“Goldfinger” was the title song from the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger. Composed by John Barry and with lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, the song was performed by Shirley Bassey for the film’s opening and closing title sequences, as well as the soundtrack album release. The single release of the song gave Bassey her only Billboard Hot 100 top forty hit, peaking in the Top 10 at number eight and at number two for four weeks on the Adult Contemporary chart, and in the United Kingdom the single reached number 21.
The song finished at #53 in AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema. In 2008, the single was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley were asked to create the lyrics for the song. But when its composer John Barry played them the first three notes, Bricusse and Newley looked at each other and sang out: “. . . wider than a mile,” to the melody of “Moon River,” the popular theme song from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Barry was not amused.
One source of inspiration was the song “Mack the Knife”, which director Guy Hamilton showed Barry, thinking it was a “gritty and rough” song that could be a good model for what the film required. Bricusse and Newley were not shown any film footage or script excerpts, but were advised of the fatal gilding suffered by the Jill Masterson character, played by Shirley Eaton. Bricusse would later recall that once he and Newley hit upon utilizing “the Midas touch” in the lyric, the pattern of the song became evident and the lyrics were completed within at most a couple of days.
The first recording of “Goldfinger” was made by Newley in a May 14, 1964 recording session, with Barry as conductor, which produced two completed takes. Barry would recall that Newley gave a “very creepy” performance which he, Barry considered “terrific”. Newley’s recording, however, was made purely as a demo for the film’s makers. According to Barry, Newley “didn’t want to sing it in the movie as they [Newley and Bricusse] thought the song was a bit weird”.
Shirley Bassey was Barry’s choice to record the song; he had been conductor on Bassey’s national tour in December 1963 and the two had also been romantically involved. Barry had played Bassey an instrumental track of the song before its lyrics were written; the singer would recall that hearing the track had given her “goose bumps”. She agreed to sing the song whatever the lyrics might eventually be. Bassey recorded the track on August 20, 1964 at London’s CTS Studios in Wembley: the track’s producer credit named Bassey’s regular producer George Martin, but the session was in fact overseen by Barry. Vic Flick, Jimmy Page and Big Jim Sullivan are all said to have been guitarists on the session, and at least Page has supported his involvement, recalling that Bassey had nearly collapsed after the final note.
The recording of “Goldfinger” lasted all night as Barry demanded repeated takes due to musicians’ or technical glitches, not any shortcomings in Bassey’s vocal. Bassey did initially have issues with the climactic final note which necessitated her slipping behind a studio partition between takes to remove her bra. Bassey would recall of the final note: “I was holding it and holding it – I was looking at John Barry and I was going blue in the face and he’s going – hold it just one more second. When it finished, I nearly passed out.”
The iconic two-note phrase which is the basis for the song’s introduction was not in the original orchestration, but occurred to Barry during a tea-break, following an hour and a half of rehearsal. By the time the musicians returned, twenty minutes later, he had written the figure into the orchestration.
The hit single was released in mono, with the album stereo issues (on the film soundtrack, Golden Hits Of Shirley Bassey and subsequent releases) using an alternate mix in which the instrumental take is the same, but Bassey’s vocal is different; a shade less intense and with a shorter final note. Newley’s version was later released in 1992 to mark the 30th Anniversary of James Bond on film, in a compilation collector’s edition: The Best of Bond…James Bond.
Bassey’s title theme was almost taken out of the film because producer Harry Saltzman hated it, saying, “That’s the worst *** song I’ve ever heard in my *** life”. Saltzman would also dislike Bassey’s subsequent Bond theme, that for Diamonds Are Forever. However time constraints did not allow for the possibility of a replacement Goldfinger theme song being written and recorded.
