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Robin Luke

Robin Luke is best remembered for his one big hit, "Susie Darlin'" in 1958, a song that embodied the most gently innocent side of rock & roll. His career actually lasted into the early '60s, however, and encompassed dozens of songs. He was one of the most popular of the romantic rockers of the late '50s, at his best as a balladeer in the mold of Ricky Nelson or the Everly Brothers, although he was also able to rock out on occasion and did a good cover of the ominous Marty Wilde number "Bad Boy," itself a tribute to Gene Vincent's style. Robin Luke was a member of rock & roll's second wave, young enough to have been a fan of rock & roll and R&B before he dreamed of a recording career of his own.

Luke's father was a worker and later an executive for Douglas Aircraft, and while he was born in Los Angeles, the demands of the elder Luke's job had the family relocating every few years, first to Georgia and later, when Robin was 11, to Hawaii. It was there that he took up the guitar and the ukulele.

He was appearing as an amateur performer at Punahou High School when he was spotted by a local impresario, who helped Luke hook up with Bob Bertram, a producer whose clients included singing cowboy Eddie Dean. Bertram owned several labels, including Lariat, whose artists included Joe Maphis, Polynesian (which released hula records aimed at the tourist trade, ) and Bertram International, which recorded rock & roll.

Luke was recorded by Bertram International in early May 1958 doing two originals, "Living's Loving You" and "Susie Darlin'," the latter title referring to Luke's younger sister. "Susie Darlin'" was issued in the spring of 1958 and did very well locally in Hawaii. Luckily for all concerned, it was also heard by Art Freeman, a distributor for Dot Records, who brought the single to the attention of his employers. The powers-that-were at Dot picked the record up for distribution on the mainland; Luke was already a headliner in Hawaii, closing shows on bills with the likes of the Everly Brothers and Sam Cooke, but the national release of "Susie Darlin'" resulted in his doing a quick tour of the United States and appearing on American Bandstand. As the single climbed the charts, he was brought back for more shows, in the company of the Kalin Twins, who were enjoying their first flush of success with "When" at the time. He appeared on more national television shows, including The Perry Como Show, and also became friends with a number of other neophyte music stars, including Buddy Holly and Ricky Nelson; Holly even taught him the chords to "Peggy Sue" backstage before an appearance on the same bill.

Luke sounded a good deal like Nelson, and also like Holly in his softer moments; as a balladeer, he could almost have been an Anglo counterpart to Ritchie Valens. He had a gentle, romantic voice that also managed to be sexy and vulnerable, and made him a major heartthrob and teen idol.

The follow-up to "Susie Darlin," "Chicka-Chicka-Honey," was released before Luke had graduated from high school in 1959. He moved to Los Angeles to attend Pepperdine University, and began recording directly for Dot Records, backed by the likes of Glen Campbell and the Champs. In the fall of 1959, he was rushed into the studio to record a cover of a fast-breaking British single, "Bad Boy," which was tearing up the English charts in a version by Marty Wilde.

Luke remained popular on the concert stage and was well taken care of by Dot Records president Randy Woods, but it wasn't his intention to continue as a singer. After finishing his undergraduate work in 1962, Luke pursued a graduate degree in business administration that ultimately brought him into the academic world and took him out of music permanently. He left singing behind after the mid-'60s, choosing instead the life of a faculty member and the chance to savor the memories he had of his five years as a teen idol. ~ Bruce Eder
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: '50s & '60s Lost & Found Records Vol. 3

