It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year with Vintage Christmas Album Covers (Sixth Edition)


Of course, we can’t have Christmas without all that annoying Christmas music you want to shut yourself away from and can’t avoid. Seriously, even before Thanksgiving, you find it everywhere. But after Thanksgiving, Christmas music is turned up to overdrive. And yes, it’s annoying and will make your ears bleed if you’ve ever had to work in retail. Still, you don’t have to be the artists who recorded them. Since they have to do these while on their summer vacations. Anyway, while some of these covers may be stunning like this Beatles one above, a lot of these aren’t that memorable. In fact, some of them are kind of tacky and in poor taste. Others haven’t aged well and can be rather unintentionally funny. So for your reading pleasure, I give you another assortment of crazy vintage Christmas album covers. Enjoy.

  1. Les Menestrels: Tetes Decembrees de Noel

Why is that one head smiling? The woman’s like she’s ready to mount them on her wall with her hunting trophies.

For nothing says Christmas like a blond woman holding 2 disembodied heads.

2. Toby Keith: Classic Christmas


Yet, I have no idea why he’s wearing a Santa hat over his cowboy hat. I mean make up your mind already. Also, it’s clearly photoshopped.

Celebrate the season country style.

3. Shelley Duvall: Merry Christmas


Though I’d rather have them clean my house. Also, are those reindeer or horses?

Featuring cartoon woodland creatures.

4. Dynamite: Dynamite’s Soul Christmas


Give him some Jack Daniels whiskey and sandwiches instead. Maybe a few bottles of the former.

Sorry, kids, but Santa’s through milk and cookies this year.

5. 98°: This Christmas


Yet, they must use really good bleach because their outfits stand out more than anything else. Also, clearly photoshopped.

These guys must be dreaming of a white Christmas.

6. Vincent Lopez: Christmas Music


Santa sits back on a plastic chair like he’s drunk off his ass. Also, that chair can’t be very comfortable.

Cause even Santa needs a break now and then.

7. Soulful Dynamics: Dying Snowman


Sure, it would’ve been a decent cover if it wasn’t for the title. Also, the snowman’s face just says it all.

When you want to spice up the holiday season with some existential dread.

8. Los Tremendos Sepultureros; El Nino del Tambor


Seriously, why do they have a woman in a sleazy Santa outfit? Now the guys are really anticipating their Christmas lap dance.

For the guy who wants to hold his bachelor party during the holidays.

9. Xmas a Go Go


Seriously, these guys seem like they’re just doing the album for the money. And that they’d rather be somewhere else like on vacation.

For the J and K pop band who needs a few extra bucks.

10. The Joy Strings: Christmas with the Joy Strings


Also, what the hell is that black girl doing here? Does she have a black parent taking the picture? Was she adopted? Or is she there just to bring some mandatory diversity among the kids? Seriously, her appearance needs some context.

Brought to you by one of the guys from Goodfellas.

11. Freunde: Wir Warten Auf Weihnachten


This guy doesn’t seem to like being Santa. Maybe he should throw a toy at the kids. Can start with that plush bunny.

When you have to work as a mall Santa around kids with no consideration for your personal space.

12. Edna Gallix: Petit Papa Disco Hit Noel


What the hell is that woman wearing? The cape over the sleeveless outfit doesn’t make much sense to me.

When St. Nick likes what he sees.

13. Cabbage Patch Kids: A Cabbage Patch Christmas


Yes, these dolls were very popular during the 1980s and 1990s. And no, I have no idea why they’re in the winter cold only wearing sweaters.

Apparently, these dolls can sing.

14. Crazy Frog: “Jingle Bells/Last Christmas”


I mean frogs wouldn’t be out during the winter since they’re cold blooded. And they wouldn’t be rolling snowballs without a coat on either.

Well, this frog is sure damn crazy.

15. Diommy Kito: Xmas Memories


After all, these guys have devil ears and pitchforks. While the woman between them doesn’t have much on.

You can tell something went naughty at this party.

16. Paul Kuhn and his Orchestra: Christmas Polka


He seems to have a lot of cans of it, too. Wonder if he’s planning to enter an eating contest.

When you just have to help yourself to some yuletide sausage.

17. Filobin: Filobin Chante Noel


Kind of reminds me of Pennywise’s accountant. And ladies, please, don’t take his rose or he will kill you. Mark my words.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you a singing Christmas clown.

18. Ferrante and Teicher: Xmas Hi Fivories

Ferrante Teicher

Though I’m not sure if they know what they’re doing. Also, what’s in that one reindeer’s bucket? It better not be water.

Reindeer repairing pianos standing by.

19. Lula: Natal Alegre


You can see how Santa eyes the woman with a pervy stare. I’m sure Mrs. Claus won’t be happy about this.

Apparently, Santa digs chicks with pink hair.

20. King Diamond: No Presents for Christmas


And apparently, the reindeer doesn’t seem to appreciate it. Least of all posing with a guy from a KISS cover band.

Don’t forget to decorate your reindeer this Christmas.

21. Lady Gaga: A Very Gaga Holiday


Since the text seems to run into her picture. For God’s sake, you can barely see the title.

Sometimes the font seemed like a good idea at the time.

22. Lynn Anderson: The Christmas Album

Lynn Anderson

Yeah, her face just seems like she’s smiling but has feelings of anxiety and annoyance inside. And she’s getting impatient.

When you pose for an album that you do because you’re under contract.

23. Mambo Santa Mambo: Christmas from the Latin Lounge


Yet, the dancers are shown in yellow light with some dark shadows. While the woman’s dress opens quite high on her thigh.

Christmas time is always great for a mambo.

24. The Roller Disco Orchestra: Non-Stop Christmas Disco


And yes, some guys are dancing to it. Still, I don’t get the Christmas disco craze. Seriously, why?

For when your Christmas can’t get more 1970s.

25. Rod Stewart: Merry Christmas, Baby


Still, the album image and title might appeal to Boomers, I don’t consider Rod Stewart as sexy at any rate. For God’s sake he sounds like he has throat cancer.

For when you record a Christmas album to prove you still got it.

26. Rolf Harris: Rolf Harris Sings Mary’s Boy Child


Sure dad and child look at the nativity lamp. But I’m sure if I’d trust the guy with that kid. Kind of seems creepy.

Of course, you can’t forget the reason for the season.

27. Connie Canuso: Connie Canuso Sings “Someone Painted Rudolph’s Nose a Chocolate Brown”


Girl seems freaked out by the fact. Still, that reindeer in this cover looks incredibly terrifying for some reason.

So does make Rudolph having to function as a normal reindeer?

28. Natal Jovem: Boas Festas


Well, they’re bodies and heads seem quite close together that it’s freakish. Also, their eyes are rather funny.

Brought to you by a freaks 3 headed Santa.

29. Shonen Knife: A Shonen Knife Christmas Record for You


Yes, there’s a group called Shonen Knife. There are even lyrics for “Space Christmas,” which I really don’t want to listen to.

Dress styles inspired by Mondrian.

30. Jularbo: Jul med Jularbo

Strange Christmas Album Cover (2).jpeg

One of the accordion players is alleged to be the father of Weird Al Yankovic. But as of now, that theory is inconclusive. Still, one accordion is enough, okay?

Introducing 3 Santas playing polka.

31. James Brown: James Brown’s Funky Christmas


For an artist as legendary as James Brown, you’d think he’d have the best album cover designer. This seems more straight out of some software printshop program from the 2000s.

Cover by dated graphics program.

32. Larry the Cable Guy: Christmastime in Larryland


And he’s wearing a Santa hat over a camo hat. Still, the smiling disembodied head just freaks me out.

Featuring Larry’s disembodied head.

33. Lawrence Welk: “Jingle Bells”


After all, the parents are in their pajamas and giving the ornaments a shine. And I thought I had a problem with procrastination.

Apparently, this family was quite late decorating their Christmas tree.

34. Merle Haggard: Merle Haggard’s Christmas Present


One daughter has a wide collar on her red dress. One seems dressed like Waldo in coveralls. While a boy’s got stripes on a real tacky brown shirt.

Here with his guitar and embarrassed that he’s one of the only member of his family normally dressed.

35. Ames Brothers: The Sounds of Christmas Harmony


The dad’s touching the boy’s shoulder and I’m not sure whether it’s appropriate. Probably is. Also, I don’t think the mom should hold the candle that way.

The family that sings carols together stays together.

36. Los Diplmaticos: Navidades


Actually, people would rather you not. Since they’d rather get drunk, eat, socialize, or open presents. Mostly the last one.

