Enjoy the entire ‘MY SON THE FOLKSINGER’ album here, scratches and all! 

Rare video of Allan Sherman with Dean Martin and Vic Damone doing a number of great parodies



I can still see myself, as a kid just over 50 years ago, sitting around the card table in the the family living room with relatives intently listening to the ‘hot’ new album by ALLAN SHERMAN, ‘My Son The Folksinger, in 1962.

The moment has had a lasting imprint on my brain. I had no idea what the ‘Drapes of Roth’ were in Sherman’s parody of ‘Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory,’ nor what he was talking about when what resulted when  ‘My Zelda (instead of Matilda) found her romance when I broke the zipper in my pants’  fashioned from the Belafonte song ‘Matilda.’  All I knew is that I loved the music, which stood on its own and remains today a classic time capsule of the early 1960s.

Many years later I came to appreciate the lyrics, too.    The art of music parody is all but non-existent today save for,  perhaps . Wierd Al .  Looking back 50 years gives new appreciation to the work of Allan Sherman

overweight sensation

Now, thanks to a new biography from Mark Cohen, “Overweight Sensation,’,

folks over 50 are rediscovering the genius of Allan Sherman,

the top music parody writer of all time (with all due respect to the great Weird Al Yankovich) and a man who helped make Jewish humour popular in   mainstream American culture.

According to Cohen, ‘My Son The Folksinger,’ which was Sherman’s first and biggest of seven albums, was considered too ethnic by early critics, who thought it could only be a hit in the large Jewish populations of New York, Miami and Los Angeles.  Yet, surprisingly -before we heard the term ‘viral’ in the widespread use of today- Sherman’s popularity in the Jewish burgs spread quickly and became mutli-cultural,  a No. 1 hit from the Borscht Belt to the Bible Belt; in my opinion, people like ourselves (at the time) who didn’t understand  or appreciate the lyrics probably liked the music in its own right. Even President Kennedy was a fan of Sherman’s (see picture of the two together).

with kennedy

Sherman’s songs were not only funny but they were commentaries on the society and pop culture of the day  with Sherman specializing in the new  suburbs (eg ‘Suburbia’ on My Son the Nut Album ) as well as the Jewish ethnic humour. And, looking back 50 years many of his thoughts ring true, today, what with people returning to the cities from the suburbs, the growing dissatisfaction of ‘animation’ as in the song of the name on same My Son the Nut album, which , though not as big as ‘Ny Son the Folksinger,’ was still a number one album for weeks in July and August, 1963 and featured the big hit, ‘Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah.’

A song like ‘ Shake Hands With Your Uncle Max,’  in which Sherman pokes fun at Jewish names such as ‘Stein with an ‘i’ and Styne with a ‘y’ actually helped make Jewish names acceptable. Jews began to stop anglicizing their names.

Surprisingly, according to Cohen, Sherman’s big, initial success was based solely on the ethnic humour as his biggest single, ‘Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah’ , didn’t come out until a year later, in July, 1963, when it, too, was a No. 1 hit, but having little to do with ethnic sterotypes but only the fear of being sent off to summer camp.  I remember my own camp experiences and becoming so infatuated with this song that I memorized all the lyrics

Allan Sherman’s personal life was a mess. The child of a broken home and  dysfunctional parents who were in show business themselves, he lived mostly with his grandparents as a child in the Jewish section of Chicago. The obese Sherman overindulged in not only food , but later got carried away in his successes and had multiple affairs and  indulged in sex orgies.  Yet ,  on a talent level, he   continued putting out great material; besides his seven albums, he had his own TV show , wrote several books and even   a broadway musical before  he passed, prematurely, at age 49 in 1973 of a heart attack brought on by his overweight and several other serious health issues.

Today you can find most of Sherman’s work on Youtube, including long out of print or unreleased material which Cohen has posted on his Youtube channel (search ‘Mark Cohen Allan Sherman’) and find such great novelties  as ’76 Sol Shermans’ based on ’76 Trombones.’

