Thursday, September 4, 2014

Joan Rivers' foray into novelty music, c. 1960

Comedian Joan Rivers died today, so I thought I'd write about her brief and little-known foray into novelty music in the early years of her career. 

Around 1960-61, Rivers and fellow actor/comic Sandy Baron released this odd novelty record on Sure Records. At this time, Rivers was an unknown comic playing Greenwich Village comedy clubs. She wouldn't gain national attention until she appeared on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show in 1965. 

Both sides of the single featured music and dialog. "Adam and Eve" is a dialog between Rivers and Baron and is based on the biblical Adam and Eve story. It's similar in concept to David Seville's 1959 hit "Judy," which I wrote about a while back. Seville's song features dialog between a man and woman who are dancing, and in "Adam and Eve," Adam and Eve eventually start dancing while talking.

The B side of the Rivers and Baron single, "Little Mozart," features only Rivers. In this bit, she scolds a young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart for playing the bongos and being too "far out." A 1996 anthology, Beat Beat Beatsville!: Beatnik Rock 'n' Roll, collected a bunch of beatnik parodies like this one, although it didn't include "Little Mozart."

Sure Records was a Linden, New Jersey, label that operated in the late 1950s and early 1960s and was distributed by Adonis Records of New York.
The label's address was in care of G&S Productions at 20 East Elizabeth Avenue in Linden, New Jersey. In the late 1940s/early 1950s, this address had been the site of David and Jules Braun's famous R&B labels DeLuxe and Regal Records, and in the mid 1960s it became the site of Linden Radio and Appliance Co.

George Stalter, who co-wrote the two "songs" on the Joan Rivers and Sandy Baron single, must have been either the "G," the "S," or the "G&S" of G&S Productions. He also arranged, conducted, and co-wrote Bobby Valo's 1960 Sure single "Hey Lover Girl" with Joe Gottfried, one of the owners of Adonis Records. 

Stalter wrote a number of songs in the late '50s and early '60s that were recorded by obscure artists such as the Hubcaps, Ray Arlo, and Stel Stevens, and even recorded a single under his own name for Pam Records in 1959 ("Just One More Chance" b/w "Soft Touch"). It's credited to "George Stalter, His Piano & Orchestra."

Although many of these songs that Stalter wrote were supposedly registered with ASCAP, neither the ASCAP nor BMI databases have any record of Stalter as a composer.

Sandy Baron, Rivers' partner on "Adam and Eve," recorded a handful of comedy albums and singles in his career and wrote Lou Rawls' Grammy-winning 1971 hit "A Natural Man." Before Baron died in 2001, he played a recurring role on the sitcom Seinfeld as Jack Klompus.


  1. i just found a george stalter 45 pam label soft touch is this rare?

  2. Hi Kenneth,

    It's rare but there isn't much demand for it, so it wouldn't be very valuable.