The Jamies' "Summertime, Summertime" is one of those songs you only have to hear once for it to live rent-free in your mind forever. The bouncy doo wop novelty, which featured a harpsichord prominently in the mix, surely provided inspiration for later novelty groups like the Village People and Sha Na Na to perform songs in the same campy style. The New York-based group derived its name from lead singer Thomas Earl Jameson, who wrote the song with the lyrics "Summertime, summertime/sum, sum, summertime" with Sherman Feller; the pair also collaborated on the flip side "Searching for You." The 45, released in 1958 on Epic, became one of the most popular summer songs of all time. It broke the Top 40 but stopped short of the Top 20 by six rungs at number 26, on September 22, 1958.
"Summertime, Summertime"'s follow-up, "Snow Train" (written by Feller) b/w "When the Sun Goes Down" (written by Jameson) failed to chart and slowed the Jamies' roll to a virtual stop. A switch to United Artists was hardly a panacea, as "Don't Darken My Door," written by Larry Jaspon and Vicki Gay, stiffed (along with the flip side, Jameson's "The Evening Star") in 1959. The Jamies had numerous personnel changes: Robert Paolucci joined shortly after "Summertime, Summertime" hit, he became a monk afterward, but eventually left that calling to work as a translator. When they couldn't find another hit, the Jamies went to the well again with "Summertime, Summertime" and broke the Top 40 with it for the second time on August 4, 1962, at number 38.
A year later, the Fortunes (formerly the Cliftones) redid the song for their first release on Decca Records. But they weren't the only ones. The infectious ditty has also been redone by the Doodletown Pipers, Hobby Horse, Jan & Dean, the Legendary Masked Surfers, Mongo Jerry, and Sha Na Na. In addition, Buick and Applebee Restaurants both revitalized the song in their commercials. ~ Andrew Hamilton