Pop Archives

Matt Flinders - Picking Up Pebbles (1969)

(Johnny Curtis)
Australia Australia
#5 Sydney #1 Melbourne #5 Brisbane #5 Adelaide #1 Perth #20 NZ

Single on Astor label, produced by Ron Tudor. The B-side was Susan Walks Away, an original by Aussie songwriter Peter Best, also the B-side in the US (see below).

Matt Flinders: singer, bassist, band leader and TV entertainer, born in Egypt of French-Italian-British background, in Australia since 1951. Formerly known as Louis Bonett, his adopted name would sound familiar to most Australians through the name of the explorer and chartmaker Matthew Flinders (1774-1814).

Released in the USA on Jerden label, Seattle, #J914, 1969. See Global Dog for an accurate Jerden discography. Other online Jerden discographies dating this record as 1967 are wrong. Australian Sheet music shows 1967, but this is the copyright date of the song.

References: 1. Jerden discography at Global Dog. 2. Matt Flinders by Matt Flinders [archived page]. 3. Australian sheet music listing (various online dealers).

Further reading: Matt Flinders at Wikipedia.

Thanks to Terry Stacey, and to Tony through The Originals Problemsolving Forum.

Carmen Silva - Adeus Solidao (1969)

(Johnny Curtis - Newton Miranda)
Brazil Brazil
#1 Sao Paulo

#1 Brazil? Seems likely. I don't have weekly chart runs for Brazil but Billboard has this at #1 in Sao Paulo and #4 in Rio de Janeiro in its edition of 1 August 1970. Playback.fm has it at #39  in Brazil for 1970 and it made their 1971 chart as well.

Portuguese-language version of Picking Up Pebbles (Adeus Solidão = Goodbye Loneliness).

Single on RCA Victor. Charted in 1970This release from Portugal is on a 1969 EP.

Adeus Solidão was a breakthrough in the career of popular Brazilian singer Carmen Silva (1945-2016) after she won a major Brazilian TV contest Um Cantor por um Milhão, um Milhão por uma Canção ("A Singer for a Million, a Million for a Song"). 

Still a fondly remembered song in Brazil, going by the number of comments in Portuguese under the Matt Flinders version at YouTube.

Further reading: Carmen Silva at Portuguese Wikipedia.

Disambiguation: This is not the Brazilian actress Carmen Silva, aka Carmem Silva, who died in 2008 at the age of 92.

Cornelia - Picking Up Pebbles (1968)

(Johnny Curtis)
South Africa South Africa
#1 South Africa #1 Zimbabwe

Single on RCA Victor YouTube by Cornelia Muller, born in Hamburg, Germany in 1950, in South Africa since early childhood.

This was the #2 best-selling song in South Africa for 1968 (see South Africa's Rock Lists).

Also released in 1968 in the USA on RCA.

Further reading: Cornelia biography at reverbnation.com. (One error: Johnny Curtis-Bobby Kerr was not an Australian.)

Johnny Curtis - Pickin’ Up Pebbles (1968)

(Johnny Curtis)
Original version

Single on Major Minor, the British label owned by pirate station Radio Caroline, set up in 1966 by Caroline board member Phil Solomon. Major Minor records were heavily plugged on Radio Caroline, often to the annoyance of its disc jockeys.

Johnny Curtis (b. Bobby Kerr) was a singer-songwiter from Glasgow who had sung with Bob Miller And His Band. He also recorded with Scotttish soul star Maggie Bell as Frankie & Johnny: listen to their single I’ll Hold You (Patterson-Bell-Kerr) at YouTube. Johnny Curtis died in a traffic accident in 1969.

Pickin' Up Pebbles was produced by Nick Firth who was the general manager in London of Acuff-Rose, the Nashville music publisher that also owned the Nashville record label Hickory. The musical director was Lew Warburton, credited on many British records as composer, conductor or arranger.

Following the launch of Acuff-Rose's London office in 1965, the company went into independent record production, with Nick Firth himself producing some British recordings of Acuff-Rose songs. These resulted in single releases by Mia Lewis and Jeff And Jon on Parlophone, The Cuppa T on Deram, The Art Movement on Decca, and Vincent Zarra on Columbia.

Apart from Picking Up Pebbles, Firth produced two earlier Johnny Curtis singles that were released on Parlophone: Our Love's Disintegrating/(I'd Be) A Legend In My Own Time (1966), and Jack In The Beanstalk/Go On Back (1967).

Acuff-Rose's Nashville label Hickory also released Curtis's Go On Back, a version of a Dan Fogel song first released on Hickory in 1966.

Nick Firth is the grandson of Louis Dreyfus, co-founder of Chappell & Co, Acuff-Rose's affiliate in the UK. He later became a prominent music publishing executive, notably as head of BMG Music Publishing Worldwide.

The song was copyrighted in 1967, according to the sheet music. In the US the copyright was registered in January 1969.

1. Johnny Curtis's UK releases at 45Cat.com.
2. Singles produced by Nick Firth, listed at 45Cat.com. 
3. Billboard, 15 May 1965, "UK's Acuff-Rose Starts Rolling".
4. Billboard, 27 April 1968, Acuff-Rose's Nick Firth produced current singles by the Art Movement, Cuppa T and Johnny Curtis.
5. Profile of Nick Firth (2002) from SongwriterUniverse [archived page].
6. Nicholas Firth entry at Wikipedia.
7. Major Minor Records entry at Wikipedia.
8. Major Minor Records at IrishRock.org. (The label had an Irish owner and recorded a number of Irish artists, including The Dubliners.)

Thank you to Joop Jansen, Kees van der Hoeven, Brian Lee and snowiebowie.

Pat Boone - Picking Up Pebbles (1970)

(Johnny Curtis)
Later version

Single on Capitol YouTube by popular clean-cut 50s teen idol who had his first #1 hit in 1955 with a crooning version of Fats Domino's Ain't That A Shame. He finished his chart run in 1962 with Speedy Gonzales (#6 USA), his 38th Billboard Top 40 appearance, a cover of the more raucous original from the year before by David Dante, one of the song's writers.

Further reading: 1. Label shot of German issue of the single at discogs.com. 2. Wikipedia's Pat Boone entry.

Image: Pat Boone from Australia's Chuckler's Weekly: see my blog.

Max Bygraves - Picking Up Pebbles

(Johnny Curtis)
Later version


Single on Pye 7N.45105, B-side of Tonight I Started Loving You, by British entertainer and TV star (1922-2012), often on the UK charts from the early 50s, lived in Australia from 2008. Also released in Australia by Astor.

Also on 1980 Pye single with a different A-side.

Further reading: 1. Max Bygraves entry at Wikipedia. 2. MaxBygraves.com.

Val Ross - Pickin’ Up Pebbles (2013)

(Johnny Curtis)
Later version

Recent revival by a close friend of Johnny Curtis (Bobby Kerr), released as a YouTube presentation. YouTube

Further reading: 1. At YouTube: Val Ross – Picking Up Pebbles with commentary about Johnny Curtis. 2. Val Ross's website which has further information.

Thanks to Jacqui.