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The Sparkletones (sometimes credited as Joe Bennett & the Sparkletones) were an American rock and roll/rockabilly group from Spartanburg, South Carolina.

The Sparkletones
Also known asJoe Bennett & the Sparkletones
OriginSpartanburg, South Carolina, United States
GenresRock and roll/rockabilly
Years active1956 (1956)–1961 (1961)
Past members
  • Joe Bennett
  • Wayne Arthur
  • Howard Childress
  • Jimmy Denton


The Sparkletones formed in 1956 at Cowpens High School in Spartanburg when the group's members were between the ages of 13 and 16. In January 1957, Bob Cox, a talent scout for CBS, held auditions at the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium; The Sparkletones took first prize at the event. Convinced they would be a success, Cox quit CBS to manage the group and flew them out to New York City to sign with ABC-Paramount.

At their first recording session they recorded the 12-bar blues "Black Slacks". Paul Anka, who had been recording in the studio earlier that day, added falsetto background on a different song that the group recorded that day, "Boppin' Rock Boogie".[1] Band members Joe Bennett and Jimmy Denton co-wrote "Black Slacks". Released as a single soon after, "Black Slacks" became a local hit and slowly built up national recognition as the group set out on a tour that crisscrossed the U.S. several times over, also performing on The Nat King Cole Show, American Bandstand, and The Ed Sullivan Show. "Black Slacks" remained on the U.S. charts for over four months, peaking at #17 on the Billboard Top 100 in late 1957.

The Sparkletones' next single, "Penny Loafers and Bobby Socks", reached #42 on the Billboard charts early in 1958, staying on the charts for 8 weeks, while "Cotton Pickin' Rocker", "We've Had It", "Late Again", "Run Rabbit Run", all failed to chart over the course of the next three years. In 1959 the group's contract with ABC-Paramount expired, and they released three singles on Paris Records, and only the single "Boys Do Cry" had any semblance of success, peaking at #105 in 1959. Around this time original guitarist Sparky Childress and drummer Jimmy Denton left and were replaced by Gene Brown and Donnie Seay, respectively. The group broke up about 1961.

Childress played country in the 1960s. An compilation LP was released by MCA Records in 1980, and European bootleg CD reissues were put out in the 1990s. The band members did occasional reunions in South Carolina into the 2000s. Joe Bennett continued in music as a publisher and teacher and died on 27 June 2015 at age 75.

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed The Sparkletones among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.[2]


  • Joe Bennett - vocals, guitar
  • Wayne Arthur - double bass
  • Howard "Sparky" Childress - guitar
  • Jimmy "Sticks" Denton - drums

William "Bill" Swift, vocals

Cultural referencesEdit

Their biggest hit "Black Slacks" can be heard in the Walt Disney cartoon The Rescuers Down Under. When Bernard and Miss Bianca enter Albatross Airlines, the character 'Wilbur' is dancing and singing to the tune on the stereo.



Year Title Peak chart
Record Label B-side
1957 "Black Slacks" 17 11 ABC-Paramount
"Boppin' Rock Boogie"
"Penny Loafers and Bobby Socks" 43 "Rocket"
1958 "Cotton Pickin' Rocker" "I Dig You, Baby"
"Little Turtle" "We've Had It"
"Do the Stop" "Late Again"
1959 "Bayou Rock" Paris Records "Beautiful One"
"Boys Do Cry" 105 "What the Heck"
1960 "Are You from Dixie" "Beautiful One"
1965 "Run Rabbit Run" ABC-Paramount
"Well Dressed Man"


  1. ^ Bob Leszozak. Who Did It First? Great Rock and Roll Cover Songs and Their Original Artists. p. 21. ISBN 1442233222. Retrieved 2016-01-01.
  2. ^ Rosen, Jody (June 25, 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2019.

External linksEdit