Saturday, January 10, 2009
Dave Dee Dies
We got this sad news from the OFFICIAL Forgotten Hits Grim Reaper, Ron Smith (of http://www.oldiesmusic.com/) early Friday Morning.
Although Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich never really made much of an impact here in The United States ... their only chart entries here were Bend It (#100 in Cash Box, #110 in Billboard, 1966); Zabadak (#46 in Cash Box, #52 in Billboard, 1968) and The Legend of Xanadu (#123 in Billboard, 1968 ... predating Olivia Newton-John's tribute by a dozen years) ... they were chart staples back home in England ... where no less than thirteen of their singles cracked The British Top 40. (See list below)
First, Ron's obituary:
Dave Dee, leader of the British band Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, died in a hospital in Surrey, England, Friday morning after a three-year battle with cancer. He was 65. While the group's only American charted record was "Zabadak" (#52) in 1968, they had eight top ten hits in England,including the #1 record, "Legend Of Xanadu". Formed in Wiltshire, England, they were originally called Dave Dee and the Bostons and even workded -- briefly and unsuccessfully -- with producer Joe Meek before signing with Fontana Records and changing their name to include all the members. Dave left for a solo career (yielding one top 50 record in England) in 1969 while the others continued as D,B,M & T before disbanding in 1972. The group reunited in the nineties and Dave continued to play with them until shortly before his death, though his main occupation was as a justice of the peace.
Dave -- whose real name was Dave Harmon -- was once a police officer and as a cadet, was at the site of Eddie Cochran's fatal car crash in 1960. It was Dave who took Eddie's Gretch guitar from the scene and held on to it until it could be returned to Eddie's family. Legend has it Dave learned to play guitar on the instrument.
-- Ron Smith
P.S. Although they were not a big hit in America (though "Zabadak" got to #34 in Chicago) -- it's the connection with Eddie Cochran that's interesting!
We covered Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich several years ago in Forgotten Hits, with most of the discussion focused on their first U.S. Hit, Bend It, a favorite with our readers. (Although it never charted here in Chicago, I remember hearing it on the radio ALL the time ... even the ultra-conservative WIND's Howard Miller used to play this tune!)
We learned at the time about a second "CLEANER" version being issued ... it seems the ORIGINAL version was interpreted as being "too sexual" ... so suddenly the moves described in Bend It where changed to construe DANCE steps instead!!!
I've got BOTH versions of this tune posted for you today (even the so-called "clean" version isn't all that clean ... they're both dubbed from my original 45's purchased way back when) ... but I'll bet that MOST of you who were around in 1966 will remember hearing this tune, despite its one-week showing at #100 on the national charts!
People buying this 45 at the time would have had NO idea which version they were purchasing, as both singles were released with the same Fontana catalog number ... and nothing was indicated on the label regarding a new version having been issued.
Some of our original Forgotten Hits discussion is noted below as part of yet another '60's FLASHBACK.
First, our original 2002 article profiling the band ... and then a brand new discussion, circa 2006, when "Bend It" came up again in one of our Comments Pages. Enjoy.
Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich don't even really OFFICIALLY qualify as a One-Hit Wonder...their ONLY U.S. Chart Hit didn't make The Top 40 on EITHER of the National Charts ... Zabadak peaked at #46 in Cashbox and at #52 in Billboard in 1967. (It did get to #34 here in Chicago and was a #3 British Hit.)
In fact, this was yet another British band that was never able to match their "homeland" success here on our shores, despite the on-going British Invasion. They racked up 13 Top 40 Hits in Great Britain, including eight Top Ten's. The song in question this morning, however, is from 1966. Although it never charted nationally or locally, Chicago radio played the heck out of a tune called Bend It
for about a month or so ... and that's our featured track today.
I wonder if anyone else out there remembers this song. I must have bought half-a-dozen copies of this 45 over the years trying to find a good "clean" recording ... seems every one I picked up had a substantial amount of distortion. Along the way, I stumbled across a completely different mix released with the exact same catalog number as the version they were playing on the radio ... I had no idea how or why this would be the case, but always found that very interesting. (I've since learned that, although supposedly a song about a new dance, Bend It was deemed to be too suggestive, particularly in the way the vocal was delivered ... so a new, cleaner, less-breathier version was quickly recorded in hopes of crossing over to the American market. Once the first version had been banned by radio stations all over the country, they didn't even bother to give the "new" version a spin.)
