And speaking of medical malpractice...
|Singing Jimmy Drake, a.k.a. Nervous Norvus|
Of all the records ever to hit the Top 10, few have been more unusual -- or delightful -- than 1956's ghoulish novelty song "Transfusion" by Nervous Norvus. A crude home demo never actually intended for release, this outrageous song shot to national popularity after a record executive heard it on a San Francisco radio show and released it as-is. The man behind this one-of-a-kind record was a 44-year-old truck driver turned amateur musician named "Singing" Jimmy Drake, who invented the slangy, jive-talking "Nervous Norvus" persona as a parody of beatnik culture.
Sadly, Drake/Norvus' reign on the top was short-lived: only one more Top 40 hit (the equally wonderful "Ape Call"), followed by years of dwindling fortunes and alcoholism. He died in 1968 of cirrhosis of the liver, and his booze-addled body was donated to science. But his music lives on! John Waters used a Nervous Norvus b-side called "Dig" in his movie Female Trouble, and "Transfusion" and "Ape Call" were both played many times over the years on The Dr. Demento Show. For those interested, there is a marvelous one-disc compilation of Drake's work entitled Stone Age Woo: The Zorch Sounds of Nervous Norvus. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
For newcomers to Nervous Norvus, I present a selection of some of his best work: