Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wayne Cochran

The recent mention of Wayne Cochran in Forgotten Hits has spurred a wave of responses ... so today we decided to set aside some time to post many of these ... along with some stuff from the archives.

Today's issue of Forgotten Hits is dedicated to Wayne Cochran!!!

Hi Kent,
This probably shouldn't be posted, but our band played Harrah's Reno in the early 70's once when Cochran & his band were also on the bill. Our schedules overlapped for only a few days, but when they left, our guitar player's echo unit was missing.
Gary E. Myers / MusicGem
Lol ... that's OK ... I think the statute of limitations has passed on this one! (lol) kk

Hey Kent,
While Jeff Lind didn't write about Wayne Cochran in The History of Chicago Rock, I remember watching Cochran perform See See Rider on the Jackie Gleason show in the late '60s. Talk about a high-energy performance. Wow. But that screeching, screaming vocal style really didn't do it for me back then. Today, I love horn bands and lots of sweating and jumping around, but back then I was all about country rock and sunshine pop. How times and people change over the years. I understand Cochran is a preacher down south these days.
Guy Arnston in Algonquin

My man Wayne Cochran was appointment entertainment. He was running a band with at least a dozen musicians. They were so damn tight it hurt. The Riders always drove home the point with the heaviest of jazz-funk bass lines and horn sections that were overwhelming. Wayne, of course, was a handbook on showmanship. I would love to get in contact with him.
Chet Coppock

Comment of the Week: Wayne Cochran & the C.C. Riders, 4/1/1971
Saw him at the legendary Diamond Club in Dayton over 30 years ago ... he was standing on a table singing with that gravely Detroit-City voice ... he proceeded to fire a mostly drank bottle of Jack into the ceiling breaking it into a hundred pieces ... If you couldn't dance to Wayne Cochran, you were in a coma.
Click here: Wayne Cochran & the C.C. Riders Live Concert at Fillmore West (San Francisco, CA) Apr 1, 1971
-- submitted by Ken Voss
How weird is that that a Wayne Cochran Concert shows up on Wolfgang's Vault right as we're talking about him here in Forgotten Hits?!?!? The planets must TRULY be aligned!!! You can listen to the show at the link above! (kk)

I sent this concert link to MAJOR Wayne Cochran fan Chet Coppock ... and got this back:
Kent ...
No one will believe this ... you talk about one in a million! I was in San Francisco in April, '71 with the Milwaukee Bucks (I was producing the Bucks radio network that season, a year in which with Kareem and 'Big "O" Robertson they won the NBA title). I was just 22 years old.
I'm not done yet ... Wayne and the Riders were staying in our hotel ... I think it was the old Jack Tar on Market Street.
I had become fan of Wayne and the band a few years earlier when I caught their act at the Happy Medium. I must have seen Wayne 65 times all over Chicago and the midwest.
Is that karma???? I could almost swear that Sugarloaf was on the same Frisco show.
It just has to be. The Bucks were playing the Warriors in round one of the playoffs ... the NBA began the post season about three weeks earlier in those days.
Thanx so much for the alert.
As you know, Wayne was just the damndest night club soul man God ever put on earth.
I recall one night when he took the whole crowd out of "The Medium' and led us on a snake dance up to Rush Up which was right next store.
That was back before Rush Street got corporate ...
Wayne's rhythm sections were always fantastic and at the time he had a pair of drummers ... his bass player, a kid named Chester Mass, was good enough to work the Memphis scene with guys like Steve Cropper.
Hell, Wayne and I even went shopping together one day at the long gone 'Smoky Joe's' on South State Street. I think we both bought lime green suits at 120 bucks a copy.
The best ... you made my day ... I do know somewhere there is a copy of Psych Scene Magazine with Wayne and I together ... the mag would have to be about 42 years old.
Chet Coppock
P.S. My book "Fat Guys Shouldn't Be Dancin' At Half Time" is due out in two weeks.

... and, speaking of Chet Coppock ...

Don't know if you knew this, but Chet Coppock was a real good friend of mine in college and during the Colony's glory days and, for a while, was an official New Colony Six roadie. We used to bring him up on stage to do the Wayne Cochran & the CC Riders version of the tune, "You Don't Know Like I Know" (or was it "Going Back to Miami" - I forget...) In any case, we would rat his hair up into a huge pompadour and used a silver coloring to "paint" his hair an appropriate shade.
Ray Graffia, Jr.

Kent ...
I've never heard or seen Wayne Cochran before. I think he's Great. Can you give us more information on Wayne Cochran ? I don't think you can. He managed to get his life's story into a few paragraphs. LoL. He's got a lot of energy. It's contagious. He reminds me of a white James Brown.I'm sure he's a great Las Vegas Lounge Act.
Frank B.
Actually, that's pretty much EXACTLY how Wayne Cochran was known ... as the "white" James Brown. I was too young to see him in his hey-day ... but I hear he put on one hell of a show!!! His name has come up a number of times over the years here in Forgotten Hits despite never really having a hit record of his own. (We featured Wayne's original version of "Last Kiss", a song he wrote based on actual events back in 1964. Although it's nearly identical to the #1 J. Frank Wilson version, for some reason Cochran's record never made the charts.)
Cochran's been out of the music business for quite a while now, running his own ministry since 1981. You can find his complete biography ... in his own words ... on his website:
Click here: Welcome to the official site of C.C. Riders
Meanwhile, here are a few other blurbs that we've run over the years:

It has been said that a great song transcends all time barriers. This has certainly been the case with the rock and roll classic teen tragedy tune "The Last Kiss", hit in the '60's, the '70's and the '90's.The song was written by Wayne Cochran, a legendary bar-circuit R & B lounge singer who tore up his audiences everywhere he performed in the 1960's and early '70's. Despite this recognition (and a tremendous following), he never had a hit record of his own and, despite three different recording attempts for three different record labels, was never even able to hit the charts with his own composition, "Last Kiss" ... yet watched it climb up the charts for J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers in the 1960's, Wednesday in the 1970's and Pearl Jam in the 1990's.Blue-eyed soul singer Cochran first recorded "Last Kiss" in 1961 for the Gala label. (It was released again a year later on Galico Records.) He then re-recorded it in 1964 when The Cavaliers' version started to take off, this time for the King label. (Ironically, in 1973, when Wednesday's version started to climb the charts, Virgo Records quickly re-released the J. Frank Wilson 1964-hit version, too, trying to cash-in on the song's new-found audience and success!) Originally, the J. Frank Wilson single was released in 1964 on the tiny Le Cam record label (an alternate take) just before it was re-recorded for Josie (the #1 hit we all know and love), which was then re-issued by Virgo (who, by the '70's, owned all the Josie masters). In between, the even-smaller Tamara label re-issued the Le Cam alternate take version! And in 1969, a re-worked version (released as "Last Kiss '69") hit the shelves on the Charay label. (How's THAT for overkill?!?!?!? Have we lost you yet?!?!?) I'd LOVE to hear a version of the 1969 remake!!! (And wouldn't that tie in nicely with our recent Forgotten Hits salute to '69?!?!?)
The legend goes that Cochran read about a fatal car accident in Barnesville, GA, involving a young girl named Jeanette Clark. In fact, on this particular stretch of Highway 341, where Cochran lived at the time, he witnessed MANY accidents ... and had already started to write a song about a tragic collision. This specific accident, however, inspired him to finally finish the song. The small local Gala Record label picked up the track and Cochran loaded copies in the trunk of his car, selling them at personal appearances, hoping the record would catch on. Despite sounding a LOT like what would eventually become the J. Frank Wilson version, it didn't.
However, legendary record executive Major Bill Smith (from Ft. Worth, TX) heard the song and believed it could be a hit. (We've covered Major Bill before in Forgotten Hits ... by this time, he had already produced #1 records for Bruce Channel with "Hey Baby" and for Paul and Paula with "Hey Paula".)
Smith was working with a local San Angelo, Texas group called The Cavaliers. He called in lead vocalist John Frank Wilson from Lufkin, TX, and they cut the track for Le Cam Records. Feeling he could get a better recording, Smith then took the band to Josie Records and had them re-record the song. The rest, as they say, is history. The new version went all the way to #1 on the National Charts. (Today, we're giving you the very rare version by the song's composer himself, Mr. Wayne Cochran!) kk

