Listen: The Joker Went Wild / Brian Hyland
Dick Clark’s Caravan Of Stars, the branded road show which featured some of the most popular acts of the day, began in 1959. Negative speculation ran high. Despite owning his AMERICAN BANDSTAND media partner, so many hit makers all rolled into one evening appeared costly to outsiders. But of course with the most watched teen program in America as both your airplay vehicle and your leverage, the economics of this perfect storm streamlined itself into a goldmine.
On the night of the Kennedy Assassination, the 1963 Caravan Of Stars which included Brenda Holloway, Reparata & The Delrons, The Hondells and Brian Hyland was scheduled to play at the Dallas Memorial Auditorium.
After the event, stories began circulating that the gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald, had tickets to the Caravan Of Stars concert. The manager of the Dallas record store that supposedly sold those tickets claims Oswald purchased two sometime before the shooting. However, there is no receipt to verify that Oswald actually had tickets, nor any other detail.
Regardless, Brian Hyland was one of the traveling entourage that worked his way through the crowd, getting a curbside view of the motorcade as it passed by their hotel, just three blocks before the shooting occurred.
By ’66, the world had changed drastically, and in some ways, so too had Brian Hyland. His early 60′s DA haircut had now grown into a contemporary Beatles fringe. Whether or not by design, the overall image update worked. Like Bobby Vee, the occasional single got airplay, and sounded perfectly in place on the radio.
Philips Records paired him with writer, arranger, producer Leon Russell who, as with Gary Lewis & The Playboys, merged then modern day west coast surf with Ricky Nelson influenced vocals to great success. ‘The Joker Went Wild’ made for a favorite spring ’66 anthem around our house. Mom, Dad and sister alike all giving it big thumbs up.