Friday, November 15, 2013

Who Played The First Beatles Record In America?

Without question, one of our most popular features over the past fourteen years has been our expose "Who Played The First Beatles Record In America", a piece that first circulated back in 2001 as part of our '60's Shop / Forgotten Hits email newsletter. 

Since then it has grown in stature and become an oft-quoted source of information.  (It was really our first truly in-depth research project ... and helped to set the standard of what we were trying to achieve with Forgotten Hits.) 

So imagine my surprise when I received this email from a guy who discovered our website for the very first time last week ... but raised his OWN inquiry into this historical event way back in 1984!!! 

Below is a bit of that exchange ... as well as the coverage he received in Beatlefan Magazine at the time. 

Wow! I had NO idea!  And how cool to find out once again that our own research bears out correctly as well. 

Read on ... 

After looking through my collection of WLS Radio's Silver Dollar Surveys, particularly the one from March 8, 1963, with the Beatles as number 40, I wanted to check the status of the "who played the Beatles first in America" and found your website.  In 1984 I wrote to Beatlefan magazine concerning this. 
They published my letter and there was a great response in the next issue.  I am enclosing the letters in the event you want to included them in your article. 
Patrick Sullivan    

I'm blown away by the fact that somebody was already looking into this back in 1984 ... some 17 YEARS before our series first ran!!!   

It was a question I wanted a definitive answer to as well ... and, while I had my own suspicions that our very own Dick Biondi and WLS Radio were most likely the first (based on the very same Top 40 Silver Dollar Survey charts that you referenced in your letter to Beatlefan Magazine), I wanted to unequivocally document proof to that effect.

Growing up in Chicago (I've lived here my whole life), it was important to me to be able to give Dick Biondi (who I was fortunate enough to interview as part my original research piece ... and who has been a MAJOR radio fixture here for most of the past fifty years) ... his due for this rare achievement.  (As we all know, playing the record meant absolutely nothing at the time ... it went absolutely nowhere and, until "I Want To Hold Your Hand" launched Beatlemania here in the States nearly a year later, it seems that NOBODY at that time cared about some "long-haired singers from Liverpool".)  Boy, were we in for a shock!

Funny thing ... memories either seem to fade ... or embellish ... over time ... but the plain and simple truth is there was NOTHING memorable about "Please Please Me" when it was first released here in The States in February of 1963 ... but it IS nice to know that our local big-wig Top 40 Radio Station did their neighboring local record label Vee Jay Records a favor by spinning their latest release on the air ... even if it did drop off the chart a week later!  

So congratulations and thank you to both Patrick Sullivan (for asking the question) and Beatlefan's Shawn Fulper-Smith for doing the research ... you guys are my new Beatles heroes ... let me return the favor by helping to spread the word!!! 

Hi Kent,
I also grew up in Chicago and have great memories of visiting the WLS studios in the Stone Container building and the WCFL studios in Marina City.  I had a band "The Rage" and WCFL sponsored a show with the Rivieras at Inn Motion at 59th & Kedzie and we were the opening act.  I have a copy of a commercial they ran and hearing our name mentioned on the radio was so cool. We were invited to visit with Jim Stagg at their studios.  Also when I was stationed in the Army at Fort Polk, Louisiana in 1968, half of my company was from Chicago and half from Texas.  At night we could listen to WLS with their 50,000 watts.  A guy from Chicago owned the radio.  We also used to hang out at the WYNR studio near 87th and Kedzie and run for coffee or food for the DJ's.  I've got one of their top 40 surveys from July of 1963 and a copy of their "in-house only'  instant top forty.  Those days were so much fun.

Here's that landmark Beatlefan article:

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thursday This And That

It used to be that a song reaching 25 years of age would be considered an "oldie" ... actually, this still may be the case with so many radio stations now focusing on the music of the '80's, the '90's and beyond ... so it was interesting to see Yahoo take a look back at the Biggest #1 Hits from 1988 ... 25 Years Ago.  (Also interesting to note that in order to be considered for a Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame nomination, the selected artist had to record their first music at least 25 years ago.)  Makes for some interesting pickin''s ... (although I don't ever see Tiffany, Debbie Gibson or Rick Astley ever coming up for serious consideration!)  kk

And, speaking of 25 Year Anniversaries, we got this note from Joe Klein last week ...
Hard to believe it was 25 YEARS AGO this week that the very cool "Rockumentary" U2 RATTLE AND HUM opened in theaters in the U.S. My production company, L.A. TRAX, was producing radio commercials for several major record labels and few movie studios back then. Paramount Pictures hired us to produce a series of radio commercials for the movie, which was a pretty "well-paying gig" to be sure (although I recall feeling that it was "almost enough" at the time).
Here's a couple of the spots for the movie which were airing on radio stations all over the country 25 years ago which were CLIO Award 1989 ...
-- Joe Klein

Meanwhile, Wanda Jackson's name has come up a number of times over the years in Forgotten Hits ... so I'm sure these readers will be happy to hear this bit of news: To Premiere A New Wanda Jackson Recording From The Forthcoming Jack White Tribute Album
Los Angeles, CA - The Queen of Rockabilly, music legend Wanda Jackson, has recorded a brand new cover version of The White Stripes’ “In The Cold, Cold Night,” which will be premiered as a full audio stream on November 12th. The slow burner penned by Jack White for The Stripes’ breakout album Elephant is the first single from the brand new tribute album Rockin’ Legends Pay Tribute To Jack White to be released on both CD and vinyl as well as digital November 19th by Cleopatra Records. The album is a one of a kind tribute that features several of White’s musical predecessors, giants of rockabilly, early rock and classic punk on whose shoulders White has stood, including Big Jay McNeely, Sonny Burgess, Gary U.S. Bonds, Bobby Vee, Walter Lure of Johnny Thunders’ The Heartbreakers, Knox of UK punk legends The Vibrators and many more!
Listen to the stream here: 
Not all of these names may be familiar to fans of Jack White, but most will know of his deep admiration for the pioneering performer Wanda Jackson who broke new ground in the 1950s as the first popular female rockabilly artist. In 2009, White produced Wanda’s critically acclaimed solo album The Party Ain’t Over, which landed Jackson on the Billboard Top 200 album charts for the very first time in her long career. On Rockin’ Legends, Wanda shows the admiration is mutual with her slightly countrified, ultra sultry take on “In The Cold, Cold Night,” which also features instrumentation and production by Shooter Jennings, son of famed country outlaw Waylon Jennings.
And hers is not the only inventive spin on White’s modern alternative classics. Big Jay McNeely brings a swingin’ vocal to “I’m Shakin’” as he trades sax solos with Hawkwind wild man Nik Turner. Speaking of wild men, the lucha libre masked guitar slingin’ trio Los Straightjackets throw down a raucous instrumental version of “Icky Thump” while the aforementioned punk rockers, Knox and Walter Lure, team up with drum hero W.S. “Fluke” Holland, the skinsman for both Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash, on “Seven Nation Army.” Exploring the outer reaches of Jack White’s diverse career, Sonny Burgess brings in his Legendary Pacers on a cover of The Raconteur’s “Steady As She Goes” and Tex-Mex singer Rosie Flores crashes the boys club with a stellar cover of the titular track from White’s recent solo album Blunderbuss.
From rockabilly to punk, neo surf to traditional country, no other tribute album has spanned so much musical diversity and history, a testament to the vast range of influences that inspired Jack White’s incredible career.
1. In The Cold, Cold Night - Wanda Jackson feat. Shooter Jennings
2. I’m Shakin’ - Big Jay McNeely & Nik Turner
3. Salute Your Solution - Gary U.S. Bonds
4. Steady As She Goes - Sonny Burgess & The Legendary Pacers
5. Trash Tongue Talker - Joe Clay & Cranston Clements
6. Another Way To Die - Robert Gordon & Chris Spedding
7. Seven Nation Army - Knox, Walter Lure & W.S. “Fluke” Holland
8. Fly Farm Blues - Johnny Powers
9. We’re Going To Be Friends - Bobby Vee
10. Blunderbuss - Rosie Flores
11. Fell In Love With A Girl - The Dirt Daubers
12. You Don’t Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You’re Told) - Rejected Youth Nation feat. Cyril Neville
13. Top Yourself - The Denver Broncos UK
14. Icky Thump - Los Straightjackets
Purchase the CD at Amazon:
Download the album at iTunes:
I don't know if you saw last week's "Pawn Stars" on the History Channel, but it featured my and Forgotten Hits' friend, the legendary session guitarist Vic Flick.
He successfully sold his 1961 Olympic White Fender Stratocaster for $55,000.00!!!  (see attached photo).  Both guitars are featured on his book's jacket.  
A while ago, I helped broker the electric Vox 12-String he used on Peter & Gordon's "World Without Love".  (see picture of me playing it, attached).  
Of interest, Vic still has for sale his 1939 Clifford Essex (with D'Armond pick-up).  This is the guitar he used to play and record the iconic "James Bond Theme" in 1962.  (see photo of guitar on display at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum).  
Also attached is a partial discography of only some of the hits on which Vic played guitar.  This is part of the paperwork that he presented to Rick at the pawn shop featured on the television program. 
Perhaps you have readers who have an active interest in owning this bit of rock and roll history.  
Thanks, my friend, and keep up the great work!  (and finally, see attached of me and a friend of mine).Best Regards, 
Bob Rush  ("The Beat Magazine")


