Monday, January 9, 2012

Monday Comments


Singer of 'I'm Your Puppet' dies in Florida at 72

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Robert Dickey, a guitarist and singer in the group that recorded the hit song "I'm Your Puppet," has died.  

The 72-year-old died in his hometown of Tallahassee on Dec. 29. His death was confirmed by a Tallahassee funeral home. No cause was given. 
Dickey began his musical career during the `60s and spent time touring with various soul and rhythm and blues singers such as Otis Redding. He eventually became part of the soul group "James and Bobby Purify."
The duo had its biggest hit in the fall of 1966 when "I'm Your Puppet" hit the Top 10. The group has also had a hit with a rendition of "Shake Your Tail Feather."
Dickey told The Tallahassee Democrat back in 2000 that he never liked "I'm Your Puppet," which was written by Spooner Oldham and Dan Penn, who also authored other hits from the same time period.
"I hated it," Dickey told the newspaper when he was honored as part of a Florida rock and roll exhibition held at the Museum of Florida History. "It was originally intended to be the B-side. But things got changed ... I sang it for 23 hours straight (in the studio), that's why I hate it." 
Dickey wound up quitting his professional music career and returned to Tallahassee in 1972. He became a city maintenance supervisor but he also kept singing and playing guitar with his church and as a member of the Bethlehem Male Singers.
-- submitted by RIP Renfield

They're dropping like flies. That guy who was in Iron Butterfly and moved on to Captain Beyond. One of Dion's Belmonts. But the death that affected me most was that of Bobby Purify.
Actually, I just learned today that there were two Bobbys. But this is the one who sang on "I'm Your Puppet". A song that only went to number six which I was unmoved by when I was thirteen but now illuminates the entire landscape of my formative years.
I know, I know, we still have hits today. But they're not ubiquitous. You can go to number one and still most of America doesn't know you. And the songs all sound the same. With beats and raps and youngsters imploring you to pay attention, they need to get rich, quick!
The original Bobby Purify retired and went into maintenance.
That's how it used to be. Music was something you did, something you passed through on your way to your permanent job. Getting ripped off was part of the process. Your career was a fling. And unlike today, when people post YouTube clips and wonder why they're not instantly famous, it was understood that most people would never make it and those that did might still be forgotten.
"I'm Your Puppet" was cowritten by Spooner Oldham and Dan Penn, legends unknown to most punters today. They were the names in parentheses, on the 45s, on labels that were anything but corporate monoliths.
"I'm Your Puppet" is slow and dated and just perfect. There's a simple piano intro, an organ, a drum, just a basic track until the horns come in, but what makes the track is the vocals.
You start off their puppet and then you either get angry about it or they're unimpressed anyway. But in the beginning, you're high on life and love and you'll do anything for a smile.
James & Bobby Purify are not singing for Procter & Gamble, not to be on the cover of a magazine, they sound like men down the street telling their story. Hell, until today I wasn't even sure they were African-American. Because you see back then songs were something you heard, not something you saw. They infected you and created movies that play in your head for the rest of your life.
"I'm Your Puppet" doesn't bring back the highlights of my life, rather it sheds light on the mundane life walking the halls of junior high, spending Sundays at the JCC. What did John Lennon say, life is what happens when you're busy making other plans?
If you don't know this record, I'm gonna link to it. As well as versions by the Box Tops, Yo La Tengo and one of the writers, Dan Penn. You see, a great song can be sung by anybody, especially you, driving along in your car, walking from the driveway to the front door.
And I don't think "I'm Your Puppet" is forever. Very little is. Shakespeare, Beethoven and probably the Beatles. But not Spielberg, certainly not the American Idols and not James & Bobby Purify either. But if you were alive back then, they were best friends, they were a building block of your life.
And when they start removing blocks you're reminded life is like Jenga, and eventually it implodes and everything you've built disappears, you're gone.
Bobby Purify's been gone less than a week. I'm luxuriating in a track he despised for the amount of work involved, but right now it sounds effortless and so right.
Bob Lefsetz
I don't know that I could EVER refer to a song that peaked at #6 on the pop charts as "only" going to #6 ... especially in what was perhaps the most creative and exciting time in music we've ever experienced!  Seems like one hell of an accomplishment to me!  A new version of "I'm Your Puppet" (by John Legend) was recently featured in the critically-panned film "Soul Men" starring Samuel L. Jackson and the late Bernie Mac.  (I don't care ... it made ME laugh!!!)  Maybe not a timeless classic ... and you're right, a VERY simple arrangement ... but it still sounds pretty darn good to me!  (kk)

Robert Lee Dickey, who performed with his cousin James as James & Bobby Purify, died Sunday (December 29). He was 72. The Florida duo charted eight times from 1966 to 1968, most notably with "I'm Your Puppet" (#6 - 1966) and "Shake A Tail Feather" (#25 - 1967). Robert was replaced for health reasons by Buddy Grubbs (for one record) and by Ben Moore (permanently) in 1971. Bobby went on to work as supervisor for the custodial crew at the Tallahassee Police Department and became a Deacon in his church.
-- Ron Smith 

More on Bobby here (courtesy of Fred Vail):
Click here: Robert Dickey, Singer of 'I'm Your Puppet,' Dead at 72 - Spinner

Another musical memory of our youth moves on to rock and roll heaven.
RIP, Freddy ... you've got plenty of company.
PS Check out a great clip of Dion and the Belmonts doing Teenager In Love on the Dick Clark Saturday Night Show from the Little Theater on West 57th Street.

Kent ...
Dion says he thinks this is the group's last TV appearance.  Notice only three members of the group ... there should be four.
Frank B.
Click here: *Dion and The Belmonts*- Swingin On A Star - YouTube
Strange ... only three in the 1958 Dick Clark clip above, too.  So who's missing???  (kk)


Kent ...

True Story = Yesterday, I tried to turn off my Bose Radio.  For some reason it wouldn't shut off.
To be honest with you, I wasn't unhappy about this radio problem. 
Frank B.

Unfortunately, we had beg off our scheduled appearance on Rich Appel's radio program last weekend due to another killer work schedule ... but you'll find Rich ALWAYS putting together some interesting and creative programming.  Hopefully you'll get a chance to tune in and listen.  "The Rest Of The Week" airs Saturdays from 6 am - 1 pm and Sundays from 10 am - 3 pm (all times Eastern) and you can Listen Live here:  Click here: WRNJ

We may have missed THIS show, but Forgotten Hits seems to be popping up all over the radio again!  Check out these recent announcements:

