Saturday, October 8, 2011


Tommy James & The Shondells

US#1(2) from 1 February and NZ#1(3) from 24 April 1969 Their 5th million-seller, with global sales of over 4 million - Monster Hit in NZ (from my Million-Sellers file) See also Wikipedia

Thursday 6th Oct Bill Ashworth popped up on Facebook chat ...
Hey Ray, next time you are on Coast can you find the exact album your version of Crimson and Clover by Tommy James and the Sondells is from? I bought one off i-tunes but I like the version that Coast plays

Hi Bill, the version Coast play is the long version, presumably the album version. Coast have the song on a computer hard drive, so not sure if I can check on the source. Will check one of my music books.

Pat Downey's book on Top 40 songs on CD, says 5:23 (LP) version is on K-Tel 3183 Psychedelic Mind Trip. Plus a 5:09 (LP version faded early) was on Time-Life 2CLR-04 Classic Rock - 1968.

Suggest do a Google search and see what Amazon and Last FM offer up

Bill came back with ...
Hello Ray, Thanks for the clues, the version I have is from their album Crystal Symphonies The Psychedelic Years, is extended play 5:31 but is modified from the Coasts version which I prefer.

then later Bill reported he had ...
Found it on i-tunes Pop Hits Vol 2- 5 minutes 30 secs

Pat Downey's book says that a 5:30 version was on Rhino 70534 Crimson & Clover/Cellophone Symphony. (LP version with :07 of studio talk) Pat Downey also notes there was available (a noble attempt at recreating the 45 version but unfortunately this is not the real 45 version) for example on Rhino 70630 Billboard's Top Rock & Roll Hits of 1969.

Bet you didn't realise things can be so complicated when you're trying to obtain an 'original' version of a song.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Big Pizza Pie

Searching through CD back ups of data and found my answer to the question what was a big pizza pie a replacement for?
Answer: "Jerry Lewis even had a hand in altering the lyrics slightly - substituting ‘gefilte fish’ for ‘big pizza pie’and the song became Dean’s first million seller." (Notes from Tonight At Seven script for a feature on Today FM)

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie
That's Amore - eye - pie but what rhymed with gefilte fish?

Some links to You Tube clips of the song, with lyrics

or to see Dean do the song in the movie The Caddy

Friday, June 17, 2011

Rock legend Carl Gardner, lead singer of the Coasters, dies age 83

As the lead voice of the Coasters in the late 1950s, Carl Gardner delivered some of early rock 'n' roll's most indelible lines.

It takes a microsecond for any fan to recognize "Yakety Yak," where the first sound out of the grooves is Gardner's voice barking, "Take out the papers and the trash / Or you don't get no spending cash."

The root of teenage exasperation was never nailed more succinctly.

Gardner, who started as a traditional rhythm-and-blues harmony singer and in later years became an advocate for artists' rights and fair financial compensation, died 12 June 2011 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. He was 83 and had been suffering from congestive heart failure and vascular dementia. He retired from singing with his last Coasters group in 2005.

The Coasters were formed in 1956 around Gardner and bass Bobby Nunn, who had previously sung in the respected Los Angeles group the Robins.

The Coasters became the musical vehicle for the songs of Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller, who used rock 'n' roll to create a hilarious chronicle of American life, particularly American teenage life.

"Along Came Jones" satirized TV Westerns and "Charlie Brown" honored the original slacker. "Poison Ivy" may be the only pop hit ever to mention Calamine lotion, and "Searchin'" turned a routine love song into a pop culture drama by having the elusive girl pursued by contemporary TV stars like Sugarfoot and Paladin from "Have Gun Will Travel."

Gardner took pride in the group's ability to deliver tongue-in-cheek humor while still creating songs that sounded compelling on a car radio.

At the 1987 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremonies, where the Coasters became the first vocal group inducted, he said he considered the group professional entertainers rather than the street-corner singers who were popular in the late 1950s.

"People may have called it doo-wop or novelty music," he said. "But we sang songs that lasted."

Again thanks to Music Maestro Mark for passing on the obituary

Recently I had discussion about the tune that used as the theme for the Benny Hill Show. This was inspired by the sax solo by King Curtis in The Coaster's 1957 No.1 hit "Yakety Yak" and became a hit for Boots Randolph, which he called Yakety Sax. A US#35 from February 1963.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Whiskey In The Jar

from Facebook posting and comments ...
What song immediately puts you back in school with a car full of friends singing at the top of your lungs? come on , we all did it?
mine was " i'm every woman " by Chaka Khan and " Le Freak " by Chic

There were a number of songs mentioned and then came one I thought was from my era ...
CC whiskey in the jaro! remind me who sang it!
May 28 at 6:16am · Like
Ray Mankelow I remember the Seekers doing Whiskey In The Jar, probably best known by The Dubliners. What ho the daddy oh.
May 28 at 9:28am · Like

LH Sticking my beak in - Thin Lizzy did a great version with Phyll Lynott singing.

