Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day 09/14/2019

Jimmy Castor was born in New York City at some point in the forties (conflicting dates exist). Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers had several important hits in 1955 and 1956 before leaving Frankie left for a solo career. Jimmy joined the Teenagers as one of the backup singers, but the group did not have much success without Frankie.

Jimmy was primarily a vocalist but began concentrating on playing the saxophone as well. That was Jimmy playing his sax on Dave “Baby” Cortez’s top-ten single Rinky Dink in 1962.

Jimmy recorded his first solo hit Hey, Leroy, Your Mama’s Callin’ You in 1966. The record was released as a single the last week of the year and peaked at #31 in early 1967. Jimmy got to lip-sync to his hit record on American Bandstand while he accompanied himself on the cowbell.

A few years later he recruited a few more musicians and formed the Jimmy Castor Bunch. In 1972 they released the million-selling record Troglodyte (Cave Man) which has been sampled by an endless stream of rappers.

In 1975 the group had their last big hit with the release of The Bertha Butt Boogie. The single reached number 16 and also got as high as #22 on the R&B charts. Moderate hits on the R&B charts followed for another five years, after which Jimmy returned to being a solo act. He released more singles through 1988 without much chart results.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Castor
https://www.allmusic.com/artist/jimmy-castor-mn0000351842/biography

Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day 09/13/2019

Richard Chamberlain graduated from Beverly Hills High School and almost immediately began acting in plays and television. In 1961 he was cast as the title character in the new television show Dr. Kildare and was thrust into the role of teen idol as a result.

In an effort to capitalize on Richard’s sudden fame, MGM rushed him into a recording studio and produced a record album, Richard Chamberlain Sings.

The theme song for his television show was an instrumental composed by Jerry Goldsmith and played over the closing credits. One of the songs on his album had Richard singing his own version of the theme song using music and lyrics written by Jerry Goldsmith, Pete Rugolo and Hal Winn. The single was released in 1962 and reached the top ten.

Later that year the follow-up single from his album reached #21 when he covered an old Elvis tuneLove Me Tender.

The album also contained another cover that got released in 1963. All I Have To Do Is Dream was a number one hit for the Everly Brothers in 1958 and Richard’s version got as high as #14.

While Richard never had another top forty hit, in 1963 he recorded a second album that was nearly half-filled with theme songs. The first single from that album was Blue Guitar, which peaked at #42. More interesting was the flip side of that single. The b-side was a song that later became the Carpenters first #1 hit: Close To You.

While his music career may have stalled, his acting career took off and Richard became the leading man of choice for television mini-series and movies. He was still appearing in movies as recently as 2018.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Chamberlain

Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day 09/12/2019

Dee Clark was born in Arkansas but spent most of his youth in Chicago. His mother was a gospel singer who encouraged Dee’s singing. By the age of 12, he had recorded a single with a group of teenagers. After that, he sang with several other groups until starting on a solo career in 1957.

His big break was similar to the start of Bobby Vee’s career. When Buddy Holly died in a tragic plane crash, Bobby Vee filled in for him at a few shows. Little Richard quit rock and roll and studied to become a preacher after a plane he was supposed to fly on crashed in 1957. Dee filled in for Little Richard at scheduled shows.

He began recording singles in 1958, and he finally reached the charts in early 1959 with Nobody But You. The single got to #21 on the Hot 100 but did even better on the R&B chart, where it reached #3.

His second single was Just Keep It Up. The record reached #18 on the Hot 100 and #9 on the R&B chart. It was also the first of two singles he recorded that made the UK charts.

Four more top forty records followed, including his number two hit, Raindrops, in 1961. He was never able to reach the top forty again in the US after that million-selling record although he kept recording for various labels for over a decade.

While it may have seemed like Dee’s career was down for the count, in 1975 he recorded a disco recordRide A Wild Horse may not have done much in the US, but it reached #16 on the UK charts and briefly reignited his career there. Dee was pushed into the Oldie circuit when no other hit records followed that surprise success.

