Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day 10/19/2019

Drummer Robert Martinez and guitar players Bobby Balderrama and Larry Borjas formed a rock trio in 1962. They mostly played in clubs near their hometowns in Michigan. They decided to add a frontman and since Robert’s brother Rudy could dance up a storm and sing, they added him to the group. They named themselves after the 1957 Science Fiction film The Mysterians and billed Rudy as Question Mark. The result was the strange name ? and the Mysterians. The record labels for the group showed this as ? (question mark) and the Mysterians.

They also recruited keyboard player Frank Rodriguez into the group. They recorded a pair of songs as part of an audition, but the record company failed to do anything with them.

In 1966, Robert and Larry enlisted into the army to avoid being drafted and sent to Viet Nam. The group replaced Robert with Eddie Serrato and recorded two songs for a small independent record label. Midnight Hour was released in late Spring and was immediately ignored. The b-side of the record had been written by Rudy, er, Question Mark, and he took it upon himself to promote 96 Tears to the local radio stations. Cameo-Parkway Records leased the song from the small record label and took the song to a national audience and by the Fall it was the number one record in the country.

In November the group released their second single onto the charts, I Need Somebody. The follow-up did not do as well, only reaching #22, with sales that were a fraction of the million copies their first single sold in spite of a few television appearances.

The record label apparently was tired of dealing with the ? on the record labels, and for their second album and third single, the group was billed as Question Mark and the Mysterians.

The Four Seasons recorded Can’t Get Enough Of You Baby in early 1966 on their Working My Way Back To You Babe album, but don’t appear to have released it as a single. Question Mark and the Mysterians covered the song and released it as a single. The record sounded way too much like 96 Tears and failed to even reach the top forty and stalled at #56. The song lived on in spite of its poor reception: the record was covered by Smash Mouth and included in the soundtrack of the Jennifer Love Hewitt film Can’t Hardly Wait. Perhaps thanks to the exposure in the film, their single peaked at #27.

A different lineup of ? and the Mysterians toured in 1971 without a keyboard player. Rock critic Dave Marsh wrote about the group in Creem Magazine and used the phrase “punk rock,” to describe them, perhaps the first time that term was used.

The group disbanded and reformed with different group members and even recorded a new album in 1999, but never got near the charts again.


Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day 10/18/2019

Dick St. John and Mary Sperling knew each other in Junior High School in the fifties but later went to different high schools. While Mary was attending college, they met up again when they both started working for See’s Candies in Los Angeles. On their coffee breaks they began singing and writing songs together.

Mary and Dick co-wrote their first singleGoodbye To Love, which was released in 1961. The record was on a small record label that was not happy with Mary’s name and changed it to DeeDee. Mary learned of her new stage name when she saw the record label that credited Dick and DeeDee instead of Dick and Mary. She still had writing credit for the song with Dick as Mary Sperling.

Dick had solo writing credit for the flip side of the single, The Mountain’s High. Radio stations in San Francisco noticed how much better that side of the record sounded and began playing the flip side of the record instead of the a-side. Liberty Records took notice and leased the single and took it into national distribution. In a short time, the record reached #2 on the Hot 100 and it eventually sold over a million copies.

Five of the duo’s next twelve singles reached the top forty. The group successfully toured backed by an early version of the Beach Boys, opened for the Rolling Stones at their stops in California, and appeared as part of countless shows with other popular groups. They also sang backup vocals and played instruments on at least two Rolling Stones songs.

The last hit single for the pair came in 1964 with the release of Thou Shall Not Steal, their cover of a country song written by John D. Loudermilk. They performed the song as well on American Bandstand in late 1964 and the single peaked at #13 in early 1965.

After another dozen singles failed to catch on, the group disbanded in 1969. Dick began touring again on the oldies circuit in the eighties with his wife Sandy taking over as his singing partner. He died in 2003 when he accidentally fell off a roof.

In 2008 Dee Dee recruited singer Michael Dunn as her new singing partner. Michael was briefly replaced by Deek Detanna but returned to singing with her in 2015.


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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day 10/17/2019

Like many other jazz and R&B singers, Nancy Wilson sang in her church choir. By the age of fifteen, she was singing twice a week on a local television show. She later became the host of the show. She toured with Rusty Bryant’s Carolyn Club Big Band beginning in 1956 and began recording for Dot Records. In 1959 she moved to New York City and began singing at The Blue Morocco club.

Nancy recorded several live albums at the club and she reached #11 on the R&B charts with Save Your Love For Me in 1962. Several more albums followed and in 1964 she released the album How Glad I AM. The second single from the album, (You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am, reached #11 on the Hot 100. The single was nominated for a Grammy award and the album won for the Best Rhythm and Blues performance of the year.

Nancy began appearing on television shows, initially as a singer and later also doing some acting. She also became active in the Civil Rights movement and won a number of awards for her work.

Her only other visit to the Hot 100 came in 1968. Face It Girl, It’s Over reached #29 and the single. Her single releases periodically placed on the R&B chart until 1994 and ten of the singles also reached the Adult Contemporary top forty as well.

She continued to record at least one new album every year until 2006. In 2005 and 2007 she won additional Grammies for the Best Jazz Album of the year. After those triumphs, her health issues made it too difficult for her to continue recording. Nancy died in 2018.


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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day 10/16/2019

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LOST OR FORGOTTEN OLDIES VOLUME 1: Hit Records From 1955 To 1989 That The Radio Seldom Plays

Nathaniel Adams Coles was born in Montgomery, Alabama, the second of four boys. He grew up mostly in Chicago after his father moved there to take a position as a Baptist Minister. His mother taught him to play the organ, and by age 12 he was taking lessons.

