Aug 032014

One thing I find curious is that Jean Dinning was married three times, the second and third husbands both going by the nickname “Red,” –  Alex “Red” Surrey and Joel “Red” Beasley. I guess she liked redheads?

The siblings’ youngest brother, Mark, also found fame. The youngest of the nine Dinning children, Mark signed a record deal with MGM in 1957, attempting a country music career. You may find his singing somewhat reminiscent of a more famous bespectacled star of the day. He was not finding success until had a hit with a song written by Jean (which may or may not have been co-written her husband “Red” Surrey). This song was one of the first “teen tragedy” songs – you may know it:

Jean wrote the song after reading an news article about teenage delinquents that used the words “teen angel.” She showed the song to Mark at a family gathering – I found one account stating he was very enthusiastic about the song and another which stated the exact opposite! Either way, it seems he did take the song home and there recorded it on a consumer tape machine. Jean had this recording pressed to some 45s, which sold well, leading to his re-recording, which is posted above. It sold 2.5 million copies and has since been recorded by several other artists.

If possible, this song is darker (and perhaps more plausible) than “Teen Angel.” This one is called “The Pickup,” from 1962, and it fascinates me:


  9 Responses to “Mystery Date Revealed!”

  1. ladymisskirroyale

    Interesting and informative. Thanks for doing all that research and broadening our horizons.

  2. diskojoe

    Shelby Singleton is actually the name of a country music label owner who bought the rights to Sun Records from Sam Phillips in the late 60s, as well as putting out records by Orion, who was alleged to Elvis performing under a mask. Great article.

  3. cliff sovinsanity

    Interesting story. Will we see a book in the future?

  4. cherguevara

    Definitely a book. Simply print this post, then staple the pages together!

  5. misterioso

    Standing ovation. Outstanding work, formidable research, quite a story or set of stories. Very impressive.

  6. THAT is some musical family roundup! Thanks, and thanks for reminding me of “Teen Angel,” a song I always dug as a kid.

  7. cher, I meant to ask you what spurred your deep interest in this family? Did you connect the dots starting at the beginning of the story, or did that Mystery Date clip lead you to work from the middle out?

  8. cherguevara

    Not sure how it began – I knew one song by the sisters, kind of at random. One day I had the songs “The Streets of Laredo” and “El Paso” in my head and while surfing around, came across “Teen Angel” and I wondered about the connection.

    The sisters’ wikipedia page also connects the dots. Everything I wrote here is really semi-unsubstantiated hearsay of the internet. I think they are still local heroes in Missouri and so I have a feeling that anybody over the age of 60 in MO could tell you more than what I wrote here.

  9. cliff sovinsanity

    Yeah, but I want more details. Besides my printer is having a tough time with those You Tube clips.

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