Some great photos here ... thanks, Bob!  As for Vic's discography, it's too long to run here (45 pages!!!  And counting!!!)  But I'll be happy to email it to anybody who asks for a copy.  (It's a PDF format which we can't run on the site anyway ... suffice to say that Vic Flick has had a VERY extensive career making music in the British studios!!!)

And, speaking of all things British ...

Great Britain's ITV recently ran a poll of The Top 20 Favorite Elvis Songs ... not a bad list (with a few surprises.)  I don't think I could narrow mine down to just twenty ... and I tend to enjoy the ones that weren't the biggest hits ... things like "Such A Night" (probably my all-time favorite Elvis recording) and "Easy Question" or "It Hurts Me" or "Fame And Fortune" ... "Treat Me Nice" or "A Mess Of Blues" ... SO many great tracks that never get airplay anymore.  (Heck they don't even play his BIGGEST hits on the radio anymore!  In fact, for all intents and purposes, radio has reduced Elvis down to a One Hit Wonder with "Suspicious Minds".  If you DO hear anything else, it'll probably be "Burnin' Love" or the remix of "A Little Less Conversation" from a few years ago ... which isn't even Elvis anymore!  Culture-changing hits like "Don't Be Cruel", "Hound Dog", "Jailhouse Rock", "All Shook Up" and "Heartbreak Hotel" have all but disappeared from the airwaves (although I WAS shocked to hear "Love Me Tender" included in a recent episode of Showtime's "Masters Of Sex" ... bet they paid dearly to license that track!!!)

Meanwhile, here's how The Brits voted their all-time favorites:  

