Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Skyway Records Story

Foeword : I'm well aware that the choosen title, The Skyway Records Story, may be a bit too ambitious, but what's the heck, how many labels compilations you bought which were not completely satisfactory? And mine is free.  

Skyway Records was probably owned (or partly owned) by Everett Lorne Whenham.  Born in Canada in 1902, Everett Whenham came to California at an early age.   In the thirties, he registered various inventions with the US Patent Office, such a patent for a shoe cabinet (United States Patent 2069635, 1937).
In 1943, Mr. Whenham was made American citizen.  He was then a soldier at the army air base of St. Petersburg, Florida.  

After the war, he became a songwriter (California Jack was his pseudonym) with a special interest for season's greetings.  In 1944, one of his first songs being recorded was "Season's Greetings, A Cheerful Hello" by Yiddish jazz singers Claire and Merna Barry better known as The Barry Sisters.   Copyrighted around the same time, several songs such as My Little Dog's Tail  and Spring Fever Blues were later recycled on the Skyway label by The Duke And The Spacemen and by The Dream Dusters.

"Season's Greetings (A Cheerful Hello)," had also be used as a greeting card verse in Buzza-Cardozo's 1955 Christmas line.  According to Billboard : "Skyway execs calculate that if 1,000,000 "Season's Greetins" cards are sold, their royalties will total $6,000. "

" Season's Greetings", if my count is right, has see five releases on Skyway, first by Pete Pontrelli (the first Skyway release in December 1953), also re-issued in December 1954 with a different flip, then by Gaylord Carter, another by George Cardini and finally by The Hatton Sisters.

Closely associated with Skyway Records from mid-1959 was the mysterious Louise Lewis, later the main artist on the label.  Her first appearance on the label  was as the songwriter of the Curtis E. Williams single (Hula Hula Rock / A Star Behind A Cloud, Skyway #122 ).   It seems, after the arrival of Miss Lewis, that Mr. Whenham was less and less involved. 

Miss Lewis was still a songwriter for Skyway Records & Music Publications until the seventies, but I can't find evidence of releases, except Careful Hands / Mender Of Broken Hearts issued in 1974 on Skyway #145

The excentric Louise Lewis, aka Miss L.L., aka "Miss Matches U.S.A. was born in 1923.  That's, unfortunately, the sum of my knowledge. 

The Skyway Records Story
see comment for valuable info

103 - Playball  - Jimmie Maddin                                         
104 - I Like a Shuffle Beat - Jimmie Maddin                            
104 - I Stole De Wedding Bell - Jimmie Maddin                          
114 - Donkey Rock Elephant Roll - The Hatton Sisters                   
116 - Hassle It Jack  - Bobby Hicks                                    
117 - Boogie Man   - The Dodgers And Johnny Angel                      
117 - Come On Pretty Baby - The Dodgers And Johnny Angel               
119 -  Big Mo - The Dodgers And Johnny Angel                           
119 - Poor Little Fool   - The Dodgers And Johnny Angel                
120 - My Little Dog's Tail - The Duke And The Spacemen                 
120 - The Big Green Door - Taldo Kenyon And The Spacemen               
121 - Robin Hood Rock - Taldo Kenyon                                   
127 - Is There Still A Chance - The Fanatic's                          
127 - Oogly Googly Eyes - The Fanatic's                                
128 - I Want Love - Jackie Gates & the Fanatics                        
128 - Teenage Rainbow - Jackie Gates & the Fanatics                    
129 - Barbie, Barbie - Fred Milton                                     
129 - Midnight Ride - Fred Milton                                      
134 - College Queen - Jim Ford                                         
134 - Lazy Love - Jim Ford                                             
135 - The Stranger And The Bomb - Louise Lewis                         
136 - Tumba Conga Cha - Vincent Romano & Miss L.L                      
140 - The Monster Miss - Miss L.L. Louise Lewis                        
140 - The Monster's Bride - Miss L.L. Louise Lewis                     
141 - Tiger Shake - Miss L.L. Louise Lewis                             
142 - The Astro-Mice (No Cheese On The Moon) - Miss L.L. Louise Lewis  
143a -Wee Oo I Ll Let It Be You Babe - Karl Evans                      
144 - Wee Oo' Ill It Be You Babe - Miss L.L. Louise Lewis          
145 - Careful Hands - Louise Lewis          


Friday, April 28, 2017

Frankie And Johnnie

John And Rusty

Frankie And Johnnie

Dottie Sings

John on piano and Rusty on banjo, and Dottie (?) on vocal (?)  Recorded live in some Hollywood tavern?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Devil's Racecourse

Adina Edwards

Devil's Racecourse

Help The Blind
A Joe Gibbs production
Kingston, Jamaica

★ ★ ★

Adina Edwards-Chen

The current generation of gospel artistes and fans know little about Adina Edwards, the blind singer who stood on the corner of Kingston and Barry streets playing an accordion and belting out Christian songs.  She would do songs like Precious Lord, Just A Closer Walk With Thee, Love Walks With Me and He Touched Me.  But it was her cover of the Bee Gees' Don't Forget To Remember that many had identified Edwards with.

