Ron Holden & Thunderbirds LOVE YOU SO

August 20, 2015

One of L.A.’s biggest 45s was from Seattle, namely the start of the recording career of Ron Holden & Thunderbirds began when Holden was arrested. “My band and myself were at a little high school sock hop.  During the intermission, the boys in the band including myself went out.  We jumped in our band car.  We had probably a half pint of I.W. Harper and one of them funny little cigarettes.

“It was about ten of us, stuck in this little car.  The police came over, checked us out, found out I was the only one over 18.  I did my little odd job for the government.  While I was in there, I met the forensic expert, the guy who took fingerprints.

“Every two hours or so, he’d take my fingerprints.  I couldn’t figure out what this guy was doin’, he was tryin’ to get in my head.  He heard me doo wopping in the can and he said, ‘what was that song you were doing?’

“I told him I had just written a letter to my girlfriend explaining to her that I wasn’t a bad guy.

“He said ‘I’m going to quit the sheriff’s department.  When you get out, come and visit me and we’ll see if we can do something.’”

Fingerprint guy turned out to be Larry Nelson who was about to quit law enforcement and start the Seattle-based Nite Owl label.  Nelson’s partner, Chuck Markulis, who attended San Pedro High School and Everett Junior College in Washington and sang as the Shades on “Dear Lori” b/w “One Touch Of Heaven” on Aladdin (3453) in 1959.

The Holden recording session took place on a Sunday morning “in Nelson’s 10 x 12 feet living room.  I had no idea what a studio was about.”

“Chuck Markulis owned the stereo Roberts tape recorder and we had two channels to get 20 microphones in and all these guys.  There was a dog in the room, it was real bizarre.  We did it live.  Every time we’d try to record, the dog would bark. Twenty hours later, we all hated each other.”


“Love You So” had a 38 second intro, perfect for a DJ a yak up before the vocals b/w “My Babe” on Nelson’s new Nite Owl (10), which charted on Seattle’s KYAO at #5 on November 1, 1959

Markulis and Nelson shopped the song to L.A. labels and the Challenge label pressed up 5,000 45s, but then backed out.  To avoid litigation, Challenge sent 5,000 unlabeled discs to Seattle.  Nelson and Markulis glued Nite Owl labels on them one-by-one.

They then made a deal with Bob Keane who released “Love You So” b/w “My Babe” on Donna (1315), where it charted higher than it did in Seattle.


It first charted on KFXM at #1 on February 13, 1960; at Wallichs Music City at #1 on March 14, 1960; on KRLA at #1 on       March 18, 1960; Valley News chart at #1 on March 18, 1960; KFWB at #1 on March 26, 1960; KACY in Oxnard at #1 on       April 3, 1960 and Billboard charts at #7 on April 4, 1960 and the Billboard R&B charts at #11 on May 16, 1960. In all, seven months (November 1959 to May 1960) of appearing on different charts.

Jimmy Norman vs. the T-Birds GREEN STAMPS

August 17, 2015

First came Jimmy Norman.

After singing with the Chargers, vocalist Jimmy Norman hooked up with H.B. Barnum, who had him record “Thank Him” and a remake of Hank Williams’ “You Win Again” on Mun-Rab (102), Barnum spelled backwards. In late 1959, Norman’s reference to the marketing ploy totally different from the T-Birds hit, “Green Stamps” was very much influenced by Sheb Wooley’s “Purple People Eater” complete with squeaky voices b/w a rocker, “Just To Get To You” on Dot (16016).

“That was done as a demo in the beginning, but Dot Records put it out.  They decided to leave my name on it, make my name on it.  I was introduced to the lady who ran Dot; they had a party for me at the time.”

Norman’s “Green Stamps” was a KFXM pick on October 17, 1960

Then came the T Birds.

A two-release offgreen stampsshoot of the Jaguars, the T Birds who recorded “Green Stamps” b/w “Come On, Dance With Me” on the very short-lived T-Bird (101) r/i on Chess (1778) were Sonny Chaney, Charles Middleton and Val Poliuto of the Jaguars, who said, “we were always a member short of a group.”

T-Bird was an example of creating a label to market master to more major label.  “That was John Marascalco’s production and he had a lot of gimmicks,” Chaney recalled. “We were with my ex-wife’s cousin, he was faking guitar” on the record.

From the Platter Matter column of Jan. 12, ’61, “a new singing group has the right idea about original lyrics that attain the sound which sparks listeners interest. Since practically every store, service station, and supermarket in the nation promotes ‘collective’ stamps. the T-Birds must have decided, ‘Why not sing about them?’

