The Upsetters at King Records

I am only just now discovering that Little Richard‘s musical influence had a direct impact on King Records, first when his live backing band, The Upsetters, became Little Willie John’s support group after Richard renounced rock ‘n’ roll in 1957, and then again soon after when the Upsetters backed James Brown for a time.

On December 2, 1958, Little Willie John did a session for King in New Orleans — at Cosimo Recording Studios, no doubt — in which The Upsetters served as his backing band.  Four songs were recorded that day:

> AUDIO LINK for “Do You Love Me

> AUDIO LINK for “The New Thing

> AUDIO LINK for “It Only Hurts a Little While

> AUDIO LINK for “Write Me a Letter

Musician credits according to Ruppli’s session notes —

Little Willie John:  Vocals
Emile Russell:  Drums
Olsie Robinson:  Bass
Milton Hopkins:  Guitar
Wilbert Lee Smith:  Piano & Guitar
Jimmy Booker:  Piano
Grady Gaines:  Tenor Sax
Clifford Burks:  Tenor Sax
Melvin Lastic:  Trumpet

2016 Spanish EP —
INCLUDES “DO YOU LOVE ME” & “LEAVE MY KITTEN ALONE”

Fun to point out that exactly one year later, on December 2, 1959, Emile Russell served as the drummer on a Hank Ballard and the Midnighters recording session at King Studios that netted four songs, including “The Coffee Grind” and “I Love You, I Love You So-o-o.”  Would you be surprised to know that Emile Russell was also the drummer at Little Willie John‘s June 3, 1959 session in New York City that produced “Leave Me Kitten Alone,” along with “Let Them Talk,” “Right There” & “Let Nobody Love You“?

Grady Gaines, by the way, is also connected to King through his brother, Roy Gaines, who released two 45s for King subsidiary label, DeLuxe in 1957 – “Annabelle” b/w “Night Beat” plus “Isabella” b/w “Gainesville” – the latter tune being one of his signature guitar statements.

Important to note that Little Richard battled mightily with Specialty Records owner Art Rupe to be allowed to record with The Upsetters, who Richard favored over the studio session players.  As Robert Palmer wrote for the New York Times in 1990:

“The early Upsetters sessions present a band that lacked studio polish, but made up for it with a remarkable ensemble cohesion and rhythmic creativity.  The Upsetters’ drummer, Charles Connor, has been credited by no less an authority than James Brown with sparking the rhythmic transition from fifties rock & roll to sixties funk.”

New Orleans’ Ponderosa Stomp — who pronounced The Upsetters to be “quite possibly the greatest touring rock and roll band on the planet during the mid-1950s” — wrote a lengthy tribute in 2017 to drummer Chuck Connor, who elaborated on the origins of the band:

“A guy by the name of Wilbert Smith—his professional name was Lee Diamond—we looked alike and everything.  I was a little taller than him.  We were struggling musicians around Nashville,” says Charles.  ‘I was starving, man.  I was kicked out of the hotel room, and I was behind in my rent.  Little Richard heard us and brought us back to Macon, Georgia because he wanted New Orleans musicians.  Richard had to get my drums out of the pawn shop.  He paid for all of that, and he brought us to Macon, Georgia, and that’s when we formed Little Richard and the Upsetters.”

Just a couple weeks after Little Willie John’s session with The Upsetters, James Brown and the Famous Flames recorded a session in Los Angeles on December 16, 1958 with “Lee Diamond” on tenor sax and Chuck Connor on drums that yielded four songs:

> AUDIO LINK for “Got to Cry

> AUDIO LINK for “It Was You

> AUDIO LINK for “I Want You So Bad

> AUDIO LINK for “It Hurts to Tell You

Musician credits according to Ruppli’s session notes —

James Brown:  Vocals
John Terry, Bill Hollings & [unidentified]:  Backing Vocals
Chuck Connor or Nat Kendrick:  Drums
Bernard Odum:  Bass
Bobby Roach:  Guitar
AlvinFatsGonder:  Piano & Organ
Lee Diamond:  Tenor Sax
J.C. Davis:  Tenor Sax

All four songs included on 1959 King LP,  Try Me

Most of these same musicians reconvened on January 20, 1959 at a recording facility in New York City to record two more songs with James and the Famous Flames:

> AUDIO LINK for “Don’t Let It Happen to Me

> AUDIO LINK for “Bewildered

Musician credits according to Ruppli’s session notes —

James Brown:  Vocals
John Terry, Bill Hollings & [unidentified]:  Backing Vocals
Chuck Connor:  Drums
Bernard Odum:  Bass
Bobby Roach:  Guitar
AlvinFatsGonder:  Piano & Organ
Lee Diamond:  Tenor Sax
J.C. Davis:  Tenor Sax
[Unidentified]:  Trumpet

Saxophonist J.C. Davis (“with prob. same band”) recorded two numbers as bandleader at that same NYC recording session:

> AUDIO LINK for “Doodle Bug

> AUDIO LINK for “Bucket Head

1959 single attributed to James Davis

Lee Diamond, as it turns out, had already crossed paths with King Records before — as Wilbert Smith, part of the horn section for James Brown and the Famous Flames’ 1956 breakout hit, “Please Please Please“!  Smith has two co-songwriting credits on “Hold My Baby’s Hand” and “Chonnie-On-Chon” — notice the vocal resemblance to Little Richard on the latter track — both from 1956.

Chuck Connor explains the impact of his New Orleans musical upbringing on the development of James Brown’s music:

“We would work the clubs around Macon, Georgia, like the VFW clubs, the Elks clubs, and places like that.  And I’m playing behind James Brown.  The drummer always sits in the back.  We didn’t have no riser in these little small clubs in those days.  We only had drum risers in the big theaters.  So I’d be playing behind James and I’d do a little second-line thing, a syncopation on my bass drum.  But I was doing that to attract the girls’ attention.

“James Brown would say, ‘Hey, that’s funky! That’s funky!’

‘I’d say, ‘I’m doing the second-line!’

‘I like that! I like that!’

“And he discovered that I put the funk to the rhythm.  Because a lot of drummers weren’t using the bass drum that much.  But a lot of New Orleans drummers used their bass drum a lot.  I got that from the second line.  So that’s why he said, ‘Charles was the first to put the funk into the rhythm.’

Susan Whitall writes in her biography of Little Willie John — Fever:  A Fast Life, Mysterious Death, and the Birth of Soul:

“When Willie and the Upsetters became a team and hit the road, Richard insists there were no hard feelings.  He was proud that the Upsetters, at one time or another, backed up the heaviest hitters in rhythm and blues.  ‘Sam Cooke also had them for awhile and Sam Cooke’s brother L.C. as well,’ Richard recalled.  ‘Little Willie John and James Brown traveled with my band as me, once I was famous.’  The Godfather of Soul screaming ‘Wop bop a doo wop’ – it’s not such a stretch.  ‘We had some dates booked and my manager wanted to fulfill the dates, so they had James go out and be me,’ Richard explained.”

Chuck Connor confirms that James Brown really did do shows billed as Little Richard:

“Lee Diamond started playing with James Brown, but when Richard came out (to L.A.) to do the screen test for the movie [The Girl Can’t Help It], he left 15 dates behind.  So Clint Brantley, the booking agent, he didn’t want to lose the deposits on those dates.  So guess who played those dates for him?  James Brown!  And it was Little Richard’s picture on the placards.  But James Brown played Little Richard’s dates.  People would complain and say, ‘He don’t look like him!’  James is short.  ‘He don’t look like Little Richard to me, but he sounds good!’  But he fulfilled all those dates, and then when Richard came back from the West Coast, James wanted me to go on the road with him too.  I said, ‘Well, James, I’m going to tell you—I don’t mind, but I can’t disappoint Richard because Richard was the one that helped me when I didn’t have nothing, paying my hotel rent, and he bought me shoes, and he fed me and everything.’  So that would have been a guilt trip, so that’s why I didn’t go with James Brown.  He wanted to take me on the road too.  But I remained with Richard.”

James Brown himself recounted the experience of being billed as Little Richard in his autobiography, James Brown:  The Godfather of Soul:

“Not too long after I got to Macon, some people started hitting on Richard about recording for them instead of Peacock.  Eventually Bumps Blackwell got him for Art Rupe’s Specialty label out of Los Angeles.  After ‘Tutti Frutti’ broke, Richard left Macon for California, left everybody without saying a word—[Little Richard manager, Cliff] Brantley, the Dominions, the Upsetters, and a lot of bookings.  Mr. Brantley asked me to fulfill Richard’s dates.  He put me together with the Upsetters and the Dominions and sent me out as Little Richard.  Meantime, Byrd and the fellas were doing the Famous Flames bookings.  I was getting paid as Richard while Bobby was getting paid as me.  I guess I did about fifteen of Richard’s dates.  I’d come out and do ‘Tutti Frutti’ and all those things, and then I’d do some Midnighters’ stuff, some Roy Brown, and even ‘Please Please Please.’  I guess the audience thought I was really Richard.  then, near the end of the show, I’d say, ‘I’m not Little Richard.  My name is James.’  After a few shows like that, Fats [Gonder, organist/emcee], who also went on the tour, started announcing me as Little James.  I didn’t that stay too long, either.”

Historian (and James Brown manager), Alan Leeds, offers another perspective in There Was a Time:  James Brown, The Chitlin Circuit, and Me:

“In 1955, when Little Richard went to Hollywood to sign with Specialty Records, he left behind a band and some unfulfilled bookings.  A young James Brown, who shared managers with the Georgia peach, reluctantly agreed to pose as Richard for a couple weeks.  According to Johnny Terry, one of Brown’s original Famous Flames, it came to an end one night in Nashville when somebody—a fan, or maybe the local promoter—recognized that James was not Little Richard.  After a hasty retreat in which gunshots were reportedly fired, Brown decided it might be better for his well-being to concentrate on his own career.”

Life Imitates Art: 
The 1000-Mile Trek As “The Upsetters

Later in his autobiography when The Famous Flames got word that King Records was ready to record its new act, James Brown recalled a comic aspect to the grueling drive from Tampa to Cincinnati:

“We were working down in Tampa when Clint [Brantley] called to tell us that King wanted us in Cincinnati to record right away.  We hadn’t heard from anyone there since Ralph Bass signed us the morning after he’d seen us at Sawyer’s Lake.  Since then we’d been working clubs around Tampa and Jacksonville, and we were beginning to wonder if he’d really liked us

We drove the four hundred miles from Tampa to Macon, stopped and picked up some money there, and continued for another six hundred miles to Cincinnati in a station wagon that had The Upsetters painted on the side.  Clint had let Little Richard use the car before, and now we were jammed into it with all our clothes and instruments.  We rode all night, stopping only for gas.  It was the first time out of the South for any of us, and when we got to the outskirts of Cincinnati somebody came out from King and let us to the hotel, a place caled the Manse.  It was a fleabag, but it was better than anything we’d stayed in before.”

 

First Four-Bar Rock ‘n’ Roll Drum Intro?
Rock’s Roots Bear Fruit 

Until Little Richard’s passing, I was similarly clueless about the well-known “secret” that Chuck Connor‘s drum intro on “Keep a Knockin'” (recorded at a small radio station in Washington, DC close to the Howard Theater) served as the source of inspiration for John Bonham‘s famous intro on Led Zeppelin‘s “Rock and Roll” — listen for yourself:

Keep a Knockin’” by Little Richard

Rock and Roll” by Led Zeppelin

Chuck Connor claims in that same Ponderosa Stomp piece that “Keep a Knockin'” was the first four-bar drum intro on a rock and roll record:

“Richard was saying, ‘I want the guitar to play the four-bar intro.’  So the guitar player, he tried it.  Then Richard tried it.  He said, ‘I don’t like that.’  Then he let the saxophone play the four-bar intro.  I said, ‘Wait a minute, Richard.  Let me do something.  Let me do a four-bar intro because this has never been played on a rock and roll record!’  It had never been played on a rock and roll record.  So I came up with a ‘tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat…’  Richard gave me a thousand dollars for that idea, and that was a lot of money in those days.”

King 45s That “Bubbled Under”

My ambitiousness got the best of me with the posting of the two-part history piece, “Quirky 45s That Bubbled Under (1959-1976).”  If you go to Zero to 180’s home page now (as of April 2020), you might be frustrated that it takes so goshdarn long to finish loading all the content (i.e., 200+ audio clips spread out amongst the two parts).   This latest piece — a tribute to all the 45s released by King and its subsidiary labels that “bubbled under” the Billboard Hot 100 chart — features “only” 50 (ish) audio clips.  However, coming on the heels of the previous two-parter, all that additional “weight” only compounds the problem, unfortunately.

Thanks once again to Top40Weekly.com, who generously provides chart information about these uncharted songs that peaked just beyond the reach of Billboard‘s Hot 100.  As with the previous post, this piece is chronologically arranged and begins in 1959, the year Billboard began keeping records of these near-hits.  Given the amount of historical detail below, I have highlighted some of the big takeaway points and discoveries that came out of this research:

Summary Highlights

  • Lowman Pauling, whose work with The ‘5’ Royales as both a songwriter and guitarist was under-recognized for its influence on the emerging soul music (not to mention Jamaican ska), would later be championed by King (James Brown, Vicki Anderson, Hal Hardy) and non-King artists (Shirelles, Mamas & the Papas, Detroit Wheels).
  • Whodunit around the authorship of “Cute Little Ways” — was the song written by Hank Ballard or Henry Glover?
  • Speaking of whodunit, why exactly did “Please Please Please” by James Brown and the Famous Flames come close to entering Billboard’s Hot 100 four years after its original release?  Two theories offered.
  • Syd Nathan was not afraid to dust off an older King recording, “modernize” the sound and/or spiff up the artist name, if that’s what it took to sell records, as in the case of “Every Beat of My Heart” by Henry Booth (or is it?) and the Midnighters (the song by Johnny Otis that would launch the career of Gladys Knight and the Pips).
  • Hard to believe that “Please Come Home For Christmas” never officially entered the Hot 100 given how often Billboard deemed it a “Christmas Best Bet” throughout the 1960s, as well as the song’s enduring popularity, as evidenced by all the many cover versions.  Fun to find out that Charles Brown’s original recording is held in especially high regard “along the route from Houston to New Orleans.”
  • How ‘Mad Men’-esque to learn that King’s promotional efforts for “Seagrams” (a “Tequila”-inspired instrumental ) by the Vice-roys included “half pint of Seagram’s VO whiskey and a package of Viceroy cigarettes” to select personnel at radio stations around the country.
  • Lonesome 7-7203” by Hawkshaw Hawkins was written for Jean Shepard by Justin Tubb, who points out that the song was originally conceived from a female perspective.
  • More evidence of the Cincinnati OHKingston, JA connection via Hank Marr’s organ instrumentals.
  • A shift in cultural consciousness can be seen manifesting itself with Billboard renaming its “R&B” chart as “Soul” Singles beginning in the August 23, 1969 edition (as pointed out in the Marva Whitney section below).
  • Even if King’s entire roster consisted solely of James Brown, hard to overstate the global impact of this one artist alone — be sure to look for the “Hey America” World Tour of 45 picture sleeves plus a news item about King’s “largest promotional/merchandizing budget”  used for the “ James Brown Month Of Soul” campaign in March 1969.
  • In a bonus section of Fraternity 45s that “bubbled under” the Hot 100, we learn from Harry Carlson himself — one of the most beloved figures in the music industry — what a struggle it was to go ten years between hits (i.e., from 1957’s “So Rare” by Jimmy Dorsey to 1967’s “Then You Can Tell Him Goodbye” by The Casinos).
  • King Trivia!

Q:  Name of subsidiary label that was financed by Mickey Stevenson and distributed by Starday-King, announced via a full-page ad in Record World‘s  December 11, 1971 issue?
A:  Mpingo — three Mpingo 45 releases in all before Starday-King ceased operations.

NoteClick on song title links below to hear streaming audio of songs.

AUDIO LINK for “I Know It’s Hard But It’s Fair” by The ‘5’ Royales

peaked at #103 on June 8, 1959 [King]

  • The Lowman Pauling-penned “I Know It’s Hard But Fair” also serves as the kickoff track of 1959 King LP, The Five Royales — an album that some are willing to pay several hundred dollars to acquire.
  • Sundazed saw fit to reissue the original mono LP on vinyl in 2015 and had this to say:

Suddenly in the news thanks to their recent induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, the ‘5’ Royales also recorded for King.  Sundazed’s 180-gram reissue of their self-named 1959 King LP (which butchered the spelling of their ‘5’ moniker on its cover) is a romping overview of some of the R&B vocal quintet’s then-recent singles.  The gospel-drenched lead vocals of Johnny Tanner (or sometimes, his brother Eugene) presaged the rise of soul music, but it’s the blistering guitar of chief songwriter Lowman Pauling, a primary influence on Steve Cropper, that grabs most of the glory now.” 

King LP 678 = It’s gonna cost you

 

AUDIO LINK for “Let Nobody Love You” [B-side] by Little Willie John

peaked at #108 on July 13, 1959 [King]

  • This B-side of “Leave My Kitten Alone” [covered by The Beatles but unissued until 1995’s Anthology I] was co-written by Rudy Toombs and Henry Glover.
  • Both sides were reviewed in Billboard’s June 22, 1959 edition:  “The artist has two potent entries that could get him back on the charts.  He gives ‘Kitten’ a feelingful belt over strong New Orleans type ork backing.  ‘Let Nobody’ is a ballad with beat, and he’s given a fem chorus assist.  Either can score.”
  • “Let Nobody Love You” also reached the #29 position on Cash Box‘s Rhythm & Blues Top 50 chart for the week ending September 26, 1959.
  • Johnny’s Record House in New Orleans reported in the October 31, 1959 issue of Cash Box that “Let Nobody Love You” was a top ten seller.
  • One British music enthusiast shelled out £68 in 2004 for the UK single release.

UK 45 — 1959

 

AUDIO LINK for “Cute Little Ways” by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters

peaked at #106 on September 7, 1959 [King]

  • Billboard‘s review in the August 24, 1959 edition:  “Hank Ballard sells an uptempo blues with a lot of spirit, over a strong backing.  Could get coins.”
  • “Cute Little Ways” also reached the #24 position on the “Singles – Looking Ahead” chart, Cash Box‘s equivalent of Billboard‘s “Bubbling Under” releases.
  • Detroit’s Horn Records reported in the October 3, 1959 issue of Cash Box that “Cute Little Ways” was a hot 45, as did Wilkes-Barre’s Joe Tomato of WBAX.
  • Important to note that when issued in Denmark, the 45 label indicates the song to have been written by Henry Glover (who wrote the flip side, “House With No Windows“) — not Hank Ballard, as it says on all other King releases.  The truth?

See?  it says “Henry Glover” on the Danish 45 release

 

AUDIO LINK for “I’m With You” by The ‘5’ Royales

peaked at #107 on June 27, 1960 [King]

  • Billboard‘s March 14, 1960 edition includes this review:  “A slow and strongly gospel flavored chant by the group.  Lead offers a good shouting sound.  Spinnable.”
  • Cash Box listed “I’m With You” as #6 on its “Singles – Looking Ahead” chart for the week ending June 25, 1960 while still holding strong at the #10 position on the same chart for the week ending August 6, 1960.
  • 45Cat stalwart mickey rat offers up this praise:  “Great gospel tinged proto-soul from hugely influential group.  This one has a riffing ‘ska’ beat, another example of the kind of R&B that influenced Jamaican artists.  Flip [“Don’t Give More Than You Can Take“] is a fast rocker featuring Lowman Pauling’s distinctive guitar.”
  • Noted roots rock author, Peter Guralnick points out on his blog:  “The ‘5’ Royales were always at the heart of the discography of my book, Sweet Soul Music.  As one of their album titles proclaimed, their music represented “the roots of soul.”  Further down the page, Guralnick adds, “By 1960, even with such transformative songs as ‘I’m With You’ and ‘Wonder When You’re Coming Home,’ the ‘5’ Royales were slipping off the charts, and it was the Shirelles and James Brown who were recasting Lowman’s music.”
  • Robert Christgau – “Dean of American Rock Critics” – takes Collectables to task for not including “I’m With You” on their Very Best of the ‘5’ Royales anthology, even though, oddly, the song is listed on this 2004 CD release!

1968 Sam & Dave French B-side

 

AUDIO LINK for “If You’re Lonely” by Annie Laurie

peaked at #104 on July 25, 1960 [DeLuxe]

  • Written by jazz trumpeter/bandleader, Harry James, along with Zanesville-born trumpeter and King music director, Andy Gibson, “If You’re Lonely” also peaked at #17 on Billboard‘s R&B chart on July 18, 1960.
  • “If You’re Lonely” was pegged as an R&B “Best Buy” in the July 18, 1960 edition of Billboard.
  • Thanks to 45Cat’s jukebox george, who informs us that the July 30, 1960 edition of Cash Box lists “If You’re Lonely” #23 (out of 25) on their “Looking Ahead” singles chart for the “possibility to break into the Top 100.”
  • Jon Hartley Fox writes in King of the Queen City:  The Story of King Records — “‘If You’re Lonely’ made the [R&B] Top Twenty in 1960, but that was the only other hit from her second stint on DeLuxe.  Laurie reportedly retired from secular music not long after that and devoted her magnificent voice solely to church work.”

 

AUDIO LINK for “Shim Sham Shuffle” by Ricky Lyons

peaked at #104 on October 17, 1960 [Federal]

  • Co-written by Ricky Lyons and Rudy Toombs, 45Cat’s jukebox george points to evidence (i.e., lower matrix number) that “Shim Sham Shuffle” might be one of those B-side breakout hits that “attracted attention” to a much greater degree than the intended A-side.
  • However, Billboard‘s selection of “Shim Sham Shuffle” as one of the “Spotlight Winners of the Week” in their October 3, 1960 edition leads me to question accusations of the song’s B-side status — this review puts the matter to bed:  “The younger chanter comes thru with an exciting vocal here of a rocking item based on ‘The Eagle Rock.’  Flip is ‘Have No Fear.’
  • Cash Box picked “Shim Sham Shuffle” as one of its “Best Bets” for the week ending October 15, 1960:  “The ‘latest’ dance is conveyed with solid rock-blues vigor by the singer and combo.  Deck’s got sound and humor.”
  • Spectropop playfully observes that Ricky Lyons’ vocal “adds a Bob Wills-style whoop to the R&B lexicon.”
  • “Shim Sham Shuffle” was also released as a King single by Johnny Brandon in 1956 — although, a quick listen to the earlier release reveals the existence of two completely different tunes that merely share a song title.
  • 45 reissued on King in 1965 — Discogs contributor, bob.dalrymple.7 notes the two releases by the same parent company and makes the distinction between “one with bells [i.e., vibraphone] at the end and one without,” adding that the “King release doesn’t have the bell ending [likely played by Gene Redd].”

 

AUDIO LINK for “Please Please Please” by James Brown

peaked at #105 on October 21, 1960 [Federal]

  • Having a devil of a time trying to determine why this #6 R&B hit from 1956 almost hit the Billboard Hot 100 four years later, as I can only find two single releases by King – 1956 and 1964 – with neither of them 1960 (or its environs) — theories, anyone?
  • Possible theory #1:  Might The5Royales’s version released in 1960 (on the Home of the Blues label) explain the resurgence of the original version by Brown and the Famous Flames?
  • Possible theory #2:  Is King’s 1959 “Please Please Please” EP release the more likely explanation for the song’s appearance on the Billboard “Bubbling Under” chart?

1959 “Extended Play” King 45

  • Billboard reviewed “Please Please Please” in their October 31, 1960 edition:  “Brown intones a pounding chant with the Flames lending a good gospel flavor to the backing.  A lot of spirit here.”
  • Billboard‘s January 3,1957 edition pegged “Please” as one of 1956’s Top Rhythm & Blues Records with regard to “best seller in stores” (#17), “most played in jukeboxes (#48), and “most played by disc jockeys (#20).
  • What delicious irony that Syd Nathan (who initially and loudly dismissed “Please” as a “piece of [dung]”) made the decision to add live crowd sounds to the original studio recording for release in 1964 (during a contract dispute with Brown), no doubt to capitalize on the runaway success of 1963’s Live at the Apollo (another Brown recording of some renown that Nathan famously fought at first).
  • 45Cat’s teabiscuit, however, boldly asserts — counter to received wisdom — that  “by 1960, not 1964, the overdubbed ‘live’ version of the A side was issued.”

B-side of 1960 Japanese single release

 

AUDIO LINK for “Hold It‘ by James Brown Band

peaked at #112 on February 13, 1961 [King]

  • Alan Leeds’ “James Brown Drummers Discography” (included in Jim Payne’s The Great Drummers of R&B, Funk & Soul) notes that Brown himself served as the drummer on this track.
  • Billboard‘s review in their December 31, 1960 edition:  “A wild instrumental version of the Bill Doggett oldie, complete with screams, that could get some action if exposed.  The screamer also comes through with a slight vocal now and then.”
  • Billboard‘s February 13, 1961 edition notes another James Brown single — “Bewildered” (a ‘Regional Breakout’ hit in Philadelphia) — in an ever higher position (#103) than “Hold It” on the same “Bubbling Under the Hot 100” chart.
  • “Hold It” is the lead-off track for the 1961 King instrumental LP, Night Train.

 

AUDIO LINK for “Sweethearts on Parade” by Etta Jones

peaked at #115 on April 3, 1961 {King]

  • Written by Carmen Lombardo and Charles Newman, “Sweethearts on Parade” appeared on the “Bubbling Under” chart, along with another Etta Jones 45 (although recorded for Prestige), “Canadian Sunset,” for two consecutive weeks — March 27 and April 3, 1961.
  • Not to be confused with Matt Ward’s “Sweethearts on Parade.”

 

AUDIO LINK for “Every Beat of My Heart” by Henry Booth & The Midnighters

peaked at #113 on May 15, 1961 [DeLuxe]

“Note that the lead singer with the beautiful smooth sound isn’t Henry Booth, but Charles Sutton.  Because of the success of Gladys Knight and the Pips’ remake of ‘Every Beat Of My Heart’ in 1961, King’s DeLuxe subsidiary reissued it, with the label crediting ‘Henry Booth and the Midnighters.’  Possibly they just got it mixed up or possibly Henry was still with the Midnighters at that point.  Whatever the reason, R&B fans have believed over the years that Henry was doing lead; he isn’t.”

  • The two versions of “Every Beat” by The Midnighters and The Pips made Cash Box‘s Top 100 chart for the week ending May 27, 1961 and, if I’m not mistaken, tied for the same position (#70)!  The same phenomenon would take place the following week (#48).
  • Billboard‘s review of this 45 side in the May 8,.1961 edition was (unwittingly) their second one:  “Henry Booth and the Midnighters turn in a very pretty and restrained reading of an attractive tune penned by Johnny Otis.  It has a chance.”
  • Billboard‘s original review of The Midnighters’ debut 45 in the April 12, 1952 edition (page 36) has this to say about the flip side, “Every Beat of My Heart”:  “This is a little disappointing after the fine performance [“All Night Long“] on the other side.  Judged from these two efforts, the Royals are more effective with a tempo that has a strong beat.”
  • Jon Hartley Fox in King of the Queen City notes that “Every Beat” is “the hit that launched Gladys Knight and the Pips.”
  • Also worth reading the comments about the original 1952 release from various 45Cat contributors, such as mickey rat, who opines, “Right from the start the Royals/Midnighters used an electric bass in the rhythm section and I have to say that’s what I liked about a lot of later ‘50s King R&B product.”

 

The Matador” by George Scott and the Bud Mote Orchestra

peaked at #104 on June 12, 1961 [Fairlane]

[streaming audio not yet available]

  • 45Cat contributor jukebox george informs us — “Cash Box May 6 1961 (pg. 38): New York – D.L. ‘Boots’ Woodall, formerly veep of the National Recording Corp. (NRC), has announced the first release on his new Fairlane label, a master purchase from the Margo label tagged “Matador.”  King Records is handling Fairlane’s distribution.”
  • Billboard‘s review in their May 8, 1961 edition:  “Here’s a different kind of instrumental, featuring a mariachi-styled brigade of trumpets against strong guitar work.  Has a solid rhythm in the Mexican groove and it can move.”
  • Billboard Music Week would also review this 45 in their April 10, 1961 issue:  “Here’s a bit of slower-paced fare again much in the polka tradition.  There’s also a touch of flamenco about the horns here.”
  • Cash Box‘s review from their April 8, 1961 edition:  “Interesting color to this fast-beat stand, featuring guitarist Scott & trumpets, on a catchy Spanish-flavored tune. Original sound that could mean something for the Atlanta label.”

 

AUDIO LINK for “Hully Gully Callin’ Time” by Jive Five with Eugene Pitt

peaked at #105 on March 1, 1962 [Beltone]

  • Released on King-distributed Beltone, “Hully Gully Callin’ Time” was a “Regional Breakout” in the NYC area, as reported in Billboard‘s April 21, 1962 edition.
  • Two weeks later, Billboard filed this report from Chicago:   “[New independent distributor] Kent is also working on what it hopes will be its first big hit, ‘Hully Gully Callin’ Time’ by the Jive Five on Beltone.  The tune has hit position 28 on the influential WLS Silver Dollar Survey and is getting good supporting air play around the city.”
  •  Billboard‘s review in the March 3, 1962 edition:  “Attractive hunk of teen wax with the lead selling the hully gully effort solidly over listenable support by the group.”
  • Cash Box listed “Hully Gully” at the #37 position on its “Singles – Looking Ahead” chart for the week ending March 24, 1962.

 

AUDIO LINK for “I Wish I Could Cry” [B-side] by Little Willie John

peaked at #116 on June 30, 1962

  • Billboard had high hopes for this 45’s A-side — “Every Beat of My Heart” (!) — while saying nothing about the flip side in its review published in the May 28, 1962 edition.
  • Cash Box was a little more optimistic about the prospects for this B-side (near) breakout hit in its review for their May 26, 1961 issue:   “Here the songster and the ork-chorus up the tempo slightly to a shuffle-beat-ballad pace.  Take your pick.  Both ends have the goods.”
  • The following year, Cash Box reported in their July 28, 1962 edition this brief news item:  “Sue Sandler, co-cleffer of Little Willie John’s ‘Until Again My Love‘ and ‘I Wish I Could Cry,’ excited with all the action on the artist’s 2 King releases.”

 

AUDIO LINK for “Wonderful One” by The Shondells

peaked at #116 on October 13, 1962 [King]

  • According to our old friend, mickey rat — “Almost certainly produced in Los Angeles by Johnny Otis … Songwriters on a couple of their other songs registered with [Library of Congress] were Shirlee Brooks, Jacqueline Scruggs, Rosemary Reeves, Beverly Simmons & Novella Simmons, so I’m guessing they were all members of the group.”
  • Coincidentally or not, “Wonderful One” was cited by Billboard as a “Regional Breakout” single in Los Angeles.
  • Billboard would review this single’s A-side in the July 21, 1962 edition — and it wasn’t “Wonderful One” (B-side breakout hit?) about which the reviewer had nothing to say.
  • Cash Box listed “Wonderful One” at the #42 spot on its “Singles – Looking Ahead” chart for the week ending September 15, 1962.
  • Forgotten Hits music blog says The Shondells (not to be confused with Tommy James’ backing group of the same name) are from Cincinnati — is this true?

 

AUDIO LINK for “Please Come Home for Christmas” by Charles Brown

peaked at #108? on December 22, 1962 [King]

  • Did Top40Weekly.com misfire with the inclusion of this stellar yuletide track — written by Charles Brown and Gene Redd — that has been covered by Willie Nelson, Aaron Neville, Johnny Adams, (“Little“) Johnny Taylor, Johnny & Edgar Winter,  Freddy Fender, William Bell, The Eagles, Martina McBride, and Bon Jovi, among others?  Billboard tells us this 45 peaked at #76 on January 6, 1962.  However, is it somehow possible this track came close to entering the Hot 100 later that same year close to Christmas?  As it turns out, yes!  Billboard‘s December 22, 1962 issue confirms that, indeed, “Come Home For Christmas” bubbled under at the #108 position.
  • That same Billboard edition also reported “Christmas” to be a “Regional Breakout” single in New Orleans, while one year prior. Billboard noted the song’s strong performance in the Philadelphia market.  The 1963 Christmas season would also find this track no less diminished in popularity, says Billboard, who would also peg this single in 1967 as one of its “Best Bets for Christmas” and then again in 1969.
  • The original 1960 release — which peaked at #21 on Billboard‘s R&B chart on December 31st that year — features another Christmas classic, Amos Milburn’s “Christmas (Comes But Once a Year),” on the flip side.  This 45 squeaked into Cash Box’s Top 100 chart (#96) for the week ending December 31, 1960. “Christmas” also made Cash Box‘s Top 50 R&B chart (#30) for the week ending December 24, 1960, and then again, even higher (#21), for the week ending January 6, 1962.
  • Chris Varias contributed a special piece to The Cincinnati Enquirer in 2017 about the enduring appeal of a classic Christmas song that was “born in Cincinnati” at King Studios — article features reminiscences from Don Henley and Cincinnati native, Nick Lachey, as well as music history from Cincinnati Public Library’s own, Brian Powers.
  • The Houston Chronicle‘s Rick Campbell wrote a humorous item in 2015 entitled, “‘Please Come Home For Christmas’:  A Holiday Song I Don’t Hate.”
  • Lake Charles, LA’s 92.9 (“The Lake”) offers up “The Story Behind ‘Please Come Home For Christmas” in which we learn the regional popularity of the song in a particular part of the Deep South:  “In 1960, King Records released ‘Please Come Home for Christmas’ and the song, for some reason, went nowhere nationally, but along our part of I-10, it became an instant classic.  Since 1960, radio stations all along the route from Houston to New Orleans have played the record every single Christmas.”

Lead-off track on this Indespensible Christmas LP

 

AUDIO LINK for “The Bossa Nova Watusi Twist” by Freddy King

peaked at #103 on Feb. 2, 1963 [Federal]

  • “Bossa Nova Watusi Twist” — a “Regional Breakout Single” in two large metro markets, Memphis-Nashville and Dallas-Fort Worth — was given a “Four-Star” rating in Billboard‘s January 12, 1963 edition.
  • Although there no musician credits in Ruppli’s King Labels sessionography, this song — recorded at Cincinnati’s King Studios on November 27, 1962 — no doubt includes the drumming work of legendary session musician, Philip Paul, who also played on the previous featured track by Charles Brown.
  • Small news item in the January 26, 1963 issue of Cash Box:  “With promo man Ralph Cox, the biggies to watch are “Seagrams” by The Vice-Roys (Bethlehem), “The Bossa Nova Watusi Twist” by Freddy King, Hank Ballard’s “The Rising Tide” and “Every Beat Of My Heart” by James Brown.”

 

AUDIO LINK for “Seagrams” by The Viceroys

peaked at #127 on March 30, 1963 [Bethlehem]

  • The fluke hit of 1958’s “Tequila” inspired a host of alcohol-themed instrumentals in its wake, including that same year’s more generic “Cerveza” (‘Boots Brown’ a.k.a., Shorty Rogers), as well as the brand-specific 1961’s “Bacardi” and “Seagrams” from the previous year.
  • As previously noted, 1960’s “Seagrams” by The Viceroys was issued on Bethlehem, a subsidiary label of King.  Seagrams Corporation, however, did not take kindly to the appropriation of its name and threatened to sue for trademark infringement, with some stations refusing to play a song named for a commercial product without being paid for advertising time.  A sheepish notice in Billboard’s  March 23, 1960 edition said, “We Goofed!” — more specifically:

“When this instrumental came to us, it was titled ‘Seagram’s.’  We missed the possible legal conflict with the Seagram’s trademark and also the policy at many radio stations of not playing a record with a commercial product name in its title.”] and indicated that “Seagrams” was now changed to “Seagreen.”