I’m sure everyone wants to hear your sax solo at the Christmas party.

37. Gary Glitter: Another Rock and Roll Christmas


I’m sure that’s just a coincidence. Still, the outfit and hair are so 1970s. Also, he got involved in a sexual misconduct charge involving minors.

Is it just me or does he remind me of Dewey Cox from Walk Hard?

38. Celine Dion: Chantes et contes de Noel


Yet, you’d almost think the kids surrounding her are ready to crush her. Wonder if she can get out of there in one piece.

Guess this was for a French Candian audience.

39. Heinjte: Weihnachten mit Heinjte


Though the cover’s clearly photoshopped. Also, his eyes kind of reveal that he doesn’t want to be there.

Apparently, one’s never too young to celebrate Christmas solo.

40. Tino Rossi: “C’est la Belle Nuit de Noel.”


Well, some kid took his beard. Still, doesn’t seem too fazed over it. Maybe French kids think about Santa differently. But the teddy bear thinks otherwise.

“Hey, you’re not Santa.”

41. Baldo: Petit Pepe Noel


Yet, there’s one guy who seems rather excited by the upcoming Christmas bar drinking. The other guys play it cool.

“Christmas beer for everyone.”

42. Jimmy Jules and the Nuclear Soul System: Christmas Done Got Funky


Not sure if that’s a good idea. This is especially if the only white guy bears a slight resemblance to Steve Buscemi.

Apparently, they decided to go shirtless for the cover.

43. The Lundstroms: Colorado Christmas


Since all the women and girls in this obviously have their hair styled in some unnatural way. Kind of reminds me of pictures you’d see on Awkward Family Photos.

Brought to you by copious amounts of hairspray.

44. Jimmy Sturr and His Orchestra: “Polka Christmas” in My Home Town


He also wears a black shirt with a pink sweater. And he doesn’t care the least. Nor does he mind the godawful upholstery.

Here Jimmy spends Christmas all by himself being the true loner he is.

45. La Tuna Estudiantina de Cayey


The lollipops look like they’re eaten. While the snowmen have no personality.

Featuring candy snowmen and candy canes.

46. Merry Christmas


The red background doesn’t do any wonders for them. Also what are those ball gift things?

When you want to look cool for the holidays but fail.

47. We Wish You a Merry Christmas


Apparently some are wearing leis. Did they do this photo op while on a Hawaii vacation? Or did some wear whatever they had on at the time?

Featuring all the artists who were under Warner Brothers contracts.

48. Three Suns: Christmas Party


Even the illustrated bird is like, “what the hell, man.” Yeah, it’s quite strange looking isn’t it?

And one that seems to go with formal attire in ornaments.

49. Alvin Styczynski: Alvin’s Christmas Album


You know the guy who thinks he’s such a great musician but will never leave. Because the music industry is a cutthroat business that only values looks.

Featuring music by that guy you know in accounting.

50. Jim Jones & Skull Gane: A Tribute to Bad Santa


One guy sits on a throne with Jack Daniels and a cigar. While the other guys are behind sacks. Or are they in them?

You mean the forgettable film starring Billy Bob Thornton?

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year with Vintage Christmas Album Covers (Fifth Edition)


Though listening to Christmas music in the store or on the radio is likely to make my ears bleed thanks to a holiday stint at Macy’s, many may beg to differ. Mostly because we have people who buy Christmas albums this time of year, many by pop artists willing to earn some sweet extra cash. And despite the saturated Christmas atmosphere of today, Christmas albums have existed for decades. After all, I’ve been doing annual posts like these for years. Don’t believe me? Then see what Michael Jackson looks like on the cover in the intro image. I mean he doesn’t seem to resemble the weird King of Pop he’d become in his later years. Nonetheless, many of these covers can be quite strange and outrageous to say the least. So for your reading pleasure this holiday season, I give you another treasury of crazy yuletide covers that time forgot.

  1. Pete Gold: Merry Payday Christmas 

Santa Claus knows if you’ve been bad or good. So be good for goodness sake. Or else, Santa will straight out murder your ass. So you better watch out, you better not cry. And you better not pout, I’m telling you why.

Because this year, Santa means business.

2. Elvis Presley: Christmas with Elvis


Christmas is supposed to be a happy. But Elvis appears rather depressed. Wonder what’s wrong.

Apparently, Elvis is having a blue Christmas this year.

3. Arthur Fiedler & the Boston Pops: A Christmas Festival


From Classic FM: “You’re not fooling anyone, Arthur. Give the suit back now.”

This time Arthur plays Santa.

4. Bad Religion: Father Christmas


Funny, how it appears on an album cover. Since I usually see Santa smoking in Vintage ads. But Santa doesn’t seem to give a shit.

Hope you don’t mind, Santa needs to light.

5. James Galway: James Galway’s Christmas Carol


From Classic FM: “In which a scarfed Jeremy Beadle annoys the neighbours with his incessant flute-playing.”

He also does outdoor shows during the holidays.

6. Para Bailar: Drum Christmas Drum


She also doesn’t seem keen on her man kissing her on the forehead. Just look at her bulging eyes of shock.

While her portait has been textured in garden mosaic.

7. Canadian Brass: The Christmas Album


From Classic FM: “Sorry guys. Another entry for Canadian Brass. No matter how hard you parp your brass at that tree, it’s not going to make it a merry Christmas.”

Blowing their horns at the Christmas tree, are they?

8. Dionne Warwick and Placido Domingo: Christmas in Vienna II


From Classic FM: “As unlikely pairings go, this is one of the strongest we’ve seen. Worth it for the kid in front of Placido’s expression alone.”

Apparently, one of the 3 Tenors decided to duet with a noted soul singer.

9. Christmas Carols from Winchester Cathedral


From Classic FM: “Because nothing says Christmas like identical twin choirboys and a candle the size of a grandfather clock.”

Featuring 2 choir boys and a towering candle.

10. The Cousins: The Cousins Celebrate Xmas.


The guy’s like “Wow, just what I always wanted.” While the other guys are like, “Not exactly what I expected. But hey, he seems to like it.”

Here Santa presents one of them with a brand new electric guitar.

11.  Ernest Borgnine with the Brinton Maridon Orchestra: The Nine Days of Christmas


Besides, before he won an Academy Award for Marty, Ernest Borgnine was best known for beating Frank Sinatra to death in From Here to Eternity. Also, his smiling expression is kind of creepy.

For some reason Ernest Borgnine doesn’t strike me as having a good singing voice.

12. Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood: Christmas Together


Apparently, Garth seems like he’s terrified by his singing partner Trisha. While Trisha probably has a skeleton collection in her walk-in closet. Wait a minute, those two are married?

I can see the expression on Garth Brooks’ face silently screaming “Help me!”

13. Herb Alpert: The Christmas Wish with Symphony and Choir


For a man as legendary as Herb Alpert, you’d think he wouldn’t need to work as a mall Santa. Then again, maybe he just does it for amusement.

To supplement his income during the holiday season, the legendary Herb Alpert fills in part-time as a mall Santa.

14. Hurra Por Santa Claus!


By the way, the movie was a stupid as you expect. Still, you can’t help but laugh at Santa riding a rocket between his legs.

From the motion picture Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

15. The Kingston Trio: The Last Month of the Year


From Music Radar: “The clean-cut folk trio pictured committing typically chirpy group suicide by electrocution following the release of their 1960 seasonal release.”

Guess who’s come with presents?

16. Mae West: Wild Christmas


Well, Mae West was always an attractive woman. But Santa seems a bit more than attracted to her.

Boy, Mrs. Claus is gonna be pissed.

17. Chris Farren: Like a Gift from God or Whatever


Still, it doesn’t help that he’s wearing a Christmas wreath around his face. Seriously, that just looks really dumb.

Apparently, this man has a rather high opinion about Christmas or himself.

18. Michala Petri: Noel! Noel! Noel!: Christmas with Michala Petri


Seriously, what the hell are those boys wearing? Because those outfits seem straight from a Transylvanian castle.

Featuring the sons of Dracula.

19. Robert Alagna: The Christmas Album


From Classic FM: “Looks like Michael Bolton’s hair and his mum’s gloves were on the Christmas list this year. Season’s greetings, Roberto!”

Here he is out in the snow wearing a fur coat.

20. Olgay Tony: Santa Claus a Go Go


Didn’t he could wear a polo shirt and an ascot tie. Like he’s some rich jerk at a polo match.

Since when did Santa get so thin and casual?

