Honey Ltd.’s Big Promo Push

Produced by Lee Hazlewood but arranged and conducted by Ian Freebairn Smith, “Silk ‘n’ Honey” — side one closing track of Honey Ltd.‘s sole album — is a great piece of pop music:

“Silk ‘n’ Honey”     Honey Ltd.     1969

Much appreciation to self-titled mag* [*link from 2013 no longer active] for seeking out Joan and Alexandra (“Sandy“) Sliwin of Honey Ltd. to ask about what is obviously a stand-out track

Joan:  “Silk ‘N Honey,” written by Laura [Polkinghorne] and [Marsha] Temmer, seems to be our most liked, accessible song over the years.  Ian Freebairn Smith did a lovely arrangement for this song that might be the most signature track for us overall.
Alex:  Yep, love the song but then, I love all of them (except “Louie, Louie”).  “Lu ma / Soo wah.”  (That’s the background singing phrase on “Silk ‘N Honey.”  We made it up as syllables; it doesn’t mean a thing.  However I’d like to think of it as a greeting, like “Namaste.”  When I say it aloud, people think I’m nuts and look at me funny, like I belong to a strange spiritual tribe.  Ha ha.)
Joan:  Ian Freebairn Smith deserves a lot of credit for really trying to capture the essence of the original tunes.  Along with “Silk ‘N Honey,” Ian arranged “The Warrior,No You Are,” “I’ve Got Your Man,” “For Your Mind,” “Come Down,” “Tomorrow Your Heart” and “Love, The Devil… The list of musicians involved with us tells you we weren’t just lucky; we were blessed.  It was a grand time.
Alex:  It certainly was!

Light in the Attic’s Complete LHI Recordings anthology from 2013, thankfully, identifies each and every session musician who helped bring these songs to life during the group’s short existence, and it’s an impressive roster:

Bass:  Carol Kaye; Chuck Berghofer*; Harvey Newmark; Jimmy Bond; Bill Pitman & Lyle Ritz
Drums:  Donald Frost; Jim Gordon; John Guerin
Guitar:  Al Casey; David Cohen; Don ‘Dirt’ Lanier; Donnie Owens; James Burton; Jim Helms; Lou Morell; Mike Deasy; Bill Pitman & Ry Cooder
Horns:  Allan Beutlar; David Duke; Dick Hyde; James Decker; Jim Horn; Jules Chaikin; Lew McCreary; Morris Repass; Oliver Mitchell; Plas Johnson; Richard Leith; Roy Caton; Thomas Scott & Virgil Evans
Keyboards:  Don Randi; Jack Nitzsche; Michael Lang & Mike Melvoin
Percussion:  Gary Coleman & Norman Jeffries
Strings:  Armand Kaproff; Arnold Belnick; Bernard Kundell; David Burk; Harold Bemko; Jerome Kessler; Jesse Ehrlich; Leonard Malarsky; Ralph Schaffer; Sidney Sharp; Tibor Zelig & William Kurasch

* Bassist for TV’s “Barney Miller” theme (and Nancy Sinatra’s “Boots” et al.)

Honey Ltd. had made their debut in the music trade press with Record World‘s announcement “Honey Ltd. Gets Giant LHI Drive” in the March 9, 1968 issue:

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Lee Hazlewood has signed an all-girl quartet from Detroit named Honey Ltd. to his LHI label, distributed by ABC Records.

The feminine foursome’s first release will be “Come Down” b/w “Tomorrow Your Heart,” two originals.  The group’s tunes are written by Laura Polkinghorne and Marcia Jo Temmer.  Vocals are done by these misses and Alexandria Sliwin and sister Joan Sliwin.

All four studied at Wayne State University outside Detroit and decided to form a group in their sophomore year.  This December, after a year’s experience, they took a leave of absence from school, flew to Los Angeles on their savings and walked into Hazlewood’s office one Monday morning unannounced.  By Tuesday afternoon, they had signed a contract with LHI and cut their first single by Thursday.

Hazlewood is supporting their maiden effort with the largest advertising and promotional campaign in the label’s history.

That same weekCash Box included this paragraph in theirRecord Ramblingscolumn:

Our “West Coast Girls of the Week” are Marsha (21) who writes movie shorts, Laura (21) who writes poetry, Alexandra (21) who sews all her own clothes (she was also Wayne State U.’s “Homecoming Queen”) and Joan (20) who paints.  Together they’re known as Honey Ltd., a new vocal group out of Detroit who are represented this week with their first LHI single “Come Down” b/w “Tomorrow Your Heart.”  The foursome formed during their soph year at Wayne State, saved enough during the year to travel to the coast and, we’re told, arrived unannounced at Lee Hazlewood’s office on a Monday morn.  By Tuesday, according to an apocryphal publicity handout, they were pacted by Hazlewood and by Thursday they had already taped their sides.  Lee, incidentally, is supporting their maiden effort with the most imposing promo campaign in the young label’s history.

Cash Box raved about the A-side as a “Newcomer Pick” in that same March 9, 1968 issue:

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Brimming with a youthful vigor and strength, the Honey Ltd. bows on a track that is destined to make a sizeable impression on the teen market.  Excellent ork and vocal harmonies combine force with a powerful dance beat to make this side a heavy candidate for breakout action.

Record World,s review, while supportive, was a little more circumspect in its praise:

Four pretty girls and a contemporary song in these grooves.  Could break through.

Cash Box‘s March 16, 1968 edition made the deal official (LHI Pacts Honey Ltd.“), while that same issue pegged the new single at #37 on Cash Box‘s “Looking Ahead” chart (i.e., promising singles hovering just under the Top 100).  Two weeks later, “Come Down” would jump twenty spots to the #17 position, with Cash Box noting the range of resources deployed – both human and tactical – on the group’s behalf in its pieceHazlewood-ABC Join Forces in Major Honey Ltd. Promo:

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BEVERLY HILLS — Lee Hazlewood and ABC-Paramount Records are joining forces to give Honey Ltd. the strongest promotional campaign ever mounted for an artist with his LHI label.  LHI is distributed nationally by ABC.

After introducing the all-girl quartet with two page ad spreads, a joint LHI-ABC venture, the campaign moved into a double mailing service, with photos being included the second week, on Honey Ltd.’s first single “Come Down.”

Hazlewood retained four independent regional promo men and ABC added nine promotion men to give the new group national penetration.

Additional promotional activity has stemmed from the the group’s management, Bernard, William & Price.  An extensive TV schedule is underway, opening with an appearance on the Jerry Lewis Show March 26.

West Coast promotion trips are being made in conjunction with regional TV appearances and other special events scheduled by the management agency, LHI, and Hazlewood’s public relations firm.

In addition, the campaign has included the mailing of 500 jars of honey to deejays and radio and TV personalities.

Hazlewood said the promo drive will continue into April at which time the group — Laura Polkinghorne, Marcia Jo Temmer, and sisters Sandy and Joan Sliwin — will cut their first album.  The girls, all former coeds at Wayne State University in Detroit, were signed by Hazlewood early this year after they flew out to audition for him.

“Come Down” would continue its climb to #5 on Cash Box‘s “Looking Ahead” chart the week of April 6, 1968 and peak the week of April 13 at #4.

The following month, Record World‘s Ron Baron, who had been given exclusive access to a Honey Ltd. recording session, observed that “the girls write their own material and handle their vocal arrangements” in his enthusiastic report – Honey of a Session” – published in the May 25, 1968 issue:

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LOS ANGELES — At a recent recording session held here, it was not erroneous to address all of the recording artists as “honey” for this particular quartet of girls on LHI Records are known professionally as Honey Ltd.

The girls, natives of Detroit, have already generated nationwide impact with their first single “Come Down.”

