Ersel Hickey - more than just a one pose wonder, dedicated by

The Most Famous Pose Of Rock and Roll
By: Johnny Vallis

June, 2005 - Hydra Records is releasing a new CD of Ersel's recordings. Including the 2 Fine recordings (only 500 45's made at the time) and the two unreleased Fine Records recordings. All 4 done prior to his Epic recordings. Plus other uneleased gems and single never on CD. The disc includes all his classic tracks too.

Rock and roll fans know the pose of Ersel Hickey. Many know of the great hit "Bluebirds Over The Mountain". Not many know the full story of this rock and roll icon, so we present it here.


Ersel Hickey was born in Brighton, New York on June 27, 1934. His Mother was from Kingston, Ontario, his Father was Irish (O' Hickey was the original name), he passed away when Ersel was four, there were eight children. Ersel's Mother had a nervous breakdown and was put into a hospital, at that time he was put into fosterhomes. He would run away all the time, living in different parts of New York State.

When Ersel was 15 he started traveling with his sister "Chicky Evans" an exotic dancer. She was very popular in the circuits and together they travelled for about a year. He decided to go on his own and travel with the carnival, then left and then began living in Columbus, Ohio. From there he was sent to a "tough kids" home, where he became familiar with the main Rhythm & Blues groups and started singing with the gospel group there.

Johnnie Ray was sweeping the nation in 1951. Ersel found his talents singing like him. That year he entered an amateur talent contest and won first place on his own and second place with his group. The prize was $500. While he was there his sister was killed in a car accident. From then on he was raised between his aunt and his brother.

In 1954 Ersel heard "I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine" by Elvis and he went crazy for it. Telling everyone about Elvis. Ersel was playing a few places in Rochester that his brother booked him in, he was drawing very well. It was around this time that he went and recorded his first record on Fine Records. One side was "Then I'll Be Happy", an old song and the other side was called "Baby You're No Good" a song Ersel had written. The single was released locally, not much happened with it.

One night Ersel went to a show at the War Memorial in Rochester and was in a restaurant after and one of the members of the show walked in, Phil Everly. Ersel approached Phil and said "I want to be a singer, what should I do?" He says "Well, you got to have a song." That night Ersel went home and wrote "Bluebirds Over The Mountain". Ersel woke his brother up at 2:30 in the morning and asked him what he thought. He said "It's a hit!". Ersel decided to leave for Buffalo the next morning with $20 his brother gave him.

Getting off the bus in Buffalo, Ersel had no clue what he was going to do. Looking up and down the main street he saw a place called "Jan's" a hangout for teenagers. Right next up the stairs was Gene Laverne's "Studio Of The Stars" (where his sister had her photos taken). After introducing himself to Gene he asked what to do. Gene told him he was going to need to take some pictures. Ersel's Aunt and Uncle offered to give him some money. Then came the famous session that took THAT photo ....... Unfortunately with the colors Ersel was wearing, it was only a black and white shot. He recalls "The kids loved that outfit, after I got the gold guitar - phew!" He often wore black with the gold and sometimes grey suits with the black shirts and white ties. The jacket was a reddish-orange and had a yellow lining, the pants were rust-colored with stitching down the sides. The outline itself has become representational of rock and roll.

LaVerne suggested to Ersel that he call Mike Corda who was a personal manager, bass player and songwriter (Corda had previously managed Enzio Stuarti). Corda believed that "Bluebirds" had potential they had a demo session for the song at National Studio in New York, which Corda paid for the session. They brought Jimmy Mitchell to play guitar and Mike Corda played bass. Mitchell tapped on his guitar case to make the "percussion" sound on "Hangin' Around". After they were happy with the session, it was Corda's job to pitch the song to a label.

Ersel went back to Buffalo and stayed with his aunt. Not much was happening so Ersel decided to go back to work. He went to The Town Casino (a big club were Martin and Lewis worked) where it seated about 1000 people, Sam Cooke was playing the lounge. Ersel asked the MC if he would watch him. The MC loved what he saw and took him to the owner. The owner of the club put him on that night. The band had no clue what they were doing, they tried to follow Ersel, but there was very little they could do. They put him in The Glen Casino the next night along with Cab Calloway. He worked the lounge until it got to crowded. Ersel was playing in Niagara Falls at Luigi's when he got news that Epic Records had signed him. Joe Sherman at Epic Records picked up on the song. He liked the demo so much he didn't believe re-recording it would help, but maybe lose the "sound" that had.

