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Charlie “Hoss” Singleton

Charlie Singleton wrote songs for the stars.

Best known by the moniker, “Charlie Hoss,” he was Jacksonville’s own musical celebrity. He was the man who wrote more than a thousand songs for the stars. Charles “Hoss” Singleton is best remembered for his lyrics to Strangers in the Night, sung by Frank Sinatra. Strangers became a number-one hit and revitalized Frank Sinatra’s career in 1966. Charlie Singleton co-wrote the song with Eddie Snyder, who adapted it from a melody by German bandleader Bert Kaempfert. He received six Grammy Awards for the song.

Singleton’s other major success was the pop standard Spanish Eyes, another team effort with Kaempfert and Snyder. Singleton’s friend, Nat King Cole also recorded Singleton songs, including If I May, Just As Much As Ever, and Again.

He died in 1985, after producing a score of platinum albums.

From an early age, Charlie “Hoss” Singleton sang, danced, produced shows, and wrote music and lyrics. Singleton attended local schools and graduated from Stanton High School (which can be seen at the far right of this photo), class of 1935. The young Singleton was well known for his local musical extravaganza, April Frolics. Staged at LaVilla’s most notable nightspots, local author Marsha Dean Phelts says, “People dressed in their finest clothes to come out for the musical shows.”

By December 1950, the talented “Charlie Hoss” Singleton was off to New York City with a portfolio of lyrics. Right away Decca Records hired him. Singleton scored five songs on the Top 10 Charts at the same time, and Elvis Presley’s recording of Singleton’s Spanish Eyes sold over 3 million copies.

The Jacksonville singer-songwriter wrote numerous successful songs, including “Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean” for Ruth Brown. Among the other notables who recorded his songs were Johnny Mathis, Bill Haley, Wayne Newton, Andy Williams, Pat Boone, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, and a little group from England called The Beatles.

Charles “Hoss” Singleton’s songs are featured in the following movies:

  • The Terminal (2004) (“Strangers in the Night”)
    Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004) (“Strangers In The Night”)
    Dur Schuh des Manitu (2001) (“Strangers in the Night”)
    Eyes Wide Shut (1999) (“Strangers in the Night” (1966)
    Paperback Hero (1999) (“Strangers in the night”)
    A Walk on the Moon (1999) (“Strangers in the Night”)
    Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo (1999) (“Strangers In The Night”)
    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) (“Strangers In the Night”)
    Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss (1998) (“Lady”)
    Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead (1995) (“Take On Some Insurance On Me Baby”)
    Makinavaja – ‘El último choriso’ (1992) (“Strangers in the Night”)
    Cry-Baby (1990) (“My Heart Goes Piddily Patter, Patter”)
    The Dream Team (1989) (“Strangers In the Night “)
    Chances Are (1989) (“Strangers In the Night”)
    The Color of Money (1986) (“Strangers In The Night”)
    Scarface (1983) (“Strangers in the Night”)
    Baby It’s You (1983) (“Strangers in the Night”)
    No juzgarás a tus padres (1969) (“Extraños en la noche”)
    Born Reckless (1958) (“Something to Dream About”)
    Sing Boy Sing (1958) (“Just A Little Bit More”)
    Cha-Cha-Cha-Boom (1956) (“Year Round Love”)

“Strangers in the Night” was also selected as one of the Songs of the Century by the Recording Industry of America Association (RIAA) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Two of his songs (“Strangers” and “Spanish Eyes” were selected by Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) as one of the Top 100 Songs of the Century.

In a 1984 interview, Singleton mentioned that he had written an autobiography titled From Broad Street to Broadway, which he was trying to get published. The book described the jazz era and the black music culture that flourished in the 1920s, 30s and 40s on Ashley Street between Jefferson and Broad streets in Jacksonville. Never published, the manuscript apparently vanished when he died in 1985.

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