Thursday, 31 January 2013

Mario Lanza born 31 January 1921

Mario Lanza (31 January 1921 – 7 October 1959) was an American tenor and Hollywood movie star who enjoyed success in the late 1940s and 1950s. His voice was considered by some to rival that of Enrico Caruso, whom Lanza portrayed in the 1951 film The Great Caruso. Lanza was able to sing all types of music. While his highly emotional style was not always universally praised by critics, he was immensely popular and his many recordings are still prized today.

Described by Arturo Toscanini as "the greatest voice of the 20th century", Mario Lanza was born Alfredo Arnoldo
Cocozza on 31 January 1921 in Philadelphia. His parents were Italian 'emigres. His mother, Maria (nee Lanza) had a beautiful soprano voice and dreamed of a singing career, but her father decided that the stage was no place for a married woman. His father, Antonio Cocozza was a First World War hero and had a fine collection of grand opera records. At the age of five, little "Freddy" showed a great interest in the old family Victrola which regularly played recording of Caruso and before long, the young boy was singing along with Caruso' s records.

At the age of sixteen, to his parents' great delight, he announced his intention to become a singer. His mother saw the realisation of her own dreams through her son's ambition and made every sacrifice to enable him to attend the singing lessons he needed. He was discovered by the conductor Serge
Koussevitsky, who was so impressed with his singing that he granted him a scholarship to his Berkshire Music School. He made his debut at the Berkshire Music Festival in 1942 as Fenton in " The Merry Wives of Windsor", changing his name to Mario Lanza as a tribute to his mother. But, just as his career was starting to take off, it was abruptly interrupted by conscription into the US army. He appeared in the Army shows " On The Beam" and "Winged Victory" and demobilised in 1945. In April of the same year he married his friend's sister, Betty Hicks. The marriage was blessed with four children - Colleen, Ellisa, Damon and Marc. One of the Lanza's voice coaches, the well-know Enrico Rosati, formerly coach to Gigli, recognised his genius and unique talent and in 1946 intensive preparations were made for Lanza to sing Verdi's " Requiem" for Arturo Toscanini, but Mario felt he was too young and not yet ready for the role.

Enrico Rosati said that Mario Lanza had one of the most beautiful voices he had ever heard . He also said that he had an exuberant character, but also that he was very generous
and amiable with a great heart, which was evident in the way that he sang. Between October 1945 and February 1946, Lanza appeared in six programmes of "Great Moments In Music" in New York, singing arias such as the love duet from Verdi's "Otello". In July 1947, he formed the Bel Canto Trio with Frances Yeend, soprano and George London, baritone. In eleven months, the trio gave 84 concerts across the United States, Canada and Mexico. In the meantime, Lanza had made his debut at the New Orleans Opera House as Pinkerton in Puccini's "Madame Butterfly". His 200th concert appearance was in the open air at the Hollywood Bowl on the 28 August 1947, a day that was to change his whole future career. MGM chief Louis B Mayer heard him and a seven year contract was soon signed.

Among Mario Lanza's many films were "That Midnight Kiss" (MGM 1949) and "The Toast of New Orleans" (MGM 1950), which included the song "Be My Love" , his first gold record. His greatest film success, The Great Caruso" (MGM 1951) made him world famous.


He made a legendary US "Caruso Concert Tour" in 1951 and "Lanza Fever" swept the whole of America. "Because You're Mine" (MGM 1952) was selected for the Royal Command Film Performance in Britain. Between June 1951 and July 1952, his radio programme "The Coca Cola Show" proved extremely popular. Songs from these shows are still being released. For the film The Student Prince}{ (MGM 1954), he made the recording two years before the film was released. "Serenade" (Warner Brothers 1955), his last film made in America, provided a vehicle for his great dramatic talent.

In May 1957, Mario Lanza moved with his family to Rome where he made two further films " The Seven Hills of Rome" (MGM /Titanus 1957) and "For The First Time" (MGM/CCC1958). Whereas in 1949, he had felt that his voice was too immature to open the season at "La Scala" or to join the Metropolitan Opera in New York, he now felt that his voice had matured and was ready for the opera stage. First, it is said that arrangements were made to complete studio performances of the great operas with Maria Callas. Lanza then made extended concert tours in Europe, starting in November in England with the Royal Command
Performance, followed by nation-wide tours including the Royal Albert Hall, Birmingham and Sheffield Concerts. He sang in Belgium, Holland, France and Germany.