Edwards died April 4, 2008 at the University Hospital of the West Indies, at age 83. She was revered in gospel circles but largely unknown to a secular audience.

Acknowledgments : The Jamaica Observer

Monday, April 17, 2017

"Y-E-S !"

Nancy Claire
Jack Lloyd, Moreno Music (ASCAP)

Rona Records 1007

Born Nancy Claire Penninger in Seattle in 1943.  Peter Blecha has wrote a quite detailed biography of Nancy Claire. 

Nacio Brown Jr., owner of Rona Records produced her recording session, with Perry Botkin Jr. conducting the orchestra.

It was quite an experience for the rural farm girl to suddenly be in the presence of big-time players. "I had never been in studio before and I was like a little girl in a candy store with all these musicians I had heard about. I have great memories of meeting Barney Kessel and some of the other musicians at the session".  "We had really big-name jazz people doing this record. I couldn't believe it! Earl Palmer was the drummer. Carmel Jones played trumpet, and Plas Johnson played saxophone. Oh, it was neat! To get to see and meet everybody ... it was like a fairy tale".

Saturday, April 15, 2017

To The Beat

Chuck and Gasper

To The Beat

Cosimo Recording Studios
New Orleans

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Southern Love

The Disciples
vocal Tom Sunlin

Illibois (?) band covering two songs from 1959. "Something on Your Mind" is the Big Jay McNeely song issued on Swingin' Records, while "Southern Love" was on Roulette Records by Ronnie Hawkins and the Hakws. 

Recording studios and label Studio 4 were operated by two musicians and brothers, Jim and Tony Sotos in Rock Island, Illinois.  

Born and raised in New York City, The Sotos Brothers formed an act and left New York while still in their teens, working all the major night clubs and theaters around the country.  In the late fifties, they recorded as The Cheerful Earfuls on Zale Records and Fraternity Records (The Drag).

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Alas, No Gas

Jane White
Alas, No Gas

Dauntless 033

Jane Douglass White 
essentially a pianist and composer, also recorded songs, but not too many.  Twenty years earlier, in 1953, there was at least two singles (as by Jane Douglass) on Opportune Records. She was backed by Johnnie Garnieri Orchestra.  One song was a duet with Tom O'Malley. 

Dauntless Records was the subsidiary of Audio Fidelity Records founded by Sidney Frey in 1954.

Born Ruby Jane Douglass in 1919 in Coffeyville, Kansas, she was educated at Oklahoma University, Columbia University (MA) and Colorado College of Education. As early as the mid-thirties, she was described as "a  capable pianist, but violinist and organist as well."

During the War, she was an officier with the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC).  According to John Bush Jones (The Songs that Fought the War: Popular Music and the Home Front, 1939-1945), Lt. Douglass (later Captain)
wrote some significant war-related songs of various kinds   Among Lt. Douglass's wartime songs were two lighthearted though not comic pieces that fall into this catchall bunch, each happily pointing out, as one of their titles proclaims, "Something New Has Been Added To The Army (Leeds, 1943), that something neatly summed up in the single line "Right along with khaki shirts comes the sight of khaki skirts."  Lt. Douglass expands upon her theme to cover all the women's service branches in "There'll Be A New Style Bonnet In The Easter Parade" (Leeds, 1943), declaring "the WACS will wear a hat that os smart and new, the WAVES wear a bonnet of Navy blue,/ And the SPARS come out in a hat that's O.K., there's no original by Lily Daché.
 Jane Douglass ended up writing the official WAC Song and was awarded the Legion of Merit medal for service in lifting the morale of troops with her music.  After being discharged in the Big Apple, a friend asked Jane Douglass to accompany her on the piano for an audition. The agent at the audition was not looking for a singer, but for a pianist, instead, for the Park Sheraton Hotel dining room. "I got the job! But I found that the tips there were bigger when I could play the classics, and I needed coaching since I had been playing strictly pop music in the Army.  Someone recommended Anton Bilotti, a concert pianist, as a possible coach.   I auditioned for him and he took me on as a student. 

