SLIM WILLET, « Don’t Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes », Texas, 1952

SLIM WILLET (notes to Collector CD 2857)slim willet tête

Slim Willet will forever be remembered as the composer of « Don’t Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes ». The song was a monster hit in 1952, initially for Slim Willet himself, then for the likes of Skeets McDonald, Ray Price and Red Foley. The song also made inroads into the pop field, with successful covers by a slew of pop singers, including a N° 1 hit for Perry Como in 1953.

Ironically « Don’t let the Stars Get In Your Eyes » was the B side of Willet’s second release on his own 4 STAR Custom pressed SLIM WILLET label. Slim gleefully recalled in a 1950’s article in COWBOY SONGS that 4 STAR had written to him upon receipt of his masters advising him that « Don’t Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes » was – quote – « Off beat, off meter, off everything and would not sell ». Needless to say when the record started to attract considerable attention, 4 STAR speedily reconsidered their position, brushed aside any doubs they may have harboured about the song, and signed Slim Willet to a recording deal.

Before taking a closer look at what led on from the success of « Don’t let The Stars Get In Your Eyes », it would be better to first take a glance at Willet’s formative years in order to put events into perspective. (suite…)

Skeets McDonald

Biography by Jason Ankeny
Best known for his self-penned chart-topper « Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes, » Skeets McDonald was a honky tonk singer and songwriter whose work helped serve to bridge the gap between country and rock & roll. The youngest of seven children, Enos William McDonald was born on October 1, 1915, in Greenway, AR, and earned his nickname after an incident involving a swarm of mosquitoes. He became interested in music at a young age and, according to McDonald family legend, even traded his hound dog for a guitar and six dollars. When his older brother moved to Michigan several years later, McDonald followed and joined his first band, the Lonesome Cowboys, in Detroit in 1935. He continued to perform on local radio stations until he was drafted to serve in World War II in 1943.skeets-detroitAfter returning from battle, McDonald began performing on a Detroit-area television program and in 1950 cut his first records with fiddler Johnnie White & His Rough Riders. In 1951, McDonald and his family moved to Los Angeles, where he was signed to perform on Cliffie Stone‘s TV program Hometown Jamboree. Soon after, he joined Capitol Records and in 1952 released « Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes, » by far his biggest hit. McDonald remained with the label until 1959, the year he released the LP Goin’ Steady With The Blues, and while he scored few chart successes, his music’s evolution from honky tonk to straightforward rockabilly proved to be influential with other musicians. Meanwhile in 1956, he teamed wth the aspiring Honky tonk singer Wynn Stewart. The pair recorded « Slowly But Surely » (with a young Eddie Cochran on rhythm guitar), backed by « Keeper of the key » (later cut at Sun by Carl Perkins).

In 1959, McDonald signed with Columbia, which mandated that he return to country music. In the early ’60s, he notched a handful of hits, including « Call Me Mr. Brown » which reached the Top Ten in 1963. A year later, he issued the album Call Me Skeets!. As the decade wore on, he began branching out from the West Coast music scene, recording in Nashville and appearing on the Grand Ole Opry. Despite the country industry’s shift towards slicker, more pop-oriented productions, McDonald remained a purist throughout his career; he died on March 31, 1968, after suffering a massive heart attack.

Recommended listening: Heartbreakin’ mama (Bear Family)  skeets-bf-gonna-shakeDon’t Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes (6CD boxset Bear Family)

article revised December 5th, 2011. It still doesn’t please to me! It was one of my very first articles, and I didn’t know Photoshop and page mage make-up…Someday I will have to write it again entirely.skeets-coffretskeetswithhrosegro
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