Pop Archives

Johnny O’Keefe & The Dee Jays - So Tough (1958)

(Gary Mears)
Australia Australia
#15 Sydney #5 Melbourne #18 Brisbane #2 Adelaide #33 Perth*

Single on Festival, July 1958.

Jump to The Hooter SistersSo Tough (Australia 1974). a different song.


O’Keefe recorded So Tough again in 1972 with his new band the Stuart Park Group, in sessions that included the 1973 hit Mockingbird with Margaret McLaren. So Tough was released on a Festival single that charted in Perth (1972, #33). Both tracks appeared on the album Johnny B. Goode (1974).


Johnny O’Keefe (1935-1978), known in Australia as The Wild One, The King of Rock’n’Roll or just J. O’K., was a pioneer Australian rocker, a chart topping artist in his home country. A TV mini-series about his life was made in 1985, Shout! The Story of Johnny O’Keefe.

To explore Johnny O’Keefe’s repertoire at this website, go to this page.

Further reading: The definitive biography is Damian Johnstone’s The Wild One (2001).


Thank you to Brian Lee at ColorRadio.com for clarification on The Casuals, The Original Casuals, The Kuf-Linx and The Cufflinx (via email). Marv Goldberg’s detailed page on the three “cuff link” groups also sorts out Dootone Records’ Cuff Links from their Cufflinx.


The Cufflinx - So Tough (1958)

(Gary Mears)
USA USA

Los Angeles group formerly known as The Rain Drops, lead singer Henry Houston.

Single on Dooto January 1958, also on 78 rpm disc, recorded as a cover version of the single on Challenge by The Kuf-Linx.


Marv Goldberg has valiantly related the histories of The Cuff Links, The Cufflinx, and The Kuf-Linx.

The Cuff Links and The Cufflinx were on the same label (though not at the same time). The Kuf-Linx and The Cufflinx both covered So Tough. Apart from that they were three distinct groups, each with different members.

Dootsie Williams owned Dooto, renamed for legal reasons from Dootone. He had previously released some records by The Cuff Links 1956-57, notably Guided Missiles (lead singer Robert Truesdale). By the time Dootsie signed The Rain Drops, a group named The Kuf-Linx had appeared on another label with So Tough.

So The Rain Drops became The Cufflinx, learnt the Cuff Links‘ songs, and covered The Kuf-Linx’s So Tough. As Marv puts it, we now have a cover of a cover, by a group whose very name was a cover. Some have mistakenly assumed that The Cufflinx were The Cuff Links revived, and that impression seems to have been encouraged by the label.

Full story and discographies in The Cuff Links, Kuf-Linx, and Cufflinx by Marv Goldberg at his website UncaMarvy.com.


The Original Casuals [= The Casuals] - So Tough (1958)

(Gary Mears)
USA USA

Single on Back Beat January 1958.

This is a reissue of So Tough by The Casuals (October 1957: same record company, same catalogue number). The name was apparently changed to avoid confusion with with Buzz Cason’s Nashville group called The Casuals.

Also on EP Three Kisses Past Midnight, May 1958. The liner notes list members Jay Joe Adams, Gary Mears and Paul Kearney.


The Kuf-Linx - So Tough (1957)

(Gary Mears)
USA USA

Single on Challenge by Los Angeles group, December 1957, lead singer John Jennings. For finer discographical detail, see Butcher Pete’s Challenge page.

This group, The Kuf-Linx, has no connection with The Cufflinx who issued a cover version of this record on Dooto.

Essential reading: Brian Lee’s detailed page on The Kuf-Linx at ColorRadio.com.


The Casuals - So Tough (1957)

(Gary Mears)
USA USA
Original version
#42 USA #12 Canada

The Casuals (aka The Original Casuals) 1957

Single on Back Beat, Texas label owned by Don Robey, October 1957. Also released on 78 rpm disc.

Group from Dallas Texas formed mid-1957 by Gary Mears (vocalist and composer of So Tough, aka Frederick Gary Mears), Jay Joe Adams, and Paul Kearney.

This was reissued a few months later by the same group under the name of The Original Casuals (same record company, same catalogue number). This was apparently to avoid confusion with Buzz Cason’s Nashville group, also called The Casuals, who released their first major label single on Dot in March 1957. Confusion was inevitable at some stage, considering the numerous other groups using the name Casuals.

Label also credits Alex Sample And Orchestra.

Reference, further reading: Original Casuals page at the Doo-wop Groups blog.


The Hooter Sisters - So Tough (1974)

(Chris Gilbey - George Brodbeck - Janice Slater)
Australia Australia
Red herring

Same title but not the same song as ‘So Tough’ by Johnny O’Keefe.

B-side on the Albert Productions label by short-lived trio of notable Australian singers Alison MacCallum, Bobby Marchini and Janice Slater (see her Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood). This single was their only release. The writers are Slater with the single’s producer Chris Gilbey and trombonist-arranger-teacher George Brodbeck (not to be confused – as I’ve seen online – with Canadian producer Don Brodbeck).

Unless I missed it, this upbeat, disco-danceable track doesn’t carry any musical or lyrical reference to Johnny O’Keefe’s classic hit. Perhaps the title was a nod to Australia’s King of Rock, though.


See also the A-side of this Hooter Sisters single, To Know Him Is To Love Him, a remake of the Phil Spector song that was a hit for his own group The Teddy Bears (1958 #1 USA).


• For more on Alison MacCallum, see her version of Teach Me How To Fly (1973).

• See Janice Slater’s Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood for more about her varied career.