Saturday, February 26, 2022

Phil Nee - February 26th - GEORGE HARRISON

George Harrison was born February 25th.  

I always appreciated him and his music.  

It was an honor to talk with his sister Louise in 2013.  I asked her about growing up in the Harrison household ...


George wrote some great love songs including Something for the Beatles' album Abbey Road.   

Louise Harrison talked to me about some of her favorites.


Louise Harrison hosted George and her other brother Pete in the Summer of 1963 in Benton, Illinois.  George, still unknown in America, played a few songs with a local group and everyone in the crowd thought he was pretty good.  Six months later he would be on Ed Sullivan show playing for millions.  

I asked the sister of the 'Quiet Beatle' about the label that was put on him by the media.



Be sure to listen to Phil Nee's THOSE WERE THE DAYS radio program tonight on WRCO ... WRCO AM FM Radio Richland Center Wisconsin

Just click on the 100.9 headphones and start streaming!

Send him an email request if you like …

Or just let him know how much you’re enjoying his new weekly feature in Forgotten Hits!

Friday, February 25, 2022

Bringing You The Stories Behind The Songs

I have always loved hearing the Stories Behind The Songs … so when I heard a vintage American Top 40 a couple of weekends ago playing on the Sirius/XM 70’s Channel, I was thrilled to learn the origins of the 1963 Tony Bennett hit, “I Wanna Be Around.”


Our Songfacts buddy Carl Wiser also recaps the unusual circumstances as to how a housewife in Youngstown, Ohio, came up with the idea for the song as well as the lyrics for the opening line:  “I wanna be around to pick up the pieces when somebody breaks your heart.”  She sent her idea (written on either a brown paper bag or an old desk calendar, depending on which version of the story you choose to believe) to noted songwriter Johnny Mercer, essentially telling him that nobody was writing good songs anymore and emphasizing her belief that THIS might make the basis of an excellent “revenge” love song.


Although it took him several years to do so, not only did Mercer complete the song, (all inspired by the one line that cosmetician Sadie Vimmerstedt sent him), he even put her name on the songwriting credits as its cowriter, earning her royalties when Tony Bennett recorded it in 1962.  (And Tony Bennett wasn’t the only one to do this tune … Frank Sinatra and Bobby Darin also jumped at the chance to record it, as did dozens and dozens of others over the years!)


When the song was nominated for three Grammy awards in 1964 (including the prestigious Song Of The Year award), Mercer flew Sadie out to attend the ceremonies and accompany him as his guest.  (Sadly, it lost to “The Days Of Wine And Roses.”) … but what an INCREDIBLE story!!!


You can read about the whole thing right here:


More here:


And, thanks to Shannon G. Lynn and our FH Buddy Scott Paton, both former American Top 40 employees, you can listen to Casey Kasem tell the story just like I did here …



Shannon has (in Scott’s words) “done the heroic, if not impossible task of rescuing and often restoring every single episode of AT40 as well as numerous other syndicated radio shows from radio's more glorious days.  When you're listening to a vintage show on the air today, odds are Shannon had his hands on it.”


You can browse thru those archives here:


54 years ago, when Clint Eastwood was 36, he starred in the western classic, "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly." 
Some may remember the film and the story. Others may reflect on the theme song for that movie.
The composer Ennio Morricone died on July 6, 2020, at the age of 92.
Eli Wallach died in 2014 at age 98 while Lee Van Cleef died in 1989 at 64.
For those who might enjoy seeing how that theme was performed, this is your lucky day.
Hard to forget that opening sound track and it's been used in a number of TV commercials.
It's definitely haunting and was created using the magic of an electronic keyboard.
But who knew that a woman was responsible for the whaa whaa whaa and the whistling?
Enjoy this 54-year-old relic from the past brought to you by the female conductor ... 

Gary Pike

While this is certainly not the origins of this unmistakable movie theme song, but rather a creative way of interpreting and recreating some of these unusual sounds in a “live” environment (whistling WAS a big part of the hit version … and those “whaa whaa whaa”’s were performed on harmonica), we’ve run a few clips here before of recent performances of this song … it seems to have gained considerable popularity of late and truly has become a classic … one of the clips I’ve seen was even done completely a cappella with no real instrumentation at all.


