Jennie Lee

Album: released as a single (1958)
Charted: 8

Songfacts®:

  • Jan & Arnie were the precursor to Jan & Dean. Jan Berry, Arnie Ginsburg and Dean Torrence were in a band called The Barons when they got the idea for this song.

    Jennie Lee (real name: Virginia Lee Hicks) was an exotic dancer famous for her twirling tassels. The band saw her perform at the Follies Burlesk theater in Los Angeles, and decided to write a song about her. The "bomp bomp bomp" chant that can be heard throughout the song was inspired by what the audience sang while she was on stage.

    Torrence had to serve time in the Army Reserves, so Berry and Ginsberg wrote the song and took it to a studio in Hollywood to record. There, they met a producer from Arwin Records, who offered to add musical backing and release the song as a single. Credited to "Jan & Arnie," the song was issued and became a big hit in America, going to #8. The duo followed it up with a single called "Gas Money," which reached #81.

    When Dean returned from service, he teamed up with Jan and the duo got their own record deal, signing with Dore, and later, Liberty. Their hits included "Surf City" and "Dead Man's Curve."
  • This would have been a scandalous song... if anyone knew what it was about. As written, however, "Jennie Lee" is a benign story about liking a girl, and the lyrics are pretty much indecipherable anyway. Running 2:00, it was similar in story to many other hits of 1958 - innocent ditties like "Oh Julie" by The Crescendos and "Susie Darlin'" by Robin Luke.
  • Arwin Records, which released this song, was owned by Marty Melcher, who was married to Doris Day. Their son, Terry Melcher, became a renown producer and songwriter.
  • Shortly after the original version was released, Billy Ward and his Dominoes came out with a cover that made #55 in the US.

Comments: 1

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn October 18th 1958, Jan & Arnie performed "The Beat That Can't Be Beat" on the CBS-TV program 'The Jack Benny Show'...
    The song didn't make the national charts; five months earlier on May 10th, 1958 the duo' debut song, "Jennie Lee", entered Billboard's Top 100 chart at position #92, and on June 15th, 1958 it peaked at #8 {for 1 week} on Billboard's Best Sellers in Stores chart...
    They had one other Top 100 record, "Gas Money" b/w "Bonnie Lou", it entered the Top 100 on August 18th, 1958 at #81, the following week it was at #85 and then fell off the Top 100.
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