  • Worth noting that on page 22 of that same March 23, 1960 edition of Billboard  was this wink-wink news item:

    Just Call This a Real Loaded Idea

    SAN FRANCISCO— A novel record promotion originated by Bob Earl, San Francisco branch manager for King Records, has been picked up by the national record distributor and will be repeated in Cincinnati, Chicago and New York.

    Bethlehem’s new recording of “Seagram,” sung by the Vice-roys, prompted Earl to include a half pint of Seagram’s VO whiskey and a package of Viceroy cigarettes when delivery the disk, all wrapped up in gay “Mardi Gras” gift paper.  Uniformed messenger delivery personnel called upon local deejays in the four top r & b and rock and roll stations in San Francisco and Oakland — KSAN, KEWB, KDIA and KYA.

innocent mistake

 

AUDIO LINK for “Lonesome 7-7203” by Hawkshaw Hawkins

peaked at #108 on April 6, 1963 [King]

  • Just three days after this song’s release, notes West Virginia Public Broadcasting, Hawkins perished in a plane crash that also took the lives of fellow King recording artist, Cowboy Copas, as well as country superstar, Patsy Cline.
  • Justin Tubb, who wrote the song, recounts in this 1997 episode ofCountry Family Reunion” how he gave the song originally to Jean Shepard – Hawkshaw’s widow – who recorded it for Capitol (in whose vaults the song remains unissued).  Tubb points out that “Lonesome” strikes him as a “girl’s song” because “when a husband and wife break up, it’s usually the guy who has to leave, and the wife stays home and keeps the house and furniture.”
  • Billboard‘s review in their February 2, 1963 edition:  “A fine new weeper ballad.  Hawkshaw’s girl has walked out and he pleads with her to call him on his new phone.”
  • The biggest hit of Hawkins’ career, “Lonesome 7-7203” stayed on top of the Country chart for four weeks after his death.
  • The single’s flip side — titled (ironically, in hindsight) “Everything Has Changed” — was written by King A&R executive and producer, Ray “Starr” Pennington, who produced Hawkins’ final album, “one of the first country albums to feature both black and white session musicians,” as noted by Rocky 52.
  • Still trying to make sense of this 45Cat catalog record which indicates “Lonesome” to have been released (a) not only as a “split” single in January 1963 with “Seagram’s” by the Vice-Roys on the flip side [!] but also (b) issued with a different label on each side (i.e., King on the A-side, Bethlehem on the B-side).  For real?

 

AUDIO LINK for “The Greasy Spoon” by Hank Marr

peaked at #101 on January 18, 1964 [Federal]

  • Written by Hank Marr and Gene Redd, “Greasy Spoon” — which came within a hair of hitting Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart — was a “Regional Breakout” single in the Memphis-Nashville area, as reported in Billboard.
  • “Greasy Spoon” also hit the #68 spot on Cash Box‘s Top 100 Singles chart for the week ending January 11, 1964.
  • Billboard‘s August 26, 1972 edition noted that the “Greasy Spoon” single was one among many reissued by Starday-King in a news item entitled, “32 King Oldies Released; Many Are Classics.”
  • Randy McNutt in King Records of Cincinnati writes that “King groomed Marr as Bill Doggett’s successor,” also noting that later in life, “Marr became a music professor in Columbus.”

45 picture sleeve from 1964 — Netherlands

 

AUDIO LINK for “Again” by James Brown and the Famous Flames

peaked at #107 on April 25, 1964 [King]

  • Billboard‘s review in the April 11, 1964 edition makes direct reference to the fact that James Brown had (temporarily) left King for Mercury/Smash:  “Brown has a string of ’em on his former label and he’s got another romantic side here.  Tender reading of the standard that’s not in conflict with his other release.”
  • “Again” just squeaked onto Cash Box‘s “Singles – Looking Ahead” chart (#50) for the week ending April 25, 1964 — this same chart also includes one of Brown’s singles (his cover of Louis Jordan’s “Caldonia“) recorded for Smash.

“Again” included on rare South Korean edition of Prisoner of Love LP

 

AUDIO LINK for “Wee Wee Hours (of the Nite)” [B-side]
by James Brown & the Famous Flames

peaked at #125 on April 25, 1964 [King]

  • Billboard awarded this single four stars (i.e., “new singles with sufficient commercial potential in their respective categories to merit being stocked by dealers, one-stops and rack jobbers”) in its February 8, 1964 edition.
  • This full-page King ad of James Brown releases published in the previous week’s edition of Billboard (a) touts the new “live” version of “Please Please Please” [discussed above] and also (b) reveals that “Wee Wee Hours” ended up being yet another B-side breakout hit. (a James Brown original, by the way, not to be confused with Frank Sinatra’s 1955 classic, “In the Wee Small Hours“).

 

AUDIO LINK for “How Long Darling” [B-side]
by James Brown & the Famous Flames

peaked at #134 on June 6, 1964 [King]

  • Speaking of B-side breakout hits, “How Long Darling” is the B-side of “Again” — the single that was discussed mere moments ago.
  • Cash Box‘s April 18, 1964 edition provides this review — and once again speaks of Brown’s contractual relationship with King in the past tense:  “James Brown has been running extremely hot recently and this top-notch item, ‘Again,’ cut during his days with King should quickly develop into a best-seller.   The tune is a slow-moving, shuffle-beat pop-blues lament with a nostalgic while-back sound sold with authority by the songster.  On the flip, ‘How Long Darling,’ Brown dishes-up a funky, traditional, low-down r&b weeper with a contagious repeating riff.”

“How Long Darling” — included on this 1966 EP from the UK

 

AUDIO LINK for “So Long” by James Brown and the Famous Flames

peaked at #132 on June 27, 1964 [King]

  • “So Long” was pegged by Billboard as “Hot Pop” in the “Programming Specials” section of its June 6, 1964 edition.
  • Cash Box‘s review in their June 6, 1964 issue:  “The chanter might well do Top 100 business with this hard-driving full ork-backed pop-r&b teen-angled danceable weeper cut during his days with King.  Loads of potential here.”
  • “So Long” also spent two consecutive weeks on Cash Box‘s “Singles – Looking Ahead” chart (#48 and #50) before dropping off altogether at the end of June.

“So Long” — included on this 1965 EP from the UK

 

Silver Spoon” [B-side?] by Hank Marr

peaked at #134 on March 27, 1965 [Federal]

[streaming audio not yet available]

“Silver Spoon” included on this 1965 King LP

 

Tears of Joy” by Vicki Anderson

peaked at #131 on September 23, 1967 [King]

[streaming audio not yet available]

  • Cash Box‘s review of Anderson’s version of “Tears of Joy” — written by Lowman Pauling for The ‘5’ Royales — was included in their July 15, 1967 issue:  “Anderson vocalizes nicely on this shuffling, soul-filled romance ode.  Bears watching.”
  • “Tears of Joy” hit the #46 spot on Record World‘s Top 50 R&B chart, as reported in the September 30, 1967 issue.  That same issue also listed “Tears of Joy” at the #40 position on their “Singles Coming Up” chart, Record World‘s equivalent of Billboard‘s “Bubbling Under” chart.  Record World also reported the previous month that the single was “selling well in Atlanta.”
  • Here is a link to King’s half-page ad for “Tears of Joy” that was published in Billboard‘s September 2, 1967 edition.

“Tears of Joy” included on this 1968 King Compilation LP

 

AUDIO LINK for “You’ve Got to Change Your Mind
by Bobby Byrd & James Brown

peaked at #102 on March 16, 1968 [King]

  • “You’ve Got Change Your Mind” – which came this close to making the Hot 100 – was predicted by Billboard to reach the Top 20 of the Top Selling R&B Singles chart, as noted in their February 10, 1968 issue:  “Byrd and Brown join forces in this groovy rock ballad that’s given a wailing, soulful vocal workout.  Loaded with top sales potential for both pop and r&b markets.  FLIP:  ‘I’ll Lose My Mind‘.”
  • Cash Box posted this review in the issue for the week ending February 10, 1968:  “Outstanding pairing of James Brown and Bobby Byrd makes for some grand spinning material for r&b deejays.  The team grooves slowly on a [indecipherable adjective] ballad that shows strength without speed through powerful vocals and throbbing orchestral backing.  Cute lyrical snatches should stir up plenty of excitement for the side.”
  • “Change Your Mind” — a “Regional Breakout” single in the Washington DC market — also peaked at the #47 position (for two consecutive weeks), as reported in Billboard.
  • “Change Your Mind” also hit the #93 spot on Record World‘s 100 Top Pops chart for the week ending February 24, 1968.
  • Written by Brown and Byrd along with Gene Redd and Ron Lenhoff (with an arrangement by Sammy Lowe), “Change Your Mind” features Bernard Purdie on drums, Al Lucas on bass, Carl Lynch & Wallace Richardson on guitars, and Alfred “Pee Wee” Ellis & St. Clair Pinckney on tenor saxophones.

“Change Your Mind” b/w “Lose My Mind — 45 from Netherlands

 

AUDIO LINK for “Shhhhhhhh (For A Little While)”
by James Brown & the Famous Flames

peaked at #102 on June 15, 1968 [King]

  • “Shhhhhhhh (For A Little While)” was part of Billboard‘s “Special Merit Spotlight” (i.e., new singles deserving special attention of programmers and dealers) in its May 4, 1968 edition:  “Raunchy instrumental is given a powerhouse workout by the Brown band.”
  • Written by James Brown and Bud Hobgood, “Shhhhhhhh” was released around the time Brown and his band toured Vietnam and the Far East, as reported by Ed Ochs in his “Soul Sauce” column for Billboard shortly after their return:  “Brown opens the National Soul Festival at Yankee Stadium, Friday as his three singles, ‘Licking Stick,’ ‘America Is My Home‘ and ‘Shhhhhhhh (For A Little While)’ work their way up the charts.”
  • The previous month, Ed Ochs filed this report in the same Billboard column:  “James Brown, everybody’s ‘Soul Brother No. 1,’ will trail his ‘I Got the Feelin’‘ giant with ‘America Is My Home,’ a song that echoes one man’s patriotism, which James already proved with his words to thousands on TV in Washington and in Boston last month.  Another single, ‘Lickin’ Stick,’ will also be released and will join ‘Shhhhhhhh (For A Little While),’ an instrumental with James on the organ, and ‘You’ve Got the Power‘ with [Vicki] Anderson — all on King Records.”
  • “Shhhhhhhh” hit the lucky #13 spot on Cash Box‘s “Singles – Looking Ahead” chart for the week ending June 15, 1968.
  • King’s ad in the June 1, 1968 issue of Record World predicted this 45 (along with “Lickin’ Stick”) to be a US #1 record.

B-side in Argentina (left) and Brazil (right)

 

AUDIO LINK for “There Was a Time” by The Dapps Featuring Alfred Ellis

peaked at #103 on July 27, 1968 [King]

  • “There Was a Time” reached the #27 position on Billboard‘s Best Selling Rhythm and Blues Singles chart, the week prior to November 2, 1968.
  • This 45 also appears to have peaked at #45 on Cash Box‘s Top 50 R&B singles for the week ending July 27, 1968.
  • Cash Box‘s review in their June 15, 1968 edition:  “James Brown produced this has-to-be-heard instrumental reworking of his while back hit.  Albert [sic] Ellis’ hard driving sax stirs this side to a frenzy sure to make it a disko favorite.  Should produce good sales.  Flip: ‘The Rabbit Got The Gun‘.”

 

AUDIO LINK for “Soul Pride (Pt1)” by James Brown

peaked at #117 on April 5, 1969 [King]

  • Co-written and arranged by Alfred “Pee Wee” Ellis, “Soul Pride (Pts. 1 & 2)” features the musicianship of Clyde Stubblefield (drums), Alfonzo Kellum (bass), Jimmy Nolen (guitar), Alfred Ellis (alto sax), Maceo Parker (tenor sax), Fred Wesley (trombone), and Richard “Kush” Griffith & Waymon Reed (trumpets).
  • Cash Box‘s review in their March 8, 1969 issue:  “Booming instrumental side with the brash James Brown brass and a terrific bass showing make the songster’s new side a solid programming choice with blues and pop deejays.  Splendid dance side here that should see the same good response his instrumental of last year met.”
  • “Soul Pride” reached the #38 position on Billboard‘s Best Selling Rhythm and Blues Singles in their April 12, 1969 edition.
  • “Soul Pride” just made it into the bottom reaches of Cash Box‘s Top 100 Singles chart in late March and early April 1969.
  • Cash Box‘s March 8, 1969 issue would also feature this exciting news flash:

King’s March James Brown Month Is Label’s Strongest Drive Ever

NEW YORK — King Records has allocated the largest promotional and merchandising budget in its history for a special “March Is James Brown Month Of Soul” campaign.

Col. Jim Wilson, Starday-King Vice President of Marketing, said that the national program will extend through the month of March and is designed to further “accentuate the all-market appeal and widespread saleability” of James Brown recorded product at the consumer level.

Special deejay kits which include an exclusive “not-for-sale-radio programming only” EP album along with James Brown spot intros and bio material have gone forward to radio stations.

A deluxe packaged Brown album, Say It Loud, I’m Black And I’m Proud, featuring the title song along with other James Brown chartsellers hits such as “Lickin’ Stick” and “Good-Bye My Love” has been prepared for immediate release to coincide with the “Month of Soul” campaign.

In addition to the current top-writing chart hit single, “Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose,” a new instrumental single “Soul Pride” featuring James Brown playing and conducting his band has just been shipped to radio stations and all King distributors.

Additionally, attractive James Brown calendar posters, cut-out floor displays, complete album and singles catalogs and other point-of-sale dealer aids are available at all King distributors.

Network TV appearances during March, including the Hollywood Palace Show and Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, plus an intensified ad campaign will add further impetus to recognition of the month-long drive.

1969 picture sleeve — France

 

AUDIO LINK for “Things Got to Get Better” by Marva Whitney

peaked at #110 on August 23, 1969 [King]

  • Written by Alfred “Pee Wee” Ellis and James Brown, “Things Got to Get Better (Get Together)” also reached the #22 position on Billboard‘s Soul Singles chart on September 6, 1969.
  • Transition Alert!  You can see for yourself the change in terminology from “R&B” to “Soul” by examining the same chart from just a few weeks before, where the Marva Whitney 45 can be found at the #49 spot on Billboard‘s “Rhythm and Blues Singles” chart, as of August 16, 1969.  By the following week (when the 45 has inched up to #48), that same chart has been renamed the “Soul Singles” chart for the week ending August 23, 1969.
  • “Things Got to Get Better” reached #11 on Cash Box‘s “Singles – Looking Ahead” chart for the week ending July 26, 1969.  That same week, Record World listed this 45 at the #49 position on its “Singles Coming Up” chart.

“Things Got to Get Better” = Kickoff track on 1969 live album

 

AUDIO LINK for “From Atlanta to Goodbye” by The Manhattans

peaked at #113 on October 7, 1970 [DeLuxe]

  • Ed Ochs reported the following King/DeLuxe news in his “Soul Sauce” column published in the September 19, 1970 edition:

“New James Brown album titled Sex Machine and featuring hits like ‘Mother Popcorn,’ ‘I Got the Feeling‘ and ‘Lickin’ Stick.’  And due this week is James’ new single, ‘Super Bad.’  On DeLuxe, The Manhattans’ ‘From Atlanta to Goodbye’ and Bobby Wade’s ‘Blind Over You.'”

  • Related news item entitled “Gil Music Into Soul” from Billboard‘s October 17, 1970 edition:

“Gil Music, headed by veteran publisher George Pincus noted for easy listening hits such as ‘A Taste of Honey’ and ‘Calcutta,’ is invading the soul music field.  The firm is scoring with disks by Carolyn Franklin on RCA Records, ‘All I Want to Be Is Your Woman’; Little Richard on Reprise Records, ‘I Saw Her Standing There,’ and the Manhattans on DeLuxe Records, ‘From Atlanta to Goodbye.'”

  • “From Atlanta to Goodbye” entered Billboard‘s Top 50 Soul Singles chart at the #48 position on October 31, 1970.
  • “From Atlanta to Goodbye” also reached the #7 position on Cash Box‘s “Singles – Looking Ahead” chart on October 10, 1970, while Record World listed the song at the #12 spot on its Singles Coming Up chart.

 

AUDIO LINK for “Hey America” by James Brown

peaked at #105 on December 12, 1970 [King]

  • Co-written by Nat Jones and Addie Williams (Jones), “Hey America” was predicted by Billboard to reach the Pop Top 60 in their December 12, 1970Spotlightsingle review:  “Brown swings back to his message lyrics and this one is set to a driving rock beat loaded with Hot 100 and Soul chart potency.  Much of the potential of his recent ‘Super Bad’.”
  • “Hey America” reached #27 on Cash Box‘s “Singles – Looking Ahead” chart for the week ending December 26, 1970.
  • “Hey America” also reached the #43 position of Record World‘s R&B Singles chart for the week ending December 26, 1970.
  • Billboard reviewed the Hey America Christmas album (cover by Dan Quest) exactly one week later:  “Here is a delightful blend of Christmas and Soul, packaged the way only Soul Brother No. [1] could do it.  Into his inimitable soul format, Brown has woven messages of peace, love and happiness that are applicable, not only at Christmas, but throughout the year.  The material here is all original, written by Nat Jones.”
  • Billboard also reviewed in that same issue Bobby Byrd’s King album, I Need Help,  (two spaces to the left of Hey America):  “From the James Brown Show and the original Famous Flames comes singer-organist Bobby Byrd, who broke the soul market wide open with his ‘I Need Help‘ hit.  Byrd sounds like he’s in for a big run as a top soul attraction with a distinct, but popular brand of funk to make his ‘You Got to Change Your Mind,’ ‘You Got to Have a Job‘ and ‘Hangups We Don’t Need‘ successive hits.”

When’s the Last time you’ve seen a King 45 picture sleeve?

Everyone Sing along  — C’mon, it’s good for you

“Hey America” world tour

Belgium — 1971                                             France — 1971

Germany — 1971                                             Italy — 1972

Lebanon — 1972                                               Portugal — 1971

Jamaica — 1970                                              Turkey — 1972

 

AUDIO LINK for “I Know You Got Soul” by Bobby Byrd

peaked at #117 on June 26, 1971 [King]

  • Co-written with Charles Bobbitt and James Brown, “I Know You Got Soul” — predicted by Billboard on May 15. 1971 “to reach the Soul Singles chart” — in fact, made it all the way to #30 on Billboard‘s Soul chart on July 10, 1971.
  • “I Know You Got Soul” also reached the #24 position on Cash Box‘s Top 60 R&B chart on July 24, 1971 (not to mention the #23 spot on their “Singles – Looking Ahead” chart in that same issue).
  • Thanks to 45Cat’s RogerFoster for providing this review of “I Know You Got Soul” b/w “If You Don’t Work, You Don’t Eat” from the June 23, 1971 edition of UK’s Blues and Soul:  “More of that infectious James Brown beat, with the music being supplied by the man’s own band, the J.B.’s.  In fact, both sides have been hits for Bobby in the States and they are both ultra-funky dance items in the ‘I Need Help’ vein.  If anything, the top [i.e., A] side is stronger than ‘I Need Help’.  The rhythm, as always, is the dominant factor and this is something that James specializes in.  A big R&B record that won’t go ‘pop’.”

A-side of 4-song UK 12-inch release — 1988

 

AUDIO LINK for “A Million to One” by The Manhattans

peaked at #114 on May 27, 1972 [DeLuxe]

  • “A Million to One” is also the title track of their second album for Starday-King released on the newly-revived DeLuxe subsidiary label.
  • Ed Ochs would report on March 11, 1972 in his “Soul Sauce” column for Billboard that “Starday King has landed Ben E. King and the Vibrations.”  Also, this just in: “The Manhattans’ ‘A Million to One’ is still strong in the song”

Part of full-page King ad (pg. 43) — 12/11/71 issue of Record World

Click on image above to view in high resolution

 

AUDIO LINK for “One Life to Love” by The Manhattans

peaked at #102 on October 21, 1972 [DeLuxe]

  • “One Life to Love” reached the #68 position on Record World‘s Top 100 Singles chart for the week ending November 18, 1972.
  • Cash Box‘s November 22, 1980 issue includes a lengthy biographical profile most likely underwritten by Columbia in celebration of their first gold single for “Big Red” after leaving Starday-King:

“Early in 1972, The Manhattans recorded ‘A Million To One,’ written by Teddy Randazzo, whose publishing was handled by Hermi Hanlin.  The group was looking for new management at the time, and after ‘Million To One’ charted, Hanlin took over.  The group soon found itself in King’s studio in Macon, Ga. [i.e., Bobby Smith Studios] cutting its second Deluxe LP, A Million To One, with Bob Riley producing.  It resulted in another big hit with the single ‘One Life To Live,’ written by Lovett.  Although its records were charting regularly in the R&B field, pop success remained too elusive.  ‘One Life To Live’ caught the attention of Columbia’s Mickey Eichner, and as King Records was in its death throes, he brought the group to Columbia late in 1972.”

  • Elsewhere in that same profile, longtime friend, Rob Riley, looks back on a long career:

“The Manhattans were very much into what I commonly refer to as “my kind of music,” the ballad — filled with that old street corner churchy harmony.  I had listened to them for years on Jo Evans’ Carnival Records.  But in 1972, there we were, face-to-face in the Starday-King‘s Records office in Nashville, Tenn.

My normal function with King had been strictly national R&B promotion.  That particular morning, Hal Neely, the president, had requested that I make certain I was in the city for I was to meet with The Manhattans and their manager, Hermi Hanlin.

I walked in expecting to meet another cocky group with a manager full of ‘why nots’ and ‘how comes.’  My notes were ready to cover the last single release, ‘A Million to One,’ the ‘why nots’ and ‘how comes.’  Instead, here sat five guys smiling and an oval-faced jovial female who immediately said, ‘Okay, Bob Riley, when do we start cutting our first record?’  It was a challenge – more in jest.  Although I had produced some Joe Henderson, Joe Tex, and a couple of Midnighter sides along the way, I thought what kind of joke is this?  Me, Bob Riley producing The Manhattans!

But this is what Hal and Hermi had agreed upon prior to my arrival.  Immediately, it was a warm and open thing which seemed to flow among the seven of us — the five Manhattans, Hermi and myself.  We actually forgot Hal was there for a few minutes as we talking about many things, mostly outside the realm of music.

It was agreed that I was to take the group down to Macon, Ga. to King’s other studio which was handled by Bobby Smith, the actual discoverer of Otis Redding.  The session became a team effort with the greater position of the input flowing around through Blue, Hermi and myself.  The session produced a good album, out of which came one hit song, ‘One Life to Live.’

 

AUDIO LINK for “Back Up” by The Manhattans

peaked at #107 on February 24, 1973 [DeLuxe]

  • Julian Coleman, in his “Soul Sauce” column for Billboard, picked “Back Up” as one of the “Picks and Plays” for the week of January 6, 1973.
  • “Back Up” entered Billboard‘s Soul Singles chart at #46 on January 13, 1973, climbed up to #41 the following week, made it to #24 by February 10, 1973, and then inched up to #20 the week after (there the chart trail goes cold).
  • “Back Up” peaked at #18 on Cash Box‘s R&B Top 65 chart on March 3, 1973.
  • After The Manhattans signed with Columbia in 1973, Starday-King released two more singles on DeLuxe, with the final one — “Do You Ever” — reviewed in the August 11, 1973 edition of Record World, who deemed it a “Hit of the Week”:  “Group established themselves as crossover giants with their last outing [Columbia’s] ‘There’s No Me Without You.’  Their old label releases this ballad and the outcome could spell h-i-t.  We’ll take Manhattans!”

Other 1/2 of Dec 71 Record Mirror ad — new Starday-King subsidiary, Mpingo

Click on image above to view in ultra-high resolution

 

  • Review of Mpingo’s debut 45 — “Nobody” by Hodges, James, Smith & Crawford — in the January 1, 1972 issue of Record World:  “Mickey Stevenson’s new label has a super strong soul side as its first release.  Powerful vocal work by new girl group gives it real hit potential.  Watch out!”

 

H  O  N  O  R  A  B  L  E      M  E  N  T  I  O  N

AUDIO LINK for “60 Minute Man” by The Untouchables

peaked at #104 on October 7, 1960 [Madison]

“Here’s a new version of ‘Sixty Minute Man’ that swings even more than the original Dominoes record did.  It could be a hit again.”

 

AUDIO LINK for “Twistin’ Fever” [B-side?] by The Marcels

peaked at #103 on March 1, 1962 [Colpix]

  • “Twistin’ Fever” was a “Regional Breakout” single in the Hartford area, as reported in Billboard‘s March 31, 1962 edition.
  • Cash Box‘s 45 review in their April 7, 1962 edition assumes “Twistin’ Fever” to be the B-side:
THE MARCELS (Colpix 629) 

(B+) “FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND”
(2:19) [Wemar BMI — 
Elias, Reid, Richards] Guys who put 
“Blue Moon” and some other standards
on the teen map with their 
whacky chant style offer an exciting 
teen sound here. Lead and fellow 
songsters do a very slick job on the 
first-rate item, and they’re supported 
by a strong Latinish instrumental 
sound. Can be another chart go for the 
team. 

(B-f) “TWISTIN’ FEVER” (2:05) 
[St. Louis BMI — Blackwell, 
Scott] Old ditty gets a sly, grow-on-you 
twist reading. Should also be eyed.

 

AUDIO LINK for “Fever” by Alvin Robinson

peaked at #108 on September 19, 1964 [Red Bird]

  • Alvin Robinson’s version of the King classic was a “Regional Breakout” single in Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, Atlanta, Chicago, Charlotte & Houston, as reported in Billboard‘s September 19, 1964 edition.

 

AUDIO LINK for “Sixty Minute Man” by Trammps

peaked at #108 on October 7, 1972 [Buddah]

  • Trammps’ proto-soul-flavored version of “Sixty Minute Man” was a Pop singles pick in Billboard‘s September 23, 1972 edition.
  • In February of 1975, the single would reach the Top 40 in the UK.

 

AUDIO LINK for “Let’s Go Let’s Go Let’s Go” by The Chambers Brothers

peaked at #106 on March 16, 1974 [Avco]

 

B  O  N  U  S      B  U  B  B  L  I  N  G      U  N  D  E  R :

F R A T E R N I T Y   &   L O N N I E   M A C K

Here are the 45s that “bubbled under” Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart from Fraternity, Cincinnati’s other notable “indie” label from the original roots rock era.  Founded by Harry Carlson in 1954, Fraternity was a “one-man operation” that did business out of Carlson’s office/residence in Cincinnati’s old Sheraton Gibson Hotel.  Carlson sold Fraternity in 1975 to Counterpart RecordsShad O’Shea, who later sold Fraternity to Victor Piagneri in 2008 “with the promise that he would keep the labels active,” according to Big Boppa‘s Fraternity labels and company sleeves website.

AUDIO LINK for “Book Of Love” by Bobby Bare (Fraternity 878)

peaked at #106 on May 29, 1961

  • Billboard‘s review in their April 10, 1961 edition:  “A big, big ballad gets a mighty convincing vocal from Bare over a soaring string and choral group accompaniment   Flip is ‘Lorena‘.”
  • “Book of Love” – a 45 that enjoyed release in Australia, also somehow ended up (licensed?) that same year on a Swedish EP, whose wild cover image makes promises that the music in no way can come close to delivering.

1961 EP — Sweden

 

AUDIO LINK for “What Kind Of Girl (Do You Think I Am)” by The Charmaines

peaked at #117 on September 18, 1961 (Fraternity 880)

“The Charmaines were a soul girl trio.  Sisters Marian (who used the name Gigi on some of the records) and Jerri Jackson had sung together, but at the start of the girl group sound in 1959/60,  Marian started a trio with Irene Vinegar and Dee Watkins.  The group was signed to Fraternity records and started recording at King studios.  They released two 45s on Fraternity, with the second one, “What Kind Of Girl” being their highest charting record, although only making it to #117 in the Billboard [Bubbling Under] charts.  They had a one shot 45 on Dot before returning to Fraternity.

While recording their own 45s, the sessions included other local musicians like Kenny Smith and most notably, Lonnie Mack, who got his big break thanks to a Charnaines session that finished early, allowing him time to record ‘Memphis.’.[which peaked at #12 on Billboard‘s R&B Singles chart]”

THE CHARMAINES 
(Fraternity 880) 

(B+) “WHAT KIND OF GIRL 
(Do You Think I Am)” 
(2:22) [B. F. Wood ASCAP— Seneca, 
Steward] Gals display lots of  
rhythmic-rock polish, and are backed 
by an infectious combo arrangement. 
Upbeat sound that might make the 
chart grade. 

(B-h) “ALL YOU GOTTA DO” 
(2:14) [Dorsey ASCAP — 
Starr, Kahn] The larks move quickly 
again, and come-up with more catchy 
teen doings.

Fraternity Recordings — Ace UK anthology (2019)

 

AUDIO LINK for “Where There’s A Will” [B-side] by Lonnie Mack

peaked at #113 on October 30, 1963 (Fraternity 918)

  • The Charmaines provide backing vocals on “Where There’s a Will” as well as the flip side, “Baby What’s Wrong.”  According to PragueFrank, these two sides were recorded at the same 1963 King Studios session as “Wham!” and “Suzie-Q,” where Lonnie Mack was assisted by Wayne Bullock [bass], Ron Grayson [drums], Irv Rusetto [sax], and Marv Lieberman [sax], with Carl Edmondson serving as producer.
  • 45Cat’s Juke Jules points to the 1959 recording by The Five Blind Boys (Vee Jay) as the inspiration for Mack’s version.
  • “Where There’s a Will” also reached #27 on Cash Box‘s Singles – Looking Ahead chart for the week ending December 28, 1963.
  • Billboard’s November 9, 1963 “Pop Spotlight” review tags “Where There’s a Will,” however, as the B-side:  “The ‘Memphis’ man, Lonnie Mack, enters the singer’s ring on this side culled from this current LP,  [‘Baby What’s Wrong‘] is a Jimmy Reed blues that has strong sell and swing.  The flip is ‘Where There’s a Will’.”
  • Gibson Guitars relays this amusing related anecdote in a tribute piece entitled “Unsung Guitar Hero — Lonnie Mack:  “Mack’s staggering soulfulness is clearly on display on ballads like ‘I’ll Keep You Happy,’ ‘Why,’ and ‘Where There’s a Will There’s a Way’—Lonnie’s third Fraternity single and a tune that received airplay on black radio stations, including one in Birmingham, Alabama, until Lonnie arrived one day for an interview and revealed he was white.”
  • “Baby What’s Wrong” (the A-side) peaked at #93 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart.

1964 — Australia (“A Fraternity Recording from U.S.A.”)

 

AUDIO LINK for “Lonnie on the Move” by Lonnie Mack

peaked at March 7, 1964 (Fraternity 920)

  • Cash Box‘s singles review in their February 15, 1964 issue:  “The versatile vocalist-instrumentalist can get back in the chart swing-of-things with his newest for Fraternity.  It’s a frantic, hard-driving all-instrumental affair, tabbed ‘Lonnie On The Move,’ that can go the ‘Memphis’-‘Wham!’ smash route.  The easy-on-the-ears beat-ballad romantic shuffler,[Ray Pennington’s] ‘Say Something Nice To Me‘ displays Lonnie’s winning vocal way.”
  • Cash Box‘s March 7, 1964 edition reported that “Lonnie on the Move” was in a group of 45s that were “going strongly” with “juke box ops [operators]” even though “not on Cash Box‘s Top 100″ — also listed at #41 on Cash Box‘s Singles – Looking Ahead chart.that same week.
  • According to Led Zeppelin biographer, Mick Wall, prior to Zep’s first ever rehearsal, Jimmy Page played for John Bonham “a single called ‘Lonnie on the Move’.  It’s like ‘Turn On Your Lovelight‘ [by Bobby Bland] as an instrumental, and it’s got this drumming that’s really super hooligan [and] I said, ‘This is the kind of angle I’m coming in at’.”
  • “Lonnie on the Move” has been part of Jeff Beck’s live repertoire in recent years, as these YouTube performance clips indicate.
  • The YouTube contributor who uploaded the above audio clip indicates the vocal contributions of The Charmaines.

1970 B-side on the short-lived (and mysterious) Buccaneer label

 

AUDIO LINK for “I’ve Had It” by Lonnie Mack

peaked at #128 on May 2, 1964 (Fraternity 925)

  • Billboard cited “I’ve Had It” to be a Regional Breakout single in Cincinnati, as reported in their May 9, 1964 edition.
  • Originally recorded by The Bell Notes in 1959 [#6 Pop & #19 R&B], “I’ve Had It” has also been paid tribute by Fanny, and Alex Chilton.
  • According to PragueFrank, the early 1964 recording session that produced “Lonnie on the Move,” “I’ve Had It,” “From Me to You” and four other songs was the first time Mack had recorded anywhere other than King Studios — in this case, RCA Victor Studio in Nashville.
  • “I’ve Had It’ reached #34 on Cash Box‘s Singles – Looking Ahead chart for the week ending May 16, 1964.
  • Cash Box‘s June 6, 1964 edition reported that “I’ve Had It” was “going strongly” with “juke box ops [operators]” even though “not on Cash Box‘s Top 100″ chart.

 

1964 single – Canada

 

AUDIO LINK for “A Public Execution” by Mouse

peaked at #121 on February 26, 1966 (Fraternity 956)

  • Record World‘s review in their February 19, 1966 issue as a “four-star” singles pick:  “Well done protest type song.  Mouse will get the cheese with.  Lyrics capture imagination.”
  • “A Public Execution” entered Cash Box‘s Top 50 Singles – Looking Ahead” chart at the #50 position on March 12, 1966 and reached the #27 spot two weeks later.
  • “Execution” also reached #5 on Record World‘s “Singles Coming Up” chart for the week ending March 5, 1966.
  • Mouse is short for Mouse & the Traps, garage rockers from Tyler, Texas.
  • “Public Execution” enjoyed a second life thanks to Lenny Kaye’s decision to include the recording on the original 2-LP Nuggets garage rock retrospective released in 1972 (reissued in 1976 on Sire before getting the 4-CD box set treatment in 1998).

 

AUDIO LINK for “Heart” by 2 of Clubs

peaked at #125 on October 8, 1966 (Fraternity 972)

“Linda is from Cincinnati and I’m from Covington, Kentucky, just across the Ohio River,” says Patti.  “There was at the time a very popular nightspot called Guys & Dolls.  Linda and I each worked there, but not together at first. Singing at Guys & Dolls was my first paying job.  Before that I performed anywhere a band was willing to let me get up and sing.  Some were sort of bad news places, and at first I wasn’t even old enough to be in them.  Ben Kraft, who owned Guys & Dolls, heard about me from people who’d seen me perform. He came to listen to me, liked what he heard and hired me. At some point, it was discovered that Linda’s voice and mine blended together really well, and we decided to become a duo.  Linda was married to Carl Edmondson, who headed up the house band.”

  • One 45Cat contributor reports that this debut 45 was a “sizeable hit in the Albany, NY market (#2), held out of the top by The Royal Guardsmen” and then asks “where else did this do better locally than nationally?”  Answer:  Cincinnati, where “Heart” was a Regional Breakout single, as reported in the October 15, 1966 issue of Billboard.
  • Spectropop also reports that “Heart” was recorded at King Studios and “reached the Top 10 in places like Chicago.”
  • Billboard‘s November 19, 1966 edition found “Heart” included on its “Spotlight” list of 45s “predicted to reach the Hot 100.”
  • “Heart” also reached #21 on Cash Box‘s Singles – Looking Ahead chart, as well as #22 on Record World‘s Singles Look Up chart in October of 1966.

Debut 45 — Germany

 

AUDIO LINK for “How Long Has It Been” by The Casinos

peaked at #121 on June 17, 1967 (Fraternity 987)

  • The Casinos started out as The Legends, a teenage doo wop group whose members had attended Woodward High School, according to White Doo-Wop Collector music history blog.
  • Billboard‘s review in their June 17, 1967 edition:  “The well-blended vocal group should ride high on the charts with this top rhythm ballad.  Has the feel and sales appeal of their big one ‘Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye.’  Powerful entry.  Flip: ‘Forever And a Day’.”
  • Excerpt from Record World article entitled, “Fraternity’s Big Comeback Story,” published in their February 4, 1967 issue:

“The show business fraternity has always loved a comeback story, and none is being more warmly received today than that of Harry Carlson and his Cincinnati-based Fraternity Records.

