EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article by Jeff Marcus is excerpted from Goldmine’s “Standard Catalog of American Records” 8th Edition. The picture sleeve values shared are also found in this guide, which has more than 150,000 listings as well as a variety of helpful tips, tools and charts. Order your copy now at krausebooks.com.
By Jeff Marcus
When I was preparing my second book on collecting picture sleeves, it struck me that even though the 1970s and 1980s were vastly different musically from the ’50s and ’60s, many elements remained the same.
Each decade had its share of teen idols. One-hit wonders could be found in every period, but the ’80s, by far, seemed to have the largest quota. All four decades had legendary artists and those who are easily forgotten.
One aspect that remained constant was how most record labels still relied on the custom picture sleeves to help promote selected artists and songs. That drew to a close in 1990, the final year that record sleeves could be readily found; vinyl’s last hurrah was 1991. Record labels were still issuing vinyl singles, but they took a back seat to CDs and cassettes. The singles released in that year were, with very rare exception, issued with generic company dust jackets. The custom 45 RPM record sleeve went the way of the dinosaur, the Edsel, rabbit ears and the drive-in movie theater.
Similar to the 12-inch, 33 1/3 LPs, 8-track tapes, cassettes and vinyl singles, the 45 picture sleeve has all but become extinct. While it is fantastic to have your entire music library fit into a hand-held jukebox, there is nothing quite like the experience of pedaling your bike to your favorite record store, allowance money wadded up in your pocket, and feverishly thumbing through the latest batch of vinyl discs. I bought many records just because of the cool jackets that accompanied them, not caring about the songs, in several cases. Today, all of my favorite record haunts are long gone, too: Busch Records and Tapes in Glenview, Ill., Record City in Skokie, Ill., Woolworth’s and Carson’s in Eden’s Plaza, and the Holy Grail of record stores, Deluxe Music at Chicago’s six corners.
It makes me a little sad to think that today’s youth has been robbed of the thrill of pinning their favorite picture sleeves on the bedroom walls. Even worse, CD covers are too small to soak in the cover art or read the song lyrics.
When I opened one of my restaurants, I had the place decorated with vinyl albums, singles and covers in professional frames. One Sunday afternoon, a father and his 5-year-old daughter were looking at the memorabilia. The father had a big grin on his face, as if to say, “Boy, do I remember that. Man, I bought that one, too.” His daughter looked at him with a puzzled look on her face and said, “Look at the big black CD, Daddy.” He and I looked at each other and laughed.
The elusive nature of these picture sleeves — which had limited press runs, were tacked to bedroom walls or thrown away by parents when their kids moved out of the house — has made the sleeves a hot property. In fact, many of the sleeves have become far more valuable than the discs they once held.
As a general rule, picture sleeves from the 1950s and 1960s are harder to find than those from the ’70s and ’80s. That’s because fewer of them survived, the production runs were smaller, and the collecting mentality was basically nonexistent back then.
By the mid- to late 1970s, record collecting became quite popular, and measures were taken to protect the picture sleeves by placing them in poly bag jackets. Record collectors removed the discs from the jackets to avoid record impression or ring wear. Record carrying cases no longer had the numerical stickers that were commonly affixed to sleeves in the ’50s and ’60s.
But age does not determine price. Madonna’s picture sleeve for “Keep It Together,” which had a limited press run, will fetch 10 times what a Cyndi Lauper sleeve will bring. Remember, it all boils down to supply and demand, along with the item’s condition when determining the price of a sleeve.
Some picture sleeve collectors concentrate on a specific genre or decade. Others, like me, collect EVERYTHING! Die-hard fans of a particular artist or group will focus on collecting those sleeves; The Beatles and Elvis Presley are the most popular examples.
Collecting Elvis picture sleeves is a full-time job of its own, as 83 of his original issued 45s were released with picture sleeve. That tally does not include EPs, promos, the countless reissues or picture sleeves from other countries.
One of the most colorful and fun genres of picture sleeve collecting is the genre of teen idols. It’s fantastic to see the changes in hairstyles, clothing, attitudes and marketing strategies that went into promoting the “flavor of the month.” Here’s a tip of the hat to the Clearasil set who battled to be wall worthy in American bedrooms in the 35-year when vinyl 45s reigned.
Annette was the original Britney Spears. The first teen queen of the pop-rock era, Annette became the most popular of the Mouseketeers on the original “Mickey Mouse Club” TV show.
