Born Max E. Dinning, 17 August 1933, near Drury, Oklahoma
Mark Dinning was born in Oklahoma, but grew up on a farm near Nashville, as the youngest of nine children. Three of his siblings, Ginger, Lou and Jean were a popular singing trio in the Forties. The biggest hit of the Dinning Sisters was "Buttons and Bows" (# 5 in 1948). Dinning took up the electric guitar at the age of 17. In 1957, MGM Records gave him a record deal, thanks to Wesley Rose. For three years, he was an unsuccessful recording artist, trying to cultivate a country career with such songs as "Ramblin' Man," "The Streets of Laredo," and "I'm Just a Country Boy." Then his sister Jean and her husband Red Surrey gave him a song they had written, called "Teen Angel". It was a morbid song about a girl who was killed by a train while retrieving her boyfriend's ring. In February 1960, it rose all the way to the top of the US charts. Predictably, it was banned by the BBC, but nevertheless the song managed to creep into the lower regions of the UK Top 40. Some American radio stations also refused to play the record. One of the first examples of "death dirges", "Teen Angel" spawned dozens of similar songs. Dinning followed up with three minor hits in 1960-61. In 1963 Johnny Mathis scored a Top 10 hit with a cover of Dinning's "What Will Mary Say". Eventually the records stopped and the dust settled on Mark Dinning's career. After appearing in a club in Jefferson City, Missouri, on March 21, 1986, Mark had a heart attack while driving home in his car.
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