Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1971 Richie Havens – Here Comes the Sun

1971 Richie Havens – Here Comes the Sun

Richie Havens was born and grew up in Brooklyn. His father was a Blackfoot (a native American) and his mother was from British West Indies. He organized doo-wop groups with friends in his neighborhood and joined the McCrea Gospel Singers. He also travelled to Greenwich Village to read poetry and draw portraits during the beatnik period of the fifties. He also spent a great deal of time listening to live folk music in the Village.

When he turned twenty, he moved to Greenwich Village and began performing in clubs. His obvious talent attracted Albert Grossman, who managed Bob Dylan and created Peter, Paul, and Mary and other folk musicians. Verve Records released his first album, Mixed Bag, in 1966. The album included several songs that Richie also wrote as well as his cover of Bob Dylan’s Just Like A Woman. Several more albums followed that barely got into Billboard’s US Top 200 album chart. None of his singles from the early albums successfully charted.

In 1969, Richie was scheduled to play at the Woodstock Music Festival. The band Sweetwater expected to be the first act on stage, but the police and a major traffic jam prevented the group from reaching the festival in time, so Richie was put on stage at 5:07 pm the first day. His performance at the show provided a massive audience with their first chance to hear him play and sing. Sweetwater got flown in by helicopter and got to perform after Richie’s set.

Two weeks later, Richie performed at the Isle Of Wight Festival. He released the album Alarm Clock the following year. The first song on side one was a cover of George Harrison’s songHere Comes The Sun. Richie released his version of the song as a single in 1971 and it reached #16 on the Hot 100. The success of that single helped push his album to #29 on the album chart, the highest any of his albums reached. That was to be the first and last time Richie placed a single on the Hot 100 chart.

Richie went on to record more than a dozen studio albums and a handful of live albums. He toured constantly and performed at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton.

The 2009 film, Soundtrack for a Revolution, presented the history of the modern Civil Rights Movement. Richie performed a haunting rendition of Will the Circle Be Unbroken? in the film.

Richie suffered a heart attack and died in 2013. Following Richie’s wishes, they cremated his body and scattered his ashes over the site of the Woodstock Festival.


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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1970 Gene Chandler – Groovy Situation

1970 Gene Chandler – Groovy Situation

Eugene Drake Dixon was born in Chicago in 1937. In 1957 he began singing as a member of the Dukays, and he quickly became their lead singer. He left the group when the draft took him into the military but rejoined as soon as he returned to civilian life. The Dukays released the single The Girl’s A Devil on Nat Records in 1961 and the record reached #64 on the Hot 100.

That success resulted in a recording session that produced four more songs. Nite Owl did nearly as well as their last single, reaching #73 in 1962. At the same time, Eugene took another one of the songs to Vee Jay Records and they released Duke Of Earl as a single, crediting Gene Chandler as the singer rather than listing the group. The record hit the top of both the Hot 100 and the R&B chart.

Gene bought a cape, a monocle, and a top hat and began appearing as the Duke Of Earl. He appeared in the film Don’t Knock The Twist singing his big hit in his full costume. He released his next single as The Duke Of Earl instead of using his stage name again, but after that single stalled at #91 on the Hot 100, he returned to using Gene Chandler.

Gene had just two more top forty singles on the Hot 100 in the next seven years: the single Just Be True reached #19 in 1964, while the single Nothing Can Stop Me reached #18 in 1965. During that time period, he placed more than a dozen singles into the R&B top forty, including four that reached the top five.

Gene moved into producing music rather than just singing on records and in concerts, and in 1969 he produced Backfield In Motion for Mel and Tim. The single reached the top ten, and Gene also produced the rest of their first album, including the song Groovy Situation. When Mel and Tim’s did not release their version of the song as a single, Gene recorded and released his own version in 1970. His very similar single peaked at #12 on the Hot 100 and #8 on the R&B chart and became Gene’s last top forty single on the pop charts.

He had another seven top forty singles on the R&B chart before his string of charting releases ran out in 1986.

They used Duke Of Earl on the soundtrack of Hairspray in 1988 and Groovy Situation found a new home in Anchorman: Music from the Motion PictureDuke Of Earl was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.

