Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Even MORE Of Your "Last Kiss" Comments

re: LAST KISS:   
Truth be told, I really didn't expect to still be running "Last Kiss" comments at this point ... but you guys keep sending them in so it's clearly a topic that you still want to talk about.   
And, better still, Sid Holmes has been responding ... this time sharing some EXCLUSIVE stories NOT found in his book with our Forgotten Hits Readers.   
And, from the sounds of things, those readers have been responding in kind. According to Sid, copies of his book have been "flying off the shelf" since we first started our "Last Kiss" coverage with a book review a couple of weeks ago.   

Sid tells us:   
Thanks to Forgotten Hits my books are flying off the shelf. The real truth is I was hoping not to have to order another 100 as they are expensive with little profit.   
I would like to leave Forgotten Hits "Last Kiss" fans with some never before published info. After the wreck in October, 1964, J. Frank spent about four days in a hospital. The hospital was not prepared for the many fans that would visit him along with cards, letters and phone calls. After a few days the hospital hired some security guards for his room. When Frank finally checked out, he made it a point to see the impounded station wagon that had been involved in the wreck. I'm not sure who Frank rode with but when they approached Sonley's station wagon the brakes failed ... hitting it at a slow rate of speed. Frank would then drive to Midland, Texas, attending Sonley Roush's funeral. Frank stopped overnight in San Angelo before heading on to Midland. This is Frank's account: He was awakened during his sleep seeing Sonley Roush, who just seemed to fade away. In later years Frank claimed it was his sax player who experienced this. The reason for Frank claiming this was his sax player ... he was married at the time having a gal in his motel room. Want more? Contact Forgotten Hits!  
Sid Holmes
Wow! That's great news, Sid! "Last Kiss" has been a VERY hot topic here for nearly a decade now ... so it's great to know that someone has now written the definitive book on the subject! (kk)    

And you'll find a true rockabilly timeline in Sid's book, too ... tracing the earliest days of rock and roll from a guy who was there, enjoying (and living) it all! Sid boldly states:  
Without Scotty Moore and Bill Black (two Rockabilly musical geniuses in 1954), Elvis would have ended up in gospel group. 
-- Sid Holmes  
(OK, that oughtta spark a response or two! lol) kk

Meanwhile, here is what some of you guys have been saying ... with more comments from Sid sprinkled throughout ...   

THANK YOU – and thank Sid Holmes and Bill Spears for me as well. I knew the relationship existed, but I didn’t realize how complicated it was! Knowing the background enhances my enjoyment of both “Last Kiss” or “Motor Mouth” / ”Love Wasn’t Real.” Finding out all this music history makes me glad I was one of those Music Directors who made it a point to “listen to everything.” I just wish I had more of the original vinyl now that I was listening to then!  
Keep up the excellent work, and thanks again for passing my questions and comments along.  
Best regards,  
Country Paul  
PS – I’ve attached both sides of the Granger Hunt record for your listening and dancing pleasure – or to share with the rest of the Forgotten Hits members if you so desire. Unlike many, I’ve had the DJ copy of this since the duplicate came into the radio station, and these mp3s are from my personal vinyl rips.

Wow ... kinda funny to hear "Papa Oo Mow Mow" again in yet another song! Vintage tracks from another era to be sure. Thanks for sharing, Paul! (kk) 

>>>Great work on the Last Kiss story, I just have one thing to quibble over. Sid Holmes writes: "Since Frank Wilson seemed to be familiar with the song, it's likely he was the only one given a cassette practice tape in advance. (Sonley Roush had not provided any previous practice cassette tapes of Wayne Cochran's "Last Kiss" 45 for the players; it's not surprising that it took so long to record. Perhaps no cassette practice tapes were made and sent out before the recording session because Roush was being overly cautious, not wanting anyone to steal his "idea".) I wondered about the whole cassette thing when I read this because I didn't think they were around in 1964. Well, turns out at Wikipedia, they say cassettes weren't released here until November of 1964. I guess I can understand that someone would have thought cassettes could have been sent out since it was so close to their coming out here. (Bill)  
>>>It's funny because I remember thinking the same thing at the time when I first read this passage. Then again, who knows what was circulating around the recording studios back then ... certainly producers had SOME method of getting demo / rehearsal tapes or pressing to their artists in order to learn the song ... so I'm not sure. Actually, I didn't think cassettes really came into prominence until quite a few years later ... and not to the point of people actually being able to buy them and listen to them in their cars until the very late '60's and early '70's. But in recording circles, they may have been light years ahead of us ... who knows! (kk)   

