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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Don Fardon--(The Lament of the Cherokee) Indian Reservation (1968)

     For those of a certain age, we connect this song with the Raiders' version from 1970. However it was a top 40 hit two years prior.
     The song itself had it's beginnings with songwriter John Loudermilk and his song called, "The Pale Faced Indian" written in 1959. It was recorded by Marvin Rainwater that same year, but the song went nowhere. The song was much more country oriented, and in listening to it one can hear additional lyrics that are not heard in the two more popular versions.
     Don Maughn was a struggling singer out of Coventry, England who started a group called The Sorrows in 1963. The group never had much more than a cult following at home, so after three years of several underrated singles, the band went their separate ways. There was a move to Germany and a name change to Don Fardon as he attempted a solo career. This proved successful as he became known for blue eyed soul covers. Fardon and producer Micki Dallon took Loudermilk's song and gave it more of a straightforward pop/soul treatment. It was this version that became the template for The Raiders version in 1970.
     Fardon moved back to Britain and now, along with his wife are the owners of several pubs in Warwickshire area.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Freddy Fender--Before the Next Teardrop Falls (1975)

     By 1975 Freddy Fender (originally Baldemar Huerta) was a Texas legend. Known to many in the late 50's as the "Mexican Elvis Presley" for his covers of "Don't Be Cruel" and other rockabilly songs, his early adulthood sounded like a country song. Busted for possession of marijuana, he spent two and a half years in a prison camp in Louisiana. On being released, he played beer joints and continued to record on local labels. There are many from that area that would quickly tell you that his best material were the 45's recorded BEFORE he hit it big. If you are fan of his, you would be well served to track down those discs, recorded on the regional labels, Falcon, Ideal, and Duncan.
     In 1974, he was approached by producer Huey Meaux to put vocals to an instrumental. The song was, "Before the Next Teardrop Falls", written by Vivian Keith and Ben Peters, and had already been a country hit by Linda Martell in 1969 and covered by many others. Fender recorded a verse in English and one in Spanish and thought nothing more about the gig. Meaux was impressed enough with the result that it was released first on the local Crazy Cajun label, then on nationwide distribution with ABC-Dot. It became Fender's hit and his first number 1 as well.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Fantastic Johnny C--Boogaloo Down Broadway (1967)

        Johnny Corley had not been out of the military for long. The Greenwood, South Carolina native was looking for a place to settle and decided on Norristown, PA which was less than 20 miles outside of Philadelphia. Johnny loved to sing which soon caught the notice of the members of Macedonia Bapitst Church where he had started attending. He was soon in the church choir and many were taking note of his vocal talents. One of those members was studio producer, Jessie James. James talked him in to recording some demos of songs the producer had written. After those turned out well, they decided, with James a manager and writer, to give secular music a try.
     Very early on, James was able to snag Corley (now given the moniker, 'The Fantastic Johnny C") a spot on American Bandstand singing one of the producer's compositions called, "Boogaloo Down Broadway". The performance on AB attracted the attention of record label Phil-LA Soul. The song was released in the fall of 1967 and stormed up the top 100 and the r&b charts. Although he had a couple more songs make chart appearances in 1968, and Corley continued to record into the early 70's, this was the song that brought him attention. You'll hear more than a passing resemblance to Wilson Pickett (at least to my ears).


Monday, January 28, 2013

Playlist for week of Jan. 28th Show.

Fine Young Cannibals—Good Thing 1989
The Fireballs—Bottle of Wine 1967
The Fireballs—Sugar Shack 1963
The Fatback Band—Baby I'm a Want You 1972
Firefall—You Are the Woman (2:39) 1976
Firefall—Just Remember I Love You (3:10) 1977
Larry Finnegan—Dear One (3:01) 1962
Elisa Fiorillo (w/John “Jellybean” Benitez)--Who Found Who (3:46) 1987
Fine Young Cannibals—She Drives Me Crazy (3:37) 1989
Eddie Fisher—I Need You Now (2:42) 1954
Miss Toni Fisher—The Big Hurt (2:11)(36:35) 1959
First Class—Beach Baby (4:56)(31:42) 1974
The Five Americans—Western Union (2:26)(39:01) 1967
Five Man Electrical Band—Signs (3:06)(42:07) 1971
The Five Satins—In The Still of the Night (3:00)(45:07) 1956
The 5 Stairsteps---Ooh Child 1970
The Flamingos—I Only Have Eyes For You 1959

Hour 2:

