DEAR JERRY: Among my throng of Golden Age of Rock and Roll records are two copies of Duane Eddy's “Rebel-'Rouser” (Jamie 1104). One is a 45 rpm and the other a 78. Now here's where it gets goofy.
On my 45 rpm single, under the title and songwriting credits, are the words: “From the Production Rebel-'Rouser Starring John Buck.”
Not only does my 78 make no mention of this “production,” but no other 45s I have seen refer to it.
Have you ever heard of this? Was there a film titled “Rebel-'Rouser”? If so, I have never heard of it. What's more, I can't say that I recognize this John Buck fellow either. Can you tell me anything about him?
Shelby Bigelow, York, Pa.
DEAR SHELBY: This is musical mystery that has long bewildered many a golden oldie student. My own research convinced me that no movie titled “Rebel-'Rouser” exists. I also found no film credits for a John Buck.
Fortunately, thanks to Ray Cerri and my Record Research buddy, Joel Whitburn, we have Duane Eddy's own recollection of this bizarre concoction:
“When “Rebel-'Rouser” was first released, everyone thought that “Stalkin'” was the A-side. I begged producers Lee [Hazlewood] and Lester [Sill] to ask Jamie, and also Dick Clark, to turn it over and play “Rebel-'Rouser.”
“For two frustratingly long weeks, I saw my career going down the tubes because I knew “Stalkin'” was not the hit side, but I was powerless to do anything but repeatedly ask for it to be turned over.
“My pleas fell on deaf ears. Everyone was sure that “Rebel-'Rouser” was too weird and raucous to make it, but at the end of those two weeks, with very little or no response from the record buyers, a very fortunate accident occurred.
“In those days, Dick Clark would take two or three boxes of current hit singles and go out on Friday nights to do record hops. At one of these, he overlooked one of his boxes. Two thirds of the way through the evening he realized he ran out of records to play for the last hour or so. Rather than repeat ones already played, he decided to turn them over and play the flip sides for the last hour. He came to “Stalkin'” and turned it over.
He told me the kids just stood around for the first few bars, not quite knowing what to do during the intro, but when the main body of the song kicked in, they began dancing. After it was over, they came rushing up to Dick and insisted he play it again. The kids made him play it three more times that night.
“This made him realize he'd been playing the wrong side, so he made a mental note to schedule “Rebel-'Rouser” on American Bandstand.
“When Lee Hazlewood heard it was being turned over, he still wasn't sure it was strong enough on its own. Lee told me later how he was talking with Lester Sill and they were commenting on how it was too bad “Rebel-'Rouser” wasn't the theme for a movie, which would create more interest in the record and give deejays something to comment on and a reason to play it more.
So Lee said, “why not just make up a movie and put it on the label. By the time anyone finds out, it won't matter one way or the other.”
“They knew they couldn't name a real actor as the star, so they made up a name that might at least sound familiar. They thought John Buck was a hilarious name for the actor. Lee was cracking up laughing when he told me this story. I was a bit skeptical and wasn't sure it was a nice thing to do making up a story just to get attention but it was already agreed and implemented by Jamie before I was even told about it.
“I remember hoping no one asked me about this in interviews. I'd have had to tell the truth and I would have felt stupid trying to explain it. Fortunately, only a couple of people have ever asked in all these years, and they weren't conducting an interview.
“In those days, nobody knew exactly what to think of instrumentals and Lee wanted to have every advantage possible to draw attention to them. As we became more successful, he stopped worrying about things like that and just concentrated on the musical and sound aspects.
“Incidentally, they then paid more attention to me when it came to picking the A-sides of the new singles from then on.
“My “Rebel-'Rouser” gold record award has that crazy label and I'm glad it does. It is a small part of the history of the record.”
IZ ZAT SO? Not all Duane Eddy recordings were created equal. In fact, one prominently credited to him, “Caravan” (Gregmark 5), he had absolutely nothing to do with.
“Caravan” is actually by guitarist Al Casey, though Gregmark issued it as by Duane Eddy. At the time, 1961, Duane was rock's top instrumental star, and this was a deceitful attempt to cash in on his name.