It was Johnny Crawford who fulfilled the role as one of the artists who had the looks and the personality, (and the voice too, I might add), and how he came to record for Del-Fi Records demonstrated owner Bob Keane's opportunisitc flair. Keane hit upon the idea of recording Johnny for the teenage market and approached Johnny's father for permission to sign him. As Johnny had never sung professionally before, (though he had made one record as a child in the 1950's) Keane gave him singing lessons for three months and found that he possessed a pleasant light tenor voice. Johnny's first few records were recorded in a makeshift studio housed in the back of Del-Fi's offices on Selma Avenue, Hollywood.
He made his debut in May of 1961 with Daydreams, a song written by Al Hazan, a local session-pianist/songwriter. Johnny appeared to have made a promising start when Daydreams reached No. 70 on the Hot 100, but suffered a setback when the follow-up, Your Love is Growing Cold, failed to register. However, his third release, Patti Ann, written and arranged by Fred Smith and Cliff Goldsmith, brought him back into the limelight, charting at No.43.
Keane cleverly varied the songwriters and arrangers he used in order to introduce fresh concepts and sounds and Johnny's next two singles, Cindy's Birthday and Your Nose is Gonna Grow both made the US top twenty in mid-1962, a time when The Rifleman was reaching its viewing peak. Johnny was a thoroughly modest 15 year old who regarded his recording career as a pleasant diversion, gilt on the frame of a fleeting career as a juvenile TV actor. He continued to attend high school and didn't disguise the fact that his real interest was in bronco riding.
Keane sensed this and was anxious to make hay while the sun still shone on Johnny's elfin features. Deciding on another change of approach, Keane asked Aldon Music, the New York publishing house with the hottest team of songwriters in the business, to submit songs as suitable follow-ups to Johnny's recent hits. Then he booked a session at RCA's studios in Nashville, Tennessee. This trip in the autumn of 1962 produced two more consecutive hits. Rumors (No. 12) and Proud (No. 28), which are generally regarded as Johnny's best records. By the summer of 1963, solo teen idols were losing favour with the American kids who were turning to surf music, girl groups and folk.
Towards the end of the year, Johnny made a brief showing on the charts with Cindy's Gonna Cry (No. 72) only to see the follow-up, Sandy, flop. Tthus far, five of Johnny's singles incorporated a girl's name in the title. (How come no Mary??) In a bid to revive Johnny's career, Keane commissioned Jan Berry of Jan and Dean to produce his next single, Judy Loves Me, a song which floundered at 95 on the Hot 100 in mid-January 1964, the very week The Beatles entered the American charts for the first time with I Want to Hold Your Hand. Johnny only made one more single for Del-Fi. The day after he graduated from High School in the summer of 1964, Johnny left for Texas to join a rodeo. He never made another pop record.
Daydreams / So Goes The Story (1961)
Your Love Is Growling Cold / Treasure (1961)
Patti Ann / Donna (1962)
Cindy's Birthday / Something Special (1962)
Your Nose Is Gonna Grow / Mr Blue (1962)
Rumors / No One Really Loves A Clown (1962)
Proud / Lonesome Town (1963)
When I Fall In Love / Cry On My Shoulder (1963)
What Happened To Janie / Petite Chanson (1963)
Cindy's Gonna Cry / Debbie (1963)
Sandy / Ol' Shorty (1963)
Judy Loves Me / Living In The Past (1963)
The Girl Next Door / Sittin' And A-Watchin' (1964)
Am I Too Young? (with Bobby Fuller) / Janie Please Believe Me (1965)
DFLP-1220 - JOHNNY CRAWFORD : THE CAPTIVATING JOHNNY CRAWFORD (1962)
Lucky Star/Treasure/Please Mr. Sun/That's All I Want From You/Tennessee Waltz/
We Belong Together/Son Of The Moon/Your Love Is Growing Cold/Donna/Patti Ann/
Daydreams/Vaya Con Dios
DFLP-1223 - JOHNNY CRAWFORD : A YOUNG MAN'S FANCY (1962) (stereo: DFST 1223)
Your Nose Is Gonna Grow/Cindy's Birthday/Something Special/Sittin' And
A Watchin'/Debbie/I'm Walkin'/Mr. Blue/In The Wee Small Hours/Moon River/
Little White Cloud/Young At Heart
DFLP-1224 - JOHNNY CRAWFORD : RUMORS (1963) (stereo: DFST 1224)
Devil Or Angel/Rumors/Lonesome Town/How High the Moon/Living In The Past/
Since I Don't Have You/No One Really Loves A Clown/Janie Please Believe Me/
Cry On My Shoulder/I Don't Need You/Petite Chanson
DFLP-1229 - JOHNNY CRAWFORD : HIS GREATEST HITS (1963) (stereo: DFST 1229)
Proud/Rumors/Your Nose is Gonna Grow/Cindy's Birthday/Debbie/Patti Ann/Mr. Blue/
Sittin' And A Watchin'/Moon River/We Belong Together/Donna/Daydreams
DFLP-1248 - JOHNNY CRAWFORD : HIS GREATEST HITS, VOLUME 2 (1964) (stereo: DFST 1248)
The Girl Next Door/Cindy's Gonna Cry/What Happened To Janie/Cindy's Birthday/Sandy/
Judy Loves Me/Petite Chanson/How High The Moon/Janie Please Believe Me/Your Nose
Is Gonna Grow/When I Fall in Love/Lonesome Town