Nervous Norvus was the performing name of Jimmy Drake (born 1912 in the Oakwood district of Los Angeles, California; died July 24, 1968). His novelty song "Transfusion" was a major hit in 1956, as was a second song, "Ape Call," released later that year.
The lyrics in his song called "Transfusion" concern careless drivers who cheerfully receives blood transfusions after each accident. Each stanza concludes with the refrain "Never ever ever gonna speed again" followed by lines such as "Slip the blood to me, Bud" or "Pour the crimson in me, Jimson." The song was played on the radio by DJ Barry Hansen, which reportedly led to Hansen's eventual nickname of Dr. Demento.
The song received a review from an unlikely source — personal-injury lawyer Melvin Belli — in his 1956 book Ready for the Plaintiff!, in which he says: "The ghoulish lyrics hiccup hysterically" but "wind up with a gem of jive-y wisdom that is strictly in the groove: 'Oh, barnyard drivers are found in two classes / Line-crowding hogs and speeding jackasses / So remember to slow down today!'" There was irony too, as Drake was employed as a truck driver, prior to his recording fame arising.
Nervous Norvus was born before World War I started, and was over 40 by the time he had his two hit singles in 1956. His records were made with input from radio personality Red Blanchard, to whom he was sending demos in the hope of finding an artist to record them. Blanchard had been an influence, particularly with the "jive" language employed in the lyrics.
After his brief hour of glory, which amounted to less than six months, he concentrated on his demo service, providing music for other peoples' songs. He would charge around seven dollars to make these demos, some of which led to publishing contracts for the songwriters.
Contrary to popular belief, Drake was never a member of the Four Jokers. He was very shy and even turned down a chance to perform "Transfusion" on the Ed Sullivan Show. After a final single on the Dot record label, the artist had his contract dropped. He only recorded sporadically thereafter for a series of independent labels like Embee and Big Ben, up to 1960. Nervous Norvus died in 1968 of cirrhosis of the liver, aged 56. A CD of rare tracks, entitled Stone Age Woo, was released by Norton Records in 2004.
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