Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Summer of 1968

Summer songs are EVERYWHERE lately in Forgotten Hits ...

If you check The Forgotten Hits Website ...

Click here: Forgotten Hits - Home

You'll find our special countdowns of The Top 50 Songs Of Summer, 1967 and 1969 ...

Click here: Forgotten Hits - The Summer Of Love Countdown

Click here: Forgotten Hits - The Top 50 Songs From The Summer of '69

Both of these countdowns were put together as special 40th Anniversaries Features over the past few years ...

But we've left out 1968!!!

So THIS year, we've asked our official chart statisticians to work up The Top 50 NATIONAL Hit as well as the Top 50 Chicagoland Hits for us once again ... only THIS time for The Summer of '68.

Special thanks to Randy Price, who used his Super Charts (a consensus of the Billboard, Cash Box and Record World Charts), to calculate the national list ... and to Jack Levin who did the same to calculate our Chicagoland favorites by way of the WLS and WCFL weekly survey charts for June, July and August.

A point system previously established was used to calculate the points earned ONLY during those three summer months in order to establish the OFFICIAL Biggest Hits Of Summer, 1968. You'll find the results below. (This feature will also move to our other website, where several of our older series have been archived.)

Meanwhile, we're just about ready to announce YOUR All-Time Favorite Songs Of Summer ... be sure to check back on Monday, June 21st ... the OFFICIAL First Day Of Summer ... for the final results. Thanks again to everyone who voted!

And you can HEAR those results on the radio, too!!!

On Monday, Scott Shannon and The True Oldies Channel will be featuring songs from the countdown all day long ... broadcast on nearly 100 radio stations across the country (and all over the world, thanks to streaming online!)
You can Listen Live here: Click here: True Oldies Channel
IT'S A SUMMERTIME BLAST-OFF MONDAY ON THE TOC ...
FEATURING THE TOP SUMMER SONGS AS VOTED ON
BY THE FANS OF FORGOTTEN HITS!!!!
SCOTT SHANNON
THE TRUE OLDIES CHANNEL

Also on Monday, Dee Jay Scarlett Hayze will count down the complete Top 20 in order on HER "Summer Solstice" Program ... it airs from 7 - 9 pm Eastern Time, Live on: http://myrevolutionradio.com

And, the following weekend, Phil Nee of WRCO in Richland Center, Wisconsin, will broadcast the ENTIRE Top 40 on HIS radio program!!! (You may recall that Phil also counted down our recent ranking of Your All-Time Favorite Instrumentals ... which you can ALSO find on The Forgotten Hits Web Page):
Click here: Forgotten Hits - Top 40 Instrumentals, 1955 - 1979
(We're working to post a rebroadcast of Phil's Summer Countdown Program, too, since his radio station doesn't offer live streaming ... stay tuned for more details!)

***
Meanwhile, here are the ...

BIGGEST HITS OF SUMMER, 1968


The National Charts

Here are The Top 50 Songs of Summer, 1968, based on the combined rankings of these songs on the Billboard, Cash Box and Record World charts. Very special thanks to Randy Price for compiling this information EXCLUSIVELY for Forgotten Hits!

1. THIS GUY'S IN LOVE WITH YOU - Herb Alpert (A&M)
2. LADY WILLPOWER - Gary Puckett & The Union Gap (Columbia)
3. JUMPIN' JACK FLASH - The Rolling Stones (London)
4. STONED SOUL PICNIC - The 5th Dimension (Soul City)
5. GRAZING IN THE GRASS - Hugh Masekela (Uni)
6. THE HORSE - Cliff Nobles & Co. (Phil-L.A. Of Soul)
7. ANGEL OF THE MORNING - Merrilee Rush & The Turnabouts (Bell)
8. MacARTHUR PARK - Richard Harris (Dunhill)
9. HELLO, I LOVE YOU - The Doors (Elektra)
10. MRS. ROBINSON - Simon & Garfunkel (Columbia)
11. YUMMY YUMMY YUMMY - The Ohio Express (Buddah)
12. HURDY GURDY MAN - Donovan (Epic)
13. REACH OUT OF THE DARKNESS - Friend & Lover (Verve Forecast)
14. THE LOOK OF LOVE - Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 (A&M)
15. TURN AROUND, LOOK AT ME - The Vogues (Reprise)
16. CLASSICAL GAS - Mason Williams (Warner Bros.-7 Arts)
17. INDIAN LAKE - The Cowsills (MGM)
18. MONY MONY - Tommy James & The Shondells (Roulette)
19. PEOPLE GOT TO BE FREE - The Rascals (Atlantic)
20. SUNSHINE OF YOUR LOVE - Cream (Atco)
21. BORN TO BE WILD - Steppenwolf (Dunhill)
22. THINK - Aretha Franklin (Atlantic)
23. HERE COMES THE JUDGE - Shorty Long (Soul)
24. DREAM A LITTLE DREAM OF ME - Mama Cass (Dunhill)
25. SKY PILOT (pt. 1) - Eric Burdon & The Animals (MGM)
26. PICTURES OF MATCHSTICK MEN - The Status Quo (Cadet Concept)
27. TIGHTEN UP - Archie Bell & The Drells (Atlantic)
28. I LOVE YOU - People (Capitol)
29. A BEAUTIFUL MORNING - The Rascals (Atlantic)
30. LIGHT MY FIRE - Jose Feliciano (RCA Victor)
31. THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY - Hugo Montenegro (RCA Victor)
32. STAY IN MY CORNER - The Dells (Cadet)
33. SHE'S A HEARTBREAKER - Gene Pitney (Musicor)
34. AUTUMN OF MY LIFE - Bobby Goldsboro (United Artists)
35. LICKING STICK -- LICKING STICK (pt. 1) - James Brown
& The Famous Flames (King)
36. I COULD NEVER LOVE ANOTHER (After Loving You) - The Temptations
(Gordy)
37. NEVER GIVE YOU UP - Jerry Butler (Mercury)
38. D.W. WASHBURN - The Monkees (Colgems)
39. SEALED WITH A KISS - Gary Lewis & The Playboys (Liberty)
40. JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE MIND - The Amboy Dukes (Mainstream)
41. AIN'T NOTHING LIKE THE REAL THING - Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
(Tamla)
42. HOW'D WE EVER GET THIS WAY - Andy Kim (Steed)
43. YOU KEEP ME HANGIN' ON - Vanilla Fudge (Atco)
44. I CAN'T STOP DANCING - Archie Bell & The Drells (Atlantic)
45. SOUL-LIMBO - Booker T. & The MG's (Stax)
46. HALFWAY TO PARADISE - Bobby Vinton (Epic)
47. MASTER JACK - Four Jacks And A Jill (RCA Victor)
48. A MAN WITHOUT LOVE (Quando M'Innamora) - Engelbert Humperdinck
(Parrot)
49. DON'T TAKE IT SO HARD - Paul Revere & The Raiders (Columbia)
50. LOVE MAKES A WOMAN - Barbara Acklin (Brunswick)

A few surprises, I suppose ... but we still hear most of these songs on a regular basis on the oldies stations today.
(OMG ... Was "MacArthur Park" REALLY that big?!?!? lol)

Missing for ages: D.W. Washburn by The Monkees ... I can't even remember the last time I heard THAT one on the radio ... their last Top 20 single before the big MTV comeback of 1986.




Personally, I don't think we hear the Donovan Hit "Hurdy Gurdy Man" often enough ... the same would hold true for the Sergio Mendes version of "The Look Of Love", The Vogues' hit "Turn Around, Look At Me", "Indian Lake" by the Cowsills and "She's A Heartbreaker" by Gene Pitney ... then again I don't necessarily EVER have to hear Shorty Long's "Here Comes The Judge" again ... or the Gary Lewis and the Playboys' version of "Sealed With A Kiss" or Bobby Goldsboro's "Autumn Of My Life" either for that matter.

