One-hit wonder The Jamies of “Summertime, Summertime” fame

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A short introduction to The Jamies

1950s group The Jamies are known for their only major hit, “Summertime, Summertime.” The group were based in New York, and were essentially a vocal band of the “doo-woop” forte. The follow-up single “Snow Train” failed to chart. In an attempt to make things better for them, the group moved to United Artists had some lineup changes. However, none of those moves worked, and so the group switched to releasing “Summertime, Summertime” again which momentarily made a comeback on the charts. The snappy tune became so famous that it overshadowed the band who first popularized it. It was re-recorded several times by other artists and even used as a promotional jingle by Buick and Applebee restaurants, among other commercial enterprises.

Who are The Jamies?

One-hit wonders The Jamies were a 1950s vocal group, led by Thomas Earl “Tom” Jameson and his sister Serena. Other members of the group include Jeannie Roy, Arthur Blair, and Sherman Feller. The doo-wop/pop group, formed in New York, produced a novelty song that would be their only hit and a classic tune: “Summertime, Summertime.”

The Jamies’ only hit with “Summertime, Summertime”

“Summertime, Summertime” was written by Tom Jameson and fellow member Feller. Tom’s sister Serena sang the lead vocals. The song is bouncy, light, and really snappy. If you don’t find the opening lines, “Summertime, summertime/sum, sum, summertime” hanging in your head then I don’t know what is. The track features a lilting harpsichord, adding to its lively atmosphere. Serena’s high, girlish lead vocals further evoke of the song’s joy, innocence and carefree youthfulness. When school is over the and summer holiday begins, this is certainly the summery staple.

“Summertime, Summertime” was released on Epic Records in 1958. It later paced the Billboard Hot 100, finally peaking at #26.

Failing singles

However, the follow-up single “Snow Train” failed to make an impression among listeners. In hopes of finding some antidote for their lackluster performance on the charts, the group moved to United Artists and underwent changes in their lineup. Robert Paloucci became a member for a time, then he quit to become a monk. However, he eventually left the monastery and got a new job as a translator.

None of these moves worked for the Jamies. Another follow-up single “Don’t Darken My Door” (b/w “Evening Star”) failed to chart as well. So the group resorted to re-issue “Summertime, Summertime” in 1962; this time the single peaked at #38 on the Hot 100.

Summertime, Summertime

 

The American singing group the Jamies released “Summertime, Summertime” in 1958. After the band sent their demo to local deejays, the song—became well-known in the neighborhood music scene. Epic Records’ 1958 version of the song resulted in a national smash, and its 1962 reissue had similar success.

A fugal introduction opens the song, and it returns to the conclusion. “It’s Summertime, Summertime, Sum, Sum, Summertime” is the first line.

This song encourages other students to join in the summertime pleasure as a “free for all” as it celebrates the completion of a high school academic year and the enjoyment of summertime pastimes like swimming, dancing, and romance.

Since then, the song has received positive reviews and has been used in commercials and movies. The song has been covered by numerous musicians.

Summertime. Summertime – Recording and Release

The song had become well-known in Boston, the band’s home city, as neighborhood deejays started playing it at record stores there. The song was then directed to Epic Records, a division of Columbia Records, by one deejay.

In July 1958, “Summertime, Summertime” was made available as a single. Although Sherm Feller did not contribute to the song’s creation, it was customary for managers at the time to be given authorship and publishing rights credits. The song was credited to both Tom Jameson and Feller. A commercial triumph, the song peaked at number 28 on the Billboard Hot 100. Even though the group’s follow-up, “Snow Train,” failed to gain any traction, the group found success once more in 1962 with a re-release of “Summertime, Summertime,” which peaked at number 38.

“Summertime, Summertime”‘s lasting fame

When the band’s momentary fame faded for good, their song “Summertime, Summertime” otherwise has slowly gained a respectable reputation over the years since its original release. Its fame even far better shadowed the band’s.

“Summertime, Summertime” has been covered by several artists including:

  • The Fortunes
  • The Doodletown Pipers
  • Hobby Horse
  • Jan & Dean
  • Mongo Jerry
  • The Legendary Masked Surfers
  • Sha Na Na

The song even has commercial potential in the true sense of the word, as it was used in TV ads for Buick, Applebee’s, and Ken-L Ration Burger Time Dog Food. You can hear “Summertime, Summertime” too in the 1978 movieFingers.

Sherman was also radio announcer, and after The Jamies he worked as an announcer for the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park for 26 years; he died in 1994. Tom Jameson lost his struggle with cancer in 2009, aged 72.

Cover Versions of Summertime, Summertime

The Fortunes covered “Summertime, Summertime” shortly after the 1962 rerelease of the original. Since then, groups including Hobby Horse, Jan & Dean, the Legendary Masked Surfers, Sha Na Na, and the Doodletown Pipers have all performed it.

 

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