Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Roger Cook Time Line

Yesterday we featured a couple of Roger Cook's musical ventures ... first as a recording artist ... (along with partner Roger Greenaway, Cook was one half of The British Duo David and Jonathan, who scored a Top 20 Hit with their rendition of The Beatles' classic "Michelle" in 1966) ... and then as a songwriter ... (we cast the spotlight on Roger's 1967 rare instrumental hit "I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman", released by Whistling Jack Smith.)

We also gave you a list of some of the OTHER songs that Roger Cook had a hand in writing and producing ... a VERY impressive list indeed.

Today, thanks to Roger's INCREDIBLE website:
Click here: Who is Roger Cook - Songwriter ?
we've constructed a Roger Cook Time Line, spotlighting some of the highlights of his illustrious career.

8/19/1940 - Roger Frederick Cook is born

1958 - Thanks to a teenage crush, Roger composes his first song, "Judy My Darling". Later that year, he forms his first singing group, The Sapphires, who go on to win a National Talent Competition. This recognition allows them to tour U.K. Cabarets and U.S. Air Bases. Before the year is over, The Sapphires record their first (and only) LP.

The Early '60's find Roger Cook working successfully as a pantomime artist!

1965 - Cook is asked to join Roger Greenaway's group The Kestrels, which also includes singer Tony Burrows. Backstage in a dressing room one night, Cook and Greenaway write their very first song together. That song ... "You've Got Your Troubles" will go on to become a HUGE International Top Ten Hit for The Fortunes before the year is over. Later that year, The Kestrels disband after Burrows decides to pursue a solo career. The two Rogers (Cook and Greenaway) continue to earn a living by singing background on a number of recording sessions for other artists like Tom Jones and Billy Fury. Meanwhile, songs written by the songwriting team of Cook and Greenaway continue to be recorded by a variety of British artists like Petula Clark.

July, 1965 - After Beatles' Producer George Martin hears the original demo that Roger and Roger recorded for "You've Got Your Troubles", he suggests that they might want to consider a recording career of their own. His wife Judy comes up with the name "David And Jonathan" for the duo. (Why "Roger and Roger" wouldn't work is anybody's guess!!!) A couple of minor single releases follow without much chart success. The duo also continue to provide background vocals on other artists' recordings. (One of those recordings is Peter Sellers' version of The Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night", also produced by George Martin.)

1966 - In January, David and Jonathan record "Michelle" ... days later, they perform the song on the popular British music television series "Ready, Steady, Go". Soon they are on their way to The United States for a series of radio and TV appearances, accompanied by George Martin. The following month, they release their first album, (also produced by Martin), which includes The Beatles' songs "Michelle" and "Yesterday". Later that year, Gary Lewis and the Playboys score a Top Ten Hit with the duo's "Green Grass". Meanwhile, David and Jonathan are on tour as one of the opening acts for Herman's Hermits. By year's end, they have written and recorded radio spots for Coca Cola along with artists like The Fortunes, The Troggs and The Tremeloes.

1967 - The duo's second LP release (as David and Jonathan) is their Greatest Hits album, released in Germany only! Their songs continue to be interpreted by a wide variety of artists, including Nancy Wilson, Gene Pitney, Cliff Richard and Brenda Lee. Here in The States, Whistling Jack Smith scores a Top 20 with "I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman", a tune we featured yesterday in Forgotten Hits.
(BTW ... DIDJAKNOW?: The original title of "I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman" was "Too Much Bird Seed".) David and Jonathan mine the Lennon - McCartney well one more time when they release their version of "She's Leaving Home" that summer. Later that year, they recorded the original version of "Softly Whispering I Love You", which would go on to become a Top 30 U.S. Hit five years later for The English Congregation.

1968 - David and Jonathan announce the end of their recording career, stating that they will continue to work together writing songs for other artists. Meanwhile, Cook takes a stab at a solo career, releasing his version of Elton John's "Skyline Pigeon" as Roger James Cooke.

1969 - Madeline Bell is asked to add her vocals to a new recording by Blue Mink. Roger Greenaway is also approached, but declines the offer, suggesting they contact Roger Cook instead. Soon, Cook and Bell are singing together as Blue Mink on the first of seven British chart hits.

1970 - Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway are awarded The "Best Radio Jingle Of The Year" award for "In Between The Heartaches and The Crying ", performed in a Coca Cola ad campaign by Ray Charles. Later that year Roger Greenaway teams up with old pal Tony Burrows to form The Pipkins, who hit it big here in The States with their novelty song "Gimme Dat Ding" (#7, Cash Box). Around the same time, Burrows, Greenaway and Cook are climbing the charts as White Plains with their Top Ten Hit "My Baby Loves Lovin'". In fact, after a not very successful

career as a solo artist, Tony Burrows is suddenly ALL over the radio, ghost-singing lead vocals as The Pipkins (Gimme Dat Ding), Edison Lighthouse (Love Grows), The Brotherhood Of Man (United We Stand), White Plains (My Baby Loves Lovin') and later First Class (Beach Baby)!!! Meanwhile, Cook continues to score U.K. hits with Blue Mink. In their "spare time", Cook, Burrows and Madeline Bell also add their voices to Elton John's latest LP.

