Saturday, 31 August 2013

Arthur Godfrey born 31 August 1903

Arthur Morton Leo Godfrey (August 31, 1903 – March 16, 1983) was an American radio and television broadcaster and entertainer who was sometimes introduced by his nickname, The Old Redhead. He was strongly identified with one of his sponsors, Lipton Tea.

Running away from home at the age of 15, Arthur Godfrey held down scores of short-term jobs, sleeping on park benches whenever funds ran low. Despite his itinerant lifestyle, Godfrey was
extremely ambitious, gleaning his formal education from the International Correspondence School and twice attempting to launch a naval career. Along the way, he discovered that he had aninnate skill for self-promotion and salesmanship, a combination that enabled him to tour as a vaudeville musician despite a minimum of musical talent.

In 1929, "Red Godfrey, the Warbling Banjoist" went to work for a Baltimore radio station WFBR. This led to a better job at NBC's Washington, D.C. affiliate, thence to a disc jockey at CBS' Washington outlet. Eschewing the declamatory style prevalent among radio pitchmen, Godfrey adopted what he called the "one guy" approach, delivering commercials, introducing songs, and casually dispensing small talk as if talking to one person rather than thousands.

In the early '40s, he gained nationwide popularity as a staff
announcer at CBS, briefly serving as announcer for Fred Allen's show. His career turning point came with his emotional coverage of President Roosevelt's funeral in 1945, which attracted the attention of network bigwigs and resulted in his own coast-to-coast morning program. Immediately winning a huge audience with his calm, straightforward style, Godfrey used his program to introduce a whole slew of talented newcomers, which he dubbed "the Little Godfreys." At one time or another, his staff of regulars included Julius LaRosa, Marion Marlowe, the McGuire Sisters, Pat Boone, Anita Bryant, announcer Tony Marvin (who stayed with him the longest), and orchestra leader Archie Bleyer. In addition to his morning show, he also hosted Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts; and in 1949, he moved into television, gaining ever greater success. 


At one point, it was estimated that Godfrey's programs generated 12 percent of CBS' TV revenues, making him one of the most powerful men in show business. As his influence grew, so did his ego; he held court over his "Little Godfreys" like a banana republic dictator, and made grandiose, arbitrary demands upon his home

network. Publicly the soul of affability, the private Godfrey was a volatile, unpredictably temperamental man, forever reminding his minions, "I made you all and I can break you at any time."

On October 19, 1953, Godfrey's huge radio and TV audience received its first real evidence of their idol's despotism when he fired singer Julius LaRosa on the air. As other members of the Godfrey entourage got the ax over the next few years, his disillusioned audience began to dwindle. Further nails in his coffin came with two à clef films inspired by the Godfrey phenomenon, The Great Man (1956) and A Face in the Crowd, both of which centered around powerful media icons with
feet of clay. Godfrey's popularity enjoyed a short resurgence in 1959 when he survived a delicate operation for lung cancer, but public sympathy can sustain acareer only so long. By 1960 he was completely off television save for a hosting job on Allen Funt's Candid Camera. Making his screen debut with a guest spot in 1963's Four for Texas, he played his first full-fledged screen role in The Glass-Bottom Boat (1966), playing Doris Day's father.

On April 30, 1972, 27 years to the day after its debut, Godfrey's daily radio program was canceled by mutual agreement between the star and his network. He continued appearing on TV as a commercial spokesman, earning a short flurry of press coverage
when he broke his contract with the Axion company because he felt that the product was a pollutant. He made several attempts in the 1970s at a TV comeback, but was never able to achieve that goal, partly because he was incapable of compromising his own values, and partly because he'd made too many enemies over the years.

When Arthur Godfrey died in 1983, his obituary, which once upon a time might have been a headline story, was tucked away in the back pages -- an ignominious finale for a man who, for better or worse, was a true television giant. (Info ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide)

 N.B. I spotted a posting about Arthur Godfrey on one of my favourite blogs "A Trip Down memory Lane"

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Dinah Washington born 29 August 1924

Dinah Washington (August 29, 1924 – December 14, 1963) was a blues, R&B and jazz singer. Because of her strong voice and emotional singing, she is known as the Queen of the Blues.Despite dying at the early age of 39, Washington became one of the most influential vocalists of the twentieth century.