More than likely, lacquer discs (acetates) would've been cut and passed around to the musicians ... however, these were expensive even then and if they were cutting costs where they could to save money, that would be why it likely didn't happen for this song (I'd be surprised if there wasn't even just one acetate cut for them to pass around, though).
One thing I love to collect is old songwriter demo acetates ... most of the ones I own are not of hit recordings (or even well known songs, for that matter) ... but even into the 70's this was the preferred way to get songs to possible artists or record labels.
Some examples of demo recordings and acetate discs:   
(the second version of Beg Borrow and Steal by the Rare Breed / Ohio Express, this was a second attempt at the song but ultimately the label went with the first recorded version -- this video comes with a special spoken introduction by two of the original band members who had not heard this recording in 45 years until I found this disc. Since this was a rejected disc made before the song was issued, it ended up being just a demo for one of the versions of the song they cut).
(an Ellie Greenwich demo called Love Is Better Than Ever, this ended up being recorded by The LeVons on Columbia)  
(I do not know who is singing on this demo of a song called Shy Boy and no one else seems to be able to figure it out either, this ended up being recorded by George McCannon III on Mercury records)
I used to have two others up on youtube that were perhaps the most amazing of them all, one being a version of Dusty by the Rag Dolls with completely different lyrics than the released version, and an unreleased Connie Francis demo called Old Records, cut in 1969 (each was pulled off my youtube page by copyright owners, the first being claimed by the songwriter, the second being claimed by the artist). I sold the Connie Francis acetate last year to a collector of her music in England but I still have almost all of the others I've purchased over the last few years.  

 I even have a publishers demo acetate of the Lemon Pipers song Blueberry Blue, by an unknown artist or group, that I like more than the Lemon Pipers own! Since I don't have it on youtube, here's an mp3 of it for you to share. This is a disc I bought when I purchased a number of discs related to Jerden Records from a guy who bought them at an estate sale in Seattle. This disc was sent to Jerden Records addressed to my friend Gil Bateman, who was no longer working for the company by the time they received the disc, as the disc came with a letter addressed to him (which was the main reason I actually bought it). After I asked him about it and sent him a copy of the letter, he told me he had never seen it until i sent it to him.
Sometimes amazing things can be found just by going through old songwriter demo discs ... there are TONS of Carole King demos out there (mostly in private hands, and I don't own any), but at least some of them have been released to the public after 40+ years ... 

I sure didn't expect to talk so much about this topic ... wow! Hope your readers enjoy the rare music, at any rate.
-- Tom Diehl
www.topshelfoldies.org (home of the best hits and obscurities of the 50's and 60's)   

Sid Holmes responds:
I must have misunderstood Jim Wynne concerning a cassette as it most likely was a 45 recording of Wayne having been recorded on a reel tape. Without Jim we would have ended up with even more lies as the bass player and drummer had already taken credit for the arrangement and were keeping quiet about cloning it (64 times). Strange, Croyle has refused to talk to us, even when I had another party call him. He lives in the Dallas area and his wife will answer saying he wants nothing to do with Last Kiss. I presume Scott Paton's version is a joke? Hey, ya never know as all the monkeys aren't in the zoo.  
The fact that Wayne Cochran never had a song that charted is truly a shame. Honest to gosh, I don't think the record labels he was with had any idea how to sell him.
I'd kill to go back to the Happy Medium one more time and hear him cut loose on "You Don't Know Like I Do" or "Goin' Back to Miami." His band, the air tight C.C. Ryders, were just tremendous. At his apex with synchronized drums, Wayne was running a 14-15 piece orchestra. His bass player Chester Mass is still the best bassist I've ever seen or heard.
Do you know if Wayne made any bread on "Last Kiss' or did he get ripped off on publishing
Chet Coppock

