RON HARGRAVE

Born Ronald Jay Hargrave, 8 November 1929, Brooklyn, New York.

Ron Hargrave was born into a family of vaudeville performers. In 1936 he moved with his parents from New York City to Los Angeles. After graduating from high school in Palm Springs, he aspired to a movie career. The early 1950s saw him doing minor stunt work and playing bit parts in mostly low-budget movies. Then he got drafted and, at some point of his military service, he met Lou Costello (half of Abbott & Costello), who promised to become his manager once he was back in civilian life. After a string of uncredited bit parts, Hargrave finally got a featured role, in the final Abbott & Costello film, "Dance With Me Henry" (1956), where he played the role of Ernie the hipster. This put him in a position to play a comic version of a young rock n roller and certainly helped in getting a contract as a singer. It was Lou Costello who put Hargrave in touch with Jesse Kaye, west coast head of A & R for MGM Records.

Ron's first release was "Too Late"/"A Fool Am I" (MGM 12344), released in October 1956, but far more interesting was his second single, recorded on November 14, 1956, at Radio Recorders in Holly- wood. "Latch On", previously recorded by Eddie and Hank Cochran, was given a solid rockabilly treatment (MGM 12422). There even was a British pressing (MGM 956), which is now exceptionally rare. The third MGM single, "Should Have Been Home In Bed" (mid-1958), is unknown to me. In October 1958, Hargraves was switched to MGM's Cub subsidiary, for which he recorded the single "Drive In Movie"/ "Buttercup" (Cub K 9025). Both sides were co-written by Ron and covered by artists who were then still relatively unknown : "Drive In Movie" by Mickey Gilley and "Buttercup" by Bob Luman. But Ron Hargrave is probably best known as the writer of "High School Confidential". Early in 1958, by way of his association with MGM Records, he was asked to write the title theme to the movie "High School Confidential" (starring Mamie van Doren, Russ Tamblyn, Jackie Coogan and others), which was being shot on the MGM studio lot.. Jerry Lee Lewis was seen singing and playing the song from the back of a flatbed truck in one of the most famous opening credit sequences in movie history. Through a deal worked out by Jerry's manager, Oscar Davis, Lewis also received a co-writing credit. "High School Confidential" is still Hargrave's biggest earner, though, and also the high point of his songwriting career. Lewis and Hargrave got along well and Jerry asked Ron to work with him on the road in the months immediately preceding his fall from grace.

Ron's movie career lasted only until 1960, his last big-screen appearance coming in 1960, as a Hawaiian singer in Mervyn LeRoy's comedy "Wake Me When It's Over". But his singing career continued for another decade or so. From MGM, Hargrave went to Capitol, and scored a hit in Japan with "Lonely Soldier Boy" in 1968. He toured there twice. He's a bit cagey about his activities since then.

Acknowledgements:
- All Music Guide (article by Bruce Eder)
- Bill Millar, Liner notes for "That'll Flat Git It, Vol. 7 : Rockabilly From the Vaults Of MGM Records" (Bear Family BCD 15789). This CD includes "Latch On" and "Drive In Movie".

Dik

 
These pages were saved from "This Is My Story" for reference usage only. Please note that these pages were not originally published or written by BlackCat Rockabilly Europe. For comments or information please contact Dik de Heer at dik.de.heer@ziggo.nl

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