Currently racking up hefty sales on two singles, ‘Walk Tall,’ by the 2 of Clubs, and ‘Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye,’ by The Casinos, Carlson told Record World last week that it has been about 10 years since his label had a real hit:  Jimmy Dorsey’s ‘So Rare.’  Now, however, things are really swinging for Fraternity and Carlson has just singed four new artists:  Danny Scholl, Cal Starr, Kitty West and Chris St. John.

‘All our artists are signed to long-term contracts,’ noted Carlson.
Furthermore, the company is about to bring out four new albums featuring the Casinos, who have signed with Premier Talent, the 2 of Clubs, Lonnie Mack and Cal Starr.  ‘This is the first time we’ve had in release more than one LP at a time,’ Carlson further revealed.

Carlson attributes much of the success they are having with ‘Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye’ to the Acuff-Rose publishers of the John D. Loudermilk tune.  ‘They’ve given me greater support than anyone else in this business ever got.  For example, on one Friday, there were three areas in which I needed help; on Monday, Acuff-Rose sent promo men into the area.’

The song had been discovered by producer Glen Hughes (following a few recordings of it that failed to click) who then started using it in clubs.”

  • Carlson, noted Shad O’Shea in Greg Evans’ history of “The Cincinnati Sound” for Cincinnati Magazine, “really was loved by the entire record industry worldwide.”  Glen Hughes of The Casinos (and later Glen Hughes Promotion out of Nashville) enthuses unabashedly that Carlson “was one of the sweetest, kindest men in the world, like a father to everyone who recorded for him.  You hear about musicians in those days didn’t receive all their royalties?  I honestly think Harry overpaid us — he was worried about us not getting our fair share.”
  • Glen Hughes reveals in that same 1986 Cincinnati Magazine piece how their Top Ten hit was a spontaneous decision in the studio (like “Tequilaby The Champs)  when confronted with time to fill at the group’s King recording session:

“I had originally heard ‘They You Can Tell Me Goodbye’ on a Nashville station.  It was sung by Johnny Nash, and we had no idea of recording it — we just thought it would be a good song to play in clubs.  We kept getting a tremendous response from it, and requests for it.

One day we were recording a jingle for WSAI at King, and we had some time left on the session, so we cut ‘Goodbye.’  We took it to Harry Carlson and he said ‘I believe that’s a hit.’  The song, released in December of 1966, was a hit, reaching number four on the Billboard charts and selling 1.3 million copies.  The group which contained as many as nine members, mostly old neighborhood friends from Over-the-Rhine, began touring the country, spurred on by the success of the single.”

“How Long Has It Been” — not included on The Casinos’ 1967 LP

 

AUDIO LINK for “Sometimes You Just Can’t Win” by Mouse and the Traps

peaked at #125 on June 8, 1968 (Fraternity 1005)

  • Tragedy befell the band around the time they were promoting this single, as Billboard reported in their April 27, 1968 edition in an ironic news item entitled, “Ya Jes’ Can’t Always Win:

“CINCINNATI—The Mouse and the Traps, who recently scored handily with their ‘L.O.V.E.‘ single on Harry Carlson’s Fraternity label, suffered the loss of some $9,000 in equipment recently when their car and trailer went off the road and overturned near Jackson, Tenn., while on the hop from Texarkana, Ark. to Louisville.  With borrowed instruments, the group appeared on the ‘Upbeat’ TV-er in Cleveland the next day.  The boys feel the loss incurred in the accident ties in neatly with their latest Fraternity release, ‘Sometimes You Just Can’t Win,’ which last week received its first big play in the Midwest area.”

  • Cash Box‘s review in their April 27, 1968 issue:  “Coming off a noise-maker with ‘L.O.V.E.’ the group carries on in a heavy pop ballad with arrangements that highlight a fine lead vocal.  Flip:  ‘Cryin’ Inside‘.”
  • Billboard‘s June 1, 1968 edition reports “the platter showing exceptionally well in Louisville; Columbus, Ohio, and Dallas” — those same three areas cited in a  Record World May 18, 1968 news item.

US picture sleeve — 1967

Singing aloud is therapeutic, you know — rear sleeve

 

Primary source for Billboard “Bubbling Under” chart info:  Top40Weekly.com

US Hot 100 Bubbling Under

Friendly Reminder:  Zero to 180 best viewed on a big screen – not smart phone

Birth of The JB’s @ King Records

The two-volume King Labels recording sessions discography (i.e., “the red books“) compiled by Michael Ruppli with assistance from Bill Daniels, can be frustratingly incomplete, especially with regard to musician credits.  Although this reference source is a great starting point, scholars of James Brown funk are forced to do quite a bit of digging on their own in order to piece together a more complete history.

Your ears might tell you, for instance, that William “Bootsy” Collins played bass on “Licking Stick,” a song first released as a two-part King 45 in May, 1968.

> AUDIO LINK for “Licking Stick Licking Stick (Pt. 1)”
James Brown and the Famous Flames (1968)

This classic funk bass riff, you might be startled to learn, was played by future Nashville session musician, Tim Drummond — one of six musicians who accompanied Mr. Brown on a Vietnam tour that same year.  “Licking Stick” would also be issued as a single track on 1969’s Say It Loud I’m Black And I’m Proud album.

Spain & Germany — 1968                               France — 1968       

Musician credits, however, are absent on the original gatefold LP release — a common occurrence with King.  This kind of information would not become more widely known until decades later, when these recordings were reissued on compact disc, with some of the better anthologies including detailed liner notes.

Say It Loud‘s barren back cover, information-wise

Bootsy first appears in Ruppli’s King Records discography — along with his brother Phelps “Catfish” Collins — as part of the studio backing band on an undated 1969 session (possibly July) for Hank Ballard‘s “Butter Your Popcorn:

> AUDIO LINK for “Butter Your Popcorn
Hank Ballard (1969)

According to Ruppli’s session notes —

Hank Ballard:  Vocals
Don Martin:  Drums
William Collins:  Bass
Phelps Collins:  Guitar
Clayton Garnell:  Piano
Robert McCallum:  Tenor Sax

“Butter Your Popcorn” was originally released as a 45 track only and not included on Ballard’s You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down LP released the previous year.  Subsequent reissue in the UK in 2008 would see the song included as a bonus track.  “Butter Your Popcorn” can also be found on Ace UK’s seminal anthology, King Funk.

“Butter Your Popcorn” test pressing

Sold at auction for $72 in 2012

 

What Ruppli doesn’t tell you, however, is that Bootsy, Catfish and the other members of The Pacesetters* had been enlisted earlier to back Bill Doggett on what would be the A-side of a King 45 – “Honky Tonk Popcorn” – recorded on June 4, 1969 at (what is assumed to be) Cincinnati’s King Studios and released that same month:

> AUDIO LINK for “Honky Tonk Popcorn
Bill Doggett (1969)

As R.J. Smith writes in On the One, his biography of James Brown:

Henry Glover started hiring the band [i.e., The Pacesetters* — Frank “Kash” Waddy (drums), Phillippé Wynne (vocals), Robert “Chopper” McCullough (saxophone), and Clayton “Chicken” Gunnels & Darryl “Hasaan” Jamison (trumpet)] on sessions, including an Arthur Prysock record and Bill Doggett’s contribution to popcornography, “Honky Tonk Popcorn.”

                US — Jun 1969                          King LP – art by Dan Quest

Check out this full-page ad in the September 6, 1969 edition of Billboard placed by Starday-King on behalf of James Brown’s then-current single “World (Pts. 1 & 2)” that also name-checks five other “red hot sizzling” King 45s, including both Hank Ballard’s “Butter Your Popcorn” and Bill Doggett’s “Honky Tonk Popcorn.”

R.J. Smith’s tip (thank you!) leads me to a May 13, 1969 session at Cincinnati’s King Studios for Arthur Prysock that lists no musician credits for the four songs recorded that day, all but one included on 1969’s Where the Soul Trees Grow album produced by Henry Glover, who also wrote the title track that kicks off the LP:

> AUDIO LINK for “Where the Soul Trees Grow
Arthur Prysock (1969)

Is that Bootsy and other members of The Pacesetters* backing Arthur Prysock on  “Where the Soul Trees Grow“; “Soul Soliloquy” & “If I Were Young Again” [plus one unissued track “Let’s Talk Things Over“]?  “Soul Soliloquy” b/w “Soul Trees” (both, in fact, penned by Henry Glover) were released as a King single, with a promo 45 issued June 1969, according to 45Cat.  This album review from the November 22, 1969 edition of Billboard notes “Prysock’s move to the King label” and opines that this LP’s mix of “contemporary and standard songs demonstrates why he is one of the best singers around.”

Promo 45 — June 1969                                   King LP

The rest of the album, as it turns out, was recorded at another session that took place on June 16, 1969 at Cincinnati’s King Studios.  Ruppli’s session notes list 9 songs recorded that day (though no musician credits), with a re-worked uptempo “Fever” being one of the standout tracks.  Did members of The Pacesetters* play on both session dates for the Arthur Prysock album?

> AUDIO LINK for “Fever
Arthur Prysock (1969)

*                    *                    *

*Name Check:  Pacesetters or Pacemakers?

You will see this group of Cincinnati musicians referred to as either The Pacesetters or The Pacemakers — so which is it?  I have to go with Don MartinBootsy Collins, and FrankKashWaddy who all say The Pacemakers.

Hold on a second, some funk scholars would assert — these Cincinnati musicians actually entered the picture back in 1967, thanks to songwriter (and future King A&R executive), Charles Spurling, whose “The Boy Needs a Girl” for Junior McCants was his initial connection to King Records.  Charles Waring provides the back story about Spurling, who grew up in Lincoln Heights and was part of a gang whose rivals were The Isley Brothers:

More importantly, perhaps, Spurling was allowed to cut his own records for the company, and issued five singles, of which the driving, Motown-esque “She Cried Just A Minute”—released in 1967—has achieved cult status on the UK’s Northern Soul scene.  (Original copies of the 45 can exchange hands for three hundred dollars.)  Says Spurling about the song’s inspiration: “I had this woman, and every time I wanted to make love, she said, ‘Just a minute.’  She was always putting me on hold.  So I decided to write a song about it.  That’s a true story.  She was the same girl that inspired ‘Ball Of Fire,’” as recorded by Connie Austin and Marva Whitney.

Backing up Spurling on the session was a teenage group he had discovered in Cincinnati that included bassist Bootsy Collins and his brother Catfish on guitar.  They would later become [The Pacemakers] and, in 1970, the nucleus of James Brown’s backing band, the JB’s.  “I was riding through town and I heard these guys practicing,” recollects Spurling.  “I just stopped, parked, and listened to them.  And I said to myself, ‘All these guys need is a little bit of coaching.’  So then I went in, introduced myself, and sat down and listened to them.  They was at their mother’s home.  We ended up on the road for three years.”  When Syd Nathan asked Spurling to assemble a studio house band for King, the singer-songwriter knew who to call up:  “I said, ‘Mr. Nathan, I know some guys who had been with me for three years.  We’re tight and they’ll play anything.’  He said, ‘I’ll leave it up to you because if they play like you, these guys are good.’  So then I went and found Bootsy and them.”

Spurling used another Ohio band, Dayton’s The Untouchables, on some King sessions—they later morphed into The Ohio Players—and also nurtured a white band called The Dapps, which James Brown took under his wing.

Is it true (as Chuck Da Fonk and Charlie Fishman declare) that The Pacemakers’ first session at the King Studios was when they provided musical support for Charles Spurling on “That Woman,” recorded in early November 1967 along with its flip side “Which One”?

> AUDIO LINK for “That Woman
Charles Spurling (1969)

Would love to know who backed Charles Spurling on this classic slice of soul, but unfortunately, the King recording session info (page 392 of Ruppli) is bereft of even a recording date, as you can see:

(Click on image to view in High Resolution)

Fortunately, drummer Don Martin was at this session, and he was able to confirm with Zero to 180 these musician credits:

Charles Spurling:  Vocals
Unknown:  Backing Vocals
Don Martin:  Drums
William Collins:  Bass
Phelps Collins:  Guitar
Artie Sherman:  Piano

Artie Sherman would later become part of Midnight Blue, a Chicago outfit that has served as backing band for Buddy Guy, Jimmy Vaughn, and Aaron Neville, according to Discogs.

Bootsy’s next entry in the Ruppli sessionography is one that somehow escaped the book’s index — an uncredited appearance that is a bit of an oddball situation.  That is, on page 427 you will find a listing for “More Mess on My Thing (Pt. 1 & 2)” by a group identified as The New Dapps but who we now know (thanks to these musician credits) to be The J.B.’s.  Ruppli indicates that a single — King 6271 — was issued, and yet, no evidence exists of any releases whatsoever by a group called The New Dapps.  Even stranger, check out this 45 Discography for King Records – 6000 Series and notice that the entry for King 6271 is a duplicate listing of its neighbor, 6272!

50 years later (this past November 29th, to be exact), “More Mess on My Thing” would finally be liberated, thanks to Now-Again Records, whose liner notes (by noted James Brown historian, Alan Leeds) indicate the recording to have been made at Cincinnati’s King Studios on July 2, 1969.  How exhilarating to hear Bootsy, through sheer determination and the ferocity of his playing, will the musicians – who initially drop out at the 4:40 mark – back into the performance (after James Brown counts the band in) for one final musical burst:

> AUDIO LINK for “More Mess on My Thing
The J.B.’s (1969)

Musician credits according to Discogs

Don JuanTigerMartin:  Drums
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Robert “ChopperMcCollough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
Ron Lenhoff:  Engineer
James Brown:  Composer (& Coach)

The remaining months of 1969 and into the first few months of the new decade would see various players occupy the bassist chair, including the aforementioned “Sweet” Charles Sherrill, as well as West Coast session musicians, Ray Brown and Bob West, plus various collaborations with Cincinnati-area musicians, including Lee Tucker of The Dee Felice Trio.

Bootsy next appears in Ruppli’s sessionography on the legendary “Sex Machine” session that took place April 25, 1970 at Starday-King’s Nashville studios.  This session yielded the “Sex Machine” recording released as a two-part King 45 in June 1970:

> AUDIO LINK for “Get Up I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine (Pt. 1)”
James Brown (1970)

Musician credits According to Ruppli —

James Brown:  Vocals
JohnJaboStarks:  Drums
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Organ
RobertChopperMcCullough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHassanJamison:  Trumpet

“Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine (Part 1)” — a #2 R&B hit that also peaked at #15 on the Pop chart on August 8, 1970 — enjoyed a chart run that lasted 9 weeks.

France — 1970                                           Spain — 1974

Germany — Aug 1970                                          Japan — Nov 1973

US – June 1970

May 20, 1970 found The J.B.’s making their first solo recording – “The Grunt” – at Cincinnati’s King Studios, a two-part 45 released on the heels of “Sex Machine” (and whose opening sounds would be famously sampled on “Rebel Without a Pause” by Public Enemy):

> AUDIO LINK for “The Grunt (Pts. 1 & 2)”
The J.B.’s (1970)

Musician credits according to Discogs

FrankKashWaddy:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Congas
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Piano
Robert McCullough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnels:  Trumpet
DarrylHasaanJamison:  Trumpet
James Brown:  Producer
Ron Lenhoff:  Engineer

Billboard, in its August 8, 1970 edition, would select “The Grunt” as part of that week’s Top 20 Soul Spotlights “predicted to reach the Top 20 of the Top Selling R&B Singles Chart.”

US 45 — July 1970                                      French B-side — 1972

That same May 20, 1970 Cincinnati session also produced a gospel recording by vocalist Kay Robinson, who enjoyed musical support from members of The J.B.’s on “The Lord Will Make a Way Somehow:

> AUDIO LINK for “The Lord Will Make a Way Somehow (Pts. 1 & 2)”
Kay Robinson (1970)

“The Lord Will Make a Way Somehow (Pts. 1 & 2)”     Kay Robinson     1970

Musician credits according to Ruppli —

Kay Robinson:  Vocals & Piano
FrankKashWaddy:  Drums
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
James Brown:  Backing Vocals
Charles Bobbitt:  Backing Vocals
Faye Pridgon:  Backing Vocals

According to the bio on Discogs:

Dr. Kay Robinson currently lives in Columbus, Ohio, and started singing at the age of 18.  She recorded for King Records and James Brown Productions.  James Brown flew her down to Cincinnati from Dayton (she was living in Springfield) for recording sessions.  Her career with James Brown Productions ended when she wouldn’t record R&B songs.

     US promo — 1970                                    New pressing — 2006

The May 20, 1970 session at the King Studios also yielded a two-part James Brown track written by David Matthews — “The Drunk” — (on which Bootsy plays bass) that was issued on King subsidiary, Bethlehem.  According to Ruppli’s notes, Part Two ended up being issued as the B-side of “A Man Has to Go Back to the Crossroads,” with Part One locked away to this day in Polydor’s vaults.

> AUDIO LINK for “The Drunk
James Brown (1970)

Musician credits according to Discogs

WilliamBeau DollarBowman:  Drums
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
Kenny Poole:  Guitar
Frank Brown:  Trumpet
Jerry Conrad:  Trumpet
Marie Speziale:  Trumpet
Millard Dusenbury:  Trombone
Larry Dickson:  Baritone Sax
David Matthews:  Composer & Arranger

US — Jul 1970                                          Canada — 1970

The double-album set Sex Machine, meanwhile, combined studio tracks disguised to sound as stage recordings, along with actual live performances recorded in concert at Atlanta’s Bell Auditorium on October 1, 1969, with a large ensemble that featured three personnel on drums — Clyde Stubblefield, John “Jabo” Starks & Melvin Parker — plus a six-member horn section, and Charles Sherrill on bass, among others.

Ruppli’s sparse notes (no musician credits) indicate the three-song medley on side B to have been recorded in Cincinnati on July 23, 1970 (along with unissued versions of “The Boss” and “There Was a Time“) — musician credits for Sex Machine‘s medley (below) provided courtesy of this German pressing:

> AUDIO LINK for “Bewildered” [part one]

> AUDIO LINK for “I Got the Feelin’” [part two]

> AUDIO LINK for “Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose” [part three]

Musician credits taken from Discogs

James Brown:  Vocals
Clyde Stubblefield [prob.]:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Congas
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Organ
RobertChopperMcCullough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHassanJamison:  Trumpet

There Was a Time” (a.k.a., “I Got to Move“), from the July 23, 1970 Cincinnati session referenced above, found freedom 25 years later as track number five on a collection of 1970 James Brown recordings that feature members of The J.B.’s, Funk Power – 1970: A Brand New Thing:

> AUDIO LINK for “There Was a Time (I Got to Move)”
James Brown (1970)

Musician credits according to Discogs

James Brown:  Vocals
JohnJaboStarks:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Congas
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Organ
RobertChopperMcCollough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnels:  Trumpet
DarrylHasaanJamison:  Trumpet
Ron Lenhoff:  Engineer
James Brown:  Producer & Songwriter

That same Cincinnati session also produced a version of “Sex Machine” that, according to Ruppli, is the nearly 11-minute version you hear kicking off side A of the Sex Machine LP released in September of that year.  Amusing to note that Augusta, GA and Cincinnati are the first two cities name-checked by Brown in his wide-ranging roll call of US cities prior to the song’s final bridge:

> AUDIO LINK for “Sex Machine (Extended LP Version)”
James Brown (1970)

MUSICIAN CREDITS TAKEN FROM DISCOGS
[SAME Cincinnati SESSION AS “LIVE” MEDLEY]

James Brown:  Vocals
Bobby Byrd:  Vocals
Clyde Stubblefield [prob.]:  Drums
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Organ
RobertChopperMcCullough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHassanJamison:  Trumpet

Sex Machine would peak at #29 on Billboard‘s Top 200 album chart [#4 R&B].

Brown’s next album Super Bad would give the King engineering team another opportunity to fashion a “live” album — via the superimposition of concert crowd sounds — from recordings produced at Starday-King’s studio facilities in both Cincinnati and Nashville.  “Super Bad,” the 9-minute opening title track recorded on June 30, 1970 in Nashville, is the album’s sole selection to feature The J.B.’s:

> AUDIO LINK for “Super Bad (Pts. 1-3)”
James Brown (1970)

Musician credits According to Ruppli —

James Brown:  Vocals
JohnJaboStarks:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Conga
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Organ
RobertChopperMcCullough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHassanJamison:  Trumpet

“Super Bad” — a #1 R&B hit for James Brown (#13 Pop, peak date Nov. 21, 1970) — would spend a total of 10 weeks on the chart.  The Super Bad album, meanwhile, would reach as high as #4 on Billboard’s R&B chart, #61 on the Pop chart.

Germany — 1970                                           France — 1970

Iran (unofficial) — Jan 1971

At that June 30, 1970 session, The J.B.’s also laid down two of their own recordings:  **When You Feel It, Grunt If You Can” (includes musical quotations from songs by Kool & the Gang, The Meters & Jimi Hendrix) and “I’ll Ze:

> AUDIO LINK for “When You Feel It, Grunt If You Can
The J.B.’s (1970)

> AUDIO LINK for “I’ll Ze
The J.B.’s (1970)

Musician credits According to Ruppli —

James Brown:  Vocals
JohnJaboStarks:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Conga
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Organ
RobertChopperMcCullough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHassanJamison:  Trumpet

NoteThese liner notes say that (1) Frank “Kash” Waddy played drums on “I’ll Ze” and (2) Clyde Stubblefield [possibly Frank “Kash” Waddy] played drums on “When You Feel It, Grunt If You Can.”

Also captured on tape at that June 30, 1970 Nashville session was a vocal tune by James Brown, with help from Bobby Byrd and backing by The J.B.’s, that was initially kept in the can — “Since You’ve Been Gone” — but has since been issued on such collections as 1988’s Motherlode and 1996’s Funk Power – 1970: A Brand New Thang:

> AUDIO LINK for “Since You’ve Been Gone
James Brown (1970)

Musician credits According to Discogs

James Brown:  Vocals
Bobby Byrd:  Vocals
Clyde Stubblefield:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Percussion
Bootsy Collins:  Bass
Catfish Collins:  Guitar

Ruppli’s session notes for “Since You’ve Been Gone” state “same band” as the personnel used for “Super Bad” — on which “Jabo” Starks served as the drummer, not Clyde Stubblefield — so I feel compelled to point out the discrepancy with the credits above.  Starks played drums on “When You Feel It, Grunt If You Can” & “I’ll Ze” – tracks all recorded the same day – so it stands to reason, perhaps, that he performed likewise on “Since You Been Gone.”

On September 10, 1970, The J.B.’s laid down the title track “These Are The J.B.’s.for what was intended to be their debut long-player:

> AUDIO LINK for “These Are the J.B.’s
The J.B.’s (1970)

Musician credits according to Discogs

Clyde Stubblefield:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Percussion
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
St. Clair Pinckney:  Flute & Baritone Saxophone
Robert McCullough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnels:  Trumpet
DarrylHasaanJamison:  Trumpet
James Brown:  Producer
Ron Lenhoff:  Engineer

                US — Nov 1970                         Belgium (Rugby typeface) — 1971

Ruppli’s session notes indicate this recording to be part of King LP 1126, a four-song test pressing engineered by Ron Lenhoff (as previously noted) that would be shelved, once James Brown inked a new contract with Polydor, in favor of a more expansive ten-track debut album on James Brown’s People label in 1972  [By the way, that original four-song mix of These Are The J.B.’s finally saw daylight in 2014, thanks to Now-Again Records, with liner notes again by Alan Leeds — the previous year, someone had paid $1600 for a copy of the test pressing that allegedly came from the estate of Hal Neely (who directed operations for the merged Starday-King labels after Syd Nathan’s passing on behalf of new owner, Lin Broadcasting)].

$1600 test pressing (1971) for These Are the J.B.’s

Given that Myra Barnes (a.k.a., Vicki Anderson) made her recording of “Message From the Soul Sisters (Pt. 1 & 2)” at Cincinnati’s King Studios on September 10, 1970 — the same session where “These Are The J.B.’s” was recorded — it should come as no surprise to learn that The J.B.’s provided musical support:

> AUDIO LINK for “Message From the Soul Sisters (Pts. 1 & 2)”
Myra Barnes (1970)

Musician credits According to Discogs

Myra (“Vicki Anderson”) Barnes: Vocals
Clyde Stubblefield: Drums
WilliamBootsyCollins: Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins: Guitar
Bobby Byrd: Piano
St. Clair Pinckney: Baritone Sax
Robert McCollough: Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells: Trumpet
DarrylHasaanJamison: Trumpet

October 1, 1970 would find The J.B.’s backing James Brown on a pair of recordings made at Bobby Smith Studios in Macon, Georgia, with one of the tracks (“We Need Liberation“) locked away in the vaults never having been issued, while the other — “Talkin’ Loud and Sayin’ Nothing” — was held back for release until January, 1972:

> AUDIO LINK for “Talkin’ Loud and Sayin’ Nothing
James Brown (1970)

Musician credits According to Discogs

James Brown:  Vocals
Bobby Byrd:  Vocals
Clyde Stubblefield:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Congas
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
HearlonCheeseMartin:  Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Organ
St. Clair Pinckney:  Baritone Sax
RobertChopperMcCollough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHasaanJamison:  Trumpet

“Talkin’ Loud (and Sayin’ Nothing)” was a #1 R&B hit (#27 Pop) that would spend 7 weeks on the chart, having peaked on March 18, 1972.

Belgium — 1972                                     Germany — 1972

But wait!   One additional recording (not mentioned in the Ruppli discography) was made at that October 1, 1970 session — a J.B.’s instrumental named “The Wedge” that only saw freedom when issued as the second track on the More Mess On My Thing album released this past November:

> AUDIO LINK for “The Wedge
The J.B.’s (1970)

2019’s More Mess On My Thing album — mixed by Mario Caldato directly from the original multi-track masters — also features a 22-minute version of **When You Feel It, Grunt If You Can” (see credits below) recorded in Nashville on June 30, 1970:

> AUDIO LINK for “When You Feel It, Grunt If You Can” [complete take]
The J.B.’s (1970)

Musician credits according to Discogs

Clyde Stubblefield:  Drums
FrankKashWaddy:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Congas
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
RobertChopperMcCollough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHassanJamison:  Trumpet
James Brown:  Vocals [i.e., “Right On!”s]
Ron Lenhoff:  Engineer
Written by = James Brown, with help** from a few friends:
[“Chicken Strut”] = Art Neville, George Porter, Jr., Joseph Modeliste & Leo Nocentelli
[“I Was Made to Love Her”] = Hank Cosby, Lula Hardaway, Stevie Wonder & Sylvia Moy
[“Let the Music Take Your Mind”] = Gene Redd + Kool & The Gang
[“Power of Soul”] = Jimi Hendrix
[“Something”] = George Harrison

The first week of November, 1970 would see two big King 45s committed to tape at Cincinnati’s King Studios.  Ruppli tells us that Vicki Anderson‘s response record to “Super Bad” (penned by James Brown ) — “Super Good (Pts. 1 & 2)” — was recorded on November 3rd, while Dave Thompson, in his Funk listening guide, confirms that “Bootsy Colllins-era JBs” are the backing band on this single, as Ruppli’s notes do not contain musician credits:

> AUDIO LINK for “Super Good (Pts. 1 & 2)
Vicki Anderson (1970)

Musician credits according to Discogs

Vicki Anderson:  Lead Vocals
James Brown:  Backing Vocals [Comments]
JohnJaboStarks:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Congas
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
HearlonCheeseMartin:  Guitar
Robert McCollough:  Tenor Sax
St. Clair Pinckney:  Baritone Sax
DarrylHasaanJamison:  Trumpet
JeroneJasaan SanfordMelson:  Trumpet

US — 1970                                              France — 1970

Nigeria — 197?

Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved (Pts. 1 & 2)” —  a #4 R&B (#34 Pop) hit that spent a total of 8 weeks on the charts, having peaked on February 6, 1971 — was also recorded in early November at King Studios:

> AUDIO LINK for “Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved
James Brown (1970)

Musician credits according to Discogs

James Brown:  Vocals
Bobby Byrd:  Vocals
Clyde Stubblefield:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Congas
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
HearlonCheeseMartin:  Guitar
RobertChopperMcCollough:  Tenor Sax
St. Clair Pinckney:  Baritone Sax
DarrylHasaanJamison:  Trumpet
Ron Lenhoff:  Engineer
James Brown:  Producer

Germany — Feb 1971                           Norway — Feb 1971

Ruppli’s session notes also identifies five tracks recorded at the King Studios on November 5, 1970 by James Brown (backed by a group of unnamed musicians) that remain unissued:  “All the King’s Men” (a name later used for Maceo Parker’s own band) and “I’ll Be There” (presumably, a version of that year’s big Jackson 5 hit), plus three recordings of no fixed title.  Could this Untitled Instrumental (taken from 1988’s Motherlode funk compilation) be one of those unnamed recordings from the session at the King Studios on November 5, 1970?

> AUDIO LINK for Untitled Instrumental
James Brown (1970)

January 26, 1971 would find James Brown at Washington, DC’s Rodel Studios, with “Soul Power” being one of the key recordings captured that day.  Ruppli neglects to mention, however, that The J.B.’s provided musical support on these tracks:

> AUDIO LINK for “Soul Power
James Brown (1971)

Musician credits according to Discogs

James Brown:  Lead Vocals
Bobby Byrd:  Backing Vocals
JohnJaboStarks:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Congas
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Bobby Roach:  Guitar
St. Clair Pinckney:  Tenor Sax
Fred Wesley:  Trombone
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHasaanJamison:  Trumpet

“Soul Power” reached as high as #4 on the R&B chart (#29 Pop) and spent 9 weeks on the charts, having peaked on April 3, 1971.

Germany — Apr 1971                                     France — 1971

Iran (Unofficial) — 197?

Zero to 180 asked DC’s Dave Nuttycombe if he knew where Rodel Studios was once located, to which he typed forth this reply:

[Rodel] was in Georgetown, off Wisconsin down by Key Bridge.  The “Ro” was Fritz Roland, perhaps the top cinematographer in town.  The studio did a lot of film post-production, back when DC was churning out industrial and government films.

Dave’s friend, Paul Dunlap, meanwhile provides this complementary bit of information:

The “Del” in Rodel was Del Ankers, Fritz’s partner.  Fritz shot all the Wilkins Coffee commercials there with Jim Henson too.

During the same January 26, 1971 session at DC’s Rodel Studios, Lyn Collins also recorded the A-side of her next single — “Wheels of Life” — which was then completed, according to this website, the following month on February 15, 1971 at Bobby Smith Studios in Macon, Georgia:

> AUDIO LINK for “Wheels of Life
Lyn Collins (1971)

Musician credits according to this website

Lyn Collins:  Vocals & Handclaps
James Brown:  Piano
Don JuanTigerMartin:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Tambourine
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Bobby Roach:  Guitar
St. Clair Pinckney:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHassanJamison:  Trumpet
Fred Wesley:  Trombone

US — 1971                                                 France — 1971

“Wheels of Life” was issued as the fourth single release on People – a subsidiary label for James Brown Productions that was active from 1971 through 1974 – as well as King.

Ruppli also informs us that Roberta Dubois – one of The Sisters of Righteous – recorded “Who Am I” on January 26, 1971 at DC’s Rodel Studios (with these same musicians, one presumes).  “Who Am I” would be selected as the A-side of King 6375.  Good luck, however, finding a copy.

US — 1971                                               Test Pressing

Tip of the hat to 45Cat contributor jukebox george, who points us to a 1995 Billboard review of the Bobby Byrd anthology Bobby Got Soul, in which it is revealed that James Brown, along with Roberta Dubois and Geneva “Gigi” Kinard of The Sisters of Righteous, provided vocal support on Byrd’s “I Need Help (I Can’t Do It Alone),” a Top 20 hit on the Soul Singles chart (that also hit #69 on the Pop chart in 1970).

Dubois was not the first King artist to record “Who Am I,” as this song makes several appearances in the Ruppli sessionography around this time, interestingly enough,  Ruppli’s notes for King master K13740 indicate that “Who Am I” attributed to King recording artist Leon Austin (who had taught James Brown “the right way to play piano,” according to biographer Don Rhodes) was “transferred to K13792” on September 10, 1970.  When you then skip to K13792 (an undated entry), you find the song “Who Am I” instead attributed to The Famous Flames — a King 45 released December, 1970.   James Brown would record his own unissued version the following month, shortly before Vicki Anderson then recorded her version of “Who Am I’ at the Cincinnati studios on January 21, 1971 that also never saw the light of day.

Which brings us to the final entry of The J.B.’s in volume one of the Ruppli “red books”:  King LP1137.  Go to Discogs and type the terms “King 1137” and you will encounter a lot of “noise” — but if you go back and add the word “Olympia,” notice that you pull up exactly one item for a triple-album test pressing of an unenhanced live performance of James Brown & The J.B.’s recorded March 8, 1971 at the Olympia Theatre in Paris that got shelved for 20 years, until the release of Polydor’s Love Power Peace CD in 1992, an edited mix of the concert.  In 2014, Sundazed performed a tremendous public service with their issue of a 3-LPtrifoldalbum that included the following statement:

This collection represents original stereo mixes, as overseen and approved by James Brown in 1971, of materials intended for a 3-LP set with uniquely titled discs:  “Love,” “Power,” and “Peace.”  Documentation shows that the sides would have been presented in then-common automatic record changer, with side one and side six appearing together, sides two and five, and three and four following suit [i.e., “auto-coupled“] to facilitate continuous play; we have honored that intention in this edition.  In the aftermath of both a change in labels and key members of the band departing just after these [eight-track] masters were completed, the project was not issued.  Although a CD edition of the album was issued by Polydor in 1992, it was not the complete show and was newly mixed.  This is the first time this storied slice of searing soul has been available exactly as James Brown envisioned.

Musician credits according to Discogs

James Brown:  Vocals
Bobby Byrd:  Vocals
John (Jabo) Starks:  Drums [Primary]
Don Juan (Tiger) Martin:  Drums [Secondary]
William (Bootsy) Collins:  Bass
Phelps (Catfish) Collins:  Guitar
Hearlon (Cheese) Martin:  Rhythm Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Organ
St. Clair Pinckney:  Tenor Sax
Clayton (Chicken) Gunnells:  Trumpet
Darryl (Hassan) Jamison:  Trumpet
Fred Wesley:  Trombone
David Matthews:  Conductor [Horns And Strings]
Ron Lenhoff:  Engineer

      1971 King 3-LP test pressing                             Sundazed’s 3-LP set — 2014

To replicate concert, play 3-LP set “auto-coupled” on a Crosley Stack-o-Matic

Compared to the 1992 CD with 17 tracks, check out the three-LP Sundazed mix that has a total of 31 selections across six sides.  These three discs contain the entire Paris show with one notable exception — “Who Am I” recorded January 12 and April 12, 1971 at King Studios, Cincinnati, Ohio (with Kenny Poole on guitar).

Worth mentioning that on page 452, close to the end of Ruppli’s King sessionography, you will find an undated session on which The J.B.’s recorded a pair of unissued songs, “My Brother” and “Texas Green.”

