Friday, October 5, 2012

THE CARAVAN OF STARS (1963)


In 1959 Dick Clark organized his first 'Caravan Of Stars' concert.



  It took place on August 30th at the Hollywood Bowl in Hollywood, California.

The allstar lineup was as follows:
 
Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Anita Bryant, Dody Stevens, Skip & Flip, Strangers, Duane Eddy, Freddie Cannon, Jan and Dean, Bobby Rydell, Jack Scott, Ray Sharpe, Jerry Wallace, the Young Lions

The show was a sell out, with over 5,000 being turned away; and it set an all-time attendance record.

The reaction was so positive (and obviously profitable) that Clark continued to organize these 'road shows' featuring the day's top acts up until 1965.



The focus of this post is the 1963 Tour






The headliner was Bobby Vee


Vee was a consistent hitmaker, and his most recent success, "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes," had peaked at #3 on the Billboard charts in February, 1963.

He came to the tour with a respectable string of prior hits as well:
'Devil Or Angel' #6 (1960)
'Rubber Ball' #6 (1961)
'Take Good Care Of My Baby' #1 (1961)
'Run To Him' #2 (1961)
Along with 6 other records that charted in the top 40


Brian Hyland


Hyland brought with him two huge hits that had been
certified 'Gold.'

"Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" #1 (1960)
"Sealed With A Kiss" #3 (1962)
And 3 recordings that charted in the top 30


Linda Scott

Linda Scott didn't have a recent hit, but in 1961 she'd done well for herself, and she remained quite popular.

"I've Told Every Little Star"  #3 (1961)
"Don't Bet Money Honey"  #9  (1961)
"I Don't Know Why"    #12      (1961)


Jimmy Clanton

Clanton was the veteran of the group, as he'd been popular the longest.

"Just A Dream"  #4  (1958)
"Go Jimmy Go"  #5  (1959)
"Venus In Blue Jeans"  #7  (1962)
He'd also charted with four additional top 40 records by this time.



The Essex

The Essex were the most unlikely of popular music stars. 
The group consisted of four enlisted Marines stationed at Camp Lejuene, North Carolina. 
After a period of singing together on base, they each secured a 3-day pass in order to travel to New York where they cut a demo record and were signed to Roulette Records. 
The result was the million seller, "Easier Said Than Done," which hit #1 in July of 1963, and was followed in September by, "A Walkin' Miracle," which peaked at #12.


The Jaynetts


The New York girl group, The Jaynetts, have gone down in music history as yet another one hit wonder, but during the fall of 1963 they had no way of knowing that would be their eventual fate.
Their recording of, "Sally Go Round The Roses," was a huge hit, and it peaked at #2 in September of '63.


The Ronettes
The Ronettes signed on for the tour with only one hit song, but what a hit it was!
"Be My Baby" had peaked at #2 in October of '63.


Little Eva

Little Eva had gone from being Gerry Goffin & Carole King's babysitter, to singing on their huge hit, "The Locomotion."
"The Locomotion"  #1  (1962)
"Keep Your Hands Off Of My Baby"  #12 (1962)
And, at the time of the tour she had two other records that had charted in the top 40



The Dixie Belles

Nearly forgotten today, The Dixie Belles were riding the crest of a top 10 hit in the fall of '63.
"(Down At) Papa Joe's"  #9  (1963)

* Fascinating fact:  Turns out that the voices on the hit record, "(Down At) Papa Joe's" were actually those of the (all white) Anita Kerr Singers.  The three girls pictured above were assembled as a touring group


Dale & Grace

As the tour began, Dale & Grace's first record, "I'm Leaving It Up To You," was climbing the charts, and hit #1 by the end of November, 1963.  It was #1 the day the tour pulled into Dallas.


Joe Perkins


Joe Perkins had a minor hit in 1963 called, "Little Eeefin' Annie," which topped out at #76 on the Billboard Charts. 
I must admit, I'd never heard this song before, but I encourage you to click on this link and watch Perkins perform this hilarious novelty tune:


Donald Jenkins & The Delighters

This one took some digging. 
I'd never heard of Donald Jenkins & The Delighters, but apparently these boys from Chicago had a minor hit called, "Elephant Walk" (No relation to the hit, "Baby Elephant Walk").  They entered the charts in September of '63, and eventually topped out at #64.
It's an interesting and unusual tune.  Click this link if you'd like to experience it:


The Dovells
Philadelphia's own Dovells had sold a million copies of "The Bristol Stomp" since it peaked at #2 in 1961. They'd followed that with two records that charted in the top 30, and an additional top 40 hit.  They joined the tour with their latest release, "You Can't Sit Down" racing up the charts, where it eventually peaked at #3.


Paul & Paula

In the fall of '63, you couldn't get much hotter than Paul & Paula.
Actually Ray Hilldebrand & Jill Jackson - this duo's hit, "Hey Paula" had risen to #1 in February of '63, and managed to stay at number 1 for the entire month.  Hilldebrand had written the million selling song, and they'd followed it up with another composition of his called, "Young Lovers," which peaked at #6 the same year.