Hi Kent,
I thought I'd let you know that I'm putting together a countdown show of the "Top 5,000 Songs of the '60s" for my internet station.  It's just another way for oldies enthusiasts to stay close to the music they treasure.
Besides the top 5,000 singles, I'll feature songs that:
1. Were regional top 10 hits that charted poorly or not at all nationally (in the US)
2. Were LP tracks played by radio alongside the singles
3. Were b-sides that have received critical acclaim or are favorites among oldies lovers
I'd like to cite Forgotten Hits for songs I play that fit "category 3" (b-side favorites).  Would that be okay with you?
FYI, the No. 5,000 song of the decade is "Judy" by Elvis Presley. 
The compilation is based on data from the weekly Billboard magazine Hot 100 charts, Jan. 1960 - Dec. 1969, published by Dann Isbell with the expressed written permission of Nielsen Business Media, parent of Billboard magazine.
I hope to hear from you soon one way or the other.  And, regardless, keep the fire burning!
Sincerely yours,
Dann Isbell
Sounds good to me, Dann ... I think it's a great idea.  And please let us know when these programs will be airing so we can pass the information along to our readers.  It'll be great to hear some of these rarely-played, forgotten gems on the radio again.
And, to check out our COMPLETE List of The Top 200 Favorite, Forgotten B-Sides ... as voted on by you, the readers, be sure to visit our OTHER Forgotten Hits Website here:
And, while we're on the topic of playing BOTH sides of the record, don't forget to tune into Mr. C's Flip Side Radio Show on Tuesday Nights on Radio Free Nashville.  (7 PM Central Time)  Each and every week, Mr. C. plays BOTH sides of the records, right from the original vinyl and we've teamed up this year to do some tie-in features that will run in conjunction with our new SOUND ADVICE column (that runs along the side bar on the right hand side of our website)
This Tuesday Night (January 10th), Mr. C will be featuring a GREAT Four Seasons Two-Fer when he plays both the A-Side and the B-Side of The Four Seasons' hits "Big Girls Don't Cry" and "Connie-O".  Meanwhile, we'll be doing our OWN Four Seasons two-fer as part of our on-going "One You Know ... One You Didn't Even Know You Forgot" feature when we spin "Big Girls Don't Cry" with The Seasons' 1967 Hit "C'mon Marianne".  LOTS of good stuff coming up in our brand new SOUND ADVICE column.  Be sure to check out the right-hand side bar when you visit our web page!  (You'll find a link for The Flip Side Show there as well!)
And, for a list of The All-Time Top 200 Two-Sided Hits, as mathematically calculated by the national record trades, 1955 - 1979, check out THIS link to the other Forgotten Hits Website:

And, stay tuned for news about our appearance on The Flip Side Show.  We're trying to work out the details now, but I'm thinking that I may join Mr. C. for a few minutes in a week or two and talk about our "First 45's" feature!  Watch the website for more details.  (kk)

Just got this from FH Reader Tom Cuddy, who saw it in a Boston newspaper profiling The Wrecking Crew:

Flick salutes music's pioneering Wrecking Crew

By Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa, Boston Herald

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 -

It’s a movie that may never be seen, about a band of musicians most fans have never heard of yet were responsible for scores of hit records in the ’60s and ’70s, backing everyone from Frank Sinatra to the Beach Boys.

They called themselves the Wrecking Crew, because older studio musicians swore they were going to wreck the music business. Instead, they provided the signature sound on a slew of pop classics from the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” to Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson.”

“These guys were doing things musically that had never been done before. Rock ’n’ roll was in its infancy and these guys were there, working three or four jobs a day on three or four different records,” said Denny Tedesco, director of the documentary “The Wrecking Crew,” whose dad, the late Tommy Tedesco, was a Crew guitarist. 

For the past 15 years, Denny Tedesco has been working on his film about the band of largely unknown studio musicians who provided some of the most famous licks for some of pop music’s biggest hits. In many cases, they also played all the instruments on albums for legendary musicians who didn’t have the chops. 

But like the Wrecking Crew, the film with the same name may never get the recognition it should because of the staggering costs to acquire the royalties for the 130 songs featured in the flick. 

There’s Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You, Babe” and “The Beat Goes On”; Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night” and “That’s Life”; the Mamas & The Papas’ “California Dreamin’ ”; the Fifth Dimension’s “Aquarius / Let the Sunshine In”; the Carpenters’ “Close to You”; The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby”; Wayne Newton’s “Danke Schoen”; and Elvis’ “Viva Las Vegas,” to name just a few. 

In fact, for six years in a row in the late ’60s and early ’70s, the Grammy for Record of the Year went to Wrecking Crew member recordings. 

“Every song requires not only money but legal clearance,” said promoter Michael Agostino of Quincy, who is helping Tedesco raise money in the hopes the film will one day make it into theaters. “The director is really passionate and he doesn’t want to leave any of them out.”  Tedesco said he began doing interviews 15 years ago when his dad was sick with cancer, and he wanted to get his memories on film. 