I can't remember EVER hearing "Licking Stick, Licking Stick" on the radio here in Chicago (but it reportedly reached #15 ... and it did, in fact, earn enough points to make our Chicagoland chart as well ... but just barely!).

"Dream A Little Dream Of Me" was recently featured on "Glee" ... and we've listened to the Mama Cass version at least fifty times since then ... what a GREAT song! Neat to see that Jose Feliciano's stripped down version of "Light My Fire" made the list a year after The Doors' first rocked our summer with the original.

And clearly instrumentals were still all the rage in 1968 ... "Grazing In The Grass" by Hugh Masekela, "The Horse" by Cliff Nobles and Company, "Classical Gas" by Mason Williams. "The Good, The Bad And The Ugly" by Hugo Montenegro" and "Soul Limbo" by Booker T. and the MG's ALL made The Top 50! That's a full 10% of the total countdown! (Ironically, the one guy who you'd EXPECT to have an instrumental hit scored the biggest hit of the whole summer when Herb Alpert SANG "This Guy's In Love With You" all the way up to the top of the charts!)

Let's see how this list compares to our local Chicagoland Charts.

The Chicago Charts
(compiled by Jack Levin, using the weekly surveys issued by WLS and WCFL, are two Top 40 Radio Giants) Thanks, Jack!
1 - Jumpin' Jack Flash - The Rolling Stones
2 - This Guy's In Love With You - Herb Alpert
3 - Turn Around Look At Me - The Vogues
4 - Born To Be Wild - Steppenwolf
5 - Pictures Of Matchstick Men - Status Quo

6 - Stoned Soul Picnic - The 5th Dimension
7 - Hello I Love You - The Doors
8 - I Love You - People
9 - I Need Love - Third Booth
10 - Angel Of the Morning - Merilee Rush
11 - Lady Willpower - Gary Puckett & The Union Gap
12 - Grazing In The Grass - Hugh Masekela
13 - Classical Gas - Mason Williams
14 - People Got To Be Free - The Rascals
15 - Sealed With a Kiss - Gary Lewis & the Playboys
16 - Mrs. Robinson - Simon & Garfunkel
17 - Yummy Yummy Yummy - The Ohio Express

18 - Hurdy Gurdy Man - Donovan
19 - How'd We Ever Get This Way - Andy Kim
20 - The Horse - Cliff Nobles & Company
21 - Light My Fire - Jose Feliciano
22 - 1-2-3 Red Light - 1910 Fruitgum Company
23 - Indian Lake - The Cowsills
24 - She's A Heartbreaker - Gene Pitney
25 - Reach Out In The Darkness - Friend & Lover
26 - Journey To the Center Of the Mind - The Amboy Dukes
27 - Alice Long - Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart
28 - Don't Take It So Hard - Paul Revere & The Raiders
29 - The Look Of Love - Sergio Mendes & the Brasil 66
30 - Stay In My Corner - The Dells
31 - MacArthur Park - Richard Harris
32 - Autumn Of My Life - Bobby Goldsboro
33 - Can't You See Me Cry - The New Colony Six
34 - Think - Aretha Franklin
35 - If I Were A Carpenter - The Four Tops
36 - Sunshine Of Your Love - Cream
37 - Like To Get To Know You - Spanky And Our Gang
38 - Slip Away - Clarence Carter
39 - Dream A Little Dream - Mama Cass Elliott
40 - Do It Again - The Beach Boys
41 - Master Jack - Four Jacks & A Jill
42 - Face It Girl, It's Over - Nancy Wilson
43 - Here Comes The Judge - Shorty Long
44 - Young Birds Fly - The Cryan' Shames
45 - Sky Pilot - Eric Burdon & The Animals
46 - You Keep Me Hangin' On - Vanilla Fudge
47 - Soul Limbo - Booker T. & the MGs
48 - I'm A Midnight Mover - Wilson Pickett
49 - Lickin' Stick - Part One - James Brown
50 - Halfway To Paradise - Bobby Vinton


One trend that really stands out is the inclusion of four instrumental hits in a three month period. Also the number of performers with direct ties to Chicago. Remarkably only a couple songs varied widely between WLS and WCFL, most notably "I Need Love", by Third Booth, did about twice as well on WLS than it di on WCFL. The big surprise is the inclusion of Nancy Wilson having a hit single in the midst of the psychedelic era.
Jack (Rock And Roll Never Forgets)

As Jack points out, plenty of Chicago talent on the charts well into 1968 ... The New Colony Six and The Cryan' Shames are represented here as are Spanky And Our Gang with one of MY favorites from this era, "Like To Get To Know You". And the aforementioned "I Need Love" by The Third Booth, was a #2 smash here in Chi-Town ... yet never so much as "bubbled under" on the Billboard chart.

Another noticeable trend ... many of these "finalists" weren't merely songs ... but were absolute ANTHEMS of this era. Tracks like "Jumpin' Jack Flash", "Born To Be Wild", "Hello I Love You" and "Sunshine Of Your Love" were inescapable if you turned your AM Radio on that summer ... yet they played side-by-side with the likes of Bobby Vinton, Bobby Goldsboro, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap and Richard Harris. (Wish someone would have left HIM out in the rain!!!)

"Pictures Of Matchstick Men", "I Love You" and "Journey To The Center Of The Mind" were all HUGE hits here in Chi-Town and I couldn't get enough of ANY of them. Likewise "Master Jack" by Four Jacks And A Jill, "Sky Pilot" by Eric Burdon and the Animals and "Do It Again" by The Beach Boys (ANOTHER #2 record here!) couldn't play often enough to satisfy my soon-to-be fifteen-year-old mind.

Bubble Gum Hits like "Yummy Yummy Yummy" and "1,2,3 Red Light" played alongside some classic soul (in fact, at least 20% of The Top 50 are by Black artists) and nobody thought any the better of it. This sort of musical hodgepodge WAS the musical landscape back in '68 ... and this way of thinking would prove to be lightyears ahead of the pre-segregated radio programming that goes on today.
One last thing ... I happened to LOVE the Nancy Wilson song "Face It Girl, It's Over" ... and have featured it twice before in Forgotten Hits. You'll find it here again today ... 'cause where ELSE are you ever gonna hear it?!?!?




Thanks again to Randy Price and Jack Levin for their research in compiling these lists ... another timeless Forgotten Hits classic!

Friday, June 18, 2010

More From The Rock And Roll College Of Musical Knowledge

We've put together another quick batch of "Helping Out Our Readers" today in Forgotten Hits ... as well as a new segment that we're calling "Setting The Record Straight".

As our list of readers has grown over the years, we have been quite successful in solving some of the "musical mysteries" that make up the bulk of your inquiries. We've found that by pooling our contacts, there truly IS strength in numbers ... and our "Helping Out Our Readers" segment has certainly become not only one of our most popular ... but also one of the most SUCCESSFUL features that we do.

