Friday, February 1, 2013

Today's Forgotten Hit

Ariel by Dean Friedman was a great choice for a forgotten hit on Monday. That has always been a favorite of mine. It was #4 on the WLS charts in the Summer of 1977 when I was driving around in my green and yellow 4 door Ford Maverick looking for a girl like Ariel. 
Phil - WRCO  

I can't think of a better way to UNWIND at the end of a hard day than to read what's in FH.
I enjoyed hearing your "local" version of Tex Ritter's version of I DREAMED I WAS IN HILLBILLY HEAVEN recorded for the DJ's there in Chicago. Later on tonight, I am going to call up a retired top 40 DJ here in OKC to see if he happens to have a copy of the OKC version.
Finally, you mentioned in today's comments and I believe previously, the name Frannie. I get the impression this is your wife. Well, seeing her name in the comments for today reminded me of a song put out in early 1958 by Nino and the Ebbtides, FRANNY FRANNY. Remember or are you familiar with that record at all? I wasn't familiar with it as far as what it sounded like. Got it out while ago and played it, uptempo Doo Wop.

Yes, Frannie is "Mrs. K" ... and we've featured "Franny Franny" a couple times now. (While reading Mike Rabon's book, he mentioned a local Texas Hit called "Dance Frannie Dance" by The Floyd Dakil Combo ... so now I've been playing that one! (kk)  

We owed you this one from yesterday when we couldn't get DivShare to cooperate in time for the morning post.  Here are The Ohio Players doing "Funky Worm", a #13 Hit from 1973.  This was their first entry into The Pop Top 40 ... and doesn't sound anything at all like the songs they'd be most remembered for.  ("Fire" and "Love Rollercoaster" both topped the chart during the height of the disco era.)  Lead vocalist Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner passed away last weekend.

And how about a feel-good Friday song, too?

Del Shannon had eight Top 40 Hits between 1961 and 1965.  If you're lucky, you get to hear one of them.  ("Runaway", #1, 1961).  Here's a great Del Shannon track from 1963 ... "Little Town Flirt", a #11 Hit in its own right!  (kk)

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thursday This And That


If you, like millions of other Americans, have always had an uncontrollable urge to lick the back of Johnny Cash's head, you will soon have the opportunity to do so ... The United States Post Office has just announced that The Man In Black will be one of three brand new Music Icon Stamps to be released later this year! (kk)

Chicagoland Radio And Media has a GREAT article running today on legendary Chicagoland broadcast legend Bob Hale. Hale will be celebrating the 54th Anniversary of Buddy Holly's last live show this weekend at The Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. Hale MC'd the show that night on February 3, 1959, when Buddy Holly's plane went down, killing the young singer along with Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. Don McLean later immortalized the event as "The Day The Music Died" in his chart-topping hit "American Pie."  
Hale first made his mark on Chicagoland Radio the following year when he was one of the original seven deejays hired by WLS for their format change to Top 40 / Rock And Roll Radio ... and he has shared some of his memories with Forgotten Hits over the years as well.
You can check out the full report right here:
Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner, frontman for the hit-making funk music band the Ohio Players, has died in southwest Ohio. He was 69.
The Ohio Players, known for their brassy dance music, catchy lyrics and flamboyant outfits, topped music charts in the 1970s with hits such as "Love Rollercoaster," ''Fire," ''Skin Tight" and "Funky Worm."
A spokeswoman for a Newcomer Funeral Home in the Dayton suburb of Kettering said Monday morning that the family hadn't scheduled any public services. There was also a posting about his death on his current band's Facebook page. No other information was released immediately about his death Saturday.
Born in Hamilton, Ohio, Bonner teamed up in the 1960s with core members of a group called the Ohio Untouchables to form the Ohio Players. The band had a string of Top 40 hits in the mid-1970s, and continued to perform for years after that. He had remained active in recent years with a spinoff band calle d Sugarfoot's Ohio Players.
"Humble yet charismatic, soft-spoken and of few words, the weight of his thoughts, lyrics and music has influenced countless other artists, songs and trends," stated a posting attributed as an "official family announcement" on the Facebook page of Sugarfoot's Ohio Players. "He will be missed but not forgotten as his legacy and music lives on."
Marshall Jones, the bass player and a founding member of the Ohio Players, called his bandmates "a bunch of the most creative people - especially Sugarfoot - that I have ever been around."
"It's kind of crazy," Jones, 72, told The Associated Press of Bonner's death. "I'm still feeling fragile."
Jones said after years of playing music, the band's sudden stardom, with No. 1 singles and huge crowds in venues such as the Superdome in New Orleans, was stunning.
"I sit back now, and it was all a brilliant blaze," he said. "I think 'Damn, did I do that?' It was just 'Zoom!' That was a s tarburst. And like all things like that, it fizzles."
Jones said he, Bonner and other band members were delighted and flattered when "Love Rollercoaster" gained new fans through a 1990s cover by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Bonner had said he learned about music in Hamilton, where he was the oldest of a large family, playing harmonica, learning guitar and sneaking into bars as an adolescent to play with adult musicians. He said he ran away from his home some 20 miles north of Cincinnati at age 14, and told the Hamilton JournalNews in 2009 that he had only gone back there once. He explained he had bad memories of growing up poor.
He wound up in Dayton, where he connected with the players who would form the band. Their lineup changed at times, but featured horns, bass, guitar, drums and keyboards.
"We were players. We weren't trying to be lead singers, but we became one of the first crossover singing bands," Bonner told the Dayton Daily News in a 2003 interview. He said he initially played with his back to the audience, because he didn't want to get distracted.
While the band used sexual innuendo, Bonner said he didn't relate to some of the explicit lyrics and attitudes of later pop music and rap.
"There is nothing but the old school and the new fools," he said. "It's a shame the way these artists are preaching badness to a drum beat."
Way before their #1 Disco Hits "Fire" and "Love Rollercoaster", we first discovered The Ohio Players as a funk band when their 1973 Hit "Funky Worm" went to #15 on the pop charts. (Talk about your Forgotten Hits ... when is the last time you heard THIS one?!?!?) While their music always did well on Billboard's R&B Chart, their other Top 40 Pop Hits include "Ecstasy" (#31, 1973); "Skin Tight" (#13, 1974); "Sweet Sticky Thing" (#33, 1975); "Fopp" (#30, 1976) and "Who'd She Coo?" (#18, 1976).   kk
NOTE:  DivShare is not working properly this morning ... so we'll have to share "Funky Worm" at a later date.

