1965 Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames – Yeh, Yeh

1965 Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames – Yeh, Yeh

Clive Powell grew up in England and played in bands while still a teenager. When he turned 16, he moved to London and signed with Larry Parnes, who refused to sign Clive unless he changed his name. His name became Georgie Fame.

Georgie spent a year playing with Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran before joining Billy Fury’s band. Billy dropped his band in 1961, and they remained together and became Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames.

The band signed with EMI Columbia and recorded their first album in 1963 and a second album in 1964.

Ronan O’Rahilly did his best to get the band’s music played on BBC radio, but when his efforts did not pay off he promised to start his own radio station to get them some airplay. That radio station eventually became the off-shore pirate station, Radio Caroline.

Mongo Santamaria is probably best known for writing the song Watermelon Man. He wrote a tune that Jon Hendricks added lyrics to, resulting in Georgie’s first hit record: Yeh Yeh. The single reached the top of the UK chart and also peaked at #21 on the US Hot 100 in 1965.

Georgie had three more singles that missed in the US charts but landed in the top forty in the UK.

He finally found another hit in early 1966. He wrote and recorded Get Away, and the record became his second number one in the UK. The record doesn’t appear to have charted on WABC in New York City, but it spent most of August on WMCA’s top 57, where it peaked at#37. Nationally, the single peaked at only #70 on the Hot 100.

After one more single with the Blue Flames, Georgie moved on to a solo career. He had his last chart-topping single in the UK and his only top ten single in the US with The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde in 1967. His other singles during the sixties did not do well.

In 1971, Georgie teamed up with keyboard player Alan Price (who formerly played with the Animals) and they nearly cracked the UK top ten with Rosetta. The single did well in a few other countries as well, but the US did not take notice.

Georgie has since focused on more r&b and jazz-related music. He also joined Van Morrison’s touing band and produced some of Van’s music.

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/georgie-fame-mn0000543055/biography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgie_Fame
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgie_Fame_discography

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1964 Sapphires – Who Do You Love

1964 Sapphires – Who Do You Love

George Gainer, Carol Jackson, and Joe Livingston were three singers from Philadelphia who began singing together as a trio in the early sixties. Producer Jerry Ross got them signed to Swan Records and began producing their records using Thom Bell and Leon Huff on keyboards and other staff musicians.

Their first single did not chart, and Jerry brought in Kenny Gamble to arrange their voices for Who Do You Love, their second single. The single reached #25 on the Hot 100 in 1964.

Two more singles on Swan failed to reach the charts, but keep in mind that was the record label that couldn’t even break the Beatles in the US (the label released She Loves You in September 1963 but it didn’t even chart until after I Want To Hold Your Hand topped the Hot 100 in 1964).

The Sapphires moved to ABC Records in late 1964. Their first two singles for the label were also unsuccessful, even though Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart, and Wes Farrell wrote one of them.

Their third single for ABC featured backup vocals by Nick Ashford, Melba Moore, and Valerie Simpson. Gotta Have Your Love stalled at #77 on the Hot 100 and peaked at only #33 on the R&B chart. It later became popular with the Northern Soul crowd.

ABC Records dropped The Sapphires in 1966 after a few more failed records, and the group disbanded.

Jerry and Kenny wrote I’m Gonna Make You Love Me, which became a chart-topping hit for the Supremes. Jerry wrote other hit songs and produced records for Jerry Butler, Bobby Hebb, Jay & The Techniques, and Spanky & Our Gang.

Kenny and Leon started Philadelphia International Records and became responsible for much of the soul music from Philly in the seventies.

Nick and Valerie wrote songs for the 5th Dimension, Aretha Franklin, and Ray Charles before writing and producing records for Motown.

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-sapphires-mn0000896817/biography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sapphires

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1963 Bill Pursell – Our Winter Love

1963 Bill Pursell – Our Winter Love 

Bill Pursell grew up in California and studied music in Baltimore at The Peabody Institute of Music. During World War II, he worked doing arrangements for the U. S. Air Force Band.

In the fifties, Bill taught music at Tennessee State University and Vanderbilt University and worked with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.

Columbia Records signed Bill to a recording contract in the early sixties. Canadian trumpet player Johnny Cowell had written the song Our Winter Love and recorded it as an instrumental featuring his trumpet solo.

Bill rearranged the song to feature himself on the piano. Bill’s single reached #9 on the Hot 100, #4 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and #20 on the R&B chart.

The song became a hit again when the Lettermen released their own single that stalled at #72 on the Hot 100 but reached #16 on the Adult Contemporary chart in 1966.

Bill’s next single was the instrumental Loved, but it failed to reach the charts. 