“Everyone told me I’d never get it done because the artists, the labels and the publishers would never come together,” Tedesco said. “So I decided the only way to do it was to do it myself.”  Tedesco’s flick features memories from many of the studio musicians, including drummer Hal Blaine, who was featured on a staggering 35,000 recorded tracks over a quarter century, and Plas Johnson, whose sax is heard on the iconic “Pink Panther Theme” by Henry Mancini. Also featured are Cher, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, Phil Spector, Nancy Sinatra and Dick Clark, along with a former Wrecking Crew guitarist who went on to solo glory: Glen Campbell“They were the ones with all the spirit and all the know-how, especially for rock ’n’ roll music,” said Wilson, whose recently released “The SMiLE Sessions” features the Wrecking Crew. 

Nancy Sinatra, whose “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ ” also featured the Crew, added: “These musicians were really the unsung heroes of all those hit records.” 

Tedesco said he made the film to give the musicians the credit they were so long denied, as well as to educate young musicians about the roots of rock ’n’ roll. 

“These guys sometimes did an album a day,” he said. “I take this film to music schools and people ask, ‘Why do young people need to see this?’ And I say, ‘Why do art students need to know Picasso and Monet? You need to know where you started from.’ ” 

The Wrecking Crew,” which has won awards at more than a dozen independent film festivals, was recently played at a sold-out screening in Arlington. Tedesco and Agostino are working on a second Boston showing at the Berklee College of Music in February. In the meantime, you can watch the trailer, outtakes and interviews — and donate to the royalties quest — at

We've been singing the film's praises for years now ... and still have a piece by FH Reader Bob Rush (US Correspondent to the British publication "The Beat") ready to run.  Meanwhile, Preston Ritter sent us more from Wrecking Crew Bassist Carol Kaye (who would probably be REALLY pissed at us for referring to her as "Wrecking Crew" Bassist), denouncing the film, its motives and its historical accuracy.  Too long to run here, we may save Carol's web postings for another follow-up piece.  (kk)

You can't talk about The Wrecking Crew without talking about The Beach Boys.

Endless Summer Quarterly Publisher (and Beach Boys Examiner columnist) David Beard has a few thoughts on how the band might celebrate their 50th anniversary:

Connecticut Beatles Celebration Set for Beatles Anniversary 

On Friday night, February 10th, in celebration of The Beatles arrival in the U.S., Connecticut-based Beatles fan club Liverpool Productions will present their annual "Twist & Shout Dinner Dance Party" at Aldarios Restaurant, 240 Naugatuck Avenue in Milford. The Beatles first landed on U.S. soil in February of 1964 and played their very first Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964.   

Headlining the evening's festivities is New York-based "The MerseyBeat," one of the finest Beatles tribute bands on the circuit, propelling audiences to Liverpool in 1960s. The sound of their vintage guitars and amps, the matching suits and the legendary Beatle vocal harmonies are all there. Founded in 1985, the band honed the authenticity of its sound to the point where they have enjoyed national engagements and high-profile appearances. Their historic U.K. tour culminated in an appearance at the legendary Cavern Club in Liverpool, England to the stomping delight of the fans.

All band members use authentic Hofner, Gretch, Rickenbacker, Ludwig, and Vox musical equipment.

During the course of only four days in February, 2004, "The MerseyBeat" made history when they were chosen by the New York Daily News to reenact the Beatles' arrival on the 40th anniversary. They have been featured in numerous newspapers & TV programs, and were the official band of the "BEATexpo, the New York / New England Beatle Convention" which took place in November, 2010. 

Most recently, Connecticut's Mike "Ringo" Streeto joined the band as full-time drummer, following his stint with the Las Vegas "Legends" show which appeared at Foxwoods Casino. He had previously performed with such national touring acts as Beatlemania, Yesterday The Tribute, The Cast, Fab Fourever and also currently plays drums in the Creedence Clearwater Revival tribute show "Hey Tonight." 

