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,

Friday, January 16, 2009

Speaking of Roger Cook ...

Yesterday we mentioned British Songwriter Roger Cook in our special Madeline Bell profile. (Together, the two fronted a band called Blue Mink, who scored seven hits on The British Charts between 1969 and 1973.)

But the Roger Cook story is MUCH bigger than that!!!

Although he was in some way involved with literally DOZENS of chart hits, Roger

probably enjoyed his own biggest chart success as one half of the British duo David and Jonathan, who scored a #18 U.S. Hit with their rendition of the classic Lennon and McCartney song "Michelle." (The track was produced by Beatles' Producer George Martin ... who liked their vocals so much that he recruited Cook ... and Roger Greenaway ... the OTHER half of David and Jonathan ... to handle the background vocals on the Peter Sellers album he was producing, featuring Sellers' own version of "A Hard Day's Night", yet ANOTHER Beatles classic!)

But Roger Cook's REAL calling was as a songwriter ... over the next several years, his songs became BIG pop hits for a wide variety of artists, including:

Doctor's Orders (by Carol Douglas)
Green Grass (by Gary Lewis and the Playboys)
Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again (by The Fortunes)
I Believe In You (by Don Williams)
I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman (by Whistling Jack Smith)
I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing (Top 20 Hits for both The New Seekers and The Hillside Singers)
Long Cool Woman (by The Hollies)
My Baby Loves Lovin' (by White Plains)
Softly Whispering I Love You (by The English Congregation)
Talking In Your Sleep (by Crystal Gayle)
The Way It Used To Be (by Englebert Humperdinck)
You've Got Your Troubles (by The Fortunes)

... and that's just a few ... in fact, you'll find a 56-Page List of Roger's songwriting credits on his website:

Click here: Who is Roger Cook - Songwriter ?

Many of these tracks have gone on to become radio classics ... but today we're giving you two of Roger's Forgotten Hits.

First up, the David and Jonathan version of Michelle. (Since The Beatles themselves decided NOT to release Michelle as a single ... and since, incredibly, Capitol Records didn't jump the gun and release what would have been a sure-fire hit here in The States as yet another "extra" U.S. Beatles single ... David and Jonathan had a wide open path to score with their own hit version of this classic Lennon - McCartney tune.)

And secondly, how about "I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman", a GREAT instrumental tune by Whistling Jack Smith from 1967 that went to #14 on the Cash Box Pop Singles Chart.

I hope some of the jocks on the list will see fit to feature these great, over-looked gems as part of their special "Forgotten Hits" programming ... odds are your listeners haven't heard them in YEARS!!!

(More on Roger Cook tomorrow in Forgotten Hits ... so please stay tuned!!!)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Madeline Bell

Since we recently posted our 2003 Dusty Springfield Series on The Forgotten Hits Web Page, (Click here: Forgotten Hits - DUSTY SPRINGFIELD) I thought that this might make a nice time to revisit One Hit Wonder Madeline Bell ... one of Dusty's back-up singers who managed her own fifteen minutes of chart fame here in The United States with a Top 40 Hit back in 1968. (I'm kidding, of course ... Bell has spent nearly 50 years carving out a very successful career in music, stage and advertising and is STILL performing and recording in Europe today. Unfortunately, here in America we quite often seem to treat our recording artists as more of the "Flavor Of The Week" variety ... and discard them for good once their records have left the charts, in favor of playing the same 200-300 "proven" oldies instead ... but hey, I'm not complaining ... that's what makes a service like Forgotten Hits such a vital contributor to keeping this great music alive!!!)

Ten months before the superstar pairing of Diana Ross and the Supremes and The Temptations topped the charts with THEIR version of this hit, Madeline Bell scored a VERY respectable chart showing with her take on "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" back in The Spring of 1968. (It peaked at #26 on The Billboard Chart ... and we heard it on the radio all the time here in Chicago back then ... and I immediately fell in love with the song. Quite honestly, I was surprised to hear The Supremes and The Temptations interpret it as a "duet" ... I've always thought the song worked much better in the first person!!!)

