Monday, 27 January 2020

Doc Pomus born 27 January 1925

Jerome Solon Felder (June 27, 1925 – March 14, 1991), known as Doc Pomus, was an American blues singer and songwriter. He is best known as the lyricist of many rock and roll hits.

Born Jerome Solon Felder in 1925 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, he was the son of Jewish immigrants. Felder became a fan of the blues after hearing a Big Joe Turner record. Having had polio as a boy, he walked with the help of crutches. Later, due to post-polio syndrome, exacerbated by an accident, Felder eventually relied on a wheelchair. His brother is New York attorney Raoul Felder.

Using the stage name "Doc Pomus", teenager Felder began performing as a blues singer. His stage name was not inspired by anyone in particular; he just thought it sounded better for a blues singer than the name Jerry Felder. 
Pomus stated that more often than not, he was the only Caucasian in the clubs, but that as a Jew and a polio victim, he felt a special "underdog" kinship with African Americans, while in turn the audiences both respected his courage and were impressed with his talent. Gigging at various clubs in and around New York City, Pomus often performed with the likes of Milt Jackson, Mickey Baker and King Curtis. Pomus recorded approximately 40 sides as a singer in the '40s and '50s for record companies such as Chess, Apollo, Gotham and others.


In the early 1950s, Pomus started writing magazine articles as well as songwriting for artists such as Lavern Baker, Ruth Brown, Ray Charles and Big Joe Turner to earn more money to support a family, after he had married Willi Burke, a Broadway actress. His 
first big songwriting break came when the Coasters had a hit with his song "Young Blood", though the tune had been radically rewritten by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Still, Pomus had co-credit as author, and he soon received a royalty check for $2,500 (US$22,758 in 2019 dollars), which convinced him that songwriting was a career direction worth pursuing. By 1957, Pomus had given up performing for full-time songwriting.

Doc with Duke Ellington
He collaborated with pianist Mort Shuman, whom he met when Shuman was dating Pomus's younger cousin, to write for Hill & Range Music Co./Rumbalero Music at its offices in New York City's Brill Building. Pomus asked Shuman to write with him because Pomus didn't then know much about rock and roll, whereas Shuman was familiar with many popular artists of the day. Their songwriting efforts had Pomus write the lyrics and Shuman the melody, although often they worked on both. They wrote the hit songs "A Teenager in Love", "Save The Last Dance For Me", "Hushabye", 
"This Magic Moment", "Turn Me Loose", "Sweets For My Sweet" (a hit for The Drifters and then The Searchers), "Go, Jimmy, Go", "Little Sister", "Can't Get Used to Losing You", "Suspicion", "Surrender" and "(Marie's the Name) His Latest Flame".

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Pomus wrote several songs with Phil Spector ("Young Boy Blues"; "Ecstasy"; "What Am I To Do?"), Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber ("Young Blood" and "She's Not You"), and other Brill Building-era writers. Pomus also wrote "Lonely Avenue", a 1956 hit for Ray Charles. 
In the late-1960s, more rock artists began writing their own songs and the industry shifted from singles to albums, reducing demand for pop songwriters.

Until the late 1970s, Pomus supplemented his income by playing poker—a pastime he likened to songwriting for its cruel capriciousness. In the 1970s and 1980s, Pomus staged a comeback, collaborating with a variety of artists. In his eleventh-floor, two-room apartment at the Westover Hotel at 253 West 72nd Street, Pomus wrote songs with Dr. John, Ken Hirsch and Willy DeVille, These later songs ("There Must Be A Better World",  "You Just Keep Holding On", and "Something Beautiful Dying" in particular, are considered by some, including writer Peter Guralnick, musician and songwriter Dr. John, and producer Joel Dorn, to be signatures of his best craft.

In 1991 Pomus became the first white person to be awarded the Rhythm and Blues Foundation's Pioneer Award. Ray Charles presented the award via a pre-recorded message.  Later that year Pomus died on March 14, 1991 from lung cancer, at the age of 65 at NYU medical centre in Manhattan.

Doc Pomus wrote or co-wrote over 1,000 songs and in his prime, he had 13 Top 10 songs in one year. In 1992 he was elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The documentary film A.K.A. Doc Pomus (2012), conceived by Pomus' daughter Sharyn Felder, directed by filmmaker Peter Miller, edited by Amy Linton and produced by Felder, Hechter and Miller, details Pomus' life.

(Edited mainly from Wikipedia)

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Harold Ousley born 23 January 1929

Harold Lomax Ousley (January 23, 1929 – August 13, 2015) was an American jazz tenor saxophonist and flautist.