The Tymes

August of '63 saw The Tymes' hit, "So Much In Love" top the charts at #1.  They followed that success with a cover of the Johnny Mathis hit, "Wonderful, Wonderful," which rose to number #7 that year.
Labelmates of The Dovells (Parkway Records); The Tymes also hailed from Philly.


Myron Lee & the Caddies

Myron Lee & the Caddies were a popular band in Sioux Falls, S.D. during the late 50's.  Their big break came when they were tapped to be Buddy Knox's ("Party Doll") backing band as he toured the U.S. and Canada.  From there they were chosen by Bobby Vee to back him when he toured, and it was Vee who suggested Myron Lee & the Caddies when Dick Clark mentioned that he was looking for a reliable band to back all the acts on his '63 Caravan of Stars tour.


Dick Clark

And of course, Dick Clark.  In this photograph, Clark is performing his MC duties at one of the shows from the '63 tour.  Behind him, Myron Lee & the Caddies stand ready to play.  Toward the end of the tour (November 30, 1963) Clark would celebrate his 34th birthday.


"Everyone on the bus!"


This is a shot of the busses from the '63 tour. 
Can you imagine all these young people (most in their late teens to early 20's), with all their energy and various personalities; wedged into these busses?  
It was a random collection of 1963 American youth, black & white, with one thing in common - their love of rock & roll music, and the fact that they'd all achieved success in the industry. 
Every account that I've read from those who were on the tour has been extremely positive, with each claiming to hold very fond memories of the experience.


THIS WAS THE TOUR SCHEDULE:


                                      11/08/1963  Armory, Teaneck, NJ
                                      11/09/1963  Utica, NY
                                      11/10/1963  Bushnell Auditorium, Hartford, CT
                                      11/11/1963  War Memorial Auditorium, Utica, NY
                                      11/12/1963  War Memorial Auditorium, Johnstown, PA
                                      11/13/1963  Huntington, WVA
                                      11/14/1963  Civic Center Arena, Charleston, WVA
                                      11/15/1963  Gardens, Cincinnati, OH
                                      11/16/1963  Evansville, IN
                                      11/17/1963  Gym, Northside High School, Elkhart, IN
                                      11/18/1963  Orpheum Theatre, Madison, WI
                                      11/19/1963  Davenport, IA
                                      11/20/1963  Sioux City, IA
                                      11/21/1963  Wichita, KS

Here's where things get really weird. 

 The 1963 Caravan Of Stars show was scheduled for the Dallas Memorial Auditorium on the evening of November 22, 1963. 
The entire group was in Dallas the day Kennedy was killed, and needless to say, the show was canceled. 
I've read that several of the acts had made their way down to the parade route to watch the president's motorcade pass, and one account reported that Myron Lee was close enough to hear the shots and witness the ensuing chaos.


  Dick Clark would later recall that he, Brian Hyland, and Dale & Grace stood in front of their Main Street hotel and watched as the president's car passed.  He then went back to his hotel room and took a nap, but was soon awakened by a phone call from a New York, ABC programming exec who was shocked to learn that Clark was not aware of the shooting.  Clark immediately turned on the television and learned the awful truth. 


Weirder yet; Nick Tosches writes in his latest book, "Save The Last Dance For Satan," that Lee Harvey Oswald had purchased a ticket for the Dallas show on the morning of the 22nd. 
Now, I've diligently searched for any other source by which I might corroborate his claim, and I'm unable to find any. 
But, if it were true, I suppose the one thing I would have liked to ask Oswald is, "Dude, if you'd wanted to stop the show, why not just pull the fire alarm at the auditorium?"

The Oklahoma City show scheduled for the following day was also canceled.  Brian Hyland recalls being in a cab in Oklahoma City with Bobby Vee and The Dovells when they heard that Oswald had been shot.


     11/22/1963    Memorial Auditorium, Dallas, TX
                                                  [Canceled due to JFK assassination]

                                      11/23/1963 Oklahoma City, OK
                                                  [Canceled due to JFK assassination]
                                      11/24/1963  Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, MO                           
                                      11/25/1963  Nashville, TN
                                      11/27/1963  Louisville, KY
                                      11/28/1963  Pittsburgh, PA
                                      12/01/1963  Richmond, VA
                                      12/02/1963  Winston-Salem, NC
                                      12/03/1963  Knoxville, TN
                                      12/05/1963  Charlotte, NC
                                      12/06/1963  Raleigh, NC
                                      12/07/1963  Arena, Norfolk, VA





Want to see something remarkable?

Check out the home movie taken by Myron Lee during this1963 Caravan of Stars Tour. (Click on the link at the bottom of the page) 


Dick Clark poses with Myron Lee & the Caddies

It's an amazing glimpse behind the scenes, and filled with candid shots of the artists and Dick Clark himself.

http://youtu.be/G-JiH2O8mHk
CLICK THIS LINK TO VIEW MYRON LEE'S HOME MOVIE OF THE TOUR

* * * * *
 Little did they know that
the following year the British
would invade the U.S., and most of them
    would be washed away into musical obscurity . . .

4 comments:

  1. Great job...very interesting!!!! Thanks for your efforts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for reading my blog, and for your comment of encouragement! ken

      Delete
  2. Thank You for posting ~this is Amazing History~so glad you have helped us to learn it too : )

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for reading and commenting.

    ReplyDelete