It hasn’t even been a year since Marsha Temmer, Laura Polkinghorne, Joan and Sandy Sliwin flew to California for a vacation, played a dub for Lee Hazlewood, signed a recording contract with LHI, acquired Bernard and Williams as managers, appeared on a half dozen TV shows and now have finished their next single release.

Sessions are especially exciting when there exists the aura of a smash.  This hardly happens all the time, but it certainly was prevalent the night of Honey’s session.  Laura Polkinghorne wrote the tunes, “The Warrior” and “Silk ‘n’ Honey.”  Ian Freebairn-Smith did the arrangements, and one of the most sought-after producers in the world, Lee Hazlewood, produced the date.

Honey can’t spread itself thin.  The group has the ultimate to offer in musically satisfying melody and harmony.  The girls write their own material and handle their vocal arrangements.  The single will be released in a few weeks with their first album to follow later.

Six months later, a bomb suddenly detonated:

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As reported in Billboard’s Nov. 9, 1968 edition =

NEW YORK — Lee Hazlewood has severed his ties with ABC Records to develop his LHI label as a complete independent, and, at the same time, has ended his team-up arrangement with Nancy Sinatra, to work along similar production and duet lines with Ann-Margret.

In winding up his ties with ABC, Hazlewood said, “In today’s competitive record market, the advantages of an independent record producer to have his own label distributed by a major is rapidly dwindling.   Most major companies in effecting dealings with independent producers are really only looking for an automatic hit and not the ‘work’ record.   The emphasis by a major company is to work on its own product where its profit margin is highest.   If the independent producer creates an automatic hit, then it works out fine.   Otherwise to create an artist who sustains over a long period of time, a great deal of promotional work must be invested.”

Ann-Margret Tie

The first LHI push will be on Ann-Margret and will be tied in with her CBS-TV special set for December 1.   She will be going out on a 14-city personal appearance tour in conjunction with the sponsors of the TV special, Canada Dry.   Following Ann-Margret’s solo disk release will be an album by the Surprise Package.   After the first of the year, LHI plans to release duets by Ann-Margret and Hazlewood.

Hazlewood’s dueting with Miss Sinatra on the Reprise Records LP, Nancy and Lee, is nearing the gold record award category.   It is also a top seller in England, Germany, Austria and the Scandinavian countries.   Hazlewood was responsible for Miss Sinatra’s first big single, “These Boots are Made for Walking,” which was released in 1966.   It is understood that there are no Lee Hazlewood-Nancy Sinatra duets left in the can at Reprise.

LHI Expanded

LHI recently took additional space at its headquarters in Los Angeles.   The staff of LHI includes Hazlewood as general manager; Gil Bogus as manager of sales and promotion; S.J. Hokum as advertising and packaging manager; Sue Jennings as office manager, and C. Haro as assistant office manager.  Red Steigel has been set as West Coast promotion man and a network of local promotion men is now being set up.

Bogus recently lined up 26 distributors in the U.S. and Canada.   LHI presently has a deal with Decca Records Ltd. for England and Germany, and with Festival Records for Australia.

Hazlewood is also being lined up for three TV specials.   The first will be “Trouble Is a Lonesome Town,” to be co-produced by Roger Smith and Hazlewood.  Smith, a film producer, is Ann-Margret’s husband.  Another special now in preparation by Winters/Rosen Productions is “Ladies of the World of Lee Hazlewood.”  Winters/Rosen produced the upcoming Ann-Margret special on CBS-TV.  Also, Hazlewood will be the musical director and appear in the TV special, “The Spring Thing,” which will be shown in April on NBC-TV.

That same week, Cash Box also reported on Hazlewood’s big move, albeit in less dramatic fashion, in a news item entitled “Hazlewood Charts Indie Course for LHI:

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NEW YORK — After several distribution deals, Lee Hazlewood’s LHI operation is going totally indie.

Hazlewood, who formed the label through Decca Records in 1967 and more recently through ABC, feels that today’s competitive demands necessitates the move.  He sees as “rapidly dwindling” the advantages of an indie record producer in having his label distributed by a larger company.

“Most major companies in effecting dealings with indie producers,” he says, “are really only looking for an automatic hit and not the work record.  The emphasis by a major company is to work on its own product where its profit margin is highest.”

In deciding to put all his energies into the development of LHI, Hazlewood said that he would no longer produce or sing with Nancy Sinatra on Reprise.  He said he has also received his release from Reprise.  Instead, he will form a new duo of Ann-Margret and Lee Hazlewood for LHI.  Other acts on LHI include The Surprise Package, a Seattle-based underground group, another underground team from California, the Aggregation, and the Honey Ltd.  The Margret-Hazlewood duo will debut in January.  Meanwhile, a solo single by the singer-actress is due soon with 14-city tour by the star to help the disk along.

Move Office Space

LHI recently took additional space at 9000 Sunset Blvd.  There’ll soon be a network of local promo men.  The current exec line-up at LHI includes Hazlewood, general manager; Gil Bogus, manager of sales-promotion; S.J. Hokum, manager of advertising and packaging; Sue Jennings, office manager; C. Haro, assistant; Red Steiger, west coast promotion manager.  Company’s legal counsel is the firm of Marty Marchat.

Bogus has step-up 26 distribs within the US and Canada to service and distribute the LHI line.  LHI is presently under arrangement with British Decca Ltd. for England and the German territories and with Festival for Australia.

TV Specials

Hazlewood will this year appear on three television specials, two of which are being built around him.  The first television special will be “Trouble Is a Lonesome Town” to be co-produced by Roger Smith and Lee Hazlewood.  Roger Smith is the husband of Ann-Margret and the producer of many motion pictures.

Another special is being prepared by Winters Rosen Productions entitled “The Ladies of the World of Lee Hazlewood.”  Winters and Rosen produced the Ann-Margret Special which will be seen on CBS on December 1, 1968 in the Smothers Brothers time slot.  Also, Hazlewood will be the musical director and appear in the television special entitled “The Spring Thing” to be shown in April, on NBC.

Billboard, reporting from Tokyo in its January 29, 1969 edition, noted that “ABC group Honey Ltd. were a big hit on the Bob Hope Christmas special tour of the Far East.”  And yet, when one examines the group’s single releases under Lee Hazlewood’s direction, it’s hard to fathom why the producer did not place greater trust in his artists’ talent.  Honey Ltd.’s first 45 for LHI (recorded December 1967, according to 45Cat) had featured original compositions on both sides.  The next single – a promotional 45 released in August 1968 – quizzically, was a cover of “Louie Louie” and hardly the best showcase for the group.  February 1969 saw the release of Honey Ltd’s next double-sided disc, and in a more musically just world, “Silk ‘n’ Honey” would have been the A-side.  Tragically, that honor went to a track written by Laura Nyro (“Eli’s Coming”) and produced/arranged by Mike Post, although not included on their hard-to-find 1968 full-length LP [according to one Discogs contributor, “so small was the stock copy it may not have actually been properly released to [J]oe [P]ublic” — a claim borne out by auction prices].

Record World‘s review from their February 22, 1969 issue:

The Laura Nyro song done with a galvanic girl chorus.  This song is going to break through.

Indeed, the song did break through later that year — for Three Dog Night.

B-Side:  Coulda Been a Contender

The next single release, frustratingly enough, though only a promo, would follow the same pattern:  A-side non-original (“Silver Threads and Golden Needles“) produced and arranged by Mike Post (but not included on the album), paired with a fresh pop tune from the pen of Marsha Jo Temmer and LauraCreamerPolkinghorne — in this case, “No You Are.”  Ultimately, the only Honey Ltd. releases that saw any kind of chart action were the ones written by Polkinghorne and/or Temmer.

Stunning to see the prices paid years later for a copy of the original 1968 Honey Ltd. LP:  $1975 (in 2006); $1637 (in 2011); and $1500 (in 2011).

