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?*

[*As noted in the comment below, nothing amiss with the songwriting credits on the Danish single release — please disregard]

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 [*Ed Ward, actually – see comment below] 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 — *although this is a misnomer [see comment below]) 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?  [*No – from Pomona, California (see comment below)]

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 Is James Brown Month’ 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

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. [audible throat clearingLonnie Mack]

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

Review in the August 11, 1973 edition of Cash Box:

UPSTAIRS AT MAX’S KANSAS CITY, NYC —

The Wailers, one of the Caribbean’s top reggae groups,
aren’t well-known—yet. But the Island recording artists
attracted a nightly crowd of trend-setters, trend-seekers
and American musicians, a sure sign that the infectious
reggae sound will be going pop in the months to come. The
syncopated guitar riffs which form the base of reggae have
proved catchy enough to produce hit singles for Johnny Nash
and others. The Wailers are the real thing, though, and it’s
just a matter of time before their combination of music and
lyrics captures the mass market. Their delivery is unique;
their message is timely, and it cuts across ethnic lines.
The Wailers are kinky and here to stay.

King Records — Day of My Birth

Ruppli’s King Labels discography is a 2-volume reference set that can be hard to make sense of initially, given all the subsidiary labels and various quirks in its numbering systems, among other things.

Volume 1 features information pertaining to all the releases on the King label from 1943 to 1973, with a great many of these recordings laid down at King‘s Cincinnati studios.  It can be great fun to browse chronologically in order to determine whether any recording took place on the birthdate of someone you know, such as family members and friends.  At first I was disappointed to find out that no King artists were laying down any new sounds on the day of my birth — at least, in Cincinnati.

Page 470 concludes the post-Syd Nathan Starday-King era, with a listing for a Nashville session that took place on September 23, 1973 by a group called The B.K.‘s [Bob Kames + company], with only one song recorded “Choo Choo Choo” (the B-side of King 6426 — a 45 that appears never to have been issued).  However, pages 471-476 list a King 16000 master series of recordings that took place in Los Angeles between the years 1961-1963 (sessions with Johnny Otis and Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson, et al., including “Gangster of Love“).

But the real kicker is this announcement near the bottom of page 476:

Note:  Series discontinued and resumed later in Macon, Ga.”

Volume 1, thus, ends with four pages of King recording sessions between the years 1964-1965 that took place in Macon, Georgia at Bobby Smith Studios (and therefore serve as the “missing link” to all the later work* highlighted in last October’s celebration, “Bobby Smith’s King Productions“).  So, today I decided to browse these pages with a certain date in mind, and wouldn’t you know it:  The Fabulous Denos recorded two songs with Bobby Smith at the helm [“Once I Had a Love” & “Bad Girl“] on the day of my birth — April 13, 1964!

“Bad Girl”     The Fabulous Denos     1964

Bad Girl” – the featured song in this King history piece – served as the B-side of a single released in June, 1964.

Tip of the hat (again) to 45Cat contributor davie gordon for this snippet from Billboard‘s August 22, 1964 edition that shows “Bad Girl” to be a ‘R&B Regional Breakout’ for the urban centers of Atlanta and Cleveland, the city where my dad would relocate by decade’s end — foreshadowing?

Bobby Smith Productions = 1964-1965
Info from The King Labels: A Discography compiled by Michel Ruppli

<click on all song titles below for streaming audio>

Sam Anderson & the Telstars                    [No Date]
BS500    Standing at the Edge of the Sea       King 5855
BS501    Back on the Block                     King 5855

Wayne Cochran                                  [No Date]
BS502    Last Kiss                             King 5856
BS503    I Dreamed, I Gambled, I Lost          King 5856
BS504    The Coo                               King 5874
BS505    Cindy Marie                           King 5874

Alice Rozier                              March 16, 1964
BS16133  I Love You a Bushel and a Peck         unissued
BS16134  My Candy Man                          King 5896
BS16135  George, BB and Roy                    King 5896
BS16136  Love Me Like I Love You                unissued

Eddie Kirk                                March 17, 1964
BS16137  Let Me Walk With You                  King 5895
BS16138  I Just Want to Be Loved                unissued
BS16139  Monkey Tonight                        King 5895
BS16140  Mary                                   unissued

James Duncan [and The Duncan Trio]                [1964]
BS16141  Here Comes Charlie                    King 5887
BS16142  Everybody Needs Somebody to Love      King 5923
BS16143  I'll Be Gone                          King 5923
BS16144  My Pillow Stays Wet                   King 5887