#1 - Always on My Mind  (not even a hit here in The States ... a B-Side in fact!)
2 - Suspicious Minds
3 - Can't Help Falling in Love  (another one of my all-time favorites)
4 - In the Ghetto  (kinda cool to think that in England they're enjoying hearing about "a cold and gray Chicago morning!!!)
5 - A Little Less Conversation (that dreaded remake!)
6 - Jailhouse Rock
7 - Hound Dog
8 - Love Me Tender
9 - Return to Sender  (another fave ... and apparently one of Scott Shannon's, too ... I still hear him play this one quite a bit)  
10 - Are You Lonesome Tonight   11 - The Wonder of You 
12 - Blue Suede Shoes  (Wow!  A Carl Perkins tune that the Elvis fans love!)
13 - All Shook Love
14 - It's Now or Never
15 - An American Trilogy
16 - Heartbreak Hotel
17 - Viva Las Vegas
18 - Don't Be Cruel
19 - If I Can Dream  (a great track from his comeback television special ... the show-stopping closer)
20 - King Creole  (I wouldn't have expected to see THIS one on the list ... would you???)
A special soundtrack album of these Top 20 Favorites (along with a second disk of other well-loved Elvis tunes) was released in the U.K. this past week ... and went immediately into The Top Ten.  (Amazing to me how here in The States, radio stations won't even PLAY The King of Rock And Roll anymore ... yet over in Britain, he just scored his 50th TOP TEN ALBUM ... the first artist EVER in the history of the pop charts ... to do so.  (Man, what's wrong with THIS picture?!?!)  Are programmers here REALLY that out of touch?  I mean why on earth would anybody play any of Elvis' hundreds of chart hits when you can simply play the same Steve Miller song four times a day instead?!?!?  I just don't get it ... and I'm guessing I never will.  (kk)
And this is kinda cool ...  
On January 28, the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum (MHOF), located in Nashville, TN, will posthumously honor music legend Roy Orbison by granting him the Iconic Riff Award for his 1964 number one hit single “Oh, Pretty Woman.”  Orbison will have the distinction of being the first ever recipient of this bestowal.  MHOF honors musicians from all genres and eras of recorded music, and inductees are nominated by current members of the American Federation of Musicians and by other music industry professionals. 
Roy Orbison began making his mark on the music world in 1956 while recording for Sun Records, which boasted a roster of unparalleled talent that also included Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash.  However, it was during his years on Monument Records in the early-to-mid 1960s, when Orbison’s commercial success reached stratospheric levels, the apex of which was “Oh, Pretty Woman,” a song co-written by Orbison and Bill Dees.  It went on to sell 7 million copies, spend three weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and also topped the British charts for three weeks.  It was unprecedented for any American to have this kind of chart-topping power simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic in the Beatles-dominated year of 1964. 
While Roy Orbison, who is already in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, is acknowledged to have one of the most uniquely beautiful and haunting voices in popular music, the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum is focusing on the unmistakable riff that kicks off “Oh, Pretty Woman.”  It remains a truly iconic and timeless refrain, evidenced by the innumerable cover versions of the song by artists as diverse as Al Green, a young John Mellencamp, Johnny Rivers, Bon Jovi, Green Day, and Van Halen, the latter of which achieved a sizeable hit with their own 1982 version, showcasing the splendiferous guitar theatrics of group leader Eddie Van Halen.  The song inspired the title of and is heard on the soundtrack from Pretty Woman, the blockbuster film starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. 
Although Roy Orbison passed away in 1988, his presence endures.  This is due, in large measure, to the ongoing effort to preserve his legacy by sons Alex, Roy Kelton, and Wesley Orbison, whose Roy’s Boys LLC manages their father’s name, likeness, image, and musical output, offering a series of audio and DVD reissues, as well as newly curated releases.  
November 26th (the Tuesday before “Black Friday”) will mark the release of The Monument Boxset, a vinyl-only package that includes three classic Monument-era Orbison studio albums (Lonely and Blue, Crying, In Dreams) as well as a fourth album, centered around the track “Oh, Pretty Woman” that had never previously existed. Entitled Oh! Pretty Woman, the LP consists of tracks reflective of the period and, as determined by the team at Roy’s Boys, to be the songs that would have comprised a fourth Monument studio album. 
“Oh, Pretty Woman,” a staple of Roy Orbison’s live performances, is also featured as an encore in the Black & White Night DVD, just released through Sony’s Legacy Recordings this week.  The concert, filmed in September of 1987, features an all-star line up that includes outspoken Roy admirers Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Jackson Browne, JD Souther and Tom Waits, among others, joining Orbison on the show’s closer, “Oh, Pretty Woman.” 
The time-honored tune was, in fact, the last song Roy Orbison ever recorded. On December 4, 1988, just two days before his sudden passing, he performed at a Cleveland-area venue.  
That concert performance was taped and is set for release this December 3rd as The Last Concert – 25th Anniversary Edition through Legacy Recordings.  Orbison, typically, closed his shows with “Running Scared,” but the engineer ran out of tape that night almost 25 years ago, thus making his penultimate number, “Oh, Pretty Woman,” the final document of his melodious brilliance. 
-- submitted by Bob Merlis
A couple of weeks ago we told you about The Eagles extending their tour into 2014 (and also mentioned that earlier on Don Henley had said that they would probably continue to tour behind "The History Of The Eagles" well into 2015!)
Well now comes word of another leg being added ...
The Eagles are soaring off to Europe ... with dates in England and Ireland extending through June of next year ... here's the latest (with more dates likely to be added):
05/28 - Birmingham, England - LG Arena Birmingham
05/31 - Glasgow, Scotland - The Hydro
06/04 - Dublin, Ireland - The O2
06/16 - London, England - The O2
06/23 - Leeds, England - First Direct Arena
06/25 - Manchester, England - Phones 4u Arena
And Vintage Vinyl News reports a possible ABBA reunion next year, too ... in honor of the group's 40th Anniversary ...
Agnetha Faltskog, one fourth of the group ABBA, has told a German newspaper that a reunion of the group for the 40th anniversary of their commercial breakthrough is "something we're thinking about."
Faltskog has been one of the main sticking points to any reunion due to her private lifestyle along with an aversion to fly; however, the success of her 2013 album A had led her back to public eye.
On April 6, 1974, the band ABBA hit huge when they performed the winning song, Waterloo, on the broadcast of the Eurovision Song Contest.  A year earlier, they had hit the top ten in Australia with Ring, Ring but Waterloo was a totally different creature, going to number 1 in Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and Britain, 2 in Australia and 6 in the U.S.
In an interview with Germany's
Welt am Sonntag, Faltskog said (translated) "There seem to be plans to do something to mark this anniversary in some way. But I can't say at this point what will come of them."
Agnetha also said she doesn't want to dwell on a possible reunion "That eats up too much energy. Don't just think about it, just do it.
"We're all getting older. I can't imagine going onto the stage on crutches.
"I dream often lately of the other three members of ABBA. They are good dreams. ... ABBA is a big part of all of us still."
Last week we told you about Stevie Wonder performing his entire Grammy-winning album "Songs In The Key Of Life" in concert and mentioned that this seems to have become quite the "fad" in live shows of late.  Brian Wilson helped to kick off this trend with his shows spotlighting both the "Pet Sounds" LP as well as the long-missing-in-action, lost Beach Boys album "Smile".  Other artists like Styx and several others have been keeping the music alive in much the same way.
Now comes word that John Fogerty will perform both CCR's "Bayou Country" album AND "Cosmo's Factory" as part of his three night gig at The Beacon Theatre in New York kicking off this evening.  ("Cosmo's Factory" has long been my favorite Creedence Clearwater Revival album ... although I've got to put "Green River" as a pretty close second, followed by "Willy And The Poorboys".  "Bayou Country"???  Not so much.)
Still it would be AMAZING to see John pay tribute to these great LPs, a corner-stone of my youth.  (I played CCR virtually non-stop for several years in the late '60's and early '70's.)
Read our History of CCR Report here:  Click here: Forgotten Hits - Creedence Clearwater Revival
>>>I've heard really good things about the Jimi Hendrix special currently running on PBS but haven't had a chance to see it yet.  Will have to keep an eye out for that one.  (kk) "
Hello KK!
Watch it online!
A neatly sanitized version with a non conspiracy ending.
And here's the chance of a lifetime ...
Big Jimi Hendrix fan, are you???
Well check this out ... 
Experience Hendrix LLC, in partnership with Talenthouse, has announced the Jimi Hendrix Guitar Competition, a celebration of the music and heritage of the greatest guitarist of all time.  Together with Sony Music’s Legacy Recordings and IK Multimedia, Talenthouse and Experience Hendrix have launched a competition that offers entrants a chance to win a performing slot on the annual Experience Hendrix tribute tour, set to roll in March 2014. 
Contestants are invited to submit a video that shows them performing a Jimi Hendrix track.  One winner will be selected by a team of judges, consisting of Janie Hendrix, Jimi’s sister and Experience Hendrix CEO; and legendary engineer / producer Eddie Kramer who worked with Jimi Hendrix at the very start of his recording career in London, and, later at Woodstock and subsequently worked on the authorized series of posthumous Hendrix album releases.  Judges also include Brad Tolinski, Guitar World Magazine Editor-in-Chief and author of Light & Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page; and Dave Stewart, the musician and producer known for his role in the Eurhythmics and work with Mick Jagger, Orianthi, Bryan Ferry, Ringo Starr, Stevie Nicks and No Doubt, among others. 
The winner, as selected by the panel of judges, will be invited to perform a song as part of the Experience Hendrix 2014 Tour.  Travel and accommodations will be provided for the winner and a guest. The Experience Hendrix Tour is an annual event featuring the greatest guitarists of our generation including Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Eric Johnson, and many others. The 2014 tour line up will be announced shortly. 
Click here  for further details.  
The overall winner as well as five popular winners (runners up) will receive an assortment of exclusive Jimi Hendrix merchandise provided by IK Multimedia, in addition to prizes from FenderGuitar CenterDunlopHal LeonardLevy’s Leathers, and Guitar World Magazine. 
The ‘Judges Choice’ (overall winner) will have the incredible opportunity to perform a song on the Experience Hendrix 2014 Tour, sharing the stage with several of today’s top guitarists in celebration of Jimi Hendrix.* In addition, the winner will receive an assortment of exclusive product and merchandise, including: 
IK Multimedia custom prize package including: iLoud portable speaker, iRig Pro, iRig BlueBoard, iKlip for iPad 
Fender Classic Series '70s Stratocaster®
Dunlop Pedals: JH F1 Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face, JH OC1 Jimi Hendrix Octavio, JH 1D Jimi Hendrix Signature Wah
Guitar Center Gift Card
One year subscription to Guitar World Magazine
An assortment of Jimi Hendrix merchandise and music including Hal Leonard Jimi Hendrix Instruction Books
Levy’s Leathers collectible album cover guitar strap, featuring many of Jimi's album covers
*Travel and two nights’ accommodation to Experience Hendrix Tour date provided for the winner plus guest  The ‘Five Popular Winners’ (runners up) will each receive: 
IK Multimedia custom prize package including: iRig Pro, iRig BlueBoard, iKlip for iPad
Fender Squier Vintage Modified Stratocaster®
Dunlop Pedals JH 1D Jimi Hendrix Signature Wah
Guitar Center Gift Card
One year subscription to Guitar World Magazine
An assortment of Jimi Hendrix merchandise and music including Hal Leonard Jimi Hendrix Instruction Books
Levy’s Leathers collectible album cover guitar strap, featuring many of Jimi's album covers

There've been books written on misheard lyrics ("'Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy" being probably one of the most famous ... although it's now been reported ... by no less a source than Forgotten Hits I might add ... that Hendrix used to actually sing the song that way in concert from time to time before planting one on the cheek of Noel Redding live on stage!), but the topic that's come up here recently is mis-SUNG lyrics ... where the artists either screwed up the recording right out of the gate (and it was never fixed ... part of the charm of some of these early releases) or (in the case of a remake) possibly misheard or misunderstood the original lyric and then proceeded to sing it wrong on their version.  

Here are a couple more examples sent in by our readers ... 

