CLARENCE PALMER (AND THE JIVE BOMBERS)
Born 2 January, 1911, Pawtucket, Rhode Island
Clarence Palmer first entered the music business in the mid-1930s with the Palmer Brothers (Dick, Ernest and Clarence), who resided in the small town of Pawtucket, Rhode Island. They were one of the first harmony trios to perform (and record) with big bands, including those of Count Basie and Cab Calloway. By 1949 Dick and Ernest retired, but Clarence couldn't kick the performing bug and formed a new group with members of Sonny Austin's Jive Bombers. They recorded two singles for Coral in 1949 as Al Sears and the Sparrows. The first of these was "Brown Boy", a song written and originally recorded (as "Brown Gal") by the second wife of Louis Armstrong, Lillian (Lil), in 1936. In late 1951, Palmer formed a new ensemble, Clarence Palmer and the Jive Bombers, who recorded for Lou Parker's Citation Records of Detroit. They released a new version of "Brown Boy", which (again) went unnoticed.
In 1956, the Jive Bombers consisted of Clarence Palmer, Earl Johnson and the brothers Al Tinney and William "Pee Wee" Tinney. Manager Cliff Martinez introduced the group to Herman Lubinsky of Savoy Records, for which they held their first session on November 30, 1956. Their first Savoy single was "Bad Boy" (Savoy 1508), a remake of "Brown Boy", which Palmer sang in a laid-back, stuttering style, a good-natured throwback to the sounds of the 1940s. It was welcomed as a pleasant diversion from rock 'n' roll by programme directors in the first weeks of 1957. By mid-March, "Bad Boy" had reached # 36 on the pop charts and # 7 on the R&B charts. In spite of this success, the record was not issued in the UK. The flip was also quite interesting. "When Your Hair Has Turned To Silver" (with a lead vocal by Pee Wee Tinney) was not far removed from the sounds that Dave Bartholomew was producing in New Orleans at the time. Further Savoy singles, like "Cherry", featured Palmer sounding like a muted trumpet, but they did poor business. The old standard "Stardust" was the final Savoy single in 1959. Label credit went simply to "The Jive Bombers", instead of the usual Clarence "Bad Boy" Palmer and the Jive Bombers. Due to "Bad Boy's" success, the Jive Bombers stayed on the club scene through the late 1960's (with the inevitable personnel changes) before calling it quits. They had only one single released in the sixties, "Anytime"/"Days Of Wine And Roses", for the Middle Tone label in late 1963. Clarence Palmer was a vocal performer for more than three decades. He had been singing "Bad Boy" for some twenty years before he was finally rewarded with a hit.
"Bad Boy" has been included on several CD compilations, including "The Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll", Vol. 5" (Ace 600). It was also included on the soundtrack of the John Waters film "Cry Baby" (1990), featuring Johnny Depp.
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