Billy Soul                                March 19, 1964
BS16145  My Darlin' Honey Baby                 King 5929
BS16146  Big Balls of Fire                     King 5929
BS16147  She's Gone (Pt. 1)                    King 5904
BS16148  So Many People                         unissued

Bobby Leeds                               March 22, 1964
BS16149  Nothing Too Good for You              King 5928
BS16150  When I Fell                           King 5928
BS16151  I'm Through, I'm Gone, I'm Free       King 5903
BS16152  Big Brick Wall                        King 5903

C.V. Williams                             March 19, 1964
BS16153  I've Lost the Only One                 unissued
BS16154  My Once-a-Week Love                    unissued

Eddie Kirk                             September 8, 1964
BS16155  Hog Killin' Time                      King 5959
BS16156  Treat Me the Way You Want Me          King 5959

James Duncan                            October 11, 1964
BS16157  Three Little Pigs                     King 5966
BS16158  I Can't Fight the Time                King 5966

Bobby Skelton                                  [No Date]
BS16159  It Goes Without Saying                King 5897
BS16160  Just Two People in the World          King 5897

The Fabulous Denos                     November 23, 1964
BS16161  Hard to Hold Back Tears               King 5971
BS16162  I've Enjoyed Being Loved by You       King 5971

King Keels                                 April 4, 1964
BS16163  Wondering, Wondering, Wondering       King 5969
BS16164  I Hear Love Bells                     King 5969

James Styles                               April 4, 1964
BS16165  Sweeter Than a Flower                  unissued
BS16166  I'm on My Way                          unissued

Bobby Cash                                April 12, 1964
BS16167  I Don't Need Your Love and Kisses     King 5894
BS16168  Answer to My Dreams                   King 5894

Dennis Wheeler                            April 12, 1964
BS16169  Down in Daytona                       King 5898
BS16170  Rock Bottom                           King 5898

The Fabulous Denos                        April 13, 1964
BS16171  Once I Had a Love                     King 5908
BS16172  Bad Girl                              King 5908

Bennie Anderson and the Teals             April 28, 1964
BS16173  Little School Girl                    King 5893
BS16174  Sugar Girl                            King 5893

Billy Soul                                March 19, 1964
BS16175  She's Gone (Pt. 2)                    King 5904

Oscar Toney Jr. (& The Kayos Band)        April 19, 1964
BS16176  You're Going to Need Me               King 5906
BS16177  Can It All Be Love                    King 5906

Wayne Cochran                           January 17, 1965
BS16178  Think                                 King 5994
BS16179  You Left the Water Running            King 5994

James Duncan                              March 12, 1965
BS16180  All Aboard                             unissued
BS16181  My Baby Is Back                        unissued

Alice Rozier                           February 24, 1965
BS16182  Lonely Girl                            unissued
BS16183  Hold on to You                         unissued

Oscar Toney Jr. (& The Kayos Band)    February [ ], 1965
BS16184  I've Found a True Love                King 6108
BS16185  Keep on Loving Me                     King 6108

James Duncan                              March 12, 1965
BS16186  Guilty                                King 6013
BS16187  Mr. Goodtime                          King 6013

Stanley K.                                      [No Date]
BS16188  unknown title                          unissued
BS16189  unknown title                          unissued

Zero to 180 on his Father’s lap – Cincinnati, OH – March, 1966

*Brian Powers was, indeed, correct in his assertion (back in October, 2018) that Bobby Smith Studios had been up and running prior to 1966

For Serious King Records Fans OnlyPage 481

Check out these random bits of King recording session info on the very last page of Volume 1 that fall under the catch-all title Additional King Sessions — including a live James Brown & the Famous Flames set at Baltimore’s Royal Theater in 1963.


King Records — April 12, 1962

This King twist number – “Dry Bones Twist” by The Drivers – was recorded in Cincinnati on the day my brother, Dean, was born — April 12, 1962:

“Dry Bones Twist”     The Drivers     1962

<click on all song titles below for streaming audio>

Both sides of this King single were penned by Rudy Toombs, who also composed a number of songs recorded by (mostly) King artists, including “Lonesome Whistle Blues” (Freddy King); “I’m Shakin’” (Little Willie John); “It Hurts to Be in Love” (Annie Laurie); “One Scotch One Bourbon One Beer” (Amos Milburn); “Greyhound“; (Wynonie Harris); “Love Struck” (Rusty York); “Rain Down Tears” (Hank Ballard); “Half Pint-a-Whiskey” (Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson); “Home at Last” (James Brown); “You Can’t Hide” (Lula Reed & Freddy King w/ Sonny Thompson Orchestra); “Thief in the Night” (Teddy Humphries); “Let’s Walk” (Charles Brown w/ Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers); “I Get a Thrill” (The Honeydrippers); “One Mint Julep” (The Clovers); and “5-10-15 Hours” (Ruth Brown).

