‘Walkin’ After Midnight’ By ‘Calvin Coolidge’: Patsy Cline’s Rarest Record?
What is it that connects the great country singer with an American president of the 1920s? The answer lies in this bizarre tale.
In the short recording career of Patsy Cline, there’s one single that represents a truly bizarre incident, and perhaps the rarest disc that she was ever associated with. Or, to put it another way, this is the story of the single that connects the great country star with the 30th President of the United States.
Come with us, then, back to 1957, when the 24-year-old Patsy has finally made her chart breakthrough with the No.2 country hit “Walkin’ After Midnight.” As often happened, such a big hit prompted a cover version, swiftly promoted by one Bill McCall, the president of 4-Star Music Sales, the company to which Patsy was signed before she made it big. She recorded the Alan Block-Don Hecht song for them in November, 1956.
Cline’s recording was licensed to Decca and became her first national success. Back at 4-Star Music, McCall was keen to maximise the song’s popularity, and was soon touting the “first male version” of “Walkin’ After Midnight.” It purported to be by an artist called Calvin Coolidge, also the name of the American President who had served between 1923 and 1930.
The identity unveiled
In fact, the real identity of “Calvin Coolidge” was…Patsy Cline. The opportunistic McCall had taken her hit recording and had it slowed down to album-playing speed, 33 revolutions per minute, and then pressed onto a single to be played at 45rpm. Amusingly, to be brought back to Patsy’s normal voice, the single would need to be played at about 60rpm.
Word was that McCall had some 250 copies of the single pressed for distribution to radio, but it was never commercially released, and never heard of again, making it perhaps the rarest disc in the Patsy Cline “catalog.” The disc can now be seen in Nashville’s Patsy Cline Museum, where co-founder Bill Miller proudly told us a copy of it resides. Read more from Bill about the museum, and from Patsy’s daughter Julie.
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September 29, 2015 at 3:49 pm
September 29, 2015 at 4:33 pm
I’ve got one…..
September 30, 2015 at 4:41 am
Sure you do.
April 26, 2016 at 8:34 pm
If there’s been no audio trace found, where’s that photo of the label from?
September 30, 2017 at 7:49 pm
We recently acquired an original 45 for The Patsy Cline Museum.
January 12, 2018 at 8:25 pm
was lucky enough to find one a couple years back on Ebay i guess the seller did not realize who it really was !!
October 1, 2019 at 3:11 pm
Correction- Calvin Coolidge was President August 1923 to March 1929 not 1930.