Toward the end of the group’s run, Hazlewood singled out Laura Polkinghorne as a potential solo artist — as noted in Billboard‘s August 2, 1969 piece, “Hazlewood Doubling As Act, Producer on Label” — although no solo recordings appear to have ever been released:

LOS ANGELES — Lee Hazlewood is working on four record projects for his LHI Records, including two albums featuring himself as an artist.

He will work with vocalist Suzi Jane Hokom for an October LP release, and sing with a 40-piece orchestra in [Forty], an album recorded in England and due for an Aug. 1 release.

Hazlewood would also produce an album for Laura Polkinghorne, lead singer for Honey Ltd., an LHI group, and another for Ann-Margret, with the film star singing solo. Her initial effort for LHI combined her with Hazlewood in Cowboy and the Lady.

Albums distributed by LHI are part of a three-year tape production arrangement with Ampex, whereby LHI will produce at least 30 albums over a three-year span.

LHI will concentrate on about seven artists, said Hazlewood, including Miss Hokom, Danny Mich[a]els, the Aggregation, the Surprise Package, Honey Ltd., Laura Polkinghorne and Ann-Margret. Hazlewood will also record for the label.

Hazlewood plans to emphasize the company’s two publishing firms, Lee Hazlewood Music (ASCAP) and Guitar Music (BMI). He’s looking for additional writers to complement himself, Miss Polkinghorne, Larry Marks and Jeff Cain.

Hazlewood’s bid for independence, sadly and shockingly, only lasted one year — as reported in Record World‘s November 22, 1969 issue:

According to a joint announcement, Jimmy Bowen’s Amos Records will immediately assume management and administration of Lee Hazlewood’s LHI Records.

Hazlewood stated: “I will still maintain complete artistic and financial control of LHI. This management agreement will free to concentrate more on TV production and films.” Hazlewood has just completed his first film assignment for Filmways and MGM, “The Moonshine War.”

Effective immediately, LHI Records will be housed in the Amos Record offices at 6565 Sunset Blvd., Suite 120, Hollywood, Calif. Bruce Hinton, General Manager of Amos Records, stated that distributors for the joint venture will be announced momentarily.

Bowen told the press the alliance would not affect in any way Amos Productions. Bowen stated, “It’s a new, unique move and we believe it is a sound innovation which will give the combined label additional strength from a distribution and promotional standpoint.” Amos Productions will continue to produce for other labels; the engineering division will remain as is; and the production company will continue under its previously set up organization with Bowen as President and Tom Thacker as VP.

Hazlewood has recorded his first record under the new arrangement, Trouble Maker,” shipped to over 2000 radio stations in four days. At press time, the record, according to Hi[n]ton, “is breaking in several markers with over 40,000 shipped already.”

Honey Ltd. would get one final mention in the music trades when Cash Box‘s “Insight & Sound” column in their August 8, 1970 edition posted this news item:

HOMECOMING QUEEN at Wayne State U. in Detroit (1966), Alexandra (Sandy) Sliwin came to L.A. as part of the Honey Ltd. foursome who recorded for LHI Records. The group, now known as Eve, still works studio dates with Sandy but most of her working hours are spent as receptionist at Amos and secretary for v.p. Tom Thacker. Sandy is blonde, 24 and enjoys sailing, modeling she’ll occasionally pose on behalf of Commercials Unlimited and vocalizing. Current pet project: the fourth annual Amos Invitational Golf Tournament (committee headed by Tom Thacker, Dave Pell, Piggy Smith and Artie Valando with Jimmy Bowen hosting the Aug. 9th meet at Los Robles in Thousand Oaks). Sandy is in charge of the entry list. She’s also our breathtaking West Coast Girl of the Week.

Eve, according to the blurb in Discogs, had recorded under the name Honey Ltd. “until Alexandra Sliwin dropped out to marry John David [J.D.] Souther.” The group’s 1970 album release for LHI Records includes four originals:Dusty Roads” (by Laura Polkinghorne Creamer & Marcia Jo Temmer), “Could You” (by Creamer), “My Man Sunshine” (by Temmer), and “Take It and Smile” (by [future Eagle] Glenn Frey & Laura Creamer). This album – entitled Take It And Smile – was produced by Tom Thacker and features top-notch instrumental support from the following musicians:

Drums: Hal Blaine & Ron Tutt
Bass: Joe Osborn
Rhythm Guitar: Mark Creamer & Ry Cooder
Bottleneck Guitar: Ry Cooder
Lead Guitar (Dobro): James Burton
Pedal Steel Guitar: Sneaky Pete
Electric Piano & Organ: Gary Illingworth
Organ & Piano: Larry Muhoberac

Hazlewood would, again, select a non-original (Bacharach & David’s “Anyone Who Had a Heart”) for a promo 45. .However, a second promo 7-inch saw release that same year — Dylan’s “You Go Your Way” b/w title track, “Take It and Smile” — though not on the LHI label, but rather Bell Records, curiously enough. .Worth noting that Eve’s sole LP – which generally commands two figures at auction – includes a version of John Randolph Marr’s “Hello L.A., Bye Bye Birmingham” — a song previously celebrated by Zero to 180.

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

Goldie & the Gingerbreads B-Side

One trivia bit from The Rolling Stone Rock Almanac that didn’t make it into Zero to 180’s big Summer Beach Read:

April 30, 1965:  The Kinks begin their first headlining UK tour, with The Yardbirds and Goldie and the Gingerbreads providing support.

I have always been curious about the ‘all-girl’ beat group with such a playful name, so a quick browse of their discography in 45Cat immediately drew me to this 1965 French EP with the arty and urbane cover photo:

There was something appealing about the song title “The Skip,” so I queued it up on YouTube and, what do you know — it’s a jaunty organ dance instrumental produced by Shel Talmy, of early Who and Kinks fame:

“The Skip”     Goldie and the Gingerbreads     1965

As the crawl text in the YouTube streaming audio clip above notes, “The Skip” began life as the B-side of a Decca single that was released April, 1965 in the UK, as well as the closing track on a French EP (noted above) issued by Decca France three months later.  Sadly, “The Skip” never graced any of their US singles, nor did it appear on an LP, as Goldie and the Gingerbreads’ recorded legacy consists solely of 45s — Billboard’s Chris Hutchins explains why in this report from London, one of the “Music Capitals of the World,” in the October 2, 1965 edition:

The successful all-girl American group Goldie and the Gingerbreads, based in Britain, is breaking up because the girls claim working together is not profitable.  They had a hit here [Top 30] earlier this year with “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat” on Decca.  Now Goldie is going solo, two of the others are hoping to form a new group and the fourth is returning to the U.S.

Chris Hutchins would subsequently report in Billboard‘s February 5, 1966 issue that “Immediate [Records] has signed Goldie, who previously led the U.S. all-girl group Goldie and the Gingerbreads who were signed to [UK-based] Decca.”

Fascinating to discover in the course of poking around that Goldie recorded the original version of Goffin & King’s “Goin’ Back” in 1966 prior to The Byrds’ better-known version released the following year as a Columbia 45 (and included on The Notorious Byrd Brothers).  Goldie’s version, heartbreakingly, was withdrawn from the marketplace at the insistence of the songwriters due to unauthorized lyric changes, thus paving the way for Dusty Springfield’s subsequent hit version, as detailed by Paul Howes in The Complete Dusty Springfield.

Use of “King’s English” [Going vs. Goin’] in UK song title

Au contraire, counters Goldie herself (in a comment you will find attached to the end of this piece):

“The Song ‘Going Back’ was not withdrawn, Goldie made a decision to withdraw it -Goldie did not like being questioned about lyric change, and asked Andrew L Oldham to withdraw it.
Reason being;
Dusty made a big to-do as to why the song was given to Goldie after she ( Dusty ) held on to the demo by Carole King for possible future recording of the song.  To make things worse, Dusty claimed I even changed a lyric …to which the response from Carol King was….I like what Goldie did.”

