Wheels (The String-A-Longs song)

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Single by The String-A-Longs
B-side "Am I Asking Too Much"
Released 1960
Label Warwick
Writer(s) Richard Stephens, Jimmy Torres, Norman Petty
Producer(s) Norman Petty
The String-A-Longs singles chronology
"Brass Buttons"

"Wheels" is The String-A-Longs' biggest hit single, a success in 1961. Their debut release, it was issued in 1960. The tune peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was the number 8 single of 1961 according to Billboard.[1] The track reached number 8 in the UK Singles Chart.[2] It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.[3]

The tune was composed as "Tell the World" by Stephens and Torres of the String-A-Longs, who were then called the Leen Teens. When this was recorded at Norman Petty's studio, the song was backed by Petty's composition entitled "Wheels". But when the single was issued by Warwick Records the labels for the two sides were switched and so "Tell the World" became "Wheels". When it became a hit, Petty claimed the composing credit, as shown by the label. In 1964, the parties agreed to share the credit and so the Broadcast Music copyright agency recorded all three as the composers.[4][5]

Another version of the origin of 'Wheels' is that Norman Petty had written the hit instrumental while the String-A-Longs had composed a boogie instrumental they had titled as 'Wheels'. Petty's instrumental was initially called 'Tell the World'. When the record was pressed, the labels were reversed. This listed Torres and Stephens as the writers of Petty's instrumental. Petty was credited as the writer on the flip-side in error also. It seems that Petty was able to claim a credit for writing Wheels, but the confusion has never really ended. However, since Stephens and Torres were never eliminated completely as 'co-writers' of the song, it seems possible that they did compose some part of the song, while recording it. Keith McCormack one of the band members stated that he got too hoarse to sing another song they'd brought from Plainview to Clovis to record on that day, so they instead recorded Petty's instrumental which became the hit.[6]

In Britain later the same year the tune was revived by the Joe Loss Orchestra as "Wheels Cha Cha"; it reached #21. It became popular in France later in 1961 under the title "Dans le cœur de ma blonde".

Billy Vaughn's version was at number one in the 1961 German singles charts with the song for 14 weeks; in the USA he reached #28.

Johnny Duncan released a vocal version with lyrics by Johnny Flamingo in 1963.[7]

The Ventures, Hot Butter, and Jorgen Ingmann also recorded a version.


  1. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1961". Retrieved 2008-06-20. 
  2. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 536. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  3. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 140. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  4. ^ The String-a-Longs, Black Cat Rockabilly 
  5. ^ La Herencia, 2007, p. 46 
  6. ^ Plainview Daily Herald, June 25, 1995 issue, page 3A
  7. ^ "Up Close with Keith McCormack and Aubrey deCordova of the Legendary String-A-Longs". Musicdish.com. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  • Joel Whitburn, The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits. 7th edn, 2000