Welcome to a new series on The Music Column.. I have records on my various playlists that were single hits for an individual artist or group but they were never followed up by another chart success. I also wonder what happened to the artist. So I am going to track some of them down and find out more…..starting with the 1950s – I am taking them from the list kindly supplied by Wikipedia
‘Lollipop’ by Ronald and Ruby 1958
Ronald & Ruby were an American interracial pop vocal duo, best known for their 1958 hit single “Lollipop”.
The duo’s members were titled as Ronald Gumm (some sources say Lee Morris) and Beverly “Ruby” Ross; interracial pop groups were not widely regarded at this time, and the group did not appear in public or in major press and television outlets.
Beverly Ross was born in 1939 in the Bronx and as a teenager began sending in material to the songwriters in the Brill Building located on Broadway on 49th Street in Manhattan. The building contained offices and studios and was considered to be the centre of the American music industry in the 50s and 60s. Beverly worked with Julius Dixson and they co-wrote “Dim, Dim The Lights (I Want Some Atmosphere)” which was recorded by Bill Haley and the Comets in 1954 being a hit in both the pop and R&B charts.
They co-wrote ‘Lollipop’ in 1958 and the story goes that the inspiration for the lyrics was prompted by an incident involving Julius’s daughter whose hair became tangled with a lollipop on the way to school. Beverly Ross recorded a demo with Dixson’s neighbour a young teenager, Roland Gumm (also thought to be Lee Morris). Dixson owned the master and agreed for it to be released by RCA records by “Ronald and Ruby and it went to #20 in the charts. However, allegedly, it was then discovered that they were an interracial group and television performances that had been booked were cancelled.
The song did better when covered by The Chordettes #2 in the USA and The Mudlarks #2 in the UK.
Ronald and Ruby released several further singles, including “Love Birds”, none of them hits. There seems to be some controversy about this, considering the previous resistance by the media to promote them as a interracial duo.
However Beverly Ross continued as a songwriter, with over 200 with BMI including ‘Candy Man’ which she received a BMI award for in 1985. By 1960 at only 21 years old, she was considered, along with Carole King as one of the top female pop music songwriters.
She spend some years away from the music business but then set up home in Nashville in 1989. She has worked with songwriters including Archie Jordan and Mark Dryer and her songs have been recorded by artists including Englebert Humperdinck and Bonnie Raitt. She also worked on writing musical theatre from the 1990s including City of Light, a show about Paris during the Nazi occupation, co-written with Thom Spahn.
In April 2013, her memoir I Was the First Woman Phil Spector Killed, described as a “tell all book” in a “Gonzo journalistic style” about life in the Brill Building between 1958 and 1961, was published and was featured at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
At this time I have no idea what happened to Ronald Gumm (Lee Morris) if you know then please share…
If you wonder what happened to the artist of your favourite one hit wonder, then let me know their name in the comments and I will see what I can find out…..
Thanks for tuning in… next week William Price King is back with another jazz instrumentalist…Yucel Lateef.