As she reached puberty, Funicello fueled the fantasies of many teenage boys. Her fan mail reached epic proportions, and Uncle Walt wasted no time launching her singing career. As long as the “A” on her sweater continued to enlarge, nobody seemed to notice that she couldn’t carry a tune. Aided by a top-notch production staff that later worked with such groups as The Doors(!), Funicello was able to turn out several hit records, including her No. 7 debut, “Tall Paul” in 1959. Her last Disney product was “The Monkey’s Uncle,” fronted by The Beach Boys.
From there on, Funicello could be found romancing Frankie Avalon in the wildly popular American International beach movie series. In 1979, Annette was the celebrity endorser of a successful Skippy peanut butter campaign. She reunited with Frankie Avalon for a parody of their beach movies in 1987’s “Back To The Beach.” In 1992, Funicello disclosed that she was suffering from multiple sclerosis; she has kept a low profile ever since.
Johnny Crawford was 9 years old when he was picked as one of the original Mouseketeers on Walt Disney’s “The Mickey Mouse Club” television show.
He landed the plum role of Mark McCain, playing opposite Chuck Connors, on the popular TV series “The Rifleman,” which ran from 1958 to 1963. Naturally, somebody figured it was time to cash in on Johnny’s heartthrob status. Bob Keane — whose brightest star had been Ritchie Valens — signed Crawford to his Del-Fi label in 1961. Crawford was able to squeeze three Top 20 hits onto the charts, including the No. 8 “Cindy’s Birthday” in 1962. When the hits and the television series disappeared in 1963, Johnny flew under the radar until he landed a role in John Wayne’s “El Dorado” in 1967. Currently, Crawford is the leader of his own orchestra.
If TV has proven one thing, it was that as long as you have a hit show, you could get somebody to offer you a record deal. The pop landscape is littered with numerous examples of teens who looked great on camera but couldn’t sing their way out of a paper bag. Ricky Nelson was the rare exception. Blessed with great looks and a legitimate singing voice, Ricky racked up an astounding 19 Top 10 singles, beginning with “A Teenager’s Romance” (No. 2 in 1957). Music was likely in Ricky’s genes; his father, Ozzie, was a bandleader, and his mother, Harriet, was a singer. Ricky joined his parents and older brother David for a popular radio show. When television became the dominant form of home entertainment, the Nelson family relocated to the small screen, where “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” became a smash hit. So popular was the program, it ran an astounding 14 years, making it the longest-running live-action sitcom in television history.
The apples didn’t fall far from the Nelson tree with Ricky’s children. His twin sons, Gunnar and Matthew, had two hits as the pop duo Nelson: 1990’s “(Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection” (No. 1 ) and “After The Rain”(No. 6). His daughter, Tracy, had a hit TV series, co-starring with Tom Bosley (Happy Days), on “Father Dowling Mysteries.”
Ricky Nelson’s last hit was the autobiographical “Garden Party” (No. 6 in 1972). He died in a plane crash on Dec. 31, 1985.
For those who were teens in the late ’50s, the mention of the 1959 No. 4 hit “Kookie, Kookie (Lend Me Your Comb)” garners chuckles. Anyone who has never heard the song insists that its simply made up. Edd “Kookie” Byrnes played the character Kookie on the TV series “77 Sunset Strip.” He shared vocals with another young star, Connie Stevens, who appeared as Cricket on the TV show “Hawaiian Eye.” Most of the tune consisted of Edd riffing his “Kookie talk” while Connie pleaded with him to lend her his comb. That way, Kookie would stop combing his hair so he could kiss her.
This novelty record made “The Purple People Eater” seem Shakespearian by comparison. The show and this No. 9 charting single were so popular that an entire list of slang terms, or kookieisms, entered the vocabulary of ’50s teens. Some examples: police were called “blue boys;” if you wanted someone to sit down, you’d tell them to “roost;” and money was referred to as “long green.”
Looking back, Kookie may have had the first Top 40 rap hit! For the younger set who can’t place Edd “Kookie” Byrnes, think again. He is best known for playing dance contest host Vince Fontaine in the movie “Grease.” He also appeared as himself in an episode of “Married … With Children,” where he sang “Kookie, Kookie (Lend Me Your Comb)” with the band Anthrax.
In a two year time frame, Bobby Vee, born Robert Velline, notched five Top 10 hits. His first smash was a cover of The Clovers’ R&B classic “Devil Or Angel” (No. 6) in 1960. Vee’s biggest single, “Take Good Care Of My Baby,” became a million seller and spent three weeks at the top of the pop charts in 1961. “Run To Him” (No. 2 in 1961) and “The Night Has A Thousand Eyes”(No. 3 in 1962) remain popular on oldies radio.
