Monday, May 30, 2011

Marty Robbins

Marty Robbin's great western stories.

Who knows when crossover hits belong to one genre or another. Marty seemed to be a man who sang for the universe with no particular market in mind. I think country and western fans claimed him and with a certain air of legitimacy due to recording in Nashville. His record company certainly promoted him as country but his appeal was much, much broader. 

We young rock and rollers thought he was one of us. His "White Sport Coat and a Pink Carnation" was certainly a big hit in our world. He had lots of crossover hits. His fans ran the gamut. I think mostly, we loved the sound of his voice and the story he was telling.

Marty Robbins

But what the world will always remember will be his story telling ability. When he did the El Paso, western series, it was more like going to a movie in your head than listening to a record. Un-friggin-believeable story teller. Great musician.

Marty Robbins was not one to sit around Nashville or Phoenix. He took and active role in the young NASCAR racing series. He financed and helped build his own cars. He was a huge music star who loved to work on and drive 700 horse power race cars. He actually drove in 35 races placing in the Top 10 six times. Those were the rough and tumble years. 

Marty Robbin's and his race car

He ran Talladega without the safety restrictor plate. He said he just wanted  to see what it was like to lead the race. That little maneuver had him driving a race car at over 215 miles per hour. Marty did that was in the 70's when they had very little safety equipment. This guy was a definite adrenalin junkie.

Marty Robbins

Marty was one singer I could always just stop what I was doing and listen to his words and music. Still can. I will always be a huge fan of this man's talent.

Marty had two chart careers. Here is a little summation:

Pop Charts:   He Charted 34 Hits, he had 24 Top 100, he had 16 Top 40, 3 top 10's and one #1.

American Country Charts: Charted 85 Top 60 hits,  he had 65 Top 40's, then 44 Top 10's and 27 Top 5's with 17 Number one Country hits from 1952 until 1983.  

Marty Robbins

The only thing that stopped this string of hits was his death. He died of complications from heart surgery. He had multiple hits every year of the 31 years he was in the music business.

       Web site        Mo Info       Videos      CMT    CM HoF 

        Western HoF         Nashville Songwriters       NASCAR

Chubby Checker

Twistin' with Chubby Checker

When I think back to my first impressions of Chubby Checker, it's all about the dance he created. The Twist was a really, really big thing. I know we "did" the Twist to not only his records but to all the cover bands as well. 

I think of a small quonset hut where the American Legion met. It was used for all sorts of community activities. I remember one particular evening when a pal of mine was playing drums in a local teenage band. They were booked to play at the "Legion Hut" that Saturday night. The Twist and Chubby Checker were the nationwide fashion. Naturally, our local boys were expected to produce "Twist" music so we could do the new dance. I don't know how good they were or how well we did the "Twist" but I do remember sweating completely though my shirt. 

Chubby Checker

To this day when I try to think of the Twist I think of that night and the stress I put on my teenage body. The next day my legs were sore as were my abs. My knees were shot. It seemed Chubby's new dance could be applied even to drum solo's. We had a ball. But his dance could be used in a really nasty pilates class.

I don't think I have ever seen a dance movement that brought out the older folks as well as the kids. All of a sudden, all ages seemed to be enjoying rock and roll. It was like the Hula Hoop craze applied to music. Anybody could do it ! No fancy steps to remember and you could basically do it at your own speed. From what I understand Chubby came up with the "Twist" by simply recording a cover of Hank Ballard's earlier version. I don't remember Ballard's version. But Chubby's sure put him on the map for good. Later he would introduce several more dances and we would try to learn them all. We did that just because it was the cool thing to do. Invariably, we would slip back into the Twist on certain songs. 

Chubby Checker doing the Limbo Rock

It was like someone had deemed it to be the national dance! Well so be it. 

Years later I would go to a Chubby Checker concert at Lake Lanier Islands, Georgia. He rocked the place. I don't know how many people were there in the seats nor how many down in the boats but he drew a hell of a crowd. This was twenty years or more after the hit.  A whole new generation was up doing the "Twist". 

Chubby had an infectious way about him while he was performing. He got the crowd very much involved. Before you knew it you were standing and jumping into the aisles to "do the Twist". He looked like he had not aged one bit twenty years. He looked youthful and and oh so energetic. 

Chubby Checker  doing the "Twist".


In 2008 Billboard named "The Twist" as the single biggest chart hit of all time.

1961 "Let's Twist Again" Won a Grammy as Best Rock and Roll Solo Vocal Performance.

Hits included:   24 Top 100, 23 in the Top 49, 8 Top 10's, three number one hits...........Hey Cleveland !!!  What's wrong with your picture ?????

He is, however, in the one that counts. Chubby, we hereby include you in "The Fan's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame". (The only one that matters) Thanks for the memories.

