The Fireballs, sometimes billed as Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs, was an American rock and roll group, particularly popular at the end of the 1950s and in the early 1960s. The original 1958 line-up was: George Tomsco (lead guitar), Chuck Tharp (vocals), Stan Lark (bass), Eric Budd (drums), and Dan Trammell (rhythm guitar).

The Fireballs were formed in RatonNew Mexico, and got their start as an instrumental group, featuring the very distinctive lead guitar of George Tomsco. They recorded at Norman Petty'sstudio in Clovis, New Mexico, where Buddy Holly had previously launched his career. According to group founders Tomsco and Lark, they took their name from Jerry Lee Lewis's "Great Balls of Fire." They reached the Top 40 with the singles "Torquay" (1959), "Bulldog" (1960) and "Quite a Party" (1961). "Quite a Party" peaked at #29 in the UK Singles Chart in August 1961.[1] Tharp, Budd and Trammell left the group in the early 1960s, but the Fireballs added Doug Roberts on drums, plus Petty Studio singer/pianist Jimmy Gilmer (born September 15, 1940 in Chicago and raised in Amarillo, Texas) to the group.

Billed as Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs,[1] the group reached number 1 on the Billboard chart with "Sugar Shack", which remained at that position for five weeks in 1963. The single also reached number 1 on Billboard's R&B chart for one week in November of that year, but its run on that chart was cut short because Billboard ceased publishing an R&B chart from November 30, 1963 to January 23, 1965. Nonetheless, "Sugar Shack" earned the group a Gold Record Award for "Top Song Of 1963".[2] In the UK the song peaked at #45.[1] Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs then had another pop hit in 1964 with a similar sounding "Daisy Petal Pickin'", which reached number 15 on the Hot 100.

During the run of "Daisy Petal Pickin'" on the charts, the British Invasion began with the first hits by the Beatles. The group had difficulty competing with the influx of British artists and did not reach the Top 40 again until 1968, with "Bottle of Wine", which was written by Tom Paxton. The Fireballs took "Bottle of Wine" to number 9 on the Hot 100. Although Gilmer was still a member of the group, the band was billed simply as "The Fireballs" on that single.[3] Gilmer left the group in 1969 to pursue artist management and record production in NashvilleTennessee. Drummer Doug Roberts died in 1981.

All of the Fireballs' material has been reissued on Ace Records (UK) and Sundazed record labels. The Fireballs continued performing with original members George Tomsco, Stan Lark and Chuck Tharp until Tharp died of cancer in 2006. Jimmy Gilmer has returned occasionally as lead vocalist and this line-up continues to perform, as of 2013. George Tomsco has continued to release CDs of new material using The Fireballs name.


 [hide*1 Discography


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Single release on the Kapp label[edit]Edit

  • 248: "Fireball"/"I Don't Know" 1958

Releases on the Top Rank label[edit]Edit


  • 2008 (US), JAR218 (UK): "Torquay"/"Cry Baby" 1959
  • 2026 (US), JAR276 (UK): "Bulldog"/"Nearly Sunrise" 1960
  • 2038 (US), JAR354 (UK): "Foot-Patter"/"Kissin'" 1960[4]
  • 2038ST: "Foot-Patter"/"Kissin'" (stereo single) 1960
  • 2054: "Vaquero (Cowboy)"/"Chief Whoopin-Koff" 1960
  • 2081: "Sweet Talk"/"Almost Paradise" 1960
  • 3003: "Rik-A-Tik"/"Yacky Doo" 1961


  • RM-324 (mono only): The Fireballs 1960
  • RM-343 (mono), RS-643 (stereo): Vaquero 1960

Releases on the Warwick label[edit]Edit


  • 630: "Rik-A-Tik"/"Yacky Doo" 1961
  • 644: "Quite A Party"/"Gunshot" 1961


  • W 2042 (mono only): Here Are The Fireballs 1961

Releases on the Dot label[edit]Edit


(*As The Fireballs **As Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs)

  • 16487: **"Sugar Shack"/"My Heart Is Free" 1963
  • 16493: *"Torquay Two"/"Peg Leg" 1963
  • 16539: **"Daisy Petal Pickin'"/"When My Tears Have Dried" 1963
  • 16583: **"Ain't Gonna Tell Nobody"/"Young Am I" 1964
  • 16591: *"Daytona Drag"/"Gently Gently" 1964
  • 16661: *"Dumbo"/"Mr. Reed" 1964
  • 16666: **"Cry Baby"/"Thunder and Lightning" 1964
  • 16692: *"Baby What's Wrong"/"Yummie Yama Papa" 1964
  • 16715: *"More Than I Can Say"/"Beating Of My Heart" 1965
  • 16745: *"Campusology"/"Ahhh! Soul!" 1965
  • 16786: **"Rambler's Blues"/"She Belongs To Me" 1965
  • 16833: **"Hungry Hungry Hungry"/"White Roses" 1966
  • 16834: *"Ja-Da"/"What I Am" 1966
  • 16881: **"Ain't That Rain"/"All I Do Is Think Of You" 1966
  • 16918: *"Torquay Two"/"Say I Am (What I Am)" 1966
  • 16992: **"Shy Girl"/"I Think I'll Catch A Bus" 1967


  • DLP 3512 (mono), DLP 25512 (stereo): Torquay 1963
  • DLP 3545/DLP 25545: Sugar Shack 1963
  • DLP 3577/DLP 25577: Buddy's Buddy 1964
  • DLP 3643/DLP 25643: Lucky 'Leven 1965
  • DLP 3668/DLP 25668: Folk Beat 1965
  • DLP 3709/DLP 25709: Campusology 1966
  • DLP 3856/DLP 25856: Firewater 1968

Releases on the Atco label[edit]Edit


  • 6491: "Bottle of Wine"/"Can't You See I'm Tryin'" 1968
  • 6569: "Goin' Away"/"Groovy Motions" 1968
  • 6595: "Chicken Little"/"3 Minutes Time" 1968
  • 6614: "Come On, React!"/"Woman Help Me" 1968
  • 6651: "Long Green"/"Light In The Window" 1969
  • 6678: "Watch Her Walk"/"Good Morning Shame" 1969


  • 33-239 (mono), SD 33-239 (stereo): Bottle of Wine 1968
  • SD 33-275: Come On, React! 1969
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