She soon married Gail White,  her coach's brother-in-law, and pursued a
postwar career as Jane Douglass White, composer, singer, pianist and producer of TV's Name That tune. 

Later, through a week spiritual renewal at her home church in Wyckoff, New Jersey she came to a personal commitment of her life to Christ.   Combining her talents with another professional in music, Janet Baird Weisiger she formed a musical team named Janet and Jane, giving sacred concerts and recording at least one album for Messiah Records in 1973 (Joy and Praise).    She also worked with prison ministry in leading Bible study seminars in prisons throughout the USA,  through Charles W. Colson's Prison Fellowship


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Beau Dollar & The Coins on Baby Grand

Beau Dollar & The Coins

16127 - I've Just Got To Forget You
Lion Pub., BMI

16128 - No More Pain
Frost Music, BMI

Baby Grand 650

These Checker recordings were not issued on the main label for some reasons but on the one-off Baby Grand label.
"I've Just Got To Forget You"  was "written" by Duke/Peacock Records owner Don Robey using the Deadric Malone pseudonym, and first recorded by Bobby Bland in 1960 (but not issued until 1970).
"No More Pain", penned by Steve Alaimo, was first recorded by Sam & Dave on Marlin in 1961 (leased to Roulette in '62).  There was also a cover by Lonnie Mack in 1964 (unissued Fraternity session)

William Hargis Bowman, Jr. (1941–2011), born in Hamilton, Ohio, better known by his stage name, Beau Dollar, was a  vocalist and drummer;  He first performed as member of the Lonnie Mack band and later of the Dapps, all-white band backing James Brown.  Beau Dollar was also the drummer on many studio albums for various artists under contract with King Records.  

After The Dapps broke up, Bill Bowman set up his own production company in Cincinnati, Beau Dollar Productions and even owned a short-lived  label, Bowman, recording and backing Bryan Todd on "Let Them Talk".  There was some work in the mid-seventies for Shad O'Shea's ASG (Artist and Sound Group) where he produced Al Hogan, The Cause and Brenda Mathis.
With the local Cincinnati recording scene being dismantled, Beau went to Nashville, where he tried some session work. His production company was listed at 1610 16th Avenue South in 1978.   He took a job in song publishing, working with his old Hamilton musician friend Troy Seals, who also was in The Dapps for a while, when he lived in Cincinnati.  But in time all that faded and Beau ended up in Florida. There he was known to everyone as Bill. As time passed, only a few old friends remembered him as Beau.

Wayne Bullock, the bass player for Lonnie Mack in the early 1960s said :
 "I used to invite him to our musician reunions every year, but he didn't come. He just didn't want to talk about the old days."

Monday, April 3, 2017

Miss Calendar Girl

Futursonic Productions

Radio Promotion Series
Examples of 365 Musical Jingles

Judy Parma

Jim Wells and Jack Alexander started Futursonic Productions in 1958. Both came from PAMS where Wells had written much of PAMS Series #6.  Alexander was part of the PAMS sales staff.

Futursonic's first package was "Pacemaker" produced in September, 1958. It was followed by "Most Happy Sound" for CHUM in mid 1959, and "Econo-Pack" for WINS in June, 1959.  All were designed for Top 40 Radio.

"Calendar Girl KXOK" was one of the last packages produced by Futursonic in 1961 (the company went bankrupt the following year).   A complete package listing of the company can be found here

Calendar Girl was the first job assigned to Judy Parma [born Mansfield] and her husband Tom Parma when they came to work at the Futursonic.  This was an elaborate package that involved singing days and dates for each month of the year. Judy was doing well singing, and they were able to afford their first house. Judy Parma had been in the jingle business since 1957, her husband Tom Parma since ’58.

The Futursonic jingles were done in a primitive recording studio owned by “Pop” Sellers. The studio was in the same building as Gordon McLendon’s KLIF (AM).   The studio was in a two-room wooden building in the parking lot behind the office. Over the years, those same offices housed CRC and TM Productions, but the studio eventually became a storage shed.  “There was a cancer clinic across the parking lot from the studio run by a medical quack, and a lot of people died there,” Tom said. “Judy and I would see bodies hauled out from time to time.” . Later that office housed the abortion clinic that gained notoriety during the “Roe vs. Wade” Supreme Court case.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Shimmy Twist

Ronnie D. Alan
Shimmy Twist

Golden Star Records 21

Penned, arranged and sung by Ronald Daugherty.  This one has a little more muscle than the two singles he released on the Sea-Lock label out of Seattle, Washington.  Reverse is by Paul Avedon singing "Day In Day Out" the old (1939) song penned by Johnny Mercer