FACT OR FICTION DEPT: While researching this special "Last Kiss" series, we happened to come across this little tidbit on a Last Kiss posting board:
Wayne Cochran has always received the credit for writing this classic tune of teenage tragedy. If Chuck Downs REALLY wrote this song and was REALLY a member of The Champs (and we cannot find ANY such listing in any of our reference books to this effect, but The Champs changed personnel SO many times over the years that anything's possible ... you may remember a special series we did on The Champs several years ago, stating that the band is probably more famous for who was NOT in the band at the time of their hit recordings than for anything else ... some of the various band members who passed through their lineup over the years include Jim Seals and Dash Crofts as well as Glen Campbell), then it would seem to us that with as much attention as The Champs have received over the past 45 years, Mr. Downs would have had some legal grounds (and notoriety and therefore, some publicity surrounding him) to prove this claim. In the meantime, we'll let the record stand, showing Wayne Cochran as the writer. (P.S. This article first ran back in 2003 ... to date, no new evidence has come up to indicate otherwise. But, reading this now in hindsight, I've just got to say that that sure is one HECK of a good, long run-on sentence!!!) kk

MORE ON WAYNE: Wayne Cochran just may be one of the most famous musical performers to never have had a hit record. It didn't seem that a weekend went by here in Chicago in the mid-to-late '60's where Wayne Cochran and the C.C. Riders weren't playing at some big club or show lounge here in the Windy City. It sounds like their greatest audiences were in Georgia and Florida (where Jackie Gleason used to actually have him perform on his television program from time to time.) kk

One of my personal heroes, bassist Jaco Pastorius (the man who inspired my screen name) joined the C.C. (which stood for Chitlin Circuit) Riders in the summer of 1972 at the age of 20. Bassist Bob Bobbing was offered the job of handling bass duties with the Riders but turned Bob Gable - the baritone saxist in the C.C. Riders - onto Jaco, saying to Gable, "This guy is beyond your wildest dreams. This guy Jaco will kill you. Don't even think about anybody else for the gig."

I'm surprised that you didn't mention the blond James Brown pompadour that Wayne sported. Another great song that he recorded for Mercury was "Goin' Back To Miami" -- I was really surprised that it didn't become a hit in '66 -- it rocked!
Dan Guilfoyle
Yeah, Wayne was pretty wild looking!!! Actually, "Goin' Back To Miami" was probably his best known "hit"...and it never even charted! (His version of "Harlem Shuffle" "bubbled under" at #127 in 1965.) kk

Thx Cool!!!!!!!!! ... verry interesting ... I always thought Wayne Cochran wrote Last Kiss. At the time it was recorded, my brother-in-law was in a country band in San Angelo ... played at such prestigious venues as "The Boots and Saddle Club" and "The Dixie Club". He was a good friend of Frankie's and that's the story I was always told about the song. By the time I started hangin' with the Cavaliers, Calvin Bell and Ronnie Miller were the main guys in the group. Last Kiss was just a memory, but the fame of the song always followed the Cavaliers and local bookings though not exciting kept them in guitar pics and Schlitz Beer. Thx for remembering me ... I really enjoyed the article!!!!
Our complete "History of 'Last Kiss'" is posted on The Forgotten Hits Website here:
Click here: Forgotten Hits - THE STORIES BEHIND THE SONGS
Over the years, we have heard from several of the latter day members of The Cavaliers, ALL of whom have praised us for writing the most accurate history of the band they've ever seen anywhere!!! (kk)