1972’s Get on the Good Foot album includes one recording with the Collins brothers — “The Whole World Needs Liberation” — that must be among their last recordings with James Brown:

> AUDIO LINK for “The Whole World Needs Liberation
James Brown (1972)

Musician credits according to Discogs

James Brown:  Vocals
Bobby Byrd:  Backing Vocals
Hal Neely:  Backing Vocals
Lois Wong:  Backing Vocals
Clyde Stubblefield:  Drums
Bootsy Collins:  Bass
Catfish Collins:  Guitar
H.B. Barnum:  Conductor

After their departure from the James Brown organization, Bootsy Phelps and Complete Strangers put out a single, “Fun In Your Thang (Pts. 1 & 2)”:

> AUDIO LINK for “Fun in Your Thang (Pt. 1)”
Bootsy Phelps and Complete Strangers (1972)

Released in 1972 on General American, an independent label out of Columbia, Missouri (that was also based in Cincinnati), this 45 would be re-issued the following year on Cincinnati-based Philmore Sound:   Would love to know where this recording was made – possibly at King Studios?

1972 single                                                      1973 release

But check this out:  Mere months ago (August 23, 2019), Shake It Records — in collaboration with Bootsy Collins — remastered a number of classic 45 sides directly from the master tapes and produced The House Guests Meet The Complete Strangers and Bootsy, Phelps & Gary, a new 12-inch vinyl LP!  Shake It reports that the orange vinyl edition has already sold out, but black vinyl is still available.

This vinyl-only collection (with liner notes by RJ Smith + these musician credits) is a limited edition release from Shake It Records, who have this to say —

A slab of Cincinnati hard funk slammers – most reissued (legally) for the first time! Post JB’s / Pre-P-funk outfits headed up by brothers Catfish & Bootsy Collins along with a Cincinnati who’s-who of top club players who could turn it out night after night after night in places like The Psychedelic Grave or The Round Up Club – that featured a caged bear in the club!

This selection, hand picked by Bootsy, highlights that youthful output under various names as The House GuestsThe Complete Strangers and Bootsy, Phelps & Gary. The monikers may have changed, but what they brought to the stage every night – leaving the club and audience devastated – never did.

A D D I T I O N A L     R E L A T E D     R E C O R D I N G S

Maceo and the Macks would incorporate new horn work (as well as audio excerpts from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s stirring “Mountaintop” speech) on a reinvigorated mix entitled “Soul Power ’74” that saw release in October 1973:

> AUDIO LINK for “Soul Power ’74
Maceo and the Macks (1973)

Musician credits according to Discogs

JohnJaboStarks:   Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Congas
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Bobby Roach:  Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Organ
Maceo Parker:  Alto Sax [Overdubbed]
St. Clair Pinckney:  Tenor Sax
St. Clair Pinckney:  Tenor Sax [Overdubbed]
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHasaanJamison:  Trumpet
Ike Oakley:  Trumpet [Overdubbed]
JeroneJasaan SanfordMelson:  Trumpet [Overdubbed]
Fred Wesley:  Trombone

“Soul Power ’74 (Part 1)” would “bubble under” Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart, peaking at  #109 on January 19, 1974.

  US — Oct 1973                                        Netherlands — 1973

From poking around in Discogs, I have discovered that 1995’s Bobby Byrd anthology Bobby Got Soul includes two obscure 45 tracks, plus a pair of previously unreleased recordings that feature Bootsy, Catfish and The J.B.’s —

Also this recording that can be found on James Brown’s Funky People Volume 3 — “Doin’ the Doo” by Bobby Byrd Featuring The J.B.’s:

> AUDIO LINK for “Doing the Doo
Bobby Byrd Featuring The J.B.’s

Musician credits according to Discogs

Bobby Byrd:  Vocals & Songwriter
James Brown:  Backing Vocals
John “Jabo” Starks:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Percussion
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
HearlonCheeseMartin:  Guitar
St. Clair Pinckney:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHassanJamison:  Trumpet
Fred Wesley:  Trombone

Bootsy in far-left corner of inset photo on Byrd’s European LP cover

Bootsy Talks King History @ National Public Radio

November 1, 2017’s edition of NPR radio show “What’s Good With Stretch & Bobbito” features Bootsy Collins, who reflects on his experiences at Cincinnati’s King Records (starting at age 17), as well as the birth of the J.B.’s, among other things.

AUDIO LINK — click here 

[32-minute program = includes transcript]

Ω          Ω          Ω

A Mad Magazine Salute to James Brown

September 1971 issue

Mad Fold-In by Al Jaffee

James Brown’s “Hot Pants” — released June 1971 — was a #1 hit R&B [#15 Pop] that spent 11 weeks on the chart and whose popularity reached its apex on Aug. 7, 1971, around the time this issue of Mad Magazine was hitting the presses.

“Hots Pants” Picture Sleeve – Europe

For Optimal Experience:  Zero to 180 best viewed on a big screen – not smart phone

Grandpa Jones & His Swingin’ Grandchildren’s Sole 45

Grandpa Jones‘ toe-tappin’ countrypolitan “Hip Cat’s Weddin’” is one of Zero to 180’s recent discoveries:

“Hip Cat’s Weddin'”    Grandpa Jones & His Swingin’ Grandchildren     Rec. Nov, 1960

Too little has been written about Boudleaux Bryant‘s clever composition and its fetching arrangement — virtually nothing, in fact.  “I Don’t Love Nobody” b/w “Hip Cat’s Weddin’” sadly would be Jones’s sole release with His Swingin’ Grandchildren.  Given the relatively small percentage of the world’s population that owns the original 45 or 1997’s 5-CD Everybody’s Grandpa anthology compiled by Germany’s Bear Family, how tragic that this sly send-up of hep cat culture has been essentially unheard for decades.

Cash Box gave this single a positive review in their November 26, 1960 edition:

Grandpa Jones (Monument 430)

(B-f) “I DON’T LOVE NOBODY”
(1:45) [G-J BMI — Arr. Jones]
The oldie is given a contagious
revamping by the lovable Grandpa and
with his “Swinging Grandchildren” he
gives it a rousing jubilation sendoff.
Has excellent spin value.

(B-f) “HIP CAT’S WEDDIN’”
(2:18) [Acuff-Rose BMI — Bryant]
This Boudeleaux Bryant ditty is
ideally suited for Jones’ comical
style.  It’s a bouncy blueser; rates
consideration.

B-side

Thanks once again to PragueFrank for providiing the musician credits on a session that also produced “These Hills”; “Billy Yank and Johnny Reb” and the unreleased “Goodbye Reb” — although I am puzzled by the recording date of 21 February 1961 which is months after the Cash Box review above.

  • Grandpa Jones:  Vocal/Guitar/Banjo
  • Harold Bradley:  Guitar
  • Ray Edenton:  Guitar
  • Hank Garland:  Guitar
  • Jerry Byrd:  Steel Guitar
  • Boots Randolph:  Sax
  • Floyd Cramer:  Piano
  • Buddy Harman:  Drums

YouTube’s sole audio clip of “Hip Cat’s Weddin'” (posted in 2017) has only been “viewed” a total of 209 times, as of November 7, 2019.  You and I can do something about that.  Gratitude to WFMU’s Michael Shelley for giving this song several spins on the air.

Note:  At this moment, a vendor on Ebay is selling this 45 for $14.99 (plus $4.53 S/H).

They Don’t Make Song Titles Like They Used To:
Grandpa Jones on King
(with streaming audio)

There’s a Grave in the Wave of the Ocean” — 1945

The Baldheaded End of the Broom” — 1948

You’ll Make Our Shack a Mansion” — 1949

Uncle Eph’s Got the Coon” — 1950

Jennie, Get Your Hoe Cakes Done” — 1951

The Value of Vinyl

In 2017, someone paid $300 outright for 1958’s Sings His Greatest Hits LP by Jones, who appeared on the very first King Records release (using an alias), along with Merle Travis.

Brown’s Ferry Four:  The Original Country Supergroup

As journalist/writer Bruce Eder points out in Discogs‘ miniature biographical portrait:

“Based on their lineup alone, Brown’s Ferry Four was a country supergroup from the get-go, with an original membership consisting of Grandpa Jones, the Delmore Brothers, and Merle Travis.  Though the group only existed for ten years, and almost never made any personal appearances or gave any concerts, they managed to become one of the most beloved country gospel groups through their radio broadcasts and the nearly four dozen sides they recorded for King Records between 1946 and 1952.”

King LP – 1963

King Records Trivia: Maxi-Tweets

Fun Facts & Trivia — Best Tweets from King Records Month 2018

As with the previous piece (“King’s Jazz Legacy“), it seems silly to keep all this rich history from last year’s King 75th Anniversary tucked away in a file attachment.  One year later, it has become increasingly obvious that this “once-tweeted” information would serve humanity to a much greater degree if likewise liberated and laid out clearly, without concern for limits on text or number of illustrations.  These original tweets have been richly supplemented for this updated version.

Modernist pavilion at Cincinnati’s Bellevue Park overlooking downtown

[Note:  streaming audio links indicated in bold blue ink]

King History Tweet #1

Mose Rager – who, along with Ike Everly (father of Phil & Don), taught Merle Travis the “claw picking” technique – played on a King recording session for Fairley Holden.   According to Dave Sax’s liner notes for Ace UK’s King Hillbilly Bop ‘n’ Boogie

Fairley’s new version [of “Keep Them Cold Icy Fingers Off Of Me“] for King (his third) sold well enough to warrant three more sessions during the year, including 12 songs cut in December [1947] before the [1948 recording] ban.  He was backed by Moon Mullican (with whom he also toured in Detroit) at his first two sessions, while Mose Rager and another guitarist are heard at the December date.  This and a session with Curly Fox & Texas Ruby, also for King, give us the only example of Rager’s work on record [emphasis mine].

Check out the instrumental intro from “Sweet Mama, Put Him in Low,” a song from Holden’s last session for King — those guitar lines must belong to Rager, right?  That same recording session also includes “You’ve Been a Bad Bad Little Girl“; “Oh, That Naggin’ Wife of Mine“; “It’ll Make a Change in Business” (guitar solo at 1:11); “Put Some Meat on Them Bones“; “Don’t Monkey Around With My Widder When I’m Gone” & “Long Long Dresses,” with the guitar work on these tracks bearing that classic “Travis-style” picking technique which came directly from Rager and Ike Everly.  By the way, thanks to PragueFrank for pointing out that Holden’s first session for King took place in February, 1947 at E.T. Herzog Recording Studio in Cincinnati.

With regard to Curly Fox and Texas Ruby, since they did two recording sessions for King (as indicated by Ruppli), I am unclear as to which of the 17 tracks feature Rager’s playing, since he only played on “a” recording session, as Sax states above.  However, if I were to be so bold, I suspect that Rager’s guitar work can be heard on the second King recording session that yielded “You Don’t Love Me” and four other songs — check out the “Travis-style” guitar break at the 1:48 mark.  If I’m correct, that means Rager can also be heard (at least, theoretically) on “Those Dreams Are Gone” (solo guitar at the 0:50 mark); “On the Banks of the Lonely River“; “Falling Leaf” & “You’ll Remember and Be Blue” — the last track only issued on Nashville Bandstand Vol. 2 — the same album that includes (as previously noted) Merle Travis’s lone King recording as a solo artist “What Will I Do” (likewise unavailable on YouTube, unfortunately).  Album also includes Moon Mullican’s “Too Many Irons in the Fire” (not on YouTube either) — song co-written by Erwin King, Henry Glover, “Lois Mann” [Syd Nathan] & Mullican.

A copy of Volume 1 sold for $26 in 2012

King History Tweet #2

Southwest ShuffleRich Kienzle‘s history of honky tonk, western swing, and country jazz pioneers, has a chapter about guitar great Roy Lanham (“Neither Fish Nor Fowl”), whose title pinpoints the musician’s unfortunate predicament, in that he was considered “too country for jazz” and “too jazz for country”!  Lanham (celebrated here previously) can be heard on Hank Penny‘s very first session for King in 1944 (recorded in a room above the Wurlitzer Music Store in Cincinnati) — four songs, including “Last Night“; “Tear Stains on Your Letter” & “Hope You’re Satisfied” (with Louis Innis on second guitar).

Roy Lanham on King

Lanham’s most famous session work for King in the label’s early years can be heard on such Delmore Brothers 78 sides as “Goin’ Back to the Blue Ridge Mountains“; “Boogie Woogie Baby“; “Freight Train Boogie” & “Shame on Me” — recorded at Herzog’s Studio in October, 1946 with Homer & Jethro.  One year later, Lanham would join forces with Merle Travis at Cincinnati’s King Studios to record eight songs, including “The Frozen Girl“; “Long Journey Home” & “You Can’t Do Wrong and Get By.”  October of 1949 would find Lanham recording his swansong with the Delmore Brothers “Trouble Ain’t Nothing But the Blues,” with Syd Nathan in the producer’s chair.

This 1958 LP sold for $300 in 2012

King History Tweet #3

Noted western swing bandleader Spade Cooley cut sessions for King Records “under vocalist Red Egner‘s name” according to Kevin Coffey’s liner notes in CD compilation Shuffle Town – Western Swing on King. Total of 8 songs recorded in late 1946 at Radio Recorders in Los Angeles and released as four 78s, [plus 2 unreleased tracks “You Didn’t Want Me (When You Had Me)” & “South of Old San Antone”] — most notably “You Never Miss the Water Till the Well Runs Dry” and “Swing Billy A-La-Mode” (group billed as ‘The California Cutups’), with Noel Boggs, in all likelihood (inferring from PragueFrank‘s session info) on steel guitar.

With Noel Boggs on steel, correct?

King History Tweet #4:
King Steel Guitar Trivia

(Pre-pedal) steel guitar legend Noel Boggs played on King sessions for both Hank Penny [1945 session in Pasadena, California with Merle Travis that yielded 12 songs including “Steel Guitar Stomp“; “Merle’s Buck Dance” & “I’m Counting the Days“] and Jimmie Widener (whose all-star band would include Jimmy Wyble, who later starred with jazz greats Benny Goodman and Red Norvo) on such tracks as “You Better Wake Up Babe” — recorded at Hollywood’s Universal Recorders on September 21, 1946 [SOURCE: Shuffle Town – Western Swing on King 1946-1950].

Western swing on DeLuxe

King History Tweet #5:
More Steel Guitar Trivia

Jimmie Widener’s “What a Line!” – produced/co-written by Merle Travis and released by King Records in 1946 – features stellar steel guitar work by EarlJoaquinMurphey.  According to the liner notes from Ace UK’s King Hillbilly Bop ‘n’ Boogie:

Jimmie Widener was born in Oklahoma in 1924, and his career included stints with the Spade Cooley, Bob Wills and Tex Williams bands – and also the 24 sides he recorded for King.  “What a Line!” was from his first session held at Universal Recorders, Hollywood on 25 March 1946 during the sessions that Merle Travis produced.  The song enjoyed a new lease of life in near rockabilly format when recorded by Carl Story for Columbia in 1955.  The all-star personnel featured Jimmie Widener (guitar), ShelbyTexAtchison (fiddle), Harold Hensley (fiddle), Joaquin Murphey (steel guitar), Charlie Morgan (guitar), George Bamby (accordion), Vic Davis (piano), and Shug Fisher (bass). 

Incredibly, streaming audio not yet available on YouTube

Kevin Coffey notes that “Widener had recently been playing tenor banjo with [Bob Wills backing band] the Texas Playboys and had sung ‘How Can It Be Wrong’ with Wills at a recording session less than two weeks before these September 18-23 [1946] King [Hollywood] sessions began” in the liner notes to the Shuffle Town King western swing anthology.  With regard to those September, 1946 sessions at Universal Recorders —

“Syd and his King Records hit Hollywood with all the force of an earthquake,” journalist C. Phil Henderson enthused soon after in his Tophand magazine – and over the next month, at Hollywood’s Universal Recorders, Nathan waxed a hundred-plus sides on Widener, Penny, Red Egner, Tex Atchison and others.”

King History Tweet #6:
(Still) More Steel Guitar Trivia

Paul Howard and His Arkansas Cotton Pickers recorded their first session for King in Cincinnati on January, 26, 1949 with Bob Wills alumnus Billy Bowman on steel guitar (plus Red Perkins on vocals, Jabbo Arrington on guitar, two fiddlers in Red Harper and  “Julliard-trained” Roddy Bristol, and pianist Harold Horner).  This session also marked the recording debut (so says Kevin Coffey) of A-team Nashville session bassist, Bob Moore, father of R. Stevie Moore (“Godfather of Home Recording“) – four songs including “Texas Boogie” and “Torn Between True Love and Desire.”

Scratchy 78s – audio above not pristine

King History Tweet #7:
King Gospel

Queen, King’s short-lived subsidiary (1945-1947) devoted to black artists, featured mostly rhythm and blues recordings but also included a fair amount of gospel music, primarily Wings Over Jordan.  This 10-inch EP from 1946, with three songs per side, appears to be the only non-78 release on the Queen label — includes “Old Ship of Zion“; “When You Come Out of the Wilderness“; “Take Me to the Water“; & “Deep River.”

King History Tweet #8

Mabel Smith, a.k.a., Big Maybelle, with backing support from Hot Lips Page and His Orchestra, did three recording sessions for King in late 1947, with at least two of them taking place at Cincinnati’s King Studios.  Three King 78s would be the net result:  (a) “Sad and Disappointed Jill” b/w “Bad Dream Blues“; (b) “Indian Giver” b/w “Too Tight Mama“; (c) “Little Miss Muffet” b/w “Don’t Try to Fool Me.”   This French compilation from 2004 includes all of her King 78 sides, plus two unissued tracks:  “Foolin’ Blues” and “Dirty Deal Blues.”

Mabel “Big Maybelle” Smith recorded 8 sides for King

King History Tweet #9

King artists “ZebbTurner and “Cow BoyCopas enjoyed a split EP release in Denmark on the Vogue label in the early 1950s that includes Turner’s 1951 breakout hit “Chew Tobacco Rag” and Copas’s 1947 version of “Tennessee Waltz.”  Copas, in fact, had tried to buy “Tennessee Waltz” on a song-scouting expedition for Syd Nathan in a classic capitalist tale recounted by music historian Darren Blase (of Shake It Records) for his excellent piece “The Lonesome Ballad of Cowboy Copas” published in the August 1, 2013 edition of Cincinnati Magazine.

That’s Zeb with two B’s – Danish EP

King History Tweet #10

Federal – the King subsidiary label established for Ralph Bass to produce R & B artists – nevertheless had a Federal Hillbilly Series.  According to the liner notes in Ace UK’s King Hillbilly Bop ‘n’ Boogie, “only two hillbilly artists actually recorded new sessions specifically earmarked for Federal.”  One of those artists, Tommy Scott, recorded the hobo train classic “Rockin’ and Rollin’” at Cincinnati’s King Studios on January 4, 1951 with a backing band that included Hank Williams‘ one-time steel guitarist Jerry Byrd and (future Nashville session fiddler emeritus) Tommy Jackson — who both backed Williams on “Lovesick Blues” (recorded at Herzog’s in 1948), along with Louis Innis and Zeke Turner.

Hillbilly bop on Federal

King History Tweet #11
Train Songs on King

You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy a good train song, and one of the best collections I’ve heard is an anthology of mostly obscure 45s called Choo Choo Bop (issued by German label, Buffalo Bop). The tenth track – Larry Harvey’s “Rolling Home” – is one of my faves, and happens to be a King classic from 1957 that will have you singing the refrain in no time.  The person who posted this YouTube clip points out that “Rolling Home” is an update of “Fast Moving Night Train” (written by Rudy Toombs, sung by Grandpa Jones) that unfortunately is not available on YouTube.

“Rolling Home”     Larry Harvey     1957

According to Discogs:

Larry Harvey was a Canadian country singer originally from Newfoundland.  Moved to Toronto where he saw some success and then later to Nashville.  He was one of the inaugural members of the Country Music Association in 1956.  After a dispute with his record company King Records over Newfoundland distribution he left his contract.  He was unable to keep food on his family’s table, so he returned to Ontario and worked in a factory, then later started a small business.  Subject of the 2008 documentary “Paper Promises” by his son Shane Harvey.

In addition to the obvious (e.g., Tiny Bradshaw’s “Train Kept a Rollin’“), here are four other King train songs worth investigating:

String band and rhythm section set up a strong beat and keep it driving right thru as the Jones gal hands the tune a growling chant.

King “bio disc”

Clever story novelty about an engineer with a slow freight train receives a lively performance by Newman.  Tune is melodic with a boogie beat.  Could grab loot.  A good kiddie disc, too.

Penned by Boudleaux Bryant, who (co-)authored many Everly Bros. hits

[Bob Newman, it must be said, also recorded the truck-driving classic “Hauling Freight” (from the pen of Henry Glover), as celebrated in Zero to 180’s piece from 2016.]

King EP – 1961

King History Tweet #12:
King Gospel

Billboard‘s May 3, 1952 edition reported that a Shenandoah, Iowa disk jockey held a contest, asking listeners to guess the names of King recording artists, The Harlan County Four, who had just released their version of “The Atomic Telephone” — a gospel song co-written by Henry Glover, Syd Nathan & Eddie Smith.  Raise your hand if you know the secret identities behind the Harlan County Four — answer is in this Zero to 180 piece.

Co-written by Eddie Smith – artist/arranger, and later, chief engineer at King

King History Tweet #13

Famed folk duo Sonny Terry (harmonica) and Brownie McGhee (guitar) played on a single recording session for King — supporting singer and Piedmont country blues guitarist, Ralph Willis — that was recorded in NYC on January 14, 1953.  Four sides, including “Hop On Down the Line“; “Do Right” & “Door Bell Blues.”

King History Tweet #14

Petula Clark on King Records?  It’s true!  Clark’s 1954 UK hit “The Little Shoemaker” was issued that same year in the US and Canada on King.  10 years before Clark would win the 1964 Grammy for Best Rock & Roll Recording (over “A Hard Day’s Night”).  Billboard‘s review in the July 17, 1954 edition:

“King 1371 – If this side had come out some weeks ago it could easily have pulled a good part of the action on the tune.  Petula Clark warbles the opus with a smile in her voice and she’s backed wonderfully by the large ork.  Disk, an English import, could still garner loot if exploited.”

King History Tweet #15

Rudy (pre-Dolemite) Moore first recorded for King in December of 1955, a session that yielded four songs:  “The Buggy Ride“; “Ring a-Ling Dong“; “I’m Mad With You“; and “My Little Angel.”  Moore’s second and final King recording session – June 1, 1956 – netted four more tracks:  “Let Me Come Home“; “I’ll Be Home to See You Tomorrow“; and “Robbie Dobbie.”

Rudy (Ray) Moore = four Federal 45s

King History Tweet #16

Mr. Nashville Sound himself, Chet Atkins, played bass on Fuller Todd’s “Proud Lady” – according to Rob Finnis in his liner notes to Ace UK’s King Rockabilly – when session bassist, Bob Moore, had not yet arrived at RCA Nashville, where the song (co-written by Louis Innis) was recorded on March 25, 1957.

Chet Atkins on a King rockabilly that is not yet available on YouTube

King History Tweet #17

Keyboardist DaveBabyCortez — who would later have instrumental hits with “The Happy Organ” (1959) and “Rinky Dink” (1962) — played on two King recording sessions:

Wha’da ya know? co-written by Henry Glover

Flip side co-authored by Henry Glover & Rudy Toombs

King History Tweet #18

King Records would issue over a dozen Trini Lopez single releases beginning in 1958 and ending into 1966, though none would chart, sadly.  Check out this classic slice of rockabilly bop “Yes You Do” — Lopez’s debut single for King — that was recorded December, 1958 in Dallas.

Australian 45 (“A King recording from U.S.A.”) – 1964

King History Tweet #19

Cliff Davis & The Turbo Jets recorded four songs in Chicago for King subsidiary label Federal in 1958 – including “So Sassy” and “Far East Cha Cha Cha” – and then four more on May 22, 1959: “Let It Roll (Pts. 1 & 2)” “Rock and Reel” and “Back Mountain Rock.”  Saxophonist, as well as songwriter and arranger, Davis would record one single for Okeh after leaving King.

German 45 – 1962

King History Tweet #20

Bruce Channel (whose harmonica player, Delbert McClinton, gave John Lennon a few tips on the instrument back in 1962 when The Beatles opened for Channel) recorded exactly four songs for King in a single 1959 Forth Worth, TX recording session that yielded two 45s. Of the four sides reviewed by Billboard, “Boy! This Stuff Kills Me” would get the most enthusiastic ink:

“Cat digs music, as he intros drums, twangy guitars and honking tenor.  He shouts the tale over a driving ork and combo assist.”

That combo assist, by the way, would be Marvin Montgomery and His Orchestra — this track also available on Ace UK compilation, King Rock ‘n’ Roll.

King History Tweet #21

One recording that remains unheard in the King vaults is Buck Floyd‘s “The U-2 Flight” – recorded in Cincinnati on October 17, 1960 in response to the major international incident that had taken place five months earlier on May 1st.  There are no images of Floyd’s lone King 45 [“I’m Gonna Show You All Someday” b/w “No Love for Me“] on the web.  The attached photo is of Ernest Burgess “Buck” Floyd of Carrollton, Kentucky (in Carroll County), born April 1, 1933.  Could this Korean War veteran be the same Buck Floyd, who once recorded at the King Studios?  Buck Floyd’s King 45 — recorded with Kenny Sowder & the Grand River Boys — was reviewed in Billboard‘s Jan 9, 1961 issue [B-side:  “Heartfelt vocalizing by Floyd on moving weeper”] and rated “three stars” (i.e., “good sales potential”).  Obituary for Ernest ‘Buck’ Floyd.

Ernest ‘Buck’ Floyd = King recording artist?

King History Tweet #22:
King Gospel

If you need sanctified sounds for your Sunday morning, consider giving this 1960 King album by the Bible Way Church of GodLet the Church Roll On — a spin.  Billboard‘s review from the Dec 26, 1960 edition:

“These spirituals have been recorded during church service by the Bible Way Church of God Choir in Cincinnati.  Performances are impassioned and capture the true gospel spirit.”

 King History Tweet #23

Besides Petula Clark, King would serve as US distributor for other leased EMI recordings, such as 1961’s “spy” guitar number with a “popcorn” beat “The Swinging Gypsies” by Tony Osbourne — selected by Billboard as a Special Merit Single for the week of Oct. 23, 1961.  Says the reviewer:

“A listenable instrumental featuring a hoked up piano sound against a big ork backing.  The side is set in a breezy rock tempo.  Could win spins.”

Would sound great on an instrumental mix with The Shadows, Duane Eddy, etc.

That same year, King would also lease “Black Stockings” b/w “Get Lost Jack Frost” by The John Barry Seven from EMI, both crisp guitar instrumentals — sadly, no visual evidence of this King 45 exists on the web (link to 45Cat catalog record).

King History Tweet #24

Reno & Smiley recorded a sarcastic slice of rockabilly (or is it mockabilly?) in King’s Cincinnati studios on April 24, 1961 — “Just Doing Rock and Roll” — under the fake name Chick and His Hot RodsBillboard‘s September 11, 1961 edition would rate this single release three stars (i.e., “moderate sales potential”).

Rock ‘n’ roll gets Punk’d

King History Tweet #25

Ray Bell was part of an elite group of artists that helped revive King’s Queen subsidiary label between the years 1961-1962.  45Cat contributor formula (-CH2-CHI)n would post this concise appraisal of Bell’s lone 45 release “Blues Tavern” b/w “Loveless Island.”

A Side: “Blues Tavern” – nice country honky tonk sound with fiddle from ’61.

King History Tweet #26

In 1961, Audio Lab gathered up Rocky Bill Ford‘s sudsy lament of a most tuneful sort — “Beer Drinking Blues” (originally released 1950 on Gilt-Edge, a label distributed by King) — along with eleven other songs for an LP that you would be hard pressed to find today.  Ford’s composition would get a nice makeover in 1969 by Eddie Noack, thanks to some driving piano and soulful dobro lines — link to Noack’s version of “Beer Drinking Blues.”

Rare album on Audio Lab, King’s “budget” subsidiary label

King History Tweet #27

Columbus, Ohio’s King Pharoah & the Egyptians recorded a single session for Federal Records in March, 1961 that yielded the 45 “Shimmy Sham” b/w “By the Candle Lite.” Billboard‘s Apr 17, 1961 edition would rate the 45 as having “moderate sales potential” and include this review:

A-side: “This is about the women in the tropic land who look so grand.  It’s a slow persistent rocker by the boys in solid bluesy r&b fashion. Good sound & catchy beat.”
B-side: “A slow, slow rockaballad done for fair results by the boys.”

King History Tweet #28:
Truck Driving Songs

Compare/contrast (1) Coleman Wilson’s original acoustic version of classic truck driving tale “Radar Blues” with (2) Swanee Caldwell’s full-band version recorded in Cincinnati on July 15, 1963.

Coleman Wilson’s A-side “Passing Zone Blues” peaked at #23 in Billboard‘s Country chart the week of Aug. 23, 1961.  Amusing to scan all the 45 releases of Dave Dudley, one of the “kings” of truck driving songs, and notice that King would reach into their back catalog and reissue in August of 1963 one of Dudley’s King rockabilly 45s in the wake of “Six Days on the Road” – the runaway hit released in April of that year.

Case study in truck-driving classics:  “Radar Blues”

King History Tweet #29:
Obscure Instrumental Awaiting Rediscovery

Double Whammy” by The Whammies – a driving sax and organ instrumental guaranteed to fill the dance floor – is actually the B-side of the group’s one and only 45.  The one YouTube audio clip for this song has only 545 “views” as of October 16, 2018 [one year later, that total has nudged up to 599 plays] — be the first on your block to hear this winner of a track!  The A-side “Walk Walk” was written by one of the West Coast’s in-demand session guitarists — René Hall (of “Twitchy” fame) — whose first King recording session (for Wynonie Harris) goes all the way back to Dec. 17, 1947 (“Your Money Don’t Mean a Thing” – with Dexter Gordon).  Hall’s guitar can be heard on a number of hits recorded in Los Angeles, including “La Bamba” (electric baritone guitar), and his arrangements include Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Going to Come.”

both sides “leased” – c. June, 1962

King History Tweet #30

Sonny Thompson, who co-wrote “Had You Told It Like It Was (It Wouldn’t Be Like It Is)” for Albert King, laid down some “popcorn jazz” on August 14, 1962 at King’s Cincinnati studio on a pair of tracks that were released as a Bethlehem 45:  “Loco Limbo” b/w “Just a Little Bit of Soul.”  Thompson is part of an ‘elite’ group that had a special publishing arrangement with Syd Nathan. 45Cat contributor “mickey rat” explains:

“For years I’ve wondered who was involved in Boblo Music.  I’ve always had it listed with that clutch of half a dozen imprints that Syd Nathan of King Records shared with his favourite producers (e.g. Men-Lo = Fred Mendelsohn & Syd Nathan and Son-Lo = Sonny Thompson & Syd Nathan, where the “Lo” bit was short for Nathan’s flagship publishing imprint Lois Music).”

Longer quote can be found in Zero to 180 piece – “Bethlehem Records: Post-Syd

Published by “Son-lo”

King History Tweet #31

Blues guitar legend Albert King did, in fact, set foot inside King’s Cincinnati studio on April 17, 1963 – two songs recorded:  “This Funny Feeling” (sadly, as it says on the 45 label:  a “vocal with band and vocal group” that features a sax [!] solo) and “Had You Told It Like It Was (It Wouldn’t Be Like It Is),” another vocal sans guitar.  Both songs are included on 1963 King LP, The Big Blues.

Fortunately, this King album does feature King’s distinctive guitar playing

King History Tweet #32:
King Kiddie Pop!

Whip out “The Bunny Hop” by The Delteens – recorded at King on March 12, 1963 – at your next preschool party or Kindergarten playdate.  “The Bunny Hop” (the B-side) merited three stars in Billboard‘s March 30, 1963 edition, while the Delteens take on that kiddie standard “The Hokey Pokey” earned the group an additional star!

King History Tweet #33

BillyCrashCraddock had recorded for almighty Columbia Records, prior to a short tenure with King Records that yielded three 45 releases – all in the year 1964 – from a single 12-song recording session at the Cincinnati studios on June 15, 1964, including “My Baby’s Got Flat Feet.”  Important to note that two of Craddock’s three A-sides were written by Henry Glover (just for fun:  scroll these 19 pages of search results on 45Cat to see how many 45 sides were written, produced and/or arranged by Glover).  The other six tracks would be rounded up for Craddock’s lone King LP – which includes “Talk to Me Talk to Me” (a Little Willie John 45 on King, originally) and the album’s title track “I’m Tore Up” (1956 Federal single written by Ike Turner and Ralph Bass).

Penned by Henry Glover (with assistance from “Lois Mann”)

King History Tweet #34:
The Cincinnati-Kingston Connection

One year following Prince Buster‘s rocksteady salute to “The Cincinnati Kid” (a.k.a., James Brown), King Records – ironically, perhaps – licensed a song from Prince Buster himself [“Ten Commandments (From Woman to Man)”] for release in the United States in 1967, with a Byron Lee track [“Papa Jack“] on the flip side.  45Cat notes, “Different vocal to the track released on RCA Victor 47-9114.”  Zero to 180’s related piece from 2014.

“Buster and East Productions”

King History Tweet #35

Keyboardist/arranger/studio musician, Richard Tee, arranged one recording session in New York City on April Fool’s Day, 1969, for soul vocal group, The Manhattans, who ended up releasing two albums on (revived) King subsidiary, DeLuxe, before joining forces with “Big Red” – Columbia Records.  Four songs recorded and released on two DeLuxe 45s — “The Picture Becomes Quite Clear” b/w “Oh Lord, I Wish I Could Sleep” -and- “Gonna Take a Lot to Bring Me Back” b/w “Give Him Up.”

King History Tweet #36:
Final Recording Session for Bethlehem?

Remember The Saloonatics from the Zero to 180 piece that questioned whether this was one of the last original sessions at Cincinnati’s King Studios for the Bethlehem subsidiary label?  Azie Mortimer‘s 1971 album, Feeling of Jazz, was actually one of the last 1969 recording sessions for Bethlehem listed in Ruppli’s King Records sessionography, with musician credits that include such notable jazz musicians as Jerome Richardson, Milt Hinton, Snooky Young, Jimmy ClevelandQuentin Jackson, Phil Woods, Les SpannWillie Rodriguez, and Mercer Ellington (arranger & conductor).  In 2014, the album was issued on CD (in Japan) for the first time.  Mortimer’s earlier singles are available on YouTube, but no streaming audio yet from this Bethlehem LP.

King History Tweet #37:
Last of the Licensing

Two long-playing recordings were licensed from EMI in 1972.  These two albums, King LPs 1140 and 1141, belong to the same artist:  Manuel (“pseudonym for Geoff Love‘s easy listening Latin themed recordings”) And His Music of the Mountains.  One of the albums, Manuel and the Music of the Movies, enjoyed a US release, while the other King LP, Cascade, appears to have been issued in the UK only — is that really true?

Hard to believe this is a King release — logo in upper left corner

King History Tweet #38

1973’s On Broadway album by The Coasters kicks off with the original “pre-Monkees” version of “D.W. Washburn” that was recorded “a few months before” the mop tops’ 1968 single though not released until after, so says Both Sides Now Publications [The Coasters’ version was recorded on Halloween 1967, according to this Wikipedia page].  Album also includes hotly reworked versions of “Love Potion Number 9” and “Cool Jerk” in a Latin boogaloo vein, plus newer compositions, such as “Soul Pad“; “Talkin’ About a Woman” & “Everybody’s Woman.”  Half the songs on the album are written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who were co-owners of Starday-King at that time (but not for much longer, sadly).

