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Phil McLean

Cleveland, 1951-60, 1971-mid 1970s

Phil McLean was a DJ, not a musician, but he had a top 40 hit record in 1961 called "Small Sad Sam", a parody of Jimmy Deans massive hit (and much imitated) "Big Bad John".

From the years 1951-1960, he was a DJ on Cleveland's WERE radio station. WERE played all types of Top 40 (or Hit Parade as it called back then) popular music, mixing the early rock-n-roll hits with popular artists such as Frank Sinatra. From 1954 until 1959 he hosted a TV show called Cleveland Bandstand that was related to the American Bandstand show from Philadelphia. There is a story that not long after Dick Clark took over the Philadelphia show in 1956, he proposed moving to Cleveland and establishing a network show from there, but was completely rejected. The Cleveland bandstand show consisted of people (teens) dancing and discussing records. While it would be great to imagine groups like the Tracey Twins or Metrotones performing on the show, there is no evidence of any local groups appearing.

In 1960/1, WERE changed format, dropping the current hit format, and McLean moved to NYC. He was reported as leaving WERE in March 1961. It was while he was in NYC that he recorded the two 45s. We've included him here as there is incorrect information that has him still in Cleveland when the records were done, and we figured people might expect some mention of him.

In 1971 he returned to Cleveland radio and spent time there and in a couple other markets. He passed away in 1993.


Small Sad Sam / Chicken - Versatile 107 - c. 11/61 - Several pressings and label variations
Big Mouth Bill / Come With Us - Versatile 108