Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

“Wildsville”: All in the Family (part 1)

A good ten years before The Beatles pioneered the concept of “double A-side” singles, The Loreleis – two young ladies from the Detroit area, Gail Menefee and Peggy Reinagle – were knocking it out of the park with their two-run homer, “You’re So Nice to Be Near” b/w “Wildsville.”

[Pssst:  Click the triangle above to play “You’re So Nice to Be Near” by The Loreleis.]

[Pssst:  Click the triangle above to play “Wildsville” by The Loreleis.]

Menefee, as it turns out, is my aunt, and the fact that my dad’s brother’s wife was once in a “singing group” – before marriage and family changed the course of history – has always added a bit of luster to our family lore.  However, the fact that this 45 hit the Billboard Top 100 – reaching the #91 spot during the week of November 12, 1955 – somehow eluded the attention of our family’s East Coast contingent until recently rediscovered by my brother, Bryan, and as corroborated by information from the 45Cat website. 

Original compositions on both sides

In the great Beatle tradition

Wildsville 78 rpm

Further probing would also reveal Cash Box, in its October 22, 1955 edition, to have selected this single as one of their “Best Bets” deemed “most likely to achieve popularity,” with “Wildsville” lauded as a “cute little zany novelty” number, “pertly styled” and with “a catchy bounce beat and lyrics.”

Images of the vinyl itself reveal –

Single released as both a 45 and 78

78s were on their way out in the mid 1950s

Billboard‘s Oct. 15, 1955 singles review would identify The Loreleis as a “group to be watched” and heap similar praise on “Wildsville”:

This slick novelty is bound to arouse interest in teenage circles. The girls do a good. job on the funny lyrics, and are solidly backed by a driving band.

Peggy Reinagle & Gail Menefee


More intriguing than the record hitting the national charts is the fact that “You’re So Nice to Be Near,” a dreamy ballad, was designated the A-side while “Wildsville” – an infectiously upbeat number with a clever geographically-themed lyric – strikes me as the obvious song to lead with.  Or, to use a Beatles analogy, “Wildsville” is the “Hello Goodbye” to “You’re So Nice to Be Near”‘s “I Am the Walrus.”   I would love to know if the radio DJs were flipping the record over and playing the “B-side” — perhaps at least a few of them were, given the record’s performance in the marketplace.

But wait!  This piece from The Wyandotte News Herald (c. 1955) directly contradicts 45Cat’s assertion that “Wildsville” was the single’s B-side: 

Georgie Shaw and the Loreleis
Enjoying Zooming Sale of Latest Popular Records


They’re Wildsville!  They’re two of the most popular recording stars right now — and just barely out of their teens.

They call themselves [T]heLoreleis, and their names are Peggy Reinagle and Gail Menefee of Wyandotte.

Not only do the girls make smart harmony, but they also write many of their own songs.  They wrote “Wildsville” (a show business term for fabulous or wonderful) along with Bob Cordell, their road manager, of the way back from a club date in the east.

“Wildsville,” a clever novelty, was the main side of their record, which is really going places now.  But it’s the flip side which really has Detroit teen-agers flipping:  “You’re So Nice To Be Near,” a smooth ballad, also written by the girls.

Peggy and Gail got together as sophomores at Roosevelt High, Wyandotte, one day in homeroom, where they used to harmonize under their breath.  “Remember the dirty looks we used to get from that poor homeroom teacher?” Peggy laughingly asked Gail.


Wyandotte’s own Joyland Record Shop



The pair sang at social affairs, dances, talent contests — anywhere they could get a spot.

It was after they won a talent contest at school that they got a contract making singing commercials.

After that they rose fast.  Joe Siracuse of Spotlight [R]ecords, heard them and they started making records for the new company.  Their first was “I Won’t Let You Go” (again their own composition); followed by “Certainly Baby[reviewed in Cash Box‘s July 23, 1955 edition], which did very well for them.

Their current record is their best yet, receiving lots of record play in Detroit.

When the girls appeared for their interview, they looked exactly like extra-pretty high school girls.  Gail is a lovely redhead; Peggy a vivacious blond.

The girls still live with their families in Wyandotte when they’re not on the road.  Peggy’s younger sister’s girl friend, Marilyn Galucci, has started a fan club for them.  Teens who would like to join the Loreleis’ Fan Club may write to them at Spotlight, 5840 Second, Detroit 2.

The Loreleis are in Detroit this week, playing a club date with Georgie Shaw, whose recording of “No Arms Can Ever Hold You” has made the top ten lists in Detroit, even though it’s less than a month old — “It’s only been on the retail market about two weeks,” says Georgie.