However, if I had to pick ONE thing that I'm most proud of accomplishing with Forgotten Hits over the past eleven years, it would have to be setting the record straight regarding SO many mistakes that have been repeated as "facts" ... Forgotten Hits has always strived to arrive at "the most accurate truth" available, based on researching some of the oft-repeated "folklore" through the sources that were actually there at the time. As such, a number of artists and "movers and shakers" from this era continue to join our list and help us to determine "The Most Accurate Truth" wherever possible ... knowing that we will present their stories and memories in a professional and respectful manner. From time to time we like to explore some specific examples. (You'll find LOTS more on The Forgotten Hits Web Page at www.forgottenhits.com!) Today we're sharing just a few that have come up recently:


re: HELPING OUT OUR READERS:
>>>I'm trying top identify a TV commercial ... 70s? 80s? ... that used Donovan's flute part from "First There Is A Mountain" .. .not sure there's any singing, might be a re-recording of the flute music ... girls are dancing to it ... ring any bells? ... thanx a ton! (stolf)
>>>You probably already have it, but in answer to the question is the Toyota Rav4 is where advertisers wisely placed Donovan’s “There is a Mountain”. Here’s a link:
http://www.splendad.com/ads/show/2215-Toyota-RAV4-There-Is-A-Mountain
(Dawn Lee Wakefield)
Well its certainly gratifying to know the old tunes can still sell ... I mean, Dinah Washington's "Relax, Max" and the Kinks' "Picture Book" ... geez Louise! But what I'm looking for with the Donovan song is older ... it was a hair-care product and the girls are dancing to the flutes ... forgive me for being a dirty old baby boomer, but in my memory they sorta bump their hips to the dum dum dum dum dum at the end ... so I'm still looking! BTW ... did you check out stolfpod.podbean.com ... two new ones up!
-- stolf
Kent,
Thanks for the mention in today’s column. Now have all those jingles in my head like a song worm — thanks for that!
Dawn Lee Wakefield

Looks like we still haven't found the exact one he's looking for ... any other ideas on this topic? (I kinda remember this, too ... but cannot think of the product for the life of me!!!) Class??? (kk)

>>>There was a song played at least (I believe) in the Chicago area in the mid 60's called "Heads I Win, Tails You Lose". I have no clue who sang this and with all the experts I have access to, I'm starting to believe I may have just picked this 45 up in an S.S. Kresge 5 & 10 record bin many many years ago. Some of the lyrics are:
"Well, it's heads I win, tails you lose; you won my heart and broke it in two"."All the boys told me when they saw you driving again and again in the car with my very best friend".
(Jerry Kamper)
I have the 45 by the Cambridge Five on USA Records. (It was USA 850).
Tony Waitekus
By golly, I think we've found it!!! Thanks, Tony ... I passed the track along to Jerry and here's what he had to say:
Hi Kent!
You're so right on the money Kent. That's the song. The Cambridge Five???? It may not interest most, but I am sure curious how you came up with it. I must still ask myself if it was the Chicago radio stations playing it or was it the 5 & 10 record bin at S.S. Kresge. Maybe you can clear it up for me.
Thanks a heap for finding this record. . It's funny, I had no idea where or who recorded it, but I knew every single word. to this song. It's such a great joy to see your attachment and hear a song playing that you know darn well you haven't heard in well over 40 years. My only comparisons was driving through Chicago a few years back and hearing Ron Smith's oldies radio show playing "You Wouldn't Listen To Me" by the Ides of March. I was hearing one of my favorite Chicago oldies on my car radio for the first time in well over 35 years. You must admit, that's a true Blast From The Long Long Past. What a great thrill to experience that. My other all time music thrill was visiting your site and hearing the NC6's song "Never Be Lonely" for the very first time. It was also such a thrill to hear a fantastic Oldie for the first time which bore no old baggage or memories and just fell into a category of being an excellent and beautifully sung and orchestrated song that should have been a huge hit for the group. There is no way either of the mentioned songs fall into a true category of a forgotten hit, Kent, so thanks again for all you do for us here at
ForgottenHits@aol.com.
Jerry
I have to admit that we've got a pretty good track record for tracking this rare stuff down and sharing it with our "long-suffering" readers who absolutely KNOW that they grew up LOVING this song but have absolutely NO chance of hearing it on the radio anymore thanks to the regimented playlists of today. As far as I can tell, the song never charted here in Chicago (I checked all three major charts here for the '60's) ... so I'm not really sure WHERE you heard it. (Back then it was not unusual for WLS or ... more likely ... WCFL to give a record a spin for a week or two to see if it caught on with its listeners or not ... so it's quite possible that's where you heard it and for whatever reason it just clicked. Personally, I hadn't heard the song before ... but you can chalk up another one for the "good guys" here at FH!!!) kk










And, if it WAS done by a Chicago act, there's a good chance that this clip will end up on Jeff James' new "Windy City @ 6" program!!! Stay tuned! (kk)


re: SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT:
From what I've read and heard, The Fleetwoods were recorded outside of a normal, professional recording studio, possibly in a house, in or near their hometown. Whoever was heading these recordings (two producers I see), wanted to control all aspects, even have the vinyl records pressed by others with a custom imprinted record label name; this song release being "Dolphin 1" single, later to become Dolton Records.
As with other songs, when debating what version should be released, those versions would be saved. While the entire Mr. Blue album could have been issued in Stereo, as initially with other record companies, even Atlantic Records (until Tom Dowd helped), mixing Stereo was a problem because of the lack of necessary equipment.
Not discovered in EMI's vaults, here's what the Hit song, "Come Softly To Me", may have sounded like, with added bongo percussion, in Stereo ...
http://www.angelfire.com/empire/abpsp/images/softly-s.mp3
Part Producer, Bonnie Guitar, also resided in Washington, as did The Fleetwoods. Possibly even played acoustic guitar for The Fleetwoods recordings.
Please Note: No animals were harmed during this construed theorizing!
Best,
John
http://www.angelfire.com/empire/abpsp/
That's actually a pretty cool sounding mix, John ... not at all intrusive and it absolutely seems to fit with the whole Fleetwoods sound.
According to Darcy Sullivan's liner notes in the Rhino "The Best Of The Fleetwoods" CD, the guy who first heard an a capella version of the trio singing "Come Softly To Me" was Norm Bobrow, a local club owner. Norm brought the tape to Bob Reisdorff, a Northwest Record Producer who was always on the look-out for new talent, and asked him if he thought he could do anything with it. Looking back, Reisdorff told Sullivan "It was a capella and way too long ... but it fascinated me. I said 'That's a hit if ever I heard one.'" He brought The Fleetwoods (then calling themselves Two Girls And A Guy) into the basement studio of Joe Boles and, along with Dot recording artist Bonnie Guitar, tried to get a good take of the tune. Male vocalist Gary Troxel said "We must have recorded it 90-100 times because Boles didn't have the equipment to overdub." Pleased with the new a capella results, Reisdorff then changed the name of the group to The Fleetwoods (not after the car as often reported but rather after Olympia, Washington's telephone exchange!) and then, along with Bonnie Guitar (as co-producer), took the vocal track to Hollywood where they added acoustic guitar, bass and "a subtle percussion click" to the mix. (Sorry, John ... no bongos! In fact, other research I discovered claimed the percussion was simply Gary Troxel softly rattling his car keys!) The end result quickly went from regional to national hit status, eventually reaching the #1 Spot on Billboard's Pop Singles Chart in April of 1959. Part of what made the track stand out was the fact that it didn't really sound like anything else out on the radio at the time. Bonnie Guitar said "It was totally opposite of what the music business was doing at the time. Everything was what we called 'the hot sound, the Dot sound' ... really beefed up to sound exciting ... but The Fleetwoods had such a subtle, warm sound."
The group continued to record some of its material in this same fashion ... a capella vocals first, with instrumentation added later, after the fact ... virtually the complete opposite of the normal recording pattern. For whatever reason, it worked ... seven months later, they hit #1 again with "Mr. Blue".
I tried to get a first-hand accounting for you of these early sessions through either Gretchen Christopher or Gary Troxel, both original Fleetwoods members (and, as well as Forgotten Hits list members, also co-writers of their biggest hit song, "Come Softly To Me") but I didn't hear back from either of them in time for today's publication. (Hopefully at least one of them will see this posting and respond for a future issue.) kk