Madeline Bell was born in Newark, New Jersey, and, in the early '60's, seemed to find her calling singing Gospel Music with The Glovertones and The Alex Bradford Singers. In 1962 she joined the cast of the off-Broadway musical "Black Nativity." When the touring production went to England, Madeline decided to stay and successfully forged her own musical career ... first singing back-up for Dusty ... and later fronting the British band Blue Mink, who scored their own minor U.S. Hit with a song called "Our World" (#64, 1970). (Famed British songwriter Roger Cook was the founding member of this band ... and together they also scored a #3 Hit in The U.K. with a song called "Melting Pot". In all, they would place seven singles on The British Charts between 1969 and 1973.)

Bell became a pretty successful jingles singer after that ... and did a fair amount of session work, too, working as a background singer for Kiki Dee, Cliff Richard, Tom Jones, Joe Cocker and Elton John, to name just a few. She returned to The U.S. Charts one last time in 1979, singing lead on a song called "Female Of The Species" for a Liverpool rock group called Space.

Since the millennium, Madeline has continued to record and perform regularly with both The SAS Band and as a solo artist. In 2003, she was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by The Music Heritage Foundation in London for her "significant and outstanding contribution to the music industry." (So much for any perceived "Fifteen Minutes of Fame" scenario!!!)

DIDJAKNOW?-1: The first artist to record "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" was Dee Dee Warwick, Dionne's little sister. Her 1966 version peaked at #88 and has been long forgotten, but THIS was the version that first inspired Madeline Bell to take a crack at the song.

DIDJAKNOW?-2: As a favor to her former back-up singer, Dusty Springfield sang the backing vocal on Madeline's biggest hit, I'm Gonna Make You Love Me.

For all the latest on Madeline Bell, be sure to visit her web page here:
Click here: Madeline Bell Homepage - the official web site for U.S. singer, resident in Europe.

TRIPLE TREAT: Madeline Bell's version of "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" is our featured Forgotten Hit today ... but we thought that we'd ALSO share with you the Dee Dee Warwick original version ... along with the #1 Hit by Diana Ross and the Supremes and The Temptations. Enjoy!

Madeline Bell

Dee Dee Warwick

Diana Ross and the Supremes with The Temptations


I couldn't be happier than to pass along this greeting to all of our readers from Madeline Bell herself!:

Hello Kent;
Happy New Year!
Thank you for the message. It’s good to know there are still many, many people interested in some of the best music, and the best times in the music business.
My version of “I’M GONNA MAKE YOU LOVE” was originally recorded by Dee Dee Warwick, who recently passed away. In my opinion the best singer of her time.
I’d recorded an album in London (Mostly cover versions). Some beautiful person in the US offices of Philips / Mercury loved IGMYLM, printed 10k copies and sent them to DJ’s across America. Thankfully, the interest snowballed.
I have recorded the song again on a CD “ANOTHER TOUCH”. If you click the link below you’ll more info. This CD is of new arrangements of 60’s and 70’s favourites.
Stay warm!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Hit Parade Hall Of Fame Announces Their 2008 Inductees

We just received word from John Rook, President of The Hit Parade Hall Of Fame, that they've announced The 2008 Inductees.

Here are the details:

The vote of fans worldwide have aided the nominating committee in inducting 33 more recording stars into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.

The 2008 inductees are the Bee Gees, Chuck Berry, Bread, Freddy Cannon, the Carpenters, Chicago, Lou Christie, John Denver, Dion, Doris Day, the Eagles, the Everly Brothers, Roy Hamilton, Tommy James & the Shondells, Elton John, Tom Jones, the Kingston Trio, Jerry Lee Lewis, Frankie Laine, Dean Martin, Guy Mitchell, the Monkees, Olivia Newton-John, Johnnie Ray, Johnny Rivers, Kenny Rogers, Linda Ronstadt, Sonny & Cher, Kay Starr, BJ Thomas, Johnny Tillotson, Jackie Wilson and Stevie Wonder.