Oh yeah ... while I was never a big fan of the group, I may have noticed a couple of their album covers in the stores ... 
Click here: Album Cover Gallery: Ohio Players complete album gallery (kk)    

Also passing away this week was Patty Andrews of the Andrews Sisters ... here is a piece from FH Reader Fred Vail:
Yes, they may have pre-dated rock by 20 years -- their first hit was 1937 -- but very few recording artists in history had the track record and impact that The Andrews Sisters brought to the music scene. They were heroes to the millions of GI's they entertained thoughout WW2.
And now, nearly 75 years after America's entry into that war, nothing quite captures that period like the music of Glenn Miller, The Andrews Sisters, Bing Crosby and Sinatra and The Dorsey's. If Benny Goodman was the King of Swing, Patty, Laverne and Maxine were certainly the 'Queens' of Swing and Jitterbug music.
Not only great harmony but an overall totally entertaining act -- dance, slapstick, you name it -- they did it and did it superbly. RIP Patty Andrews -- at age 94 you certainly led a great life and left an even greater music legacy.
Fred / Treasure Isle

Here's one you're going to want to catch the next time it comes around.
It's a brand new documentary called "Paul Williams: Still Alive", a warts-and-all profile of one of the most successful songwriters of the '70's. Williams became a Pop Culture Icon, warbling God-awful renditions of the hit songs he wrote for other artists like (most notably) The Carpenters, Three Dog Night, Barbra Streisand, Helen Reddy ... and Kermit The Frog!!! (In fact, just TRY getting "The Rainbow Connection" out of your head after you watch this special!) He also starred in numerous TV shows and movies and was a fixture on the talk shows and "celebrity stars" specials. (There is quite a bit of footage here of Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show where Williams was almost a staple ... as well as vintage clips of Paul sky-diving out of an airplay and canoodling on The Love Boat.
Deeply entrenched in drugs and alcohol (but clean and sober now for over twenty years), film-maker Steve Kessler does an exceptional job of creating just the right balance to show the ups and downs of Paul's fabled career. Highly recommended. (kk)
Now playing on Showtime (and available next week on DVD)
Here's a blurb from Jeff March's daily "Where Have All The Pop Stars Gone" Facebook Post:
"Can't You Hear My Heartbeat," the second chart hit by Herman's Hermits, made its debut at No. 85 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on January 30, 1965, and cracked into the top 40 within three weeks. The label gave songwriting credit to "John Carter and Ken Lewis," which were the pen names of John N. Shakespeare and Kenneth A.J. Hawker -- who wrote Danny Hutton's 1966 tune "Funny How Love Can Be" and the Music Explosion's 1967 hit "Little Bit o' Soul." Mickie Most produced the recording session for "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat," which climbed the U.S. pop charts as high as No. 2, a position it held for two weeks, as described in the Herman's Hermits chapter of "Where Have All the Pop Stars Gone? -- Volume 1." The song remained on the charts for 15 weeks. In the U.K., Columbia Records released "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat" as the "B" side of "Silhouettes."
-- Jeff March
You can get your daily dose of rock and roll trivia here:
Frannie and I watched the premier of the new FX Television Series "The Americans" last night ... and quite enjoyed the espionage of the modern-day Cold War, circa 1981 ... just enough thrills, suspense and humor to keep you glued to the screen. Special props to whoever is in charge of the music being used on this program. It kicks off with The Who's "Eminence Front" (which actually peaked on the charts in 1983 but that's just me quibbling.) The song is being used in their advertising campaign for the new series and also plays well as the series theme song. (You just can't have enough Who songs being used as television themes!!! Seriously though, this is one of my favorites ... and it really sets the mood for the series.) The opening scene had "Harden My Heart" by Quarterflash playing in the background ... a song you still hear fairly often on the radio ... and there was a fun, playful scene of the KGB Russian Agent shopping at the mall with his daughter, trying on a pair of cowboy boots and then practicing his Texas two-step in the floor shoe mirror to Juice Newton's "Queen Of Hearts". And, of course, you had the obligatory "In The Air Tonight" by Phil Collins pulsating in the background during a love-making scene. (Hey, they were using this one on television soundtracks as far back as they '80's ... so while it remains on my radio over-played list, it TOTALLY fit within the context of this episode ... and, in all honesty, it sounded GREAT!) It was a nice blend of late '70's / early '80's music that lends itself well to the soundtrack ... in my case, almost to the point of distraction ... but also to my pure enjoyment. That's because the OTHER music that really blew me away. "Tusk" by Fleetwood Mac was used to great effect in a couple of scenes (and I have a feeling will continue to be used for these more intense situations). I heard Bob Stroud play this as his One 45 at 1:45 feature a couple of months ago and it took me weeks to get it out of my head ... now it's back! (We even featured it as our Today's Forgotten Hit ... as, despite all of the over-saturation of the other Fleetwood Mac music on the radio, this is one you rarely if ever hear ... a bizarre track that had everybody scratching their heads when it was first released ... but much catchier now, all these years later. There was also a great scene that included April Wine's "Roller", another track you rarely hear. The music director has done a great job of capturing the spirit of the music of this era ... and obviously is a bit of a fan himself, to come up with some of these great distractions! Overall, this show looks like a winner ... and we'll keep watching. Do yourself a favor and check it out On Demand and see if you agree. (kk)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Today Sid Holmes Talks To Forgotten Hits ... And Answers Some Of YOUR Questions

