Monday, February 22, 2016

The Tommy Vastola Songbook

18 killer tracks from the pen of the mobster who had a particular fondness for the music business
RockLector CLCD 010

tracklist :
Andy Rose - Classroom Cutie.mp3                            
Andy Rose - Dance On Pretty Clown.mp3                      
Andy Rose - I'm Waiting For You.mp3                        
Andy Rose - No Need To Go To Kansas City.mp3               
Andy Rose - The Promise (Aka My Devotion).mp3              
Barbie Gaye - Rock and roll baby .mp3                      
Chip Fisher - Sugar Bowl Rock.mp3                          
Dave Appel & The Applejacks - The Rock And Roll Story.mp3  
Ronnie Mitchell - Darling You Don t Send Me No More.mp3    
The Cleftones - I Was Dreaming.mp3                         
The Cleftones - You Baby You.mp3                           
The Valentines - Falling For You.mp3                       
The Valentines - I Love You Darling.mp3                    
The Valentines - Lily Maebelle.mp3                         
The Valentines - Sweetheart Of Mine.mp3                    
The Wrens - Hey Girl.mp3                                   
The Wrens - Love's Something Thats Made For Two.mp3        
The Wrens - What Makes You Do The Things That You Do.mp3   

   Tommy Vastola had a particular fondness for the music business, no doubt due to his long and deep friendship with Morris Levy, his childhood friend.   Roulette Records Morris Levy's rapid rise was probably rooted in the early control of Alan Freed in New York through a circuitous route that included Tommy Vastola's appointment as Freed's manager in October 1955.   In the fifties, Vastola managed various artists (The Cleftones among others).   In 1957, he was promotion head of the newly formed Aamco Records who released hundreds of albums and not selling many, but that's was the idea, "losing money" for a tax evasion purpose.

   In 1961, Vastola took over handling the career of Jackie Wilson previously managed by his friend Nat Tarnopol, who ran Brunswick Records in partnership with Decca records, and who turned over  Wilson's affairs to the gangsters after he decided to devote himself full-time to running the label where Wilson also recorded.  Before long, Vastola's influence over the label extended to him cutting deals with other artist managers to sign acts to Brunswick and helping himself to kickbacks from the advance

   In 1961, Vastola also picked up a piece of Queen Booking, an artist agency started by Dinah Washington and run by her former maid, Ruth Bowen.  The agency was one of the few black-owned operations in the business and booked dates for a wide variety of high-priced rhythm and blues talent.

   In the eigthies, he operated Video Warehouse, a videocassette piracy operation in West Long Branch, New Jersey, which was one of his latest "business".   Vastola have since retired. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Copyright for dummies : the "Slow Walk" case

Lesson  1 : Of the importance of the Notice to Use
The "Slow Walk" case

Pub Sues King For Royalties Billboard February 2, 1959

NEW YORK — Norbay Music, a BMI affiliated Chicago publisher firm, brought suit here last week against King Records, in U.S. District Court of New York alleging non-payment of royalties on a record of the tune "Slow Walk."

   The complaint states that the writer of the tune, Sil Austin, recorded it on Mercury.   Thereafter, according to the complaint, Bill Doggett covered the song on King, which recording became a top hit.  It's further alleged that this was done without the filing by King of a notice of intent to use, or a request from the label for a license.  Under a provision in the copyright act,  triple damages of 6 cents per record will be sought.

   Martin J. Machat represents the plaintiff, while Jack Pearl will act on behalf of the defendant.

'Slow Walk' Decision May Affect Pubbers Billboard August 22, 1960

NEW YORK — A precedent setting decision, which could have far-reaching effects on the payments of mechanical royalties by record labels to music publishers, was handed down here last week by Judge Edelstein in Second District Federal Court.

   The suite originally filed by Norbay Music (Jordon Ross) againt King Records, in a move to collect mechanical royalties on King's waxing of the Norbay tune, "Slow Walk," a hit in late 1956.  The Doggett disk was a cover of Sil Austin's original Mercury platter.  Both records were best sellers.

   King Records filed a notice of summary judgment -  admitting the validity of the copyright, but claiming payment did not have to be made because, according to the copyright act, unless a Notice of Use is filed with the copyright office a record firm doesn't have to pay mechanical royalties on a song.

   Norbay's attorney Marty Machat acknowledged the clause and admitted that Norbay had not filed a Notice of Use until 11 months after the Doggett disk was released. However, he contended it (the clause) was a practical measure rather than one of law," and that once the Notice of Usa was filed payments should have been amended back to the date the King disk was first released.

