About Zeroto180

I like music.

Nancy & Frank Sinatra’s Trippy 45

Nancy & Frank Sinatra‘s “Life’s a Trippy Thing” from 1970 is the only song title that registers in 45Cat when you keyword search the database using the word “trippy“:

“Life’s a Trippy Thing”     Nancy & Frank Sinatra     1970

As Spencer Leigh aptly notes in Frank Sinatra:  An Extraordinary Life:

“[At what Frank intended to be his final recording sessions with Don Costa in October, 1970] There were two duets with Nancy Sinatra, ‘Feeling Kinda Sunday’ and ‘Life’s a Trippy Thing’, written by Nino Tempo and Howard Greenfield [with (a) Annette Tucker & Kathy Wakefield and (b) Linda Laurie, respectively].  Austin Powers would have loved them.  ‘I mean what I sing, Life is such a trippy thing.’  Really?  Frank ended the second song with the words, ‘That’s silly.'”

Nancy & Frank Sinatra 45-aaNancy & Frank Sinatra 45-bb

“Life’s a Trippy Thing” – recorded in October, 1970 with Don Costa in the producer’s chair –  did not chart when originally released in April, 1971.  45Cat and Discogs both peg “Life’s a Trippy Thing” as the A track (see note on this DJ promo) paired with “I’m Not Afraid.”  Both songs would be released for a French 45, whereas “Life’s a Trippy Thing” would find itself paired with 1967’s “Somethin’ Stupid” for the German market.

           French 45 [note charming typo*]                                    German 45

Nancy & Frank Sinatra 45-dddNancy & Frank Sinatra 45-ccc3

“Life’s a Trippy Thing” would also find release in Italy on a 1972 long-playing collection called The Voice, Vol. 3.

Frank Sinatra LP-ItalyThose hoping to acquire “Life’s a Trippy Thing” today can pursue the original 45s on the resale market, or obtain the track via these other more contemporary ‘music products’ worldwide:

(1) part of a 12-track “Collector’s Edition” Frank Sinatra LP for the Brazilian market;Nancy & Frank Sinatra 45-z(2) a track on 1994’s Belgium-only CD release Nancy & Friends:  Nancy, Frank & Lee;Nancy & Frank Sinatra 45-zz(3) a bonus track on the 1996 CD reissue of 1966’s Nancy in London album.

Nancy & Frank Sinatra 45-zzzz(4) one of two ‘B-side’ tracks included on the 2001 European CD single release of “Something Stupid.”

Nancy Sinatra CD single(5) one track (among many) on the Frank Sinatra Complete Reprise Studio Recordings 20-CD box set.

Nancy & Frank Sinatra 45-zzzaNancy & Frank Sinatra 45-zzzbbbx

Howard Greenfield, co-writer of “Life’s a Trippy Thing,” is one of the great Brill Building songwriters, whose four co-written #1 hits include “Love Will Keep Us Together.”  Greenfield was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1991.  Linda Laurie, Greenfield’s songwriting partner for “Life’s a Trippy Thing,” is probably best known for penning the 1959 novelty hit “Ambrose (Part 5)” while a senior at Brooklyn’s Abraham Lincoln High School, according to Billboard.

This past April, Billboard would note that, with 1967’s  ‘Somethin’ Stupid,‘ Frank and Nancy Sinatra became the only father-daughter duo to top the Hot 100 — Nancy would tell NPR’s Fresh Air in 1996 that “DJs dubbed it ‘the incest song…’  It gave them something fun to kid about.”

This is the third such piece tagged as Gratitude in Popular Music.

The Poets: Not Actual 12-Strings

The ringing, echo-drenched electric 12-string guitars on the debut single by Scottish rockers, The Poets, are such a striking sound for 1964 and yet a strangely familiar one:  might it be possible that the band later reincarnated as Brian Jonestown Massacre?

“Now We’re Thru'”     The Poets     1964
[play at strong volume]

What a revelation when one finds out – thanks to Richie Unterberger’s interview with lead singer and songwriter, George Gallacher – “apparently, there were no 12-string guitars, but what there was, was the two guitars having the 1st and 2nd strings tuned the same, thereby creating a semi-12 string effect.”  That very same year interestingly enough, Lou Reed would take this concept to the ultimate extreme when he tuned all six strings to the same note (D) for his satiric dance (non)-hit “The Ostrich.”

