Here, Koko the Clown takes the spoken word part that Red Sovine does on the record.
Webb Pierce and his Wondering Boys, wonder how they’re all gonna fit in the Sputnik III.
Webb Pierce was the first country artist to tour Uranus, seen here in his tour bus Sputnik III
Webb Pierce (born Webb Pierce, Aug. 8, 1921, died Feb. 24, 1991) had a long and successful career as a country singer of the hard core honky tonk variety. He had thirteen #1 Billboard country hits (Hank Williams only had nine) between the years 1952-1957 and Lord knows how many top forty hits. This hot streak included such #1’s as I Ain’t Never, There Stands The Glass, Back Street Affair, and a cover of Jimmie Rodgers’ In The Jailhouse Now, all great records. What was the last great record to go to #1 on Billboard’s country chart? I honestly can’t remember, it’s been decades. Webb Pierce had a Buick customized by haberdasher to hillbilly royalty– Nudie, it had silver dollar inlays all over it, saddles for seats and real guns for door handles. I once smoked a joint while sitting in it at the the Country Music Hall Of Fame Museum at a party I went to there. The mid-50’s rise of rock’n’roll as a commercial entity sent a panic through the world of country music and some singers, like Webb Pierce, tried to respond in some fairly desperate ways. Pierce himself took a few stabs at rock’n’roll, all of them worth hearing. He added words to Bill Justis’ instrumental classic Raunchy, released a pretty cool cover version of The Everly Brothers’ Bye Bye Love and of course there was his rockabilly classic Teenage Boogie (here’s the obligatory, for this blog, alternate take) which would be appropriated by T. Rex in 1974 who took it to the top of the U.K charts retitled I Love To Boogie, giving writing credits to little Marc Bolan. Not rock’n’roll but perhaps the strangest record Webb Pierce made in his attempt to regain chart dominance was this 1956 attempt to merge two trends, one the maudlin child snuff ballad, a musical genre that has thrived in country music since its earliest days, and that peculiar trend– the “wop song”, which are tunes done in a strange stereotyped Italian accent similar to that of Chico Marx and the character Mr. Bacciagalupe on the Abbott & Costello TV show. One record, Little Rosa, issued by Decca (of course, here is an alternate take), the spoken part is done by Red Sovine, king of both the trucker song and the kid snuff ballad, two trends he fused in his, well, not really classic, but
certainly fascinating hit– Giddy Up Go, which you can still hear on juke boxes in truck stops in West Virginia around Christmas time. Off the track but worth mentioning is Sovine’s follow up Getty Up Stop. Getting back to Little Rosa, in the above clip (sent in by Donna Lethal, thanks), Koko The Clown takes Sovine’s role as the poor old Wop dad, Webb Pierce, of course, appears as himself. Before anyone writes in to complain about my use of the term wop, the surname on my original birth certificate was Antonicello and my grandparents on one side were born in a town in the heel of Italy’s boot called Iricino, the other side of my family is from Palermo, in whose harbor sits a statue of Antonino Giammona, my great, great, grandfather. So I get to say wop. Also guiniea, greaseball and dago if I choose. Other artists to record “wop songs” include Big Walter Price (Hello Maria, the flip of his R&B classic Pack, Fair and Square), Norman Fox & the Rob-Roys (Pizza Pie) and of course Louis Prima (Bacciagalup Makes Love On The Stoop, Picco-Lena Lena, amongst others). As late as 1980 Wop songs were still a commercially viable genere as seen when Joe Dolce’s Shaddup You Face
topped the Austrailian charts. Perhaps now is a good time to revive the ahead of its time attempt to fuse country music and the wop song. I bet David Allen Coe could come up with a doozie.