Dee died from a heart attack in 1990 at the relatively young age of 52.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dee_Clark
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Richard

Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day 09/11/2019

John Parr was born in England and played with a series of different bands in his career. His first big break came when he came to the US to work with Meatloaf on his Bad Attitude album in 1984. After recording his first album in 1984 he formed a backing band named The Business and toured as the warm-up act for Toto. The first single from the album was Naughty, Naughty.

The record stalled at #23 on the Hot 100 in March 1985. The video for the record probably helped it reach #1 on the mainstream rock chart.

Later that year John avoided turning into a one-hit-wonder.

Terry Fox was a Canadian athlete who lost a leg to cancer. He began a trip to walk across Canada in 1980 to promote supporting cancer research and prove the resilience of the handicapped. His walk was cut short when his cancer flared up again.

A second Canadian athlete was inspired by Terry’s walk. Rick Hansen was paralyzed at age 15 by a spinal injury as a result of a truck accident. He became a wheelchair athlete and was on national championship teams for both volleyball and basketball. He set out to travel completely around the world in the Man In Motion World Tour in March 1985. The trip took almost two years.

John Parr and David Foster co-wrote St. Elmo’s Fire (Man In Motion) for the soundtrack to the movie St. Elmo’s Fire as a tribute to Rick’s challenging trip. The follow-up to his first single easily topped the charts in the US in September. The record also reached #1 in several other countries. But now you know why the song doesn’t appear to connect to the film directly – it was a tribute to something completely different. While the song obviously called out for an Academy Award nomination, John’s admission that the song was written to honor Rick’s tour made it ineligible for that award.

John had two more records that barely got into the Hot 100 but never reached the top forty again. He still creates music and released his most recent album in 2018.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Parr
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_Hansen

Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day 09/10/2019

You can probably name the top two selling artists in the UK simply because they also stand out in the US: the Beatles and Elvis. But can you name the third artist?

It’s Harry Webb. He sold over 250 million records worldwide. Just not very many in the US.

Harry was born in India in 1940. He and his family moved back to a small village near London in 1948. His interests wandered toward Skiffle music so in 1957 his father bought him a guitar. He sang in a harmony group in high school and he soon joined the Dick Teague Skiffle Group.

In 1958 he was fronting for a new rock and roll group. He adopted a new stage name: Cliff Richard.

The group became Cliff Richard and the Drifters. They immediately had a #2 record in the UK with the release of their first single, Move It.

After scoring a few more top twenty records, in 1959 they released Living Doll, their first #1 single in the UK. The record even charted in the US, reaching #30. That same year the American group the Drifters had a number 2 hit in the US with There Goes My Baby. Cliff’s backup band went through some line-up changes and was renamed the Shadows.

The hits kept coming in the UK, but it was several years before they reached the US charts again. Cliff has had  14 number one records, an additional 53 top ten records, and countless other hits in the UK.

Cliff had only three top ten singles in the US:

  • Devil Woman reached #6 in 1976
  • We Don’t Talk Anymore reached #7 in 1979
  • Dreaming reached #10 in 1980

In 1980, Olivia Newton-John starred in the film Xanadu. The film was a complete bomb and is probably best avoided, but the soundtrack did well in spite of the film’s poor performance. Olivia had a number one hit with Magic and Olivia and ELO had a top ten record with the film’s title song. The third charting single from the film was Suddenlya duet she recorded with Cliff that only reached #20 in early 1981.

The record did better on the Adult Contemporary chart, easily reaching the top five. Appearances on shows like The Midnight Special probably helped on that chart more than the movie soundtrack since roller disco was already over by the time the film came out. Maybe even before they filmed the movie. Maybe roller disco was never a thing.

Cliff continues to perform in public and record. His most recent recording was singing with Bonnie Tyler on her 2019 release of In Control.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cliff_Richard
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cliff_Richard_discography#Singles

Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day 09/09/2019

Meri Wilson was born on a US military base in Japan but grew up in Georgia. She earned degrees in music and music education after which she took off to find fame and fortune singing and playing guitar in Dallas, Texas. She also worked as a model and jingle singer.