Wikipedia says ...
"Whiskey in the Jar" is a famous Irish traditional song, set in the southern mountains of Ireland, with specific mention of Cork and Kerry counties, as well as Fenit, a village in Kerry county. It is about a highwayman, or perhaps a footpad, who is betrayed by his wife or lover, and is one of the most widely performed traditional Irish songs. It has been recorded by numerous professional artists since the 1950s. The song first gained wide exposure when the Irish folk band The Dubliners performed it internationally as a signature song, and recorded it on three albums in the 1960s. Building on their success, the Irish rock band Thin Lizzy hit the Irish and British pop charts with the song in the early 1970s. The American metal band Metallica brought it to a wider rock audience in 1998 by playing a version very similar to that of Thin Lizzy's with a heavier sound, and won a Grammy for the song in 2000 for Best Hard Rock Performance.

Music Maestro Mark said, The Highwaymen had a popular version in 1962. So perhaps that is the one in my subconcious. Then Mark followed up with 'By the way The Dubliners version was only available here on an album.' So that probably precludes them reaching my ears over the radio.
Last-fm says the Highwaymen's version appears on the album Encore and other website mention the album 'Still Rowing'

I found it difficult to find a Highwaymen version on You Tube but, I did get to hear the song

Checking the various versions I found the lyric line was "Whack for my daddy-o" and not as I thought 'What ho the daddy Oh'

And music buff and collector, Scott said ...
I'm familiar with the Thin Lizzy version. Can imagine the Dubliner's doing it, remember them doing Seven Drunken Nights ? Great Irish humour.
Song that takes me back like that is Goodybe Yellow Brick Road. Just two notes of the intro and it's like being sent back in a time machine to summer late 1973 / early summer 1974.

My song of strong memories is the Loving Spoonful - Daydream. That puts me around the swimming pool in the sunshine at Ohakea Air Base during my first year in the RNZAF.

The other memorable songs listed on that Facebook page were ...
MB We are all gonna on a summer holiday we sang that every boxing day as we all headed off camping and yes stop laughing please I have camped in the PAST !!!!
May 27 at 3:43pm · Like · 1 person

JH Band on the Run by Paul McCartney and wings
May 27 at 7:33pm · Like · 1 person

EH I can make you feel good - Shalamar
May 28 at 5:54am · Like · 1 person

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Narcissism and hostility show an increase in popular music

Listening to World Watch on National Radio Sunday morning heard an item about research showing an increase in the focus on self in song lyrics.
Radio NZ websites says Worldwatch audio is not available on demand due to copyright restrictions. So did a Google search and found various results including a New York Times feature ...

Now, after a computer analysis of three decades of hit songs, Dr. DeWall and other psychologists report finding what they were looking for: a statistically significant trend toward narcissism and hostility in popular music. As they hypothesized, the words “I” and “me” appear more frequently along with anger-related words, while there’s been a corresponding decline in “we” and “us” and the expression of positive emotions.

And also covered in a Blog Post

I liked the line from Dr Margaret Paul; "Many do not understand the vast difference between being self-centered and being self-responsible and self-caring."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Phoebe Snow dies, aged 58

US folk and blues singer Phoebe Snow has died, 26 April 2011, of complications from a stroke she suffered last year, aged 58.

The singer-songwriter, who was best known for her 1975 hit Poetry Man, had been in a coma since the stroke in January 2010, her manager said.

Snow largely dropped out of the public spotlight soon after her first album to care for her daughter who was born with a severe brain injury.

However she continued to make albums, releasing 16 during her career.

Born Phoebe Ann Laub in New York City in 1950, the singer changed her name after seeing Phoebe Snow, a fictional advertising character for a railroad, on trains that passed through her hometown in New Jersey.

Her acclaimed 1974 self-titled album debut reached number four in the chart, spawning the hit Poetry Man as well as earning Snow a best new artist Grammy nomination.

A year later, when Valerie was born with hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the brain cavity, Snow decided to care for her at home rather than place her in a hospital.

Although she was not expected to live more than a few years, Valerie later died in 2007 aged 31.

"Occasionally I put an album out, but I didn't like to tour, and they didn't get a lot of label support," the singer told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2008.

"But you know what? It didn't really matter because I got to stay home more with Valerie, and that time was precious."

Again thanks to Music Maestro Mark for passing on the obituary

Homage to a songwriter and a song query

Ray Columbus has paid homage to the songwriter of the iconic Number 1 Australasian smash hit for Ray Columbus & The Invaders 1964 hit, 'She's A Mod'.

Terry Beale died peacefully in the UK at home in Redditch, Midlands. Born on September 20, 1944, Beale was the lead singer and songwriter in a Birmingham band called The Senators. 'She's A Mod' was never a hit for The Senators but they were a part of the new wave of British invasion bands that arose in the early 1960s. Their line-up included the future Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham.