First of all, a major correction of sorts ...  
In the piece I ran the other day, I published what I believed to be Sid Holmes' account of the actual recording session where "Last Kiss" was waxed at Accurate Sound Studio in August of 1964. Because this story was presented in Sid Holmes' book, I naturally assumed that these were HIS recollections. He has since pointed out to me that this particular chapter was written by Jim Wynne, who is the guy that actually played the "in studio piano" on this session. Amazingly, although this means that the piece I published last weekend is inaccurate, this ALSO just means that my original accounting of the musicians who actually performed on the hit record (written back in 2004) was correct ... Sid Holmes was NOT on the original recording!!! (Sid's note is below ... as is my original report.) 
Here is an excerpt from my original 2004 piece:  
'60's FLASHBACK:  
Shortly thereafter, this four-piece band went into RON NEWDOLL's recording studio to cut a new version of LAST KISS. (As near as we can determine, the ACTUAL participants on that recording were J. FRANK WILSON, LEWIS ELLIOTT, ROLAND ATKINSON, GENE "BUDDY" CROYLE, JIM WYNNE, sitting in on piano, and GWEN COLEMAN (the only one of three scheduled background female vocalists who actually showed up for the session ... and, in some cases, referred to as ATKINSON's ex-wife!) Band-founder SID HOLMES may or may not have been involved, but most likely not. (This scenario would also disprove the "studio musicians" theory.) Using the COCHRAN record as a recording "template," THE CAVALIERS produced a near-identical version. 
The only part we got wrong (which was the common belief at the time) is the fact that Gwen Coleman later came forward and stated that she was NOT on the recording as originally believed. According to Sid Holmes, they have NEVER determined who the female voice was. In that no one has come forward in the now nearly fifty years since this record was first waxed, it's probably safe to assume that that vocalist is no longer with us. (And quite honestly, even if somebody DID come forward now, they'd probably have a pretty tough time proving that it was them!!!) However, Sid did say that if the true identity of this person can be established and verified, there is a gold record waiting for them!  
By the way, please correct the part of the story where I played piano on Last Kiss. I was not there as I was attending Del Mar Tech in Corpus Christi in the middle of 1963. I had left Lewis Elliott (bass) in charge of the band as Frank had taken a leave of absents returned back to Lufkin. 
As soon as the record begins to move up the charts, the drummer (Roland Atkinson) lied like a dog, telling everyone in San Angelo that his girlfriend, later his wife, sang behind Frank. It took me 30 years to locate her (she had remarried having a different last name) but she told me that the rumors that she sang on the record were false.
-- Sid Holmes  
Also, since Jim Wynne was not really part of The Cavaliers group per se, was treated as a "bit" player or session man once the royalties were finally distributed. Wynne received a whopping $100 for his work on "Last Kiss". According to Sid Holmes' book, Josie Records paid out $56,000 in royalties for sales of 850,000 copies of "Last Kiss". Major Bill Smith (who received the check) took $20,000 right off the top for delivering the master tape to Josie Records in August of 1964.  
After taking the twenty grand, he sent the balance of $36,000 to Ron Newdoll in San Angelo, and then flew to Hawaii for vacation. Ron Newdoll took $12,000 for furnishing the recording studio.
-- Sid Holmes  
(By the way, at the time, studio time for a session like the one that produced "Last Kiss" probably would have sold for about $300!!! Ron rewarded himself quite handsomely for an afternoon's work!!!) kk 
The Sonley Roush Estate (his mother in Midland) received $12,000 ... and the band received $12,000, divided four ways to include J. Frank Wilson). After some deductions, it came out to $2700 a piece. Jim Wynne received a check for $100 from Ron Newdoll for playing piano on "Last Kiss" and sax on the flip side of the 45 record.
-- Sid Holmes  
Jim said that since he had not been paid the day of the session for his services, he assumed that he would share in any band royalties that might be generated in the future. He says:  
It would be about three months later, in November, 1964, when "Last Kiss" was taking its last breath on the charts that Ron Newdoll came to my home in San Angelo. Ron said, "Jim, I had to fight for you, and the band members finally agreed that you should receive a total payment of $100." Ron Newdoll then dug in his briefcase and handed me a check for $100 along with a release form. Having decided that I had no other recourse, with no one supporting me, I signed it.
-- Jim Wynne  
Sid Holmes' version of the "Last Kiss" story sounds pretty credible except for one minor point. He states that one can not copyright an arrangement -- and that's not true. Note the publishing credits on your CDs, LPs or 45s given for compositions which are themselves in the public domain -- such as "Silent Night" or "The Star Spangled Banner." One can take any PD song or verse, work up your own arrangement and then copyright the result as if it was entirely your own original composition. In that way you can gain royalties when your recording with your arrangement is broadcast or otherwise publicly performed for profit. If you didn't do that, you'd earn nothing. The U.S. copyright office will confirm the above.
In my own case, I took Frank Church's now long out of copyright 1897 newspaper editorial, "Yes Virginia (There Is A Santa Claus)," wrote a new intro for it and collaborated with Jeremy Goldsmith to create an orchestral backing track and then recorded the result as a duet between myself and Julia Myers, a young violin student of Jeremy's wife. The copyrighted result, credited to Church-Goldsmith-Theroux and represented by ASCAP, has since been licensed by Capitol and others for collections and has been broadcast at Yuletide many times since. You CAN copyright your own arrangement of public domain words and music as long as you give them your own unique spin. In our case, the backing music was a medley of all new material mixed with some public domain melodies, such as 1903's "Toyland."
Gary Theroux
I think in the case of "Last Kiss" (obviously NOT a song or piece of work in Public Domain then or now), Sonley Roush tried to capitalize on the fact that Wayne Cochran had recorded numerous versions and arrangements of his song that ALL failed to make a dent on the charts. He believed that with the right band behind it, this song could be a hit ... a monster, in fact ... and to that degree, he was right. It's funny in a way because the original intent was to have The Cavaliers copy Wayne Cochran's version to the letter ... and then, after they scored a hit record with it, Cochran went back into the studio and recorded a version that sounded even more like the J. Frank Wilson record! (And STILL failed to hit the charts with it!) kk  
Hi Kent,
Great work on the Last Kiss story, I just have one thing to quibble over.
"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.
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)  