1973 LP cover – part of the “new social awareness”

King History Tweet #39:
Final King & Federal 45s

With respect to the question of what was the final King 45, I thought it might be great sad fun to simply list all the King single releases from 1973 in order by catalog numberNote that some catalog numbers are missing in the sequence below (e.g., 45-6411) — hoping that music scholars and vinyl collectors find any and all remaining King 45 releases from 1973 not represented in this list:

ARTIST NAME                A-SIDE  +  B-SIDE              CATALOG #

Allison          "Love Grow Cold" + "Born to Be a Lover"    45-6406

Patterson Twins  "Ever Got You Back" + "Got Some Problems"  45-6407

Earl Gaines      "Pillow Stays Wet" + "Don't Deceive Me"    45-6408

Willy Wiley      "Push and Shove" + "Just Be Glad"          45-6409

Rufus Watkins    "Wake Me Shake Me (No Sleep) Pts. 1 & 2"   45-6410

Sylvester Boyd   "Don't Want Nobody" + "Can't Go On Livin'" 45-6412

Eddie James      "Been Down So Long" + "Livin' w/o You"     45-6413

Fireside Singers "Live By His Word" + "Run On"              45-6417

Kastle           "Gettin' Down (w/ Hoss)" + "Why Don't You" 45-6418

Charles Brown    "For Good Times" + "Lonesome & Driftin'"   45-6420

Our Bro's Keeper "The Harlem Clown" + "Gonna Keep You Warm" 45-6421

Patterson Twins  "Back in Love Again" + "Come to Me"        45-6422

B-side of final King 45 (prior to the label’s sale in 1973)?

Similarly, I thought we could take masochistic pleasure in listing all the Federal 7-inch releases from 1971-1973 in order by catalog number to determine which was the final release, prior to the sale of Starday-King to Moe Lytle and Gusto Records in 1973 (Gusto, it has been said, “is believed to maintain one of the largest independently owned collection of record masters”).  As with the list above, I spy a couple missing catalog numbers (#12564 & #12565) — are there any 45 releases from these final years unaccounted for?

ARTIST NAME                A-SIDE + B-SIDE                CATALOG #

Mickey Murray    "People Are Together" + "Fat Girl"        45-12560

James Duncan     "Please Johnny" + "Stand Up & Get Funky"  45-12561

Clarence Murray  "Please Accept My Love" + "Book of Love"  45-12562

Bobby Leeds      "No Sign of Love" + "Yesterday's Rain"    45-12563

Gloria Walker    "Papa's Got the Wagon" + "Precious Love"  45-12566

Thomas Bailey    "Wish I Was Back" + "Percy's Place"       45-12567

Stratoliners     "What Do You Want w/ Love" + "Your Love"  45-12568

Gloria Walker    "Love Is In the Air" + "Them Changes"     45-12569

Gloria Walker    "When My Baby Cries" + "Gift of Love"     45-12570

Mickey Murray    "Can't Tell You" + "Nothing We Can Do"    45-12571

James K-Nine     "Counting Tear Drops" + "Live It Up"      45-12572

Toby King        "Mr. Tuff Stuff" + "For the Good Times"   45-12573

Final Federal 45 (we think) = Toby King Clavinet funk from 1973

NoteZero to 180 piece from last November attempts to identify the last DeLuxe 45.

King History Tweet #40:
King Funk & Soul

Fans of James Brown funk will want to track down a series of five LPs – Nothing But Funk, all (but one) JB productions – with each volume distinct and thoughtfully selected.  Click on the links below to review the extensive musician credits for each and every track.

Volume One = “12 JB Produced Funk Instrumentals 1967-1977

Volume Two = “11 Selections of Rare JB Funkiness From 1967-1977

Volume Three = “11 Selections of James Brown Rarities From 1963-1973

Volume Four = “11 James Brown Produced Rarities From 1963-1975

Volume Five = “10 JB Produced Funky Selections From 1965 to 1976

Bootsy & Catfish Collins + Robert ‘Chicken’ Gunnels & Robert ‘Chopper’ McCollough

TIP!  Vol. 2 features “Fun In Your Thang” by Bootsey Phelps & Complete Strangers

Nothing But Funk – Volume One

1968 King LP Nothing But Soul

French and German Counterparts on Polydor = 1968

Artist Profile in Miniature

Texas blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter Roy Gaines – a contemporary of Johnny Copeland with whom he was acquainted – had backed his hero T-Bone Walker by the time he was 14.  After moving to Los Angeles, Gaines served as a backing musician on recordings for Bobby Bland, Junior Parker and Big Mama Thornton in 1955.  In the 1960s, he played guitar on sessions for the Everly Brothers, the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Bobby Darin & Gladys Knight.  Gaines would finally release his first solo album in 1982, Gainelining.  Three years later, Gaines played one of the jook joint musicians in the film, The Color Purple (link to musician credits on the soundtrack album), 2009’s big band album Tuxedo Blues would include “Miss Celie’s Blues” which Gaines had performed in The Color Purple.

“Mr. Guitar” (as he was billed in 1956) would release two 45s for King subsidiary label, DeLuxe the following year – “Annabelle” b/w “Night Beat” + “Isabella” b/w “Gainesville” – the latter tune being one of his signature guitar statements.  Gaines signed with RCA in 1958, and later in the 1960s would release singles for MCA subsidiary UNI and (pre-Arista) Bell Records, on which he recorded underappreciated “northern soul crossover” original, “Make It Easy.”

Quite a few Roy Gaines forty-fives have sold for 3 figures at auction

Cincinnati Celebrities on King

  • Cincinnati television and radio personality, Bob Braun, was a King recording artist!  Bob’s first 45 for King was a duet with another Cincinnati TV star, Dottie Mack – “Loaded with Love” b/w “My Baby Dearest Darling” – that was recorded on Sept. 28, 1954 at King Studios.  Bob’s next (and final) King 45 – “All My Love” b/w “Broken Hearted” – was actually leased in 1959 from another label.  Braun would also record for Cincinnati’s Fraternity label. as well as Decca, United Artists, and KY indie, Boone.  More intriguing, though, is the “rock & roll” single that Braun issued early in his career, in contrast to his clean-cut image.  Music scholars are still debating whether “Rock and Roll Country Girl” was recorded in 1954, the same year Elvis cut his legendary sessions at Sun.  A cataloger’s note on Discogs says, “release date from internet sources and is unconfirmed.”  Picture sleeve for 1973 Christmas single (on QCA) shows that Braun also recorded at Rusty York‘s Jewel Recording Studios in Mt. Healthy.

Bob Braun’s 1st King single was a 78 written by Lucky Millinder & Henry Glover

1973 Christmas single on the QCA label

  • After playing baseball with Babe Ruth for the Yankees in the 1920s, Waite Hoyt transitioned successfully in the 1940s to a career in broadcasting, as the Cincinnati Reds’ play-by-play voice for 24 years and Burger Beer pitchman.
    Hoyt gained fame for entertaining radio audiences during rain delays, sharing anecdotes and telling vivid stories from his days on the field.  In 1963, King put together an album of these stories called The Best of Waite Hoyt in the Rain.

1963 LP on King-distributed Personality Records

  • Song-and-dance man and whimsical late-night television personality, Bob Shreve — with backing support from The Dee Felice Trio (celebrated in the previous piece) — would go into Cincinnati’s King Studios on four occasions between February and March of 1970 to record enough material for his lone King LP, Good Ole’ Bob Doing His Thing.  A fair number of recordings remain “in the can,” according to Ruppli, such as “When I Take My Sugar To Tea“; “Just One of Those Songs“; “Do You Ever Think of Me” and “Raindrops” plus eight more songs whose titles are “unknown.”

1970 King LP – “A James Brown Production”

Rare King — At Auction

Among the pricier items that came up in my search for rare King vinyl via Popsike:

The winner goes to a 45 that is considered to be “the Holy Grail of soul records and with good reason,” as this copy sold in 2016 is said to be “the second copy known to exist and by the far the finest example” of Junior McCants‘ second and final 7-inch (promo) release — “Try Me For Your New Love”  Total price paid:  $17,100!

“Try Me For Your New Love” by Junior McCants = 1967

Close behind in second place is … the same 45!  With a starting bid at $10, twenty-five bids later the final bid would reach $15,099 in 2008 for the Junior McCants 45 above.

Third-highest price paid for rare King vinyl is this “deep groove” copy of Roland Kirk’s debut album, Triple Threat (recently celebrated) in “near mint” condition — sold in 2015.  Total price:  $6886

In similar fashion, fourth-highest is a repeat winner — in this case, Roland Kirk’s debut album, sold in 2007 for $2878 [while others would sell for $2130 in 2005; for $1750 in 2009; and $1260 in 2015].

Other King-related vinyl that has sold in the four-figure range:

  • This “ultra rare” Lonnie Johnson LP – packed with 12 songs per side and released by King in 1966 — sold in 2015 for $1250.

King-related vinyl that has sold in the three-figure range:

  • Someone coughed up $811 in 2009 for a John Lee Hooker/Sticks McGhee split LP Highway of Blues on King’s “budget” subsidiary label, Audio Lab.

  • With a total of 8 bids submitted, this “very rare” 1954 Roy Brown EP eventually fetched $691 in 2011.

Starday-King:
Vintage Advertising

Starday-King ad from the April 25, 1970 edition of Billboard

In the groove = Extreme close-up of artist roster

King Records History MeetsGeorge Michael?!

In the course of putting together a Spotify birthday playlist for my wife, I took a detour to find another George Michael song to substitute for “Faith” and pulled up what I thought was the promo video for “Waiting For That Day,” but was actually a behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of his 1990 album Listen Without Prejudice – Volume 1.  King Records history fans, can you figure out which James Brown drum sample was used as the rhythm track for that song? Go ahead and hazard a guess (hint: Clyde Stubblefield) — you’re probably right!  Answer can be found in this video clip:

George Michael in the studio with master tape of “Waiting For That Day” – 1990

Clyde Austin Stubblefield (April 18, 1943 – February 18, 2017)

Clyde Stubblefield Remembered

Last Word…

Final paragraph in Dave Marsh‘s state-of-the-music essay in Rolling Stone‘s 1979 year-end issue:

Summary List of Zero to 180 Pieces Created for King Records Month 2018

= Phillip Paul:  The Pulse of King

= “Chew Tobacco Rag” Done R&B

= King’s ‘Country Done R&B’ LP

= King’s Classic Yodeling 78:  Carolina Cotton

= On the Cusp of the New Rock Sound

= “Atomic Telephone”:  King 78

= King Cash-In Surf LP #1

= King Cash-In Surf LP #2

= Jazz Misrepresented As Surf?

= El Pauling and the Royalton

= Bethlehem Records:  Post-Syd

= 1969:  Bethlehem’s Last Session?

= King’s Budget Subsidiary Label

= The JB’s Debut:  Polydor Not King

= Ann Jones & Her “All-Girl” Band

= Albert Washington’s Psych Funk

= Ruth Wallis:  King/DeLuxe Artist

= King Truck Driver Bluegrass 45

= Milt B’s “Mod Popcorn R&B”

= Mickey Murray LP II:  Released?

= Lonnie Mack at King Records

= Merle Kilgore on Starday-King

= Bobby Smith’s King Productions

= Coldwater Army on S-K’s Agape

= Wild Goose:  King Hard Rock ’71?

= Boot:  King Hard Rock ’72

= Lord Thunder:  Final Deluxe 45

*Reminder:  This site viewed optimally on a full-screen computer, not a smart phone

King’s Jazz Legacy: Maxi-Tweets

I am liberating a special series of “maxi-tweets” tied to King Records‘ lesser known jazz legacy – part of 2018’s King 75th Birthday Celebration – that were otherwise buried in a PDF file attachment.  The following research was conducted primarily by scanning the index of Ruppli‘s 2-volume King recording session discography for the names of jazz musicians and noting which recording sessions featured their work.  For this updated piece, I have probed more deeply in order to add a few new items into the mix.

In the course of compiling this information, it dawned on me that the use of jazz musicians on popular (or “dance”) recordings by King Records was also famously done at Motown, not to mention standard operating procedure (i.e., ‘Wrecking Crew’) at the West Coast studios in and around Los Angeles.  Jazz musicians bring, as has been demonstrated, a deep musicality as well as versatility to recording sessions aimed at the popular market.

[Notestreaming audio links indicated in bold blue ink]

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #1

Bassist Keter Betts – who spurred Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd to record the breakthrough 1962 ‘Jazz Samba‘ album that introduced bossa nova to America and the world – played on a handful of Earl Bostic sessions, including his big hit “Flamingo,” as well as flip side “Sleep” (all sessions in NYC except one Cincinnati session on August 2, 1949).  NY Times Aug. 22, 2005 obituary for Betts acknowledges that “his first job of note was with the popular rhythm and-blues saxophonist Earl Bostic in 1949.”

French 78 – 1954

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #2

25-year-old John Coltrane played tenor sax – on what must be among his earliest recordings – for Earl Bostic on two 1952 recording sessions in New York and Los Angeles that included such songs as “Moonglow” and “Ain’t Misbehavin’” (with William Keter Betts), as indicated on the UK 78 release below.

“John Coltaine” = musical misspelling

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #3

Cat Anderson, long-time trumpeter for Duke Ellington, and Connie Kay, drummer for Modern Jazz Quartet (et al.), backed Wynonie Harris on “I Feel That Old Age Coming On” paired with “Grandma Plays the Numbers” – recorded in Linden, New Jersey on Dec. 9, 1948 for King Records.

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #4

Long-time Duke Ellington bandmates, Johnny Hodges (alto sax) and Russell Procope (tenor sax) played a recording session at Cincinnati’s King Studios for Ivory Joe Hunter on July 15, 1949 – 5 songs in all, including “Please Don’t Cry Anymore” and “I Got Your Water On.”

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #5

Composer/arranger Neal (‘Batman’) Hefti played trumpet for the Chubby Jackson Sextet on an early King session recorded in Chicago on July 1, 1944 that yielded four songs (including “Bass Face”) released as a pair of 78s on King subsidiary label Queen and later sold as a King EP.  Hefti would later arrange Elliot Lawrence and His Orchestra’s version of “Sixty Minute Man” on which Zoot Sims played tenor sax (and Cowboy Copas served as one of the backing vocalists).

King EP – 1954

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #6

Jabberwockian jazzmeister and hipster supreme Slim Gaillard (& His Boogiereeners) recorded a dozen sides for King/Queen in September, 1945 in Los Angeles, including Slim’s theme song “Vout Orenee” plus “Nightmare Boogie”; “Harlem Hunch”; and “Voot Boogie.”

Rare King EP

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #7

Dexter Gordon laid down some tenor sax for Wynonie Harris at a NYC recording session for King Records on December 16, 1947 that yielded “Your Money Don’t Mean a Thing” plus three unreleased tracks.

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #8

Pianist Wynton Kelly played on a pair of Cincinnati King recording sessions in 1949 for EddieCleanheadVinson, with EddieLockjawDavis, among others = eight songs in all including “Ashes On My Pillow” and “I’m Weak But Willing.”

1959 LP – expect to pay 3 figures at auction

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #9a

Jazz drumming legend Jo Jones recorded a couple sessions for King Records, including a Cincinnati session on August 16, 1949 for EddieLockjawDavis, as part of (pre-organ) Bill Doggett Trio =  two songs, “Mountain Oysters” (written by Henry Glover) and “Huckle Boogie” (ditto).

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #9b

Count Basie drummer Jo Jones would also back Mabel Scott on “Baseball Boogie,” a sly sports metaphor recorded for King in New York City on March 25, 1950.

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #10

Jazz pianist, arranger, and composer Mary Lou Williams recorded a pair of sessions for King, both in New York City, and both with drummer Denzil Best, guitarist Mundell Lowe, and bassist George Duvivier.  Trumpeter Idrees Sulieman accompanied Williams at her first session on March 18, 1949 which produced four songs:  “Tisherome“; “Knowledge“; “Oo-Bla-Dee” & “Shorty Boo.”  Williams’ second session on January 3, 1950 yielded four more tracks:  “Bye Bye Blues” and “Moonglow” (with Williams on organ); ‘Willow Weep for Me” & “I’m in the Mood for Love.”

“autographed” King EP – 1954

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #11

1951 King Jazz History Four-Way

  • Jazz pioneer and long-time NPR (“Piano Jazz“) host, Marian McPartland, would have exactly one encounter with King Records:  NYC session March 15, 1951,  resulting in 4 songs [“Flamingo“; “It’s Delovely“; “Liebestraum No. 3“; “Four Brothers“] that enjoyed release in the US, UK, and France.  In additional to two 78 releases, Federal issued the playfully-titled EP, Progressive Piano with Cello, Harp, Bass and Drums in 1954, while these same songs would be issued in the UK four years later under the title of the Cole Porter track, It’s Delovely.

                           1954 FEDERAL EP                            1951 FRENCH 78 – ART DECO LETTERING

marian-mcpartland-federal-king-ep-aamarian-mcpartland-swing-king-78-aa

  • Vocalist Lee Richardson recorded a session in Linden, New Jersey for DeLuxe on February 26, 1951 that featured drummer (and future bandleader) Art Blakey on four songs, including “Just Call My Name” & “As Time Goes By.”

  • Charles Mingus (bass) and Billy Taylor (piano) backed Melvin Moore (the “blues shouter“) on a NYC session for King recorded December 18, 1951 – four songs recorded, including rare 45 “Possessed” b/w “Hold Me Kiss Me Squeeze Me.”  Mingus would also record under his own name for Bethlehem prior to Syd Nathan’s purchase of the label in 1960.

Trivia = Someone paid $96 in 2017 for this King 45.

Someone paid $435 in 2013 for this 45

Review – March 8, 1952 edition of Cashbox

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #12

Al Sears – saxophonist, bandleader, and Duke Ellington alumnus – recorded a single NYC session for King with his orchestra on September 21, 1951 that netted eight songs packaged into two EPs and four 78s – including “Baltimore Bounce” and “Now Ride the D Train” (not to mention the curiously-titled “Marshall Plan“).

Caution:  Back cover of Sears’ second UK EP from 1958 indicates “controversy” over whether Johnny Hodges played alto sax (as Ruppli says) on these sessions. UK liner notes:

When these titles were originally released some years ago controversy existed over the identity of the alto soloist on ‘Steady Eddie’; some critics maintained that it was Hodges himself. In fact it is the similarly-styled Charlie Holmes, a boyhood friend of Hodges and an important mainstay of the Chick Webb, Luis Russell, and Louis Armstrong bands during the nineteen-thirties.”

This other UK EP, also from 1958, alternately characterizes the situation thusly —

It is this band, with alto saxist Charlie Holmes substituting for the contractually debarred Hodges, which may be heard on the enclosed record.”

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #13

Drummer Philly Joe Jones – three years before joining Miles Davis for a series of albums – would back (Bull) Moose Jackson on a NYC session for King on Feb. 6, 1952 = four songs including “Nosey Joe”; “Bearcat Blues” & “Sad.”

Imagine that = Leiber & Stoller wrote “Nosey Joe”!

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #14

Drummer (and future bandleader) Chico Hamilton played on a total of four recording sessions in Los Angeles for King/Federal: (1) Russell Jacquet & His Bopper Band [“Bongo Blues”] on Mar. 18, 1949; Marion Abernathy [Ee-Tid-Ee-Dee”] on Mar. 26, 1949; Red Callender Sextet [“Poinciana”] c. 1950; and The Platters on Sept. 28, 1954
[“Voo-Vee-Ah-Bee”].

UK EP – 1955

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #15

Count Basie vocalist JimmyMr. Five by FiveRushing recorded two sessions in NYC for King:  Oct. 5, 1951 (four songs, including “Hi-O-Sylvester”) and Sept. 25, 1952 (four songs, including “Where Were You”).  These recordings would be released in the UK on Ember & Parlophone, and in France on Vogue.

UK EP – 1958

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #16

Trumpeter and orchestra leader Erskine Hawkins recorded three sessions for King = (a) four songs in NYC on December 6, 1951, including  “Down Home Jump” plus Henry Glover’s “Lost Time,” as well as steel guitar classic “Steel Guitar Rag“; (b) four more in NYC on September 25, 1952, including “Fair Weather Friend” and “New Gin Mill Special“; and (c) one final Cincinnati session on September 17, 1953 that yielded four tracks, including “Function at the Junction” and “My Baby Please.”

French 78

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #17

EarlFathaHines (piano) and His Orchestra (with Bennie Green, trombone) recorded a 1953 King session in New York City for Sugar Ray Robinson = three songs including “Knock Him Down Whiskey.”  Two of these songs, by the way, would be included on a French EP that also featured a pair of tracks from none other than Mickey Rooney (“Alimony Blues“)!

Without any further adieu, 1958 French EP

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #18

Cecil Young and His Progressive Quartet (previously celebrated here) recorded two separate sessions plus three live performances for King between 1951-1953 (including one King Studios visit on December 7, 1953) — audio links to “Who Parked the Car“; “That Old Black Magic” & “Yes Sir! That’s My Baby.”

1956 King LP – reissued in 1959 on Audio Lab

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #19

Gerald Wilson Orchestra’s early 1954 Los Angeles sessions for Federal and King – including “Mambo Mexicana” – would be reissued five years later on an Audio Lab LP entitled Big Band Modern, a reminder of the mambo mania that had gripped the nation at the time this song was released.  Based on available discographical information, these 1954 recordings appear to be among the earliest in a career that would span well into the new century, as NPR’s 2011 piece “The Gerald Wilson Orchestra:  A Living Legacy” affirms.  Wilson, as it turns out, is one of many famous jazz musicians who “did time” in Earl Bostic’s band — in this case, one of four trumpeters who played on a December 4, 1958 Los Angeles recording session (six tracks, including “My Reverie” and “All the Things You Are“).

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #20

NobleThin ManWatts – hailed by Alligator Records as “one of the early rock superstars” and one of the “greatest exponents of that honking tenor style” – recorded a session at Cincinnati’s King Studios with Tiny Bradshaw’s Orchestra on Sept. 1, 1954, joined by Rufus Gore, also on tenor sax, and “Fas’ FootPhilip Paul on drums (profiled here in 2018), among others.  Four instrumentals recorded at this session, including “Stack of Dollars” & “Cat Fruit” (co-written by Watts).  The following month Noble Watts recorded two songs with his quintet (including organist Wild Bill Davis and guitarist Floyd Smith) in New York City for DeLuxe – “Pig Ears & Rice” b/w “Mashing Potatoes.”

Noble Watts & Philip Paul played on all 4 tracks = 1955 EP

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #21

Saxophonist Plas (‘Pink Panther Theme‘) Johnson played tenor sax on a session for Sugar Pie & Hank backed by the Preston Love Orchestra, with Ernie Freeman (piano) and Red Callender (bass) in Los Angeles on March 17, 1955 — four songs recorded, including “Please Be True“; “Boom Diddy Wawa Baby” & “A Man Going Crazy.”

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #22

Jazz pianist and composer Dick Hyman (who accompanied Charlie Parker on his only television appearance in 1952) played a single recording session for Bubber Johnson in New York City on December 22, 1955, along with Al Caiola on guitar and Ruth Berman on harp, among others — four songs recorded (none of them available yet on YouTube):  “Keep a Light in the Window for Me“; “I Lost Track of Everything“; “My One Desire” & “A Wonderful Thing Happens.”

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #23

Roland Kirk’s debut album Triple Threat — recorded November 9, 1956 in NYC — was released on King.  Discogs has this mini history:

“The debut album by jazz multi-instrumentalist Roland Kirk, originally released on King, re-released in US in 1976 on Bethlehem Records as Rahsaan Roland Kirk – Early Roots and in UK on Affinity.  The original album received limited distribution and only became widely known after the Bethlehem Records re-issue, a few years prior to Kirk’s death”

Check out opening track “Roland’s Theme

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #24

A number of notable jazz musicians did King recording sessions for Earl Bostic, including drummer Earl Palmer [“Anvil Chorus” & “Southern Fried”]; drummer Jimmy Cobb [“Flamingo” & “Sleep”]; pianists Luis Rivera [“Memories”], Jaki Byard [“Blip Boogie”] & Sir Charles Thompson [“Dark Eyes”]; organist RichardGrooveHolmes [“Telestar Drive”]; tenor saxophonists Stanley Turrentine [“What, No Pearls”] & Benny Golson [“Cherry Bean”]; alto saxophonist Benny Carter [“Dream”]; trumpeter RichardBlueMitchell [“Jungle Drums”]; guitarists Rene Hall [“La Cucaracha”], George Barnes [“Bugle Call Rag”] & Al Casey [“Serenade”]; bassist Johnny Pate [“Feeling Cool”], and, of course, the aforementioned Keter Betts [“Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams”] and John Coltrane [“Moonglow”] – subject of King jazz tweets #1 & 2, respectively.

King EP – 1956

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #25

Tenor saxophonist Benny Golson played on four recording sessions for bandleader and alto saxophonist Earl Bostic:

Benny Golson was also one of two tenor saxophonists on a Oct. 17, 1951 session at Cincinnati’s King Studios for Moose Jackson that netted “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “I Never Loved Anyone But You,” plus one unissued track, “”I’ve Had a Hard Way to Go.”

UK EP – 1957

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #26

Bassist Milt Hinton (“dean of jazz bassists”) played a handful of sessions for King on behalf of Little Willie John [“Home at Last” – 1955], Big John Greer [“Record Hop”- 1956], and Teddy Humphries [“What Makes You So Tough” – 1959].  Milt Hinton would also release one album for Bethlehem as a recording artist – 1955’s East Coast Jazz/5 – three years before Syd Nathan became co-owner of the label.

Penned by Henry Glover & Peaked at #16 in the R&B charts – March, 1959

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #27

I have a soft spot for EddieLockjawDavis‘s arrangement of Gershwin’s “Foggy Day” (recorded in Cincinnati on August 16, 1955) which also happens to be the lead-off track of a 4-song EP released in the UK in 1956.  Here in the US, however, “Foggy Day” appears to have been a B-side – and part of a 12-track album entitled Modern Jazz Expressions that also enjoyed release in France and Denmark.

UK EP – 1956

The Eddie Davis Trio and Doc Bagby’s 1955 recordings for King were done in Cincinnati, while 1956-1958 releases for King and Bethlehem were recorded in NYC.

classic 1950s modernist covers = 1957 LP + its 1959 reissue

King would also release Davis’s …Uptown LP in 1958 [with half these tracks providing an album side for 1959’s A Battle of Saxes LP with Charlie Ventura] — audio link to “The Happy Whistler.”

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #28

Organist Doc Bagby — who has recorded for Okeh and Epic, in addition to playing on Eddie Davis’s Modern Jazz Expressions album (et al.) — was also a King recording artist in his own right.  Two 1955 Cincinnati sessions with EddieLockjawDavis (tenor sax), Clifford Bush (guitar), and Charlie Rice (drums) would yield six songs (plus one unissued track, “Call Me Darling, Call Me Sweetheart, Call Me Dear”) that would comprise side one of King LP Battle of the Organs — Luis Rivera and Doc Bagby.  King would also issue two singles from these sessions, including “Grinding” b/w “Hayride” (co-written by Henry Glover), while Odeon France would issue an EP (below).

French EP

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #29

Fania All-Star percussionist Ray Barretto played on a King recording session for Bill Doggett in NYC on February 12, 1957 – three songs including “Chloe.”  Barretto would also play conga on two NYC King recording dates for EddieLockjawDavis (Jan./Feb. 1957) that yielded eight songs. including the King 45 “Sheila” b/w “Say What,” as well as the LP Jazz With a Beat.

I never tire of looking at this album cover

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #30

Guitarist Kenny Burrell – whose Blue Note debut LP would be released 1956 – did session work in 1957 for King and DeLuxe on behalf of Wynonie Harris [“Big Old Country Fool”], Little Willie John [“Dinner Date”] & Annie Laurie [“Hold On To What You Got”].  Burrell would also do King sessions in 1958 for Bubber Johnson [“Finger Tips”], Little Willie John [“Let’s Rock While the Rockin’s Good” – George Barnes also on guitar], Jimmy Scott [“Somehow”], HaroldShortyBaker [“’S Wonderful” – check out the intro], and James Brown and the Famous Flames [“Try Me”].

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #31

Drummer/singer/bandleader Roy Milton (and His Orchestra) recorded four tracks on October 17, 1956 at Cincinnati’s King Studios (one of them “Bam-a-Lam” unissued) = “You’re Gonna Suffer“; “Succotash“; and “One Zippy Zam.”  Milton’s next session for King would take place in Los Angeles February 27, 1957, with two songs recorded — “I’m Grateful” and “Skid Row” — while his final session would be captured at King Studios on July 2, 1957 = “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu“; “Brand New Thrill“; “R.M. Blues“; and “Jeep’s Blues.”

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #32

Jerome Richardson – who began his professional career in Lionel Hampton’s band at age 14 – played flute and tenor sax on a King recording session for vocalist Etta Jones on April 18, 1957 in New York City (with Bill Jennings on guitar) = four songs recorded: “When I Fall in Love“; “S’posin’”; “Mountain Greenery” and “People Will Say We’re in Love.”

Richardson’s flute work is featured on this track

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #33

Jazz/gospel singer Lorez Alexandria recorded an album-length tribute to Lester Young at an ‘intimate’ Chicago club on November 6 & 13, 1957 that was issued by both King and Federal in 1958 as Lorez Sings Pres = link to the opening song, “Fine and Dandy.”

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #34

The Johnny Pate Quintet (featuring Bennie Druss on flute) would infuse the blues with a jazz sound and sensibility on “Swinging Shepherd Blues” — recorded in Chicago on Nov. 29, 1957 for Federal — along with three other tracks [“The Elder“; “Easy Does It” & “Five O’Clock Whistle“] that enjoyed overseas distribution.

Released on Parlophone in Australia & New Zealand (plus UK)

Bill Doggett would also make great use of the flute in a jazz setting, with his arrangement of Tiny Bradshaw’s “Soft” (previously celebrated here).

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #35

Vocalist Jimmy Scott recorded four sessions for King, all in New York City = (a) two songs recorded on July 26, 1957 (Kenny Burrell, guitar) — “When Day Is Done” & “Home“; (b) two songs recorded on October 2, 1957 — “What Sin” & “Somewhere Down the Line“; (c) four songs recorded on April 3, 1958, including “Don’t Be Misled“; (d) four songs recorded on September 6, 1958 (Kenny Burrell, guitar), including “Somehow” and “Please.”

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #36

Jazz drummer and bandleader Cozy Cole [with his Septet – George Kelly (tenor sax), Gene Redd (vibes), John Thomas (piano), John Faire & Fred Jordan (guitar) and Edwyn Conley (bass)] would record for King thrice — (a) in Cincinnati on June 18 & 19, 1959 (12 songs, including “Cozy’s Mambo” and “Ha-Ha Cha Cha“); (b) in New York City on May 17, 1960 — “Red Ball” and “Cozy’s Corner” plus 2 unissued; (c) and a final Cincinnati session May 26, 1959 (7 songs, including “Blop Up”; “Blop Down”; “Pogo Hop” & “D’Mitri“).  In the wake of 1962’s Jazz Samba smash hit album, King would update “Cozy’s Mambo” by slapping on a new title – “Cozy and Bossa” – and issuing as a Bethlehem 45 in 1963.

French EP – 1959

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #37

Howard Roberts (guitar), Ernie Freeman (piano), and EdSharkeyHall (drums) played on a Los Angeles King recording session for JohnnyGuitarWatson on July 21, 1961, with four songs recorded = one original, “Cuttin’ In” + three standards (“Nearness of You“; “Posin’“; and George & Ira Gershwin’s “Embraceble You”).  Check out the modernist sleeve design below of the 1962 French EP that includes “Cuttin’ In.”

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #38

King session drummer emeritus Philip Paul threatens to steal the show in Milt Buckner’s blistering jazz organ instrumental version of “Fever” – recorded with Gene Redd on vibraphone and Bill Willis on bass at Cincinnati’s King Studios on March 5, 1963.  The New World of Milt Buckner (reissued in Japan in 2013) would also include five more tracks recorded at King Studios on November 26, 1962 [see related Zero to 180 piece]. Audio link to “Why Don’t You Do Right.”

Bethlehem LP – 1963

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #39

Hank Marr’s classic jazz organ instrumental “Greasy Spoon” – recorded at King’s Cincinnati studios on June 26, 1963 – was later used as the title track for a 1969 compilation LP issued on the King label with the groovy cover below.

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #40

Bill Doggett’s “mod jazz” take on “Twenty Five Miles” — Edwin Starr’s rewrite, essentially, of Wilson Pickett’s “Mojo Mamma” (penned by Bert Berns and Jerry Wexler) — was, according to Ruppli, recorded at a special 1969 session in Detroit (Motown, one can only presume) with the organist backed by a “studio band” and the producer role served by none other than Berry Gordy!

“25 Miles” = 2nd track on this 1969 King LP co-produced by James Brown

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #41

James Brown organized a special Los Angeles recording session on November 10, 1969 in which Oliver Nelson did the arrangements, while Brown enjoyed backing from the Louis Bellson Orchestra, featuring legendary bassist Ray Brown, as well as Ernie Watts, Buddy Collette, Chuck Finley, Jimmy Cleveland, Maceo Parker, and Cincinnati’s own, Frank Vincent, among others — 12 songs recorded, but only 11 included on 1970s Soul on Top LP (“There Was a Time” from this session unissued) — check out kick-off track “That’s My Desire.”

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #42:
Cincinnati Jazz

Cincinnati‘s own local jazz talent has appeared on King and its subsidiary labels:

  • Frank Vincent: played piano as part of The Dee Felice Trio on several sessions at Cincinnati’s King Studio in late 1968 and early 1969 for James Brown‘s Gettin’ Down To It album — audio links to “Willow Weep for Me“; “Time After Time“; “It Had to Be You” & “Cold Sweat.”  A few other tracks recorded for this album remain in the vaults:  “The Shadow of Your Smile”; “Unwind” & “The Weight” [!]

Vincent also played piano on “I’m Not Demanding (Pt. 1 & 2)” & “The Man in the Glass (Pt. 1)” for Brown’s 1970 LP It’s a New Day – Let a Man Come In, as well as the aforementioned Soul on Top sessions with the Louis Bellson Orchestra.

  • The Dee Felice Trio [Frank Vincent (piano), Lee Tucker (bass) & Dee Felice (drums)] were King recording artists whose work would be issued on Bethlehem — if you have never before seen the cover of their 1969 debut album, In Heat, prepare to be dazzled:

Audio links to “Uncle“; “There Was a Time“; & “Wichita Lineman.”  Worth noting the number of songs the trio has recorded in Cincinnati that remain unissued in the vaults: 10 songs recorded ca. September, 1968 (including “Light My Fire”; “Crickets Sing for Anna Maria” and “Summer in the City”), plus 5 songs recorded on December 21, 1968 (including “Day In, Day Out”; “Gone with the Wind” & “You Came a Long Way from St. Louis”).  Dee Felice, as a solo artist (with unknown musicians, though likely affiliated with James Brown) recorded a total of 9 songs on three successive days (December 10-12, 1969) that all remain unissued, including “Double Funky”; “Cold Sweat”; “Get Ready”; “Ode to Billie Joe” & “A Different Shade of Colors.”

“Oh Happy Day” on the flip side

  • James Brown arranged a recording session at King’s Cincinnati studios on February 17, 1969 that featured a number of notable Cincinnati musicians, including Kenny Poole (guitar), Jimmy McGary (tenor sax), Carmen DeLeone, Jr. (vibes), David Matthews (trombone), WilliamBeau DollarBowman (drums), Frank Vincent (piano), Lee Tucker (bass) & Dee Felice (percussion) – five songs recorded but only two released, including Brown’s arrangement of Burt Bacharach & Bob Hilliard’s“Any Day Now” (included on 1969’s It’s a Mother LP).

Belgium 45 – 1973

Jimmy McGary plays flute on 1971 German A-side arranged by David Matthews

Kenny Poole & Bootsy on a JB B-side written by David Matthews

Asch & Setser on a 1968 South African B-side

King Records Jazz Legacy Tweet #43:
Tribute to Bethlehem Records

In 1958, Syd Nathan became part owner of jazz label, Bethlehem Records, as has been noted.  When one examines Ruppli’s 2-volume recording sessionography, it becomes clear that by 1958, Bethlehem’s most vital days had already passed, as by the early 1960s, Nathan would significantly pull back on recording new jazz material in favor of issuing the label’s back catalog.  Nevertheless, this 1958-1961 period would see some notable recording sessions for Bethlehem take place primarily in New York City —

Bethlehem would also release On Campus — Ivy League Jazz Concert, recorded live at Yale University in 1960, with Zoot Sims (tenor sax), Sam Most (flute), Dave McKenna (piano), Jimmy Raney (guitar), Bill Crow (double bass) & Ed Shaughnessy (drums).  Audio links to “Whippenpoof Song“; “Yale Bird“; “Riffitude” & “Nigerian Walk.”

