Born 5 March 1938, Queens, New York City, New York
To dismiss Paul Evans as an unsignificant teen idol on the basis of his biggest hit, the rather inane “Seven Little Girls”, would be unfair. The guy certainly had talent, both as a singer and a songwriter, and lasted longer than most.
Paul Evans was born in a musically inclined family in Queens in 1938. After graduating from Andrew Jackson High School he studied engineering at Columbia University (on a scholarship), but dropped out to pursue a career in the record business. He mentions Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison as early influences. Evans knocked on the doors of the various publishers who had offices in the Brill Building on Broadway. The first person to take notice was Stan Cooper, who got him signed to RCA in late 1956. “What Do You Know” and two other RCA singles were released in 1957 without any commercial impact, followed by an equally unsuccessful Decca single in 1958. Meanwhile Paul earned a living making demos for other songwriters who couldn’t sing. Many times he crossed paths with Jerry Landis (Paul Simon), Tony Orlando and Jerry Keller, all cutting demos in the Brill Building while waiting for their big breaks.
Paul had started writing songs while in high school. Most of his songs were collaborations with others. His first hit was “When” by the Kalin Twins (co-written with Jack Reardon), which went to # 5 in the USA and # 1 in the UK in 1958. After two flop singles for Atco in 1959, Evans was signed to the Guaranteed label, a subsidiary of Carlton Records. The first record for his new label was “Seven Little Girls (Sitting In the Back Seat)”, which was recorded as a demo for the two writers of the song, Lee Pockriss and Bob Hilliard. Joe Carlton bought the demo and released it as it was on his Guaranteed label, without any embellishments. It peaked at # 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and also charted in the UK (# 25), where it was outsold by a cover by the Avons (# 3). The disc was credited to “Paul Evans and the Curls”. The Curls were two girls, Sue Singleton and Sue Terry. Their vocal contributions to Paul’s records would be limited to this one case.
Three more hits on Guaranteed followed in 1960 : "Midnite Special” (# 16, also a minor hit in the UK), “Happy-Go-Lucky Me” (# 10) and “The Brigade of Broken Hearts” (# 81). Also in 1960, Evans released an LP full of rock and roll covers (considered oldies even then!), with some of New York’s finest session men, including King Curtis. In December 1960 he was moved to the parent label and had four singles released on Carlton, the best of which was "After the Hurricane”, a minor hit in Canada. Two Carlton albums came out in 1960-61, one with folk songs (sung and arranged by Paul) and another that assembled his Guaranteed singles.
In 1962 Evans had his greatest success as a songwriter. “Roses Are Red”, co-written with Al Byron, topped the Billboard pop charts for four weeks. Paul also co-wrote four songs recorded by Elvis Presley : “I Gotta Know”, “Something Blue”, “Blue River” and “The Next Step Is Love”. Other artists who have recorded his songs include Jackie Wilson, LaVern Baker, Frankie Lymon, the Coasters, Fabian, the Mello Kings, Pat Boone, Johnny Tillotson, Ray Conniff, Skeeter Davis and Reba McIntyre.
After Carlton, Evans switched from pop to country and recorded for Kapp (1962-63), Epic (1964-65), Columbia (1968), Laurie (1971-73), Dot (1973), Mercury (1974) and Big Tree (1975), without any chart impact. However, he would make a surprise comeback to the UK charts, in 1978, with “Hello This Is Joanie” (# 6), on the Spring label. This song, a.k.a. “The Telephone Answering Machine Song”, peaked at # 43 on the Cash Box country charts. It was co-written with Jimmy Wisner, better known as the pianist Kokomo, of "Asia Minor” fame. “Disneyland Daddy” (1979) and One Night Led To Two” (1980) were also minor country hits for Evans. During the 1970s Paul also wrote the score for a Broadway musical (“Loot”) and composed the CBS "This Morning” show theme.
Since then, Evans has primarily been involved in singing advertising jingles, writing episodes of TV series and performing with his jazz vocal group, Group5ive. In 1993 he recorded an EP which included the song “Willie’s Sung With Everyone (But Me)”, an amusing comment on the many duet recordings of Willie Nelson, which temporarily returned him to the spotlight. A CD called “I Was A Part of the ‘50s”, came out in 1998, but the title track was the only new song on the album. “Roses Are Red, My Love” (2002) includes Paul’s versions of his two biggest successes, “When” and “Roses Are Red”.
Official website : http://www.paulevans.com (With discography.)
Discography / sessionography :
Dik, August 2017
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