Larry Verne (born Larry Vern Erickson, February 8, 1936, Minneapolis, Minnesota – died October 8, 2013, Sylmar, California) was an American novelty song singer.
At an early age Larry learned how to play the piano and guitar, simultaneously developing a talent for singing. After leaving high school he worked at various nondescript jobs around the country (truck driving, shipping clerk, etc.) because they gave him plenty of free time to pursue his major interests - playing and singing.
During the summer of 1960 Larry went to work in a photographer's studio in Hollywood. Across the hall in another office, were three young songwriters- Fred Darian, Joseph Van Winkle and Al DeLory - who were currently writing a somg called "Mister Custer." Between chores in the photographer's studio Larry bregan dropping in on the boys and suggesting odd lines for their new song. Then ne began suggesting vocal ideas and demonstrating them.
Darian,Van Winkle and DeLory realized that Larry Verne was the singer who should record the song as he had just the kind of "kookie" hillbilly voice they wanted. So they fled to the nearest recording studios. The recording was so good that as soon as they played it for Herb Newman he grabbed it for Era records. Rushed to the record stores and disc jockey's, Mister Custer became a smash hit and went to number 1 on the pop and 9 on the R&B charts in 1960. The record sold over one million copies, earning a gold disc. In the UK, "Mr. Custer" was successfully covered by Charlie Drake.
In December of 1960 Larry charted his second Hot 100 hit with "Mister Livingston" another novelty tune. The single charted at #75 and remained on the chart for just a few weeks. The single would be his last Billboard Hot 100 hit record. In May of 1961 he would chart a record "Abdul's Party" on the Bubbling Under The Hot 100 chart at #113. All told, Larry remembered making around 10 singles and one album over the next three years before retiring from music except for the occasional backup session.
Larry became unhappy with the music industry especially when Decca records showed some interest and Era would not release him from their 7 year contract. So Larry switched to becoming a successful builder of movie sets in Hollywood, where he worked for 35 years until he retired. He was inducted into the Minnesota Rock & Country Hall of Fame in 2006.
Above is a photo of Larry taken with PR agent Liz Winchester at a MN Rock & Country show during 2006.
Larry had major health problems during his later years suffering from three strokes and Alzheimer's disease. he sadly died of heart failure on 8 October 2013 in Sylmar, California, at age 77. (Info mainly edited from Mr. Larry Verne LP liner notes & Wikipedia)