The version I've sent along today is the one that I grew up with ... and is FAR superior to the alternate mix. For good measure, I've sent along a copy of their "near-hit" Zabadak, too. (It almost sounds like some sort of African chant or something!!!) Now where else are you EVER gonna find a Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich 2-Fer?!?!?!!
BTW: Bend It peaked at #2 on the British Charts.
LITTLEKNOWFACT #1: Prior to pursuing a musical career, Dave Dee (real name Dave Harman) was a British police cadet. In fact, he was one of the officers called to the scene of rocker Eddie Cochran's fatal car crash back in 1960.
LITTLEKNOWFACT #2: Although always known simply as Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich (after starting out as Dave Dee and the Bostons), their REAL names were: Dave Harman (Dave Dee), Trevor Davies (Dozy), John Dymond (Beaky), Michael Wilson (Mick ... although SEVERAL different drummers would go on to "play" the role of Mick over the years) and Ian Amey (Tich).
Since we included it in our original mailing, here is their only Top 50 American Hit, Zabadak, too!
While I was up in Boston, one station was running a Top 1000 Hits for the Fourth of July weekend, and they played a song I hadn't heard in FOREVER!! Don't know the title or artist - but I sang along with the whole song ... I amaze myself sometimes!! It started out "Bend it, Bend It" ... went slow, then fast ... If you have it, I'd love the wav.
The song you're referring to is Bend It by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich ... we featured it in Forgotten Hits about five years ago ... and got a GREAT response. The most amazing thing about this song is that it was never a hit ... yet when we spotlighted it a few years back, virtually EVERYBODY on the list remembered the song being played ... and LOVED it ... yet somehow it never made a dent on the national charts. (It spent exactly one week at #100 in Cash Box and "bubbled under" at #110 in Billboard ... yet EVERYBODY I've spoken to about it remembers this song ... it seems as if this should have been a MONSTER hit!!! Perhaps MORE curious is how a song that peaked at #100 for exactly one week made a Top 1000 List of ANYTHING!!! Their far-inferior record Zabadak hit #46 and appears on a number of British Rock compilations ... but no Bend It!!! What's up with that?!?!?) I remember being VERY disappointed when I bought an additional copy of the 45 with the exact same catalog number only to find it was a COMPLETELY different mix of the song ... not even CLOSE to the version they were playing on the radio. (For some reason, I seem to remember WIND being the station that played this one the most here in Chicago ... how weird is THAT?!?!?!) But I am all too happy to feature it again today because my guess is we'll have a number of people on the list ... and, who knows, perhaps even Beckham ... bending it to this one!!! And, let's face it, you're not likely to hear it any time soon anywhere else!!! (For the record, this song was a #2 smash in Great Britain where Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich were all the rage for quite a while!) kk
Thank you so much for Bend it!! Of course I remember Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich --but I didn't put the two together ~~~ LOL
WLS played "Bend It" a lot. Ron Riley's British Billboard Sunday night show gave it plenty of exposure. That's how I heard and loved it. Same with their follow-up, "Save Me". They played "Zabadak", of course, also. I quickly loved all the Dave Dee music. I thought it funny when the group's first US LP was their Greatest Hits! How often has that happened? I, too, have both "Bend It" Fontana US 45s with the different versions on the same label number. Pretty wild indeed. Besides their head knocking sounds like "Bend It", they also did their Jay & the Americans feel on "Zabadak" harmony as well as later novelty and ballad numbers. They were more versatile and great than many think. Try out "Marina" on their hits CD. Beautiful song! "Wreck of the Marie Antionette" predates that Edmund Fitzgerald 45 by years. Anyway, DDBM&T was great in my book!
I love to read everything you send. I just don't respond usually but I was wondering if you have the other version of "Bend It" ... its the one I know. I never heard this one before ... well, never before you sent it out ... before! Thanks!
