By: The Rivieras.
The Rivieras were formed in South Bend, Indiana by singer and guitarist Marty Fortson, guitarist Joe Pennell, keyboardist Otto Nuss, bassist Doug Gean, and drummer Paul Dennert. The group's manager Bill Dobson sang and played keyboards.
The Rivieras recorded "California Sun" in Chicago, Illinois with Marty Fortson on lead vocal. It was a cover of an R&B hit by New Orleans-based singer Joe Jones (who also recorded the Top Five hit "You Talk Too Much").
The Rivieras sped it up, placed emphasis upon electric organ and electric guitar (whereas the Joe Jones version featured a brass/horn section) and changed some of the lyrics (one line had been "They twist, like this/They shimmy, now don't you hear me?")
Joe Pennell and Marty Fortson left the band after recording "California Sun" (before it became a hit) and joined the National Service. Fortson later said that he heard the song on Armed Forces Radio while in Vietnam.
None of the Rivieras, nor Joe Jones, nor the song's writers, were from California!
Chart position: #5 (US).
The Top Ten Songs: February 29, 1964 (US Billboard Hot 100).
- "I Want To Hold Your Hand" (Beatles)
- "She Loves You" (Beatles)
- "Dawn (Go Away)" (Four Seasons)
- "Java" (Al Hirt)
- "California Sun" (Rivieras)
- "Please Please Me" (Beatles)
- "You Don't Own Me" (Lesley Gore)
- "Navy Blue" (Diane Renay)
- "Stop and Think It Over" (Dale & Grace)
- "Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um" (Major Lance)
Written by: Henry Glover (born May 21, 1921 in Hot Springs, Arkansas, died Apr 07, 1991 in St. Albans, New York) and Morris Levy (born Aug 27, 1927 in The Bronx, NY, died May 21, 1990 in Ghent, New York.)
Henry Glover also wrote "The Peppermint Twist" (Joey Dee & The Starlighters, #1 US).
Morris Levy owned the company that published "California Sun", and is said to be the first to begin the practice of receiving songwriting credits on his acts' releases, which allowed him to collect more money.
At one point, after befriending DJ Alan Freed, Levy copyrighted the term "rock & roll," collecting money from the use of it, even by Freed himself, who had coined it.
Morris Levy also sued John Lennon for infringement of a lyric from a Chuck Berry song that he owned, "You Can't Catch Me", used in the Beatles song "Come Together". Lennon agreed to record an oldies album, "Rock And Roll", using three of Levy's copyrights.
Morris Levy was eventually convicted of extortion in 1986.
Originally by: Joe Jones, whose version peaked at #89 in 1961.
Also by: Willis Jackson (1962), Ricardo Ray Orchestra (1968), Ola & the Janglers (1970), The Ramones (1977), Dick Dale (1994).
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