His very last concert was on 13 April in Kiel, Germany, where his voice was "darker and richer, and he sang as never before" as his pianist Callinicos recalled. In the "Triumph March" for the final scene of "For The First Time" he oversang the 260 member Rome Opera House orchestra and chorus. The General Director Ricardo Vitale was deeply impressed and in August 1958 Mario accepted his invitation to open the Rome Opera season in 1960 with "Tosca" . Mario Lanza was full of plans and activities. His itinerary for 1960 was already filling up with plans to sing in South Africa, Hungary and Russia. In June 1959 he signed another film contact - "Laugh Clown
Laugh" and made several recordings, the very last on 10 September 1959 "The Lord's Prayer" which was never released. 

Mario Lanza's last year was plagued by ill-health and a demanding workload. Overworked and exhausted, he was admitted to the Valle Giulia Clinic in Rome on 25 September 1959. He had been troubled by pains in his left side, his blood pressure was high and he was suffering from phlebitis. Dr de la Toore, a heart specialist was called in, but by then Lanza had decided to sign himself out and go back to work. On the morning of 7 October, Lanza rang his wife telling her to expect him home, but just after midday he suffered a sudden massive heart attack and died.
(info )

Here's a video of  Mario Lanza's appearance at the London Palladium on 24th November 1957. Singing "Because You're Mine", "E Lucevan Le Stelle" from "Tosca" & "The Loveliest Night of The Year".


Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Melvin Endsley born 30 January 1934

Melvin Endsley, (30 January 1934 - 16 August 2004) was the composer of one of the most popular songs of the 20th century, Singin' the Blues, perhaps best-remembered in the version by Guy Mitchell which topped the charts in 1957. By rights, Melvin Endsley should have been a major country artist of the late '50s -- he had the talent, and the songs, and the drive, but not the luck to become as well known as, say, Marty Robbins. But he provided Robbins with one of the biggest hits of his career, "Singin' the Blues," and became a popular artist on the Grand Ole Opry and the Louisiana Hayride, performing from a wheelchair.

Endsley was born in Drasco, Arkansas in 1934. He contracted polio when he was three and was to spend the rest of his life
in a wheelchair. His condition was so severe that, from the age of 11, he spent three years in the Crippled Children's Hospital in Memphis. His best friend became the radio and he acquired a love of country music. Although his hands were too stiff to play the guitar conventionally, he had an instrument especially tuned for him and he would slide a steel bar up and down the frets. He even formed a band while he was in hospital.

Endsley returned to Drasco and despite having missed so much schooling was determined to graduate, which he did in 1954. He became a regular performer on Wayne Raney's radio show and included his own songs. His hero was Hank Williams, who had died in 1953, and he wrote in that style. 
"Singing the Blues", with its semi-yodelling, can be seen as an extension of Williams's "Lovesick Blues".

Knowing he had written a potential hit, Endsley decided to take it to Nashville. He asked his friend, Jimmy Doug Grimes, to drive him there with the aim of contacting the artists on the Grand Ole Opry. In particular, Endsley considered that the song would be ideal for Webb Pierce but when they got to Nashville, Pierce was too busy to see him. Endsley did, however, play some songs to Marty Robbins. As soon as Robbins heard "Singing the Blues", he said he would
record it, and he arranged for Endsley to meet his music publisher, Wesley Rose of Acuff-Rose.

Marty Robbins's "Singing the Blues" topped the US country chart, and Mitch Miller, Guy Mitchell's producer, realised it could be a pop hit. Mitchell's version topped the US charts for nine weeks in 1956, in the process dethroning Elvis Presley who had been ensconced there for 16 weeks with first "Hound Dog" and then "Love Me Tender".

In the UK, Mitchell had to contend with a cover version from a rising rock'n'roll star from Bermondsey, Tommy Steele. Steele's version was helped by his slurred phrasing on the first line - it is his one true rock'n'roll moment. Both Steele and Mitchell topped the UK chart in 1957.

Endsley wrote a follow-up for Marty Robbins, "Knee Deep In the Blues", which was dutifully copied by both Steele and Mitchell. All three did well with the song, but it was a pale imitation of "Singing the Blues".