I think that had a lot to do with it actually (and why you'll hear coughs in the background on a Beach Boys recording for example.)  Plus you have to remember that this was back in the days of two-track and four-track recording ... not like today where you have unlimited resources available to layer your sounds.  Back then you either nailed it or you had one hell of an engineer splicing tape together to make it sound better! 
I still maintain that it's these little flaws that give this music their charm and appeal.  They weren't perfect ... and as you well know, this helped inspire a good number of us to pick up a musical instrument thinking that WE could create these sounds as well!  (kk)

Blue Swede's remake of "Hooked On A Feeling", instead of "I'll just stay a victim and hope I can endure" says something like "I'll just stay addicted if I can for sure" (? or something like that).
J Frank Wilson's remake of "Hey Little One" has wrong lyrics on nearly the entire bridge. It's possible that he re-wrote that way intentionally but, since they also use wrong chords, I'm guessing he just didn't know the real bridge.
Gary E. Myers / MusicGem
>>>Back in 2005, Heritage Auction in Dallas came to Menomonee Falls, WI, to film a tour of my music / record archive.  They have now put it up on YouTube, so if you'd care to do the tour you can click on the link below.  Many of the books shown have long since been updated and, of course, much has been added to the collection.  Anyhow, if you're interested, here's the link.  (Joel Whitburn)
>>>Record collectors will be blown away by this clip ... a tour of Joel Whitburn's Record Research Archives.  Although it's a bit out of date (this was filmed in 2005 for a Heritage Auctions television special), it's still one of the most amazing collections you'll ever see.  In fact, there may not be another one quite like it! Hear Joel tell you in his own words how this collection was built.  Incredible!  (kk)
Have you ever wanted to see Joel Whitburn's collection?  If so AND you have a half hour to watch solid rooms of magical music history, this is a documentary that is simply amazing! 
(Cool to know there are all the Cryan Shames and New Colony 6 45's are in "the vault" as well as "Mr. Moon" by the Coachmen and a Smoke Ring 45 or two"!!)
Clark Besch
Here are the comments that I posted to the Both Sides Now (BSN) site:
I watched this and really don't know what to say.  Truly amazing amount of stuff that would make many of us (including me) say that we are a poor man's Joel Whitburn.  Not a slam at the man by ANY means!  Just sayin' we all have tried in various ways to be collectors of the music, but likely none have succeeded as much as Joel has.  Personally, my brothers and I have collected 45s, LPs, Billboards and other trades as well as CDs and videos since we were little kids.  This would likely be the case for many of us on BSN.  I love Billboard and note that much of Joel's cataloging system revolves around the Billboard charts, but many of us here live outside of the Billboard ties as well.  Joel does too, but mainly focuses on that magazine's hits and lesser knowns. 
BSN'ers may have more specific goals like collecting decades and specific music genres or MP3s or stereo tracks or DJ copies, or foreign releases, or bootleg LPs or music books or concert posters or music videos or, with me, many of all of these, but nothing totally inclusive like Joel's.  I am into airchecks and top 40 charts more than many.  When I saw him pull out the Shirelles' "Will You Love Me Tomorrow", I had to think that I would want to keep my autographed copy signed by Larry Lujack from his days in Idaho radio at the time over a mint copy any day ... but that's MY thing.  Many of us are into one era, while Joel tries to cover all bases of decades and genres of music. 
He uses the term "hard to find" a million times.  Many are indeed IMPOSSIBLE to find now.  Many, many more are easy to find, but in mint condition, not so easy at all to find.  I question calling his 45s mint when most seem to have a sticker attached to the label.  Thanks to Joel's books, in about 1973 or so, I went thru and stickered most of my 45s with a white dot writing the peak and dates on them, making them far from mint suddenly.  Oh well, haven't sold any of them anyway.  I'm sure Mighty John the Record Guy would say every record in my collection is worth at least $10.  He finally has started mentioning condition once in awhile.  THANKS!  That's what makes Joel's records worth money in most cases (except, of course, the Journey ones I believe he pointed out). 
I was surprised he did not have his LPs in plastic sleeves.  Also, I wondered if these were all store copies.  I am guessing so, as he only mentioned DJ copies when it came to odd pressings in the 80's and the like. 
Being a 45s guy, I was happy to see him take most pride in his Hot 100 45s collection.  Strange that LPs get mentioned so often by people and are what are brought to record shows, yet 45s seem to be much more important to collectors in general -- such as buyers of the Billboard books, Singles vs. LPs.  I'm guessing the 45s books sell multiple times more than the LP chart books do. 
I would have liked to see his Billboard, Cash Box, Record World, Music Business, Music Reporter and other magazines that had national charts.  I love them all. 
I love picture sleeves and he really impresses with his "no ring wear" copies.  Pic sleeves in most cases are sold VERY cheap at record stores compared to the old days when I was buying same.  I'm happy now that two of my sleeves ended up in Joel's collection in about 2002 when he was putting his want lists in his flyers.  I have not replaced them, but to have them in that hallowed shrine is kinda cool! 
I wonder what era and music type Joel enjoys to LISTEN to??  Anyway, it is an amazing collection that likely no one will ever amass again or has previously.  A nice documentary to watch!  Thanks to the maker and Paul for posting this.
Would I swap my collection for his?  No.  Simply because I have what I am interested in, but many WOULD trade in a heartbeat.
Now Joel, it's on to EVERY DJ copy variance like I am also trying for from my faves.    
re:  RADIO: 
Honestly, it's not looking good ... and even the so-called "Classic Hits" stations are playing less and less "hits" and more and more album rock tracks that they wouldn't have dreamed of touching a year or two ago.  Chicago is in dire need of a station that programs "The Top 40 Years" of Rock And Roll ... 1956 - 1980 ... with a wide variety playlist encompassing ALL of the hits of this era.  I swear, if I ever win the lottery ...  Meanwhile, I just load up the car with half a dozen CD's each day ... I can't remember a time EVER when there was less variety on the dial.  The other day in the span of 40 minutes I turned of "In The Air Tonight" three times ... that used to be one of my all-time favorite songs ... now I can't get past the opening drum beat ... it's been done to death.  Today it was the same Pat Benatar song playing on the two "classic hits" stations at the exact same time.  First song I heard this morning when I got in the car to head off to work was "Fool In The Rain" by Led Zeppelin.  First song I heard this evening when I got in the car to drive home from work was "Fool In The Rain" by Led Zeppelin.  It's like there isn't even a station out there anymore that dares to be different ... or, more appropriately, even CARES to be different.  Man, what a shame ... and what a waste of air space.  (kk)
On the plus side, The Drive (WDRV in Chicago) is kicking off another week of A-Z Programming ... ALWAYS a fun thing to listen to (which also gives you a full solid week of no repeats).  It kicks off this morning at 10 am Chicago time ... and you can listen live here: Click here: 97.1fm The Drive

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Helping Out Our Readers (Part Three) - A Walk In The Black Forest

Here's a question that's been circulating on our site for quite awhile.  While we've yet to reach a definitive answer, it looks to me like FH Reader (and researcher!) Clark Besch has some new (old???) information that sheds some light on this topic.  It ALSO appears that this has been a "hot topic" on another music website a while back ... we may have FINALLY found the answer!!! 

Read On ...    