Jack Argent, the song publisher of The Beatles in Australia, offered 'She's
A Mod' to Ray Columbus & The Invaders and the band made the song a national sensation.
The song was a perfect fit for Columbus, who had made the 'Mod's Nod' dance infamous in Australia as they sought to counter the 'Surf's Stomp'. The song quickly rose to Number 1 in New Zealand and Australia and reached the top 100 charts in the United States. Ray Columbus & The Invaders were the first New Zealand band to achieve this.

Song query with the line about Pictures in the Hallway
Does this ring a familiar bell? said Rick Morin in an email asking for help for a Coast listener about a song she been hunting for ages now, "the problem is I dont know its name. The only part of the song I know is "Pictures in the Hallway" its a female singer and its about her husband that died in the war and all she has left is the pictures in the hallway. It would be a really big help if you know its name or where I can find its name. My grnadmother used to play it for me and it would mean a heap if I can find it."

I put out the request to music buffs but only one came back with 'No joy with that one , obviously very old.'

I mentioned to Rick that a Google search suggests a song played on Coast

The Windmills Of Your Mind by Noel Harrison

Round like a circle in a spiral like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending on beginning on an ever-spinning reel

Was the sound of distant drumming
Just the fingers of your hand?
Pictures hanging in a hallway
Or the fragment of a song
Half-remembered names and faces
But to whom do they belong?
When you knew that it was over
Were you suddenly aware
That the autumn leaves were turning
To the color of her hair?

I hadn't heard back from Rick if this answered his listener's query but Scott said "It could well be, the only thing that didn't fit was song relating to WW2. I remember this as theme to movie Thomas Crown Affair. He might not have been what you would call a singer, but interesting lyrics regardless. He also did a song called A Young Girl, rather a morbid tale about a girl ending up dead in a ditch."

More names for our Dead Artist collection

As a 20-year-old, Johnny Preston, who died 4 March 2011, aged 71, had a massive hit on both sides of the Atlantic with the song Running Bear. With its infectious, rhythmic "ooka-chunka" chant, it told of the doomed love affair of two Native Americans, and was composed by disc jockey and songwriter JP Richardson, also known as the Big Bopper. He said he was inspired to compose the song by a Dove-soap television commercial, but it was equally indebted to Shakespeare for its Romeo and Juliet theme, with the eponymous hero's love interest, Little White Dove, belonging to an enemy tribe. The song also neatly fitted the "death disc" trend of the era, whereby songs such as Endless Sleep [see footnote] and Tell Laura I Love Her depicted the premature demise of teenage sweethearts.

Preston had been playing in local clubs when Richardson discovered him and introduced him to Mercury Records. Running Bear was due to be released in spring 1959, but in February of that year, Richardson died in the plane crash that also killed Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens, and Mercury thought it politic to delay the release of this "death disc".

When it did come out, in September, it was playlisted on numerous radio stations and slowly rose to the top of the US charts, hitting the No 1 spot in January 1960. The record was memorable for Link Davis's honking saxophone accompaniment and its backing vocal sound, apparently taken from B-movie producers' idea of the war chants of Native Americans. The backing singers were the Big Bopper, record producer Bill Hall and the future country-music star George Jones. The war-chant sound was to inspire Jonathan King's 1971 cover of Hooked on a Feeling, and the song was equally successful in Britain, where it reached No 1 in March 1960, deposing Poor Me by Adam Faith.

Ferlin Husky, whose 1957 hit Gone helped create what became known as the Nashville Sound, died 17 March 2011, age 85.

Gone and Wings of a Dove each topped the country charts for 10 weeks, and both were Top 20 pop records.

The Tennessean writes that Husky, who also starred in movies and entertained with his comedic alter ego, Simon Crim, was "a master of stagecraft, a dashing and energetic performer who impressed audiences and fellow artists."

Ferlin Husky, 85, a pioneering country-music entertainer in the 1950s and early '60s known for hits such as "Wings of a Dove" and "Gone," died Thursday at his Nashville home.

Mr. Husky, a 2010 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee, had a history of heart problems and related ailments.

With his resonant voice and good looks, Mr. Husky was one of the most versatile entertainers to emerge from country music. He was a singer, songwriter, guitarist, actor, and even a comedian.

Jet Harris, who died 18 March 2011, aged 71, was the original bass guitarist with The Shadows, the backing group that propelled Cliff Richard to fame, but left the band in 1962 and found success as a soloist and as a duettist with the drummer Tony Meehan.

With his blond quiff, chiselled features and heavy-lidded eyes, Harris was considered the best-looking member of The Shadows’ line-up. But he left the group in 1962, having discovered that his first wife, Carol, had had a brief affair with Cliff Richard as the singer’s career was taking off. When the story got into the Sunday papers, Harris started drinking heavily.

Harris had met Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch when they were jamming in the 2 i’s coffee bar in Soho in the mid-1950s. They were all amateur musicians who formed impromptu groups playing country and western music as well as the prevailing fashion — skiffle. Harris joined them in a band called The Vipers, led by Wally Whyton and then the best skiffle group in London. Meehan was brought in as drummer.

