Saturday, February 4, 2012

Seven Little Girls sitting in the back seat

The first LP I ever bought by myself was an LP by Paul Evans.  I purchased it at a store in Sugarhouse, Utah called Mastercraft a company that employed my Dad, Dennis Grimshaw.  They were a reupholstering company who also carried furniture and washing machines and one day when I went in they had a bin of old records.  Here in this one was and album of Paul Evans who I did not know but I knew one of the songs called Seven Little Girls Sitting in the Back Seat.  I had heard it in England and I loved the melody and I can remember fantasizing as I heard the words of some girls on a double decker bus  like the one I used to ride with Dad to Manchester.  I just talked to my wife Jan and realized that her brother Fred Parkin must have had field day when this song came out in the great metropolis of Nephi, Utah.  She said "he was very popular".   I wonder what tht means

Paul Evans (born March 5, 1938, in Queens, New York] is an American rock and roll singer  and songwriter, who was most prominent in the 1950s and 1960s. As a performer, he had hits with the songs "Seven Little Girls (Sitting in the Back Seat)" (his biggest hit, reaching #9 on the Billboard Hot 100, "Midnite Special" and "Happy-Go-Lucky Me".  As a songwriter Evans' songs were performed by numerous performers, including Elvis Presley, Jimmy Dean and Pat Boone. His most successful songs were "Roses Are Red (My Love)", which was a number one hit for Bobby Vinton in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100; and "When", a chart topper in the UK Singles Chart and #5 in the U.S. for The Kalin Twins

The song Seven Little Girls was written by the songwriters Lee Pockriss and Bob Hilliard, who Evans was working for at the time. Evans had written the hit "When" for the Kalin Twins, but had not yet performed on a recorded song. Evans explains how he ended up singing this:
"It was a fluke. I came in as a singer/writer. I did sing in school, but I liked writing, and I didn't know if I had enough talent as a singer to make it. I was doing demos for people. I could sing songs for writers who couldn't sing and they needed to hire a singer; I think I got $12 a song at the time. They would take the song around to publishers, and they would tape the demo. Lee Pockriss and Bob Hilliard wrote the song, believe it or not, for Merv Griffin. Which is strange, now that I think back on "Seven Little Girls" sitting in the backseat kissing and a-huggin' with Fred. So they took my demo up to Carlton Records for Merv, who was on the label at the time. And the owner of the company, Joe Carlton, said that he had just started a rock and roll label called Guaranteed Records, and he wanted to put the demo out. So that's how I wound up with my Pop hits. Just doing demos for cheap, enough to pay for my lunch and pay for my rides home. I used to cross paths with Jerry Keller, who had "Here Comes Summer" eventually. He got his start doing demos. And actually, I used to cross paths all the time with Paul Simon, who did the same thing. I think he was Jerry Landis at the time."
Being tapped to perform on a hit song was a mixed blessing, as Evans explains: "Nothing made it without being promoted. They sent me on the road, which bears no resemblance to the road today. The road today is great big concerts and lots of money. They would send me out on the road, and I would do hops, record hops. And for the most part, I guess for all part, I would sing: I would lip-synch in front of these crowds of kids, who would then be dancing to the records. I did The Dick Clark Show by lip-synching. It came out of my royalties, by the way. Any money - anything that was spent by the record company - came out of our royalties. I made very little money at the time. Had a lot of fun, went on the road for 3 solid weeks. I was exhausted after 3 weeks, I didn't really like it. You know, they were all one-nighters and they were bus tours and stuff like that. I wasn't being paid, and I didn't think this was cool, I'd rather have been home writing with my co-writers. That's the way it was, though.

It was uncomfortable. We wound up in a little city called Bluefield, West Virginia. Bluefield is at the bottom of these mountains, and there were churches all over on the side of the road when you get down, because you can't believe this mountainous road. Many people never made it down that mountain, and I didn't like that. So then we did a show in Bluefield, and I got back on the bus and I said to the driver, 'Well, how long will it take us to get back to the hotel?' He said, 'We're not going to the hotel.' I said, 'What are you talking about?' He says, 'We're going back to New York.' I said, 'E-Gods, it's 2 in the morning already. How long is a trip to New York?' Nineteen hours on the bus. I said, 'No, no, I tell you what - drop me off at the hotel.' I went back to the hotel, I made an airline reservation on, I think it was Piedmont Airlines at the time, got home and I called up GAC, which was my agent at the time, and I said, 'Ta-ta, that's it for the road for me. This is not for me. I can do well at home.' Unfortunately, I had my hits, my 3 hits, and I was drafted into the army. And that was really the end of my singing career for then."
Evans: "I eventually sent in my attorney for an audit, or he masterminded an audit, and he came back and he told me, 'Paul, your company hasn't paid you $40,000 in legitimate royalties.' The best I could do was get off the label, because if I tried to fight the company for my money, they would have gone bankrupt, and I would have spent the money on my attorneys and my accountants, and I didn't want to do that.

