Music ! Music ! Music ! : Teresa Brewer©2005JCMarion


Teresa Breuer was born in Toledo, Ohio, in 1931 and entered show business a short two years later on a local radio show for children. At the age of five she was rewarded for her performance in a talent show held in Toledo and became a member of the cast of "Major Bowes Amateur Hour" a famous radio musical variety program of the nineteen thirties. This show continued for many years under the direction of Ted Mack. She appeared on the program for seven years on national tour until she returned to Toledo at age twelve. She continued to appear on local radio until another talent competition brought her to New York and network radio and personal appearances at night clubs in the city. By this time she had changed the spelling of her last name to Brewer. She was soon approached about a recording career and signed on with London Records. The British firm was trying to get a foothold in the U.S. and in the post war forties was very aggressive in seeking out new talent.

Teresa Brewer began with London Records with "When The Train Came" / "A Man Wrote A Song" on # 511, "Copper Canyon" / "Way Back Home" ( a hit for Bing Crosby) recorded with Bobby Wayne on # 562, and "Ol Man Mose" / "I Beeped When I Shoulda Bopped" on # 563. Then (# 604) "Copenhagen", was soon forgotten as American audiences picked up on "Music Music Music" in early 1950 which was recorded with an all star band of traditional Dixieland players including Cutty Cutshall, Max Kaminsky, Ernie Casceres, and George Wettling. The payoff was huge as "Music" soon became the number one seller in the country (over one million) and remained a best seller for more than four months. After the run of "Music", Brewer followed with another novelty tune "Choo'n Gum" (the flip side of "Honky Tonkin" on # 678) in the spring of the year. It was a top twenty seller for Brewer. "The Picnic Song" and "Let's have A Party" recorded with Bobby Wayne, Snooky Lanson, and Claire Hogan was released on # 696, and was followed by "Molasses Molasses" and "Grizzly Bear" on # 794, and "The Wang Wang Blues" / "Ocean Roll" on # 1083. The third chart appearance for Brewer while with London Records in September of 1951 was on the ballad "Longing For You" on London # 1086 (with "Jazz Me Blues ") which was a moderate seller that reached into the top twenty five best sellers. "If You Don't Marry Me" and "I Wish I Wuz" were released on London # 1085. After experiencing different levels of success with London, Brewer now a show biz veteran at the age of twenty moved to Coral records, a subsidiary label of Decca.

Begriming in 1951 Brewer began a long association with Coral Records with a string of recordings. "I Don't care" and "Sing Sing Sing" (from Louis Prima) on # 60591, was not successful, but "Roll Them Roly Boly Eyes" and "Gonna Get Along Without You Now" (which was a big pop hit for Patience & Prudence in 1957) on # 60676, got into the best sellers with "Gonna Get Without You Now" reaching the top twenty five in the country. "Kisses On Paper" and "I Hear The Bluebells Ring" on # 60755, did not chart but a duet with Don Cornell on the tune "You'll Never Get Away" was a solid hit on # 60829 ("The Hookey Song" was the flip side). In late 1952 Brewer recorded a ballad with an irresistible hook by the orchestra of Jack Pleis called "Till I Waltz Again With You" on # 60873 and it soon became one of the biggest selling records of the nineteen fifties. It was the number one seller in the country for two months and remained a best seller for more than six months selling in excess of two million copies ("Hello Bluebird" was the other side). "Dancing With Someone (Longing For You)" on # 60953 was a top twenty seller in early 1953, and "Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall" and "Too Much Mustard" recorded with Les Brown (and His Band of Renown) on # 60994 was a top twenty five seller in the middle of the year. By now the word was out that Teresa Brewer was a top notch hit maker for Coral.