January of 1958 it was released.

March 12, 1958 Ersel recorded two more singles "You Threw A Dart", "Don't Be Afraid Of Love" - "People Gotta Talk", "I Can't Love Another" and the unissued "Shame On Me". Ersel went back in the studio May 20, 1958 this time in New York at the old Columbia Studios. They recorded 3 songs "Lover's Land", "Goin' Down That Road" and "Due Time". The next session was October of 1958, they went back into National Studio to record "You Never Can Tell", "The Wedding" and "Roll On Little River". Al Lewis was one of the co-writers on "You Never Can Tell" (co-written Blueberry Hill"). Lewis had just formed a music publishing company with Don Kirshner (later the manager/producer behind The Monkees). Kirshner brought Ersel "You Never Can Tell" and a song called "I'm Ready" both demo recorded by Bobby Darin. Turned down "I'm Ready", but recorded the other. Fats Domino picked "I'm Ready" Ersel's record charted high in Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles.

September 29, 1959 recorded "Love In Bloom". By the time Ersel went back in the studio December 17, 1959 the music world had changed. Chuck Sagle brought Ersel into the Columbia Studios for his last sessions. The song was "What Do You Want" which was a big hit for British Pop star Adam Faith. Faith sounded a lot like Buddy Holly, Sherman thought that Ersel too had that sound. They worked up an arrangement quick and gave Ersel a day to rehearse it. (It was a split-session with Roy Hamilton and Bobby Vinton). Ersel didn't like the song and didn't want to record it, but Sherman told him he was going to. April 18, 1960 Sagle took Ersel in to record "Stardust Brought Me You" this version was left un-released until 1993. May 7, 1960 Ersel went and recorded his last single for Epic Records "Stardust Brought Me You" and "Another Wasted Day". Al Avellino was the co-writer with Ersel on "Stardust Brought Me You" a song they had written on the piano at Famous Music that Hoagy Carmichael used to write "Stardust". After Ersel three year recording contract with Epic expired, he decided to work more at writing songs. One day Ersel was at 1650 Broadway when he saw Joe Sherman. They hadn't worked together for a couple of years, Joe offered to manage Ersel. Shortly after he got Ersel signed to Kapp Records. Late 1960 they went in the studio at Bradley Film & Recording in Nashville. On December 7 they recorded "Lips Of Roses", "Teardrops At Dawn" and the un-issued until 1993 "Magical Love".

Then on December 8 they recorded the last session for Kapp "I Guess You Could Call It Love", "What Have You Done To Me?" and the un-issued until 1993 "A Mighty Square Love Affair". Joe Sherman only managed Ersel for six months, he placed Ersel on a few tours that he did very well at. Ersel got married in 1961 which quieted things down and he went into business. Writing was a band-aid for him as he wanted to perform, but bookings were slow. It became very complex with contracts and the business became overwhelming. Ersel then record "The Millionaire" and "Upside Down Love" on Apollo, a great record. The company was already in money trouble and went out of business. Then Laurie Records with "Some Enchanted Evening" and "Put Your Mind At Ease" in 1963. 1964 Ersel went back to songwriting, he wrote a song with Eddie Miller called "Don't Let The Rain Come Down" it was a huge hit for The Serendipity Singers.

Many artists have recorded Ersel's songs including Jackie Wilson "The Millionare" and "A Little Bird Told Me So" for LaVern Baker. Toot Records was owned by Eddie Miller, Ersel recorded "Blues Skies" and "Tryin' To Get To You" in 1967 and "Strings of Gitarro" and "There is Just One Time" in 1968. 1968 was a great year for Ersel when the Beach Boys bought the publishing on "Bluebirds Over The Mountains" and cut it as a single. It has appeared on many compilations. There were many other labels that he went on like Unifax, Rameses II, Black Circle, Parkway and Magnum.

Ersel has unreleased material - 24 songs in all recorded between 1960-1985 (with musicians such as Dave 'Baby' Cortez) he owns them all. Wouldn't that be a great CD? We can only hope for more from Ersel. He does consider performing again and maybe releasing a new CD if the right deal comes along.

His music and talent is in class of it's own. Ersel is truly a Legend in Rock and Roll music, not just for his famous picture, but for everything he has accomplished.