Hey, Kent,
I don't know if he's since corrected this comment, but in his FH interview, Peter Noone says the following:
>>>Lek is the guitarist on For Your Love so you can see he was very good. Eric, I think, quit the Yardbirds because they had no work. (Peter Noone)
That's Clapton on "For Your Love". He played on it - reluctantly - but quit supposedly the next day because he wanted to explore the blues even further. His next venture was with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. Clapton himself has said that he was obsessed with the blues to the point of arrogance to other kinds of music (and as a blues nut I can understand, lol) and that the Yardbirds were becoming an act akin to 10cc (he quickly added "no offense" to this statement.) I know 10cc was a '70's act - and that Graham Gouldman wrote "For Your Love" - but Clapton spoke these words in the late '80's/early '90's.
Ed (JacoFan)
To clarify, what Peter Noone was saying is that Lek (Herman's Hermits Guitarist Derek Leckenby) played the guitar lead on THEIR version of "For Your Love", which actually pre-dated The Yardbirds' version. When I had commented that Clapton quit The Yardbirds because of their insistence on a more "commercial" sound, Noone came back with "he quit because they were only making five quid a night." The context of that conversation was regarding the fact that The Hermits often used outside musicians (like Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones) on their recordings because the feeling was their OWN band didn't have the chops ... yet once they learned the parts, they were able to adequately recreate them on stage. (kk)
I sit corrected. I didn't know that Herman's Hermits did a version of "For Your Love" that pre-dated the Yardbirds version.
Ed
Because Graham Gouldman had written so many songs for Herman's Hermits, they got "first dibbs" on this one, too ... likewise "Bus Stop" before The Hollies had their huge hit with this song. And, thanks to a connection with P.F. Sloan, the Hermits' version of "Where Were You When I Needed You" pre-dated The Grass Roots' hit by over a year! (kk)





Thanks for the info ... and the education!
Ed
Hey ... it's what we do!!! (lol) kk

>>>About 10 years ago, I was in a local piano shop here in Portland, OR. I got to talking with a fellow behind the counter and mentioned my record collection and my 15 years in radio back in the 60's and 70's. He then said that maybe I'd heard of his dad, Voyle Gilmore. Of course I had. Cueing up all those Capitol hits back then, Voyle was a name that I had seen often. As V.P. of A&R for Capitol, he'd produced Frank Sinatra's hits from 1953-1958, the Kingston Trio's early successes, and even The Beatles Hollywood Bowl concert. John plays 'lounge piano' around the area, and I drop in to see him about once a week. He is a fantastic source of background info about the good days and shares stories with me all the time. One that he really is fond of is that Jimmy Page of 'Led Zepplin' fame was actually the session guitar lead for most of Herman's Hermits hits. In fact, that guitar intro for "Silhouettes" is a riff that Jimmy used as a warm up exercise, and when Mickey Most heard it, he built his arrangement for the recording around it.Thanks again for all your work, keep on truckin'!
(Jim Pritchard / aka Jim Southern)
>>>One correction I HAVE to point out regarding the Jimmy Page / "Silhouettes" story ... that story has been circulating for YEARS ... and we FINALLY put an end to it a couple of years back when we interviewed Peter Noone for Forgotten Hits. (You can find the entire interview here:
Click here: Forgotten Hits - Forgotten Hits Interviews Peter Noone ... it ALSO addresses the comment made above by Ed / JacoFan)
It turns out that while John Paul Jones (Page's bandmate in Led Zeppelin) arranged a number of Herman's Hermits records over the years, Jimmy Page only played on about four tracks ... and the riff on "Silhouettes" is NOT one of them. (Rumors abound on this issue ... in fact, we have had a couple of people state on the record that Page could not nail the riff properly so session guitar virtuoso Vic Flick was brought in for the session ... and that later he even taught Page how to play it!!! Can anyone even IMAGINE a time like this when a guitarist of Jimmy Page's caliber would need to be SHOWN a repetitive riff like this?!?!?)
After much discussion back and forth between both Peter Noone and Vic Flick ...
(both of whom are on our Forgotten Hits List ... and who even picked this topic up again when both musical legends were in Las Vegas) ... as well as Herman's Hermits Guitarist Keith Hopwood (who was there at the session), all parties concerned acknowledged FOR THE RECORD that it was Vic who played this famous lick, and NOT Jimmy Page as has been widely reported for years. (After our piece first ran, we issued a special "amendment" to the story which you'll see as part of the interview posted on the other Forgotten Hits Website.)
In fact, if you do a bit of web searching now, you'll find Forgotten Hits credited on a number of sites as putting out the final word on this subject. You can read the whole interview on The Forgotten Hits Website via the link shown above. (kk)

Hi Kent,
It is amazing how many of these 'fantastic sources of background info' get things wrong. It is also amazing that people who weren't even born know more about what happened on recording sessions than the musicians who were actually there. I can remember distinctly playing on a few Herman's Hermits recordings and especially 'Silhouettes.' That title was recorded in Kingsway Studios, London and produced by Mickie Most. Peter Noone, bless his cotton socks, gets a few things wrong now and again - sometimes on purpose. I suppose he must think it sounds better to say Jimmy was on the track instead of me.
I worked with Jimmy Page on various sessions and indeed helped him with some difficult passages as he couldn't read music. Most of the rhythm section guys realized Jimmy had great potential as a guitarist and as he was a good guy to get on with, we helped him, as we did others, as much as possible.
Jimmy Page has also been credited with the guitar work on the James Bond Theme. I can assure all your readers, it was me. Elsewhere in your Forgotten Hits you mention Ringo's Theme (This Boy), the tune in the film A Hard Day's Night. That again was yours truly at the request of George Martin, but I expect someone will contest it.
Very sorry to read of American Rock and Roll artists, radio personalities and musicians passing to the big studio in the sky. They had such a extensive and wonderful influence on so many lives.
Very best wishes.
Vic Flick

A bit more on Peter Noone and Herman's Hermits ... I recently received this remembrance from Sam Lit, son of legendary Philadelphia DeeJay Hy Lit ...
"It's only Rock & Roll, but I like it."


Hy Lit & Mick Jagger

Hy Lit Rolling Stones Stage Show, Convention Hall Philadelphia May 1965

Hy Lit Interviews Peter Noone, 1965

May, 1965 ... Hy Lit books Mick Jagger & The Rolling Stones, Herman's Hermits and a half dozen other groups for a major stage show in Philadelphia. Toward the end of the show, Mick Jagger & Keith Richards (see more picture's on HyLitRadio.com) inform Hy that if they don't close the show ... and perform after Herman's Hermits they will not perform at all. Moments earlier Herman's Hermits gave Hy the same ultimatum. Frank Rizzo, the Chief of Police at the time, was also backstage. Frank immediately placed managers of both groups under arrest on a disorderly charge for attempting to incite a riot, and after assuring them they would all be spending the next few days in Philadelphia, the feud between the two groups was quickly settled.After a coin toss, Herman's Hermits played second to last and Mick and the gang closed the show.
-- Sam Lyt
GREAT story!!! I asked Peter Noone what, if anything, HE remembered about this night. Here's a little background twist that makes it an even BETTER story!!! (Talk about your perfect punchlines!!!) kk
I don't recall the whole evening, but I know we knew that PHILADELPHIA had a CURFEW then, and at least 70% of the crowd would leave at a certain time, which was about 10 minutes into our set or the Stones set. So we conveniently didn't mention it and a coin toss is so un-English. We were not being mean-spirited as we all loved the Stones (especially Brian and Charlie), but we all thought it was a HOOT and it is still fondly remembered as one of those fun nights when we got one over on the Stones to repay them for a ride they gave me from Birmingham to London in their big Blue Chevrolet, which was driven by a lunatic called Reg King, who smashed wing mirrors of all the cars we passed on the 100 mile an hour drive at 100 mph. He was also driving the left hand drive car whilst wielding a hammer, which for the 17 year old Herman was mightily attractive, as I lived with my grandmother who made pots of tea for the groups.
That night in Philly has been written about so many times, that even I have lost total recall, but I think if you check with the cops in Philly, you will find there was a curfew that year and I stood at the side of the stage with ALO (Andew Loog Oldham) to watch Mick's face as the crowd left during their 5th song.
Fun night!
Ask Charlie Watts ... he remembers everything.
Like me!!!
-- Peter Noone
http://www.peternoone.com/
TOOOO funny!!! GREAT story, Peter ... thanks for sharing it with our readers! (kk)
P.S. You'll find ALL kinds of cool stuff ... and incredible memories ... on The Hy Lit Web Page: Click here: Hy Lit Radio Technologies Inc. hylit.com

One of the most unique "forgotten" 45s, which sounded like a cross between the Mamas & The Papas and the Beach Boys, came out on Columbia Records in the Summer of 1967. This record, produced by Gary Usher, featured an audio montage. It features a baby crying, a horse race announcer saying "They're Off", a riverboat whistle, a brawl, and finally a brass fanfare that dissolves into a combination organ and hunting vocals. This interesting highlight was only on the mono 45 version of "My World Fell Down" by Saggitarius. I read that Columbia did not like the seemingly non sequitur audio and had it removed for the album "Present Tense". I got "Present Tense" on CD and thankfully the reissue included the single version of "My World Fell Down". "Present Tense" also included "Another Time", their second single which didn't chart nationally, but got airplay in Louisville, Ky. "My World Fell Down" peaked at #70 during that magical Summer of Love.
M. Marvin
It's also one of my all-time favorites. Despite a meager #70 national showing, "My World Fell Down" became a Top Ten Hits here in Chicago during The Summer of Love. (In fact, I take a little bit of pride in helping to fuel the popularity of this one ... we've featured it at least four times now in Forgotten Hits and when we did our Top 20 Favorite Psychedelic Songs Poll a few years ago, our readers voted THIS one into the #13 spot! You can find the whole list here:
Click here: Forgotten Hits - Top 20 Favorite Psychedelic Songs
And here's an excerpt from the piece we did on Sagittarius:
'60's FLASHBACK:
To my mind, this song DEFINES the sound of psychedelic pop, circa 1967 and The Summer of Love. Put together by several Beach Boys friends and sidemen, for whatever reason this song failed to capture the hearts (and ears) of most of America, crapping out at #70 in Billboard and #79 in Cash Box. (Here in Chicago, it went all the way to #19.) The studio-assembled band consisted of Bruce Johnston and Terry Melcher (both featured many times before in Forgotten Hits as both Bruce and Terry and The Rip Chords, Gary Usher (long-time Brian Wilson collaborator and crony), Glen Campbell (oft-times used as a Beach Boys studio musician and one-time Brian Wilson tour stand-in who, by 1967, was starting to have chart hits under his OWN name, fellow studio legends (and elite Wrecking Crew members) Hal Blaine (on drums) and Carol Kaye (on bass), future Bread keyboardist (and recently departed) Larry Knechtel (who would go on to win a Grammy for his work on Simon and Garfunkel's classic "Bridge Over Troubled Water" album) and Curt Boettcher, who co-produced the album with Usher. Believe it or not, that's Campbell on lead vocals!!! (As far as I'm concerned, he's never sounded better.) Later, Sagittarius would pay homage to The Beach Boys by recording their classic track "In My Room" ... it, too, failed to make much of a chart impression, peaking at #84 in 1969.
Although this song didn't make much of a dent on the pop charts when it was first released in the Summer of 1967, it gained a whole new following and allegiance when it was featured on the "Nuggets" LP (and, later, the CD Box Set.) We're featuring it here in Forgotten Hits for what I believe now is the SIXTH time in six years!!! But, since you pretty much NEVER hear this one on the radio, that's still not nearly enough airplay for my tastes!
DIDJA KNOW?-1: When we previously featured this song, we told you that producer Gary User had originally planned on recording "My World Fell Down" with the British pop duo Chad and Jeremy ... but they HATED the song. In addition to Chad and Jeremy, by 1966 Usher was also producing albums for The Byrds and Simon and Garfunkel and was still hanging out with the likes of Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys. (As part of Brian's inner circle, he was there for a number of the aborted "Smile" recording sessions ... in fact, a rumor has persisted for years that the bullfight sequence stuck in the middle of the psychedelic interlude on "My World Fell Down" actually came from the original "Smile" tapes ... although this has never officially been substantiated. By the way, there IS no bullfight sequence on the recently released, re-recorded "Smile" CD.)
DIDJAKNOW?-2: "My World Fell Down" was written by Geoff Stephens ... who ALSO wrote the '60's #1 Classic Hit "Winchester Cathedral"!!! It was first recorded by The Ivy League in Great Britain. (Their version failed to chart on either side of the ocean!)










Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Forgotten Hits Interview - Marshall Lytle

Marshall Lytle was one of Bill Haley's original Comets ... in fact, that's him playing bass on their #1 Smash Hit "Rock Around The Clock", first recorded back in 1954 for the feature film "The Blackboard Jungle". A year later, the song clicked with the whole wide world and today "Rock Around The Clock" is considered by most music experts and historians as the record that officially launched The Rock And Roll Era. (Sure, there were hints at Rock And Roll before, mainly through the popular Rhythm and Blues artists that were starting to find their way over to The Pop Charts ... but the record that UNIVERSALLY ignited the fever was THIS one, performed by the unlikely pop star Bill Haley!)

We learned more about Marshall Lytle last year when he was hospitalized and had to have part of his leg removed. Long-time friend and dee jay Jimmy Jay filed regular reports with us to keep our Forgotten Hits Readers up to date ... and I know that many of you sent Well Wishes along to Marshall while he was still in the hospital.

Lytle also released a brand new book last year, documenting the early days of Rock And Roll. Titled "Still Rockin' Around The Clock", it is available at fine bookstores everywhere (or through online services such as Amazon.com.) He truly is a part of Rock And Roll History.

So when FH Reader Bob Rush ... who just happens to be the U.S. Correspondent for "The Beat", a British publication that specializes in '50's, '60's and '70's Rock And Roll Music, told me that he was interviewing Marshall Lytle for his column in the magazine ... and wanted to know if I might be interested in also running the interview on our Forgotten Hits web page ... naturally I said "YES!!!" ... and that's EXACTLY what we're featuring here today!

So, with Bob's kind permission (many of you know him as "Dr. Robert", columnist for "The U.S. Beat"), here we go!

Kent,
Meet Marshall Lytle. Marshall, meet Kent Kotal.
Marshall is the original bass player of Bill Haley and his Comets.
I have attached the interview that is running in the June issue of THE BEAT
(
http://www.kingsleyhousepublishers.com/), in my monthly column, "The U.S. Beat with Dr. Robert."
Thanks!
Bob

Greetings from the U.S. Beat! I read the morning paper every day this week. But my neighbor finally came back from vacation.


This month THE US Beat is pleased to be speaking with Marshall Lytle, original bass-player with Bill Haley’s Comets, and his co-author, Michael Jordan Rush. Marshall has a new book with Michael entitled, STILL ROCKIN’ AROUND THE CLOCK.”
Marshall Lytle: I am just fine, Bob. It’s nice to be with you here.

US Beat: Thank you, Marshall. I know The Beat readers are really going to enjoy hearing from you. You guys got together in 1952 as I recall?
ML: Well, I got together with Bill Haley in October / November, 1951. I had just turned 18 years old. Bill was a friend of my family, and used to stop by the house, and so on. I was doing my own radio at WVCH program - 15 minutes a day – at a competitive radio station (Bill Haley also had a show on a rival station) in Chester, Pennsylvania. It was a little 1000 watt radio station, and Bill Haley was on the other station we had in Chester – WPWA. Bill had built up quite a following with his one hour daily lunch hour radio show.
One day Bill walked into WVCH and told me his bass player had just quit and that he wanted me to join his band. I was a guitar player and I said, “Bill, you know I’m not a bass player.” And he said, “Hell, I’ll teach you to play that thing in 30 minutes and I’ll show you how to slap it.” He had an old bass fiddle at his station and we rode out there and he showed me how to do a shuffle beat. I felt good with it so Bill said, “Get yourself a bass fiddle and come to work for me tonight.” So I went down, got a new Epiphone B5 bass fiddle that’s on display today at the Hard Rock CafĂ© in Orlando, Florida. I beat the hell out of it. It was on all of the hit records. But it was terrible to travel with. So then it sat in my brother Gene’s attic for 25 years. About 1957 or 58 I quit playing it and got a Fender bass.

