Joanie Sommers (born Joan Drost, Buffalo, New York, February 24, 1941) is an American singer and actress with a career concentrating on jazz, standards and popular material and show-business credits. Once billed as "The Voice of the Sixties", and associated with top-notch arrangers, songwriters and producers, Sommers' popular reputation became closely tied to her biggest, yet most uncharacteristic, hit song, "Johnny Get Angry".
Sommers circa 1960s
|Birth name||Joan Drost|
|Born||February 24, 1941|
Buffalo, New York, United States
|Years active||1960s–1970s, 1980s|
Sommers began singing in church choirs as a way to deal with "a difficult childhood", and in 1951 at age 10, appeared on a Buffalo television program singing Hank Williams' "Your Cheating Heart", winning an amateur talent contest. In 1955 the family relocated to Venice, California. Sommers went on to win honors as a vocalist with her high school band at Venice High, and did so again at Santa Monica City College.
Her break came after a friend took her to the Deauville Country Club (now Braemar Country Club) where she sang with arranger-composer Tommy Oliver whose band was resident at the time. Oliver arranged for a demo record to be cut and presented it to Warner Brothers, whereupon Sommers was signed to the label.
Warner initially used her vocal talents singing "Am I Blue" on a 1959 Warner specialty record, Behind Closed Doors at a Recording Session, and on one side of the spoken-word single "Kookie's Love Song" with Edd Byrnes. The pairing with Byrnes led to a small role in 77 Sunset Strip, the television series that featured Byrnes in the role of Kookie. In addition, she sang on Byrnes' I Don't Dig You and Hot Rod Rock which appeared on one of his albums.
Her 1960 debut single "One Boy" (from the musical Bye Bye Birdie) charted for three months, peaking at #54 on the Billboard Top 100. Both "One Boy" and the flip side "I'll Never Be Free" were Billboard Spotlight Winners. A subsequent touring schedule included venues such as New York's Left Bank Club, Hollywood's Crescendo, Freddie's in Minneapolis, and The Cloister in Chicago, and appearances on the Jack Paar Show and Bobby Darin Special.
In early 1960, Warner released Sommers' first LP, Positively the Most, which did not include the One Boy hit single. Later that year, Warner released the single "Ruby-Duby-Du", featuring a vocal version of the Tobin Mathews & Co. instrumental from the movie Key Witness. The record did not chart.
In 1962, her single "Johnny Get Angry", released on Warner Bros. Records, reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100. "When the Boys Get Together" charted at #94 later the same year. In a 2001 interview, Sommers commented on the legacy of her greatest hit: "Twenty albums with some of the greatest names in jazz and I'm eternally linked to Johnny Get Angry."
Her 1965 track, "Don't Pity Me" (Warner Bros. 5629 – "Don't Pity Me" / "My Block"), was a Northern Soul hit in the UK and often features on Northern Soul top lists. The 45RPM record routinely changes hands among collectors at over $500 a copy. The latter song, "My Block", was written by Jimmy Radcliffe, Bert Berns and Carl Spencer and had previously been recorded by Clyde McPhatter on his Songs Of the Big City album and by The Chiffons, recording as The Four Pennies on Rust Records.
Throughout the 1960s Sommers appeared on television as a singer and game show contestant, including shows such as Everybody's Talking, Hollywood Squares, You Don't Say, and The Match Game, as well as a performer on Dick Clark's Where the Action Is, Hullabaloo, and other variety shows. In 1963 she appeared on the January 22 segment of The Jack Benny Program, where she sang "I'll Never Stop Loving You"; another guest was actor Peter Lorre.
Sommers' acting credits include Everything's Ducky (1961) opposite Mickey Rooney, and Jack Arnold's The Lively Set (1964), in which she sang "If You Love Him". In the last episode of The Wild Wild West "The Night of the Tycoons" 11 April 1969 she sang "Dreams, Dreams of a Lady's Love".
