Although murder, misfortune and mortality have always been popular themes in music, Reynolds 1958 hit Endless Sleep ushered in a golden era of largely teenage variations on the subject of death. The craze reached its zenith in the 1960 when Ray Peterson's Tell Laura I Love Her (which prompted Marilyn Michaels to answer Tell Tommy I Miss Him), and Mark Dinning's Teen Angel both charted despite featuring fatalities.
In August that year Bob Luman's pleaded Let's Think About Living but it fell on deaf ears and the trend continued on into the sixties. In the UK, Johnny Leyton, whose cover of Tell Laura I Love Her had lost out to Richie Valance's version the previous year, hit with Johnny Remember Me in 1961. Although it didn't explicitly say that the girl he'd 'lost'was dead the echoey chorus left little doubt that the gal was in the ground. Produced by Joe Meek and written by Geoff Godard the track had apparently been blessed, from beyond by the grave, by Buddy Holly. The pair contacted the bespectacled plane crash victim via weegee board and on hearing their plans for Johnny Remember Me apparently commented "See you in the charts". (See Death Discs by Alan Clayson).
Jan and Dean, who "made surf, cars and simply being between the ages of thirteen and eighteen seem like a mid sixties version of God's grace" (The Dustbin Of History Greil Marcus ), hit in 1964 with Dead Mans Curve which dealt with a drag race fatality on a stretch of Sunset Boulevard in LA.Also that year Twinkle had a UK hit with Terry the tragic tale of her biker boyfriends untimely demise. The following year another biker bit the dust in The Shangri La's delirious teen melodrama The Leader Of The Pack, which, with its kitchen sink and all production, surely represented the genres artistic high water mark. What follows is a random, and by no means definitive, list of some of my favourite Death Discs: