Pop Archives

Johnny Devlin & The Devils - I Was The One (1959)

(Hal Blair - Bill Peppers - Claude De Metruis - Aaron Schroeder)
Australia Australia
#26 Sydney

Single on Columbia label.

Johnny Devlin (b. 1938 in Raetihi) was a New Zealander who had been a pioneering rock'n'roll star in his home country. His New Zealand success was in covering American rock'n'roll, and his repertoire included a range of astutely chosen covers, many away from the mainstream. However, most of his charting Australian records were originals, usually written or co-written by himself.

Johnny Devlin had sixteen songs on the Sydney charts alone 1959-1965. His biggest hits were:

  • Turn The Lights Out Johnny (1959, #3 Sydney, #27 Melbourne, #2 Adelaide), an original rocker;
  • the novelty Got A Zack In The Back Of My Pocket (1960, #7 Sydney, #19 Brisbane, #8 Adelaide), written by Nat Kipner, (a zack was a sixpenny piece); and
  • Stomp The Tumbarumba (1963, #5 Sydney, #5 Brisbane), by Devlin, a surf craze song that seems to refer to an inland New South Wales town.

As a songwriter, Johnny Devlin's credits also include:

  • Patsy Ann NobleGood Looking Boy (1961, #16 Sydney #6 Melbourne #13 Brisbane #8 Adelaide);
  • Digger Revell & The DenvermenMy Little Rocker's Turned Surfie (1964, #9 Sydney, #16 Brisbane); and
  • Digger Revell's DenvermenSurfside, written with Nat Kipner (1963, #1 Sydney, #6 Melbourne).

Johnny Devlin also produced The CicadasThat's What I Want (1964).

Johnny Devlin's Devils also recorded in their own right: see their charting single Teen Beat.

References, further reading: 1. For the full flavour of Johnny Devlin mania from a New Zealand perspective, Bruce Sergent's account is indespensable. 2. Jason Ankeny's article at All Music Guide also captures the essence of the Johnny Devlin phenomenon.

Additional details from Tony Watson and Terry Stacey, thanks.

Elvis Presley - I Was The One (1956)

(Hal Blair - Bill Peppers - Claude De Metruis - Aaron Schroeder)
Original version
#19 USA

Single on RCA, B-side of the #1 hit Heartbreak Hotel, Elvis’s first national and international hit after signing to RCA from Sun Records, Memphis.

Also recorded, for example, by Andy Rose (1961), Jamie Coe, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore.

Original identified by Tony Watson.