Sunday, March 02, 2008

This Day In Music History: Tab Hunter and Young Love

When the rock era started out it was not uncommon for the same song to be recorded by more then one artist. On this day in music history the song Young Love was #1 on the Billboard charts by Tab Hunter and #4 by Sonny James. It became a signature song for both artist. By having as many artist cover a song as possible it provided more income for the publishers and the songwriters.

The first person to record Young Love was its co-writer Ric Cartey for RCA Records. His version didn't make the charts. Later he played it for Sonny James and he liked it enough to record it.

The president of Dot Records thought Sonny's version would only be a hit on the country charts and wanted it to hit the pop charts at the same time. So he contacted actor Tab Hunter who at that time had not recorded a song. He told him he had a record he wanted him to hear and if Tab could carry a tune at all, he would like him to record it.

As it turned out Tab had a pretty good voice and had sang in his school choir. He liked the song and agreed to record it. Ten days later it was in record stores. Sonny's version also hit the pop charts and it was climbing. However, Tab's was right behind him. On March 2, 1957 Tab's version peaked at #1 and later Sonny's hit #2.

Tab's recording career was short lived at Dot. Warner Brothers had him under contract to make movies and wanted him to concentrate on that. When they sent him on a promotional tour for the movie The Spirit of St. Louis no one asked him about the movie. He mostly got questions about his record. Warner Brothers was furious. Eventually Warner Brothers started their own record label and Tab Hunter was one of the artist they signed first. Tab feels that he was the reason they started their own label. Warner Brothers would rather have their artist earn money for them and not other record labels.

Tab Hunter had a long but sporadic career in films which range from Island of Desire to Grease 2. He was the star of his own sit-com in 1960 called "The Tab Hunter Show." I only lasted one season as it was against the last 30 minutes of "The Ed Sullivan Show." In 1977 he played George Shumway the father of Mary Hartman when he joined the cast of "Forever Fernwood." It was the spin-off show of "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman." He later formed his own production company to produce his own independent films.

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