February 2024
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Saigon Kids™ Stories: The First Time I Saw Teenagers Dancing Rock’n Roll

by Frank Stoddard (ACS)

The year before I went to Saigon, my folks dropped my brother, John, and I off at St. Martins in Lacy, Washington.

At that time, St Martins was a four-year Catholic boarding school for boys. It had also just started a freshman class for an all boys College.

One day at lunch, a freshman from the college was initiated into getting on a tabletop and was required to sing. If my memory is correct he sang the song “Lucille”. He was very good, not using any musical backup. He had a terrific voice and certainly was not shy in his gyrations.

I think he went by the name of Rockin’ Robin Roberts. He was a lead singer in a group called the Wailers (not Bob Marley’s band). They only had one top 40 hit. It was called “Tall Cool One”. They actually sang “Louie, Louie” about three years before a group from Portland made the song popular.

I think this band is considered the first “Garage Band”.

We did not have many school dances, but it was to their music that I remember that was the first time I saw teenagers dancing to “Rock-and-Roll with out holding hands.

The N.W. has always had it’s distinct sound. That tradition is still carried on today.

At the same time that the Wailer’s were performing, there was a group that lived down the road about five miles that were really putting out the hits. They were called the “Fleetwoods”. The guy singer of the group, went into the Navy shortly after that … Remember when most of us could enlist or wait for the draft to take us at their whim? Well, the Fleetwoods really never it made it back to the top, after their lead male singer returned.

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