Genyusha Goldie Zelkowitz, who later become known as Genya Ravan, would sing in Ten Wheel Drive and make four solo albums between the years 1972-1979.  NPR Weekend Edition‘s feature piece from 2016 informs us that this pioneering musician (leader of the “first all-female rock band to be signed to a major label”) returned to the music world in recent years as a host of two radio shows — “Chicks and Broads,” featuring women artists and “Goldie’s Garage” showcasing new talent — on the Sirius/XM channel “Little Steven’s Garage Underground Garage.”

2016 would also see the reissue of “Going Back” as the B-side of a UK 7-inch, with the previously-unreleased “Could It Be” as the featured track [recorded in January, 1966 — link to 45 Cat record of EMIdisc acetate].

Worth noting that Goldie and the Gingerbread’s 1964 US debut 45 — “Skinny Vinnie” b/w “Chew Chew Fee Fi Fum” — also enjoyed release in Australia, though nowhere else, oddly.

Goldie:  Bandleader at 18

Prior to the formation of Goldie and the Gingerbreads, Goldie would join – and then subsequently assume leadership of – Coral recording artist, The Escorts, as evidenced by the evolution of the group’s name over the course of just three singlesThe Escorts vs. The Escorts FeaturingGoldievs. Goldie And The Escorts.

September, 1962                      March, 1963                        August, 1963

2005 Haaretz feature piece on Genya Ravan, a Polish-born Holocaust survivor who emigrated to the US in 1947, offers an astonishingly unfiltered biographical overview in which we learn —

  • Her first boyfriend was a Puerto Rican named Colorado who would be memorialized years later in a song she recorded with Lou Reed.
  • An impromptu “audition” for The Escorts earned Ravan an invitation to become lead singer by the group’s leader, none other than Richard Perry, future A-list record producer (Ringo Starr, Carly Simon, Harry Nilsson, Barbra Streisand).
  • Before signing to British label, Decca, Goldie and the Gingerbreads first inked a contract offered by Atlantic Records’ Ahmet Ertegun, who was suitably impressed with the group’s performance at NYC’s Peppermint Lounge.
  • Goldie and the Gingerbreads were barred from releasing “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat” in the US by the single’s producer, Alan Price, who is said to have taken the recording without permission.
  • At a live performance in 1972 while on tour with Sly & the Family Stone, one audience member in attendance with family, Muhammad Ali, impelled the show’s producer — in response to Ravan’s liberal use of the F-bomb — to dispatch the police, who ended up arresting her.

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

Rusty York’s Cincinnati Indie

Billboard, in their January 8, 1972 edition, reported this quirky news item in the Cincinnati division of their “From the Music Capitals Around the World” column:

Rusty York, who heads up the Jewel Recording Studio[s] here, learned last week that the new ‘Smash-Up Derby’ commercial [for Cincinnati-based Kenner Products], which he created and did all the instrumental work, has been entered into the Hollywood Film Festival as an entry to select the best film commercial of the year.  The commercial is currently being spotted on all three major networks.”

Kenner SSP Smash-Up Derby TV Commercial   =  Music by Rusty York

Rusty York’s Jewel Recording Studio – in Mt. Healthy, just north of Cincinnati – would begin releasing 45s in 1961 and would once host The Grateful Dead, believe it or not, according to Cliff Radel’s obituary for York in the Cincinnati Enquirer‘s February 4, 2014 edition.

You can survey Rusty York’s musical legacy in three ways:

Discogs also allows you to browse LP & 45 releases that were recorded at Jewel Recording Studio, including Lonnie Mack‘s Whatever’s Right 1969 LP for Elektra (engineered by Gene Lawson) and Paul Dixon‘s Paul Baby 1973 album (on which Dixon is accompanied by former King recording artist Bonnie Lou).

Two memorable song titles that can only be found on the Jewel label:

Baby You Can Scratch My Egg” – vintage 1967 San Francisco-style psych blues – and “Don’t Munkey with the Funky Skunky” – “post 60’s garage/proto punk” from 1974 that features maniacal drumming and laughing choruses that are strategically interrupted by a softly-spoken catch phrase intended to win over the Pre-K crowd.

Jewel Records featured 45 #1

egg

Jewel Records featured 45 #2

“Don’t Munkey with the Funky Skunky”     Dry Ice     1974

From Billboard‘s ‘Music Capitals of the World – Cincinnati’ column = Oct. 14, 1972 edition:

Mike Reid, defensive tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals [previously celebrated here], and Dee Felice [musical associate of James Brown] and his group set for early recording dates at Rusty York‘s Jewel studios.  Felice recently cut two sides at Jewel.  Sonny Simmons, Cleveland gospel promoter, in town recently to produce an album for the gospel-singing Monarchs at Jewel studios.  Others in recently at Jewel to do gospel albums were Judy Cody of Akron; The Crossmen of Lansing, Mich.; and the Cooke Duet of Wise, Va.

Mad Lydia Wood, accompanied by Cincinnati Joe, did the warbling on six commercial spots on Wiedemann Beer for the Campbell-Mithun Agency of Minneapolis at Jewel last week.  Mad Lydia and Joe have held forth at various locations here for the last several years.”

Based on Rusty York’s cameo appearance in a recent piece, no doubt you will not be surprised to learn that Albert Washington was a Jewel recording artist, as was/were Jimmie SkinnerThe Russell BrothersJ.D. Jarvis, Linda Webb, and Dale Miller [let’s not forget 1969’s Sharon Lee and the Moonrockers, not to mention that same year’s The Funnie Papers, and most especially of all, Jade, whose 1970 album, recorded at Jewel, would include the jaw-dropping sonic wonder of “My Mary“).

Rusty York at Jewel = courtesy of Randy McNutt’s Home of the Hits

Click on image above for ultra-high resolution

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Did You Know?
Rusty York/King Records Trivia From Randy McNutt’s website:

Rusty York, a former King rockabilly and country singer, bought some of King’s echo equipment and microphones for his own Jewel Recording Studios in suburban Mt. Healthy, Ohio.  He even bought Nathan’s desk chair.  “The Neumann tube mics cost $300 new in the early ’60s,” he said.  “I just sold one for $2,800.  Like King, quality doesn’t go out of style.”

Bonus Jewel 45 for steel guitar fans!  1977‘s “Rose City Chimes” by Chubby Howard

According to Linda J. York (who has the booklet Dick Clark hawked at the show), Rusty York opened the first Rock and Roll show at the Hollywood Bowl for Dick Clark!

Excerpt from Zero to 180’s Facebook Page

“Zero to 180’s latest piece pays tribute to a former King recording artist – Rusty York – whose kind and gentle nature and lack of ego may have accidentally conspired to obscure his legacy as an accomplished musician (who “could play any tune in any style“) as well as recording studio founder/engineer, whose Jewel recordings run the gamut of musical sounds and genres, not unlike King (and Fraternity and Counterpart).”

Friendly reminder:  For optimal presentation, view Zero to 180 on a computer screen

Albert Washington’s Psych Funk

King Records Month 2018 — Extended Through October!

After Syd Nathan passed, King Records was sold to Starday Records in 1968, who subsequently sold the combined Starday-King catalog to Nashville’s Lin Broadcasting.  The new King owners would revive the Deluxe label in 1969 or so – check out this interesting bit of pop soul from Albert Washington on the *resuscitated imprint:

“Somewhere Down the Line”     Albert Washington     1970

Steven C. Tracy would devote a chapter to Albert Washington in Going to Cincinnati:  A History of the Blues in the Queen City:

In 1970 Albert’s manager Harry Carlson [owner of Fraternity Records] signed Albert to a contract with Starday-King Records, and Albert is listed in the King discography [edited by Michel Ruppli, with Bill Daniels] as recording at the studios on Brewster Avenue on May 19 and October 16, 1970.  Unfortunately the discography is incomplete and inaccurate for Albert’s work for Starday-King, from the misspelling of Harry Carlson’s name (Cartson) to the listing of all titles as unissued and the inclusion of titles not recorded at Starday-King.  A number of titles are recognizable as earlier Fraternity issues.

