DEAR JERRY: At a recent music festival in Albuquerque, the featured band played a medley of Spade Cooley hits. Two of those, which spotlighted an excellent fiddler, were "Shame on Me," and "Crazy 'Cause I Love You."
Before the medley, they spoke about Cooley being in prison for murdering his wife. Is this true? If so, when did this tragedy occur?
Paula Evans, Cape Girardeau, Ill.
DEAR PAULA: Since a very similar inquiry arrived from Amelia and Jack Gibson (South Pasadena, Fla.), we better yak a bit about Spade Cooley.
Widely known as the King of Western Swing, Donnell "Spade" Cooley fronted one of the largest and most popular Western bands ever.
Cooley, a fiddle virtuoso with classical training but not much of a singer, hired Tex Williams as the band's lead vocalist.
Thus it is Williams you hear on most of their hits, including "Shame on You" (not "Me"); "A Pair of Broken Hearts; I've Taken All I'm Gonna Take from You; You Can't Break My Heart;" and "Crazy 'Cause I Love You."
In April of 1961, he murdered his wife of 16 years, Ella Mae, for which the state of California sentenced him to life in prison. News reports indicate the crisis revolved around Ella Mae asking for a divorce.
After eight years as a model prisoner, the state allowed Spade a nickname earned with his poker expertise Cooley to perform at a sheriff's benefit in Oakland, Calif.
At that show, November 23, 1969, after entertaining a crowd of roughly 3,000 fans, Spade Cooley left the stage and dropped dead of a heart attack.
DEAR JERRY: I just ran across your bank of knowledge about music, so maybe you can help me.
There is a song from the early '60s that I heard on the radio just a couple of times, then it vanished forever.
It is a parody of "Wolverton Mountain," with lyrics about crossing a river instead of climbing a mountain. It is sung in a Spanish accent. Any ideas or clues on this would be helpful.
Tom Turbyfill, Ardmore Ala.
DEAR TOM: The river in your mystery song is the Rio Tijuana, and the title of this humorous tune is "Tijuana Border," credited to El Clod (Challenge 9159) .
"Tijuana Border," indeed a parody, came out in mid-'62, right after Claude King's "Wolverton Mountain" became a huge hit.
In "Wolverton Mountain," it is revealed that the tender lips of young Miss Clowers are "sweeter than honey. But in "Tijuana Border," the spicy Rosita's lips are "hotter than chili."
Another type of recording, an answer song, also jumped on the bandwagon: "I'm the Girl from Wolverton Mountain," by Jo Ann Campbell (Cameo 223).
Now about another parody:
DEAR JERRY: I have been trying forever to find a Stan Freberg song, though I don't know the exact title. It may be "I Came to Your Wedding."
I do recall that after singing a few lines the singer starts laughing uncontrollably.
John Ingham, Rochdale, England
DEAR JOHN: This track is a parody of Patti Page's No. 1 hit, "I Went to Your Wedding," a 1952 issue. However, it is by Spike Jones and His City Slickers, not Stan Freberg.
Though the orchestration and styles of these two zany stars differ greatly, both had numerous novelty hits parodies as well as original comic creations.
You will find "I Went to Your Wedding," itself a Top 20 hit, on the easily available RCA compact disc, "Spike Jones Greatest Hits!!!" (078636781426)
IZ ZAT SO? Anyone wondering how this Spike Jones fellow could make a career doing parodies of other people's hits?
For the unfamiliar, Spike's act combined the industry's finest pop and jazz band musicians available with unpredictable bouts of insanity using wacky instruments, zany outfits, and outlandish on-stage shenanigans.
Any tune chosen by Spike Jones for their show would likely include unexpected sirens, gunshots, glass breaking, doors slamming, bells, whistles, foghorns, gargling, belching, and endless other sound effects.
City Slicker instrumentation can come from some mighty peculiar doodads, such as a washboard played with drum sticks or a toilet seat with strings added.
Besides "I Went to Your Wedding," here are some other famous parodies by Spike Jones and His City Slickers: "The Shiek of Araby"; "Riders in the Sky"; "Oh! By Jingo!"; "Cocktails for Two"; "Chloe"; "The Glow Worm"; "Holiday for Strings"; "Laura"; "Hawaiian War Chant (Ta-Hu-Wa-Hu-Wai)"; "You Always Hurt the One You Love"; "The William Tell Overture"; "My Old Flame"; "All I Want for Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth)"; "Minnie the Moocher"; "Dance of the Hours"; "River, Stay Away from My Door"; "Chinese Mule Train"; "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer"; "Tennessee Waltz"; "The Man on the Flying Trapeze"; and "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus."