Saturday, April 20, 2013

Send Me Baby

Ralph Jay

Send Me Baby
Jay, Forshay BMI

Orch. & Chorus Directed By Ray Ellis

Royal Roost Records

 Label owner, Jack Hooke, born Jacob Horowitz,, who managed some of the biggest names in jazz, rock 'n' roll and Latin music during 51 years in entertainment, died in 1999.   He was 83. 

Trained, like his four older brothers, as a tool-and-die maker, he decided in the late 1940's that he couldn't stand that line of work.    He and a partner bought Royal Roost Records, a tiny jazz label that recorded the likes of Stan Getz, Erroll Garner, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker.    Mr. Hooke became a plugger, traveling to radio stations around the country to promote Royal Roost's records.

In 1952 he and a friend, the pop music plugger Juggy Gayles, paid a call to WJW in Cleveland where a young D.J., Alan Freed, was playing the latest rhythm 'n' blues for a loyal following of black listeners and a growing number of white fans. Freed and Mr. Hooke hit it off immediately, and soon Mr. Hook became the D.J.'s manager.

 Royal Roost Records

"That was my thing, it didn't sell twenty copies, but I loved it."   But Hooke's access to Alan Freed inevitably caused the label owner to try his hand at rock & roll.  Starting late in 1955, Roost periodically recorded and released songs by local groups, but despite radio airplay from Freed, the records did not sell in any significant quantity.  "I went into bankruptcy twice, and I was struggling".

Then in the summer of 1956, Roost released a song called "Priscilla," sung by Brooklyn-born songwriter Eddie Cooley (who had recently written "Fever" for Little Willie John) and three women who called themselves The Dimples.   By the fall "Priscilla" had risen to number twenty-six on Billboard's national "Top 100" chart.  Jack Hooke finally had his rock & roll hit and "paid off all his bills.     From John A. Jackson, "Big Beat Heat", Alan Freed and the early years of rock and roll.

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