As far as I know, Wayne made enough on the royalties from the Pearl Jam version of "Last Kiss" to build his own church! If you really think about it, although he clearly believed in the song, recording at least half a dozen different versions of it over the years, trying to make it a hit, "Last Kiss" really doesn't sound like a Wayne Cochran song either. As you said, his shows were high-energy extravaganzas ... "Last Kiss" almost seems a little bit too "tame" for him ... but it has been his greatest calling card in the music biz. (A certain well-know Chicago sportscaster has been known to don a white Wayne Cochran pompadour wig and jump up on stage with the then red hot New Colony Six and drive their audience crazy ... seems he used to roadie for the band. Man, I am STILL looking for pictures of this ... ANYBODY out there got some???) lol (kk) 

Blessings today and for all the great work that you do. Have really enjoyed the recent posts on Last Kiss.
Justin McDevitt    

Leo Lucas' claim that he played on the recording of "Last Kiss" at Josie Records in New York City just doesn't hold water. By this point "Last Kiss" (recorded at Accurate Sound in San Angelo) had already worked its way up to the top of the charts. Sid Holmes explains in his book that J. Frank Wilson put together a new batch of Cavaliers when it came time to record the "Last Kiss" album ... but you won't find Leo's name on this list either. He explains the following in his book ... and then goes into even greater detail exclusively for our Forgotten Hits Readers ...   

With fans and radio deejays across the US anxiously awaiting the follow-up song to "Last Kiss" to be released, it ended up being "Hey, Little One", a slow, boring cover song that effectively showcased Frank's vocal prowess. The backing on this particular record was atrocious, with a sax squawking like a duck and everyone involved being out of sync.
The song had been previously by Dorsey Burnett that reached #40 in 1960. On November 28, 1964, the awful single "Hey, Little One" somehow managed to reach #85 in Billboard, strengthened by being the follow-up to "Last Kiss" ... but it's not surprising that it quickly disappeared, failing to even break into the Cash Box Top 100 Singles Chart.
The record executives and producers making the final decision failed miserably to capitalize on a golden opportunity as "Hey, Little One" would be the last 45 single release that would ever chart in the Top 100 for J. Frank Wilson.
There is some controversy concerning the recording of the "Last Kiss" album. From a taped phone interview with a "Ft. Worth Star-Telegram" writer in 1980, J. Frank Wilson was asked about the album. J. Frank responded by saying The Cavaliers (Lewis Elliott and Roland Atkinson) had quit while on the tour and had returned back to San Angelo. He said he had to get a new band out of Syracuse, New York, and they were the ones who recorded the album. When the writer asked if they were called The Cavaliers, J. Frank responded by saying yes, but they were a complete new band other than the guitar player. (Because of J. Frank's response above, it appears he was never told by Sonley Roush while on this tour that Lewis Elliott [bass] and Roland Atkinson [drums] had actually been replaced ... not quitting. Their replacements were Phil Trunzo [bass] and Jerry Graham [drums] from Memphis, Tennessee.
-- Sid Holmes
(Again, note that Leo Lucas' name does not appear anywhere on this list.) kk   

Sid tells us:  
Page 131 of my book will clear up the rumors concerning Last Kiss being re-recorded in New York.
I have a cassette recorded interview that was made on the phone between Frank and a writer from the Star-Telegram in Ft. Worth around 1980. (Frank's mom sent to me). The Last Kiss LP portion that was recorded at Accurate Sound was awful for the reason of poor musicians (the same guys who copied Wayne's Last Kiss). Jim Wynne refused to be a part of these recordings because of the lack of leadership along with inexperienced players with the blind leading the blind. Frank never recorded at Josie. It's possible Josie didn't like the recorded tracks that were sent to them for the album and while Frank was there getting a gold record they had him record with some sound-a-like band in Syracuse, then using some of each on the album. I have studied the LP and I think I can pick out the ones recorded in New York ... but that's another story.  

