Gee Whiz (Look At His Eyes)

Album: Gee Whiz (1960)
Charted: 10
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  • Carla Thomas wrote this song when she was just 16 years old. It's a very innocent song where she finds herself thinking of how she can approach her crush - the guy who is "awful nice" and has eyes that hypnotize. Even by 1960 standards, the lyrics were old fashioned, but Thomas delivered them so convincingly (especially the first, extended "Geeeee...") that the song caught on and landed in the Top 10 of the American Pop charts.

    Carla is the daughter of Rufus Thomas, who was recording for Satellite Records in Memphis, which would later morph into Stax. When Rufus played a demo of the song for label boss Jim Stewart, he heard the hit potential and went all out to record it properly. Stewart booked a group called the Veltones to do background vocals and also a 3-piece string section led by his former violin teacher Noel Gilbert. The session was booked for and August day in 1960 at 2 p.m. in their studios on McLemore Avenue, which was a converted theater with no air conditioning. By 2:30, the arranger had not arrived, so Stewart took over the session, working out the arrangement on the fly with Gilbert. When they were finally ready to go, it was 5 o'clock and the musicians were making overtime. They rolled tape and got it right in the first take, with the then 17-year-old Thomas nailing her vocal on the first try.

    A few days later, Thomas started her freshman year at Tennessee A&I University, and in March 1961, the song peaked at #10.
  • Thomas wrote this song, which makes her the first woman to chart a Top 10 hit on the Hot 100 with a song she wrote herself. The next woman to do this was Doris Troy, who made #10 in 1963 with "Just One Look."
  • The single was distributed by Atlantic Records, who had a deal with Carla's label, Satellite. When the song became a hit, Atlantic wanted a full album, so Satellite owner Jim Stewart traveled with producer Chips Moman from Memphis to Nashville and recorded more songs with Thomas, working around her class schedule at Tennessee A & I University. The album, also titled Gee Whiz, was released in 1961.
  • Bernadette Peters later had a hit with the song, taking it to #31 in 1980.
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Comments: 3

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn April 10th 1968, the Broadway musical 'George M!', featuring the music of George M. Cohan, opened at the Palace Theater in New York City...
    Bernadette Peters played the part of Josie Cohan, and she won a 'Theatre World Award' for her performance...
    Exactly twelve years later on April 10th, 1980 Bernadette Peters' debut charted record, a covered version of Gee Whiz (Look At His Eyes)", was at #68 on Billboard's Hot Top 100; a little over six weeks later on May 25th it would peak at #31 {for 2 weeks} and spent 13 weeks on the Top 100...
    And on April 10th, 1961 Carla Thomas' original version was at #17 on the Top 100; it had peaked at #10 {for 1 week} on March 27th, 1961...
    Ms. Peters had one other Top 100 record and it was also a covered version, "Dedicated to the One I Love", it would reached #65 in 1981.
  • Mary Helen from HomeThe Gee Whiz by The Innocents is a different song than the Carla Thomas hit. That Gee Whiz was originally recoded in 1957 by Bob and Earl (who did Harlem Shuffle). Check it out : http://youtu.be/O0BwqwbchoM
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 27th 1961, Carla Thomas performed "Gee Whiz (Look At His Eyes)" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    Three days later on January 30th it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and on March 27th it peaked at #10 (for 1 week) and spent 14 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #5 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    Between 1961 and 1972 she had nineteen hits on the R&B Singles chart; with six of them making the Top 10, and her biggest hit was a duet with Otis Redding, "Tramp", it peaked at #2 in 1967...
    Ms. Thomas celebrated her 71st birthday one month ago on December 21st (2013).
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