Rudy Toombs fans can browse this related set of single releases, as well as this corresponding record set in Discogs, in order to get a broader view of his work (which included at least one instrumental — “Catnip” by Hal Singer and His Orchestra).

The Blasters covered Rudy Toombs for the A-side of their 1st single

“I’m Shakin'” was revived again in 2012 as the A-side of a “tri-colorJack White 45!

“Dry Bones Twist” would be among the last songs written by Toombs, however, as 45Cat contributor mickey rat notes darkly:

R-T Pub. Co. (BMI) was one of the many publishing imprints that Syd Nathan at King shared with his favoured producers and songwriters.  Rudy Toombs in New York had a share in R-T which was officially located at 1540 Brewster Avenue, Cincinnati along with all Nathan’s other ventures.  Rudy Toombs was brutally murdered [by robbers in his Harlem apartment house] in November 1962 just a few months after this record was released and I guess R-T was folded into King’s flagship publishing imprint Lois.

MR. ASTRONAUT; words & music Rudy Toombs,
Winser King & Beverly Bridge.
© R-T Pub. Co.; 20Jul62; EPI65838.

DRY BONES TWIST; words & music Rudy Toombs.
© R-T Pub. Co.; 13Jul62; EP165253

Note misspelling of Windsor King’s name in copyright registration.

Both tracks recorded in Cincinnati April 12 1962.

This 1962 single would also signal, coincidentally perhaps, the end of The Drivers’ recording career, whose first recordings for King were on its DeLuxe subsidiary label.

Would You Believe?
Someone paid $271 in 2014 for a copy of The Drivers’ King 45.

Rudy Toombs Fun Fact

In 1974, Mike Lookinland (TV’s “Bobby Brady”) laid down his version of “Gum Drop” — a Rudy Toombs song that would be designated the B-side of his one and only record release.  Initially recorded by Otis Williams and the Charms, “Gum Drop” would appear to have served as the launching pad for fellow King artists, The Gum Drops.

Check it out:  1956 Otis Williams & the Charms “Gum Drop” EP sold for $209 in 2016.

Extra Credit:  Library Assignment

Check out the “Publication Timeline” in OCLC’s fabulous WorldCat database (combined holdings of member libraries worldwide) for Toombs, Rudolph which utilizes a color-coded bar graph to illustrate the extent of publishing activity during the artist’s lifetime, as well as after.

Dean Richardson – at 18

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Bernard Purdie at King Records

Zero to 180 is thrilled to learn that two titans of funk who both recorded for King – BernardPrettyPurdie and WilliamBootsyCollins – are teaming up for a set of new recordings.  In accordance with this event’s historical significance, the Mayor of Cincinnati, John Cranley, recently paid tribute to Purdie’s King drumming legacy by proclaiming January 5, 2019 to be “Bernard Purdie Day“!  Zero to 180 is honored to have provided the King Records Building Non-Profit Steering Committee with background research in preparation for this proclamation.

<Click here to view Mayor Cranley’s Bernard Purdie Day proclamation>

Bernard Purdie @ King Records – 1/5/19

Photo by Celia Purdie

Purdie’s first King sessions for Mickey and Sylvia, actually, precede his work for James Brown and yet, nevertheless, connect him once more to hip hop history, as vocalist, Sylvia Robinson (née Vanterpool) – “the Mother of Hip Hop” – would go on to found Sugar Hill Records!   Ruppli’s King Labels recording sessionography lists Bernard Purdie as the drummer on Mickey and Sylvia’s big hit,  “Love Is Strange” — not the original 1956 recording but a “redoof the song several years later for the tiny Willow label, as Purdie recounted for Drum Magazine in their January 16, 2013 edition.

