Remembering : Richard Hayes ©2003JCMarion


Richard Hayes was a pop music singer who came of age during the golden age of pop singers, the Interlude Era. He is not easily remembered, perhaps because of his common name (often confused with Bill Hayes of "The Ballad Of Davy Crockett" fame, or Peter Lind Hayes, or even Richard Hayman with whom he recorded). But this Richard Hayes was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1930. Having an affinity for music it wasn't long before he found himself at the age of nineteen signed to a recording contract with the fifth "major" label, Mercury Records based in Chicago. His very first recording for Mercury turned out to be the blockbuster hit that so many aspiring singers never seem to achieve.

The song "The Old Master Painter" (on Mercury #5342) by Hayes took over the hit parade at a time when the prevailing practice was for every label to have one (sometimes more) of its artists record a new song that they determined had hit potential. "The Old Master Painter" was recorded by notables such as Dick Haymes, Peggy Lee & Mel Torme, Phil Harris, Snooky Lanson, and the "Voice" himself, Frank Sinatra. But it was the newcomer, Richard Hayes who led the pack as his version of the song became a top seller. Only Red Foley's massive crossover hit "The Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy" kept Hayes record out of the number one spot. Richard Hayes version remained in the top sellers charts for more than three months and Mercury readied the all important followup side.

The second release for the label was the song "My Foolish Heart" on #5362 again with great accompaniment by the orchestra conducted by Mitch Miller. Although this side did not match the enormous popularity of Hayes initial record, it did manage to get as high as number twenty one on the charts. At this time in mid 1950 Mitch Miller made the move to Columbia Records and single handedly dominated American popular music until the rise of rock 'n' roll in the mid fifties. In September Hayes recorded the song "Our Lady Of Fatima" with the orchestra of Jimmy Carroll on Mercury #5466. This was a solid seller for Hayes as the record had a three month stay on the charts and was a top ten seller across the country.

By now Hayes had name recognition and the relatively new medium of network television beckoned. He was part of the cast in a comedy series called "Two Girls Named Smith" which starred Peggy Ann garner and Peggy French as two sisters who came to New York to try to make it in the big city. Richard Hayes was cast as the boy friend of Babs Smith played by Garner. The show lasted for one season on the ABC network, and for Hayes it was the first of many appearances on TV. During the time he was part of the cast on the show he continued to record for Mercury Records. In March of 1951 he recorded a duet on the tune "The Aba Daba Honeymoon" with Kitty Kallen on #5586. The tune was made famous by Carleton Carpenter and Debbie Reynolds in the film "Two Weeks With Love", and they also recorded it for MGM. However Hayes and Kallen held their own as far as record buyers were concerned. Their version got into the top ten best sellers and spent almost three months on the charts.

During the summer of 1951 Hayes recorded a version of Nat Cole's hit "Too Young" on Mercury #5599. It reached number 24 on the pop charts, and in late August did another cover version-this time "Come On-A My House" from the Broadway show "The Son" and a big hit for Rosemary Clooney for Columbia. That side charted at number fourteen as did the flip side "Go! Go! Go!" both recorded with George Bassman's orchestra on #5671. In late October of 1951 Hayes had another big seller for Mercury - "Out In The Cold Again" with the orchestra of Joe Reichman on #5724. The record again made it into the top ten best sellers in the country and remained on the charts for close to three months. The next appearance by Hayes on the top sellers hit parade was in May of 1952 with the tune "I'll Walk Alone" on #5821, which despite a number of versions including the big hit version by Don Cornell, hayes record got to number 24 in the country. At the same time his recording of "Junco Partner" recorded with Eddie Sauter's Orchestra on #5833 was released. The record had a three month stay on the charts and got as high as number fifteen.

Continuing in 1952 Hayes recorded "The Mask Is Off" with Jimmy carroll's orchestra on #5872 which also got into the top twenty five sellers nationally. The last appearance of the year on the best seller charts for Richard Hayes was with the tune "Forgetting You"" on #5910. The tune got as high as number fifteen in the country. At about this time Hayes entered military service and even there kept his hand in the business of musical entertainment. He was a talent scout of sorts for the television program "Talent Patrol" which featured musical performances by servicemen. The hosts of the program were Steve Allen and Arlene Francis. The show ran on the ABC television network in 1953. During the summer of 1953 hayes entered the top seller lists for the last time with the song "Midnight In Paris" recorded with the orchestra of Richard Hayman on #70169, a top twenty five seller.

Richard Hayes run of best selling records might have come to an end, but he remained a presence on radio and television for years to come. He was a featured performer with Robert Q. Lewis, made many appearances on Ed Sullivan's variety show, and was a long time performer with Arthur Godfrey from the mid fifties to the end of network radio. He was also host for a renewed version of the TV game show "Name That Tune" and "Supermarket Sweep". He also was featured on talk radio in New York and Philadelphia. But it is his contribution to the field of American popular music that we are interested in, and Hayes made his mark in an understated way. In a little more than three years he charted thirteen times, all in the top 25 and four times made the top ten. Not bad for one that is often overlooked when talking about the top male singers during the Interlude Era. Richard Hayes, a part of the music of our life.

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