I think I still have a copy ... it's STILL by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich ... it's just a COMPLETELY different mix (and, to my ears anyway, nowhere NEAR as fun!!!) Actually, now that I found it, it's not even a different mix ... it's a completely different recording ... even all of the LYRICS are different!!! We'll feature it here today so you guys can compare!!! (This is NOT the version they played here in Chicago ... in fact, I'm not even sure exactly WHY it exists!!!) kk
UPDATE: O.K. Here's what I've found out: TWO sets of lyrics were recorded for this song ... What the Goldmine 45 Price Guide refer to as the "clean lyrics about a dance" is the version that we are sending along today. The OTHER version (aka "the dirty version that has absolutely NOTHING to do with a dance") is the FIRST version we sent out the other day. So there you have it ... a controversy of Lou Christie / Rhapsody In The Rain proportions, circa 1966. All of which only proves (I guess) that, even at the ripe old age of 13 when this record first came out, I was ALREADY a dirty old man!!! (kk)
The "clean" version's main problem is the so-so laugh at the break. Sounds dis-interested or, I suppose, less "dirty"?? Great fun song either way.
I still don't understand how this song could POSSIBLY have not been a hit!!! Like I said before, EVERYBODY knows it and remembers it ... from all over the country!!! How did this NOT make the national charts?!?!? (kk)
This song was covered in Oklahoma by another local band and was such a big hit that it ranked on KOMA's top 500 all-timers in 1990! I remember it being a fun bit on the great mid-70's Brit Tv'er "Doctor in the House" (not sure of the title). Hey, I agree with you about the "dirtier" version being the BETTER version ... BUT, often these types of songs got on the radio via the "clean" version. Altho WLS wanted the clean version of the Mauds' song "Hold On", I believe I heard both back then on WLS! "Bend It" got plenty of play either way. "Gloria" (by Them), "Let's Spend the Night Together" by the Stones, were shut out a lot, I agree. "The Ballad of John & Yoko" was banned on a few stations but got #1 airplay on many (#1 for four weeks on KLMS in Lincoln), others, I don't know why. "Eve of Destruction" was banned on a few stations and WLS did ban both of the above. As for Lou Christie's "Rhapsody in the Rain", it was hurt in sales more by "Outside the Gates of Heaven" than itself. WLS had an easy "out" by going with the simultaneously released Co & Ce cash-in release. You are correct about banned songs, but many including "Rhapsody" got plenty of play in one way or another. I seldom felt like I could not hear a song when I wanted to or hear it in order to buy it and do so. I just don't think "banning a song" on the radio usually hurt sales much. My main point is that I NEVER heard of "God Only Knows" by the Beach Boys being banned and seemed to hear it on ANY station back then. Still, you are correct. I have always wondered why Mark Dinning's classic "Top 40, News, Weather & Sports" was Top 10 all over, but never made above #81 in Billboard. They had to change the lyrics and re-release it altered, but no radio station dropped the song to my knowledge. And, it's a wonderful song!
The fact that God Only Knows never officially charted on WLS makes me wonder if, in fact, they really DID play the song ... being the more "conservative" Top 40 station in town, they very well may have banned it. In that it went to #4 as a B-Side on WCFL, it wouldn't surprise me to find out that THIS is where we heard the song back in '66. As for recording "multiple" versions of a song in an effort to get airplay, the all-time king has just GOT to be High School USA by Tommy Faceda, who cut 28 DIFFERENT VERSIONS of this song, each naming different local high schools depending on where that particular version of the record was being sold!!! (We've featured a few of these over the years ... and sent out even more copies to people who requested a specific region!) This one had nothing to do with objectionable lyrics ... it was just a GREAT marketing ploy. (Well, maybe not THAT great ... the record only peaked at #28!!!) kk
Your expertise in this area is scary. Always educational reading your comments. Thanks for the hard work.