Now We're Thru - The Poets 45

With great feeling and commitment from every band member, “Now We’re Thru’” is a classic A-side from top to bottom, with the chiming guitars – and especially the lonely vocal at song’s end – ratcheting up the romance and mystery. The song would find release in Japan (manufactured by the “otherKing Records), as well as the US, Australia, and the UK, where the song charted at #31, doing particularly well in Scotland, confirms Unterberger in his (revised) history of ‘overlooked innovators and eccentric visionaries’ — Urban Spacemen and Wayfaring Strangers.

Billboard‘s December 12, 1964 edition gives the back story on the single’s release here in the States:

“Bob Crewe, independent record producer, has formed his own label, Dynovox, which will be distributed by Amy-Mala Records.

The label’s first release is ‘Now We’re Thru” by the Poets.  Crewe is currently producing sides for the 4 Seasons, and current releases ‘Watch Out Sally‘ by Diane Renay on MGM; ‘Dusty‘ by the Rag Dolls on Amy-Mala; newcomer Michael Allen on MGM Records with ‘She,’ and the forthcoming Travey Dey release on Amy-Mala.

The New Crewe label will not confine its efforts to pop releases.  The New York Youth Symphony and show and movie scores are being recorded for future releases.”

Unterberger attributes much of the “brilliance” of The Poets’ singles to their manager/producer, Andrew Loog Oldham, and proclaims the band to be “certainly the most talented act in Oldham’s production/management stable other than the Stones.”  According to a November, 1964 edition of New Music Express, the band’s name is “presumably derived from the fact that they wear their hair Burns-style and have ruffled lace-fronted shirts.”

After recording two singles for Oldham’s Immediate label, The Poets would carry on for one more single after Gallacher’s departure – 1967’s “Wooden Spoon” – before disbanding.  Wait a minute, 1967 is the birth year for Anton Newcombe:  coincidence or musical reincarnation?

The Poets would reunite in 2011 for a live performance at Glasgow’s Eyes Wide Open club.  Tip of the hat (yet again) to Tom Avazian for hipping me to this track via UK anthology album from 1983:  20 One-Hit Wonders, Volume 2.

1968 Crown Durango Electric 12-String [courtesy of Drowning in Guitars]

Electric 12-String = 1968 Crown Durango

{double click on image above for 3-D centerfold effect}

 

Historical Sidebar:  First Electric 12-String Guitar on UK Recording

Tony Bacon’s Rickenbacker Electric 12 String, The Story of The Guitars, The Music, and The Great Players informs who the electric 12-string pioneers in the UK were:

In fact, [George] Harrison’s Rickenbacker wasn’t the first electric 12-string on a British recording session.  That honour belongs to a Burns guitar played by Hank Marvin of The Shadows.  Marvin, a Fender Stratocaster player, had teamed up with British guitar-maker, Jim Burns, to design a new solid-body six-string electric.  Burns also came up with an electric 12-string, and around October, 1963, Marvin received an early sample of the Burns Double Six.  He took it along to various sessions at EMI’s Abbey Road studios in London where he was recording with Cliff Richard & The Shadows.

Marvin intended to record “Don’t Talk to Him” using the Burns 12, but problems arose, so instead he doubled a six-string line to achieve the prominent hookline.  A few weeks later, however, he recorded another Cliff session and played the prototype Burns 12-string for “On The Beach.”  Unusually, the 12 was strung like a six-string bass plus octave strings, clearly heard on the song’s low-down double string runs.  Later in November, Marvin used the Burns 12 with regular stringing for “I’m the Lonely One.”  These Cliff Richard songs weren’t released until 1964 — in the UK singles chart, “I’m the Lonely One” went to Number 8 in February and “On the Beach” to 7 in July — but they are important as early British recordings of the electric 12-string sound.

The book goes on to say:

The very first release of a British record with electric 12-string — just ahead of The Beatles and well ahead of Cliff & The Shads — was the result of another Abbey Road session.  Paul McCartney gave one of his songs to Peter & Gordon, a new duo signed to EMI.  They recorded their single “A World Without Love” at Abbey Road in January 1964, with sessionman Vic Flick [of James Bond theme fame] on guitar.
 .