The original version of "Last Kiss", recorded with a three-piece band and a badly simulated car crash, by Wayne Cochran (vocal / writer) was released on Gala (Georgia) in 1963. In 1964, Wayne re-recorded his "Last Kiss" with a new and better arrangement that included a new bass riff (played on an up-right) and a professional three-piece back-up girl vocal group. Released on King (known for Soul music) it started getting some attention / airplay in West Texas. In a weekly phone call-in contest on new record releases on an Odessa radio station Wayne's "Last Kiss" 45 came in first. Listening to this station that night in near-by Midland was a 26 year old independent record producer named Sonley Roush. In 1962 and 63 Sonley had been booking a four piece country rock band "The Cavaliers" from San Angelo into clubs in his area and had been impressed with their vocalist Frank Wilson. Sonley remembered the teens liking Wayne's song but thought Frank's voice would be much better suited (Wayne, known as a white James Brown, had made appearances on national TV with his group The C.C. Riders).
Writer Wayne Cochran, would have to wait 35 long years for any payday as his manager back home spent his writer's royalty checks from the hit J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers release while he was out performing on the road. In 1974 a Canadian group called "Wednesday" recorded "Last Kiss" (same basic arrangement) charting #34 selling 200,000 copies. This new interest brought Frank's version back into the top 100 for a few weeks. The year-end Billboard's Top 100 for 1974 lists "Last Kiss" by Wednesday #58 and "Last Kiss" by J. Frank Wilson #92. In 1998 rock group Pearl Jam happened upon a copy of "Last Kiss" at a flea market in Seattle and then recorded it themselves, releasing it on a 45 for their fan club members. Pearl Jam's lead singer, Eddy Fedder, had only heard "Wednesday's version back in 1973 when he happened upon Frank's version at the flea mart. With a complete new arrangement the song reached #1 on the Billboard Top 100 Sales and #7 Air Play plus staying 54 weeks on the Canadian and 45 weeks on the Australian charts. Pearl Jam received an RIAA gold CD record award plus received one million airplays, giving Wayne Cochran a BMI 2 million airplay award. Wayne, dressed in a black tux, appeared at the annual BMI Awards Show finally getting his well-deserved payday.
(from a 2005 Forgotten Hits Comments Page)

And reiterated here, more recently, by our buddy Dave The Rave ...
Kent ...
Per my several interviews with Wayne Cochran it should be noted that it was the Pearl Jam version that finally earned the royalties that Wayne Cochran deserved for writing a tune that hit the charts three times and finally getting it's biggest payday with Pearl Jam's hit. In fact, Wayne told me that on the J Frank Wilson hit of Last Kiss he was basically cheated out of almost all songwriting royalties.
Dave the Rave

Wayne Cochran and Joe Carpenter were the original composers of LAST KISS. The drummer was Jerry Ripper and Bobby Rakestraw was the bass player. Joe Carpenter played lead guitar and he and Wayne Cochran both sang. Wayne was lead singer with Joe backing him. I know this because at the time it was recorded I was married to Bobby Rakestraw.
Shirley Hendrix

And did you know that Quent Lang from the Mauds once played with Wayne Cochran????
No, I sure didn't ... c'mon, Quent, share a Wayne Cochran story or two with our readers!!! (kk)

I played in Wayne's band for a short time (like many horn players in that band). It was a revolving door ... actually it was an uneventful experience back in the summer of 1970. Good enough band, great young players ... but Wayne was the show. He rarely featured any of the players. Locked in a touring bus for thousands of miles. Hated being a road-rat. If I can think of any good stories, I will pass them on.

