Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1977 Ronnie McDowell – The King Is Gone

1977 Ronnie McDowell – The King Is Gone

Ronald McDowell was born in a small town near Nashville in 1950. Like most of us from that era, he grew up listening to Elvis on the radio and became a huge fan of his music. While serving in the Navy in the Philipines, Ronnie began singing. In 1977 he released his first two singles, but neither one charted.

When Elvis died, Ronnie co-wrote The King Is Gone with Lee Morgan as a tribute to Elvis. He recorded the song and Scorpion Records quickly released the record. The single reached #13 on both the Hot 100 and the Country chart in the US. The next year, in January, Ronnie performed the song on an NBC special, sounding a great deal like Elvis. Sales of the single have totalled over five million copies.

Ronnie wrote his next singleI Love You, I Love You, I Love You. The record turned out to be too country for most pop stations and only reached #81 on the Hot 100. It did, however, reach #5 on the Country chart. That helped kick-start his career as a Country singer. Ronnie recorded over a dozen top ten Country singles, two of which (Older Women and You’re Gonna Ruin My Bad Reputation) each topped the Country chart.

In 1979, they hired Ronnie to sing dozens of Elvis songs for the TV movie Elvis in which Kurt Russell played Elvis and lip-synced to Ronnie’s vocals. That led to other productions utilizing Ronnie’s singing, including the 1981 TV movie Elvis and the Beauty Queen and the 1988 TV miniseries Elvis and Me.

Ronnie has recorded almost two dozen albums. He was still recording new music and actively touring in early 2020 and has his homepage at https://www.ronniemcdowell.com/home

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronnie_McDowell
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronnie_McDowell_discography
https://www.allmusic.com/artist/ronnie-mcdowell-mn0000336842/biography

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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1976 George Benson – This Masquerade

1976 George Benson – This Masquerade

George Benson was born in 1943 and made his recording debut in 1954 when RCA released his single version of She Makes Me Mad. The record company promoted the artist as “Little Georgie” but put George Benson on the record label. While he didn’t release any more records while in elementary school, junior high school, or high school, he did become more proficient at playing jazz guitar. By 1964, George was leading his own band and recording new albums almost every year.

Most of his work was jazz or R&B instrumentals, often covering songs from other fields with his distinctive guitar work. In 1970, he released an album that covered songs from the Beatles’ Abby Road and included his vocal performances on Here Comes The Sun and Something. The title song on a 1972 album included an instrumental cover of Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit.

George took a turn towards pop music in 1976 with the release of his first album for Warner Brothers, Breezin’. Leon Russell wrote This Masquerade and included the song on his Carney album. They put Leon’s version on the B-side of his 1972 hit, Tight Rope.

George recorded a jazzy version of This Masquerade on Breezin’ that became a single in 1977. The record spent two weeks at number ten on the Hot 100 and spent three more weeks slowly falling out of the top forty. It did even better on the Adult Contemporary chart, where it peaked at #4.

A lot of the charting information stopped mattering when the single later won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year. George went on to earn ten Grammy awards between 1977 and 2007 – half for his instrumentals, and half for his vocal performances.

In recent years, oldies stations seem more willing to play three other top ten singles George recorded: On Broadway (#7 in 1978), Give Me The Night (#4 in 1980), and Turn Your Love Around (#5 in 1981).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Benson
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_Masquerade

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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1975 The Carpenters – Solitaire

1975 The Carpenters – Solitaire

Neil Sedaka’s career was fading by 1971, and an album he released on RCA records failed to generate much in the way of either airplay or sales. Neil left the US behind and began a tour in England that proved to be successful. After the tour, he began working on a new album using three members of the group 10cc as studio musicians and a fourth member as the engineer for the album.

The title song from the 1972 album was Solitaire. Neil was a trained classical pianist, and he crafted the music for the song, drawing inspiration for the chorus from music by Frederic Chopin. He came up with the music for the chorus based on a recent tune by Roberta Flack. Neil played the music for Phil Cody, who then wrote the lyrics for the song. His recent divorce left Phil in a sad place, and he was often playing solitaire to pass the time.

Petula Clark and Tony Christie released the song on their albums, but neither one released it as a single.