On Wayne Cochran's first recording of Last Kiss, it sounds like he's been listening to too many Ricky Nelson records.

I may have to pick up Sid's book, but I would be more likely to buy it through him directly:
Mainly since I am interested in the details about how the record also ended up on Tamara records in an entirely different recording (not just an alternate take, this one has an entirely different SOUND so it was likely cut at a different time in a different studio) and also on LeCam with a different B side (that pressing of which I've never heard so I don't know what version of the song is on the A Side).
Tom Diehl  
Thanks for the other link ... I had asked Sid Holmes if he had a preferred ordering method and this was one of the points that he never got back to me on ... I, too, would suggest buying it directly from him. And you will NOT be disappointed ... you'll learn the stories behind not only these two "Last Kiss" pressings, but several other legitimate (and illegitimate) releases as well! (kk) 
From Sid, here is a quick run-down of the various other label releases:  
It wasn't long after the recording session that Sonley Roush cut a deal by phone with Colonial Record Manufacturing Company (Tamara Label) in Philadelphia that he sent them an alternate track of "Last Kiss", along with all of the label information.  
In what sounds like double cross after double cross, Roush then sent a copy of the master tape to Major Bill Smith in Ft. Worth, Texas, who immediately put it on his Le Cam Record Label (#722). Smith then rushed the master tape to Jay-Gee Records in New York City (home of Josie Records), who immediately filed an injunction against the Tamara Label.  (According to Sid Holmes, Major Bill Smith later referred to "Last Kiss" as "the most bootlegged song in history", apparently not aware that it was Sonley Roush who was sending out master tapes to a variety of record labels, all anxious to press copies of this hot new record.) Roush and Smith made money on all of these lawsuits and on the royalties earned from the Josie release ... upwards of $100,000 from the sounds of things. Meanwhile, J. Frank Wilson, who sang lead on the track, was paid a grand total of $2700 for his work ... and one band member was paid $100 under the condition that they signed over any future rights to royalties. (See Jim Wynne's story above)  So much for making it in the record business!!! (kk)  
Not trying to peddle books, but you'll find a lot of good info concerning "Last Kiss" on Tamara.
Sid also talked a little bit about J. Frank Wilson's son Rodney ... 
>>>I enjoyed your article about J. Frank Wilson. I can certainly tell you Leo Lucas is full of shit. You see, I am Rodney, J. Frank's son - his only son. One would assume I am the owner of J Frank Wilson's name.
My last name is different as my mother divorced Frank when I was young and I have a wonderful father whom I do not wish to hurt his feelings - although I am aware he most likely would never know and if he did, would support me getting the truth out as he is the one who taught me my beliefs. You can ask all of the original Cavaliers - they will all tell you that I am his only son!
I cannot believe Leo actually got a trademark. I have found Leo's trademark paperwork and am thinking about pursuing it. One thing that really pisses me off is the attitude of Leo - I do not like liars and thieves and I know he is both - just to prove a point, I am considering pushing the issue - I talked to him a year ago and my thoughts were he is an arrogant lying s.o.b.
There is an organization that punishes such persons and there is always the opportunity of a lawyer as I am sure he has made some money on his lies - money is not the point to me but it actually seems everyone I know loves Last Kiss and I think Frank deserves the recognition - he never really got anything else.
Have a good day.
Rodney is Frank's son and he lives in San Antonio, I think(?) Kinda interesting as Tommy Ruble (our vocalist #3) first met and married Carolyn around 1959. There is no record of them ever divorcing. Frank (our vocalist #4) in 1962 meets Carolyn and marries her, having Rodney and a girl. Tommy's oldest daughter hired a professional and was still unable to find where they were divorced.
-- Sid  
Hi, Kent,
Great take on the Sid Holmes book and story.
If you talk with him again, I wonder if you could ask him about another act the late Sonley Roush produced. Granger Hunt & The Believers, also on Josie, had a novelty / ballad combo with "Motor Mouth" / "Love Wasn't Real" (Josie 925, I think) that shared the same (lack of) production values. I know Roush died shortly thereafter in a car crash (how ironic) with some band members of either The Believers and / or The Cavaliers. Could he clarify this for me, please?
