JOHNNY COOPER
Farmer John
(Don Harris - Dewey Terry)
Australia 1965
#28 Melbourne

Single on W&G, B-side of Oh Donna, by Melbourne rock'n'roll singer and guitarist who released a handful of singles on W&G 1965-66 and appeared on the major TV pop shows, notably The GO!! Show. Farmer John was also on the W&G album Go Go Go.

Backing was by Melbourne band The Strangers. The deep voice saying, "Now looky here!" belongs to John Farrar of The Strangers.

Johnny Cooper started out in the early 60s with Melbourne bands The Mustangs and The Monarchs, and before going solo he was with The Saxons for a time as vocalist. He was a hard-working performer on gigs around Melbourne and beyond, and was still gigging well into the 2000s.

JohnnyCooper.com.au had gone offline last time I checked (May 2013), but you can still access an archived version at Internet Archive. It's worth reading, not only for an honest account of Johnny's career from his perspective but also for a glimpse of the music scene in 1960s Melbourne.

Listen: Johnny Cooper - Farmer John.mp3 


Not to be confused with... This is not New Zealand rock pioneer Johnny Cooper, notable for his early recording of Rock Around The Clock (1955).


Photo: Thanks to Johnny Cooper.

References: Chris Spencer et al, Who's Who of Australian Rock; JohnnyCooper.com.au; Milesago's GO!! Show page; Screensound Australia's Second Wave discography (link is to a .pdf file).
Thank you to Deidre for suggestion and leads.


Johnny with The Saxons at Channel 7, Melbourne. Image: Johnny Cooper.
THE HEP STARS
Farmer John
(Don Harris - Dewey Terry)
Sweden 1965
#1 Sweden #4 Norway

Hit single in Sweden and Norway by Sweden's most popular group of the 60s. Benny Andersson, later of ABBA, was a member. Also released in USA on Cameo #376.

See also: The Hep Stars singelskivor 1965-1969! at TheHepStars.se.

THE PREMIERS
Farmer John
(Don Harris - Dewey Terry)
USA 1964
#19 USA

Garage favourite by band from San Gabriel CA formed around brothers Lawrence and John Perez. The single on Warner featured party time background noises by the girls from the Chevelles Car Club.

Essential reading: Richie Unterberger's liner notes to Farmer John at his website RichieUnterberger.com.

THE SEARCHERS
Farmer John
(Don Harris - Dewey Terry)
UK 1963
Influential version



On the Pye album Meet The Searchers and on the EP Ain't Gonna Kiss You.

Released as a single on Astor in Australia, this was a well-known track from the Merseybeat repertoire and probably had a greater impact here than the Premiers' version.

Thanks to Terry Stacey.



DON & DEWEY
Farmer John
(Don Harris - Dewey Terry)
USA 1957
Original version

Single by the writers on Specialty. Don & Dewey were violinist and guitarist Don 'Sugarcane' Harris (1938-1999) with Dewey Terry (1938-2006).

Don & Dewey first recorded Farmer John in 1957 in a slow version with a conventional, guitar-strumming arrangement, almost unrecognisable as the song we know. It remained unreleased until 1991, on the Jungle Hop CD, which includes both versions [Amazon link]. (Thanks to Walter via Multiply playlist.)

Other Harris-Terry compositions include I'm Leaving It Up To You (Dale & Grace, #1 USA 1963) and Justine (best known through the Righteous Brothers' version).

In the 70s 'Sugarcane' Harris played violin with John Mayall and with The Mothers of Invention.

Further reading: All Music Guide entries on Don & Dewey and Don 'Sugarcane' Harris. Wikipedia entry on Don & Dewey.

Arnold Rypens in his book The Originals (2000, now out of print) lists versions by Michigan band The Tidal Waves (1966) and Neil Young (1990), among others. The Magnificent Seven topped the chart
with Farmer John at WTBC in Tuscaloosa AL, 18 August 1966... No doubt there are other local examples.

Later versions:

STEVE & THE BOARD
Farmer John
(Don Harris - Dewey Terry)
Australia 1966
Later version

On their LP And The Giggle-Eyed Goo. Also on the EP I Call My Woman Hinges.

Pop/r&b band Steve & The Board, formed in 1965, were led by Cincinnati-born Steve Kipner. They were produced by Steve's father Nat who was A&R man and a major producer at Spin Records where he was responsible for the Bee Gees' later Australian singles.

For more on Steve Kipner, see Steve & The Board - Rosalyn

Corrections or comments? Contact the writer.