Tommy Roe – Sheila

Another B side that Disc Jockeys flipped over and became a huge #1 hit.

In the mid-eighties, I was in a cage…a parts cage in a place that sold printers and copiers. I was the stock boy and had my radio tuned in to the oldies station on 96.3 in Nashville. They played the 50s, 60s, and softer 70s.

When I heard this my first thought was Buddy Holly. I had a Buddy Holly greatest hits album at that time and I wondered why this wasn’t on it. After the second or third time, I heard it… the DJ said “another one by Tommy Roe.” I knew the song Dizzy rather well never heard this one. It didn’t have that drive that Buddy Holly songs had but it has a simple charm.

It peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100, #1 in Canada, and #3 in the UK in 1962.

Roe wrote this song when he was just 14 years old and it was influenced by Peggy Sue. This was initially recorded in 1960 for a small label called Judd Records, which was run by Jud Phillips, the brother of Sam Phillips of Sun Records. When Roe accepted a deal with ABC Paramount, the song was re-recorded with a different arrangement, and released as the B-side to “Save Your Kisses.” When DJs flipped the record and started playing “Sheila” instead, the song took off.

The song had some major players backing Tommy Roe. The hit version of this song was recorded at RCA Studios in Nashville with producer Felton Jarvis. On guitar was Jerry Reed, who later became a Country star as a solo act. The backup singers were The Jordanaires, who sang behind Elvis Presley on many of his hits.

Roe was labeled “bubblegum” and that label was pretty much correct… and he quietly had a string of hits. He had six Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, including the number one hits, Dizzy in 1969 and this song in  1962.

Tommy Roe: When I was around 14, I started writing poems, and I wrote a poem for a girl named Frida that I had a crush on (laughs). And around the same time, my dad taught me three chords on the guitar. So I thought…if I could put some music to these poems, I could become a songwriter. And then in high school, I formed a band called Tommy Roe & The Satins.

When I was 20, I had an opportunity to audition for a record producer. I sang “Frida” for him, and he said, “Man, I love that song ‘Frida,’ but I’m not crazy about that title.” So we ended up changing the title to “Sheila,” and as they say…the rest is history. It became my first number one hit, and it launched my career.

Sheila

Sweet little Sheila, you’ll know her if you see her
Blue eyes and a ponytail
Her cheeks are rosy, she looks a little nosy
Man, this little girl is fine

Never knew a girl like-a little Sheila
Her name drives me insane
Sweet little girl, that’s my little Sheila
Man, this little girl is fine

Me and Sheila go for a ride
Oh oh oh oh, I feel all funny inside
Then little Sheila whispers in my ear
Oh oh oh oh, I love you Sheila dear

Sheila said she loved me, she said she’d never leave me
True love will never die
We’re so doggone happy just bein’ around together
Man, this little girl is fine

Never knew a girl like-a little Sheila
Her name drives me insane
Sweet little girl, that’s my little Sheila
Man, this little girl is fine

Me and Sheila go for a ride
Oh oh oh oh, I feel all funny inside
Then little Sheila whispers in my ear
Oh oh oh oh, I love you Sheila dear

Sheila said she loved me, she said she’d never leave me
True love will never die
We’re so doggone happy just bein’ around together
Man, this little girl is fine
Oh, this little girl is fine
Yeah, this little girl is fine
Oh, this little girl is fine

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

20 thoughts on “Tommy Roe – Sheila”

  1. Tommy Roe first recorded this song with the High School group The Satins that he formed, and they played at local dances around Atlanta. Before Tommy Roe could tell Freda the girl from Brown High School where he attended how he felt and give her the poem, she moved away, and he never saw her again.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was never a big fan of Tommy Roe. I put him in the same boat with Tommy James and the Shondells, the Hondells, the Archies…Now that you mention it, I can hear the debt to Buddy Holly; or maybe I thought it was a cheap imitation back then. I would never have realized that it was that long ago. 1962? really?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh cool! As a teen I thought it was Holly…before I knew his music more…now no…I can tell right off the bat but it is catchy.

      Like

  3. I too didn’t think it was as early as ’62. Imagine the irony of changing her name- no longer saying Frida’s name a’drived him insayne. Man but it has to hurt when you’ve poured all your 14 year old heart into a song. Still, ‘Frida’ doesnt exactly trip off the tongue.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s pretty cool that his two big hits bookended the sixties. Not many artists that were big in 1962 could have a hit in ’69. (This is a total Buddy Holly rip-off, to be fair, but you can’t go too wrong copying BH!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is true…I didn’t know it was 1962 until I wrote this. It wasn’t as strong as Buddy of course but it is a fun song. Pretty good for a 14 year old to write.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Tommy Roe has been unfairly tagged as a bubblegum performer, although “Sweet Pea” and “Dizzy” certainly fit in that. But “Sheila” is a great song, and he certainly has the Buddy Holly strumming down in that one.

    Liked by 1 person

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