Forget Me Not - Guy Mitchell ©2003JCMarion


Al Cernick was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1927. From an early age it was apparent that he had a remarkable talent for music, especially as a vocalist. This talent led Warner Brothers Pictures to put young Al Cernick under contract as a budding musical personality. In the early forties he did some vocalizing on radio in Los Angeles, then moved up to San Francisco with his family. Besides singing with his high school band, in 1945 he was a country music vocalist in that city. After two years of military service he signed on as male vocalist with the orchestra of Carmen Cavallaro and appeared on recordings made for the Decca label. The first of these was released in early 1948 and featured Al on the tunes "Dream Girl" and "Encore Cherie" for Decca on #24330. Three months later "Evelyn" was released on #24410, and in late August "I Go In When The Moon Comes Out" and "Ah, But It Happens" was out on Decca 24488. None of these releases were successful and Cernick ended his association with Cavallaro in mid 1948. In 1949 Cernick appeared on two MGM sides recorded with The Buddy Kaye Quintet with the Tune Timers - "Don't Tell My Heart" on #10387, and "Love Nest" on #10443. It was during this year that Cernick gave opportunity a shot by appearing on "Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts" program, a popular showcase for new talent at the time, and turned in a winning performance.

Continuing in 1949, Al Cernick now known on record as Al Grant recorded some sides for the King Record label based in Cincinnati, Ohio. With Dewey Bergman he recorded "Cabaret" on #15004, and "This Day Is Mine" on #15005. In September of that year "A Frame Without A Picture" and "I Thought I Was Dreaming" was recorded with Rufe Smith on #15016. Late in the year ""Goodbye My Love" featured Al Grant with The satisfiers Foursome and Rufe Smith on #15019. The last King record was released in June of 1950 - "Forget Me Not" with Dewey Bergman on #15045. Back on April 1, 1950 Al Grant, aka Al Cernick, was signed to Columbia Records. The A & R man for Columbia was the most important record producer of the time, Mitch Miller, who seemed to develop a Midas Touch since coming over from Mercury Records and bringing Frankie Laine with him. His first order of business was to transform Al Cernick (Grant) into a new personality with a new name to match. Cernick became Guy Mitchell.

A number of sessions were set up with top Columbia arranger and conductor Percy Faith. These studio takes resulted in five releases for the label for the rest of the year of 1950. None of them met with any success. There was the first - "Where In The World" / "Giddy-Yap" on #38822; "Me And My Imagination" / "To Me You're A Song" on #38872; "You're Not In My Arms Tonight" / "Angels Cry" on #38931; "Marrying For Love" / "You're Just In Love" both from the stage musical "Call Me Madam" and both duets with Rosemary Clooney on #39052; and "The Place Where I Worship" / "The House Of Singing Bamboo" (from the film "Pagan Love Song") duets again with Rosemary Clooney on #39054. By the end of the year Mitch Miller took a more hands on approach with Guy Mitchell on the next session and acted as arranger and conductor. The result was "My Heart Cries For You" and "The Roving Kind" on #39067. Guy Mitchell's days as an unknown entertainer were over.

Mitch Miller had an ear for songs from every conceivable source, and fashioned hit pop tunes from them. This is a good example. "My Heart Cries For You" was partially written by Percy Faith and was adapted from a song supposedly composed by 18th century French Queen Marie Antoinette. "The Roving Kind" was a long time British sea chanty (originally known as "The Pirate Ship") often performed by Pete Seeger and The Weavers. Both sides were blockbuster sellers and made Guy Mitchell a new force on the popular music scene. Mitchell pulled off the rare double, where each side sold one million records on its own, and a gold record was awarded for each side individually. For more than five months both sides of the record were played constantly on radio and sales kept adding up. The young singer born in the motor city of Yugoslav immigrant parents had made it at last.