From these Starday-King recording sessions, states Tracy, four singles were issued:

  • “Loosen These Pains and Let Me Go” b/w “Go On and Help Yourself”   Jewel 822
  • “Love Is a Wonderful Thing” b/w “I Wanna Know How You Feel”   Jewel 836
  • “Betty Jane” b/w “If You Need Me”   Jewel 837
  • “Ain’t It a Shame” b/w “Somewhere Down the Line”   Deluxe 45-135

The sessions included Albert on vocal and guitar, backed by Andy Johnson or Lonnie Mack on guitar, Hal Byrd and Scooter on horns, Hubert Herb on piano, Lonnie Bennett or Jimmy Thompson on organ, Walter Cash on bass, and Cornelius Roberts on drums, along with stray trumpet added here and there.

Of the four singles, notes Tracy:

His best is on the release on Deluxe, a King subsidiary, where Albert hits another peak for blues fans.  Roy Brown had recorded the song, A&R man and vice-president of King Henry Glover’s composition, previously [unavailable on YouTube], but his smooth ballad rendering pales before Albert’s version of “Ain’t It a Shame.”  Led by Lonnie Mack’s restrained guitar and underpinned by a rock-steady bass, Albert preaches in smooth and soaring tones while one of the most tastefully used female choruses – Gigi and the Charmaines – echoes and underlines Albert’s pleading.  And the marvelous vamp out!  [Blues Unlimited co-founder Mike] Leadbitter calls it “typical intense Albert,” but that kind of intensity is really atypical.

The flip side [“Somewhere Down the Line“] is psychedelic funk with tasty guitar and something that sounds like an echoing flute, female chorus, and chording piano and “you’ll never miss your water” in the lyrics — not of blues interest, really, but strong for its genre.

For those of you who noted the three 45 releases on Jewel and wondered if Rusty York was directly involved in making that happen, you would be correct:

Rusty York had been involved in the production of a number of these songs for Albert, and some of the songs recorded at Starday-King came out on Jewel Records.  Also at this time, however, Albert went back into the Jewel Studios, recording with the same band at Starday-King, for a release on the [Cincinnati-based] Rye label.

Tracy would invite Washington to perform at Walnut Hills High School in 1972.  In turn, Washington would invite Tracy play harmonica on two sides cut at Jewel, with Johnny Dollar (piano), Ed Thompson (guitar), Walter Cash (bass), and Cornelius Roberts (drums) – “So Good” b/w “Before the Sun Goes Down” – that were released on Cincinnati label, L & W.

Tracy would recall the charge of hearing “Turn on the Bright Lights” (with Lonnie Mack) for the first time on local Top 40 “hits” station WSAI in 1969 and recalling it as the moment Washington had “turned me on to the blues in Cincinnati.”  Also backing Washington on “Bright Lights” are Tim Drummond (of The Dapps, not to mention bassist for James Brown’s special 6-person backing band on a harrowing Vietnam tour the year before), Denny (“Dumpy“) Rice on piano, Ron Grayson on organ, Rusty York on harmonica, and an unknown drummer, according to Tracy.

Check out the prices people are shelling out for Albert Washington on vinyl

Larry Nager’s obituary in the October 28, 1998 edition of The Cincinnati Enquirer

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*King Records History Moment:
DeLuxe Records

According to Both Sides Now Publications:

“The DeLuxe label was founded by brothers David and Jules Braun in Linden, New Jersey, in 1944.  Syd Nathan bought into the company in the late 1940s and finally bought out the Braun brothers in 1951.  From that time, DeLuxe operated as a King subsidiary.” 

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

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

Keith Murphy (front, right)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo notes from Keith Murphy

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

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

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

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

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

Feb. 17, 1966:  Pardon the delay – “echo chambers have been out in the studio”

Apr. 13, 1966:  “Returning your contracts so you can do something else” (!)

Sep. 16, 1968:  “Record should be out pronto” + keep your chin up

Oct. 9, 1968:  Final note = 45 to be issued in UK, but King “under new management”

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

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

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

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

Q & A with King Recording Artist, Keith O’Conner Murphy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Two Kings”:  A True Tale by Keith Murphy

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bonus Craft Project!  Make Your Own King Records stationery

Additional history on Keith Murphy in this interview from 60sGarageBands.com

“H2O Gate Blues”: Silver Spring

This piece updated 12/3/19 — scroll to “Lost 45?” appendix near the end

This piece also updated 12/27/20Lillian Claiborne tribute appended at tail end

As you may have already gathered, Zero to 180 has a soft spot for music history related to Silver Spring, Maryland.  We now know, for instance, that Track Recorders (with help from its chief engineer, Bill McCullough) was an important recording facility in the 1970s, outside of New York and Los Angeles.  We also know that Adelphi Studios (founded by Gene Rosenthal), enjoys renown for its 1960s and 70s recordings of seminal rediscovered blues artists, such as Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James, Rev. Gary Davis, and Honeyboy Edwards (tapes that were, in fact, purchased last year by Oxford, Mississippi blues label, Fat Possum).

Downtown Silver Spring [click on image for ultra-high resolution]

Silver Spring (okay, nearby Edmonston) also manufactured affordable, quality KAPA guitars in the 1960s, thanks to Koob Veneman, and even inspired a song that would be left off Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album — and thus serve as a wedge issue that ultimately helped drive the band apart.

Zero to 180 now asks – does anyone in Silver Spring remember D&B Sound StudiosGil Scott-Heron and his musical partner Brian Jackson recorded their first three albums — 1974’s Winter in America, 1975’s From South Africa to South Carolina & 1975’s The First Minute of a New Day — at D&B Sound.

H2O Gate Blues” from Winter in America was recorded in 1973, either September 4th/5th or October 15th, according to Discogs.  It’s not clear.  But wait – this Timeline of the Watergate Scandal notes the resignation of Vice-President, Spiro Agnew (and former Maryland governor) on October 10th!   Listen for yourself, and you will know:

“H2O Gate Blues”     Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson     1973

Be it thus resolved:  “H2O Gate Blues” was laid on tape the fifteenth day in the month of October, 1973.

ESPN panelist, visiting University of Maryland professor, and Washington Post columnist Kevin Blackistone would reference D&B Sound in the opening paragraph in a 2017 Post sports piece about Adam Jones that begins with a quote from Scott-Heron, who himself wrote about the experience of recording at D&B in his 2012 memoir, The Last Holiday:

Dan Henderson, who was still our manager, and his wife, Wilma, eventually moved into the house with me and Brian, too, and in the fall of 1973 we went into D&B Sound in Silver Spring, Maryland, and began recording the album Winter in America.  D&B was small, but it had a comfortable feeling — and it had [Robert] Jose Williams as the engineer.  The main room was so small that when Brian and I did tunes together, one of us had to go out in the hallway where the water cooler was located.  I did vocals for “Song for Bobby Smith” and “A Very Precious Time” from there, and Brian played flute on “The Bottle” and “Your Daddy Loves You” right next to that cooler.  A lot of people wanted to know wanted to know who it was playing flute on “The Bottle,” because it wasn’t specifically credited on the Winter in America album.  It was Brian.  He also played flute on “Back Home.”  Those are all his arrangements.  By the time we did Winter in America, Brian had become a very good flute player.  He also played Fender Rhodes on that album.