“’Green Stamps’ is the title of this amusing record which tells about a boy who pledges to give his girl ‘green stamps, yellow stamps, blue chip, too’ every time she kisses him. He also urges her to ‘come an get ‘em’.

“Throughout this rock’n’roll platter there is an outstanding similarity between the T-Birds’ style and that of the well-known Coasters. This style, the beat, lyrics and expressions used all combine to make this recording one that will probably do quite well on the surveys.”  It did.

“Green Stamps” was a KRLA pick on January 13, 1961; a Wallichs hit at #33 on January 23, 1961; a KRLA hit at #24 on January 27, 1961 and a KFXM pick on February 4, 1961

“Green Stamps” did not chart nationally nor did the much rarer “Taco Harry” b/w “Hog Wild” (Chess 1792), which presaged the demise of the T-Birds.  The same lineup also recorded as the Runaways on Lavender about six months later.

2010 in review

January 2, 2011

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 5,800 times in 2010. That’s about 14 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 3 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 30 posts.

The busiest day of the year was September 10th with 86 views. The most popular post that day was About Rockin Steve.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for evelyn freeman, john dolphin, huggy boy, jesse belvin, and ed townsend.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


About Rockin Steve August 2007


“Didn’t It Rain” by Evelyn Freeman & the Exciting Voices December 2007


The death of John Dolphin August 2007


Record shops and in-car record players December 2007


Frank Wilson on Soul – Northern Soul’s Rarest – updated May 6, 2009 December 2008

California Eagle: Police Stop Teen-Agers Drink Party (Apr. 1, 1954)

July 8, 2010

Thurs. April 1, 1954

“Police Stop Teen-Agers Drink Party”

“SANTA MONICA—Police raided a crowd of 600 dancers at the Chase hotel Saturday night and stopped the dancing when they found scores of teen-agers among the heavy-drinking patrons. The dance reportedly was promoted by Jack Lauderdale, former owner of the Downbeat Record Shop and at present operator of the La-Dale motel, both in Los Angeles; John Dolphin, owner of Dolphin’s Record Co., Vernon and Central, Los Angeles, and his disc jockey, Richard “Huggie Boy” Hug.”

“Capt. Reinbold, of the Santa Monica police, said there were many juveniles drinking when he arrived, that one 16-year-old was already so drunk he could hardly stand up, and that there were no chaperons in evidence.  He also said that no permit had been obtained.”

“Police arrived about 10 o’clock; when summoned by the hotel. They ordered the dancing stopped, and also broke up fights that had broken out outside.”

Comment:  No doubt crazed by the wild beat of rock n roll, rhythm n blues.  In 1950, the Eagle gave a lot of ink to Dolphin when he opened his shop, but the amount of coverage seemed to relax as the Dolphin advertising budget slacked off.

The Passions

February 19, 2010

Harold Garcia, Sammy Handy, Kenny Sinclair from the Six Teens, Earl Sinclair and William DeVase, bass were the Passions on both Era and Dore.

On Era, they rendered the uptempo “Jackie Brown” b/w “My Aching Heart” (1063); reissued on Capitol (3963).

After this fine two-label release stiffed, The Passions were laid off to the Era sister label of Dore, after the cousins who ran Era, broke their partnership for the less effective “Tango Of Love” b/w “Nervous About Sally” (505) in 1958.

In 1959, most likely because of a competing East Coast Passions group, which had hit big with “Just To Be With You,” they became the Colognes on Lummtone, after which Sinclair and DeVase joined the Elements/Elgins vocal group.

Ed Townsend

February 18, 2010

Ed Townsend had scant success with Aladdin, Dot and Carlton.  However, his fortune improved when Townsend recalled, “Nat Cole brought me over to Capitol, I met him in Las Vegas when I sang with Horace Heidt.”

Townsend’s powerful ballad, “For Your Love” b/w “Over And Over Again” (3926) was his breakout local and national success, hitting top 15 nationally and top 10 in L.A. and on border radio.

“For Your Love” was enhanced by “the full sound of the combining of two gospel groups, one white, one black, in the background of this studio session.”

Supplementing this background were Gwen Johnson and Betty Wright, who went to school with the Blossoms.  Arranger Rene Hall recalled how Townsend was strongly opinionated about how he wanted the session to sound.  “That would be an Ed Townsend trademark.  He liked background singers that sing in the Broadway production style and violas instead of violins.  I only followed his style.  He’d say, ‘get me plenty of violas and keep those high screechy things down as much as you can,’ that’s what he called violins.”