The song was written by Ennio Morricone, who was approached by his former schoolmate, Sergio Leone, who was now a noted film director.  Sergio asked Ennio to compose some music for one of his films, “A Fistful of Dollars” (also starring Clint Eastwood) in the mid-‘60’s.  The arrangement worked out so well that the two continued to collaborate on future Leone films. 


In the process, the teaming of Leone, Morricone and Eastwood created a new film genre that became known as “The Spaghetti Western” … “cowboy” movies filmed in Italy, with Eastwood always portraying the unnamed (Man With No Name) vigilante anti-hero.


In the 1967 film “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly,” Morricone’s title theme was performed with Bruno Nicolai conducting the orchestra.  The tune became so memorable and iconic that American composer and orchestra leader Hugo Montenegro decided to record his own version of the tune.


The recording was completed in a single day.  Those opening notes were played on an ocarina by musician Art Smith, followed by a harmonica bit provided by musician Tommy Morgan.  Following the cue provided by Morricone’s original version, the strange instrumentation also includes electric guitar, electric violin, drums, a soprano recorder, piccolo trumpet, chimes, the whistling of Muzzy Marcellino and “lyrics” like “wah wah wah,” “who who who” “go go go eh go” sung by a choir, who were joined by Montenegro’s own grunting of “rep rup rep rup rep,” all accompanied by a steady beat that grabs you from the very first note.


RCA Records decided to release the track as a single and, Incredibly, it became a HUGE #2 Smash in the Spring of 1968.  (Interestingly enough, it was held out of the #1 position by ANOTHER movie theme, “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon and Garfunkel, from the film “The Graduate.”  (kk)



Grab your uke!!!


This is one of my favorite recently created versions … who knew the song was this revered???



A short while back I mentioned a book written by singer/songwriter Stephen Bishop that set out to collect the original handwritten lyrics (and stories behind the songs) of some of the biggest hits of our era.


Having just obtained a copy of the book, I have to share one of my very favorites with you …


“One night in 1967, Richard Addrissi’s brother, Don, proposed to his girlfriend.  “Will there ever come a time when you grow tired of me?” she asked.  He looked into her eyes and said, “Never, my love.”


He drove home, awakened his brother, and told him he had a great idea for a song  As cowriter Richard recalled, “I set a cup of coffee down on the rough draft and it made a ring.  My mother had some bacon on a paper towel, and she slapped it down on top of the song … “Here, Eat.  You’ve got to put something in your stomach when you’re writing.”  And I remember turning around and saying, “Mom, this is our hit song!”


And there you have it … bacon grease, coffee stain and all!!!


Stephen’s book is called “Songs In The Rough” but is now out of print.  (I was able to find a copy easy enough on both Amazon and eBay.)  Other rock classics profiled in the book include songs dating back as far as “You Are My Sunshine” and “This Land Is Your Land,” mid ’50’s classics like “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Bye Bye Love” and “Wake Up Little Susie” … ‘60’s gems like “Hello, Mary Lou,” “Penny Lane,” “This Diamond Ring,” “Daydream Believer” and “Purple Haze” … ‘70’s hits like “I Think I Love You,” “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head,” “The Way We Were” and “Stayin’ Alive” (as well as Stephen’s own, “On And On”) and ‘80’s hits like “Sussudio,” “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “I Touch Myself” by The Divinyls.


A fun and educational read.  (kk)



You’ll Find More Stories Behind The Songs (from …

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Thursday This And That

How about “Two for Tuesday” renamed as “Two, Two, Two Two Two Tuesday?”


Or TWOsday!!!  This was a fun one to put together … although, due to the criteria, in many ways tougher than most! (kk)


Man, it's still hard to fathom Clint Holmes making it to Number Two. And for six weeks! 

David Lewis

Definitely NOT one of MY favorites!!!

I'll never forget the first time that Frannie and I went to Las Vegas and there were Clint Holmes billboard up EVERYWHERE between the airport and the strip ... and then all up and down the strip as well.  We couldn't believe it!  The in-room entertainment guides were talking about how Holmes had just been named the Entertainer Of The Year in Vegas ... how could this POSSIBLY be?!?!

But I'll tell you what ...  the WHOLE town got onboard behind him ... nearly every taxi driver we encountered was also singing his praises!

