Tennessee Ernie And The Caravelles

As a young teenager with eclectic music tastes, one of my favorite records was Tennessee Ernie Ford’s tribute to coal miners, “Sixteen Tons.” Of course, I wasn’t the only one who found a lot to like about that song — after all, it rocketed to the top of both country and pop charts — but the “B” side of the record also provided an interesting story.ern

I had that record and played it constantly, but mostly the “A” side. Still, I must have listened to the reverse side fairly often because Ol’ Ern’s version of “You Don’t Have To Be A Baby To Cry” still sounds pretty familiar to me. And even though the song only got into the Top 100 for him, it did provide the inspiration for a later version that almost reached the top of the charts.

In the early 1960s, English co-workers Lois Wilkinson and Andrea Simpson teamed up and began to entertain their office mates at parties. Their lilting vocal style was reminiscent of singing sisters Prudence and Patience (the subjects of an earlier piece), but when they decided to cut a demo record they chose Ford’s “B” side song.

Calling themselves the Caravelles (a name they borrowed from an airplane), the girls caught the attention of a record company, who took them straight to the studio for a higher-quality recording. Their 1963 platter of “You Don’t caraHave To Be A Baby To Cry” steadily climbed the British charts and soon crossed the Atlantic to also hit it big in the U.S.

Over the next few years, the Caravelles continued to record but didn’t have a lot of success — or at least not the kind they’d enjoyed with their one big song. They changed styles a few times through the years and even got around to covering Prudence and Patience’s songs, but nothing hit the charts in a big way and they eventually went their separate ways.

Lois Wilkinson did perform for a while as as solo under the name Lois Lane, but didn’t have — er — super results. Andrea Simpson kept the Caravelles name alive for a while with other partners, but eventually both founders of the original duo became part-time entertainers.

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3 thoughts on “Tennessee Ernie And The Caravelles

  1. The video starts with a view of a 78 rpm record, but this was one of the first 45’s I ever had. The song must haev come out during the transition between 45s and 78s. I well remember the Side B too! There many side Bs I’d give anything to hear again….

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  2. Like Ralph, ‘Sixteen Tons’ was one of the first 45’s I ever purchased along with ‘Love Is A Many Splendored Thing’. Got the two records right after getting my first record player, one of those little square RCA 45 record turntables. I’m sure you remember those. Got curious and did a image search on Google and found a couple of nice images.

    I was not familiar with the Caravelles but was a huge fan of Patience and Prudence. But after reading your post yesterday and a brief visit to Amazon,Com, I am now the proud owner of “You Don’t Have TO Be A Baby To Cry” by the Caravelles! 🙂

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