and that same year, the Pete King Chorale recorded an album of songs from the musical, which was titled The Sound of Music. The chorale's rendition of "My Favorite Things" was even released as a single
The following year, the Pete King Chorale included the song as the first cut on their 1960 Kapp Records Christmas album, Christmas Time. Kapp again released "My Favorite Things" as a single, this time with a holiday-themed picture sleeve

In 1961, Julie Andrews performed the song on a televised Christmas special. And then in 1964, Jack Jones recorded the version that is usually credited as the song's first appearance on a Christmas album. Within five years, the song had drifted into the Christmas category and soon appeared in mid-'60s Christmas albums by artists such as The Supremes and Kenny Burrell.

Pete King wasn't merely the first artist to include the song on a Christmas album—he also had a role in Jack Jones' recording of "My Favorite Things": King brought Jones to Kapp Records initially and arranged some of his early albums. King didn't arrange Jones' version of "My Favorite Things," though; that credit goes to Marty Manning.

The Pete King Chorale's Christmas album was a good seller and Kapp reissued it every year around the holidays in the early 1960s. The chorale's sound, if you haven't heard them, is more pop oriented than that of, say, the Robert Shaw Chorale. You can listen to the entire album in the video below.
 
King was an orchestral pop composer and arranger who was born in Greenville, Ohio, home of the famous Maid-Rite Drive-In Sandwiches shop. (King might have eaten there, because it's been open for more than 80 years!) King enjoyed about a decade of work as a bandleader, arranger, and recording artist until a stroke left him deaf and he was forced to retire from music. You can find his bandleading and arranging credits on many recordings by top-tier artists such as Doris Day, Dean Martin, and Julie London, and he has an extensive discography under his own name as well.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Clyde Otis, The Diamonds' "The Stroll," and the mysterious Nancy Lee (1957)




What if you wrote a #1 hit all by yourself but a music industry bigwig put his teen daughter's name on the song as your co-writer? And then she was featured in all the publicity for the song instead of you? That's exactly what happened to Clyde Otis in 1957 with "The Stroll." 

Song publishing was a big source of revenue in the music industry in the 1950s, so it inevitably became a bargaining chip for people in positions of power. Songwriters were often asked to give up a portion of their royalties and share the credit for their work in exchange for getting their song published, and practically no songwriter was immune to being exploited in this way. Both struggling and established songwriters fell prey to these arrangements, and one particularly egregious example involved Otis and "The Stroll."

Clyde Otis
Although Otis wrote the song, which was later recorded by the Canadian vocal group The Diamonds, the story actually begins with The Diamonds. 

Dick Clark, the host of TV's American Bandstand, tipped off The Diamonds to the fact that teenagers were doing a dance called “The Stroll” to “C.C. Rider,” sung by turban-wearing R&B shouter Chuck Willis. An opportunity existed, Clark said, for someone to create a song specifically for the dance, which was a laid-back line dance that Billboard described as a "rock and roll version of the minuet."

The Diamonds thought this was a great idea and asked songwriter Clyde Otis to write such a song. Otis had written his first Top 20 hit in 1956 for Nat King Cole ("That's All There Is to That") and then wrote a bunch more hits for Brook Benton in addition to becoming one of the first African-American A&R men at a major label, in this case Mercury Records, which was also The Diamonds' label.

By any measure, Otis knocked it out of the park with "The Stroll." It's a memorable song with a hypnotic rhythm that perfectly accompanies the dance it was designed for. Even though The Diamonds were Canadian and a little square, they recorded "The Stroll" with Fats Domino's band, and the record ended up having great crossover appeal for rock, pop, and R&B listeners. And King Curtis's saxophone on the record was not just icing on the cake—it transformed a gentle stroll into something that sounded raunchy and dangerous.

The song seemed like an inevitable hit, and The Diamonds, Mercury Records, and the song's publishing company were all delighted. But in an odd twist, Clyde Otis—the guy who actually wrote the song—didn't receive as much glory (or money) for it as he should have, because he ended up sharing the composing credit with teenager Nancy Lee as part of a promotional scheme that was probably completely unnecessary.

