The Ballad of Davy Crockett
|"The Ballad of Davy Crockett"|
|Ballad, Folk song by The Wellingtons|
|Writer(s)||George Bruns music
Thomas W. Blackburn lyrics
The song was introduced on ABC's television series Disneyland, in the premiere episode of October 27, 1954. Fess Parker is shown performing the song on a log cabin set in frontiersman clothes, accompanied by similarly attired musicians. The song would later be heard throughout the Disneyland television miniseries Davy Crockett, first telecast on December 15, 1954. Parker played the role of Davy Crockett and continued in four other episodes made by Walt Disney Studios. It was sung by The Wellingtons. Buddy Ebsen co-starred as George "Georgie" Russel, and Jeff York played legendary boatman Mike Fink.
The first album version was recorded by Bill Hayes, quickly followed by versions by Fess Parker and Tennessee Ernie Ford (recorded February 7, 1955). All three versions made the Billboard magazine charts in 1955: Hayes' version made #1 on the weekly chart (from March 26 through April 23) and #7 for the year, Parker's reached #6 on the weekly charts and #31 for the year, while Ford's peaked at #4 on the weekly country chart and #5 on the weekly pop chart and charted at #37 for the year. A fourth version, by bluegrass singer Mac Wiseman, reached #10 on the radio charts in May 1955. The song also reached #1 on the Cash Box charts, from March 26 through May 14, 1955. A contemporary version also exists of the Western singing group the Sons of the Pioneers. Over ten million copies of the song were sold.
In the United Kingdom, Hayes' version reached #2 in the New Musical Express chart, while Ford's version achieved #3, and a version by UK singer Max Bygraves reached #20. Several other versions were recorded by British artistes in 1955 and 1956, including Billy Cotton, Gary Miller, Ronnie Ronalde, and Dick James.
The Crockett craze
Walt Disney Productions launched a massive marketing campaign in the UK in 1955 to publicize the film Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier (released in Britain in 1956) and to make the country's youth "Crockett conscious." There was already a "Crockett craze" in the U.S., where the episodes had become wildly popular. Crockett merchandise was produced en masse, the most iconic item being the imitation coonskin cap. The craze became immensely popular amongst schoolchildren, and the ballad made its way across the Atlantic Ocean. A French version by Annie Cordy was number 1 for 5 weeks in France in August 1956.
United States Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee, a Democratic presidential hopeful, wore a Davy Crockett cap during the 1956 campaign, as the Democratic vice-presidential nominee. Stevenson-Kefauver lost in the general election to Eisenhower-Nixon.
The craze was referenced in the film Back to the Future, which is set predominantly in 1955. In the film, the Fess Parker version of the song is heard on a jukebox inside Lou's Diner and, in a later scene, one of Lorraine Baines' brothers appears wearing a coonskin cap. The song is sung by the characters Henry and Sammy in the Country Bear Jamboree. The 2009 film Fantastic Mr. Fox opens with the eponymous fox playing the song on his belt radio.
- A 1955 single release on Dot Records by International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame inductee, Mac Wiseman, reached the #10 position on the Country charts.
- Also in 1955, Burl Ives released the song as a single on Decca.
- Annie Cordy's version, "La Ballade de Davy Crockett", was number 1 in the charts for five weeks in France in August 1956.
- In 1962, Pinky and Perky included their version of the song on their EP "Pinky and Perky Out West".
- A rendition was recorded and released on The Kentucky Headhunters' 1991 album Electric Barnyard, and was released as a single. It peaked at number 49 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart.
- Tim Curry recorded a cover version for Disney's Music From The Park album in 1996.
- Mannheim Steamroller's new-age instrumental rendition appeared in their 1999 album Mannheim Steamroller Meets the Mouse.
- They Might Be Giants covered the song, with modified lyrics, as "The Ballad of Davy Crockett (in Outer Space)" on their 2009 album Here Comes Science.
- DAVY CROCKETT (TV 1954) George Bruns – Recordman #110
- Billboard, May 28, 1955, Most Played By Jockeys, p. 58
- Reporter-News Online: Texas News – The life, legend of Davy Crockett
- Western Writers of America (2010). "The Top 100 Western Songs". American Cowboy. Archived from the original on 10 August 2014.
- Opie, The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren
- Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 223. ISBN 0-89820-177-2.
Melody of Love
Billy Vaughn & Orchestra / David Carroll & Orchestra / Four Aces
|Cash Box magazine best selling record chart
March 26, 1955–May 14, 1955 (8 weeks)
Les Baxter & Orchestra / Al Hibbler / Roy Hamilton