Wednesday, July 09, 2014


Groucho Marx was greatly amused by "Peter O'Toole," a name he thought of as the perfect dick joke. First and last name: both lewd.

My favorite? Dick Jurgens. Sorry that a few British or European readers might not be doubled over with laughter, but there wasn't a musician named Dick Wanking.

Does a name that signals masturbation beat (off) a guy with two dick names? I think so.

But I didn't think about this when I first encountered the big band leader via a family heirloom 78rpm of "Sweethearts or Strangers." This was well before I was old enough to think dirty thoughts. I also had no idea that the song was actually a C&W hit, and composed by our old pal and Jesus freak, Jimmie Davis, whose songs about putting nails in Jesus' hands can be found here on the blog.

This is more than an OK big band version of a C&W hit…it's Okeh. It swings along genially and nicely. Yes, Virginia, there were "crossover" songs well before you were born, and it wasn't uncommon for popular big bands to borrow classical melodies or boogie a bit of shitkickin' hillbilly music. I prefer the way the swing musicians are Jurgen around with the melody here...although that shouldn't imply that I spend a lot of my time listening to either C&W shitkickers or big band shit. Both categories have an awful lot of...awful stuff. This is, come to think of it, the only cut I have from DJ's big band. I don't even have the flip side.

So who was Dick Jurgens? He was a Californian (lived and died in Sacramento: January 9, 1910 – October 5, 1995). He put together his own swing orchestra, played at the St. Francis Hotel, and got himself a Decca deal that lasted from 1934 to 1940 with Eddy Howard his lead vocalist. He then switched to Okeh (with the wonderfully named Harry Cool on vocals…later replaced by Buddy Moreno).

Jurgens had a lot of obviously forgettable or forgotten hits before going into the Marines in World War II. After the war, he continued with his big band, but by the mid-50's, rock and pop had taken over, and rather than jerk around with that stuff, Jurgens took day jobs…from selling electronics to dabbling in real estate. He was called on to revive the band from time to time, but finally retired in his 70's. Ironically the Dick Jurgens band continued…he sold the rights to somebody who vowed to keep up his style of music and keep that name alive.

These days, if anyone knows the name "Jurgens," it's because of the hand lotion…which comes in handy if…you find yourself involved in Dick Jurgens. OK, that's not too respectful, but it's amphisbaenic.



Anonymous said...

Are Richard Hayman and Dick Hyman the same guy?

Ill Folks said...

Dick Hyman...another brilliant double entendre!

I did cover that question in my post of "Turkey Mambo" by Hayman:

Hayman and Hyman...two different Dicks.