As much fun as the
Shady Dell was in summer...
It was pure magic in winter.
I spent several
New Years Eves at the Dell.
New Year’s 1969-70 is
because I went to the Dell
in the middle of a blizzard.
When it was time to leave, John Ettline brought an ice scraper and shovel out to the parking lot and kindly helped me to extricate my car from the snow. That’s so John.
Let's go back 44 years to January of 1967 when three awesome ballads occupied slots inside the Dell jukebox
at the same time. These three cuddle classics warmed
our nights and our hearts all winter long.
Aaron Neville's debut hit single, "Tell It Like It Is" got the jump on the other two records, arriving at the Dell in early December. By mid-January, Neville's signature song had reached its peak of popularity and dreamy-eyed couples were swaying to the sound several times a night.
At the same time that "Tell It Like It Is" was breaking into the top 5 on Billboard and Cash Box, the two other featured Dell ballads were also making their chart ascent, both of them armed with a bullet.
By the mid 60's, Tommy Roe was transitioning from a respectable rock-a-billy singer to one who plied his trade with bubble gum and nursery rhyme pop...(not that there's anything wrong with that).
With a doo-wop sound and style held over from the late 50's when they called themselves the Legends, the Casinos were very much an anachronism on the 1967 pop music landscape.
Tommy Roe and the Casinos were not the usual suspects in
a Dell jukebox lineup that favored soul artists like the Temps and Tops; but these vanilla recording acts contributed two more essential winter time slow jams to the Dell, “It’s Now Winter’s Day” and “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye.”
In the years following its release, “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye” was undoubtedly played at thousands of weddings because it's tailor made for such occasions. At the Dell, it took the jaws of life to pry couples apart once the Casinos started to croon the lyrics to their syrupy song. Dell knights and Dellettes, locked in tight embrace on the dance floor, made all kinds of silly promises to each other while under the intoxicating influence of this dreamy ballad.
By January of 1967, Tommy Roe’s voice was already a familiar one at the Dell.
The previous June, Tommy’s infectious pop hit “Sweet Pea” (#186 on my Dell 200) had been an irresistible treat that the gang sampled many times during the early weeks
of summer vacation.
Please watch this "Sweet Pea" video
all the way through. The little girl who
performs with Tommy is adorable and
together they create a rare and magical
moment in the history of rock!
After witnessing the delightful chemistry between Tommy Roe and that girl, I read the YouTube comments and found two that I would like to share with you. They provide some closure for those of you who might be wondering whatever happened to that exceptionally poised young lady.
I found a comment that this girl left on
my channel a few months ago when she
was asking me where she could get a
copy of this clip to show to her
I contacted Tommy Roe about this video and he clearly rememberd it and the cute young lady. I also got in touch with the girl in the video whom we'll call "Sweet Pea" and passed on Tommy's contact info to her. She was
so delighted. She and Tommy had a
sort of reunion and she received an autographed photo from Tommy.
When winter came, Tommy was back in the box with an even bigger Dell hit, the evocative ballad “It’s Now Winter’s Day.”
If you spent the winter of '67 at the Dell, I'm sure that you remember "It's Now Winter's Day." Here's an opportunity for you to use your imagination. Put yourself back in the barn huddled in front of that fireplace with fellow Dell rats on a frigid night in January 1967.
Outside it's chilling.
The mercury is dropping down
to minus ten below ("feels like" temp)
It's snowing hard. Your folks called you plumb loco for going out on a wretched night like this, but you just had to be there with the gang.
Feel the warmth radiating from the roaring blaze. John just threw another log on the fire. It must have had some wet snow on it because it’s starting to sizzle. Can you hear it?
Meanwhile, out on the barn's dance floor, guys and girls are falling in love all over again to Tommy Roe’s cold gold classic.
in the dead of winter...
there was life at the Dell…
and a palpable sense
and a roaring fire
and a smoky haze...
that I still
I liked so well...
Have a Shady Day!