Erstwhile easy listening joker Guy Mitchell may have won the war with Tommy Steele & the Steelmen, as his version of Singing the Blues returned to number 1 after Steele had toppled him, but it was short-lived. Only a week later, on 25 January, scouse crooner Frankie Vaughan began a four-week stint at number 1 with The Garden of Eden, a swaggering, lusty little number, written by Dennise Haas Norwood.
Frankie Vaughan was born Frank Ableson, and took Vaughan as a surname because his Russian grandmother referred to him as her ‘number one grandson’, and she pronounced ‘one’ with a ‘v’. He became a singer at the Lancaster School of Art, but took to boxing during his time in the Royal Army Medical Corps during World War Two, and was also a prize-winning artist. Versatile. He returned to singing during the tail-end of the 1940s, and became known for wearing a top hat and carrying a cane. In 1955 he released what became his trademark tune, Give Me the Moonlight, featuring the rather confident lyric, ‘Give me the moonlight, give me the girls and leave the rest to me’. As sexual equality became an issue in the following decade, this song was subsequently dropped from setlists…
Vaughan’s cover of The Green Door (yep, the one that eventually became a number 1 for Shakin’ Stevens in 1981) had been narrowly kept from the Christmas number 1 spot by Johnnie Ray’s Just Walkin’ in the Rain in 1956, but a month later, he was on top. The Garden of Eden is more interesting than your average easy listening tune of the time, due to its lyrics that hint at infidelity. Whether that’s true or not, the singer is definitely being tempted by someone he’s not supposed to be with:
‘When you walk in the garden
In the garden of Eden
With a beautiful woman
And you know how you care
And the voice in the garden
In the Garden of Eden
Tells you she is forbidden
Can you leave her there’
It makes a change from sappy songs of undying devotion, at least. Not too bad musically, either. Vaughan really booms it out over an acoustic strum that turns into a full-blown swing number. Ironically, Vaughan later claimed to have turned down temptation himself, in the form of Marilyn Monroe. He starred with her in the 1960 movie Let’s Make Love, and said she tried to seduce him, but he was married and turned down the offer. Vaughan often returned to the charts after The Garden of Eden, and found himself back at number 1 with Tower of Strength in 1961.
On 16 February the Toddlers’ Truce was abandoned. This wasn’t a sign of children going to war – until that point, broadcasters agreed not to transmit for an hour once television for children had ended at 6pm, so that parents could put their children to bed. If the BBC tried this while my eldest daughter was being put to bed, there’d be practically no evening schedule at all…
Written by: Dennise Haas Norwood
Weeks at number 1: 4 (25 January-21 February)
Footballer Gordon Strachan – 9 February