Rock News
Roxy Music—The Thrill of it All (6:27) 1974 Country Life
Bryan Ferry—Slave to Love (4:27)(10:54) 1985 Boys and Girls
Fifth Angel—In the Fallout (4:02)(14:56) 1986/8 Fifth Angel
Tim Finn—Through the Years (3:57)(18:53) 1984 Tim Finn
The Firm—Satisfaction Guaranteed (4:09)(41:58) 1985
Fireballet—A Night on Bald Mountain (18:56)(37:49) 1975

Fanny--Butter Boy (1975)

     It has been said that the all female rock band, Fanny was the first group of it's kind to be signed to a major label. This isn't quite true with the first two being UK's, Goldie and the Gingerbreads, and Detroit's The Pleasure Seekers (featuring very young sisters Suzi and Patti Quatro). However it IS true that Fanny was the first to release an album on a major label.
     The group began as a duo. June and Jean Millington were born in the Philippines to an American Naval officer and his native wife. They moved to California in 1961 and to help relieve their homesickness began playing music together. In high school they formed a band with June on guitar, Jean on bass, and Brie Brandt (later replaced by Alice de Buhr) called The Svelts. When this group disbanded de Buhr formed a group called Wild Honey in which the Millington sisters joined.
     They moved to LA to try to make it there but after the constant struggle to get past the many barriers in a male-dominated scene, they decided to pack it in after a last open mic night at the Troubadour Club in 1969.
     It just happened that evening that producer Richard Perry was in the crowd and liked what he heard. He was looking for a female rock band to promote and produce and this filled the bill. Before going into the studio however, keyboardist Nicky Barclay was recruited and the name changed from Wild Honey to Fanny.
     Over the course of the next five years, the band released six albums and four charting singles. They band never broke through in a big way, but they were a constant presence on the charts. They did world tours opening for Slade, Jethro Tull, and Humble Pie gaining a greater popularity in the UK than at home.
    Ironically enough, the highest charting single for the band was happening as they were in the process of breaking up. "Butter Boy" was also a lot less rocking than earlier material. The remaining members of the group has continued to influence as studio musicians and producers. The real ground work for women who rock today can be found here.....

Friday, January 25, 2013

Georgie Fame--The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde (1968)

     The movie "Bonnie and Clyde" was released in 1967 to mixed reviews, which could be divided up between the younger generation of film critic and the old guard. Directed by Arthur Penn, the film had one of the bloodiest endings of a movie up to that time, and was panned as glorifying violence. Looking back it DID contain a lot of gratuitous blood , but it was also a very well done movie with great performances by it's stars Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty. Both received Oscar nominations as well as Estelle Parsons (who won), Gene Hackman, and  Michael J. Pollard.
    Songwriters Mitch Murray and Pete Callender saw the movie and were surprised that it deserved a hit song written about it. The soundtrack is full of bluegrass numbers and period pieces, but nothing that would have made top 40 fodder (although it DID bring the song, "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" into public prominence). They looked around for a singer to pitch the song too, and CBS Records had just signed Jazz/R&B singer, Georgie Fame and was looking for some material. The writers added a bit a jazzy break to it, and Fame recorded it.
     Fame wasn't crazy about the song, but it turned out to be his first (and last) top 5 hit in the US, and continued a streak of hits in the UK.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Falcons--You're So Fine (1959)

    The Falcons hold a place in the history of r&b not only with their big hit, "You're So Fine" in 1959, but also for it's members who went on to further the history of 60's soul.
    The group began in the mid-50's out of Detroit, and in 1957 made the changes that would set up their first major success. First, Joe Stubbs, brother of Levi who would make his own mark with The Four Tops joined the group, then later Mack Rice came along. Mack would later come to fame as the man who wrote and was the first to record, "Mustang Sally" in 1965.
    It was these two men who along with Eddie Floyd, Lance Finne, Robert Ward and Willie Schofield who comprised the line up that broke on the charts in 59. A year after this song, Stubbs left and was replaced by Wilson Pickett who stayed until leaving in 1963 for a very successful solo career.
    Another interesting side note about the group. When Pickett left the group, the rest of the band decided it was time for all to go and the group disbanded. However another Detroit group, The Fabulous Playboys, took the name, "The Falcons" and had a hit of their own in 1966 ("Standing On Guard").
    One more thing...the musical group who backed the vocalists during the Wilson Pickett years were known as "The Ohio Untouchables" who in the late 60's changed their name and began a switch over in sound to a harder funk sound. "The Ohio Players" because one of the top funk/r&b groups of the 1970's.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Harold Faltermeyer--Axel F (1985)