Rare 1965 Jimmy Page B-Side

No doubt about it:  Jimmy Page, given his role as composer, arranger, and producer, dominates this B-side by a group you’ve never heard of (i.e., recording career = exactly one 45).  This song, I am now discovering, is virtually unknown to American fans of Page’s work, as it has mainly enjoyed release in the UK and Europe — first as a B-side, and later on compilation albums that showcase the daring and original music produced by UK’s renegade indie label, Immediate.  Even now, when you search YouTube, the song barely registers:  just one lonely audio clip, with a mere 1,707 listens to date.

Will you please tell us the song title already?!  “Just Like Anyone Would Do” — the B-side to “Bells of Rhymney” on the one and only single ever released by Fifth Avenue:

Fifth Avenue     “Just Like Anyone Would Do”     1965

From the flamenco-style guitar riff that propels the song, to the instrumental bridge with the majestic piano chording, to the ghostly backing vocals that linger after the rest of the mix has faded, there’s something fairly compelling about this song (ditto for another great Jimmy Page production from that same year that unfairly sank without a trace — Nico’s “I’m Not Sayin’“).

I first encountered this haunting track on a double-album anthology of Immediate singles (with album sides devoted to “The Most Obvious”; “The Rarest of the Rare”; “Happy to Be a Part of the Industry of British Blues”; and “Jimmy Page Productions/Sessions”) that was released, oddly enough, by Nashville-based Compleat Records in 1985.

Immediate Singles 2-LP AnthologySix years prior, the Led Zeppelin fan club Manchester/UK had gathered this B-side and 29 other tracks for a double album compilation entitled, James Patrick Page — Session Man.  In recent years, “Just Like Anyone Would Do” would be reissued on CD in 2000, both in the UK (here and also here) and Germany.  2007 would also find the song included on a European CD release, Your Time Is Gonna Come — The Roots of Led Zeppelin (1964-1968).

Led Zep Roots Anthology

The track listing in 2000’s 6-CD box set, The Immediate Singles Collection, provides this sparse bit of text about Fifth Avenue’s sole contribution to popular music history:

45 originally released as Immediate IM 002 — 1965.
Line-up:  Denver Gerrard (vcls, gtr), Kenny Rowe (vcls, bs).
Band origin:  London.

The original Immediate 45 (which was the second single issued by the label, following “Hang On Sloopy” by The McCoys) does respectable business, according to Popsike, at auction.

“Frankenstein’s Party” Turns 60

Five years before “The Monster Mash,” King Records would peddle their own piece of Halloween pop in 1957, with the only release ever by The Swinging Phillies on DeLuxe — “Frankenstein’s Party” (backed with “LOVE“):

“Frankenstein’s Party”     The Swinging Phillies     1957

Thanks to the unnamed Discogs contributor who posted this biographical sketch:

The Swinging Phillies are a Philadelphia-based group, and are composed of Charles Cosom, lead; Philip Hurtt, first tenor; Richard Hill, second tenor; Ronald Headon, baritone; and Al Hurtt, bass singer and founder of the group.

More band history below courtesy of the “bio-disc“:

Frankenstein's Party - The Swinging PhilliesHard to believe that people have paid hundreds of dollars for an original copy of this doowop 45, but they have.

A search of the 45Cat database seems to suggest strongly that DeLuxe 6171 is the first of the “Frankenstein” songs, two years before Buchanan & Goodman’s “Frankenstein of ’59” (and one year before Bo Diddley’s “Bo Meets the Monster” – although this source says 1956), but is it also pop music’s earliest Halloween-slash-horror song?  All attempts to find “scary” songs earlier than 1957 – using such search terms as monster, ghoul, vampire, mummy, spooky, haunted, Halloween, et al. – have not yet proven abundant.  According to AllButForgottenOldies, the “flying saucer” songs of 1956 would kick start the teen horror fad in popular music, which merely echoed the big screen — although I’m not sure I would include “Old Black Magic” (especially as rendered so touchingly by the Glenn Miller Orchestra; same goes for Margaret Whiting’s “Old Devil Moon” — ditto Perry Como’s “Haunted Heart“) on a Halloween song list.