Sherman never matched the brilliance or popularity of his first album, MSTFS, but had a number of non-ethnic stand out songs later in his career. His take on Mary Poppins’ ‘Chim chim cheree’ poked fun at the commercials of the day and ‘Good advice’ looks at what might have been had the great inventions been altered by the great inventors, as follow .             For Allan Sherman he might have had a song called ‘Good Timing,’ while  living during  the Golden Era of  musicals and popular culture he was able to parlay the music of the day into his own unique brand of  parodies,   both comedic and poignant at the same time, while even having a  positive influence on the culture despite his many personal flaws. Lots of Sherman’s songs are timeless and some were good prognosticators of things to come  like ‘Animation’on My Son The Nut LP.   Imagine if he were alive today with the digital divide today! sherman tribute  Unlike lesser known , short-lived yet talented comic careers of contemporaries  like  Totie Fields and Jackie Vernon,  Sherman achieved a distinct creative niche  over a full decade and should go down in history as one of the great comedians if not music performers; the fact that he can’t be classified fully into a distinct category has relegated Sherman to the ‘bargain bins’ of music shopping but, perhaps , with the new book we’ll see a deserved resurgence of appreciation for Sherman.   lost parodies -nothing like lox   Author MARK COHEN will be speaking about Allan Sherman and his book @ Temple Sinai in Oakland June 20. Also , an interesting hour long interview here with Cohen and Rabbi Saul Solomon   Finally, ‘Lost Parodies – There is NOthing Like A Lox’  was recently released and available here       amazon screen page

‘ Bring Back Those Memories of El Monte’ Recalls Los Angeles’ Doowop Era



 Memories of El Monte

– Zappa, Penquins Classic

Nostalgic Tribute to Los

Angeles’  ‘Happy Days’ Doowop



Though the song ‘Memories of El Monte‘ came out in 1963,   after the doo-wop era,  it was a perfect  song collaboration of a young Frank Zappa and the Penguins ( of ‘ Earth Angel’ fame) .   Probably due to its late arrival, the song never was a hit on the charts but it’s become an ‘under-the-radar’ classic, especially for those who grew up during the era and remember ‘those wonderful dances in El Monte .’  What makes the song extra special are the   ‘drop in’  songs and mentions of  the popular, largely  Los Angeles- based groups  The Shields, the Five Satins, the Heartbeats, the Medallions and Tony Allen and of course, the Penguins so popular at the El Monte dances.  Famed Los Angeles DJs like Hunter Hancock, Art Laboe (who produced the song-see album cover above- and very much still with us) and Johnny Otis were instrumental in bringing about this music and live performances not only at El Monte,  where, notably, young folks of all races easily mixed.  Frank Zappa wonderfully chronicled these special times and memories , Cleve Duncan and the Penguins sang about them and the aforementioned DJs recounted them in concert and over the airwaves.  Laboe tells below how the Legion Stadium concerts came about, below.


Many years later -in the 1980s and 1990s, Brian Bierne of KRTH DID bring back memories of El Monte but at Los Angeles’ fabled Greek Theater with ‘Legends in Concert  ‘  for one night every year, in October. Though we never saw the original El Monte Legion Stadium,  we could imagine what it was like as nostalgia flowed at the Greek with long-forgotten artists such as TONY ALLEN, GENE CHANDLER, JIMMY JONES to name a few and many more mostly long forgotten one-hit wonders -many of whom hadn’t performed in decades – were brought back for one special night, once a year in October, until that suddenly stopped. (Will have an article on that to come. Bierne continues to host mostly oldies tribute concerts, but nothing like the aforementioned.)


MEMORIES OF EL MONTE  written by FRANK ZAPPA and performed by CLEVE DUNCAN and the PENGUINS  (1963)

I’m all alone.
Feeling so blue.
Thinking about you
And the love we once knew.
And each time I do,
It brings back those memories
Of El Monte.

Remember the dance.
I held you so tight.
The Satins were singing
In the still of the night.
You gave me your heart
And your love undying.
Now I’m alone…
I’m sitting here crying.


If only they had
Those dances again,
I’d know where to find you,
And all my old friends.
The Shields would sing…
“You cheated. You lied…”
And the Heartbeats…
“You’re a thousand miles away…”
And the Medaillons with “The Letter” and…
“Sweet words of his mortality…”
Marvin and Johnny with…
“Cherry Pie…”
And then, Tony Allen with…
“Night owl…”
And I, Cleve Duncan, along with the Penguins,
will sing…
“Earth angel
Earth Angel
Will you be mine?”
At El Monte.