  • Tony Ortega‘s album (with the unforgettable cover), Jazz for Young Moderns, featuring Art Farmer (trumpet, 6-10); Ray Starling (trumpet & mellophone 1-5); Jimmy Cleveland (trombone); Jim Buffington (French horn); Ray Tricarico (bassoon); Ortega (alto & tenor sax, clarinet & flute); John Hafer (tenor sax & bass clarinet); Jay Cameron (baritone sax); Dick Wetmore (violin); Bobby Timmons (piano); Ahmed Abdul-Malik, bass) & Ed Thigpen (drums) — recorded in late 1958/early 1959.  Audio links to “Bat Man Blues“; “Cinderella’s Curfew“; “Four to Four” & “No Fi.”

  • Frank Minion‘s (Teddy Charles-produced) LP, The Soft Land of Make Believe, recorded in 1959, with backing from Bill EvansJimmy JonesTommy Flanagan (piano). Roland Alexander (tenor sax), Kenny Burrell (guitar), George TuckerJoe BenjaminPaul Chambers (bass) & Dannie RichmondEd ThigpenJimmy Cobb (drums).  Audio links to “Introduction to Black Opium Street” & (vocal version of) “So What.”

The year before, Bethlehem had released Minion’s debut album, futuristically titled The Forward Sound of Frank Minion – Sound Stylings of 1970 [!] — audio link to “Watermelon.”

  • Mal Waldron Trio‘s 1960 Left Alone album dedicated to Billie Holiday, with Julian Euell (bass), and Al Dreares (drums), features Jackie McLean (alto sax)  — produced by Teddy Charles.  Audio links to “Left Alone“; “Catwalk” & “Minor Pulsation.”

  • Vocalist Betty Blake recorded 1961’s Sings in a Tender Mood with instrumental backing from Mal Waldron (piano), Teddy Charles (vibraphone), Zoot SimsRoland Alexander (tenor sax), Marcus Belgrave (trumpet), Kenny Burrell (guitar), Addision FarmerEustis Guilemet (bass) & Ed ShaughnessyCharles Persip (drums).  Audio links to “Moon and Sand“; “Blue Fool“; “Trouble Is a Man” & “Let There Be Love.”

Ruppli also notes a September 20, 1961 recording session in Los Angeles for Brown, whose backing band included Johnny ‘GuitarWatson.

  • Charles Persip & the Jazz Statesmen‘s self-titled (Teddy Charles-produced) LP recorded on April 2, 1960, with Freddie HubbardMarcus Belgrave (trumpet), Roland Alexander (tenor sax), Ronald Matthews (piano), Ron Carter (bass) & Persip (drums).  Audio links to “Sevens“; “Soul March“; “The Song Is You” & “Right Down Front.”

  • Howard McGhee‘s LP, Dusty Blue (released 1960 in the UK, 1961 in the US), featuring Bennie Green (trombone), Roland Alexander (tenor sax & flute), Pepper Adams (baritone sax), Tommy Flanagan (piano), Ron Carter (bass) & Walter Bolden (drums).  Audio links to “Dusty Blue“; “Sleep Talk“; “Cottage for Sale” & “I Concentrate on You.”

  • Donald Byrd and Pepper Adams‘ 1961 LP, Motor City Scene, featuring Tommy Flanagan (piano), Kenny Burrell (guitar), Paul Chambers (bass), and “Hey” Lewis (drums).  Audio links to “Stardust“; “Philson” & “Trio.”

  • Bennie Green‘s 1961 LP, Hornful of Sound, with Jimmy Forrest (tenor sax), Lem Davis (alto sax), Mal Waldron (piano), Skip Hall (organ), Tommy Lopez (congas), Wyatt Ruther (bass), and Art Taylor (drums).  Audio links to “Summertime“; “Groove One” & “Dee Dee.”

  • Booker Ervin‘s (Teddy Charles-produced) The Book Cooks LP, featuring Ervin and Zoot Sims (tenor saxes), Tommy Turrentine (trumpet), Tommy Flanagan (piano), George Tucker (bass) & Dannie Richmond (drums).  Audio links to “The Book Cooks“; “The Blue Book“; “Git It” & “Largo” — released 1961.

  • Azie Mortimer would record a string of singles for various labels, including Epic and RCA, in the run up to her debut album, Feeling of Jazz, on Bethlehem – recorded in 1969 but not released until 1971 (though reissued in 2014 in Japan).  Mortimer would enjoy a backing band that included Jimmy Cleveland & Quentin Jackson (trombones), Jerome Richardson (tenor sax), Phil Woods (alto sax & clarinet), Les Spann (guitar), Milt Hinton (bass), Willie Rodriguez (percussion) & Charlie Persip (drums) among others, with Mercer Ellington as arranger and conductor.

  • … and the aforementioned Australian Jazz Quintet in a piece from last year’s King Records Month celebration, “Jazz Misrepresented As Surf?

Huge debt of gratitude to Jazz Discography Project for Bethlehem Records info!

King Records Jazz TriviaFor Your Eyes Only

Stan GetzZoot Sims, Al Cohn, and Gerry Mulligan were among the musicians in Gene Roland’s Boppers (accompanied by the Chubby Jackson rhythm section) who recorded a “rehearsal” in New York City on May 17, 1949 — “Sid’s Swing Symphony”; “Oh Them Saxophones”; “Blues” & “Sid’s Swing Symphony” — 67 minutes of music recorded for DeLuxe by the bandleader, composer, multi-instrumentalist, and long-time Stan Kenton collaborator that remain unissued in King’s vault.

King Records Jazz Legacy = Rare Vinyl Alert

One of the earliest recordings by trombonist Al Grey (previously celebrated in a musical tribute to grits) took place at the Cincinnati studios on October 1, 1954 — “Speak To Me (In My Dreams Tonight)” b/w “Goofa Nut” (B-side instrumental) — these two songs comprising a 78 that is VERY hard to find.  Writing credits reveal Henry Glover to have had a hand in both compositions.

King Records Jazz Legacy = Genius Sighting

THIS JUST IN!  Ray Charles, incredibly, has a bona fide King connection, thanks to a single 78 release at a very early point in his recording career on Rockin’, a King subsidiary — “Walkin’ and Talkin’ to Myself” b/w “I’m Wonderin’ and Wonderin’.”  Note that at least one of the sides was published by Lois, Syd Nathan’s publishing firm.  The fact that this 78 is not listed in either Discogs or 45Cat tells you how rare it is — and yet, someone acquired a copy in 2009 for just $31 (while someone else picked up an acetate 45 for, ironically, $78).  Both tracks were recorded in Miami in 1952, as well as two unissued tracks “Jumpin’ the Blues” and “Blue Rhumba.”  Ruppli adds that both 78 recordings were “also issued on Crown LP5303, Strand LP1086, Crown LP5418, Musicdisc CV964 [France], Visadisc VI245 [France & Israel] & Guest Star LP1901.”

King Records Jazz Legacy = King Kontroversy

Ruppli’s King recording notes says that the Paris backing band used by Babs Gonzales on 1953 King single “Still Wailin’” b/w “Shuckin’ and Jivin’” included Dizzy Gillespie  “possibly.”  Judge for yourself:  Is that Dizzy on trumpet?  Wynton Marsalis might settle this question.

*Tip of the hat to Brian Powers, who organized a jazz-related lecture at Cincinnati Public Library’s Main Branch on Sept. 24, 2016 in support of King Records Month:

Formula X-9:  King Records and Jazz

Although more known for R&B and Country music, King Records did make a mark in the field of Jazz. The label recorded many jazz artists, while King’s production staff preferred to use jazz musicians to play on King’s R&B releases. In the 1950s, Syd Nathan purchased Gus Wildi’s jazz label, Bethlehem. Jazz had a great influence on James Brown’s music recorded at King. Music historian Uncle Dave Lewis will give a talk that will cover the salient points of this melting pot of influences and how King managed to have an impact in the history of jazz without producing any top 100 jazz albums.

Summer Beach Read – Fun Fluff

Breezy, offbeat, trashy, yet intermittently illuminating – and just in time:  Zero to 180’s curated highlights from 1983’s Rolling Stone Rock Almanac humbly serves as your Summer Beach Read!  These carefully selected bits of humor and offbeat information have been lavished with picture sleeves from around the world, streaming audio, and tons of hyperlinks that deepen and extend the history [with all King Records references noted in red ink].  This sideways overview of the first 25 years of popular music from the original rock & roll era (1954-1979) is intended as a pleasant summertime diversion, whether lounging poolside or seaside:

1954

January 18, 1954:  In what Billboard later terms “a move to capture the Negro market for potential advertisers,” New York City radio station WMGM signs Noble Sissle, the so-called Mayor of Harlem, as a Monday-through-Saturday disc jockey.  Sissle, an actor and composer, is best known for collaborating with Eubie Blake on “I’m Just Wild About Harry,” “Love Will Find a Way,” the Broadway musical Shuffle Along and another musical, Chocolate Dandies.

April 14, 1954:  [King Records] The Midnighters have their first hit since changing their name from The Royals with the sexually explicit – and later quite controversial – “Work With Me Annie.”  The first single of the so-called Annie trilogy, “Work With Me Annie” was written by lead singer Hank Ballard and featured the straightforward lines “Annie please don’t cheat/Give me all my meat.”

The Royals – vs. – The Midnighters

April 30, 1954:  The Music Performance Trust Fund reports to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) that record sales in 1953 reached an all-time high of $205 million.  The market is divided among 78 rpm discs (which account for fifty-two percent of all sales), 45 rpm discs (twenty-eight percent), and the relatively new category, LPs (twenty percent).

June 5, 1954:  Major record labels will supply radio station disk jockeys with 45 rpm rather than popular 78 rpm singles beginning next month, Billboard reports.  Although 45 rpm discs have been available since 1949, the industry has never adopted the small disc as the standard for singles.  The change, which is cited as a “money-saving move,” will prove to be the subject of great debate and controversy over the next few months.

July 15, 1954:  The Treniers, a black vocal group, record “Say Hey (the Willie Mays Song)” for Columbia Records’ Okeh subsidiary in New York City.  The song, which also features the voice of New York Giants center fielder Willie Mays himself, is recorded under the direction of twenty-one-year-old Quincy Jones.

September 11, 1954:  A survey of the National Ballroom Operators Association reveals that business is down fifty-four percent compared to the first half of 1953.  Musicians and ballroom operators complain that “record hop” dances, which are cheaper and treat audiences to the most popular recorded versions of the tunes, account for the drop in attendance.

December 11, 1954:  Billboard predicts that 78 rpm discs “may fade into oblivion” because of the popularity of the smaller 45s.

1955

February 26, 1955:  For the first time since their introduction in 1949, 45 rpm discs are outselling the old standard, the 78, Billboard reports.  Another change in the industry is also noted.  On some New York City jukeboxes, it now costs ten cents instead of five cents to play a record.

February 26, 1955:  Lavern Baker appeals to Congress, in a letter to Michigan Representative Charles Diggs, Jr., to revise the Copyright Act of 1909 so that recording artists can be protected against “note-for-note copying” of previously recorded R&B tunes and arrangements by white (i.e., pop) artists and arrangers.  Baker’s R&B hit “Tweedle Dee” was covered by Georgia Gibbs and Vicki Young, both of these versions – at least theoretically – have deprived the original artists of the royalties they might have received if there had been no competing version.

French EP – 1958

June 29, 1955:  Count Basie‘s “Every Day” enters the R&B chart.  With his use of riffing, of loose, stripped-down arrangements and hard-hitting, four-to-the-bar rhythms, pianist and bandleader Basie has been an important — though mostly unrecognized — influence on rock & roll.

Australia – 1955

July 25, 1955:  The Collins Kids, Larry, 10, and Lorrie, 13, sign to Columbia.  A rockabilly act, the brother-and-sister duo will have several country hits, including “Mercy,” “Whistle Bait” and “Rock Boppin’ Baby” but never enter the pop chart.  Larry will later write Helen Reddy‘s 1973 Number One hit, “Delta Dawn.”

Australia – 1958

September 3, 1955:  Billboard reports that independent record manufacturers are continuing to expand at an unprecedented rate, despite publicized marketing efforts on the part of majors to check the growth of independents.  The latter grossed $20 million in 1954, with the larger labels — Modern, Chess, Savoy, Peacock, Jubilee, Aladdin and Specialty — leading in sales.

September 17, 1955:  Capitol Records releases a Les Paul single, “Magic Melody, Part Two” that it claims is the shortest song ever released — it consists of two notes.  Paul decided to make the recording after Capitol had received complaints from disc jockeys about Paul’s “Magic Melody.”  It seems that “Magic Melody” ended with the familiar “shave and a haircut, two bits” musical phrase – minus the last two notes – the “two bits,” which “Magic Melody, Part Two” supplies.

One second in duration = world’s shortest commercial recording?

October 29, 1955:  [King Records] R&B and soul singer Joe Tex‘s debut, “Davy, You Upset My Home” (and “answer” record to the concurrent Davy Crockett trend), backed with “Come In This House,” is released by King Records.

December 17, 1955:  [King Records] With “Only You” at #2, The Platters‘ “The Great Pretender” enters the R&B chart at #13.  [NOTE:  According to 45Cat, “Only You” was released on Mercury (June, 1955) as well as on King subsidiary, Federal (November, 1955).

1956

February 22, 1956: [King Records] Billboard reviews James Brown‘s debut record, “Please Please Please” — “A dynamic, religious fervor runs through the pleading solo here.  Brown and the Famous Flames group let off plenty of steam.”

1959 King EP

July 14, 1956:  Columbia reactivates its “race record” label, Okeh, as an R&B label.  Among the R&B stars who record for Okeh are Smiley Lewis, The Marquees, and a Teenagers-style vocal group called The Schoolboys.  In its previous incarnation, the label included Big Maybelle and Johnnie Ray on its roster.

July 14, 1956:  It’s correct, but it’s not right—a trade ad for Bo Diddley‘s “Who Do You Love” reads “Whom Do You Love.”  [Link to PDF version of Billboard‘s July 21, 1956 edition — see ad at the top of page 46.]

August 18, 1956: [King Records] Little Willie John‘s original version of “Fever” enters the pop chart at #24.  The song, which will later be a smash hit for The McCoys and Peggy Lee, was a Number One R&B in the spring.

1958 King EP888888888888888888888

August 25, 1956:  The Coney Island Kids‘ “We Want a Rock & Roll President” is released on Josie Records.  Among their nominees for the nation’s top position are Bo Diddley, Elvis Presley, Bill Haley and Pat Boone [see “follow-up” King history piece from the JFK era].

1957

January 1, 1957:  “Cool for Cats,” a British rock & roll television show, premieres on BBC.

May 27, 1957:  Mercury Records releases Swinging Guitar, an album by Jorgen Ingmann.  The LP contains Ingmann’s rockabilly instrumental hit “Apache,” whose reverberating lead guitar will be emulated by future guitarists, from Duane Eddy to Hank Marvin of The Shadows, to Matthew Ashman of Bow Wow Wow.

June 3, 1957:  RCA Victor releases a single “Butterfingers,” backed with “Fingertips,” by Cool Dip (born Kuldip Singh), a rockabilly singer from India [NOTE:  Discographies from 45Cat & Discogs, plus profile of “The Crooner from Kashmir” from the South Asian American Digital Archive].

July 27, 1957:  The Bobbettes‘ first release and only Top Forty single, “Mr. Lee,” enters the pop chart.  The song is about the trio’s high-school principal.  Three years and zero hits later, they will record a follow-up tune, “I Shot Mr. Lee.”

December 15, 1957:  Sammy Davis, Jr., initiates a Westinghouse syndicated radio talk show a “round-table” discussion of rock & roll; his guests are Columbia Records executive Mitch Miller and MGM Records president Arnold Maxim.  When Davis and Miller blast rock & roll as “the comic books of music,” Maxim takes an opposing viewpoint and says, “I don’t see any end to rock & roll in the near future.”  To which Davis replies, “I might commit suicide.”  A week later, Davis still will be alive — and releasing a cover of the rockabilly standard “I’m Comin’ Home” [co-written by Bob Crewe].

1958

January 1, 1958:  Gibson patents its “Flying V” electric guitar.  The design will become a favorite of many rock guitarists and the trademark instrument of bluesman Albert King.

March 9, 1958:  As the three-day First Annual Pop Disc Jockey Convention in Kansas City, Missouri, comes to an end, the most outspoken message delivered to radio station owners, managers and program directors is that disc jockeys are opposed to the Top Forty format, which they see as “restrictive,” dull,” “unimaginative” and designed to “de-activate them as personalities by confining their duties to impersonal intros to the same top-selling records every station plays.”

July 15, 1958:  During Senate hearings on the music industry, American Guild of Authors and Composers counsel John Schulman plays The Coasters‘ “Yakety Yak,” citing it as an offender in the alleged “cheapening of American music” by rock & roll, against which Schulman seeks legislation.  The hearings had resulted from suits between the two biggest music licensing organizations, ASCAP and BMI.

1966 EP – Sweden

November 11, 1958: [King Records] Hank Ballard and the Midnighters record the original “Twist” in King Studios, Cincinnati, Ohio.

1959 King EP

1959

January 19, 1959:  A Billboard article on the general easing of TV and radio censorship of pop songs notes one exception, and it’s an instrumental — Link Wray‘s hit “Rumble” is still considered unplayable by some authorities because its title connotes teen-gang violence (the accuracy of this suspicion was later confirmed when Wray revealed that the title came from an incident where The Wraymen had to play the instrumental onstage in order to distract participants in a gang “rumble”).  When Wray and his Wraymen recently appeared on “American Bandstand” to perform “Rumble,” Dick Clark was forbidden to mention the title, so he simply said, “and now, here’s Link Wray” as an introduction.

Germany – 1958                                             Australia – 1958

March 20, 1959:  Dolly Parton‘s first record, “Puppy Love,” is released on Gold Band Records.  Billboard‘s capsule review notes, “She sounds about twelve years old.”  Dolly is thirteen.  [NOTE:  Check out the prices paid for an original 45].

October 19, 1959:  Tommy Facenda‘s “High School, U.S.A.” enters the pop chart at #97.  One of the more novel novelty discs of all time, it is released in dozens of different versions, mentioning different high schools for different cities.

November 1, 1959:  The Spacemen‘s “The Clouds” enters the R&B chart at #24.  Their only chart entry ever, it will eventually become an R&B Number One and will remain on the R&B chart for eighteen weeks.

New Zealand – 1959

December 14, 1959:  A report by the Ohio State University Research Center state that though rock & roll is the overwhelming favorite of fourteen-to-eighteen-year-olds, more adults aged nineteen to seventy list it as their least favorite form of music.

1960

January 9, 1960:  Emile Ford and the Checkmates, a British group of Bahamian immigrants, becomes the first homeland black act to top the British charts when “What Do You Want to Make Those Eyes at Me For?” hits Number One.  It will be the only such success for Ford.

1960 EP – Denmark

February 6, 1960:  Jesse Belvin, an important figure in West Coast R&B during the Fifties, dies in an automobile accident in Los Angeles at age twenty.  Belvin had his first R&B hit, “Dream Girl,” as half of Jesse and Marvin in 1953.  On his own, he had hits with “Goodnight My Love” in 1956 and with “Funny” and “Guess Who” in 1959.  He also sang as a member of such doo-wop groups as The Cliques, The Sharptones, Three Dots and a Dash, and The Sheiks.  He made his biggest impact, however, as the co-author of “Earth Angel,” The Penguins‘ doo-wop classic of 1954.

New Zealand – 1960

April 4, 1960:  Billboard reports that RCA Victor Records will release all pop singles simultaneously in mono and stereo — the first record company to do so.  Elvis Presley‘s first post-army single, “Stuck on You,” is RCA’s first mono-stereo release.

July 21, 1960:  British teen idol Cliff Richard‘s “Please Don’t Tease” is knocked out of the Number One spot on the UK pop chart by “Apache” by his backing band, The Shadows (the song was originally recorded by Jorge Ingmann).

1960 EP – France

September 4, 1960:  The Flamingos‘ “Mio Amore” enters the R&B chart, where it will peak at #27.  It will be the doo-wop quintet’s last hit until 1966, when they will return to the R&B Top Thirty with “The Boogaloo Party.”  The Flamingos, who formed in Chicago in 1952, are best known for [1959’s] “I Only Have Eyes For You.”

Australia – 1960

November 21, 1960:  “Twang” guitarist Duane Eddy and producer Lee Hazlewood have parted company after three successful years, Billboard reports.  Hazlewood, a former Phoenix, Arizona disc jockey, has had almost as much to do with creating Eddy’s distinctive sound as the guitarist himself:  He and Eddy cowrote most of Eddy’s material, including the hits “Rebel Rouser,” “Forty Miles of Bad Road” and “Because They’re Young,” and it was Hazlewood who suggested that the guitarist play his leads on the bass instead of the treble strings and who applied the essential reverb.

1961

January 24, 1961:  Le Palais des Sports, Paris, is the site of the first French International Rock & Roll Festival.  The headliners are Bobby Rydell, representing the USA, Little Tony of Italy, Emile Ford of Great Britain, and French stars Johnny HallidayFrankie Jordan, and Les Chausettes Noires.

April 24, 1961:  Bob Dylan makes his recording debut, playing harmonica on the title track of Harry Belafonte‘s Midnight Special album, for which he is paid fifty dollars.

Credits affirm that Dylan really did blow harp on this LP

May 11, 1961:  Soviet bandleader and musicologist Alexander Utyosov, writing in the East Berlin Freie Walt, contends that “what some people now call ‘Dixieland’ music was played for many years in Odessa in our Socialist Motherland before it was called to life in New Orleans.”

May 21, 1961:  “Every Beat of My Heart” enters the Hot 100 in two versions — one on the Fury label by Gladys Knight, the other on the Vee Jay label by The Pips.  They are not the same recording, but are rendered by the same act, victims of a contract dispute.  The Vee Jay single will be the more successful, rising to #6 on the pop chart and Number One on the R&B chart.  Gladys Knight and the Pips, whose first hits these are, will eventually sign to Motown’s Soul label.

September 23, 1961:  Minit Records releases “I Cried My Last Tear” by New Orleans R&B singer Ernie K-Doe (né Ernest Kador), but his only big hit will be the novelty song “Mother-in-Law,” which made Number One earlier this year.  “I Cried My Last Tear” will rise as high as #69 in the pop chart, and K-Doe will have two more minor hits in the next several months.

Composed by “Naomi Neville” = i.e., Allen Toussaint

November 6, 1961:  Minit Records releases the rock & roll anthem, “It Will Stand” by The Showmen, whose lead singer, General Johnson, will resurface in early 1970 as the distinctive scatting and hiccuping lead voice on Chairmen of the Board‘s soul hit “Give Me Just a Little More Time” [NOTE:  “It Will Stand” was used as a bumper theme between ad breaks for 1979’s ABC-TV’s rock docHeroes of Rock and Roll“].

Netherlands – 1962

1962

February 10, 1962:  The instrumental “Soul Twist” is released on Enjoy Records.  The record features saxophonist King Curtis, who provided the raunchy, honking tenor sax breaks in such Coasters classics as “Charlie Brown” and “Yakety Yak.”  The record will eventually reach #17 on the pop chart.

April 7, 1962: [King RecordsJames Brown‘s predominantly instrumental “Night Train,” based on an earlier instrumental hit by ex-Count Basie saxophonist Jimmy Forrest, is released on King Records.  It will reach #35 on the pop chart and #11 on the R&B chart.

UK – 1962

July 12, 1962:  The Rolling Stones make their performing debut at the Marquee Club in London.  The group, according to a handbill publicizing the event, is composed of vocalist Mick Jagger, guitarists Keith Richards and Elmo Lewis, bassist Dick Taylor, pianist Stu and drummer Mick Avery.  Future Kinks drummer Avory’s name is misspelled.  Stu is Ian Stewart, who will remain the Stones’ unofficial pianist.  Dick Taylor will soon leave the group to form The Pretty Things.  Elmo Lewis is actually Brian Jones.

October 24, 1962: [King RecordsJames Brown records Live at the Apollo, Volume 1 at the landmark theater in Harlem, New York City.  The album will sell over a million copies — an unprecedented feat for an R&B album — and will later earn a reputation for being one of the finest concert albums ever made [NOTE:  NPR piece about a “missinglive album at the Apollo from 1972 that had been unearthed in 2016].

King EP – 1963

December 22, 1962:  The Tornadoes‘ “Telstar” becomes the first record by a British group to top the American pop chart.  The song was inspired by the launching of the Telstar commu-satellite in July.  It is the only significant American hit for the organ-dominated instrumental group, although such follow-up recordings as “Globetrotter,” “Robot” and “The Ice Cream Man” make the British Top Twenty in the coming year.

EP – Portugal                                         EP – France

1963

January 5, 1963:  “As it stands today, there’s virtually no difference between rock & roll, pop and rhythm & blues,” Leonard Chess, cofounder of Chess Records, tells Billboard.  “The music has completely overlapped.”

February 25, 1963:  Vee Jay Records, the small Chicago-based label, releases the first Beatles record in the USA, “Please Please Me” backed with “Ask Me Why.”  In spite of “Please Please Me” being a smash hit in England, virtually no one notices it in America (perhaps because Vee Jay credits the record to “The Beattles“).

May 15, 1963:  “Sukiyaki” by Kyu Sakamoto hits Number One on the pop American chart — the first Japanese song to do so.  Sakamoto has been a singing star in Japan for five years, with fifteen hit singles and half as many hit albums to his credit.  “Sukiyaki,” under its original title, “Ue O Mui Te Aruko,” was a huge Japanese hit before Capitol Records released it in the US, changing the title to one of the few Japanese words Americans would recognize.  In spite of the record’s success, it will prove to be Sakamoto’s only US hit.

Norway – 1963

August 24, 1963:  Little Stevie Wonder is the first artist to make the Number One position on the pop singles chart, the pop albums chart, and the R&B singles chart at one time.  In fact, no one before him has made the pop-singles and the pop-albums charts simultaneously, let alone the R&B singles chart, too.  Wonder’s wonders are The Twelve-Year-Old Genius and one selection from that live album “Fingertips, Part Two.”

September 16, 1963:  The Beatles‘ “She Loves You” backed with “I’ll Get You” is released in the US on the small, independent, New York-based Swan label, as Capitol Records — EMI’s American affiliate — has refused it, just as it refused “Please Please Me” and “From Me to You.”  Currently Number One in Britain, “She Loves You” will be ignored in America until early 1964, when it bounds to Number One here, too [NOTE:  See related Zero to 180 history piece about Seymour Stein + other Beatle writings].

1964

February 1, 1964:  Cameo-Parkway Records releases The Swans‘ “The Boy With the Beatle Hair,” and Capitol releases Donna Lynn‘s “My Boyfriend Got a Beatle Haircut.” [NOTE:  More Beatle novelty items here.]

March 2, 1964:  Columbia Records is suddenly inundated with requests for heavyweight boxing champ Cassius Clay‘s album I Am the Greatest, released in September 1963 but now in great demand after Clay’s defeat of Sonny Liston on February 25.  Columbia expects to sell 500,000 copies.  Says Clay:  “I’m better and prettier than Chubby Checker” [NOTE:  Check out Zero to 180’s “Ali: The People’s Choice“].

Sweden – 1964

May 14, 1964:  The “blue beat” dance craze has taken hold in Cleveland and Detroit in the wake of Millie Small‘s chart-climbing hit “My Boy Lollipop.”  According to Billboard, the song that is based on Jamaican prereggae ska music, is a smash in Britain.  Within one week, Atlantic Records president Ahmet Ertegun and engineer Tom Dowd will fly to Jamaica and return with forty newly recorded sides by ska acts like The Blues BustersStranger ColeThe Maytals and others [NOTE:  And yet, only 12 sides issued on 1964 LP Jamaica Ska, Atlantic’s lone long-playing album].

Netherlands – 1964

May 30, 1964:  The Jamaican Government , in cooperation with Atlantic Records, announces that it will send six dancers to demonstrate the ska at New Jersey’s Palisades Amusement Park in June.  The Jamaican government will later send artists like Jimmy Cliff and Byron Lee and the Dragonaires to the New York World’s Fair in the summer of 1964.

June 20, 1964:  “Mixed Up Shook Up Girl,” by Patty and the Emblems (on Herald Records), enters the Hot 100.  It will eventually reach #37 and will be covered in a hit version in the late Seventies by New York band Mink DeVille.

Note the disparity in songwriting credits = original 45 vs. Mink DeVille LP

September 5, 1964:  “Mercy Mercy” by Don Covay and the Goodtimers enters the Hot 100.  It will eventually reach #35 and will be one of the biggest hits for Memphis soul singer and composer Covay under his own name in the Sixties.  In 1968, Covay’s song “Chain of Fools” will become a smash hit in a version sung by Aretha Franklin, and will win her a Grammy for Best Rhythm and Blues Performance.

UK – 1964

November 28, 1964:  Soul singer Betty Everett enters the Hot 100 for the fourth time in her career with “Getting Mighty Crowded,” which will remain on the chart for six weeks, eventually reaching #65.  The song was written by Van McCoy, at the time a house composer/arranger for Everett’s label, Vee Jay; he would go on to become a prime mover of the disco movement in the Seventies with such hits as “The Hustle.”  “Getting Mighty Crowded” would be covered by Elvis Costello in the late Seventies.

1965 EP – Spain

1965

January 1, 1965:  England’s New Musical Express reports that the US government, for undisclosed reasons, has denied working visas to British rock bands.  This means the cancellation of tours by groups like The Nashville TeensThe Zombies and The Hullaballoos, who are already in New York with DJ Murray the K of New York’s WMCA.

February 5, 1965:  Screaming Jay Hawkins begins his first British tour.  He tells the NME, “I want to meet this guy Screaming Lord Sutch” — referring to the British rock singer who took both his name and flamboyant stage act from Hawkins.

March 6, 1965:  Memphis gospel and soul singer Solomon Burke enters the pop and R&B charts with the single that will be his biggest hit on both charts, “Got to Get You Off My Mind,” which will peak at pop #22 and be an R&B Number One.

Spain – 1967

April 19, 1965:  The film The T.A.M.I. [Teen-Age Music International] Show — featuring James BrownThe Rolling StonesThe SupremesThe Beach BoysThe Four TopsMarvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles — opens in London under the title Teenage Command Performance.  The film, partially financed by Phil Spector, will become one of the most popular documentaries of the rock era.

July 17, 1965: [King RecordsJames Brown‘s “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” enters the R&B and pop charts.  It will hit R&B Number One — Brown’s first single to do so since “Try Me” in 1958 — and reach pop #8, Brown’s first to break the pop Top Ten.  In the next ten years, Brown will have fifteen more R&B Number Ones and five more pop Top Tens (but no Number Ones), earning the indefatigable singer/dancer such epithets as “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business,” “Soul Brother Number One,” “Mr. Dynamite,” “The Godfather of Soul” and “Minister of the New, New Superheavy Funk.”

Germany – 1965

September 4, 1965:  The Who have their equipment van stolen outside the Battersea Dogs Home in England while they are inside the Home buying a guard dog.

November 13, 1965 [King RecordsJames Brown‘s “I Got You (I Feel Good) enters both the pop and R&B charts.  The song will reach Number One R&B and #3 pop, and will become one of the Godfather of Soul‘s most enduring and most readily identifiable classics.

New Zealand – 1966

1966

January 8, 1966:  The final episode of “Shindig!” featuring The Kinks (“I Gotta Move“) and The Who (“I Can’t Explain“), is broadcast on ABC-TV.  The show had premiered in September 1964 and from 1965 had aired twice weekly, on Thursday and Saturday evenings.

February 14, 1966:  The New York Times reports on The Moppets, an all-girl rock band formed by four Mount Holyoke College students, and notes other groups at other women’s schools.

May 7, 1966:  Del Shannon, who had big hits in 1961 with “Runaway” and “Hats Off to Larry,” enters the Hot 100 for the sixteenth and last time with “The Big Hurt” which in its two weeks on the chart will peak at #94.  Little will be heard from Shannon again until 1981, when he has a Top Forty hit was “Sea of Love,” produced by Tom Petty [NOTE:  See Zero to 180 piece about Shannon’s “lost” album of 1967].

1967 EP – Brazil

October 22, 1966:  The Beach Boys release their classic single “Good Vibrations” on Capitol Records.  The song, featuring inspired use of the sci-fi movie sound-effects instrument the theremin, is the most expensive production for a single up to this time [NOTE: See recent Zero to 180 history piece aboutserious pop“].

Norway – 1966

December 23, 1966:  BBC-TV broadcasts “Ready Steady Go!” for the last time after more than three years in which the weekly show was Britain’s most popular pop-music television program.  The special guests for the farewell show are The Who.

1967

January 1, 1967:  Country music star Moon Mullican dies at age fifty-eight of natural causes at his Tennessee home.  Though he never had any pop hits, Mullican’s two-fingered “hillbilly boogie” piano style made him arguably the first white boogie-woogie pianist and a definite influence on the pounding piano style of Jerry Lee Lewis  [NOTE:  Zero to 180’s tribute piece to King recording artist, Moon Mullican].

February 23, 1967:  Jamaican ska singer and producer Prince Buster‘s “Al Capone” becomes the first Jamaican record to enter the UK pop chart (Millie Small‘s “My Boy Lollipop,” which had earlier kicked off the ska boom, was recorded in London). The song will later be covered under the title “Gangsters” by British two-tone ska-rock band The Specials in the late Seventies.

1967 EP – France

June 23, 1967:  Arthur Conley receives a gold record for “Sweet Soul Music,” his first hit.  The song — a rewrite of Sam Cooke‘s “Yeah Man” — is a tribute to the current soul music explosion and names Otis Redding, (Conley’s mentor), James BrownWilson PickettLou Rawls and Sam and Dave.  “Sweet Soul Music” did equally well on both the pop and R&B charts in May.

Germany – 1967

July 1, 1967:  After almost ten years together, The Parliaments make both their pop and R&B chart debuts with “(I Wanna) Testify,” which will reach #20 pop and #3 R&B.  Following this initial success, The Parliaments, under the leadership of vocalist, songwriter and producer George Clinton, will modify their name to Parliament and expand their ranks to include an instrumental section, Funkadelic, which will also make its own Clinton-directed records.  In the Seventies, Parliament-Funkadelic and other permutations, such as Bootsy’s Rubber BandThe Brides of FunkensteinThe Horny Horns, and Parlet, will epitomize the street-smart spaced-out jumble of rhythm & blues and acid rock called funk.  Their slogan:  “Funk for its own sake.”

October 7, 1967:  South African émigré singer Miriam Makeba makes her pop and R&B chart debut with “Pata Pata,” which will peak at #12 pop and #7 R&B.  Makeba – who came to America under the auspices of Harry Belafonte in 1960 and was married to South African trumpeter Hugh Maskela (“Grazing in the Grass“) before returning to Africa as the wife of American black nationalist Stokely Carmichael – sings this dance song in English and in her native Xhosa language.

Italy – 1967

November 2, 1967:  The five members of The Move and their manager, Tony Secunda, appear in a London court for hearings on a suit filed against them by British Prime Minister Harold Wilson.  The subject of the suit is a picture postcard The Move used to promote their single “Flowers in the Rain.”  It depicts the prime minister nude in bed.  The court will later decide in Wilson’s favor, fine The Move and confiscate all remaining copies of the offending postcard.

Postcard image courtesy of Popsike

December 20, 1967:  The First Czechoslovak National Festival of Rock Music opens for two days in Prague.  Featured among the performing bands is The Primitives, who will later be known as The Plastic People of the Universe.

