Mark Dinning: Teen Angel (1959)

 |   |  1 min read

Mark Dinning: Teen Angel (1959)

When songwriter Jean Dinning died in 2011 at age 86, the obituary writers got the bare fact down straight. How she'd been reading about juvenile delinquents and someone had commented these kids weren't so bad and should be called "teen angels".

Her then-husband Red Surry suggested that might be a good title for a song and so the two of them came up with the maudlin, sentimental but utterly memorable Teen Angel which became a massive hit even though early on some radio stations banned it.

What was skipped lightly over however was mention of her brother Mark who had been the one who sang it and, very briefly, enjoyed considerable fame and attention. He'd previously sung country music and had had minor successes with The Streets of Laredo and other such songs.

Regrettably Mark -- born Max -- Dinning was a chronic alcoholic who was often so soused he couldn't make it to the stage or would fall over once he got there.

Understandably promoters refused to book him and despite some subsequent singles (none of which did much good at all), he career spiraled downward. Yet heroically he kept singing (and perhaps drinking?) until his death of a heart attack at 52 in '86.

The song -- which enjoyed a revival when it appeared in American Graffiti in '72 and was on the soundtrack album -- is such a slice of teen death-cult that it outlived its authors and performer and will probably be with us forever . . . as long as there are teenagers who stall their car on a railway track.

For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory use the RSS feed for daily updates, and check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Alfred E Neuman: It's a Gas (1963)

Alfred E Neuman: It's a Gas (1963)

There's the widely held if rather snooty view that fart noises and belching are only amusing to adolescent boys. This rather ignores the obvious: that there will always be adolescent boys, and even... > Read more

Annie Ross: Twisted (1952)

Annie Ross: Twisted (1952)

Annie Ross -- who at the time of this writing is still alive and 82 -- had an extraordinary career for a kid born Annabelle Short into a family of vaudevillians in London. When she was four, the... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Katchafire: Say What You're Thinking (EMI)

Katchafire: Say What You're Thinking (EMI)

About six years ago I first encountered Hamilton reggae band Katchafire playing in a pretty ropey provincial bar. I'd met them backstage beforehand -- actually in a room full of beer barrels --... > Read more

THE BARGAIN BUY: Pink Floyd; Pulse (DVD set)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Pink Floyd; Pulse (DVD set)

With Pink Floyd in the news again (or at least the remaining two) for the farewell album The Endless River here's an interesting flashback (to when they were three). Here across two discs is... > Read more