The Soundtrack For The Baby Boomer Generation

Step back to a time when singers were as bright as the stars in the heavens
and the music they sang was really swingin'. Stacks of wax to fit every occasion!

Monday, December 17, 2007

They Call Me MISS Toni Fisher

Artist: Miss Toni Fisher
Song: The Red Sea Of Mars (b-side) (a-side is Everlasting Love)
Label: Signet 3-279 (White/Red Label)
Number: E-5878
Songwriter: Wayne Shanklin
Time: 2:58
Released: 1960

She was always known as "Miss Toni Fisher" and her big hit was The Big Hurt, in 1959. What was most noteworthy about this first hit of hers was that it was the first record ever released which used a phasing effect. It was written by her husband, Wayne Shanklin, as was this record The Red Sea Of Mars. She had one other Top 40 hit in 1962, entitled West Of The Wall, about lovers caught on either side of the newly-erected Berlin Wall. But, today's post was released in between these two records, 1960, and was not a hit.
She was born in Los Angeles, California in 1931, and died of a heart attack on February 12th, 1999 in Hyrum, Utah. At the age of 18, she played a small, uncredited part in the musical Make Believe Ballroom, in 1949. In 1959, she signed a recording contract with a small independent company called Signet Records, located in Hollywood. On November 16th, her first record debuted on the charts entitled The Big Hurt. Because it went up to #3 on the pop charts, she had the opportunity to appear on the shows of Dick Clark and Ed Sullivan. In 1960, her second record How Deep Is The Ocean peaked at #93. Later that year, Signet released the single Everlasting Love b/w The Red Sea Of Mars, although it failed to chart. They also gathered her recordings together and released an album named after her big hit The Big Hurt. This, too failed to chart and she was dropped from her contract with Signet. Her one record deal with Columbia Records featuring If I Loved You b/w Love Bug also failed to chart and then she moved to Big Top Records in 1962. Her final hit, West Of The Wall, for that label, came on May 26th, 1962. She had several other singles released on the Smash label and then a short return to her original label, Signet, but had no further chart action.
This is a shame, really, as she had such a nice, strong voice and delivered her performances in a confident matter. Now, people always try to analyze why things happen, so permit me to do the same here. I think perhaps the reason she didn't have a bigger chart presence than she did was due to two primary factors. One, it seems like her husband wrote all of her material. Usually artists like her are given songs to choose from written by a wide variety of songwriters. The most strongest tracks are chosen to record and this may have been a factor in her case. However good of a songwriter her husband Wayne was, he was no Lerner and Lowe. The Red Sea Of Mars is a good song, but perhaps there could have been better ones found for her to record. Even though this track has grown on me, that's just my opinion. The second factor I find that may have inhibited her career is the fact that of the two pictures I could locate of her on the internet, one being below, Miss Fisher didn't come across as a particulary stunning-looking woman. In the music business, looks can sometimes make or break an artist.
But don't let any of that deter you from hearing her voice. It is quite pleasant to listen to. Here is Miss Toni Fisher singing The Red Sea Of Mars. Enjoy!

One other small item of interest. I find many times that the length of the song as reported on the record label does not match up with it's actual length when played. This record was a case in point. Listed at two seconds under 3 minutes long on the label, it actually only lasts for 2:44. And it's not because my turntable has a speed problem, either. I suppose sometimes that the music business is not a very precise science.