October in many parts of the world is a month of ghosties and ghoulies when late night TV broadcasts those great old horror movies that as staples at the drive-in theatre had just enough fright-filled moments to make cuddling close and holding-on to be exactly what the doctor ordered. So this time we focus on a scary song, Endless Sleep by Jody Reynolds.
Parents groups and the guardians of broadcast standards railed against that demon called rock'n'roll. But if that wasn't bad enough they suddenly found themselves facing a new front, the death disk. Teenage angst all wrapped up in car crashes and drowning and dipped in the syrup of deep romantic love. Certainly had those groups been around in Shakespeare's day, Romeo and Juliet would have been picketed!
One of the best of the death disks, has to be Endless Sleep recorded by Denver Colorado native and rockabilly hall of famer Jody Reynolds. Jody grew up listening to Texas swing and at age 14 picked up the guitar. After having played around Texas and the American southwest in the mid 50s Jody and his band got a following, working with the likes of Roy Orbison. It was while Jody was at the Back Yard Cafe in Yuma Arizona in 1956 that he penned Endless Sleep. Contrary what the label says, Dolores Nance didn't help him, since Dolores doesn't really exist. Jody worked it into the act, and the crowd seemed to like it.
Jody continued touring and playing Endless Sleep. One night after a gig in San Diego, Jody was advised to contact a man named Herb Montei, who ran a publishing company. Jody sent along some of his songs, but they didn't click. It took a demo of Endless Sleep to wake Herb up, resulting in a release on the aptly named Demon records of Los Angeles. The big labels had passed on Endless Sleep and Demon almost gave it a pass too. The original ending was bit too sad, and Demon wanted a happy ending. Jody retooled things a bit, albeit reluctantly.
Demon's slogan promised the high-est in fi, Endless Sleep delivered a haunting guitar sound that resonated with teens and dripped with echo. In a pattern repeated by George Martin when it came to using someone other than Ringo Starr to play the drums on Love Me Do, the folks at Demon instructed Jody to stand there and sing while Al Casey did the guitar work. This time it worked, though, as Jody was able to concentrate on squeezing ever bit of pathos out of his performance. That performance zoomed up the chart to number 5 in the spring of 1958, selling over a million copies. In Canada its release on Apex 76282 went to number 2 on the CHUM charts. Had it not been for Jody and another group called the Olympics who had the hit Western Movies, Demon may have gone for an endless sleep of their own.
This record was so big, that it had impact across the Atlantic where Marty Wilde would cover it and take it to number 4 on Philips PB 835, and across the pacific in Australia where it went to number 1. Jody's version didn't chart in the UK until went to number 66 as 1979 oldies re-release by Lightning records.
Jody would hit the charts only one more time with Fire Of Love. But just as Endless Sleep ends on a happy note, so does life for Jody. He continued playing and touring through the 60s and mixing with the greats from Elvis to Chuck Berry. It is said that Bobby Gentry toured with him in the 60s during which time she recorded her equally haunting song Ode to Billie Joe.
Jody was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in 1999 and has continued making music and touring.