Bells Of St. Mary’s

March 3, 2009

Kell Osborne arrived in L.A. in 1959 from Detroit where he had moved with future members of the Temptations.

In L.A., “I met Lester Sill, who was manager of the Coasters and president of Trey Records and manager of Phil Spector,” he recalled

1977156About his disc debut, “Bells Of St. Mary” b/w “That’s All Right Baby” on Trey (3006), Osborne said, “I didn’t like that too much. Phil Spector was very young, great guitar player and was easy to work with, but he was so young, hadn’t made any hits yet. I was the first artist he got a hold of. After he became famous, he wouldn’t speak to me.

“It was a 40 voice spiritual choir from L.A., The track was already cut, it was all tracks. I thought it was great. Lester flew me to Phoenix, AZ and I couldn’t open my mouth, so he gave me a whole bottle of castor oil. Lester thought I had a voice that was like Jackie Wilson, Lester had big plans for me, but I was mpatient. It hit in Baltimore, MD of all places.”

Among other singers, Osborne recalled “Lester had Bobby Sheen also.” In 1963, “The Bells Of St. Mary” was given to Sheen’s Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans, also produced by Spector.

The Elements / Elgins

December 7, 2008


The Elements, Kenny Sinclair, Darryl “Cappy” Lewis, his brother Carl Lewis and Jimmy Smith emerged from the Six Teens with William DeVase, who had sung with Sinclair in the Colognes on Lummtone, also known as the Passions on Era and Capitol.

Their only release, the fine “Lonely Hearts Club” b/w “Bad Man” came out on Titan (1708) in 1960. A Beaumont, TX classmate of Smith from Texas, Oscar McDonald replaced Carl Lewis and the group moved on to the Flip, the original home of the Six Teens as the Elgins.

In 1961, Brown issued “My Illness” b/w “Extra Extra,” which used the opening (“…read all about it”) as by the Elgins (1724), with the title “My Illness” almost immediately changed to the more appetizing “Heartache, Heartbreak,” the opening lines (“heartache, heartbreak, and lonely misery”) of the song. Smith recalled, we always referred to it as ‘My Illness.’”

After a one-disc career as the Elements on Titan, the newly renamed Elgins put down one historic 45 for Flip, “Uncle Sam’s Man” b/w “Casey Cop” (353) in 1960. This tearful goodbye-to-a-serviceman’s sweetheart as he heads off to sea was patterned by Darryl Lewis from the bridge (“darling can’t you see that I’m going overseas”) of the Six Teens’ major Flip label hit, “A Casual Look” (315) from 1956.

The Elgins’ presentation featured strong unison harmonies overlaid with Jimmy Smith’s impassioned lead and soaring falsetto. “It’s what you call a weave, doing falsetto over the top, dropping back into the harmony, back to the lead,” said Smith. “It was a different thing.” For their next releases, the Elgins moved over to the Lummtone label in 1961.

Frank Wilson on Soul – Northern Soul’s Rarest – updated May 6, 2009

December 7, 2008

frankwilsonorig1One copy of this disc escaped from the Motown files in a transaction that involved drugs and a drug addled employee of the firm who took qualuudes from a medical professional (doctor  / famed / deceased / record collector) for the company’s file copy  of this 45.  The doctor who collected 50s vocal group harmony records turned it around in a big trade and later that copy sold for upwards of $20 gs.\

Now comes the following from the latest Goldmine (so you don’t have to click thru three links to get to the text – shame on you Goldmine! – oh the hardship):

“Sold by Kenny Burrell, this version is one of only two surviving copies of Wilson’s record known to exist — and it’s the only one in acceptable playing condition. Motown kingpin Berry Gordy originally ordered the record destroyed.

“As the story goes, Wilson, who became a producer for Motown, was hired in late 1965 to head up the label’s West Coast operation in Los Angeles. The deal was contingent upon Wilson giving up his recording and performing career. But Wilson recorded a demo of “Do I Love You.” Upon finding out, Berry gave the order to have it wiped off the face of the earth. But, two copies escaped.

“U.K. record dealer John Manship, who specializes in Northern Soul rarities, held the auction for Burrell’s record. The total amount of the sale, which started in the middle of March and ran to April 29, was £25,742.”

That’s sort of the back story:  Wilson, who sang with the family group the Wil-Sones on Highland and the  Remarkables on Audio Arts, joined Motown when it moved west.  He recorded the Soul single, then Gordy told him to make a decision:  either you’re a vocalist or a songwriter.  He chose writer, Gordy stopped the release.

Wilson is now a preacher and lives in Pasadena.

It Was You

December 3, 2008