But wait — as Ruppli reveals, Willow was, in fact, a label distributed by King Records. Furthermore, Discogs asserts Willow to have been a subsidiary label “created in 1961 by Mickey [i.e., Baker, long-time King session guitarist] and Sylvia.”   Purdie’s name is listed as drummer for Mickey and Sylvia on at least 4 sessions for Willow in 1961 that produced six songs [click on all song titles below for streaming audio]:

⇒ “Love Is Strange
⇒ “Walking in the Rain
⇒ “I’m Guilty
⇒ “Since I Fell for You
⇒ “He Gave Me Everything
⇒ “Darling (I Miss You So)”

Check out Mickey Baker’s searing guitar work on “Darling (I Miss You So)” – a fantastic 45 waiting to be rediscovered:

soul

Five years later, Purdie would lay down drums on the first of six recording sessions for James Brown between the years 1966-1968, according to Ruppli’s session notes:

Session #1> March 30, 1966 — New York City

James Brown with Band – Sammy Lowe, arranger/conductor – including Waymon Reed, Dud Bascomb & Lamar Wright (trumpets); Haywood Henry (baritone sax); Unknown (trombone); Nat Jones (piano); Jimmy Nolen or Wallace Richardson (guitar); Unknown (bass) & Bernard Purdie (drums) plus strings:

EP France – 1966                                               45 Italy – 1966

45 Germany – 1966                                     45 Australia – 1966

Session #2> January 25, 1967 — New York City

James Brown with Band – Sammy Lowe, arranger/conductor – including Joe Newman, Waymon ReedDud Bascomb (trumpets); Ernie Hayes (trumpet/piano); Richard Harris, Jimmy Cleveland & Garnett Brown (trombones); St-Clair Pinckney (baritone sax); Carl Lynch & Wallace Richardson (guitars); Al Lucas (electric bass) & Bernard Purdie (drums):

  • Kansas City
  • “You’ve Got the Power” [unissued version]
  • Think” [issued as by James Brown & Vicki Anderson]
  • Fever

45 Spain – 1967

EP Spain – 1967                                               45 France – 1967

Session #3> March, 1967 — New York City

James Brown with Orchestra – Sammy Lowe, arranger/conductor – including Unknown (trumpets, trombones & French horns); Ernie Hayes (trumpet/piano); Jimmy Nolen or Wallace Richardson (guitar); Al Lucas (electric bass) & Bernard Purdie (drums) plus strings:

  • “I Guess I’ll Have to Cry, Cry, Cry” [unissued]
  • “Too Much”  [unissued]
  • You’ve Got the Power” [issued as by Vicki Anderson & James Brown]

ALSO = Vicki Anderson “with prob. same band” on “prob. same date” recorded “(Something Moves Me) Within My Heart” [although unissued].

ALSO = King Coleman (vocals) “with similar band” – Sammy Lowe, arranger/conductor – on two tracks:

45 USA – 1968                                                   45 USA – 1967

Session #4> April 5, 1967 — New York City

James Brown with Band – Sammy Lowe, arranger/conductor – including John GrimesDud Bascomb & Waymon Reed (trumpets); Ernie Hayes  (trumpet/piano); Richard Harris, Jimmy Cleveland & Garnett Brown (trombones); AlfredPee WeeEllis (tenor sax/piano); St.-Clair Pinckney (baritone sax); Carl Lynch & Wallace Richardson (guitars); Al Lucas (electric bass) & Bernard Purdie (drums):

*ALSO = Vicki Anderson “with prob. same band” on “prob. same date” recorded “People” [although unissued].

Promo 45 USA – 1968                                     45 Canada – 1968

                        45 USA – 1967                       “Stagger Lee”/”Fever” 45 Nigeria – 1968?

Session #5> October 4, 1967 — New York City

James Brown with Band – including Dud BascombJohn Grimes, & Ernie Hayes (trumpets); Richard Harris (trombone); Haywood Henry (baritone sax); Wallace Richardson & Carl Lynch (guitars); Al Lucas (electric bass); Bernard Purdie (drums); Julian Cabrera (congas); Rafael Rivera (timbales) & Edward Williams (percussion) plus strings [Selwart Clarke; Charles Libove; Harry Katzman; Sam Ram; Winston Collymore; Harry Melnikoff; Nick Hardone; Matt Raimond; Marion Cuabo; Sidney Edwards]:

           45 France – 1968                                 45 Germany / Italy / Spain – 1968

EP Mexico – 1968                                         45 Rhodesia – 1968

Session #6> June 27, 1968 — New York City

James Brown with Band – Sammy Lowe, arranger/conductor – including John Grimes & Waymon Reed (trumpets); Les Asch (tenor sax); David Parkinson (baritone sax); AlfredPee WeeEllis (organ/piano); Wallace Richardson (guitar); Al Lucas (electric bass) & Bernard Purdie (drums):

   6 of 7 tracks above included on 1968 LP     …..     as well as stereo 8-track Tape

ADDITIONAL James Brown tracks!

