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!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Wheel Of Fortune Spins

Artist: Sunny Gale
Song: How Could You (a-side) (b-side is I Feel Like I'm Gonna Live Forever)
Label: RCA Victor 47-5216
Number: E2VW-7787
Songwriters: Bert Douglas - Bennie Martini
Time: 2:41
Released: 1953

Sunny Gale came out of nowhere on a small, independent label in the early 1950's to have a spectacular, if brief career, that ended too early with the onset of Rock and Roll. Born Selma Sega, she grew up in a neighborhood in Philadelphia from which several future singers that graced the American music scene in the fifties and early sixties also called home. Eddie Fisher, Al Martino, Buddy Greco, Frankie Avalon, and Fabian were some of the entertainers that hailed from the same area. By 1951, Selma decided that she would give show business a try and was soon known by the colorful stage name of Sunny Gale. She eventually found herself with a shot at a recording session for a New York independent label called Derby Records. Head arranger for the label Eddie Wilcox picked out a tune that had been recorded for RCA by Johnny Hartman in the spring of that year. Now at the end of 1951, the tunes Wheel Of Fortune b/w You Showed Me The Way were recorded and released on Derby #787.
By early January after only a few weeks of having been issued, Wheel Of Fortune started a run up the charts. Close to fifty thousand copies are sold which is out of the ordinary for a small independent label in the early Fifties. Soon a number of cover versions hit the market and one by Kay Starr for Capitol leaped out in front on the national pop charts. Sunny Gale's version with it's great arrangement by Wilcox scored in both the pop and R & B fields and was a huge plus for the independent label group. On the pop charts, Gale's version of the song got as high as the number thirteen position and had a stay of two months. Despite the hit status of this record, Derby Records ran into financial problems and it's future was uncertain. Sunny Gale, with a smash hit on her first try, decided to move to a big major label, RCA Victor.
A few months later Sunny Gale was back on the best seller charts for RCA Victor with the song I Laughed At Love. This was another good seller, got into the top fifteen, and stayed on the charts for two months. Some of the further hits she had for the label included Teardrops On My Pillow, A Stolen Waltz, Love Me Again, Before It's Too Late, Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight, Smile and Let Me Go Lover, which was originally recorded by another artist already featured here on Music For Every Mood, Joan Weber. Gale's version of the song entered the top twenty in early 1955 and would be the last time she would appear on the best sellers charts.
Sunny made appearances on Dick Clark's American Bandstand, at the Amsterdam News 15th annual Midnight Benefit Show, which was held at the Apollo Theater and The Brooklyn Academy of Music All Star Show, which featured such artists as The Ink Spots, Red Buttons, Lena Horne and many others. Other songs she recorded were Send My Baby Back To Me, Meanwhile, An Old Familiar Love Song, Mama's Gone Goodbye, The Note In The Bottle, Just In Case You Change, Close To Me, Dream Dream Dream, Don't Cry Mama, Unsuspecting, Constantly, Certainly Baby, C'est La Vie, Looking Glass, Devotion, Rock And Roll Wedding, Winner Take All, Try A Little Prayer, Our Love Is A Sad Song, Georgie Porgie, Two Hearts, One Kiss Led To Another, Maybe You'll Be There, Let's Be Friendly, My Arms Are A House, Don't Worry 'Bout Me, Who Are We To Say, A Meeting Of The Eyes, I Don't Want Your Greenback Dollar, A Certain Smile, Just Friends, Oh What It Seemed To Be, The Gypsy Told Me So and today's song, from 1953, which featured a chorus and orchestra conducted by Ralph Burns.
After her hits stopped coming, she was mostly just a memory of the pre-rock fifties, but Sunny Gale came out of nowhere on a small independent label in early 1952 and stood the world of pop music on it's ear, and for a time was a solid hitmaker for RCA. Listening to How Could You, one can certainly hear the charms that her voice had. It's a peppy little number that should have had more chart action for her. It's one of those songs that, even though the theme is downbeat and the singer is talking about being treated wrong, it still picks you up when you listen to it. So download How Could You, by Sunny Gale and treat yourself to something special. Spin the wheel of fortune and I know you'll come up with a winner!

2 comments:

Ravel said...

She should have kept her real name... :-)
Her voice is a smoother version of Kay Starr. She is very enjoyable.
It's hard not to think about Starr, with the reference you make of her big hit (Wheel of fortune) but I'm sure I would've believed it was her on a blind contest.
I like your little data at the beginning of each column: date, label, etc.

Michelle said...

I love Bennie Martini's song and I love Sonny Gale's recording. It's a great arrangment and should be better known. Thanks so much for putting it up!