Short Shorts – The Royal Teens

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“Short Shorts” – The Royal Teens By Lee Silver

“Short Shorts” is a song for all generations as it was the jingle used for the 1987 Nair commercial, one of the longest running commercials, about 40 years. This is the true story about how the songs originated as told by Lee Silver, producer of the song and owner of Power Records, the label that first release the song.

I was originally from New York, and already living in California but visited New York with a few of my original songs. I met with my old friend Leo Rogers, of the Whirling Disc record store, and mentioned I was looking for a band to produce and record my songs and any other songs that the band had. I auditioned the band, now called the Royal Teens, formerly the Royals. I was impressed by little Billy Crandall with his playing saxophone on his knees who also wrote and sang. The band recorded my songs and since I paid for extra studio time “Short Shorts” was then created in the studio. Believing in good mastering I took the tapes to be mastered by the newest mastering service and cut an acetate recording. I showed the record to many companies without success. I then took the recording with me to California and had it in my bag for three months. At a meeting with John Dolphin at his record store on Central Avenue in LA I took the record acetate from my bag and played it for him. I previously befriended John after helping him collect some money from a Philadelphia distributor. He then listened to the record and said “SILVER, it’s a hit, put it out”. I then contacted Leo Rogers who became my partner in Power Records. I also allowed him to be the manager of the Royal Teens, since I remained in California, and then told Leo we are going to manufacture (Press) Records on Power Records.

I then took the Power Record pressing to the Dick Clark Bandstand Show. My friend Gene Schwartz accompanied me (who knew Dick Clark and later founded Laurie Records). Dick Clark said he could not play the record as it was too suggestive. I was disappointed and left for California, but before that we got the record to Alan Freed. Back in California I received a call from Jack Frost, Alan Freed’s manager, and said Alan likes the record and he would like to play it. And after one week of airplay I received seven offers from record companies with advances for $2,000 to $15,000. ABC Paramount Records offered the $15,000 as an advance. We were then offered $18,000 from United Artist Record Company but I said I verbally committed to ABC Paramount Records and later gained respect from United Artists who I worked with on future masters. I received a call from Sam Clark, President of ABC Records and was asked when I could fly to New York for the signing of contracts. I did so in two days and after signing contracts in the ABC offices the President, Sam Clark, called Dick Clark who was on the same ABC network and said he just signed the record “Short Shorts”. To my surprise it was played on American Bandstand the next day. The record sold a million copies and went up the billboard charts. We then released some other records for ABC but none were hits. The Royal Teens later went on the biggest tour at that time, including the Everly Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis, Sam Cooke, and about seven acts. Billy Crandall who played saxophone on the record did not go on tour as he couldn’t’ get his parents permission. He later left home and formed the group the Knickerbockers. He died at a young age. While on tour talented Bob Gaudio played me a song called “Believe Me”. I loved the melody and his great fill-ins on piano. I told Bob we are going to record this song one day when we are back from tour. After the tour we went into the studio to record “Believe Me”. I loved the piano fills that Bob was doing and wanted to get a more definite sound in the studio. So the engineer put pins in the back of the piano to achieve the sound. I still remember Bob playing the fills over and over again until we finally got it. We finished the record at 3am in the morning and I brought it to ABC Records. They refused it and wanted novelties only. I then brought it to Capitol Records and signed with them. When it was released on Capitol it landed in the 20s on the billboard chart and became number “1” in Italy. After that I remained in California and produced the rhythm and blues group called The Pentagons, worked with Herb Alpert, Bobby Hart, and many other acts. I then decided to stay in California and had to give the Royal Teens a record release.

Little Billy Crandall left the Royal Teens and formed the Knickerbockers with hit record “Lies”. Bob Gaudio became one of the leading members of The Four Seasons writing their songs and having the hit show Jersey Boys.

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Gordon Richiusa About Gordon Richiusa

Gordon Richiusa is an Italian American who has been a martial artist for some 50 years. He teaches the Five Bird System. Gordon earned a Master of Arts degree in English and has written numerous articles, stories, books and scripts under his own name and his pen-name, Gordon Rich. He has been a teacher of English Composition, Film as Literature, Creative Writing, and Scriptwriting and He holds two teaching credentials.