Nancy Lee was the daughter of Jack Lee, an executive at Meridian Music, the company that published Otis's new song, and someone—possibly Jack Lee himself—had an out-of-the-box marketing idea: What if they claimed that his teen daughter had co-written the song? Wouldn't that be a great hook for radio and magazine stories? Music reporters and disk jockeys would be clamoring to learn more about this delightful teen upstart! And, of course, the record would sell well as a result.

You can look at this promotional campaign in a few different ways. Nancy's sudden appearance as the co-writer of "The Stroll" was either a) a fraudulent attempt to create interest in the song by claiming that it was written by a high schooler when it wasn't, b) a crass attempt to attach an executive's kid to a sure-fire hit so she could enjoy 15 minutes of fame, or c) an offensive attempt to whitewash the involvement of a black songwriter in a song that was recorded by a white vocal group. Elements of all these might have come into play.

Nancy Lee's alleged involvement in writing the song fueled the marketing campaign, and she appeared in a number of promotional photos with The Diamonds. Some of these photos were used for the sheet music of "The Stroll," and others accompanied magazine articles that profiled the teen.

What did Clyde Otis think about this arrangement with Nancy Lee? I don't know, but I doubt that he, as the sole songwriter, was overjoyed at being omitted from photos that supposedly depicted the writer of "The Stroll." A 1958 issue of Radio Mirror went so far as to refer to the song as Nancy's composition without even mentioning Otis. It's hard to imagine that all this exclusion was unrelated to Otis's skin color. 

In DISCoveries magazine in 2004, Andy Merey asked The Diamonds' Dave Somerville about Nancy Lee:

Who was Nancy Lee?: Curiously, on the original "Stroll" 45, Clyde Otis shares songwriter credits with the mysterious Nancy Lee. Upon examining the original legal songwriter document for "The Stroll", signed on November 17, 1957 by Meridian Music Corporation and the other parties involved, it reveals that Nancy Lee was seventeen at the time, too young to sign the contract on her own, so her mother co-signed as legal guardian.

 

It seems strange and unlikely that an established songwriter of the stature of Clyde Otis would team up with an underage, seventeen-year old schoolgirl in the big city of New York and collaborate with her in composing "The Stroll". I asked David Somerville about Nancy Lee and how did she come about co-writing "The Stroll". He said, "You wanna know something? She didn't write a damn thing. The song belonged to Clyde Otis. She was the daughter of one of the executives at the publishing company."

 

The songwriter share was divided up as follows: 66 2/3% for Clyde Otis who solely wrote the song, and 33 1/3% for Nancy Lee, er, Meridian Music Corporation. But such shenanigans shouldn't really come as a surprise, for they ran rampant within record companies and music publishing firms during the 1950s.

 

In the case of Nancy Lee, the misfeasance was unabashedly blatant. The sheet music for "The Stroll" featured a photo of Nancy Lee, identified as co-writer, flanked by The Diamonds in Stroll position. The British version featured a similar picture but with Nancy Lee in Stroll action as she is being observed by The Diamonds. But this was an imaginative and cute idea just the same. Most sheet music at the time simply featured a picture of the song artists; seldom were there any action shots.


So, adding injury to insult, Otis was not only excluded from the song's promotional campaign but also had to give up a third of the song's publishing royalties in order to maintain the publisher's ruse that Nancy Lee co-wrote the song. Yet Nancy couldn't even receive the money herself, because she was a minor, so a third of Otis's royalties went to Nancy's mom.

Here's a philosophical question: In exchange for giving up a third of his royalties and some name recognition, did Clyde Otis get any bang for his buck out of this Nancy Lee stunt? 

I don't think so. The song was probably on track to succeed no matter what, given the A-list artists and major label behind it and the endorsement of Dick Clark, who played a big role as a hit maker by featuring up-and-coming records and artists on his show. Whether or not the Nancy Lee marketing campaign made a difference, "The Stroll" became a smash hit on the pop and R&B charts (#1 in Cash Box!), and teens across the nation lined up to do the Stroll to this and other records in a similar vein, such as The RevelsMidnight Stroll” and Chuck Willis’s “Betty And Dupree.” 