USB: when you got together with Bill Haley was that The Saddlemen?
ML: Yes, The Saddle Men. Just 4 or 5 pieces.

USB But it was formed with the intension of being a country band?
ML: Yes, we played country music, we wore the cowboy suits and hats and boots. We did everything but ride a horse.

USB: Was that teenage music of the northeast part of America then?
ML: Well, I wouldn’t call it teen music. It was more adult music. Country and Western was very, very popular before the days of television and Dick Clark’s American Bandstand and all that. C & W got popular right after the second World War because of radio. There was a 50,000 watt station out of Nashville, Tennessee, with a Saturday night show called ‘Grand Ol’ Opry.”

USB: so when did you guys change from the Saddlemen to Bill Haley & the Comets? What was the transition between CW and rock?
ML: Right around ‘51, after I went with Bill, we started experimenting with different sounds with R & Blues music. And it all started at WPWA radio station. There was a white D.J. playing what was then called Race Music. He came to Bill one day and he said, “Hey, Bill,
there’s a record here that’s getting really a lot of requests. It’s really a jump beat sort of number. You ought to listen to it and maybe learn it.” It was called “We’re Gonna Rock this Joint Tonight,” by Jimmy Preston. We started doing it two or three times a night in a bar in Glouster, New Jersey. Bill would say, “All right, all you hillbillies – we’re gonna do some rockin’ now!” and we’d do “Rock This Joint Tonight” and they loved it. And Bill said, “Man, we’re gonna record this.”

USB: So your performances were country western with some rock thrown in?
ML: Yeah. With no drums. It was steel guitar, rhythm guitar, bass and accordion.

USB: So the beat was made by your slapping the strings?
ML: Yes. Actually, do you know what Perfect Pitch is?

USB: Sure.
ML: That’s when you throw a banjo into a dumpster and it hits the accordion. [laughter]

USB: Marshall, do you know what you throw a drowning bass player?
ML: What?
USB: His amp! [laughter]

At this point, Marshall began telling some musician jokes, and of course, I took the bait. A good period of musician joke “cutting” transpired, as:
ML: Do you know how to get a drummer off your porch?
USB: You pay him for the pizza!
ML: yeah! [gagging laughter]

USB: You know how you can tell if the stage is level?
ML: No, how?
USB: The drummer drools out of both sides of his mouth.

ML: Do you know what the accompanist said to the vocalist?
USB: No, what?!
ML: Do you want me to play this too fast, or too slow?
USB / ML: [laughter and snorting]

USB: Do you know what you call a guitarist who broke up with his girlfriend?
ML: No, what?
USB: Homeless! And finally, what do you call 8 accordionists up to their necks in sand?
ML: [still laughing]: No, what?
USB: Not enough sand! But enough gay banter!

[laughter, gagging and some crying sounds] Well, I hate to leave this but, what happened next?
ML: Well, we had a recording session for “Rock This Joint tonight.” It was on a little record company out of South Philadelphia called Essex records. The fella from the record company wanted us to go to Cleveland to promote this record. We took the record to Cleveland and we met with Alan Freed. He liked us and we were a Country band. We were Bill Haley & The Saddle Men at that time. Alan Freed …
Michael Rush: The King of the Moondogs!
ML: The King of the Moondogs! He liked our record and he played it on his radio show. We did an interview with him. He had a switch on the wall that he could turn his microphone on and off at will, and while the record was playing he kept shouting, “Rock and Roll, everybody! Rock and Roll!” He kept yelling it, and the telephone at the radio station rang off the hook. People were calling and saying, “Play that rock and roll record again,” and he played “Rock This Joint” 12 times. And I think that was the night that rock and roll was born.

USB: And when was that?
ML: It was 1952, April or May.

USB: Spring of! Spring of ’52.
ML: And, after that Alan Freed situation, we were playing – Bill liked to play high schools where the kids could hear our music.

USB: How did the teacher like it?
ML: They got some free music and the kids loved it. It was in the assembly hall. After our show at Eddystone [High School, just South of Philadelphia] we were putting the instruments in the car and we were talking to some kids around the car and Bill said, “How’d you kids like our music?” And one kid goes, “It’s crazy, man! Crazy!”

USB: Ah, I hear a song title.
ML: Bill took a pen and wrote “crazy man crazy” on his hand. We went back to Bill’s house and his wife was making lunch for us. I had ridden with him and my car was at his house. So, Bill reached over in the corner and grabbed a guitar. He played a big ol’ chord and he says “crazy man crazy!, crazy man crazy!, crazy man crazy! … man, that music’s gone.” And then I started throwing lines it with him, and he and I wrote “Crazy Man Crazy” within 30 minutes.

USB: Now, let me guess – he ran and copyrighted it.
ML: Yeah. He knew that he and I wrote it and it was just an understood thing. And then when we did the record session … we did this one in New York and it was the first record we used drums on. We hired a drummer that played great. [Billy Gussak, and also guitarist Art Ryerson was used] He had a great feel. And when we first met he said, “Now, Marshall, you and I, let’s go in this corner and play some time together. I just want you to play what you normally play and I’ll play around you. I played my slap beat and he started to play a shuffle but with an accented 2 and 4, “buh-doo-doo-WHAP! buh-doo-doo-WHAP!” and we just created such a damn infectious beat that it became Bill’s trademark. And we used that guy on just about every recording because Bill called him his lucky charm.

USB: Did he travel with you?
ML: No, but we hired a drummer named Dick Richards who traveled with us and stayed with us until about 1955.

MJR: I just want to say that Billboard calls “Crazy Man Crazy” the first rock and roll song ever to hit Billboard’s charts [No less and authority than Joel Whitburn confirms this fact].
USB: Really?! And when was that?
ML: 1953. What did it go to? #21, or … ?
MJR: 12, I think.
ML: Yeah, 12.

USB: I’m surprised that fact isn’t more quoted. It’s so important. I always hear 1955. 1953, huh? [A reliable post-interview internet source check reveals that this is so. And it was also on the Cash Box charts. It is also the first rock and roll record to be performed on National Television. The record is credited to “Bill Haley with The Comets. Further, according to Wikipedia, the writing was first credited to Bill Haley, but it is now known to also be written by Marshall Lytle, who received printed credit when The Comets re-released a live version in 2002.]
ML: Yeah.
MJR: Well, you’ll clear ‘em up on it.

ML: Now back to “Crazy Man Crazy” : the A&R man, Dave Miller, asked Bill Haley who wrote this song. And he said, “Oh, just Bill Haley.” And I was livid. I went to him and I said, “Now Bill – you and I know we wrote that song together.” In those days, Bill was my hero. Whatever Bill wanted to do, I wanted to do, too. So he said, “Oh, Marshall. I want to take credit for this for another reason. But, I’ll take care of you. I’ll put you on another song.” So I sad, “OK, Bill.” But I had in my own mind here – I said, “Now this relationship has to be watched.” I lost a lot of my feelings for Bill at that particular time because I was shut out of something that I would have liked to have credit for.

USB: Sadly, this is a similar story to so many I’ve been told. I think this needs to get out to the public, if it’s the only victory you get out of this ... it's a story that needs to be told. Credit for talent applied, should never be stolen.
ML: Right. That’s my feelings, exactly. And Bill’s ex-wife even acknowledges that I was part of the writing of that song. She was there when we wrote it.

USB: Oh boy. So – are you guys the Comets at this point? And how did you make the name transition
ML: I don’t remember what the label says. I think it says The Saddle Men, but it might be The Comets at this point. The name change came right after we got back from Cleveland. There was a program director at radio station WPA in Chester, named Bob Johnson. (LORD JIM FERGUSON? ACCORDING TO YOUR BOOK ???] I remember because he used to drive a Jaguar. An old 1951 Jaguar. He used to park it around back. I have pictures of it. He came to us one day and said, “You guys don’t look like Saddle Men ... and you don’t sound like ‘em either. You oughta change your name to Haley’s Comets. You know that big ol’ comet that goes across the sky every 75 years? You oughta call yourselves Bill Haley’s Cometa. So Bill asks what we thought of it. I said, “Hell, I think it’s great, not good,” and the other guys agreed. We got rid of the cowboy outfits and went to get matching suits, and we tried to get matching bowties, but the first pictures show us wearing four different bow ties.