Nathaniel wasn’t very interested in school and dropped out at age 15 to pursue a career as a musician. He joined a group formed by his brother and they recorded a few singles in the late thirties. When that didn’t go anywhere he recruited two more musicians and formed his own trio. They named their group the King Cole Trio after the Old King Cole nursery rhyme and Nathaniel began using the stage name Nat “King” Cole.

In 1941 the trio recorded That Ain’t Right and the record reached the top of the R&B chart in early 1942. The follow-up singleStraighten Up And Fly Right repeated at the top of the R&B chart. Perhaps more importantly, that record also reached the top ten of the Pop Charts, and Nat and was on his way to twenty years of chart successes with and without his trio.

Nat reached #6 on the Hot 100 in 1963 with Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer. He followed that up with another Summer song,  That Sunday, That Summer. That second record peaked at #12. He frequently performed live on television and often sounded even better than he did on his recordings.

Perhaps because of the arrival of the Beatles, his releases in 1964 did not fare as well, only reaching #22 and #34. Tragedy struck near the end of that year when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He had surgery, but his life ended in February 1965.

Nat has had several surprise returns to the Hot 100. Nat recorded the song Unforgettable in 1951 and the record reached #12. In 1991, his daughter Natalie Cole recorded additional vocals and some studio magic was utilized to produce a duet that reached #14 on the Hot 100 and the top ten on the R&B chart.

Thanks to changes in calculating the positions in the Hot 100, nine older Christmas songs reached the top 41 in December 2018. Nat’s version of The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You) reached #29. It’s likely that streaming will return the song to the charts annual from now on. He recorded at least three different versions of the song but they are probably all being lumped together for reporting purposes.


Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day 10/15/2019

Eddie Hodges appeared in the Broadway cast of Music Man in 1957. His first appearance on film came when he co-starred with Frank Sinatra in the film A Hole In The Head in 1959 (Frank sang the award-winning song High Hopes in the film). At Christmas time that year, Eddie appeared on the Gary Moore show and sang a song with some small assistance from Carol Burnett.

Eddie appeared in a string of motion pictures and even played the title role in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He also appeared in a number of television shows and even starred in his own television movie, The Secret World Of Eddie Hodges.

The Isley Brothers released the single I’m Gonna Knock On Your Door in early 1959, but the record did not chart on either the R&B chart or the Hot 100. Later that year, 14-year-old Eddie covered the single with his own version and took the song up to #12. Eddie’s next two singles failed to reach the top forty.

Phil Everly wrote a song originally named Made To Love and it was included on the album A Date With The Everly Brothers in 1960 but never released as a single. Eddie’s version of the song was released as (Girls Girls Girls) Were Made To Love in 1962 and reached #14.

Several more recordings were made in the sixties, but nothing reached the Top Forty again.

Eddie was drafted during the Vietnam War but never left the US. After his return to civilian life, he had difficulty reentering the acting and singing fields and eventually returned to Mississippi. He went to college and became a mental health counselor.


Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day 10/14/2019

Faron Young grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana. He initially considered himself a pop singer, but later in high school, he changed his focus to Country music. He sang in local shows and thanks to an assist from Webb Pierce he was able to sing on the broadcasts of the Louisiana Hayride beginning in 1951.

Faron moved to Nashville in 1952 and started recording for Capitol Records. His first half-dozen singles failed to chart, after which he was drafted. While he was in Basic Training his next single, Going Steady, started up the charts. The single eventually peaked at number two and turned out to be the first of over sixty top forty Country hits.

In 1961 Faron was one of the first singers to successfully record a song written by Willie Nelson. Hello Walls not only topped the Country chart, but it also reached #12 on the Hot 100. Performance videos exist of Faron both lip-syncing the record and singing it live. Country Music has had more than its share of answer songs, and Hello Walls was no exception. Nashville disk jockey Ralph Emery recorded Hello Fool and somehow that record reached #4 later in 1961.

Faron had two more singles that reached the Hot 100, but they only reached #89 and #92. He continued to chart in the top ten on the Country charts into the mid-seventies and his last visit to the Country top forty came in 1978. His health began to seriously decline in the early nineties. He also felt ignored and rejected by Country Music fans after the changes Country Music was experiencing in the nineties. The combination of health and career issues led him to take his own life in 1996.


Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day 10/13/2019

It’s easy to forget the names of instrumentals because they usually don’t have any words to attach to them. Although we don’t recognize names, it usually only takes a few notes for us to recognize the tunes.

1960 was a great year for instrumentals on the Hot 100. No less than 26 instrumental singles were in the top forty that year. In fact, the number one record of the year was The Theme From “A Summer Place.” Most people can instantly recognize that song because of the vocal remake of the song by the Lettermen in 1965.

One less identifiable instrumental from that year is Tracy’s Theme.” In December 1959, NBC aired a new version of The Philadelphia Story. Their version didn’t have Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, or Katherine Hepburn, the stars who made the original film – so why remake it? Diana Lynn portrayed Tracy Lord (the Hepburn role) and it fell to Robert Ascher to write a theme song to follow her around. The musical composition was produced, conducted and arranged by Robert Mersey. Since he was under contract to a different record company, Columbia Records released a single credited to Spencer Ross.

The record company released the single a few weeks before the show aired. The exposure from the show was sufficient to give the single a boost and by February 1960 the single reached #13 on the Hot 100. The most striking feature of the song is the alto sax part that was played by Jimmy Abato, a veteran of the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

Robert went on to produce and arrange records for a long list of Columbia artists in the sixties.