Sunday, December 29, 2013

Oh Carol

The Musicasters

Musicasters 9135

Flip is a version of "Talk To Me" (Little Willie John, King Records, 1958)
Band formed by Benton Harbor high school students (and members of the American Federation of Musicians Local 232), the Musicasters have appeared in Chicago, Grand Haven, Three Rivers and the Twin Cities in the years 1963-1965.

In the summer of 1963, they were opposed to The Playmates (*)  in a Battle of the Bands, hosted by Jan Gabriel, motor sports announcer known for his signature phrase "Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!" used to promote the US 30 Drag Strip events in Northwest Indiana.  Jan Gabriel did much more for Chicago area media than just promote weekend races on commercials.  In the early 60's, he was a night time rock & roll DJ for WJOB in Hammond -- a "screamer" much like Dick Biondi. He would emcee and DJ dances around the northwestern IN and Chicago's south suburbs.

(*)  The Playmates : South Bend band changed their name to the Rivieras, after the then-popular Buick car, broke through music's top 10 charts with the song "California Sun," released in 1963.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Goatee's Gotta Go

Dick Summer
Bill Coe and the Escorts


K-W Records #502


Spoken word. 

Dick Summer was dee jay at WIBC at the time. Then, he was the MC of a Bandstand-type program called "Rhythm Carnival" on WISH-TV. until he was hired by WBZ Radio in Boston.  His radio show was unpredictable. He read poetry and short stories, and sometimes he played old radio dramas - listeners loved it.

The background music is provided by Bill Coe and The Escorts.  Bill Coe is believed to be the brother of musician Jimmy Coe.

WIBC radio booth on the roof of Merrill's

Merrill’s Hi-Decker was another popular spot for both locals and visitors, featuring a $1.59 steak special that could be enjoyed in the restaurant’s “Two Beautiful Dining Rooms” or in the customer’s own car. Younger patrons preferred the latter option so they could listen to disc jockey Dick Summer playing the newest rock-and-roll hits from the WIBC radio booth on the restaurant’s roof. His show featured a “make it or break it game” where he would ask patrons to honk their car horns to vote on whether a new record should be played again or broken in half.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Hall Of Shame

Jean Dixon

Gwen McEwen
H. Graves Music Co. BMI

Fonovox 102
1447 Union, Memphis Tenn.


Short-lived label operated by Elston Leonard and Hillburn (Pappy) Graves. 

Elston Leonard was the founder of Fotovox Inc., a TV and commercial film producing firm, in 1951 at 1447 Union.
Hillburn Graves (1913-1973), was a saxophonist and clarinet player from Arkansas.  He toured extensively from more than two decades with the "Pappy Graves Show"

Gwen McEwen was best  known as a comedienne. She traveled for many years with Pappy Graves ("Pappy Graves Music and dancing Revue, featuring riotously funny Gwen McEwen, That inimitable "Phyllis Diller" Gal ! ")  She never made a career for herself in music, although she recorded few demos at Sun Records ("Steady Freddie" and "We"ll Have A Ball" were issued by Bear Family in 2002).   She wrote both sides of the Smokey Joe 45 on Fonovox, the only other known release on the label.
Jean Dixon is perhaps the former band singer who was associated in Dallas with the Hugh Fowler Agency in 1958-59 (Billboard, 31 August 1959). No further info.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Greg Constantine (cover art)

The Coming King
Mark Custom Recording Division MC1247

From the back cover:
The reproduction of the TV image painting on the front cover is by Greg Constantine of the Andrews University Art Faculty.  The title is : "Every Eye Shall See Him"  and is photographed from the original acrylic on canvas of 66 by 88 inches.  Professor Constantine is primarily interested in seeing as "we humans see", and has investigated other ways of portraying this, hence the TV images concept of this painting.
Another conceptual "official" artist.

Picture is from this ebay listing

Sunday, December 22, 2013

I Can Give You Love

Bobbi Martin 

Bobbi Martin, Champion Music Corp. BMI
Arranged and directed by Bert De Coteaux
Produced by Henry Jerome

Coral 62485
Recorded on 13 December 1965 Decca Recording Studio, Pythian Temple, 135 West 70th St., New York City 

Barbara Anne Martin was born in Brooklyn on 29 November 1943, but raised in Baltimore. After graduation from high school in Baltimore, she set her sights for New York and a full-time try at a show business career.   She came to the attention of personal manager Miriam Love.  Miriam groomed her young protégée first for night clubs and TV.  Her debut recordings were produced by T.H. McCulloh and issued in 1960, for the much obscure Maypole Records (#502 : (Ay Ay Ay) I'll Wait Forever / Is It True (What They Say About Al)?).  The single was also released by Reo Records in Canada. 

Seen and heard by Coral Records' A&R executive, Henry Jerome, Bobbi Martin was signed to an exclusive, long-term Coral recording contract.  She placed two songs in the Top 40, 'Don't Forget U Still Love You (1965) and 'For The Love Of Him' (1970).

She died at Brighton Wood Knull medical facility in Baltimore (lung cancer) in May 2000.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Artis Lane (cover art)

What a ugly cover !  The Ray Charles painting is signed Artis Lane.  I didn't know who was the painter.   And at my surprise, I soon discovered that she is apparently much celebrated.
Artis Lane's works are among the collections of Bill Cosby, Oprah Winfrey, Linda Evans, Cicely Tyson, former President and Mrs. George Bush, Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Poitier, Mayor Maynard Jackson (Atlanta, GA), Howard University, National Portrait Gallery (Smithsonian Institute), National Council of Negro Women, Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Getty, Mr. and Mrs. Michael Jordan, Mr. Steve Ross (Time-Warner), Mr. and Mrs. Ervin "Magic" Johnson, Mr. Quincy Jones, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Anneberg, Cary Grant, Nelson and Winnie Mandela, Henry Kissinger and others.
In a nutshell, she is well established artist. One Yussuf Simmonds write an article titled "Artis Lane, the Artist Without Boundaries" in the Los Angeles Sentinel.  Without boundaries, including the boundary of good taste...

Artis Lane official website

Her Oprah Winfrey Portrait

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I Need You

The Utmosts

I Need You
Oma Heard, Beechwood Music Corp. BMI

Pan-Or Records
February 1962

Pan-Or Productions headed by independant producers Adam Ross and Jack L. Levy was part of the Beechwood Music Company, itself founded by Capitol Records in 1948.    The most successful act produced by Pan-Or productions was The Rivingtons (Liberty Records).

Oma Heard was the lead singer and/or member of various girl groups.  Rob Finnis has told their story. 

From the liner notes of The Dore Story (Ace Records) :
The DARLINGS, a female quartet comprising Oma Heard, Carlotta Robertson and the sisters Maxine and Julia Waters, were managed and produced by a former artist named Bobby Sanders - real name: Jerome Lenoir. In 1963, Dore issued two consecutive singles by the group under different names, the first as the Postalettes singing 'He Played 1, 2, 3, 4' (a variation of 'The Paddiwack Song'), the second as the Darlings with their punchy revival of 'To Know Him Is To Love Him', heard here. Sanders produced all four at the same (with Grayson arranging) and assigned the masters over Dore on 23 January 1963.

Three of the four girls had previously sung in a Fremont High School group named the Sweethearts, who recorded for producer H.B. Barnum in 1961 and moonlighted on obscure one-off 45s as the Utmosts and the Sa-Shays.  Although amateur, they were already establishing career paths as versatile session vocalists and barely knew their identity from one release to the next - immediately prior to signing for Dore, they had recorded a one-off 45 for producer Steve Venet (himself a former Dore artist) as the Dynels on Dot.

Something about 'He Played 1, 2, 3, 4' piqued Lew's interest because a few months later, he re-issued it with a new B-side ('My Pillow') on Dore 677 crediting the Darlings. Then again, in October 1963 on Dee Dee 677 as by the Delicates! (This can be heard on Volume 2.) And he wasn't finished yet. Possibly frustrated by his inability to break the record, Bedell sold the master to a couple who ran a tiny R&B label, Celeste, out of their LA home, prompting a further re-issue with the revised title 'This Old Man' on Celeste 676.

Oma Heard later sang with Ike Turner's Ikettes, did session work and recorded under her own name for Motown in the late 1960s, while the Water sisters worked as background singers on countless sessions by such diverse artists as Paul Simon, Diana Ross, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Paul and Rod Stewart.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


Ronnie Byrd

Louise Shields
Corette Music / Crazy Cajun Music,  BMI

Dante Records

Dante was one of the three labels started by Ray Doggett in Houston in 1961 (the other two were Cadette and Eric). It appears that B.J. Thomas and the Triumphs, Dean Scott, and Steve Tyrell all had their debut discs on Dante.   Most of them probably didn't make much of an impression, but the Triumph's "The Lazy Man" and Steve Tyrell's "Payday Someday" were local hits on KNUZ and KILT.   The final Dante came out in late 1964.  

Another song recorded by Ronnie Byrd from around the same time is "Back to School Blues" credited to Ronnie Byrd and the Hi-Liners.  The track was first issued (or re-issued?, but then what was the original release? anyone?) on the first volume of the "Kiddie Sound" a multi-volumes series issued by Magic Rabbit.    YouTube link

Veskants 45 (1966)

A post-puberty Ronnie Byrd was the vocalist of the Veskants who recorded a 45 on W.M.C., a label out of Waco, Texas.   See
Chattanooga, Tenn. songwriter, producer and promoter Louise Fields wrote both sides of the Dante 45.   See Louise Shields: Standing In The Shadows  where you will learn that "Elvis is not the only singing star that Mrs. Fields has been able to call "friend." Add to the list Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis."

Less at the Mrs Fields' advantage (but a little more credible, in my opinion) is the following bit of info which can be found HERE. Larry Banks, member of The Squires, a Chattanooga band, recalls :
In the spring of 1960, we met a woman named Louise Shields who owned a small recording studio on South Broad Street.  Small is an understatement, it consisted of one Wollensack (sic) tape deck and a couple of microphones. She asked us to “audition” for her by coming out to a school in Tiftonia one Saturday and play.  As it turned out, she was being paid by a local politician to furnish entertainment for an election campaign barbecue he was having.  Louise was getting us for free and calling it an audition (typical Louise as we later learned). 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

What Will I Do

 Ruby Rae Robinson

What Will I Do
(M. Horton-F.C. Brooks, Asnes Music BMI)
A Bowden-Brooks production
Asnes 105
217 W. 125TH Street, N.Y.C.

Sweet Ruby Rae's second single for the label. which according to address was located just down the street from The Apollo.  Its owner was probably Frennie Brooks (F.C. Brooks).  This is one of the earliest John Bowden production.

John Bowden, a gospel record producer, A&R and promotion man, was very active in the 1960s and 70’s and is most famously associated with HOB, a gospel label affiliated with Scepter Records, New York.  But his name appears also on obscure early sixties labels such as Ark, Rejo and Revelation, the latter co-owned with Bobby Robinson (Fire/Fury Records) and Clarence (Fats) Lewis.   

Ruby Rae Roberson Stephens (2010)
holding her Southern Sound single
Courtesy of Times Record News, Whichita Falls, Texas

Ruby Rae Roberson was born in Itasca, Texas.  She studied at Paul Quinn College, a black college located in Dallas.  She was 22 the day she auditioned in the Waco Coliseum.for Ray Charles who was then searching female singers for his newly formed vocal backing group, The Raelettes.   Ruby Rae spent two years with the Raelettes, from 1959 to 1960.   When her musical career was over, she came back to Texas where she worked as a school music teacher for the rest of her life.
In 2007, she published her recollections  : “Ruby’s Early Life: Ray Charles My Memories As A Raelette” 

Ruby Roberson
Rheumatism / Is It Worth A Chance (Asnes 102, 1961)

Ruby Rae Roberson
Love Is A Question / What Will I Do (Asnes 105, 1961)
Ruby Roberson
Shame/  Blues At The Wedding (Southern Sound 120, 1965) A Frank Slay production

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Secret Memory

The Dolton Boys
(Gerry Boire, Andie Boire, Sidrian Music BMI)
Universal Sound 156

Early 1967

Unknown elvisy vocal, probably issued right after the merger of Sound, Inc of New Haven, Mich. and Sidra Records of Detroit (see Billboard 18 February 1967) as Sidrian Music is the song publisher on this Sound Inc. subsidiary label. 
Perhaps a Sidra production?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Monday, December 9, 2013

Bye Bye

Rubin Wright

R. Wright -L.Lovett
Lancer Music BMI
Lancer 101
 Distributed by Gone Records
November 1958
The Capris, Gotham Recording Artists
Rubin (or Ruben) Wright, front
From West Philly, pianist, songwriter and singer Rubin Wright recorded in the early fifties for Gotham Records as a member of The Capris.   His discography (solo career only) can be found at Sir Shambling website HERE.   
Lancer Records was owned by Lee Hasin in Philadelphia. The label had only a handful of releases in 1958-1959 (The Rosebuds, Don French and The Twins) mainly distributed through Goldner's Gone Records.

L. Lovett credited here as one of the songwriters is Leroy Lovett, a jazz pianist, arranger and composer. Both, Rubin Wright and Leroy Lovett recorded previously for Sid Pastner's Wynne Records.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Mama Lucie

The Dreamers

Clawk Music Co. BMI
Dream JF-45-101


Florida rock & roll band made up of Largo High alumnus,  

Ralph W. Steward, Dreamers lead singer and lead guitarist died Dec. 27, 2010.

