April 2024
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54 Years Ago Today I Stepped Down From the Plane

by Admin (ACS)

April 21, 1959 I stepped off a Pan Am plane in Saigon. It was my 16th birthday. Once again, as I had so many times before in the past, I found myself a stranger in a strange land.

At that moment it was just another new place, another new adventure, for whatever time it lasted. Then it would be off to a new place.

Little did I realize then that it was the beginning of my journey as a Saigon Kid.

It seems like just yesterday I was with all of you in Saigon enjoying our experiences and making memories that I’d cherish for the rest of my life.

It’s been said memories become the essence of life in old age. The older I grow, the more I find it to be true. Particularly when it comes to Saigon.

We’ve each traveled long and winding roads since the days of our youth in Saigon. Yet, 50+ years later we find ourselves still bound together as Saigon Kids.

May we still be together in another 50 years.

I really can’t put into words what each of you mean to me. But, there will always be a very, very special place deep in my heart for each and everyone of you.

90px-RockNRollGuitaristRock Onnnn … Saigon Kids


Music Of The Day …

When I arrived in Saigon in 1959 this song was number one on the charts in America. I always found it fitting, particularly after my first visit to the Cercle Sportif – 🙂

Although the Fleetwoods’ sound was smooth, without many of the rougher edges of doo wop groups, they were one of the few white vocal groups of the late ’50s and early ’60s to enjoy success not only on the pop charts, but also the R&B charts. The Fleetwoods’ forte was ballads — beginning with their 1959 debut single, “Come Softly to Me,” the group racked up a number of hits over the next three years, and nearly all of them were ballads. The group broke up in 1963, but their songs — particularly “Come Softly to Me” — became pop-rock classics of the pre-British Invasion era.

Gretchen Christopher, Barbara Ellis, and Gary Troxell formed the Fleetwoods while attending high school in Olympia, WA. Originally, the group consisted only of Christopher and Ellis, but the duo soon asked Troxell to accompany them on trumpet. Shortly after his arrival in the group, Troxell abandoned the trumpet and concentrated on singing once the other two members heard a portion of a song he had written. Following some contributions from Christopher and Ellis, the group had written “Come Softly to Me.” They began performing the song at various events around Olympia, eventually gaining the attention of Bob Reisdorff, who ran the Seattle-based label, Dolphin Records.

Dolphin released “Come Softly to Me” early in 1959 and the song became an instant hit, climbing to number one on the pop charts and number five on the R&B charts; it also reached the Top Ten in U.K. The Fleetwoods weren’t able to immediately produce a follow-up single as successful as their debut, but their third single, “Mr. Blue,” was a number one pop and Top Five R&B hit in the U.S. in late 1959. By the time of its release, Dolphin had changed its name to Dolton. For the next three years, the Fleetwoods had a string of minor pop hits. The group wasn’t able to consistently place singles in the upper regions of the charts partially because Troxell was drafted into the navy at the height of the group’s popularity at the end of 1959. Troxell was replaced by Vic Dana, who would later have a string of his own hit singles in the early ’60s.

The Fleetwoods last Top Ten single arrived in the spring of 1961, when “Tragedy” climbed the U.S. charts. The group disbanded two years later, after releasing their final single, a cover of Jesse Belvin’s “Goodnight My Love.” Over the next three decades, the Fleetwoods reunited occasionally to perform concerts and oldies revues. In 1973, the group recorded an album with producer Jerry Dennon, but the resulting recordings were unsuccessful. In 1990, the Fleetwoods — featuring Christopher, Troxell, and instead of Ellis a singer called Cheryl Huggins — played a tour on the American oldies circuit after Rhino released the compact disc collection, The Best of the Fleetwoods

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1 comment to 54 Years Ago Today I Stepped Down From the Plane

  • Frank

    In 1959 to 1960 I was going to school at St. Martin’s High School. It was in Lacy, Washington just Outside of Olympia. The Fleetwoods were seniors at Olympia. I never saw them, but everyone at our school was very proud of them. Olympia, Tacoma to Seattle has always had their own sound. The group suffered when Gary enlisted in the Navy prior to getting drafted.

    By the way, the year before I arrived at St Martins, a “pretend” Benedictine Monk was there that did great thinks for the school. He later became known as the “Great Imposter”…I think Tony Curtis played his part in a movie.
    St. Martins today is a Co-ed College (and many girls from our Arizona High School went there on basketball scholarships). When I went there it was a all boys high school boarding school, with one year of all boys freshman college. The lead singer of a N.W. group called the Wailers (not Bob M. band) was a freshman. They hit the pop charts with a song called “Tall Cool One:

    For freshman hazing the lead singer, one afternoon, had to get on a cafe table a sing at lunch time.

    I think that anyone who has ever lived in the Northwest, understands the music cult! They have, and still do, their own sound!

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