In the late summer of 1953 Brewer recorded two tunes with popular baritone Don Cornell on "The Glad Song" / "What Happened To The Music" on # 61027. The duet performances did not catch on with the public, but in late 1953 Brewer produced another top seller with the frantic novelty tune "Ricochet (Rick-O-Shay)" on # 61043 (the flip was "Too Young To Tango"). It was another million seller and hit the number two position ( second only to Stan Freeberg's loopy "St. George And The Dragon-Net") and stayed on the top hit charts for five months. During the summer months Brewer starred in a replacement television show called "Summertime U.S.A." along with Mel Torme. "Baby Baby Baby" ( a tune from the motion picture "Those Redheads From Seattle" in which Brewer had a featured role) was a good seller also in late 1953. "I Guess It Was You All The Time" was the other side on # 61037. "Baby" got up to the number twelve position on the best seller charts. "I Just can't Wait For Christmas" and "Too Fat For The Chimney" on # 61079 was rushed in for the season in late 1953. "Bell Bottom Blues" / "Our Heartbreaking Waltz" on # 61066 followed with another good turn with record buyers. Both sides made the top twenty in national sales during the early days of 1954. The next release by Coral on the tunes "Jilted" and "Le Grand Tour de L'Amour" in March of the year provided Teresa with another hit parade smash. "Jilted" was a top five seller during the spring and stayed on the charts for over two months. "I Had Someone Else Before I Had You" and "Skinny Minnie (Fish Tail)" on # 61197 followed as "Minnie" was a moderate hit getting into the top twenty in the country. "Au Revoir" / "Danger Signs" on # 61225, and "Time" and "My Sweetie Went Away" on # 61286 followed in mid 1954. But it was a cover of Joan Weber's "Let Me Go Lover" featured on television's "Studio One" drama standout, and "The Moon Is On Fire" on # 61315, that provided Brewer with her next chart seller. The tune recorded with The Lancers was a strong seller getting as high as number six in the country and remaining on the top sellers list for three months. "What More Is There To Say" / "I Gotta Go Get My Baby" on # 61339 was released in February of 1955 was unsuccessful, but a cover of Johnny Ace's R & B classic "Pledging My Love" and "How Important Can It Be" (a cover of Joni James hit) on # 61362, delivered a top twenty seller. As the sound of rock 'n roll began to take over the music scene in mid 1955, Brewer tried her hand with two rock covers - Eddie Fontaine's "Rock Love" and LaVern Baker's "Tweedle Dee" on # 61366. It seemed as though the majority of record buyers preferred the originals. "I Don't Want To Be Lonely Tonight" and "Silver Dollar" on # 61394, released in April provided Brewer with another top twenty seller if only briefly - "Silver Dollar" spent one week at number 20. "The Banjo's Back In Town" /"How To Be Very Very Popular" on # 61448 was a bit of a surprise. "Banjo's" was a good seller in July and August making the top fifteen in the country and remaining on the charts for more than a month. Late in the year "You're Telling Our Secrets" and "Shoot It Again" on # 61528, and "A Good Man Is Hard To Find" / "It's Siesta Time" on # 61548, were released without much in the way of sales or airplay.

In February of 1956 "Bo Weevil" / "A Tear Fell" on # 61590 was released by Coral Records. This was a huge success for Teresa Brewer and Coral. Both sides were big sellers with "Bo Weevil" (originally recorded by Fats Domino) a top twenty seller and a stay of two and a half months on the charts, and "A Tear Fell" topping out at number five and staying on the best sellers list for almost five months - all this in the tidal wave of rock 'n roll sweeping the American music world. Once again Brewer produced a million seller. "Goodbye Joe" / "Sweet Old Fashioned Girl" on # 61636 followed and there was little fall off. "Girl" was a solid seller getting as high as the number seven record in the country, and lasting on the charts for a solid four months. 1956 was certainly a big year for Teresa Brewer. She next recorded the New York specific "I Love Mickey" recorded with Mickey Mantle of the New York Yankees (bringing back memories of "Joltin' Joe DiMaggio by Les Brown and Betty Bonney in 1941), and "Keep Your Cotton Pickin Paddies Off My Heart" on # 61700 in October. "Crazy With Love" / "Mutual Admiration Society" (a tricky song from the Broadway show "Happy Hunting") gave Brewer her fourth big seller of the year on # 61737. A top twenty seller and a two month charter, this late 1956 hit capped a big year for the singer.

