Could Dave Spencer’s Mother Have Inspired an Everly Brothers Classic?
My mother always told she felt a little funny every time she heard the Everly Brothers classic, "Wake Up Little Susie."
If I wasn't writing a story about WHY, I'd leave it at that and make you wonder since it is so incredibly random. Buuut, my oddball sense of humor aside, it does make for a good story and I will happily explain.
When my mother, who passed away in July, was a young nurse--just out of college--she met the Everly Brothers before they hit it big and became superstars.
Phil and Don had driven to Owensboro to visit a cousin of theirs who was in the hospital on Mom's floor. They had brought their guitars so they could play and sing for her, and Mom heard them and went into the room to listen.
While she was there, she told them a story I heard a million times growing up.
Soon after Mom and Dad started dating, they went to the drive-in. It was the old Cardinal Drive-In where Glenn Funeral Home is now. I don't remember what movie she told me they saw, but that's not really important to the story. What IS important is that Mom's name was Sue. What's ALSO important is that both Mom and Dad fell asleep during the movie and didn't wake up until close to 4 AM. Why someone didn't run them out of the theater, I'll never know. And Mom never explained that.
Anyway, Mom told that story to Phil and Don Everly, for some reason, and in 1957, "Wake Up Little Susie" became their first number one hit.
Of course, they didn't write it. It was penned by the legendary songwriting team of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, a couple of New Yorkers. But there's no reason to believe the brothers didn't share that story with the Bryants and they took it from there. And since I can't find ANYTHING definitive that really explains the idea behind the song--I only ever find a synopsis of it--my family has always been left wondering if my parents were the inspiration of a rock 'n' roll classic.
The passing, over the weekend, of Don Everly--his brother Phil died in 2014--makes this a good time to reflect on that fun story and to once again wonder how much, if any, influence my mother had on the rock icons' first chart-topper. Needless to say, none of us will ever know.