As promised, The DAVE DEE, DOZY, BEAKY, MICK and TICH British Hit List:
1965 - You Make It Move (#26)
1966 - Hold Tight (#4)
Bend It (#2)
Save Me (#4)
1967 - Touch Me, Touch Me (#13)
1968 - The Legend of Xanadu (#1)
Last Night In Soho (#8)
The Wreck of the Antoinette (#14)
1969 - Don Juan (#23)
Snake In The Grass (#23)
NOTE: I checked on AMAZON.com to see what kind of "Best Of" collections that they might have on this group and found an interesting compilation that describes five titles this way:
You Keep Me Hanging On - Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich ... and Lamont Dozier
In Dreams - Dave Dee, Dozy, Beacky, Mick and Tich ... and Roy Orbison
This Boy - Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich ... and John Lennon
The Everly Brothers Medley (featuring Bye Bye Love, When Will I Be Loved and Let It Be Me) by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich ... and Felice Bryant
Stairway To Heaven / Pinball Wizard Medley - Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich ... and Jimmy Page
Despite the $32 sell price, I was just too curious NOT to check these out ... are these really NEWLY recorded "duets" with these other legendary artists?!?!? I'll let you know when the CD arrives!
Friday, January 9, 2009
The Story Of Stagger Lee - Part 2
And the legend of Stagger Lee lives on ... in his song Shoulder Holster from his Blue Moves album, Elton John sings "It was just like Frankie and Johnny ... and it was just like Stagger Lee" ... in the recent film Black Snake Moan, actor Samuel L. Jackson's character sings a little bit of the song. And, although we kidded about it yesterday, I've just GOT to believe that Jim Croce was at least in SOME way inspired by the escapades of Stagger Lee when he wrote his #1 Hits You Don't Mess Around With Jim and Bad, Bad Leroy Brown. Suffice to say, Stagger Lee's fame was widespread and legendary.
The biggest hit version came in 1959 when Lloyd Price took his rocked-up version all the way to #1 on The Billboard Chart.
DIDJAKNOW? - 1: Dick Clark was so concerned about the song's description of a murder that he had Price cut another version for airing on American Bandstand!!!
He needn't have worried ... it was the original, unedited "scary" version that topped the charts!!!
DIDJAKNOW? - 2: Lloyd's cousin was a guy named Larry Williams, who also served as Price's driver and valet. When he, too, got interested in music, Lloyd got him an audition with Specialty Records, where he recorded the '50's rock and roll classics Short Fat Fannie and Bony Moronie. The Beatles (and John Lennon in particular!) thought enough of Larry's recordings to record their own versions of Dizzy Miss Lizzy, Slow Down and Bad Boy.
DIDJAKNOW? - 3: The background singers on Lloyd Price's version of Stagger Lee were none other than The Ray Charles Singers, a move Price says was calculated to help him cross-over to a white record-buying audience.
(P.S. It worked!!!)
In 1967, The Wicked Wilson Pickett cut a GREAT soulful version that went all the way to #17 on The Cash Box Chart. (It remains yet ANOTHER Top 20 Hit COMPLETELY ignored by oldies radio today ... and that's a shame because it's a GREAT version!!!)
And, of course, it was Tommy Roe's 1971 rendition (featured earlier this week in Forgotten Hits) that inspired this whole expose in the first place!
Wanna do MORE research on this tune??? You'll find ALL kinds of referrals for Stagger Lee on the web ... just google that title and nearly 100,000 references will pop up!!!
In fact, it's now speculated that part of the reason the story of Stagger Lee
spread as quickly (and as widely) as it did was due to a song called The Bully Song first featured in the Broadway Musical The Widow Jones back in 1895, about three months BEFORE the murder of Billy Lyons took place at Bill Curtis' Saloon.
In those original lyrics, we're warned:
"Have you heard about that Bully that just came to town?
He's down among the niggers, layin' their bodies down.
I'm a-lookin' for that bully and he must be found."
It's believed by some that Stagger Lee's name was later inserted as the source of some of the nasty deeds performed by The Bully ... and that as the legend grew, more and more evilness was attributed to The Stag Man over time.
Meanwhile, with literally HUNDREDS of recorded versions of the song in existence, Stagger Lee's reputation for "badness" grew over the years ... so much so that in one version, Stagger Lee appears in hell after he is executed and is SO bad that he takes control of The Devil's Kingdom!!!