1968

January 11, 1968:  The Daily Mirror of London reports that Jimi Hendrix has moved into the London townhouse that George Frederick Handel is believed to have composed Water Music and The Messiah over 200 years earlier.  Hendrix assures the Mirror that he, too, will compose in the Handel house and “not let the tradition down.”

May 8, 1968:  Buddah Records books New York’s Carnegie Hall for a promotional concert at which the entire Buddah roster — eight groups, including The 1910 Fruitgum CompanyThe Ohio ExpressThe Lemon Pipers and other leading purveyors of bubblegum pop — combines to form the forty-six-strong Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestral Circus, which follows up its Carnegie Hall triumph with a hit single, “Quick Joey Small

Australia – 1968

July 18, 1968:  South African emigré Hugh Masekela claims his only gold record, with an instrumental single, “Grazin’ in the Grass” (later given a hit vocal treatment by The Friends of Distinction).

Netherlands – 1968

November 1, 1968:  George Harrison becomes the first Beatle to issue a solo album when he releases Wonderwall Music, the soundtrack to the film Wonderwall on Apple.

1969 EP on Playtape

November 2, 1968:  The four-day Czechoslovakian International Beat Festival, to be headlined by The Soul Men from Bratislava, is canceled by Soviet invasion authorities.

1969

January 11, 1969:  Album-cover nudity hits the bubblegum genre as Buddah Records Vice President and General Manager Neil Bogart designs a cover featuring a photo of six nude women for the bubblegum greatest hits LP, The Naked Truth.  Bogart claims the nudes on the cover depict “what life is really all about,” and represent “the freedom of expression common to music today and the new attitude toward living.”

Rare Israeli Pressing = according to Popsike

January 29, 1969:  “The Bosstown Sound” hype reaches Newsweek, which reports on such Boston phenomena as The Ultimate SpinachEarth Opera, and Phluph, and the clubs where these bands may be experienced — The Psychedelic Supermarket, The Catacombs, and The Boston Tea Party.  The article quotes one Peter Wolf of The Hallucinations (later of The J. Geils Band):  “Kids wandered around Boston for years saying, ‘Something’s got to happen in this town,’ but nothing happened and they left.  Now I get calls saying, ‘We’re coming back to Boston.  Something’s happening there.'”

June 29, 1969:  Shorty Long, the Detroit soul singer who recorded the original version ofDevil with a Blue Dress On” (later made famous by Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels), drowns at age twenty-nine when his boat capsizes off Sandwich Island, Ontario, Canada.  Long’s hits include “Function at the Junction” and “Here Comes the Judge.”

UK – 1966

September 22, 1969:  A new weekly prime-time rock-oriented show, “The Music Scene,” debuts on ABC.  In its one-year run, the forty-five minute show, conducted by comedian David Steinberg, features such stars as James BrownCrosby, Stills, Nash & YoungJanis JoplinSly and the Family StoneStevie WonderIssac HayesTom Jones, and Cass Elliott [NOTE:  Not to mention Johnny Cash, in this colorful filmed segment that features overheated summer classic “Blistered”].

David Steinberg with Groucho Marx

October 3, 1969:  Legendary bluesman NehemiahSkip” James dies of cancer in Philadelphia at age sixty-seven.  His best-known song wasI’m So Glad,” which Cream covered in 1967.

1970

January 31, 1970:  England’s biggest reggae stars — Desmond DekkerMax RomeoJimmy CliffThe UpsettersThe Pioneers, and Harry J’s All-Stars — kick off a package tour of England at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

March 18, 1970:  British label Immediate Records (whose roster included The Small Faces), founded by former Rolling Stones manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, goes out of business.

April 17, 1970:  Johnny Cash performs at the White House at the invitation of President Richard M. Nixon but refuses to oblige the president by singing “Welfare Cadillac” or “Okie from Muskogee,” which are not his songs; he does, however, comply with an executive request for his Number One hit, “A Boy Named Sue.”

June 25, 1970:  KRLA-FM in Pasadena, California, drops its long-running series of gen-minute daily comedy routines by The Credibility Gap, a hip satirical outfit, explaining that “Humor is no longer funny in today’s society.”

July 12, 1970:  South Dakota judge S.K. Hicks, who claims to be the inspiration for Johnny Cash‘s hit single “A Boy Named Sue,” receives autographed records and photos from Cash.

August 4, 1970:  The Medicine Ball Caravan, featuring The Grateful Dead and hippie scene people like Wavy Gravy (Hugh Romney) of the Hog Farm, becomes rock’s first and last movable festival as it leaves San Francisco on a cross-country trek, pulling seven tie-dyed tepees along with it.  The caravan will eventually reach the United Kingdom, document itself with an album, and its own rock band, Stoneground, will emerge from it.

September 28, 1970:  A unique new music show debuts on Hollywood TV station KCET, Channel 28.  “Boboquivari” (a Hopi Indian word for the neck of an hourglass, “the place where time begins”) presents rock, pop, folk and other performers in an informal, intimate studio setting — but with no host, no format and no lip-synching.  The first shows feature Tim BuckleyRamblin’ Jack ElliottRoberta Flack and Freddie King. [NOTE:  TV Guide provides summary listing for each episode].

December 12, 1970:  Rock critic John Mendelsohn‘s band, Christopher Milk, arouses the ire of Doug Weston, owner of the Troubadour club in Los Angeles.  At a Monday night audition there, the band’s lead singer, Mr. Twister, wreaks havoc by pouring hot wax all over himself, biting audience members, overturning tables and spilling drinks in customer’s laps.

1971 EP

1971

January 10, 1971:  Making a rare appearance, Bob Dylan accompanies country star Earl Scruggs on “East Virginia Blues” and “Nashville Skyline Rag” for a public television documentary.  The latter of the two is later released as part of an LP titled Earl Scruggs — His Family and His Friends.

February 8, 1971:  Bob Dylan‘s one-hour-long documentary film, Eat the Document, is screened at New York’s Academy of Music (later known as the Palladium).  Much of the footage is from Dylan’s 1966 UK tour with The Band, filmed by D.A. Pennebaker, who also did Dylan’s Don’t Look Back.  Performances shown include “Like a Rolling Stone,” “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” and other classics.  But the film is fragmentary and difficult for most in the audience to latch onto.  Eat the Document is not shown on TV as the reclusive star had hoped for, until ten years later.

April 28, 1971:  Barbra Streisand gets a gold album for Stoney End, one of her rare forays into rock music [NOTE:  Separate from her foray into experimental pop].  That album, along with 1969’s What About Today? featured material by such writers as John LennonRandy NewmanPaul Simon, and Carole King.  At twenty-eight, Streisand seems intent on changing her image (“The Jeaning of Barbra Streisand” is how Rolling Stone titles a 1971 piece on the singer), and even takes to lighting joints onstage in Las Vegas.

ONLY in Mexico is Barbra’s ‘Stoney End’ album entitled ‘Soul’!

June 6, 1971:  John Lennon and Yoko Ono appear on stage for the first time since 1969, joining Frank Zappa for a jam at the Fillmore East.  Says Lennon of the encounter:  “I expected sort of a grubby maniac with naked women all over the place.  The first thing I said was, ‘Wow, you look so different. You look great!'”  Zappa had his own preconceptions, too.  The first thing he said, recounts Lennon, was, “You look clean, too.”

September 18, 1971:  The unusual pairing of Hungarian jazz guitarist Gabor Szabo and soul singer Bobby Womack enters the soul chart with “Breezin’,” a song written by session guitarist Phil Upchurch that will be a #63 pop hit in an instrumental version by jazz guitarist George Benson in 1976.  The Szabo-Womack version of “Breezin,” however, will only hit #43 on the soul chart.

1972 – Netherlands

December 11, 1971:  Godfather of Soul James Brown has his thirty-second album released this week.  Revolution of the Mind, subtitled Live at the Apollo 3 and released by Polydor Records, opens with a song whose title only James Brown could have come up with:  “It’s A New Day So Let A Man Come In And Do The Popcorn” [NOTE:  Song birthed from two earlier 45 releases on King Records].

Feb. 1970                                                    Oct. 1969

December 28, 1971:  Keith Moon emcees a concert for one of his favorite acts, Fifties revivalists Sha Na Na.

1972

March 27, 1972:  Elvis Presley records what will be his last major hit, “Burning Love,” which reaches #2 in October.  The song was originally recorded by blues singer Arthur Alexander.

Japan – 1972

April 24, 1972:  One of John Lennon‘s most controversial singles, “Woman Is the N*gger of the World,” is released.  The song goes to #57, despite the fact that virtually every radio station in the country refuses to play it.

August 12, 1972:  The Festival of Hope — the first rock festival used to raise funds for an established charity — gets underway at Roosevelt Raceway in Garden City, New York.  The concerts are sponsored by the Nassau Society of Crippled Children and Adults, and features appearances by many rock and soul acts, including The Jefferson AirplaneStephen StillsJames BrownSha Na Na and many others.

September 8, 1972:  John Sinclair organizes the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival.  What makes the festival different from all others, boasts the noted political activist, is that “it’s gonna be a real people’s festival — produced by freaks and for the community.”  And he actually pulls it off, with a bill including Dr. JohnMuddy WatersHowlin’ WolfBonnie RaittSun RaJunior WalkerFreddie KingOtis RushLuther Allison, and Bobby Blue” Bland.

September 9, 1972:  England’s BBC-TV premieres “The Old Grey Whistle Test,” a rock & roll program that will serve as a showcase for rock talent.

November 4, 1972:  London gets its first permanent rock & roll theater, the 3,000-plus capacity Rainbow Theatre.  With its art-deco decor, the forty-one-year-old building (originally called the Finsbury Park Astoria) becomes one of England’s most popular venues.  The Who are the inaugural act, playing three consecutive nights.

November 24, 1972:  ABC-TV premieres its late-night rock show “In Concert,” produced by the man who gave you The MonkeesDon Kirshner.  The first show, taped earlier at Long Island’s Hofstra University, stars Alice CooperChuck BerryBlood, Sweat & Tears, Poco, and The Allmans (then with the late Berry Oakley).  Kirshner will later leave “In Concert” and begin his own “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert.”

1973

February 1, 1973:  Island Records’ Chris Blackwell announces to Rolling Stone that he is founding Mango Records, a label dedicated to molding reggae artists.  “I think that reggae has a chance of breaking in America,” Blackwell predicts, although he adds that he sees its audience being “musicians and professional people more than kids, who won’t quite understand.”

February 11, 1973:  Jazz drummer Elvin Jones plays a pair of benefits in Sacramento, California, to raise funds to help rebuild Hanoi’s Bach Mai Hospital, which had been destroyed by US bombers last Christmas.

July 29, 1973:  Led Zeppelin, in the middle of a highly successful US tour, are the victims of one of the largest cash thefts ever pulled off in New York City, as $180,000 is pilfered from the group’s deposit box at the Drake Hotel.  The money mostly represents cash receipts from the first two of three Madison Square Garden shows.  Police have dusted for fingerprints and are investigating the crime.

August 2, 1973:  Who is Jobraith?  According to Rolling Stone, impresario Jerry Brandt has announced that bids to sign his new artist must start at $1 million.  Just what does Jobriath do?  Sings and plays piano, for starters, but he’s also designed his own stage act, which includes a replica of the Empire State Building that turns into a penis as the star sheds his King Kong suit and slips into something more comfortable.  Jobriath also plans to be filmed playing piano in the Mojave Desert during an upcoming solar eclipse.

Japan – 1974

September 9, 1973:  Todd Rundgren keeps his promise and records 1,000 voices in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park for the left track of his song “Sons of 1984“; he had recorded over 5,000 fans in New York’s Central Park on the right track.  But the open-air recording session ends in a rumble, as police move in to arrest a twenty-one-year-old man for allegedly peddling cannabis, and a melee erupts.  Eleven persons are arrested.

September 26, 1973:  The Dutch instrumental group Focus receives a Gold record for Focus 3, which comes on the heels of their lone hit, “Hocus Pocus.”  The song is notable for its lead “vocals,”

Italy – 1973

1974

March 28, 1974:  The Raspberries have split in two.  Rolling Stone reports that the rhythm section of Jim Bonfanti and Dave Smalley have left and have formed a band called Dynamite.  Original members Eric Carmen and Wally Bryson, meanwhile, plan to continue, and have added drummer Mike McBride and bassist Scott McCarl.

April 8, 1974:  “Bennie and the Jets” turns gold, no doubt pleasing Elton John.  But what makes John even happier is that the tune becomes a major hit on the R&B chart, as well.

Colossal Musical Misspelling!
New Zealand – 1974

May 10, 1974:  New Jersey funk band Kool and the Gang‘s Wild and Peaceful album, their seventh in five years, goes gold.  The album features three top-selling singles:  “Jungle Boogie” (#4 on the pop chart), “Hollywood Swinging” (#6) and “Funky Stuff” (#29).  Originally a jazz-oriented band, Kool and the Gang began moving toward R&B in the early Seventies, and by the time of Wild and Peaceful had perfected a protodisco style in which “party” vocal chants and staccato horn fills sparred over a stark, heavy, metronomic funk rhythm.

Germany – 1973

May 23, 1974:  According to Rolling Stone, two would-be promoters, George T. McGinis and Archie McIntosh, are indicted on federal mail-fraud charges in connection with a mail-order ticket offering for an “Elten John” concert, to be held June 8.  That’s Elten spelled with an e, mind you, not an o, as the real Elton spells it.  Authorities confiscate about $11,000 in checks and money orders as evidence.

November 7, 1974:  Rolling Stone reports that Ted Nugent has won the National Squirrel-Shooting Archery Contest by picking off a squirrel at 150 yards.  Nugent also wiped out twenty-seven more of the small mammals with a handgun during the three-day event.

1975

January 11, 1975:  Shirley and Company‘s “Shame, Shame, Shame” enters both the pop and R&B charts.  After sixteen weeks on the pop chart, it will reach #12, and after seven weeks on the R&B chart, it will hit Number One on March 1.  The Shirley of Shirley and Company is Shirley Goodman, who, as half of the New Orleans duo Shirley and Lee, scored such hits as “Let the Good Times Roll” in the late Fifties.  Shirley and Company will have only one more hit, “Cry Cry Cry,” which will reach #91 in the summer of 1975.

Italy – 1975

Excuse the typo above

 

February 1, 1975:  Down by the JettyDr. Feelgood‘s first record, is put out by United Artists in England.  The band, headlining in England over Kokomo and Chilli Willi on the Naughty Rhythms tour, is perhaps the missing link between pub rock and punk; its hard-edged, almost brutal R&B sound and throwback stance presages much of what emerges in England over the new two years.

February 21, 1975:  John Entwistle begins the only solo tour by a Who member in Sacramento, California.  The quiet bassist and his band, Ox (after his own nickname), play for five weeks in the States, with mixed results:  Entwistle later complains the tour cost him a fortune and that he hates guitarist Robert Johnson.  It is his last public solo endeavor for over six years.

February 22, 1975:  The second single from John Lennon‘s Walls and Bridges album, “#9 Dream,” peaks at — of course — #9 on the charts.

France – 1975

May 10, 1975:  Stevie Wonder plays before 125,000 people at the Washington Monument as part of Human Kindness Day, for which he is the honoree.  Despite initial reservations as to whether the focus of his involvement might detract from the event’s impact, Wonder and his group, Wonderlove, perform for over an hour.

September 12, 1975:  Hard rock band Slade‘s attempt at rock moviemaking, Flame, opens in St. Louis.  The band, as popular in its native UK as it is overlooked in the US, stars as a prepackaged Sixties band.  But despite the concurrent release of Flame, the book, and Flame, the soundtrack, the venture falls far short of capturing the American interest.

“From the forthcoming film” – Spain

September 19, 1975:  Dickie Goodman, master of the novelty “break-in” record—where excerpts from current hits are used to flesh out what, in Goodman’s case, is inevitably some sort of parody of current events or fads—earns his only gold record, for “Mr. Jaws,” currently on its way to #4 on the pop chart.  Goodman had many other such hits, including “The Touchables” (1961), “Ben Crazy” (1962), “Batman and His Grandmother” (1966), “On Campus” and “Luna Trip” [moon landing-themed] (1969), “Watergrate” (1973), “Energy Crisis ’74” and “Mr. President” (1974).  Before going solo, Goodman had scored several other “break-in” novelty hits as half of a duo with Bill Buchanan.  The first of their duo hits, 1956’s “Flying Saucer,” was also the first “break-in” record and sparked controversy among the composers and publishers whose songs had been excerpted.

November 18, 1975:  Rock & roll and prime-time television meet again, under the usual inane circumstances, when Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen appear on an episode ofPolice Woman.”  The band, playing a rock group named The Chromium Skateboard, and the Commander deliver twenty-two speaking lines.  The best line actually comes from an assistant director, who outlines some professional camera behavior for the group:  “Please, try not to stare at Angie’s [assets].”

November 22, 1975:  British soul singer Pete Wingfield‘s only US chart entry “Eighteen with a Bullet,” reaches—inevitably— #18 on the chart, with a bullet [NOTE:  Actually, Billboard indicates peak chart position to be #15 on November 29, 1975].

UK – 1975

1976

January 30, 1976:  Texas “songster” Mance Lipscomb dies of natural causes at age eighty in his Navasota, Texas home.  Popularly thought of as a country bluesman, Lipscomb used the term songster to describe himself and to differentiate himself from bluesmen, and with good reason:  he was more of a minstrel than anything else, and played not only blues but ballads, reels, jigs, breakdowns, drags, shouts, jubilees, spirituals and more.  In fact, perhaps no other single performer embodied as many aspects of the Afro-American folk-music tradition as Lipscomb.  He performed locally in Texas all his life, but did not record until 1960, when he was discovered by Chris Strachwitz of the Arhoolie label, for whom he recorded several well-received albums.

March 13, 1976:  Philadelphia soul vocal trio The O’Jays enter the charts with the double-sided hit “Living for the Weekend” backed with “Stairway to Heaven” (not to be confused with the Led Zeppelin classic), which will go on to become on the three R&B Number One hits for the group this year.  The other two are “Message in Our Music” and “Darlin’ Darlin’ Baby” [NOTE:  O’Jays’ first two 45s as The Ascots issued on King].

Japan – 1976

May 3, 1976:  Paul Simon organizes a benefit show at Madison Square Garden for the financially troubled New York Public Library.  Phoebe SnowJimmy Cliff, and the Brecker Brothers pitch in for the concert, which nets over $30,000 for the institution.

June 19, 1976:  Reggae stars Bob Marley and the Wailers enter the pop chart with what will become their first US hit, “Roots Rock Reggae,” which will peak at #37.

Netherlands – 1976

August 21, 1976:  The self-titled album by New York disco-sophisticates Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band enters the LP chart.  The album features their only hit singles, “I’ll Play the Fool” (which will reach #80 in late 1976) and “Cherchez La Femme” (which will hit #27 early in 1977).  The group will become a great favorite of critics enamored of their cosmopolitan blend of disco, pop, Latin and big-band swing (what the band members themselves termed “mulatto music”).  But they will never be very commercially successful, and will disband after two more albums, though they will occasionally reunite in the early Eighties for New York City concerts.  Savannah Band members August Darnell and “Sugar Coated” Andy Hernandez will later go on to form Kid Creole and the Coconuts, a more tropical version of the Savannah Band that will find more commercial success than the Dr. Buzzard unit.  Hernandez will then leave Kid Creole to go solo as the rap act Coati Mundi.

Belgium – 1977

December 28, 1976: Blues guitar giant [and King recording artist] Freddie King (no relation to those other blues guitar giants, Albert and B.B. King) dies of hepatitis at age forty-two in Dallas, Texas.  King’s fleet-fingered guitar work on such songs as “Hideaway” was highly influential on Eric Clapton, among many others, and King recorded two albums, Burglar and Freddie King (1934-1976), with British sessionmen.

UK – 1965

1977

January 29, 1977:  United Artists releases The Stranglers‘ first single, “(Get a) Grip (on Yourself)” backed with “London Lady,” in Britain.  Formed as a London pub-rock-band in 1975, The Stranglers have more recently won the allegiance of the punk movement; their vinyl debut, therefore, is considered one of the earliest punk records.

1977 EP – US

3-D specs not included

March 11, 1977:  The Slits makes their stage debut, opening for The Clash at the Roxy in London.  The first all-female punk group, The Slits will have to bear the double curse of their sex and their style, which takes the concept of enlightened amateurism to an extreme.  Accompanying The Clash on their White Riot tour of the UK after having played only three gigs, The Slits will respond to charges of incompetence by inviting members of the audience on stage to play while the four women take to the floor to dance.

April 8, 1977:  The Damned‘s performance at New York City’s CBGB makes the first appearance of a British punk group in America.

June 24, 1977:  Harvest/EMI Records releases the first punk compilation album, Live at the Roxy.  The set includes concert numbers by The BuzzcocksEaterJohnny MopedX-Ray SpexThe AdvertsSlaughter and the DogsThe Unwanted and Wire, recorded at London’s preeminent punk club.

July 13, 1977:  A city-wide power outage in New York City brings Boz Scaggs‘ Avery Fisher Hall concert to a premature end.  But at the Bottom Line, NRBQ, taping flashlights to their microphone stands, transform their concert into an acoustic set.

August 27, 1977:  A picnic at Levon Helm‘s home in Woodstock, New York, provides the occasion for the formation of The RCO All-Stars, with drummer Helm, pianist, Mac Dr. John” Rebennack, guitarist Steve Cropper, bassist Donald Dunn and harmonica player Paul Butterfield.  Helm’s former colleague in The Band, Robbie Robertson, is also at the picnic, but declines to join the group, which will set off on its first tour in the fall [see related story about RCO All Stars & King’s Henry Glover].

September 23, 1977:  British CBS releases The Clash‘s “Complete Control” backed with “City of the Dead.”  The single was recorded this summer in Kingston, Jamaica, with Lee Scratch‘ Perry, the legenday reggae producer, at the board.  Perry had introduced himself to The Clash after hearing their version ofPolice and Thieves,” a song he had written and produced for Junior Murvin.  This meeting of punk and reggae will be the inspiration for Perry’s next collaboration with Bob Marley:  “Punky Reggae Party,” which will be a British Top Ten single for Bob Marley & the Wailers in December.

Spain – 1978

November 26, 1977:  French “Euro-disco” unit Le Pamle-mousse enter the soul singles chart with “Le Spank,” a glossy, mechanized reworking of a classic James Brown riff, which will peak at #13 in its nineteen weeks on the chart.

1978

March 22, 1978:  The Rutles‘ All You Need Is Cash, an affectionate satire of The Beatles, airs on NBC-TV.  The Rutles are played by Eric Idle, of British comedy troupe Monty Python’s Flying Circus; ex-Beach Boy Ricky Fataar; ex-Bonzo Dog Band member Neil Innes; and John Halsey (who’s worked with Roy Harper and Patto, among others).  Paul Simon and Mick Jagger make cameo appearances as themselves.  George Harrison appears as an interviewer.  Among the songs featured:  “Cheese and Onions,” “Ouch!” and “I Must Be in Love.”

Japan – 1978

April 3, 1978:  Blues guitar giant B.B. King joins famed defense lawyer F. Lee Bailey for a rap session and concert for inmates at Norfolk Prison in Boston, Massachusetts, as part of their ongoing duties as co-chairmen of FAIRR (Foundation for the Advancement of Inmate Rehabilitation and Recreation).  Portions of the Norfolk concert are shot by ABC-TV for inclusion on a subsequent episode of “Good Morning America.”

August 9, 1978:  Blues legend Muddy Waters performs at a White House picnic for President Jimmy Carter.

October 18, 1978:  The film Rockers, produced and directed by Greek Theodoras Bafoloukos, premieres in Kingston, Jamaica.  This reggae feature, with a plot similar to the well-known reggae cult film The Harder They Come with Jimmy Cliff, stars reggae session drummer Leroy Horsemouth” Wallace; he plays himself, taking on a crime syndicate that threatens the welfare and lifestyle of Kingston’s reggae musicians.  The film also features such reggae stars as Winston Burning Spear” RodneyJacobKiller” MillerGregory IsaacsThe Mighty DiamondsBig YouthRobbie ShakespeareDillingerJack RubyRichard Dirty HarryHallRas Michael and the Sons of Negus as themselves.  The film’s soundtrack also features the music of Prince HammerPeter ToshThe Heptones and others.  It will not be shown in the US until 1980, when it will enjoy a brief but well-received fun.

UK – 1979

November 18, 1978:  Critically-acclaimed British funk-pop band Hot Chocolate make one of their rare entries into the US soul charts with “Every 1’s a Winner,” which in its eighteen weeks on the chart will peak at #7.

Sweden – 1978

December 16, 1978:  Parliament, part of George Clinton‘s subversive-message funk empire, enters the soul LP chart with Motor-Booty Affair.  The album, which yields the hit single “Aqua Boogie (A Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop),” Number One for four weeks starting January 20, 1979, will rise to #2 on the chart.  It caps off a highly successful year for Clinton, who has already had two Number One singles with Parliament’s “Flashlight” (Number One for three weeks starting March 4) and Funkadelic‘s “One Nation Under a Groove” (Number One for six weeks starting September 30), and a Number One soul LP in Funkadelic’s One Nation Under a Groove (Number One for four weeks starting October 28).

Germany – 1978

December 16, 1978:  James Brown makes his third and last soul singles chart entry of the year with the title cut of his latest album, “For Goodness Sakes, Look At Those Cakes.”  The bawdy ode to one variety of girl-watching will peak at #52.

1979

January 8, 1979:  Canadian rock band Rush are named the country’s official “Ambassadors of Music” by the Canadian government.

February 7, 1979:  Stephen Stills becomes the first rock performer to record on digital equipment in Los Angeles’ Record Plant Studio.  However, his digital material is never released, and Ry Cooder will become the first rock performer to release a digitally recorded record [1979’s Bop Till You Drop, presumably].

March 2, 1979:  Havana Jam, the first jointly sponsored US-Cuban music event in twenty years, begins three days of performances today.  Featured artists include Billy Joel, Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge, and Tom Scott and the L.A. Express.  CBS Records will later release an album documenting the festival.

March 9, 1979:  ABC-TV shows the rock documentary, Heroes of Rock & Roll, narrated by Jeff Bridges and featuring clips of Buddy HollyElvis PresleyChuck BerryBob DylanThe BeatlesThe Rolling StonesElvis Costello and other rock greats, as well as the first film ever seen of Bruce Springsteen in performance (an excerpt fromRosalita“).

August 23, 1979:  Brooklyn declares this “Peter Tosh Day,” awarding the reggae star an honorary citation as he tours the borough’s Jamaican neighborhoods.

October 6, 1979:  Funk band Fatback enter the soul chart with “King Tim III (Personality Jock),” which will peak at #26 in its eleven weeks on the chart, and which will later be seen by many observers as a seminal pre-rap song.

November 3, 1979:  Guyana-born British reggae-funk-rocker Eddy Grant enters the US soul chart for the only time this decade with “Walking on Sunshiine,” which will only reach #86 in just three weeks on the chart.  The song will later be an international funk hit in a 1982 cover version by Brooklyn-based Rockers Revenge.  Grant himself – a former member of late-Sixties interracial British teenybopper band The Equals — will reemerge triumphant in 1983 with the hit singles “Electric Avenue” and “I Don’t Wanna Dance” and the hit album Killer on the Rampage.

France – 1979

December 3, 1979:  Eleven fans are trampled to death in the rush to gain admittance for general or festival (unreserved) seating to The Who‘s concert this evening at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Coliseum.  As is typical in festival-seating concerts, thousands of fans had arrived early for the show, all hoping to get into the Coliseum as quickly as possible to get the best seats they could.  Since they could be admitted through only two doors, a crushing human bottleneck formed; the eleven people died when the doors were finally opened and the mob stampeded for the doors.  Coroner’s reports ruled that the eleven died from “suffocation due to accidental mob stampede.”  The mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, will cancel The Who’s concert scheduled there in two days.  Multiple suits will be filed by the families of the deceased against the city of Cincinnati, Riverfront Coliseum, The Who, and the Cincinnati concert’s promoters, Electric Factory (run by Larry Magid, who in the late Sixties ran one of the first East Coast rock ballrooms, Philadelphia’s Electric Factory).  Festival seating itself will be almost universally blamed for the tragedy (except by Walter Cronkite, who on tonight’s “CBS Evening News” blames it on “a drug-crazed mob of kids“), but festival seating will continue to be used in concerts around the country.

Final Trivia

December 31, 1982:  One of New York City’s longest-running rock clubs, Max’s Kansas City, closes.  Recently a haven of punk rock bands, Max’s had been the watering hole for Andy Warhol‘s coterie, including The Velvet Underground, in the late Sixties.  Here, the Velvets, The New York Dolls and many other important rock bands made their reputations.  Devo made its first sensational New York stage debut, introduced by David Bowie, at Max’s in 1976.  And it was at Max’s that the young, unknown Bruce Springsteen played solo acoustic sets in the early Seventies, opening for The Wailers.

1973 ad – courtesy of Midnight Raver

Early Wailers: Pre-Island Years

Thanks to the local public library, I am no longer the same person I once was after reading Roger Steffens‘ comprehensive and thoughtfully organized oral history of Bob Marley and, by extension, The Wailers, from their earliest days.  Halfway through the book I felt compelled to take notes about a number of the more obscure early Wailers tracks.

What got me off the couch was the reminder that Johnny Nash, Arthur Jenkins, and Danny Sims (i.e., the JAD production team, featured late last December) brought in top NYC session players to “sweeten” the tracks for American ears – including Bernard Purdie (subject of a recent King history piece).  However, when you check the credits on disc one (1968) of the three-disc JAD box set, it says musicians “probably include” Eric Gale, Bernard Purdie, et al.  If not Purdie on tracks 1 through 14, asks Zero to 180, then what other drummer?   Check out “Love” – a surprisingly tender ballad from the Wailer with the most militant reputation – and decide whether Bernard Purdie provides the drum part on this JAD production from 1968:

“Love”     The Wailers     1968

Speaking of Peter Tosh, Steffens notes that the original Studio One ska version of “Maga Dog” includes little-known female Wailer, Cherry Green:

“Maga Dog”     The Wailers (backed by The Skatalites)    1965

Cherry Green can also be heard on “Lonesome Feeling,” as well as “There She Goes” – The Wailers backed by The Mighty Vikingsa rare 45 from 1964.

JAMAICA’S NO. 1 BAND
(Photo courtesy of Discogs)

It Hurts to Be Alone” features vocalist, Junior Braithwaite, another early member.  Check out the opening guitar line and instrumental solo break – who else could it be?  Answer:  Ernest Ranglin.

“It Hurts To Be Alone”     The Wailers     1964

Bunny Wailer affirms that “It Hurts to Be Alone” — a “smash” when performed live in the early days – was a song directly inspired by Curtis Mayfield‘s “I’m So Proud,” as recorded by The Impressions:

“I’m So Proud”     The Impressions     1964

Beverley Kelso, another member from the earliest days [who can be heard on early hit, “Simmer Down“], tells The Jamaica Observer in 2012 that she provided harmony on the original recording of “It Hurts To Be Alone“.  This song, notes Steffens — “the group’s first ballad to make a big impression” (get it?) — was written by “the teenaged Junior Braithwaite and recorded on August 28, 1964, the day before he left the island for Chicago” to join his family in the States.

Kelso sang on Wailers recordings sessions throughout 1964 and into the beginning of 1965 — including “Habits” from the group’s sixth recording session in mid-July 1964:

“Habits”     The Wailers     1965

Dreamland” (Steffens points out) is not a Bunny Wailer original but rather an adaptation of a relatively obscure A-side – “My Dream Island” by El Tempos – that had been suggested to the group by Studio One owner, Coxson(e) Dodd:

As Discogs notes:

Originally (but never officially credited on Wailers-related records), it was an adaptation of a song “My Dream Island” by El Tempos on a Vee Jay Records 7-inch (VJ 580, 1963).  Composed by AlBunkJohnson, lead singer of El Tempos.

Constantine “Dream” (a.k.a., ”Vision”) Walker – Rita (Anderson) Marley’s cousin – filled in for Bob when he was in Delaware and can be heard on “Sunday Morning”; “Let Him Go”; “Rock Sweet Rock”; “Dancing Shoes”; “I Need You”; “I Stand Predominate” (←fast forward to 24:51); and “I’m the Toughest”:

“I’m the Toughest”     The Wailers     1966

Wailers in the JA Pop Charts:  What Constitutes a “Hit”

Steffens states (on pgs. 56-7) that in 1965, “the Wailers had the number one [“Simmer Down”], two [“It Hurts To Be Alone“], three [“Rude Boy“], five [“Jailhouse“], and seven [“Put It On“] songs in the Top Ten at once.”  Earlier in the book, Dodd helps give some context as to what constitutes a “hit”:  “When ‘Simmer Down’ come out, in those days, anything from five thousand was a hit.  I would say twenty thousand would be a strong hit.”  Steffens adds, “At the height of the success of ‘Simmer Down’ it kept four pressing plants going and sold a reported eighty thousand copies on an island with only about two million inhabitants.”

During their early years, The Wailers were a pretty volatile live act, you might be surprised to know, as Bunny Wailer makes clear:

Our first appearance was at the Palace.  Wailers were hot.  When we hit the stage it was just fire … When we came on, half the people left their seats and were down almost to the edge of the stage, ’cause Wailers were like gymnastics.  Flickings and splits and snap falls.  All Wailers split.  We did stuff where Bob would take me and throw me in the air and we’d split.  Bob would kneel down, I would go over his back — splits.  Peter would come there and bounce us like rubber balls, just comin’ up and goin’ down like that.  I would run to him, he catches me, and as my belly cross his arm he just flicks and split.

Bunny says that at the last show before Bob left for Delaware, it was a first-ever concert in the National Stadium, and the moment that made the crowd lose control happened during one particular Bob ballad, “I’m Still Waiting“:

We had a little plan for “I’m Still Waiting” where when Bob said ‘my feet’, his feet just feel from under him, and we caught him before him hit the ground and just bring him back on mic.

“I’m Still Waiting”     The Wailers & Soul Brothers Orchestra     1965

Steffens also notes that “Rasta Shook Them Up” — a Peter Tosh song recorded just a few days after Haile Selassie’s historic 1966 visit to Jamaica – is “the Wailers’ first record specifically mentioning Selassie” (and a 45 that does well at auction):

“Rasta Shook Them Up”     The Wailers     1966

Freedom Time” – 1966 song of liberation from Dodd, despite being recorded at Studio One with The Soul Brothers is the first Wail‘n’ Soul’m 45 b/w “Bend Down Low” (Bunny says it sold something like 50,000 copies):

Check out the loping rocksteady version of “Stepping Razor” from 1967 — augmented by heavy hand drums (note the flubbed chord by the band just seconds before fading):

More Nyabinghi hand drums on Tosh/Wailers “Burial (below) the flip side to “Pound Get a Blow,” almost certainly recorded during the time Bob was in Delaware (where part of his time was spent sweeping floors at the opulent Hotel Du Pont in Wilmington) –- great piano on this killer rocksteady Wail’n Soul’m 45 release from 1968:

Hotel Du Pont:  Where Jeff Nold once imbibed

Musical blooper:  bassist accidentally plays opening note too early (or does he?)

Wail’n Soul’m 45s (Thanks to Discogs)

Other Wailers Rarities

Jamaica 45 — 2003                                          Pre-release — 1969

Glad to be reminded that the ill-named Best of the Wailers album that was recorded at Leslie Kong’s studio (and released August, 1971) was intended as reggae’s first “concept” album — a “thematically structured collection of songs,” explain the liner notes to JAD’s 3-disc box set, “geared to the idea of giving themselves a pep talk:  we’re back in the business, we’re not afraid, and we’re moving forward to new heights, and the past be damned.”