It was a different day. The joke is we walked into record companies, and then our lawyers followed us in, and today the artist follows the lawyer into the record company. They know how this thing works. When I signed with, I guess it was Epic or Columbia, I don't remember which, I saw their contract. The contract was huge, a tome, it was - I don't' know how many pages. And then my lawyer said, 'Well, here's what we're going to give back to them and then work from here.' They had cut about two-thirds of it off with no argument from the record company, the point being that the record company said, 'If you're not well represented and you sign this contract, you're screwed.' Legally. So, you'd better have an attorney."
Evans other hit songs of the era were "Happy-Go-Lucky Me" and a cover of "Midnight Special," which he came up with out of necessity: "I would do probably 3 or 4 songs. But I wasn't even prepared for that. I got on the bus the first day and the band leader said to me, 'What songs are you planning on performing?' I said, 'Songs?' I had one song prepared: 'Seven Little Girls,' I had a little arrangement written up. And he said, 'Well, you're going to have to do something. What kind of songs do you sing?' I said, 'Well, basically, I sing Folk songs.' And so he asked me to sing a few, I sang him 'Midnight Special' as a Folk song, and he rock and rolled it up. And that really was a blast for me. I didn't expect to go on a bus tour. I was a kid who was doing studio work, and all of a sudden had a hit record, and got sent out on the road."
The female vocals were The Curls - Sue Singleton and Sue Terry.
When Evans performed this song, he lip-synched it, which was customary at the time. He did perform it live on one occasion. Says Evans: "The only live that I ever did was the Arthur Murray Dance Party show. It was a network television show, and it was right before I got drafted. I was excited, I never did live anything, and here I'm doing live television. One shot, no retakes, and I can tell you that that was scary to me. I was so nervous. Finally I sat in the seat, and they had 7 girls behind me and a chimpanzee playing the part of Fred. And by the way, he was a naughty chimpanzee, he broke into the girls' dressing room all the time and lifted up their skirts. He was really a strange monkey, but he was a very big star - as big a star as an ape could be, you know. I sat in the front seat of this car that was on the stage, girls sitting behind me, and I hear the overture, and the overture is the beginning of the song. Now the first part of the song, which is called 'Seven Little Girls Sitting In The Back Seat' is 'Seven little girls, sitting in the back seat.' I should have known it. I couldn't think of it. I could not think of the line. My hair got soaking wet from nervous perspiration. Unbelievable. I was so scared because there was no turning back, the curtains were now opened, the overture was over, and I sang, "Seven little girls..." I mean, it just came to me, it was amazing. It's funny, I've heard this from other people, and they've never missed a beat. They get afraid. I've done that before, I've done it again, and this is just national television. I was so shaken by this. I did a good job, got done, and that's all that matters, I know. My wife says that when she sees me on the stage, I walk out on the stage, I do look a little nervous to her - she knows me. But she says the second I open my mouth and start singing, it's all over for nerves."
Seven Little Girls Sitting In The Back Seat Lyrics
(Dee doody doom doom, dee doody doom doom)
(Dee doody doom doom, DOOM)
Seven little girls sittin' in the back seat
Huggin and a'kissin with Fred
I said "why don't one of you come up and sit beside me?"
And this is what the seven girls said

(All together now, one, two, three)
(Keep you mind on your drivin')
(Keep you hands on the wheel)
Keep your snoopy eyes on the road ahead)
(We're havin' fun sittin' in the back seat kissin' and a'huggin with Fred)

(Dee doody doom doom, dee doody doom doom)(Dee doody doom doom, DOOM)
Drove through the town, drove through the country
Showed 'em how a motor could go
I said "how do you like my triple carburetor?"
And one of them whispered low

Seven little girls smoochin' in the back seat
Every one in love with Fred
I said "you don't need me, I'll get off at my house"
And this is what the seven girls said

(Alltogether now, one, two, three)
(Keep you mind on your drivin')
(Keep you hands on the wheel)
(Keep your snoopy eyes on the road ahead)
(We're havin' fun sittin' in the back seat kissin' and a'huggin with Fred)
All of them in love with Fred

(Dee doody doom doom)
Kissin' and a'huggin with Fred
(Dee doody doom doom)
Wish that I could be like Fred

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