Opening for "The MerseyBeat" will be a French group called "Les Scarabes: A Beatles Tribute." Les Scarabes" translates to "the beetles" in French. Also entertaining between sets will be Boppers DJ Charles F. Rosenay!!!, who is the host for the evening. 

Admission includes Aldarios' all-you-can-eat buffet, open bar, the concert, door prizes and all the Fab fun festivities.  

Reservations (203) 874-6096 ... Info (not reservations) (203) 795-4737

Forgotten Hits Reader CPass142 sent us a link to The Royal Guardsmen website, where the guys announced their upcoming '60's Celebrity Cruise, kicking off in November. 

Onboard will be The Royal Guardsmen, Mercy and Robin MacNamara ... and it all sounds very reasonable, too!  Check out the details here:

And let's not forget about the Malt Shop Memories Cruise coming up featuring an absolutely KILLER line-up of artists:  Dion, Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell, Ronnie Spector, Darlene Love, The Original Drifters, The Duprees, Sonny Turner (former lead singer of The Platters), Carl Gardener's Coaster, Kenny Vance and the Planotones, The Chiffons, The Tymes, The Marvelettes and many, many more.  Don't "miss the boat" on this one ... The Malt Shop Memories Cruise sets sail from Ft. Launderdale, FL on October 27th.  Full details can be found at Click here: Malt Shop Memories Cruise 2012

And, speaking of Rock And Roll Cruisin', we can't forget our Forgotten Hits Buddies Paul Revere and the Raiders and The Buckinghams, who will be setting sail together (along with Davy Jones and Charlie Thomas' Drifters.)  But you're going to have to hurry for this one ... they're taking off January 21st!!!  Details here:   Click here: Concerts At Sea Presents

The one and only rock-a-billy legend Hayden Thompson will be appearing at the Irish Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox in Chicago on January 21st from 6 pm to 1 am.  Admission is only $10 and is sponsored by the "Gompers Park Athletic Association" (a park in Chicago).
The premise is a Johnny Cash Festival with a bunch of  bands besides Hayden. WOW!!

They're calling it Chicago's Johnny Cash "Cash For Kids" Festival
Irish American Heritage Center
4626 N. Knox
Featuring Iron Horse with Hayden Thompson

The Back Forty, Platform 29,
Petty Cash, Tommy Tuesday and Sam I Am.
Ample Free Parking
Only $10 and ALL Proceeds benefit Gompers Park Boys Baseball & Girls Softball
Sounds like a good time. Anyone interested?? 
Mike DeMartino

JAMES FAIRS, formerly of the Cryan' Shames and Gregg Allman's band, presents a WORLD PREMIERE:  NOUVEAU BLUZ (featuring Steve Eisen)
The Montrose Room at The O'Hare Hyatt
Saturday the 14th, 8:30 - 11 PM
(a donation - for those who can afford it- of $5)
(847) 544-5300
Intercontinental Chicago O'Hare 5300 N. River Rd Rosemont, IL 60018

Posted by Linda G on Ron Smith's website.
Frank B.
Great news, Frank ... but we broke this story five weeks ago in our "kk's corner" feature on the Forgotten Hits website.  Unfortunately, NOBODY was reading "kk's corner" so we dropped it for 2012.  It was designed to be all of the latest oldies news ... and we had some very timely (and often times exclusive) details posted there ... but, buried at the bottom of the page, I think people simply forgot all about looking for it.  Unfortunately, often having to hold our Comments Page for a week, some of our "news" seems "dated" by the time it actually gets posted ... so I thought the "kk's corner" idea would be a clever way to keep at least one segment of the site totally current.  This was especially helpful when we were running extended series (like the recent Tribute To Ed Sullivan piece that we did.)  Unfortunately, it never took off so now it's gone.  And, while a number of jocks have told me that they would LOVE to run our new SOUND ADVICE feature on their programs, it's simply not within their decision making process to do so.  The powers that be have already decided what will and won't air so we're seeing this new feature locked out, too.  Time will tell how long we keep it going ... but right now we've got a LOT of great ideas and suggestions planned ... and we ARE finding a number of Internet Jocks playing selections (and thanking us for reminding them about that great song they had forgotten all about.)  And ultimately that's really what Forgotten Hits is all about.  (kk)
Okay. I'm giving you credit for breaking this story.
Frank B.
LOL ... thanks, Frank!  It's just frustrating sometimes ... we've got some GREAT people on the list who have entrusted Forgotten Hits with breaking these stories but not enough people read our sheet yet to see it here first.  But I think the word is getting out!  (kk)