    Mo Info       Web site    Videos    Bio    

Chubby you affected the nation for at least a generation. Maybe two or three. Way to go partner.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Brenda Lee

Miss Brenda Lee 

Ok, I'll admit it. I had a crush on Little Miss Dynamite. I don't know any red blooded guy my age who didn't. I mean when she sang "Sweet Nothin's" ! We might not have known what she was talking about but it sure gave us a worried mind.

Brenda Lee is a year older than me. While I was dealing with Junior High football, raging hormones and a well developed pattern of mis-behavior, she was touring Europe and making big bucks. Her voice was the first one we ever heard that was considered "sexy". It might not have been sexy by today's standards but to us....whew...she was "hot" ! Cute too !

Sweet Nothin's by Brenda Lee

To this day, a Brenda Lee song, throws me back to innocence and a fourteen year old's confused brain.  

Below are links to her sections of the The Hall of Fames for Rock and Roll, Country Music, and Rockabilly. She also has songs in the Grammy Hall but I couldn't find a link for it.

     Web Site       Mucho Info     Videos    R & R  CMT 

       CM HoF    RaBilly     Hit Parade  

There will be plenty of my present day readers who doubt she is a true rock and roller. So many of the younger folk have either never heard of her or associate her music with country and western. But, I'm going to tell you, once upon a time, when rock and roll and I were young, Brenda Lee was a kick ass, take no names, Rock and Roll Queen. Doubt it ? Listen to some of her early stuff. She was our "rockabilly gidget". Heck, the Beatles opened for her European Tour in 1960. What does that tell you ?

Rockin' Brenda Lee

Record sales in the Pop department were great in the sixties. Here's some numbers:

                   32 in the Top 100
                   21 in the Top 40
                   11 in the Top 10
                    6 in the Top 5
                     1 # 1

Later she started all over and did the same thing in the country charts.

Cutie Pie Brenda Lee

Little Miss Dynamite sold a ton of records, then faded from rock when she would have been about freshman in college. A few years later she reinvented herself and was on top of the country charts. With that change she brought a lot of young rocker fans into country music. I wonder if that industry knows how many of us she convinced that it was o.k to like C & W. Before her, it just wasn't cool.

Brenda Lee, I've still got a crush on you, dahlin' ! 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Clyde McPhatter

Clyde McPhatter

It seemed like I grew up with Clyde on my radio. I can't remember when I didn't know who he was or what he sounded like. Clyde McPhatter was very much a part of our young lives.

Once again we have an innovator many artists have copied. Once again, we see a fickle marketplace build up a talented person only to let him fall as fast as he went up. Clyde McPhatter was a wonderful talent. His recordings were on my radio for many years. Whenever his voice came from the speakers I always turned the volume up.

Early group for Clyde McPhatter and Jackie Wilson

He died young at 39, another wonderful talent lost, far too soon. There are four Hall of Fame's linked below. He's in all of them. Years later the U.S. Government had a stamp produced in his likeness. He wasn't just popular he was an icon of the entire industry. Yet, when he died, he believed he had no fans. Now that really is the saddest part.

 Info       Videos    R&R      Rockabilly        Group     Grammy

Clyde McPhatter

Don't you wish you could have had just one little conversation with the guy ? Just to let him know how much he was appreciated ? Well folks, this blog is a way for me to say that to any artists who might be feeling the same way. Maybe, I will write something nice about them. Maybe, they will read it. Maybe they will understand they are held in high regard whether records are selling or not.

Clyde McPhatter's  U.S. Stamp

It just came to me. Hope it works for somebody, some day.

Clyde McPhatter ladies and gentlemen, a member of everyone's music hall of fame !

Brook Benton

Brook Benton
If you were a teenager in 1959, even a young 14 year old, teenie bopper, Brook Benton was a big part of your a.m. radio world. The romantic, smooth voiced "It's Just a Matter of Time" was a great break through for Brook. The next year he captured the nation for good when he had a hit with "The Boll Weevil" song. Everybody from the south knew about Boll Weevils. For those from outside our world the boll weevil is a little bug that kills the cotton plants. Although Benton recorded and lived in New York, he was a South Carolina native and naturally knew all about the cotton pest.
Big album for Brook Benton

He told a cute story. It struck home with rural America. Boll Weevil made him an established crossover star. He was no longer a gospel or rhythm and blues guy. Smooth confidence flowed from his voice. He was someone for nervous teenagers to relate. 

 Lotsa Info     Videos

Ten years later, after 49 Top 100, 25 Top 40's, and 8 Top 10's, the hits stopped. By the time he had his last big hit I had gone from being a 14 year old kid in a boarding school to a young daddy struggling to finish college. His last hit was like a call from the past. 

