Tuesday, October 29, 2013


One of the lesser achievements of the pioneering Paul Winley, pictured at left, is the horror quickie "Rock Around the Tombstone."

He's better known for doo-wop and rap productions over many decades, but for a novelty cash-in, it's pretty good.

Back when "Famous Monsters of Filmland" was doing well on newsstands, and TV audiences were getting to know horror hosts such as Vampira and Zacherley, quite a few tombstone, cemetery, graveyard and monster songs were haunting disc jockeys. Many "failed to chart" (that's a senile zombie's catch-phrase).

"Rock Around the Tombstone" has a good beat, decent lyrics, and a pretty good vocal from "Jack Judge." You, the jukebox jury, can mourn it's obscure burial for such a long time...or if you don't dig it, dig it deeper into obscurity by deleting it from your computer.

Producer Paul Winley began his career as a songwriter. He wrote "Later For You Baby" for The Solitaires, "Smooth Operator" for Ruth Brown, and also wrote for The Clovers (his brother Harold was in that group). Speaking of relatives and nepotism, an early single on his Winley label was "Bow Legged Daddy" by Ann Winley. The indie musician remains best known for doo-wop, and for recording early faves The Jesters and The Paragons. Both groups came up with some good songs between 1957-1961 that fans still love to play. They had a longer life than some others Paul signed, such as Emanons, a Brooklyn quartet that didn't make it past one 1958 Winley Records single. When an act showed a lot of promise, Winley would arrange a deal with a label that had bigger distribution. The classic compilation "The Paragons Meet the Jesters" was released on Jubilee, which also handled "Rock Around the Tombstone."

Over the years, Winley expanded from doo-wop to other genres, and stayed in business into the 70's and 80's with everything from speeches by Malcolm X, to disco tracks and albums by the Harlem Underground Band. He also dabbled in electrofunk via Afrika Bambaataa. And, never forgetting his relatives, he produced some early rap singles, including the 1979 "Rhymin' and Rappin" and 1980 "Vicious Rap," both featuring his daughter Tanya.

Jack Judge lives! He's gonna...

Rock Around the Tombstone Jack Judge and the Jury

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