It took a lot longer than it should have for Del Reeves’ singing career to catch fire. Named after one of America’s most popular presidents, Franklin Delano Reeves was born June 14, 1932 in Sparta, North Carolina. He served in the Air Force, then settled in Sacramento, California and hooked up with country musician Chester Smith. Reeves first recorded for Capitol in February of 1957 in conjunction with Smith, debuting with the country theme You’re Not The Changing Kind (its flip was a C&W duet with Smith on The Clovers’ R&B ditty Love, Love, Love). Del’s Ken Nelson-produced March 20, 1958 date at Capitol Tower was his alone. There Reeves became a rocker, George Brown’s buzzing tenor sax supplanting the fiddle.
Jack McFadden and Tommy Thrasher were responsible for Cool Drool, Del’s first Capitol single, with another future country star, Buck Owens, on lead guitar (its B-side was a sax-led instrumental, The Trot—an odd way to showcase a singer). The same pair handed Del his other Capitol 45 from the date, the blazing Baby, I Love You (Tommy Reiff’s ballad Two Teen Hearts was its flip). Lost in the shuffle was the day’s fifth title, My Baby Loves To Rock, with a dazzling Owens guitar break.
Reeves followed in Johnny Horton’s shoes in 1959 with the McFadden-produced historical saga Johnny Appleseed for the tiny Las Vegas logo. He finally dented the C&W Top Ten in late ’61 with Be Quiet Mind for Decca (his encore He Stands Real Tall just missed). 45s for Reprise and Columbia charted too. But when Del landed with producer Kelso Herston at United Artists at the end of ‘64, he finally basked in full-fledged stardom with the zany novelty Girl On The Billboard, festooned with “doodle-oo-doo-doos” that became his trademark. It sent Del to the top of the C&W hit parade in May of ’65.