"How Lonely Can One Be" / "I'm Drowning My Sorrows" on # 61776 started off the year of 1957 for Teresa. "Empty Arms" / "The Ricky Tick Song" on # 61805 got her back on the charts with "Empty Arms" a solid seller that went to number thirteen and stayed around on the hit list for two months. , "Teardrops In My Heart" and "Lula Rock A Hula" on # 61850 was followed by "It's The Same Old Jazz" / "Born To Love" on # 61878 through the summer. Then a cover of Sam Cooke's "You Send Me" and "Would I Were" on # 61898 late in the year provided Brewer with a solid hit. Despite the massive sales of the Sam Cooke original, Teresa's cover of "You Send Me" was a top ten record and a three month best seller on the hit charts. "Listen My Children" and "Hush A By Wink A By" on # 61912, "Because Him Is A Baby" / "I Lost A Little Puppy" on # 61944,"Whirlpool" and "There's Nothing As Lonesome As Saturday Night" on # 61948, and "I Think The World Of You" / "Saturday Dance" on # 61983 in through March of 1958 did not generate chart action for Teresa Brewer.

During the summer of 1958 "Rain Falls On Everybody" and "Pickle Up A-Doodle" is released by Coral on # 62013. "So Shy" and "The Hula Hoop Song" on # 62033 is next and the "Hula Hoop Song" makes a quick stop in the top forty in the country. "The One Rose" / "Satellite" on # 62057 in November is followed by the seasonal pair of tunes ,"I Like Christmas" and "Jingle Bell Rock" on # 62058. In early 1959 "Fair Weather Sweetheart" and "Heavenly Lover" on # 62084 also makes a quick visit to the top forty. "Bye Bye Baby Goodbye" and "Chain Of Friendship" on # 62126, "Mexicali Rose" / "If You Like-A-Me" on # 62150, "Venetian Sunset" and "Peace Of Mind" on # 62167, and "There Are Stars In My Eyes" / "How Do You Know It's Love?" on # 62197, all pass through the music scene without much chance of making the hit parade. It is now 1960 and the musical scene has totally changed from the way it was in the early fifties. Adult performers like Teresa Brewer now target adult listeners and mostly record tracks for LP albums. However in late summer of the year Brewer makes one last visit to the top sellers in the 45 rpm singles market. "That Piano Man" / "Anymore" is released by Coral on on # 62219. Teresa's version of "Anymore" turns out to be a moderate sized hit for her selling in the top thirty in the country and having lasted on the best seller charts for almost two months.

In the early nineteen sixties Brewer continues to make many television appearances on musical variety shows and continues to release singles for Coral. "Have You Ever Been Lonely" / "When Do You Love Me?" on # 62236, "Older And Wiser" and "Whippoorwill" on # 62253, "Milord" (her version of Edith Piaf's French hit standard) and "I've Got My Fingers Crossed" on # 62265, "Little Miss Belong To No One" / "Sea Shell" on # 62278,"Step Right Up" and "Pretty Looking Boy" on # 62299, "Another" / "I Want You To Worry" on # 62306,"You Came A Long Way from St. Louis" and "One Last Heart To Break" on # 62316 and "I Hear The Angels Singing" and "Cry Baby" on # 62428 are issued through late 1964. Coral also released some re-issues from earlier sessions such as Hank Williams "Your Cheatin' Heart" and "Music maestro Please" on # 65546 in late 1961, and "Jealous Heart" and the country classic "Walking The Floor Over You" on # 65569. After fifteen years with Coral Records, Teresa Brewer moved on in the mid sixties. Her audience was now more limited than it was during the golden age of American pop music. The Philips label released a number of singles culled from album tracks that Brewer had recorded for the label. Some of these were "The Thrill Is Gone" / "She'll Never Love You" on # 40095, "Second Hand Rose" / "Stand In" on # 40120, "He Understands Me" / "Just Before We Say Goodbye" on # 40135, "Come On In" / "Simple Things" on # 40177, "Mama Never Told Me" / "Dern Me Dang You" on # 40277, and "Say Something To Your Sweetheart" / "What About Mine" on # 40310.