21. The Gantvoort Twins: The Gantvoort Twins Sing Christmas Carols

Strange Christmas Album Cover (21)

Then again, they might be playing music to muffle their discussion about what to do with Gladys. Because Gladys needs to pay for what she did.

Am I seeing double at the record player?

22. Jan Gorussen: Prettice Kerstdagen

Strange Christmas Album Cover (28)

Though while Santa may enjoy a polka now and then, the reindeer have gotten spastic over it. But Santa doesn’t care.

Featuring Santa Claus playing the accordion.

23. More Christmas Disco


I know this was released during the 1970s. But do you think I’d want to be dancing to disco versions of Christmas songs? No.

You mean there’s more disco Christmas music?

24. Redneck Christmas


Guess someone’s been driving his sleigh too many times under the influence. Yet, how were police to know?

Okay, what did Santa do now?

25. Billy Idol: Happy Holidays


Aside playing piano in a hotel lounge, Billy Idol also works as a bouncer at a nearby bar. So don’t mess with him. Or he’ll beat you to a pulp.

1980s sensation Billy Idol is here to make your season bright.

26. Phillips 66 Present Tijuana Christmas


Does it actually snow in Tijuana? Of course, not since their winters are comparatively mild. Also, what’s Santa doing in the back seat?

I’m sure they’re not driving through Tijuana.

27. The Three Stooges: Christmas Time with the Three Stooges


What the hell are Curly and Moe doing to Larry? From how they’ve put him in a time machine, he’s probably history.

Something tells me spending Christmas with them isn’t exactly a blast.

28. Na Er Det Jul Igen


Santa is creepy enough. But the elf trolls make the Elf on the Shelf look like a bunny rabbit since they’re simply terrifying.

Featuring Santa and his elves from your nightmares.

29. Tweenies: The Christmas Album


I don’t know who they are. But I think they’re a British knock off of Sesame Street. Yet, they don’t seem to have any of the warmth or charm.

Featuring puppets singing Christmas songs and their dog.

30. Mariah Carey: Merry Christmas II You


Don’t look now. But I think the snowman likes what he sees of Mariah Carey from behind.

You can bet a rendition of “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is on the track listings somewhere.

31. Little Steven’s Underground Garage: Christmas a Go Go


Also, what’s the deal with Rudolph’s head on Santa’s motorcycle? Seriously, that’s just fucked up.

What the hell is Santa on?

32. Cliff Richard: Christmas with Cliff Richard 1968


Look, I know this album came out in the 1960s. But this cover seems like something that’s designed from a Microsoft print shop program from the 2000s.

Apparently, his album design crew was on a budget.

33. Curt Davis: Something New for Christmas


Though he kind of reminds you of your jerkass boss who’d send you a Jelly of the Month Club membership instead of an actual bonus. Also, his sweater’s kind of tacky.

Wonder what he’d want from Santa.

34. Wurlitzer Christmas


From Classic FM: “Two disturbing things: the ghostly image of Santa’s slippers (are they slippers, actually?) on the pedals, and the fact that someone has made a Wurlitzer Christmas album.”

Presenting all your Christmas favorites on keyboard organ.

35. Christmas Eve with Colonel Sanders


Seems like he has visions of fried chicken dance in his head. Too bad he’s been behind a lot of heart attacks of the decades.

Apparently, the Colonel has fallen asleep near the fireside.

36. Yellowman: A Very, Very Yellow Christmas


Essentially, a yellow Christmas is a white Christmas. Except that you realize that local animals have been using your yard as a toilet.

Quick, someone tell him what a “yellow Christmas” actually means.

37. Pentatonix: That’s Christmas to Me


From The Things: “The album cover to Pentatonix’s “That’s Christmas To Me” is one of two things. It’s either trying too hard to look like a candid we’re-all-having-a-great-time-and-love-being-around-each-other photo, or this is how these people exist in real life. And that’s something we’ve never seen before.”

When you smile for the photo for the 100th time and just want to leave.

38. Lee Greenwood: Christmas to Christmas


From The Things: “What’s awkward about this Christmas album cover, besides the unearned pose, is that the fire seems inexplicably fake, his sweater (or sweatshirt?) looks a little too big, and you just can’t stop looking at his Christmas package.”

You know the guy who sang the cheesy “I’m Proud to Be an American” that will drive you up a wall on the 4th of July? Apparently, he has a Christmas album.

39. We Wish You a Hairy Christmas


From The Things: “What’s awkward about this holiday album cover is not the adult-film-star-looking model, but what is surrounding her. The giant prop candy cane is all well and good, but over her right shoulder stands the head of a deer, a reindeer perhaps, staring blankly outward. One of its antlers, curiously enough, looks like a knife stabbing the poor creature in the head. It could easily be a trick of optics, but the fact remains that the deer simply doesn’t need to be there.”

Presenting a scantily clad model in front of a deer head.

40. A Nostalgic Merry Christmas to You


From The Things: “Is this awkward Christmas album cover really supposed to make people nostalgic for Christmas? I get that it sparks the memory and majesty of opening presents on Christmas morning, but we can’t relate to this one bit. I’ve never seen parents that get THIS done up for Christmas morning. And look! Those kids are somehow dressed, too. What IS this nonsense?!?! Did they go to sleep in those clothes? Because no kid waits to get dressed on Christmas before tearing maniacally through presents from Santa. Maybe they’re on their way to church? Or they have brunch plans with the National Insurance League? Whatever the concept is, a family this cleaned up on Christmas morning is a total lie.”

Yes, listen to the songs of Christmas when families would dress in church attire before opening their gifts on Christmas morning.

41. Travis Tritt: A Travis Tritt Christmas: Loving Time of the Year


From One Country: ” Christmas should be simple. But, this is anything but. Also, there’s a cartoon band with a dog on this album cover, plus a real Travis Tritt? All of the things are happening here.”

Apparently, Travis hasn’t been seen outside cartoonland for years.

42. Clint Black: Looking for Christmas


From One Country: “Poor Clint just out in the snow look for Christmas by the glow of one small candle. Do you think he found it? Why a candle instead of a flashlight? What about a map? Or perhaps, a calendar?”

Though it’s hard to say whether he’s having any luck finding it.

43. Ronnie Milsap: Christmas with Ronnie Milsap


From One Country: “At first glance Christmas with Ronnie Milsap looks like a blast. But, the second, third, fourth and 27th glances offer different opinions.”

Nothing says Christmas like rising out of the jack-in-a-box and scaring the crap out of everybody.

44. Joe Diffie: Mr. Christmas


From One Country: “I want this to be a Hallmark movie so bad– ‘Joe Diffie is Mr. Christmas, this Saturday at 8.'”

Available at a 1980s cowboy bar or trailer park near you.

45. J.J. Hrubovcak: Death Metal Christmas


Though your grandparents will certainly be offended by the demon Madonna and child. Though they’ll probably never see it anyway.

For those who wish for a not so silent night.

46. Merry X-Mas, Dammit from the Double Down Saloon


For to spend Christmas at a bar, you must either be dead inside with no family. Or outside as this martini holding skeleton.

For nothing brings the magic of the holidays like spending Christmas in a Vegas bar full of drunks.

47. The Osmonds: Osmond Family Christmas


Seriously, the Osmonds seem less like a wholesome family and more of the family that slays together in the dead of night. Don’t you dare let them in your home.

Don’t mind the glowing carolers in the window.

48. CantArte Regensburg & Hubert Velten: Gregorian Christmas


Though I wonder who’s wearing the red hood. I know it’s supposed to be a monk. But it could be some kind of nefarious Christmas spirit.

If you’re into a real old-fashioned Christmas, this is the album for you.

49. Dino: A Wonderful Time of the Year


From The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit: “For those times when Barry Manilow is just a little too edgy, there’s Dino Kartsonakis.”

Think of him as a low-rent Barry Manilow.

50. Kenny G: Faith: A Holiday Album


From The Things: “Well before Photoshop or flameless candles- photographers had to inspire warm fuzzy Christmas album covers the old fashioned way; with real live, hair burning fire. In this strange and awkward Christmas album cover, we have adult contemporary hero, Kenny G, in what would have been used as ‘Exhibit A’ in the lawsuit against the record label.”

Kenny, you might want to step back from the candles now.

History of the World According to the Movies: Part 82 – American Film and Music of the 1960s


Jennifer Hudson, Beyonce Knowles, and Anika Noni Rose star in the 2006 musical Dreamgirls which tells the story of the Supremes though they’re known by different names in this. Still, it gets the story mostly right and shows the Motown intrigue behind the scenes. Though Diana Ross didn’t think this film was an accurate representation, fellow Supreme Mary Wilson said it was “closer to the truth than they’ll ever know.”