Still, I just couldn't bring myself to spend THAT kind of money to see his show.  (Nor could I EVER imagine PAYING to hear him sing "Playground In My Mind!!!")  kk


From Geoff Lambert …


Look ... it's even more magical than we thought!!!


From Forgotten Hits, February 22, 2022 ~

>>>We now go all the way back to 1958 when The Killer, Jerry Lee Lewis, tore up the rock and roll charts with his classic, "Great Balls Of Fire."  (kk)

It was just ten short years later in 1968 when WLS Chicago ran a big ad campaign promoting a young Chuck Buell, who was tearing up the Windy City evenings on the Big 89!  This is one of the classic Full Page Ads that appeared in the Chicago Tribune that year!


(Chicago Fire Boy … OK, I made that one up! – kk)



Also from Chuck Buell …


(TruDat!!!)  kk

And Happy Birthday to Sam Boyd ...

(Don'tcha just hate it when you have that sudden moment of clarity???)  kk



2 - 22 – 22 … 2/22/62.    

OMG, I’m 60 ... WTF!!!! 

How’d this happen?!?!?

Sam Boyd


American Bandstand 65th Anniversary - August 5th, 2022 -

Anyone interested in celebrating with some of the regulars as guests on their various types of social media?  It would be one of our last dances as Donna Summer would say. 

Thanks, Kent, for keeping everything going. 

Stay safe ‘n’ well. 


Eddie Kelly

Eddie was one of the Bandstand “regulars” … dancing on numerous shows over the years.

If you’d like more information on this online get together, drop me a note and I’ll be happy to pass it along.  (kk)


Hi Kent,

I enjoyed your comments on Smokey Robinson!

And, if I am not mistaken,  wasn't 'Shop Around' the first Number One Hit he wrote for Motown??

When in doubt, ask the master!!!

It has always been my favorite among all of his hits!


That piece actually came courtesy of Harvey Kubernik, who has interviewed Motown Chief Berry Gordy, Jr. (and Smokey himself) numerous times over the years.

As you likely saw on Tuesday (2/22/22) in our salute to #2 Hits, “Shop Around” actually peaked at #2 on the pop charts.  (It WAS a #1 R&B Hit, however)

Smokey scored his first #1 POP Hit in 1964 when Mary Wells recorded his “My Guy.” 

A year later, representing the OTHER side of the equation, he wrote “My Girl” for The Temptations … which also went all the way to #1.  (kk)


BY THE WAY:  Smokey Robinson is appearing at The Chicago Theater on June 4th.  I've never been to a Smokey show ... but hear his voice is just as clear as ever.


We lost the writer and singer of what just may be my favorite song of all time … 


Gary Brooker of Procol Harum passed away earlier this week

“A Whiter Shade Of Pale” was a massive #1 Hit back home in England … and made The Top Five here in America, too.  (The song was the subject of a long-running courtroom battle, songwriting credit having been only given to Brooker and Keith Reid when it was first released … but bandmate (and organist) Matthew Fisher has always maintained that he had a hand in writing the tune, too … and he was finally given cowriting credit (in a court of law) in 2009.  (Of course, Johann Sebastian Bach had a hand in writing it, too … it was HIS melody that first inspired this tune way back when!)


Brooker once told Uncut Magazine:  “If you trace the chordal element, it does a bar or two of Bach's 'Air on a G String' before it veers off. That spark was all it took. I wasn't consciously combining rock with classical, it's just that Bach's music was in me.”

Brooker passed away on February 19th after a battle with cancer.  He was 76.  (kk)


And just listen how strong his voice still sounded in 2004 …


From Ken Voss ...


And Clark Besch ...

Holy crap!  "A Whiter Shade of Pale," "Salty Dog,” “Homburg,” “Conquistador” ... The voice, the keyboards were unmistakable. Geez!


Speaking of Las Vegas (as we were earlier) and recently deceased celebrities (as we are now), I was very saddened to hear about the passing of The Amazing Jonathan, a staple of the Las Vegas Strip for decades.  (We DID go see him while we were there.  Suffice to say that I liked his act a WHOLE lot more than Frannie did ... this guy always cracked me up!  Although I DO think he was a bit of a loon in real life, too!)