According to musician credits posted on Discogs, Bernard Purdie also played drums on James Brown B-side “I Know It’s True” [1972], as well as “Woman (Pts. 1 & 2)” [1973] — both songs arranged by Sammy Lowe (though, “Woman (Part 2)” appears not to have been issued in the US market, curiously).

45 Belgium – 1972                                            45 Germany – 1972

45 France – 1972                                            45 Netherlands – 1974

 45 Netherlands – 1973                                        45 France – 1973

45 Germany – 1973                                           45 Belgium – 1974

Update on King Records Preservation Efforts:

“King Dream Team” at 1540 Brewster Ave.

[L to R] Philip Paul; Bernard Purdie; Celia Purdie; Otis Williams; Bootsy Collins; Anzora Adkins

Photo by Elliott V. Ruther

According to Herzog Music, “The City of Cincinnati now owns the King Records buildings on Brewster Avenue in Evanston.  The King buildings are being stabilized with $700,000 of city and Evanston funds, thanks to a united City Council.”

“With Mayor John Cranley and the City of Cincinnati, a restricted fund for the buildings has been established through the King Records Building Non-Profit Steering Committee to raise private funds and realize the revitalization vision.  The Steering Committee comprises leadership of Evanston Community Council, Bootsy Collins Foundation, King Studios and Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation (CMHF).

“CMHF will acknowledge the tax deductible donations and share with each Steering Committee organization as it works to formalize the non-profit arrangement with the City.  CMHF is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization — donors may deduct contributions as provided in IRC 170(c)(3) of the U.S. Tax Code.”

You can be part of the King Records revitalization success story — please consider a donation to the King Building Fund.

The Men in Black:  Bernard & Bootsy

Photo courtesy of the Bootsy Collins Foundation

Stay plugged in:   Bernard Purdie and Bootsy Collins

Special thanks to Elliott V. Ruther of the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation

Derek Trucks wearing a Bernard Purdie shirt on Austin City Limits


Lonnie Mack at King Records

Lonnie Mack‘s most famous recordings might be associated with Cincinnati’s other notable indie label from the roots rock era, Fraternity, but the hugely influential guitarist from Southeast Indiana also made a number of recordings at King Studios.  Ace UK’s Lonnie Mack anthology CD From Nashville to Memphis includes a “Lonnie Mack Discography on Fraternity Records” – compiled by John Broven & Stuart Colman – whose contents reveal that all of Lonnie’s recording sessions between 1963 and 1965 (except for one session at RCA Nashville) took place at Cincinnati’s King Records.  Lonnie would return to King in 1967 for one final Fraternity session that produced two songs:  “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” and “Omaha” (a.k.a., “Down in the Dumps”).

Note:  Click on each of the 3 images below to view in high resolution

Intriguing to learn from the discography above that (a) Gene Lawson — of Lawson Microphones fame — played drums on legendary recording “Memphis” and (b) Cincinnati tenor saxophonist Jimmy McGary played on a handful of tracks, including “Coastin’” and “Tonky Go Go.”   Randy McNutt also notes in The Cincinnati Sound that Lonnie Mack recorded two of his seminal 1960s albums for Elektra at Jewel Recording Studios (in nearby Mt. Healthy, Ohio), founded by one-time King recording artist, Rusty York.

Ben Sandmel’s liner notes in Alligator’s reissue of 1963 album The Wham of That Memphis Man! point out that Lonnie Mack was working as a King session guitarist at the time of that album’s release.  Lonnie Mack’s 1960s session work at King would involve James Brown [“Tell Me That You Love Me“], Hank Ballard (*), and Freddy King, with whom Mack recorded four songs at King’s final session for the label on September 14, 1966:  “You’ve Got Me Licked“; “Double Eyed Whammy“; “Use What You’ve Got“; [click on each song title above] and today’s featured track, Girl From Kookamunga:

“Girl From Kookamunga”     Freddy King     1966

Ruppli’s King recording sessionography notes that “Tell Me That You Love Me” — flip side of “Don’t Be a Drop Out” — was recorded live at Fort Homer Hesterly Armory in Tampa, Florida on April 24, 1966.  2007’s release of James Brown:  The Singles Volume 4:  1966-1967 by Hip-O Select identifies Lonnie Mack as the guitarist on this track (sure sounds like him), even though Ruppli’s detailed listing of musicians, strangely, fails to include him.