Washington was born Ruth Lee Jones in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Her family moved to Chicago while she was still a child. As a child in

Chicago she played piano and directed her church choir. She later studied in Walter Dyett's renowned music program at DuSable High School. There was a period when she both performed in clubs as Dinah Washington while singing and playing piano in Sallie Martin's gospel choir as Ruth Jones.

Her penetrating voice, excellent timing, and crystal-clear enunciation added her own distinctive style to every piece she undertook. While making extraordinary recordings in jazz, blues, R&B and light pop contexts, Washington refused to record gospel music despite her obvious talent in singing it. She believed it wrong to mix the secular and spiritual, and after she had entered the
non-religious professional music world she refused to include gospel in her repertoire. Washington began performing in 1942 and soon joined Lionel Hampton's band. There is some dispute about the origin of her name. Some sources say the manager of the Garrick Stage Bar gave her the name Dinah Washington, while others say Hampton selected it.

In 1943 she began recording for Keynote Records and released "Evil Gal Blues", her first hit. By 1955 she had released numerous hit songs on the R&B charts, including "Baby, Get Lost", "Trouble in Mind", "You Don't Know What Love Is" (arranged by Quincy Jones), and a cover of "Cold, Cold Heart" by Hank Williams. In March of 1957 she married tenor saxophonist Eddie Chamblee, (formerly on tour with Lionel Hampton) who led the band behind her. In 1958 she made a well-received appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival.


With "What a Diff'rence a Day Makes" 1959, Washington won a Grammy Award for Best Rhythm and Blues Performance. The song was her biggest hit, reaching #8 on the Billboard Hot 100. The commercially driven album of the same name, with its heavy reliance on strings and wordless choruses, was slammed by jazz

and blues critics as being far too commercial and not in keeping with her blues roots. Despite this, the album was a huge success and Washington continued to favor more commercial, pop-oriented songs rather than traditional blues and jazz songs. Along with a string of other hits, she followed this with "September In The Rain", which reached number 35 in the UK in November 1961 and #23 in the US. In 1960, she also had two top 10 hit duets with Brook Benton: "Baby (You've Got What t Takes)" and "A Rockin' Good Way (To Mess Around and Fall In Love)". She also dealt in torch songs; her rendition of the popular standard "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" was well regarded.

Her vocal style has influenced many of her successors, and can still
move modern listeners. She was married seven times, and divorced six times while having several lovers, including Quincy Jones, her young arranger. She was refined, highly intelligent, deeply spiritual, and infinitely tasteful in her style. She was a liberated woman before such a term existed. Legend has it that she wore mink in all weathers and carried two .45 pistols with her. Although she had a reputation as imperious and demanding, many found her loving, funny, generous and forgiving.

Washington, who was just 5'2" tall and had fought a weight problem all her life, was dieting to lose weight before a New Year's Eve party she was giving with her friend Bea Buck. Early on the morning of December 14, 1963, Washington's seventh husband Lane went to sleep with his wife, and awoke later to find her
slumped over and not responsive. Doctor B. C. Ross came to the scene to pronounce her dead. An autopsy later showed a lethal combination of secobarbital and amobarbital, which contributed to her death at the age of 39. She is buried in the Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois.

The verve and originality she brought to her music, and that glamorous distinctive voice, is named by countless singers (and music lovers) as the ultimate voice. And Washington’s music remains as relevant, thrilling and fabulous as ever. Tuscaloosa is honoring Dinah Washington August 29th 2013 with the grand opening of the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center.  (info mainly Wikipedia)

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Ethel Azama born 28 August 1934

Ethel Azama (August 28, 1934 – March 7, 1984) was an American jazz and popular singer and recording artist. She sang regularly in nightclubs and other concert venues between the mid-1950s and 1984. She was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii and was of Okinawan ancestry. She was a Nisei or second-generation Japanese American.