As one of numerous nonthreatening teens recruited to clean up the rock landscape, Vee was one of the better options. Vee formed the band The Shadows with his brother and replaced Buddy Holly on tour after Holly’s death in the same plane crash that killed The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens.
Vee still performs on oldies tours with his band, The Vees, which includes two of his sons.
Best known for his acting roles, James Darren still managed to score two hit singles. For those who grew up listening to AM radio in the early ’60s, his Darren’s 1961 No. 3 hit, “Goodbye Cruel World,” is easy to remember. It’s a typical, well-scrubbed teen idol pop song. The follow up, “Her Royal Majesty,”(No. 6) is largely forgotten.
Darren’s catalog was issued by Colpix Records, a division of Columbia Pictures, which also released the Gidget movies. The label was home to The Donna Reed Show teen cast of Shelley Fabres (“Johnny Angel” No. 1 for two weeks in 1962) and Paul Petersen (1962’s “My Dad” No. 6). When Columbia Pictures set up its Screen Gems TV division, Colpix was dissolved, and Colgems Records took over. Colgems experienced musical gold by issuing the Monkees catalog. Columbia’s Screen Gems distributed The Monkees TV series.
Darren’s best-loved acting roles came from playing Moondoggie, the boyfriend of Gidget in the popular film series. But 1980s TV audiences will recall Darren’s character, Officer Jim Corrigan, in the William Shatner-Heather Locklear vehicle, “T.J. Hooker.”
Next to David Cassidy, Donny Osmond became THE teen idol of the ’70s. Like Michael Jackson did with his brothers, Donny Osmond’s popularity eclipsed that of his siblings, and he inevitably went solo.
His songs were typical bubblegum pop remakes of wholesome ’50s and ’60s ballads, like Steve Lawrence’s “Go Away Little Girl”(No. 1 for three weeks in 1971), Paul Anka’s “Puppy Love”(No. 3 in 1972), and Johnny Mathis’ “The Twelfth Of Never”(No. 8 in 1973).
Most teen idols had a shelf life of about a year before the new kid on the block came along. Donny got lucky when he teamed up with his sister, Marie, to score two more Top 10 remakes: “I’m Leaving It (All) Up To You” and “Morning Side Of The Mountain. Some of the duo’s other choices were kind of creepy for a brother and sister to sing, like “Deep Purple,” “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing” and “You’re My) Soul And Inspiration.”
Luck struck again whe the siblings scored a TV variety show after the hits dried up; it ran for two years. Typical shtick included the “I’m a Little Bit Country”(Marie) “And I’m a Little Bit Rock and Roll”(Donny) segment. Donny and Marie performed slapstick skits, sang gooey songs and wore a lotof bright disco outfits, and the television audience ate it up. However, the brother and sister act struck out on the big screen with “Goin’ Coconuts,” a mammoth turkey.
Donny Osmond went on to host TV game shows and receive good reviews for his role in stage (and eventually screen) productions of “Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat.” In an incredible comeback, he placed “Soldier Of Love” at No. 2 in 1989 — 15 years after his last Top 10. Capitol, which put out the 45, sent promo copies to radio stations with no artist name on the label for fear that no one would take it seriously.
From 1998 to 2000, Donny and Marie teamed up on TV again with a daytime talk show. Both appeared on ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars,” but, thankfully, not as a team. Donny won the Autumn 2009 round of ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars,” besting little sister Marie’s third-place showing in Autumn 2007. These days, the toothsome twosome perform together in Las Vegas.
Next to Annette Funicello, Hayley Mills was Disney’s reigning teen queen. She starred in several live-action films, most notably the original “The Parent Trap” in 1961. Her only Top 10 single, “Let’s Get Together” (No. 8 in 1961), came from that movie.
Mills later shed her teen image in her native England and got raves for her performance in “The Family Way,” a serious adult role. Incidentally, that film’s score was composed by Paul McCartney.
The success of Herman’s Hermits is astonishing. Benefitting from the British Invasion, the group placed nine consecutive hits in the Top 10 and achieved 11 Top 10 singles before the bubble burst.
Hearing audience members scream wildly when Herman’s Hermits appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” is a bit of a head scratcher. It was understandable when crowds did the same for The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Herman’s Hermits’ lead singer Peter Noone was only 17 at the time, and his gawky looks and skinny frame made him look far younger.
“Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter” became the group’s first No. 1 hit. Both of the band’s two U.S. chart toppers are the weakest hits in its catalog. “I’m Henry The VIII, I Am” made it to the top in 1965 and was a popular pub song, dating back to 1911.
Herman’s Hermits also scored with remakes of past pop and R&B hits with covers of The Rays 1957 smash, “Silhouettes” and Sam Cooke’s “Wonderful World” reaching No. 5 and No. 4, respectively, in 1965. In an odd pairing, Herman’s Hermits took a song by The Kinks’ Ray Davies to No. 5 by covering “Dandy.” Herman’s Hermits’ last big hit, “There’s A Kind Of Hush,” (No. 4 in 1967), was arguably its best.
Noone and the boys appeared in three forgettable movies that were slapped together quickly to capitalize on the group’s fame, which lasted two years and four months. Noone still tours the oldies circuit.
While not the best of the British Invasion bands, Herman’s Hermits is far from the worst. That honor goes to Freddie and the Dreamers, which had a No. 1 one hit for two weeks with “I’m Telling You Now” in 1965 and an ill-fated dance craze called “Do The Freddie,” which hit No. 18 that same year.Seek out the footage of Freddie and the Dreamers performing it on “The Ed Sullivan Show;” it’s really embarrassing!
Did you know that Herman’s Hermits producer Mickie Most also helmed discs for The Animals and The Yardbirds?
Kristy McNichol shot to fame on the ABC drama “Family” (1976-80) and returned to TV with the NBC sitcom “Empty Nest” (1988-1995).
In between these hit shows, she teamed up with her older brother, Jimmy, to make one of the worst singles ever.
You haven’t lived until you hear these two ruin “He’s So Fine,” The Chiffons’ No. classic from 1963. Be forewarned: It’s not for those with sensitive stomachs. Even worse is the flip side, “He’s A Dancer,” a generic disco song that didn’t do the genre any good.
Thankfully, this colossal dud went no higher than No. 70 in 1978, and our ears were spared any further assault from the McNichol siblings. Kristy went on to make movies including “Little Darlings” with Tatum O’Neil and “The End” with Burt Reynolds.
Brother Jimmy went on to … um … not a lot of gigs you would recognize — handful of appearances on ABC’s Afterschool Specials series and “The Love Boat” and a stint on ABC’s “General Hospital.” He also took a second whack at the music industry in the mid-1990s, when he was billed as Jimmy James, according to IMDB.com.
The DeFranco Family fivesome had its only big hit with “Heartbeat (It’s A Lovebeat)” which reached No. 3 in the fall of 1973. It was a typical early ’70s bubblegum pop song that sold one million singles. Lead singer Tony DeFranco was the designated heartthrob of the clan; like Donny Osmond and Michael Jackson, he had his first hit before his voice changed.
Bubblegum pop had a resurgence in the early to mid ’70s with material along these lines.
The bubblegum pop of acts like The DeFranco Family ushered in the sounds of “Billy, Don’t Be A Hero,” “Seasons In The Sun,” “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia” and “Kung Fu Fighting,” which all reached No. 1, sold millions of copies and polluted AM radio airwaves nationwide.
Like his half brother, “Partridge Family” star David, Shaun Cassidy had his own TV series — “The Hardy Boys” — and a short, albeit successful, pop music career.
Shaun Cassidy landed his first three singles, all in 1977, in the Top 10. A remake of The Crystals’ “Da Doo Ron Ron” was a No. 1 hit. It was followed by “That’s Rock ’N’ Roll” (No. 3) and “Hey Deanie” (No. 7), both of which were written by Eric Carmen of Raspberries fame.
By 1978, it was all over. Shaun, like many teen idols, wanted to record edgier material, but his fans weren’t interested. His heyday in the musical landscape lasted six months.
You’ll probably remember David Naughton as the Dr. Pepper guy (“I’m a Pepper, you’re a Pepper”) in soda ads from TV and his starring role in the film “An American Werewolf In London.”
Some of you may even recall his 1979 No. 5 disco hit, “Makin’ It.” What you more than likely don’t know is that the song was the theme from David’s failed ABC show of the same name. It was a supposed to be sitcom version of the movie “Saturday Night Fever.” That sentence may help to explain why it only lasted seven episodes, but not how it got on the air in the first place.
