Born as John Preston Courville in Port Arthur, Texas, of Cajun ancestry, Preston sang in high school choral contests throughout the state of Texas.He formed a rock and roll band called ”The Shades”, who were seen performing at a local club by J. P. ”The Big Bopper” Richardson.
Richardson offered Preston the chance to record a teenage tragedy song he had written, ”Running Bear”, which they did in Houston, Texas, in 1958. The ”Indian” sounds on the record were performed by Richardson and George Jones. The record was released after the Big Bopper’s death in the same plane crash that killed Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens. It entered the U.S. Hot 100 in October 1959, reaching number one in January 1960 and remaining there for three weeks. It was a transatlantic chart-topper, reaching #1 in the United Kingdom in March 1960. The sales of the record exceeded one million copies, earning Preston his first gold disc.
Preston quickly followed up with another hit called ”Cradle of Love,” (Billboard #7, UK # 2) and made several other records during the early 1960s that met with modest success. ”Cradle of Love” was a hit in both the UK Singles Chart and in Athens, Greece. Preston’s ”I’m Starting to Go Steady”, a song on the flip side of ”Feel So Fine”, (Billboard #14), was released in June 1960. Preston made appearances on American Bandstand (ABC-TV) and The Milt Grant Show and also The Buddy Deane Show (East Coast, United States).
Preston’s pioneering contribution to the genre was recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. He also performed at Dick Clark‘s American Bandstand Theater in Branson, Missouri. In 2009 and 2010, Preston performed with the Lamar State College (LSCPA)Touring Band at Lamar State College- Port Arthur, in his hometown.
Preston had coronary artery bypass surgery in 2010. He died of heart failure in Beaumont, Texas on Friday 4 March 2011, at the age of 71, after years of heart-related illnesses. A tribute concert was performed on November 5, 2011, and featured guest artists Gene Bourgeois, Johnny Tillotson, Dickey Lee and Chris Montez along with LSCPS’s Touring Band, under the direction of Aaron Horne. The English Wikipedia
Johnny Preston – Cradle of Love 1960
Johnny Preston – Running Bear original 1959
The Monotones – Book of Love 1957
The Monotones were a six-member black American doo-wop vocal group in the 1950s. They are considered a one-hit wonder, as their only hit single was ”The Book of Love”, which peaked at #5 on the Billboard Top 100 in 1958.
The Monotones formed in 1955 when the seven original singers — all residents of the Baxter Terrace housing project in Newark, New Jersey — began performing covers of popular songs. The members of the Monotones were:
- lead singer Charles Patrick (born September 11, 1938)
- first tenor Warren Davis (born March 1, 1939)
- second tenor George Malone (January 5, 1940 – October 5, 2007)
- bass singer Frankie Smith (May 13, 1938 – November 26, 2000)
- second bass singer John Ryanes (November 16, 1940 – May 30, 1972)
- his brother, baritone Warren Ryanes (December 14, 1937 – June 16, 1982)
Charles Patrick’s brother James was originally a member, but he left soon after the group’s formation.
In September 1957, they recorded ”Book Of Love”, which was released on the Mascot label in December that year. The small record company could not cope with its popularity, and it was reissued on Chess Records‘ subsidiary Argo label in February 1958. It became a hit, eventually reaching #3 on the Billboard R&B chart and #5 on the pop charts. The record sold over one million copies. It also reached #5 in Australia; in the UK, the hit version was a cover version by The Mudlarks.
The Monotones recorded a series of novelty follow-ups including ”Zombi”, and ”The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, but they were not successful.
The Monotones disbanded in 1962. Surviving members met to revive ”Book of Love” several times after the break-up.