Endless Sleep

Album: K-tel Jukebox - The Fifties (1958)
Charted: 66 5

Songfacts®:

  • Written by Jody Reynolds, this has been cited as the first of a long line of death rock ballads, which would come to include "Teen Angel," "Tell Laura I Love Her," "Laurie" and "Last Kiss." The audience for these songs was teenagers, and it was usually young people who met their demise in the stories.
  • Reynolds wrote this in a single afternoon in 1956 in Yuma, Arizona. He may have been inspired by both Roy Orbison and Elvis Presley (particularly "Heartbreak Hotel"). He recorded it two years later at Goldstar Studios in Hollywood and it was released on the Demon label (#1507).
  • That lush guitar is played by Al Casey. Rhythm guitar by Howard Roberts.
  • This is often credited to Dolores Nance, but that name is a Reynolds pseudonym.
  • Some radio stations refused to play this, particularly on the East Coast, because music industry reports warned that the lyrics might encourage young people to commit suicide - in spite of the fact that the girl is rescued, and no one actually dies. Alan Freed brought the song to national attention and it made the Top 10.
  • This has been covered by Hank Williams Jr., Concrete Blonde, Billy Idol and Nick Lowe.
  • Patti Smith may have been thinking of this when she wrote "Redondo Beach."
  • Reynolds was born in Denver in 1938 and was playing professionally by age fourteen. He put out several more tracks, including "Fire of Love," also in 1958. He went on to sell real estate in Palm Springs and also opened a music store. He died of liver cancer at age 75 on November 7, 2008. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Ekristheh - Halath, for all above
  • Jody Reynolds recalled: "The guitar riff came from my childhood memories of hearing the funeral bell in Oklahoma." (Quoted in Mojo April 2009).
  • Stephen King referenced this in his sophomore novel, Salem's Lot (1975), about a town overrun by vampires. The lyrics "I heard a voice, crying from the deep: Come join me, baby, in my endless sleep," are included in the epigraph to "Part III: The Deserted Village."

Comments: 4

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 22, 1962, the Al Casey Combo performed "Cookin'" on the Dick Clark ABC-TV weekday-afternoon program, 'American Bandstand'...
    Eight days later on April 1st the instrumental entered Billboard's Top 100* chart at position #92, the following week it was at #95 and that was also it's second and final week in the Top 100...
    The Combo had two other Top 100 records, "Jivin' Around" {#71 in 1962} and "Surfin' Hootenanny" {#48 in 1963}...
    Al Casey played guitar on two Top 10 records, "The Fool" by Sanford Clark {#9 in 1956} and, as noted above, "Endless Sleep" by Jody Reynolds {#5 in 1958}...
    He also co-composed one Top 10 record, Duane Eddy's "Forty Miles of Bad Road", it peaked at #9 in 1959...
    Alvin Wayne Casey passed away at the age of 69 on September 17th, 2006...
    May he R.I.P.
    * And from the 'For What It's Worth' department, the week after "Cookin'" fell off the Top 100 chart, it was at #107 on Billboard's Bubbling Under the Top 100 chart.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 9th 1958, Jody Reynolds performed "Endless Sleep" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    Ten days later on May 19th it entered Billboard's Top 100 chart {See 2nd post below}...
    It reached #2* {for 1 week} on the Canadian ‘Toronto CHUM' Singles chart on June 30th, 1958 and #3 {for 1 week} on the Australian Kent Music chart on August 30th, 1958...
    Was covered by Marty Wilde in the United Kingdom, and his version peaked at #4 {for 1 week} on August 24th, 1958 on the U.K. Singles chart...
    * The week it was at #2 in Canada, the #1 record for that week was "Purple People Eater" by Sheb Wooley.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn November 11th 1964, Hank Williams, Jr. performed "Endless Sleep" on the ABC-TV program 'Shindig!'...
    Twenty-four days later on December 5th, 1964 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #96...
    {See next post below}
    R.I.P. Jimmy O'Neill, Shindig's host, 1940 - 2013.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 5th 1964, Hank Williams, Jr.'s covered version of "Endless Sleep" entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart for a four week stay, peaking at #90...
    It reached #46 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart...
    Six years earlier on May 19th, 1958 Jody Reynolds' original version entered the Top 100, it peaked at #5 on July 7th, 1958 and stayed on the chart for 17 weeks...
    English rocker Billy Idol covered it in his 1990 album 'Charmed Life', and one year later in 1991 fellow countryman Nick Lowe included it in his 'The Wilderness Years' album.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Deconstructing Doors Songs With The Author Of The Doors Examined

Deconstructing Doors Songs With The Author Of The Doors ExaminedSong Writing

Doors expert Jim Cherry, author of The Doors Examined, talks about some of their defining songs and exposes some Jim Morrison myths.

Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust

Lajon Witherspoon of SevendustSongwriter Interviews

The Sevendust frontman talks about the group's songwriting process, and how trips to the Murder Bar helped forge their latest album.

Dave Edmunds

Dave EdmundsSongwriter Interviews

A renowned guitarist and rock revivalist, Dave took "I Hear You Knocking" to the top of the UK charts and was the first to record Elvis Costello's "Girls Talk."

Pam Tillis

Pam TillisSongwriter Interviews

The country sweetheart opines about the demands of touring and talks about writing songs with her famous father.

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Creedence Clearwater RevivalFact or Fiction

Is "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" about Vietnam? Was John Fogerty really born on a Bayou? It's the CCR edition of Fact or Fiction.

British Invasion

British InvasionFact or Fiction

Go beyond The Beatles to see what you know about the British Invasion.