If I could go back
To those days of the past,
I’d show you a love…
A love that would last.
Oh, I remember
Those wonderful dances
In El Monte.
In El Monte.
“Earth angel
Earth Angel
Will you be mine?”
At El Monte

Art Laboe and the

El Monte Legion Stadium

Art Laboe

If Ol’ H.H. was the father of R&B radio in Los Angeles…Art Laboe can be credited as the father of Rock N’ Roll radio in the City of Angels. In 1955 Art made his debut in Los Angeles as a deejay for radio station KXLA, although Hunter Hancock had been in Los Angeles playing rhythm and blues for some time, Laboe was the first to play Rock N’ Roll. In 1950 Laboe started doing his shows from Scrivner’s Drive-In Restaurant chain (then only numbering three). As the chain grew so did Art’s audience, his live dedication shows drew groups and car clubs from all corners of Los Angeles County. At the time most of the drive-ins could only support about thirty cars. Art needed more room so Scrivner’s built a huge drive-in on Imperial and Western that could accommodate 200 cars; the hill top restaurant may have been the first low rider Mecca in the county. Art claims his connection with the people of Los Angeles especially the Chicano community started during his time at Scrivner’s. Teens had a place where they could listen to “their” music and also a place to be heard, Laboe claims to have aired 25,000 dedications from the restaurant chain in five years. His popularity prompted concert promoter Hal Zieger and bandleader Johnny Otis to hire him to emcee their live shows. At his first show held at the Shrine Auditorium some time in 1957 Art received such a favorable response that he became a regular, hosting shows at the Orpheum, United Artist and paramount Theaters. During this period Art also started to emcee dances on the outskirts of Los Angeles’ city limits. Dances for teens held within the Los Angeles City limits required a permit from the school board and Art wanted his dances for all ages so he used dance halls in neighboring cities. Although dances were held in Anaheim, Long Beach and San Bernardino it was El Monte, which eventually became his headquarters. Laboe rotated his schedule weekly with El Monte Legions Stadium getting a show every other week. The best in rhythm and blues talent, both national and local were booked at his shows. According to Laboe “We always had our local groups the Penguins, the Carlos Brotheres, Jesse Belvin, the Turks, Bobby Day and Rosie and the Originals, then we would reach out to the groups from the East like Chuck Berry, Jackie Wilson and the Drifters it was all about good times.” The good times continued after the dances were over, car clubs would pack the street around the dance halls showing off their cars and trying their luck with the girls which came streaming out of the dance hall. Not only was El Monte Art Laboe’s weekend headquarters, it also became a magnet for Black, White, Chicano youth and aspiring rock n’ roll stars. Cannibal and the Headhunters, the Jaguars, the Premiers, The Carlos Brothers, the Salas Brothers, Ritchie Valens and Thee Midniters were just a few of the Chicano groups from Southern California’s barrios that performed at El Monte.

‘Still the Best Standup Comedian Today’ , Overlooked MORT SAHL Reflects on JFK, Politics


‘Still the Best Standup Comedian Today’ ,

Overlooked MORT SAHL Reflects on JFK, Politics

     It wasn’t surprising to come across this great interview late (David Feldman) with the much overlooked/forgotten political comic/satirist MORT SAHL now several months past the Nov. 22 occasion of   50th anniversary of President John F Kennedy’s assasination.  Never too late to enjoy Sahl, who writer and producer Robert Weide calls ‘still the funniest standup working today’ (see below). 
      It seems Sahl – probably the last of the post- WWII group of political humorists- has always been pushed to the back burner for his less than Hollywood-friendly beliefs. Yet, Sahl is as relevant today as anyone, quick-witted as ever, never missing a beat as you will note in the above interview recorded at the time of the 50th anniversary.  Sahl may be somewhat right leaning but he’s never afraid to pick on whichever side deserves the needle, in his opinion. That’s probably why Sahl says he couldn’t get his career on track in left-leaning Hollywood during the 50s. Only after coming to San Francisco, of all places, did he begin to make his mark thanks to a key night club owner, Enrico Banduci of the Hungry I and where hrushed elbows with other comics, such as Lenny Bruce, not afraid to take a shot, so to speak, at the administration.
        Poor choice of words ‘take a shot’ as Sahl became obsessed with the Kennedy Assissination and what was, in his opinion, a government -influenced Warren Report, which held to the one gunman theory.  Sahl went so far as to sacrifice his then blooming career in the mid-1960s to move to New Orleans to help Jim Garrison on his conspiracy investigation.  Sahl believes the 1979  Committee on Kennedy Investigation was closer to the truth, holding that four gunmen were probably involved, but , still, claims even here ‘they didn’t investigate’ and provide details.  He also dislikes that nothing was done to open the ‘closed Kennedy book  ‘ which prevents more details and evidence coming out for 75 years – a time which nearly everyone alive at the time of the assassination will be gone.
         As it is, Sahl quotes his favorite, the late Senator ADLAI STEVENSON , and his words ‘There’s no one left I can talk to’ and it sounds like Sahl feels the same way today, watching what he calls a society where money rules more than ever, where people are more concerned about themselves and their jobs than speaking out as they did in the 1960s. Today, Sahl says, its all about politics over substance.


