In 1979, a surprise hit in the English charts for Paul Evans came about when he released "Hello this is Joannie (telephone answering machine)". He already had a hit back in 1961 with " Seven little girls sitting in the back seat" and had written for numerous artists since then. At the time in England, everyone had heard of a telephone answering machine but no one possessed one…
Since his hit in 1961 in England, Paul had written and recorded many other songs back in his homeland, USA, but none had made any impact on the English charts. Though as a writer for Bobby Vinton's "Roses are red" and "When" which was re-recorded by Showaddywaddy, and many other hits he had been working behind the scenes, but always looking to get another hit record.
In 1976 he had released in America for its Bicentennial birthday "Happy Birthday America" on the Big tree label, but with Big Tree pushing a bigger artist at the time of "England Dan & John Ford Coley", Paul's song got lost in the shuffle. Even when he tried to buy it back from Big Tree to sell to another record company, Big Tree wouldn't let him.
In the following years, Paul had still been writing songs and making demos and felt that was something about this song he had just written. Paul had written the tune but had no lyrics although he had tried. He passed it on to songwriting partner Fred Tobias, who he had worked with in the past. Fred wrote the lyrics for the song, which meant Paul had to change some of the arrangements to fit the song. The song "Hello this is Joannie" (Telephone Answering Machine) was about a couple having an argument and never having chance to apologize and the female dying in a car crash. The only memory he has or memento is the recording on her telephone answering machine hence the title. In case any of you wondering if the story is true, there was no car crash and no Joannie!! Also for the record, the female vocalist singing the part of "Joannie" on the recording machine was Lea Jane Berinati who runs her own recording studio in Nashville to this day.
Paul had sent it to Chet Atkins at RCA who was interested. Sadly though his position was taken over by Gerry Bradley who turned it down.
Still believing in his product, Paul and long time producer friend Jim Wisner, left New York and flew to Nashville to record the song. With the finished song in hand, the first few record companies had turned it down but Spring records showed interest. They were most notable for their R&B artists, had no real experience in Country as that was what the songs had flavors of in it.
Never knowing what song is going to be a hit, after hearing call in requests on radio stations, Paul saw the song jump on the country billboard charts, where it took off on the country radio stations.
Even stranger still was the success the song had in England, climbing to the No.6 position in the UK. The promotion agent for Polygram had admired Paul's work and made a sterling effort which paid off. This was quite a feat considering Disco was waning and punk and the New Romantic movement was becoming the rage. Other cross over country artists like Crystal Gayle and Olivia Newton-John had been successful years earlier but now with a different music style this was totally different.
With "Joannie" now on the charts in the USA, Paul was excited to go promote but even more excited with a call from England to go and be on "Top of the Pops". After flying over there, TOTP realized there figures were miscalculated and only an American artist in the Top ten and rising could appear on the show. Sadly as Blondie's record company had kept the figures shielded for "Heart of Glass" this pushed Paul out of the Top Ten. Remember at the time, "Top of the Pops" was a huge force in pushing a song over, MTV hadn't been invented and this was the UK's biggest music promotion vehicle. Although TOTP did offer to show a video clip of Paul from his "American Bandstand" appearance but there wasn't time to get it sent over.
In fact the hit was so quick in England, Paul had no time to go and book live dates to promote it.
To go along with the single, Spring released the album " Hello this is Paul Evans", to try to capitalize on the hit. The album had been started on before the record deal began with Spring, and had been finished off when Spring gave an advance to Paul to complete the album. The album consisted of songs in the same country acoustic vein that Paul had with the hit "Joannie".
After returning from England, the next single to be released was "What's a nice guy like me doing in a place like this" which was only released in England. Although it had airplay it never made the charts, due to lack of publicity. This came about when after "Joannie" became a hit, Spring informed Paul they wanted to make him into a dance artist. Of course Paul not being in this field of music couldn't see any sense behind it( who could?), and at that point he parted from the label much to his chagrin.
Although Spring and Paul had parted company, Spring released one more single to try to cash in, which was called "Disneyland Daddy". This song was way ahead of its time dealing with a divorced father and having to spend limited time with his children. This though was in fact a true story to some extent, as Paul had just gone through a divorce and this had prompted him to write the song with Paul Parnes.
After parting Company with Spring, Paul had hoped he could get another hit on his own record label with popularity from the song "Joannie", rather than go door to door at the record companies. He released a few singles on his own Cinnamon label, but sadly due to high costs in promoting and distribution, it didn't fare too well.
Since that time Paul has lived in New York, doing writing for other artists or radio jingles, movies, soundtracks, and has not really been in the same market. Although he recently completed a CD with a mixture of different sounds, some in the country vein he is known for. In fact, he re-recorded "Disneyland Daddy " and changed the title to "Weekend Daddy". He is now looking to get out on the live circuit again to see what interest there is, although he has played dates in the USA, nothing has been forthcoming from England yet.
Looking back on that hit from 1979, Paul stands by the saying " Second time around is better" and what a thrill it was to be back on the charts years later. He now aims for third time around… Good luck, Paul!
|YEAR||A SIDE||B SIDE||CAT #|
|1976||Happy Birthday America||You Made Me Over||BT 16050|
|1977||If I Had My Life To Live Over||Roses Are Red Medley||Musicor Rec 6305|
|1979||Hello This Is Joanie (Telephone…)||Lullaby Tissue Paper Company||Spring 183|
|1979||What's A Nice Guy Like Me…||I'm Giving Up My Baby||Spring 187|
|1980||Disneyland Daddy||Build An Ark||Spring 193|
|1980||Good Neighbour||An Angel With A Broken Wing||RCA RECORDS 5260|
|1980||One Night Led To Two||Hangin' Out And Hangin' In||CINNAMON Rec 804|
|1979||Hello, This Is Paul Evans||Build An Ark / Rosemarie / Hello, This Is Joannie / Disneyland Daddy / Half Man, Half Music / What's A Nice Guy Like Me Doing In A Place Like This? / Lullaby / Tissue Paper Company / Mack The Knife / I'm Giving Up My Baby / The First Time I've Had Second Thoughts||1008|