First came Jimmy Norman.
After singing with the Chargers, vocalist Jimmy Norman hooked up with H.B. Barnum, who had him record “Thank Him” and a remake of Hank Williams’ “You Win Again” on Mun-Rab (102), Barnum spelled backwards. In late 1959, Norman’s reference to the marketing ploy totally different from the T-Birds hit, “Green Stamps” was very much influenced by Sheb Wooley’s “Purple People Eater” complete with squeaky voices b/w a rocker, “Just To Get To You” on Dot (16016).
“That was done as a demo in the beginning, but Dot Records put it out. They decided to leave my name on it, make my name on it. I was introduced to the lady who ran Dot; they had a party for me at the time.”
Norman’s “Green Stamps” was a KFXM pick on October 17, 1960
Then came the T Birds.
A two-release offshoot of the Jaguars, the T Birds who recorded “Green Stamps” b/w “Come On, Dance With Me” on the very short-lived T-Bird (101) r/i on Chess (1778) were Sonny Chaney, Charles Middleton and Val Poliuto of the Jaguars, who said, “we were always a member short of a group.”
T-Bird was an example of creating a label to market master to more major label. “That was John Marascalco’s production and he had a lot of gimmicks,” Chaney recalled. “We were with my ex-wife’s cousin, he was faking guitar” on the record.
From the Platter Matter column of Jan. 12, ’61, “a new singing group has the right idea about original lyrics that attain the sound which sparks listeners interest. Since practically every store, service station, and supermarket in the nation promotes ‘collective’ stamps. the T-Birds must have decided, ‘Why not sing about them?’
“’Green Stamps’ is the title of this amusing record which tells about a boy who pledges to give his girl ‘green stamps, yellow stamps, blue chip, too’ every time she kisses him. He also urges her to ‘come an get ‘em’.
“Throughout this rock’n’roll platter there is an outstanding similarity between the T-Birds’ style and that of the well-known Coasters. This style, the beat, lyrics and expressions used all combine to make this recording one that will probably do quite well on the surveys.” It did.
“Green Stamps” was a KRLA pick on January 13, 1961; a Wallichs hit at #33 on January 23, 1961; a KRLA hit at #24 on January 27, 1961 and a KFXM pick on February 4, 1961
“Green Stamps” did not chart nationally nor did the much rarer “Taco Harry” b/w “Hog Wild” (Chess 1792), which presaged the demise of the T-Birds. The same lineup also recorded as the Runaways on Lavender about six months later.