It's time I took you into the mysterious world of Hit Records. This was a "budget" record label based in Nashville. It was founded by Ted Jarrett and Bill Beasley to sell cover versions of hit songs at reduced prices. The singles they sold were priced at 39 cents, or about half the price of the other labels.
These two guys ran another budget label called Spar Records. It was on that label that Bobby Russell made his recording debut with a Nashville teen garage band called Bobby Russell And The Beagles. It was 1964, the year the Beatles hit it big in America. Clearly the "Beagles" was intended to trade off the success of The Beatles. His first record featured Roll Over Beethoven backed with Right Or Wrong on Spar 740, both cover versions of hits by Chuck Berry and Ronnie Dove, respectively.
Bobby Russell was born in Nashville on 19 April 1940. He's a singer and songwriter, probably best known as the guy who wrote hit songs like Honey, The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia, and Little Green Apples, which earned him the Song Of The Year Grammy Award in 1968. That was the same year he hit the pop charts singing his own song, 1432 Franklin Park Circle Hero, which peaked at #36 on Elf 90,020. He also had five of his own singles hit the Billboard Hot Country charts, with one of them, Saturday Morning Confusion, crossing over to the pop charts on United Artists 50786 from 1971. Bobby was married to singer and actress Vicki Lawrence from 1972 to 1974.
Behind the scenes at Hit Records lived three hard working musicians: the aforementioned Bobby Russell, along with Buzz Cason and Bergen White. Every record on the Hit Records label was supposed to be credited to an imaginary artist. Basically the names were made up. I say "supposed to be" because a few records were made using the artist's real name, and at least one was made that accidentally used the name of the group who made the original recording. Oops.
They would also bring in session musicians and singers to help make these records. There was certainly no shortage of available talent in Nashville! Specific information about who played on which records ranges from sketchy to non-existant. But we do know that some heavy hitters were involved, such as Boots Randolph, Bill Pursell, Jimmy Wilkerson, Billy Sherrill, the Anita Kerr Singers, the Margie Singleton Singers, the Jordanaires, Ray Stevens, Jimmy Buffett, Ricky Page, and many others. The arrangements were often done by Bill Justis and Bergen White. They were not note-for-note copies of the originals, just close approximations. Nothing was improvised, however. The musicians followed the sheet music, using the famous Nashville Numbering System.
One of the artists who appeared on Hit Records, without being credited, was Sandy Posey, who had her own hits with Born A Woman and Single Girl. Some artists who appeared on Hit Records using their real names were Herbert Hunter, Peggy Gaines, Earl Gaines, Bobby Cash, Connie Landers, Dick Martin (of the Rowan And Martin comedy duo) Sammie Moore (Sam of Sam And Dave), and even Bobby Russell himself.
Hit Records also published albums. In fact, this song also appears on the Current Hits Volume 27 album. Often, the fake names used on the album tracks were different that the ones used on the singles, even though they were exactly the same recordings.
This record is NOT a cover of the Gary Lewis And The Playboys hit song, Sure Gonna Miss Her. This is, in fact, the original recording of that song, written and sung by Bobby Russell a full year before the song became a hit. On rare occasions, a Hit Records single would be released with one original song on it, instead of the usual cover of a current hit. This original recording was made by Bobby Russell as a demo recording, intended to shop the song around to see if it could be sold to some big recording star and turned into a hit. Leon Russell and Snuff Garrett produced most of the Gary Lewis records which were issued on Liberty Records between 1965 and 1970. Someone liked this demo well enough to get Gary Lewis to record it.
Here's I'm Sure Going To Miss Her by The Chellows (actually Bobby Russell) on Hit 187 from 1965:
Gary Lewis was the son of comedian Jerry Lewis, best known now for his fundraising telethons to raise money to find a cure for Muscular Dystrophy. His real name was Gary Harold Lee Levitch and he was born on 31 July 1945. His famous father, who had been born Joseph Levitch in 1926, legally changed the family name to Lewis when Gary was just two years old.
Gary Lewis And The Playboys came together in Los Angeles in 1964 and became regulars at Disneyland. You might be thinking that Gary's famous dad had something to do with launching his career, but that's not the case. The group didn't let anyone know who Gary's father was when they auditioned for that job.
Gary Lewis And The Playboys got picked up by Liberty Records in 1965 and immediately began producing hits, with the help of great producers and session musicians. His first big hits were This Diamond Ring, Count Me In, Save Your Heart For Me, Everybody Loves A Clown, She's Just My Style, and then their version of this song, retitled as Sure Gonna Miss Her, issued on Liberty 55865 in 1966.
After the Gary Lewis And The Playboys version hit the charts, Hit Records needed to issue a cover version. So, Bobby Russell recorded an updated version, this time using an arrangement that was much closer to the hit version. This time the record was credited to Ed Hardin, but it's most likely Bobby Russell singing. Of course, there's a good chance Buzz Cason is on here as well.
Here's Sure Gonna Miss Her by Ed Hardin on Hit 247 from 1966:
Here's a little bonus for you. The Lennon Sisters appeared regularly on the Lawrence Welk Show and recorded several albums of cover versions of hit songs. In 1967, they put out an album called Somethin' Stupid on Dot that included a cover of Sure Gonna Miss Her. But, since they're all female singers, they changed the lyrics to sing the song from the girl's perspective. The title became, Sure Gonna Miss Him. It's kind of a nice "answer" to the Gary Lewis And The Playboys version! Have a listen:
I'm planning to revisit the Hit Records label several times over the coming months, mainly because there is a lot of interesting stuff to talk about! I could get carried away writing about this particular label. In fact, I once entertained the idea of writing a book about it. You see, I happen to own at least one copy of every single ever published on Hit Records, from 001 to 355, plus all the extra stuff they published on Holiday Hits. I also own at least one copy of every single issued in Canada on Hit Records, which did not contain the same songs or use the same numbering system. In fact, some confusion arose because the Canadian pressings started using numbers in the 200 range to avoid confusion with the Nashville issues. However, once Nashville reached the 200's themselves, they started to make Hit Record singles that carried the same number as an earlier Canadian pressing. Needless to say, this confused the heck out of collectors for awhile, me included! I also own at least one copy of every Hit Records album ever pressed. In the record collecting world, this is called "Running the Label" and I have Run the Hit Records label completely. I even own some of the extremely rare inserts and sleeves that came with these records. I've contemplated auctioning off the entire collection to a single buyer, but I frankly have no idea where to start the bidding
Of course, you'll hear every single record ever made on the Hit Records label on MusicMaster Oldies, along with hundreds of songs from other "budget" labels like, Tops, Bell, Twin Hits, and many more.