Although Harold Ousley is not a big name in the jazz world and has only recorded sporadically as a leader, the hard bop/soul-jazz musician has backed some major jazz artists over the years.
After studying in high school, Ousley (who is primarily a tenor saxophonist but has played the flute as a second instrument) became a professional musician working with circus bands for a number of years from the late 40s. Concurrently, in the early 50s, he played with Gene Ammons, King Kolax and also, in vivid demonstration of his versatility and stylistic range, with Miles Davis.

And here is a rare track from Ousley’s days in King Kolax’s band. “Vivian” which was probably arranged by Sonny Blount later known as the one and only Sun Ra, was recorded on December 22, 1954 by  Kolax [William Little] (tp, ldr,); Harold Ousley (ts); Prentice McCarey (p); “Cowboy” Martin (b); Leon Hooper (d, Latin perc).


Through the 50s, mostly playing tenor saxophone, Ousley was often in company with artists of note, among them, Billie Holiday, Brother Jake McDuff, Howard McGhee, Joe Newman, Bud Powell, Clark Terry (the last two playing at the 1959 trip to Paris with a song revue),Dinah Washington (appearing with her at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival), and Joe Williams. 
It was during the '60s that Ousley started recording as a leader; Tenor Sax came out on Bethlehem in 1961,

In the 70s, Ousley recorded some albums for Muse and also had brief spells playing in the big bands of Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton. His eclectic versatility was also displayed during engagements with pop, blues and R&B performers, such as George Benson, Big Brave Maybelle, Charles Brown, Ruth Brown, Percy Mayfield, Sunnyland Slim and Jimmy Witherspoon.

Ousley's obvious love for many years has been jazz education. He has presented jazz programs to schools and also became involved in the use of music as therapy with the Groves Therapeutic Counselling Service owned and ran by his late wife Alice Groves Ousley.

Owsley, who also played flute and digital horn, has made some film and television appearances, including appearing in Cotton Comes To Harlem (1970) and hosting his own early 90s cable television show, Harold Ousley Presents. Also in the early 90s, he was teamed up with Bill Doggett, A vigorous player with a rugged emotionalism. Ousley's work often shows the influence of blues, regardless of the setting.

When the CD era arrived in the late '80s, none of Ousley's albums were still in print. Ousley had just turned 71 when, in January 2000, he finally returned to the studio as a leader and recorded Grit-Gittin' Feelin' for Delmark.

Ousley died August 13, 2015 in Brooklyn NY.

(Mainly edited from MP3 and notes from 

Heres a clip from Manhattan Cable TV show, New York City. 2002
Musicians: Harold Ousley, tenor sax and TV show producer.
Peter Hartmann, bass. Joey "G-Clef" Cavaseno, alto saxophone.
Mark McGowan, trumpet. Marlon Sobol, drums.
Richard Clements, piano. 
Songs: Four, Blue Bossa, Freedom's Child.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Ronnie Cord born 22 January 1943

Ronnie Cord, born Ronald Cordovil, (Manhuaçu, January 22, 1943 - São Paulo, January 6, 1986) was a Brazilian singer who was very active in the 60s, also responsible for the popularity of the Brazilian musical movement known as Jovem Guarda, which launched Roberto Carlos and others.

Son of conductor and composer Hervé Cordovil, he already played guitar at age six. In 1959 he auditioned for Copacabana Records, in Rio de Janeiro. In 1960, the following year, he made his first recording, released as part of compilations on long-playing records that brought together several other singers. Then, Ronnie’s father Herve, chose 16 year-old Brian Hyland's 'Itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka-dot bikini' that had been #1 at the singles chart in the USA in August 1960 for Ronnie to cover. Ronnie's cover turned out better than the original due to Herve's careful production. He even went out of his way to include a munchkin's choir sing the chorus.

By December 1960, Ronnie was #1 in the Brazilian charts with 'Bikini'. Brazilian kids thought it was an American recording like any other like Elvis's, Anka's or Sedaka's. He also reached the top of the charts with his second record ('Pretty blue eyes,’) Ronnie's very 1st single for Copacabana. The problem now was for Ronnie to get a follow up to 'Bikini' but he would have to wait a few years. Cord's 'Look for a star' was a middling hit along side with other people's versions. Through 1961, 1962 and 1963 Ronnie had a few albums released with no big hit coming out of them.


In early 1964 Herve Cordovil thought he might sit down and write a rock tune himself. Why not? Instead of translating a foreign hit he would write a song with an appeal to young people's tastes. 'Rua Augusta' (August Street) is considered by many a-rock historians as being the very first Brazilian rock recording. It turned out to be a 
Ronnie & Herve
big hit all over the country ushering in a lot of other songs dealing with cars, traffic, speed and play-boys. Roberto Carlos, who would soon become the biggest rock act in the country released 'Parei na contra-mão' (I stopped at a one-way street) soon after.

As a follow-up to 'Rua Augusta', Herve Cordovil adapted the words of Ronnie's 1960 hit 'Itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka-dot bikini' into Portuguese as 'Biquini de bolinha amarelinha tão pequenininho' and it went to the top again 4 years later. The girl with the tiny bikini in the Brazilian version is called Anna Maria, who was the name of Ronnie's real-life sweet-heart. Anna Maria was an Italian girl who came to Brazil and decided to stay.

Ronnie and Anna Maria got married on 24 June 1965, at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Pinheiros and settled down at his parents's house on Rua Cutuiçara next to Praça Coronel Fernandes de Lima, in Moema. Ronnie opened a record-shop on Avenida Santo Amaro, not too far from where he lived. Ronnie's father-in-law and sister-in-law took care of the record-bar when he was away.

Ronnie & Anna Maria kept a low profile with their 3 children, Adriana being born on 2 January 1966. Unfortunately, Ronnie died of lung cancer at the young age of 42 on 6 January 1986, at Beneficencia Portuguesa Hospital.

In 2009, "Rua Augusta" was voted one of the 100 Greatest Brazilian Music by Rolling Stone Brasil, ranking 99th.

(Edited mainly from an article by Carlus Maximus @ brazilian-rock.blogspot)

Monday, 20 January 2020

Esquivel born 20 January 1918

Juan García Esquivel (January 20, 1918 – January 3, 2002) was a Mexican band leader, pianist, and composer for television and films. He is recognized today as one of the foremost exponents of a sophisticated style of largely instrumental music that combines elements of lounge music and jazz with Latin flavours. Esquivel is sometimes called "The King of Space Age Pop" and "The Busby Berkeley of Cocktail Music."

He was born in 1918, in Tampico, Tamaulipas, and his family moved to Mexico City in 1928. In interviews, Esquivel's family members have stated that the young boy started playing piano when he was around 6 years old, to the amazement of older musicians who would gather around him in disbelief and to his own delight exhibiting his musical gifts. They have also stated that Esquivel continued to eschew formal musical training as he grew older, preferring to learn from books and by listening to and playing music instead.

By the early 1930s, he was appearing on radio station XEW. Self-taught as a player, composer, and arranger, he proved a prodigy, and was soon leading the station orchestra. By 1940, he had formed his own band, with 22 musicians and 5 vocalists.

RCA contracted with Esquivel in late 1957, first releasing one of his Mexican albums in the U.S. as "To Love Again." The label brought Esquivel to record in Hollywood in early 1958. He was given five hours of studio time to record the album ("Other Worlds, Other Sounds"), but he finished the job with 90 minutes to spare and cut a second album, "Four Corners of the World," with a small combo.

                      Here’s “Macarena” from above album.


Most of Esquivel's recordings start with much the same big band with vocal chorus foundation as Ray Conniff and others, but his arrangements take every element to its limit. On "Latin-esque," he went to the extreme of channel separation by placing two 
orchestras in studios a block apart and mixing the result live in the booth. If Roger Williams uses a four octave run in his version of "Autumn Leaves," Esquivel would use six and split them among six different instruments, starting on the right channel and moving over to the left in the process. It's fitting that Esquivel's name was usually printed with an exclamation point: his trademark is the musical exclamation point, whether it's a "Pow!" sung by the chorus or a "zing" from a harpsichord.

In 1963, Esquivel switched from studio work to live performance, creating a stage show featuring four svelte female singers, flashing lights, and choreographed routines and playing the Vegas-Tahoe circuit. His show was a favorite among Vegas insiders, and celebrities like Frank Sinatra regularly dropped in to listen. He liked to party in the fast lane, too. "I have had many loves in my life: music, cars, women and the piano, not necessarily in that order," he once told an interviewer.

He recorded his last U.S. release in 1967 and his last RCA album 
was released only in Latin American markets in 1968. By then, Vegas had become the focus of his activities. His concerts featured elaborate light shows years before such effects became 
popular in live music. He performed in Las Vegas on several occasions, often as the opening act for Frank Sinatra. He frequently performed at the Stardust casino lounge.

Esquivel also wrote for TV during and after his studio period. He composed theme songs and soundtracks for several TV series, but his greatest legacy has been a huge library of incidental music written mostly for Universal Studios (under Stanley Wilson's leadership) that's been sampled on over 100 different series, from "McHale's Navy" to "Kojak." 