 Wally_Dow remembers :
I launched my music career while living in Clearwater, Florida. I played quite a few teen dances in the Clearwater area. I remember the first band to influence me was a group I first saw at the old Clearwater Auditorium called The Dreamers a band which was lead by a guitarist/vocalist from Largo, Florida named Ralph Steward. I used to go to the dances and watch Ralph and his other guitarist, Pete Bass (I hope I remember his name correctly) play, and then go home and practice what I saw them doing on an old acoustic guitar.

The two songs mentioned in the article above, "It's Gonna Be All Right" and "Don't Cry", were issued in 1959 on Nuggett Records, Tampa label owned by Lonzo and Oscar,  once a popular country act.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Snake In The Grass

Jimmy Carroll and The Boy Friends 
Snake In The Grass

James Carroll-Gary Wright
Elysian Music Corp. BMI
Produced and directed By Ralph and Sid Glaser
Arranged And Conducted by Gary Randy

Glaser Hollywood GH-1000

November 1960

Possibly the same Jimmy Carroll who recorded "Big Green Car" on Fascination

Glaser Hollywod, divison of Elysian Music Corp New York City, was owned by Ralph and Sid Glaser.   This short-lived label had few releases in 1960-1961 (see discography below).  The label main musical talent was arranger and conductor Gary Randy, also known as Gary Harrison, Harry Nivens, Harry Nivins, Harry E. Nivens and Harry Edward Nivens.

Harry Nivens was from Detroit.  He managed The Royal Holidays, The Royaltones and Melrose Baggy  (real name: David R. Sanderson, a former member of The Royaltones). 
The earliest mention of Harry Nivens is found is in a book published in 1951 "A Salute to the Chaplain; a Day With a Far East Command Hospital Chaplain" :

The two pianists are Sgt. Harry Nivens, a patient, and Red Cross worker Virginia Kershaw of Fort Payne, Ala. The coffee hour group, including Chaplain Ellenberg, really loosen up and hit the rafters with some old song favorites under the spell of the two talented keyboard artists.
Sergeant Nivens, from Detroit, who has served with the 24th Infantry Division, is an up-and-coming song writer who supplied the music for one of the Occupation's hit shows, "Opportunity Knocks." Some of his songs have been recorded by Columbia Records. Harry plays the Hammond organ sometimes for the chaplain at his services. His is a very cheerful disposition, and he's good medicine for his fellow patients. The chaplain speaks highly of Harry.
Among the various Harry Nivens contributions to Detroit music (as writer, arranger and/or producer) :
  • Sandy Evans on Drummond
  • The Monitors on Circus
  • The Royal Holidays on Penthouse
  • Marco Hammon on D-Town
  • Johnny Cruise on Jaro
  • Cally Dodd on Calico
  • The Towers on Stuart
  • Don McKenzie on Ridge
  • Johnnie Mae Matthews on Reel (and Sue)

Glaser Hollywood discography

PM-1000 (Also on Rose-C 3342)
Linda Chanfer
Exactly Like You / My Own Angel Love

Jimmy Carroll & The Boy Friends
Snake In The Grass / Shy Boy

Bruce Lenox
Seventeen Years / Youthful Desire

Becky Baines
All Of My Life / Loved

Monday, December 2, 2013

Happy, Happy Birthday, Baby

(Popular Artist)

Happy, Happy Birthday, Baby

EP 4 Hits 351

Brooklyn, N.Y.


A cover of the Tune Weavers song (a hit on Checker Records, but first issued on Casa Grande). 

EP Records was owned and operated by Frank Gould and Montgomery Delaney. The firm was located at 51 Neck Road, Brooklyn, as was Zebra Records, another of their label.

For examples of EP 4 Hits company sleeves, see

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Let's Make A Little Motion

Evelyn Freeman And The Exciting Voices

Let's Make A Little Motion
Roberts, Freeman
Morrisania Music ASCAP

Dot 15726

March 1958   

Bandleader, music composer and musician Evelyn Freeman Roberts was born on February 13, 1919,  Roberts grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and performed music at local social events with "The Freeman Family," a group that included her brother, Ernie, and father.   She also began performing locally in a classical ensemble. Roberts skipped school one day to watch Duke Ellington at Cleveland's Palace Theater and met Ellington after the performance. His music made a huge impact on Roberts, who decided at that moment that she wanted to be a bandleader. She was a bright student, and graduated ahead of her grade in 1936...  more :