And here's an oldie but goodie from Chet Coppock, the biggest Wayne Cochran fan I know!!!
kent ...
the platinum blond hair ... the blue-eyed sizzle ... there was only one wayne cochran. he tore up the happy medium six-eight weeks a year back in there late 60's. i recall one four week stretch when i went to see him - no kidding - 17 times. his staples, 'you don't know like i know' ... 'going back to miami' ... 'i can't turn you loose' ... used to drive crowds nuts ... one closing night he took the whole house outta the 'medium' and had us conga dance next door to 'rush up' where he began playing with his group and the house band.
that's back when the street' was about barnabay's and 'rush over' and youthful energy instead of dry martinis ... back when 'chicago' was 'the big thing'.
wayne and i were pals ... not real tight; we just got a kick out of yakking it up together. i'll never forget walking into old 'smokey joe's' on south state street and watching wayne buy a dozen suits in bright orange, lime green, electric blue, etc. and, of course, he bought them with matching snake skin shoes. the last i heard wayne was preaching on some cable access betwork in florida.
wayne along with sonny charles and the checkmates are the best lounge acts i have ever seen or probably will see until the rolling stones get old enough to play the small room at some vegas casino.
by the way if anyone has any video of wayne ... or old super eights .... i'll merely give up my left leg!!! plus CASH.
the best,
chet coppock
wls / espn radio
I remember hearing Wayne Cochran concert commercials on the radio all the time when I was growing up and wondering what all the fuss was about ... I was too young to go and see him myself at the time but I've only heard incredible things since then about his performances. (How is it possible that this guy never had a hit record?!?!? Although, from what I've also been told, they were never able to capture the excitement of Mr. Cochran on vinyl the way he electrified an audience during a live performance.) My Mom and Dad were BIG Checkmates, Ltd. fans and used to go see them perform nearly every time they came to town ... WAY before the rest of the country caught up with them thanks to "Black Pearl". (From what I hear, that was about as UN-sounding a Checkmates record as you could make ... but it's a Phil Spector Classic.) We featured Wayne Cochran's version of "Goin' Back To Miami" once before in Forgotten Hits, sent to us by the ever-reliable Tom Diehl, who writes:
Oh yes! I found this track online after re-listening to an old Dave The Rave show. Somehow this had slipped through the cracks for me the first time but the second time it grabbed me immediately.
It's some high-energy stuff ... and one that COMPLETELY eluded the pop charts ... but it didn't escape the ears of The Blues Brothers!!! They used to perform this one all the time! (kk)

"Goin' Back To Miami" is one of the all-time great party songs! There are certain songs that were not big hits that are still well known, as far as partying is concerned, and "Goin' Back To Miami" is one of those. The Isley Brothers "Shout" fits this mold (it only hit # 47 on the pop charts when it came out in 1959, and failed to dent the R & B Top 100) and I used to play it at almost every reunion, wedding, etc, 15 years before it was featured in "Animal House" by Otis Day and the Nights (DeWayne Jesse). It always worked the crowd into a frenzy, just like "Miami." I referred to Wayne as the white James Brown because of his big, blond pompadour!
Danny Guilfoyle

Kent ...
Thanks for the Wayne Cochran remembrance. He is one of my all-time favorites. I'm sure you know he is now a minister in the Miami area. Thanks.
Wayne Cochran Ministries