Rolling Stone Magazine (when naming Stagger Lee one of the 500 Greatest and Most Influential Rock And Roll Songs Of All-Time) referred to Stagger Lee as "the original gangsta"!!! I think they just may be right!
Thursday, January 8, 2009
The Story of Stagger Lee - Part 1
Stagger Lee (also recorded as both Stack-O-Lee and Stag-O-Lee) was first recorded in 1923 by blues / folk artist Mississippi John Hurt. The song tells the story of a murder that took place on Friday, December 27th (most often erroneously remembered as occurring on Christmas Eve) at The Bill Curtis Saloon in St. Louis, Missouri, back in 1895. According to legend, "Stag" Lee Shelton, a cab driver (and black pimp), shot and killed William "Billy" Lyons with his 44-caliber revolver after Billy snatched Stag's Stetson Hat. The story (as documented in The St. Louis Globe-Democrat in their issue dated Saturday Morning, December 28, 1895) read as follows:
"William Lyons, 25, colored, a levee hand, living at 1410 Morgan Street, was shot in the abdomen yesterday evening at 10 o'clock in the saloon of Bill Curtis, at Eleventh and Morgan Streets, by Lee Sheldon.
(NOTE spelling: Sheldon's CORRECT name was Shelton but it was misspelled throughout the newspaper article)
Sheldon, a carriage driver, also colored, lives at North Twelfth Street.
"Lyons and Sheldon were friends and were talking together. Both parties, it seems, had been drinking and were feeling in exuberant spirits. The discussion drifted to politics, and an argument was started, the conclusion of which was that Lyons snatched Sheldon's hat from his head. The latter indignantly demanded its return. Lyons refused, and Sheldon drew his revolver and shot Lyons in the abdomen. When his victim fell to the floor, Sheldon took his hat from the hand of the wounded man and coolly walked away.
"He was subsequently arrested and locked up at the Chestnut Street Station. Lyons was taken to the Dispensary, where his wounds were pronounced serious. He was removed to the city hospital. At the time of the shooting, the saloon was crowded with negroes. Lee Sheldon is also known as "Stag" Lee."
Lyons eventually died from the gun shot wounds inflicted that night. Shelton was tried and convicted and ultimately served prison time for the crime. In fact, he died in prison in 1912 of tuberculosis.
Although a total of five similar murders occurred that SAME day in St. Louis, for some reason the story of THIS murder spread and grew ... soon embellished and set to song. (Clearly, not only do you not tug on Superman's cape or spit in the wind or pull the mask of the ol' Lone Ranger ... but you ALSO do not mess around with Stag Lee's Hat!!!) In fact, Lee Shelton's "badness" grew at one point (according to Julius Lester's "Black Folktales") to near mythical proportions:
"Stagolee was, undoubtedly and without question, the baddest nigger that ever lived.
Stagolee was so bad that the flies wouldn't even fly around his head in the summertime, and the snow wouldn't fall on his house in the winter."
Most historians consider the Mississippi John Hurt version to be the most definitive, as it recounts most of the elements that eventually appeared in most of the musical retellings of the tale.
The first CHARTED version of Stagger Lee occurred in 1950 when an artist called simply Archibald hit The Top Ten on Billboard's Rhythm and Blues Chart. This was the first time the common melody associated with this tune came into our consciousness.
Nine years later, Lloyd Price would top both Billboard's R & B Chart as well as their Pop Chart with his rendering. (We'll tell you a little bit more about that record in tomorrow's installment of Forgotten Hits: The Story of Stagger Lee.)
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
It's Now Winter's Day
Although you're probably used to hearing just one or two Tommy Roe songs on the radio, he actually hit The National Top 40 FIFTEEN Times between 1962 and 1971 ... and TOPPED those charts TWICE ... first, with his debut hit SHEILA in 1962 and then again in 1969 with the bubblicious hit DIZZY. In between, Tommy scored Top Ten Hits with EVERYBODY (#3, 1963, a track that we featured recently as part of our True Oldies Channel / Forgotten Hits / Twin Spin Weekend); SWEET PEA (#8, 1966); HOORAY FOR HAZEL (#6, 1966) and JAM UP AND JELLY TIGHT (#5, 1970).