Hi Kent -

Just an update, which might be of interest. The reviews are running about like this.
That's certainly better than otherwise.
I think this one is pretty right on, at least the way we see it anyway.
The Fifth Estate
* * * * *
5.0 out of 5 stars Leicester Bangs Review (2012):, 6 Jan 2012
Leicester Bangs "words-R-us" (Leicester, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Time Tunnel (MP3 Download)
The Fifth Estate - Time Tunnel (Roxon Records LLC)
The Fifth Estate are undoubtedly best known for their 1967 hit "Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead", which they recorded in five different languages and scored chart success throughout the record-buying world. In 1970 they split to pursue solo projects, but sporadically reform for gigs and the occasional recording project.
Their latest record "Time Tunnel" has been co-produced and mixed by legendary knob-turner Shel Talmy (David Bowie, The Who's "My Generation", The Kinks, etc.) and he's performed a sterling job keeping the band's garage credentials intact.
Often groups of a certain vintage feel the need to smooth away the rough edges, let the studio gadgetry take the strain, and flatten their fervor. Not so with The Fifth Estate, as "Time Tunnel" is as raw and immediate as any recording made by any Nuggets era group, and is all the more refreshing for its urgent, unfussy delivery.
Standout tracks come thick and fast: the title track gets the ball rolling with Rick Engler and Bob Klein supplying choppy guitar chords and the rhythm section of Doug Ferrara (bass) and Ken Evans (drums) holding down the beat - we truly are taken back in time as the quartet revisit 1966, or thereabouts, in some style. "It's Not Right" borrows it's theme from late `70s new wave, but regrets nothing and "Crazy Little Thing" is the sort of maximum R&B that's been wowing live audiences since the Stones waded ashore at Eel Pie Island.
Well worth tracking down, whether you're looking to revisit a particularly fun part of your youth, or a mere whippersnapper eager to find out what all the fuss is about.

We're hearing really good things about the new Fifth Estate album, the recent Charlie Gracie release and Dion's upcoming "Tank Full Of Blues" CD, due out on the 21st of this month.  Great to see some of our long time favorites still cranking out great, new music!  (kk)

In search of the audio past I just landed on your Forgotten Hits website.
I found it - the FH site is loaded and tonight I just don't have the time to fully explore but I can assure you that I'll be back soon.  Just relocated my ad agency to Portland, OR, after a lifetime in Chitown.  Happy New Year! 
Ron Elkins

What great stuff!  That Chicago / Beach Boys story is cool.  You may recall that my company (Concerts West) promoted those tours.
Pat O'Day

Hi Kent, 

I really like your blog / website. Some cool songs on there, including versions I've never heard before (The Tremeloes' "Yellow River"!!). 
For what it's worth, the version of "Alvin's Harmonica" you recently featured is not from the original Liberty 45 ... you can tell from the harmonica intro ... I think it may be the LP version, however, which is the version released on just about all the cd's containing this song.Again, thanks for your work regarding forgotten oldies!
Jon Olsen
Wow!  I didn't know they did "Single Mixes" for The Chipmunks!!!  (How cool is that?!?!?)  The one I featured DID come from a CD (Their Greatest Hits actually) ... so that's neat new information to know.  Thanks for the compliments on the websites ... glad you're enjoying Forgotten Hits.  (kk) 

More of your recent comments tomorrow ... so be sure to check back!