Described by some as "The Freddy Krueger Of Comedy," The Amazing Jonathan (real name Jonathan Szeles) first began performing on the strip in the 1980's.  (He could ALSO be described as a "comedian magician who always served up a side dish of gore" during his shows, too.)

Still, he made me laugh.

Szeles was first diagnosed with a heart condition back in 2007 and, according to some of the death notices I have just read, was given a year to live in 2014.  (I do remember him going around talking about that ... and even recall a not very funny documentary that he filmed at the time.)

But this was Jonathan in his prime ...

Got this from our buddy Carl Wiser of Songfacts the other day …

A little insight into how the memorable lick from The Monkees’ #1 Hit “Last Train To Clarksville” was created …

Kent –

One of our readers sent us this link. It's Louie Shelton demonstrating how the guitar parts all came together on "Last Train To Clarksville."

Be Well,

Carl Wiser


I think the best forgotten song by the 5 Americans is one that barely charted … 7:30 Guided Tour (#96 in 1968.)  Probably my favorite because it's not or very rarely played on any music format. 


I wasn’t familiar with that one … so had to give it a listen … very of the psychedelic times!  (kk)




In today's FH, it was mentioned that the 5 Americans were discovered by John Abnor and signed to his Abnor Record Label. Jon Abnor made a record in 1963 with the song YOU'RE LOSING THAT OLD FEELING / WISHING FOR YOU. This was label #101.  It did make our local survey but didn't chart that high.

Here in the OKC area, the group was always introduced on the air as being from Dallas, Tx.

As for as Sandy Nelson, all of his charted records made our local survey here in OKC, including one from 1959 called BIG NOISE FROM WINNETKA (Imperial).

I just now went to three websites to look at a singles discography for Sandy Nelons.  NONE of the discogs mentions mentions BIG NOISE FROM WINNETKA ... It's like he never recorded it.  I went to one of my books here at home featuring a somewhat better discog and it lists BIG NOISE FROM WINNETKA … apparently it was the first record he made for Imperial.  A song called DRUM PARTY was on the flip side.  His TEEN BEAT did make it to #1 here in OKC ... on Original Sound Records, Art Laboe's label, I believe!!  (Wasn't he the one who coined the phrase "oldies but goodies?”)  Well, they are a little bit older but still goodies.

Larry Neal

I could have sworn “Big Noise From Winnetka” charted here in Chicago where, ironically, we have a suburb called Winnetka … but I can’t find any evidence of this.

“Drum Party” / “Big Noise From Winneka” was actually Sandy Nelson’s SECOND record.  “Teen Beat” came out in September of 1959 and went to 3 on the charts.  His next release, “Drum Party” / “Big Noise From Winnetka” was released two months later, but only made it to #101 (and even at that, ONLY in Cash Box Magazine.)  “Drum Party” was the A-Side … and it spent four weeks on the Cash Box Chart.  “Big Noise” charted as a “tag-along B-Side” for one of those weeks.

Sandy Nelson had back-to-back #1 Hits here in Chicago (albeit two years apart!!!)  Both “Teen Beat” and “Let There Be Drums” topped the charts here.  (kk)


>>>I never quite understood how Bill Hayes’ version of “Davy Crockett” performed better on the charts than Fess Parker’s did, especially since Parker was in the “Davy Crockett” film  (kk)
The series was a Walt Disney project and Fess Parker's recording was not on a Disney label, so it did not have the promotion of the Disney studio.  Also, Fess Parker did not sing that song in the series.  Since he played Davy Crockett, he would have been singing about himself.  In the film, it was Buddy Ebsen, playing Crockett's sidekick, Georgie Russell, who was singing these flattering lyrics ... to the apparent annoyance of the people around him.

Walt Disney missed out on a source of revenue on that song.  He corrected that in Parker's "Wringle, Wrangle," which was released on his Disneyland label.

I had to check out the James Brown version which is on YouTube with the disclaimer "Not THAT James Brown"

With the passage of time, it's easy to forget how huge Davy Crockett was in Chicago.  It was #1 here for eight weeks, easily the biggest hit of the year.  I had my coonskin cap and I was convinced that if Davy Crockett "kilt him a b'ar when he was only three," it would be easy for an eight-year-old.  Unfortunately, there were no "b'ars" foraging in the brush in Mount Greenwood, so I never found out.

Ed #1

I think the CORRECT word is FORTUNATELY!!!  (I still shudder when I think about all those kids who jumped off their garage roofs trying to fly like Superman!!!) 

Actually, I think Walter Schumann’s version of the “Davy Crockett” song is a GREAT recording … I rank it right up there with the better known versions.



Hi Kent, 

I am still enjoying very much reading your blogs every time again (here from The Netherlands)!

Since I’ve been a survey freak for quite some time already, I especially enjoy your postings on Mondays, where you include a survey from a particular US radio station. In my “freakiness” regarding surveys, I started to put my own compilations of surveys from the 60’s and 70’s together some 30 years ago. And, after I had done quite some audio compilations, I also started to work on video compilations. For the last couple of years, I’ve been doing quite some of these video compilations, I even attempted to use Billboard surveys for these compilations.

If you might ever have a dull moment (which I cannot imagine with all your work that I read in the blogs), you might wanna have a look at the one I did recently, based on the Billboard Hot 100 of February 23, 1974.

Keep up the good work with the blogs, Kent!!

Kind regards,

Ben Meijering

Thanks, Ben!  (We're still looking for that elusive Top 40 Radio Station Chart from Vermont for our 1972 Fifty Year Flashback ... and running out of time.  I do have a "Plan B" just in case ... but I SURE would like to find one that we could include in order to make our coast-to-coast journey complete!  (kk)

First off, I appreciate that Clark and your other readers enjoy the stuff I've been sending in.  I don't claim to be quite as knowledgeable as you or most of the readers out there, but these few years that I've been following your site have been a great learning experience for me. I try to absorb as much material as I can.
Since long-distance reception has been mentioned a few times, I thought I'd toss in this little snippet (which I might have sent to you a while back).
In late 1997, I was driving home at about 1:00 AM local time, when I heard a station on 1440 KHz, which faded in & out a bit. I knew it wasn't our "local" station in Rockford, IL, because they're a daytimer.
But the reason it grabbed my attention immediately was because they were playing "You're the Apple of My Eye" by an unknown group called the Four Lovers, from 1956.  A few years later, they became the Four Seasons.
I wrote down everything they aired, and when I got home I called the station. The DJ, a young guy named Matt Alperio, was somewhat bowled over when I told him I was eight miles from O'Hare Field in Chicago. He said that they were running very low power (16 watts!)  because they'd been interfering with a station in Canada.
Never know what you'll hear out there. I've even gotten a verification from a station on 800 KHz on the island of Bonaire in the Netherlands Antilles (off the northern coast of Brazil).
Thanks again for putting all of this great stuff out there for us!

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Harvey Kubernik Profiles BARBARA ACKLIN

Celebrating Black History Month, February & Women’s History Month,


By Harvey Kubernik 

Singer and songwriter Barbara Acklin became one of the most prolific singer / songwriters of the 20th Century.  The “First Lady of Brunswick” sold millions of records, and is responsible for chart-topping hits such as “Have You Seen Her,” and “Stoned Out of My Mind,” by The Chi-Lites. 

In recognition of Black History Month, in March Brunswick Records will honor Acklin for her lifelong contributions to American music by issuing her estate a set of commemorative plaques highlighting her contributions.

"Am I The Same Girl" is currently Acklin’s top-ranking recording on Spotify with nearly 4.5 million streams, even more than Swing Out Sisters' 1992 hit version of the song, streamed more than 3 million times.

“Barbara Acklin is a history maker,” said Paul Tarnopol, president and co-owner of Brunswick Record Corporation, and son of the late Nat Tarnopol, the label’s chief architect. 

“This industry honor is long overdue.  With this recognition, Barbara’s contributions will be forever cemented in music history. She was one of the most prolific singer-songwriters of our time, and we are pleased that Brunswick was instrumental in her success.”

Born in 1943 Oakland, California, Acklin moved with her working-class parents to Chicago when she was about four or five years old.  After the family settled in Bronzeville on the South Side, the budding soprano honed her voice in the choir at Big Zion Baptist Church before graduating from Dunbar High School in 1961. Soon thereafter, she earned money as a waitress at the Club DeLisa,  5521 S. State Street, and also as a member of the Bill Cody Dancers, where she became a standout talent.