Music and film would change a lot in 1960s America. Sure many of the old stars would still be around yet, you would have plenty of new voices. In Greenwich Village, you have Bob Dylan who brought a new standard of songwriting as well as influence practically every genre of music as well as poetry and prose. In Detroit, you have the Motown sound that included artists like Aretha Franklin, the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, and plenty of other African American artists. In New Jersey, you have Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons whose story would later get made into a Broadway musical Jersey Boys. On the West Coast, you have the Beach Boys and surf music and Creedence Clearwater Revivial which would help define the Southern Rock genre. Yet, the 1960s would soon give way to psychedelic rock music and folk protest songs. Let’s just say, rock music by the end of the decade won’t just consist of a bunch of dance songs anymore. As with Hollywood, while many of the old movie stars are still alive, the studio system won’t be (since all the old moguls would be either retired or dead by this point) and nor would the Hays Code. Thus, the old Hollywood days would end as we know it and would give rise to what we know as New Hollywood with a new generation of stars as well as movies that have more, violence, gore, sex, and controversy. Some of these new movies would be inspired by foreign films. By the end of the decade, you will have the MPAA ratings system though it won’t yet include a PG-13 rating and the NC-17 equivalent would be X. Still, while there are plenty of movies on the 1960s culture in the US, they do get plenty of things wrong, which I shall point out.


Leonard Chess died in 1967. (He died two years later.)

“American Pie” was a popular song in 1969. (It was recorded in 1971.)

Santana’s Abraxas was a popular album in 1967. (It was released in 1970.)

Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” was a popular song in 1964. (It was released in 1967.)

CCR’s Cosmo’s Factory was on sale in 1967. (It was released in 1970.)

Blues artist Little Walter died in the arms of Muddy Waters’ wife in 1967. (He died at his girlfriend’s house in 1968 contrary to Cadillac Records.)

Waylon Jennings sported his trademark long hair and beard in the mid-1960s. (In the 1960s, he was clean shaven with short black hair. He didn’t get his trademark look until the mid-1970s “outlaw” era.)

Berry Gordy was a villainous character dealing in payola and other activities. (Contrary to his Eddie Murphy expy in Dreamgirls, Smokey Robinson had Paramount and Dreamworks apologize to Gordy and other Motown alumni. However, to be fair, it’s alleged that Gordy was involved in illegal activities.)

“Leaving on a Jet Plane” was a hit in 1967. (It was released in 1969.)

Janis Joplin died in 1969. (She died in 1970.)

Johnny Cash:

Johnny Cash was willing to kick his habit out of his love for June. (His love for June Carter certainly helped as well as her insistence that she wouldn’t marry him until he was clean and sober. However, by 1968, Cash was at the lowest point in his life in which his only choices were to either kick drugs or die.)

Johnny Cash collapsed on stage in Las Vegas during a 1965 performance. (Contrary to Walk the Line, he did not.)

Johnny Cash’s marriage with his first wife ended after his arrest in El Paso. (Contrary to Walk the Line, it ended after a bizarre cave incident in Nickajack Cave in Tennessee. As he told MTV, “In 1967 … I was on amphetamines really, really bad, and I was totally insane. I got in my Jeep and I drove down to Chattanooga, and there was a cave there … a monstrous cave, it went for miles back up onto Lookout Mountain. I went into that cave with my pills, just exploring, you know. I had all these wild ideas about finding gold, Civil War [memorabilia] or something in this cave. I’d keep going and I kept taking the pills, kept taking the amphetamines, and after a certain point, after I’d been in there about three hours … I tried to close my eyes, but you can’t close your eyes for long on amphetamines. I laid down and I said, ‘God, I can’t take it anymore; I can’t make it any further, you’ll have to take me now, I want to go, I want to die.’ ” Vivian would say that if Johnny wouldn’t have gotten involved with drugs, they would’ve remained together. However, I tend to disagree with that since he already knew June Carter by then.)

Johnny Cash had to fight to do his Folsom prison concert. (Contrary to Walk the Line, he did not since he had been performing in prisons since the 1950s.)

Johnny Cash found his new house after passing out in the nearby woods. (There’s no evidence of this unlike what you see in Walk the Line.)

Patsy Cline:

Patsy Cline recorded “Crazy” before her famous auto accident. (Contrary to Coal Miner’s Daughter, she recorded the song a few weeks after the accident.)

Patsy Cline and her brother were on their way to pick up beer when she nearly lost her life in a 1961 winter car crash. (Contrary to Sweet Dreams, the crash happened in June and she and her brother were en route to pick up material for her seamstress mother to use for Patsy’s stage clothes. Oh, and the crash was a head on collision with another car which caused Patsy to be thrown through the windshield, not a broadside from a truck and pulled from the wreck by her brother.)

Charlie Dick was an abusive husband to Patsy Cline who beat her up in front of their kids. (Contrary to Sweet Dreams, both Charlie and daughter Julie deny this. Relatives and friends dispute how whether their marriage was abusive and to what extent, yet values dissonance may come into play. Still, they did have a son named Randy Dick, which is pretty bad if you ask me. I mean that’s more of a name for a male porn star.)

Patsy Cline’s airplane crashed into a mountain cliff due to difficulties restarting the engine after switching from an empty fuel tank to a full one en route from Nashville to Kansas City. (Contrary to the 1985 Sweet Dreams, Cline’s plane crashed in a forest in Camden, Tennessee {there are no mountains in the western part of the state} while en route from Kansas City to Nashville. Also, the crash was caused by bad weather and the fact that Cline’s manager was piloting the plane who became disoriented and lost control.)

Ike and Tina Turner:

Ike Turner was the front man for the Kings of Rhythm when he met Tina. (Contrary to What’s Love Got to Do with It, Ike was front man in the way he was a band leader and organizer. However, he had other singers and performers fronting the band because he had stage fright. Also, the original vocalist behind “Rocket 88” was Jackie Brentson, not Ike.)

Ike Turner pushed a cake in Tina’s face which led to a food fight in the club. (Contrary to the film, though Tina was given a cake she didn’t order while waiting for food, Ike just told her to eat it.)

Tina Turner’s first performance with Ike and the Kings of Rhythm with Ike playing guitar. (Both said that Tina started singing when she was given a microphone by the band’s drummer while Ike was playing piano during an intermission. Yet, she did front the band the night she began singing with him. Also, her first recording was singing background vocals to Ike’s “Box Top” as Little Anne, contrary to What’s Love Got to Do with It.)

Ike and Tina Turner opened for the Rolling Stones in 1968 with “Proud Mary.” (Contrary to What’s Love Got to Do with It, Ike and Tina would open for the Stones twice in 1966 and 1969. However, they didn’t perform “Proud Mary” at either tour because the song was released in 1969 performed by its original artists Creedence Clearwater Revival {lead singer John Fogerty wrote the song}. The Turner version wasn’t recorded until 1970.)

Ike and Tina Turner had no hits between “A Fool in Love” and “River Deep – Mountain High.” (Contrary to the movie about them, they had several. However, it was during “River Deep – Mountain High” they worked for Phil Spector {yes, that guy who wore dreadful wigs and killed someone}.)

Ike Turner raped and beat up Tina in the recording studio. (Both Turners denied this contrary to What’s Love Got to Do with It. However, it’s fairly well known that Ike would physically abuse her {which even he has admitted}. Yet, Tina would say that Ike would ask for sex after he beat her up. At that point, she would be too afraid to refuse so the sex probably wasn’t 100% consensual. Nevertheless, Ike Turner complained that Laurence Fishburne’s portrayal of him was inaccurate, but I find that many of the things he said about the film are unreliable. I mean Ike said that he and Tina weren’t legally married though Tina was able to divorce him in 1978.)

Tina Turner once headed to her mother’s house in St. Louis to hide from Ike Turner. (Contrary to What’s Love Got to Do with It, Tina said that Ike knew where to seek her out. Also, Tina didn’t have a good relationship with her mother.)

Ike was Craig Turner’s father. (Sorry, but Craig was actually Tina’s son with another man named Raymond Hill {who was one of the reasons why Ike pressured Tina to change her name from Anna Mae Bullock}. Their only child together would be Ronnie Turner who was born in 1960. Yet, they did raise Ike’s two sons from a previous marriage together. Still, they didn’t become a couple until 1959 when Ike separated from his then wife, Lorraine Taylor.)

