Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Kenny Rogers and the First Edition - Your Comments

When you brought up 'Funny How Love Can Be', it reminded me of seeing Harper's Bizarre in college, which reminded me of seeing The First Edition in college (before they were Kenny Rogers and The First Edition). So I went youtubing (love that sport). WOW!!! I have the records, but to see the performances again, and to see how grrrrreat Kenny looked with his longish brown hair and beard (and vested, fringed outfits?) was a fun sing down Memory Lane.  
Hmmmmm. According to your info The First Edition was Kenny Rogers and The First Edition by the time they hit my college, but were not advertised as such for the concert. They WERE introduced as 'Presenting Kenny Rogers and The First Edition'. Maybe they just had old posters to use up?? hahaha
So THAT's where I saw Mickey Jones ... Home Improvement!
Kenny was not hip enough? He had to grow out the hair, the beard, pierce the ear, and tint the glasses? That is how I remember seeing him live. And what a handsome draw he turned out to be. There were just too many people in the New Christy Minstrels, coming and going, for me to pick out specific people. For me, it was a listening experience. The individuals counted less than the whole. I know when I went to youtube to watch 'Ruby' last week, my jaw dropped when I saw Kenny. Then I remembered the effect of the live concerts. The rest of the band is frozen in time for me, but since Kenny Rogers went on and morphed as needed, I had forgotten what I used to see.  
Shelley J. Sweet-Tufano 
Hey Kent,
Just wanted to say that one of my very favorite parts of one of your stories about a particular artist is how we get a chance to see how their careers intertwined with so many other artists that went on to become so famous. Very interesting stuff.

Great profile of Kenny Rogers & the First Edition ... but I caught one glaring omission. Nowhere to be found was Kenny's 1969 hit 'Ruben James'!  
Actually, we left that one out intentionally, because we had just featured it in our on-going "Today's Forgotten Hit" series a couple of weeks ago ... and figured most of you had just heard it. But I always liked that one, so let's feature it again here now as a Kenny Rogers "extra"!

By the way, since our series first ran in 2004, we have learned that Kenny's first solo hit, "That Crazy Feeling", released in 1958, DID, in fact, hit the national pop charts, where it climbed to #77 in Record World Magazine ... and all the way to #51 in Cash Box!  (It had failed to chart in Billboard ... and, with those kinds of numbers from the other trades, I find that a bit surprising.  At the very least, I would have figured it would have registered as a "Breakout Hit" in Houston in Joel Whitburn's new book ... but apparently it didn't ... which makes me question just how big the record really was locally.  Then again, it was evidently big enough to climb half-way up the chart in Cash Box Magazine!!!)  kk  

While reading your FH series this week on Kenny Rogers, the group Back Porch Majority was mentioned. It reminded me of a record I haven't heard in years. Had to get it out and play it, as they say, "one more time". The record in question was SECOND-HAND MAN out of 1966 on Epic Records. In May of that year, it peaked here in OKC at #8. Obviously the group New Christy Minstrels would come up. When I think of that group, the number one song to come to my mind is the obvious one, GREEN GREEN out of 1963. I always liked their follow-up SATURDAY NIGHT. But the one record I really liked that they did was the one they came out with in 1965 ... CHIM CHIM CHEREE. Not that song but the flip, YOU GOTTA QUIT KICKIN' MY DOG AROUND.
The DJ at the time who was working 7 pm - 12 midnight would play that song instead of CHIM CHIM CHEREE. I guarantee you when I finish sending you this e-mail, I am going to go in and play it as they say, "one more time".

Thanks for putting together the Kenny Rogers series.
Looking forward to another installment tonight.

>>>When "Just Dropped In" was written (by country songwriter Mickey Newbury), it was first offered to Jerry Lee Lewis, who turned the song down flat!  (kk)
This will come as a surprise to Jerry Lee Lewis, as he recorded the song in 1967 and released it on his LP Soul My Way (Smash Records).
– Randy Price  

Turning something down means you don't end up recording it, right?? Jerry Lee Lewis was, in fact, the first artist to record the song, issued on his Smash LP Soul My Way.
Tom Diehl  
Wow! We've been reporting it this way for nearly a decade now! And it isn't just us ... I've seen it printed in several different liner notes ... and it's even reported that way in Kenny Rogers' brand new auto-biography. This is a VERY cool new discovery! (I even sent it along to Scott Shannon to feature on his next edition of "Rock And Roll Remakes" on The True Oldies Channel!) And, listening to it, it's really not a bad version at all ... certainly a whole lot more country (which is to be expected, having been written by Mickey Newbury) ... but it also sounds like everything else Jerry Lee was recording at that time. A different interpretation to be sure ... but not bad. Kudos to Kenny Rogers and the First Edition for their totally unique psychedelic interpretation ... the lyrics took on a whole new meaning when The First Edition cut it! (kk)  

Hey Kent,
I'm REALLY enjoying your series on Kenny Rogers and the First Edition. Because of that, I have been busting my tail, trying to find all the musicians who played on the recording, "Just Dropped In", with not much luck. Ok, Glen Campbell played the guitar, and Hal Blaine probably played the drums on it. When I first heard the song on the radio, I was fascinated by the bass and vibraphone riff, played in unison, much like the signature sound of George Shearing's jazz groups. I'm going to bet it was studio mallet-man extraordinaire, Julius Wechter on vibes. He was part of the Wrecking Crew, and played on hundreds of tracks by major artists, including his own Baja Marimba Band.
I also like the song "Ruby". There are many songs written about the Vietnam war. Take a look at the list on Wikipedia. My favorite of the bunch is "Home" by Mac Davis.
- John LaPuzza

I wrote to Denny Tedesco to see if he had any studio information on this track regarding who may have played on it.  If he gets back to me, I'll be sure to let you know.  (kk)

I found the Kenny Rogers series to be a very interesting read. Kudos on yet another job well done in Forgotten Hits -- great profile.
Sad to say, but I think you may be one of the very few, Rick ... this piece generated the fewest pieces of mail I can ever remember for a Forgotten Hits series ... and, even more incredibly, website readership was down by about 65% the entire time it ran!!! I'm not really sure why this is the case ... these are great tunes ... and even as I re-read and edited the piece I, myself, was impressed by the amount of details we uncovered back in 2004 ... but apparently it just doesn't have the "mass audience appeal" of some of our other series. Even sending out a couple of "reminders" failed to bring people over to the website to read it. As I said, I don't quite get that as, if I do say so myself, I thought it was pretty well done, too! (kk)