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Friday, 24 April 2015

George Tomsco born 24 April 1940

George Anthony Tomsco (born April 24, 1940) was one of the most popular and influential instrumentalists of Tex-Mex styled rock music. As one of the founding members of the Fireballs, George is a true rock & roll pioneer. In the late ‘50s and ‘60s, his guitar playing was ubiquitous on the radio waves with hits as “Torquay,” “Bulldog,” “Sugar Shack” and “Quite a Party.”
He was born and raised in Raton, New Mexico and has one sister, Alberta. His father ran a Conoco service station and he worked there part time when he was a teenager. Tomsco was always interested in music and in 1957, while still in high school; he started a rock and roll band “The Fireballs.” They never had music lessons; all the band members learned by ear. The Fireballs had a unique, popular sound, and they performed in the Raton High School to standing ovations. The original 1958 line-up was: George Tomsco (lead guitar), Chuck Tharp (vocals), Stan Lark (bass), Eric Budd (drums), and Dan Trammell (rhythm guitar).

The Fireballs. The photo was taken as the group had just started to become known and had recently been signed to a contract with Kapp Records. From left: George Tomsco, Stan Lark, Eric Budd, Don Trammel, and Chuck Tharp.

After high school, Tomsco attended the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro. He really wasn’t interested in school because he had always wanted to be a musician but didn’t know how to get into the business. The Fireballs continued to play on weekends in local clubs. One day someone heard him playing a home recorded acetate and remarked that the band should record their music. They auditioned for Norman Petty who owned a famous recording studio in Clovis, New Mexico. Petty liked their style and this started their career. In 1959 the Fireballs recorded their first release, Petty negotiated a contract for the group and they never looked back.

In addition to playing with the Fireballs, Tomsco played on numerous sessions in the late '50s and 1960s. Although he was most frequently heard as a session player on instrumental records that bore some similarity to those of the Fireballs, or with vocalists who were trying to imitate Holly, he was versatile enough to also contribute to sides by folksinger Carolyn Hester and soul artist Arthur Alexander.


George Tomsco's nimble guitar work was influenced by rockabilly, country & western, and Latin music. Although few fans would recognize his name, he was one of the most popular and influential instrumentalists of Tex-Mex styled rock music, finding particular favour in Britain with the Shadows, who covered some Fireballs songs.
In 1960 the Fireballs appeared on the Dick Clark Show and American Bandstand. Tomsco said that meeting Dick Clark was a great experience and this really helped their career. They recorded many albums in the next several years.
In 1963 they brought singer Jimmy Gilmer into the group and recorded “Sugar Shack.” This became the number one hit for five weeks and was the largest selling single that year and is perhaps their most well-known song.

By 1972, Gilmer and Lark had left the Fireballs, leaving Tomsco to carry on with just his guitar and replacement players. He sold insurance for a few years; Lark did technical work for local coal mines. When original singer Chuck Tharp rejoined Tomsco in 1989, Lark followed. The three original Fireballs performed from 1990 until Tharp’s death, in 2006.
In 1989 the Fireballs were inducted into the Norman Petty Walk of Fame and in 2001 they were inducted into the West Texas Rock and Roll Walk of Fame. Tomsco was introduced to the Huerfano Community Bible Church in Walsenburg through his sister Alberta. He joined the church band called Standfast. This band provides music at church and other functions around Walsenburg.


From left: Rick Dunn, George Tomsco, Carol Dunn, Lee Adams and Bruce Stevenson of the praise band StandFast.
Tomsco and Lark still played a handful of Fireballs concerts around the country for a few years and Jimmy Gilmer, today an artists’ manager in Nashville, joined them for a couple of shows. At present the Fireballs is in a state of “neutral/ idle,” according to Tomsco.
“I still perform as a guest guitarist with other bands in the U.S., England, Canada and Spain as George Tomsco of the Fireballs, playing instrumentals and vocal recordings from more than 50 years ago.”

