Notebook Cover

  "GLORIA" - A SHORT HISTORY

By Marv Goldberg


© 2010 by Marv Goldberg


NOTE: The versions that I mention can be played using the links in the discography at the end of the article.


"Gloria" is one of the most beloved songs in the R&B repertoire. It's been sung over the years by countless groups, many of highly-questionable talent.

Leon Rene The song itself has a long history. It was written by Leon René (author of "When The Swallows Come Back To Capistrano," "Someone's Rocking My Dreamboat," "If Money Grew On Trees," and "I Sold My Heart To The Junkman." In the mid-40s, he owned the Exclusive label in Los Angeles (his brother, Otis René, who shared songwriter credit on some of the above tunes, owned Excelsior Records).

The Hayward recording The first ad for Gloria Buddy Baker The very first release of "Gloria" was on Exclusive, around February 1946. It was purely a Pop tune, by bandleader Norman "Buddy" Baker ("Exclusive's Musical Director"), with vocal by Bob Hayward. The arrangement was violin-heavy, which was unusual for 1946, and it saw no chart action. (The flip, "Memories Of Home," was also credited to Buddy Baker, but this time, the vocal was by Herb Jeffries.)

The June 1946 trades mentioned that Exclusive Records, in association with Bill Anderson (DJ on KFWB, Los Angeles), was sponsoring a contest to search for a girl who typified the "Gloria" of the song. This is another of the heavy-handed public relations gimmicks that I love so well. Like almost all the others, it came to nothing and was never reported on again.

Johnny Moore's 3 Blazers By the 3 Blazers "Gloria" was next recorded by Johnny Moore's Three Blazers, also on Exclusive. Released in April 1947 as part of a three-record album, it featured the velvet-smooth vocals of Charles Brown. This, to me, is the definitive version of the tune.

Then, in 1948, the song really took off:

Although Ray Anthony's version got a lot of airplay, only the Mills Brothers had a hit with the song (taking it to #17 in an 11-week run on the Pop charts).

The Mills Brothers By the Mills Brothers ad for the Mills Brothers Ray Anthony ad Ray Anthony By Ray Anthony Ronnie Deauville By Ronnie Deauville By the Varsity Orchestra Buddy Clark By Buddy Clark By the Four Gabriels
The
Mills
Brothers
Mills
Brothers
record
Mills
Brothers
ad
Ray
Anthony
ad
Ray
Anthony

Ray &
Ronnie
 
Ronnie
Deauville
 
Ronnie
Deauville-
Mercury
Varsity
Orchestra
record
Buddy
Clark
 
Buddy
Clark
record
Four
Gabriels
record


The Cadillacs By the Cadillacs ad for the Cadillacs By 1954, the Cadillacs picked up on the song. I'm not sure where they got it from; possibly someone's parent had one of the older records lying around the house. It's also possible that it was given to them by their manager, Esther Navarro, who, in any event, dumbed down the lyrics and made sure her name was listed as writer [although no one was credited on the first pressing]. It became the Cadillacs' first release, on Jubilee's Josie subsidiary, in July 1954, and their street-corner sound has become the de facto standard for the song. (Most of those who sing it have probably never heard any of the classier versions, with the correct lyrics, from the 40s.)

by the Love Notes In 1959, Jubilee/Josie issued The Crazy Cadillacs LP, which contained "Gloria." The album sold well and this became the first time that most listeners had ever heard the Cadillacs' version. Since this took place at the onset of the first "Golden Age Of Oldies," many, many street corner groups began practicing the song, using the Cadillacs' lyrics. Suddenly, they were being recorded ad nauseam by one group after another. It seemed as if these lyrics would remain the only ones ever sung again, but, interestingly, a white group called the Love Notes recorded "Gloria" for Wilshire in May of 1963, using lyrics that were closer to the original than to those of the Cadillacs.

German sheet music It turns out that Leon René never sued Esther Navarro, simply because he was unaware of the Cadillacs' recording. (As the song has reached mythical status, over the years everyone has assumed that the Cadillacs had a huge chart hit, in truth, their sales were completely dismal outside the New York area [and only slightly less than completely dismal within it].) In fact, to this day, the only time the song ever hit the charts was with the Mills Brothers back in 1948.

Special thanks to Billy Vera, Ferdie Gonzalez, Rick Price, Neil Hirsch, Charlie LaRocco, Bruce Woolf, Charles E. Thompson, and Victor Pearlin.



"GLORIA" DISCOGRAPHY AND RECORDINGS

Click on the boom box to listen to a version



EXCLUSIVE
218 Buddy Baker & His Orchestra (vocal by Bob Hayward) - 2/46       


EXCLUSIVE
703 Johnny Moore's Three Blazers (vocal by Charles Brown) - 4/47       


EXCLUSIVE
218 Buddy Baker & His Orchestra (vocal by Bob Hayward) - 8/48 (reissue)


DECCA
24509 The Mills Brothers - 9/48       


SIGNATURE
15213 Ray Anthony (vocal by Ronnie Deauville) - 10/48       


MERCURY
8193 Ronnie Deauville - 10/48       


VARSITY
111 The Varsity Orchestra - 10/48       


COLUMBIA
38352 Buddy Clark (with the Modernaires and the Skylarks) - 10/48       


WORLD
2505 The Four Gabriels - 11/48       


JOZ
765 The Cadillacs - 7/54       


WILSHIRE (using many of the original lyrics)
203 The Love Notes - 5/63                                          


THESE GROUPS ALL RECORDED DIFFERENT SONGS CALLED "GLORIA" IN THE 1950s

Gilbert Warren & Five Thrills - Parrot - 5/54
Caswell Bridges & Clefftones - unreleased Old Town - 3/55
Arthur Lee Maye & Crowns - Specialty - 3/56
Johnny "Chubby" Jones & Five Chances - States - 4/56
Dee Clark [& Kool Gents] - Falcon - 5/57
Chariots - Time - 1/59



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