In 1958, calling themselves The Drifters, Marvin, Welch and Meehan backed Cliff Richard on a tour of the Midlands. The singer had just released his first single, Move It, and was being promoted as Britain’s answer to Elvis Presley. In October, when the record producer Norrie Paramor booked them to make Cliff’s follow-up single, they added Harris to The Drifters’ line-up.

They cut their first record with Cliff in January 1959 — Livin’ Lovin’ Doll — and a month later released their first single as a group, a vocal number, Feelin’ Fine. In May they recorded their first instrumental, Chinchilla, for the soundtrack of Cliff Richard’s first film, Serious Charge. In July a second instrumental, Jet Black, written by Harris, failed to make the charts.

Later that month, while drinking with Marvin in the Six Bells pub at Ruislip, Harris suggested that the group changed its name to The Shadows to avoid confusion with the American group called The Drifters. They backed Cliff on his first No 1 hit Livin’ Doll, and in July 1960 had their first hit as a group with Apache, an instrumental that also topped the British charts.

I was surprised, with the news of his death, that Jet Harris' wife had an affair with Cliff Richard. I didn't realise Cliff had hetrosexual tendencies - and obviously I hadn't read too much on Jet Harris and his early career. Or did those marital stresses get glossed over in his early bios? I imagine that affair affected Jet's chances of being included in the Cliff and the Shadows anniversary/reunion gigs. I had read somewhere that Jet was peeved that he wasn't included in any of the anniversary celebratory gatherings.

Thanks to Music Maestro Mark for sending these Obit links

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

George Shearing dies age 91

George Shearing, the British piano virtuoso who overcame blindness to become a worldwide jazz star, and whose composition “Lullaby of Birdland” became an enduring jazz standard, died on Monday 14 February 2011 in Manhattan. He was 91.

The cause was congestive heart failure, said his manager, Dale Sheets. Mr. Shearing had homes in Manhattan and Lee, Mass.

In 1949, just two years after Mr. Shearing immigrated to the United States, his recording of “September in the Rain” became an international hit. Its success established him as a hot property on the jazz nightclub and concert circuit. It established something else as well: the signature sound of the George Shearing Quintet, which was not quite like anything listeners had heard before — or have heard since.

“When the quintet came out on 1949, it was a very placid and peaceful sound, coming on the end of a very frantic and frenetic era known as bebop,” Mr. Shearing said in a 1995 interview on the Web site What he was aiming for, he said, was “a full block sound, which, if it was scored for saxophones, would sound like the Glenn Miller sound. And coming at the end of the frenetic bebop era, the timing seemed to be right.”

The Shearing sound — which had the harmonic complexity of bebop but eschewed bebop’s ferocious energy — was built on the unusual instrumentation of vibraphone, guitar, piano, bass and drums. To get the “full block sound” he wanted, he had the vibraphone double what his right hand played and the guitar double the left. That sound came to represent the essence of sophisticated hip for countless listeners worldwide who preferred their jazz on the gentle side.

The personnel of the Shearing quintet changed many times over the years, but except for the addition of a percussionist in 1953 — the band continued to be called a quintet even after it became a sextet — the instrumentation and the sound remained the same for almost three decades.

When Mr. Shearing disbanded the group in 1978, it was less because listeners had grown tired of that instrumentation and sound (although the group’s popularity, like that of mainstream jazz in general, had declined considerably) than because Mr. Shearing himself had.

“I had an identity. I held on to it for 29 years. Eventually I held on like grim death,” he told John S. Wilson of The New York Times in 1986. “The last five years I played on automatic pilot. I could do the whole show in my sleep.”

Shortly after breaking up the group, Mr. Shearing said, “There won’t be another quintet unless Standard Oil or Frank Sinatra want it.” Standard Oil never asked, but in 1981 Mr. Shearing reassembled the quintet for a Boston engagement and a series of Carnegie Hall concerts as Mr. Sinatra’s opening act. He returned to the quintet format on occasion after that, but it was never again his primary focus.

His preferred format became the piano-bass duo, originally with Brian Torff and later with Don Thompson and Neil Swainson. He also performed with bass and drums and, on occasion, unaccompanied. In the 1980s and ’90s he had great success in concert and on record with the singer Mel Tormé.

[George Shearing at “Remembering Mel,” a tribute to his collaborator Mel Tormé, at Feinstein’s at the Regency in 2002. ]

By his own estimate Mr. Shearing wrote about 300 tunes, of which he liked to joke that roughly 295 were completely unknown.

He nevertheless contributed at least one bona fide standard to the jazz repertory: “Lullaby of Birdland,” written in 1952 and adopted as the theme song of the world-famous New York nightclub where he frequently performed. Both as an instrumental and with words by George David Weiss, it has been recorded by everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to Bill Haley and His Comets, who improbably cut a version called “Lullaby of Birdland Twist” in 1962.