  • A more appropriate album title, asserts Bunny Wailer, would’ve been “Cheer Up”:

“Cheer Up”     The Wailers     1970

Carlton + Family Man = “Hippy Boys”:  Trivia

Bunny Lee produced the first recording session to feature Carlton and Family Man on a song (“Bangarang” by Stranger Cole & Lester Sterling) “that marked the transition from rocksteady to reggae” (see earlier sidebar re:  “first reggae song“):

“Bangarang”     Lester Sterling & Stranger Cole     1968

Two songs recorded for Catch a Fire that got reissued in recent years as bonus tracks:

Three recorded for the Burnin album similarly released as bonus tracks on reissues:

Netherlands 45 — 1973                                       Pre-release — 1971

‘Sangie’ Davis Gets a Co-Write

According to Roger Steffens:

Survival featured a song written by [Anthony] Sangie Davis called ‘Wake Up and Live‘ … Sangie was given credit on the original Survival cover for co-writing ‘Wake Up and Live.’  He received a small payment upon the album’s release in 1979, but nothing since.  His name has been removed from the credits on all subsequent pressings.”

“In late summer of 2006, Sangie and reggae great JosephCultureHill visited the Reggae Archives.  Davis, who had been a staff producer at [Bob Marley’s studio] Tuff Gong, revealed that he was the composer of the unreleased gems “Babylon Feel This One,” a dub-plate commissioned for the Twelve Tribes Sound System, and “She Used to Call Me Dada.”

“She Used to Call Me Dada”      Bob Marley & the Wailers

“Babylon Feel This One”     Bob Marley & the Wailers

Roger Steffens Weighs In on the King Records Legacy!

Zero to 180 is delighted to report that Roger Steffens himself was kind enough to check out this history piece on the early Wailers recordings and respond to my query about Bernard Purdie and the King Records legacy:

“As far as Mr. Purdie’s contributions to the catalog, I don’t think there’s anything I could add to what is in Leroy Pierson and my Bob Marley and the Wailers:  The Definitive Discography.  (If you don’t have this book, it’s indispensable to your work, and still available on Amazon.)  I wouldn’t trust Danny [Sims]’s memory on any specific tracks, but Purdie himself has acknowledged being on several.  We acknowledge specifically “Nice Time”; “Soul Almighty” & “Bend Down Low,” and you can check the discog book for many others too.

In 1956, after my graduation from grade school in suburban NJ, my dad was transferred to Cincinnati.  We lived in North Norwood and I started high school at Purcell, working six afternoons a week delivering 356 copies of the Post and Times-Star.  I went back to Cincy many times in the ’60s and ’70s while reading poetry in the schools.  Saw REO Speedwagon in ’70 at the Ludlow Garage.  Have very fond memories of the city.

I have dinner every Tuesday night with a bunch of aging musos, and a frequent guest of late has been Seymour Stein.  He also moved from NY to Cincy in 1956, and we were born in the same hospital in Brooklyn, three months apart (he’s older).  Stein’s autobiography, Siren Song, is a great read, with much about his time as a youth mentored by the King Records head.”

Trojan Records History Highlights

It always helps to have streaming audio within arm’s reach to make music history more of a ‘multimedia’ experience.

From reading Young Gifted and Black:  The Story of Trojan Records by Michael de Koningh & Laurence Cane-Honeysett, for example, I have picked up a number of helpful listening tips and historical revelations, such as this one:

The Cincinnati-Kingston Connection (Continues)

King Records makes an appearance early in the book when the authors recount the rise of Duke Reid, owner of Treasure Isle, one of the top Jamaican labels in the 1960s:

“In the early ’50s, Reid’s wife, Lucille, won a substantial lottery prize, which she invested in their future by buying a business, an off-license called the Treasure Isle Liquor Store, which was located in the same run-down ghetto area that the Duke had patrolled [as a police officer] for a decade.  The store was such a success that, in 1958, they relocated to larger premises at 33 Bond Street.

It was normal practice around Kingston for shopkeepers and bar owners to play recorded music to attract customers.  Not to be outdone, Reid rigged up a 78 rpm record player in the shop, with a speaker outside the front door, and discovered a formula for increasing his turnover.  Nothing drew in the music-hungry local people like a Wynonie Harris record rocking out through the speaker and carrying right across the street.”

The First Trojan Record

The authors identify the very first Trojan 45 release on page 32 — nevertheless, from the comfort of your computer, you can pull up the titles of the A and B sides of TR-001 yourself in three easy steps:

  1. Go to Discogs
  2. Pull up the main entry for Trojan Records
  3. Click on the column near the top of the screen marked Year (so as to put this set of records in chronological order)

Observe the very first item listed — “Judge Sympathy” by Duke Reid [& His All-Stars] b/w “Never to Be Mine” by Roland Alphonso — with a release date, 28 July 1967, that coincides with the label’s founding by Lee Gopthal and Chris Blackwell.

“Judge Sympathy”     Duke Reid All-Stars     1967

A classic tale of a rude boy getting his comeuppance -or not- in court.”

It is highly improbable, of course, that producer Duke Reid appears on this recording but rather, as YouTube contributor rudeboy6000 states, “Alton Ellis and John Holt are probable guest voices [ref.: Trojan Records].”

click on all song titles below for streaming audio >

The Obligatory Beatles Reference

Two years after its founding, the Trojan organization would expand operations in 1969:

“Another significant move in that year was the appointment of St. Kitts-born Joe Sinclair.  Joe had been with the Musicland shop at 23 Ridley Road since 1965 … and had elevated the premises to be the number-one retail outlet of the chain.  He was rewarded with an appointment as the manager of Trojan Records.

Joe was an accomplished keyboard player and, as well as being responsible for the day-to-day running of the office, moved into playing on and producing records.  He founded the Grape label in late 1969 as a ‘take on Apple‘ and started to record UK-based group The Rudies on crunching skinhead-friendly numbers like the revamped ‘Guns of Navarone‘.  Some of their records were covers of other artists’ tunes, such as ‘Shanghai‘, which was similar to the Lloyd Charmers original, already released by Pama.

The Obligatory Stones Reference

Reggae at the reception — the authors explain:

“As reggae gained a firm hold in the charts and minds of Mr. Average Record Buyer, the stars of rock took notice, including The Rolling Stones, who had championed black music since their early days.  Under the headline ‘Rudies Play at Mick Jagger‘s Wedding‘, the 10 June 1971 issue of US magazine Rolling Stone reported, ‘At the slightly seedy Cafe des Arts, where the reception was held, a local band opened the show and flopped.  Next came The Rudies, a thumping reggae group big in their own scene in Britain.  They lifted up plenty of souls ready for a set by Terry Reid and his band.”

Depends What You Mean By “Exclusive”

Part of the UK reggae industry’s colorful history includes a bit of “double dealing”:

“The other problem that confronted [Joe] Sinclair, and that had caused headaches far back for Chris Blackwell, was the [Jamaican] producers’ philosophy of getting as much mileage out of a record as possible.  Sometimes Trojan were offered a brand-new recording from Jamaica; they would buy the master tape from the producer and issue it on one of their labels.  Pama would have gone through a mirror-image situation with the same producer, who would have two or three copies of his ‘exclusive’, which he would proceed to sell to rival companies before jetting back to the sunshine with a maximum profit.

Sometimes two rival companies’ labels would release a record almost simultaneously — such as Marley‘s “Lively Up Yourself“, which appeared on Trojan’s Green Door imprint and Pama’s Punch label — or, if one unfortunate owner saw it already out on the street, they would just shelve their release.  Trojan Records own a considerable number of recordings that they have never released due to this problem, and one can conjecture that the other labels active at the time also had a box of unuseable master tapes.”

This inter-label rivalry (according to Wikipedia – please don’t hit me) “had been fuelled by Bunny Lee’s earlier licensing of Derrick Morgan’s ‘Seven Letters‘ to both Pama and Trojan.”

Musical fight:  Trojan vs. Pama

Both singles released in 1969 – on (Trojan-owned) Jackpot & (Pama-owned) Crab

JA’s Omnipresent Engineer 

Syd Bucknor, audio engineer emeritus, receives a musical salute on page 55:

“The engineer at Harry Johnson‘s session at Dynamic Studios on the day that ‘Young, Gifted And Black‘ was recorded was Sid Bucknor.  A first cousin to ClementCoxsonDodd, Bucknor started his recording career at Studio One in around 1963.  He was with Lee Perry when the youthful Wailers first auditioned for the studio and was impressed by their sound.  History vindicates his opinion.

Sid estimates that, by the end of the decade, his hand was present in around 70 per cent of all the recordings coming from the small island, so great was the demand for his talents as a freelance producer and engineer.  He estimates that the average number of recordings he would undertake in a normal day was a staggering 12.  He never had to look for work as his reputation preceded him and most producers looked to him to turn a song into a hit.

As a professional engineer and producer at Dynamic Studios (after leaving Studio One and his freelance career), he recorded work for, among others, Bunny Lee, Harry Mudie, Alvin ‘GG’ Ranglin and Leslie Kong.  He was the engineer on Johnny Nash’s smash ‘I Can See Clearly Now‘, engineered the formative DJ work of producer Keith Hudson with Big Youth on ‘Ace 90 Skank‘ and worked on the first three Marley Island albums.  He also remixed both Duke Reid’s and Coxson’s work at various times to give ‘a more up-to-date sound’.

Sadly, much of Sid’s work has been unrecognised, and it is only now that account has been taken of his vast input to Jamaican music.  He recalls that, in the reggae heyday of the start of the ’70s, ‘I would be asked to do two mixes of a tune, one for Jamaica and a lighter one for the UK as a new burgeoning market for their products and their need to retune the sound accordingly.”

Clyde McPhatter and the Trojan Connection

One original era vocal legend, tragically, was not able to hang on for the roots rock revival scene that began to take shape in the early 1970s — Rob Bell recounts:

‘Here’s one artist probably no one in the world knows had a Trojan connection – Clyde McPhatter, lead singer of the Drifters in the early ’50s, who then branched out to a solo career by around 1955 or ’56.  Huge influence on R&B – you can listen to thousands of R&B or doo-wop recordings from the ’50s and hear Clyde’s influence.  Enormous.

‘He was in London for awhile around 1971 [the master index shows that Clyde recorded in 1970 for Trojan], down on his luck.  I don’t know how he showed up at Trojan, but he did.  We cut a session with him and The Rudies, with ex-Pioneer Sydney Crooks as producer.  Four tunes, assigned Song Bird matrices.  Somewhere around SB 1027 to 1032 A and B, as far as I can recall … For some reason, Graham [Walker] and Lee [Gopthal] hated him, and I remember having to tell Clyde that we had no bread for him on the one occasion that I met him.

‘It is not a moment that I recall with relish.  He seemed like a nice man and was certainly a singer for whom I had a very high regard.  As far as I know, these titles have never been issued.’

Actually, one single ‘Denver‘ would be issued on the “pop-slanted” B&C label in September of 1969 — a nicely arranged piece of pop soul (penned by Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham) that would be one of the last releases from the legendary vocalist, who succumbed to alcoholism in 1972 at the age of 39.

UK release in 1969  +  Picture sleeve for Spain – 1970

I Roy vs. U Roy vs. Hugh Roy

Forget what you learned in school:  U before I, except after Roy.  Rob Bell explains:

“I myself was responsible for one cock-up, and that was calling toaster U Roy on his early UK releases Hugh Roy.  As you know, Jamaicans tend to drop Hs, and to add them sometimes, viz Marley’s line in ‘Trench Town Rock‘, ‘an ‘ungry man is a hangry man’.

So little old middle-class Rob Bell, one of whose tasks it was to prepare label copy, very carefully typed ‘Hugh Roy’ on the copy for those releases … As I did all the label copy for at least two years, I am sure I am responsible for many cock-ups!  However, in my defence, I took the details from the Jamaican label, or got the info from the producer — both sources being, of course, absolutely infallible!

(If it’s any consolation to Rob, the toaster’s debut LP, Version Galore, was issued by Duke Reid in Jamaica in a sleeve proclaiming the artist to be I-Roy!)”

Front Cover with “I Roy” misprint = issued in JA

Note the seamless edit in repress version

(Trojan’s) Tighten Up vs. (Pama’s) Straighten Up

Traditionally, Jamaica has been a singles market.  In Britain, as the authors note —

“Island had tried out the long-playing format as early as 1963, with albums by their top signings such as Derrick Morgan’s Forward March (et al.)”

Original 1963 LP might set you back three figures at auction

Rob Bell picks up the story:

“Full-price ska/reggae albums sold in minute quantities.  The Tighten Up series did sell well, but that was because they consisted of compilations of singles that had already sold very well indeed.  Trojan wanted to piggyback other titles … hence the ambitious TTL reissue project.”

Tighten Up‘s first volume featured primarily previously-released Trojan 45s and was given the TTL “budget” designation (“though no one now can recall what these initials stood for”).  The authors further explain —

“Priced at just 14/6d – the cost of two singles – this album moved units, and its first pressing on the original all-orange Trojan label sold out quickly.  It was repressed with a slightly altered sleeve design using the new orange-and-white label design, which was introduced in 1969 …”

Tighten Up Volume Two appeared quickly afterwards and was not only much more up to date in its tracks; it was also a sizzling selection of recordings … Tighten Up Volume Two was Trojan’s all-time best-selling album and would remain available for many years, such was its enduring popularity.  It even score in the pop album charts, the entry rules for which were promptly revised to exclude budget records!”

Tighten Up Volume 3, issued in 1970, took the pretty girl off the sleeve and on to the bedroom wall with a splendid double-album-sized poster nestled in a die-cut sleeve.  The young lady peeped through the central hole and, when the poster was opened out, revealed the titles of all the album’s tracks painted on her finely toned body.  It may have been a gimmick, but because of the poster Tighten Up Volume 3 became legendary in every school classroom and extremely popular on the skinheads’ walls.”

Here’s a link to the track listing for Tighten Up Volume 4 — six songs per LP side.

With respect to Pama’s competing series of budget-priced oldies — Straighten UpLloyd Bradley, in 2000’s Bass Culture:  When Reggae Was King, would simply say that the “sleeves were tacky enough to make Trojan’s lewd efforts look classy.”

Volume 1 – track listing                       Volume 2 – track listing

Volume 3 – track listing                        Volume 4 – track listing

Trojan:  The Marcel Rodd/Dave Hendley Era

Trojan’s reliance on “strings reggae” would hurt the label during the 1970s, as reggae audiences gravitated toward a heavier roots sound as the decade progressed.  The label would have liquidity issues in the mid-1970s and find itself under new ownership:  Marcel Rodd of Saga/Allied Records.  Former Island staffer, Dave Hendley (“with the departure of Tony Cummings”) would be promoted to Artists & Repertoire.  The authors take the baton:

“So in the late ’70s, Trojan was drifting, as the only product which producers would offer them was rejects from other deals or substandard work.  Due to the company policy of not paying to the same level as their competitors, such as the rapidly expanding Greensleeves Records, Trojan’s reputation in the marketplace had taken a dive.  Marcel Rodd was determined to reverse this trend.  And so February 1979 saw Dave Hendley, Mo Claridge and fast-rising reggae DJ David Rodigan heading out to Kingston.  Dave’s brief was to raise the Trojan flag in Kingston and sign up some acts – although the company had provided no contacts for him to visit.

Due to Dave’s resourcefulness, the outcome was Sugar Minott‘s Ghetto-ology album and The Morwells‘ 12″ disco 45 ‘Kingston 12 Tuffie‘, with a stunning remix by courtesy of Prince Jammy.”

JA release in 1977 of “1974 production” vs. UK release on Attack in 1979

Dave Hendley breaks down the economics for the rest of us:

“Trojan would pay £300 max for a disco 12” single, while the going rate was £400, and they would only pay up to £2,500 for an album, when up to £4,000 was the normal price.  I badly wanted a Freddie McGregor album that Niney had and, give him his due, Rodd went to four grand, but Niney wouldn’t let it go for that.  Freddie was just so big back then.  I tried for the ‘Hard Time Pressure‘ 12″ single from Sugar Minott but couldn’t get it due to the money.  In the end I put it out on my own Sufferers’ Heights label.”

Music in Advertising

“[Page 81] After the departure of Dave Hendley, Trojan began a period of comparative inactivity, seemingly reissuing the same dozen golden oldies in as many permutations as possible, until it was sold to Sharesense Ltd. in 1985…

[Former Chairman, Colin NewmanNo matter what some people want to say about the period in which we ran Trojan, we think we acted in manner that was fair and reasonable.  We think we gave care and attention to the music, care and attention to the artwork, care and attention to the way the music was presented to the public.  We enjoyed doing it and, as you know, we built up other labels which had other genres of music — again, all built up with direct artist relationships.  with very few problems.  We built up a big chart list of British singles charts, tracks that ha individually been in the charts, and we mixed the benefit of those releases with Trojan’s expertise, in terms of the ability of putting tracks on compilations and things like that.  And we had some success with TV ads, probably the most famous was ‘Israelites‘ by Desmond Dekker for a TDK ad [Maxell, actually], with ‘My Ears Are Alight’, which we thought was great and very funny.”

Desmond Dekker’s “Israelites” = Maxell Cassettes

Lord Tanamo’s “I’m In the Mood for Ska” = Paxo Stuffing

Toots & the Maytals’ “Broadway Jungle” = Adidas Footware

Mastered From Vinyl
Superior to Master Tapes?

Those of you who wondered if Trojan’s often murky mixes were somehow caused by limitations in your sound system, you can now rest assured that neither your ears nor playback equipment were at fault:

“Many high-street retailers disliked stocking reggae singles due to their poor sound quality.  Joe Sinclair explains the reason:

‘Apart from the big producers like Leslie Kong and Byron Lee, who provided us with master tapes, we always had to dub off a record for our releases.’

In other words, a normal Jamaican-pressed record would be used as the master copy for the Trojan release.  All the inherent faults of the none-too-special JA pressing would thereby be transferred to the UK issue, along with a second step away from master-tape sound quality.”

⇐     ⇐     ⇐     ⇐     ⇐     Trojan & Affiliated Labels     ⇒     ⇒     ⇒     ⇒     ⇒
An Alphabetical Overview

All playlists below in order by catalog #
All dates indicate year of release in the UK — not Jamaica

Amalgamated:  According to Discogs —

Founded in 1966 by Joel Gibson (a.k.a. Joe Gibbs) at his radio and TV repair shop on Beeston Street in Kingston, Jamaica, Amalgamated became one of the fastest-rising labels in correlation with the uprising of Rocksteady music. 
Though the credits almost always read “Produced By Joel Gibson”, production was actually handled by Lee ‘ScratchPerry for the first two years, followed by WinstonNineyHolness who took over for the following six years after the fact. 

Says the book:  “Some of the best sides from 1968 and 1969 were collected on Amalgamated’s Jackpot of Hits compilation.”  Also of note to historians:  “… the sides by The Cobbs are believed to be Ken Jones‘s productions.”  Worth pointing out that obscure early reggae track ‘Red Red Wine‘ by The Immortals – flipside of AMG 869 – “has nothing to do with its more famous namesake.”

  • Amalgamated on Discogs
  • Amalgamated on 45Cat
  • Lesserknown gems on Amalgamated — a playlist:
Goodies Are the Greatest    The Pioneers w/ Lyn Taitt Band    1968
Hope Someday                The Leaders w/ Lyn Taitt & Jets   1968
Sometimes I Sit Down & Cry  The Leaders                       1968
Music Is the Key            Roy Shirley                       1968
We Shall Have a Grand Time  The Marvetts                      1968
Get in the Groove           Keith Blake                       1968
Having a Party              Dennis Walks                      1968
Holding Out                 The Creations                     1968
I Spy                       Errol Dunkley (& Gibbs All Stars) 1968
Pan Ya Machete              Joe Gibbs & Pioneers              1968
Great Great in '68          Lord Salmons                      1968
Jana                        Sir Gibbs All Stars               1968
Mortgage                    Hugh Malcolm                      1968
Caterpillar Rock            'Dan D. Jr.'                      1968
Miss Eve                    The Pioneers                      1968
We Two + What Moma No Want  Stranger Cole                     1969
On the Move                 The Soulmates                     1969
Why Did You Leave           The Young Souls                   1969
Appolo 11                   The Moon Boys                     1969
Professor in Action         The Scientists                    1969
Bongo Jah                   The Immortals                     1969
Straight to the Head        Joe Gibbs & the Destroyers        1969
The Woman of Samaria        Spanishites (not Jackie Robinson) 1969
Baby Don't Be Late          The Soulmates w/ The Blenders     1969
Franco Nero                 Joe Gibbs & the Destroyers        1970
Turn Back the Hands of Time Joe Gibbs (& Co.)                 1970
La La                       Joe Gibbs All Stars               1970
Train Is Coming             The Inspirations                  1970
Kingstonians Reggae         Jogibs All Stars feat E. Ranglin  1970
Life Is Down in Denver      Joe Gibbs (& Whistling Friends)   1970

BONUS = 1970 LP Reggae Fever by The Inspirations

Attack:  According to Discogs —

Reggae label based on Bunny Lee productions.  This label contains releases on multinational markets [from multiple producers, actually].

This UK label were originally started in 1969 as a subsidiary of  [Grame Goodall‘s] Doctor Bird RecordsTrojan Records took over in 1970, and the label lasted until around 1980.  Attack was briefly revived in 1988 until about 1991, issuing compilations of classic Jamaican music from the sixties and seventies. 

Zero to 180 emphasizes the array of producers issued on Attack besides Bunny Lee, including (but not limited to) Tony Brevitt, ‘Prince’ Tony Robinson, Warwick Lyn,  Winston Riley, Phil Pratt, Alvin ‘GG’ Ranglin, Lloyd Coxson, Lee Perry, Pat Rhoden, Sidney Crooks, Ernie Smith, Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith, Eric Donaldson, Linval Thompson, and Harry J.

  • Attack on Discogs
  • Attack on 45Cat
  • Lesserknown gems on Attack — a playlist:

*Bonus early Attack track (Philigree Production) – “Nyah Bingewe” by Nyah Earth

“Nyah Bingewe”     Nyah Earth     1970

This Beautiful Land/Version The Melodians                     1972
Fine Style                  Dennis Alcapone                   1972
This is a Pepper            U Roy                             1972
Bound in Chains + Version   The Clarendonians                 1972
It Was Written Down        (Toots &) The Maytals              1972
Musical Goat                Shorty Perry/Winston Grennan      1972
Multiplication              Thoroughbreds                     1973
Space Flight                I Roy                             1973
People Got to Be Free       Denzil Dennis                     1973
Harry Hippie                Neville Grant                     1973
Feeling High               'The Pioneers'                     1973
Reggae Fever               'The Pioneers'                     1974
Pass It On                  The Henneseys (i.e., Pioneers)    1974
Duppy Gunman                Ernie Smith                       1974
Atlantic One                Ansel Collins                     1974
A Noh Me Trouble You        The Willows                       1974
I Am Gone + dub             Derrick & Hortense                1974
Arise Selassie I Arise      Freddie McKay                     1974
Nothing Is Impossible       The Interns                       1975
Saturday Night Special      Michael Dyke                      1975
Just Be Jolly               U Roy                             1975
Natty Dread Don't Cry       Tapper Zukie                      1975
Scorpion Dub                Nora Dean All Stars               1976
Niah Dread                  Lester Lewis                      1976
A Weh We A Go Do            Eric Donaldson                    1977
I Love Lamb's Bread         Linval Thompson                   1978
Tubby at the Controls       Big Joe                           1978

Big:  According to Discogs —

UK reggae label and a subsidiary of Trojan Records initiated for productions from Rupie Edwards.  Active between 1970 and 1972 and released a total of about 35 releases on 7″.

  • Big on Discogs
  • Big on 45Cat
  • Lesserknown gems on Big — a playlist:
Go to a Party + Mother Cuba The Meditators                     1970
Everytime                   The Itals                          1970
Staccato                    Ansel Collins                      1970
Music Alone Shall Live      Rupie Edwards                      1970
Dip Dip + Too Much          The Slickers                       1970
Ain't Misbehavin'           Joe White                          1970
Burning Fire + Version      Joe Higgs                          1971
Uncle Charlie               U Roy                              1971
Behold Another Version      Rupie Edwards All Stars            1971
You Must Believe Me         Niney & Dennis Alcapone            1971
Brain Wash                  Conscious Minds                    1971
Soulful Stew #1 & #2        Rupie Edwards All Stars            1971
Weary Version 3             Glen Adams                         1971
Love Version                All Stars (U Roy w/ The Uniques)   1971
Deep Meditation             Eroll Dunkley                      1971
Girl You're Too Young       The Diamonds                       1971
Papacito                    Hugh Roy Jr.                       1971
Solid As a Rock & Version   The Ethiopians                     1972
Three Tops Time             Dion & The Three Tops              1972
Eternal Drums               Bongo Herman & Les                 1972
Jimmy As Job Card           Rupie Edwards All Stars            1972
Riot                        Rupie Edwards All Stars            1972
I Want Justice + Version    B.B. Seaton                        1972
Christmas Parade            Rupie Edwards                      1972
Santa                       Underground People                 1972

Big Shot:  According to Discogs —

Originally a subsidiary of Island Records in 1968, Big Shot was absorbed into the Trojan Records group when it spun off from Island that same year, and became one of Trojan’s top secondary subsidiary labels, particularly thanks to its consistent output of material from controversial artist Judge Dread.

Zero to 180 notes the variety of producers whose recordings were issued on Big Shot:  George ‘Clive’ Tennors, Ken Khouri, Paul Khouri, Derrick Harriott, Bunny Lee, Niney, Sonia Pottinger, Herman Chin-Loy, Eric Barnett, Alvin ‘GG’ Ranglin, Des and Webster, Les Foster, Winston Riley, Rad Bryan, Lloyd Daley, Hugh Madden, Glen Brown, Lloyd’s TV & Radio, Lloyd Charmers, and Lloyd & Glen, among others.

  • Big Shot on Discogs
  • Big Shot on 45Cat
  • Lesserknown gems on Big Shot — a playlist:

*Bonus moon landing calypso – “Round and Round the Moon” by Amor Vivi

“Round and Round the Moon”     Amor Vivi     1969

Donkey Trot                 Clive All Stars                    1968
Something About My Man      The Gaylets                        1968
Chattie Chattie/Magic Touch Junior Soul                        1969
Bumble Bee                  The Crystalites                    1969
Shower of Rain              Derrick Morgan                     1969
Forest Gate Rock            Lester Sterling                    1969
Rock, Rock and Cry          Raving Ravers                      1969
Kiss a Finger               The Kingstonians                   1969
Been So Long                Derrick Harriott                   1969
He Is Back                  Monty Morris                       1969
How Strong My Love Is       The Gaylettes                      1969
My Baby                     The Tennors                        1969
Cool Hand Luke              Cannon Ball & Johnny Melody        1969
By-Ooh-Paooh-Pa-Pa-Ya       Eddie Lovette                      1969
Hound Dog Special           Val Bennett                        1969
Windy Pt. 1                 The Saints                         1969
Old Man Dead                Vern and Alvin                     1969
Nice Nice                   The Kingstonians                   1969
Do It Nice                  Les Foster                         1969
Son of Reggae               Sylvan Williams                    1969
Mother Nature               The Escorts                        1970
He Who Keepeth His Mouth    The Techniques                     1970
Darkness                    Boris Gardner                      1970
Watch This Music            Boris Gardner & the Love People    1970
Queen of the World Version  The Prophets                       1970
Jaco                        The Prophets                       1970
Bet Yer Life I Do           Billy Jack                         1970
Freedom Sound               Lloyd Sievright & Barry Howard     1970
He Is Not a Rebel           The Ethiopians                     1971
El Fishy                    Herman's All Stars                 1971
Thunder and Lightning       The Observers                      1971
Hard Fighter                Little Roy                         1971
Psalms 9 to Keep in Mind    Tommy McCook & the Observers       1971
Message to the Ungodly      Niney & the Observers              1971
Free Man                    Boy Friday                         1971
Keep Pushing + Hot Tip      The Observers                      1971
I'll Be Right There         Rad Bryan                          1971
Nyah Festival               Matador                            1971
Know Your Friend + Version  Sketto                             1971
A Sometime Girl             The Cables                         1971
I Need Someone              The Ethiopians                     1971
Rebel                       The God Sons                       1972
Hiding by the Riverside     Niney & the Observers              1972
Night Food Reggae           Nora Dean                          1972
Dr. Spock + Joe Kidd        The Vulcans                        1972
Housewives Choice           Derrick & Hortense                 1973
Mind the Doors              Judge Dread                        1973
Sound Track La La La        Tony's All Stars                   1973
Stop Baby Version           The Gaytones                       1973
White Rum + Jam Dung        Lloyd Charmers                     1973
You Can't Get               Kingston Four Combo                1974
Mama Dee                    The Starlites                      1974

UNRELEASED: "Jill's on the Pill" + "Pill Control" by Glen & Ken '74

Black Swan:  According to Discogs —

Releases prefixed with WI or WIP are released as subsidiary of Island UK, while those prefixed with BW are released as subsidiary of Trojan.

Limited run of releases from 1970-1971 by Trojan/B&C from 1970-1971 under the “shared” Black Swan banner — all of them listed below:

Young Satch "Bonga Bonga" b/w The Boys "Ramba"                 1970
Selwyn Baptiste "Mo' Bay" b/w Reco's All Stars "Going West"    1970
The Low Bites "I Got It" b/w The Low Bites "I Got It Version"  1971
The Itals "Dawn Patrol" b/w The Itals "Whisky Bonga"           1971
Lloyd Clarke "Love You the Most" b/w The Low Bites "Version"   1971
Lee Bogel "Tomorrow's Dreams" b/w Swans "Hot Pants Reggae"     1971
The Itals "Judgement Rock" b/w The Itals "Night West"          1971
Laurel Aitken "Hell Below" b/w Laurel Aitken "Bit o' Loving"   1971
Ruby & Gloria "Talk to Me" b/w Lloyd's All Stars "Version"     1971
Rad Bryan "Girl You Rock My Soul" b/w Rad Bryan "Version"      1971

Blue Cat:  According to Discogs —

Blue Cat Records (UK) was a subsidiary label of Trojan Records.  Around 70 records were released on the label between 1968 and 1969, with a variety of early reggae and rocksteady releases from artists such as The Pioneers, The Untouchables, and The Maytones.

Zero to 180 notes the various producers who were represented on Blue Cat, including Dermot Lynch, Joe Gibbs, Charles Reid, Coxson Dodd, Clancy Collins, Charles Ross, Enos McLeod, Alvin ‘GG’ Ranglin, Nehemiah Reid, and others.

  • Blue Cat on Discogs
  • Blue Cat on 45Cat
  • Lesserknown gems on Blue Cat — a playlist:
Hot Shot                    Dermot Lynch                       1968
I'm Moving On               Keith Blake                        1968
Whip Them                   The Pioneers                       1968
Get Right + If I Did Look   The Wriggers                       1968
Wise Message                Rico's All-Stars                   1968
Seven Letters               Winston Jarrett's Righteous Homes  1968
The Train                   Roy & the Duke All Stars           1968
Bye Bye Baby                Zoot Sims                          1968
Good Girl                   Ed Nangle                          1968
You're Gonna Lose           The Octaves                        1968
Echo (Feel Like Crying)     Dermott Lynch                      1968
Always + Big Man            The Grey Brothers                  1968
The Fiddler                 Leyroy Reid                        1968
Last Dance                  Thrillers                          1968
Unworthy Baby               Delta Cats                         1968
Way of Life                 Glen(n) Brown with Joe & Trevor    1968
Intensified Girls           Andersons All Stars                1968
La La Bam-Ba                Enos & Sheila                      1968
Your Love                   Untouchables                       1968
I Know a Place              Dee Set                            1969
I Dangerous                 Roy Bennett                        1969
Billy Goat                  The Maytones                       1968
ZZ Beat                     Rico & the Rhythm Aces             1968
Out of the Fire             Lloyd & Devon                      1969
Loving Reggae               The Maytones                       1969
Frying Pan                  The Slickers                       1969
Dip it Up                   The Sparkers                       1969
Song of the Year            The Sparkers                       1969
Israel                      The Sparkers                       1969
What a Sin Thing            Devon & Cedric (The Tartans)       1969
Rhythm-In                   Rico Rodriguez                     1969
Me Want Man                 Maxie Romeo                        1969
Love                        The Maytones                       1969
Everybody Reggae            Vern and Alvin                     1969
Magnificent Seven           Winston Wright & the Soul Kings    1969
I Need Your Loving          The Concords                       1969
Strange                     Bobby Dobson                       1969
World Come to an End        Gladstone and Followers            1969
D.D. Money                  The Maytones                       1969

Bread:  According to Discogs —

UK reggae label launched by Trojan in 1970 as a subsidiary label for Jackie Edwards and his productions.  Almost halfway through Bread’s 20-issue existence, Jackie’s output seemed have been switched to Trojan Records and Horse, with other producers taking over the Bread label [such as Lee Perry, Clancy Eccles, Alvin ‘GG’ Ranglin, and Bunny Lee].

  • Bread on Discogs
  • Bread on 45Cat
  • Lesserknown gems on Bread — a playlist:
I Need Your Love            Gene Laro                          1970
Tell Me Why You Say Goodbye Bobby Foster                       1970
Yes I Will                  Victor Scott                       1970
Your Eyes Are Dreaming      Jackie Edwards                     1970
Cum-Ba-Laa                  Jackie's Boys                      1971
Johnny Gunman Version       Jackie's Boys                      1971
Don't Stop                  Danny Ray                          1972
Bewildered                  Count Prince Miller                1972
Station Underground News    Lee Perry                          1973
Better Days                 Carltons [Carlton & the Shoes]     1973
Close Observation           Tyrone Taylor                      1973
Pay for the Wicked/Version  The Untouchables                   1973
People Are Changing/Dubwise The Maytones                       1973
You Need Love               Billy Dyce & Millions              1973
Mama + Man a Walk and Talk  Nora Dean                          1973
Just Enough                 David Isaacs                       1973
I'm Not Home                Derrick Morgan                     1973
Don't Try to Use Me         Horace Andy                        1973
Musical Liquidator          Dennis Alcapone                    1973

Clandisc:  According to Discogs —

Clancy Eccles label. Established by Trojan Records in 1969 as the UK counterpart to Clancy Eccles back-a-yard operation in Jamaica.
Clandisc ground to a halt early in 1972, and Clancy Eccles seemed to disappear from the recording scene.

  • Clandisc on Discogs
  • Clandisc on 45Cat
  • Lesserknown gems on Clandisc — a playlist:
Who Yea                     King Stitt                         1969
The World Needs Loving      Clancy Eccles                      1969
On the Street               King Stitt                         1969
Rub it Down                 Barrington Sadler                  1969
Beat Dance                  Clancy Eccles                      1969
Don't Mind Me               Higgs & Wilson                     1970
Lion                        The Dynamites                      1970
Again                       Higgs & Wilson                     1970
Conversation + Version      Cynthia Richards                   1970
Promises                    Cynthia Richards                   1970
Black Beret                 Clancy Eccles & the Dynamites      1970
Skank Me                    Clancy Eccles & the Dynamites      1970
Africa Pt. 1 + Pt. 2        Clancy Eccles & the Dynamites      1970
False Niah                  Barry & the Affections             1970
Sounds of '70               King Stitt & the Dynamites         1970
Zion                        The Westmorlites                   1970
Pop it Up                   The Dynamites                      1970
Dance Beat                  Clancy and Stitt                   1970
Unite Tonight + Uncle Joe   Clancy Eccles                      1970
Swanee River                Baugh All Stars                    1970
King of Kings               King Stitt                         1970
Reggaedelic                 The Dynamites                      1970
Kingston Town               Lord Creator                       1970
Sweet Jamaica               Clancy Eccles                      1971
Going Up West               The Dynamites                      1971
Teardrops Will Fall         The Silvertones                    1971
John Crow Skank             Clancy's Dynamites (& Unnamed DJ)  1971
Hello Mother                The Dynamites                      1971
Don't Call Me ...           The Soul Twins                     1972
Joe Louis                   The Dynamites                      1972

Downtown:  According to Discogs —

A subsidary label of Trojan Records, set up exclusively for Dandy (