Santo & Johnny Wanted to Sleep Walk

Here at TDR we occasionally feature one of the great Instrumentals from the Golden Age of Rock and Roll, but in general the pieces aren't as good as the stories with Vocals. This one is different as the story goes. In a NYC Borough in 1959 there were these two Farina Brothers Santo and Johnny, who shared a bedroom and both played guitar, one Steel.

 

One night Santo wakes up Johnny and says, "I've got this tune in my head, dig it," and plays a pretty close version of the final song, it's the middle of the night, so they decide to call it, SLEEP WALK. Then the next day they grab Uncle Mike Dee, a real drummer, and head down to Trinity Studios in Manhattan. I don't know who paid for the Session, maybe a reader does, and it was picked up by Canadian/American Records (?) for distribution.

 

I think most people knew it was a hit the first time they heard it, Radio sure did. Sleep Walk entered the Billboard Top 40 Chart in August, 1959, and was #1 for the last two weeks of September, also going #4 on the R&B Charts. I can't tell you how weird this is; Two Puerto Rican Brothers record a tune one heard in a dream, and a couple of months later they have a Gold Record. When Eye Lipson and I were doing our Radio Shows For the Blind, on "The Supermarket Special" we'd play old instrumentals below our inane comments, and Santo and Johnny always showed up.

 

Fun Fact: "Sleep Walk" was a principal inspiration to Fleetwood Mac founder Peter Green for his 1968 Instrumental Hit called, "Albatross," and John Lennon said that tune inspired the Beatles song "Sun King" on the Abbey Road Album. I was amazed that Scott found a video of the Farina Brothers on Dick Clark's Saturday Night Show (Thanks NRRA Archives for keeping all this stuff) and although the Kinescope is a bit shaky, there they are, two guys on National Television enjoying their 15 minutes of Fame. @therealdonrocks

 

A version of this post originally appeared on The Don Rocks Facebook page. For more stories like these every day, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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