“Frankenstein’s Party” just might be King’s only Halloween and/or horror tune.

Q:  Aside from the “flying saucer” discs of 1956, can you find a Halloween/horror tune earlier than 1957?

“Oooh-Diga-Gow”: King-a-binghi

One can be forgiven for mistaking the heartbeat bass line and the off-kilter, syncopated hand drumming in this 2-minute heavy chant as being part of the Jamaican Nyabinghi tradition.  Note the special effect at song’s end — somewhat “high tech” for King in 1954:

“Oooh-Diga-Gow”     Cecil Young Quartet     1954

And yet, this King track by the Cecil Young Quartet, according to Michel Ruppli King Labels discography, was recorded December 7, 1953 in Cincinnati.  But where – given the live audience sounds – exactly?  We the listeners can only presume that stage movements and vocal inflections, designed to accentuate the “meaning” of the lyrics, are what’s eliciting periodic bursts of laughter.  To make sense of the laughs, it is imperative, given the lack of accompanying video, that the listener consult his or her inner oracle.

“Oooh-Diga-Gow” was originally a B-side that enjoyed release on 78 as well as 45.  Five years later, King would reissue the song on Audio Lab LP, Jazz on the Rocks.  One Ebay ad for this song (with no reference to the A-side) describes the music as “rare jazz exotica Yma Sumac,” while another seller would go even further.

Cecil Young - Jazz on the Rocks LP

King’s art department would turn out some delightful ‘cool jazz’ covers for Cecil Young and his crew during their short run with the label 1953-54:

Cecil Young - Cool Jazz Concert ICecil Young - Cool Jazz Concert II-cCecil Young Progressive Quartet EPCecil Young Quartet EPThese back cover notes serve as band biography:

Cecil Young Quarter - back cover story

 Photo courtesy Univ of Wash Libraries – from a 1951 concert available online

Cecil Young Quarter photograph

Auction prices for the Cecil Young Quartet on vinyl are not too shabby.

Prison Work Song Recast as “Rock”

The Guerrillas‘ “Lawdy Rolla” is a King reissue of a European single on Polydor.

Points out the YouTube contributor who posted this audio clip:

“Traditional worksong recording [from] Alan Lomax’s Negro Prison Blues & Songs – ‘Early in the Mornin” http://youtu.be/lw6GFCupesI  US ish (issue) of a French Congo acoustic RnB/Jazz tune, has an amazing vibe and groove”

“Lawdy Rolla”      The Guerillas      1969

Alan Lomax would record a performance of “Early in the Mornin'” in 1947 at Mississippi State Penitentiary’s Parchman Farm, thus setting into motion a chain of events that would lead to this prison work song entering the realm of popular music.

Australia’s Purple Hearts would inject “Early in the Mornin'” with fresh energy in 1966, as would Christchurch, New Zealand’s The Chants (as noted here), no doubt using The Graham Bond Organization‘s more polite version from the previous year’s The Sound of ’65 album as a template.

King would release “Lawdy Rolla” in October, 1969.  Little to no information seems to exist about this obscure 45, which commands a respectable price at auction.  The Guerrillas would record these two songs at Studio CBE in Paris.

Polydor picture sleeve – Note the spelling variant of Guerrillas

Guerillas Polydor 45Lyrics to the original prison work song can be found here — for mature audiences only.

King’s Dalliance with Psychedelia — Keith Murphy & the Daze

Keith Murphy & the Daze would help King Records expand its popular reach into the emerging “psychedelic” rock market (following the previous year’s foray into Jamaican ska via Prince Buster).  May of 1968 would find the release of King’s first “psych” 45 [as noted previously in “Rare & Unissued King“] with two sides by Keith Murphy & the Daze, “Slightly Reminiscent of Her” b/w “Dirty Ol’ Sam.”

Keith Murphy (front, right)

keith-murphy-the-daze-king-promo

.