USB: So, “Rock This joint” was by The Saddle Men? And “Crazy Man Crazy” was released at Bill Haley’s Comets.
ML: Yes.

USB: Tell me more.
ML: OK. We had been recording using sidemen – drums and a saxophone. And we were playing in a night club and we said, “Hell, we ought to hire a drummer!” We hired Dick Richards at that time and he’s still with The Original Comets. And Joey Ambrose, who was a saxophone player. He was about 16, maybe 17 and he was just learning. But he was good because he had an individualized sound. When you heard Joey play, you knew it was Joey. We used Billy Gussak on drums again for the recording. On “Rock Around the Clock,” they wanted a guitar solo, and then they wanted Joey to play a sax solo. “Rock Around the Clock” was in the key of A. For a saxophone player, that puts him in the key of B. So he couldn’t maneuver around too much in B. So he just started with “Bah-bah-bah! Bah-bah-ba-da-ba-doo!” Then everybody just joined in, and it just gelled. It really hit. It was an ensemble thing that really worked, and it got Joey off the hook from having to play a sax solo by himself in B.

UB: And made musical history!
ML: That’s right! And the guitar solo, by the way, was done by a guy named Danny Cedrone ... he was a studio man ... and he had played the guitar solo on “Rock This Joint,” which is the same solo he used on “Rock Around the Clock.”

USB: Right! And incidentally, as you probably know, an unbelievable solo!
ML: I know. And it was on “Rock Around the Clock” because I had suggested it on there. We recorded that after we had recorded the A side, “13 Women and Only 1 Man in Town.” Milt Gabler owned a piece of the song so he forced it on us.
MJR: And the producer was Milt Gabler, [American comedy star]
Billy Crystal’s uncle.
USB: Oh!

ML: We did two takes on it, and one of them had a little problem [the levels were not good in the first take, and the vocals were drowned out] so they spliced the two takes together.
Then Milt Gabler threw us a song called “13 Women” and we didn’t know what it was. It had no arrangement on it, or anything, so it took us 2 ½ hours to get that song completed and in the can. And it sold 80,000,000 records. [it became the B side of “Rock Around the Clock”]. Then Milt Gabler said, “OK, record your rock song.” We had a four hour session that day, and we were on a ferry stuck on a sandbar for an hour (on the way to Decca records in New York to record), then 2 ½ hours to record “13 Women” left us only 35 minutes to record “Rock Around the Clock.” Danny Cidrone was not at the rehearsal where we rehearsed “Rock Around the Clock” in Bill’s basement the night before we left for New York. Bill always wanted a guitar solo on the recordings, so Danny was looking for a solo to play. And because of the clock just ticking away, I said, “Hey, Danny – why don’t you use the solo you used on ‘Rock This Joint?’ “ He said, “Do you think that’ll fit?” And so we tried it and it just worked out! absolutely perfect. And that solo has become world famous with guitar players.


USB: Yes it has. Now, I heard a tragic story about the guitar player – is it true?
ML: Yes. Two weeks after we recorded “Rock …” he got drunk and fell down some very steep steps and broke his neck.

USB: Now what is that rhythmic ticking sound throughout the record? Spoons? Another rhythm instrument?
ML: No, that’s my fingers clicking on the neck of the bass so I get that sound.
MJR: And they mic’d the bass using two microphones in different placements to get that sound recorded like that.
ML: Brian Setzer wondered, too. He said, “Marshall, how did you get that clicking noise? We tried everything!”
MJR: They banged on boxes …
ML: “We banged on boxes, barstools and everything to copy that sound and we never could get it right!” I told him it was just down on the bass.

USB: So did “Rock … ” sell 80,000,000 copies?!
ML: No! It sold about 75,000 records. Then we were in the studio 2 or 3 weeks later and recorded “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” and the other side was “A, B, C Boogie.” The first gold record we got was for “Shake, Rattle and Roll.”

USB: So, “Rock … ” was recorded first, but “Shake…” was successful first. What did it take, the movie?
ML: Yes! In 1955 Glenn Ford was doing a movie with Richard Brooks called “Black Board Jungle.” Glenn’s son Peter was playing “Rock Around the Clock" in his bedroom. He fell in love with Bill Haley’s Comets so he bought “13 Women ... ” and flipped it over to find “Rock Around the Clock.” And so [director] Richard Brooks heard the song and said he wanted it for the movie. He used it in the film three times. They bought the rights for $3,000.00 and they could have bought the damn song outright for that. Who would’ve known it would become such a big hit?!
MJR: Every teenager carried a copy of the book in his back pocket and Richard Brooks had the music cranked loud, the way he had first heard it, in the movie.

USB: Marshall, how old were you in 1955?
ML: 23

USB: OK, you were 23 in 1955. What I’m getting at is, I know this is aimed at teenagers, and I’d imagine there were people your age into rock, but you were in the middle of it all. So, I’m curious to know your perspective on the music world and the cultural teenage world as you were helping to create it. Were you able to see it? Were you able to realize what was going on, or were you just doing your job and it wasn’t an issue to you?
ML: Well, actually, I was just trying to make a living. And you have to understand what the music world was like then. It was Perry Como, Patti Page, and these were the people who were the hit makers. And we listened to them on the radio. When “Rock … ” hit, we were driving on the New York throughway from Cleveland to Boston to do a big teenage show. We were driving in one of Bilateral Haley’s new Cadillacs. It was 10:00 at night and I turned on the radio, and “Rock … ” was the first thing I heard! I said, “Let me see if I can find anymore.” I pushed a button on this new “Sel-ectric” bar they had to see and “Rock ... ” was playing again, and I pushed it a third time and found it again ... and it was playing five times, all at the same time. We said, “Man, what a hit this is,” and we didn’t even know what a big hit it would be.

USB: Did you feel a sense of pride, or did you hear “ka-ching, ka-ching,” as I’m sure Bill did?
ML: Well, I thought, ‘Boy I’d like to be in on the royalty parts’ because the song was selling a lot of records and I was not on the receiving end of the royalties. And that was why Bill Haley’s band split up. Joe and Dick and I made plans to leave right after the height of
“Rock … ”

USB: Is this something that was brewing?
ML: Sure.

USB: So what happened?
ML: See, I was originally promised a junior partnership in the band, but I ended up grouped in as a sideman with the others.

USB: I’m seeing a pattern.
ML: Well, yes. We gave Bill our notice and we trained our replacement guys so we’d leave with a good taste in our mouths. The new guys sat in the audience and watched every move so they could emulate us. But first of all let me tell you how we got back together.

USB: Please.
ML: After years of being apart and out of show business, Dick, our drummer, had an opportunity in 1987 in Philadelphia to get the original Comets back together to do a one-time shot at the Academy of Music. It was promoted by a friend of Dick’s, who was a television producer. Dick Clark was given a star on the street – the Philadelphia Walk of Fame. And they brought in about 50 acts who had started their careers in the Philadelphia area. We hadn’t played together in over 25 years, all the original guys. So they put us up in a nice hotel and they rented a rehearsal hall for us and rented us some nice instruments. So we went in and an hour later the music started to come back. We started sounding like Bill Haley and The Comets. So we did that show and we just did 2 or 3 songs in it, at the beginning of the night. Entertainment Tonight”. (a regularly televised U.S. entertainment news “magazine”). A fan, David Hirschberg out of New York, an attorney there, said, “Boy, you guys are so popular in England. You’ve got some fans over there. If I book you guys a show, would you go do a show over there?”

USB: Now, Marshall, The Comets toured England in 1957, but you, Joe and Dick were gone by then, right?
ML: Yeah, we were gone by then.