The Daily Beast‘s Marcus Baram in 2014 would provide a wider context for the artistic vision behind Winter in America:

Gil and Brian’s next album, Winter in America, on Strata-East, was credited to both Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson.  It was originally planned as a concept album called Supernatural Corner, in reference to the haunted vibe of the house at One Logan Circle [in DC].  The record was intended to tell the story of an African American soldier coming home from Vietnam to an America that was indifferent to his experience and hostile to his race and who eventually loses his mind.  The narratives in the song were taken from the soldier’s therapy sessions in a psychiatric ward, Jackson later explained.  One of the original songs, “White Horse Nightmare,” is about the veteran’s heroin addiction. But the label [Arista] considered the album too morose, and Gil and Brian took out some of the songs, leaving “Rivers of My Fathers,” “Back Home,” “The Bottle,” and a few new pieces.

They had recorded the album in the beginning of September 1973 at Dan Henderson’s D&B Sound Studio in Silver Spring, Maryland.  The space was so small that there wasn’t enough room for both of them in the studio, so Gil would sing in the studio while Brian played flute in a hallway next to a water cooler.  The tight quarters only added to Gil’s discomfort, and he complained about how long the sessions were taking.  True to the ethos of the impromptu jams and poetry readings he’d soaked in as a teenager at jazz clubs in New York, he felt alive when he was performing and disliked the recording process.  Whereas some musicians love to tweak their songs and do multiple takes in the studio, Gil tried to get it done as quickly as possible.  Engineer Robert Hosea Williams, who had recorded Roberta Flack and funk guitarist Chuck Brown, recalls, “Gil was one of the hardest I’ve ever recorded.  He had to do everything at once.”  Not only would he resist multitrack recording, in which each section of the song is isolated and separately recorded, but “he never shut up,” says Williams.  “When he would sing a verse and then start talking, it was crazy to record.  We’d have to erase those things later.”  Sometimes they would leave the mistakes in there.  When drummer Bob Adams skipped a beat at the 1:40 mark of “The Bottle,” the band wanted to rerecord the track, but Gil said, “No, that’s okay.”

Also worth pointing out that 1978’s The Mind of Gil Scott-Heron (on Clive Davis’s Arista label) kicks off with “H2O Gate Blues” — the only track on the album recorded at D&B — with the liner notes indicating that “the ‘H2O Gate Blues’ poem was originally composed in March 1973, and presented for the first time in concert at the [Berkeley] Jazz Festival in April of that year.”

Winter in America, by the way, is an album that can do fairly well at auction when all the stars are in alignment.

Bonus reading!  Richard Harrington‘s cover story of Gil Scott-Heron for the June 1975 edition of Unicorn Times.

This information is all very interesting to know, but none of it addresses the vexing question of where D&B Sound was originally located.  Zero to 180, after unsuccessful consultation with a number of Silver Spring veterans who were around in the 1970s, would seek out the assistance of a librarian — Jerry McCoy of the Silver Spring Historical Society — who knew exactly where to look:

DB Sound Studios = listed just below D.B. Creighton Associates

Thanks to the Silver Spring Historical Society’s own copy of Polk’s Silver Spring, Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Kensington, Takoma Park & Wheaton City Directory (1973 edition), we now know that D(&)B* Sound Studios [Jose Williams & Jules Da[m]ian, proprietors] once stood at 8037 13th Street in Silver Spring, Maryland, just over the Maryland-DC line.  Directly across from DB Sound at 8040 13th Street (where Kennett intersects with 13th) stood this Quality Inn Motel (where a Days Inn now occupies the entire block).

Former Quality Inn Motel directly across from DB Sound — Kennett @ 13th St

How interesting to discover that DB Sound would get name-checked by Billboard as early as their November 21, 1971 edition:

“At DB Sound in Silver Spring[s], Maryland, James Marshall and the Village Soul Choir were in for a session.  Willie Mason of Jay Walking Records also came in for a session.”

Wait — I just noticed that the studio had been referenced a couple months earlier in Billboard‘s September 18th edition:

“D.B. Sound Studios, Silver Spring, Md., had [the] Honey Cone[s] for Hot Wax Records with Greg Perry producing the Invictus artists, the Chairmen of the Board cutting their new LP [1972’s Bittersweet?].  Also in was the Masked Man (Harmon Bethea) cutting some material.”

Additionally, Ryan Little’s Washington City Paper article from the May 17, 2012 edition, “Soul Survivor:  The Lost Recordings and Magic Touch of Robert Hosea Williams,” links the name “DB Sound” to a 1974 Sarasota Tribune Herald piece that describes Williams as “the magician, a journeyman engineer who has had long experience and is part-owner of DB Studios in Silver Spring, right across the district line.”

The Former Silver Spring Motel on Georgia at 13th — steps from DB Sound

[SIDEBAR = *Ampersand or No Ampersand:  D&B Sound vs. DB Sound?
Examine the listing in the 1973 Polk’s City Directory above or the “Redskins ’74” single below, and you will notice the lack of an ampersand — thus, from this point forward, Zero to 180 will use DB Sound.]

DB Sound Studios:  No ampersand

Click on image above for Ultra-High Resolution  [45 courtesy of Bill Hanke]

Furthermore, Gregg Karukas, one of the early members of Tim Eyermann & East Coast Offering, enlightened Zero to 180 to the fact that Jules Damian is the principal figure who established Juldane Records.  The group’s debut and sophomore releases on Juldane would be recorded at DB — a memorable time, recalls Karukas:

“I’ll never forget when we were tracking the record, we did three tracks, a couple of takes, and we were in the groove, we wanted to record some more songs and Jules said ‘wait a minute’ on the talk back.  After about five minutes we went in the control room and realized that he was splicing together tape (outtakes) from other used reels in the tape room, because he had only purchased one fresh reel of tape for our session…….and he was the producer/engineer/label.  I was furious…..well, more like:  really?”

Damian’s partner. Robert Hosea Williams – of Red, Black & Green Productions – would be the subject, in 2012, of Numero Group‘s retrospective compilation, an opportunity for National Public Radio to take stock, as well, of Williams’ legacy:

Most people wouldn’t think of Washington, D.C., as one of R&B’s great cities.  Despite the fact that soul music greats Marvin Gaye and Roberta Flack grew up in D.C. neighborhoods, the city never had the equivalent of Detroit’s Berry Gordy and Motown, or Memphis’ Willie Mitchell and Hi Records.  But in the early 1970s, D.C. did have producer Robert Williams and his Red, Black and Green Productions.  A new compilation LP called Eccentric Soul:  A Red Black Green Production revisits Williams’ influence on the sound of R&B in D.C.

Thanks to the Bill Hanke Music Research Archives, Zero to 180 was able to scan information about DB Sound published annually in Unicorn Times (the October issue) for three years — 1975, 1978 & 1980 [click on images below for HIGH RESOLUTION]:

Oct. 1975 = Unicorn TImes

Oct. 1978 = Unicorn Times

Oct. 1980 = Unicorn Times

Note that for 1975 and 1978, R. Jose Williams is co-owner, as well as Creative Director and Chief Engineer, but that by 1980, Williams is no longer at DB Sound — presumably, to focus on his own Red, Black & Green Productions.  Numero Group’s liner notes for Eccentric Soul point to another recording facility in a much more suburban part of Silver Spring where Williams was likely spending his time during that period:

While not manning knobs and faders for Gil Scott-Heron, Hugh Masekela, Soul Searchers, Van McCoy, and a host of major label also-rans at Edgewood Studios, Washington, D.C.’s most opulent recording facility, producer Robert Hosea Williams worked off-hours at his own scrappy headquarters—the basement of his parents’ suburban Silver Spring[s] home on Octagon [Lane] (i.e., Colesville neighborhood). Out of those cramped quarters came the underground sounds collected here.  A Red Black & Green Production is the story of a well-connected engineer whose cabal of Beltway talent surreptitiously produced the finest black music coming out of D.C. during the midsection of the 1970s.  Though Red Black & Geen’s Garvey-colored flag flew behind the scenes, like a shadow government it changed D.C. recording culture and influenced the coming D.I.Y. movement.  