Left to right — Standing: Phil Fosnaugh – keyboard/organ (deceased); Jerry Asher – bass (deceased); John Asher – guitar (now Evansville IN); Sitting Bill Shearer – drums (Gas City IN), Keith Murphy – lead singer/rhythm guitar (Long Valley, NJ)

The single’s recording, however, would take place against the backdrop of (1) label founder Syd Nathan‘s passing two months prior in March, (2) followed, in April, by civil unrest in the neighborhoods adjacent to Cincinnati’s Evanston neighborhood – King’s home base – when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis.

“Slightly Reminiscent of Her”     Keith Murphy & the Daze     1968

The Daze, Keith Murphy postulates, are among King’s final signings while Nathan was still actively involved:

Louis Innis [previously celebrated here] was a wonderful man, and you can see from the letters [featured below] how nicely he treated me.  No letters in 1967, then in 1968 I reapproached him with The Daze, the band of which I was lead singer.  Again, the band was so sure the idea of getting a contract with King was so slim, none of the band members went with me to talk to King.  As it turns out, it was just as well, for when King wanted only me as the lead singer songwriter, they did not resent my name being on the label.  This was the pattern of King I thought, to just sign the lead singer/songwriter then they had one person to deal with and the most valuable property, like James Brown and the Famous Flames, Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, etc.  I did insist that the band name also be on the record and they were ok with that.

We recorded the record in May of 1968, but it was not released until September or October of that year.  I see in their final letter, it was chaotic.  Actually, Syd Nathan died in March 1968, and it was chaos then too, as I recorded about 2 months later. I suspect, but do not know, that I was one of the very last artists that was approved by Syd Nathan himself.  Louis mentions that he wanted to see me alone to proceed forward, and they were releasing the record in England.  I had just graduated from college, had a baby daughter, had a regular job and was too busy to attend to everything. I don’t think I ever went back. I think he mentioned something on the phone about re-recording the songs.”

The same single would find its release 6 months later in the UK on Polydor, albeit with the A and B sides flipped.  Murphy would inform Zero to 180:

“I attached a picture of the exact Yellow King record [below] that was sent to England to see if Polydor was interested.  As you can see, they considered ‘Dirty Ol’ Sam’ the A side there.  I do know they must have shipped the tape or master there, as ‘Sam’ does not fade out in the UK version and is 7 seconds longer with a limp ending.  It is a near miracle I have that record.  The person who sold it worked for Polydor UK and was asked to clean out the warehouse or library.  He kept the records, and confirmed it was where it came from and the markings on the record are the numbers that ended up as the Polydor number.

This very King 45 led to the song’s issue in the UK on Polydor:  note ‘A’ & ‘B’ markings

Keith Murphy Yellow King-aakeith-murphy-dirty-ol-sam-king-promo-45-a

The single’s UK release of 15 November, 1968, unfortunately, would be a mere 8 days or so before Starday* would sell the entire Starday-King operation to Lin Broadcasting for a mere $5 million (*see related vintage news item appended to this piece).

UK release on Polydor – with A & B sides flipped!

Keith Murphy - Dirty Ol' Sam - Polydor 45-aKeith Murphy - Slightly - Polydor 45-b

“Dirty Ol’ Sam”     Keith Murphy & the Daze     1968

Keith Murphy & the Daze at Cincinnati’s King studios – May, 1968

Keith Murphy & the Daze at King studio - May 1968

Photo notes from Keith Murphy

“Here is the sole picture that was taken in the King Recording studio in May, 1968. L to R:  Phil Fosnough – Keyboard; John Asher – Lead Guitar; Bill Shearer – Drums; Jerry Asher – Bass, Keith Murphy – Lead singer, songwriter.  I remember two incidents during the recording session:  Someone came in and said they needed to send somebody to the jail to give Hank Ballard a pack of cigarettes, he had been arrested for public intoxication.  The other memory is that it was a hot day, and along side the building, the workers had the doors open and had a pressing machine partially outside to get some cooler air for the workers!”

Louis Innis & Keith Murphy:
Selected Correspondence || 1965-1968

Dec. 14, 1965:  “Have [Becky Wiggins] do 3 or 4 different type songs” [see Q&A]

Louis Innis & Keith Murphy - Dec 1965-a

Dec. 21, 1965:  “Please find copy of my agreements” + “5% of the retail price”

Louis Innis & Keith Murphy - Dec 65

Jan. 25, 1966:  “Anxious to get the sides recorded” + “what a rat race I’m in”

Louis Innis & Keith Murphy - Jan 1966Feb. 17, 1966:  Pardon the delay – “echo chambers have been out in the studio”

Louis Innis & Keith Murphy - Feb 17 1966Apr. 13, 1966:  “Returning your contracts so you can do something else” (!)