45 picture sleeve releases from Sweden (left) and Italy (right)

Zero to 180 is still trying, unsuccessfully, to find out which Hank Ballard recordings feature Mack’s guitar playing.[see note at the very end]

Just three years after his final 1967 King recording session, Mack return to Cincinnati’s (newly-renamed) “Starday-King” Studio to accompany Albert Washington and his band, you might recall, on at least eight songs that got released as three 45s on Rusty York‘s Jewel label, while the fourth 45 came out on Starday-King subsidiary label, DeLuxe, curiously enough..

What a pleasant surprise to learn that the Grammy Foundation produced a video clip in 2015 that features former King session musician and funk innovator Bootsy Collins reflecting on his experience “meeting his musical idol” Lonnie Mack:

Many of the obituaries for Lonnie Mack note that the Bigsby tremolo bar was unofficially dubbed the “Whammy” bar in recognition of Mack’s influential Top Five hit instrumental. Danny Sandrik‘s excellent tribute piece – “Blue-Eyed Soul and the Cincinnati Sound” – notes that Lonnie Mack, along with Beau Dollar, “was” the Cincinnati Sound and reveals that it was Chuck Sullivan, not Mack (as indicated in the discography above), who played the signature guitar lines on Beau’s classic version of “Soul Serenade.”  Sullivan would also relate the details of that famous recording session of 7 February 1966 to Brian Powers in a special radio program James Brown Productions, Part One that aired on Cincinnati’s WVXU during 2018’s King Records 75th Anniversary Celebration.

Mack’s 1960s recordings laid down at King Records would enjoy release overseas in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Greece, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia, as well as Canada.

Recorded at King – released in the Netherlands

Ditto – Japan – 1963

Special Offer!

This used Gibson Lonnie Mack Signature Flying V can be yours for a mere $21,993.94.

* [On the issue of Hank Ballard, Zero to 180 received this email on 15 March 2019:

I am the author of the Wikipedia article on Mack and have just read your posts on him.  Excellent archaeology!   You mention being unable to find any proof that he had played on records of Hank Ballard.  Although I could not use “original material” in the article, I did interview Mack several times.  He specifically told me that he had never played on any Hank Ballard record.  He told me that this misinformation was the result of a garbled interview in which Mack told the interviewer that Ballard was a singing influence.  After that, the mistake took on a life of its own as it was repeated in numerous subsequent reports.
Regards,
Steve Paine

Bethlehem Records: Post-Syd

Syd Nathan ended up acquiring jazz label, Bethlehem Records, in a series of strategic moves over the course of years — so when exactly can Syd Nathan take credit for shaping the music released on that label?  Unfortunately, that’s a question that each person has to answer for him/herself.  I can, however, put forth some relevant information.

Gus Wildi, a Swiss immigrant, founded Bethlehem in 1954, as Billboard reports in its February 27, 1954 edition.  By 1958, however, Wildi – in a desperate bid to stay liquid – would give Syd Nathan half ownership of the label for distribution, and in its August 2, 1958 edition, Cash Box filed the following report:

King Takes Over Bethlehem Distribution

CINCINNATI — Sydney Nathan, President of King Records, and Gus Wilde [sic], President of Bethlehem Records, jointly announced last week the conclusion of an agreement whereby King will take over the exclusive world-wide distribution of all the Bethlehem product. The agreement is effective immediately, but the distribution does not take place until the near future.

In discussing the take over of Bethlehem by King, Nathan pointed out that this is only the first of several deals now in negotiation whereby King is getting a new look and expanding its product line by agreements with other labels.

Wilde [sic] will continue as President of Bethlehem and will supervise the operation from his New York headquarters. A big program of regular monthly new releases is scheduled, starting in August with new albums by Mel Torme, and The Australian Jazz Quartet. In addition Wilde has concluded contracts for a new heavy recording schedule which kicks off.

This deal, on its surface, would seem to connote a 50/50 partnership, but as Both Sides Now Publications points out in their Bethlehem Records history piece, Syd Nathan immediately took charge, once this new relationship was established:

From the time King Records essentially took over, Bethlehem slowly wound down. Nathan incessantly mined the back catalog for various artists compilations, and fewer and fewer new recordings were done…

Bethlehem continued to fade, and in 1962, Gus Wildi sold the remaining 50% of the company to Syd Nathan. By 1965, Nathan had just let the label fade away.

Around this period of time, Otis Redding, interestingly enough, entered the picture when his debut single – “Fat Gal” b/w “Shout Bamalama” – needed a little extra help launching off the ground.  The debut 45 by Otis Redding and the Pinetoppers was originally released in 1962 on the Confederate label.  The single would find a new home that same year on tiny Orbit before enjoying wider distribution on Bethlehem two years later in 1964.