Peggy & Gail

Rising stars



Fascinating to see The Loreleis share the stage with such heavy hitters as LaVern Baker, Johnny (‘Guitar’) Watson, The Johnny Burnette Trio, and future MBE, Lonnie ‘King of Skiffle’ Donegan, in a special show organized by legendary CKLW disk jockey, Robin Seymour, who spent his first 18 years at Detroit’s WKMH (see ad below):

[Pssst:  Click the triangle above to hear a vintage ID from radio station WKMH]


Check out this German roots rock chatboard thread devoted to The Loreleis!  Chatboard contributor Gerd Miller helpfully posts this 1955-57 Loreleis discography:

01 55 …. 45-15268 …. THE LORELEIS..Run Around / Now I’m Broken Hearted
?? 55 …. 385 …. THE LORELEIS..Tears Of Love / 386 …. I Will Not Let You Go
?? 55 …. 388 …. THE LORELEIS Arranged and Conducted by George Annis .. Certainly Baby / I’ll Be There
10 55 …. 390 …. THE LORELEIS Arranged & Conducted by George Annis .. Wildsville / You’re So Nice to Be Near
12 56 …. 7-1024 …. THE LORELEIS With LEW DOUGLAS & His Orchestra = Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy / Your Love
04 57 …. 7-1032 …. THE LORELEIS With LEW DOUGLAS & His Orchestra = Leave The Door Open / But Why?
?? 64 …. 55271 …. THE LORELEIS..A Strange Way / Why Do I Put Up With You

Miller notes the interval between Bally and Brunswick releases and asks* (on behalf of music history), “Is this really the same vocal group?

Spotlight Records

Includes some of Bob Crewe’s earliest work

Fortunately, Zero to 180 can clear all this up with a phone call to Gail Menefee Richardson herself.  Our subsequent phone interview would yield lots of relevant new information [along with additional sleuthing in January, 2024]:

  • The Loreleis brief time on Dot (founded 1950, acquired 1957 by Paramount Pictures) was a miserable one, as the label sat on their original recording of “Run Around” until another arrangement of the same song appeared in the marketplace, thus conspiring to make The Loreleis appear, unjustly, as “copycats.”
  • The Loreleis had, at one time, three people each serving as manager:  George Annis, their arranger, Bob Cordell (former-Detroit-disk-jockey-turned-label-owner, who also managed The Hi-Lo’s and The Four Freshmen), and the owner of Spotlight Records, Joe Siracuse (engineer at Detroit United Sound Systems).
  • 45Cat validates the fact that, based on catalog number, The Loreleis were the inaugural release for Spotlight Records (“I Won’t Let You Go” b/w “Tears of Love”), a label also significant as a launch point for singer/songwriter and producer Bob CreweDid Crewe and The Loreleis ever intersect, artistically, I wondered aloud?  Indeed they had, replied Richardson, who pointed Zero to 180 to “I’ll Be There” by The Loreleis (flip side of “Certainly Baby“), a song composed “in the studio” — i.e., United Sound Systems, the Detroit recording facility that hosted the first session for Berry Gordy’s Tamla label in 1959 [whose asking price, according to this June 15, 2018 news item, is $1.5 million; The Detroit Free Press reports in its January 11, 2019 edition that “the Michigan Department of Transportation has purchased the historic recording studio for $1.7 million and plans to relocate it.”] 


Composed at Detroit’s United Sound Systems

(image courtesy of Detroit Patch)

  • Cash Box‘s July 23, 1955 singles review has kind words for “Certainly Baby” (“A tune from the R & B field, is potently styled for the pop market by the Loreleis – thrushes have a great sound and disk is already making noise”), as well as “I’ll Be There” (“this half is a contagious jumper cleverly handled by the larks – cute ditty”).  BMI‘s ‘Check List of New Record Ratings‘ (below) published in Billboard‘s August 27, 1955 issue shows three versions of “Certainly Baby” – penned by Bob Crewe and Frank Slay, Jr. – then in current release.  The assumption is that The Loreleis recorded the “original” version of “Certainly Baby.”  However, Charlie And Ray’s recording was released April, 1955 (according to 45Cat), four months before The Loreleis’s single came out that August.  Oddly, Sunny Gale’s recording of “Certainly Baby” (also released August, 1955) gives songwriting credit to neither Crewe nor Slay but rather Charles Jones.


Three versions of “Certainly Baby” –

Which one is the original?