USB: So England never really saw the original Comets.
ML: Right.

USB: And I say that because some of my readers may have been there, but they never did see the original Comets until 1987.
ML: That's right.


USB: Marshall, let’s return to your tenure with the band for a moment - where did all of your stage antics come from? Flipping the bass around, throwing it in the air, standing on it, riding it! How did you come up with that? That was brilliant!
ML: In 1953, in May, in the Hofbrau Hotel in Wildwood, New Jersey, we were doing a matinee on a Sunday. Joey, the sax player, got off the stage and started blowing, honking people. [Marshall makes a honking sound, like a baritone goose, to demonstrate]. I thought, “Hell, he’s getting all the attention. I better do something!” So I put the bass over my head and starting playing.

USB: What a story!
ML: Then Joey would come back on the stage and I said, “Here, sit on the bass,” and he sat on the bass and I slid him around on the stage! This was in 1953.

USB: And, you left the band in ’55?
ML: Yes, that’s correct, and the other guys took our place, and we created The Jodimars, from Dick, Joey and Marshall. We had a contract with Capital Records. Two weeks after we left Bill Haley, we released our first record. [for a real treat, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zhit6cBDHv4. At about 00:36 sec, Marshall gets funky with a slammin’ bass solo. Then, at about 1:08, the “Bass Antics” begin. Crazy, Marshall, Crazy!]
Marshall, as Michael had mentioned to me on the telephone, you are really rock and roll’s first showman!

USB: So you left to form The Jodimars.
ML: And we had a contract from Capital Records with a $5,000.00 advance. And our first gig was at the Palace Theater in New York City and I had what was Judy Garland’s dressing room. And I left the Comets last December because of some ill feelings that cropped up with Joey and Dick. We had a three-way partnership, so the two of them started up against me and started making decisions without consulting me. They wanted to do some songs that were not Bill Haley songs. I always felt that we should play the songs of the guy that brought us to the dance.

USB: Well, that’s why people come to see you.
ML: That’s right. So we did like 20 songs in our show. And I said, “Hell, we gotta do more Bill Haley songs” and they said, “Well, we’re doing 7 now … “. I sad that wasn’t enough. Joey wanted to run things his way. So I thought, being 76 years old, life is just too damn short to live under stress and a lot of ill feelings, so I just said at the end of the year I’ll leave the band. I finished up with them on December 11th in Clearwater, Florida, and I haven’t heard a word from them since.

USB: Isn’t that something.
ML: Yeah. I did leave the door open but they never, ever did want to re-open it. I said there will be promoters who want all three originals and I said I would be willing to work those shows and they said, “Oh, that would be good.” But then, all of a sudden, they shut me out of everything. So, I’m not going to England with them this year and I don’t work with them any more. My lady and I are going to our residence in Branson, Missouri, from our Florida home.

USB: Marshall, with all that’s happened, how do you reconcile it so that you’re happy and comfortable in spite of what occurred.
ML: I guess I kind of said to myself that I have to do what I have to do so that I can do what I want to do.

USB: OK. But you’re not gonna start with The Jodimars again, are you?
ML: [laughter]

USB: So, what’s next for you, Marshall?
ML: I’m doing an acting role. I’m going to film a movie here in Tarpon’s Springs, Florida. A friend of mine, Bertie Higgins, became a motion picture producer. I invested in his last film called “Poker Run.” It’s doing very, very well. Walmart is selling about 2500 DVD’s a week. Bertie said he had a new movie and he said he has a part in it for me. I play a crusty old bartender with an attitude. I can play that! [laughter all around].

USB: And then, next year, when you’re at the Oscars [laughter again] Ryan Seacrest will come up and say to you, “Marshall, who are you wearing?” [and more laughter].
ML: That’s funny! ‘Who are you wearing?’ That’s really funny!

USB: Marshall, Michael - can we discuss your and Michael’s new book?
ML: Yes, I have a book of my memoirs, STILL ROCKIN’ AROUND THE CLOCK (“My Life In Rock’s First Super Group – Bill Haley and The Comets”)

USB: Do you have a lot of stories, anecdotes and pictures?
ML: Sure!

USB: Tell me one.
ML: Well, we were in Elvis’s dressing room and he was demonstrating karate or something, and he asked me to hold his watch. It had an inscription on the back.

USB: What did it say?
ML: It was given to Elvis in 1960 by RCA Victor. It said, “To Elvis Presley – Congratulations on the sale of your 79,000,000 millionth record! RCA Victor.”

USB: Now wait! Didn’t you say “13 Women” sold 80,000,000?
ML: Yes. When “Rock Around the Clock” hit, and “13 Women” was on the flip side, “13 Women” got a free ride! “Rock … ” went to #1 and it stayed #1 for quote some time. And Jimmy Meyers told me, before he died in 2000, that “Rock … ” had sold over 80,000,000 records.
MJR: It’s the biggest selling single by a group in history! It’s in the Guinness Book of World Records.

USB: So now, you guys have this book, and it’s a great book! Where can my readers get a copy of this book?
MJR: On Amazon.com, US.

USB: How about Amazon.com U.K.?
MJR: It’s a little hard to get on U.K. But we’ve had people in Australia get this book on U.S.
ML: And you can look us up with pictures of when I toured England and more, go to TheOriginalComets.com.

USB: Hey! Do you guys want to do something fun? Ask a trivia question for our readers, and then send the winner an autographed book?
ML: What two words were omitted from the legal title of “Rock Around the Clock”?

USB: O.K., gang. You heard the man. Email me at Doc_of_Rock@comcast.net . The first emailer with the correct answer will win a copy of Marshall and Michael’s new book, STILL ROCKIN’ AROUND THE CLOCK, personally autographed by The Man, himself – original Comet’s bassist, Marshall Lytle!
ML: That’s right.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: This offer was presented in "The Beat" when Bob's article was first published ... we do NOT have a free copy of the book to give away. And, just in case you're wondering, the COMPLETE title of Bill Haley and the Comets' all-time biggest hit was "(We're Gonna) Rock Around The Clock". kk)

USB: Thank you, Marshall and thank you, Michael. And thank you, as always, readers of The U.S. Beat!

As a postscript, Marshall gave me computer-to-computer instructions on how to slap a bass as he does. I have an upright bass and I applied his lessons. Now I’m a rockin’ bass slapper, too! (But, I haven’t tried riding my bass, yet.) Thanks, Marshall! So, remember this: if you’re a bass player, you too can learn to slap! And if you’re not? (Come on! Let’s give ‘em a big ‘Fuggeddabowdit!)
USB, ML, MJR: “FUGGEDDABOWDIT!!!”

About the book: STILL ROCKIN’ AROUND THE CLOCK, by Marshall Lytle with Michael Jordon Rush. Marshall is clearly a man who knows his reading audience. This terrific book is actually written in 14 point to make reading extremely easy. I can actually read it comfortably without my glasses. And it’s a great read, with terrific, extremely rare photos. The U.S. Beat gives it 10 out of 10 Beats!

Special thanks again to Bob Rush (Dr. Robert) for his kind permission to run a copy of his interview with Marshall Lytle in Forgotten Hits. (With a special nod to both Marshall Lytle and David O. Parker, publisher of "The Beat", too! Some of you may remember that a few years back, David ran our interview with Peter Noone in his fine publication ... which ultimately caused quite a stir with original Hermits Drummer Barry Whitwam!!! lol) kk

Hello Kent,
Marshall Lytle here!
Just wanted to say hello. I am in Branson, Missouri, a small town in the Ozarks In the middle of the US. This town is known as the Live Entertainment Capital of the World with over 50 Theatres and over 100 live shows every day and about 8 million visitors per year.
Thank you for running the interview I did with Bob Rush in "Big Beat Magazine" in your online publication, "Forgotten Hits".
Updates can always be found on the website:
www.theoriginalcomets.com
See Ya Later Alligator,
Marshall