Aired on Treasure Island OldiesApr 14, 2024

Singers with the first name of “Bobby” ruled the radio airwaves in the early 60s. Hence, the odds were that a few of them would end up at the top of the charts.

The Bobbys who made it to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 include Bobby Vee with “Take Good Care Of My Baby” (1961), Bobby “Boris” Pickett (“Monster Mash” (1962), and the prolific Bobby Vinton with “Roses Are Red (My Love)” (1962), “Blue Velvet” (1963), “There I’ve Said It Again” (1964), and “Mr. Lonely” (1964).

However the very first Bobby to top the charts was also credited with releasing the #1 song of the entire year. The song reached the #1 position on charts on July 10, 1961 and remained perched at the top for seven straight weeks.


Our featured Bobby was born in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1925 and was raised in an orphanage. Despite his very poor eyesight, he learned to play the piano by age six. At age twelve he was adopted and moved to a foster home in Detroit, Michigan.

Before he had turned sixteen, he had worked in jobs as a janitor, an iceman, a truck driver, and a hotel clerk, none of which he enjoyed.

In tandem with his odd jobs, he performed in downtown nightclubs in Detroit and had the good fortune to make friends with Jackie Wilson whose career was beginning to take off.

Wilson urged Bobby to go to New York to find success. Bobby, by now married, declined initially but changed his mind on the strength of his wife’s belief that New York was the answer, and with the money wired to him by Wilson for a one-way train ticket to Manhattan.

Bobby did the rounds, going from record company to record company, being turned down many times. He eventually found himself at Beltone Records. The company name gave him a good feeling as he once sang in a gospel group called the Beltones.

At Beltone he was reacquainted with Ritchie Adams of the Fireflies, a group he had recently met during an engagement at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.

Adams got our featured Bobby to demo a song Adams had written. When Bobby Lewis sang the line, “I couldn’t sleep at all last night,” Adams knew he had the right guy for the song and there would be no more “Tossin’ And Turnin’” for both of them and it’s this week’s Tom Locke moment in time.

YouTube video of this song;

This “Moments In Time” story is yet another example of a “golden oldie” or forgotten favorite that earned its place in the evolution of Rock & Roll.