 KENNEDY 50th Year Anniversary Began with TV Movie

November 22 Marks the Fiftieth Year since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Expect an onslaught of TV movies, videos,documentaries – and we’ve already seen a number of books come out. Bill O’reilly’s best selling ‘Killing Kennedy’ ,   made into a TV movie, is already out on National Geographic TV (see video trailer above). Stay tune for more…Other recent and past books and media are below.

 50th Year Tribute CONTINUE


Still the Best Standup Comedian Today’ , Overlooked MORT SAHL Reflects on JFK, Politics 

          Sahl believes one of Kennedy’s last speeches, at American University late 1963 was perhaps his best but the one that may have upset certain forces and let directly to his death. In the speech, he condemned war , while expressing some compassion towards Russia. This may have helped trigger the CIA, which Sahl believes was behind the assassination.  Kennedy had expressed desire get OUT of war rather than engage in it, which was at odds with our government, too.  (Editor’s Note: Though Sahl didn’t mention it here, he  no doubt believes with our assertion (in another blog) that the Vietnam War would have never risen to the scale it did under President Johnson, had Kennedy lived).

             Sahl blames the media for it’s collective ‘lack of detail’when it comes to investigating, or not investigating.  He believes that nothing good came out of the ‘communal sobbing” led by news anchor Walter Chronkite, at the time, and carried forth today with news people like Wolf Blitzer and Bob Shieffer.  Sahl didn’t like the ‘lack of detail’ surrounding the Kennedy investigation, despite what he considers obvious factors going against the lone gunman theory. He noted a lot of information that never turned up in the investigation, including that 
   -Gunman Lee Harvey Oswald was found with the phone number in his pocket of the Dallas FBI chief  at the time of his arrest.
    -Oswald was so much NOT a ‘great shot’ that he had to hold down a menial government job
     -Kennedy WASN’T shot from behind and that the doctors at Dallas’ Parkside Hospital ‘altered Kennedy’s body and finished the job after he was transferred to Bethesda.’

              Sahl is not very warm to  the political scene today. He never saw any good in Obamacare or other Administrationi policies. He says that President Obama gets away with a lot of his politics thanks to the ‘show business liberals’ and people like ‘Oprah’ who are always there to lend a million or a movie.  Sahl has disdain for not only some of the current crop of film people , like Tom Hanks, George Clooney and Producer Jeffrey Katzenberg but some of his generation like Bill Cosby, who go with  politics over substance.

            Interviewer Feldman, asking Sahl about his inclusion in Tom Brokaw’s documentary and book, ‘Where Were You?’ about the Kennedy Assissination, jokes that it might have been called ‘The Mediocre Generation,’ a take off on Brokaw’s ‘The Great Generation,’ referring to that of   World War II.  Sahl noted that he and his views were left out of the film (which we haven’t seen yet but will) but included in only the book – perhaps not so surprising to Sahl, based on his past history .

But rather than being bitter about such career exclusions, Sahl , 86, marches on, making occasional appearances at ‘old school’ places like the Throckmorton Theatre’ in Mill Valley , CA , near where he currently resides with his third wife. He will talk on all subjects including his beliefs what he believes to be other conspiracies – the Robert Kennedy and MLK Assassinations and belief that there was more to 9/11 than has come out.  The CIA, he says hires the ‘ best professional group  of mechanics  from all over the world.’ (Oswald was probably not one of them.)  Sahl believes that today’s government leaders are ‘not being held accountable’ for their actions. Obama will do things on his own , without consulting even his own party; those who may disagree will not speak out against him, which makes our government look more and more like a fascist rule.

Today Mort Sahl flies pretty much under the radar, not necessarily by choice. Seems like things haven’t changed for him much over all the years.  Perhaps like his late contemporary, Rodney Dangerfield,  Sahl doesn’t get the respect he deserves. A recent   program, Mort Sahl: The Loyal Opposition, by Mr.Weide, was scrapped by PBS after one showing but you can read about it here:

 Perhaps Robert Weide sums it up best in the last paragrah of his writing, the Loyal Opposition. Of Sahl he writes :

Sahl’s popularity started to rise again in the wake of the Watergate scandal. He continues to work, but without regular television exposure, younger audiences tend to be unaware of his historical significance and his continuing comedic chops. I believe that pound-for-pound, Mort is still the funniest standup working today. But his dance card deserves to be much fuller than it is these days. How guys like Bill Maher or Jay Leno can be thought of as our current political humorists when Mort is still alive and kicking is beyond me. But I digress.’

– See more at:


‘Still the Best Standup Comedian Today’ , Overlooked MORT SAHL Reflects on JFK, Politics