I consider DOA by Bloodrock one of the records I would least want to ever hear again. Sure, the record made it up to #36 in 1971. The song was a drawn-out stream of consciousness that dragged on about somebody dying after an accident. The song was based on an actual airplane accident that was witnessed by the group’s guitarist. It comes across as a about the last few painful minutes of somebody’s life. Ick; sure, it qualifies as a lost but not forgotten oldie, but some oldies really should remain lost. The group released six albums between 1970 and 1974, but never found the charts again. The vocalist on the song was Jim Rutledge, whose only other claim to fame was meeting Meri Wilson and producing her first single.

While recording a jingle, Meri was overheard by Jim, who was impressed. He convinced her to sign up with BNA Records. She wrote and recorded Telephone Man. The song was a humorous novelty record based upon a relationship she had with a telephone man who installed her phone. The song was a bit risque at the time but sounds a lot tamer now. The record sold over a million copies and got as high as #18 in the US in 1977. The song was an international hit that reached the top ten in several other countries. She even managed to film a video for the single for the Dutch television show TopPop.

Meri recorded a few more novelty songs but only Doctor Demento seemed to notice. Her last notable release came in 1999 when she recorded Internet Man. The song was a raunchier version of Telephone Man that followed the exploits of getting hooked up for the Internet. The record never reached the charts.

Meri died in 2002 as the result of an accident in an ice storm that hit Georgia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meri_Wilson

Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day 09/08/2019

In the late forties, Ike Turner was a member of the Top Hatters. The group of as many as thirty musicians primarily performed big band music. The group split into two smaller bands, The Dukes of Swing and the Kings of Rhythm. Ike led the latter group, which eventually became known as Ike Turner and the Kings of Rhythm. In 1951, Ike’s group cut Rocket 88 on which Ike played piano and his saxophone player (Jackie Brenston) sang lead. The early (and possibly first) rock and roll record topped the R&B chart and sold a half-million copies. Sales made Sam Phillips enough money to finance Sun Records and Jackie received $910. The record was credited to Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats instead of Ike and his group. Ike and the other band members were paid only $20 each for their work on the record. His career failed to take off.

Ike kept moving and reforming his group and playing on radio broadcasts and at clubs. Anna Mae Bullock sang for Ike at one of his club dates and he signed her up to his group. Because of other singers who had left him, Ike insisted on Anna performing using the name Tina Turner (and trademarked the name in case she left him so he could simply hire another Tina). Tina sang on one single in 1958 credited only as Little Ann. In 1960 the first Ike and Tina Turner single was released and the Ike and Tina Turner Revue was born.

Tina wrote Nutbush City Limits in 1973 as an autobiographical nod to the small Tennessee town where she was born. The record was their last joint single to reach the top forty, peaking at #22 on the Hot 100 and #11 on the R&B chart. Marc Bolan of the glam band T. Rex is rumored to have played guitar on the record. The single was more popular overseas, selling more than a million copies just in Europe.

The duo released three more singles in 1974 but none of them performed well. Ike’s increasing dependence on cocaine and the resulting problems that stemmed from the drug abuse led to the end of their partnership in 1976 and their eventual divorce in 1978.

Dance crazes are a strange thing that can show up in the strangest places. Nutbush City Limits stayed on the charts in Australia for an entire year. The line dance called The Nutbush became popular in Australia in the late seventies as a result. It was a time during the disco years when other line dances were born and a few years before Country line dancing was a thing. The steps to the dance are similar to the Macarena but predate that dance by over a decade and involve more kicking. By 2015, the world records was only 254 people for the line dance; the current record of 2,230 participants was set in 2019.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ike_Turner#Ike_and_Tina_Turner
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tina_Turner
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nutbush_City_Limits
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nutbush_(dance)