Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: As one who loves the sight and sound of 78 rpms, I enjoy any information you impart about the good old 10-inch format.

Despite being more fragile than vinyl and CDs, I believe anyone hearing a like-new 78 played on a 78 juke box will agree that the more modern formats can match the audio quality.

Buster Brown's 1960 hit “Fannie Mae” once got a lot of publicity as one of the last first generation pop-rock releases to be made on both 45 and 78 rpm.

I don't have that one but I do own Chuck Berry's “Almost Grown,” which is nearly as late as “Fannie Mae.”

Have you discovered others even more recent?
—Stan Prescott, Honesdale, Pa.

DEAR STAN: Though significant disc-coveries are made every week or so, we rarely learn of a post-1959 release on 78. Perhaps once every five years a new one is unearthed.

“Fannie Mae” is a wonderful 78 to own, but we know of at least three that came later.

For the record, “Fannie Mae” (Fire 1008) is a November 1959 issue that is commonly regarded as a 1960 hit. That is reasonable since it rode the pop charts from the first of February '60 to the end of May.

Chuck Berry had three 78s after “Almost Grown” (Chess 1722): “Back in the U.S.A.” (Chess 1729) and “Childhood Sweetheart” (Chess 1737) from 1959, and “Too Pooped to Pop” (Chess 1747), issued in January 1960.

About eight months after “Fannie Mae,” Fire had their next hit with Bobby Marchan's “There Is Something on Your Mind” (Fire 1022). Surprisingly, they pressed a few on 78s and, thus far, this summer '60 release is the latest one known.

Recently, a lot of media attention has been given to a 78 rpm of Bobbi Bolden's “Need Me Tonight” (Sue 800).

The excitement comes from Sue's selection number (800), which would by all logical accounts make this a January 1964 issue.

We know that Sue 799, “I Can't Stand It” (the Soul Sisters), is a Pop and R&B hit that made its chart debut in late February '64.

However, we have since learned that 800 didn't follow 799, which is apparently because they issued 800 in early 1957.

The company's next single, from April 1957, is then numbered 700. We may never know the reason for the change from an 800 series to a 700 one, but that is clearly what they did.

From then they are absolutely consistent, running consecutive numbers through the summer of '64. During that seven-year span, Sue singles are numbered from 700 through 807. Unlike some labels, Sue's selection numbers did not jump all over the place as though picked by lottery balls.

Surprisingly, we have never known of the existence of another 78 rpm of Sue 800. Until we learn otherwise, we must rate It as one of the rarest 78s ever, and probably worth several hundred dollars.

For those who wonder, a “first generation” late 78 differs from others in that it must be a late '50s or '60s counterpart to a 45, with both issued simultaneously.

Not in the running are “ghost records” (low-priced discs with unknown artists doing well-known hits), special promotional or novelty 78s not intended for the general public, and those created especially for 78 juke boxes.

DEAR JERRY: One of my favorites of the '80s is the gothic “Cry Little Sister,” from “The Lost Boys” soundtrack.

On this album, “Cry Little Sister” is credited to Gerard McMann, but with a little internet detective work I find that McMann is actually Gerard McMahon.

I also found a “Bubbling Under the Hot 100” single from 1976 titled “Hello, Operator” (Caribou 9013) by someone named “Gerard.”

Is all of this by the same person? Do you have any info on this mystery man?
—Hal Whitcomb, Toronto, Canada

DEAR HAL: All of that and more.

The fellow known in the '70s as Gerard, in the '80s as both Gerard McMann and Gerard McMahon, is now calling himself G Tom Mac — short for Gerard Thomas McMahon.

Gerard switched to McMann for the 1987 “Lost Boys” project, and the release of “Cry Little Sister,” because many dee jays didn't know how to pronounce McMahon. Strange but true.

The single release of “Cry Little Sister” sold quite well abroad, but did not chart in the US.

Since this song, described on McMahon's web site as “not just a song — it's a religious experience,” is a favorite of yours, pay a visit to

IZ ZAT SO? As Kiss fans know, their 1980 album, “Kiss Unmasked,” opens with “Is It You.” The writer of this song is the aforementioned Gerard McMahon.

Gerard later recalled how the band called him from the studio when he was away. They simply left a message on his answering machine thanking him for the tune with the newly-recorded “Is That You” played loudly in the background.

Hopefully he saved that tape.

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