     Harold was born in Munich, Germany and from an early age showed talent at the piano, which eventually earned him a spot at the Munich Music Academy. He began with classical, but took a liking to rock as well playing the organ in his teen years with a combo. His talent caught the eyes and ears of Giorgio Moroder in 1978, who invited the young musician to Los Angeles to play the keys and help arrange the music to the "Midnight Express" soundtrack.
     This began a fruitful partnership where he assisted Moroder in producing music for Donna Summer and others. More importantly he found himself working more soundtracks such as, "American Gigolo" and "Foxes". He got is big break on his own in 1984, creating the music for the movie, "Beverly Hills Cop" in which the single, "Axel F" was taken. The song not only reached #3 on the pop charts here in America, but became a worldwide hit on the pop and dance charts.
     He followed this up by composing the music to the Chevy Chase film, "Fletch" in 1985 and teaming again with Moroder on the soundtrack to "Top Gun" in 1986.
     Faltermeyer continued to work scoring soundtracks for movies and computer games.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Percy Faith and his Orchestra--The Theme from "A Summer Place" (1960)

    The movie, "A Summer Place" was a 1959 movie starring Richard Egan, Dorthy McGuire, Troy Donahue, and Sandra Dee. You can go other place to read about the actual movie, but it did well at the box office, somewhat spurred on by the two youthful actors in the film. It was also known today for one of the songs used. The "theme" as it's named is not actually the main song from the movie, but a love song used for Johnny and Molly (Donahue and Dee)
     Percy Faith was a Canadian born bandleader spent much of the early 50's writing and arraigning for many of the major pop singers of the day, such as Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, and Doris Day. His "Percy Faith Orchestra" recorded many albums full of orchestral versions of pop songs as well as music from the stage and screen. His music filled the pop charts all through the 1950's and early 60's, and even continued to make it on the Adult Contemporary charts into the mid-70's.
     "Theme from A Summer Place" became his 7th top ten hit and third number one (the other two being 'Delicado' (1952), and 'Song from Moulin Rouge' (1953)). He also got an Oscar nomination for composing the score to the Doris Day film, "Love me or Leave Me", and did some work in television, writing the theme to the The Virginian. However...over 50 years later, this song is still reognizable by generations of music fans even if very few know who performed it.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Lineup for the Rock and Roll Omnibus Radio Show Week of Jan. 21, 2013

Hour 1:
Opening: (0:30)
The Fifth Dimension—Up Up and Away 1967
The Fantastic Johnny C—Boogaloo Down Broadway 1967
Don Fardon--(The Lament of the Cherokee) Indian Reservation 1968
Jose Feliciano—Light My Fire 1968
Donna Fargo—The Happiest Girl in the Whole USA 1972
Donna Fargo—Funny Face 1972
Faze-O—Riding High 1978
Freddy Fender—Wasted Days and Wasted Nights 1975
Freddy Fender—Before the Next Teardrop Falls 1975
Ferrante & Teicher—Exodus 1960
Sally Field—Felicidad 1967
The Fifth Estate—Ding Dong The Witch is Dead 1967
The Fifth Dimension—Aquarius/Let The Sun Shine In 1969
The Fifth Dimension—Last Night I didn't get to sleep at all 1972
Georgie Fame—The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde 1968

Hour 2:
Farquahr—Streets of Montreal 1970
Farrenheit—Fool In Love 1987
Faster Pussycat—Don't Change That Song 1987
Spirit—Nature's Way 1970
Spirit—I've Got a Line On You 1968
Jo Jo Gunne—Run Run Run 1971
Jay Ferguson—Thunder Island 1977
Fat Matress—All Night Drinker 1969
Fastway—All Fired Up 1984
Fates Warning—Anarchy Drive 1987
The Feelies—The Boy With The Perpetual Nervousness 1980
The Feelies—Fa Ce La 1980
Fever Tree—San Francisco Girls 1968
The Beatles—Hey Jude 1969

The Fabulous Thunderbirds--Tuff Enuff (1986)