In 1966 she began a receptionist job at Brunswick’s office in a two-flat located at 1449 S. Michigan Ave. on Record Row. There, she would go on to help craft the label’s signature sound, making it a music powerhouse for a decade. Though originally established in 1916,  by the mid-1960s Brunswick was exclusively home to African American recording artists such as Jackie Wilson, (“Lonely Teardrops”), Little Richard (“Try Some of Mine”), Gene Chandler (“The Girl Don’t Care”), Tyrone Davis (“Turn Back the Hands of Time”), The Chi-Lites (“Oh Girl”) and the Artistics (“I’m Gonna Miss You”), among others. 

The label was instrumental in developing what became known as “Chicago Soul,” a musical genre with full-bodied roots in gospel and blues, accentuated with melodic touches and harmonies. Along with Chess Records in Chicago, Detroit’s Motown Records and Stax Records out of Memphis, Brunswick’s classic soul catalog ranges from 1957 to 1982 (having transformed from the Decca Records imprint to its own R&B label in 1960.)

It was while sitting behind Brunswick’s reception desk that Acklin met national heartthrob and crooner Jackie Wilson and quickly pitched a song she had written. “Whispers Getting Louder,” became a hit for Wilson and the song propelled his career back to the top of the charts. The song advanced to Number 5 on the Billboard R&B chart.

In an interview with Stephanie Gadlin, Marshall Thompson, the last surviving original member of The Chi-Lites, discussed Acklin:

“Here was this big star coming through and Barbara wanted him to hear a song she’d just written. (He) asked her to sing the song for him and it instantly blew him away. That’s when Jackie told (producer and A&R director) Carl Davis that she could not only write songs but she could sing them, too. Barbara became a triple-threat -- writer, arranger and, singer---and she could really belt it out.”

Acklin’s songwriting career grew and took to new heights when she partnered with Eugene Record, lead singer of The Chi-Lites.  Together, the duo penned “Have You Seen Her” and many of the quartet’s chart-topping hits over the years, as well as “Two Little Kids” by Peaches & Herb, which became a Top 20 hit in 1968.  She also authored and co-wrote a number of hit songs for other Brunswick artists, often teaming up with producers Carl Davis, Otis Leavill, Richard Parker, Willie Henderson, and Leo Graham.  The songstress worked with then up-and-coming engineering legend Bruce Swedien, who later was credited with developing Michael Jackson’s signature chart-busting sound.

“Barbara was a beautiful woman in a room full of guys -- but she was tough, didn’t take no stuff, and could hold her own with any of us,” Thompson said to Gadlin. “When we were on the road, she kept us together. She watched our back and we watched hers; we were like a family. It was bad enough that we all had to deal with a lot of racial hostility, especially touring the South -- but (Barbara) also had to deal with folks who didn’t always treat women with the respect they deserved.”

Early in her career, Acklin modeled her singing style after her icon Dionne Warwick, but later developed her own unique phrasing and raw,  sultry sound.   Her deeply personal lyrics often told the story of unrequited love, enduring hope, passion and pain, and the fear of loss. As Acklin’s career as a singer-songwriter flourished, Brunswick helped her shatter glass ceilings by providing her with the opportunity to work as a recording engineer, arranger and, backup singer for several of the label’s artists. 

In 1968 she recorded a duet, “From the Teacher to the Preacher” with Gene Chandler. While touring the South with Brunswick artists, her album “Love Makes A Woman” catapulted Acklin into the stratosphere with the release of its title track reaching number three on the R&B chart and number 15 on the U.S.  pop chart, earning her a gold record.  She subsequently recorded four more Brunswick albums, Seven Days of Night (1969), Someone Else's Arms (1970), I Did It (1971), and I Call It Trouble (1973).

During 2018, I interviewed Marshall Thompson about the Brunswick Records label, Jackie Wilson and Barbara Acklin.

“Jackie Wilson was my close friend. We ended up singing on ‘Higher and Higher.’ We sang on some things. I played drums on ‘Don’t Burn No Bridges,’ billed as Jackie Wilson & The Chi-Lites. Eugene Record wrote that. Jackie was one of the greatest entertainers ever. Hands down. He had the looks for the people and the girls screaming to their heads fell off. Greatest dancers to ever hit a stage.”  