It had been seven years since the Searchers had reached the top forty with a record, and the group became the first to release a single version of Solitaire. Their single failed to even reach the top 100.

The next artist to release the song as a single was Andy Williams in 1973. His version reached #4 in the UK and #23 on the US Adult Contemporary (AC) chart. It did not chart on the Hot 100 at all.

The Carpenters recorded their version of the song in 1975. They had already had a number one single and number four single off their latest album with Top Of The World and I Won’t Last A Day Without You, and Solitaire became their third single from the album.

Richard was not thrilled with the song, but felt it would be a great showcase for Karen’s vocals. Karen hated the song, but sang it anyway. In a way, the single succeeded: it was their twelfth single to top the AC chart.

Unfortunately, the single only reached #17 on the Hot 100, but their success on the Hot 100 was nearly over. The Carpenters had three more chart-topping songs on the AC chart after Solitaire, but they only had two more top twenty songs on the Hot 100 in the remaining seven years before Karen’s death prematurely ended their partnership.

Laura Branigan had a top ten hit with a song titled Solitaire in 1983, but that was a completely different song that Parker McGee wrote.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Carpenters
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solitaire_(Neil_Sedaka_song)

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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1974 The Tymes – You Little Trustmaker

1974 The Tymes – You Little Trustmaker

Donald Banks, Albert Berry, Norman Burnett, and George Hilliard formed the vocal group the Latineers in 1956. After four years of singing in small clubs, they recruited George Williams as their new lead singer. The group also changed their name, becoming The Tymes.

After the group did well in a Philadelphia talent show, Cameo-Parkway Records signed them to a recording contract in 1963. The group’s first single appeared to everybody else to make them an overnight success when So In Love topped the Hot 100 in 1963. For their second single, they chose a song that covered the Jonny Mathis hit Wonderful, Wonderful and made it into the top ten.

The group’s third single was a disappointment. Somewhere only reached #19 on the Hot 100, and that was the last time the group reached the top forty until another single peaked at #39 in 1968.

The group recorded on at least three other labels in the sixties, after which George Hilliard left the group. In 1973, their producer paid to record some demos at the studio used by  Philadelphia International in hopes of getting them a new contract, but the label wasn’t interested.

Fortunately, the demos were sufficient to get the group a new contract with RCA. The group found their way back onto the charts with their recording of You Little Trustmaker. The single reached #12 on the Hot 100 in 1974.

The group’s next single was Ms. Grace, which barely registered in the US, only reaching #94 on the Hot 100, but continues to be popular in the Carolina Beach Scene. The group was able to tour in the UK when the record magically topped the UK chart for one week in 1975.

In 1976, the group released It’s Cool. The single only reached #68 on the Hot 100, but peaked at #3 on the R&B chart. After that, two female singers replaced two of the original members of the group. The Tymes released a few non-charting singles before their recordings came to an end.

Various collections of the members continued to appear on oldies shows. The five original members appeared together a few times, including on a PBS special shortly before George Williams died in 2004.

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-tymes-mn0000478246/biography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tymes

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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1973 Seals And Crofts – We May Never Pass This Way (Again)

1973 Seals And Crofts – We May Never Pass This Way (Again)

James Eugene “Jim” Seals and Darrell George “Dash” Crofts were each born in Texas. Dash played drums in a local band while Tim played guitar in Dean Beard and the Crew Cats. Dash later became a member of the Crew Cats as well. Dean was a piano player and singer who had recorded for a few different record labels without churning out any hits.

The Champs had a number one hit with the instrumental Tequila in 1958, and Dean, Dash, and Jim moved to California in about 1959 to join the Champs after the hit had faded. Glen Campbell was also a member of the Champs at that time. Dean was caught pocketing some of the money that was intended for Dash and Jim and got fired from the band.

Glen, Dash, and Jim left the Champs with guitar player Jerry Cole and formed the Gee Cees. They played local shows and released at least one instrumental before splitting up in 1963. Glen began a solo career, but did much better for years as a studio musician as part of a group known as The Wrecking Crew.

Jim joined the Dawnbreakers and Dash returned to Texas for a time. Dash eventually returned to California and joined Jim in his new group. While the Dawnbreakers did not record any hit records, they did introduce Jim and Dash to the  Baháʼí Faith, which became an integral part of their lives.