Seemingly a spillover effect happened in early 1952. There was so much action on the new release that copies of Mitchell's previous effort for Columbia started selling. And so, "You're Just In Love", the duet with Rosie Clooney, came back and actually made the top twenty five on the hit parade for a few weeks. Taking just a short time to catch his breath at his new fame, Guy Mitchell hit again with his next release for Columbia. "Sparrow In The Treetop" and "Christopher Columbus" on #39190 was out in March and immediately entered the best seller lists. Again it was a two sided hit, though certainly not with the force of his previous hit disc. "Sparrow" got into the top ten and remained on the hit parade for four months, while the flip side charted at number twenty seven and sold moderately well on its own. And so for a time in early 1951, there stood Guy Mitchell with five songs on the best seller lists. Not a shabby accomplishment for someone who saw five years or more of failed opportunities and missed stardom. The tide had turned and Guy Mitchell had arrived in a big way.

The hits continued in the spring of 1951. "Unless" released on #39331 ("A Beggar In Love" was the flip side) was a big hit for Mitchell getting into the top twenty and remaining on the best sellers list for three months. In late May "My Truly Truly Fair" / "Who Knows Love?" was released by Columbia on #39415. "Truly" was another huge hit for Mitchell staying on the charts as a best seller for five months and selling more than one million records, his third of the year. There was no let up by Mitchell as "Belle Belle, My Liberty Bell" and "Sweetheart of Yesterday" on #39512 was another smash. "Belle was a top ten seller and a three month chart member. "Sweetheart" also had a short run on the hit parade, becoming another two sided hit. Guy finished up a fantastic year with another two sided seller on #39595 - "There's Always Room At Our house" and his version of Hank Williams' country hit "I Can't Help It". Although a moderate seller, both sides made it into the top thirty best selling records in the country. 1951 was a year where Guy Mitchell dominated the charts - eleven songs on the best seller lists, five in the top ten, and three million plus sellers. It was a year to remember in American popular music.

1952 started off just as 1951 ended. Early in the year "Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania" and "Day Of Jubilo" were released on Columbia #39753 and soon followed his other records onto the hit parade. Recorded again with Mitch Miller's orchestra and chorus, "Pittsburgh" launched another run to the million mark. It passed the magic number while remaining a fixture on the best sellers for more than five months. "Jubilo" on its own was a top twenty five seller, so it was the fifth time Guy had gotten both sides on the hit parade. With his fourth gold record in the books the summer of 1952 saw the release of a strange song called "Feet Up (Pat Him On The Po Po)" on #39822. Strange or not, it got into the top fifteen best sellers in the country. Later in the year a duet with Mindy Carson on the song "Cause I Love You, That's A-Why" on #39879 charts briefly.

In early 1953 a song recorded the previous summer "She Wears Red Feathers" on #39909, charts for a month and enjoys moderate sales. Guy Mitchell is now on the back lot in Hollywood because he is in the cast of the motion picture "Those Redheads From Seattle" with another pop music star - Teresa Brewer, and his featured song "Chicka Boom" which he recorded for Columbia with Mitch Miller. "Tell Us Where The Good Times Are" a duet recorded with Mindy Carson on #339992 charts during the summer of 1953 getting into the top twenty five. By late 1953 the torrid pace set by Guy Mitchell had cooled off, but he continued to record. More duets with Mindy Carson, vocals with Norman Luboff, Jimmy Carroll, and Norman Leyden and their orchestras followed. In early 1954 Mitchell was on location again this time for the picture "Red Garters" for Paramount Studios. Guy recorded four tunes from the film - "Ladykiller", "Man And Woman", "A Dime And A Dollar", and "Meet A Happy Guy" with Mitch Miller.

In the mid fifties as the surge of rock 'n' roll consumed much of America, Guy Mitchell continued recording for Columbia with the orchestras of Ray Ellis, Jimmy Carroll, and Ray Coniff. In a span of two and a half years, Guy Mitchell had not made an appearance of the pop hit charts and was probably thought of as another casualty of the teenage rock music explosion. Those that thought that had another thing coming. In a hint of what was to come, Mitchell makes it back on the best seller lists in early 1956 with a song called "Ninety Nine Years (Dead Or Alive)" 0n #40631 which cracks the top twenty five and stays for a month. In September of 1956 Guy was in the New York studios of Columbia Records with the Ray Coniff Orchestra and put together a snappy tune called "Singing The Blues" and coupled it with "Crazy With Love".

