Sunday, March 2, 2008


Robin Luke’s big 1958 hit, Susie Darlin’ has always been a fave of mine. Back in the late 50s I kept my 45 of it in my handy (but heavy - everything back then was made of metal) carrying case, designed especially to hold 45rpm records. At 12 years of age, I used to practice my rudimentary cha-cha/calypso moves to this song, up in my bedroom. I still have a 45 of it today, but not my original copy.

Although Robin did record a bunch of other songs, Susie Darlin’ is basically an OHW (one hit wonder). But it’s a very durable hit, and it still gets played regularly on the “better” oldies stations, the ones who still play the early stuff. I heard Susie Darlin’ not long ago, and went straight to YouTube, where I found this. There’s the opening shot of the record, a few opening bars of the song, and…ho-lee!…there he was, young Robin Luke! I had never seen what he looked like (he’s cute). Neither my original 45 nor the replacement came with a picture sleeve. Never caught him on TV either, not on Bandstand or Perry Como, either. What a terrific time-travel moment to see the photo on YouTube. I said to myself: “Whatever happened to Robin Luke?” Over to the Internet. There I found an article titled, “Whatever happened to Robin Luke.” Just the ticket! The article is well worth the read, if you’re so inclined but the gist of it is that Robin wrote this song, using the name of his little sister (rather than create trouble for himself with the girls he knew), recorded it on a shoestring with lo-tech sound equipment, and some seat-of-their-pants instrumentation (guitar, ukulele, drumming on an LP cover with ball point pens!) in his bedroom at home (Hawaii).

Once recorded, Susie Darlin’ got local airplay, which led to it being heard by a honeymooning record distributor from Cleveland. Robin ended up meeting his idol, Buddy Holly, and hanging out with Jan and Dean. Ya gotta love it! Anyway, rather than pursue a music career, Robin used the money from Susie Darlin’ to put himself through school, and has gone on to a distinguished career in academia. What it the best choice? Well, that would be pointless speculation, and it sounds like Luke has no regrets. And we have Susie Darlin.’ I think everybody’s happy.

Susie Darlin' -

Let me see you cha-cha-cha!

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