>>>Kent, I have a question that I hope one of your many readers may help with.  It may be too "pop" - oriented and not "rock 'n' roll" - oriented enough for Forgotten Hits and, if so, fine ... just thought I'd ask. In the late spring / early summer of 1965, an instrumental called "A Walk in the Black Forest" by German jazz pianist Horst Jankowski made it to No. 12 on the Billboard pop chart.  I have since noticed that this same tune -- no question, it's the identical melody -- appeared on at least three episodes of  the "Perry Mason" TV show as background music.  (They are "The Case of  the Missing Melody" from September 1961; "The Case of the Absent Artist" from  March 1962, and "The Case of the Potted Planter" from May 1963.)
So -- how / why did this tune show up on "Perry Mason" long before it was a hit here?  Was Jankowski shopping the tune around for years?  Did  someone from the show hear the melody and buy the rights?  Was it a hit in  Europe before it was a hit here? I have checked the Horst Jankowski fan website (yes, there is one!), but this question doesn't seem to be addressed  there.  Thanks!   
(Henry McNulty, Old Saybrook, Connecticut)

>>>Hi Henry!  Yes, I'm VERY familiar with Horst Jankowski's recording ... had the 45 at the time and have featured it as part of Forgotten Hits a few times over the years.  (It recently made our "All-Time Favorite Instrumentals" List and we also included it in our very special "Walk ... Don't Run" Marathon Weekend a couple of weeks ago!)  In fact, I seem to remember even running photographs of the original sheet music for this tune for some reason or another!  But I was NOT aware of any Perry Mason tie-in, so let's put this one to the list and see what they come up with.  "A Walk In The Black Forest" was a #3 Hit in Great Britain ... but that was in 1965, too ... so that doesn't seem to be the reason.  Anybody else out there got any ideas?  (kk)

>>>The funny thing is, I found these comments for the same reason Henry McNulty made them. I saw a rerun of Perry Mason (hooray for MeTv!) from 1961 that featured the tune I know so well as "A Walk in the Black Forest." The thing is, I also had heard the same tune -- it's unmistakable, as you know -- in a Twilight Zone episode called "Cavender Is Coming" from September, 1962. (The episode starred Carol Burnett but is otherwise pretty awful.) I saw the TZ episode before I saw the PM show and wondered even then how this song, supposedly from 1965, ended up in a show from three years earlier. The PM episode reminded me of that question, and a Google search brought me to you.  
Did you ever get any more information on this? I've searched and haven't found anything. I guess the only possible explanation is that Jankowski wrote it -- he does seem to have been the composer, not just the guy who made it famous -- several years before the song became a hit. As Henry said, he must have shopped it around for a while, and the tune is so catchy, it got picked up here and there until it finally caught on in '65.
I'm pretty sure the versions from TZ and PM are not the same as the one that became a hit and have no idea if they were Jankowski himself playing.
Just a trivial bit of music trivia, but I thought you might be interested. Sorry for the long e-mail!
And by the way, it's great to see that you appreciate the easy listening instrumentals from the 60s. I was born in 1957, so songs like "A Walk in the Black Forest," "Walk, Don't Run," "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" and the entire output of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass were the background music to my childhood.
Keep up the good work!  (Steve from Pennsylvania)

>>>I have all the Perry Mason episodes on DVD and taped them from WTBS in Atlanta back in the 1980's  This song showed up in a few episodes.  I had seen Horst's name in the international section of Billboard a number of times previously to 1965 when the song was a hit.  Apparently for whatever reason the song became a hit at that time, but Jankowski was a very well known musician in Europe in the late 1950's and early 1960's    I have a couple of sources to try to find out the root of this, but, I am guessing that this song WAS shopped to various TV shows for a number of years.  The best source of this would be anyone associated with the Perry Mason TV show (who have all probably passed away by now) and anyone in the higher up level of Mercury Records during 1964-1965 who would know where it came from.  As with the Perry Mason show, most of those people have probably passed away. Finally, Billboard and Cashbox 1964-1965 may have some info in the international area (when I have some time, I can research that!  (CLAY PASTERNACK)  

My friend Ed Heine, originally from Nebraska, was a Warners Bros. exec in Germany, so I passed your FH buddy's queries about Horst Jankowski's song on to him.  
Here's his helpful response!  

Hi Clark - 
Good to hear from you again.  I had time to give your email some thought and do some research.   
Coincidentally, I was the head of the German Warner Bros. publishing company who owned the publishing rights to ”A Walk in the Black Forest”  (Original title:  "Eine Schwarzwaldfahrt”).  We acquired the song when we bought Chappell Music in about 1988 and became Warner Chappell Music.  The problem is that the story behind the song pre-dates my time at the company and certainly pre-dates everyone who now works there.  Normally, the music publishing company would be the place to get the real story behind any usage of the song because it is the publishing company who negotiates and issues a license for every use -- whether it be a recording, a TV or radio spot, a use in a TV or radio program or a motion picture.  As I said (or wrote), however, there is nobody left at the company who could shed much light on anything that happened in the sixties.  Also, there were no computers at that time, of course, and the original files have probably long since disappeared.  Nevertheless, each piece of music used in a film or TV program is listed on a ”cue sheet” which gives the name of the composer and length of the music use. These cue sheets are registered with BMI and ASCAP and are most certainly in their computers, e.g., Episode 32, Perry Mason, 2:20, Horst Jankowski.  Often, the title listed is along the lines of ”Perry drives in his car”, etc.
Theoretically, the publisher and Jankowski’s heirs continue to receive performance fee income for the re-runs of Perry Mason -- if Jankowski's music was indeed used.  That information would be apparent on the royalty statements but would, of course, be confidential.  
I did a lot of research on the internet but could find nothing indicating that Jankowski recorded any version of the song prior to 1964 although he was a respected jazz musician before then and had released a couple of albums before 1964.  I checked on the websites of BMI and GEMA (the German mechanical and performing rights society) and found a few other names for the song but they did not list the registration dates.  I eventually found a German obit for Jankowski in a Berlin newspaper saying that he originally wrote the song as part of an advertising campaign for a Black Forest promotion film in 1962 but could find no confirmation.   
Anyway, I finally pieced together enough information to enable me (by accident, I suppose) to put the right words into Google and find what appears to be the closest answer we’ll ever get to the question:
Apparently the same question was covered in a 2007 blog discussion on a British site. 
Best regards,

And from that link, comes this telling piece of information ...

I found out that "A Walk in the Black Forest" was composed by Horst in 1962 i.e. three years before becoming a hit!  

Other information says that this melody was composed by Horst at the beginning of the 60's for promotional purposes (commercial / advertising / movie). Although the special kind of this campaign is not stated it appears that Alec's memory serves him extremely well. And yours too, FC.  

Here comes the corresponding note in German (  

"Für einen Werbefilm komponierte Jankowski zu Beginn der 60er Jahre den Ohrwurm "Eine Schwarzwaldfahrt", der in kürzester Zeit - und zur allgemeinen Überraschung - zum internationalen Instrumental - Hit wurde und Jankowski weltweit Bekanntheit verschaffte." 

English Translation:
For a publicity film Jankowski composed the catchy tune “a Black Forest trip” at the beginning of the 60's, which became in shortest time and for general surprise - to the international instrumental - hit and provided for Jankowski world-wide fame.   
Last but not least,for those interested in the German lyrics of AWITBF I can offer this example without knowing when and by whom it was written:  

Eine Schwarzwaldfahrt

Am Feldberg und am Titisee,
wo dunkle Tannen steh'n,
da ist es schön,
da ist es schön.

Im Höllental, auf Bühlerhöh',
bei Hirschen und bei Reh'n,
da ist es schön,
da ist es schön.                

Hast du das schöne Land geseh'n,
wo Schwarzwaldhäuschen steh'n,
kehrst du zurück,
kehrst du zurück.

Denn so ein kleines Schwarzwaldhaus,
das suchen wir uns aus
für unser Glück,
für unser Glück.

Einsam sind viele Wege in diesem Land,
gemeinsam woll'n wir sie gehen Hand in Hand.
Bei Regen, Sonne oder Schnee,
im Tal und auf den Höh'n,
da ist es schön,so wunderschön.
Komm mit mir,ich zeig es dir! 

-- Manfred  

More ...