George Tomsco didn't record on his own often, but a 30-song anthology consisting mostly of tracks he did with the Fireballs and as a session musician, The Tex-Mex Fireball album, was issued under his name in 1998.
(Info edited from All Music & World Journal Huerfano)

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Dale Houston born 23 April 1940

Dale Houston (April 23, 1940 – September 27, 2007) was an American singer who, along with his performing partner, Grace Broussard, hit the Billboard chart as Dale & Grace with two rock and roll singles. The first was the #1 gold record "I'm Leaving It Up to You" in 1963. "Stop and Think It Over" reached #8 in 1964. In his later years, Houston was reunited onstage with Broussard on several occasions.
Robert Dale Houston  was delivered by a midwife on a kitchen table in Seminary, Mississippi on April 23, 1940. The family later moved to Collins Mississippi, where Dale's father became a minister. By sixth grade, Dale began his musical training by taking piano lessons, but had to quit after three months, as his parents could no longer afford them. From that point on, Dale was self taught and polished his musical skills by playing and singing in church. Determined to make music his life, an 18 year old Dale recorded a song called "Lonely Man", which climbed to #75 on the national record charts. 
Dale was playing in Baton Rouge in 1960 when Montel Record executive, Sam Montel caught his act in a local bar. After listening to some of Dale's material, Sam decided that Dale was, in his words, "a pretty good writer" and signed him to compose exclusively for his label. Dale wrote and recorded "Lonely Room", "Bird with a Broken Wing" and "That's What I Like About Us", but none met with great success.  

In 1963, Houston was working in a bar in Ferriday, Louisiana, a town near Natchez, Mississippi. Montel approached Houston about teaming up with a female singer, Grace Broussard (born 1939) of Prairieville, Louisiana near Baton Rouge. Both had been singing in area bistros for several years - Grace with her brother, Van Broussard (who later released an album on the Bayou Boogie label). The two met and practiced on Montel's home piano for four hours. When Houston began to play a song written and recorded in 1957 by African-American performers Don and Dewey--"I'm Leaving it Up to You"--Montel, asleep in the next room, woke up screaming: “Play it again! That’s a hit!”  

The next day Sam took Dale & Grace to the recording studio where they cut 4 songs. Montel Records then released "I'm Leaving It Up To You" as a single and by October, 1963 it was the number one record in the nation, eventually knocked out of the top spot by The Beatles.  

The pair spent much of the rest of the year touring with Dick Clark's Caravan Of Stars and had Thanksgiving at Clark's house. While on tour in Dallas Texas, on Nov. 22, 1963, they were standing on a street corner waving at John Kennedy. His limo had just passed and was about two blocks away when he was assassinated.  

Dale and Grace followed their first hit with a song called "Stop and Think It Over" which went to #8 in 1964, but 'The British Invasion' and personal problems were starting to take their toll. Finally, in 1965, Grace had her fill and split from Dale. 

Dale carried on, teaming with Connie Sattenfield, to form a new 'Dale and Grace', although by this time, their style of Cajun-country rock was out of style and no major hits followed. Grace Broussard and her brother also toured as Dale and Grace. 

Twenty years later, Dale's wife, Patricia, played a part in reuniting Dale with Grace Broussard, who had also married. The two put their differences aside to sing together again for a while, but the reunion lasted just long enough to split Dale and Patricia.  

The other "Grace", Connie Sattenfield later teamed up with a man named Jimmy Jordan, who started using the stage name of "Dale". The pair recorded an album called "Dale and Grace - Together Again" and toured as "The All New Dale & Grace Show". The duo recorded a Gospel album called "Dale & Grace - In God's Hands" in 1998 and own Dale & Grace Ministries, as well as having a syndicated, Gospel radio show. Although the name of their act is the same, they make it clear that they are not the duo that sold over 7 and half million Rock 'n' Roll records, although many fans are often confused.  

Dale Houston continued on the road with his band and Grace Broussard sang as a solo act across the United States. They were inducted into the Louisiana Hall of Fame in 1997 and into the Gulf Coast's Hall of Fame in 1998.  

