Bye, Bye Baby (F McNulty) and (Rockin’ Rollin’) Clementine (K Taylor) and Oh Yeh, Uh Huh (Robertson/Gibson) – Col Joye and the Joy Boys 1959
Bye, Bye Baby was originally recorded in the US by Sonny Williams (1958) and Teresa Brewer (1959) and it became the breakthrough hit for former country singer Col Joye (real name Colin Jacobsen) and the first of four top 5 hits for him in 1959 charting at #3 in May of that year. Joye who with Johnny O’Keefe (see below) ruled the local rock scene for many years, also shared top billing with him at Festival Records in Sydney, the company that had unleashed rock and roll on the country in 1955, with the release of Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley and the Comets.
Col was originally trained as a pianist but became the rhythm guitarist in his brother Kevin’s jazz band, the K.J. Quintet who played in hotels and venues around Maroubra (Syd) and featured on promoter Bill McColl’s Jazzorama Concerts in Sydney.The band ultimately shifted to country and then to rock and roll when inspired by the movie Rock Around the Clock released in 1956.
Starring Bill Haley and the Comets, the Platters and Freddie Bell and the Bell Boys, Col saw the film numerous times so that he could sketch the guitars and amplifiers and have copies made, these were the early days of rock invention in Australia, and performers taught themselves not only how to sing but how to replicate the instruments and sounds of their American idols.
Col Joye and the Joy Boys were fully formed by 1957, Col was joined by his brothers Kevin Jacobsen (keyboards) and Keith Jacobsen (bass), Norm Day (lead guitar), Dave Bridge (guitar), Laurie Erwin (sax), and Johnny Bogie (drums), completed the lineup.
Unlike Johnny O’Keefe, Col Joye presented a more carefully cultivated, wholesome, boy-next-door image, like Pat Boone, Frankie Avalon and Paul Anka, in the US; via appearances on Bandstand and Lee Gordon’s series of Big Shows at the Sydney Stadium, he quickly emerged as one of the stars on the emerging rock scene.
Bye, Bye Baby was recorded at the Festival Record studios in Ultimo (Syd) on two track recording equipment, it was essentially a recording of a live performance, Col and the Joy Boys were joined by the vocal backing of the Sapphires, catchy hooks and riffs abound and the lyrics about fare welling a sweetheart were easy for fans to identify with.
The guitarists Day and Bridge used only nylon strings for the recording and the bass guitar was out of tune for most of the first part of the song, percussion was subtle, and Col delivered almost whispered vocals, as he had a heavy cold on the day of the recording – all things considered the band and their backing singers The Sapphires who provided resonant “ooh-ahh” backing vocals – combined to deliver one of the early gently rocking classics of the rock and roll era.
Col quickly followed up with (Rockin’ Rollin’) Clementine which charted at #3 in July, for his second top five hit of 1959, this record confirmed Col’s early stature as a top rock ‘n’ roller, it was a grittier, less restrained Col here, and the record confirmed his rock credentials. The song had a long history dating back to the Californian goldfields of the nineteenth century and had been re-arranged and its lyrics updated over the years to adapt to changing musical tastes and genres. This more contemporary arrangement of the song was developed by local Festival record producer Ken Taylor, who swapped the original waltz tempo for a rockier refrain, which was ultimately preferred by Col Joye, Bobby Darin also recorded the song as Clementine in his swinging Las Vegas club style, and hit #21 in the US in 1960.
Oh Yeh, Uh Huh was the first national #1 hit of the Australian rock and roll era by a local performer – it was a cover version of a minor hit by US duo Mickey (McHouston Baker) and Sylvia (Sylvia Vanterpool) from 1958, who had previously scored in 1957 with the Bo Diddley/Jody Williams composition Love Is Strange. The song was co-written by Joe Robinson, who was married to Sylvia Vanterpool, who as a husband and wife team would become important entrepreneurs in the US recording industry, founding successful record companies including the soul music label All Platinum Records, and early rap label Sugar Hill Records. Sylvia also continued to record as a solo artist and scored global hits with the sultry Pillow Talk and the early rap classic The Message with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.
The Joy Boys delivered convincing backing on this song, brother Kevin intros on piano and regular drummer Johnny Bogie forsakes his drum kit to tap out the percussion on a typewriter, just as Buddy Holly’s drummer Jerry Allison had done on their 1957 hit Every Day. Lead guitar Norm Day delivered solid riffs, Laurie Erwin was effective on sax, and Col’s vocals were assured and convincing, they were backed by a vocal group credited on the record as the New Notes.
Oh Yeh, Uh Huh was the sixth biggest selling single of 1959, in a stellar year for Col, he quickly followed up with Teenage Baby co-composed by Sydney locals Ray Melton with assistance from DJ Tony Withers, which charted #5 in November ‘59, and he hit the charts early in 1960 with the sprightly (Making Love On A) Moonlit Night which charted #10 in June 1960.