Previous Vocal Group Record of the Week
#828 (12/20/14 - 1/2/15)


"God Gave Us Christmas"/"Dig That Crazy Santa Claus"
by Oscar McLollie And His Honey Jumpers
on Modern 943
released in 1954

Above: Oscar McLollie.

The Billboard, February 24, 1951: Mercury Ups R&B Line-Up, HOLLYWOOD, Feb. 17—Mercury Records' rhythm and blues stock has been hypoed by the pacting of 13 new artists. Austin McCoy, r and b topper, who joined the diskery from Modern Records, is looking for additional personnel to further strengthen the roster. .... ,Oscar McLollie, ....have been brought into the fold since December....

The Billboard, April 14, 1951: ....WMRY, New Orleans, reports "I'm Hurt" by Oscar McLollie on Mercury is a top tune in r&b department. Ditty is coupled with "Tears In My Eyes And A Prayer In My Heart."

Trade Magazine, November 1953: ....The Bihari brothers at Modern Records have another fine seasonal etching in "God Gave Us Christmas." This beautiful offering is ably done by Oscar McLollie and his Honey Jumpers. Leon René wrote the tune [with Albert Johnston] and his professional manager, Parker Prescott, came in from New York for conferences and to help arrange the recording sessions....

Trade Magazine, July 1955: ....Oscar McLollie and his Honey Jumpers originally planned to work in Vegas only a few weeks. They were so successful at the Hotel Riviera that their option was picked up and now it looks like they're set for several months to come....

Trade Magazine, November 1955: ....Hunter Hancock's second TV stanza reportedly all set to feature Oscar McLollie, Marvin & Johnny, Richard Berry and the Dreamers....
(All Modern Records labels' artists)

(Modern Clipping - The Billboard dated 3/28/53)

(Modern Advertisement - November 1954)

(Oscar McLollie)


LEON RENÉ is co-composer on both sides of this Record of the Week. His son, Rafael "Googie" René is co-composer on the "Dig That Crazy Santa Claus" side. Albert Johnston is co-composer on both sides.

Leon was an orchestra leader, prolific composer and record company owner. He owned and operated the Exclusive Records label from 1944 until shuting it down in January 1950, and then began Class Records in 1951.

His most famous composition is probably "When The Swallows Come Back To Capistrano." Other songs he composed (or co-composed) are "Gloria," "Someone's Rocking My Dreamboat," "Sweet Lucy Brown," "When It's Sleepy Time Down South," "I Lost My Sugar In Salt Lake City," "Sleepy Time In Hawaii," "Beyond The Stars," "From Twilight 'Till Dawn," "If Money Grew On Trees," "I Sold My Heart To The Junkman," "I Want To Love And Be Loved," "When The Ships Come Sailing Home Again," "Boogie Woogie Santa Claus," and many others.

Songs that he wrote (or co-wrote) for Oscar McLollie, in addition to this week's Record of the Week, are "Convicted," "The Honey Jump," "Be Cool My Heart," "Love Me Tonight," "Hey Lolly Lolly," "Pretty Girl," and "Pagliacci (With A Broken Heart)."

(Left: From Pittsburgh Courier dated 4/29/39)

(Right: From California Eagle dated 12/21/28)


Leon René                           —                           Otis René

"Otis René and Leon René are creators of popular melody and lyrics. They are responsible for today's popular southern song hit "When It's Sleepy Time Down South." The song was composed for George Fawcetts' Hollywood dramatic stage play "Under A Virginia Moon" more than two years ago which was a decided hit at that time. The song was featured by Clarence Muse, who is also co-author of the number.

The René brothers, with the assistance of their writing partner, Bennie Elison, are writing the musical score for the new all colored Hollywood musical show produced by Mr. Pantages, opening about Christmas week. Some of the song hits in the show are: "Good Morning Sunshine".... Their song "Sleepy Time Down South" came into prominence when their good friend Louis Armstrong made a record of it. The song then became a tremendous hit. Paul Whiteman liked the number so well that he made his version on a Victor record. Louis Armstrong now uses it as his theme song when coming on and going off the air."

(Afro-American Newspaper 11/1/41)

(Pittsburgh Courier 9/28/40)

Above: Label image of Modern 943 released in November 1954. "God Gave Us Christmas" had previouly been issued on Modern 920 in November 1953. Both sides were again released on Modern 976 in November 1955. Oscar McLollie And His Honey Jumpers had a total of twelve releases, all on the Modern label (1953-55).

Oscar McLollie had several releases on Class Records (1956-60), six listed as a single artist (some with uncredited vocal group backing) and two as a duet with Jeanette Baker. Also, he had one release on the Showtime label (1959) and one on Jet Records (late 1950s).

The Billboard Review (11/20/54):

Dig That Crazy Santa Claus
(73) Bouncy piece of boogie-blues material makes for good listening the way McLollie sells it.
God Gave Us Christmas (70) Okay Christmas ballad which could get some Yuletide action.
(NOTE: This side had been reviewed in November 1953 after its initial release.... "(65) The Honey Jumpers sing about Christmas Day on this new platter, backed quietly by the McLollie ork. It's pleasant and listenable, and it could grab spins come the holidays.)

Listen to this week's selections by Oscar McLollie And His Honey Jumpers on Modern 943 from 1949:
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]

          1. God Gave Us Christmas
          2. Dig That Crazy Santa Claus
          BOTH played in sequence

     B. Download RealAudio...
          1. God Gave Us Christmas
          2. Dig That Crazy Santa Claus

     C. Stream/Download Media Player...
          1. God Gave Us Christmas
          2. Dig That Crazy Santa Claus

     [To download audio files, right-click on link and then select "Save (Link) Target As..."]

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