George Albert Shearing was born on Aug. 13, 1919, in the Battersea area of London, the youngest of nine children. His father, James Phillip Shearing, was a coal worker; his mother, the former Ellen Amelia Brightner, took care of the family during the day and cleaned trains at night.

In his autobiography, “Lullaby of Birdland” (2004), written with Alyn Shipton, Mr. Shearing recalled that his first attempts at making music involved throwing bottles from an upstairs window: milk bottles for a classical sound, beer for jazz. More conventionally, he began picking out tunes on the family piano at 3, even though it had some broken keys.

Blind from birth, Mr. Shearing attended the Shillington School for the Blind and the Linden Lodge School for the Blind, both in London. It was at Linden Lodge that Mr. Shearing, captivated by the recordings of American jazz pianists like Art Tatum and Fats Waller, began to study piano.

He was discouraged from pursuing his interest in the classics, he later recalled, by a teacher who recognized his gifts as an improviser and felt that studying classical music would be a waste of time. He nonetheless came to see the value of classical training; he later returned to the classics and eventually performed Bach and Mozart on several occasions with symphony orchestras.

Mr. Shearing began his career at 16, when another blind pianist gave up his job playing in a London pub and recommended Mr. Shearing as his replacement. He eventually had his own 15-minute show on the BBC and was voted Britain’s best jazz pianist seven consecutive years in the poll conducted by the magazine Melody Maker. He was indisputably a star at home; the next stop, clearly, was the United States.

Glenn Miller and Fats Waller, among others, encouraged Mr. Shearing to try his luck in the United States after World War II ended. But the booking agents were not especially impressed. At home he had sometimes been billed as “England’s Art Tatum” or “England’s Teddy Wilson.” But, he told The Times in 1986, when he performed for one American agent he received a curt response: “What else can you do?” It was not enough, he realized, to sound like other pianists. He needed to develop a sound of his own.

Mr. Shearing found it with the help of a fellow Englishman, the jazz critic and pianist Leonard Feather, who like him had moved to the United States, and who suggested what became his signature instrumentation. With Margie Hyams on vibraphone, Chuck Wayne on guitar, John Levy on bass and Denzil Best on drums, Mr. Shearing recorded “September in the Rain” in 1949. The distinctive sound of both the quintet and Mr. Shearing himself — he used a so-called locked-hands style in which his hands played melody and harmony in close quarters, with the melody line harmonized by the right hand and doubled by the left hand an octave below — caught listeners’ fancy, and stardom soon followed.

In the early years of Mr. Shearing’s renown he recorded for the MGM label, but his longest professional relationship was with Capitol, where he was a mainstay of the roster from 1955 to 1969. In addition to recording him with his quintet, Capitol teamed him with a number of singers, including Peggy Lee, Nancy Wilson and even Nat (King) Cole, an accomplished jazz pianist in his own right, who relinquished the piano chair to Mr. Shearing on a memorable 1961 album.

With the market for jazz shrinking in the late 1960s, Capitol chose not to re-sign Mr. Shearing. He then formed his own small record company, Sheba, but that enterprise was short-lived. In 1979, a year after disbanding his quintet, he signed with Concord, a jazz label, and his career soon underwent a resurgence.

It was under Concord’s aegis that he first recorded with Mel Tormé. Their albums “An Evening With George Shearing and Mel Tormé” and “Top Drawer” won Grammys — for Mr. Tormé but not for Mr. Shearing, who despite his many other accomplishments never won one.

In his later years, Mr. Shearing also recorded unaccompanied; in duet with his fellow pianists Marian McPartland and Hank Jones; and in settings as uncharacteristic as a Dixieland band. He continued performing into his 80s and stopped only after a fall in 2004, which led to a long hospital stay.

Mr. Shearing’s marriage to Beatrice Bayes ended in divorce. He is survived by his wife, the former Ellie Geffert, and a daughter, Wendy.

Mr. Shearing was invited to perform at the White House by three presidents: Gerald R. Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. He performed for the British royal family as well. The British Academy of Composers and Songwriters gave him the Ivor Novello Award for lifetime achievement in 1993. In 1996 he was invested as an officer in the Order of the British Empire, and 11 years later he was knighted.

“I don’t know why I’m getting this honor,” he said shortly after learning of his knighthood. “I’ve just been doing what I love to do.”

Friday, January 28, 2011

Gladys Horton of the Marvelettes dies aged 66

Gladys Horton, (in the middle of the photo) the Detroit native whose voice led such Marvelettes hits as "Please Mr. Postman" and "Beechwood 4-5789," died late Wednesday 26 January 2011 at a nursing home in Sherman Oaks, Calif. She was 66.

"My mother died peacefully," Horton's son, Vaughn Thornton, said in a statement issued by the Motown Alumni Association. "She fought as long as she could."

Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr. paid tribute to Horton, lauding her as one of the first Motown greats.

"Gladys was a very, very special lady, and I loved the way she sang with her raspy, soulful voice," Gordy said through a spokesperson. "We will all miss her, and she will always be a part of the Motown family."

Horton had lived in the nursing facility since a stroke last year.

