Wilde World: Jimmy Gilmer & the Fireballs

Kim Wilde’s first records were written and produced by her father and brother, Marty and Ricky. The three of them have had a great influence on the music world, as this regular series ‘Wilde World’ shows.

Marty Wilde became a rock ‘n’ roll star in 1958, but started songwriting almost instantly. No wonder, then, that other artists soon started recording his songs. We were lucky to stumble across the YouTube video below, in which a song from 1963 is played: ‘My heart is free’, as performed by Jimmy Gilmer & the Fireballs. It was the B-side of their single ‘Sugar shack’. That song was a major hit for the group. It topped the singles chart in the USA for five week, selling 1,5 million copies. It was unusual for an American rock/pop artist to record a song by a British writer before the so-called ‘British invasion’, led by the Beatles in the mid-Sixties. Interestingly, the Marty Wilde-penned track was the A-side in various European territories. (The German cover of that single is shown below.)

Like Marty Wilde, the Fireballs still perform quite regularly. Gilmer left the group in 1967. The Fireballs continued performing with original members George Tomsco, Stan Lark and Chuck Tharp until Tharp died of cancer in 2006. Jimmy Gilmer returned as lead vocalist and this line-up continues to perform, as of 2014. George Tomsco has continued to release CDs of new material using the Fireballs name.

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