After the Dawnbreakers fell apart, Jim and Dash signed with of Talent Associates and released a pair of albums in 1970. The next year they moved to Warner Brothers and finally reached the charts with a single from their fourth album. Louis Shelton produced a song the pair wrote, Summer Breeze, and it peaked at #6 on the Hot 100 and #4 on the Adult Contemporary (AC) chart in 1972. The second single from that album, Hummingbird, barely reached #20, although they got to perform the song in The Tonight Show.

In the Summer of 1973, they again reached #6 on the Hot 100 and #4 on the AC chart with their next single, Diamond Girl. They then released We May Never Pass This Way (Again), their last single that year. The record only reached #21 on the Hot 100, but it did better than any of their other singles when it reached #2 on the AC chart.

Some of the songs they recorded reflected their adopted faith, and they sometimes stayed after their concerts to introduce interested fans to the Baháʼí Faith. They created some controversy with one song they created, Unborn Child, and many radio stations refused to play the record because of its pro-life lyrics.

Through 1980, the duo had four more top forty singles, one more of which (Get Closer) reached #6 on the Hot 100. Their soft rock songs continued to be more successful on the AC chart, where they had nine more top forty singles, four of which reached the top ten.

Warner Brothers dropped the group from their label in 1980, and they split up and left the music business for a while. They continued to appear at events separately and together to promote their religion.

They reunited for a year in 1991 and then again in 2004, when they recorded their last album.

Jim’s brother Dan was half of England Dan and John Ford Coley, and Jim and Dan sometimes appeared together beginning in the early 2000s.

Jim’s cousin Brady Seals and Dash’s daughter Lua Crofts formed Seals and Crofts 2 in 2018 and continue to tour.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seals_and_Crofts
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Champs
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glen_Campbell
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dean_Beard

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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1972 Mel And Tim – Starting All Over Again

1972 Mel And Tim – Starting All Over Again

Cousins Melvin Hardin (Mel) and Hubert Timothy McPherson (Tim) grew up in Mississippi. They moved to Chicago to pursue a career in music. They were discovered by Eugene Dixon, who is better known by the name he used for his hit records: Gene McDaniels.

Yolanda Hardin was Mel’s mother and Tim’s aunt. She ran the Bamboo Record label and signed the duo to a recording contract. The label was a small label based in Chicago from 1968 to 1970.

Gene produced their first single, a song that Mel and Tim wrote themselves. Backfield In Motion reached the top ten on the Hot 100 and #3 on the R&B chart in 1969.

Gene co-wrote and produced their next single, Good Guys Only Win In The Movies. It did not fare as well as the first single; it reached #17 on the R&B chart but stalled at #41 on the Hot 100.

Mel and Tim moved to Stax Records for their second album, and Phillip Mitchell produced the album at Muscle Shoals. The title single, Starting All Over Again, came out in the Summer of 1972. They appeared and performed the song on an episode of Soul Train that Al Green hosted, and perhaps that helped sales of the single. The record reached #19 on the Hot 100 and #4 on the R&B chart.

The pair’s last album came out in 1973. While a single from that album reached #33 on the R&B chart in 1973, it was the last time they reached the top forty on that chart. They never again had a single on the Hot 100. They appear to have left the music industry in 1974 after two more singles failed to do well.

Tim died in 1986.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mel_and_Tim
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starting_All_Over_Again_(Mel_%26_Tim_song)

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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1971 Al Green – Tired Of Being Alone

1971 Al Green – Tired Of Being Alone

Albert Leornes Greene was born into an Arkansas family that included nine other brothers and sisters. When he was ten, he joined the other young men in the family and began singing as a member of The Greene Brothers. His family moved to Michigan a few years later. When Al got caught listening to secular music by Jackie Wilson, Al’s religious father kicked him out of the house. He lived on the streets and then with a prostitute and became all too familiar with drugs.

Al formed a group while still in high school, Al Greene & the Creations. Two of the other members of the group formed their own record label. The group got renamed, and in 1967, Al Greene and the Soul Mates recorded Back Up Train, which turned into a surprise hit. The single reached #5 on the R&B chart and peaked at #41 on the Hot 100. None of the other records they recorded for the label repeated that success.