She started her professional career in 1955 as an emcee at the Oasis nightclub in Honolulu. The club served as a venue for musical revues from Japan. In 1956, she began working as a standards singer in U.S. military clubs on Oahu such as The Cannon Club on Diamond Head. Pianist Paul Conrad usually served as her accompanist for her gigs. Conrad also wrote many of her arrangements. By 1957 she was singing at Waikiki Beach nightclubs as the opening act for headliners such as popular singer Herb Jeffries and blues singer and guitarist Josh White.

                    Here's "Green Fire" from above album. 

With the help of bandleader Martin Denny, Azama obtained a one-album deal with Liberty Records (1957–58). She released the album Exotic Dreams in 1958, which Paul Conrad arranged, on which she sang standards, including "Speak Low" and "Autumn Leaves". She sang a few hapa-haole numbers and a Japanese folk song on the album. She made had her singing debut on the American mainland in January 1959 when she appeared at Ye Little Club in Beverly Hills, California.

 Pop singer Jimmie Rodgers attended one of her shows and persuaded Liberty Records executives to allow her to record another LP. The 1959 album, Cool Heat, consists entirely of American standards. Ethel sings a mix of ballads such as "My Ship" (music by Kurt Weill and lyrics by Ira Gershwin) and "Like Someone in Love" (music by James Van Heusen and lyrics by Johnny Burke) and rhythmic tunes such as "Johnny One Note" (music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Lorenz Hart).

From 1959–60, she sang in nightclubs in Los Angeles, New York City, and Chicago. She also appeared in Las Vegas casinos on bills with jazz and standards singer Mel Tormé and with the jazz vocal group The Four Freshmen. In May 1960, she appeared on a national network variety special titled, Music on Ice. Azama sang several songs on the hour-long special which also featured French figure skater Jacqueline Du Bief, Japanese dancer Takeuchi Keigo, and singer-host Johnny Desmond.

She moved to Australia in the early 1960s and appeared regularly in nightclubs there and also on Australian television and radio. She married her Australian piano accompanist Johnny Todd in 1964. They performed together in several nightclubs in Hong Kong, including the Eagle's Nest at the Hong Kong Hilton Hotel.


During the late 1960s, Ethel and Johnny Todd settled permanently in Honolulu where Ethel gave birth to their two children. She resumed singing in Waikiki Beach nightclubs as a soloist and occasionally paired with local standards singer Jimmy Borges. She had minor acting roles on several episodes of the television series Hawaii Five-O in the mid-1970s.

She continued to sing on a regular basis in nightclubs and other public venues on Oahu until her sudden death from a cerebral aneurysm in 1984, aged 49. (Info Wikipedia)

N.B. As you can see there is only one photo on the Internet of Ethel. I searched for ages but to no avail. If anyone can help with any others please drop me a line.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Sylvia Telles born 27 August 1934

Sylvia Telles (27 August 1934 -17 December 1966) also known as Sylvinha Telles was a Brazilian jazz samba and bossa nova singer of the 1950s and 1960s.

Sylvia Telles was born in 1934 in Rio de Janeiro to a Brazilian father and a French mother. The family were fans of classical music. In her teens, Sylvia studied dance, and dreamed of

becoming a ballet dancer. But soon after she took up theater classes, and that was when she realized she had a talent for singing.

In 1954, a family friend, the composer-lyricist Billy Blanco discovered Sylvinha’s musical abilities and went on to introduce her to the legendary composer and guitarist, Garoto. In that same year she met her first boyfriend, João Gilberto, who later went on to become synonymous with the bossa nova style. The relationship didn’t last, because Sylvia’s father didn’t think João Gilberto was suitable for her, given that he had no regular job or home at the time and moved from place to place,
living off the good graces of others.

In 1955, Sylvinha was invited to perform in Garoto’s new show, “Gente de Bem e Champonhata” at the Teatro Follies de Copacabana. Her duet on the song “Amandinho torradinho” (Roasted Peanuts), with her soon-to-be husband, Candinho, was a hit with the public, and their success landed them co-host roles on the television musical program “Música e Romance” which first aired in 1956. In that “I Love Lucy”-style live broadcast, Sylvinha and Candinho played themselves, hosting numerous popular musicians of the day, who came to their “house” to perform and chat in a kind of cozy, salon-like atmosphere.

In the following year, 1957, Sylvinha recorded her first solo LP, Carícia, which featured lush orchestral arrangements by Maestro Léo Peracchi of songs by A.C. Jobim, Tito Madi, Garoto and others. Also in 1957, she gave birth to her only daughter, Claudia Telles. Claudia went on to become a well-known singer and performer in her own right.

Even after enjoying a certain level of fame and success from her live performances, television shows and recordings, Sylvinha stayed involved with the grass-roots developments of Bossa Nova. For example, she regularly took part in the now legendary musical evenings at the apartment of Nara Leão, another important bossa nova diva. These musical get-togethers served as a kind of musical and social networking laboratory for the burgeoning musical genre, and many of the later stars of Bossa Nova participated, offering up new compositions and stylistic innovations that eventually became the trademarks of the style.

Here's "Discussäo" from the 1959 album "Amor de Gente Moça"                     

Two of the hallmark shows in the development of Bossa Nova took place in Rio in the late fifties. The first was at the Hebrew Group University in 1958. The other was the “I Festival de Samba Session” held at the Faculdade Nacional de Arquitetura. The shows are historically important because they brought together many of the leading lights of the emerging genre on a single stage. The 1958 show is also famous for being the occasion where the term “bossa nova” is said to have first been coined. Sylvia was one of the key performers at both shows.

It was at this time that musician and producer Aloysio de Oliveira became a big part of Sylvinha’s life. Aloysio is known as one of the most important record producers of Bossa Nova. After working for Odeon and Philips, Aloysio went on to start his own record label, Elenco, which became the leading label for definitive Bossa Nova
recordings. In 1961, Aloysio began to manage Sylvinha’s career. Aloysio, who had previously toured the USA as a performer with Carmen Miranda, organized Sylvinha’s first trip to the USA. There she recorded the album “Silvia Telles USA”. The working relationship developed into a fiery romance. Sylvinha divorced Candinho in 1963 and soon after, married Aloysio. The marriage is reported to have been quite rocky. Sylvinha apparently even set fire to her dressing room at one point after a jealous spat with Aloysio. Considering the dramatic ups and downs of their relationship, it is no surprise that the two separated only a year later, in 1964.

1964 was a significant year for Sylvia for other reasons, some good and some bad. Once again she was a key perfomer in an important
bossa nova show, this time at the Paramount Theater in São Paulo. By that time, Bossa Nova had become an international sensation. The show, called “O remédio é bossa”, featured a cast of performers who by then had achieved star status for their roles in the genre, and it was perhaps one of the last big shows of Bossa Nova’s golden years. Sadly, after the success of the show, Sylvinha’s luck started to run out. She had a serious car accident and had to be repeatedly hospitalized.

Two years later, Sylvinha had recovered and was back on stage.
She went on tour with Edu Lobo, another vocal star of Bossa Nova. Her last performance, with Edu, took place in West Germany. After the tour, Sylvinha was back in Rio, and now romantically involved with Horacio de Carvalho. But once again tragedy struck—and this time it was terminal. Sylvia and Horacio were driving out of town on the freeway when Horacio reportedly fell asleep at the wheel. The ensuing car crash took both Sylvinha’s and Horacio’s lives. She was only 32 years old. (Info Bossa Nova daydreams)

Monday, 26 August 2013

Vic Dana born 26 August 1942

Vic Dana (b. 26 August 1942) is an American dancer and singer.

Vic Dana was born Samuel J. Mendola. The son of Samuel Mendola and Giovinni Vallardo in Buffalo, New York. At the age of 9, his parents enrolled him in a dance class to help him overcome his shyness. After a few weeks when he began to capture all of
the local amateur entertainment awards, his interest increased.