Clyde Otis himself further capitalized on the craze by recording an EP of pop standards “in Stroll tempo” in 1958 (although his name was hard to find on the record). And Willis, for his part in all of it, became known as the King of the Stroll. Nancy Lee does not appear to have continued her music career beyond appearing in some photo shoots with The Diamonds.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Joe Dowell's rarest album: BGA Benefit Concert 2002

 


Joe Dowell, who scored a #1 US pop hit with "Wooden Heart" in 1961, released a number of obscure records after being dropped by Smash Records just two years later, but his rarest album isn't Joe Dowell Sings Folk Songs, the private-label album from 1964 that was pressed in an edition of 500, or Of Earth & Heaven, his self-released inspirational CD. His rarest album is BGA Benefit Concert, a live recording of a program he performed as a fundraiser for Bloomington Grove Academy in Bloomington, Illinois, in October 2002. 

I don't know anything about Bloomington Grove Academy other than that it is allegedly haunted. The live album didn't receive a retail release and doesn't even have a proper cover; it's just a CD-R with a paper label that Joe gave away to a small number of people. Joe gave me the copy above when I interviewed him for the liner notes of the Bear Family CD Wooden Heart

In the Bloomington Grove Academy concert, Dowell performs variously with live instrumental accompaniment and pre-recorded instrumental backing tracks and was joined by his wife and daughters on vocals on some songs. A guest singer, Ronnie Jones, sings "Old Man River" and possibly "It's More Than a Tattered Flag," which is sung by someone other than Joe. One of Joe's daughters sings "I Got the Sun in the Morning" solo. The second half of the concert includes instrumental renditions of a piece by Moritz Moszkowski, Santo & Johnny's dreamy guitar instrumental "Sleepwalk," and the country standard "Steel Guitar Rag." 

The only songs in the program that Joe had recorded before are "Wooden Heart" and "Jamaica Farewell," the latter of which he included on his 1964 folk album. Most of the songs are pop and folk standards, including an interpretation of Ed Ames' hit "My Cup Runneth Over." When I interviewed Joe, he told me that he wished Smash Records had allowed him to become an easy-listening vocalist like Ames instead of positioning him as a teen idol, which Joe believed sabotaged his career aspirations. He really disliked the label "teen idol."

The copy of the CD that Joe gave me has a note on the front that was written by Joe's friend Paul Dunn, a former disk jockey. At the time that we were working on the Bear Family anthology, Joe was lobbying hard for it to include an updated new recording of "Wooden Heart," which he was certain would become a #1 hit all over again and catapult him into the late-night television talk-show circuit. That didn't happen, but the note reflects some of that effort:

Hey, Greg,

Here is a rare copy of Joe Dowell's LIVE Bloomington Grove Academy Fund Raising CD. HIGHLIGHTS of the CD include Joe Dowell singing a great, updated version of "Wooden Heart" with his German wife and two daughters singing on the chorus. I wish that Joe's upcoming Bear Family CD would include a year 2003 version of Joe singing "Wooden Heart" with his family! Cuts #1, 2, 9 and 18 feature Joe doing Frank Sinatra songs with Frank's original orchestral backgrounds. Joe's voice really comes through strong on cuts #5, 7 and 10. You will also enjoy guest artist Ronnie Jones doing an a capella version of Showboat's "Old Man River"! 

Sincerely,

Paul Dunn

For those who would like to experience this rare concert program and hear what Joe sounded like 40 years after "Wooden Heart" went to #1, I uploaded most of the tracks to YouTube, and they can be heard below.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Halloween novelty hit "Monster Mash" becomes a cereal

 


Bobby "Boris" Pickett's 1962 chart-topper "The Monster Mash" is the daddy of all Halloween novelty records, and because of the song's renewed popularity on Tik Tok, General Mills is releasing a new limited-edition monster cereal this season called "Monster Mash."

General Mills says the cereal is being released to commemorate the 50th anniversary of their monster cereals, which were introduced in 1971, but I'm guessing that the Tik Tok popularity of "Monster Mash" influenced the direction that their anniversary celebration took.

Whatever the catalyst, the song "Monster Mash" is worth celebrating. It holds up to repeated listening better than a lot of novelty songs and inspired the great Mr. Show sketch "Monster Parties: Fact or Fiction?" Collectors of Halloween-themed novelties know that a lot of these songs are terrible, but "Monster Mash" is catchy, crackles with energy, and tells a story.