BTW, I've discovered that, after another 45 or two, Hunt (now spelled Grainger) became a Nashville songwriter (he had a hit for Jim Ed Brown, which I think was "Regular on My Mind") and subsequently got a Ph.D. and is a highly-respected ornithologist (bird expert) out west.
I don't comment as often as I'd like to, but I do check in and I do care! Thanks for all your research and hard work.
Best to you and all,
(Country) Paul Payton 
I passed your email on to Sid Holmes ... and here is what he had to say ...  
Although I've never met them in person I recall The Believers being a music group composed of Sul Ross College students in the early 60s. The most successful member of The Believers was one of their guitar players, John Schweers, who became a prolific song writer in Nashville with seven #1's and 12 Top 10's from 1971 - 1997. Granger Hunt & The Believers recorded "Motor Mouth" at Accurate Sound Studios in San Angelo, possibly co-produced by Sonley Roush and Ron Newdoll. The reason I'm saying this is because the 45 label shows Sonley's Midessa (Midland Odessa) Music and Major Bill's Le Bill Music as the publishers. It's also possible Grainger was the producer if it was recorded after July, 1964, as "Last Kiss" also on Josie was bubbling under the top 100 in August with Sonley being too busy.
While traveling with a road band promoting "Last Kiss", Sonley fell asleep at the wheel of his station wagon one early morning in October, 1964. They had just entered the highway at a very low rate of speed, hitting a slow-moving 18 wheeler. Frank was in the front seat with Bobby Wood (vocalist / piano player) riding in the back. Few cars were equipped with seat belts in those days and had Sonley, Frank and Bobby been wearing one, Sonley would most-likely have survived. On impact, his head hit the visor, breaking his neck. Frank suffered broken ribs and a bone in his lower leg. Bobby Wood, who was riding in the back with some band equipment, lost an eye. It took Bobby many years to recover and when he finally did, he played on Garth brooks biggest hits. Like they say "Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction" as about two weeks ago a Bill Spears dropped by, leaving me some old Alpine newspaper clippings to read over concerning The Believers. While he was here, Bill told me he attended Sul Ross and was the group's manager.
-- Sid Holmes  
And where else but Forgotten Hits are you going to find a follow-up like this?!?! After we sent Sid Holmes a copy of Paul Payton's email, HE forwarded it to Bill Spears, who had recently come by with the old newspaper articles pertaining to Granger Hunt and the Believers! Here is Bill's response:  
I am Bill Spears. I worked with the Believers in 1964 and 1965. I graduated Sul Ross in May, 1965, and was not associated with them after that. I see that Sid has already answered most of your questions so I will just expand on it from there. The Believers did record with Ron Newdoll and Sonley Roush. Sonley was promoting their records while on tour with J. Frank. when Sonley was killed in a car accident. The record promotion more or less ended there. I understand The Believers recorded some other songs as well and achieved limited fame after that. I have a number of articles from Sul Ross and Alpine papers reporting on them. I can forward them to you if you are interested.
Grainger Hunt did graduate from Sul Ross, has a PHD and was the Head of The Chihuahuan Desert Research Foundation. He was also involved with the Peregrines falcon (Grainger had falcons when I knew him.)
The other band members were: Peyton Starr - lead Guitar, now in aviation and plays banjo with a blue grass group; Scoteer Jackson - guitar, whereabouts unknown; Jim Killian, bass guitar passed away a few years ago; Ed Hurley, drums, now lives in North Carolina. And, as Sid mentioned, John Schweers is in Nashville.
When I was with the Believers, I recorded most of their shows and actually still have many hours of old performances in my collection. Let me know if I can be of any further help.
Bill Spears 
I really don't have much to offer in the "Last Kiss" story, but I was a DJ on KTEO in San Angelo, TX, from 9/62 to 10/63. I was in the USAF at the time, but worked the evening shifts (6-9 or 9-12) every day during that stretch. I knew J. Frank a bit since I dropped in to hear him and the band now and then, and I also had hung out just a bit with one of the band members, name forgotten, but I think his nickname was Spider.
KTEO was always in a weak financial situation and always behind 2 weeks or more in cashing paychecks. But I was living on base and had no debt so I didn't care and I was playing the hits on a real radio station, that was all that mattered.
I had moved on the KXLF in Butte, MT when Last Kiss came out and an old friend from San Angelo had alerted me to the song, so it was my "personal pick" and it reached #1 on our chart.
I know this isn't much of a help, but you might ask Sid if he remembers "Jim Southern" on KTEO.
Yes, I remember KTEO Radio and Jim Southern.

