Saturday, January 29, 2011


You can find several 45 rpm singles with "Johnny Carson" singing. Sometimes they'll turn up on eBay or in a record store with a hefty price tag and the notation: "Rare: The Tonight Show host sings!" Is it really the King of Late Night singing??

In a word, NO.

These songs from the early 60's were by a young British singer who just happened to have the same name. Since both were rising stars at the time, and in different countries, and technically different professions, no manager or agent was demanding that one of the two change his name to avoid confusion.

Carson's "You Talk Too Much" was released in November of 1960 in England, well before Nebraska's Johnny took over "The Tonight Show" from Jack Paar. In fact, by the time our Johnny began his historic 30 year run on late night TV, the British Johnny was through, having issued just two other singles for Fontana (Fraulein/I Wish It Were You and Train of Love/First Proposal) and a few for Ember, the 1962 Teenage Bachelor/ Are You Anyone's Girl and the 1963 "The Tears Came Rolling Down/ One Track Mind").

If Johnny Carson, king of the late night talk show, actually did cover "You Talk Too Much," it might've been pretty good. Sadly, though Johnny was a very good drummer and didn't hide that fact, he was very sensitive about his singing voice. He once did some impromptu song early in his talk show days and the audience began to titter, anticipating parody lyrics. From then on, Carson almost never sang on his show, and if he did, he made sure the audience knew it was a joke. Coaxed by Pearl Bailey into singing along on "Our Love is Here To Stay," he quickly lapsed into a parody of debonair lounge singers. One night he came out as the "Rhinestone Cowboy," singing the hit song in his imitation-"Reginald Van Gleason" nasal tenor. Toward the end of his run, a more confident Johnny did a good parody of Willie Nelson, with new lyrics for a comic duet with Julio Iglesias. And finally, on that last show with Bette Midler, he felt comfortable enough to sing along in his real voice.

Heeeeere's the British Johnny Carson doing a fair cover version of "You Talk Too Much," but it would not have gotten him a booking on "The Tonight Show."

the British

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