Louis Innis & Keith Murphy - Apr 1966Sep. 16, 1968:  “Record should be out pronto” + keep your chin up

Louis Innis & Keith Murphy - Sep 1968Oct. 9, 1968:  Final note = 45 to be issued in UK, but King “under new management”

Louis Innis & Keith Murphy - Oct 1968

PDF copy below of Keith Murphy’s contract with King (click on link)

Keith Murphy – Louis Innis contract (June 5, 1968)

Prior to the King 45, Murphy had actually recorded under the name Keith O’Conner as part of The Torkays, who recorded exclusively for Chicago’s Stacy Records (home of Al Casey, guitarist/bandleader behind three Lee Hazlewood A-sides in 1963 & 1964 for the label and not to be confused with The Torquays from Cincinnati’s Walnut Hills High School, located across the [future] interstate, interestingly enough, from King Records).

keith-oconner-stacy-records-promo-aIn that pre-Beatle era, O’Conner was part of a Mark, Don & Mel-type of arrangement (sorry, kids – that’s a Grand Funk Railroad joke) with The Torkays — Frank, Keith, and Jimmy — who would write a martial arts-themed composition, “Karate,” for their recording debut in 1963, with “I Don’t Like It (But What Can I Do)” on the flip.

keith-oconner-the-torkays-stacy-records-promo-aQ & A with King Recording Artist, Keith O’Conner Murphy

Q:  What led up to your getting signed by King?
A:  I started with a side project apart from my band The Daze.  They felt the chances of getting on a R&B label was such a long shot that they did not want to pursue it.  I wrote a Sonny and Cher type song called “We’re Gonna Get It” for myself and a girl named Becky Wiggins.  I started talking to Louis Innis of King in 1965.  He was very interested, as reflected in his letter which I have shared.  Sometime in 1966, Ft. Wayne native Troy Shondell, who had the big hit “This Time,” persuaded her to record for his small label 3 Rivers as Beck Holland with “I’m Going Away.”  So that scuttled the King deal.  In 1968, I then connected with Louis again, by myself, as the band still did not think it was worth the effort.  I actually was hoping to get on the Cincinnati Fraternity label, and interviewed with Harry Carlson, the owner.  He was a genuine caring person, but did not see a place in their current roster for me.  I liked his artist Mouse and the Traps, and he gave me a copy of their newly released “Sometimes You Just Can’t Win” – still one of my favorites.  The label was also home to Lonnie Mack, who recently passed, and my all time guitar instrumental favorite “Memphis.”  My next stop was King, and Louis was ready to go once I dropped some of my bold royalty demands!

Q:  Was Louis Innis Innis your main point of contact, given Syd Nathan’s death in March, 1968?  Who were some of the staff – as well as artists – you encountered during your time with King?
A:  I only worked with Louis Innis, a man I cannot say enough kind words for.  The only other person was a King engineer who I do not know the name of.  A white guy maybe in his 30’s.

Q:  Where was “home base” during your time with King — and what were your impressions of Evanston, as well as Cincinnati, during your tenure with the label?

keith-murphy-king-45-in-psych-sleeve-a

A:   My home was the small country town of Sweetser, Indiana, and the other guys lived in the “big” town of Marion or the nearby Gas City.  Grant County Indiana is the same small rural county that Fairmount is in — home of James Dean and Jim Davis who created Garfield.

Q:  Did you live in Cincinnati for any extended period of time?
A:  I never lived in Cincy.  Being in the middle of Indiana, we knocked on doors in Chicago, Memphis, Nashville, and Cincy — the major cities with record companies.  I love Cincy, however, the hills and the friendliness and especially the Chili!

