Born in 1941 in Cincinnati, Ohio, and still living there, Carl Dobkins Jr. enjoyed amazing success starting in the late 1950's. He started off working at a local bakery after school for ten bucks a week. He decided to make a record with one of those cheapy dubs that you could do yourself. He gave it to a local DJ in town named Gil Sheppard, Gil liked it, and that was the beginning of a great career and friendship with the local DJ. Gil Sheppard roamed around the city in a VW bus which was used as a radio remote, complete with two turntables. He was very popular with the kids, and had a great local radio career. Carl Dobkins Jr's first record was on the local Cincinnati based Fraternity label, and it made some noise in a few regional markets. His next stop was the Decca label for "If You Don't Want My Lovin." It was also a regional hit, and as Carl explains it, "it was number one in Charleston WV." It sold enough records for Decca, that they decided to give him another shot. He ended up at the Owen Bradley studios in Nashville and recorded his biggest hit, "My Heart Is An Open Book." The record shot up to number three on the charts and parked there for almost 1/2 year total! Realizing they had a huge hit, Decca quickly re-released "If You Don't Want My Lovin" and this time it peaked at number 67. Carl had two more chart hits with "Lucky Devil" and "Exclusively yours." He made many more records for Decca and a few other labels, but was not able to break into the top 100 with them. But don't underestimate the success that Carl had. All you have to do is research a little and you will see just how popular he was in other countries. There were many different pressings of his records in Europe, Canada, and beyond. Carl had and still has a great following. Carl appeared on American Bandstand 14 times, and also appeared on the Beechnut gum show. He continues to perform at shows, and has a CD out of some great material. Listen to my interview with Carl Dobkins Jr. HERE! Also, take a look at Carl's fine web site at

Carl Dobkins Jr. - Take Hold Of My Hand Fraternity
Carl Dobkins Jr. - That's Why I'm Asking Fraternity
"Take Hold Of My Hand" was a nice, slow ballad by Carl. This was his first record, and was on the Fraternity label. The label was based in Cincinnati, and was a big player at the time. Artists like the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, Cathy Carr, and Bobby Bare were on the roster. On the flip was an up tempo song called "That's Why I'm Asking." It was a good pairing that certainly showcased the vocal talent of Carl Dobkins Jr. It was released in 1958, and Carl wrote both sides of this record.
Carl Dobkins Jr. -  If You Don't Want My Lovin Promo
Carl Dobkins Jr. -  Love Is Everything Promo

Carl moved over to the Decca label for his next recording. "If You Don't Want My Lovin" was the plug side. A nice mid tempo outing, it is credited to Carl Dobkins Jr. and Seniors. Why of course! The seniors are prominent in the background and included Keith Ross, Paul Powers, Harry Clifton. It was recorded at the King record studios in Cincinnati, and the record did well in a few markets, including Charleston West Virginia. "Love Is Everything" is a fast moving rocker for the flipside. It also features a wild sax solo at the break. Issued in 1959.

Carl Dobkins Jr. -  My Heart Is An Open Book Stock
Carl Dobkins Jr. -  My Pledge To You Stock
Decca certainly had faith in Carl, and because his previous single showed signs of extreme promise, they sent him to the Owen Bradley studios in Nashville, Tennessee. It's there where he cut his huge hit, "My Heart Is An Open Book." It had a hook, Carl's great voice, excellent instrumentation and vocal backgrounds. Why wouldn't it be a hit? But it almost wasn't. It was actually recorded in late 1958. The main issue was that the rock and roll radio stations thought Decca was a country or, "Hillbilly" label. It stalled upon initial release, but once Carl performed it at some hops, record buyers and DJ's started asking for it. Decca re-serviced the radio stations and it rose all the way to the number three position on the Billboard charts. It kicked around on those same charts for 24 weeks. It also appeared on the R+B charts for about a month. Released the second time in April of 1959. "My Pledge To You" was on the flip.