Although Monster Mash cereal is being branded as a new cereal, it isn't exactly new. It's a combination of pieces from all five monster cereals: Count Chocula, Franken Berry, Boo Berry, Fruit Brute, and Fruity Yummy Mummy. The inclusion of the latter two cereals is interesting, because those varieties have been discontinued for years, and, apart from a brief return to the market several years ago, will be available for the first time in a long time in the Monster Mash medley. 

A caveat, though: If you fondly remember Fruit Brute and Fruity Yummy Mummy from your childhood, don't get your hopes up about revisiting them in the Monster Mash mix, because they might be reformulated like the other three monster cereals. 

That's right—the monster cereals of today are nothing like they were when they were introduced. Back in the '70s, the monster cereals were made with oat flour, so the flavor and texture were similar to Cheerios. When the monster cereals started being offered only as seasonal items at Halloween, the recipes were reformulated, and now they're made with corn meal, like Cap'n Crunch. And also like Cap'n Crunch, the crunchy bits now have the same ability to shred the roof of your mouth as broken glass and volcanic rock.

Food quality aside, any addition to the monster cereals line is sure to excite cereal fanatics, for whom the monster cereals hold a special place in pop-culture history. The new Monster Mash box has an awesome retro 1970s look but at least one anachronism: The reverse flying-V guitar that Boo Berry is playing wasn't introduced until 2007.

A brief aside about Boo Berry: As a longtime fan, I miss the old recipe, so when Cheerios introduced a blueberry flavor a few years ago, I hoped it would be more like the original Boo Berry than the current Boo Berry is. Unfortunately, the blueberry flavor is subtle and the cereal has no marshmallows, which are an integral part of the monster cereal experience. However, if you removed the marshmallows from a box of modern Boo Berry and added them to the blueberry Cheerios, you'd end up with something more like the original Boo Berry than the current Boo Berry is. Someone should do this and let me know how it is.

It's worth mentioning that the monster cereal characters are no strangers to novelty records. In 1979, General Mills issued a series of flexi discs that featured the monster characters, including the classics "The Monsters Go Disco" and "Monster Adventures in Outer Space."  


Sunday, September 5, 2021

When Encyclopedia Britannica hated rock 'n' roll

 



The alleged use of educational and reference materials to push an agenda has been a point of controversy in the sciences for decades, but did you know that the Encyclopedia Britannica was used to promote the anti-rock 'n' roll viewpoints of cultural elites in the late '50s and early '60s?

It's true. In Arnold Shaw's excellent book The Rockin' 50s (published in 1973), Shaw shares some quotations about the state of music in 1958 from the Encyclopedia Britannica yearbook. The encyclopedia entry was written by Sigmund Spaeth, a Britannica contributor who really hated rock 'n' roll. Spaeth summed up the popular music of 1958 like this:

The incubus of rock 'n' roll continued to weigh down the popular music of the year, with a majority of the music representing some form of the illiterate, savage noise.... The violence of this juvenile concentration on aboriginal rhythms actually led to several cities eventually barring rock 'n' roll from public performance. ... One of the biggest sensations of the 'Hit Parade' was a definitely Negro exaltation, He's Got the Whole World in His Hands...."

1959

Intrigued by this outpouring of racially loaded anti-rock rhetoric from a stodgy encyclopedia, I looked at Britannica Book of the Year 1960 to see if Spaeth held forth in a similar manner that year. He did! Spaeth wrote:

The menace of 'rock 'n' roll' continued through 1959, although it showed some signs of weakening. Elvis Presley's military service did not interfere noticeably with his standing as high priest of the cult, and his popularity with teen-agers accounted for at least three hits....

...There was also a flicker of encouragement in the fact that some real folk music managed to find its way into the mass of incredible trash, a trend already established by the jazzed-up Negro exaltation, "He's Got the Whole World in His Hand."  

There he goes again with that "Negro exaltation" stuff. He really liked that phrase. 

Spaeth also liked show tunes, or at least some of them. Remarking that the "few good songs" that were released in 1959 "were seldom heard except in the theatres," he went on to say:

When Kurt Weill wrote The Three-Penny Opera, he deliberately turned out a vulgar, worthless tune called "Mack, the Knife." Brought up to date and recorded by Bobby Darin, it became one of the big hits of the year.

