Silhouettes (The Rays song)

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"Silhouettes"
Single by The Rays
B-side Daddy Cool
Released 1957
Format 45 rpm single
Recorded 1957
Genre Doo-wop
Length 2:45
Label XYZ; Cameo
Writer(s) Bob Crewe, Frank Slay
Producer(s) Bob Crewe, Frank Slay
Certification Gold

"Silhouettes" is a song made famous by the doo-wop group The Rays in 1957. A competing version by The Diamonds was also successful. In 1965 it was a number 5 hit for Herman's Hermits, and in 1990 it was a number 10 hit in the UK for Cliff Richard.

Writing and Rays version[edit]

In May 1957, songwriter Bob Crewe saw a couple embracing through a windowshade as he passed on a train. He quickly set about turning the image into a song. Frank Slay, who owned the small Philadelphia record label XYZ with Crewe, added lyrics, and they soon had a complete song ready to record.[1] The story has frequently been reported that Slay heard The Rays audition for Cameo-Parkway Records, for which he worked, and immediately decided that they were the perfect group for "Silhouettes". However, Slay and Crewe were actually already familiar with the group, as "Silhouettes" was their third single with them.[2]

The song received a break when popular local disc jockey Hy Lit fell asleep with a stack of newly released records on his record player. "Silhouettes" happened to be the last to play, and so it repeated until he woke up. He began to play the song on his show.[1] It became popular enough that Cameo-Parkway picked it up for national distribution, and it eventually reached number 3 on Billboard Top 100, while also hitting the top five on both the sales and airplay charts. It was the group's only top 40 hit.

The Diamonds[edit]

The Canadian pop group The Diamonds, who had experienced success with cover versions of other doo-wop records, quickly put out their own version of the song. They even used the same song, "Daddy Cool", on the b-side of their record as The Rays had.[3] Their version received widespread radio play, also reaching the top ten of the Billboard airplay chart. However, it did not reach Billboard's sales chart, and only hit number 60 on the Top 100.[4]

The Four Seasons[edit]

In 1963, The Four Seasons, fronted by Frankie Valli, also recorded this song on the album titled " Ain't That A Shame And Twelve Others" [5]

Herman's Hermits[edit]

Herman's Hermits recorded the song in 1965 after hearing the song on American Armed Forces Radio.[1] It reached number 1 in Canada (In both RPM and CHUM charts). It became their third hit in the "British Invasion" of the US, reaching number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and also reached the top 5 in the UK. Information from Peter Noone and others indicates that guitarist Vic Flick played on the track, and not Jimmy Page as previously thought.[6]

Cliff Richard[edit]

Cliff Richard released a live version as a single in 1990, reaching number 10 on the UK Singles Chart.[7] It was the first single culled from his 1990 live album From a Distance: The Event. The single and album were live recordings of two special concerts celebrating Richard's 30th anniversary of his recording career. Titled The Event, the concerts were held at the Original Wembley Stadium with an audience of 72,000 each evening over the 16 and 17 June 1989.[8][9][10]

Legacy[edit]

Other artists who've recorded "Silhouettes" include:

  • Steve Gibson and the Red Caps
  • Frankie Lymon
  • The Alley Cats
  • The Nylons
  • The CrestsThe Crests Sing All Biggies (1960)
  • Dennis BrownMoney in My Pocket: Definitive Collection[11]
  • Claude François sang it in French under the same title, sometimes labeled "Silhouettes enlacées" because of the lyrics.
  • Thick Pigeon - From comp "Chantons Noël - Ghosts Of Christmas Past" on Les Disques Du Crepuscule - 1981

Andy Griffith did a recorded comedy skit on that song, where a studio group sings a line from the song "Silhouettes", and then repeatedly stops, where Griffith makes his comic remark on the lyrical line before the song resumes. Only 2 verses of the song were used. This was recorded in 1957.

A rock and roll revival act, Sha Na Na, performed the song at the Woodstock Festival in mid-1969.

The Ronettes released a version of the song on their 1965 Colpix Records release, "The Ronettes featuring Veronica."

Doo-wop group The Silhouettes (known for their hit "Get A Job") were named after the song.[12]

According to John Lennon, The Beatles' song "No Reply" (1964) was inspired by "Silhouettes".[13]

The song also appears in the Broadway musical Jersey Boys.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Shannon, Bob; John Javna (1986). Behind The Hits:Inside Stories of Classic Pop and Rock and Roll. New York: Warner Books. p. 17. ISBN 0-446-38171-3. 
  2. ^ Warner, Jay. American Singing Groups: A History From 1940 to Today. New York: Hal Leonard. pp. 283–284. ISBN 978-0-634-09978-6. 
  3. ^ Worth, Fred L. (1985). Rock Facts. New York: Facts On File Publications. p. 106. ISBN 0-8160-1099-4. 
  4. ^ Joel Whitburn, Top Pop Singles 1955-1999 (Menomonee Falls, WI: Record Research, 2000), 176.
  5. ^ Frankie Valli and Co. STATESIDE (UK) (Veejay) SL 10042 From June 1963 (Mono)
  6. ^ Kotal, Kent. "FORGOTTEN HITS INTERVIEWS PETER NOONE". Forgotten Hits. 
  7. ^ "Cliff Richard UK singles chart positions". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2014-05-02. 
  8. ^ "From a Distance: The Event' (album)" (Media notes). Cliff Richard. UK: EMI. 1990. 
  9. ^ Harris, Jaqueline; Wright, Karen (August–September 1989). "Dynamite International Magazine". Dynamite International (Utrecht, Netherlands: The International Cliff Richard Movement) (125): 1, 3. 
  10. ^ "From a Distance: The Event (album)". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-05-03. 
  11. ^ Johnson, Christopher. Dennis Brown: The 'Crown Prince' Of Reggae, National Public Radio. 26 April 2010. Retrieved on 2010-04-26.
  12. ^ Asanovic, Bosko. "The Silhouettes". Soulful Kinda Music. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  13. ^ Lennon, John; David Schiff (2000). All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. p. 174. ISBN 978-0-312-25464-3. Retrieved 2009-08-15. 
  14. ^ Ritchey, David (2008-06-26). "‘Jersey Boys’ a hit at State Theatre". West Side Leader. Retrieved 2009-08-16.