During 1957/58, Endsley recorded for the producer Chet Atkins at RCA and then made further singles for MGM and Hickory. Although these records did not sell, he had sufficient royalties from "Singing the Blues" to buy a farm in Drasco and to start his own label, Melark. He sometimes performed on the Grand Ole Opry although he found the trip from Arkansas painful. 


Keep A Lovin' Me Baby (1957)


 b/w Lonely All Over Again

Despite publishing 200 songs, Endsley had few more successes. Andy Williams reached the UK Top Twenty with the novelty "I Like Your Kind of Love" (1957) and Cliff Richard performed his wild "At the TV Hop" on the television show Oh Boy! (1958). "Why I'm Walkin'" was a US country hit for Stonewall Jackson (1960), and "It Happens Every Time" was recorded by Don Gibson and "I'd Just Be Fool Enough" by Johnny Cash.

"Singing the Blues" has been recorded by at least 120 different artists. The period from late 1956 through 1957 remains the high spot in Melvin Endsley's career. He
acknowledged his disability, but never used it as an excuse. He wrote one of the most memorable songs in country music and even if he never achieved the success that he felt was his due as a performer, he can look back on a hell of a consolation prize.

Endsley was later signed to MGM, and then to Hickory, but by the mid-1960s he had retired from music to farm cattle at Drasco in Arkansas. He had written more than 400 songs, his last hit being Why I'm Walkin', for Stonewall Jackson in 1960. Endsley did subsequently record a version of Singin' The Blues for RCA, but his low opinion of the record industry was confirmed when they lost the master tape.

In 1996 he inducted Cash into the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame, at Pine Bluff, and two years later received the same honour himself. He never moved to Nashville, preferring to stay in his native Drasco and there he died of heart complications in 2004, aged 70. 

(Info various mainly and a big thankyou to for the two mp3's.)

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Beverly Kenney born 29 January 1932

Beverly Kenney (January 29, 1932, Harrison, New Jersey - April 13, 1960, New York City) was an American jazz singer.

Singer Beverly Kenney remains one of jazz's great tragedies -- an exquisitely nuanced stylist whose sophisticated phrasing perfectly complemented the cool jazz sensibilities of the late '50s, she committed suicide at the peak of her career and
awaits rediscovery by the vast majority of the listening public.

Born in Harrison, NJ, on January 29, 1932, Kenney began her career singing birthday greetings via telephone for Western Union. Ultimately she relocated to New York City, and in 1954 cut her first demo session with pianist Tony Tamburello (finally issued in 2006 under the title Snuggled on Your Shoulder). By year's end Kenney relocated to Miami, soon securing an agent and appearing at the Black Magic Room. There she was discovered by the Dorsey Brothers, spending several months on tour with their orchestra before creative differences prompted her exit.

From there Kenney returned to New York, working clubs in the company of George Shearing, Don Elliott, and Kai

Winding in addition to briefly touring the Midwest with the Larry Sonn Band before signing to the Roost label, which in early 1956 issued her debut LP, Beverly Kenny Sings for Johnny Smith. Come Swing with Me, a pairing with arranger Ralph Burns, followed later that same year, and in the spring of 1957 she teamed with Jimmy Jones & the Basie-Ites for her final effort for the label.

Kenney resurfaced on Decca in 1958 with Sings for Playboys -- her masterpiece, Born to Be Blue, soon followed, and a year later she issued her swan song, Like Yesterday. Critics and fellow artists were virtually unanimous in their praise of Kenney's artistry, but the emergence of rock & roll virtually guaranteed she would remain anonymous to the public at large.


Tellingly, during a May 18, 1958, appearance on NBC's The Steve Allen Show, she performed an original composition

titled "I Hate Rock and Roll." Friends and colleagues generally cite Kenney as a melancholy, distant figure in the final months of her life, but her suicide at age 28 on April 13, 1960, still raises myriad questions: by most accounts, she spent her last hours writing each of her parents long, heartbreaking letters at the desk in her Greenwich Village flat before consuming a lethal overdose of alcohol and Seconal, but her motivations are unknown.

