Secret Agent Man (1966)

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Johnny Rivers (born John Henry Ramistella November 7, 1942 in New York City, New York, raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.)

Johnny got his stage name while on a trip to New York in 1958, where he met DJ Alan Freed, who advised him to change his name. Johnny took the name 'Rivers' after the Mississippi River, near Baton Rouge.

From 1964 to 1977, Rivers had 17 Top 40 hits, 9 of them being Top Ten US hits, one of them a #1 US hit ("Poor Side of Town") and has sold over 25 million records worldwide.

In 1964 Elmer Valentine gave Rivers a one-year contract to play at his new club, Whiskey a Go Go, in Hollywood, California. It opened 3 days before the Beatles' "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and the British Invasion took over the charts.

Rivers was so popular there that producer Lou Adler decided to release a live album recorded there. Johnny Rivers Live At The Whiskey A Go Go reached #12 on the US album chart, and the single from that album, "Memphis" (a Chuck Berry cover), reached #2. Rivers continued to record hits live at the Go Go, with songs such as "Maybellene" (another Berry cover,) "Mountain of Love," "Midnight Special," "Seventh Son" (a Willie Dixon cover), "Where Have All The Flowers Gone" (a Pete Seeger cover,) and "Secret Agent Man".

In 1965, the British TV series "Danger Man" was to air on CBS in the US, but the producers asked a number of publishers to come up with a new theme for the US version.

The song was written by P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri as only one verse and a chorus when it was recorded by Rivers for the show, which was retitled "Secret Agent" in the US. Imperial Records began receiving calls asking for Johnny to be released as a single, so Rivers re-recorded it with additional verses.

"Secret Agent Man"'s famous riff was created by the song's co-writer P.F. Sloan and performed by Rivers. Johnny considered himself a rhythm guitarist, but wound up playing it only because he didn't have a lead guitarist in his group.

Chart position: #3 (US).

The Top Ten Songs:
April 23, 1966 (US Billboard Hot 100).
  1. "(You're My) Soul and Inspiration" (Righteous Brothers)
  2. "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)" (Cher) 
  3. "Secret Agent Man" (Johnny Rivers)
  4. "Daydream" (Lovin' Spoonful)
  5. "Time Won't Let Me" (Outsiders)
  6. "Good Lovin'" (Young Rascals)
  7. "Kicks" (Paul Revere and the Raiders)
  8. "Sloop John B" (Beach Boys)
  9. "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" (B.J. Thomas and the Triumphs)
  10. "Monday, Monday" (Mamas and the Papas)

Written by:
P.F. Sloan (born September 18, 1945 in New York City, New York) and Steve Barri (born February 23, 1942 in Brooklyn, New York.)

Together, Sloan and Barri also wrote such songs as "A Must to Avoid", "Eve of Destruction", "Where Were You When I Needed You", and "You Baby".

Also by: The Ventures, whose version reached #54 in March 1966, at the same time that Johnny Rivers' version was climbing the charts.

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