The song "Singing The Blues" was a phenomenal seller. It was that rare crossover tune that sold on the pop, country, and R & B charts all at once. It proved that someone besides Elvis could achieve that trifecta. It remained in the number one spot for an unbelievable ten straight weeks, and lasted on the charts for more than five months. It was a multi-million seller, and worldwide tallies put the number at twelve million or more. It was certainly one of the top selling single record releases ever ! Moving into 1957, a perfect followup was "Knee Deep In The Blues" on #40820. A top twenty seller and a two month charter and you could say Guy Mitchell was back. First records, then films, and now television beckoned. The thirty minute "Guy Mitchell Show" for NBC featured the Guy Mitchell Singers, the Ted Cappy Dancers, and the orchestra of Van Alexander. Guy kept contemporary with his next release for Columbia called "Rock-A-Billy" on #40877. This side recorded with Jimmy Carroll this time, bettered the previous one and was a top ten hit with a three month stay on the charts. Quite a comeback year (if it was that) for Guy Mitchell in 1957.

When the television show ended in 1958, Guy Mitchell was only thirty one but had a solid decade as a vocal star of the pop music field. He kept recording with Carroll, Coniff, Glen Osser, and Richard Hayman, but without much success. One interesting side was "Alias Jesse James" from the film of the same name, recorded with Frank DeVol and his orchestra. In late August of 1959 in the studio, this time with Joe Sherman and his orchestra and chorus, Guy recorded a tune that had been a hit for Ray Price on the country music charts called "Heartaches By The Number" for Columbia on #41476. Mitchell closed out the decade in style with a big number one record, a million seller (his sixth) and a four and a half month stay on the best seller lists.

In the early sixties Guy Mitchell continued to record for Columbia, but his time in the top of the pops seemed to be at an end. He recorded a number of tunes with the orchestra of Monty Kelly (remembered for one of the most intriguing sides of the fifties - "Tropicana" and "Life In New York" for the Essex label out of Philadelphia) such as two Disney movie songs - "Fun And Fancy Free" and "Zip-A-Dee Doo Dah", "Riding Around In The Rain" and "Meet The Sun Half Way". He also recorded in Nashville with country music session veterans saxist Boots Randolph, bassist Junior Huskey, and guitarist Pete Drake among others. During this time he strengthened his country persona by recording a couple of LPs for the Starday label in Nashville and a recurring part in the TV series "Whispering Smith" and a motion picture called "The Wild Westerners". By the late sixties Mitchell went into retirement as a singer and turned to ranching where he stayed out of the spotlight for more than a decade.

In the early eighties Guy Mitchell appeared on a tribute television special devoted to the life and times of Mitch Miller who had been so much a part of his career. His well received performance on the show led to a return to the performing life and he was especially received in a number of concert dates in Western Europe. From then on through the nineteen nineties Guy Mitchell traveled to Australia, New Zealand, England, Ireland, and a number of venues in the U.S. He became a mainstay in demand at hotels and casinos in Las Vegas. It was there that Guy passed away in July of 1999 at the age of 72 putting an end to a most remarkable career.

Guy Mitchell had an amazing run of success during the nineteen fifties. One of the top baritone voices during the Interlude Era, he had the talent and the knack to buck the tide of rock 'n' roll in the mid and late fifties to achieve two of his biggest hit records ever. This ability to cross over to the new rock market was not done by many of the performers from the turn of the decade, but Guy was one of the best and the biggest. Whenever the sound of the early and mid fifties is presented, the sound of Guy Mitchell will fill the air - one of the most unique and well received practitioners of the art.

(note : some of the information on the early discography came from the website of the Guy Mitchell Appreciation Society which can be seen at www.belle49.freeserve.co.uk/guy/guypage.htm)

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