Elsewhere in the entry he gets in some digs at Fabian, describing him as "highly synthetic." Fair enough. 

1961

In the 1962 yearbook Spaeth was right back at it, beginning his article on the previous year's music thusly:

Once more it was difficult if not impossible to express any enthusiasm for the music being produced in the U.S. As of 1961 there was very little material that could be credited with either musical value or novelty. There was the same emphasis on the "big beat" characteristic of the nauseous "rock 'n' roll," although this particular type of musical illiteracy seemed gradually to be losing its hold on even the most undiscriminating teen-agers. 

I wonder if many teenagers read this encyclopedia entry and agreed?

Spaeth argued, with some merit, that the hit records of 1961 were hits only because of payola and the star power of the performers, not the quality of the songs: 

Again the success of a popular song depended largely on phonograph records rather than sheet music, and the sale of records could be traced to the drawing power of the interpreters, not the merit or appeal of the song. The form of bribery known as "payola" reportedly continued to play an important role in such spurious promotion of commercial trash. 

After giving a rundown of the previous year's hits, Spaeth managed to find two pop records he actually liked: 

To balance such a consistent array of nonsense, there were at least two songs published in 1961 that could command respect. The first was the theme from the motion picture Exodus, by Ernest Gold, whose background music for that film won an Academy award. The song had an excellent melody of the Hebraic type and was helpfully recorded by Pat Boone (also credited with the words), the Ferrante-Teicher team and orchestrally by Mantovani

The other outstanding popular song of 1961 was "Never on Sunday," also derived from a film of the same title and winner of the "Oscar" as the best of the year in that field. The composer was a Greek, Manos Hodijidakis, and the song profited by the recordings of Don Costa, the Chordettes and the star of the picture itself, Melina Mercouri

Even though I'm a Pat Boone fan, I find it pretty amusing that a person could hate all the music of the rock 'n' roll era until Pat Boone's vocal version of "The Exodus Song" came along.

Today, artists in music and film are sometimes criticized for remaking old songs and movies instead of creating new ones, but Spaeth felt differently; he hated new music and liked old music, so he saw any return to pre-rock songs and styles as an improvement:

There was an encouraging trend toward the revival of song hits of the past, including some authentic folk music, obviously resulting from the increasing realization by even the juvenile singers of the poverty of current material.

1962

Fascinated by Spaeth's indefatigable crusade against rock, I hoped to find a continuation of his thoughts in the following year's installment, but the 1963 yearbook contained a much milder assessment of the previous year's music. What changed? Well, Spaeth didn't write that year's entry—he died in 1965, so he appears to have retired from Britannica in '63. The 1963 entry on popular music was written by Lester L. Brown, who said:

There was some improvement in the general quality of rock 'n' roll records over previous years, mainly because the smaller recording firms that had championed the idiom in the beginning had acquired enough wealth to dignify the songs with thoughtful arrangements using brasses and strings. Rock 'n' roll was essentially the same musical ragamuffin it had been in the mid-1950s but was somewhat more attractively outfitted. 

The standard narrative in rock histories is that popular music was so insipid and uninspiring in the early '60s that music listeners were desperate for anything new and different, and that's why the British Invasion happened, but according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, American pop music was actually better in 1963 than it had been in the previous years, including 1958, which is my personal favorite year in music. It's an opinion I don't recall ever hearing or reading elsewhere.

Who was this Spaeth guy, you ask? He was almost 80 years old when he wrote the words above and had been active in music, music instruction, and music journalism for decades. A musicology PhD, he wrote for The New Yorker in the 1920s and hosted some radio shows in the 1930s: Keys to Happiness (a piano instruction program), The Tune Detective (which became Spaeth's nickname), Song Sleuth, and Sigmund Spaeth's Musical Quiz. He wrote some books too. He wasn't alone in being a high-profile hater of rock 'n' roll in the '50s; he had allies among folks like Mitch Miller and Stan Freberg

 



Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Songs about Howard Hughes: 1972-78


Howard Hughes' reputation as one of the world's wealthiest men and an eccentric crackpot captured the popular imagination in the 1970s. A notorious recluse, Hughes was reported to have odd personal habits such as saving his urine in jars, wearing Kleenex boxes like shoes, and allowing his toenails to grow several inches long.