45Cat contributors Dead Wax and Ort. Carlton (among others) have the back story:

[Dead Wax] According to Peter Guralnik (Sweet Soul Music) the record was first issued on Confederate. The record enjoyed some local success, but not before Bobby (Confederate owner) was forced to change the name of the label to get airplay on r&b stations.  Also later re-issued on Conco, a Confederate related label, possibly co-owned by Wayne Cochran.

[Ort. Carlton] When several influential disc jockeys, including Big Saul at WOIC in Columbia, S. C. and John “R.” Richbourg at WLAC in Nashville heard the disc, they knew it was a hit, but both suggested a label name change. Apparently Bobby [Smith] and (to a lesser degree) Phil Walden put Orbit in business for this purpose only.

Bobby Smith Studios, according to Discogs, is a Macon, Georgia recording and production facility that was founded when Syd Nathan “commissioned the engineer and producer Bobby Smith to build a studio in the adopted hometown of the James Brown, the star of the King labels.”   45Cat contributor “mickey rat” – with the discerning eye – speculates aloud about Bobby Smith and his business relationship with Syd Nathan:

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). Anyway after reading the current comments on the initial releases of this Otis Redding record on Confederate and Orbit it’s dawned on me that the “Bob” bit is probably Bobby Smith in Macon, GA. Looking quickly at other Boblo discs on King by James Duncan, Bobby Leeds, Billy Soul and Fabulous Denos, they all have a “BS” prefix on matrix numbers. Can anyone confirm this is indeed Bobby Smith? Interesting too that Boblo’s big hit was Wayne Cochran’s composition “Last Kiss” by J. Frank Wilson. Nathan missed the actual record but would have done very well from the publishing royalties. Boblo seems to have evolved later into Macon Music, also a King related imprint I think.

Dead Wax staunchly refutes others’ assertions about the date of the Otis Redding recording session (Ruppli’s sessionography, for instance, says September, 1960) while also revealing the back story behind future Bethlehem recording artists, The Rockin’ Capris:

Recorded in March 1962 in Athens, GA, in the studios of WGTV, the public television station affiliated with the University of Georgia. Otis was backed by members of Wayne Cochran’s group, the Rockin’ Capris.

“Shout Bamalama”     Otis Redding & the Pinetoppers     1962

Ruppli’s King Labels recording sessionography indicates that some new recording did take place at King’s Cincinnati studios in a few instances related to the Bethlehem label, most seeming to take place 1962-63 (The Mighty Faith Increasers; The Wilson Sisters; Jean Dee; Beverly Buff; The Guitar Crusher; & The Vice-Roys), with a few faint stirrings up until 1969.

What’s In a Name?
From the Pen of Syd Nathan

Chief among Syd Nathan’s contributions to Freddy King’s musical legacy, notes Jon Hartley Fox in King of the Queen City, were the nonsensical titles he gave to the legendary blues musician’s original tunes:

As Freddie remembered, “‘Hide Away’ and ‘Just Pickin’,’ I think those are the only two I named.  I made ’em all, you know, wrote all the tunes, but the studio put the names to ’em.  Some of them, I don’t even know … They said ‘Swooshy,’ you know.  I’d listen to it and not even know what he’s talkin’ about.  They got some heck of a names in there.”

There seems to be a common thread running through “The Bossa Nova Watusi Twist,” “San-Ho-Zay” and some of the nuttier album titles coming out on the Bethlehem label post-Syd Nathan, as Jon Hartley Fox observes:

During King’s involvement with Bethlehem, King tried to broaden the audience for Bethlehem’s artists by releasing a series of multiple-artist compilation LPs with such cornball titles as Nothing Cheesy About This Jazz; We Cut This Album for Bread; Jazz Music for People Who Don’t Care About Money; A Lot of Yarn But A Well Knitted Jazz Album, and No Sour Grapes, Just Pure Jazz.


“El” Pauling & the Royalton

Lowman Pauling (a.k.a., “El Pauling“) exchanges vocal lines with Royal Abbit (i.e., “The Royalton“), while also taking the time to squeeze off some stinging guitar licks on “Solid Rock” — recorded June 9, 1960 in Cincinnati at the King Studios:

“Solid Rock”     El Pauling & the Royalton     1960

Lowman Pauling — in a solo stint from The ‘5’ Royales, following their great run with King — teams up with Royal Abbit, “who would become the group’s pianist and replacement vocalist for any of the group members when sick,” according to 45Cat.  Over 50 years later, someone would pay $295 for an original copy of this Federal 45 described by The Houndblog as “rockin’ gospel” (check out the prices paid for other singles attributed to El Pauling).

