Two American songwriters have died this year. Very different in what they wrote but each influential in their own way.
First up is Ernie Maresca (1938 – 2015). He was a neighbour of Dion DiMucci in the Bronx and his two biggest hits were Runaround Sue and The Wanderer.
He did have a hit himself as a singer with Shout, Shout (Knock Yourself Out) which was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic. Earlier he sang with group called the Regents who recorded Barbara-Ann in 1958, eight years before it was revived by the Beach Boys.
He began song-writing full-time after a song he wrote called No one Knows was a hit for Dion and the Belmonts. Best known for his work with Dion, the aforementioned Runaround Sue was Dion’s only No. 1 although The Wanderer was a million-seller for Dion and for other artists as well such as Status Quo. These were doo-wop style songs with a feel good factor popular with many groups, including ours.
He also wrote hits for Dean & Jean and Reperata and the Delrons before moving into management at Laurie records handling their publicity and was a senior executive until the early 1990s when he brokered the deal to sell the label to Capitol Records.
Source: Vintage Rock magazine Sept/October 2015
Secondly we have Wayne Carson (1943 – 2015), probably best known for the song Elvis recorded – Always on my Mind.
He claimed to have written the song in 10 minutes in his kitchen explaining that he writes from the melody and the words follow. “Always on my mind happens to be one of those things that universally, everybody on the planet has been there. Everybody touched base with that one. It was just magic that it was so simple and so right on the button.”
Elvis’s producer Chip Moman asked him to writer a bridge for the song which Carson didn’t think was necessary but with some friends he quickly wrote the two lines needed. Carson admitted that was when he knew it would be a No 1.
Although from a country background, his parents performed as a country act Shorty and Sue, – one of his first songs was accepted by Chet Atkins who was producing a record for Eddy Arnold in Nashville. It was another occasion when he was asked to write more, in this case an extra verse which he called out over the phone in response to Eddy’s request. He obviously had an ability to think on his feet! And that song, Somebody Like Me went on to top the country charts and was Carson’s first hit.
He thought songs “ain’t nothing but a story waiting for somebody to tell it“.
Among performers who recorded his songs were: The Box Tops with The Letter (also a No 1 and a group for whom he wrote several hits), Joe Cocker, The Beach Boys, Al Green, Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell, and Tina Turner.
His songs were recorded 8,500 times by over a thousand different performers. Quite a legacy.
Source: Times Obit August 24 2015