Ike and Tina Turner performed a concert at the Apollo Theater with Otis Redding and Martha and the Vandellas in 1960. (Contrary to the biopic about them, Martha and the Vandellas hadn’t formed yet by this point and several of them were performing in a different group called the Del-Phis. Redding was fronting several bands and had yet to record his first single by this time.)

Ray Charles:

Ray Charles was banned from playing in Georgia in 1962. (He never was but he did refuse to play for a segregated audience in Augusta, Georgia, after a plea by young civil rights activists by telegram {not protest as in Ray}. Yet, he did pay the promoter for compensation.)

Ray Charles’ wife Bea stayed with him regardless of her husband’s faults. (Though this is implied in Ray, she actually got fed up with his long absences, his drugs, and most especially his affairs that she divorced him in 1977.)

Jim Morrison:

Jim Morrison’s film school project had him reading his terrible poetry over Neo-Nazi rallies and disembodied women’s legs in black stockings. (Contrary to The Doors, this didn’t happen, though his film did include a German actress.)

Jim Morrison was arrested in New Haven in 1968. (He was arrested in 1967.)

Jim Morrison’s “Young Lion” photo was taken by a female photographer who asked him to take off his shirt in a sexy voice. (The photographer’s name was Joel Brodsky who was a man, so a historically accurate rendition of the shoot probably wouldn’t go too well.)

Jim Morrison was a talentless, spoiled egomaniac who was unable to stagger through a scene without whiskey, pills, or powder. (Jim Morrison’s former bandmates said that Oliver Stone exaggerated his problems with drugs in The Doors. Still, as bad as Jim Morrison was at poetry, you have to agree that most of his songs with The Doors are far better than any kind of crap Justin Bieber produced. Not to mention, Morrison’s word salad verses went perfect with the band’s trippy style. Still, aside from lead vocals, he’s said to have played harmonica, percussion, synthesizer, maracas, tambourine, and piano.)

Jim Morrison put an emphasis on “higher” during the Doors’ performance of “Light My Fire” on The Ed Sullivan Show. (Contrary to the 1991 film, he performed the song more or less as he originally recorded it, yet he did ignore Ed Sullivan’s request to change the lyric {which had practically nothing to do with drugs}. However, there was no way that the Doors were going to comply with Ed Sullivan’s request. I mean Ed Sullivan was tempting fate on this one.)

Jim Morrison locked Pam Courson in the closet before setting it on fire. (Contrary to the Oliver Stone film, this never happened.)

Jim Morrison was an out of control sociopath. (His former bandmates contested to the Val Kilmer’s portrayal of him in Oliver Stone’s The Doors. Morrison was a self-centered hedonist which can’t be disputed but he probably wasn’t a sociopath.)

Jim Morrison attended the University of Florida. (He attended Florida State.)

Jim Morrison was 21 in 1966. (He was 23.)

Jim Morrison’s long-suffering girlfriend Pam Courson was a two dimensional bitch. (Meg Ryan’s portrayal in the Jim Morrison biopic offended the surviving Doors who said she had personality and everything.)

Jim Morrison committed indecent exposure during the Doors 1969 Miami concert. (Contrary to The Doors, though Morrison would be arrested and convicted of indecent exposure whether he flashed his audience has been disputed by witnesses, even former bandmates. As John Densmore said, “If Jim had revealed the golden shaft, I would have known.”)

Bob Dylan:

Bob Dylan was involved in a serious motorcycle accident. (Contrary to I’m Not There, the accident wasn’t as serious as reported at the time.)

Bob Dylan’s performance was booed at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival because he used electric guitar on his songs. (Witnesses actually complained more about the amplification quality than and length of the performance than whether Dylan used his electric guitar on “Maggie’s Farm.” According to Al Kooper, Dylan’s organist, “Some had travelled thousands of miles and paid a lot of money for tickets and what did they get? Three songs, and one of those was a mess. They didn’t give a shit about us being electric. They just wanted more.” In short, Dylan was booed simply because he was performing with lousy speakers not for upsetting folk purists by going electric.)

Bob Dylan was responsible for Edie Sedgewick’s drug abuse and death. (Dylan wanted to sue Factory Girl over such insinuation. Yet, they were close friends but probably not lovers. Still, Dylan was probably not responsible for her death for Edie was anorexic as a kid and had experimented with drugs before she met the singer-songwriter.)

Bobby Darin:

Bobby Darin acknowledged Nina Cassotto Maffia as his mother in public. (Actually contrary to Beyond the Sea, he never acknowledged Nina as his mother in public and didn’t know that she was his mom until he was 33 years old {and before then, he thought that she was his much older sister since his mother had him at 16}. Unsurprisingly, he barely tolerated that knowledge in private.)

Bobby Darin believed that Charlie Maffia was his father. (Contrary to Beyond the Sea, he didn’t, nor did he ever appreciate anything his stepfather did for him. Also, Darin was much better looking than Kevin Spacey.)

Bobby Darin was in his trailer at Big Sur when he heard of Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination. (Contrary to Beyond the Sea, he was with RFK on the campaign trail when the presidential candidate got shot. He actually witnessed it in that very hotel.)

Bobby Darin’s popularity was in decline near the end of his life. (Contrary to Beyond the Sea, he had a successful weekly variety show for the last two years so it wasn’t just those who attended clubs or went to Vegas who saw him. He was also even loved as a comic and impressionist alongside his music. He was also said to be a good actor, too, and even was nominated for an Oscar.)

Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee were married to the end of his life. (They divorced in 1967 and Bobby remarried someone else though him an Dee did remain friends.)

The Supremes:

Florence Ballard was able to survive on a solo career. (Though her expy Effie White does in Dreamgirls, Florence Ballard died of a coronary thrombosis as she was poised to launch a solo career.)

Florence Ballard and Diana Ross eventually reconciled after Ross took over as Supremes lead singer while Ballard was passed over. (Contrary to Dreamgirls, Ballard and Ross would remain estranged until Ballard’s death. Yet, Ross would establish a trust fund for Ballard’s children after Ballard died so she probably felt some guilt. Still, Ballard being pushed to the background wasn’t really Ross’s fault as implied in the film.)

The Doors:

The Doors’ New Haven concert was a beautiful sell-out show in a beautiful theater with a balcony. (Contrary to The Doors, it took place in a broken down hockey rink with no balcony. It was also half empty.)

“Roadhouse Blues” was popular in 1968. (The Doors released this song in 1970.)


“Comin’ into Los Angeles” and “Beautiful People” were both played during the daytime. (Contrary to Taking Woodstock, they were played at night. Arlo Guthrie’s performance of the former is seen in the 4-hour documentary which I saw.)

“Maggie M’Gill” was played at Woodstock. (Woodstock took place in 1969 while The Doors recorded this song in 1970. Seriously, the filmmakers of Taking Woodstock could’ve seen the documentary to check themselves.)

Woodstock was wonderful. (Yeah, a three day music festival that had drug addled hippies waiting in line to use a port a potty. Not only that, but it rained at some time. Not my idea of fun. The documentary doesn’t seem to make it much of a great party either. Of course, best get the best performances on iTunes. Oh, I forgot they didn’t have iTunes then. I bet the Woodstock cleaning crew didn’t have much fun.)

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons:

Tommy DeVito was an uncleanly roommate who peed in the sink. (Contrary to Jersey Boys, according to the real Tommy DeVito, “Some of it is bullsh*t — where I pee in the sink, and the dirty underwear. I was probably the cleanest guy there. I don’t even know how they come up with this kinda stuff.” Yet, he and his fellow band members were friends with a young Joe Pesci.)

Tommy DeVito was in debt to the mob for $150,000. (Actually unlike you see in Jersey Boys, the real Tommy DeVito claims he was never in the mob, yet he did perform for them. Yet, it was more likely the mob owed him money than vice versa.)

Tommy DeVito was kicked out of The Four Seasons and was forced to perform live in Las Vegas. (Contary to Jersey Boys, DeVito moved to Las Vegas in 1970 on his own free will since he had several siblings living there and actually quit the group because “I had had it up to here with the traveling and changing clothes three times a day, and taking two planes and then driving 100 miles to do a date. Getting on stage and doing the same stuff — I just had it.”)


Anthony Perkins did the shower scene in Psycho. (Contrary to Hitchcock, Perkins wasn’t on the set that day and had a smaller female stand-in to take his place as well as others. This was intentional because Hitchcock didn’t want audiences to be tipped off of the murderer’s true identity at this point in the film. To have Perkins do the shower scene himself wouldn’t have added to the suspense for he was a tall man. The only scene where Perkins dressed up as Mrs. Bates was during the big-reveal climax in the cellar.)