Generations of television viewers have heard Esquivel's most enduring piece of library music--the three-second bombastic fanfare that accompanies the Universal Studios emblem at the end of its productions.

He led the live band for 12 years, but by the end, his audience had begun to dwindle, and his indulgence in drink and drugs led to the end of his contract. His belongings, including many of his compositions, were hauled off when he fell in arrears on his rent. In 1979, he returned to Mexio and composed for a children's series called "Burbujas." An album of songs and instrumentals from the series sold more than a million copies.

Esquivel enjoyed a tremendous revival in the last decade of his life. Indeed, it could be argued that he was more famous after he was "rediscovered" than when he was at the height of his creativity. 

Confined to a wheelchair in the last years of his life and weakened by heavy hardcore partying during his time in Hollywood, Esquivel was still strong enough to marry what he claimed was his sixth wife in May, 2001. He died from the effects of a stroke on 3 January 2002 (age 83) in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico. It's fitting that he lived to see the new century in, since his music was often well ahead of its time.

(Edited from Space Age Pop & Wikipedia)

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Laurie London born 19 January 1944

Laurie London (born 19 January 1944) is an English singer, who achieved fame as a boy singer of the 1950s, for both his gospel and novelty songs recording in both English and German. He is best known for his hit single of the spiritual song "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands".

Lawrence London was born in Bethnal Green, East London. As a thirteen year Laurie was studying at the Davenant Foundation Grammar School in Whitechapel Road . But even at his tender age he already possessed the confidence and showmanship of a veteran performer. He first appeared in a closed-circuit transmission of 6.5 Special at the BBC at the 1958 Radio Show. Producer John Warrinton caught his performance and was so impressed that London was invited back to perform daily. London also caught the attention of EMI Records who sent him to the studio.


It was also at this age where recorded his up-tempo version of “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” (composed by Obie Phillis). He was backed up by the Geoff Love Orchestra, and the recording was produced by Norman Newell. The record was then released on Parlophone Records and then distributed in the United States by its co-owned American sister imprint Capitol Records.

In the UK, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” reached #12 on the national charts in 1958. But when the record reached America, it became even a bigger hit. “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1957 (some sources say that it reached #2 on Billboard and remained in that position for four weeks). It also reached to its peak position at #3 on the Billboard R&B singles chart. The song was also voted number one by most disc jockeys, and number two in retail sales. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA in 1958.

The fame that London was attaining was too much that it forced him to quit school. His father Will also relinquished his sales management job to be his son’s manager. However, London said no to a chance of a 1958 US tour, which would be really too much for an adolescent boy.

Laurie with Frankie Vaughan
However, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” was to be London’s only hit and charting single. He would never have another hit again either in the US or the UK. But at least, in the pre-Beatles era, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” was the most successful record by a British male singer in the US.

London also got to sing in German. For instance, he took part in “Deutsches Schlager-Festival” (German Hit Festival) belting out “Bum Ladda Bum Bum.” He also has singing credits in the 1961 German film Und Du, mein Schatz, bleibst hier (“And you, my darling, stay there”).

London got to record several albums mostly released in Europe, as well as other pop and gospel singles such as “Joshua,” “The Gospel Train” and “I Gotta Robe.” He also released one full-length LP on Capitol. His other singles — such as his cover of Cliff Richard’s hit “Lucky Lips” and “The Bells of St. Mary” (released on CBS label) — did not chart. London's voice changed in 1960, so the records dating from that time onward feature his mature vocal sound on songs mostly in keeping with his established repertoire. It's tempting to attribute his commercial decline to his loss of youth, but his record sales fell off immediately after his first hit while he was still in his early teens.

At the age of only nineteen, he officially retired from show business. Later cover versions of the Cliff Richard hit "Lucky Lips" (1963), and "The Bells of St. Mary" (CBS, 1966) went unnoticed. Except for a very few smattering of appearances, he was virtually out of the public eye. He worked in the clothing business, then in 1990s he ran a hotel, The Angel, in Petworth, West Sussex, but sold it in 2000, and later the Ship and Castle bar and restaurant on the Hard, in Portsmouth, Hampshire.

In 2014 Laurie appeared as one of the stars of the 10th annual Summertime Swing, located in the gorgeous grounds of Saint Hill Manor near East Grinstead, the UK headquarters of the Scientologists, which took place on a beautifully sunny day. 