In a parallel career track of commercial vocal work, Sommers sang "It's Pepsi, For Those Who Think Young" (to the tune of "Makin' Whoopee") and, later, "Come Alive! You're in the Pepsi Generation" in commercials. She came to be referred to as "The Pepsi Girl". Years later she sang the jingle "Now You See It, Now You Don't" for the sugar-free companion product, Diet Pepsi.
Sommers' voice work for animated films includes The Peppermint Choo Choo, which was scrubbed, although the music was released; Rankin/Bass' The Mouse on the Mayflower as Priscilla Mullins (1968); and B.C.: The First Thanksgiving (1973) in dual roles as the Fat Broad and the Cute Chick.
In the early 1970s, Sommers withdrew from show business to focus on family life. She began making public appearances again during the 1980s, including two on KCRW's satirical radio program, The Cool & the Crazy, hosted by Art Fraud (Ronn Spencer) and Vic Tripp (Gene Sculatti).
In 2001, Sommers sang two songs on Abe Most's Camard album, I Love You Much too Much. She performed the title track and "Bei Mir Bist du Schoen." She sang a chorus in Yiddish on both tracks.
Sommers was married to theatrical agent Jerry Steiner from 1961 until his sudden death in 1972. Their three children are Carolyn, Nancy and Jason.
Both sides from same album except where indicated
|Record label||Chart positions||Album|
Billboard Hot 100
|1959||"Kookie's Love Song"
With Edd Byrnes & The Mary Kaye Trio
b/w Sing-along version by Edd Byrnes
|Warner Bros. 5114||—||—||Non-album tracks|
b/w "I'll Never Be Free" (Non-album track)
|Warner Bros. 5157||54||—||Johnny Get Angry|
|"Be My Love"
b/w "Why Don't You Do Right (Get Me Some Money Too)"
|Warner Bros. 5177||—||—||Non-album tracks|
b/w "Bob White (Whatcha Gonna Swing Tonight?)"
|Warner Bros. 5183||—||—|
|1961||"I Don't Want To Walk Without You"
b/w "Seems Like Long, Long Ago"
|Warner Bros. 5201||—||—||Johnny Get Angry|
|"The Piano Boy"
b/w "Serenade Of The Bells" (Non-album track)
|Warner Bros. 5226||—||—|
b/w "What's Wrong With Me"
|Warner Bros. 5241||—||—||Non-album tracks|
|1962||"Johnny Get Angry"
b/w "Theme from A Summer Place"
|Warner Bros. 5275||7||—||Johnny Get Angry|
|"When The Boys Get Together"
b/w "Passing Strangers"
|Warner Bros. 5308||94||—||Non-album tracks|
b/w "Bobby's Hobbies"
|Warner Bros. 5324||—||—|
|1963||"Since Randy Moved Away"
b/w "Memories, Memories" (Non-album track)
|Warner Bros. 5339||—||—||Johnny Get Angry|
|"A Little Bit Of Everything"
b/w "Henny Penny"
|Warner Bros. 5350||—||—||Non-album tracks|
b/w "June Is Bustin' Out All Over"
|Warner Bros. 5361||—||—||Johnny Get Angry|
|"Little Girl Bad"
b/w "Wishing Well"
|Warner Bros. 5374||132||—||Non-album tracks|
b/w "Goodbye Summer"
|Warner Bros. 5390||—||—|
|1964||"I'd Be So Good For You"
b/w "I'm Gonna Know He's Mine"
|Warner Bros. 5437||—||—|
|"If You Love Him"
b/w "I Think I'm Gonna Cry Now"
|Warner Bros. 5454||—||—|
|1965||"Don't Pity Me"
b/w "My Block"
|Warner Bros. 5629||—||—|
|1966||"Never Throw Your Dreams Away"
b/w "You've Got Possibilities"
b/w "You Take What Comes Along" (from Come Alive!)