Hughes' pop-culture image and many of the strange claims about his life came from Clifford Irving's 1971 best-selling book Autobiography of Howard Hughes, a literary hoax for which Irving spent 17 months in prison.

As a result of the book and the controversies that followed, Hughes became the topic of many songs in addition to occasionally being mentioned in song lyrics. Sometimes he was referenced indirectly. For example, the R&B group The Hues Corporation, who had a #1 hit with "Rock the Boat" in 1974, originally wanted to call itself The Children of Howard Hughes but abandoned the idea for legal reasons and used the homophonous name Hues instead.

Today on The Music Weird, we look back at the songs Hughes—and Clifford Irving—inspired in the 1970s.


Sonny Hall – "Howard Hughes Is Alive and Well" (1972)

Sonny Hall appears to have started the Howard Hughes song frenzy with this talking-blues-styled song about a musician who works for Hughes but has never seen him. 


Bud & Bud, AKA the Hooper Twins – "Howard Hughes Is Alive and Well" (1972)

Hall's record was soon covered by Bud & Bud, who sound a bit like Homer & Jethro


Leo Teel – "Like Trying to Find Howard Hughes" (1972)

This mournful song about a heartbroken man doesn't have a chorus, and the titular line is sung only once. Teel was a Texas artist and recording engineer who cut a single for Decca way back in 1951.


John Hartford – "Howard Hughes' Blues" (1972)

The great John Hartford offers a gently parodic but sympathetic view of Hughes. 


Dave Barry – Will the Real Howard Hughes Please Stand Up? LP (1972)

Humorist Dave Barry released this LP that references Howard Hughes in the title as well as in the track "H.H." on side two. 



Wayne Thomis – Howard Hughes Press Conference LP (1972)

A weird nonmusical entry: After Clifford Irving published his fraudulent Howard Hughes autobiography, Hughes held a press conference to challenge the authenticity of the book, and this press conference was released on LP for some reason. You can listen to the whole thing on archive.org.



Jim Croce – "Workin' at the Car Wash Blues" (1974)

This song is a character study of an ambitious car wash employee who dreams of becoming rich and describes himself as an "undiscovered Howard Hughes."


10cc – "The Wall Street Shuffle" (1974)

A sardonic view of Wall Street moneymaking, "The Wall Street Shuffle" asks, "Howard Hughes, did your money make you better?"


AC/DC – "Ain't No Fun (Waiting 'Round to Be a Millionaire)" (1976)


This song about wanting to get rich in rock 'n' roll ends with a shout-out to neighbor Howard, a reference to Howard Hughes.


Glenn Martin – "The Ballad of Howard Hughes' Will" (1976)

Hughes died in 1976, so his will became the topic of this country novelty song.


Buford Hirman & the Contesters – "Howard's Will (Part 1)" (1976)

Another song about Hughes' will. 


The Cruse Family – "Ode to Howard Hughes" (1977)

I haven't heard this song, but the gospel group The Cruse Family included "Ode to Howard Hughes" on their 1977 LP Faith


Ernie Dunlap – "Spruce Goose" (1977)

"Spruce Goose" refers to the Hughes H-4 Hercules, the largest flying boat ever built. Nicknamed the "Spruce Goose" because it was made out of wood (birch, incidentally—not spruce), it was designed and built by Howard Hughes' Hughes Aircraft Company in the 1940s.



The Tights – "Howard Hughes" (1978)


British punk band The Tights released only two singles during its initial run, one of which is this ode to Howard Hughes.


Boomtown Rats – "Me and Howard Hughes" (1978)

"Me and Howard Hughes" is a portrait of a reclusive friend who compares himself to Howard Hughes.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Jaws inspired a wave of shark-themed novelty songs in 1975-76

 


Steven Spielberg's film Jaws, released in the summer of 1975, was a blockbuster box-office hit. It was the highest-grossing film of all time until Star Wars bested it in 1977, and it inspired a wave of shark-themed novelty songs. A few Jaws-themed records came out after 1976, and the film was mentioned in Queen's 1978 hit "Bicycle Race," but the majority of the craze occurred within 18 months of the movie's release. 


