Archive for the ‘music’ Category

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


The Feathers

December 3, 2008

feathers-show-time-1104The Feathers came together in 1954, when lead tenor Johnny Staton and his brother and first tenor Louis Staton relocated from El Centro, a California border town, to South L.A., where they settled.

Johnny Staton recalled, “we had twelve children, brothers and sisters. We used to get together and harmonize in church.” Following a stint in the air force, Johnny began performing at various talent shows with his brothers, Louis and Izell and sister Lenore. Izell sang bass. “My brother Louis said we had a very light bass, so why not name the group the Feathers?”

After about four months with this membership, Izell and Lenore left and the group and added neighborhood friends, second tenor Don Harris, baritone John “Sonny” Harris and bass Mitchell Alexander.

For their earliest song, Johnny “thought of a young lady I was with when I got ready to leave for the service. She had said, ‘Johnny, darling, please don’t go.’” For the flip side, Staton recalled another girl. “During my high school days, there was a girl called Nona Wyatt. All the boys would try to get her, she was so beautiful, but she never paid me no attention. I used to tease her, hit on her. I don’t think she ever found out about the record.”

Censored Chuck Higgins Cover – why withdrawn?

December 2, 2008

As best I can tell, the title “P:achuko Hop” is misspelled – should be “Pachuco Hop.”  Faced with this embarrasing gaffe, Combo withdrew it – from the marketplace, that is.  BTW, the lovely model is reputedly DJ Huggy Boy’s wife o’day.  Really, an enchanting relationship51hfp8modnl_sl500_aa240_1

Diamonds And Pearls

November 26, 2008

The Paradons

The Bakersfield-based Paradons emerged as a play on words from their gospel roots as the Dons Of Heaven according to member Charles “Chuck” Weldon. “We would sing on Sundays, then at school we became the Paradons .”

Weldon stated the original members were lead tenor West Tyler, Billy Myers, Billy Powers and Edwin Scott. Tyler’s best friend, Weldon stated “When I came in, they fired Scott. He took it very hard. Everyone treated Scott bad as we were teenagers. He wasn’t one of us.”

With Weldon taking Scott’s place, the group began “singing around the parks, putting different songs together,” one of them being “Diamonds & Pearls,” which Scott had written. After Scott left the group, the song underwent some changes, but it remained basically the same as when Scott taught it to the group.

Their recording career began with an association with a Mexican band, “Ricky Lee (Ricky Agary) and the somebody’s used to beat us. He said, ‘we’re going to L.A. to record. If we get done early you can record some songs.’”

That Agary session resulted in Bob Gaynor’s vocal on the Latin-beat “Cha Cha Rock” b/w “The Last Time I Saw You” on Milestone (2002).

“Kim Fowley had me set up with the Paradons,” recalled Gary Paxton. “Chris Christian was the local R&B entree in Bakersfield. At that time, Joe Love was the lead singer of the Paradons. He got hooked with that lady at Milestone, somehow the record wound up on that label. Would sign publishing with six different people. I was supposed to have 50% of publishing with Chris. Me and Kim, Milestone, Lode music…”

The Paradons then recorded for Fairburn’s Milestone at Baker’s Audio Arts Studio. “We must have done four or five songs in the first session,” said Weldon.

Released in the summer, “Diamonds & Pearls” b/w “I Want Love” (2003) slowly developed into a national hit in the fall of 1960the-paradons. As a consequence of these strong unexpected sales, the label went through various batches of paper, issuing the song on red, maroon and green and white label colors.

Four or five months after their original session, the group returned to Audio Arts. By now, Scott who had never been paid for “Diamonds & Pearls” had hired an attorney to help him recoup his share of the song’s success.

Their next, “Bells Ring” b/w “Please Tell Me” (2005) rang up little in the way of sales.

Their final Milestone, “Never Again” b/w “I Had A Dream” (2015) also showed up on Tufffest (102). The a-side, “Never Againz” b/w a new b-side, “This Is Love” was also issued as the Trend-Tones on Superb (100) in 1961.

After this failure to properly cash in on an important hit, the Paradons moved on to the Warner Bros.

According to Weldon, when the group reported for their session with Warner Bros., Scott showed up with an injunction.

“We were in the recording studio, doing our next songs, while his lawyers were waiting for us outside,” said Weldon. “Joe Grayton, our manager, snuck us out through the back of the studio. We thought it was great fun.” They later regrouped to restart the session. But the fun soon evaporated. Kim Fowley recorded Scott with the Blue Angels for Edsel.