Today's Forgotten Hit, IT'S NOW WINTER'S DAY, was released at Christmastime, 1966, and ultimately peaked at #22 on The Cash Box Chart. (It fared a little better here in Chicago, where it peaked at #11.) This is yet another one of those songs that doesn't necessarily need to be in heavy rotation ... but sure sounds good as a "Warm Up Treat" during the winter months.
BONUS TRACK: In 1971, Tommy scored a Top 20 Hit with his remake of the old folk song, STAGGER LEE. We'll give you our very own Twin Spin today by featuring both of these overlooked Tommy Roe gems.
OTHER HIT SINGLES: Tommy's other Top 40 Hits include SUSIE DARLIN' (#34, 1962); COME ON (#27, 1964); HEATHER HONEY (#14, 1969); JACK AND JILL (#40, 1969); STIR IT UP AND SERVE IT (#32, 1970); PEARL (#30, 1970) and WE CAN MAKE MUSIC (#35, 1970). When's the last time you heard ANY of THOSE songs on the radio?!?!?
For all the latest Tommy Roe news, be sure to check out his website here:
Click here: The Official Tommy Roe Web Site
It's Now Winter's Day
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
The Real Story Behind the Henry Gross Hit "Shannon"
Wild Bill has raised numerous Red Irish Setters over the years ... (some of you may remember when he and his three dogs spent the better part of a couple of days and nights broadcasting at his massively snowed-in Colorado radio station a few years back!) ... and he has a genuine love of these animals. (In fact, a photo of one of Bill's dogs is included in this posting!) Unfortunately, the truth is that only a small part of that story that he sent us is true ... which just goes to show you again how "history" sometimes gets distorted over time.
But, since Henry Gross has been a Forgotten Hits List Member for years now ... and since we just recently featured the real story behind the song "Shannon" a few weeks back in one of our Forgotten Hits Fridays features ... and since we're in the process of "cleaning up" our blog page postings right now ... and since Wild Bill is a REALLY good guy ... and since we're all about getting "The Most Accurate Truth" out there ... we'll run it again one more time, in an effort to keep the real story straight.
First, here's a copy of Bill's email:
Here's a great song from our friend Henry Gross about a Big Red Irish Setter named Shannon. The story goes that back in the day when Beach Boy Brian Wilson was bedridden with depression, NOTHING could get him out of his bedroom. His family and friends after time were befuddled, fit to be tied and had no idea how to help their friend and brother. Finally, a family friend came by and gave Brian a little Irish Setter Puppy that Brian named Shannon.
Well guess what? Shannon's charisma and love got Brian out of bed, and not only out of bed but he was actually active. In fact, Brian and Shannon romped on the beaches of Southern California daily for months. Brian and Shannon would play in the surf., finally Brian's life was coming back together and happiness surrounded him with Shannon's love. Until one horrible day when Shannon was carried out to sea and never to be seen again. Brian's heart was broken and he was crushed. Needless to say, Beach Boy Brian Wilson was bedridden again.
This is a beautiful song by Henry Gross, if you listen to the lyrics, you can picture Brian and Shannon playing in the surf.
As you know, I've had Big Red Irish Setters for nearly 34 years, and like Brian Wilson, they have helped me keep my sanity! Attached is a picture of my Irish Setter Bluey running at warp speed!
Happy New Year and God Bless,
Click here: YouTube - Henry Gross - Shannon (1976) (((Stereo)))
Bill's dog BLUE:
And now, a '60's FLASHBACK to a short snippet from our original interview with Henry Gross (from 2002) as well as the REAL Story Behind The Song "Shannon", as told in Henry's own words on his website:
'60's FLASHBACK: Henry Gross started his career as the original lead guitarist in the camp '50's group Sha Na Na back in the late 1960's. (Performing at Woodstock just had to be one of the career highlights for this guy!!!) He started singing as a solo act in the early '70's and had his biggest hit in 1976 when Shannon, a song written about the death of Beach Boy Carl Wilson's Irish Setter, went all the way to #5 on the National Charts. (It was a #2 smash here in Chi-Town.) In fact, he managed to come up with a very Beach Boys-sounding record (and spent a fair amount of time touring with the band.)
