GMC visitors who keep an eye on the ‘recent comments’ in the left column might already know a little about today’s subject, but here’s the scoop for those who don’t: one of our most popular posts is a 2008 piece about a 1950s doo-wop group called The Danleers — but I think that’s mostly because of the comments at the bottom of it, which are actually about an entirely different subject.
It all started when Alan (a long-time pal of the GMC) asked whether anyone could help him identify a song from the era that had haunted him for years. Other visitors responded with their own memories of the song, but nobody could quite nail it down. Finally, Alan solved the mystery himself and posted a video that featured the song — “The First Kiss” by the Norman Petty Trio.
Norman Petty is mostly remembered now as the record producer who helped guys like Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, Waylon Jennings, and many others in the early days of their careers. A native of Clovis, New Mexico, he turned his hometown and the studio he built there into a mecca for many young rockers, but in his early years he also knew his way around the performing side of things.
Petty was pretty good on the Hammond organ and his wife Vi was a solid pianist and singer (who would later sing backup for Holly and others), so when they recruited talented guitarist Jack Vaughn to join their act in the post-war years, they were off to a good start. Over the next few years the group worked hard to build a resume, performing a little bit of everything from polkas to pop standards, and by the mid-1950s it began to pay off in record sales. The trio’s first big hit was on a Duke Ellington song — “Mood Indigo” — and a little later “Almost Paradise” sold even better, becoming the group’s biggest hit. But Petty’s trio generated a number of good records, among them a song he’d written and named “The First Kiss.” It was issued as a vocal on the ‘A’ side and as an instrumental on the ‘B’ side, and it turned out to have a lot of long-time fans.
Norman Petty Trio – “The First Kiss” (vocal) Norman Petty Trio – “The First Kiss” (instrumental)