The city of Chicago reflected Gene’s music and his civic and charitable efforts in the city by naming a street after him in 2016.


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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1969 Roy Clark – Yesterday When I Was Young

1969 Roy Clark – Yesterday When I Was Young

Roy Clark grew up in Washington, DC, and later moved to New York City. His father was a semi-professional musician who taught Roy to play guitar at a young age. Roy won the National Banjo Competition in 1947 and 1948, and that earned him an appearance on the Grand Ole Opry at the age of 17. He then began touring in the backup bands for various Country acts.

Roy began recording singles in 1954, releasing them as solo records or as Roy Clark and His Wranglers or Roy Clark and the Versitals.  None of the singles charted.

In 1960, Roy had moved to Las Vegas and begun playing guitar in a Country band. His lightning delivery was impressive enough that by 1962 he was headlining his own show.

Roy covered Bill Anderson’s song Tips Of My Fingers in 1963. Roy’s solo single reached the top ten on the Country chart. He continued recording singles, but for the next five years only four of the records charted on the national Country chart, and they each peaked between #31 and #57.

Roy began an acting career in 1968 when he was cast as both Cousin Roy and Mother Myrtle on The Beverly Hillbillies. He also appeared in a few TV movies and as himself in The Drew Carey Show.

Charles Aznavour wrote and recorded the song Hier Encore with French lyrics in 1964. Herbert Kretzmer wrote the lyrics for the English-language musical adaptation of Les Misérables. He also translated the lyrics of many of Aznavour’s songs from French to English. He re-interpreted Hier Encore as Yesterday When I Was Young. Roy’s single took him to the top ten on the Country chart again and also reached #19 on the Hot 100. It was to be the only one of his recordings to reach the pop chart.

His longest career move came about when Roy was selected as one of the co-hosts for the television show Hee Haw, which lasted for nearly 300 episodes. The show began its run on CBS from 1969 to 1972. A move to syndication kept the show on the air with new episodes through 1997. Lawrence Welk also had to move his show to syndication, and Roy scored a top ten Country record with a song entitled The Lawrence Welk – Hee Haw Counter-Revolution Polka.

The show put Roy in front of a vast audience. Even better, the show usually filmed an entire season in just two weeks so it didn’t interfere with touring or recording. While the show didn’t help Roy reach the Hot 100 again, he had steady chart records on the Country chart through the end of the eighties.

In 1975, Roy appeared on The Odd Couple and showed off his incomparable guitar playing.

Roy retired to Oklahoma and died shortly thereafter in 2018.


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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1966 Nino Tempo & April Stevens – All Strung Out

1966 Nino Tempo & April Stevens – All Strung Out

After two big hits in 1963, the brother and sister act of Nino Tempo & April Stevens continued recording covers of songs from the 1920s and 1930s, but each single did more poorly than the one before, until 1966.

Nono had worked with Phil Spector in the late fifties, and perhaps that inspired him to build a song with his own wall of sound. Nino had also played on recordings with keyboard player Jerry Riopelle, and the two of them co-wrote and co-produced All Strung Out. Their recording imitated Spector’s Wall Of Sound and the single reached #26 on the Hot 100 in 1966.

I remember watching the pair on the Lloyd Thaxton show performing their song.

The pair never reached the top forty on the Hot 100 again. Their cover of Andy Williams’ (Where Do I Begin) Love Story reached #5 in the Netherlands in 1973.

Nino continued recording and working as a session musician. He played on John Lennon’s Rock-n-Roll album in 1975 and he released several jazz albums.

Nino and April continued recording music individually and together into the nineties, after which they both appear to have retired.


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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1965 The Castaways – Liar, Liar

1965 The Castaways – Liar, Liar

A group of musicians came together to play at a fraternity party in the Twin Cities in Minnesota in 1962, and the crowd reception convinced the group to stay together. The group included Jim Donna on keyboards, Dennis Craswell on drums, Robert Folschow and Roy Hensley on guitars, and Dick Roby on bass guitar and vocal. They began calling themselves The Castaways.

Jim and Dennis wrote the song Liar, Liar. The group recorded the song, and Soma Records released the single in 1965. The record peaked at #12 on the Hot 100.