Dale Houston died on September 27, 2007 of heart failure at the Wesley Medical Centre in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, age 67. Interment was in Smyrna Cemetery in Collins, Mississippi. (Info edited mainly from Wikipedia & Classic

American Bandstand. August 01, 1964

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Ernie Maresca born 21 April 1938

Ernest "Ernie" Maresca (born April 21*, 1939, The Bronx, New York) is an American singer-songwriter and record company executive, best known for writing or co-writing some of Dion's biggest hits. 

He began singing and writing in a doo-wop group, The Regents, who later had a hit with "Barbara Ann". His song "No-One Knows" came to the attention of Dion DiMucci, who recorded it successfully with The Belmonts on Laurie Records, the record reaching #19 on the Billboard Hot 100 record chart in 1958. Maresca then began songwriting full time, writing "Runaround Sue" with Dion, and then "The Wanderer" - his biggest success, although his run of hits with Dion continued with "Lovers Who Wander" and "Donna the Prima Donna".  

He also wrote for a great deal of other artists throughout the 1960s, usually in a style that combined doo wop with the developing sounds of girl groups or Dion's boastful Bronx pop/rock; the Regents' modest modern doo wop hit "Runaround" was the biggest of these. Although he didn't think of himself as a singer, and was an average nondescript vocalist at best, he was persuaded to record as a solo artist. 
In mid-1962, he ended up with his one and only hit under his own name, "Shout Shout (Knock Yourself Out)." A fun if extremely basic rocker that used the same chord pattern that anchored Dion hits like "Runaround Sue" and added the dance-rock energy of bands like Joey Dee & the Starliters, it made number six. 

Maresca made an album in 1962, and continued to record, without success, for Seville through 1965 and then for Laurie during the remainder of the 1960s. He kept on writing for plenty of artists, too (often on the Laurie roster), and in that capacity had some modest hits with Reparata & the Delrons ("Whenever a Teenager Cries"), Bernadette Carroll ("Party Girl"), and Jimmie Rodgers ("Child of Clay," co-written with Jimmy Curtiss).
While some of his songs for Dion were classics, Maresca was a limited songwriter, many of his compositions limited to variations (or replicas) of the ascending, circular basic doo wop chord structures heard on Dion's "Runaround Sue," "The Wanderer," "Lovers Who Wander," and "Donna the Prima Donna." By the 1970s he was head of Laurie Records' publicity department, which concentrated on reissuing the label's catalog, and as of 2000 was working as a consultant to EMI and administrator for Laurie's publishing.  

Despite the success of Shout Shout stateside, little happened for the song on the other side of the Atlantic.  This changed dramatically when in 1982, twenty years after its initial success, a cover by British retro-band Rocky Sharpe & The Replays broke into the UK Top 20 singles charts. The renewed activity on the song led to a further cover later that same year - a French lyric version entitled Chante by Les Forbans. The French recording exploded onto the European scene, far outselling both its English counterparts. An official list of France’s best selling singles of all time broadcast in 2004 placed Les Forbans’ Chante at #8, not bad going for the kid from the Bronx who by his own estimation “couldn’t sing”.

(Info mainly edited from All Music & Wikipedia. *Some sources give 21 August as birthdate)

Monday, 20 April 2015

Johnny Fuller born 20 April 1929

Johnny Fuller (April 20, 1929 – May 20, 1985) was an American West Coast and electric blues singer and guitarist.  Fuller showed musical diversity, performing in several musical genres including rhythm and blues, gospel and rock and roll. His distinctive singing and guitar playing appeared on a number of 1950s San Francisco Bay Area recordings. 

Johnny Fuller was born in Edwards, Mississippi, but moved to Vallejo, California with his parents as a young child. As a child, he taught himself to play guitar and by his teenage years, he formed a gospel group known as the "Gold West Gospel Singers." By the early 1950's, he began recording for the Heritage Record label in Oakland, California. During this time, he taught himself to play the piano and the organ.  