   In holding for the defendent, King, Judge Edelstein said that Norbay failed to comply with the copyright law by not filing a Notice of Use when they licensed the first waxing of the tune, Mercury's Austin record.  The judge also noted that it was the first case of its kind.

   There have been several similar incidents involving failure of a publisher to file a Notice of Use, but heretofore they were all settled out of court.  This is the first time all the facts were admitted and it was taken to court as a question of law.

   In line with this, Machat said he plans to appeal the decision and endeavor to "clarify the issue."   One of the things he wants clarified is whether or not King Records is still liable for royalties collected on sales made after the Notice of Use was finally filed, since the decision merely stated that "payments were barred."

   In this particular case, said Machat, a clarification would be meaningless, since an insignificant amount of royalties would be due for the period after the song had died.  However, he noted, it could be of vital importance to the industry in general.

   Both Machat and King's attorney, Jack Pearl, described the case as unique.  Interestingly, Machat is scheduled to represent another client in a similar case shortly;  only this time he will take a reverse stand on interpretation of the copyright clause.

MPPA Acts in Norbay-King Suit: Atty. Abeles Files Appeal Brief Billboard  March 20, 1961

NEW YORK - The Music Publishers Protective Association has taken a strong stand through its attorney, Julian T. Abeles, in a continuing court case here regarding protection afforded publishers through the filing in the Copyright Office in Washington.

   Last week, Abeles, long a legal champion of publishers' rights and also attorney for the office of Harry Fox, publisher's agent and trustee, filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit here.  The case was originally filed by Norbay Music, a Chicago publishing firm, against King Records in connection with the song, "Slow Walk." New York attorney Walter Hofer brought the Norbay action.

   The U. S. District Court held that a publisher who files a late notice of use after a recording is made of a tune, is thereafter barred from collection of mechanical royalties and any other relief on all future unauthorized uses of the copyrighted work.   Norbay had filed suit against King for alleged failure to pay mchanicals on a record of the tune.

   Since publishers are frequently late in filing notices of use, for various reasons, this ruling, if it stands, can have a tremendous effect on many current copyrights, on which notices of use may not have been filed long after an initial license was granted for recording.

   Late last week, Abeles said he has been swamped by requests from music business attorneys for copies of his brief. Many appeared to be in a state of shock over te legal reversal for publishers.

   In a letter to Walter Douglas, head of the MPPA, Abeles warned that henceforth "It shall be the duty of the copyright owner, if he uses the musical composition himself for the manufacture of records, or licenses others to do so, (he should) to file notice thereof in the copyright office and any failure to file such notice shall be a complete defense in any suit." in view of the present decision. The appeal on the case will be heard for the Second Circuit, the week of April 3.   Hofer will argue the case for Norbay.

Appeals Court Reverses Ruling in Norbay Music Vs. King Case Billboard May 29, 1961

NEW YORK - A Lower-court decision in favor of the defendant in the now celebrated Norbay Music case, was reversed last week by the U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals for te Second Circuit.  The appeals panel consists of Justices Charles Clark, Harold Medina and Henry Friendly.

   The original case launched by the Chicago-based music firm, Norbay Music against King Records was based on the question of whether a publisher loses mechanical royalty rights on recordings of his song if he fails to file a notice of use.  In the initial decision, Federal Judge David N. Edelstein held that plaintiff's failure to file a notice of use until approximately one year after the initial recording of the song "Slow Walk," on Mercury Records, barred him from relief from the alleged infringing recording on King.

   The Copyright Law states that failure to file notice of use by a publisher is a complete defense on the part of a record company against charges of infringement of a mechanical copyright.  The Edelstein decision held that since the publisher was late in filing of notice of use, he was not eligible to receive royalties.  This decision was regarded with considerable anguish by a startled publishing fraternity in view of its precedental nature, and in view of the fact that in the case of numerous well-known standard types of copyrights, no notices of use have ever been filed.

   In the appeal, principal argument for the plaintiffs was handled by attorney Walter Hofer, with amicus curiae briefs filed by Julian T. Abeles on behalf of the Music Publishers'  Protective Association, and by Morris Ebensein on behalf of Chappell and Company.  Jack Pearl was attorney for defendant

Point at issue
   The point at issued in the case was, according to last week's Appeals Court decision, the fact that "the statute is quite silent as to when notice shalle be filed beyond the implication that it must be done before suit is instituted if a successful defense is to be avoided."