Willie Mitchell began his career as a trumpet player and became a bandleader and record producer based in Memphis. He took over the Hi Records label and hired Al to sing in a show in Texas in 1969. The performance convinced him to sign Al to a contract and begin training him to sing better. He also got Al to remove the last ‘e’ from his name, leaving his name as Al Green.

Al and Willie produced a cover of the Temptations hit I Can’t Get Next To You. His single reached #11 on the R&B chart but only got to #60 on the Hot 100 in 1970.

Al had written another song, Tired Of Being Alone, that was intended for his first solo album in 1969, but he and Willie decided that something had gone wrong when it was recorded and it was left off that album. Willie produced a second version of the song in 1971 that they were both satisfied with. The final single reached #11 on the Hot 100 and #7 on the R&B chart that year and sold over a million copies.

Al’s next single was the chart-topping Lets Stay Together, after which his career took off. By the time his hit singles slowed up in 1977, Al had already recorded six more singles that reached the top ten on the Hot 100 and five more records that topped the R&B chart.

Al became a minister and began only recording gospel music. That change paid off in a big way: he won eight Grammy awards for Gospel recordings.

Al recorded a secular record again when he cut a duet with Annie Lennox in 1988, Put A Little Love In Your Heart. The single reached the top ten on the Hot 100 and #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart, but completely missed the R&B chart. He continued recording secular music again, although his remaining singles only reached the R&B chart.

Al has been nominated for 21 Grammy Awards and has collected 11 wins. They inducted him into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1995.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Green
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Green_discography

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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1970 Charles Wright and The Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band – Love Land

Charles Wright grew up in Mississippi and moved to Los Angeles in the early fifties. He joined several doo-wop groups in the fifties, singing and playing guitar. Charles got hired as the A&R Director for Del-Fi Records. Little Caesar & the Romans signed with the label and recorded the single, Those Oldies but Goodies (Remind Me of You). Charles played both piano and bass on the recording. The single peaked at #9 on the Hot 100 in 1961.

A year later, Charles formed Charles Wright & the Wright Sounds, a band that included Daryl Dragon, who would later play in the touring band of the Beach Boys and become the Captain of The Captain and Tenille.

Los Angeles-based Fred Smith owned Keymen Records and produced a theme song for LA disk jockey Magnificent Montague. The theme song became so popular that Fred produced a single version of the theme song in 1967 using Charles and several other studio musicians. The label credited the fictional group Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band. Another (unrelated) version came out later on a different label credited to the Soul Runners.

Bill Cosby needed some musicians to play background music for his next album, and he hired another group of studio musicians that included Charles. That group of musicians was again labeled as The Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band. Cosby went on tour with some of those musicians.

Fred and Charles did not agree on how to proceed with the group, and Fred sold his share of the group to Charles, who immediately sacked the members of the band and reformed with musicians who had played with him in the Wright Sounds.

Thanks to his association with Cosby, Charles was able to sign his reformed group with Warner Brothers Records. The group released the album Together in 1968. The single Do Your Thing by The Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band peaked at #11 on the Hot 100 that year.

Several less successful singles followed until Charles Wright and The Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band released the single Love Land., a cover of a  1959 song by Al Hibbler. The band’s single reached #16 on the Hot 100 and #23 on the R&B chart in 1970.

The group next released their most successful single, Express Yourself, which Charles wrote and produced. The single peaked at only #12 on the Hot 100 but reached #3 on the R&B chart. Even better, the recording went on to be sampled on the 1989 album Straight Outta Compton and many films have used the song on their soundtracks.

The band no longer had hit records after that hit, and members began leaving for other gigs. Charles returned to putting out solo singles and albums in 1972. His most recent album came out in 2007.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Wright_%26_the_Watts_103rd_Street_Rhythm_Band
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Caesar_%26_the_Romans
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Express_Yourself_(Charles_Wright_%26_the_Watts_103rd_Street_Rhythm_Band_song)

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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1969 The Friends Of Distinction – Going In Circles

1969 The Friends of Distinction – Going In Circles

In the mid-sixties, Floyd Butler and  Harry Elston were members of a vocal group called the Hi-Fi’s. The group doesn’t appear to have successfully recorded any music, although they frequently opened for Ray Charles in concerts. Singers  Marilyn McCoo and Lamont McLemore were also members of the Hi-Fi’s. The group fell apart in 1966, but two other groups were born as a result. Marilyn and Lamont became co-founders of the 5th Dimension.