Fuller recorded for a number of independent record labels, sometimes those associated with Bob Geddins. These included Hollywood, Flair, Specialty, Aladdin, Imperial and Checker Records. His debut recording was made in 1948 on the obscure Jaxyson record label, with a couple of gospel based songs. In 1954, he began a regular recording career which lasted until 1962. Fuller recorded twenty sides in 1954 alone for Geddins. 
Fuller had local hits with his singles "All Night Long" and the original version of "Haunted House," the latter of which was written and produced by Geddins. Fuller's ability to switch styles, saw him appear in late 1950s rock and roll package tours, performing on the same bill as Paul Anka and Frankie Avalon. While touring with these acts, he found time to record for the Aladdin and Rhythm Record labels. However, this same factor lost his black audience, which left him neglected in the 1960s blues revival. 
During the 1960's, he toured Europe and continued touring throughout the United States. By the 1970's, however, Fuller was limited to performing in local venues around the Oakland, California area. In 1974, Fuller issued his debut album, Fuller's Blues which was well received, but saw little commercial success. Fuller played at the San Francisco Blues Festival in 1973 and 1977.

He latterly worked as a mechanic in a local garage from 1968 to 1983 yet continued performing in the Oakland area during the 1980's. He died from lung cancer in Oakland, California, in May 1985, at the age of 56. (Info edited from Wikipedia & Findagrave)

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Alan Price born 19 April 1942

Alan Price (born 19 April 1942, Fatfield, Washington, County
Durham) is an English musician, best known as the original keyboardist for the British band The Animals and for his subsequent solo work. 

Playing piano from an early age and graduating to the organ (not to mention guitar and bass), Alan Price played with a variety of bands in his native North East, including  The Pagans, The Kansas City Five, The Black Diamonds, and The Kontours. 

1961 saw him establish his own band – The Alan Price Rhythm and Blues Combo – which by 1964 had been rechristened The Animals. Featuring Eric Burdon  they would enjoy success on both sides of the Atlantic, notably with the single, “House of The Rising Sun” - with Price’s characteristic keyboard sound to the fore.
Internal tensions within the group would see Price depart in 1965, ostensibly due to a dislike of flying. Forming a new Combo, line-up changes then saw The Alan Price Set sign with Decca Records. Their debut album came out in 1966. The Price To Play was a fine mix of R&B and pop. Price wasn't as powerful a vocalist as Burdon, but to be honest he wasn't far off, with a quite similar voice. His use of a three-piece horn section gave him access to some excellent arrangements, with his signature organ remaining the featured instrument. 
 During 1966, he enjoyed singles success with "I Put a Spell on You", which reached No. 9 in the UK singles chart, and "Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo", which reached No. 11 in the same chart. In 1967 the Randy Newman song "Simon Smith and His Amazing Dancing Bear", reached No. 4 in the chart as did his self penned song, "The House
That Jack Built". "Don't Stop the Carnival" followed in 1968 and rose to No. 13 in the UK singles charts. 

Price went on to host shows such as the musical Price To Play in the late 1960s, which featured Price performing and introducing the music of guests such as Fleetwood Mac and Jimi Hendrix. 

Going under his own name from 1968, Price also teamed up on record with Georgie Fame for tracks such “Rosetta” which became a Top 20 hit (1971), reaching No. 11 in the UK Singles Chart. An album followed Fame and Price, Price and Fame Together. During this period Price and Fame secured a regular slot on The Two Ronnies show produced by BBC Television also appearing on the Morecambe and Wise Show.  

1973 then saw him deliver a soundtrack album for (and appear in) the Lindsay Anderson film “O Lucky Man!” (featuring the fine single, “Changes”), before recording something of a lost gem in the form of his album, “Between Today and Yesterday”(1974) from which the single "Jarrow Song" was taken, returning Price to the UK singles chart at number 6.

Price participated in three reunions of The Animals between 1968 and 1984. In July 1983, The Animals started their last world tour. Price's solo performance of "O Lucky Man" was included in their set. In 1984, they broke up for the final time and the album Rip It To Shreds – Greatest Hits Live was released, comprising recordings from their concert at Wembley Stadium in London. 