   The Court concluded:  "This permanent forfeiture of the semi-exclusive right to mechanical reproduction is a drastic method of punishing the late filer.  The statutory language does not compel such a resultt, since the complete defense referred to could well apply only to actions for inringement prior to filing."
   In this case, the defendant also failed to serve notice of intention to use the song for recording.  The Court noted that the Copyright Law provides a definite sanction for such failure, an award to plaintiff of three times the basic royalty in addition to the 2-cent basic fee.  "We cannot extend this statutory provision to make it applicable to copying before the notice," the decision continued, however.

   The Court concluded that plaintiff is entitled to recover the statutory royalty of 2 cents for each record manufactured after the filing of the notice of use and that the district court may, in its discretion, grant an award in addition not to exceed three times the royalties found to be due, plus costs and attorney fees.

   King's liability in the case is limited, however, since the publisher did not file the use notice until the disk was already a bit hit.  Sales accomplished after the filing were relatively small.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Ollie Wotnot

R.J. & The Carvells

Ollie Wotnot

Dick Manning
Topper Music (ASCAP)
Rory 719
The Rory John Company (A division of Lyle Stuart, Inc.)
239 Park Avenue South, New York 3
1963 or later?

The flip, "The Frog", is credited to R J & The Carvells featuring T & C    (Tony Tirado and Carlos Gonzales, two former members of the Brooklyn group The Untouchables on Alan K Records, also issued as by Little John & The Unforgettables).

"Ollie Wotnot" was previously recorded by
Ollie Wotnot himself for Cinema Records in 1961

Lyle Stuart (1922-2006) author and independent publisher of controversial books, was born in New York to a shoe salesman and a secretary.  His father committed suicide when he was six..

Shortly after serving in the Merchant Marine during World War II (and being torpedoed twice), Stuart edited Music Business, a trade paper published by an organization that helped songwriters popularize their wares.   As a young man, Stuart wrote songs, several of which were published by Chappell.   One of his country songs written with Dick Manning , "Someone Left That Golden Gate Open," was recorded by  Spade Cooley

Among the songs Stuart wrote was one for J.C. Penney, whom he had met while he was a wire-service reporter in Columbus, Ohio. Stuart, an atheist, wrote "Go to Church on Sunday Morning" for the devout Penney in hopes it would be sold in all of Penney's stores. It wasn't.


An ordinary day at the Lyle Stuart office
On the couch, actress, stripper and author Liz Renay rests from literary labors
LIFE 11 Jun 1971


Monday, February 15, 2016

Joke On Santa

Al Green
And The Terrifics

Joke On Santa
Miller Songkraft Pub. BMI

Palm Records  711

1959 (guesstimate)

Unknown New York label & artist.  Probably produced by Bill [William H.] Miller and Teacho Wiltshire, owners of the Miller Songkfraft pubbery, founded I believe in 1958.

No other known release on this Palm label (this is not the Venton 'Buddy' Caldwell label of the same name).  Many short-lived labels started their catalog with the lucky 711 number, and, for probably as much, there was their only release.

Saturday, February 13, 2016


The Borland Sisters
Dick Schopf And The Townsmen

Blondie & Slide Rule

Knotty 5582
Date:  Oct 1955

From Seattle, Washington.  Composers of Tattoo are the owners of the labels.  Blondie was Hazel Peard Vigars, also known as Blondy.and Blondy Rule.   Slide Rule was Ernie Vigars (Ernest Powell Vigars), also known as V. Knotty. 

That's the latter name he used in 1958 when he was "one of the several platter spinners and music or programming execs" who answered to Billboard in response the following question : Can deejays "educate" listeners musically and still conform to current trends in music and recorded talent?   
Billboard, June 9, 1958 page 9

"All the monkey antics devised can't sell it.  Deejays will be replaced by automation, unless they return to artistry and honesty."

V. Knotty

So, at least, we have now a picture of Ernie Vigars...
(but none of the Borland Sisters unfortunately)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Yes, I Love You

Randy Luck
Yes,  I Love You
Angelo Ventura, Dauphin BMI

Orch. & Chorus Directed by Steve Pulliam

Ace A-117

In 1956,  Irwin Luck. student at the University of Miami and aspiring songwriter, spent $850 he saved and borrowed for a Times Square billboard appeal to Perry Como to hear his songs.   The 20 by 60 foot billboard on the top of a four story building fitted with lights for the night displayed the painted handwiriting of the sign is adressed to Perry Como from " a fan of yours for a long time" "It is through your unknown inspiration that I started writing music, and I feel that my songs might be just right for you", the appeal said. 

Como advised him to go back home and study, which he did.  On his next trip north he got an engagement at Grossinger's (a resort in the Catskill Mountains in the town of Liberty.)   It was enough to convince Johnny Ponz, Ace Records mahoff to sign Irwin Luck to a disking pact, changing his name to Randy Luck. 

The following year, in 1958, he recorded his better known release, "I Was A Teen-Age Cave Man".  Recorded for the local Miami Art label, the song is available on several rockabilly compilations

Irwin Luck with Meher Baba in India

In 1959 had found out about Baba the previous year from his younger brother, Edward, who had been in a New York City public library and “by chance” checked out a book titled Listen, Humanity. Edward phoned Irwin and said, “I just read a book about a Spiritual Master in India. I think this is someone you should know about.”

Irwin was already interested in God and felt himself inwardly guided by Him. He went to New York and after reading the book was impressed by Baba’s love and his statement that he was “the Highest of the High.” Irwin and Edward were determined to meet Baba and to know him as he really is.

In late 1959, Irwin contacted Fred and Ella Winterfeldt. As soon as he entered their apartment he “felt an incredible sense of well-being. Baba’s presence was intense.” He wrote to Baba, stating that he was planning to make a trip to see him, though he had little money. Within two weeks he received a reply from Baba, which stated: “You may come and see me for one hour only,”

Irwin got the amount needed and in 1961 left within a day. Though he had originally planned to travel with his younger brother, their father put an end to Edward’s coming by having the New York police stop him at Idlewild Airport just prior to their departure. They had not told their parents they were going, knowing they would object, and since Edward was still under legal adult age (21), his father was able to prevent him from leaving.

Irwin Luck is a Baba-lover ever since.   But you can't really count on Allan Y. Cohen for answering the burning question that has been on your mind since you started reading this : WHO IS A BABA-LOVER?
It is very difficult to define a Baba-lover. There are no formal or external criteria for followers of Meher Baba, no ceremonial initiation, no fee to be paid, nothing to sign, no membership cards to receive. No formal vows are taken to join the Baba family. No rituals, customs, or dress is required of a Baba-lover. There are no mandatory readings, meditations, or meetings. There is no required formal preparation, nor are there "tests" for membership. Nothing in a person's past necessarily disqualifies him or her from being regarded as a Baba-lover.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Looey Looey

Buddy Hackett

 Looey Looey

Sepe Music Co.  Dove Music Co
Arr. and conducted by Bob Mersey
Produced by Tony Sepe

Laurel 1017

Buddy Hackett (1961)

Buddy Hackett was born as Leonard Hacker in Brooklyn, New York in 1924.  He began his comedy career in the Catskills.  After his discharge from the army,  Hackett found some work in nightclubs and then on Broadway in a show called "Lunatics and Lovers".  It was there that he was discovered by Max Liebman and brought over to television.   In 1956, Hackett released a series of half-narrated, half-sung singles for Coral Records, including his biggest hit  " Chinese Rock and Egg Roll  " (it was also anti-rock and roll).  Always a popular guest on variety, game and talk shows, he eventueally landed in a few popular motion pictures.  In later years, Hackett became active in providing voices for animation.

Sources : From Small Screen to Vinyl: A Guide to Television Stars Who Made Records, by Bob Leszczak

Monday, February 8, 2016

At The Hop

Bones Howe and the Toppers

Tops Records 45-R413-49


Yes, Bones Howe was here, not in front of the mike, but behind the studio's glass :
"I was the recording engineer on the session, and since the group was all studio musicians and singers, and didn’t want their names exposed, so the record company (which was notorious in those days for recording sound-alikes of the current hits); used my nickname (which later became my professional name). "
Dayton Burr "Bones" Howe (born March 18, 1933) is a Grammy Award-winning record producer and recording engineer associated with 1960s and 1970s hits, mostly of the sunshine pop genre, including most of the hits of the 5th Dimension and the Association, as well as music supervision of several films.

Howe discovered his lust for music as a teenager and learned to play drums, a talent that earned him gigs at downtown Atlanta's San Souci and Peachtree clubs while studying electronics and communications at Georgia Tech. Bones Howe
"I was a jazz musician, and I worked six nights a week," he says, sinking back into the sofa with one leg crossed, revealing the slightest grimace of nostalgia. "In those days there were road bands coming through town. They would take the tennis court nets down at Tech, put a bandstand in there and bands would come in and play.

"I met a lot of guys in road bands as they came through Atlanta; I played in a lot of jam sessions with those guys after hours, and they would say to me, 'You should come to California."'
Howe learned that the only people recording music in L.A. at the time were old radio engineers who "didn't know what a rhythm section is supposed to sound like," let alone how to set one up. His thoughts about the future began to take shape.
"That idea really caught on with me, and somewhere in my sophomore or junior year I began to think seriously about it," he says. Howe rejected the hustles of engineering recruiters at graduation and set his sights on the Left Coast.