With reference to your question as to whether Horst Jankowski's "A Walk in the Black Forest" was ever used as a theme tune by the BBC, I very much doubt this, based on the following relevant information, that I have taken directly from an interview which Horst gave to WDR, a radio station in Germany.
"I had originally written that tune as "Eine Schwarzwaldfahrt" in 1961 for a radio show. It was a travel programme and I recorded a couple of tracks about famous places like, Paris, the Alps and that kind of thing. "Eine Schwarzwaldfahrt" was about a beautiful trip through Germany's Black Forest. It became successful in America first, in 1964, three years after I had recorded it. The whole story is a very unfortunate part of my career. In the sixties American producers were coming to Europe to buy music for TV shows."
"This was much cheaper for them than producing it at home since here they didn't have to pay musicians and the union. I sold them four tracks from the radio programme, including "Eine Schwarzwaldfahrt" and they paid me 125, - Deutschmarks, which seemed OK at the time. I signed a piece of paper and started work on something else. We musicians were pretty stupid back then. Not long after that, my song was used in an American TV show, and became a huge hit there under the title " A Walk in the Black Forest". It was only then that I realised what exactly I had signed. I wouldn't get any royalties, all rights were owned by an American company. It took me seven years, several lawyers, and lots of money to get the rights back. After seven years, of course, the song was no longer a hit and didn't even make back the money I had spent on the lawsuit. Although I went on to sell lots of albums, I didn't make a penny from "Black Forest!"
So, there we are then Peter, there is no mention of England or the BBC. On the contrary it would seem that "A Walk in the Black Forest" was in fact used for an American TV show!!
I hope that this information helps to answer your question.

By the way, "A Walk In The Black Forest" was a pretty big-sized hit in the U.K., too, where it peaked at #3 ...  but also in 1965 at the time of its U.S. release.  (kk)


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Helping Out Our Readers (Part Two - Russ Terrana Questions)

A couple of weeks ago we ran a special 3-Part Series on Russ Terrana, written by FH Reader Joe Klein, profiling The Hit-Making Motown Sound Man.

Readers had a couple of questions after the series ran, so we ran them by Joe who, in turn, ran them by Russ ... as such, we're able to bring you the most detailed answers possible.  (In fact, the answers to these questions take up more space than the original articles did way back when!!!)  

Yep ... Joe Klein SURE likes to write ... but he did a TREMENDOUS amount of research here ... and this is really good stuff ... so, if you've got a little time to spend with us today, check out these interesting bits of music history, courtesy of Joe Klein!  

>>>Wasn't Westbound #9 by Flaming Ember on the Hot Wax label part of the Invictus family of labels and not part of Motown? Please set me straight on this.  (Mike De Martino) 
>>>The single you're referring to (their biggest hit from 1970) was, indeed released on the Hot Wax label ... but the band was first signed to Ric Tic Records in Detroit in the mid-'60's (and, according to Joe, also spent time on the Rare Earth label after Motown acquired Golden World.)  If I'm not mistaken, the Invictus / Hot Wax Group was founded by a bunch of former disgruntled Motown employees ... so it's very possible that Russ DID, in fact, engineer this record, albeit for another label.  (kk)
Holland - Dozier - Holland formed Invictus / Hot Wax after leaving Motown due to royalties disputes.  Many fantastic records by Freda Payne, Chairmen Of The Board, 100 Proof Aged In Soul, Honeycone and Flaming Ember were on that label. My personal fave is Mind, Body And Soul by the Flaming Ember, a ‘blue-eyed’ soul artist. 


Regarding your reader's question about the record label that THE FLAMING EMBER recorded for, yes, their label was, in fact, HOT WAX. But a couple years earlier they were recording for Wingate. This was most likely shortly AFTER the sale of Golden World to Motown in the early fall of '66, for Wingate's Ric-Tic label. But did Russ work with them at Golden World several months earlier? Maybe. Or was it in 1967 or 1968 when he was working at his brother's studio TERA SHIRMA? Probably.

Both Ed Wingate AND the Holland Dozier Holland team recorded at Tera Shirma, and both recorded The Flaming Ember(s), about a year or two, apart! So Russ probably recorded them for BOTH producers!! WESTBOUND #9 was very likely recorded by Russ, but when? Russ left Tera Shirma to go back to work for Motown in 1968. Holland-Dozier-Holland continued to record at Tera Shirma for another year or so. I believe Russ may have continued to moonlight for his brother even after returning to Motown.

When I briefly touched on The Flaming Embers with Russ that crazy night last week, I said to him, "They ended up on Rare Earth Records, didn't they?" He said, "Yeah, I think so." I remember picturing the record label in my mind, which did look kind of like the RARE EARTH label, so at that point I just didn't think it   was necessary to go do fact-checking on the label. Silly me.

(EDITOR'S NOTE:  Yep ... our readers will call you on it EVERY time!!!  lol - kk)
But this is just one more example of how TOTALLY CRAZY things were in Detroit in the mid and late sixties! Artists and producers bounced from label to label and from studio to studio like they were on pogo sticks! Producers got pissed at Barry and flew the coop, going to Golden World and United Sound to record. Ralph Terrana opens Tera Shirma. Then Berry buys Golden World, Wolfrum ends up at United and, a few months later Russ leaves Motown to work for Ralph! Now Wingate and the Motown defectors are all working at United and Tera Shirma for a couple of years, during which time Russ goes back to work at Motown ... again! Ed Wolfrum sums up those years aptly with three words ... IT WAS NUTS!  

-- Joe Klein   

So Joe dug a little deeper ... and went right back to the source on this one ... after talking with Russ Terrana, here is your more "complete" answer ...

Okay FORGOTTEN HITSTERS, I'm back, again, to answer questions asked by readers regarding the late-60's Detroit music scene, prompted by the recent Forgotten Hits story of RUSS TERRANA, THE MOTOWN SOUND MAN. I spoke with Russ a few days ago and did a bunch of my own additional research so, for better or worse, I'll address the first question now ...

Mike DiMartino asked, "Wasn't WESTBOUND #9 by FLAMING EMBER on the Hot Wax label part of the Invictus family of labels, and not part of Motown?"

Yes, Mike ... You got it right, and I got it wrong! THE FLAMING EMBER(S) recordings WERE, in fact, released on the HOT WAX label, part of HOLLAND DOZIER HOLLAND'S INVICTUS family, for a few years beginning in 1969. When I spoke with Russ Terrana a few days before The Motown Sound Man story was posted, we talked about the many renowned Detroit artists he worked with in the first few months of his career, back in 1966. One of the groups I asked him about was The Flaming Embers, who I read had worked with GOLDEN WORLD owner ED WINGATE early on in their history. Russ replied, "Oh yeah! I remember working with them!" I asked if he remembered recording the hit WESTBOUND #9. He said he remembered working on it, but couldn't remember if he recorded some, or all, of the instrumental or vocal tracks, or just mixed the record. Then I quipped, "They ended up on RARE EARTH Records, didn't they?" He replied, "Yeah, I think so."

I knew the band, like RARE EARTH, was a white R&B group, and I even recalled an image of the actual single record. The two different label designs used for Hot Wax singles did bear several similarities to the Rare Earth label, both graphically and even in their color schemes ... 

Besides the record label's visual similarities, text contained in
another blog story I linked to (at the end of Part 2 of the Motown Sound Man story) made reference to the band (as Flaming Embers) and noted "Motown changed (their) name to Flaming Ember and had the hit Westbound #9."

In hindsight, I admit that I should have done further fact-checking to confirm the record label, but was under-the-gun to finish revisions and additions made to Part 2 of Russ' story, so I just didn't take the time before I finished writing. As a result, the erroneous text about the group's records being released by Motown's Rare Earth label made it into the story. I only became aware of the slip-up after the series ... and then Mike's question ... were posted on the blog. My most heartfelt apologies to all for the misinformation!
Here's a cool music video of Westbound #9 from 1970, with clean, stereo audio added ...
I'm not making excuses, but mistakes like mine can happen pretty easily when attempting to document the wild and crazy music scene that was Detroit in the 1960's. Artists jumped from producer - to  - producer, label - to - label and studio - to - studio like they were on pogo sticks! Producers also regularly hopped between artists, labels and studios. The same producer and songwriter label credits show up over and over, not just on different releases from a single record company, but on different label's releases of the same artists as well. Russ, and Detroit engineer Ed Wolfrum, sum up those years perfectly with three words ... "IT WAS CRAZY!"  