Q:  I dig the far-out backdrop used in your King promotional photo — was that photo taken at King’s art studio and who designed the cool “Daze” logo?
A:  We had a booking agent, Bill Craig Jr. of Muncie, Indiana who I think partially owned a TV station there.  He also managed the Chosen Few, who later were on RCA and Mercury.  That photo was taken at a nightclub he owned called Halcyon Days, and he used it to get bookings.  Our keyboard player who used a Hammond B3 Organ with a Leslie speaker, he made that DAZE sign which had colored lights that rotated behind it.

Q:  Which make/model of electric guitars, basses & drums were plugged into the Fender amplifiers pictured in the King promo photo?

keith-oconner-the-torkays-45-a

A:  John played a Fender Jazzmaster, and at that time it looked like he was using Fender amps.  At other times he used Sunn, and I think for a short time the rolled and pleated Custom amps.  Jerry played a Fender bass, but bought a bass like Paul McCartney played sort of looked like a violin, a Hofner.  He didn’t have it long when it got stolen off the stage when we played a club in Detroit called The Mummp.

Q:  Where was home base originally for The Torkays, and what was the local response to your “Karate” 45 (which has a cool musical bridge, by the way, that loops back nicely to the verse)?
A:   “Karate” never got off the ground except in Pittsburgh.  Stacy’s biggest hit record, “Surfin’ Hootenanny” rightfully pushed everything else aside.  For some reason it has been revived on YouTube with several people posting it and 6,000 total views.  I wrote a song “Tiddlywink” for a German rockabilly band Black Raven, and they recorded it. They have notified me they want to record “Karate.”  I am surprised at the interest in this record.

←                                                              ↑                                                              →

“Two Kings”:  A True Tale by Keith Murphy

Chip Taylor — did not know him, but we were both on the King label. He was on King under his real name Wes Voight.

Wes Voight Deluxe 45-aWes Voight King 45-aWes Voight Co - King EP

“He was doing a concert here in NJ and I called him and left a message, and said I would like to meet him afterwards, telling him I was in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.  Well, I was out in the yard, but fortunately he left a phone message congratulating me!  I met him after the concert and brought my and his King record and had him sign it along with my copies of “Wild Thing” on both the Atco and Fontana labels by the Troggs.  Reg Presley of the Troggs died around that time, and Chip had flown to England to attend the funeral, as their careers were forever bound together by that one iconic great rock song. It is the example I always give of how important arrangement is.  The Troggs had the creative genius to put an ocarina and other stuff on there.  Chip just was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame [also famous for 1968 smash hit, “Angel of the Morning”] this summer, and I called him and congratulated.  He should have been in there a long time ago.”

“Two Kings”:  Chip Taylor (a.k.a., Wes Voight) and Keith Murphy

Chip Taylor & Keith 2 Kings Lo Res

Keith Murphy is also a voting member of the Grammys and Country Music Association

A   K i n g   R e c o r d s   V i n t a g e   H i s t o r y   M o m e n t

Full text of news item from the Nov. 23, 1968 edition of Billboard

Lin Broadcasting Buys Starday-King for $5 Mil; Execs Policy Retained

NASHVILLE — Lin Broadcasting Corp., owner of communication outlets, has purchased Starday and King Records and their affiliated companies for $5 million.

Fred Gregg Jr., Lin’s chairman of the board and president, said this would mean a great expansion program here.  “It will mean an additional $6 million to $8 million in gross income to the Nashville music economy,” he said.

The corporate structure of Starday-King will remain the same, with Don Pierce, president; Hal Neely, vice-president; Jim Wilson, vice-president for marketing; Johnny Miller in charge of the Cincinnati office; Henry Glover, manager of the New York office; and Harlen Dodsen, general counsel.

“Nashville will now be a complete operation in the rhythm and blues field,” Pierce said.  Pierce said James Brown now would record here, and would bring in the “right musicians for the r&b sound.”  Just having Brown record here, he said, would give tremendous impetus in this direction.  “Now that we’re working under a huge corporate structure,” Pierce said, “we can effect economies, efficiencies, acquisitions and total expansion.  We can compete for larger acts, go after great catalogs.”  He made it clear, though, that the sale in no way affects the operation of the business or its past policies.

Both Gregg and Pierce said they plan new overseas music companies in England, Germany and France at first, and eventually in other nations.  Pierce said the firm would expand its overseas distribution and exploit its various companies around the world.