     By the 1980's, there had been enough time passed in the history of rock music to have spawned what I call road warriors. In the 50's and 60's, there was still a prevailing feeling that the music would someday fade away and many an artist who didn't "make it" in a few years, would give it up and "get a real job". Many of those artists that you see onstage today from that era had taken a hiatus for a decade or two before reforming to take advantage of the nostalgia boom over the last 20 years.(although there are more than a few exceptions to that...especially in r&b and soul)
     By the early 70's, an entire generation had grown up knowing nothing more than rock began to see it as a life long career rather than a youthful fling. Many of these musicians were more interested in the music and lifestyle than the money (although no one ever gave up THAT pursuit either). This began the rise of groups that would make their living from tour to tour, connecting with the people without the help of radio or marketing.
     Over the years there have been times where a song from a group would intersect the public taste and they would have one or two hits.....which brings us to The Fabulous Thunderbirds.
     The group formed in 1974 as a blues band. After a couple of years they became the house band at Antone's in Austin where they continued playing the blues, but in backing many other artists they developed the style that the group became known for. By 1979, they had a record deal with a local label. It did well enough that a year later they signed a major deal with Chrysalis. Their popularity began to grow, especially with other musicians, however this did not lead to strong record sales and they were dropped from the label in the mid-80's. Soon picked up by Epic a year later, they had revamped the group somewhat and were ready to move in a fresh direction.
     The single "Tuff Enuff" was produce by Dave Edmunds and broke them through to a wide audience, reaching #10 in the summer of 1986. It also began a series of popular hits ("Wrap It Up", and "Powerful Stuff") which kept them in the limelight for the next three years. Although the singles action ended in 89, they never stopped releasing albums or touring and to this day remain a top club draw. You can find out more about their new album and tour here:


Friday, January 18, 2013

Bent Fabric and His Piano--Alley Cat (1962)

     Our family has always loved music, and can never remember a time where I was not surrounded by it. Mom had a lovely alto voice and loved church music. By the 1960's, Dad's voice had been roughened by alcohol and cigarettes, but as he strummed on his guitar you could still hear the clear influence of Jimmie Rogers and Hank Williams Sr. I was never much influenced by country, but hearing both of them singing so much, it allowed me to feel free about expressing myself musically. My Dad's brother Ray was also an excellent guitarist as well, and when the families would get together inevitably the instruments wold be broken out, everyone would relax around the two men and singing would break out until the late hours of the night.
     For me however, the focus of those gatherings was my Aunt Mae. Mae was Ray's wife and a fantastic piano player. I was not a big kid, but even as a teenager, she seemed small and almost frail as she would get behind the upright piano in the basement of their house and play along for a set or two of songs. Watching her play was a joy as she alternatively went from power on pop songs of her day, to graceful and sensitive on slower, more expressive pieces. Her encouragement and support is the sole reason that I continue to perform and write music today. The happyness and joy that she showed when she played has been passed down to another generation every time I get behind the keys.
     For some reason, of all of the songs she used to play, the one I remember the most was a song called, "Alley Cat". In my limited experience as a kid, I figured it was was "an oldie", of course, any song that was conceived before being born at the time was thought of as "old". But something about this song always piqued my interest, and for a time could even play it myself. Come to find out as my interest in music grew, that the song was actually fairly new...
     "Alley Cat" was the creation of a Dutch pianist named, Bent Fabricius-Bjerre. After World War two, he formed a jazz combo which would record on their own label (Metronome Records) and play throughout Dennmark during the 1950's. In 1961 he recorded a song called, "Omkring et Flygel", which means, "Around a Piano". The next year, Atco Records picked it up and it soon became a worldwide hit. He still lives in Denmark at the age of 88. His last recording was in 2005.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Falco--Rock Me Amadeus" (1985)

    Johann Hölzel was born in Vienna in 1957. He quit school at the age of 16, and after serving the Austrian army at the age of 17, moved to Germany to make a go of it as a musician. The pianist/guitarist spent time in various groups there and in Austria, along the way picking up the name "Falco" in honor of a famous East German skier.
     His first chart success was 1982's, "Der Kommissar" (which means the inspector) and loosely inspired a song of the same name which became a one off hit for the British rock band, "After the Fire" in that same year. I say loosely because although it was the same musically, the lyrically were very different, which most would never pick up on since Falco's version was entirely in German. After a second album, he began experimenting with singing in English.
     The result of this was the song, "Rock Me Amadeus" in 1985. Inspired by the 1984 movie, "Amadeus", it became the first number 1 song on the American charts by a German speaking artist. The song was spoken in German and English, but there is not a full English version, and it's album version (which clocks in at 8 minutes) is a mini-biography of the great composer.
     As opposed to many who think the song was a one-hit wonder, he actually had another top 20 single with,"Vienna Calling" (#18) later that year. Although it was the last of his success here in the states, he continued to do well in Europe up to his death in 1998 from injuries caused by a car accident in the Dominican Republic.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tommy Facenda--High School USA (1959)