Carl Dobkins Jr. -  If You Don't Want My Lovin Stock
Carl Dobkins Jr. -  Love Is Everything Stock
You saw this record right after the release on Fraternity. The reason you see it again is that Decca re-released it after the huge hit with "My Heart Is An Open Book." Makes sense. And this time it it charted at number 67. Decca took the time to re-service the radio stations and DJ's, and I'm sure they did it gladly. "Love Is Everything" is the smokin' flip. Notice that Carl wrote both sides. He also was soon to do a stint in the army,which would just get slightly in his way. He stockpiled a few recordings in some sessions he did before leaving, so they had product to release.
Based on the strength of a number three record on Billboard and another top 100 disc, Decca issued an EP. Both sides of the first two Decca records were included. A great cover, and advertisements for other EPs, were on the back.
Here are both of the EP record labels. Side B lists the Seniors with vocals and the Orbits with instrumental accompaniment. Carl wrote both of the records on side B.
Carl Dobkins Jr. -  Lucky Devil Promo
Carl Dobkins Jr. -  In My Heart Promo
Up next was "Lucky Devil" which was released late in 1959. It spent seventeen weeks on the charts and peaked at number 25. The same smooth voice and a catchy melody line made it a surefire hit. On the flip was "In My Heart" It has a nice variety of instruments including bells and an organ. The promotional record is shown above.
Carl Dobkins Jr. -  Lucky Devil Stock
Carl Dobkins Jr. -  In My Heart Stock
Here is the stock copy. The background singers and band is not listed on this label.
A very cool EP was produced by Decca in association with the Celanese corporation. It could be purchased at different stores, so you may find many different examples with their own name printed on the sleeve. Mine was purchased by it's original owner at Dunlap's. They were a Texas based chain with stores in several states and they used different names for those stores.
Datesetters EP Label A
Datesetters EP Label B
Carl shared the EP with Brenda Lee. They both got two songs and one side of the record. I can't say why Decca chose "My Pledge To You" for one of the two songs, as I would think they could have used a hit side. No matter, the record was a great tool for promoting both artists.
DJ Gil Sheppard and his bus
This is a picture of the mobile VW bus that DJ Gil Sheppard used during his live remote shows. According to an interview that the North College Hill organization had with wife Kay Sheppard, pictured at the left is the Volkswagen bus mobile that was used as the radio remote at the 60 Second Shops around the area going from one 60 Second Shop to another interviewing stars and playing top 40 hits of the day. The Volkswagen Bus had two big turntables inside to play the records and record interviews to be used for later broadcasts. The bus would roll into the 60 Shop, and they would hook up the electrical outlet and then transmit to do the show. Monday through Friday, Gil did his show at the Colony Restaurant on Walnut Street downtown across from the Gibson. On Friday Gil and Kay would load up the VW bus after his show was over and do the weekend shows from the 60 Second Shops. Gill did remotes at Greenhills, Fairfield and surrounding areas."
Carl Dobkins Jr. - Exclusively Yours Stock
Next up was "Exclusively Yours." This was to be Carl Dobkins Jr's last Billboard chart hit. It is a nice mid-tempo recording with a popular theme for the time. Peaking at number sixty two, it spent eight weeks on the charts. The flip side was "One Little Girl." Released in May of 1960.
Carl Dobkins Jr. - A Different Kind Of Love
Carl Dobkins Jr. - Genie Stock
Up next was "A Different Kind Of Love." A nice outing for sure, but it did not make the national charts. On the flip was a fun song called "Genie." Complete with cool sound effects and a male voice speaking the "Genie" part. Notice that the Anita Kerr Singers are credited on both sides of this disc.
Carl Dobkins Jr. - Lovelightc
Carl Dobkins Jr. - Take Time Out Stock
From early 1961, "Lovelight" was next up for Carl, the Anita Kerr Singers, and the fine folks at Decca records. On the flip, Gary Paxton had writing credits on "Take Time Out."
