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Across the Generations

Sometimes a song can appeal to multiple generations, especially if it’s performed in a contemporary style. The Knotts’ record collection has several examples. “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” first appeared in the 1933 musical Roberta. The Knotts’ copy was a dance number by Ambrose and his Orchestra from 1934:

The song has since reappeared several times. In 1959, The Platters had a hit with it as Doo-wop:

And it was a hit yet again in 1972 as Reggae in the UK:

It could appear again. You just can’t keep a good song down.


Similarly, “Deep Purple” was published in 1933 by Peter DeRose as an instrumental. It was so popular that lyrics were soon added. Almost every big band recorded it. The 1942 recording in the Knotts’ collection was a solo by Don Baker playing the Paramount Theater Organ. Being a theater organist, he interpolates silent movie riffs into his performance:

Thirty years later, the tune resurfaced and netted a Rock and roll Grammy for Nino Tempo and April Stevens in 1963. It was in rotation on the radio the week Kennedy was assassinated:

In 1975, a note-for-note cover of the Tempo-Stevens version was recorded by Donnie and Marie Osmond. It made it to #14 on the adult contemporary chart. That’s forty years after the song was written. In homage, a heavy metal group of the 1970s adopted Deep Purple as their band’s name. What would Peter DeRose have thought?


Ambrose and his Orchestra (1934)

B: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Don Baker (1942)

Deep Purple