In late 1968, producer Carl Davis inked the Chi-Lites to his Dakar label, releasing their first national chart hit "Give It Away," which became their U.S. initial number ten R&B hit in early 1969. A double-sided 45 RPM, "Let Me Be the Man My Daddy Was" backed with "The Twelfth of Never," followed. Davis expressed delight by the songs of Eugene Record.

Davis then hired Record to collaborate with Brunswick label mate Barbara Acklin, who herself  scored a 1968 Top Ten landmark R&B / pop hit with "Love Makes a Woman.”

Don Cornelious was a very good friend of mine in Chicago,” Thompson told me in our 2018 interview. “He and I used to talk about how he was gonna start Soul Train on 69th Street ... just sitting with me and him in a bar. Later, every time he needed a group to come on his show, it was always The Chi-Lites. I would book acts to him for a local show. He’d have me come down to Channel 26 every day.

“I went down to see him one day and he called me in the room.  ‘I’m thinking I’m gonna move to California.  But we need some people to make a tape for us so I can present it out there for people I can get a deal with.’ I went and got the Dells, Tyrone Davis, Barbara Acklin, the Staple Singers ... and we all got together to make a tape. A pilot tape. He took it to California and then called me and said ‘Marshall. I got the deal! Soul Train is going to California.’ Once we got to California, it took off. Don Cornelious never went Hollywood on me. He always called me. I don’t care how big he got since we helped him do that pilot that got him his deal. The Chi-Lites, Jerry Butler and the Emotions performed on the very first episode of Soul Train.”    

“Barbara was a beautiful, soulful lady,” offered legendary arranger Willie Henderson in a rare interview. He worked with Acklin for the better part of three decades. “She was a tremendous talent, a hard worker, and an all-around nice person. Barbara used to walk around the office, throwing out a few lyrics and we’d all go back and forth until we developed it into something. She was always writing, always creating.”

Henderson also noted, “The times were changing, we were young and doing our best to contribute in some kind of way” he said. “Martin Luther King, Jr. had moved to Chicago at one point; and his murder had a profound impact on how we all thought about the transformative power of music. Barbara played a big part in shaping the Chicago sound; and, Brunswick gave us the space to be creative and contribute in a meaningful way.”

After leaving the label, Acklin signed with Capitol Records in 1974, continued to perform and nurture younger artists entering the business.  Married three times, the songstress raised two children, a godson, and two stepdaughters in the city’s Pill Hill neighborhood, home to a multitude of African American professionals. Her home on South Ridgeland Avenue was a revolving door of musicians, celebrities, political figures, and other notables, many of whom attended late-night jam sessions there. 

“I’m very happy that Barbara Acklin is being recognized not only for her own accomplishments as a truly singular vocalist but also for her songwriting efforts,”  stressed Bob Merlis, music industry veteran and co-author of Heart & Soul: A Celebration of Black Music Style in America 1930-1975. “Songs she had a hand in writing gave new life to the careers of other artists and those selfless efforts are, at last, being recognized and celebrated.”

“My mother blazed trails for Black people and especially women in the recording industry,” said Samotta Acklin, herself a singer and producer who travels the world performing covers of her mother’s songs.  “She broke these barriers while juggling a marriage, raising two children, and being a godmother to neighborhood kids.

“The Acklin family is honored to accept this recognition from Brunswick,” she continued.  “My mother’s story is long overdue and is finally being told.  I’m also grateful to the global DJ community that continues to stream my mother’s music and introduce her to a new generation of music lovers.”

Acklin was on the verge of reviving her career and unveiling new music when she became ill in Nebraska and died unexpectedly on November 27, 1998.  Her legacy and impact on music live on.  

-- Harvey Kubernik 


Ironically, despite being a noted songwriter, Barbara Acklin didn't write the two songs she is most associated with!  "Love Makes A Woman" hit #9 in 1968 (#15 in Billboard) ... and her original version of "Am I The Same Girl" peaked at #52 (vs. #79 in Billboard) the following year.  (For that one, she simply sang her vocal over the instrumental version of "Soulful Strut," recorded by Brunswick's Young-Holt Unlimited.  THEIR version became a #3 smash in early 1969.)  When Swing Out Sister revived the vocal version of the tune in 1992, it went to #21 on the Radio and Records Chart. (It only peaked at #45 in Billboard ... and really should have been a much bigger hit.)  kk