Dear Kent,
With all the extended chatter regarding "Last Kiss" as of late, I feel that there will be no better time than now to reveal the fact that I am actually the original J. Frank Wilson as featured on the record.
In 1963, I was something of a musical prodigy -- a five-year-old who was wowing them at school assemblies, Moose Lodges and ladies' temperance meetings. Regional appearances on local radio and at car dealership sales events led to offers from Johnny Otis, Sam Phillips, the Chess Brothers and even Berry Gordy. Sadly, all these entreaties were rebuffed by my parents, feeling that I should at least complete kindergarten before pursuing my dream of a professional singing career.
Six months later, having matriculated, I was greeted by a cigar-chomping music exec (whose name I can't safely reveal) who spotted me singing "Harbor Lights" on a Spanish galleon-themed float in a Shriner's Day parade. Contracts were signed, my hair was dyed and I was whisked onto the road. You've heard of the Caravan of Stars? I traveled in a Dodge panel van of wannabes. It was a whirlwind of show dates, spiked Kool-Aid and junior-high groupies. (This was when the term "cougars" was usually the name of a high school football team.) Sadly, no footage of any of this remains.
While we're at it here, let's clear up another myth: I was the sole writer of "Last Kiss". I gambled away the song in a high-stakes poker match while on the road. My opening act, Wayne Cochran, was a real opportunist, knowing full well that, at the age of six, my card skills were limited to Old Maid and Go Fish. In less than a dozen hands, ol' crazy Wayne had the rights to "Last Kiss" and my brand new Schwinn Hornet Deluxe bicycle. So, now the race was on to beat Cochran into the studio to cut it.
At the time of the recording in late '63 (or was it '64?), there was some concern that, lyrically, "Last Kiss" would not be credible coming from a six-year-old. But in a heated argument with my manager and producer, I pointed out that it was no less ridiculous than the conceit of a 15-year-old Paul Anka getting laid by his babysitter "Diana," especially before he had a nose job. I'd like to say that I won that debate, hands down, but in truth, it was the recording engineer on the session, Torkel Hagström, who came up with the brainstorm that resulted in a smash hit. By recording my lead vocal with the tape rolling at approximately 25 ips (inches per second), then playing it back at the standard 15 ips, the pitch of my voice was lowered enough to approximate the vocal sound of a lovesick post-adolescent! (If you'd like to hear how I really sounded then, play your 45 of the record at 78 -- it comes pretty close.)
Well, everybody involved knew we had a smash, and this was when my manager dropped a bomb on me. Apparently he had some gambling debts of his own. He owed something like $50k to some mobbed-up guy named Frank Wilson. As part of the settlement of the debt, my nom de disque was to be J. Frank Wilson -- the "J," presumably standing for "junior." It wasn't 'til much later that I learned that this facilitated Big Frank's ability to claim custodianship of me as Little Frank and abscond with all my royalties.
But anyway, at the suggestion of the name change, I said, "I don't give a shit." I remember that because my mom washed my mouth out with soap. But my manager and producer laughed and one of 'em said, "You gotta love this kid, he's so cavalier!"
And that's how the classic record, "Last Kiss," came to be credited to J. Frank Wilson & the Cavaliers. I will have my story stand with almost any of the others.
Scott Paton
For the complete story, (which, strangely enough, leaves out the Scott Paton chapter), order YOUR copy of "Rockabilly Heaven - West Texas in the 50's - The Untold Story of the Cavaliers, 1956 - 1964" here:
(And tell them you heard all about it in Forgotten Hits!!!)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Book Reviews: Comments ... and New Titles

Still reading Forgotten Hits all the time 'cause it's the best. Also loved the book reviews. Have you thought of making that a regular feature, in all your free time that is? 

Actually, we had some pretty good response to last week's book reviews ... and I really enjoyed doing them.  (Hated having to write them in high school, of course ... but it's a little bit different today when I actually enjoy the subject matter! Plus, there were some pretty good titles in the bunch this time!)  

We'll share a few of the comments with you today (as well as tell you about a couple of other new books now on the market.) 

And then tomorrow, we'll take one last look at Sid Holmes' book "Rockabilly Heaven - West Texas in the 50's - The Untold Story of the Cavaliers, 1956 - 1964", which profiles J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers' timeless #1 Hit "Last Kiss". (After our series ran, Sid emailed me back ... and then even took time to answer a few questions from some of our readers ... so you won't want to miss this latest installment in our decade-long search for the truth!!!)

But first ... 

Here comes word about ANOTHER new book worth getting ...  

Right in the middle of our special week of book reviews, we got this blurb about a brand new book profiling broadcasting legend Hy Lit:

Purchase The Hy Lit Story Book on the HyLitRadio home page Click here

The Hy Lit Story
The Picture Book

On Sale Now!  
A Treasure Trove filled with rare and exclusive pictures  
from Hy's personal collection ... mostly never seen before 
... plus all the True Stories Behind the Story and Behind
the scenes
Fully illustrated with Hundreds of Stunning Photographs
Spanning the first two decades from the Dawn of Rock & 
Roll.      Limited Collectors' Edition.

The First 1500 copies are numbered and certified with a CD
of rare unreleased air checks. CD Includes the Hy Lit 
Beatles interview. 