FORGOTTEN HITS: The song that you are most famous for here in The States has got to be "Shannon" ... it's a beautiful tune and your website explains again what inspired you to write it. Once you knew that you were dedicating this song to Carl Wilson of The Beach Boys, did that help dictate the arrangement? The vocals are beautiful and I'm sure many folks at the time thought that perhaps The Beach Boys were actually singing on the record!
HENRY GROSS: I wrote the song without conscious effort to sound like anything. I more or less channeled it while thinking about a visit to Carl's Beverly Hills home I'd just had. I was always a big "Beach Boys" fan and I guess subconsciously I wrote in in their style. It took about ten minutes to write with almost no changes afterwards. One of those "meant to be's" I guess!
You can find the complete story behind "Shannon here on Henry Gross's website: Click here: The Official Henry Gross Website
The Story of "Shannon": When I was twenty-one years old a wonderful girl came into my life by the name of Kathy Reinmann. As if having her in my life as a friend, a wife and a friend again for the next twenty three years, until she died of lung cancer August 24, 1995, was not enough, she brought along with her into my heart her two year old Irish Setter, Shannon. She was an uncannily human dog whose ability to manipulate her human counterparts cannot be understated. I was touring around the country quite a lot in 1975 promoting an album called HENRY GROSS, the one with the yellow cover on A&M Records. I had the pleasure of doing long strings of dates with a group whose music always inspired me, The Beach Boys. Carl Wilson, arguably the finest solo voice in the group, was warm and welcoming from the very first show I played with them on a freezing cold day at the University of New Hampshire. After getting to know each other we realized we shared a love for much of the same music and a passion for fine vintage guitars. On a break from touring, while I was in Los Angeles, Carl invited me to his house to spend a day talking guitars, cars and rock & roll. While he was preparing lunch his two Alaskan husky dogs reached up on the counter and inhaled our food. I told Carl, while admiring the military perfection of the raid executed by his huskies, that I had an Irish Setter at home named Shannon. He was quite moved as he told me that he had an Irish Setter named Shannon that had been killed only recently when hit by a car. We spent the rest of the day jamming and driving around Carl's world which as a friend and to be honest a Beach Boy's fanatic was a thrill. When I returned to New York City, where I lived, I began work on my second A&M album, PLUG ME INTO SOMETHING. A few weeks later just as we were about to master the finished album I was sitting on my bed with Shannon strumming my guitar trying to write a song when I was disturbed by the loud bass sounds from the Latin music blasting from the apartment above me. Rather than complain I made an amazing discovery. If I tried to play records of my own choice I could drown out the intrusive bass sounds but was unable to concentrate. But I found that when I played an environments record called "The Ultimate Seashore" I could drown out the bass and have a pleasing and relaxing background sound that didn't interfere with my writing. In a matter of minutes with the ocean sounds guiding me, and my 1964 Gibson Hummingbird acoustic in my hands, my thoughts drifted to Carl, The Beach Boys and with a glance at my girl Shannon, the indescribable sadness that losing such a beloved partner in life must be. The song seemed to write itself taking no more than ten minutes and with almost no cross outs on the paper. I made a tape of it on my giant Sony cassette recorder and sent it off to Carl. I was hoping to stop the presses and record it for PLUG ME INTO SOMETHING which Carl had already sung on, adding background vocals to the opening song, ONE MORE TOMORROW, but it was too late. I had to wait for the next album to record it. I always wished I could have had Carl sing backgrounds on SHANNON but conflicting schedules dictated it wasn't meant to be. I believed after it was recorded for my RELEASE album, that it was destined to be a hit and lobbied hard for it to be the first single. You see, the man upstairs who had played the loud Latin music, beginning the entire chain of events, came down when he heard me playing mixes over and over to decide which I liked. However, rather than hearing the expected complaints, he said he loved the sound of the record and wanted to know where he could buy a copy. I reasoned if a salsa music fan who spoke little English loved the record through the ceiling, Shannon, Kathy and I had a hit on our hands. Fortunately, history and lady luck proved me right. And that is the true story of the song SHANNON.
