Beep Beep

Album: Dr. Demento's 20th Anniversary Collection (1958)
Charted: 4
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  • This was the highest charting hit and greatest claim to fame for the now all-but-forgotten early rock group The Playmates. Despite this, they had four other Top-40 hits in the Billboard Hot 100 in the late '50s / early '60s. The Playmates were Chic Hetti (piano), Donny Conn (drums), and backing vocals (and presumably auto hornist) Morey Carr.

    The Playmates all hailed from Waterbury, Connecticut, and met at the University of Connecticut, where they originally started touring Canada as a comedy group called "The Nitwits." They gradually transformed into The Playmates as they took up singing, though they always kept a comedy routine in-between songs in their stage act.
  • Now for the car lore: This song is also known as "Little Nash Rambler" or simply "Nash Rambler" and is sometimes mislabeled that or even requested by that name on the Dr. Demento show. A Nash Rambler was a kind of car produced by Nash Motors in 1950, and it was a bubble-shaped little bug that was to become the first compact car manufactured and sold in America. As you can imagine, the car met with some scorn from the majority of the American driving public, who were used to driving big Caddy land yachts and looked down their noses at compacts, when they noticed them at all. It was World War 2 that introduced Americans to compact cars, when servicemen stationed in Europe got to like them over there. The humor of this song revolves around the ironic race between a Cadillac and a Rambler, with a stunner punchline.
  • Your ten-dollar word for the day is "Accelerando," a musical method in which the tempo of a song speeds up throughout the song, which is demonstrated nicely here.
  • The Playmates were as surprised as anyone by their hit. The single went on to sell one million copies and was awarded a gold record. meanwhile, the popularity of this song helped Rambler car models gain in resale value, when at first they'd been fazed out by 1955. Nash Motors, you see, was just a division of Nash-Kelvinator Corporation, which merged in 1954 with Hudson Motor Car Company to become AMC (American Motors Corporation) the largest corporate merger in US history at the time. After a few years of watching the Ramblers they'd quit selling drive by with happy motorists still tooting, they brought back the idea of economic car models and revived the Rambler. Maybe it's the song that saved the car?
  • This song, although not a chart hit, was enormously popular in the UK. It was played just about every week for nearly 20 years on the long-running BBC Radio show "Children's Favourites" (later "Junior Choice"). The radio audience was huge (so few stations back then - only 3!), and vast numbers of children listened in.

    "Beep Beep" was a huge favorite, but there was controversy. The original recording was actually banned by the BBC because advertising in songs wasn't allowed. Hence the words 'Cadillac' and 'Nash Rambler' were definitely out. Incredibly, the group decided to re-record the song for the UK market. Cadillac became 'limousine' and Nash Rambler 'bubble car.' The ending on the UK version is just slightly different. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Rob - Thatcham, United Kingdom

Comments: 2

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyPer:
    Donny 'Claps' Conn, drummer and vocalist with the Playmates, passed away in Malibu, California on September 2nd, 2015 at the age of 85...
    The Waterbury, Connecticut native founded the group at the University of Connecticut along with Morey Carr and Carl 'Chic' (Ciccetti) Hetti who originally performed comedy as 'The Nitwits'...
    Signed to Roulette Records in 1958, the group mixed pop with light-hearted tunes and achieved success with songs like "Jo-Ann" (#19 in 1958), "Don't Go Home" (#22 in 1958), "What Is Love" (#15 in 1959) and "Beep Beep" (#4 in 1958)-- known to all as the song about a race between a Cadillac and a little Nash Rambler...
    All told, the trio charted 10 times and recorded four albums for Roulette before breaking up in 1965. Donny went on to a career as a stand-up comic and later a motivational speaker. Most importantly, he was married to his wife-- yes, her name was Joanne-- for 58 years...
    May in R.I.P.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 22nd 1960, the Playmates performed "Beep Beep" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    Fifteen months earlier on November 3rd, 1958 "Beep Beep" entered Billboard's Top 100 chart at position #54; twenty-seven days later on December 1st, 1958 it peaked at #4 {for 2 weeks} and spent 15 weeks on the Top 100...
    Between 1958 and 1962 the Waterbury, CT trio had ten Top 100 records; with "Beep Beep" being their only Top 10 record, their next two biggest hits were "Jo-Ann" {#19 in 1958} and "What Is Love?" {#15 in 1959}...
    Their last charted record was a little diddy called "Keep Your Hands in Your Pockets", it stayed on the chart for two weeks, peaking at #88 {It’s on You Tube}.
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