The January 1958 launch of Explorer 1 stirred up more than patriotic pride: A preoccupation with space travel gripped wide swaths of future space age bachelors. Hoping to capitalize on this fascination, Spokane, Washington’s Blue Jeans recorded a song that, according to drummer Dick Baker, “captured the sound of a satellite going into orbit. It was science fiction.” If that sound is a tinkling piano, honking sax, and a howling, wordless female, then that mission was accomplished.
The Jeans began as Two Drips and a Bucket on KXLY’s "Starlet Stairway" talent show, where Baker and accordionist Daryl Bredesen took second place in 1954. “I played a five gallon gas can with a G-string and a crutch,” Baker said of the unorthodox duo. It would be four more years before Baker switched to a proper drum set and enlisted twins Ron and Don Meade on guitar and bass, respectively. Coupled with Bredesen on piano and vocals and Bill Loomis on rhythm guitar, Spokane had its first working rock n’ roll combo up and running by spring 1957. A battle of the bands win gave the quintet the confidence to book time at Irene and Paul Carter’s Sound Recording Company in Spokane, resulting in “Since You’ve Gone” b/w “Lover Lover,” which was released on their own Blue Records imprint in May 1960. That release caught the ear of Dolton Records minority shareholder Bonnie Guitar, who invited the group to Seattle, where she produced four songs at Kearney Barton’s Northwest Recorders. When the Dolton brass passed to double down on the Fleetwoods’ “Mr. Blue,” the Blue Jeans grabbed the reel and hightailed it back to Spokane.
Operating out of a bus plaza 35 miles east in downtown Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Genevieve and Chester Adkins’s Souvenir Records began as a record shop 1957. Charlie Ryan’s “Hot Rod Lincoln” was the first single on the label, followed two years later by the Playboys’ “Hawaiian War Chant.” Though Souvenir had a rudimentary studio set up at their 226 Sherman Avenue location, many of the label’s recordings were made 35 miles west at Sound Recording Company. After issuing a stirring rendition of “Caravan” by the Sofisticats, Souvenir made the Blue Jeans their second signing outside of the Gem State. Driven by new addition Garth Andrews’ yakin’ sax, 1961’s “Cool Martini” was something of a regional hit that April, and even inspired its own G-rated drink, consisting of half a glass of Squirt, a jigger of 7-Up, a spoonful of lemon, and a dash of sugar, to be topped off with orange juice. The Blue Jeans-backed “I Need A Woman” for the Four Kings hit a few months later, and it seemed the Jeans were on the cusp of something big. When it came time to cut the next record, the Blue Jeans were poised to deploy a secret weapon.
“We’d placed fifth at the Sadir Khan Grotto Talent Show,” recalled Baker, “and Candy Schumaker had come in first. She had such a unique voice, we just knew we had to do something with it.” $500 richer for her efforts, the twelve-year-old Schumaker was invited into the studio to lay down her operatic wail on the Blue Jeans space epic “Moon Mist.” It would be her only recording. The October 1960 release of “Moon Mist” b/w “D.J. Theme” would be the group’s final recordings, as Brederson took a job in California and the Blue Jeans frayed in late 1961. Baker’s relationship with the Adkins’ continued, resulting in two more unique discs for Souvenir, including the Treble Tones “Guitar Movement” and Baker’s debut solo single “Hold Me.” It would be the final release on Souvenir. “I went by there a year later and the place was just gone,” Baker remembered. “They up and disappeared.”
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