Brook Benton

It was a sort of last gasp of a wonderful career winding down. "Rainy Night in Georgia" was like a call from home. Unforgettable song, unforgettable man. Brook Benton's voice always brings me into a reflective frame of mind. "Boll Wevill" always brings a smile. What more could I ask of any singer. I'll probably be humming that song all day.

Brook Benton

Brook Benton hasn't been taken into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, until today that is....Brook is now officially now a member of the only Hall that matters. Welcome Brook Benton to the "Fan's Hall of Fame".  That's all folks !



Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lloyd Price

Lloyd Price

First let me get this out of the way. I am so glad to be writing a story about a man who did well with his music career and lived to tell about it. Lloyd, at the time of this writing, is still alive and running businesses he founded and developed.

Lloyd Price
I am a fan. Not only of his music but his ability to do more than rest on his laurels or self destruct as so many others have done. Hell there ought to be a hall of fame just for musicians who are successful and survive.

Lloyd Price
Lloyd was considered everything from a soul singer, a doo-wop guy and even a rockabilly. He had a hit with a soulful rocker as early as 1952.  In "Lawdy Miss Claudy" he had a hit that went #1 on the Rhythm and Blues chart. I can't find it on the pop charts.

Lloyd's Chart record is surprising. One year, 1960, he dominated the Billboard Charts. He had nine hits on the charts in that one year.

                 Info         Videos    Corp. Web site     R&R HoF

  17 Top 100 Hits 

  12 Top 40

   3 in the Top 10 in 1959

  1 # 1 in 59

   1 #1  R& B in 52  ( "Lawdy Miss Claudy" )
Lloyd Price

I will ask the readers this question. Was "Lawdy Miss Claudy" the first Rock and Roll record ? Did Lloyd Price predate Bill Haley by two years ? Just because it wasn't rated on the pop charts does not mean it wasn't rock and roll. What do you think ? Was this song rock and roll ? Is our history wrong ? Did a black New Orleans singer start rock and roll ? If so would New Orleans have been a better site for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ? You don't have to answer that one. It's obvious.

Unless someone can disprove the dates ...that's the way it looks to me. Comment below please, I would love to hear what others think.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Jackie Wilson

Jackie Wilson

Here is the way I started out with this story. This will be enjoyable. I've never heard a bad Jackie Wilson recording.  

Jackie Wilson
Then what happens? I start my research and learn Jackie's tragic story. I don't know why I had never heard about his untimely death. Maybe I had but just forgotten about it. So Jackie Wilson is another with a bummer of a life story. He did great from 57 to 75. Then in 75 he had a heart attack at age 36. He was in a coma until 1984 and died at 49.

                Videos          Mucho Info           R&R

Aw man ! What a shame ! What an singer! What a performer ! I had no idea. 

Jackie Wilson

Here's the basics on Jackie. Go to the info link for tons of information.

                      From 1957 to 1975

                       He had 14 Top 100

                        He had 13 Top 40

                                                              He had 5 Top 10

He has two songs in the Grammy Hall of Fame.

He is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

He was named by Rolling Stone Magazine  as #68 on Top 100 Artists of All Time.

Jackie Wilson

His peers and those who followed said he was the greatest voice and greatest performer ever. Elvis called him the black Elvis.

The Drifters

The Drifter's Under the Board Walk

Do you remember where you were the first time you heard the Drifters ?  I can't. I can't remember when I wasn't hearing the Drifters. They were around when I first really got interested in music and it seemed they continued to have hits for years. 

Then when they were no longer making hit after hit, the dj's were playing them as obg's. Now we hear them on XM where they might as well own a couple of the channels. But who's complaining. Hearing a Drifter's hit is like eating at your grandmother's house, always good and always comforting.

The Drifters

Please take the time to listen to a couple of the linked videos. Fan or player, the memories will sweep you away. For the youngun's, here is a good place to learn something about music. Enjoy !

     30 top 100
                                                    16 top 40's 
                                                      6 top 10's
                                                       4 top 5's
                                                        2 #1's

                        Web site      mucho info       Videos

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Fleetwoods

The Fleetwoods
 Remember "puppy love". Remember the first time you and your gal or guy had a special "song" ?  That song you thought belonged to the two of you and no one else ? Do you remember the girl or guy ? Do you remember the song ? 

I can and I can. It's o.k. to remember dumb stuff. It'll help you relate to your children or in my case grand kids. It still happens I'm told.

The Fleetwoods

The Fleetwoods seemed to be singing directly into our confused little heads. Their stories about young love and heartbreak reached into our sensitive little hormone packed hearts.

In reality, we needed someone to sing softly of love and romance. The beat was faster and we were rocking but we little rockers needed that "slow dance" as bad as any generation. The Fleetwoods and the rest of doo-wop groups gave us what we were missing. They were giving us our romantic moments. 

