Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Randy Tuesdays #2: Before The Gender Swap

2. Randy & The Rainbows - Denise

Dominick "Randy" Safuto and his gang had a one hit wonder with their doo wop classic 'Denise' in 1963. 15 years later the song would be re-recorded as 'Denis', the song that gave Blondie their first big international hit. This much I know for sure. There are, however, a number of things I don't know about this record...

  • Listen to the intro of Denise. Is that Peggy Sue or what? Maybe four years after Buddy Holly's death, they were safe to steal that so blatantly...
  • Despite only ever having one hit single, Randy and the Rainbows are still together today... In fact, there are TWO different bands currently doing the circuit with that name: one featuring Randy Safuto and his brother Frank, one featuring another original member, Mike Zero. What terrible event split them asunder? No one knows. And was their longevity aided at all by the success of the Blondie cover?
  • Why did Deborah Harry change Denise to Denis... and not Dennis? On the surface, the answer is blatantly obvious. Dennis isn't a very sexy name. But still... is Denis French? Is that why Debbie slips into cod-French halfway through the song? Why is Denis sexier than Dennis anyway? Are French men just sexier in general?
  • I wonder if the change from Denise to Denis was at all influential to David Lynch & Mark Frost when they created David Duchovny's cross-dressing DEA agent Denis/Denise Bryson in Twin Peaks...?

And finally...

  • Does anyone prefer the original to Blondie's recreation? Or is this one of those rare examples of a cover version that improves on the original?


  1. Yes.
    Nobody knows.
    Yes, undoubtedly.
    Because Dennis just isn't cool.
    Yes, Saint Denis was the first Bishop of Paris.
    It just is.
    I couldn't possibly say.
    No. Don't like it.
    Yes, absolutely!

    1. I can see a feature developing here...

  2. Thanks for the fascinating info about Randy & The Rainbows, but I'd just like to add that whatever Debbie Harry wants to do with a song is fine by me.

  3. Aha - This wouldn't have been one of my Randys although I wrote about them last year when I featured Bondie's Denis. The clip I watched had them in those short-sleeved shirts so favoured by The Beach Boys but who copied who? (Think I can guess but who knows for sure.)

    Yes since Debbie was singing the song it really had to be about a man so what better way to make it fit than to change it to the French Denis. There is a term I discovered recently about fitting certain lyrics to bits of music - "Phonetically fantastic" and I think that suits this change as well.

    Oh and yes, French men just are sexier (it's that accent). But, not as funny, so I'll stick with the homegrown variety!

    1. I'd like to think the Beach Boys pioneered that look - it'd certainly be more appropriate for California than New York.

      Hmm... that leaves me only one more choice before I miss one of yours out. I now suspect that might happen...

    2. As it turns out this was one of my Randys! At first I thought he hadn't been included as only discovered these guys last year, but when I did the trawl again, he was. You will undoubtedly have a very different list however so still expect that overlappy bit on the Venn diagram to be quite small. Glad Randy Rainbow has been included though.

  4. FurryBootsCityBoy has spoken the truth. Fascinating look at this song, Rol. Really enjoyed that.

  5. How big is your brain? Every day (cue Buddy Holly singalong), you provide a whole raft of amazing info and facts that just add to the enjoyment of reading your posts. You constantly astound and amaze me...


    1. Hardly. I just spend too much time on the internet. It's often preferable to the real world.


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