From that time on Teresa Brewer recorded sporadically for a number of labels, concentrating on LP albums for the most part. Some of the singles that were issued include a couple for the SSS label in 1968 - "Step To The Rear" / "Live A Little" on # 735 and "Woman's World" and "Ride A-Roo" on # 744 . At about this time Brewer met up again with Bob Thiele her producer from her early fifties days at Coral Records. He signed Brewer to his recording company called Flying Dutchman, and soon Brewer would remarry-to Thiele. "Singing A Doo Dah Song" / "Simple Song" on Flying Dutchman # 3774 from 1973, and two on Flying Dutchman's subsidiary label Amsterdam - "Bei Mir Bist Du Schon" and a remake of "Bo Weevil" on # 85029 from 1973, and "What'll I Do" and "Gatsby's" on Amsterdam # 0286 in 1974. "Tonight I Sleep Alone" and "I'm Gonna Telephone Jesus" was recorded for Image on # 306 from 1977, and Brewer recorded a number of singles for the Signature label from the mid seventies into the mid eighties. "A Natural Feeling For You" and "Some Songs" on Signature # 101 in 1979, "Teddy" with the ballad version on one side and an up tempo jazz version on the other on Signature # 102, "Willie Burgandy" and "Am I Asking Too Much Of You" on Signature # 10100 , "Unliberated Woman" and "Good Lovin'" on Signature # 10173, "No Way Conway" and "Sitting Here Crying" on Signature 04114 in 1983, and "Schooldays" and "The Pilgrim-Chapter 33" on Signature # 4654 released in 1984.

Teresa Brewer continued to make personal appearances from time to time in supper clubs and on television programs such as music specials for PBS. Bob Thiele passed away in 1996, and Brewer has made only rare appearances since then. Her music from all phases of her career is available on a number of CDs and this is a good way to discover one of America's greatest musical performers from the post war years. There are many "Best Of" collections with much duplication as always is the case. The best of these are "The Best of Miss Music Music Music" for Jasmine from 2000 which concentrates on Brewer's output for the London label including a couple of unreleased sides and the original version (not the hit) of "Music Music Music" included in its 22 tracks. Another "Best Of" from 2000 is the one on Universal Spectrum with 19 tracks covering the Coral years. (There are lesser Best Of" CDs on MCA with 10 tracks, and Varese from 1995 with 18 tracks). A good opportunity to hear Brewer in later years live is the CD "Live At carnegie Hall and Montreaux for Collectables from 2001 with 16 tracks. A great two-fer on Collectables is the "Songs Of Bessie Smith / The Cotton Connection" which features the Duke Ellington band led by Mercer Ellington, and the Count Basie band on each CD. A Sony release from the early nineties called "Memories Of Louis" featuring songs made famous by Louis Armstrong, and another nostalgia piece from Sony "I Dig Big band Singers" and finally one from left field - "Down The Holiday Trail" for MCA featuring Christmas songs for kids by the multi talented Teresa Brewer. She was certainly America's Sweetheart of the Fifties, but on some of her available recordings shows the great range and versatility that she has possessed in her vocalizing for so many years. Teresa Brewer - an American musical icon for all time.

(ed. note - some discographical information was copied from the Teresa Brewer Center, a fine and detailed web site at www.teresafans.org)

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