It was another time and another place, America in the early sixties. Teenagers found themselves in a musical wilderness. It was that twilight zone between Rock ‘n’ Roll and Beatlemania. Buddy Holly was dead. Chuck Berry was in jail. Little Richard was working for God. Elvis had been drafted. The music had lost its wildness, its ability to save our teenage souls.
And our rebellion had lost its bite. James Dean died on a motorcycle one dark night, leaving our teenage angst in limbo. Hollywood gave us the Gidgets and fake imitations of James Dean and Marlon Brando. Even Dick Clark failed us by offering up the Bobby Rydells and Fabians.
All we were left with was souped up engines. Cruisin’ Main on Friday nights. Takin’ Betty Sue to the Prom. Getting to first base. And that was about it. It was Happy Days all around. At least, for our parents. But it had no meaning for us. We had lost the soundtrack of our lives.
Then, from out of nowhere, there blasted out of the speakers of our transistors and car radios a sound that melted our hearts. Our teenage heroes had returned in the form of four fellows–Georgie, Abe, Teddy, Jeffy–from our very own Peanut Butter & Jelly High. (How the school came by the name is a whole other story. Let’s just say the School Board couldn’t settle on a President. And what said America better than peanut butter and jelly. It was right up there with Mom and apple pie.}
The four went off to New York City, entered the Brill Building, enlisted the aid of Duncan and Joy, two seventy year old songwriters with the hearts of sixteen year olds. And The Rushmores were born. Suddenly we had a soul again.
Their first number one was a tribute to teenage angst. “I wanna love love love you if I don’t love you I wanna do.” When I heard that coming from the radio in my hot rod lincoln, it was like Dr. Frankenstein had shot electricity through my veins. We’d all been through it. So we knew the guys had walked the walk, and now they were talking the talk. I’d just struck out with Betty Lou, and The Rushmores were commiserating with me.
The Rushmores were not one hit wonders. They had plenty of arrows in their quiver. The next sent us to the dance floor. After hearing “Looney Tuney”, nobody was doing the Twist.
Do the Bugs Shake
Do the Daffy Rattle
And the Porky Roll
It’s on with the show
and the what’s-up-doc
It’s time to do
the that’s-all-folks rock.
The Rushmores had caught a wave and there didn’t seem to be a wipe out coming. They were totally bitchin’ with their tunes.
Now I am sure y’all have heard those nonsensical songs from the fifties like “Yakety Yak,” “Sh-boo,” and “Alley Oop.” Well, The Rushmores number three was “Soda Jerk”:
He’s no clerk
he’s a soda jerk.
vanilla with a cherry,
root beer float
ice cream in a boat.
And their biggest hit, “Her Name Was Sherelle,” was one of those teenage-tragedy weepers like “Last Kiss” or “Tell Laura I Love Her”:
Her name was Sherelle
The Devil gave her his big sale
He played her heartstrings well
Then he took her to a motel
Now she’s go-go-going to hell.
Just as The Rushmores hit the big time, they were drafted. And that ended their musical careers. Last we heard Georgie died in Vietnam, Abe got knifed in a gang fight, Teddy got kicked by a horse, Jeffy OD-ed on heroin.
Now I hardly ever hear The Rushmores on those golden oldies stations. But there are a beaucoup load of fans out here. We remember the days when they looked down from Music Mountain, and we dream what might have been. The four lads from Liverpool would have had some real competition.