Psycho was filmed on the Paramount studio lot. (It was filmed at Universal but it was released by Paramount.)

Vera Miles had a full head of hair during the filming of Psycho. (Before filming Psycho, she shaved her head for a role in 5 Branded Women. Then again, maybe her character’s wearing a wig in Psycho.)

Melvyn Douglas was dying when he won the Oscar in 1963. (He’d die in 1981.)

Bernard Hermann’s nickname was Bernie. (Contrary to Hitchcock, no one called him that. He was called “Benny.”)

Disney Winnie the Pooh toys appeared on shelves in 1961. (Though Disney did have the film rights to the A. A. Milne characters, they didn’t acquire the merchandising rights until a year later.)

Robert Sherman walked with a limp because he was shot. (This is alluded to in Saving Mr. Banks but he was actually wounded in World War II while during the liberation of Dachau.)

Joseph Stefano played an insignificant role in the making of Psycho. (For God’s sake, he wrote the screenplay.)

Alfred Hitchcock:

Alfred Hitchcock and Alma Reville had no children. (They had a daughter named Pat and she was involved in the making of Psycho playing one of Marion’s co-workers. Pat Hitchcock also played a significant role in Strangers on a Train as Farley Granger’s girlfriend’s sister who wore glasses and would have small roles in several of his productions {mostly because she wasn’t a gorgeous blonde}. Yet, you wouldn’t know it from Hitchcock where her existence doesn’t seem to be mentioned. Still, she would’ve definitely had been to the premiere of Psycho.)

Alfred Hitchcock took a mortgage on his house to finance Psycho. (Contrary to Hitchcock, no director under studio contract did this. Also, the film greatly portrays the Hitchcocks as much poorer than they really were. Hitchcock actually had two houses and a vast savings so he could definitely afford to produce the film without him and Alma having to cut back on personal expenses. Financing Psycho wasn’t a big financial risk for him and he was already a legend in Hollywood by then anyway.)

Alfred Hitchcock’s marriage to Alma Reville was a creative partnership that was strained by jealously. (While their marriage was a creative partnership, it was one of the few happy marriages in Hollywood to last more than 50 years. But Reville’s contributions to Hitchcock’s films hadn’t gained much public recognition until recently. Still, she didn’t have to bail him out of every crisis he supposedly got himself in and wasn’t frustrated of her talents being overlooked or felt any need to be recognized on her own terms because she had been credited for her work on many of his films and others. Also, the alleged affair Alma may have had with Whitfield Cook might’ve taken place in 1949 during the writing of Stage Fright when Hitch was in England, not during the making of Psycho. Still, her friendship with Cook wasn’t close enough to make Hitch feel threatened or jealous and the affair was probably platonic. In fact, Cook was a long-time friend of the Hitchcocks,  wrote Strangers on a Train with Alma, and would distance himself from Alma when he thought things between the two were going too far {though Hitchcock does depict him as a villainous womanizer which is far from the truth. Not only that, but Cook’s journals suggest he may have been gay}. Still, much of the strife between Hitch and Alma in Hitchcock is mostly pure dramatic license.)

Alma Hitchcock took over directing a part of Psycho for her husband when he was ill. (Contrary to Hitchcock, she didn’t. When Hitch fell ill, it was the his assistant director who assumed the role. And no, his illness wasn’t self-induced over the unhappiness of his private life because his was one of the least unhappy in Hollywood.)

Film censors were up in arms over the thought that Alfred Hitchcock would include a flushing toilet scene in Psycho. (They were more concerned about him including the word, “transvestite.” The part about the toilet is just urban legend.)

Alfred Hitchcock terrified Janet Leigh into giving a more believable performance during the filming of the shower scene in Psycho. (Contrary to Hitchcock, this may not have happened. Retaining an image of dignity and control. And no, he didn’t have violent impulses either. He was more of a perfectionist than anything and was completely professional with his female leads on the set and his flirtations with actresses never led to notable marital tension.)

Walt Disney:

Walt Disney didn’t smoke. (Contrary to Saving Mr. Banks, he was a notorious chain smoker all his adult life which contributed to his death of lung cancer but Disney has an anti-smoking ban. Also, contrary to legend, Walt Disney wasn’t cryogenically frozen after his death. He was actually cremated. In short, he was fried, not frozen.)

Walt Disney had to convince P. L. Travers to hand over the film rights to Mary Poppins. (Though this is the premise of Saving Mr. Banks, Disney already secured the film rights {subject to Travers’ approval of the script} when Travers arrived to consult the Disney staff in Burbank. In fact, Walt Disney left Burbank for a vacation in Palm Springs a few days into Travers’ US visit hoping that the Sherman brothers would work something out with Travers. Yet, much of what is adapted into Saving Mr. Banks comes from their correspondence through letters, telegrams, and telephone calls. Oh, and the guy who first contacted Travers wasn’t Walt Disney but his brother Roy.)

Walt Disney took P. L. Travers on a tour of Disneyland where she rode a carousel. (Contrary to Saving Mr. Banks, she probably didn’t ride a carousel in Disneyland. In fact, she hated Disneyland.)

Walt Disney had a loveable avuncular personality. (He was also a racist, anti-Semite, and misogynist {I mean how many mothers die in Disney movies, good God}. Also, he was one of those guys who named names during McCarthyism.)

P. L. Travers:

P. L. Travers was a lonely old spinster. (She adopted a boy named Camilus though he didn’t know about his twin brother until he met the guy in a bar. Sure he was pissed at Travers but they did reconcile. She also tried to adopt her 17-year-old maid, too. Not only that, but she had a long term relationship with a married man as well as a possible live-in girlfriend for over a decade. Oh, and she didn’t save her mother from drowning and she dedicated Mary Poppins to her mother, not her dad.)

P. L. Travers approved Disney’s changes to the script and story to the movie adaptation of Mary Poppins. (Contrary to Saving Mr. Banks, she never approved of the dilution of the harsher aspects of Mary Poppins’ character, felt ambivalent about the music, and hated the use of animation. Walt Disney would overrule her objections to portions of the final film citing contract stipulations and final cut privileges. After the premiere, Travers is said to approach Disney and told him to remove the animated sequences. Disney dismissed her request saying, “Pamela, the ship has sailed.” Still, Ms. Travers should’ve known what to expect from a Disney adaptation of her work.)

P. L. Travers was emotionally moved during the premiere of Mary Poppins. (Yes, Travers did cry at the premiere of Mary Poppins but it wasn’t out of how good of job Walt Disney did in adapting her book. Rather she cried out of anger and frustration over the film which she felt betrayed the artistic integrity of her characters and work. In fact, she was so resentful of what she considered poor treatment on Disney’s hands that she vowed never to permit the Walt Disney Company to adapt any of her novels in any form of media. In fact, in her last will, Travers banned any Americans from adapting her works in any form of media.)

Bruce Lee:

Bruce Lee opened his own kung-fu school at his wife Linda’s suggestion. (Contrary to Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, he had opened his kung-fu school before he even met her.)

Bruce Lee got into a fight at the set of Big Boss. (Contrary to his biopic, he didn’t but he was challenged while doing Enter the Dragon. And no, he didn’t injure his back during a fight, but rather in 1970 when he was lifting weights.)

History of the World According to the Movies: Part 74 – Music of Post-War America


The 2004 biopic Ray tells the early life story of Ray Charles whose music would influence music for decades starring Jamie Foxx in his Academy Award winning performance. His music ranged from genres like jazz, R&B (fusing R&B and Gospel into Soul music), pop, rock n’ roll, and country. He was called “the only true genius” by none other than Frank Sinatra. Billy Joel said, “This may sound like sacrilege, but I think Ray Charles was more important than Elvis Presley.” Not to mention, the Beatles all expressed admiration for his achievements with Paul McCartney crediting him as the as the reason for getting into music. This film was released a few months after the man’s death but regardless of accuracy, it’s a fitting tribute that will let people know who this man really was. Not only that, but Jamie Foxx isn’t just playing Ray Charles in this movie, he is Ray Charles.