The Starday president said he was obtaining a record club contract for King with Columbia, RCA and Capitol, the same ones with which Starday now has an arrangement.  He said the club membership would include James Brown.

Pierce, one of the founders of the Country Music Association, was Billboard’s Man of the Year in 1962 and is vice-president of RIAA.  Starday was founded in 1952 in Los Angeles and moved here in 1957.

Recently (Billboard, Oct. 26) Starday acquired the King Records operation.  Those holdings included the record and distribution operation and masters, Lois Music and its publishing subsidiaries, the Royal Plastics Pressing operation, and the long-term contract of Brown.  Starday holdings include Hollywood, Look and Nashville Records, and Starday, Tarheel and Kamar Music.

Bonus Craft Project!  Make Your Own King Records stationery

King Records stationeryAdditional history on Keith Murphy in this interview from 60sGarageBands.com

King’s “Red River Rock” Cash-In

Catchy King instrumental — and what is that instrument, exactly?  Sounds like a blend of organ and harmonica, most likely:

“New Annie Laurie”     Gene Redd     1960

New Annie Laurie” seems an obvious attempt by King to “cash in” on the fresh organ retooling of “Red River Rock” made famous the previous year by Johnny and the Hurricanes, although without directly resorting to plagiarism, cleverly enough, by using an olde Scotch ballad.

Billboard‘s review of the single in its October 10, 1960 edition would have this to say about the A-side “New Sidewalks of New York” — “Gene Redd sells this happy rocker with warmth on this driving instrumental side, it’s the old tune dressed up with a rocking beat” — and then, hilariously, utter two words “same comment” about the B-side “New Annie Laurie”!  Worth noting that Redd covered “Red River Rock” for King the previous year.

Gene Redd 45Brian Powers’ King Records Scrapbook informs me that Redd, originally a session player and King artist who became a talent scout for the label, would go on to do arrangements for Kool & the Gang, for which his son, Gene Redd, Jr., served as manager.

King’s “Tequila” Knock-Off

King Records would try to cash-in on the success of “Tequila” by The Champs, as Johnnie Pate‘s 1958 Federal 45 “Muskeeta” would demonstrate:

Johnnie Pate’s     “Muskeeta”     1958

Johnnie Pate (b, ldr); Ronald Wilson (fl); Williams Wallace (p); Wilbur Wynne (g); Donald Clark (d).

Chicago, March 20, 1958

According to Armin Büttner‘s Johnnie Pate history website, the version of “Muskeeta” on the French EP (below) is exactly the same as the version on King LP 584, but for a tenor sax probably overdubbed by Ronald Wilson himself.  It is not yet known, which version of “Muskeeta” is on Federal 45-12325.

Johnnie Pate - Muskeeta - French EPThis would not be the first time King Records would attempt to mine this particular vein, as Zero to 180’s lengthy examination of “Rare & Unissued King Tracks” revealed another 45 released that same year, “Snake Charmer” by The Puddle Jumpers that attempted to ride the coattails of “Tequila” and its unexpected meteoric ride.

Billboard‘s April 21, 1958 edition would report that “Muskeeta” made the #5 spot of “R&B Best Sellers” that week in the Cincinnati area.  Song would be included on 1958 full-length release Swingin’ Flute Dance Beat for the Ivy League.

Johnnie Pate King LP

Lue Renney’s Novelty 45 on King

Lue Renney‘s quirky and endearing “Your Wiggle And Your Giggle” would be recorded at King’s Cincinnati studios on January 27, 1964:

“Your Wiggle And Your Giggle”     Lue Renney     1964

45Cat informs us this song would be issued May, 1964 on King’s Bethlehem subsidiary label.  A half century later, this “teen-rock” 45 sells for a respectable amount at auction.  “Your Wiggle and Your Giggle” merited inclusion on French bootleg LP Inferno Party, as well as Dutch bootleg compilation More Real Gone Girls.

As with Lord BooBoo, Little Mummy, and Carolyn Blakey, this one release would comprise the full extent of Lue Renney’s entire recorded output (although copyright records show that that artist would register her song “Time to Love” later that same year under the name Lue Rennebaum).

Lue Renney Bethlehem 45-a

It’s been over a year since Zero to 180 has posted a piece tagged as humor & satire