Worth pointing out that the dimensions of DB’s main recording space (22’ x 45’) are comparable to Track Recorders (25’ x 40’) just a few blocks up the road, which enjoyed much prestige on account of its Neve sound board.  And yet DB Sound was able to achieve an impressive legacy given its global reach (as you will see below) while operating in the shadows, so to speak, of the DC-area recording scene.

Sadly, as Jerry McCoy notes, “this building has been demolished.”  Do any pictures of the studio exist, one cannot help but wonder.

Also Recorded at DB Sound: 
These 45s & LPs (in chronological order)

Note:  click on all song and album titles (above/below) for streaming audio

Peggy Weston   “The Sun” b/w “Mellow”   1973

Michael Lloyd   “I’ll Go On” b/w “Search for Youth”   1973

The Summits   “Let Me Love You Again” b/w “It Takes Two”   1973

Skip McHoney & the Casuals   “Your Funny Moods” b/w “Struggling Man”   1973

“Your Funny Moods” reached #113 on Billboard‘s Pop chart on March 16, 1974.

The 2nd Amendment Band  “Backtalk (Pt. 1)” b/w “Backtalk (Pt. 2)”    1973

Note:  45 reissued in the UK in 2006 on Funk45, imprint of Jazzman Records.

Sons of Nature   “Ride the Vibe” b/w “Traveling Star”    1974

Past, Present & Future   “Love on the Line” b/w “Too Many Fish”   1974

Peggy Weston  “Night Bird” b/w [?]   1974

The Summits   “Sleepwalking” b/w “I’ll Never Say No”   1974

Skip Mahoney & the Casuals   “Seems Like…” b/w “Town Called No-Where”   1974

Skip Mahoaney & the Casuals   Your Funny Moods   1974   [LP]

Eddie Drennon & B.B.S. Unlimited   Collage   1975   [LP]

Note:  Album titled/packaged differently for the Phillipines market –

Note:  Album also titled/packaged differently for the UK & German markets –

Worth noting the number of countries to which this album was distributed.

Dyson’s Faces   Dyson’s Faces   1975   [LP – listen to entire album here]

The True Tones   Let’s Get It Together   1975   [LP – “Let Them Talk“]

J.I. Henderson (Soul Country Man)   Give a Helping Hand   1975   [LP – title track]

Promise   “I’m Not Ready for Love” b/w “I Wonder”     1975

According to the YouTube contributor who uploaded this song —

“[University Heights, Maryland*]’s Promise hit a kid-soul pinnacle with ‘I’m Not Ready For Love’ … Neither of Promise’s two 45s made much noise on the airwaves, but the group managed to open for James Brown, Stevie Wonder, and the Supremes before calling it quits later in the decade … This track comes off Numero Group‘s phenomenal Home Schooled: The ABCs of Kid Soul, which features a ton of great groups of kids singing soul music.”

*Source:  NPR profile of Robert Jose Williams from April 25, 2012

Promise   “Love on the Line” b/w “Open Up the Door”     1975

Phase II   “Phase II (pt. 1)” b/w “Phase II (pt. 2)”    1975

Willie Mason   “Same Mistake Twice” b/w “Chocolate City Boogie”  1975

Stanley Woodruff’s US Trio   “Took You So Long” b/w “Now Is Forever”   1975/76

Note:  Single would get UK distribution in 1977 on the Grapevine label

Black Horizon   “Black Horizon (Pt. 1)” b/w “Black Horizon (Pt. 2)”     1976

Note:  The “Black Horizon” 45 can earn three figures at auction

Stanley Woodruff’s US Trio   “Shadows” b/w “Walk Softly”   1976

Hills of Zion w/ Claude Alston & Dacario Darden  “Heaven Bound Train”   197?

Eddie Drennon & B.B.S. Unlimited  Would You Dance to My Music  1977   [LP]*

*Note:  Also recorded at Philly’s Sigma Sound — album issued on Casablanca, and released in Canada, UK & France.

E.L. James   The Face of Love   1977   [LP – listen to title track]

Note:  Album also recorded at Track Recorders and Future View Recording

Tim Eyermann   Unity   1977   [LP – sample track “A Time Past“]

Tim Eyermann & East Coast Offering   Go-Rilla   1978   [LP – title track]

Hilton Felton   Family and Friends   197?   [LP – reissued 2012 in Japan]

Sample tracks:  “Spreading Fever” and “Never Can Say Goodbye

Hilton Felton   Listen Lord!!   197?   [LP]

Hilton Felton   A Man For All Reasons   1980   [issued 2011 & 2012 in Japan]

Sampler alert30-second drum break loop from “Be Bop Boogie

Charanga 76   Manhattan Groove   1983   [LP – also released 1985 in Venezuela]

DB:  The Subsidiary Label

Check out these 45 releases on the db label (as in decibel) from years unknown — note the blue and orange 45s in the bottom row that indicate “Juldane Music BMI”:

{Note:  This article was updated extensively on March 21, 2019}

*  *  *   D B   S O U N D   U P D A T E:     L o s t   4 5?

On December 3, 2019, I received word from Bob Frantz — Zero to 180’s Mid South correspondent — of a fairly obscure 45 that just might possibly be connected to this story.

How curious to find only the song title identified on each side — not the name of the artist, who I can only conclude to be Anthony Dupuis, author of both tracks.  Wait a second:  Frantz assumes the artist name to be A Night and Two Days, which for some goofy reason (much smaller type size, not in boldface?) I presumed to be the name of the production team.  Furthermore, Frantz theorizes the name could be a sly reference to the group’s (possible) interracial makeup — i.e., one person of color + two pale guys.

The A-side “All Together” is a rockin’ blues with a “garage soul” feel that features a nice set of chord changes in the bridge beginning around the 1:33 mark:

The B-side “Listen” is another shot of rockin’ blues, though with a funkier JB-influenced groove underpinning the song:

Compare the catalog number of this 45 – DB100 – with the other DB singles in the cluster immediately above (e.g., DB106):  Is it possible that “All Together” b/w “Listen” is the debut single release of DB Sound’s own subsidiary label?

In addition to being issued on the DB label, Frantz’s eagle eye alerted me to a date (7/19/71), as well as the name Jose (as in Robert Jose/Hosea Williams), etched in the deadwax.

Magnified view of the deadwax etching

Frantz even managed to track down Anthony Dupuis, who was able to clarify a few things about the group and these recordings over the phone:

Dupuis is the writer of those songs.  They were recorded at DB studio.  He doesn’t remember Jose though.  The make-up of the group was Tony on lead and vocals, his brother Frank on bass and a black drummer whose name he couldn’t remember.  So my theory is correct:  a black dude and two white dudes.  He said they were offered potential contracts with Capitol and Verve, but there were apparently some “up front” expenses the group couldn’t afford, so that fell through.  Anthony was 24 yrs old at that time.  He said ‘Listen’ was a civil rights awareness/protest statement.  He said he might have another copy or two somewhere packed away.”

Mr. Dupuis was also gracious enough to respond to a few questions from Zero to 180:

Q: Do you have any photos of DB Sound?
A:  I only have slight memories of the studio.  We recorded for almost 8 hours….

Q: Did your group play live in the DC area and if so, what clubs did you play?
A: We played at Fort Meade Teen club and a few other small venues

Q: Did your 45 get any radio play and if so, which stations?
A: We did get airtime, the A side was played in New York and in Baltimore, WCAO I think, and the west coast liked side B.  I am not certain of the radio station there.

Q: How did you learn about DB Sound, and what was its reputation?
A: My brother found the DB Sound studio and took care of that end.  I am not sure about how he found it.  I’d send you to him for that, but I am not sure he is alive.

