I Sold My Heart to the Junkman
|"I Sold My Heart to the Junkman"|
|Single by The Basin Street Boys feat. Ormonde Wilson|
|Genre||Rhythm & Blues|
|Writer(s)||Leon René, as Jimmie Thomas|
'"I Sold My Heart to the Junkman"' is a 1946 recording by The Basin Street Boys featuring Ormonde Wilson, written by Leon René, under the songwriting pseudonym of Jimmie Thomas. It was released on the "Exclusive Records" label in 1946. It was covered a year later by Etta Jones with J. C. Heard and his Orchestra and released on RCA Victor records.
Patti LaBelle and Her Blue Belles
In 1962, Chicago-based girl group The Starlets were riding high with their top forty single, "Better Tell Him No". That year, while on tour, they were convinced by Newtown Records president Harold Robinson to appear in a recording schedule where they recorded two songs. One of these songs was "I Sold My Heart to the Junkman". After recording the songs, Robinson released the song on his label but instead of crediting the Starlets, instead credited a Philadelphia-based girl group named The Ordettes, who had changed their name to The Blue Belles - after a threat from another record boss, the name was altered to Patti LaBelle and Her Blue Belles.
The song eventually reached number fifteen on the Billboard Hot 100 thanks to promotion of the song by the Blue Belles, who made their first television appearance on American Bandstand in mid-1962. It's unknown as to whether Robinson erased the original lead vocal from the song and added in Patti LaBelle's lead vocal, or whether the Starlets themselves were replaced by session singers. Nevertheless the Starlets' manager sued Robinson for ownership of the song, with the girls each winning $5,000 from the suit. Despite this, however, it's still isn't clear as to how the song was released.
Ironically when the Blue Belles recorded their own version shortly before promoting it, both the Starlets and Blue Belles' versions were strikingly similar to each other. The Starlets didn't fully recover from the "Junkman" scandal and after a half-year of new recordings, disbanded in 1963. Meanwhile, the newly christened Patti LaBelle and the Blue Belles went on to national fame that year with their hit, "Down the Aisle (The Wedding Song)".
To this day, "I Sold My Heart to the Junkman" is credited to Patti LaBelle and the Blue Belles.