"I went to California with $200 in my pocket and went slugging around in the streets looking for a job in a recording studio." He smiles and leans forward as if sharing a secret. "I figured the worst thing that could happen to me was that I'd fail and go get a job as an engineer somewhere."
Sources : Bones Howe official website; private email from March 26, 2013


Sunday, February 7, 2016

His Shoulder (Instead Of Mine)

Ricky Hunt
& the Hunters

His Shoulder (Instead Of Mine)
wr. Hunter, Kathy Publ. Co

Kathy Records
527 Prestwick San Antonio

Ricky Hunt previously recorded two split country singles for Melco Records, one with Johnny Bush and the other with Hazel Joy (Minica) and The Texas Top Hands.   Ricky Hunt performed around Texas with the Frontiersmen in the early sixties.

This song was copyrighted by Wallace Richard Hunter on March 8, 1958.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Billy Brown

Ray Willis
(The Piccadilly Hillbilly)

Billy Brown

Pic 3019


Ray Willis had a long association with Atlanta's Pic Records, as all songs on this label, excepted the one by The Frantics, were written or co-written by him and all published by DeLong Pub. Co. owned by Pete DeLong, who was also probably the owner of the label.

Ray Willis was associated with RCA's Jerry Reed and managed his Vector Music publishing company during his big hits "Amos Moses" and "When You're Hot You're Hot".   He also wrote several songs with Ronnie Sessions. In 1974, he was V-P and general manager of World Music Corporation whose board of directors included Faron Young and Porter Wagoner.  

Probably not to be confused with the country singer and copper-miner who came from Colorado (LP on Alshire Records), nor with the rockabilly singer on Jan Records ("Whatta Ya Do", 1958), nor with the songwriter of "Beatnik's Wish" (Patsy Raye & The Beatniks, Roulette Records, 1959).  But who knows? 

Still, I can't find any explanation for the "Piccadilly Hillbilly" billing on label.  Did he came from London before moving to Georgia?
Pic Records
DeLong Pub co.
1112 DeKalb Ave., N.E. Atlanta
1199 Arbor Vista Dr. N. E.  Atlanta

62 —2069/70  Ray Valenti & The Queens Men
For You, My Love / Fire Beneath The Snow

64 —3001/2 Lee Duncan 
Millie Gets The Willies / Cargo Of Tears

65 —3005/6  The Frantics
Why /  (Do The) Jack-Knife

66 —3007/8  Charlie "Chuck" Waggon
So Near, Yet So Far Away / Gonna Stick To You

6x —3016 Charlie "Chuck" Waggon  
Wishy Washy Love / ?

6x —3019 Ray Willis (The Piccadilly Hillbilly)
Billy Brown / Mary, Oh Mary

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Old Bob Harder (The Living Legend)

Lady Love Long
Old Bob Harder (The Living Legend)

Mary E Bates  W B Hendricks

Shmebb Records


Mary Ellen Bates (1941-1983)
from Iuka, Mississippi,
wrote the song with William B. Hendricks

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Baby Should I

Don Morse with the Characters
Baby Should I
Ann White, Jamige Music Co., BMI

GC Records 101
1515 Euclid Ave. Cleveland, OH

Another obscurity on a label owned by Gene Carroll, who hosted his own TV show for years in Cleveland. The first on the label ?

GC Records discography

Monday, February 1, 2016

Old New Orleans

Johnny Jungletree

Arr. and cond. by Leroy Glover; Prod. by Laurence Weiss
Kapp 715

This is John Leslie McFarland (1926-1971), an eccentric New York songwriter and pianist.  One of his first song he composed, "You Dyed Your Hair Chartreuse", was recorded by Louis Jordan in 1950. 

His numerous compositions have been recorded by Bill Haley, Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, to name few.  He recorded himself four singles and one album, but there is possibly more pseudonymous records still to find, I guess.

1957  - Brunswick 55004  as Pumpkin, with chorus and orchestra dir. by Dan Fisher  (March 1957)
Boom-Boom / ½ Past 17 (¼ To 21)

1957 - Jupiter 45-3 as Johnny McFarland  (May 1957)
Please, Evelina  / Talihi

1959 - United Artists UAL 4053  (LP) John McFarland Sextet (Nov. 1959)
Provocatif - 9 exotic motifs

1960 - Top Rank 2060 as John McFarland, produced by Sonny Lester   (august 1960)
Pumpkin Juice Perfume / Oakey Doakey

1965 - Kapp 715 as Johnny Jungletree, arr. and cond. by Leroy Glover; Prod. by Laurence Weiss (Nov. 1965);
Old New Orleans / Why Me