Q: What is it memorable recording at DB Sound?
A: My memory was of working so long and hard and still not feeling good about the songs, “A side” ending.

Q: Was the neighborhood around DB Sound considered “safe”?
A: Silver Spring was a very clean and safe place at that time.

Q: How were race relations in Silver Spring at the time?
A: I believe the race problem was not much of an issue at the time.  We named our group with the idea that we were not racists and hoping to use that to get into more locations for gigs.

Lillian Claiborne: In Memoriam

Hearty round of thanks to Jeff Krulik for forwarding this tribute to pioneering entrepreneur, Lillian Claiborne (DC Records co-founder), via DB Sound connection:

Lillian Claiborne: Her Art Is Lost To Us

John B. Earnshaw — May 1975 issue of Unicorn Times

Lillian Claiborne, an enterprising producer to Washington recording talent over the past 25 years, died in early April at the age of 78.

Although Lillian involved a great deal of her time with Black artists (individual and group musicians and instrumentalists alike), she herself was White: the beauty of it all was the fact that Lillian refused to bow to color line when that practice was fashionable.

Her foremost protege was the novelty vocalist Harmon “Maskman” Bethea, who first recorded for Lillian in the 1950’s. The last session she presided over (in wheelchair, accompanied by two attending nurses) was one for “Maskmen,” done at the D.B. Sound Studios in Silver Spring.

“The one [“Prices and Crisis“] was Harmon’s latest in a long series of regional hits [some with his old group, the Agents, and some like the recent sides done as ‘Maskman’] with which Lillian was associated,” recalls Sonny Damian of D.B. Sound. For musicians, A&R men, and recording men alike, says Sonny, “she was a hell of a woman.”

Here’s why: Not only was Lillian a pioneer (much like the White, female founder of the Stax label in Memphis) in helping Black talent pool their resources additionally, she introduced the 1st Negro group with a strong beat (the Heartbreakers) to RCA Victor’s once-mild realm. Then, of course, came the vigorous encouragement she gave to the growth of our area C&W market. In this regard, think about her inclusion of Jimmy Dean and Roy Clark as sidemen on some long ago (18 years or more) sessions.

With the large amount of money she poured into the “biz” over a 25-plus year period, she kept many struggling studios alive.

In the D.C. scene, Lillian was associated with a phenomenally broad range of musical styles which were grouped around three labels. On D.C., spirituals and sacred; on Loop, general range (pop, novelty, etc.); on Gamma, rhythm ‘n’ blues.

Who were her contacts? Name some names known to those in the trade — Randy Woods of Ranwood Records. Jerry “Swamp Dogg” Williams — a young blues artist with a dedicated, but mounting following. Art Talmadge of Musicor, not to mention other personalities from such labels as Dot, Pickwick, and Gotham. Locally, such fine blowers and wailers as Billy Clark and Joe Bradley will long retain fond memories of the once-renowned Cap-tans, one of the unsung names of R ‘n’ B. Likewise, Cliff Holland (radio station WOOK) and Roadhouse Oldies‘ proprietor Les Moskowitz, share grief for the departure of their old friend.

If some of these people aren’t familiar to the D.C. “scene,” it wasn’t Lillian’s fault. As a charter member in the Mid-Atlantic chapters of both BMI and ASCAP, she did her best to build a base for quality popular music in Washington. Although much of the material (particularly in the 1950’s) that Lillian Claiborne produced didn’t sell in vast quantity, the real value of her work was hardly lost to the music business—therein lines the backbone of the art.

And the backbone has lost a link with the passing of Lillian Claiborne.

Lovin’ Spoonful’s Brazilian Single

Zero to 180 was browsing Lovin Spoonful‘s 7-inch releases on Discogs and decided to give a listen to an obscure 45 track, “Lonely” – a harmonica instrumental, as it turns out – only to discover upon further examination that this song was released as an A-side for the Brazilian market only!

“Lonely”     Lovin’ Spoonful     1967

Zero to 180’s pleased to see Kama Sutra did up the occasion right with a picture sleeve:

Lovin' Spoonful 45 - BrazilHey, wha’ d’ya know, “Lonely” (or “Solitário”) would also be tapped as a B-side for the Japanese market:

Lovin' Spoonful 45 - Japan

Likewise a B-side in France.  Immediately brings to mind the decision that would be made by Immediate the following year to release P.P. Arnold’s version of “God Only Knows” as a single for the Italian market only, as discussed in the previous piece.

Wow – just discovered the existence of this entry in 45Cat for a US single release for “You’re a Big Boy Now” b/w “Lonely (Amy’s Theme),” with a date of “Jun. 1967” indicated but ultimately “unreleased” – what’s the story?

“Lonely (Amy’s Theme)” would originally be part of the soundtrack to Francis Ford Coppola’s 1966 feature film, You’re a Big Boy Now, whose songs would all be composed by John Sebastian (who was kind enough to inform Zero to 180 in an earlier piece that his father was a concert chromatic harmonica player).

“God Only Knows”: Italian A-Side

Rob Chapman – in his review of the 6-CD box set Immediate Singles Collection for the June, 2000 edition of Mojo – takes issue with with the choice of tracks regarding American vocalist, Pat Cole “P.P.” Arnold (who kicked off her solo singing career in mid-60s UK), demanding to know “where is her ecstatic version of [Brian Wilson & the Beach Boys’] ‘God Only Knows‘?”:

“GOD ONLY KNOWS”     P.P. ARNOLD     1968

“God Only Knows” – sequenced just after the opening track on side one of 1968’s Kafunta album – enjoyed distribution in the UK, US, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, South Africa, Canada, and Japan.  Arnold’s version of the standout track from The Beach Boys’ groundbreaking Pet Sounds would spend its entire existence confined to the album — except, however, in Italy (and nowhere else), where “God Only Knows” nobly served as the A-side of a 1969 single release.

RILASCIATO SOLO IN ITALIA

PP Arnold 45-a2The reverse side of the Italian picture sleeve includes jukebox title card – plus photo!

PP Arnold 45-bbThere is a page on the Smiley Smile chatboard devoted to this recording in which one of the members makes the following observation:

“But seriously folks, this is pretty much a song no one should cover.  In doing a cover version you either do something completely different with the song and/or top the original.  The latter is as close to zero chance as you’ll get, and the former not likely to work considering the power of the original arrangement [#2 Pop – 14 weeks on the charts].  That said, P.P. does a decent job – doesn’t embarrass herself.”

An original copy of the 1969 Italian picture sleeve sold at auction in 2012 for 20 Euros.

This just in:  Arnold’s “lost” album of songs recorded in the late 1960s/early 1970s – The Turning Tide – was finally released last August, as reported by Billboard.  “Derek” (i.e., Eric Clapton) and the Dominoes (Bobby Whitlock, Jim Gordon and Carl Radle, along with Jim Price & Bobby Keys) served as backing musicians on three of the songs, while Madeline Bell, Doris Troy, and Rita Coolidge share vocals with Arnold on other tracks (with Clapton, Barry Gibb, Caleb Quaye and Arnold serving variously and/or collaboratively as producer).

“The First Lady of Immediate Records” (who was gracious enough to share this history piece on her Facebook page) is about to embark upon her first ever concert tour of Australia – tour dates listed on the official poster below:

[CLICK on IMAGE BELOW TO VIEW IN HIGH RESOLUTION]

Bonus Track
“God Only Knows”:  Rare LP-Only Version

Thanks to Smiley Smile for pointing Zero to 180 toward another notable (pop) “soul” cover of the classic Beach Boys track “God Only Knows“:   Philadelphia’s own, Brenda & the Tabulations:

“God Only Knows” serves as the third track on side one of 1967’s Dry Your Eyes.

Sealed for everyone’s protection