In 1960, Wells, then 17 years of age, was a nightclub singer who was struggling to make ends meet in Detroit. She aspired to be a songwriter as well, so she wrote a song for fellow Detroiter and R&B singer Jackie Wilson. She saw Berry Gordy while attempting to deliver “Bye Bye, Baby” to Wilson, and asked Gordy to give Wilson her song. But Gordy, having severed ties with Wilson’s manager to form Motown, asked Wells to sing it herself for Motown. Mary recorded “Bye Bye Baby” in her version of Jackie Wilson’s style. Reports claim that the teen had to record the song 26 times or more, before Gordy had a version he approved for release. According to Detroit music mogul Johnnie Mae Matthews, Wells had come to her with four lines of the song, which Matthews said she finished up. When the song was issued, she didn’t get a songwriting credit.
Release and reaction
Released in December 1960, the song became an R&B hit reaching number eight on the Billboard R&B singles chart and crossed over to pop stations where it peaked at number forty-five. It was significant as the first single released under one of the Motown subsidiaries nationally after the label’s first singles were released through distributing labels such as United Artists.
Edd Byrnes (born July 30, 1933) is an American actor best known for his starring role in the television series 77 Sunset Strip. He also was featured in the 1978 film Grease as television teen-dance show host Vince Fontaine, and was a charting recording artist with “Kookie, Kookie — Lend Me Your Comb” (with Connie Stevens).
He was born Edward Byrne Breitenberger. He had two siblings, Vincent and Jo-Ann. When he was 13, his father died. He then dropped his last name in favor of “Byrnes” based on the name of his maternal grandfather, a fireman.
His enduring and most famous role was as Gerald Lloyd “Kookie” Kookson III, on the ABC/Warner Brothers detective series 77 Sunset Strip. He played a continually hair-combing serial killer in the pilot, Girl on the Run, but he was so popular (a national teen sensation) that the producers brought him back the following week as a regular cast member in the role of a chrome-plated hotrod-driving, hipster-talking (“Kookie-talk”) parking valet and sometime protégé private investigator. Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., explained the situation to the audience:
We previewed this show, and because Edd Byrnes was such a hit we decided that Kookie and his comb had to be in our series. So this week, we’ll just forget that in the pilot he went off to prison to be executed.
— From the pre-credit sequence for the episode “Lovely Lady, Pity Me”
Kookie’s recurring character—a different, exciting look to which teens of the day related —- the valet parking attendant who constantly combed his piled-high, greasy-styled teen hair, often in a windbreaker jacket, who worked part-time at the so-called Dean Martin’s Dino’s Lodge restaurant, next door to private investigator agency at 77 Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. Kookie frequently acted as an unlicensed, protégé detective who helped the private eyes (Zimbalist and Roger Smith) on their cases based upon “the word” heard from Kookie’s street informants. Kookie called everybody “Dad” (as in “Sure thing . . . Dad.”), and was television’s homage to the “Jack Kerouac” style of cult-hipster of the late 1950s.
To the thrill of teen viewers, Kookie spoke a jive-talk “code” to everyone, whether you understood him or not, and Kookie knew better than others “the word on the street.” Some say the Kookie character borrowed much from James Dean’s character in the film “Rebel Without a Cause”, and was the progenitor to Henry Winkler’s The Fonz character of the Happy Days series (switch hot rod for motorcycle; same hair, comb and a leather jacket).
Kookie’s constant onscreen tending of his ducktail haircut led to many jokes among comedians of the time, and resulted in the 1959 charted ‘rap’ style recording (13 weeks), “Kookie, Kookie–Lend Me Your Comb”, recorded with actress and recording artist Connie Stevens, and which reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA. The song also appeared on the Edd Byrnes album, entitled (what else) Kookie. He and Stevens appeared together on ABC’s The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom. During the run of 77 Sunset Strip, Byrnes, as the “Kookie” character, was a popular celebrity (Elvis Presley-level national attention), and Byrnes received fan mail volume that reached 15,000 letters a week, according to Picture Magazine in 1961, and rivaled most early rock recording stars in the day.
Byrnes walked off the show in the second season demanding a bigger part and bigger pay; the producers eventually agreed. He appeared as a guest star in other WB series, including Lawman and Sugarfoot, in the latter with John Russell, Rodolfo Hoyos, Jr., and Will Wright in the 1958 season-premiere episode “Ring of Sand”.