Byron McNaughton & His All News Orchestra – "Right from the Shark's Jaws (The Jaws Interview)" (Jamie J 1427, 1975)

This break-in comedy record "bubbled under" the Billboard Hot 100. Originally released on the small Route label, it was picked up for national distribution by Jamie Records. The record reached the Top 10 at Philadelphia's WFIL. The B-side, "Jaws Jam," was credited to a different artist, The Chief


Dickie Goodman – "Mr. Jaws" (Cash CR 451, 1975)

The king of all Jaws novelties and the only one to become a major hit, "Mr. Jaws" was a #1 hit in Cash Box and a Top 5 hit in Billboard. A few years later, Dickie Goodman tried to exploit the Jaws theme again with a sequel, "Mrs. Jaws," but that one didn't chart.


Sharktooth – "Jaws" (Bryan B-1021, 1975)

This funky cut is instrumental except for a voice that repeatedly says "Jaws," similar to The Champs' 1958 hit "Tequila." 


The End – "Do the Jaws" (20th Century TC-2229, 1975)

A one-off single by a studio group. 



Atlantic Ocean – "Jaws" (Atco 45-7032, 1975)

Weird, mostly instrumental tune with interjections of "Jaws" and some talking. 


Seven Seas – "Super 'Jaws'" (RCA Victor XB 02048, 1975)

French Jaws record. Another mostly instrumental tune with interjections of "Jaws!"
 


Johnny Otis – "Jaws" (1975)

Veteran R&B performer Johnny Otis delivered this funky instrumental that has some ocean sound effects and screaming toward the end. 


Hobie Cat – "Mr. Gums" (96x 9600, 1975)

Yet another Jaws-themed break-in comedy record. 


The Investigators – "Jaws Is Working for the C.I.A." (Andee 4002, 1975)

From the title, I was expecting another break-in comedy record, but it's an actual song. 


Homemade Theatre – "Santa Jaws" and "Santa Jaws Part 2" (A&M AM-407, 1975)

This Christmas-themed Jaws novelty comes from Canada. 


Darryl Rhoades & The HaHavishnu Orchestra – "Surfin' Shark" (Wonder, 1976)

Beach Boys-styled novelty about a surfer whose legs are eaten by a shark. The refrain "super jaws" is repeated at the end. 


Love Bite – "Killer Jaws" (Magnet MAG 53, 1976)

A one-off UK single recorded for the same label as Peter Shelley and Alvin Stardust



Ted Rogers – "Beware of Mr. Shark" (Sol-Doon SDR 010, 1976)

A British novelty attempt to make some coin from the Jaws fad.


Ed Lawhorne – "Never Swim Again"/"Don't Let Old Jaws Bite You" (Plumbers 6015-14 , 1976)

A double-sided Jaws-themed record from the short-lived Plumbers label of North Carolina.



Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias – "Dread Jaws" (Transatlantic BIG 541, 1976)

Reggae song about Jaws released in the UK. Parts of the melody resemble Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry." 


Steve Allen Backed by "Red Eye" – "Jaws" (Viking VS330, 1976)

New Zealand release by the NZ Steve Allen, not the US television personality. 




Errol Holt/Ja Man All Stars – "Shark Out Deh"/"Jaws" (Locks LOX 17, 1976)

Reggae two-sider.


Skin—Flesh and Bones – "Jaws" (Spider Man, 1976)

Jamaican record with this Jaws-themed track on the B-side. The A-side is by Merlyn Webber.



Richard Hewson Orchestra – "Shark Bite" (Splash CP 6, 1976)

Disco number that may or may not be about Jaws, but the timing suggests that it's part of the craze. It was a double-sided shark-themed single, because the B-side was an instrumental titled "Hammerhead." 


Bigbite & Mack – "Deep Tooth" (Fun-E-Bone 4322, 1976?) 

Another break-in comedy record.


Gums original soundtrack – "Thar She Blows" (1976)

This song is only tangentially related to Jaws, but the X-rated Jaws parody Gums, about a killer mermaid, concludes with a raunchy "Mack the Knife"-styled theme song.