Swingin' Johnny Keyes featuring the infamous song The Rock 'n Roll Squaw

Johnny Keyes
undated possibly as early as 1967
Mongoose Records No. 557
Vintage 12" 33rpm vinyl record


Johnny Keyes is a swinger all the way. He's a Pro from the word go and a more dedicated talented and versatile performer would be difficult to find...

So says the jacket on the album that introduced Swingin' Johnny Keyes to the world.

Actually...that was a new stage name for veteran club, restaurant and lounge performer and songwriter Hal Hearn. Hearn's career dates back to about 1953 in the Midwest where he gained a reputation as a very entertaining live guitar performer. In 1963, he wrote and recorded a rockabilly novelty single on Port Records that was a featured Billboard 4-Star Single "Turkey in the Straw" b/w "King Kemo."

And then he became "Swingin' Johnny Keyes" and this appears to have been his first LP. Eight of the songs on it were written by him. But, don't let the jacket photograph fool you into thinking he's a string strummin' finger snappin' Sinatra type.

He serves up a country-flavored rockabilly style with numbers such as "Just Me And My Guitar" and "Someday You're Gonna Want Me To Want You." Then he adds a dollop of groovy 60s influences "Git 'Em" is a Neanderthalish chick chasin' song for country boys. "Jinx Man" and "The Pro" are catchy and lively "Secret Agent Man"-influenced gambler and traveling musician numbers. There's a hip rendition of Nat Adderley's "Work Song," too.

And then there's "The Rock 'n Roll Squaw"... and it's just what you fear it is. A groovy Indian chick drives all the chiefs and braves wild doing the latest rock and roll dances and it gets the fully insulting let's-imitate-Indians treatment from the singer and his band.

I doubt this song has ever turned up even on a Dr. Demento or WFMU-FM playlist.

But that's not all you get. There's another side of Johnny Keyes he's eager to show off his sophisticated and classy chops. This results in country lounge style attempts at two songs from the then-current Jerry Herman musical "Mame" and a very weird stab at Erroll Garner's "Misty."

Hal Hearn went on to release two more Johnny Keyes LPs on Mongoose Records (which I believe is a Fort Lauderdale, Florida label) Godfather and Other Songs (1974) and Saloon (1976).

He really was the well-traveled musician depicted in "Just Me and My Guitar" and over the years played Las Vegas and New York venues such as the Skyline Inn and Zinn Arthur's. In the 1980s he became known for his deft impersonations of Elvis Presley, Nat "King" Cole, Perry Como and Vaughn Monroe, and put on shows at the bandshell in Hollywood, Florida.


Tony Serino - Drums
Mac McKernan - Organ
Tommy Scott - Bass
Mark Hearn - Tambourine

(in actual recorded order -- record labels are correct
but jacket has wrong order and omits the last track)


1) Just Me And My Guitar (Johnny Keyes)
2) Work Song (Nat Adderley/Oscar Brown Jr)
3) Git 'Em (Johnny Keyes and Harry Hall)
4) If I Can't Have You (Johnny Keyes and Harry Hall)
5) Someday You're Gonna Want Me To Want You (Jimmie Hodges)
6) You Gotta Take The Good With The Bad (Johnny Keyes)
7) The Jinx Man (Johnny Keyes)


8) The Pro (Johnny Keyes)
9) Misty (Errol Garner/Johnny Burke)
10) The Fighter (Johnny Keyes)
11) There's Nothing For Me Without You (Mark Hearn) [Hal Hearn's brother?]
12) Mame (Jerry Herman)
13) The Rock 'n Roll Squaw (Johnny Keyes)
14) If She Walked Into My Life (Jerry Herman)