Song of the day: Johnny O’Keefe – "She’s My Baby"

November 5, 2009

Here’s Australia’s Elvis*, Johnny O’Keefe, with “She’s My Baby” (1959):

Link

“She’s My Baby” was a hit that had the distinction of charting twice for JOK, courtesy of the following course of events…

In 1969, Queensland singer Jon Blanchfield released a new, slightly-more-Vegas version of “She’s My Baby.” It sounds an awful lot like this:

Jon Blanchfield – “She’s My Baby” (1969)

Link

Jon’s version charted only in Brisbane (capital of Queensland), where it reached number three.

Legend has it that JOK, upon hearing the remake, promptly told any journalist who would listen that his version was better than the new one by that young upstart. JOK’s record company then decided to re-release Mr O’Keefe’s record and, despite any odds I’d have given it, the re-release did very well indeed: #13 in Sydney; #6 in Melbourne; and #3 in Brisbane. (You can’t keep a good song down.)

So here we have a rare case of two versions of the same song zooming up the charts at the same time. Have I ever told you that the Australian music industry is occasionally weird?

Oh, by the way: despite Johnny O’Keefe’s “mine-was-the-first-and-the-best” protestations, his version wasn’t the original. It was first recorded by Hawaiian entertainer Al Lucas in 1959. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get my hands (or ears) on a copy of Al’s version. I would love to hear it.

But back to the duelling singles:

It’s a toughie… I like Johnny’s energy, but I like Jon’s cheese. Maybe you can decide which you prefer.

(*When Elvis Presley became phenomenally popular, it seemed that every country had to have their own Elvis. Australia had Johnny O’Keefe.)

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