Introduction to Carl Dobkins
Carl Dobkins Jr. (born in 1941 in Ohio) is an American pop and rockabilly singer-songwriter best remembered for his hit “My Heart Is an Open Book,” which became a Top 10 hit in late 50s music era. The musically-talented Dobkins learned guitar at an early age, and by high school he started to write songs. He had a backing group The Seniors who comprised of his Methodist church fellows in Cincinnati, Ohio. They were discovered by a local disc jockey Gil Sheppard, who then helped Dobkins and the Seniors land a recording contact with Fraternity Records. Sheppard then sold the master recordings to Decca Records, which eventually “My Heart Is an Open Book”, sung by Dobkins. The single was a Hot 100 success, entering the Top 10 in 1959 and now is a favorite among oldies music fans. Dobkins scored another Top 40 hit “Lucky Devil” that same year. Others such as “If You Don’t Want My Lovin’” and “Exclusively Yours” became minor hits. Dobkins appeared on television as well, most frequently as a guest on American Bandstand, hosted by the late Dick Clark. He is now retired and still resides in Cincinnati, along with his family but occasionally performs at nostalgia events. He was inducted into the Cincinnati Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as well as Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
Early Years of Carl Dobkins Jr.
Best known for his breakthrough hit in 1959 “My Heart Is an Open Book,” Carl Dobkins Jr. is an American singer born on January 13, 1941 in Cincinnati, Ohio. At the age of nine, Dobkins was given a ukulele by his parents who were both amateur musicians. He learned the ukulele quickly and later switched to guitar.
Dobkins began writing his own material when he was in high school while at the same time, he was also in a group called The Seniors. The Seniors first met at Nast Memorial Methodist Church in Cincinnati. The group was promoted by the local Cincinnati radio disc jockey, Gil Sheppard, who noticed Dobkins’ talent in singing and songwriting. Sheppard stood as Dobkins’ manager and also helped him to get a record deal.
In 1958, Dobkins was already under the Cincinnati-based Fraternity Records which released “Take Hold of my Hand” b/w “That’s Why I’m Asking.” Unfortunately, it failed to enter the charts. Later that year, he moved to King Records where he recorded “If You Don’t Want My Lovin” and sold the master recordings to Decca Records in Nashville, Tennessee. After the recording sessions for Decca, Dobkins finally had his breakthrough hit in 1959, “My Heart Is an Open Book” which peaked at #3 on the pop chart and crossed over #11 on R&B chart. At the height of Dobkins’ career, he became a frequent fixture at Castle Farms and on the top-rated live entertainment/information program in the Midwest, Bob Brown Show. He continued to release singles but they were not as successful as the first one; “If You Don’t Want My Lovin'” (#67 pop in 1959), “Lucky Devil” (#25 pop in 1960), and “Exclusively Yours.” (#62 pop).
Dobkins is now retired in the music business. He has been inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame for his contribution to the genre. Dobkins lives with his family in his birthplace and hometown, Cincinnati. He still performs occasionally upon individual requests.