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In order to inherit his late father's estate, college student John Abernathy, III must lead a quiet, dignified life. Consequently, at home, under the guardianship of his spinster aunts, Anastasia and Abigail, John is a model of teenage perfection, but when he can, John slips away to a secret life racing cars and singing in a small combo. One afternoon while racing gang member Mark in the city streets, John inadvertently speeds dangerously close to his family attorney, Dryden Philpot, just as Philpot is getting in his car with newly arrived colleague Wesley Cavendish and his daughter Lois. Outraged, Philpot summons the police to report the reckless driver whom he can only identify from the last two numbers of the car's license plate. Later that afternoon, hoping that Lois might help identify the rash driver, Philpot takes Lois, Wesley and a police officer to the local youth hangout, but John hides as his best friend and car fanatic Dave distracts the police. Lois accidentally finds John, but says nothing to her father or the police. That evening, Philpot presents the Cavendishes to Anastasia and Abigail and announces that according to the terms of his father's will, now that John has turned twenty-one, he may begin dating an approved young lady. Soon after, John arrives formally dressed and is pleased when Lois does not mention recognizing him. Nevertheless, John evades Philpot's attempt to pair him with Lois and excuses himself to practice violin. Suspicious, Lois takes a walk outside of the house and discovers John, who has changed into sporty clothes, sneaking out of his bedroom window. When Lois hints that she can identify John to Philpot and the police, he agrees to take her to his group's hangout. On the way there, Lois is impressed by John's racing skills and later, upon seeing him perform, by his singing talent. After rehearsing, John learns that Dave needs four thousand dollars to build a car that he plans to enter in a sweepstakes contest. Mark tells John that he and his partner Jack have been selling stolen car parts and could quickly raise the money, but John refuses to participate, planning instead to raise the money performing with his singing combo. Later, landlord Al Berrywhiff informs the band that because their rent is overdue, they must either pay or leave at the end of the month. Unable to use his family money without raising his aunt's suspicions, John and his friends are at a loss until Lois reveals that she knows pop singer Gene Vincent and will arrange an audition for John. A couple of days later, Lois takes John to the television studio where Gene is taping a variety show. Gene is impressed by John's singing and offers him a guest spot on his show, but John fears being recognized by his aunts and family friends. Gene suggests that John disguise himself and he agrees, appearing on the show in a beard and beret as a cool, "beatnik" type called Jackson Dalyrimple. "Jackson's" appearance on Gene's show is a huge success and John is invited to record a tune for Gene's company. Within two weeks of the song's release it is a success on the pop charts and Jackson is in big demand. In disguise, John performs at several local clubs and one night, while still wearing his beard, drives Lois home and confesses to being relieved about having raised almost all the money for Dave's race car and to pay the back rent on the hall. Unaware that Mark is eavesdropping nearby, Lois assures John that Jackson need only make one final performance at a huge hop at which Gene and his band will appear. When John sneaks home that night, he is caught by Anastasia and Abigail, who admit that an anonymous phone caller informed them of his disguise as Jackson. After John explains the reason for his masquerade, his aunts are understanding, but fear the inflexible Philpot will find out. The following day, Mark tells Jack that the police may be close to finding out about their stolen car parts racket. That afternoon, when John and Lois arrive at the recording studio for Jackson's rehearsal, a policeman stops them and demands to examine John's car. When the officer discovers stolen car parts that Mark has planted in the trunk, John is arrested. Philpot is greatly disturbed by the enormous press coverage of John's arrest and the revelation that he is Jackson Dalyrimple. John's friends are upset because his money has been impounded by the police and the hall is still threatened. Admiring John's dedication and suspicious of Mark, Al contacts ex-con Johnny Red Eye, who served time with Jack's brother. When Johnny pressures Jack to confess to the police, John is released in time for the hop, which is enthusiastically attended by all the kids and John's aunts. After Gene and John perform, Mark jealously starts a brawl then flees with John and the police in pursuit, but is eventually caught and arrested. Although John is cleared of the robbery charges, he is ticketed for reckless driving as the police have finally traced his hot-rod's license number. After his aunts and Philpot approve of Lois, the Abernathys host a large party to celebrate John's successful singing career.