  • Billboard‘s June 18, 1955 edition, additionally, informs me that Bob Crewe and The Loreleis had performed together in front of an estimated 11,000 music fans at the University of Detroit’s Field House as part of the third annual ‘teen age fete’ organized by the United Music Operaters of Michigan.  Furthermore, just a couple weeks prior, the United Music Operators had selected Crewe and The Loreleis to kick off a special program at Detroit’s Fort Wayne Hotel that hoped to facilitate “a co-operative tie-in between recording artists” and the UMO, as reported in an article entitled, “Operator-Disk Artist Tie-In Sparked by UMO” in Billboard‘s May 28, 1955 edition:


“The Loreleis will debut their “Tears of Love” and “I Won’t Let You Go,” and vocalist Bob Crewe will introduce his “Rhythm and the Blues” and “Bumblebee” during the June 6 meeting, kicking off the program”


  • George Annis, key to the success behind popular singing group, The Gaylords, also enabled the two singers, Menefee and Reinagle, opportunities to pen material outside The Loreleis — including “Honey Baby,” a song that would enjoy release in far-flung Australia, thanks to Mercury’s worldwide distribution [Lead singer, Ronnie Gaylord, Richardson informs Zero to 180, was not only the manager of the Club Cliche, where The Loreleis performed, but a Mercury solo artist, as well].


1955 Gaylords EP


1955 Gaylords EP



  • Yep, it’s really true:  The Loreleis’ next (and final) recording label, Bally, would be the same company that makes pinball machines prized the world over!  Bally released a pair of Loreleis 45s in 1956-57, neither (unwisely) containing any Reinagle/Menefee originals.  Cash Box‘s December 15, 1956 edition would pick The Loreleis as a ‘Best Bet‘ for “Your Love” [“the girls have an ultra-commercial sound and a strong piece of rock and roll teenage material to work with”], while its April 6, 1957 edition, would once again pick The Loreleis as a ‘Best Bet‘ for “I’ll Leave the Door Open” (“pretty blend that comes over well on this touching tune – could create some noise“) paired with “But Why” (“Here the gals rhythm thru an interesting, tearful ballad with today’s popular rock and roll beat“).  Billboard‘s review from that same week pegs “But Why” (“the fems chirp with feeling on an effective Bob Merrill ballad with rock and roll backing – could move with proper exposure”) as the stronger of the two sides.


The Loreleis on Bally Records in 1956

Backed by Lew Douglas & His Orchestra


July 28, 1956 issue of Cash Box

Includes Lew Douglas of Loreleis fame

Unforgiveable typo – “Lorelies


  • Zero to 180 was initially puzzled why searches of the 45Cat database for “Menefee” were yielding too few songs, until it quckly became apparent all the variant (incorrect) spellings, such as “Menafee” (as it is mis-transcribed in Discogs) and, my favorite, “Mennafee” (no wait, “Menasee“).


Mennafee” on the label

Both here in the US, as well as Down Under

Menasee” & “Reiagle“-

As mis-spelled on The Loreleis debut 45

Cash Box‘s Jan. 29, 1955 review



The Loreleis – “Dot Artists

UMO ad in Cash Box‘s Dec. 15, 1954 issue

  • Finally, in response to Gerd Miller’s query that launched this discographical quest, that 1964 Brunswick 45* (as you probably have already deduced) belongs to a different singing group that shares the name, The Loreleis (someone will need to notify Discogs).


Bally ad

Cash Box

Dec. 8, 1956

  • Finally, if you scrutinize the 45 labels of The Loreleis’ discography, you will see that the publishing name “Najo” appears on some (“I Won’t Let You Go”; “Wildsville”; “I’ll Be There”) but not all of Peggy and Gail’s original compositions — “Siran” is another publishing name that turns up (“Now I’m Broken-Hearted”; “You’re So Nice To Be Near”).  Discogs has an entry for Najo (BMI-affiliated), one of three publishing names listed, fascinatingly enough, on La Vern Baker’s “Jim Dandy Got Married” from 1957.



U.S. Place Names Cited in “Wildsville”
From Asheville to Zanesville

-Steubenville, Ohio

-Asheville, North Carolina

-Louisville, Kentucky

-Nashville, Tennessee

-Jacksonville, Florida

– Knoxville, Tennessee

-Evansville, Indiana

-Brownsville, Texas

-Charlottesville, Virginia

-Greenville, South Carolina

-Belleville, Michigan

-Northville, Michigan

-Fayetteville, Arkansas

-Zanesville, Ohio

-Meadville, Pennsylvania

-Gainesville, Florida


LINK to All in the Family (Part 2)

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