Qualifications for nomination require an artist to have had at least two top ten hits of any genre during a thirty year period beginning in 1950. It is the vote of fans, coupled with other factors such as career longevity, record sales and concert success that are then voted on by the nominating committee at the end of each year with inductees and nominees for the new year announced shortly thereafter.

An artist has three years to gain induction before their candidacy is discontinued as a current nominee. Voting for new nominees begin when they are announced.

Previous inductees include Paul Anka, the Beatles, Tony Bennett, Pat Boone, the Beach Boys, Teresa Brewer, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Jimmy Clanton, Chubby Checker, Nat “King” Cole, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Bobby Darin, Neil Diamond, Fats Domino, the Four Seasons, Aretha Franklin, Connie Francis, Brenda Lee, Johnny Mathis, Ricky Nelson, Roy Orbison, Patti Page, Elvis Presley, Neil Sedaka, Frank Sinatra and Diana Ross & the Supremes.

While voting for recording stars already nominated, fans are encouraged to suggest future nominees and visit those already inducted at the website of the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.

More details can be found on the Hit Parade Hall Of Fame Website:
Hit Parade Hall of Fame

Our congratulations go out to all of this year's inductees. A list of 2009 nominees will follow shortly.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Crazy Mama

One of my favorite songs from the early '70's is another one of those that just never seems to get played on the radio anymore.

Back in 1972, Oklahoma-born Blues / Rock Singer / Songwriter J.J. Cale took his biggest hit, Crazy Mama, all the way to #22 on The Billboard Pop Singles Chart. (It did even better here in Chicago, where it peaked at #12!)

Sounding like nothing else out at the time, Crazy Mama really stood out on the radio play list ... and I've loved it ever since. It's one of those laid-back slow jams that just has a GREAT feel to it ... and it SHOULD be part of oldies radio programming today ... definitely one of those "Wow" songs that'll turn your audience on its ear.

J.J. Cale's biggest fan just may be Eric Clapton, who immortalized TWO of Cale's best-known compositions, After Midnight (Clapton's first solo chart hit, #13, 1970) and Cocaine, an FM Classic Rock staple ever since it first appeared on Eric's 1977 Slowhand album.

In fact, Eric Clapton thinks SO much of J.J. Cale that he endorsed his induction into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in his recently published autobiography. (Unfortunately, Cale has never even been so much as nominated for this honor!) In fact, Eric pretty much echoed OUR sentiments regarding the multiple induction of Rock Hall of Fame members when he stated that J.J. Cale deserved a spot, pointing out that he, himself, had already been inducted three times while other great artists are continually ignored.

The two first met while working with Delaney and Bonnie back in 1970. (Sadly, we lost Delaney Bramlett just a couple of weeks ago.) Cale had been in a High School band with Leon Russell, another frequent Delaney and Bonnie contributor, and years later Russell would sign J.J. to his Shelter Records record label ... which is where he enjoyed his Top 40 success!

Clapton fell in love with J.J.'s music and eventually invited him to produce one of his own LPs. Over the years, Cale has done session work for Phil Spector, Bob Seger, Neil Young and Art Garfunkel ... and, in 1972, he released his OWN version of After Midnight as a single ... it peaked at #42 but again became a bigger hit here in Chicago, topping out at #26. (A decade later, Clapton would go on to re-record After Midnight for a beer commercial ... and then released it as a single again in its brand-new, slowed-down arrangement.) A third 1972 J.J. Cale single, Lies, just missed The National Top 40, also peaking at #42.

Give a listen to Crazy Mama today ... and then give your favorite oldies deejay a call and ask them to play it on the air ... it's a song that DESERVES to be heard!