Backed by the excellent seven piece swing band the Jive Aces, as were all the acts, Laurie began with Take The Hand Of A Fool and followed with Hank Williams' Cold Cold Heart and This Little Light Of Mine, before finishing with his 1957 smash. In between numbers he amused the crowd with jokes about DJ for the day Mike Read (the son of Tony Blackburn, he suggested) 

(Edited mainly from & the

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Paddy Roberts born 18 January 1910

Paddy Roberts (18 January 1910 – 24 August 1975)who was a prolific singer, writer and performer of smart, funny, satirical songs is largely forgotten now. His commercial peak came in 1959 when his record, Strictly for Grown Ups, reached number 8 in the UK charts.

John Godfrey Owen Roberts was born in Durban, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. His early education took place in England. He subsequently attended university in South Africa before joining a law practice. Intent on becoming a songwriter, he returned to the UK where he had some success in the late 30s with songs such as ‘Angel Of The Great White Way’ (written with Elton Box, Desmond Cox and Don Pelosi), and ‘Horsey, Horsey’ (with Box, Cox and Ralph Butler) which became popular for Jack Jackson, Billy Cotton and Henry Hall.

During World War II Roberts flew with the RAF, and when peace came he became an airline captain on BOAC Constellations. Subsequently, he returned to songwriting, and during the 50s, had several UK chart hits, including ‘The Book’ (David Whitfield), ‘Heart Of A Man’ (Frankie Vaughan), ‘Lay Down Your Arms’ (Anne Shelton), ‘Meet Me On The Corner’ (Max Bygraves), ‘Pickin’ A Chicken’ (Eve Boswell); and ‘Evermore’, ‘Softly, Softly’ (number 1) and ‘You Are My First Love’ (the last three sung by Ruby Murray). 
The latter song was featured in the British musical film It’s Great To Be Young, and Roberts wrote several other movie songs, including ‘In Love For The Very First Time’ (for An Alligator Named Daisy, starring Diana Dors) and the title number to The Good Companions. His other 50s compositions included ‘Johnny Is The Boy For Me’, ‘It’s A Boy’, ‘That Dear Old Gentleman’, ‘Send For Me’ and ‘The Three Galleons (Las Tres Carabelas)’.

Most of the aforementioned songs were written in collaboration with others, such as Hans Gottwald, C.A. Rossi, Geoffrey Parsons, Peggy Cochran, Jack Woodman, Gerry Levine, Ake Gerhard, Leon Land, Peter Hart, Garfield De Mortimer, Derek Bernfield, Augusto Alguego, G. Moreu, and Lester Powell (pseudonym of Ray Martin).

His career took another turn in 1959, when he met Frank Lee, the artists' manager for Decca Records, who was looking to follow up on the recent successful release of 'A Night With' Tom Lehrer comedy album. Paddy demonstrated some of his folk song parodies and was invited to record them as well so he was thus reinvented, as a comedy singer songwriter. The 'Strictly For Grown-ups' album was released in 1959 and reached number 8 in the U.K charts.


The hit tune 'The Ballard Of Bethnel Green' was awarded an Ivor Novello Award for best novelty song of that year. The follow up 'Paddy Roberts Tries Again' came out a year later and was another chart success for Paddy, peeking at number 16 (U.K) This was swiftly followed by 'Paddy Roberts at the Blue Angel' live album 
(1961) and finally,  'Songs For Gay Dogs' (1963). It was during the 60s he included several of his own, often wry, witty and sophisticated, numbers in an accomplished cabaret act.

Probably the best-known of these include ‘The Belle Of Barking Creek’, ‘The Big Dee-Jay’, ‘Follow Me’, ‘Country Girl’, ‘I Love Mary’, ‘The Tattooed Lady’, ‘What’s All This Fuss About Love?’, ‘The Lavender Cowboy’ and ‘Don’t Upset The Little Kiddywinks’. Eventually his style of performance fell out of fashion. 

His last studio recording was for a Marble Arch LP based on the score of the film 'Dr. Dolittle'. Other artists on the album included Marty Wilde, Stephanie Voss And Benny Lee, backed by The New World Theatre Orchestra Conducted By Cyril Stapleton. Recorded in 1966 and originally released January 1, 1967.

Roberts was five times the winner of an Ivor Novello Award, four for songwriting and one for services to the British Music Industry.  He also held high office in the Performing Right Society and the Song Writers Guild.

He married twice. His first wife was Sylvia Shephard whom he married during 1937 in Hendon. They had two sons. She died in 1962. He married again in 1963.

Roberts died in August 1975 in Dartmouth, Devon, England.

(Edited  snippets from various sources but mainly AllMusic)