LSC-PA centennial celebration includes ‘oldies’ music show
As part of its 100-year celebration during the first week of October, Lamar State College-Port Arthur will present an Oct. 2 concert of oldies music featuring well-known recording artists The Dixie Cups, Johnny Preston, Troy Shondell and Jivin’ Gene Bourgeois.
The Dixie Cups are best known for their No. 1 single from 1964, “Chapel of Love,” a song written by legendary record producer Phil Spector along with songwriters Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, which Spector originally intended to record with The Ronettes, another girl group that included his wife, Ronnie.
The Dixie Cups – sisters, Barbara and Rosa Hawkins and their cousin Joan Johnson – grew up in New Orleans and were first called Little Miss and the Muffets, but the name was changed just before their first record was released.
The group also hit the charts with “People Say” (No. 12 in 1964), “You Should Have Seen the Way He Looked at Me” (No. 39 in 1964), “Iko Iko” (No. 20 in 1965) and “Little Bell” (No. 51 in 1965).
Johnny Preston, whose smash hit “Running Bear“ sold three million records and reached No. 1 in 1960, was discovered by Beaumont radio disc jockey J.P. Richarson, also known as “The Big Bopper,” who wrote “Running Bear” and also had a 1958 hit on “Chantilly Lace” before he died in a plane crash with singers Buddy Holly and Richie Valens. Preston also had chart hits in the 1960s with “Feel So Fine,” “Cradle of Love,” “Free Me” and “Leave My Kitten Alone.”
Troy Shondell broke into the national music charts in 1961 with “This Time (We’re Really Breaking Up),” which sold three million copies.
Prior to that hit, Shondell recorded under the name Gary Shelton and released a record titled “Kissing at the Drive-In.”
Port Arthur native Jivin’ Gene (Bourgeois) was 19 years old when he and his band, The Jokers, hit the charts with “Going Out with the Tide,” which was produced by well-known record company owner Floyd Soileau. Gene followed that hit with “Breaking Up is Hard to Do,” which reached No. 69 and stayed on the national charts four weeks.
Gene appeared on national TV shows and toured throughout the country with many well known singers and bands. He recorded several follow-up records in the early 1960s, but their popularity was confined to jukeboxes and AM radio in East Texas and Southwest Louisiana.
Gene was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 1993, the Museum of the Gulf Coast Music Hall of Fame in 1995 and received the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame Living Legend Award in 2003.
He stopped singing for about 18 years, but never lost the desire for music and singing. In the early 1980s, the 1950s and ‘60s music became popular again and gave Bourgeois the opportunity to perform.
Through the years, Gene wrote songs hoping someone would record them, but no luck.
In 2009, with the encouragement from fellow musicians, friends and family, Gene once again teamed up with Floyd Soileau to record those songs and release a new compact disc titled “It’s Never Too Late.”
“Solid Gold Rock ‘n’ Roll Show VI” begins at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1 in the Carl Parker Center, 1800 Lakeshore Drive on the Lamar State Campus. Admission is $20 at the door.