Eddie My Love

June 24, 2008

teen_queens_eddie_my_love_78The Teen Queens

Sisters Betty, 16 and Rose Collins, 14 were the Teen Queens. They came from a musical family, as brother Aaron Collins was a founding member of the Jacks and Cadets and he arranged for them to record for the same label family he was on, Modern and RPM.

“My sisters came from our original home in Arkansas and my father bought a house,” Collins told Jim Dawson. “They were living in Venice with my dad and going to Venice High School.” According to Collins, who was living in nearby Santa Monica at the time, sister Betty came by and asked, “why don’t you try to get me and Rosie going?” Collins recalled, “they both sang in church, I thought it was a good idea, so I decided to write them a song we could take in to Maxwell Davis at Modern.”

He wrote the song “Johnny My Love,” as a tribute to Johnny Ace who had died about a year previously. “There were a lot of girl singers out there singing about Johnny, ‘dear Johnny’, ‘why Johnny why?’ so I just came up with this thing about ‘Johnny My Love’, and then I changed the name to ‘Eddie My Love’ because the ‘Johnny’ thing was going out.”

According to Collins, “they had an ear for harmony, but Rosie was the more talented of the two. Betty would just sing the melody and Rosie would harmonize a third about her. That was their sound.”

With Davis’ velvety horn supplementing the sound, the plaintive “Eddie My Love” b/w “Just Goofed” wasted little time reaching the charts….R&B #2 in Feb. and Pop #14 in March ’56.

The Teen Queens name was chosen because of the recent popularity of Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers. The RPM label quickly ran out of paper, so originals of “Eddie My Love” were released on red, blue and black labels.

There were covers by the Fontane Sisters, which hit #11, the Chordettes, which hit #14 and Lillian Briggs. Speedo of the Cadillacs, who was purportedly smitten by Betty Collins, turned the song into “Betty My Love” as a tribute to her.

At this juncture, Aaron Collins’ Cadets group hit with “Stranded In the Jungle,” requiring them to tour and freeing the Teen Queens from his supervision. That was a bad thing.

“I put my wife on the road with the girls, and that’s when they really went wild. When they came back home and their record started going down, they got in with their friends and started using dope.”

The Robins – from “Framed” to “the Hatchet Man” (chop chop)

May 28, 2008

robins-hatchetBetween “Riot In Cell Black #9” to “Smokey Joe’s Cafe,” the Robins used bass man Bobby Nunn on their second “talking” vocal, “Framed” (107) b/w “Loop De Loop Mambo,” the b-side being much more popular in L.A. According to tenor Grady Chapman, backing on these titles included Plas Johnson on tenor sax and Barney Kessell on guitar. That’s Carl Gardner on ‘Loop De Loop Mambo’,” which hit #4 on Hunter Hancock’s Harlem Hit Parade on Oct. 5.

It’s claimed that the Robins backed pop singer Bob London on his only Spark (109), “Lola,” and the fact that the song has been included on a Coasters retrospective tends to support this.

The Robins next release got them out of prison and into more of an early social consciousness bag as explained by the song’s co-writer Mike Stoller. “I was kind of interested in social satire, and a great source of material has always the situation of the poor, the joke that the poor tell on themselves.”

To this end, the novelty “Whadaya Want?” (110) filled the bill, with the group claiming “don’t want no Cadillac car, “ then answering “I just want a little girl to love.” Protest songs would have to wait until the 1960s. The flip, the powerful ballad, “If Teardrops Were Kisses” maximized the group’s harmonies and Nunn’s descending bass.

“One Kiss” was missed because the group’s rendition of the Cole Porter standard, “I Love Paris” (113) caused such controversy with nonsense backgrounds and a booting sax by Gil Bernal, that it was forced off the market over allegations that it degraded the original copyright.

The controversy continued with the send-up of the Dominoes’ “Sixty Minute Man” entitled “The Hatchet Man” (116), carrying the theme of male virility several steps further as Nunn wielded his axe “from Maine to Tennessee.” The flip, “I Must Be Dreamin’” continued the theme of “Whadaya Want?” by underscoring the unexpected nature of any good results. All of this was “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” and the story of the Coasters.

Huggy Boy and Dolphin’s of Hollywood

April 9, 2008

Billy Ward - Huggy Boy - John DolphinDisc jockey Huggy Boy (RN: Dick Hug, B: Canton, OH; June, 1928) arrived in L.A. in about 1945, signed on the air over KRKD radio out of the window of the Dolphin’s of Hollywood Record Shop on Vernon Ave., “20 magic steps west of Central Ave” in late 1951 or early 1952.