Available only from  
Go to the HyLitRadio Home Page and click the Amazon
Purchase Link to order your copy.
The Hy Lit Story Book on Sale Now from

And Be Sure To Listen to Radio legend Charlie Tuna Weekday Morning's from 6 - 11 am on HyLitRadio  

I am currently reading the brand new Kenny Rogers autobiography, "Luck Or Something Like It".  I've always been a big Kenny Rogers fan ... and, back in 2008, we did a week-long tribute to Kenny's career (with special emphasis on his First Edition Days)
Incredibly, in all of the THOUSANDS of archives I received back from our readers after The Great Computer Crash of 2012, this was NOT one of them.  If anybody who might still have some of our stuff on their computers dating back that far can please check, this series would have run back in March / April of 2004 ... and then again in September / October of 2008. 
It was a week-long series that probably kicked off with a piece titled "Hoodat?" (as we ran a vintage Kenny Rogers recording from WAY back before he was a worldwide superstar.) 
If anybody out there has a copy of this complete series (for some crazy reason, we only have Chapter 4!!!!!), we would love to get a copy from you so we can resurrect it as a '60's Flashback and tie it into a book review on Kenny's new book.  (I'm just about 100 pages into it ... and absolutely LOVING it!!!)  Although it does tell the complete story, the way a biography should, you don't really feel like you're reading a biography ... that's because it is peppered throughout with amusing anecdotes that not only advance the story but also convey Kenny's gift for story-telling and southern charm.  Highly recommended (and available in bookstores everywhere now ... Frannie got me a copy for Christmas ... and I'm lovin' it!)  kk   

And this about some of our book reviews ... both from our readers ... and some of the authors themselves!!!

Hi kk,
A thousand thanks for your enthusiasm in helping get the word out on Ranking the '60s. The immediate response to your review is heartening to me not only on a personal level but in a communal sense as well. Thanks again for your support. 
Take care,
Within the first two hours of this review being posted, I had already heard from four FH Readers who had gone online to purchase a copy for their collection ... a pretty good response indeed.  I'm hoping that some of the jocks on the list might even incorporate your stats into some type of "countdown" programming ... so stay tuned for news on THAT front, too!  Congratulations, Dann!  (A welcome edition to ANY collection of chart history books.)  kk


Hi, Kent,
Thank you so much for your terrific review of "Where Have All the Pop Stars Gone? -- Volume 2." We truly appreciate your enthusiasm, and your validation of what we do. You get it -- you understand that we are interested in the lives of the individual performers, and that we want to portray them as people rather than as simply performers or icons. We will link to your review from our book's Facebook page (  
Are you on Facebook or LinkedIn? If so, I'd be pleased to connect with you there.
On our Facebook page, we post daily tidbits on anniversary dates -- sometimes only one item, but often two or more. Today we have three postings. Here they are, to give you an idea of what we do daily.
---  "Little Things," singer Bobby Goldsboro's fifth chart single, made its debut on the Billboard Hot 100 on January 23, 1965. Goldsboro wrote the song, and Bill Justis arranged and conducted music for the session, which Jack Gold produced. The drumming and beat in "Little Things" were reminiscent of Roy Orbison’s 1964 hit "Pretty Woman." Goldsboro had been a member of Roy's touring band for two years beginning in 1961. Bobby originally had written a 2/4 drum beat for "Little Things," but when he heard Orbison’s "Pretty Woman" on the radio he asked him if he could use the 4/4 beat, and Orbison gave him thumbs up. "The timing has been so important in my life in everything I’ve done. Had Roy not come up with that record when he did, 'Little Things' may not have happened," Bobby told us for "Where Have All the Pop Stars Gone? -- Volume 2." Released on the United Artists label, "Little Things" peaked at No. 13, and remained on the chart for 12 weeks.
--- The Kingston Trio recorded "The Reverend Mr. Black" on January 23, 1963. Country music singer-songwriter Billy Edd Wheeler and Jed Peters were credited on the release as the songwriters, but "Jed Peters" turned out to be a pseudonym for leading pop music songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller (whose songwriting credits include "Hound Dog," "On Broadway" and "Stand By Me," and whose music formed the basis for the musical stage production "Smokey Joe's Cafe"). "The Reverend Mr. Black," the 15th chart record by the Kingston Trio, made its debut on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on April 6, 1963. The Capitol Records release peaked at No. 8 and remained on the chart for 11 weeks. You can read about the Trio in "Where Have All the Pop Stars Gone? -- Volume 1." 
--- The week of January 23, 1963, a 20-year old Texas artist whose father was an engineer for an oil company and whose mother was a registrar for a business college reunited with a California friend, Chet Helms, whom she had met while both were students at the University of Texas in Austin. The artist had taken an interest in singing folk and blues; she and Helms hitchhiked together to San Francisco, where he was involved in the formative stages of several musical groups and was becoming increasingly instrumental in the evolution of the San Francisco music scene. His band management activities led to staging concerts under the name Family Dog Productions. Helms recruited the singer to join one of the bands that he managed and had named with Orwellian overtones: Big Brother and the Holding Company. The Texas artist-turned-singer was, of course, Janis Joplin, who died at age 27 in 1970. Helms died at age 62 in 2005 from complications following a stroke.
Best regards,

I don't do Facebook ... (I barely have the time to get Forgotten Hits out!!!) ... but I believe the majority of our readers do and, as such, would enjoy your daily postings ... so I'm happy to provide the link. As I've told you before, I really enjoy your books and the way you dig a little deeper to get more than just the conventional music story. The good review is well-deserved. (And, if you want to run some of your daily tidbits in FH from time to time, I'm all for that, too!) Thanks, Jeff. (kk)  