Floyd and Harry recruited singers Jessica Cleaves and Barbara Jean Love to form a replacement group. Harry suggested calling the new group The Distinguished Friends, but Floyd talked him into a slight reversal: The Friends of Distinction. Football player Jim Brown discovered the group and helped them sign with RCA Records.

South African musician Hugh Masekala played the trumpet, and in 1968 he topped the Hot 100 with his instrumental hitGrazing In The Grass. The next year, Harry wrote lyrics for the song and sang lead vocals when the Friends of Distinction recorded it for their first album. Their version reached #3 on the Hot 100 and #3 on the R&B chart and earned the group a gold record.

Their second single also came off their first album and gave the group another gold record, although it did not chart as well on the pop charts. Going In Circles peaked at only #15 on the Hot 100 and reached #3 on the R&B chart in 1969. The B-side of the single came from their second album, but could get no higher than #63 on the Hot 100.

Barbara became pregnant and took some time away from the group. She was replaced by Charlene Gibson.

The group recorded a third album in 1970. Charlene sang lead on the first single from the album, Love Or Let Me Be Lonely, which again took the group into the top ten on the Hot 100. Sadly, that became the last time the group reached the top forty.

Friction between Floyd and Harry led the group to disband in 1975. Jessica joined Earth, Wind, and Fire and later sang with  Parliament-Funkadelic.

Floyd and Harry patched up their differences and planned to reform the group in 1990, but Floyd had a heart attack and died while they were still in the planning stages. Harry eventually reformed the group, and they are still touring.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Friends_of_Distinction
https://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-friends-of-distinction-mn0000060476/biography

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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1968 Percy Sledge – Take Time To Know Her

1968 Percy Sledge – Take Time To Know Her

Percy Sledge grew up in a small town in Alabama near Muscle Shoals. By the mid-sixties, Percy was working during the week as an orderly at a local hospital and singing with the Esquires on the weekends. A former patient at the hospital introduced Percy to Quin Ivy, a former disk jockey who had opened his own recording studio and was now producing records. After a quick audition, Quin signed Percy to a recording contract.

Two members of the Esquires, Calvin Lewis and Andrew Wright, had written the song When A Man Loves A Woman and Percy recorded the song for Atlantic Records with Quin co-producing it. The single only reached #100 on the Hot 100 the first week it charted in 1966, but a few short weeks later, the record reached #1. It was one of only seven records that premiered at #100 and later reached #1. It was also the first number one record to come out of Muscle Shoals.

The record initially #4 on the UK charts, but later had a second run on that chart. Levi Jeans ran a series of ads on television that featured US soul music, and in 1987, an ad that used Percy’s single helped raise the popularity of the song. The record reentered the UK chart and peaked at #2. The single might have reached the top spot, but it was prevented from topping the chart by a re-release of Ben E. King’s Stand By Me that reached #1 after becoming the theme song for the film of the same name.

Michael Bolton covered When A Man Loves A Woman in 1991, and the song returned to the top of the charts. This made the song one of the nine songs in the rock era that have reached number one with recordings by two unique artists.

Percy had two more singles do fairly well in 1966; both of them reached the top twenty on the Hot 100 and the top ten on the R&B chart. One single in 1967 barely reached #40 on the Hot 100 and #35 on the R&B chart, but five more singles that year failed to do even that well.

Songwriter Steve Davis wrote 18 number one songs, most of which were Country hits. In 1968, Quin co-produced the single of one of his songs for Percy. Take Time To Know Her stalled at #11 on the Hot 100 but reached #6 on the R&B chart. That was Percy’s last top forty single on any chart (other than his later success in the UK).

Percy continued recording albums and releasing singles through 1974. He recorded an album in 1994 that gathered a nomination for the Grammy Award for the Best Contemporary Blues Album. He recorded another studio album and a live album in 2004 and released an album of gospel tunes in 2013.

Percy died in 2015 at age 73.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percy_Sledge
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_a_Man_Loves_a_Woman_(song)

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