     Marketing departments get paid for making whatever product they are selling seem appealing. There is no regard to quality of the product...some might be good, some are not so good, but it's not really the point I suppose, the fact that your interested in buying is the whole point. In the recording industry, marketing has played a major role in the industry. Overall there are more important factors (like talent), however, for the course of one single, there are times where a gimmick is all it takes.
     Tommy Facenda was a member of Gene Vincent's backing group, The Blue Caps. He was a guitar player, but in the band was known more as one of the guys who provided hand claps on the records. In fact, him and fellow member Paul Peek were known as "The Clapper Boys" After about a year with the group he left to attempt a solo career in 1958.
     His first single, "Little Baby" received no attention, and he moved from his home in Virginia to New York City to jump start things. It was here he met Frank Guida of Legrand Records Guida asked him to record a novelty song called, "High School USA". There is a part to the song where a list of local high schools were to be add. For each major city the song would be released, a set of schools would be overdubbed so it would sound as if it were a local record. In all 28 different versions of the song was released. All versions were counted together on the charts, and the single reached #28 on the top 100.
     Facenda never had another hit, and after a stint in the military his career was effectively over. He worked as a firefighter in his hometown of Portsmouth, Virgina, but did tour with The Blue Caps in the early 1980's. The version heard here is the national one which actually very few people had ever heard.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Donald Fagen--I.G.Y (What a Beautiful World) (1982)

     When Steely Dan split up in 1981, Walter Becker moved to Hawaii and spent time on his avocado farm (and took some time to wean off of his drug habit). Donald Fagen went to work on a solo album which would be released in 82 as, "The Nightfly".
      Musically, the album didn't sound a whole lot different than what you might expect from a Steely Dan album, however the lyrical content was something else indeed. For the Dan's entire lifespan, the lyrics were as much a part of the fun as the music. Obtuse, but intelligent, the lyrical pairing with the jazzy overtones to the music were a perfect match. However, this first post-Dan album was almost totally autobiographical, speaking of Fagan's childhood spent in New Jersey.
     I.G.Y stood for "International Geophysical Year". It stood for an scientific interchange between the East and West after the death of Stalin. The event lasted from July of 1957 until December of 1958 and was attended by all major powers except for China. The lyrics speak of a positive and hopeful world that would achieved by those of other cultures coming together. In fact, much of this album had an upbeat positive feel about it, which was another great contrast from the cynical outlook of his lyrics with Steely Dan.
     The song reached number 26 on the charts, but was a huge FM hit as well. It was nominated for a Grammy for song of the year in 1983, but lost out to Willie Nelson's, "You Were Always On My Mind". In 93, Becker and Fagen resurrected their group and he maintains a solo career along with touring and recording with the group.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Fabian--Tiger (1959)

     In the wake of Elvis Presley's success, record companies attempted to find their own gold mine. In doing so however, it was obvious that many knew little of what the core of this new "rock and roll" really was. First of all, this new market of teen buyers was still foreign in many ways to marketers. In previous days, pop records were made to the taste of adults, but as time went on the post-war era, teenagers were becoming more dominant in the marketplace, which began a search for a music to call their own. Secondly, those who had a bit of a clue about what the kids wanted, did NOT want anyone as dangerous as an Elvis or Jerry Lee Lewis, or someone who was as flamboyant as a Little Richard. In other words, a singer that you could bring home to meet mom. The success of Pat Boone suggested to the suits who ran these companies, that you could have someone who was good looking, could sing and had a more wholesome image.
     Looking back now over 50 years later and we see that although this short term strategy was proven successful on the charts, artistically the results were mixed. Of course, for many of these older guys, none of them believed rock and roll was going to be around forever, so short term gain was all that was expected anyway.
     Fabian Anthony Forte was born in Philadelphia in 1943, and was discovered by Bob Marcucci and Peter DeAngelis on the recommendation of Frankie Avalon and was signed to Chancellor Records. One has to remember that because American Bandstand was being broadcast out of Philly at the time (and on everyday no less), there was a fierce competition among record labels citywide to provide good looking men (especially), who could carry a tune who could be promoted on the show.  This formula worked well for about a year (1959) before the hits began to dry up.
      Although he released songs until 1963, his career on the charts was over by the end of 1960. He became the poster boy for those who criticize the, "looks first--talent second" artists of the late 50's/early 60's, mainly due to his testimony in Congress during the payola scandal. In those probes he admitted to the world that his voice had received a substantial amount of electronic doctoring to improve his voice.  Although he voice wasn't very good, he was far from the only artist who had their voices enhanced. A listen to many of the singers of that day shows that the echo chamber was a friend to many.
     After the music had run it's course, he attempted to follow Avalon's footsteps into films. Although his short term was not close to his friends, he managed to have a nice career throughout the 60's and into the early 70's.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Shelley Fabares--Johnny Angel (1962)