A 1992 GQ magazine profile by Jonathan Schwartz suggests
Kenney was despondent over the dissolution of her romance with Beat Generation guru Milton Klonsky, but a subsequent investigation by fan and journalist Bill Reed casts serious doubt on this theory. While a virtual footnote in her native U.S., Kenney boasts an ever-growing cult following in Japan, where all six of her LPs have remained in print. Fifty years have passed since her death but the internet has made it possible for a whole new legion of fans to discover her music.(Info mainly AMG)

 1960 (?) show featuring jazz artist Beverly Kenney, interviewed by Hugh Hefner.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Acker Bilk born 28 January 1929

Acker Bilk MBE (28 January 1929 – 2 November 2014), born Bernard Stanley Bilk (known more familiarly as Mr. Acker Bilk), was an English clarinettist and vocalist known for his trademark goatee, bowler hat, striped waistcoat and breathy, vibrato-rich, lower-register clarinet style. He was born in Pensford, Somerset, England.

Bilk earned the nickname Acker from the Somerset slang for friend or 'mate'. His parents tried to have him learn the piano, but Bilk as a boy found it restricting upon his love of
outdoor activities including football (soccer). He also lost two front teeth in a school fight and half a finger in a sledging accident, both of which Bilk has claimed impacted his eventual clarinet style. He eventually learned the clarinet while serving in the British Army, and by the mid-1950s he was playing professionally.

Bilk was part of the boom in traditional jazz that swept the United Kingdom in the late 1950s and 1960s. He first joined Ken Colyer's band in 1954, and then after he formed his own ensemble in 1956. Four years later, his single "Summer Set" (a pun on his home county) hit the British charts and it began a run of eleven top 50 hit singles.

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Bilk was not an international star until an experiment with a string ensemble and a composition of his own as its keynote piece made him one in 1962. He wrote "Stranger on the Shore" for a British television serial series, and recorded it as the title track of a   new album in which his signature deep quivering clarinet was backed by the Leon Young String Chorale. The single was not only a big hit in England but shot to the top of the American charts as well – at a time when the American pop charts and radio playlists were open to just about anything, in just about any style – making Bilk the first British musician ever to put a song in the number one position on the U.S. charts kept by Billboard. The album was also highlighted by a striking interpretation of Bunny Berigan's legendary hit "I Can't Get Started." At one point, at the height of his career, Bilk's public relations workers were known as the "Bilk Marketing Board", a play on the then Milk Marketing Board.

Bilk recorded a series of albums in England that were also released successfully in the United States (on the Atlantic Records subsidiary Atco), including a memorable collaboration (Together) with Danish jazz pianist-composer Bent Fabric ("The Alley Cat"). But his success tapered off when British rock and roll made its big international
explosion beginning in 1964, and Bilk shifted direction to the cabaret circuit. He finally had another chart success in 1976, with "Aria," which went to number five in England. In the early 1980s, Bilk and his signature hit were newly familiar, thanks to "Stranger on the Shore" being used in the soundtrack to Sweet Dreams, the film biography of country music legend Patsy Cline. Most of his classic albums with the Paramount Jazz Band have been reissued and are available on the UK based Lake Records label.

Bilk has been described as "Great Master of the Clarinet" and is often said to be the originator of 'Hyung-Tiger' playing,
often copied by such artists as Johnny Range and Ted Morton. His clarinet sound and style was at least as singular as had been those of American jazzmen such as Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, and Russell Procope, and "Stranger on the Shore" – which he was once quoted as calling "my old-age pension" – remains a beloved standard of jazz and popular music alike.

By 2000, Bilk was reportedly semi-retired and taking up painting as a hobby, but still appeared with contemporaries, Chris Barber and Kenny Ball (both of whom were born in
1930) as the 3B's.
One of his best recordings is ironically with the Chris Barber band, sharing the clarinet spot with the band's regular reedsmen, John Crocker and Ian Wheeler. He made a CD with another legend of British Jazz Wally Fawkes for the Lake Records label in 2002. He has appeared on two recent albums by Van Morrison, Down the Road and What's Wrong With This Picture?
In 2000, Bilk was diagnosed with throat cancer, which was treated through surgery, then followed by daily radiation therapy at Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre. Subsequently he had had eight keyhole operations for bladder cancer and suffered a minor stroke.

He died on 2 November 2014 at the age of 85. He was survived by his wife Jean, daughter Jenny and son Pete. (Info Wikipedia)

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Elmore James born 27 January 1918

Elmore James (January 27, 1918 – May 24, 1963) was an American blues guitarist, singer, song writer and band leader. He was known as The King of the Slide Guitar and had a unique guitar style and stirring voice.