Still, I erred in my own story, so, as a "make-up- assignment" for my unforgivable flub, here's more stuff from the era that (perhaps only die-hard) 60's Detroit music fans may find interesting.   

Read on if you want even more ...  

There were three very popular studios in Detroit in the late 60's, where a majority of the "non-Motown" Detroit hits were recorded. They were the legendary GOLDEN WORLD, the landmark UNITED SOUND and the storied TERA SHIRMA (owned by Russ Terrana's brother, Ralph). Russ worked at Golden World in 1966 and Tera Shirma in '67 and '68.   

THE FLAMING EMBERS were part of the Detroit scene from 1964 until the early 70's. Prior to their releases on the Hot Wax label, the band had several singles on ED WINGATE'S RIC-TIC label. Most accounts state that Wingate signed the band early in 1967, a few months after Motown bought Golden World Records and their recording studio from Wingate and his partner, JOANNE BRATTON. (Wingate retained ownership of Ric-Tic label, however, which he continued to operate in Detroit for about two more years after the sale of Golden World to Motown.) The band's Ric-Tic records were released between the summer of '67 until late in the summer of '68, but none of them were noteworthy hits. Here's an image of one of the group's Ric-Tic singles. Note the names of the producers and songwriters on the labels!

In the period between the first and second acquisitions of Wingate's assets by Motown, Wingate did a lot of recording at United and Tera Shirma, so it's a given that Russ worked on The Flaming Embers recordings at his brother's facility. But it's also possible that the band recorded at Golden World once or twice several months earlier (in 1966) even before they signed with Wingate and, if so, Russ would have worked with the group there as well. He just can't be absolutely sure about this 47 year-old factoid, however.  

In 1968, when Motown acquired the remaining Ric-Tic assets, The Flaming Embers contract was, apparently, not part of the package. The band bailed out, reportedly because they did not want to record for Motown (for reasons presently unknown to this writer).    

Meanwhile, in 1967, the writing and production team of HOLLAND DOZIER HOLLAND got into a serious ... and well-documented ... dispute with Berry Gordy that would last for a decade! They left Motown and formed their own production company. Like Wingate, they recorded at United and Tera Shirma in the late 60's, and, by the end of the decade, achieved their own degree of success as Motown competitors, most notably with the artists HONEY CONE, CHAIRMEN OF THE BOARD, FREDA PAYNE and, of course, FLAMING EMBER (who did decide to drop the "S" from the end of their name when signing with the HDH production team).   

Flaming Ember signed with Holland / Dozier / Holland in 1968, either a short time before or after the final buy-out of Ric-Tic by Motown. The exact date of that union is hard to pinpoint. Russ started working sessions with HDH artists once they started recording at Tera Shirma, which was fairly early in the year. He specifically remembers mixing Freda Payne's BAND OF GOLD there and is pretty sure he also mixed GIVE ME JUST A LITTLE MORE TIME by Chairmen Of The Board. He also remembers working on WESTBOUND #9. In the case of all three, Russ just can't be sure what he recorded (rhythm tracks, additional instruments or vocals) but, as said, is all but sure he performed the mixes.  

Russ can't remember the exact date he left Tera Shirma to go back to work at Motown full time, but he's fairly certain it was before the fall of 1968. In his own memoirs of his fabled, but short-lived, studio, Ralph Terrana recalls a later date for his brother's departure, saying that Russ started splitting his time between Tera Shirma and Motown for a few months, perhaps in late '68 to early '69, before leaving Tera Shirma for good. This does seem more likely given the other factors and timelines associated with the Invictus and Hot Wax label releases.     

So ... when were the HDH hits mentioned above actually completed? Sorry, but, all these years later, it just can't be said for sure! Darn!  

The Invictus labels started releasing product, including the first Flaming Ember records, in 1969. The biggest Invictus hits were released, and charted, in 1970. But it's entirely possible that some of the music produced by the Holland / Dozier / Holland team may have been recorded (and mixed) several months, or as much as a year, before being released (which happened often back in those crazy days). 

One reason the delay in releasing late 60's HDH product may have occurred could be the ongoing legal battle the team was embroiled in with Berry Gordy and Motown at the time. In fact, it's well known that the HDH team was writing hit songs under the alias Edythe Wayne in the late 60's.

The exact name of FLAMING EMBER had its inconsistencies over the years as well. Different reference materials about the group and images of their record labels use the both the singular and plural versions of the band's name. There are also equal instances of the name of the group with, and without, the word "The" at the beginning!

Hopefully all this mind-bending information serves to answer Mike's question about Flaming Ember. At the same time, I suppose it raises more questions! One thing's for certain ... all these "fun facts" clearly illustrate just how wild and crazy things were in the Motor City in the Swingin' ... and Sensational ... 60's!

I'll be back soon with another painfully thorough response to another FH reader's question about a couple of other well-known Detroit artists from the 60's that fell a bit short in their race for music super-stardom.
-- Joe Klein

>>>Reading about Russ and his remarkable influence on the Motown sound reminded me of some Detroit artists who turned out great material but never found chart success.  The Fantastic Four's "Everything is Alright" is a magnificent soul ballad that bears resemblance to the Temps' "Since I Lost My Baby." And, be honest, did you ever hear of J.J. Barnes?  I recall getting a demo copy of a tune he turned out in '67 that just floored me. J.J. truly had remarkable talent.  Do you know why Barnes and the "Four" never truly flourished? The talent was certainly there.  (Chet Coppock)  

I figured this was a good one to put to Russ, too ... after all, he worked very closely with both acts.  Certainly everybody involved believed in these artists ... sometimes it's just catching that one lucky break that makes all the difference in the world.  Here (thanks to Joe Klein) is his response:  

Hello music lovers! I'm back again, with a response to another FORGOTTEN HITS reader's comment about 60's Detroit artists, which were the subject of my recent three-part FH series about RUSS TERRANA, THE MOTOWN SOUND MAN.  

This one truly is about "Forgotten Hits ... and Artists" of the 60's, so it really is an appropriate topic. I'm happy to post it here on the FH blog. 

In his recent comment on the FH blog, Chet Coppock asked why the much-loved RIC-TIC RECORDS artists THE FANTASTIC FOUR and J.J. BARNES didn't achieve more success. 

Actually, The Fantastic Four, also known as SWEET JAMES AND THE FANTASTIC FOUR, did achieve a respectable degree of fame, recognition and chart success in the late 60's and beyond, and was arguably one of the most successful acts on ED WINGATE'S Ric-Tic label. The record company released ten FF singles from 1966 through 1968, a few of which charted high on the Billboard R&B charts in 1967. Their highest charting single, THE WHOLE WORLD IS A STAGE, peaked at #6 in '66. The group's records garnered considerable radio airplay, especially in the upper midwest. Detroit / Windsor top-40 giant CKLW ("The Big 8") played the The Fantastic Four regularly.     

Russ Terrana worked with the group, and lead singer JAMES EPPS, at Detroit's GOLDEN WORLD studio in 1966. The following year he worked with the artists at his brother Ralph's TERA SHIRMA studio. "The Fantastic Four were really a great Detroit group," Russ recalls. "James Epps was a real talent ... I really thought that they all had a shot to make it big."  

Late in 1968, shortly after acquiring Ric-Tic's roster from Wingate, MOTOWN RECORDS released the first FF single, I LOVE YOU MADLY, on their SOUL RECORDS imprint, which was a re-release of the last FF Ric-Tic single (both "A" and "B" sides), released just a few months earlier. There were three more Soul releases by The Fantastic Four in 1969 and 1970. 