So I suppose it's POSSIBLE that, as an on-staff studio musician for Josie Records, Leo Lucas COULD have contributed some background musical tracks for the album (???) The only problem with this is that no one seems to be aware of any musical instrument that Leo Lucas plays ... and he has yet to provide a shred of proof that he was ever employed by Josie Records ... but I will acknowledge a possibility, thanks to this small, newly-revealed loop hole. So now Leo ... if you're reading this (and I'm told that you are) ... show me what you've got! Because otherwise, I can honestly say that I can find absolutely NO reason to ever mention your name in these pages again. As far as I've been able to determine, Leo Lucas has produced absolutely NOTHING in the way of rock and roll history ... as related to "Last Kiss" or otherwise!!! (kk)
Lucas claimed Frank offered to sell him HIS name not the Cavaliers' name. It's legal for him or anyone else to use the name the Cavaliers ... but not "J. Frank Wilson & The Cavaliers". By the way, his registration to the use of J. Frank Wilson & Cavaliers has run out, having already lasted eight years.
There have been many bands going by the name The Cavaliers over the years, with the oldest one being way back in 1925, having the #8 song of the year in the Top 40 "Oh, How I MissYou."
I have stayed in contact with Leo for many years and never understood why he would go to such extremes. I kept telling him it was great he was keeping Last Kiss alive before the public in Long Island but exploiting Frank's name, who was deceased, would surely come back to haunt him. His version of Last Kiss is very good and told him I would put it up on YouTube as "Leo Lucas & the Cavaliers."
My thinking is that Leo has been visiting your site. I have no idea who he is referring to ... "an unhappy keyboard player who fancies himself a writer"? This comment makes me think he's still playing music in NY. I'll have to respond to Leo that the book has been out since 2011. After spending over five grand and a year in order to set the facts straight for music history, there was only one time I could have changed music history and that was for me to vote "no" with the rest of the band in 1962 at the Blue Rail Club (Tiny's) concerning Airman J. Frank Wilson becoming the new Cavaliers vocalist. 
-- Sid Holmes

There is no question that Leo Lucas has been monitoring the Forgotten Hits website ... the "disgruntled" keyboard player he's referring to is another FH Reader named Arnie Karr, who served as The Cavaliers' musical director for many years. Arnie contacted me way back in 2004, saying that he had mixed feelings at the time of Leo trying to associate himself or claim that he had anything at all to do with the recording of "Last Kiss" ... he felt that Leo was betraying the public with such claims ... and he asked me to look into it. (I'm told Rolling Stone Magazine had also prepared a piece on this but can find absolutely no evidence that it ever ran.) As such, our Forgotten Hits piece became quite talked about and, in the minds of many who were there at the time (and, thankfully, you included) the definitive history of the song and band. We just wanted to put an end to the bogus claims that were circulating. As you state in your book, it seems the phonies and imposters have made more off this record ... that they had absolutely nothing to do with ... than the artists who participated at the time ... and that's just WRONG!!!
In any event, I stand by my guns on this one ... if Leo can offer some concrete proof of his claims, we'll address them ... but until then, he serves absolutely NO purpose or place in "Last Kiss" or rock and roll history. Period. (kk)
After Sonley Roush died, Major Bill and Ron Newdoll got into a big falling out at his funeral in Midland. Although I had a legal contract with J. Frank Wilson up to 1967, I had no funds to hire an attorney. These two guys got into a power struggle thinking they had hot property in J. Frank Wilson. They refused to see the truth at the time that it was the song and not Frank that was the hit. Had Wayne Cochran spent a little more time working on his vocal performance, he would have had the hit. The sound track of his second recording was fine and that was the one that was copied note for note by The Cavaliers.
Major Bill ended up with Frank and, over the next 15 years, it cost him a ton of money. The loser Newdoll was the real winner. Ron Newdoll (now a California millionaire) might have the gal's name in his records who sang behind Frank on the record, but he refused to be interviewed for the book.
Ditto Lewis Elliott for obvious reasons. I find it strange that the gal who sang behind Frank or a family member have never come forward. I haven't given up as this is a piece of music history.
Frank had mental problems and needed constant guidance, which is the reason that he was dumped from the Air Force after about a year. We can get into the aftermath of the wreck, etc., if there is any interest from your readers.
-- Sid Holmes
Well, there seems to have been a wealth of interest from the readers ... as I've said before, this is one topic that never seems to die down ... we've been adding to the "Last Kiss" story for almost a decade now! Thanks, Sid, for sharing your memories with our group ... and, from the sounds of things, they have responded in kind by ordering copies of your book ... so thanks to all of YOU guys out there, too! (kk)