Carl Dobkins Jr. - Pretty Little Girl In The Yellow Dress Stock
Carl Dobkins Jr. - That's What I Call True Love
Complete with whistling, "Pretty Little Girl In The Yellow Dress" was next in line for Carl Dobkins Jr. It was very pop sounding to my ears, perhaps in a continuing attempt to hit both the rock and roll and pop oriented markets. Back then, many radio stations played a combination of both. "That's What I Call True Love" was on this 1961 flip.
Carl Dobkins Jr. - Sawdust Dolly Promo
Carl Dobkins Jr. - A Chance To Belong Promo
"Sawdust Dolly" was a mid tempo fun song comparing his girlfriend to a sawdust dolly! Based on my interview with Carl, this record was banned from many radio stations because of what they thought they heard, but really didn't. "A Chance To Belong" was on the "B" side.
Carl Dobkins Jr. - Promise Me Stock
Carl Dobkins Jr. - Ask Me No Questions Stock
Lastly for the Decca label, "Promise Me" was issued. Another great song that should have made some charts. On the flip was "Ask Me No Questions." One thing about being with the Decca label: They were a huge record company and had great recording studios, musicians and vocalists available for their artists. And you can hear it. This was issued towards the beginning of 1962.
Decca saw fit to release an LP of Carl's songs, and included several that were never available on singles. A great cover shot of Carl was put on the LP, and 12 fine songs.
As stereo was starting to get more popular, Decca certainly had the resources to press some copies of his LP in that format. Instead of squeezing the picture on the cover, they cropped the bottom, but kept his whole hand in.
Here is the mono LP, where you see slightly more of the picture. The Decca record number in the bottom left is the only indication it is mono, other than the practice many labels used of boldly marking stereo copies "Stereo", so you could easily figure out the difference.
Here are both of the mono labels. One of the songs he sings and that is not available elsewhere, is the Ed Townsend song "For Your Love." A great LP!
Carl Dobkins Jr. - His Loss Is My Gain Colpix Promo
Carl Dobkins Jr. - A Little Bit Later On Down The Line Promo
Carl moved over to Colpix records for one recording in 1965. "His Loss Is My Gain" was the plug side. Colpix was a west coast label and they flew Carl out for the sessions. The record was produced by Paul Kaufman, and had some of the same sound as other artists had that were currently on the label. It was a good record, but just didn't take off. "A Little Bit Later On Down The Line" was written by Chip Taylor. Carl went on an "All Car Tour" to promote the record!
Carl Dobkins Jr. - The Days Of Sand And Shovels Chalet Promo
Carl Dobkins Jr. - Linda The Motel Maid Chalet Promo
Moving forward to 1969, Carl Dobkins Jr. recorded the first of two discs for the Chalet label. The plug side was "The Days Of Sand And Shovels." This could have been a hit for Carl, but for unknown reasons, Bobby Vinton issued it as a single, even though he had not intended to. On the flip, "Linda The Motel Maid" was more of a country song with a little twang. And can you believe she was in Goodlettsville, Tennessee? The label was owned by Bobby Bobo.
Carl Dobkins Jr. - My Heart Is An Open Book Chalet Promo
Carl Dobkins Jr. - Pictures Chalet
The second and final 45 on Chalet paired a re-sing of "My Heart Is An Open Book" with "Pictures." "Open Book" has a different arrangement, and has a little country twang to it also. "Pictures" is a nice song to round out the record.
Carl Dobkins Jr. CD Cruisin With Carl
This is Carl's CD from summer of 2008 called Cruising With Carl. It has some great songs on it including a re-make of My Heart Is An Open Book. He also does his Lucky Devil. Check out Lost In The 50's Tonight. A real pleasant surprise is the vintage treatment he gives "My Angel Baby", that was actually a hit in the 1970's. You can get an autographed copy of the CD by going to his website.
Updates: This is a fairly complete listing of Carl's US pressings. Carl Dobkins Jr. is alive and well these days. He is still performing for very appreciative audiences everywhere. He has great memories of his days as a recording star and he continues to enjoy the contact with his fans. Still residing in his original hometown of Cincinnati Ohio, Carl can be reached by email -
Gone Missing: Some 78's and his lone recording on Atco 6283 "If Teardrops Were Diamonds."
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