Bill recorded and released two albums and a handful of singles before temporarily abandoning his solo career in 1966. He made a living doing studio work and arrangements for other artists, including Eric Andersen, Joan Baez, J.J. Cale, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Dan Fogelberg, and Marty Robbins.

He began releasing his own work again in 1976 and 1977 with The Nashville Sweat Band & Aides. In 1980, he joined the faculty at Belmont University in Nashville.

Bill died from complications of COVID-19 in September 2020 at the age of 94.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Pursell
https://www.allmusic.com/artist/bill-pursell-mn0000086729/biography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Winter_Love

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1962 Ikettes – I’m Blue (The Gong Gong Song)

1962 Ikettes – I’m Blue (The Gong Gong Song)

Arthur Lassiter began singing in gospel groups in the fifties and started singing in Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm and began fronting that group in 1960. Ike wrote a song he wanted Arthur to record, A Fool In Love. He had three women singers backing him up: Robbie Montgomery, Frances Hodges, and Sandra Harding, aka the Arkettes.

When Art failed to show up for a recording session, Ike had Tina Turner sing the song backed up by the Arkettes. The single peaked at #27 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the R&B chart in 1960.

The first group of singers to officially be called the Ikettes comprised Delores Johnson, Eloise Hester, and Jo Armstead. Delores sang lead on another single written and produced by Ike, I’m Blue (The Gong Gong Song).

Ike released the single in late 1961, and it peaked at #19 on the Hot 100 and #3 on the R&B chart in early 1962.

The lineup of the Ikettes changed frequently, with some of their recordings credited to Robbie Montgomery & the Ikettes.

Robbie, Venetta Fields, and Jessie Smith became the most popular lineup, and they recorded several singles, including Peaches ‘N Cream. That single reached #36 on the Hot 100 in early 1965.

Ike recruited three more Ikettes and sent them on the road with The Dick Clark Caravan of Stars while Robbie, Venetta, and Jessie continued to appear with the Ike and Tina Turner show. It upset the three that they did not receive any extra money for their group’s hit records, and they left Ike’s revue. When efforts to use the name “The Ikettes” failed, the trio renamed themselves the Mirettes.

The group signed with Revue Records in 1966 and then with Mint Records in 1968. They failed to chart with any of their singles for either label.

Their cover of In The Midnight Hour reached #45 on the Hot 100 and #18 on the R&B chart in 1968. It was their only charting single.

Another former Ikette, Pat Cowdrill, replaced Venneta before the group finally disbanded in 1971.

Robbie became one of Dr. John’s Night Trippers and later sang backup vocals for Joe Cocker, the Rolling Stones, Barbra Streisand, and Stevie Wonder.

Venetta sang backup vocals for Humble Pie, Neil Diamond, Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, Steely Dan, and Barbra Streisand. She then moved to Australia, became a citizen, and sang with several groups there.

Jessie sang with Robbie on some Dr. John albums and also sang backup vocals for Jose Feliciano, Brian Ferry, and Al Kooper.

Don’t feel left out if you can’t completely follow the membership of the Ikettes: over time, 57 different singers have been members of the group!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_Lassiter
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ikettes
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mirettes

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1961 The Chantels – Look In My Eyes

1961 The Chantels – Look In My Eyes

The Chantels scored a million-selling record with their second single (Maybe), but struggled after that. Their next two singles reached the top twenty on the R&B chart, but the best they could manage on the Hot 100 was a week at #39.

After seven more failed records, one singer left the group to return to college in 1959. Even worse, their lead singer left the group and their record label dropped them.

Richard Barrett had signed the group to their first label and produced their first record. In 1959, he recorded a song he had written with the Chantels as background singers. Gone Records released Summer’s Love by Richard Barrett and the Chantels and the single peaked at #29 on the R&B chart (but stalled at #93 on the Hot 100).

After another single failed, Annette Smith joined as the group’s new lead singer. They signed with Carlton Records and recorded another song Richard had written. Look In My Eyes peaked at #14 on the Hot 100 in 1961 and also reached #6 on the R&B chart.

A few more singles on Carlton followed. The only one that reached the charts was an answer song to the Ray Charles song, Hit The Road Jack. Richard wrote and sang on that singleWell I Told You, which stalled at #29 on the Hot 100 in late 1961.

Although the hits were over, the group continued recording and touring until disbanding in 1970.

The original lead singer, Arlene Smith, had become a schoolteacher. She reformed the group in the seventies with four new backup singers and appeared on the oldies circuit into the nineties when she wasn’t teaching.

