A singer/songwriter/guitarist from Chicago who briefly found success in 1953, both with his own records and having those songs covered by others who also scored hits with them, but his career never achieved the sustained popularity his talents warranted.

Born in 1926 Overbea served in World War Two and emerged with his mind set on a singing career. After four years of club work around the Midwest he got his first break singing on an Eddie Chamblee record in 1950 showing a confident delivery and strong tone. A solo record on the same shortlived label followed the next year before he landed at Checker Records, a subsidiary of the more renowned Chess Records where he scored two Top Ten R&B hits in 1953, each of which got covered for the pop market and sold well there as well, giving him a measure of acclaim as he was also the songwriter for both.

But more than his records or compositions where Overbea drew the most attention was in his dynamic stage show where his guitar antics, including splits, playing behind his head and flamboyant solos, made him a huge crowd-pleaser. His talent on the instrument is disputed and he later claimed he wasn’t any good, but the audio tells a different story as he played with a smooth, fluid assurance and if nothing else the visual component was definitely a large part of his appeal.

Just as he should’ve been expanding his popularity as rock began to cross cultural lines in the mid-1950’s and he got some prime spots on Alan Freed’s stage shows, his recording career began to fail to match his earlier highs as he was now leaning more towards ballads and with the company’s ill-advised move towards courting mainstream pop acceptance he became an afterthought in rock circles by 1956.

He made his last recordings in 1959 and while he continued performing live for another decade he was now doing it on the side and forced to take jobs outside music to make a living. When he passed away in 1994 at the age of 68 his contributions to rock ‘n’ roll in its first decade went largely unrecognized.

DANNY OVERBEA DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):

(Premium 856; August, 1950)
A strong debut for the singer who despite some hesitation on the slower passages handles the faster pace with a confident strut that shows he has a solid voice and a good grasp on the subject matter. (6)