The group's career carried on through the 70's disco era with no less than ten more single releases on the WESTBOUND RECORDS label in the mid through late 70's. One of the more noteworthy was ALVIN STONE (THE BIRTH AND DEATH OF A GANGSTER), a nearly seven minute-long mini R&B / Disco opera depicting the violent life and demise of a fictional black gangster considered by many to be one of the group's best works, even though it failed to achieve chart success. Here's a nice video of the song with a cool video montage of notorious mobster images.  

Late in the decade, the FF worked with prominent FUNK BROTHERS guitarist and producer DENNIS COFFEY, achieving moderate chart success in the U.S. and UK with the disco / funk hybrid single B.Y.O.F. (Bring Your Own Funk). They remained active recording and performing, off and on, in the 80's and 90's, but the deaths of two of the group's members, including lead singer James Epps, in 2000, closed the curtain on The Fantastic Four forever.

60's Publicity Photo of The Fantastic Four   

Like Wingate's GOLDEN WORLD family of labels did in the 60's, ARMEN BOLADIAN'S label, Westbound, had its own share of the Detroit spotlight in the 70's, after Motown moved to Hollywood. Besides The Fantastic Four, the label was home to other Golden World alumni THE DETROIT EMERALDS and ... surprise ... emerging P-Funkster GEORGE CLINTON (for the few years preceding the huge breakout of Parliament / Funkadelic at NEIL BOGART'S CASABLANCA RECORDS in 1977). DENISE LASALLE, the OHIO PLAYERS and Dennis Coffey were other artists who populated the record company's roster during its tenure in the 70's. 

Here's an interesting story that aired on NPR about Boladian's upstart Detroit label:  

J.J. BARNES, also known as JAMES JAY BARNES, was another popular and critically acclaimed Detroit artist of the 60's who achieved a moderate degree of success, but, like the Fantastic Four, missed grabbing the brass ring of major stardom. J.J. started his recording career as a teenager and, after a string of singles on two small Detroit record labels, he became part of Ric-Tic Records roster. Ric-Tic released four singles by Barnes in 1965 and 1966, with the second release, REAL HUMDINGER, breaking into the top 20 on the national R&B charts. A cover version of The Beatles classic, DAY TRIPPER, followed. 

Barnes worked on his records with producers RICHARD "POPCORN" WYLIE and the illustrious DON DAVIS while at Ric-Tic, even recording an unexpected track with label-mate STEVE MANCHA called I'LL LOVE YOU FOREVER, which Davis had decided to record on a whim. Davis had EDWINN STARR, Ric-Tic's biggest star at the time, record the lead vocal on the track, and the record was released in 1966 with the artist name THE HOLIDAYS. The final Barnes release on Ric-Tic, SAY IT, was barely promoted, as Wingate had just sold a large portion of his musical assets to Motown.

60's Publicity Photo of J.J. Barnes   

Most accounts state that Barnes and Starr were not happy after Motown's 1966 takeover of Golden World. In fact, Motown never released any records by Barnes, although a couple of his songs were recorded by Motown artists MARTHA AND THE VANDELLAS and THE MARVELETTES. Starr, however, would be a lot happier at Berry Gordy's powerhouse label a couple years later, scoring the top-ten hit 25 MILES in 1969 and the chart-topping smash WAR in 1970. 

Motown released Barnes from his artist's contract in 1967, and he teamed up once again with the enduring Don Davis, who had started his own production and record label, GROOVESVILLE. There would be a handful of J.J. Barnes releases on the Groovesville label, of which arguably the best ... and best-known ... was the deliciously soulful BABY PLEASE COME BACK HOME.   

Barnes changed labels again in 1968, and four more singles were released by REVILOT RECORDS in 1968 and 1969. The last Revilot release, SO CALLED FRIENDS, was co-written by none other than GEORGE CLINTON, who seemed to show up almost anywhere and everywhere in Detroit in the 60's an 70's! 

A handful of releases, spread across a scattering of other labels, would follow over the next few years. Then, in the mid 70's, old friend and former label-mate Edwin Starr invited Barnes to join him in the UK for a series of shows, which gave his career a shot in the arm. J.J. entered into a deal with CONTEMPO RECORDS in the UK, who released several more singles and an album in 1976, the title track of which was an excellent cover of Hall & Oates SARA SMILE.

To this day, J.J. Barnes remains a fixture, and favorite, of the Northern Soul music scene. 

Here's a decent biography of this "forgotten artist," with more details about his career:  

Russ Terrana worked on many recording sessions in the late 60's with both J.J Barnes and Edwin Starr, with producers Popcorn Wylie and Don Davis. Commenting on Barnes, Russ fondly recalls "He was another one of the many fantastic Detroit artists I worked with in the studio. J.J. had a real gift ... a natural, deep-down soul which really burst forth when he recorded." Russ goes on about the 60's in Detroit. "There were so many great and gifted singers back then. Every day I worked with true musical geniuses." 

With all the talent streaming through Detroit's handful of record companies and recording studios, things didn't always work out as planned. So many truly deserving artists failed to make it to the top of the heap. Russ laments, "You  know how fickle the music business has always been. It's not just talent. Timing and luck have so much to do with a song and an artist becoming a hit. In fact, timing is everything." Material has always been a key factor as well. Russ adds, "J.J., The Fantastic Four and all the others I worked with in those days ... they were really great acts. But I also remember that, in the case of the The Fantastic Four and J.J. Barnes, the songs just didn't reach out and grab me, like so many of the classics I recorded later at Motown. I guess you could ay that they just fell a little short." 

Well said, old friend, and sad, but so true. After listening myself to several tracks from both acts, I have to agree with the Motown Sound Man.  

Over the years, there have been a plethora of comparisons of J.J. Barnes to Motown legend MARVIN GAYE, along with several conspiracy theories about The Fantastic Four being suppressed to avoid competition with THE FOUR TOPS and J.J. Barnes' career being stifled to avoid interfering with the career of Marvin Gaye. But these are theories that are hardly likely to ever be proven.  

"It was an amazing time, filled with so many incredible memories," says the enigmatic recording engineer. "It's too bad that many of them have gotten kind of hazy after all these years!"
-- Joe Klein 

Kent --
I think I've shared the video of Jim Weatherly talking about the song "Midnight Train To Georgia" before, but this newspaper article is new - and is consistent with what's appeared on FH in the past. And, since Joe saw Gladys Knight this past weekend, it's somewhat timely. 
David Lewis  

Yep ... and it's still a great story.  As mentioned above, I love hearing the stories behind the songs ... what inspired a songwriter in the first place  That's why I ran that great new track by James Collins the other day that tells the true story of what happened when he asked Cyndi Lauper to pose for a picture after seeing her perform on a cruise ship a few years ago ... and "Cyndi Lauper Said 'No'".  (Kinda like what happened to me when I asked Al Kooper if we could take a picture for the website!!!)  lol  (kk)

This very nice letter from Russ Terrana's daughter made my day the other day ... so I just had to share it with you: 
Hi Kent,    
I want to thank you for posting the stories Joe Klein wrote about my dad, Russ Terrana. He is always trying to get attention placed on my dad for all he's done for music history and I absolutely love it!  My dad deserves all of the accolades and then some for the magic he created when he was at Motown. I'm also always proudly bragging because I know what dad did to bring the song to a life that is something extraordinary. The proof is in any Motown song you hear!  
I just wanted to thank you again for doing this for my dad. This means more to me then I can even tell you.  
Thank you,  
Christi Terrana 
Russ Terrana's very proud daughter  
Always happy to do it, Christi ... it's all about keeping this great music alive ... and your father was instrumental in creating some of the very best ... truly the soundtrack of our lives in the '60's and '70's.  Glad that we could help in some small way to spread the word.  (kk)