(For SHANNON lyrics, click here.)
It's still very difficult for me to recall that time as it seems like yesterday, the pain of the loss never having faded one iota! I can best refer you to a song on my "Foreverland" CD called "Heaven". I wrote this song about Kathy and I don't believe I could ever verbalize my feelings any better. Henry
(WORDS AND MUSIC BY HENRY GROSS ©3/1/2000 ACHTUNES, ASCAP)
I KNOW YOU’RE WATCHING EVERYTHING I DO
AND HEARING EVERYTHING I SAY
AND THAT SOMEDAY I’M GONNA BE WITH YOU
IF I DON’T GET LOST ALONG THE WAY
I GET A FEELING EVERY NOW AND THEN
THAT TELLS ME YOU’RE AROUND AGAIN
I SEE THE SIGNS EVERYWHERE I GO
THAT ONLY YOU AND I WOULD KNOW
AND MY EYES ARE GOING BLIND
SEARCHING ‘TILL I LOSE MY MIND
AND ALL I SEE ARE MOUNTAINS I’VE GOT TO CLIMB
HEAVEN SEEMS SO FAR
BUT THAT’S WHERE I KNOW YOU ARE
IT’S ONLY JUST BEYOND THE STARS
BUT HEAVEN SEEMS SO FAR AWAY
YOU ALWAYS SAID THAT YOU’D BE THERE FOR ME
AND SOMETHING TELLS ME NOTHING’S CHANGED
BUT JUST THE SAME I GET DOWN ON MY KNEES
AND PRAY I’LL SEE YOUR SMILE AGAIN
WITH FULL FAITH I TAKE A LEAP
ACROSS RIVERS WIDE AND VALLEYS DEEP
‘CAUSE I’VE GOT MILES TO GO BEFORE I SLEEP
AND IF I DIE FROM THIS HEARTBREAK
I PRAY THE LORD MY SOUL TO TAKE
AND KEEP IT NEXT TO YOURS FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE
HEAVEN SEEMS SO FAR AWAY
Wow! The story I told is the story that I heard years and years ago ... and I could have sworn that was the story ... and I've told it on the air for years that way before playing the song. It was really interesting to hear Henry's corrections ... and I've learned something new. (Oh well, you can't be right 100% of the time!) Wild Bill
No problem, Bill ... that's what we're here for!!! (lol) Hopefully a few jocks on the list will tell the story correctly this week ... and feature this GREAT Henry Gross track on their programs!
Monday, January 5, 2009
Whatever Happened To Trade Martin?
A: Trade Martin reached One Hit Wonder status when his only chart hit, That Stranger Used To be My Girl, went to #28 on The Billboard Pop Chart back in 1962. (It went all the way to #14 here in Chi-Town.)
Most recently, he has been spending the majority of his "musical" time producing records for other artists, most notably B.B. King. (Over the years, Trade has also produced sessions for Rick Nelson, B.T. Express, Solomon Burke, Lesley Gore and The Tokens, amongst others.)
In between, he had a pretty successful career writing, producing and recording advertising jingles for companies like Prudential Insurance, Pepsi-Coloa, Pan Am Airlines (as well as TWA), Gillette and Colgate, often winning awards for his efforts and campaigns.
Trade has also written a number of film scores and, for a while, was one of Phil Spector's "Go To" Guitarists on many of Phil's "Wall Of Sound" Productions of the early '60's.
By all appearances, he is alive and well ... in fact, there's a brand new Christmas song posted on his website:
Click here: Trade Martin Music
Meanwhile, we also found this posting on our FH Buddy Artie Wayne's website from a couple of years ago:
Click here: Trade Martin And An Exclusive Look Inside Of A Phil Spector Recording Session! « Artie Wayne On The Web
P.S. Here's Trade's only Top 40 Hit as a recording artist, That Stranger Used To Be My Girl.