Silhouettes (The Rays song)
|Single by The Rays|
|Format||45 rpm single|
|Writer(s)||Bob Crewe, Frank Slay|
|Producer(s)||Bob Crewe, Frank Slay|
"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
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. 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.
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. 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 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. 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.
The Four Seasons
Herman's Hermits recorded the song in 1965 after hearing the song on American Armed Forces Radio. 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.
Cliff Richard released a live version as a single in 1990, reaching number 10 on the UK Singles Chart. 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.
Other artists who've recorded "Silhouettes" include:
- Steve Gibson and the Red Caps
- Frankie Lymon
- The Alley Cats
- The Nylons
- The Crests — The Crests Sing All Biggies (1960)
- Shades, whose version was released in 1975 on Bell Records, and believed to be Tommy Vance under an alias
- Bob Dylan and The Band — The Bootleg Series Vol. 11: The Basement Tapes Complete (Recorded 1967, released 2014)
- Dennis Brown — Money in My Pocket: Definitive Collection
- 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.
The Ronettes released a version of the song on their 1965 Colpix Records release, "The Ronettes featuring Veronica."
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