Chart Performance: Pop(#10) and R&B(#5); 1961
Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne
When Memphis studio owners Jim and Estelle Stewart and Chips Moman received an advance from Atlantic Records, they laid it down to record two singles: Suddenly by Charles Heinz and Gee Whiz (Look At His Eyes) by Carla Thomas. Being the daughter of deejay/singer Rufus Thomas meant there was plenty of music around the house, as well as a piano and tape recorder. Carla was just 15 when she put down her own song, Gee Whiz, on tape in 1958. Her dad was impressed. He shopped the demo to Vee Jay Records in Chicago, then – after a year of no response – took to Stax. Recorded on a hot August afternoon in 1960 with backing by three Memphis Symphony string players, a rhythm section, and The Veltones on vocals, Carla quickly nailed it. A competing Gee Whiz-titled song by the Innocents, forced the addition of a subtitle to Carla’s Top 10 R&B/pop hit. As for Charles Heinz, he and Suddenly faded away without cracking the charts.
This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2023 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.
- Brooks Arthur
Lyrics Written by:
- Carla Thomas