|"It Doesn't Matter Anymore"
b/w "Take A Broken Heart"
|1967||"Trains and Boats and Planes"
b/w "Yesterday's Morning"
|1968||"Talk Until Daylight"
b/w "The Great Divide"
|Warner Bros. 7251||—||29|
|1969||"Little Girl From Greenwood, Georgia"
b/w "Step Inside Love"
|Happy Tiger 522||—||—|
|1970||"The Sunshine After The Rain"
b/w "Tell Him"
|Happy Tiger 537||—||—|
|1978||"The Peppermint Choo Choo"
b/w "The Peppermint Engineer"
|Peppermint Choo Choo 302
- 1960: Positively the Most! Warner Bros. W1346
- 1961: The "Voice" of the 60's Warner Bros. W1412
- 1962: Look Out! It's Joanie Sommers (with Bobby Troup and Shelly Manne)
- 1962: For Those Who Think Young Warner Bros. W1436
- 1962: Johnny Get Angry Warner Bros. W1470
- 1962: Let's Talk About Love Warner Bros W1474
- 1963: Sommers' Seasons Warner Bros. WS1504
- 1964: Softly, the Brazilian Sound Warner Bros. WS1575
- 1965: Come Alive! Columbia CS 9295
- 1966: On the Flip Side – Original Cast Album (w/ Rick Nelson, cuts 2, 4 and 8) Decca 4824
- 1982: Dream Discovery Records DS-887
- 1988: Tangerine HiBrite PCB-203
- 1992: A Fine Romance HiBrite HTCP-10
- 1995: Hits and Rareties Marginal MAR-001
- 2000: Here, There and Everywhere! Absord ABCJ 313
- 2000: Johnny Got Angry Absord ABCJ 314
- 2005: Sings Bossa Nova Absord ABCJ 339
- 2011: Complete Warner Bros. Singles Real Gone Music
- 2013: Come Alive—The Complete Columbia Recordings Real Gone Music
- "Jazz Columns: Joanie Sommers: Her Generation – By Christopher Loudon — Jazz Articles". Jazztimes.com. Retrieved 2012-03-27.
- "New Faces: Sommers Is Icumen On". TIME. 1961-12-15. Retrieved 2012-03-27.
- Billboard July 11, 1960 p. 34
- Billboard December 7, 1959 p. 40
- Billboard October 19, 1959 p. 45
- Seida, Linda (1941-02-24). "Joanie Sommers". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-03-27.
- Warner Bros. W1474 album Let's Talk About Love liner notes
- Billboard May 30, 1960 p. 28
- Warner Bros. W1412 album The "Voice" of the 60's liner notes
- Billboard February 22, 1960, p. 34
- Billboard November 14, 1960, p. 17
- "Joanie Sommers Songs (Top Songs / Chart Singles Discography)". Musicvf.com. Retrieved 2012-03-27.
- "AWN.com...Will Ryan...Nine And A Half Questions with Joanie Sommers". Awn.com. Retrieved 2017-09-13.
- "Rocklist.net...Steve Parker...Northern Soul 500". Rocklistmusic.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-03-27.
- "Vinyl records LP price guide – record collector". Popsike.com. Retrieved 2012-03-27.
- "Most Popular Movies and TV Shows With Joanie Sommers". IMDb.
- "Joanie Sommers". IMDb.
- American Film Institute Catalog: Feature Films 1961–1970, page 621 (University of California Press, 1997). ISBN 0-520-20970-2
- ""The Wild Wild West" The Night of the Tycoons (TV Episode 1969)". IMDb.com.
- "Joanie Sommers". Jpop.com. 1941-02-24. Retrieved 2012-03-27.
- Sponsor, Volume 18, Part 3, page 19, article "Pepsi Sponsors All-Out Campaign" (Sponsor Publications, 1964).
- "Nine And A Half Questions with Joanie Sommers | AWN | Animation World Network". Awn.com. Retrieved 2012-03-27.
- "Johnny Got Angry". Sabob.com. Retrieved 2012-03-27.
- Columbia CS 9295 album Come Alive! liner notes
- "Joanie Sommers". Soulfulkindamusic.net. 1941-02-24. Retrieved 2012-03-27.