She had retired from the music business in spring 2009, noting that travel was no longer enjoyable, effectively ending the 48-year reign of the original Marvelettes.

"Love comes in two directions, from your hearts to us and from our hearts to you, and it has always been that way!" she wrote in a statement at the time.

As a student at Inkster High School, Horton helped found the group that would eventually become the Marvelettes, linking up with fellow glee club members Katherine Anderson, Juanita Cowart, Georgeanna Tillman and Georgia Dobbins.

A successful audition for Motown Records was followed in 1961 by the group's debut single, "Please Mr. Postman," with 17-year-old Horton on lead vocals. It became Motown's biggest pop crossover hit to that point, reaching No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100.

Horton was the lead singer on follow-up hits such as "Beechwood 4-5789," "Playboy" and "Too Many Fish In The Sea" before losing her lead role to Wanda Young in 1965. Horton departed the group in 1967 and moved to the Los Angeles area in the early 1970s.

She performed in later years as Gladys Horton of the Marvelettes, though she complained that her ability to tour was hampered by other "Marvelettes" incarnations with dubious ties to the original group. Her example was frequently cited amid legislative attempts to protect the naming rights of original artists.

Horton is survived by two sons.

email from music maestro Mark

Friday, January 21, 2011

Don Kirshner dies

Don Kirshner, the music publisher of Brill Building hits like “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin,’ ” who later served as a deadpan Ed Sullivan for Kiss, the Ramones and others with his 1970s television show, “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert,” died on Monday 17 January 2011, in Boca Raton, Fla., where he lived. He was 76.

The cause was heart failure, his family said.

The Brill Building age of pop, named after the Manhattan building where many of its songwriters labored, lasted from the mid-1950s to the mid-’60s and is celebrated for the people behind its innocently aching music: producers like Phil Spector, writing teams like Carole King and Gerry Goffin (“The Loco-Motion”).

But the guiding force behind many of those people was Mr. Kirshner, whose hustle, hit-trained ear and good timing helped shape pop in the days when Tin Pan Alley’s song-craft traditions were being mingled with the rhythms of rock.

As a pioneering musical matchmaker, Mr. Kirshner discovered many of the era’s best songwriters, prodded them for hits and shopped the results to top artists. Later in the 1960s he married bubblegum to television with two manufactured, semifictitious bands: the Monkees and the cartoon Archies.

“He had a great sense of commerciality and song, the ability to hear a song and know it’s a hit,” said Charles Koppelman, a veteran music executive who began his career in Mr. Kirshner’s company, Aldon.

Yet to music fans who came of age in the 1970s and ’80s, Mr. Kirshner is best known as the leisure-suited, monotonous host of the syndicated “Rock Concert,” which from 1973 to 1982 presented live performances byLynyrd Skynyrd, the Sex Pistols, David Bowie and Ted Nugent, among many others.

Unlike “American Bandstand” and other early TV rock shows, on which performers lip-synched their music or played a song or two in a sterile studio, “Rock Concert” featured full, loud performances in an arena or club setting. In his spoken introductions, however, Mr. Kirshner often seemed strangely out of place, as if he barely knew the acts he was introducing — which was sometimes the case.

“Someone once told me I had to put on Alice Cooper,” he recalled in a 2004 interview with The Washington Post. “I said, ‘Well, is she any good?’ ”

Donald Kirshner was born in the Bronx on April 17, 1934, the son of a tailor. He had hopes of being a songwriter, and got his start in the music business when he met a brash young singer named Robert Cassotto at a candy store in Washington Heights. They became partners, working on jingles and pop ditties (their first: “Bubblegum Pop”), but their collaboration ended after Mr. Cassotto — under his new stage name, Bobby Darin — scored a hit in 1958 with“Splish Splash,” which he wrote without Mr. Kirshner.

That year Mr. Kirshner founded Aldon with Al Nevins, who had played in a successful instrumental group, the Three Suns. Mr. Kirshner and Mr. Nevins opened an office at 1650 Broadway — a block away from 1619 Broadway, the Brill Building — and soon signed two struggling songwriters, Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield. By 1962 they had 18 writers on staff.

The list of Aldon alumni includes Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Neil Diamond, Doc Pomus, Mort Shuman, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. To some degree the company operated as an assembly line: teams of writers in piano cubicles churned out songs that would be recorded immediately, as demos or sometimes as finished productions.

In 1963 Mr. Kirshner and Mr. Nevins sold Aldon to Screen Gems, a Columbia Pictures subsidiary, for more than $2 million, and moved to a luxe new office on Fifth Avenue. Meanwhile, with the arrival of the Beatles, the American pop landscape was shifting toward bands that wrote their own material. Mr. Nevins died in 1965.

Yet one of Mr. Kirshner’s biggest achievements was in some ways an adaptation to the Beatles era. In 1966 he was hired to put together the music for the Monkees, a Beatles-y group assembled by television executives. Mr. Kirshner commissioned songs from many of the best Aldon songwriters, like Mr. Diamond (“I’m a Believer”) and the Goffin-King team (“Pleasant Valley Sunday”).