James was born Elmore Brooks in the old Richland community in Holmes County, Mississippi, (not to be confused with two other locations of the same name in Mississippi, one in Humphreys Co. & the other in Rankin Co. ). He was the illegitimate son of 15-year-old Leola Brooks, a field hand. His father was probably Joe Willie "Frost" James,
who moved in with Leola and so Elmore took this as his name. His parents adopted an orphaned boy at some point - Robert Holston.

Elmore began making music at the age of 12 using a simple one-string instrument ('diddley bow' or 'jitterbug') strung up on a shack wall. As a teen he was playing at local dances under the names Cleanhead and Joe Willie James. His first marriage was to Minnie Mae in c.1942 (whom he apparently never divorced). He subsequently married twice, to Georgianna Crump in 1947 and to a woman called Janice in c.1954. (Another reported 
marriage of Elmore to a Josephine Harris has been found to be a mistaken record of a different Elmore James.)

Becoming a well-known musician in those days, with the

not-so-minor rewards of prestige, good free food, illicit free liquor, women's favours, the promise of escape from the hard plantation work, etc., must have been as attractive to Elmore as it was to the other musicians of that time and earlier, such as the 'second' Sonny Boy Williamson, with whom he played and the legendary Robert Johnson with whom he also possibly played. Although Robert Johnson was murdered in 1938, James (like many other musicians) was strongly influenced by him, and also by Kokomo Arnold and Tampa Red. Elmore recorded several of Tampa's songs, and even inherited from his band two of his famous 'Broomdusters', 'Little' Johnny Jones (piano) and Odie Payne (drums). There is a dispute as to whether Robert Johnson or Elmore wrote James's trademark song, "Dust My Broom".


An important side to Elmore's character which may have hastened his demise was his lifelong taste for, and manufacture of, moonshine whiskey, to which he was introduced at an early age. Alcohol definitely killed his band mates/friends Willie Love & Johnny Jones at a relatively early age, and probably others too. His regular rhythm guitarist Homesick James maintained his longevity was due to his not partaking of the heavy drinking sessions after - and often during - gigs, a refusal that was unpopular with the rest of the band. Elmore was also reportedly an extremely fast driver who also loved hunting with guns and dogs down in Mississippi, whence he would head off for protracted periods.
During World War II James joined the United States Navy, was promoted to coxswain and took part in the invasion of Guam. Upon his discharge Elmore returned to central Mississippi and eventually settled in Canton with his adopted
brother Robert Holston. At this time he learned that he had a heart condition. Working in Roberts electrical shop he devised his unique electric sound, using parts from the shop and an unusual placement of two D'Armond pick ups. He began recording with Trumpet Records in nearby Jackson in January 1951, first as sideman to the second Sonny Boy Williamson and also to their mutual friend Wille Love and possibly others, then debuting as a session leader in August with "Dust My Broom". It was a surprise R&B hit in 1952 and turned James into a star. He then broke his contract with Trumpet records to sign up with the Bihari Brothers through Ike Turner (who played guitar & piano on a couple of his early recordings). His "I Believe" was another hit a year later. During the 1950s he recorded for the Bihari brothers' Flair Records, Meteor Records and Modern Records labels, as well as for Chess Records. His backing musicians were known as the Broomdusters. In 1959 he began recording what are perhaps his best sides for Bobby Robinson's Fire Records label. These include "The Sky Is Crying" (credited to Elmo James and His Broomdusters), "Stranger Blues", "Look On Yonder Wall", "Done Somebody Wrong", and "Shake Your Moneymaker", all of which are among the most famous of blues recordings.

Elmore James died of his third heart attack in Chicago in 1963, just prior to a tour of Europe with that year's 'American Folk Blues Festival.' (info from Wikipedia)

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Ronnie Hilton born 26 January 1926

Ronnie Hilton (26 January 1926 - 20 February 2001) was an English singer and radio presenter.

Born Adrian Hill in Hull, Hilton left school at 14 and worked in an aircraft factory in the early days of the second world war before being called up into the Highland Light Infantry. Demobbed in 1947, he became a fitter in a Leeds sewing machine plant.But Hilton had a passion for singing. In the
evenings he performed with the Johnny Addlestone band at the Starlight Roof in Leeds and it was there that he was heard by HMV's A&R manager, Walter Ridley. Ridley recommended that he change his name, have an operation for the reconstruction of a hare lip and take up his offer of a recording contract. Hilton accepted all three suggestions and success followed.

