Pop Archives

Lonnie Lee & The Leemen - Starlight Starbright (1960)

(John Marascalco)
Australia Australia
#3 Sydney #1 Melbourne #8 Brisbane #3 Adelaide

Single on Lee Gordon label.

Rock'n'roll star Lonnie Lee, born David Lawrence Rix in western New South Wales in 1940, had his first hit in 1959, Ain't It So, written with Johnny O'Keefe. With his backing band The Leemen, he followed this with a number of national hits. In Sydney, for example, he charted eight times from 1959 to 1962, notably with I Found A New Love (#2 1960). Like many early Aussie rockers, he moved on to country music.

In 2005 Lonnie Lee released a new John Marascalco co-composition, Can't You See It In My Eyes. See also When The Bells Stop Ringing.

← Lonnie Lee with John Marascalco in Hollywood, 2004.

Photo © Lonnie Lee and Starlite International Pty Ltd.

Further reading: 1. LonnieLee.com. 2. Lonnie Lee page from Howlspace [archived].

Thanks to Colin Purssey and Graeme Freeland for research. Thanks also to Gary Myers and Mike Rashkow.

Grady Chapman - Starlight Starbright (1958)

(John Marascalco)

Single on Knight label by former member of The Robins.

Ricky Shaw - Starlight Starbright (1958)

(John Marascalco)

Single on Golden Crest label, January 1958, with the Jack Zimmermann Orchestra.

Portuguese Joe With The Tennessee Rockabillys - Star Light Star Bright (1957)

(John Marascalco)
Original version

Single on Surf label, B-side of Teen Age Riot. Produced by the writer of Starlight Starbright, John Marascalco. Rockin’ Country Style dates the release at November 1957 and has a label shot and audio clip of the 45. Lonnie Lee rearranged the song considerably for his Australian hit version.

Other songs by John Marascalco (b.1931) include the Little Richard hits Good Golly Miss Molly and Rip It Up, both written with Robert ‘Bumps’ Blackwell, and he wrote Fats Domino’s hit Be My Guest with Domino and Tommy Boyce.

Marascalco wrote Johnny O’Keefe’s 1960 hit Don’t You Know (Pretty Baby). Surprisingly, Lonnie Lee’s 1962 recording with that title was a different song.

There is not a much information to be found about Portuguese Joe’s singing career. (Web searches for "Portuguese Joe" will mainly throw up the British Columbian whaling pioneer of the same name.)

These days, he seems to be best known for the A-side, Teen Age Riot, written by Joe S. Alves and Joe East.

Joe Alves is Portuguese Joe’s real name. Alves (b.1936) later became a succesful art director and production designer who has worked on many well-known films, including several with Steven Spielberg. He designed the mechanical sharks for Jaws and the mother ship in Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.

Portuguese Joe released another John Marascalco song on Surf in 1957, Miss Ping Pong. RCS has an audio clip and label shot.

Further reading: Biography of John Marascalco at All Music Guide.

References, further reading: 1. Surf Records by Gary E. Myers discusses Portuguese Joe/Joe Alves. 2. Joe Alves at IMDB and Wikipedia. 3. Re: Portuguese Joe, 2002 post by Michael Proost at The Rockin’ Records Mailing List )Yahoo! Groups). 4. At the now defunct Catalog of Cool’s Screen section [Internet Archive version] he is noted as a "rockabilly cult cat" who appears singing Teenage Riot in a 1955 "super grade-z laugh-fest" movie, Martian Crime Wave .

[nursery Rhyme] - Star Light Star Bright


Star light, star bright,

First star I see tonight

I wish I may, I wish I might,

Have the wish I wish tonight.
– Baring-Gould & Baring-Gould, The Annotated Mother Goose, 1962

Clearly the source of the title, though not the lyrics, of Starlight Starbright.

 The phrase has often been used in popular music, and there are numerous pop songs entitled Starlight Starbright or Star Light Star Bright, notably Linda Scott's Starlight Starbright which charted somewhat in Australia (see below).

Luther Bond & The Emeralds - Starlight Starbright (1954)

(Luther Bond)
Red herring

Same title but not the same song as ‘Starlight Starbright’ by Lonnie Lee.

78 rpm record on Savoy label.

David Seville - Starlight Starbright (1957)

(Ross Bagdasarian)
Red herring

Same title but not the same song as ‘Starlight Starbright’ by Lonnie Lee.

Single on Liberty by artist born Ross Bagdasarian. As David Seville, he had a #1 hit in 1958 with the novelty song Witch Doctor, and topped the charts again in 1959 with The Chipmunk Song.

Nan Castle - Starlight Starbright (1957)

(Sylvia Hicks - Nan Castleberry*)
Red herring

Same title but not the same song as ‘Starlight Starbright’ by Lonnie Lee.

Single on RCA-Victor, June 1957. See details and audio clip at Rockin’ Country Style.

*The single apparently credits Sylvia Hicks alone but Nan Castle (Castleberry) is co-credited at BMI. But Peter Miller emails:
My grandmother (Sylvia Hicks) wrote that many years ago in the middle of the night about her soon-to-be husband, Jack. Nan Castle lives in Greenville, TX (a half hour drive from where our family lives). Nan Castle sang but did not write it. It was so popular locally there was an article in the paper I have stored somewhere.

Jimmy Dean - Starlight Starbright (1958)

(Norman Blagman - Joe Sauter)
Red herring

Same title but not the same song as ‘Starlight Starbright’ by Lonnie Lee.

Pop single on Columbia label, January 1958, by country singer, TV host and actor who crossed over to the pop charts several times, notably with the hits Big Bad John and PT 109. He later formed The Jimmy Dean Meat Company.

For more about Jimmy Dean see Born To Be By Your Side.

Linda Scott - Starlight Starbright (1961)

(Bob Davie - George Weiss)
Red herring
#25 Melbourne #13 Adelaide

Same title but not the same song as ‘Starlight Starbright’ by Lonnie Lee.

Double-sided hit in Adelaide with Don’t Bet Money Honey. In Sydney and Brisbane, it was Don’t Bet Money Honey that charted (#20, #28).