Whenever I put together a new edition of our Earworms Special Feature, I start by trying to figure out why the song suddenly popped into my head. I think today’s candidate started bouncing around between my ears when I read that someone is considering making an updated version of the original Ghostbusters movie.
But even though the 1984 film’s theme song began running through my head, it didn’t seem quite right somehow – earworm wise. I thought about it, then listened to the #1 hit record of the song generated by Ray Parker, Jr., watched the movie trailer (below) but nothing seemed quite right.
Finally I figured it out. We had an Atari computer back in the early 1980s, and we also had the Ghostbusters computer game. As near as I can recall, the theme song played during the game but even after the game was over the music would continue to play endlessly — or at least until you stopped it. That’s my earworm.
Atari Ghostbusters (Excerpt)
Ray Parker, Jr. – “Ghostbusters”
One of the many rockabilly stars who later embraced country music, Bob Luman had a solid career that included several Top Ten records, including his biggest hits, “Let’s Think About Living” and “Lonely Women Make Good Lovers.” But he almost left music behind for another career — as a professional baseball player — before the Everly Brothers helped him choose the path he eventually followed.
Texas born and raised, Luman grew up with two strong interests — music and baseball. In fact, he was already being watched by baseball scouts as a high school star, but his initial try at a career was as a singer. He’d mostly been a country music fan while growing up and had followed established stars like Lefty Frizzell, but when he began performing in the mid 1950s he found himself gravitating toward the harder-edged, bopping style we now call rockabilly. He was inspired — so the story goes — by happening to catch Elvis Presley in a live show.
Luman sharpened his act while leading his own band and playing in local nightspots, and after graduating high school he won an amateur show that landed him a spot on the renowned Louisiana Hayride, the same radio/TV show that had helped popularize Presley. He did so well that it earned him a regular spot on the program, and over the next couple of years he kept busy appearing there and on other shows while also making some records. He even found a spot in a rock and roll movie and appeared in Las Vegas, but by 1959 he was growing discouraged by his lack of real stardom.
It was about then that baseball came back into the picture, as the Pittsburgh Pirates offered him a contract. He decided to go for it, and announced his intent at one of his live shows, but the Everly Brothers were in the audience and caught up with him afterwards. Following their advice, he recorded “Let’s Think About Living” and it took off up the charts, becoming a Top Ten crossover hit. It was the beginning of two decades of success for the singer, with many highly charting records and countless appearances on shows like the Grand Ole Opry, where he became a featured star. Unfortunately, his luck turned bad again as he grew ill, and died of pneumonia in 1978. He was just 41.
Bob Luman – “Let’s Think About Living”
You might not remember a 1960s singing trio named the Honeys (or the Rovell Sisters, or even Ginger and the Snaps, depending on when you heard them). After all, the girls didn’t have any Top Ten hits during their relatively short career even though they did make some good records. But they had a few other things going for them, including a strong connection to the Beach Boys.
It was around 1961 that Southern California teenagers Marilyn, Diane, and Barbara Rovell began showing up in area amateur shows, billing themselves as the Rovell Sisters. Eventually Barbara quit and cousin Sandra Glantz took her place, using the stage name Ginger Blake. But even more important, it was about then that the girls met the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, who not only agreed to produce records for them but also took quite a shine to Marilyn.
He was already a rising star, and at age 20 was five years older than her, but it didn’t take long for the twosome to form a romantic connection. Meanwhile the newly renamed Honeys (a slang term for female surfers) began making records like “Shoot The Curl” and “Pray For Surf” along with several others, all of which were a little underwhelming in terms of sales. But by 1964 things were looking up, as the girls recorded what many consider their best, “He’s a Doll,” and later the same year Marilyn and Brian tied the knot.
Although the Honeys didn’t really sell a lot of records as a group after that (or in later comebacks) the girls did stay busy in the following years singing backup for others. They were heard on some of Jan and Dean’s biggest hits, and – no surprise – often shared both the stage and the studio with the Beach Boys. Marilyn also found time later in the decade to give birth to two daughters, Carnie and Wendy (who would eventually find performing success themselves as Wilson Phillips). And when Brian struggled with his well-publicized ups and downs Marilyn stood by him, trying to protect him from himself while she mostly raised their daughters. In fact, it was for the girls’ sake that the the couple finally amicably divorced in 1979, and it might have helped preserve the family’s long-term relationships.
The Honeys – “He’s a Doll”