DEAR JERRY: As a teenager who regularly bought 45s in the'50s and '60s, I always regarded the 98 cents I spent for “The Search,” by Dean Reed, one of my best buys for a buck. Not only is “The Search” great but so is the flip side, “Annabelle.”
In all the years after this record came out, I have never heard a single thing about Dean Reed. Did he have any follow-ups? Did he retire, or perhaps even die?
It just seems odd for someone to completely disappear from the scene like that. I'd be very grateful for any information you can provide on Mr. Reed.
Manny Fishburn, Lancaster, Pa.
DEAR MANNY: This is certainly an unpredictable business. For the first 14 years, and thousands of letters, no one writes a word about Dean Reed. Now, during the same week, I receive two inquiries about him the other coming from Dr. Vicente V. Batiancila, of Milford, Conn.
Has there been something about Dean Reed in the news lately, that I missed?
At any rate, “The Search,” a February 1959 release (Capitol 4121), did much better in some local markets than on the national charts. The tune barely squeezed onto Billboard's Hot 100, landing at No. 96. After one week, “The Search” ended, so to speak, and it fell from the survey.
Though it didn't chart at all, some stations did also play “Annabelle.” Both are so good I can't pick a favorite.
Reed did have four Capitol follow-ups: “I Kissed a Queen” (flip: Pair of Scissors); “Our Summer Romance” (flip “I Ain't Got You); “Hummingbird” (flip: “Pistolero”); and “Female Hercules” (flip: “La Novia”). None of these received observable attention.
Within the next couple of years, Denver-born Dean moved to Europe and began a very successful career in the foreign film industry, first as an actor, then a writer, composer, and eventually a director. Reed made the majority of his films in Italy, Spain, and West Germany, so you're not likely to recognize any of the titles. You'll find all 20 of his films listed at the Internet Movie Database. In his last major film the 1984 Japanese-German collaboration, “Uindii” Star Trek the Next Generation's Patrick Stewart co-starred with Dean.
Details of the last two years of Reed's life are really murky, though he reportedly joined the Communist party and defected to Soviet territory. There is no news after that until June 13, 1986, when Dean Reed was found dead in then-Soviet occupied East Berlin. His death was reported as a suicide; however, many feel he did not take his own life.
I thought that the singer sounded like Jack Greene, but I can't find the song on any of his available releases. Any help you can give would be appreciated.
Jim in Hartford (email@example.com)
DEAR JIM: Since “Loser's Night Out” came out in mid-December 1980, your memory of hearing it in January 1981 is quite correct.
The tune is not by Jack Greene, though the Jack G. part is accurate. It is Jack Grayson (and Blackjack). The label and number of this Top 40 country music hit is Koala 328.
DEAR JERRY: Me and several of my friends recall a tune titled “Cap and Gown,” from the late '50s or very early '60s. More than one of us would swear that the version we remember was done by British artist Danny Williams, who had the big hit “White on White.”
However, our research has turned up only the Marty Robbins hit single from 1959 and, while his version is basically the same song, it varies a bit lyrically from the one we're trying to identify.
It certainly is not Marty Robbins' voice that we recall doing “Cap and Gown.”
Ronald E. Hontz, Shrewsbury, Pa. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
DEAR RONALD: Extensive research on your behalf has turned up no other versions of “Cap and Gown,” besides the 1959 Marty Robbins hit.
For the record, the earliest release we know of by Danny Williams is “Lonely” (United Artists 348), from 1961. Sometimes the best answer we can give is to tell you that no answer is known.
IZ ZAT SO? Surprisingly, “Cap and Gown” (Columbia 41408) is the first Marty Robbins Pop chart tune to not also make the country charts.
Any thoughts that Marty may have lost his C&W appeal were quickly quashed with his very next single the worldwide smash hit, “El Paso.”