HEY BABY (THEY’RE PLAYING OUR SONG)
- The Buckinghams (artist)
- Dennis Tufano (lead singer)
- Jim Holvay and Gary Beisbier (composers)
- Jim Holvay and Gary Beisbier (arrangers)
- James Guercio (conductor)
- James Guercio (producer)
- Columbia 4-44254 ZSP 119533 (label)
- 2:35 (time)
- August 1967 (released)
- Diogenes Music, Inc. & Bag O’ Tunes, Inc. (BMI)
…The story on “Hey Baby” is the following:
In the early days of The MOB, we bought an old Brunswick Bowling truck that had a 100,000 miles on it and these racks in it. Apparently, the guy would deliver new bowling balls and pick-up the old ones.
Anyway, we converted it to something that we could all fit into as we barnstormed the Midwest. This was pre getting into the Nevada circuit and the “show room supper club circuit”, where we would make more money and afford to fly to the gigs.
Over a weekend, we ripped all the racks out of the truck and put in 7 seats, the 8th seat being the driver. That took up about 2/3rds of the truck. Than we put a plywood wall up which separated us and the balance of the truck. This is where we put all the instruments. (B3 organ, 2 Leslie speaker cabinets, guitar amp, bass amp, drums, horns, guitars, bass, conga drum and, reel-to-reel tape recorder, a few record players and everyone’s luggage and suit bags. There were no windows in the van, just 1 sliding door in the front and man did it get hot in the summertime. Now that I think about it, it kinda looked like a UPS truck.
So we’re driving along on some highway in Omaha or Iowa somewhere, headin’ to a club gig. We had a radio in the truck and were still within range of WLS and had the station on. Art Roberts comes on and says, “Hey baby, they’re playing our song …” and went on with his schtick. And I thought, “What a great title for a song.”
Most songwriters carry a composition book around with them, where the write ideas down for songs. So, I wrote that down. I don’t know how far after along it was, after I’d initially gotten the idea that I wrote the tune.
In that we (The MOB) were on the road at that time 52 weeks a year, I assume I wrote the song in a motel room. Gary contributed some of the lyrics and he also wrote the horn arrangement.
After “Don’t You Care” was a hit, Guercio hunted me down on the road somewhere, called me and asked if I had another song for The Bucks and I said, “Yes.”
Guercio was a songwriter but was smart enough to continue to go to the well. If you notice, The Bucks LP’s contain a lot of his songs and only the hit from Holvay-Beisbier. We always complained to him why he didn’t let us write more songs for their albums. But he would never respond. He was greedy and wanted to be a songwriter.
Anyway, we also carried a Sony reel-to-reel tape recorder with us. Gary, I and my $10 acoustical guitar I bought in Tijuana, sat in a motel room somewhere in the Midwest and sang “Hey Baby” into the recorder. The next day I found a post office and mailed the little spool of tape, the lyric sheet and the horn charts to Guercio.
Next thing we know, we’re hearing it on the radio a few months later. Gary and I went to a record store to check the record label and sure as shit, Guercio had put his name down as one of the writers. *&^%$#
I was a big Motown fan and I originally heard “Hey Baby”, kinda like a 4 Tops tune. Like “I Can’t Help Myself”. More of an R&B soul groove to it, similar bass line.
When I heard what Guercio had done to it I wasn’t that excited about it. That’s what’s weird about the record business. You can write a song and have a certain arrangement in mind and you give it to an artist or a producer and it comes out sideways but becomes a hit, which is what you want anyway.
I can’t tell you how many people asked me why The MOB didn’t record any of the hits I wrote for the Bucks. I said if we did, with Big Al singing and us making them into soul songs, they probably wouldn’t have become a hit.
Back to “Hey Baby”, Bob Pruter asked me if I’d gotten the idea from a song with the same title that a guy named Maurice McCallister wrote for the Art Roberts show. I never heard it.
Thank God I didn’t, because if I did, I never would’ve written the song and The Bucks wouldn’t have had their 3rd hit.
Thanks for asking to set the record straight. (ha, ha)
Art Roberts’ theme song for the show (Hey Baby, They’re Playing Our Song) was done by Chicago’s own Maurice and Mac from the local group, the Radiants! Art would then go on to inspire my buddy James Holvay to get permission from Art to write the 1967 hit of same name for the Buckinghams!!!
Billboard Hot 100
- Debut: 9/9/1967
- Peak: #12
- Weeks: 10
Cash Box Top 100
- Debut: 9/9/1967
- Peak: #5
- Weeks: 10
WLS Silver Dollar Survey
- Debut: 9/8/1967
- Peak: #5
- Weeks: 9
WCFL Sound 10 Survey
- Debut: 9/7/1967
- Peak: #6
- Weeks: 8
- The Buckinghams – Chart History
- Cash Box Magazine
- Chicago Top 40 Charts 1960-1969 – Compiled by Ron Smith ISBN 9780595196142
- WCFL Chicago Top 40 Charts 1965-1976 – Compiled by Ron Smith ISBN 9780595431809
- Portraits – The Buckinghams | Columbia CS 9595
- Copyright, United States Copyright Office V3442D593
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