In March, 1970, British television history is made when Blue Mink, Brotherhood Of Man, Edison Lighthouse and The Pipkins ALL appear together on the BBC television series "Top Of The Pops". Incredibly, ALL of those groups now feature members of the now defunct, long-disbanded Kestrels!!! Roger Cook, Roger Greenaway and (especially) Tony Burrows leap from stage to stage between numbers to fill all of the necessary spots required in this incredible TV line-up. They later receive a warning from The BBC "not to try and fool them again with their many disguises"!!!!!
In May, Cook and Greenaway are awarded The Ivor Novello Award for "Song Of The Year" for Blue Mink's "Melting Pot".
Continuing along in their Coca-Cola advertising dynasty, the duo compose "I'd Like To Buy The World A Coke" (which later becomes "I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing" ... and a Top Ten Hit for The New Seekers ... featuring [surprise, surprise!] Tony Burrows on vocals! ... as well as a Top 20 Hit for The Hillside Singers.)

The Early '70's sees the duo's songs recorded by Olivia Newton-John (with Tomorrow), Andy Williams, Cliff Richard, The Hollies, Sonny and Cher, Englebert Humperdinck, White Plains and Blue Mink (amongst others). In 1971, The Fortunes score a major comeback hit with "Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again". (The following year, they will also give The Hollies the biggest hit of THEIR career when they record "Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress".)

January, 1972 - Three of the Top Four songs on The British Record Charts were composed by the songwriting duo of Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway. The New Seekers hold down the #1 spot with "I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing", "Softly Whispering I Love You" by The ("English") Congregation (featuring former Blue Mink member Alan Parker) is at #2 and Cilla Black has the #4 record on the charts with "Something Tells Me Something's Gonna Happen Tonight", the theme song from her hit British television series. A month later, The New Seekers are invited to perform "I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing" at The White House by President Richard Nixon.

That Spring, Cook and Greenaway are awarded The Ivor Novello "Songwriters Of The Year" award for the second consecutive year. Thanks to the success of their Coca Cola jingles, Cook and Greenaway are besieged with offers to pen OTHER advertising tunes for the likes of Mars, Milky Way, Cadburys Chocolate, Esso Petrol, Maxwell House, Levis and literally DOZENS of others. They also continue to write jingles for Coca Cola, which will be recorded by a number of "name" artists over the years.

1974 - Carol Douglas scores a Top Ten Hit with her version of the Cook - Greenaway penned tune "Doctor's Orders". Throughout the remainder of the '70's, Roger Cook's songs are recorded by Ronnie Spector, Madeline Bell, The New Seekers, Dusty Springfield and The Andrea True Connection.

In 1976, Roger records an album of original songs in Nashville, Tennessee! Two years later, this unlikely pairing of Brit Roger Cook and Nashville's Country Music Scene will yield both a #1 Single AND the "Song Of The Year" honor when Crystal Gayle records Roger's "Talking In Your Sleep". In 1980, Cook will hit #1 again on the country charts when Don Williams records his tune "I Believe In You". Country crooners Johnny Cash and Juice Newton would also go on to record Cook tunes in the '80's.

1991 - David and Jonathan reunite on stage to perform "You've Got Your Troubles" for a "Cancer and Leukemia In Childhood" Charity Benefit Concert.

1995 - Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway are presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by The British Association of Songwriters, Composers and Authors. Ironically, just a few weeks later, Nashville, Tennessee's Mayor declares "Roger Cook Day"! Before the year is over, Roger has moved back to Nashville.

1997 - Roger Cook is inducted into The Country Music Hall Of Fame ... the FIRST British writer EVER to be so honored. Later that year, George Strait records his tune "One Night At A Time" which goes on to top Billboard's Country Music Chart for five weeks and win The Song Of The Year Award.

2000 - Roger Cook teams up with Henry Gross to write a couple of songs for Henry's "I'm Hearing Things" album. They later write a few more songs together for subsequent releases (and continue to work together whenever the opportunity presents itself.)

TODAY: Roger is currently working on two musicals. "
Beautiful and Damned", written in collaboration with Les Reed, is based on the lives of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald and "Don't You Rock Me, Daddio", written with Joe Brown, is set in 1957 and captures a unique period of cultural, social and musical change in 20th century Britain. Click on the links to find out more ... Click here: Roger Cook - Current Projects

A few words from Henry Gross:
Funny that you should write about Roger Cook today. He just left my home in Naples FL, this morning after a three day visit that included finishing a recording of one of our new songs (to be used on my next CD) and writing another Rocker with Jack "Stack-O- Tracks" Grochmal who came to visit along with Roger. The three of us, old best of friends, once did a performance at "The Bluebird Cafe" in Nashville, calling ourselves "The Fabulous Flying Chunks!" Need I say more? We've had too much fun!
What can I say about Roger that I haven't already said? He's the brother I never wanted! (Just kidding!!!!!)
Roger is a true inspiration. When my friends in New York City asked me, 23 years ago, what I was doing in Nashville I would always reply: "I'm studying songwriting with Roger Cook".
Aside from being one of my dearest friends and one of the greatest songwriters ever, he's a free spirit who loves the beauty of the planet and celebrates the positive every day! His talent is undeniable and the songs he's created are truly unique and life affirming.
As this is starting to sound a bit too much like a eulogy and I don't want to become my generation's George Jessel, I'll just say that to know him is to be blessed, to write with him sensational, to drink with him ... Divine!
Love to all,