The String-A-Longs were an instrumental rock & roll group from Plainview, Texas that became famous during the early 1960s. The lineup consisted of Richard Stephens and Jimmy Torres (lead guitars), rhythm guitarist Keith McCormack (October 19, 1940 - April 10, 2015), Aubrey de Cordova (bass), and Don Allen (drums). Formed during the mid 1950s by childhood friends de Cordova, McCormack, and Stephens, the teenage quintet began recording as the Rock 'N' Rollers with several name changes before becoming known as The String-A-Longs. They began as a vocal group but turned mainly to rock instrumentals when then-lead singer McCormack came down with a bad cold that left him barely able to speak. With his mother, he served as the group's main songwriter during the group's early years.
The String-A-Longs debuted on the Pop/Rock charts in 1961 with the Jimmy Torres/Richard Stephens-penned "Wheels," which became a Top 5 hit and the group's best known song. Produced by Norman Petty, this jaunty Tex-Mex-flavored guitar smash also became a top hit in many countries worldwide and soon after went gold. The String-A-Longs followed up later that year with the similarly-styled Petty-penned "Brass Buttons," which made the Top 40. Several minor hits followed through 1963 that included surf rock renditions of such traditional pop standards as "Should I" (1961), "My Blue Heaven" (1962), and "Heartaches" (1963).
The String-A-Longs toured and recorded actively before financial and legal difficulties forced the group to disband by the mid 1960s. They reunited several times over the years and were inducted into the Wayland Baptist University Hall of Fame in 2010. Their signature song, "Wheels," which also became a Top 40 instrumental hit for Billy Vaughn, has been covered by such bands and artists as Chet Atkins, Jorgen Ingmann, The Ventures, Hot Butter, and numerous others. Country singer Johnny Duncan also recorded a sung version with lyrics by Johnny Flamingo.
During the early 1960s, Keith McCormack co-wrote many hits for Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs that included the chart-topping "Sugar Shack" (1963). He later joined the band in 1968 as the lead singer, replacing Gilmer who had left the previous year.
- Keith McCormack and Aubrey de Cordova give a candid account of the history of The String-A-Longs in an in-depth interview with Dick Stewart of The Lance Monthly (January 6, 2004).
- The Plainview Daily Herald remembers rhythm guitarist and String-A-Longs co-founder Keith McCormack.
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- Brass Buttons 1961
- Wheels 1961
(This instrumental song also became a hit for Billy Vaughn (1961, instrumental version).)
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