60s Music

The Story and Music of Jerry Keller

Jerry KellerIntroduction to Jerry Keller

Arkansas-born Jerry Keller is a pop singer-songwriter, whose fleeting popularity occurred in the 50s music scene.  When he was in his teens he formed his own quartet Lads of Note and subsequently joined the Tulsa Boy Singers.  When he relocated to New York in 1956 he recorded numerous demos for record labels.  Around that time singer Pat Boone introduced him to Marty Mills who would become Keller’s manager.  His only biggest hit, “Here Comes the Summer”, peaked at #14 on the US Billboard pop chart in June 1959.  It also went to #1 on the UK charts, also that same year.  Because of his lack of chart appearances, Keller had taken the place of being a one-hit wonder.  On the other hand, Keller found some success as a songwriter, who penned a few hits for Andy Williams, Ricky Nelson and The Cyrkle.

 

Meet Jerry Keller

Jerry Keller was born Jerry Paul Keller on June 20, 1937 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. At the age of six, Keller and his family relocated to Tulsa, Oklahoma. There, he graduated at Will Rogers High School where he used to sing as a vocal soloist in numerous school programs and events. Aside from that, he was also a frequent guest for the top bands who toured in his hometown, doing solo performances. Keller later founded a group called the Lads of Note Quartet and subsequently formed the Tulsa Boy Singers. He also became a part of Jack Dalton’s Orchestra after winning a contest organized by the band leader Horace Heidt. Keller also worked as a local disc jockey for nine months, then left Tulsa and moved to New York in 1956.

 

 

Keller’s recording career and the hit “Here Comes the Summer”

As a struggling singer, Keller had recorded a string of demos for several record companies in New York before hitting the big shot. Pat Boone, good friend from their church, introduced Keller to his future manager Marty Mills.

With Mills’ management, Keller was a sudden success with his self-penned single “Here Comes the Summer.” Released on Kapp Records, the single became his breakthrough hit in 1959, peaking at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the UK singles charts. It was followed with several releases such like “If I Had a Girl” and “Now Now Now” but Keller never had another pop hit and since then, he has been considered a one-hit wonder.

 

After “Here Comes the Summer”‘s success

While his singing career stalled, Keller otherwise achieved considerable success as a songwriter. He had penned hit songs for Andy Williams (“Almost There”), Ricky Nelson (“How Does It Go”) and the Cyrkle. He also wrote the English version of Francis Lai and Pierre Barouh’s “Un Homme Et Une Femme” which was translated to “A Man and a Woman.” His version was recorded several times by Matt Monro, Ella Fitzgerald, Engelbert Humperdinck, Jose Feliciano and Johnny Mathis.

He was also involved in writing soundtrack music during the mid-60’s: I Saw What You Did (1965) and Angel in My Pocket (1969). He also wrote “The Legend of Shenandoah” for the film Shenandoah which starred James Stewart. By around 1970’s to 1980’s, Keller’s voice became familiar singing television jingles. In the 1977 film You Light Up My Life, he also did a cameo appearance playing as the orchestra music director.

 

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