When tensions arose with the band, Mr. Kirshner moved on to the Archies, an animated version of the clean-cut comic strip. “I want a band that won’t talk back,” Mr. Kirshner later said.

The Archies’ music, performed by uncredited studio musicians, brought bubblegum to the pinnacle of its success: its still-ubiquitous “Sugar, Sugar” was the best-selling song of 1969.

In 1972 Mr. Kirshner began to work with ABC on a live performance show, “In Concert”; he left that show the next year to begin “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert,” which had its premiere in September 1973 with the Rolling Stones. In the 1970s Mr. Kirshner also continued his work as a music executive, signing the band Kansas (“Carry On Wayward Son,” “Dust in the Wind”) to his CBS-affiliated Kirshner label, but by the early 1980s he had retired.

He is survived by his wife, Sheila; his son, Ricky Kirshner, a producer of the Tony Awards show; his daughter, Daryn Lewis; and five grandchildren.

Though he began his career as a songwriter, Mr. Kirshner said he realized early that he was better at recognizing talent in others than at creating the work itself.

“My idols were people like Walt Disney, and I feel that what he did with Pinocchio and Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse I had the ability to do in my own right — build the stars as a star maker,” he told The New Yorker in 1993. “And maybe it’s because, you know, I don’t read or write music — and I guess I live vicariously through these people, ’cause I don’t have the talent myself — but, you know, I’m the man with the golden ear.”
(email from Music Maestro Mark)

Indian Origins Of Jazz

Indian origins of Jazz

My Poppadam tol me

Although jazz has thrown up an abundance of controversies over the
years, the one element on which there has hitherto been universal
agreement is that concerning the origins of the music.

It has long been accepted that jazz evolved from a combination of
African music, introduced into America by the slaves, and European dance

Now, however, comes a remarkable book, Jazz Is Where You Sikh It, by P.
Vencatachellum, which threatens to cause a gigantic upheaval in jazz
circles by claiming that jazz had its origins in India in the middle of
the 19th century.

In a fully documented survey of the beginnings of jazz, Venatachellum
traces its origins to an eating house in New Delhi where the
specialities were particular spicy jhals. The resident musicians led by
Ali Zanda, specialised in syncopated improvised music which quickly
became associated with the food being served. It became known locally as
hot jhals music and, as the musicians played the l out of it, this became
corrupted to hot jhas From there it was a short step to hot jazz or jazz.

If this were all the evidence that Vencatachellum was able to provide,
it would be derisory indeed. But he goes on to trace the spread of the
music to other towns in India where, during the days of prohibition,
musicians would get together for what were known as chutney sessions in
the local Sikheasies.

Meanwhile the original New Delhi band was gaining a wide following among
the Sikhs who derived, it is said, great élan from the music. As a
result of this the band became known as the Original Sikhs Elan Jhas
Band and the leader achieved additional fame when he wrote Ali Zander's
Raga Time Band.

Hand in hand with the evolution of jazz in New Delhi was a secondary
movement emanating from a member of the British Raj in the northern
state of Nepal. He assembled around himself a large orchestra of British
and Indian musicians which became known as the Nepal White Man Band.

Also contributing to the mainstream of jazz development was religious
music and a number of gopal (gospel) singers were emerging, using jazz
rhythms in conjunction with traditional hymns like 'We Pilau The Fields
And Scatter'. And from the workers in the cotton fields came the blues
form, later taken up with some success by a titled woman in the Punjab
known only as Maharanee (later corrupted by Western writers to Ma Rainey).

But perhaps the blues movement, says Vencatachellum, came from the
fakirs (including some elderly female ones known as mother fakirs) who
roamed Bombay moaning laments as they walked through hot coals.

Their wailing became so distracting that the authorities banished them
to the municipal toilets where a special section was put aside for them.
The lavatory seats each had a dozen spikes sticking up and the wailing
that echoed through the place naturally became universally known as the
music of the 12-barb loos perhaps the most fundamental form of Indian

Vencatachellum traces the development of various forms of jazz that of
the West Coast stream evolved by a group of diminutive members of the
aristocracy known as Shorty Rajahs, the bebop movement introduced by a
number of seers who transformed the standard Whispering into Guruvin
High and the rock n roll style pioneered by Chuck Ber-Beri, who found
fame with RagaBeating Boogie and Sweet Little Sikhs Teen.

The Author is particularly interesting when he gives the stories behind
such jazz standards as Low Down Dhoti Shame Blues, Poppadam Allow No
Music Played In Here and You Korma Long Way From New Delhi. He also
refers at length to the introduction of the electric sitar by Charlie
Hindu and the contributions made by such Indian jazz greats as Vindaloo
Donaldson, Rajah kellaway, Rupee Braff, and singers like Delhi Rice and
Chappatti page. He also recalls the pioneering work of the dark-hued
trombonist from the south known as Tanned Ory.