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-chantels-mn0000068155/biography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Chantels

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1960 Hank Locklin – Please Help Me I’m Falling

1960 Hank Locklin – Please Help Me I’m Falling 

Hank Locklin grew up in Florida and learned to play the guitar at age eight while he was recuperating from a leg injury. After winning a talent contest, he abandoned high school without graduating and began a music career. He recruited a few more musicians and formed the Rocky Mountain Playboys in 1947.

The band performed on local television shows and other minor events. Hank began singing and recorded for Gold Star Records and Royalty Records with little success. 

In 1949, Hank started recording for Four Star Records. He finally reached the Country charts with the top ten single The Same Sweet Girl. Hank wrote and recorded his first version of Send Me The Pillow That You Dream On later that year, but it failed to chart. A second version of the song came out in 1951, but that single failed as well.

He wouldn’t reach the charts again until 1953. His recording of Let Me Be The One topped the Country chart that year.

In 1955, Hank signed with RCA Records and began working with Chet Atkins. The new Nashville sound on his recordings soon turned him into a major star. A third version of Send Me The Pillow That You Dream On finally reached the Country top ten in 1957.

The biggest hit of Hank’s career came out in 1960. Please Help Me, I’m Falling gave Hank his second number one on the Country chart. It also reached #8 on the Hot 100.

Johnny Tillotson finally took Send Me The Pillow You Dream On to the pop charts with a cover in 1962. His version reached #17 on the Hot 100, #11 on the Country chart, and #5 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

Hank landed almost two dozen more singles on the Country chart by 1971. He released a new album almost every year through the seventies, but could not find his way back onto the singles charts. When his career faded in the US, he began touring in Europe and ceased recording new music. 

Hank recorded a final Country album in 2001 and a gospel album in 2006.

Hank died in 2009.

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/hank-locklin-mn0000666540/biography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hank_Locklin
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hank_Locklin_discography

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1959 Everly Brothers – Poor Jenny

1959: Everly Brothers – 1959 

Chet Atkins first heard the Everly Brothers singing in Knoxville in 1956 and convinced them to move to Nashville and sign with Columbia Records. They recorded and released Keep a-Lovin’ Me, a song Don had written. The record failed to chart and Columbia dropped them.

Wesley Rose of Acuff-Rose signed the duo to a songwriting contract and had them record for Cadence Records. They recorded the song Bye-Bye Love in 1957, a song that 30 other artists had turned down. That began a streak of hit records. The Everly Brothers scored four number one Country singles that all also reached #1 or #2 on the Hot 100. The brothers wrote their next single (Problems) which reached #2 near the end of 1958.

The duo then stumbled in 1959: their first single in 1959 (Rip It Up) failed to chart at all!

Felice and Boudleaux Bryant wrote most of the early Everly Brothers hits, including both sides of their next single, which came out later in 1959. It became their fifth two-sided hit. Neither side reached the Country chart, a first for their records that reached the pop chart.

The record label plugged Take A Message To Mary, and that side of the single peaked at #16. It was a much bigger hit in Australia (where it reached #2).

The other side of the single was Poor Jenny, which reached #22 on the Hot 100 before fading off the chart.

The brothers had two more top ten singles before signing with a different record label.

They wrote their first single for Warner Brothers, and Cathy’s Clown turned into the biggest hit of their career. Their old record label also continued releasing singles for the next three years. The competition between the two labels gave them lots of records on the charts through 1962. I became annoyed with them when they re-recorded their earlier hits and released them on Greatest Hits albums for Warner Brothers.

Phil died in 2014, and Don passed away in August 2021.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Everly_Brothers
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Everly_Brothers_discography#1950s_2

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1958 Patti Page – Left Right Out Of Your Heart (Hi Lee Hi Lo Hi Lup Up Up)

1958 Patti Page – Left Right Out Of Your Heart (Hi Lee Hi Lo Hi Lup Up Up) 

Clara Ann Fowler grew up in the late twenties and early thirties in a poor family she shared with ten brothers and sisters. She became a singer with Al Clauser and his Oklahoma Outlaws, performing on radio station KTUL in Tulsa, Oklahoma. By the time she turned eighteen, she already had her own fifteen minute show as Patti Page.

Jack Rael was the manager of the Jimmy Joy Band and also played saxophone in their appearances. After hearing Patti sing, Jack added her to the band and became her manager. When the group performed in Chicago in 1947, Patti began singing with a small group run by Benny Goodman. She then signed a recording contract with Mercury Records.

Patti recorded a few records that reached the top thirty in the next two years. Her 1949 recording of With My Eyes Wide Open, I’m Dreaming sold over a million copies.

In 1950, Patti recorded Tennessee Waltz, the record that she is most commonly associated with. The single sold over seven million copies. Eighteen top ten singles followed during the fifties. 