>>>Ray Stevens, one of pop music's premier funny men, decided to play it straight in 1970 ... and, in the process, scored his very first #1 Hit with "Everything Is Beautiful". (kk)  

Speaking of when Ray Stevens "played it straight," let's not forget his 1968 hits UNWIND and MR. BUSINESSMAN.
Tal Hartsfeld   

Two Forgotten Hits (and great tracks) to be sure ... but neither generated quite the overall national response that "Everything Is Beautiful" did. (I've always loved both of those tunes!) "Unwind" (which I became familiar with when I saw Ray perform it on his TV Show, a Summer Replacement Series for The Andy Williams Show, I believe) peaked at #44 in 1968. "Mr. Businessman", his follow-up single, fared a little better, going all the way to #15. (kk) 

As I was scrolling down and reading your comments for today, before I played it, I noticed the song ZIP CODE was some 3:18 in length. I said,"Wait a minute!" I didn't really remember it being that long. I went and checked and the single version is 2:23 in length. It looked and sounded like the center portion of the song was different. Learn something new every day.
Also in today's comments, when I saw the book title ROCKABILLY HEAVEN, I thought immediately of the term Hillbilly Heaven and other Heaven songs. I don't know if it made your charts in your area back in 1961, but Tex Ritter's recording of I DREAMED I WAS IN HILLBILLY HEAVEN made it into our top 10 locally here in OKC.
Making a list of songs that are somewhat "Heaven" orientated as far as rock and roll music is concerned, how many of them are there? There was a TEENAGE HEAVEN by Johnny Cymbal and Eddie Cochran, Righteous Brothers had ROCK AND ROLL HEAVEN, probably a few others but maybe not many.
Incidentally, Tex Ritter remade his HILLBILLY HEAVEN when he was in OKC but used the names of local DJ's who were working here in the city instead of the western actors and singers that were in the original. Unfortunately, I do not have a copy of that record. Don't really know how many copies were pressed.
Keep up the good work.
I seem to remember Tex recording "customized" versions of "Hillbilly Heaven" for a number of different radio stations at the time ... a long, lost art in record promotion.  (In fact, I'm know there's a Chicago version floating around out there somewhere, too ... we featured it ages ago in Forgotten Hits.)  Ritter's Top 5 Country Hit peaked at #20 on Billboard's Pop Chart in 1961 ... and went all the way to #7 here in Chi-Town. (kk)  

Hi Kent; 
Thanks for the memory jolt. At the time that was a brilliant move on the part of Capitol records. While it was a huge hit on the country charts, there was just no way we would have played on the song on 'LS. However by adding our names to the lyric we did just exactly that! Now Gene Taylor, Art Roberts, Sam Holman and Mort Crowley are indeed gone. Sorta spooky!  
Clark Weber
Yep, a brilliant marketing move ... and WLS played it all the way to #7!!!  Who would have guessed!  (kk)

Hi Kent,
Regarding the Lettermen: I note your disappointment at how short Jim Pike’s book “My Letterman Years ... The Journey To Hell And Back!" is.
Unfortunately, it seems to be in keeping with their level of CD reissues. The best was issued by EMI as part of their Capitol Collector series in 1992. Significantly, the accompanying booklet did not feature any career perspective. There were neither bio details nor any mention of the group’s history. (However at $10, it’s still a great buy!).
Since then, there have been budget issues and some compilations emanating from the Philippines, where I believe that the group has the type of popularity experienced by the Ventures in Japan. Collectors Choice began reissuing the Lettermen’s LPs as 2-fers but that project ended after the first two albums appeared on CD. Strange when, as you mention, the group put 33 albums on the Billboard chart!
On the bio side, I cannot recall any collector magazine featuring a career overview together with a discography.
I’m not sure what but “there is something going on here”. Given their output and their successes in the 60s, the Lettermen are one of the most underrepresented artists in terms of CD reissues. We need a double CD of their hits and best LP cuts (and there were many) with great packaging. In addition, the 2-fer project needs to continue, so that all their albums are available again.
As for the Lettermen’s recordings, a few questions come to mind. Why did they not record any Beach Boys’ songs, particularly when they shared the same label, Capitol? Same goes for the 4 Seasons (except for “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore”), Jay & The Americans etc. Maybe they did not want to risk losing their identity. However they did record some Beatles and British Invasions songs. Their versions of Gerry’s “Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying” and Herman’s “Listen People” are amazing.
Mike Edwards
I sent a copy of your email to Gary Pike to see if perhaps he knew about any future reissue plans through Capitol ... or maybe some foreign releases that better capture the complete Lettermen catalog.  I'll be sure to let you know as soon as I hear something back.  (Now I want to hear their versions of "Listen People" and "Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying"!!!)  kk

Back when I first asked you if I should ask if Gary Pike would be interested in becoming an FH contributor, it was with the idea that in the midst of psychedelia, garage bands an the emergence of bands writing their own music in the late 60s, that the Lettermen had that huge comeback, when at first glance one would think that their sound was more suited for the years preceding Beatlemania. I'm glad that it has worked out well.
Gary's contributions and insight have been a GREAT addition to Forgotten Hits ... so thanks again for making that connection. And Gary, thanks for all your support over the years, too! (kk)

Sid Holmes talks to Forgotten Hits Readers ...