Whether they believed that the Post-WWII Era in America was a very good time or a very bad time, everyone has to concede the fact that the music was awesome. In this time, you have a great treasure trove of music that has become not only influential but also is still listened to today whether it be folk, big band, jazz, pop, R&B, country, blues, or the new genre of rock n’ roll. But of course, some people in my area may remember that time for doo wop since they play those specials on my PBS affiliate station during pledge drives. Still, this is the time of the popular singers like Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Tony Bennett, Dean Martin, Bobby Darin, Mitch Miller, and others. You have folk artists like Pete Seeger and the Kingston Trio. You have jazz musicians like Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie “Bird” Parker, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk as well as singers like Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, and Sarah Vaughn. You have R&B artists like Little Richard, Ray Charles, Etta James, and others. You have country stars like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Tex Ritter, Frankie Laine, Patsy Cline, and others. Finally, you have rock n’ roll with artists like Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bo Diddley, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, Carl Perkins, and others. Oh, and you have Harry Belafonte, Les Paul, and plenty of crossovers and I mean, plenty. And this is just a sampling of those who had record hits. A lot of musicals and biopics are set in this era because of how the music and those who made them became legendary. Yet, many of these movies have their share of errors which I shall list accordingly.

Etta James:
Etta James never recorded before signing at Chess Records. (She recorded “Wallflower” for Modern Records before signing with Chess.)

Chuck Berry:

When arrested for violating the Mann Act, Chuck Berry angrily pointed out the resemblance between the Beach Boys “Surfin’ USA” and his “Sweet Little Sixteen.” (He was arrested in 1959 when nobody heard about the Beach Boys. The Beach Boys released “Surfin’ USA” in 1963 when he was still in prison and after Elvis entered the Army in 1958. Alan Freed didn’t introduce the song either since he was out of the radio business by then. Yet, you wouldn’t know it from Cadillac Records.)

Chuck Berry didn’t write “Johnny B. Goode.” (You may think this after seeing the first Back to the Future with Michael J. Fox playing the song while one the members called his cousin Chuck Berry up. However, Chuck Berry actually wrote the song himself and did the duck walk, too. The song is also partly autobiographical as well. Still, despite that Chuck Berry was in Cadillac Records, I can’t find “Johnny B. Goode” on the movie’s soundtrack album.)

Chuck Berry recorded “No Particular Place”, “Nadine”, and “Promised Land” in the mid-1950s. (Contrary to Cadillac Records, Berry recorded these songs in 1964. Yet, he did record “Johnny B. Goode” in 1955 which was his breakout hit but it’s not included in Cadillac Records. In many ways, to exclude “Johnny B. Goode” in a movie about Chess Records that Chuck Berry was a part of is a capital crime of the filmmakers and not just because I played that song in high school marching band.)

Frank Sinatra:

Frank Sinatra’s “Come Fly with Me” was a hit in 1956. (It was released in 1957.)

Frank Sinatra enlisted the help of the Mafia to get the part of Private Maggio in From Here to Eternity. (Sorry, Godfather fans, but no horses were harmed in Sinatra’s pursuit to get the part of Maggio in From Here to Eternity, though it’s alleged he did have ties to the mob. Then again, most historians say that it was considered a package deal in those days to work in Vegas and rub elbows with guys named “Bugsy.” The horse’s head bit was probably something Mario Puzo just made up. It’s more likely his then-wife Ava Gardner persuaded the wife of Columbia’s studio head Harry Cohn to use her influence on him. Still, his performance in that movie not only won him an Oscar but also revived his career after years of decline. And, yes, he really could act.)

Buddy Holly:

Buddy Holly recorded “Crying, Waiting, Hoping” with his band in a recording studio. (Actually contrary to the 1987 La Bamba, he never performed this song with his band. He actually recorded it playing his own guitar on a home tape recorder. Only after his death, it was made into studio release after musical overdubs.)

The Crickets disbanded after Buddy Holly died. (Actually though you may think this they’re still around today.)

Buddy Holly toured with a full orchestra during his final concert. (Contrary to The Buddy Holly Story, he actually toured with a small unnamed band that consisted of Waylon Jennings on bass {yes, that Waylon Jennings}, Carl Bunch on drums, and Tommy Allsup on lead guitar.)

Buddy Holly was musically literate. (While there’s a scene of him writing a score in The Buddy Holly Story, the real Buddy Holly couldn’t read or write music.)

Buddy Holly was born with the last name of Holly. (His family’s name was Holley and he got his stage name from a misprint on a record label. He adopted the revised spelling.)

Buddy Holly toured with Same Cooke. (He never did.)

Buddy Holly’s fellow Crickets members were Jesse and Ray Bob. (Their names were Jerry Allison and Joe B. Mauldin.)

Buddy Holly’s parents were against him being a rock musician. (Actually contrary to The Buddy Holly Story, they were more supportive than a lot of parents were. His mother even helped him write the lyrics to “Maybe Baby.”)

Buddy Holly’s pastor was opposed to his musical projects. (You’d think that Holly’s pastor and family would’ve been opposed to his music projects since they were Baptists, but not so. In fact, it’s said that Holly regularly tithed his to church.)

Buddy Holly’s final concert was at the Clear Lake Auditorium and he traveled on his Winter Party 59’ tour on Greyhound buses. (It was at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa and his Winter Party 59’ tour traveled on unheated school buses. They probably were dreaming of touring on a Greyhound.)

Buddy Holly’s front teeth were knocked out before a performance on US television. (They were knocked out before his performance in the UK.)

Cindy Lou was the name of Buddy Holly’s girlfriend when he wrote “Peggy Sue.” (Cindy Lou was Buddy’s niece but it was renamed after the name of a girlfriend of one of his bandmates from the Crickets.)

Buddy Holly and the Crickets performed “Maybe Baby” on the Ed Sullivan Show. (The songs the performed were “Peggy Sue,” “That’ll Be the Day,” and “Oh, Boy.”)

Buddy Holly produced his own songs. (His producer Norman Petty did.)

Ritchie Valens:

Ritchie Valens and his half-brother Bob Morales were in love with the same girl. (Contrary to the 1987 La Bamba, there was no such love triangle between Ritchie, Bob, or Rosie. I’m not sure if there ever was a Rosie. However, this poetic license was based on the director’s personal experience in which he and his brother were vying over the same girl.)

Ritchie Valens was right handed. (He was left-handed.)

Ritchie Valens played “Donna” on American Bandstand in October 1958. (Actually he sang, “Come on, Let’s Go” contrary to La Bamba.)

Jerry Lee Lewis:

Jerry Lee Lewis was in his thirties when he married his 13-year old cousin Myra. (Actually he was only 22 but he’s played by a 35 year old Dennis Quaid in Great Balls of Fire!, which makes it seem very creepy. Yet, even a guy in his twenties marrying his 13 year old cousin is disgusting enough.)

Jerry Lee Lewis snuck into a dance hall to hear Big Maybelle sing “Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” which he would later cover. (Contrary to Great Balls of Fire!, this didn’t happen, but that scene does reveal that a lot of early rock n’roll songs were originally performed by black singers and a lot of white performers would appropriate black music, usually without their credit. A more famous example would be “Hound Dog” which was originally recorded by Big Mama Thornton before Elvis came along. Yes, early rock n’roll did consist of white people stealing black people’s songs.)

Jerry Lee Lewis proposed to Myra Gale Brown minutes before they got married while on the road to Mississippi. (Actually according to Brown, he proposed to her two days before they were on the road. However, it’s understandable that they got married in Mississippi since the minimal age there in 1957 was 14 for men and 12 for women but it would be changed later that year. However, Lewis’ marriage to Brown was illegal but not because Myra was 13 years old {though Lewis said she was 15}. In fact, despite being in his early 20s, Lewis’ marriage to Myra was his third and it began before his second divorce was made final. Thus, it was illegal on grounds of bigamy, not age of consent laws. Actually, this was a second time he married someone while divorcing another.)

Jerry Lee Lewis performed “I’m on Fire” in 1958. (He recorded it in 1964.)

Jerry Lee Lewis was a household name around Johnny Cash’s first show. (He wasn’t famous at the time and only had one hit. Also, he wasn’t used to the stage contrary to Walk the Line.)

“Great Balls of Fire” was No. 1 on the Billboard charts. (It only made No. 2 at the highest.)

Jerry Lee Lewis and Myra Gale Brown lived happily ever after they were exposed by the British press that made him cut his tour short and the scandal that erupted effectively killed the superstar phase of his career.(Though Jerry and Myra were married for 13 years and had 2 kids before their 1970 divorce, Myra wrote, “The good ol’ days, of which there were exactly 569, were over.” Not to mention, for those not familiar with Jerry Lee Lewis, he led a dark and driven life shadowed with drugs, booze, scandal, and the ends of two of his seven wives as well as one of his six kids. Also, he was said to be violently abusive to his wives as well.)