Then I'll Be Happy/Baby You're No Good

2203 Bluebirds Over The Mountain/Hangin' Around (Cnd)
9263 Bluebirds Over The Mountain/Hangin' Around
9278 Lover's Land/Goin' Down That Road
EG 7206 "Ersel Hickey In Lover's Land"
Lover's Land/Bluebirds Over The Mountain/Goin' Down That Road/Hangin' Around
9296 The Wedding/You Never Can Tell

9309 You Threw A Dart/Don't Be Afraid Of Love
9320 I Can't Love Another/People Gotta Talk
9357 Love In Bloom/What Do You Want (Picture Sleeve)

9395 Stardust Brought Me You/Another Wasted Day


372 Teardrops At Dawn/I Guess You Could Call It Love
406 Lips Of Rose/What Have You Done To Me


761 The Millionaire/Upside Down Love


3165 Some Enchanted Evening/Put Your Mind At Ease


602 Blue Skies/Tryin' To Get To You

607 (Play On) Strings Of Gitarro/There Is Just One Time

151 Bluebirds Over The Mountain/Self Made Man


845 Oh, Lord Look What They've Done To Your Garden/Slidin' Home


100 How Unlucky Can You Get/Put It To Your Heart


2003 Waitin' For Baby/In Spite Of The Fool That I Am

Let Me Be Your Radio/?


Country Tough/?

(KAPP KM2601) KM on the sleeve, KR on the label Going Down That Road/Love In Bloom/Wedding Day/You Threw A Dart/You Never Can Tell/Don't Be Afraid Of Love/I Guess You Could Call It Love/What Do You Want//Hanging Around/Another Wasted Day/Stardust Brought Me You/Blue Birds Over The Mountain/Lover's Land/Teardrops At Dawn/Self Made Man/Blue Birds Over The Mountain


18750 "The Rockin' Bluebird"
Bluebirds Over The Mountain/Hangin' Around/You Never Can Tell/Lover's Land/Goin' Down That Road/Love In Bloom/Shame On Me/What Do You Want?/Stardust Brought Me You/Don't Be Afraid Of Love

ERSEL HICKEY BLUEBIRDS OVER THE MOUNTAIN Bear Family Records - BCD 15676 Bluebirds Over The Mountain (US Version)/Hangin' Around/You Never Can Tell/The Wedding/Lover's Land/Goin' Down That Road/Love In Bloom/Another Wasted Day/You Threw A Dart/Shame On Me/What Do You Want?/Stardust Brought Me You (2)/Due Time (Incomplete)/A Mighty Square Love Affair/Teardrops At Dawn/Magical Love/I Guess You Could Call It Love/Lips Of Roses/What Have You Done To Me?/Stardust Brought Me You (1)/Roll On Little River (Unknown)/Don't Be Afraid Of Love/People Gotta Talk/I Can't Love Another/Bluebirds Over The Mountain (CAN Version)

Collectables Records - COL 6479
RELEASE DATE: 01/16/2001
Tracks: Bluebirds Over The Mountain, Hangin' Around, Goin' Down That Road, Lover's Land, You Never Can Tell, Wedding Day, Don't Be Afraid Of Love, You Threw A Dart, People Gotta Talk, I Can't Love Another, What Do You Want?, Love In Bloom, Stardust Brought Me You, Another Wasted Day, Shame On Me, Some Enchanted Evening, Put Your Mind At Ease, Rockabilly Dream, In Spite Of The Fool That I Am, Kicks


With Many Special Thanks to Ersel Hickey for his on-going support and understanding throughout this project.

Photos: Kay Martin Source

Ersel at Viva Las Vegas 2003 - Photos: Dave Hermsen

ERSEL HICKEY WATCH! Now available. Click here.

Ersel Hickey in the National Press
Posted February 4, 2003 - For those interested in the man behind the most famous photo in rock 'n' roll, look for the latest issue of Outre magazine (arriving on newsstands across the country by mid February). Ersel Hickey's story is told by the man himself in a feature article written by Chicago's Ken Mottet. Photos from throughout his career(including shots from last summer's Green Bay spectacular) are included.
           Outre (The Magazine of Ultramedia) is found at most major book stores in the motion picture magazine section. Look for the bright yellow cover featuring the post apocolyptic robot invasion scene.
-Ken Mottet, Chicago -

Bob Timmers and Ersel Hickey at the 2002 Green Bay Rockin' 50 Fest, July 10th.
Ersel went on stage the following day. -Photo courtesy: Donald Rieck

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