     Many of you will remember Shelley Fabares depending on your age. She began as a full time actress at the age of 14 playing Mary Stone on the ABC hit series, "The Donna Reed Show", where she stayed from 1958 to 1963 (the show itself lasted three more seasons). She co-starred alongside Elvis Presley in three of his movies, "Girl Happy" (1965), "Spinout" (1966), and "Clambake" (1967). The 70's were spent doing a lot of one appearance guest spots on many television shows and was probably best remembered as playing Brian Piccolo's wife Joy in the movie, "Brian's Song" (1971). 1978 she began a re-occurring role on the series, "One Day at A Time" as Francene Webster. For those who are even younger still, you might have seen her on the series, "Coach" (1989-1997) as Christine Armstrong.
     As studios in the late 50's/early 60's were looking for fresh photogenic faces to not only market to TV and films, but to also record them in the studio. Some of these attempts were better than others, and very few of them had more than a couple of hits. Although her top 40 presence was limited to this song and it's follow up, "Johnny Loves Me" her talents as a singer have held up better than many of her contemporaries.
     Fabares wasn't crazy about the idea of recording as she didn't see herself as a singer. Having Darlene Love and her group the Blossoms, along with a well placed echo chamber helped a bit, but she recalled later that she was very much intimidated by Love and the other back up singers. Like other TV teen stars before (and after) her, television was used to promote the new single and by mid spring of 1962, it had reached the #1 position.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Exciters--Tell Him (1962)

     One of the great things about popular music is that so many variables that can bring one success. Talent is important, but so was just being in the right place at the right time. A corollary to that is one never knows who you might effect by YOUR career, no matter what you success level.
     The Exciters was a girl group which began their life as The Masterettes. Brenda Reid, Sylvia Wilbur, Lilian Walker, and Carol Johnson became The Exciters in 1962 when Wilbur left and was replaced by Reid's husband, Herb Rooney.  Their first hit, "Tell Him" was by far the biggest of their career, reaching #4 in late 62. The next year, they released, Doo Wah Diddy Diddy" which scraped the lower rungs of the chart in 1964, but later became the song which put Manford Mann on the map.
     This group also was highly influential for singer Dusty Springfield. According to the singer, she was headed to Nashville to make a country album with her group, The Springfields when they had a stop over in New York City. Back in the day, the record stores in the city would hang a speaker above the outside door. One evening, while walking by the Colony Record Store on Broadway, "Tell Him" was blaring on the speakers. Springfield was enthralled by the in your face directness of the style, which began a switch in Dusty's style, which defined her career. Not only that, but generations of female singer (Amy Winehouse, Adele, Duffy just to name a few) have been directly influenced by the singer, who had been inspired by the group from NYC.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Remembering Sammy Johns (1946-2013)

This has been reprinted with alterations from The Charlotte Observer:

Sammy Johns remembered as writer of hit songs 

 by Joe DePriest

Read more here:

      Playing a string of gigs at Charlotte clubs, singer Sammy Johns had never made more than $175 a week when he tried his hand at songwriting in the early 1970s. For years, he’d admired a friend’s Chevrolet van and imagined a man riding around in it, picking up beautiful women and making love in the back.
        Johns, who died Jan. 4 at age 66, used that theme in his first song, “Chevy Van.” When the record was finally released in January 1975, it sold 3.5 million copies and made him an instant celebrity. Although Johns never wrote another blockbuster for himself, he penned No. 1 hits for such country stars as Waylon Jennings, Conway Twitty and John Conlee.
      Family and friends will remember Johns’ remarkable career Wednesday at a funeral service.
“He always planned to make music his life,” said Ray Finchum, who will officiate at his uncle’s funeral. “Music was his life. Everything revolved around it.” Finchum said that on Jan. 3, family members found Johns lying on the floor of his Gastonia home, and that he may have suffered a stroke or been electrocuted while working on an old lamp. Johns died the following day at Gaston Memorial Hospital.
      Finchum said that in recent years Johns, an avid golfer, had continued writing songs while playing with local bands. Johns also performed at the Grand Ole Opry with singer John Conlee, who had a number No. 1 hit with Johns’ composition “Common Man.” “Sammy considered himself a common man,” Finchum said. “He didn’t feel like he was special.”