Sea-Lock releases :
#265 Ronnie D- Valiants : "Hound Dog Guitar" / "My Little Darlin'" 
no#  Pam Kelley & Ronnie D. : "Waiting For Her" / Ronnie D. : "Cherry Darlin" 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Mama Spiegleman, Waxmate of the month

Mama Spiegleman

Jewish mother of eight and topless performer, she recorded just one single for Accent Records in 1965 with Bob Mullan and Gene Tam (Bob and Gene) : Mama Wants To Be A Go Go Girl / When You Gotta Go You Gotta Go Go. 

If anyone has the record, feel free to post the tracks on YouTube or send it to me.

Mama Spiegleman lone record

Accent REcords publicity shot

Gaye Marcia Spiegelman was born in 1932 daughter of Jack Seigel and Sylvia Siegel.  At 18, she married Aaron "Jack" Spiegelman, a businessman.  She wanted to give birth to as many children possible. But after the sixth child was born, Mr.. Spiegelman didn't want no more children and had a vasectomy, then Gaye adopted twins without his consent. 

Gaye came in one day to announce to her husband that she had had it with the world of housewifery and decided to go dancing topless in clubs.  (One of her uncles was a burlesque drummer and another a character actor. A cousin was a belly dancer)
Every mother has to get out of the house a little bit and I don't play cards or anything.

I had done some Polynesian dancing in the local clubs in our home town, Santa Rosa.  But when I decided to go topless, I asked Jack if it was okay.  And he said, no.  But, after a while, he get used to it.

After I had the silicone treatments, I used a phony name, Miss Exodus, and I could only move my hips for six months because of thre surgery.  But when the word went out that I had eight children, the crowds came in just to watch my hips.

For several months she appeared as the mysterious "Miss Exodus" at a place called El Rancho Rafaele in Encino, California. One day the celebrated San Francisco columnist Herb Caen came in to watch her and discovered her real identity.  From that moment on Gaye Spiegelman was in demand as a topless dancer. Eventually she replaced the equally celebrated Carol Doda at El Cid, one of the major landmarks of San Francisco's North Beach amusement area, variously billed as "Mama Spiegelman" and "The Topless Mother of Eight".

In her contract with the club management was a rather' unique clause in show business circles where "the show must go on" is the unwritten law.   ' If :any of the Spieglman "children.are sick or other domestic needs arise, Gaye may be excused from work. until the matter is settled.. '
'My .home and children come first and my career ls.second.  I love my children and I love to cook and sew for them: Otherwise,  I have - no time for any sort of social life  

In 1967, Gaye Spiegelman filed for divorce, charging her husband with extreme cruelty and "wrongfully inflicted grievous mental suffering."  He didn't deny.

In 1968, no longer topless, she was still performing, singing and doing a comedy routine, "something in the nature or a shapely Phyllis Diller. "

Tragically, she died in November 1968 in a car accident while en route to a nightclub engagement in southern California.  She was beheaded, three of her children were killed and the other four injured.  For the media, “Mama” Spiegelman’s death somewhat mirrored the 1967 accident that killed Hollywood actress Jayne Mansfield while en route from Biloxi, Mississippi, to New Orleans. 
Mrs. Gaye was killed Friday in an auto accident with three of her children. The 36-year-old topless dancer and seven of her children were passengers in a station wagon that overturned after hitting a center divider on interstate 15 two miles north of Victorviile [Calif.]. During the accident the Los Angeles-bound station wagon was hit by a pickup truck traveling in the opposite direction. Mrs. Spiegelman was en route from her home in Las Vegas, Nev., to a nightclub engagement in southern California. The accident took the lives of Mrs. Spiegelman's sons Mark, 15, and Davjd, 5, and a five- year-old adopted daughter, Sylvia.  Four other children escaped serious injury and were taken to the Victor Valley Hospital, Among them was Sylvia's twin sister, Nancy. The driver of the station wagon, Marvin P. Brody, of Hollywood, was not seriously injured.    Clovis News-Journal, December 1, 1968
But that's not the end of her story.  According to Hans Holzer, an expert in psychic phenomena,  the most striking case of possession was how Gaye Spiegelman, our topless mother of eight, took control of her babysitter after dying in the auto crash.  Spiegelman's intention was wholly benevolent. She wanted to guide the babysitter to another job, [See The Two Lives of Gaye Spiegelman, Topless Mother of Eight, chapter from Holzer's book "Star Ghosts "