Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne



FOR THE WEEK OF NOVEMBER 22, 1999

DEAR JERRY: Every time I read your column I learn something. Now, I believe I can share some knowledge with you and your readers.

Recently you wrote (again) about “Laurie,” as recorded by Dickie Lee, and how it has become a Halloween favorite. I was not aware of this fact, though I can understand why it is. Allow me now to add some background on the song, as well as its writer, Dr. Milton “Mitt” Addington.

Mitt was my husband's only first cousin, and they grew up very close to each other. As little boys they wrote books together. My husband's career was as a NASA aerospace engineer and Mitt became a psychologist, based in Memphis, Tenn. However, Mitt's hobby, and first love, was songwriting. In fact, he became know in Memphis as the Rock and Roll Psychologist.

“Laurie” was inspired by a Halloween-like ghost story, submitted in 1964 by a teenage girl, that ran in a Memphis newspaper. The fictitious story was about a boy who falls in love with the ghost of a teenage girl.

Taking a cue from that story, Dr. Addington penned “Laurie,” which Dickie Lee recorded. As they say, the rest is history.

Oh yes, the girl who wrote the story was Cathie Harmon, then just 15 years of age. To compensate Cathie, Mitt even shared the songwriting royalties with her.

Proving that even a psychologist can learn a few things, Mitt liked to recall one very enlightening experience.

In the mid'-50s, Sun Records owner, Sam Phillips, called him and asked if he'd like to write some original songs for a new artist that Sun had signed. Phillips then played some tapes of the new singer at work, after which Addington said “But Sam, that's rock and roll and I can't write rock and roll!”

You can probably guess the outcome of this situation. Mitt had just declined to write songs for a young Elvis Presley. Since then, he never refused to write music for any singer.

Among Mitt's hit tunes are several pop and rock classics, that continue to he played around the world: “Five O'Clock World; Through the Eyes of Love;” and “The Girl I Can't Forget.” Over 50 of his tunes were recorded.

Mitt passed away in 1979. He was just 55.
—June Allen, Huntsville, Ala.

DEAR JUNE: What a wonderful and informative story. Thank you so much for sharing it.

As I have previously stated, “Laurie” remains one of the most frequently discussed songs in the 13-year history of this feature. I'm thrilled to have these fascinating background details.


DEAR JERRY: Here is a toughie, but I know you can handle it.

There once was a great recording of a hipster version of the old Cinderella story. I think it came out around 1957. I recall it ended with the line: “Oliver Twiddle Dee … who's he.”

Can you shed some light on this mystery tune?
—Dion O'Bannion, Ottawa, Wisc.

DEAR DION: Appropriately, the title of this novelty narrative is “Cinderella,” and the story is told by Jack Ross (Dot 16333).

“Cinderella,” a Top 20 hit, came out in the spring of 1962, a bit later than you recall.

Oh yes, tell the Belmonts I said hello.

DEAR JERRY: When I was young, there was a song titled “Through the Years.” I have also heard a completely different song, but with the exact same title, by Kenny Rogers.

How can there be two songs with the same title?
—Ellie Ashworth, Seminole, Fla.

DEAR ELLIE: The answer is simple. Lyrics and music are afforded copyright protection; titles are not.

“Through the Years” is but one of hundreds — perhaps thousands — of titles that exist for more than one piece of music.

At last count, for example, at least six different recordings exist with the title “Love Me.”

IZ ZAT SO? It's somewhat obvious, yet you may not have known. The Belmonts named their group after one of the streets where they often sang doo wop harmonies — Belmont Avenue, in the Bronx, N.Y.






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