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October 24

Story of the Song “Ruby, Baby” by Billy “Crash” Craddock

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Story of the Song “Ruby, Baby” by Billy “Crash” Craddock 1

When Billy “Crash” Craddock did resurface in the 70’s, he was no longer determined to pursue his original goal of a career in hard-country music. However, instead, he chose to try to make some inroads in the music industry by remaking old pop hits. Billy signed in with the independent company “Cartwheel Records.” His first release for that label, a cover of Tony Orlando & Dawn’s “Knock Three Times” and proved successful. It peaked at No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles chart in 1971. It’s fascinating that Billy had not heard the original pop hit of “Knock Three Times” when the song was brought to his attention by some friends. While he listening to the song, Billy envisioned putting Cajun fiddles on there and making a good country record which worked.

After his hit “Know Three times,” more followed, mostly other pop remakes. Craddock reached the Top Ten six additional times before he scored his first No. 1 record, “Rub It In,” in August 1974 on the ABC label, to which he had signed ten months earlier. For the follow-up to “Rub It In,” Billy once again returned to yesteryear, covering Dion’s old ’63 pop hit, “Ruby, Baby.”

“Ruby, Baby” was written by Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller. It was a song that brought back some strong memories for Craddock. A favorite tune in his youth, Billy and his brother Ronald would sometimes break into impromptu performances of the song at drive-in visits back in Greensboro. Their friends were delighted and would applaud each time the guys would sing it. Billy figured if they liked “Ruby, Baby” that well back then, it could perhaps be a hit all over again. His hunch was correct and Craddock’s version reached #1 on Billboard’s country singles chart January 11, 1975, marking Billy’s second of three chart-toppers. Thanks to the remakes and his propensity for recording uptempo material, Craddock was dubbed “Mr. Country Rock.” He notched his final hit with 1981’s “I Just Need You For Tonight.”


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