17 August 2010

Ultimate Singles Jukebox [Slot 122]

The Peppermint Twist (Part 1)
b/w "The Peppermint Twist (Part 2)"
Joey Dee & The Starlighters
Written by Henry Glover & Joey Dee
Produced by Syd Nathan & Henry Glover
Roulette Records
Recorded and Released 1961

Our third single to make the TNOP Ultimate Jukebox with Henry Glover connection is a song that capitalized -- literally -- on the dance sensation "The Twist." Chubby Checker's massive hit song reached Number One on the Billboard charts twice: the first time in July 1960 and then again in January 1962.

It was on this second go-round that "The Peppermint Twist" rode the dance craze draft. This variation had a solid soul feel and a surf guitar solo. It was written by Glover and the lead singer on the song, Joey Dee.

The Starlighters were a bi-racial group with roots in the Passaic, New Jersey area. (One of the other lead singers was David Brigati, brother of Eddie Brigati, a future member of the Young Rascals.) The genesis of the song was The Peppermint Lounge, a disco in New York City, where Dee regularly performed; the location of the club is referred to in the song ("Well meet me baby down on 45th Street/Where the peppermint twisters meet").

In recalling the hit in an interview with Gary James, Joey Dee recalled the recording of the song:

Q - Dick Clark said that you sang lead on the Peppermint Twist, only because the original lead singer couldn't get the right feel. Is that true? And is it true that up till that point, you'd never been a lead singer?

A - Dick Clark was right on the money when he said I sang lead on the Peppermint Twist after the original lead singer Dave Brigati couldn't get the exact feel that the producer Henry Glover wanted. And the reason I think I got it a lot quicker is because Henry Glover and I were the co-writers of the song. I immediately felt the exact way it should feel. And after about 2 takes, Henry decided this is what he was seeking. We went with my version of the Peppermint Twist. Up until that point, I had been mostly a background singer and I played alto sax for Dave Brigati and Roger Freeman who were my two lead singers. But I did sing an occasional lead like 'You Must've Been A Beautiful Baby' and 'Ya Ya'. I just had a good feel for certain songs and I still feel that same way, that certain, particular songs, I can sing better than anyone else.

Joey Dee & The Starlighters would go on to place four other songs in the Top 40 through 1963. A noted revival of "The Peppermint Twist" took place with the release of the film American Graffiti and its soundtrack LP in 1973.

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