Owing to restrictions in his Warner Brothers television contract, Byrnes was forced to turn down film roles in Ocean’s Eleven (1960), Rio Bravo (1959), North to Alaska (1960) and The Longest Day (1962). However he appeared in the Warner Brothers films Darby’s Rangers (1957; replacing Tab Hunter), Marjorie Morningstar (1958), Up Periscope and Yellowstone Kelly (both in 1959). He tested for the role of John F. Kennedy in PT 109 but President Kennedy preferred Cliff Robertson.
Though a popular celebrity the years of unfortunate “Kookie” typecasting led Brynes to ultimately buy out his television contract with Warner Brothers to clear his way for films—though it was accomplished too late to allow Byrnes to capitalize on feature-length cinema projects based upon his established television series fame.
“Mambo Italiano” is a popular songwritten by Bob Merrill in 1954 for the American singer Rosemary Clooney. Merrill wrote it under a recording deadline, scribbling hastily on a paper napkin in an Italian restaurant in New York City, and then using the wall pay-phone to dictate the melody, rhythm and lyrics to the studio pianist, under the aegis of the conductor Mitch Miller, who produced the original record. Merrill’s song provides an obvious parody of genuine mambo music, cashing in on the 1954 mambo craze in New York while at the same time allowing Miller to set up a brilliant vehicle for Clooney’s vocal talents. It is also a late example of an American novelty song in a tradition started during World War II by the Italian-American jazz singer Louis Prima, in which nonsense lyrics with an Italian-American sound are used in such a way as to present a benignly stereotyped caricature of Italian-American people (who had been classedwith “enemy alien” status and discouraged from speaking Italian) as likable, slightly brash, pleasure-loving folk. Although Clooney’s own family background was Irish-American (while Merrill’s was Jewish), she could perform such “Italianized” material with an entirely convincing accent, which she had readily picked up from Italian-American musicians and their families.
The song became a hit for Clooney, reaching number 10 in the Billboard Hot 100 and number one in the UK Singles Chart early in 1955. It was also successfully covered by the popular Italian-American star Dean Martin. In the 1955 Italian comedy film Scandal in Sorrento (Pane, amore e…), Sophia Lorendances voluptuously opposite Vittorio de Sica to an instrumental arrangement of the tune made by Merrill, in a simplified, local imitation of mambo dancing (she was also required to dance to the song in the 1960 Hollywood comedy It Started in Naples). The song itself became popular in Italy when Carla Boni scored a major hit with her version of 1956.Also in 1956, Renato Carosone, a well-known singer and band leader from Naples, recorded a successful version that weaves in several fragments of Neapolitan song, of which he was a leading exponent. Versions made in other languages include a French translation made by the Turkish polyglot singer Darío Moreno. More recent cover versions have been made by Shaft(2000), Dean Martin’s daughter, Deana Martin (2006) and Lady Gaga (2011).
(born Eva Sue McKee; July 19, 1925) is an American pop and country music singer. She is best known for the million selling hits “Sad Movies (Make Me Cry)” and “Norman”, both pop hits in the 1960s.
Within only a year, she had divorced Martin to marry Hank Penny, a comedian and singer. Penny and Thompson hosted a TV show in Los Angeles together before eventually moving to Las Vegas. Thompson recorded separately and also with her husband for Decca Records. However, none of their songs ever gained any real success. In 1960, Thompson signed on with Hickory Records. In 1961, “Sad Movies (Make Me Cry)” became a No. 5 hit on the pop charts, and she followed this up successfully with ”
,” which reached No. 3. Both of these hit singles were written by songwriter John D. Loudermilk. They both sold over one million copies, and were awarded with gold discs.
In 1962, “Have a Good Time” was a Top 40 hit and in 1963, “Willie Can” was a minor hit. Her early 1960s’ hits made Thompson, then in her mid-thirties, a favorite among the teenage crowd and briefly a rival to the much younger Connie Francis and Brenda Lee. Two additional hits, also written by Loudermilk, were “James (Hold the Ladder Steady)” and “Paper Tiger.”