Price recorded two albums with the Electric Blues Company featuring guitarist and vocalist Bobby Tench and keyboardist Zoot Money, the first Covers was recorded in 1994. A Gigster's Life for Me followed in 1996 and was recorded as part of Sanctuary's Blues Masters Series. 

In 2009 Price was touring the UK with his own band and others including the Manfreds, Maggie Bell and Bobby Tench. 2010 meanwhile saw Alan appear in the acoustic tent at the Glastonbury Festival and he was involved in a different reunion the following year, with the Alan Price Set playing the Meltdown Festival in London at the instigation of guest curator. 

In 2015 he is still performing regularly, including his long-standing monthly slot at The Bull's Head, Barnes in London. (Info mainly edited from Wikipedia & Properganda online).

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Ken Colyer born 18 April 1928

Kenneth Colyer (18 April 1928 – 8 March 1988) was an English jazz trumpeter and cornetist, devoted to New Orleans jazz. His band was also known for skiffle interludes. 

He was born in Great Yarmouth but grew up in Soho, London and served as a member of his church choir. When his elder brother Bill (1922—2009) went off to serve in World War II he left his jazz records behind, which influenced Ken. He joined the Merchant Navy at 17, travelled around the world and heard famous jazz musicians in New York and Montreal. 

In the UK, Colyer played with various bands and joined, in 1949, the Crane River Jazz Band (CRJB) with Ben Marshall, Sonny Morris, Pat Hawes, John R. T. Davies, Julian Davies, Ron Bowden and Monty Sunshine. The band played at the Royal Festival Hall on 14 July 1951 in the presence of HRH Princess Elizabeth. Parts of that group merged with other musicians including Keith Christie and Ian Christie to form the Christie Brothers' Stompers. 

Colyer rejoined the Merchant Navy, jumped ship in Mobile, Alabama, and travelled to New Orleans, where he played with his idols in George Lewis' band. He was offered the job of lead trumpeter on a tour, but was caught by the authorities, detained and deported. 
Colyer was invited to take the trumpet lead for the Chris Barber Band and so formed the first line-up of Ken Colyer's Jazzmen: Chris Barber, Monty Sunshine, Ron Bowden (born Ronald Arthur Bowden, 22 February 1928, Fulham, London), Lonnie Donegan and Jim Bray (born James Michael Bray, 24 April 1927, Richmond, Surrey). They made their first recordings on Storyville in 1953. The next, brief, band in the mid-1950s featured Bernard "Acker" Bilk on clarinet. 

Beginning in 1954, Colyer split his time between leading trad jazz groups as a trumpeter and skiffle groups as a guitarist, recording frequently for English Decca. Colyer's melodic Bunk Johnson-influenced lead trumpet gave his jazz bands a distinctive flavor of their own, while his skiffle groups had a "blacker" sound than those of most English skifflers, grounded in the Leadbelly 78s that Colyer brought back from New York when he was 19. 

 Then followed Colyer's band line-up with Mac Duncan (trombone), Ian Wheeler (clarinet), Johnny Bastable (banjo), Ron Ward (bass) and Colin Bowden (drums), later joined by Ray Foxley (piano). This band played together until the early 1960s when the new front-line featured, at various times, Sammy Rimington and Tony Pyke (clarinet), Graham Stewart and Geoff Cole (trombone), Bill Cole (bass) and Malc Murphy (drums). 

In January 1963, the British music magazine NME reported that the biggest trad jazz event to be staged in Britain had taken place at Alexandra Palace. The event included George Melly, Diz Disley, Acker Bilk, Chris Barber, Kenny Ball, Alex Welsh, Monty Sunshine, Bob Wallis, Bruce Turner, Mick Mulligan and Colyer. 
Colyer would lead bands in the '60s and '70s with time out for bouts with illness, running his own KC record label, appearing at his own club Studio 11. In 1971, after a bout with stomach cancer, Colyer took his doctors' advice to stop leading a band. The band continued to work under the leadership of banjoist Johnny Bastable, as his "Chosen Six", recruiting John Shillito (trumpet). Colyer continued with a solo career into the 1980s. Around that time he was occasionally associated with Chris Blount's New Orleans Jazz Band. 