Buisness Type(s): Interdenominational Church
5325 NW 159th St
Hialeah, FL 33014

And here's the piece that rekindled all this Wayne Cochran affection!!!
Kent ...
Saw a tie of Wayne Cochran to Chicago area:
(NOTE: In Chicago, there's a black club on 75th and King Drive called the Other Place, and it's one of those historical clubs with never-seen celebrities' pictures on the wall -- everybody from Redd Foxx to R&B singer Maxine Brown to Tony Bennett. One of the pictures on the wall -- they all seem to date from the fifties and early sixties, by the way -- is of Cochran and a barechested Jackie Wilson cutting up backstage! Of course, the last time I was there it was covered up by a sign announcing the house rules, but it's easy to lift that sign up to check out an incredible slice of rock & roll history.)
Do you think it’s time?
Do you realize that the legendary Wayne Cochran has not been recognized for his contributions to the music industry in his native state of Georgia? Sadly, it is true.
Please join this effort to recognize Wayne Cochran and the C.C. Riders for the enjoyment they've brought thousands of fans over the years by:
1) Write a letter of recommendation to Georgia Senate Music Industry Committee; Sen. Jeff Mullis, chairman; 18 Capitol Square, 421-A; Atlanta, GA 30334
2) Sign the on-line petition supporting Wayne's candidacy for the Georgia Music Hall Of Fame at:
Brief Biography
Wayne Cochran was born 1939 in Thomaston, GA. He played bass guitar on a 1960 recording with the Pinetoppers backing up a then unknown soul singer who would go on to superstar status. After "Shout Bamalama" was published and gained regional play for Otis Redding, Wayne soon assembled his own band. In December 1962, Wayne finished a song he had begun in 1956 about a tragic car wreck, and Wayne Cochran and the C.C. Riders recorded “Last Kiss” in Vidalia, GA for Gala records. Unfortunately, it didn’t get much airplay but others were listening. J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers’ cover reached #2 in the U.S. in 1964. In the meantime, Wayne Cochran and the band were launched and they would become one of the most popular show bands of all time.
Meanwhile, "Last Kiss" has enjoyed a life of its own and has gained international acclaim. It was #1 in Mexico (1960s), #1 in Peru (1960s), #2 in Canada (1973) and Pearl Jam took it to #2 again in the U.S. in 1999.
Website Videos:
1. Wayne Cochran’s initial recording of “Last Kiss” recorded in Vidalia, GA about 1962:
2. Wayne Cochran and the CC Riders on one of their first television performances. The song "Get Down With it" on the Jackie Gleason show.
3. More from the Gleason Show … Wayne and the Riders perform “Going Back To Miami”:
4. From the 1970 Movie “C.C. & Company” Wayne Cochran and the CC Riders perform “I Can’t Turn You Loose”:
5. Wayne Cochran sings soulful rendition of “Georgia On My Mind” on Tom Snyder Show:
6. More from Tom Snyder Show … Wayne sings “Old Time Rock & Roll and picks a little guitar:
7. Peruvian band Los Doltons perform “El Ultimo Beso,” a mid 60’s cover of "The Last Kiss":
Born: Thomaston, GA 1937 ... son of T.A. & Minnie Lee Cochran
Father: millworker
Mother: ?
About 1952 (age 15?), he dropped out of Thomaston high school in 9th grade to devote full time to music.
1955: First Band - Blue Cats (Thomaston, GA)
Late 1950's: moved to Macon, GA
1959: Released My Little Girl/The Coo (Scottie)
1960: Published and played bass on Otis Redding's "Shout Bamalama" with Pinetoppers (Confederate Label)
Early 60s: Released Funny Feeling and Lisa Jane (Gala)
1962: Finished writing Last Kiss (started in 1956)
1963: Band now Called Wayne Cochran & C.C. Riders
Recorded “Last Kiss” (Gala) in Vidalia, GA
Released “Little Orphan Annie” (King)
Released “Monkey Monkey” (King)
6/1964: Last Kiss Top 10 (#2) song for J. Frank Wilson & Cavaliers
Remade Last Kiss (King)
1964: Moved band to Bossier City, LA (toured Midwest)
1964: Moved band to Miami, FL (The Barn)
1966: Released “Harlem Shuffle” (Mercury)
1967: Released “Goin' Back To Miami” (Mercury)
1968: Released Wayne Cochran! (Chess LP)
3/1969: Recorded 10 songs for High And Ridin’ LP in Cincinnati, OH (Bethlehem)
1970: Featured in movie C.C. & Company
Released High And Ridin' (CMT LP)
Released Livin' In A B**** of a World (CMT LP)
Featured in Hit Parader (magazine)
1971: Released Old King Gold (CMT LP)
1972: Released Cochran! (Epic LP)
1973: “Last Kiss” Covered by Canadian Band Wednesday (#2 Canada; #34 in US) 1981: Started Voice For Jesus and Wayne Cochran Ministry in Hollywood, FL
6/1999: Pearl Jam Cover of Last Kiss #2 in US
7/26 & 8/1/2001: Wayne Cochran & C.C. Riders Reunion (Hollywood, FL)
2005: Released The White Knight of Soul 1964-1972: Get Down With It! (Raven)
Blue Cats
Rocking Capris
Wayne Cochran and the C.C. Riders
He influenced:
Lonnie Mack (dicography at
Al Kooper (Heeey Baby Days, page 439)
The Blues Brothers
Ted Nugent (8/22/08 interview Poughkeepsie, NY)
Tom Petty & Heartbreakers
John Fred & Playboy Band (1 Hit Wonders / Epinion / Jan 2, 05)
More Info:
Official Website:
Happy to pass your information along again so that other Cochran fans can get onboard! (Sounds like there are quite a few of them out there ... on this list alone!!!)
Hey, maybe we can get Wayne to say a word or two to our Forgotten Hits Readers!!! I'm hoping that someone out there will let him know about today's feature piece and that maybe he'll respond. If not, you'll find a good part of his history ... in his own words ... on his official website listed above. (kk)