Johnny Cash:

Johnny Cash’s first wife Vivian was a total bitch who was disapproved of his early attempts to break into the music scene as well as urged him to give it up and focus on getting a better job from her father. (According to Johnny Cash’s autobiography, his first wife was extremely supportive and their marital problems didn’t start until after career took off. Their marriage also lasted for about a decade {though he pretty much abandoned his staunch Catholic first wife to force her into seeking a divorce}. Yet, in Walk the Line, you want Johnny to end up with June and not make him look like such a total drug addled jerk. Then again, his daughter Roseanne did have a good relationship with her stepmother. His dad is also shown as a dick as well in Walk the Line, but he was really a distant and silent type according to Cash yet this had more to do with him not speaking publicly against his old man. But Ray Cash wasn’t a nice man who constantly belittled Johnny and his siblings as well as openly blamed Johnny for his brother’s death on circular saw accident. Yet, it is true that his parents named him J.R {and his family always referred to him by this} but he had to change it to John when he enlisted in the Air Force.)

Johnny Cash had no facial scars. (He actually had a scar on the side of his chin. Joaquin Phoenix doesn’t.)

Johnny Cash only had one brother. (He had three brothers and three sisters. Yet, his brother Jack did die that way as in Walk the Line, which wracked John with guilt.)

“I Still Miss Someone” was about his brother Jack while “Walk the Line” was about June. (Actually, “I Still Miss Someone” was about June while “Walk the Line” was about Vivian and his relationship with her didn’t last.)

Johnny Cash smashed the footlights in Las Vegas during a concert. (He actually smashed the footlights at the Grand Ole Oprey.)

During an audition, Johnny Cash’s first choice to play gospel music was challenged by the studio owner as insincere. (Contrary to Walk the Line, this didn’t happen. Cash just played “Folsom Prison Blues” at his audition and Sam Philips signed him up on a Sun Records contract right away.)

Bobby Darin:

Bobby Darin was an aged and decrepit man in the late 1950s. (Actually despite having life long health problems that would claim his life at 37 {and he knew he wasn’t going to live long either}, Darin actually looked pretty much what you’d expect a guy in his twenties and aged much more gracefully, even if it was premature. Let’s just say casting 45 year old Kevin Spacey as Bobby Darin probably makes the guy look more aged and decrepit even than he really was.)

Bobby Darin was wholly self-absorbed and selfish performer. (He was also a producer who worked to further careers of other talented performers though you wouldn’t know it in Beyond the Sea. One of the performers he helped was Richard Pryor.)

Elvis Presley:

Elvis Presley’s career was basically over by 1958 when he was drafted into the military. (Actually, his career as a teen sensation probably was or at least on a temporary sabbatical but remember, he ended his career wearing white rhinestone costumes over his overweight frame while performing in Las Vegas followed by his 1977 death on the floor of his bathroom. Still, there’s probably no one watching Great Balls of Fire! Who doesn’t know anything about Elvis. Not to mention, Johnny Cash also was a recording artist at Sun Records at this time, too, and there’s a photo of him with Elvis in the studio.)

Elvis Presley had black hair. (He was a natural blond and dyed it black starting in 1957. Marilyn Monroe and Lucille Ball were both natural brunettes by contrast, yet that’s not how we remember them hair color wise.)

Elvis Presley was left handed. (He was right handed.)

Elvis Presley had a drummer in his band during his years at Sun Records. (He had a bass guitarist and a lead guitarist while he played rhythm. Yet, he didn’t have a drummer join his band until he worked for RCA.)

Elvis Presley’s controversial appearance on The Milton Berle Show was during December 1956. (The episode aired in June and wouldn’t rerun in December because it was live.)

“Can’t Help Falling in Love” was a hit in 1957. (It was released in 1961.)

Ray Charles:

Ray Charles was from Florida. (He was born in Georgia but he did spend most of his childhood there.)

Ray Charles wasn’t sexually active until his musical career. (He said he had his first sexual experience at 13 with a 19 year old girl while still in blind school. But you wouldn’t know it from Ray.)

Ray Charles was only married once. (He was married twice. He was first married to a woman named Eileen Williams from 1951 to 1952. She’s not shown in Ray nor the fact that his first child was born in 1950. His marriage to Della Beatrice Howard {known as “Bea”} was his second which took place in 1955 and their first son Ray Charles Robinson Jr. would be born the same year. They would later have two other children.)

Ray Charles only had one illegitimate child to Margie Hendricks named Charles Ray in 1959. (Contrary to Ray, the boy’s name was Charles Wayne. Actually during the course of his life, Ray Charles would have 12 kids to 10 different women putting many sports figures and rappers to shame. Aside from the three sons he had with Bea and Charles Wayne to Margie Hendricks, he had a kid name Evelyn to girlfriend Louise Mitchell in 1950, a daughter Raenee to Mae Mosely Lyles in 1961, a daughter named Shelia Raye Charles Robinson to Sandra Jean Betts in 1963, a daughter Alicia in 1966 to a woman who remains unidentified to this day, a daughter named Alexandra to Chantal Bertrand, a son named Vincent to Arlette Kotchounian in 1977, a daughter named Robyn to Gloria Moffett in 1978, and a son named Ryan Corey to Mary Anne den Bok in 1987. And this is all coming from his Wikipedia page.)

Ray Charles met Quincy Jones at while auditioning for a club the night he arrived in Seattle. (Contrary to Ray, they met a few days later.)

The death of his brother led Ray Charles to use drugs. (Yes, he was traumatized about his brother’s drowning despite being five but the biggest heartbreak in his early life was the loss of his mother when he was 15. Yet, he never claimed that he started using drugs other than that he wanted to, though drug use was part of the jazz and R&B culture at the time. Still, he was never that apologetic as he’s depicted in Ray for his heroin addiction. And though he’d kick his heroin habit in 1964 which was mostly more out of avoiding to avoid going to prison after his arrest for possession, he continued to smoke pot for the rest of his life. He also drank gin almost every day. Still, he was hardly a spokesman for sobriety.)

Ray Charles pushed Margie Hendricks to have an abortion when he found out she was pregnant with his child. (He never did contrary to Ray. On the contrary, he was willing to acknowledge and welcome all his children and there were many. Also, his womanizing is far more downplayed in the movie and he said he had no capacity or any desire to stay faithful to one woman.)


Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and Jim “the Big Bopper” Richardson died in a 1958 plane crash. (They died in 1959. American Hot Wax has it take place before the 1958 riot that ended Alan Freed’s career.)

“Mannish Boy” was a popular song in 1948. (It was released in 1955.)

“Mack the Knife” was a popular song in 1958. (It was released in 1959, but it’s a great theme song for Quiz Show which is about people doing very bad things for money and fame.)

The riot at the live Rock n’Roll show in 1958 was started by DJ Alan Freed which was held at the Paramount Theater in Brooklyn, NY. (Actually contrary to American Hot Wax, the riot happened at the Boston Arena and Freed was eventually cleared of all charges. Yet, he was fired from his job at the WINS Radio in New York and forced into bankruptcy.)

Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, June Carter, and Elvis Presley toured together for Sun Records. (Unfortunately, contrary to Walk the Line, this couldn’t have happened. By the time Jerry Lee Lewis was signed to Sun Records, Elvis had moved to RCA and toured on his own.)

Duke Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood” was popular in 1958. (It was released in 1962.)

“Tutti Frutti” was a song on the radio in the early 1950s. (It was released in November 1955.)

Saxophonist David “Fathead” Newman was a little more than a loudmouth junkie. (Yes, he was into drugs but he and Ray Charles were friends for over a decade. Contrary to Ray, he was a soft-spoken, gentle man of few words. Both were brought up on bebop though Ray ignores this. To Ray Charles, jazz was the center of his soul.)

Mary Ann Fisher was a manipulative tart. (Contrary to Ray, she’s said to be sometimes infuriating and sometimes endearing as well as engaging.)

Record executive Ahmet Ertegun spoke with a thick Turkish accent. (He spoke with hardly any accent as in Ray, not with a thick one as in Beyond the Sea.)

Surf music was popular in the 1950s. (Actually there were few surf music hits at this time and they sounded like doo wop more than anything.)

Leonard Chess opened Chess Studios in the mid-1950s. (Contrary to Cadillac Records, Chess Studios opened in 1957. At the time, he would’ve recorded exclusively at Universal Recording. Also, I find it hard believe that he’d look like Adrien Brody.)