      Around the age of 8, Johns began doing Elvis imitations at clubhouses and schools all over Gaston County. While he was a student at Belmont High School, he joined a rock band called the Devilles, named after the Cadillac model After graduating in 1962, he made music full time, playing with the band at Charlotte clubs and lounges like the Bamboo Lounge and Pecan Grove – a venue that featured gyrating go-go girls.
     A friend suggested Johns start writing songs. “Chevy Van” took shape while he sat on the bed of his northwest Charlotte apartment: Johns recorded the song in 1973 for an Atlanta company, but it sat on the shelf until 1975 when it climbed to No. 5 on the Billboard chart. “Rolling Stone” magazine dubbed it “The Song of the Seventies.”
      In a 1991 Observer interview, Johns said that while the first record made him rich and famous, he blew the money on alcohol, drugs, houses and cars. His four marriages failed. In 1977, he spent two weeks in an Atlanta rehab center and then moved to Nashville, Tenn., where he wrote and recorded songs. His composition “Desperado Love” was a No. 1 hit for Conway Twitty and “America” went gold for Waylon Jennings.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Every Mother's Son--Come On Down To My Boat (1967)

     Every Mother's Son is centered around the brother duo of Dennis and Lary Larden. They began as in folk music as many in that time period did. That sensibility, along with the desire of their record company to push them as a "non-hippie" alternative (MGM Records), produced a wonderful piece of pop music.
     Written by Wes Farrell and Jerry Goldstein, "Come On Down To My Boat" went to #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in May of 1967. Within the next year the group reached the charts another three times, although never coming close to the heights of their debut. Dennis went from here to become a guitarist and composer for Rick Nelson and his Stone Canyon Band.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Everly Brothers--Wake Up Little Suzie (1957)

     When talking about the first wave of innovators in Rock and Roll, the first few come easy: Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, and Fats Domino. Two others who I believe should be categorized in that group would be Don and Phil Everly.
     Close harmony singing in thirds was common in country music in the 50's. Artists like The Louvin Brothers, The Osborne Brothers, and Jim & Jessie, used it to great effect, but it wasn't until The Everly's that it had been used in the new style that was known as Rock and Roll. Listening to much of their music it's obvious the music fell a bit more on the country side (mainly because of those harmonies), but The Beatles, Beach Boys and Simon & Garfunkel were deeply influenced by their music.
     Their popularity spanned from their first number one in 1957, "Bye, Bye, Love", to "That's Old Fashioned" in 1962. As opposed to what some might think, the duo's days of hits stopped long before the British Invasion. I believe part of this was due to a contractual dispute with their manager who also administered the Rose-Acuff music publishing company. Not only were they cut off from Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, the team who wrote several of their biggest hits, but they couldn't even used their own material They were contracted to Acuff-Rose themselves, so any songs they wrote would have to go through that publisher. This forced them to use cover material, and other writers who they had not had a musical relationship with. That, and a stint for the both of them in the Marine's, effectively brought their career as a charting duo to an end.
     After a 10 years hiatus from working together, the brothers got back together and continue to tour as both are in their 70's. "Wake Up Little Suzie", is one of the major hits written by the Bryant's.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Heart--Stairway to Heaven (2012)

     Last week the Kennedy Honors program was on CBS. It had been taped on the first week in December and this years honorees included Led Zeppelin. Normally, this kind of event does nothing for me, as I usually find them quite boring. It's not that they, or any other artist deserves/doesn't deserve such honors, but watching musicians do others' famous material isn't my idea of a good time. It's a bias of mine that I try to escape now and then, but honestly, unless a cover is done in a way that brings new or renewed life to a song, I'm generally not interested. This doesn't mean that covers are bad, but in the context of honoring someone else's music, one doesn't generally stray from the original material...which usually equals dull.
     Having said all of this, a friend of mine sent along this video from the proceedings, and was totally blown away. In fact, watching it brought tears to my eyes the first dozen or so times I viewed it. Looking back, I'm not quite sure what exactly it was that brought me to such a state. Watching Robert Plant attempting to keep his composure during a song which had long ago lost it's meaning for him? Seeing Jason Bonham channel his Dad's spirit behind the drums? Seeing the choir with their bowler hats (in honor of the deceased Zeppelin drummer? Hearing Ann Wilson absolutely nail the song with a conviction that made you think that she had been dreaming of a night like this all of her life? Perhaps all of those things, because just like the group was the definition of rock excess in every imaginable way during the 70's, the performance piled on layer after layer. As every piece of the musical cake had been performed to perfection, the choir appeared with the literal cherry on top. You could see it in the, "Oh my" uttered by Plant while Page and Jones looked on with smiles that showed total joy in watching the work performed in this way.
     Those who know the group Heart at all know that covering Zeppelin is not a shock. (listening to them perform 'The Battle of Evermore' should be on your list as well) Watching them play this however is equal to them in a PhD. interview with the head schoolmasters. The Wilson sisters have earned their entrance to the Hall of Fame on their own merits, however for one night, the woman who in her younger years wanted to BE Robert Plant, got her wish.   