He retired eventually to France where he hoped to teach music. However, it was to be short lived: he died quietly in his sleep on 8th March 1988, possibly from a severe heart attack. Ken was cremated in France and his ashes scattered in the Channel close to the French shore.  A trust has since been established to carry on his musical legacy and distribute his recordings. (Info mainly edited from Wikipedia & All Music)

  Ken Colyer with Monty Sunshine´s Jazzband 1981 in Hamburg

Friday, 17 April 2015

Bobby Curtola born 17 April 1943

Robert Allen "Bobby" Curtola, CM (born April 17, 1943 in Port Arthur, Ontario) is an early Canadian rock and roll singer and teen idol. 

Bobby Curtola began singing at high school dances and at age 15 formed a rock band called Bobby and the Bobcats. His skills attracted the attention of song writing brothers Basil and Dyer Hurdon who owned the record label Tartan. They wrote the song “Hand in Hand with You” which they recorded with Curtola in 1959/60. Its moderate success encouraged them to write more songs for Curtola and they became his managers, carefully arranging his record releases and club dates, and forming his fan club.

In 1962, he released “Fortune Teller” and its double A-side “Johnny Take Your Time” which became his biggest hit, selling two million copies and charting in the U.S.. He scored a second international hit with “Aladdin”. This big break erupted into a string of hits during the fiercely competitive British Invasion years that knocked most Canadian and American singers off the charts. 

Curtola was Canada’s only teen-idol in the early 60s and specialized in what were dubbed “rock-a-ballads”. His voice was described as a “silvery tenor” with a “soft-sweet quality”. In June of l964, Bobby was definitely in the right place at the right time. He became the first pop singer to record a jingle that

sounded like a "Top 40 Hit Single," the song was "Things Go Better with Coke." He signed an exclusive contract with Coca-Cola to be their #1 Spokesman. Bobby, inspired by Coke and thinking of a spin off to "Things Go Better with Coke," co-wrote "The Real Thing" which he used a version of for the commercial "Coke's The Real Thing." 

In 1966 he won a RPM Gold Leaf Award for becoming the first Canadian to have an album go gold.  

In 1967, Bobby toured Canada and the following year switched to a nightclub career. By this time, he had released 46 singles, 32 of which had made the Top Ten! He made a guest appearance on the Bob Hope Show.
In the early 1970s, Curtola hosted a CTV musical series entitled, Shake, Rock and Roll. After 1972, he spent part of the year performing in Las Vegas, opening for Louis Armstrong. Like Paul Anka, Las Vegas offered him a multimillion dollar contract.

He recorded occasionally in the 80s. In an attempt at updating his image, he briefly adopted the billing Boby Curtola and
released one album under this name before reverting to his original spelling. In the 90s there was an “oldies” revival and RCA offered him a 5-album deal. He toured Canada and Malaysia in 1998 and Europe in 2001.
Unlike Paul Anka who left us and became a naturalized U.S. citizen, Bobby Curtola stayed in Canada, proving that it was possible to succeed in pop music and remain at home. This paved the way for later Canadian pop musicians.  
In 1998, in recognition of his long service to the Canadian music industry as well as his humanitarian work around the world, he was made a member of the Order of Canada. His pioneering contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

Besides his musical work, Bobby is also a business entrepreneur, marketing a successful brand of Caesar cocktail. In 2011, Curtola received a star on the Italian Walk of Fame in Toronto, Canada. He is married with two sons, and currently lives in Edmonton. He still performs across Canada, Las Vegas and even the Princess Cruise Lines. (Info edited from Canadian Music Blog & Wikipedia)

This interview was done by Brad Kelly of Shaw TV, just before Bobby's Charity show at the Arden Theatre in St. Albert, Alberta on September 3, 2010. There is also some stock footage from some previous shows that Bobby has done.