Archive for February, 2018

Bobby Bare’s The All-American Boy

Bobby Bare

On March 24, 1958, Elvis Presley was drafted into the U.S. Army. I was eight years old and I was devastated. I had no idea that military service was mandatory with our southern neighbours and, for one of the many, many times in my life, I thanked God I was born in Canada. Elvis made a comeback in 1960 but he was never the same.

Everything was going wrong at that time. Apart from losing Elvis, we also lost Chuck Berry (jail), Little Richard (religion), Jerry Lee Lewis (morality), Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochrane (fatal accidents). The payola scandal (where record reps paid disc jockeys to play their records) was also gathering steam and threatening the recording and promotion industries. And then in 1959, I heard “The All-American Boy” on the radio and it was like a ray of sunshine. I loved the sophisticated humour and the hip beatnik language that the song brought to these gloomy times. To this day, it is one of my all-time favourite songs.

Alrick

The story of the release of “The All-American Boy” is a real classic. In 1958, Bobby Bare and Bill Parsons, an old friend, were both trying to land a recording contract by auditioning songs with different small record companies. Parsons had just come back from his army service and Bare had penned “The All-American Boy”, a talking blues parody of Elvis’ rise to fame and his subsequent abduction by the U.S, Army, personified by the famous “Uncle Sam” in the song. Fraternity Records purchased the masters of that song but when the record came out, Bill Parsons was credited as singer and writer of the song. Ironically, Bobby Bare had also reported for his own military service by that time and knew nothing of this. “The All-American Boy” caught the public’s imagination and reached no. 2 in the U.S. charts and no. 22 in the U.K, all under Bill Parsons’ name.

Richard et Roch

In 1960, Bobby Bare, ever the good guy, testified before the Harris sub-committee (the congressional probe into payola) and declared that he had composed, arranged and performed “The All American Boy” for the sole purpose of helping his friend Bill Parsons, and that he had agreed to let Parsons put his name on the record.

The payola enquiry ruined the career of Alan Freed, one the most energetic promoters of Rock ‘n Roll and one of my favourire Rock ‘n Roll personalities. I saw two of Freed’s 1956 promotional movies at the Cartier theatre in Rockland, “Rock Around the Clock” and “Rock, Rock, Rock”, which featured among others Bill Haley & His Comets, The Platters, Chuck Berry, Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers and LaVern Baker, the most beautiful woman I had ever seen in my life. However, the payola enquiries spared Dick Clark, whose hit TV show “American Bandstand” is referenced in “The All-American Boy.”.

Bobby Bare went on to tour the world and enjoy tremendous popularity as a Country artist. Bill Parsons retired from the music business after recording two unsuccessful singles in 1960.

Richard Séguin – vocal, acoustic guitar, electric guitar
Alrick Huebener – upright bass
Roch Tassé – drums

The All-American Boy

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