Quickly influential, Hugg maintained a six-decade r&b DJ career in Los Angeles, and became a particular favorite of Mexican fans by catering to their cruising scene with midnight broadcasts over both U.S. and Mexican border stations. He also had at least one record label, Caddy, and was invested in John Dolphin’s Cash label, sold mail order oldies over the air and operated a record shop in Hollywood with Wolfman Jack in the 1960s.

Competing with Hugg was Hunter Hancock on KFVD and various other DJs on mainly low power stations on the upper reaches of the AM dial. Being white and so visible in a Negro district, Huggy Boy caused some confusion and even resentment on the part of the city’s all-white power structure.

From Mike Davis, “City of Quartz,” “While ‘rumblin’’ (usually non-lethally) along this East-West socioeconomic divide, or sometimes in extension of intramural athletic rivalries, the Black gangs of the 1950s had to confront the implacable (often lethal) racism of Chief Parker’s LAPD. Under previous police chiefs, Central Avenue’s boisterous interracial night scene had simply been shaken down for tribute; under Parker – a puritanical crusader against ‘race mixing’ – nightclubs and juke joints were raided and shuttered.

In 1954, John Dolphin, owner of Los Angeles premier R&B record store near the corner of Vernon & Central, organized a protest of 150 Black business people against an ongoing ‘campaign of intimidation and terror’ directed at interracial trade.

According to Dolphin, Newton Division police had gone so far as to blockade his store, turning away all white customers and warning them ‘it was too dangerous to hang around Black neighborhoods.’”

Linda Hopkins first recordings

January 27, 2008


Linda Hopkins (RN: Malinda Helen Mathews, B: New Orleans, 1925) was in San Francisco when she recorded “Doggin’ Blues” and “Warning Blues,” and at about the time Little Esther had left Johnny Otis for the Federal label. Hopkins had already filled in for Little Esther on club dates where underage Esther was not allowed to perform.
“Little Esther was 13-years-old and at the time, I was 26,” Hopkins recalled. “She heard me singing at Slim Jenkins’ Nightclub in Oakland. She was headlining with the Johnny Otis band and had a big name. She sneaked into the cocktail evening show and demanded that Herman Lubinsky that she had heard this lady sing, ‘I want you to put this lady on record’.”

“I was doing Bessie Smith songs and making up my own songs. I was just starting in show business. I used to do a lot of church work in Richmond and I was used to handling kids in church, teaching them how to sing gospel songs. The church didn’t want me to be over the kids, so it turned me out. The deacon claimed he saw me in a club. It wasn’t so.”

“This disc jockey, Jumpin’ George Oxford noticed on a Sunday morning that there wasn’t no kids there to sing in their time slot on the radio. He inquired about it and that’s when I told him they had a board meeting and told me I wasn’t fit to work with kids.”

“He was very happy, told me to go on an audition at a nightclub, he and his wife took me to Slim Jenkins, whoever won first prize could sing with Helen Humes. Slim Jenkins heard me sing and just hired me and I worked my opening night with Helen Humes. Little Esther decided I was going to be Linda Hopkins, Malinda Helen Mathews wasn’t going to be my stage name.

“I never toured with Johnny Otis. He was the nicest man. I really wanted to tour with him, he treated me like a daughter.”

Leaving Savoy, Hopkins recorded “Get Off My Wagon” on Forecast, a label associated with Crystalette.

Record shops and in-car record players

December 29, 2007

carrecordplayer14.jpgIn 1958, teens in the L.A. area had an abundance of vinyl sources.  Apart from the record shop on almost every street, Wallich’s Music City supplied the needs for the new and reissued vinyl and the newly opened Wenzel’s Music Town in Downey not only carried these sides, but was releasing records on their own Jack Bee label as of 1959. Thanks to DJs like Art LaBoe on KPOP and Huggy Boy on KWKW, who played these favored sides, much to the pleasure of those cruising various boulevards in the suburbs, the oldies scene began to heat up.

In the early 1960s, Wenzels began pressing custom metal acetates of songs not on otherwise on 45rpm and created a few select unlabeled 45s (Jimmy Reed b/w the Royal Tones), thus meeting needs of cruisers, oldies fans and record collectors of all stripes, which is why employees of nearby Wallich’s Music City in Lakewood considered Wenzel’s “a bootleg operation.” With these record buyers, stereo was not an attraction, thus rock and roll was not heard on FM radio, which lent itself to stereo broadcasts.