“Downtown” is a pop song composed by Tony Hatch which, as recorded by Petula Clark in 1964, became an international hit, reaching No. 1 in Billboard Hot 100 and No. 2 in UK Singles Chart. Hatch received the 1981 Ivor Novello award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically.
The song has been covered by many singers, including Dolly Parton and Emma Bunton.
As recorded by Petula Clark
Tony Hatch had first worked with Petula Clark when he assisted her regular producer Alan A. Freeman on her 1961 No. 1 hit “Sailor”. In 1963 Freeman had asked Hatch to take over as Clark’s regular producer: Hatch had subsequently produced five English-language singles for Clark none of which had charted.
In the autumn of 1964 Hatch had made his first visit to New York City, the purpose being to seek material from music publishers for the artists he was producing. Hatch would recall: “I was staying at a hotel on Central Park and I wandered down to Broadway and to Times Square and, naively, I thought I was downtown. Forgetting that in New York especially, downtown is a lot further downtown getting on towards Battery Park. I loved the whole atmosphere there and the [music] came to me very, very quickly”. According to Hatch he was standing on the corner of 48th St waiting for the traffic lights to change, looking towards Times Square when “the melody first came to me, just as the neon signs went on.”
Hatch envisioned his embryonic composition “as a sort of doo wop R&B song” which he thought to eventually pitch to the Drifters: Hatch had scored his biggest success to date with the Searchers’ “Sugar and Spice” modelled on the Drifters’ hit “Sweets for My Sweet”, and had also produced a cover of the Drifters’ “Up on the Roof” for Julie Grant. It has been alleged that Hatch gave Julie Grant the opportunity to record “Downtown” which Grant turned down but this does not accord with Hatch’s statement that he played “Downtown” for Petula Clark within a few days of conceiving the melody and only completed the song’s lyrics after Clark had asked to record it: also Hatch has said that prior to Clark’s expressed interest in “Downtown” “it never occurred to me that a white woman could even sing it.”
Within a few days of his New York City junket Hatch visited Paris to present Clark with three or four songs he’d acquired from New York publishers for Clark to consider recording at a London recording session scheduled for 16 October 1964 which was roughly two weeks away: Hatch – “she was not very enthusiastic about [the material] and asked me if I was working on anything new myself. Reluctantly (because the song was still so unfinished)” – according to Clark besides the title lyric Hatch had only written “one or two lines” – “I played her the tune of my New York inspiration and slipped in the word ‘Downtown’ in the appropriate places. ‘That’s the one I want to record,’ she said” – “‘Get that finished. Get a good lyric in it. Get a great arrangement and I think we’ll at least have a song we’re proud to record even if it isn’t a hit.'” 
“Downtown” was recorded 16 October 1964 at the Pye Studios in Marble Arch. Thirty minutes before the session was scheduled, Hatch was still touching up the song’s lyrics in the studio’s washroom. Of his arrangement for the session Hatch would recall: “I had to connect with young record buyers…but not alienate Pet[ula]’s older core audience…The trick was to make a giant orchestra sound like a rock band.” The session personnel for the recording of “Downtown” who were assembled in Studio One of Pye Recording Studios – Hatch insisted that all session personnel on his productions be recorded performing together – included eight violinists, two viola players and two cellists, four trumpeters and four trombonists, five woodwind players with flutes and oboes, percussionists, a bass player and a pianist: also playing on the session were guitarists Vic Flick, Jimmy Page and Big Jim Sullivan and also drummer Ronnie Verrell, while the Breakaways served as vocal chorale. Hatch’s assistant Bob Leaper acted as conductor. According to Petula Clark, the session for “Downtown” consisted of three takes with the second take ultimately chosen as the completed track [yet, elsewhere, an “extended” version, instrumental+backing vocal track, most likely from a session tape makes claims questionable].