The two vocalists would team up for three more Federal 45s of their own creation [streaming audio by clicking on song titles below]:

Billboard would praise the flip side as “heartfelt warbling stint on emotion-packed rockaballad” in their March 20, 1961 edition.

Billboard‘s October 23, 1961 edition would deem this single release four stars, indicating “strong sales potential.”

Billboard‘s review in its June 16, 1952 edition would rated the final 45 three stars, indicating “moderate sales potential.”


King Cash-In Surf LP #2

Zero to 180’s sprawling history trawl “Rare & Unreleased King” made passing reference to another surf-ploitation LP issued by King Records – 1963’s Surfin’ on Wave Nine – and even threatened to make that album the focus of a future history piece … whose time has come today.

Compared to Look Who’s Surfin’ Now (King LP previously celebrated hereSurfin’ on Wave Nine is a bit more of an organic affair, with only a modest amount of jiggery pokery involved.

Track Listing

  •                                 A1  The Vice-Roys – “Seagreen
  •                                 A2  The Nu-Trons – “Malibu Mal
  •                                 A3  The Tramps – “Maharadja
  •                                 A4  The Nu-Trons – “Tension
  •                                 A5  The Vice-Roys – “The Fox
  •                                 A6  Mickey Baker – “Gone
  •                                 B1  Mickey Baker – “Zanzie
  •                                 B2  The Vice-Roys – “Moasin’
  •                                 B3  The Nu-Trons – “Wild Side
  •                                 B4  The Wobblers – “The Wobble
  •                                 B5  The Nu-Trons – “Ninth Wave Out
  •                                 B6  The Vice-Roys – “Buzz Bomb

According to Ruppli’s 2-volume Kings recording sessionography, we can only be certain that two of these songs — “The Fox” and “Buzz Bomb” by The Vice-Roys — were recorded in Cincinnati.

The Vice-Roys would record their songs for King in three sessions:  c. Nov/Dec 1961 (“Moasin'”); c. September, 1962 (“Seagreen”); and April, 1963 (“The Fox” & “Buzz Bomb”).  Worth noting that King would issue a split single in 1963 with “Seagreen” by The Vice-Roys chosen as the flip side for “That Low Down Move” by Hank Ballard & the Midnighters.  But, as Discogs notes, “Seagreen” actually began life as an A-side issued on Bethlehem with the title “Seagram’s” – ostensibly a salute to the whiskey brand.  Both Sides Now Publications recounts the controversy:

In 1960, an instrumental rock band called the Viceroys brought Bethlehem an instrumental master they called “Seagrams,” apparently thinking the name of a hard liquor brand would be hip for teens.  Bethlehem liked the tune and released it. Unfortunately, Seagrams Corporation didn’t think it was funny and threatened to sue for trademark infringement, and some stations refused to play a song with the name of a commercial product without being paid for advertising time.  A sheepish notice in Billboard on March 23, 1960, said, “We Goofed!” and explained that “Seagrams” was now changed to “Seagreen.”

Worth noting that in that same March 23, 1960 edition of Billboard along with the official industry notice from King Records saying “We Goofed!” 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 Vice-roy 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.

The Nu-Trons would record two sessions for King — the first (“Tension” and “Wild Side”) in May, 1963 (possibly in Cincinnati — Ruppli is uncertain) and the second (“Malibu Mal” and “Ninth Wave Out” in June, 1963.

The Tramps‘s sole contribution “Maharadja” is the earliest contribution to this various artists compilation (August, 1961), but alas — the recording is leased from another label.

Mickey Baker‘s guitar instrumental classic “Zanzie” (previously celebrated here) was recorded – along with “Gone” – June, 1962 in Paris.

Without a doubt, the song most likely to grab your attention is “The Wobbler” which likely was recorded late (November?) in 1961 by The Wobblers:

“The Wobble”     The Wobblers     1961

Listen to King Surf Albums on the Radio!

This Saturday – September 8, 2018 from 6-8 PM – there will be a King Surf Party!  In 1963, King Records released several surf albums, Surfin’ on Wave NineLook Who Surfin’ Now and Freddie King Goes Surfin’, in response to the California craze.  Join WAIF FM radio hosts, Rock-it Rick, Midwest Surf Guy and Handsome Dan, as they play tracks from these King compilations on the legendary “Rockin’ & Surfin’ Show.”  Those who live outside Cincinnati can tune in on the web – click on the link to WAIF 88.3 FM.