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Remembering Patti Page (1927--2013)

     Patti Page was born Clara Ann Fowler in Claremore, Oklahoma in November of 1927. Her family lived in several towns in that state until settling in Tulsa in time for high school, where she graduated in 1945. It was that year that she was featured on a local radio program on KTUL. The 15 minute show was sponsored by the Page Milk Company, and while doing the program she was dubbed, "Patti Page", the moniker in which she kept the rest of her life. After a short stint with Jack Rael and his, "Jimmy Joy" Band, she was signed to Mercury Records in 1947.
     Her first hit was, "Confess" in 1947 which reached #12. From that song until 1960, Page charted 40 songs in the top 20, which included three number 1's. One of those, "Tennessee Waltz" became her signature song and is the state song of Tennessee. By the early 60's, her popularity began to wane, but found herself with the occasional hit, such as 1965's title song to the Bette Davis thriller, "Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte" She also could be seen in the movie, "Elmer Gantry" (1960), and "Boys Night Out" (1962)
     She shifted her focus away from the Hot 100 and from 1966 to 1982 was frequently on the Adult Contemporary and Country charts giving her a solid 35 years in the forefront of popular music. She never stopped touring totally, doing up to 50 concerts a year even well into her 80's. Her third husband, Jerry Filiciotto (who died in 2009) ran a maple syrup business in New Hampshire and resided in California where she passed this past Tuesday.

On a personal life as a singer began with a Patti Page song. I remember it was a summertime party in 1965 for the business my mom worked for. There was a band, and somehow (probably volunteered) ended up fronting the band who played "Mocking Bird Hill" (confidently telling the guitarist to play it in the key of "Z"). To my knowledge I refrained from, "How Much is That Doggie in the Window" Both are included below....


Betty Everett--The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss) (1964)

     Betty Everett was born in Greenwood, Mississippi and moved to Chicago at the age of 18 to pursue a musical career. She recorded a few sides for some local labels before being picked up by an independent label which was making some waves in the industry: Vee-Jay Records.
     Her second single for the label was a song that Dee Dee Warwick had recorded earlier in 1963. "You're No Good" climbed up to #51 and was the definitive version until Linda Ronstadt hit the top position on the charts with it in 1974.
     This song was originally known as, "It's In His Kiss" and had already been rejected by Shirelles when Merry Clayton (known for her later duet work with Mick Jagger on the song, "Gimmie Shelter") recorded it in late 1963. A couple of months later, Warner Brothers enlisted Regina King to record the song and it's released was scheduled a couple of week's before Everett's. The head of Vee-Jay, didn't want any business taken away from their artist, so they changed the name of the song label to, "The Shoop-Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss)".
     The song, backed by The Opals, reached #6 on the charts in April of 1964. Betty would have an even bigger hit later that year on a duet with Jerry Butler and, "Let It Be Me" which made it to #5. She would have a presence on the chart for the rest of the 60's and even had some action on the R&B charts up through the early/mid 70's.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Dee Dee Warwick--You're No Good (1963)

Before we get started, please allow me to thank so many of you who have provided support for my family over the last couple of months. It's been a trying time filled with some joys and some sadness, especially with death of my Mom. However, after taking some time off from all musical endeavors it's time to get back to what I love doing...listening and writing about music. Thanks for supporting the blog AND the radio show.

     Dee Dee Warwick was born in 1942 and was the youngest daughter of Mancel and Lee Warwick. She began singing gospel with her sister Dionne and her Aunt Cissy Houston in their church in New Jersey. The three eventually formed the group, The Gospelaires. After a performance in 1959, her and Dionne were contracted to do session work in the area. They did backing vocals for many acts out of the New York area, but also worked on their own solo career. Dee Dee's first single on the charts was this song written by Clint Ballard Jr and produced by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. It never cracked the top 100 for Dee Dee, but was a hit the next year for Betty Everett and was a No. 1 song for Linda Ronstadt in 1974. Dee Dee had a number of successes, especially on  the R&B charts, but was never able to fully come out from behind her sister's shadow.