Produced by Garry Marshall (“The Odd Couple,” “Happy Days,” “Laverne & Shirley”), the alphabet network canned the show after only seven episodes. Naughton had better luck co-starring with Pam Dawber (of another Garry Marshall hit, “Mork And Mindy”) in the CBS sitcom “My Sister Sam.”
Although Rick Springfield released several singles with minimal success in the 1970s, his musical career finally took off when he appeared as Dr. Noah Drake on the soap opera “General Hospital.” The target audience for this sleeve is obvious, as RCA spotlighted Springfield’s beefcake image and referenced his TV persona at the upper right portion of the sleeve.
Springfield was an unusual “teen idol.” He was 32 when “Jessie’s Girl” was issued in 1981. Not only did Springfield play on his recordings, he wrote the majority of his hits. He amassed 13 Top 40 hits, but “Jessie’s Girl” was Springfield’s only No. 1 song.
Hailed as the ’80s’ answer to The Beatles, Duran Duran ushered in the second wave of the British Invasion. The name of the group came from the villain called Durand-Durand in the Jane Fonda cult classic “Barbarella” and even recorded a song based on the movie called “Electric Barbarella.”
In the ’60s, The Beatles turned heads with all that “long hair.” In the Duran Duran upped the ante with guyliner and hair that was not only long, it was big. The group’s stylish videos stood out at the time, and Duran Duran quickly became an MTV sensation.
Based solely on the video, the group’s single “Hungry Like The Wolf” went to No. 3 in late 1982 after failing to ignite when it was released earlier in the year. The band’s video clips were all the rage and demonstrated how the medium could boost artists’ visibility. Capitol, which released The Beatles’ records, was also Duran Duran’s label in America. The company made a picture sleeve for every Duran Duran vinyl singles. One in particular, “The Reflex” (No. 1 in 1984), was issued with a regular paper sleeve and a fold-out poster jacket that was pretty cool. In all, Duran Duran placed 11 songs in the Top 10 — not quite Beatles worthy, but not too shabby, either. Three of the band’s members (Andy, Roger and John) had the last name of Taylor, yet none of them were related. Lead singer Simon LeBon was the group’s chick magnet; keyboardist Nick Rhodes was a founding member.
There have been a few personnel changes over the years. Andy and John went off to form the The Power Station with Robert Palmer and Chic’s Tony Thompson. LeBon, Rhodes and Roger Taylor spun off with Arcadia. Did you know that John Taylor’s wife was co-founder of the trendy Juicy Couture line?
Debbie Gibson was not the typical teen idol. She wrote, performed, produced and played on her releases. But when it came to marketing, she followed the time-tested wholesome formula. Gibson’s version of “showing skin” was a knee poking out of her stylishly ripped jeans; by comparison, late ’90s teen idol Britney Spears left very little to the imagination in Rolling Stone.
Gibson’s debut album, “Out Of The Blue,” yielded four Top 10 singles: “Only In My Dreams” (No. 4), “Shake Your Love” (No. 4), “Out Of The Blue” (No. 3) and “Foolish Beat”(No. 1). One more hit single, “Lost In Your Eyes,” went to the top in 1989.
Once she outgrew the mall crowd, Gibson turned to the stage and appeared in productions including “Beauty And The Beast” and “Grease.”
This durable group found success on both the R&B and pop charts during the mid-’80s and 1990s. New Edition began recording bubblegum songs like “Candy Girl” (No. 46 in 1983), “Cool It Now” (No. 4 in 1984), and “Mr. Telephone Man”, written by Ray Parker Jr., (No. 12 in ’84). New Edition segued into new jack swing and scored with “If It Isn’t Love,” which reached No. 7 in 1988.
All of the group’s members hit gold on their own, as well. Before became a reality show train wreck and became Mr. Whitney Houston, Bobby Brown had a rich solo career, placing nine consecutive singles in the Top 10. Ralph Tresvant had a crossover hit with “Sensitivity” (No. 4 in 1990). Johnny Gill, who replaced Brown, scored with “Rub You The Right Way” (No. 3 in 1990). Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins and Ronald DeVoe, billed as Bell Biv DeVoe, had a monster hit in 1990 with the platinum single “Poison” (No. 3). Bivins discovered the group Boyz II Men and can be heard on the rap segment of that group’s “Motownphilly” (No. 3 in 1991).
All six members of New Edition reunited in 1996 and scored two more Top 10 hits: “Hit Me Off” (No. 3) and “I’m Still In Love With You” (No. 7).