A 1967 beach movie (It’s A Bikini World) included a lip-sync performance of the song by the Castaways. Their scenes focused primarily on a woman in a bikini dancing in front of their stage.

The song was later used in the soundtracks of several films, including Animal House, Good Morning, Vietnam, and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

The group never had another successful recording and disbanded. Dennis joined the group Crow, who had their own one-hit-wonder with the single Evil Woman Don’t Play Your Games With Me.

In the eighties, a group billed as the Castaways formed on the West Coast. That group eventually included all the original members except Jim, but it eventually drifted apart.

Jim later reformed his own version of the group, and that group continues to perform as the Castaways in live events in the Midwest.

Dennis now has his own group and bills himself as The Original Castaway for live shows, primarily in the Minnesota area.


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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1964 The Premiers – Farmer John

1964 The Premiers – Farmer John

Don Harris and Dewey Terry formed the group Don and Dewey and wrote and recorded a series of records beginning in 1957. While they never had any hit records of their own, a number of their songs were later covered and turned into hits by other artists. Their non-hits included I’m Leaving It Up to You (later a number one hit for Dale and Grace), The Letter (covered by Caesar and Cleo, who became Sonny and Cher), and Big Boy Pete (which was covered by the Olympics and turned into Jolly Green Giant by the Kingsmen). The pair also wrote and recorded the original version of Farmer John, first as a slow song and then as a faster single.

Lawrence and John Perez, and their neighbors, George Delgado and Frank Zuniga, formed the Premieres in 1962 in Los Angeles County. They practiced in the Perez backyard and began attracting crowds who came to listen. Billy Cardenas managed several other Chicano groups in their area and helped them get work backing other musicians, including Chris Montez. Billy suggested the group record Farmer John since it had a garage band sound similar to the Kingsmen hit Louie Louie.

The group recorded the song at Stereo Masters Studios, a small studio in Hollywood. They invited some girls who were members of the all-girl Chevelles car club to the recording. After the band laid down the musical tracks, the girls made audience sounds that were overdubbed onto the recording. The result sounded live.

Eddie Davis helped produce the single and released it on his own record label, Faro Records. When the record began to attract attention, Warner Brothers Records licensed the single and released it nationally. The single peaked at #19 on the Hot 100 in 1964. The group toured the US to promote the record. The band even performed their hit on American Bandstand. Thanks to the British Invasion, the Premiers became one of the opening acts for tours that included The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, and The Dave Clark Five.

After they spent the Summer touring, the group recorded an album of similar R&B songs, but they never reached the Hot 100 again. Two members of the group were drafted in the late sixties, and the group disbanded.

Lawrence, John, and George reformed the Premiers in 2001. The group performed at shows and even created some new recordings.


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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1963 Ran-Dells – The Martian Hop

1963 Ran-Dells – The Martian Hop

First cousins Steven Rappaport, Robert Rappaport and John Spirt came up with the idea of Martians throwing a dance party for Earthlings. They strummed on their guitars, trying to turn that idea into something resembling a song.

Moog synthesizers hadn’t been invented yet, but Steven was a student at Brandeis University and had access to primitive sine wave generators. He created some sounds and also sampled 12 seconds of sounds from Moon Maid by Tom Dissevelt and Dick Raaymakers on their Dutch album The Electrosoniks – Electronic Music. The strange sounds were put on the beginning of the record in hopes of attracting attention, but the group neglected to credit the sample.

The group spent $25 to cut an acetate demo record in Atlantic City.

The trio later went to Bell Sound Studios in New York City and used the state-of-the-art recording equipment and to produce the actual record. Gerry Goffin heard the strange sounds from the start of the record and took their recording to Don Kirshner (this was all years before the Monkees). Don signed the group up to his personal record company.

Steven had worked as a disk jockey using the name Steve Randall, and the cousins decided to call their group the Ran-Dells. The novelty single reached #16 on the Hot 100 during the Summer of 1963. The group lip-synced the song on American Bandstand and did their best to come up with a dance.

The record sold over a million copies worldwide and the group received their very own gold record to commemorate the achievement. And they never charted a record again.

Not surprisingly, Doctor Demento played the record on his show.


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