Vencatachellum is convincing when he explains how Indian jazz evolved
into rhythm and blues through the efforts of the Tabla Motown label. And
he is most persuasive when he talks about the bosa nova influence from
the former Portugese region, led by the talented Domengo Chutney.
Domengo, he explains, is nicknamed Mango by his followers, and since he
comes from the former Portugese region, is often referred to as Goa
Mango an appellation familier to jazz lovers throughout the world.

However the author is on rather more treacherous ground when he sets out
to prove that most of the American jazz standards are, in fact, based on
original Indian tunes.

He quotes the case, for example, of an Indian potentate who commissioned
a song from a local composer. The composer completed the work and, to
make an impression, rode to the palace sitting on the ear of an elephant
and singing, Caliph, On Ear I Come. He has other far-fetched
explanations for titles like Ghee Baby Ain't I Good To You, Whose Sari
Now, DIG Urdu Urdu and I Call My Sugar Ghandi.

Vencatachellum has written a recourceful and fascinating book, but I am
bound to say that if you are a serious student of jazz, in the Brian
Oxide class, you may find that Jazz Is Where You Sikh It, instead of
helping you, tends to India.

This article is reprinted from Melody Maker and is attributed by that
magazine to the almost totally unknown authority on Indian culture, Jean
Elliot, who has made a bit of chutney in her time and once visited Southall?
(from a email from Eric)- if this article is tongue in cheek, is it a hot spicy tongue?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Margaret Whiting dies aged 86

TRENTON, N.J. - As a songwriter's daughter and a singer who sold millions of records herself in the 1940s and '50s, Margaret Whiting knew what separated a good singer from a great one.

"Being a great actress, being very dramatic," she said in 2001. "To read a lyric, to make the words come alive, that's the secret."

Whiting, a sweet-voiced performer known for sentimental ballads such as "Moonlight in Vermont" and "It Might as Well Be Spring," died Monday at the Lillian Booth Actors' Home in Englewood, N.J., home administrator Jordan Strohl said. She was 86.

As the daughter of Richard Whiting, a prolific composer of such hits as "My Ideal," "Sleepy Time Gal" and "Beyond the Blue Horizon," Whiting grew up with the music business. She began singing at a young age, her career almost predetermined.

Born in Detroit on July 22, 1924, Whiting moved with her family to Los Angeles after her father headed west to write for movie musicals. He turned out songs for Maurice Chevalier and Bing Crosby while at Paramount and composed "Hooray for Hollywood" and "Too Marvelous for Words" for Warner Bros.

And on at least one occasion, his daughter provided him with unexpected inspiration.

In 2000, Whiting recalled how she came home from school one day with an all-day lollipop while her father was trying to write a song for a Shirley Temple movie. At first he was annoyed by the sticky kisses, but then inspiration struck.

He called lyricist Sidney Clare and said, "How about 'The Good Ship Lollipop' for Shirley?"

The Whiting family's home in the posh Bel-Air section of Los Angeles was often a gathering place for such songwriters as George and Ira Gershwin, Frank Loesser, Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer. And as Whiting grew, her father's friends took note of her talents as a singer and encouraged her to perfect her craft.

It was Mercer who had coached the teenage Whiting through her first recording, of her father's "My Ideal," and although Chevalier and Frank Sinatra had already recorded the tune, her version sold well.

She followed it with a remarkable procession of million sellers: "That Old Black Magic," "It Might as Well Be Spring," "Come Rain or Come Shine" and her biggest seller and signature song, "Moonlight in Vermont."
(from an email by Mark Matheson) and the Margaret Whiting songs in my Unforgettable Music folders; A Bushel And A Peck (with Jimmy Wakely) Slipping Around (Wakely) and Silver Bells (Wakely), Baby, It's Cold Outside (with Johnny Mercer), That Old Black Magic (with Freddie Slack & Orch) plus Wheel Of Hurt, Now Is The Hour, A Tree In The Meadow, Guilty, Far Away Places & A Wonderful Guy.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Gerry Rafferty dies

I was doing a shift on Coast over the summer break and checking for stories when I saw that Gerry Rafferty had died.
I well remember his City To City album and the big new single of Baker Street from my days at Radio Scenicland in Greymouth and so pulled up "Baker Street" and his Stealers Wheel hit "Stuck In The Middle With You" and then added "Right Down The Line" from my laptop.
Also took a call from Chris Ross, a music buff, painting a house interior and he confirmed my thoughts about "Her Father Didn't Like Me Anyway" being from his 'Humblebums' days.
I remember being introduced to that Humblebums song by colleague AnneMarie and quite liking its quirky message.
Later on TV3 News people were interviewed and basically didn't remember the name Gerry Rafferty or Stealers Wheel but knew the songs and especially that riff, that saxophone solo in Baker Street.
That night I went and dropped the needle on my LP of City To City to immerse myself again in Gerry Rafferty. Adding to the plays of Baker Street - "... the track that was recognised last October for having been played a staggering five million times worldwide."