Billboard had multiple charts in 1958, including Best Sellers, Disk Jockey chart, and Composite 100. Her last top forty single in the fifties was Left Right Out of Your Heart (Hi Lee Hi Lo Hi Lup Up Up), which reached #13 on the early Top 100 chart.

Patti moved to Columbia Records in 1964 and had a string of successful singles on the Adult Contemporary Chart beginning in 1965. Her recordings then moved to the Country Chart beginning in 1970. She continued recording through 2008.

Patti fought with heart and lung disease and died in 2013 at the age of 85.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patti_Page
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patti_Page_discography

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1957 Johnnie & Joe – Over The Mountain, Across The Sea

1957 Johnnie & Joe – Over The Mountain, Across The Sea 

Zell Sanders became one of the earliest females to own her own record label when she formed J&S Records in New York City in 1956. She had begun managing The Hearts in the early fifties; Rex Garvin had been the music director and piano player for the group.

Joe Rivers was a singer from South Carolina. He became paired with Zell’s daughter Johnnie, and the two began recording singles for the J&S label in 1956. Chess Records licensed their recordings and even began pressing the singles.

Rex wrote the duo’s second single and sang backup vocals on their recording of Over The Mountain, Cross The Sea in 1957. When Chess picked up the single, they changed the name slightly, and it became Over the Mountain, Across The Sea.

The single reached the Billboard Hot 100 on May 13, 1957. The pair appeared and lip-synced their song on Milt Grant’s Record Hop on WTTG-TV in Washington, DC, two weeks later.

The single peaked at #8 in July and they appeared with their hit on Dick Clark’s Saturday Night Beechnut Show.

The pair continued recording songs, and two of their releases reached the R&B top forty chart. The only other time they reached the Hot 100 came in 1960 when Chess Records reissued their hit single; it only reached #89 the second time around.

When no additional hits showed up, the duo broke up. Johnnie briefly joined and toured with The Jaynettes. She sang backup vocals on the song Sally Go ‘Round The Roses, which reached #2 on the Hot 100 in 1963.

Also in 1963, Bobby Vinton recorded a cover version of Over The Mountain, Across The Sea that peaked at #21 on the Hot 100.

Johnnie and Joe reunited in the later sixties and toured together on the oldies circuit for the next twenty years. They also recorded an album together in 1982.

Johnnie suffered a stroke and died in 1988.

Barbara Parrett Toomer (a former member of the Toys who sang on A Lover’s Concerto in 1965) became Joe’s new partner for public appearances.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J_%26_S_Records
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnnie_%26_Joe
http://www.soulfulkindamusic.net/johnnyjoe.htm

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1989 Jody Watley – Friends

1989 Jody Watley – Friends

Jody Watley grew up in Chicago and had the good fortune to have singer Jackie Wilson as her godfather. She sang with Jackie at a concert when she was barely eight years old.

Jody became a regular dancer on Soul Train when she turned fourteen. Show creator Don Cornelius chose Jody to be one member of the group Shalamar in 1977 and she sang with the group from 1977 to 1983.

Jody moved to England for a few years. She was one of the singers on Do They Know It’s Christmas in 1984. She released a few solo records before moving back to the US.

MCA Records signed Jody to a recording contract, and she wrote six of the nine songs on her first album in 1987. She wanted to focus on creating dance music, and that album produced three number one singles on the US Dance Club chart, four top ten singles on the R&B chart, and three top ten singles on the Hot 100.

Her second album came out in 1989. Jody co-wrote most of the songs with André Cymone, who produced the album. The result was three more top ten hits on the Hot 100, but I can’t recall hearing any of them on any oldie station in the past 30 years.

The first single from the album, Real Love, topped the R&B chart and the dance chart and reached #2 on the Hot 100. MTV nominated the video for the song for six MTV Video Music Awards.

The next release, Friends, featured Eric B. & Rakim. The single spent one week at #9 on the Hot 100 and peaked at #3 on the R&B chart and #7 on the US Dance Club Songs chart.

Jody’s last top ten single on the Hot 100 also came out in 1989. Gardner Cole and James Newton Howard co-wrote Everything, the only song from the album that Jody did not share writing credit on.

The single peaked at #4 on the Hot 100 and #3 on the R&B chart. For once, her single did not reach the US Dance Club Songs chart.

Although her success waned on the pop and R&B charts, Jody continued releasing successful dance tunes. Three more of her singles reached #1 on the US Dance Club Songs chart and ten more reached the top twenty.

Jody’s most recent hit in the US came in 2013 when Nightlife reached #18 on the US Dance Club Songs Chart. She also reached #2 on the UK Soul chart with a remix of The Mood in 2018.

I can’t explain why her singles from 1989 no longer get much airplay as oldies.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jody_Watley
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jody_Watley_discography

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