Ronnie Hilton was one of those 1950s vocalists whose career coincided with rock 'n' roll's 1956 onslaught on the ballad-dominated hit parade. But for a time Hilton was a star - strictly for home consumption - with nine top 20 hits between 1954 and 1957, that transitional era between 78 and 45rpm records. A quarter of a century later
he became the voice of BBC Radio 2's Sounds Of The Fifties series.

Hilton's approach owed much to the "nice 'n'easy" style of Americans such as Bing Crosby, Eddie Fisher and Perry Como. Together with the likes of Dickie Valentine and Michael Holliday, his was the kind of voice and style to which youngsters smooched as they edged across those dance floors not yet vibrating to Bill Haley's Rock Around the Clock and Elvis Presley's Blue Suede Shoes.

Veni Vidi Vici and I Still Believe in December 1954 (Top 20 Charts) were followed in April 1955 by a cover of Nat "King" Cole's A Blossom Fell - which was a bigger hit for Valentine, a bigger star - and that September came Stars Shine in Your Eyes. In November, Hilton's cover of Mitch Miller's US hit,
the Yellow Rose Of Texas brushed the charts - just as Rock Around The Clock went to number one.

From a comparatively unknown Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, "Me and Juliet" written in 1953, Ronnie Hilton took the hit tune "No Other Love", and scored his one and only UK Number One hit in 1956 and becomming Ronnie's signature tune. In securing the Number One, Hilton fought off competition from the UK-based Canadian Edmund Hockridge, and from The Johnston Brothers. Oddly, no American versions of "No Other Love" reached the UK Singles Chart at the time. Perry Como had been very successful with the song in America, but his version was released much earlier in 1953, when "Me and Juliet" first opened on Broadway.


Nevertheless, Hilton's light operatic style, similar to fellow Hullensian, David Whitfield, was already by the mid 1950s being overtaken by events. By the time "No Other Love" dropped off the UK Singles Chart, Elvis Presley had clocked up his first three UK hit singles. Hilton also performed in three Royal Variety Performances. He also took part in the inaugural A Song For Europe contest in 1957, failing in his attempt to be the UK's first representative in the Eurovision Song Contest. In summer 1957, as skiffle and Elvis gripped the charts, Hilton's cover of Around The World was a bigger hit than the Bing Crosby original.

Hilton's last chart hit for almost five years, in 1959, was "The Wonder of You"; the same song that Elvis Presley topped the UK chart with in 1970. In 1965 there was A Windmill In Old Amsterdam, which eventually sold a million, and became a fixture across decades of Children's Favourites.

A stroke in 1976 hindered his activities for a time and he was beset with financial problems. In 1989 the British Academy of Song Composers and Authors awarded him its gold medal for services to popular music. He died in Hailsham, East Sussex from another stroke, 20 February 2001 aged 75.

His first wife, Joan, died in 1985. His second wife, Chrissy, whom he married in 1989 survives him, as do four children, three from his first marriage. (info from Wikipedia &

Here is 1968 clip of Ronnie Hilton singing Happy Again

Friday, 25 January 2013

Rusty Draper born 25 January 1923

Farrell "Rusty" Draper (January 25, 1923 – March 28, 2003) was was one of the biggest American country crossover stars of the early '50s, selling over a million records to pop and country audiences before the rise of rock & roll derailed his career.

Born in Kirksville, Missouri and nicknamed "Rusty" for his red hair, he began performing on his uncle's radio show in
Tulsa, Oklahoma in the mid 1930s. Draper moved on to work at radio stations in Des Moines, Iowa—sometimes filling in for sports announcer Ronald Reagan—and in Illinois before settling in California. There he began to sing in local clubs, becoming resident singer at the Rumpus Room in San Francisco. By the early 1950s he had begun appearing on national TV shows including The Ed Sullivan Show (CBS) and Ozark Jubilee (ABC).

In 1952, Draper signed to Mercury Records. His early efforts, including "Devil of a Woman" and "Sing Baby Sing,"
generated little interest at radio, and even "Release Me," a 1952 duet with Patti Page, failed to jump-start his career. In early 1953 he nevertheless mounted a national club tour, and the publicity gave a much-needed push to his sixth Mercury release, a cover of the Carlisles' country hit "No Help Wanted." In June, Draper released "Gambler's Guitar," and everything clicked -- the record sold over a million copies and not only reached the country Top Ten, but also cracked the pop charts.