Disc 1

1. Plaything

2. The Big Heavy

3. Swinging Sweethearts

4. Starry Eyed

5. Journey To Love

6. Mister Fire Eyes

7. I See A Star

8. Roberta

9. Kookie Little Paradise

10. Ruby Duby Du From Key Witness

11. Someone Loves You, Joe

12. Bobby

13. Little Sister Beware

14. Forever Ambrose

15. How Will It End?

16. Sad Movies (Make Me Cry)

17. The Teacher

18. Bridge Of Love

19. Little Dipper

20. Gonna Get Some Records

21. Magic Star (Telstar)

22. The Girl On The Billboard

23. Dedicated (To The Songs I Love)

24. I Could Have Loved You So Well

25. (There's) Always Something There To Remind Me

26. Waitin' For The Evenin' Train

27. Soul Dance

28. Roses Are Red My Love

29. Let Me Through

30. Hot Pepper

31. Bonnie Do

32. Sippin' 'n Chippin'

33. Monster Swim

34. Just For Tonight

35. Cheryl's Goin' Home

36. Cowboy Boots

37. Stand By Me

38. Devotion

39. I Want My Baby Back

40. Band Of Gold

Disc 2

1. Kerry Pipers Rock

2. Anyway That You Want Me

3. Enamorado

4. Rockin' Johnny Home

5. Give Me One More Chance

6. Sealed With A Kiss

7. Young Abe Lincoln

8. Pollyanna

9. Contract On Love

10. Little Eeefin Annie

11. Drums

12. For You Alone

13. My Baby's Just Crazy 'bout Elvis

14. Don't Wanna Think About Paula

15. In The Mood

16. Don't Go

17. That's It

18. If You Can't Rock Me

19. Philadelphia U.S.A.

20. (Gary, Please Don't Sell) My Diamond Ring

21. The Fortune Teller

22. Hootenanny Granny

23. Blue Guitar

24. Teenage Meeting

25. The Ballad Of Davy Crockett

26. China Nights (Shina No Yoru)

27. Little Miss U.S.A.

28. Everlovin'

29. Gallant Men

30. Billy

31. I Looked At Heaven

32. In The Midnight Hour

33. Cry On My Shoulder

34. Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh! (A Letter From Camp)

35. Lullabye From Rosemary's Baby

36. Big Bruce

37. Words

38. Happy

39. Kay

40. I Hear You Say (I Love You Baby)

x

Track List: Radio Gold (Volume 3)

1. Love Is Strange

2. Willie And The Hand Jive

3. Sweet Nothin's

4. I'm In Love Again

6. Chanson D'amour (Song Of Love)

7. I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter

8. Susie Darlin'

9. The Lion Sleeps Tonight

10. Make It Easy On Yourself

11. It's In His Kiss (The Shoop Shoop Song)

12. Halfway To Paradise

13. That'll Be The Day

14. Only The Lonely

15. When

16. A White Sport Coat (And A Pink Carnation)

17. On The Rebound

18. Day-O (Banana Boat Song)

19. Singing The Blues

20. The Twelfth Of Never

21. Freight Train

22. Big Man

23. At The Hop

24. Just Walking In The Rain

25. The Garden Of Eden

26. The Green Door

27. I Hear You Knocking

28. Seven Little Girls Sitting In The Back Seat

29. Witch Doctor

30. I Go Ape

x

Track List: Rock 'n' Roll Love Songs

1. What In The World's Come Over You

2. Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye

3. Little Darlin'

4. Come Softly To Me

5. Lavender Blue

6. Love Potion No. 9

7. My Special Angel

8. Earth Angel

9. My Heart Is An Open Book

10. Endlessly

11. I Almost Lost My Mind

12. Rhythm Of The Rain

13. Mr. Blue

14. Susie Darlin'

15. Close To Cathy

16. Needles And Pins

17. Goodbye Baby

18. Teen Angel

19. The Fool

20. Sea Of Love

x

Track List: Teen Time: The Young Years Of Rock & Roll - Volume 3: A Very Special Love

1. My Heart Is An Open Book

2. Susie Darlin'

3. Pink Shoe Laces

4. Ninety-Nine Ways

6. Just As Much As Ever

7. Till Death Do Us Part

8. A Very Special Love

9. Morgen

10. Over The Rainbow

11. Oh Julie

12. You Better Move On

13. Jamie

15. Ramona

16. The Way Of A Clown

17. Top Forty, News, Weather And Sports

19. Letter From Sherry

20. Wonderful Summer

Comments

Report as inappropriate
Robin Luke wrote this song for his younger sister, Susie. He played the Fender Telecaster.
Report as inappropriate
one of the greatest oldies
Report as inappropriate
ced7712
Robin Luke taught economics at Old Dominion University back in the 80's

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