The Fleetwoods

The Fleetwoods brought that to us all the way from Olympia, Washington. As far as I know this was the first northwest coast influence. The rock music seemed to be touching every corner of the U.S. and Europe. Maybe more I don't know. 

Breaking into the business in 1959 they had two Number One hits. Pretty good for their first two efforts. Not bad for two 19's and a 20 year old. They had 8 more hits and seemed to be doing well until Gary was drafted. If that were not enough the next year gave us the British invasion.  It was all downhill from 64.

Mr. Blue by The Fleetwoods

If you get a chance, listen to their a cappella version of "Unchained Melody". It is amazing.  As long as your there, check out the intricate vocal arrangement on Run Around. I had forgotten how much talent these kids had. 

They didn't have a huge number of hits. They didn't last for a gillion years. But damn they were good while they had the chance. That puts them into:

        "The Fan's Hall of Fame"

Y'all enjoy !

      Good Info     Web site     Bio    Group HoF   

                   Doo-Wop         Videos

Little Anthony and the Imperials

Little Anthony and the Imperials

Here's one group that seems to have done it all.  They've they won every award and made a living for many years. They may have changed personnel but they're still working. 
Little Anthony and the Imperials

30 Years of recordings. On the road from 1957 until 2011. Fifty four years ! Whew ! Most corporations don't last that long. Here are some notes.

              3 Top 10's

              7 Top 40

              20 Top 100

            Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Little Anthony and the Imperials

           Long Island Hall of Fame

          Vocal Group Hall of Fame

  And now we have welcomed them into the one that really matter's.

         A Fan's Hall of Fame

If you question their value to the music industry click on the video link below. They will solve that mystery for you. I promise.

      Mo Info        Web Site      Videos

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Perez Prado

Dapper Prez Prado

This gentleman and his large band sound brings a little Cuban influence to Rock and Roll.  He had a big hit with "Patricia" during the "Year of the Instrumentals" 1958. It went to Number One.

Prez Prado Mambo King

Below please find access links to information and music. Enjoy !

     Mucho Info          Videos  

The Champs

The Champs

Here's what must have been the first Latino Rock influence. This group was an Los Angeles based group of studio musicians working for none other than Gene Autry. I guess we can assume the name of the group might have something to do with Mr. Autry's famous horse.

The Champs

          Mucho Info     Video Tequila   

             La Cucaracha     Limbo Rock

Tequila went to #1 so I have to think the teenagers of 1958 were open to new sounds. Once again the year of the instrumental is in play.

Santo and Johnny

Santo and Johnny

Santo and Johnny Farina were brothers out of New York City. They were the last in the string of instrumental groups to have late fifties hits. This time with a steel guitar sound right out of, of all places, Hawaii by way of Oklahoma. As a result of their work, Santo and Johnny were placed in the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame.

Santo and Johnny

Sleep Walk went to #1 in 1959. They had a few more hits and then we didn't hear much from the brothers. Hawaian steel guitar ? I guess we were open to just about anything in 59. The music received great outside influences during that period. Most of them were from folks doing instrumentals, strangely enough.

    Mucho Info   Sleep Walk    Videos   

To this day, I love their music. Apparently a lot of other folks did as well. Sleep Walk is a highly covered song by some really big names.  

Johnny and the Hurricanes

Johnny and the Hurricanes

Yet another late fifties instrumental hit. According to my sources the group made hits by turning old standards and even a military song into rock and roll. The instrumentals were lead by Johnny Paris's Sax.

I don't care where he got his ideas or inspiration, I liked it. I just wish the boarding school I attended had used his version of reveille.

Johnny and the Hurricanes

Click on the videos below and enjoy a really neat version of "Red River Valley". Johnny turned it into "Red River Rock" and does it rock.  They might not be in the Hall of Fame but they could always tell everyone the Beatles was their opening act. 

Fun music ! Enjoy !!

      Mo Info           Videos

Dave "Baby" Cortez

Dave"Baby" Cortez

Dave "Baby" Cortez
Here we go again. A 1959 instrumental #1 hit. This time we find an organ in the lead. A first for that instrument. This was also the first time a black musician had scored a top hit as an instrumentalist.

The "Happy Organ" was indeed happy. As was his hit "Rinky Dink". I thoroughly enjoyed his music and to the best of my memory he may have been my first introductions to a rock and roll organ.

Enjoy the music !

                                    Info              Videos   

Sandy Nelson

Sandy Nelson

Here it is 1959 and we have yet another top 10 hit from an instrumental. This time a drummer leads the charge. Sandy Nelson was a great session drummer as well as solo artist for many, many years. 

I believe, he is the only artist to have three Top 10 hits which were  instrumentals. 

Sandy Nelson

If you don't know his music, I suggest you
listen to "Teen Beat" and "Let There Be Drums". I think you'll like them. I know I still do.

        Videos        Magazine      Mucho Info