After a series of less successful follow-ups, he made the national charts again in 1955 with "Seventeen" (#18), "The Shifting, Whispering Sands" (#3) and "Are You Satisfied?" (#11), becoming one of the biggest pop and country crossover stars of the period.

In 1956, he returned to the top 20 with "In The Middle Of The House" (#20), followed up by his version of Chas
McDevitt’s UK skiffle hit "Freight Train" (#3) Draper also reached the UK Singles Chart with a rendition of "Muleskinner Blues."

In 1962, he left Mercury to sign with Monument Records, reaching number 57 on the pop charts in the fall of 1963 with Willie Nelson's "Night Life." A comeback was not in the cards, however, and subsequent Monument efforts "It Should Be Easier" and "I'm Worried About Me" went nowhere. The label terminated his contract following 1966's "Mystery Train," although he hung around the lower rungs of the country charts for the remainder of the decade via minor
hits like "My Elusive Dreams," "California Sunshine," and "Buffalo Nickel."

Draper remained a steady concert draw in years to follow, and also appeared in stage musicals and on television. He hosted a daytime programme, Swingin' Country, made guest appearances on hit shows like Laramie, Rawhide and 77 Sunset Strip, and appeared in productions of Oklahoma and Annie Get Your 1980, he squeaked into the country charts one final time with "Harbor Lights." He remained a steady concert draw in years to follow, and also appeared in stage musicals and on television.

Draper died of pneumonia in Bellevue, WA, on March 29, 2003. (Info edited from Wikipedia & AMG) 

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Jack Scott born 24 January 1936

Jack Scott (born Giovanni Domenico Scafone Jr., January 24, 1936, Windsor, Ontario, Canada) is a Canadian/American singer and songwriter. He was the first white rock and roll star to come out of Detroit, Michigan. He was inducted into Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2011 & has been called "undeniably the greatest Canadian rock and roll singer of all time."

Scott spent his early childhood in Windsor, Ontario (Canada), across the river from Detroit, Michigan (United States). When he was 10, Scott's family moved to Hazel Park, a Detroit suburb. He grew up listening to hillbilly music and was taught to play the guitar by his father. As a teenager, he pursued a singing career and recorded as 'Jack Scott.' At the age of 18, he formed the Southern Drifters. After leading the band for three years, he signed to ABC-Paramount Records as a solo artist in 1957.

After recording two good-selling local hits for ABC-Paramount in 1957, he switched to the Carlton record label and had a double-sided national hit in 1958 with "Leroy" (#11) / "My True Love" (#3). The record sold over one million copies, earning Scott his first gold disc. Later in 1958, "With Your Love" (#28) reached the Top 40. In all, six of 12 songs on his first album became hit singles. On most of these tracks, he was backed up by the vocal group, the Chantones.

He served in the United States Army during most of 1959, just after "Goodbye Baby" (#8) made the Top Ten. 1959 also saw him chart with "The Way I Walk" (#35).

At the beginning of 1960, Scott again changed record labels, this time to Top Rank Records. He then recorded four Billboard Hot 100 hits – "What In the World's Come Over
You" (#5), "Burning Bridges" (#3) b/w "Oh Little One" (#34), and "It Only Happened Yesterday" (#38). "What In the World's Come Over You" was Scott's second gold disc winner. Scott continued to vacillate between cowboy crooner and rough-edged rocker throughout the remainder of the 1960s and 1970s, recording for a variety of labels, including Capitol, Groove and Dot. In 1974, he managed to have a minor country music hit with his Dot single "You're Just Gettin' Better." In May 1977, Scott recorded a Peel session for BBC Radio 1 disc jockey, John Peel.

Scott had more U.S. singles (19), in a shorter period of time (41 months), than any other recording artist – with the exception of The Beatles. Scott wrote all of his own hits, except one: "Burning Bridges."

His legacy ranks him with the top legends of rock and roll. It has been said that "with the exception of Roy Orbison and
Elvis Presley, no white rock and roller of the time ever developed a finer voice with a better range than Jack Scott, or cut a more convincing body of work in Rockabilly, Rock and Roll, Country-Soul, Gospel or Blues".

In 2011 he was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. More recently Scott was nominated for the Hit Parade Hall of Fame. He is still actively singing and touring today and resides in a suburb of Detroit.(Info Wikipedia)