Brian Hyland – Teen Idol of the 1960s


Introduction to Brian Hyland

Brian Hyland (born 1943) is an American singer who achieved success in the 60s music era with his bubblegum pop style. Although his teen idol status faded, largely due to the British Invasion that swept the US in the mid-1960s, Hyland still continued to record well into the 1970s. The Queens, New York-born Hyland was a musical prodigy, having trained to play guitar and clarinet; he was also a church choir member. After leading a short-lived group called the Delfis, he went solo and got signed by Kapp Records in 1959 where he issued his debut single “Rosemary.” He also encountered the songwriting duo of Lee Pockriss and Paul Vance with whom Hyland worked for some long time. Hyland scored his biggest hit in 1960 with “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” which was a million seller. He followed this with some minor hits before he entered the Top 40 again with “Let Me Belong To You,” “Ginny Come Lately” and his second top ten pop hit “Sealed With A Kiss” in 1962. Hyland also incorporated country music into his work, which was an unusual move for him at the time America was swept by the British Invasion. He soldiered on, and released many other singles that were either scraping the bottom of the Hot 100 or charted on the “Bubbling Under Hot 100” listings. In 1970, Hyland scored his last top 10 pop hit with “Gypsy Woman.” By the late 1970s Hyland had moved to New Orleans with his family, and settled there. He continues to tour along with his son Bodi, who plays drums on his father’s performances.

Brian Hyland’s early life

Known chiefly for his 1960s hits “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” and “Sealed with a Kiss,” American pop artist Brian Hyland was born on November 12, 1943 in Woodhaven, Queens, New York City, New York. As a child, Hyland took guitar and clarinet lessons, and also became a choir member at their local church. He co-founded the harmony group Delfis at the early age of 14 and once cut a demo with his group but record labels rejected them.

Hyland’s recording journey

In late 1959, Hyland was signed as a solo artist to Kapp Records where he released his debut single “Rosemary.” Hyland’s other single “Four Little Heels (The Clickety Clack Song)” became a minor hit. It was penned by the songwriting team Lee Pockriss and Paul Vance who were employed by the label to write for Hyland. In 1960, the 16-year old Hyland released the single “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” that would become his first and biggest hit. Written by Pockriss and Vance, the novelty song ranked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart while it went to #8 on the British chart. In only a relatively short period the single sold over a million copies.

Switching to ABC-Paramount Records in 1951, Hyland started writing material with Gary Geld and Peter Udell who were songwriting and production team. He had several pop hits like “Let Me Belong To You” (#20, 1961) and “I’ll Never Stop Wanting You” (#80, 1961), “Ginny Come Lately” (#21 US pop, #3 UK, 1962), “Warned Over Kisses” (#25, 1962) and “Sealed With a Kiss” which was Hyland’s second big hit, charting on both US and UK chart at #3 apiece. On the US pop chart, the song stayed for eleven weeks. Hyland was awarded gold discs for his  previous single “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” as well as “Sealed with a Kiss.”

On the 1964 album Country Meets Folk, Hyland’s material was injected with country music elements particularly in his singles “I May Not Live to See Tomorrow” and “I’m Afraid to Go Home.” In 1966, he had another hit with “The Joker Went Wild” which registered at #20 on the pop chart. Hyman continued to release unnoticeable singles until he scored his second biggest hit in 1970 with “Gyspy Woman.” Written by Curtis Mayfield and produced by Del Shannon, it ranked at #3 on the pop chart. “Gypsy Woman” became a million-selling single, gaining his third gold disc award. It was also Hyland’s last top 10 hig single.

His earlier hit “Sealed with a Kiss” was re-issued in 1975 and became a big hit in the UK at #7. However, it was also to be his last charting single. In 1977, he relocated to New Orleans where he settled down with his family. Along with son Bodi, who plays as a drummer, Hyland continues to tour around and outside the US.

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