When Dana was 11 years old, Sammy Davis Jr. came through Buffalo on tour and caught Dana's impromptu performance at a local night club. he was impressed enough to offer the young man a contract, but Dana's tender years made this impossible. However  
influenced by Davis, the Dana family moved to California, where young Dana worked on his dancing and also studied singing. In 1960, he toured as a solo act, appearing on the same bill as the Fleetwoods, of whom he became lead singer (for live performances only), replacing original vocalist Gary Troxel when Troxel went into the U.S. Navy. Dana also signed for the Fleetwoods record company, Dolton.

He is best known for his 1965 recording of the Sid Tepper & Roy C. Bennett song "Red Roses for a Blue Lady" that was a Billboard Top Ten hit single. His album of the same title made it into the Top

Twenty. Other hit recordings on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the 1960s: "Little Altar Boy", "I Will", "More", "Shangri-La", "I Love You Drops" and "If I Never Knew Your Name." "I Love You Drops" was written and recorded by country singer Bill Anderson, and was popular enough to be recorded by others including Don Cherry and Teresa Brewer. He also scored a chart record in 1970 with Neil Diamond's "Red Red Wine," years before it was turned into a number one hit by UB40. 

His last nationally charted record was Larry Weiss' "Lay Me Down (Roll Me Out To Sea)" on the Casino label, which hit the top 20 on
Billboard's "Easy Listening" survey. Six Dana songs reached the Music Vendor (later Record World) charts without appearing in the Billboard charts. Dana may not have forged a unique musical identity, but his recordings bridged the gap between teen idol pop and adult contemporary, making him the sort of sturdy and versatile MOR vocalist who enjoyed steady album sales but not spectacularly successful singles. 

Vic Dana is one of those artists the hyper-critics loved to pan as a purveyor of "schlock." For instance, Irwin Stambler, the author of the so-called "Encyclopedia Of Pop, Rock And Soul" showed his disdain when he didn't even consider him worthy of mention. Nor did Rolling Stone in their Album Guide. But, much to their consternation, Vic enjoyed immense popularity in the 1960s.

Dana continued performing and recording into the 70's but eventually retired from the entertainment industry and now now sells used cars in Paducah, Kentucky. 

Footnote: With eyes like midnight and rolling waves of ebony hair, boyishly handsome Vic Dana reportedly wrote the song "Danger" after just a single date with Annette Funicello, whom he'd met on the set of her film "Beach Party." The song became a minor hit, climbing all the way to #96 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles charts in June of 1963. Humiliated, Funicello took the advice of good friend Shelley Fabares and swore she'd never speak to Dana again. She's kept her promise to this very day—except for that time in 2003 when she unwittingly bought a used car from him in Paducah, Kentucky.

 (Info edited from various scant sources)

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Bob Crosby born 25 August 1913

Bob Crosby (August 25, 1913** Spokane, Washington - March 9, 1993 La Jolla, California) was an American Dixieland bandleader and vocalist, best known for his group Bob Crosby and the Bob Cats.(** some sources give 23rd August)

He was the youngest of seven children: five boys, Larry (1895-1975), Everett (born 1896), Ted (born 1900), Harry (1903-1977, popularly known as Bing Crosby) and Bob; and two girls, Catherine (born 1905) and Mary Rose (born 1907). His parents were English-American bookkeeper Harry Lowe Crosby
(1871-1950) and Irish-American Catherine Harrigan (1873-1964), the daughter of a builder from County Mayo in Ireland.

Bob Crosby began singing in the early 1930s with the Delta Rhythm Boys, which included vocalist Ray Hendricks and guitarist Bill Pollard, and with Anson Weeks (1931–34) and the Dorsey Brothers (1934–35). He led his first band in 1935 when the former members of Ben Pollack's band elected him their titular leader.

Crosby's "band-within-the-band," the Bob-Cats, was an authentic New Orleans Dixieland-style jazz octet featuring soloists drawn from the larger orchestra, many of whom were from New Orleans or were heavily influenced by the music of the Crescent City. In the mid 1930s, with the rise of "swing" music and the popularity of the 
swing bands ever increasing, the Crosby band managed to authentically combine the fundamental elements of the older jazz style with the then-rising-in-popularity swing style, presaging the traditional jazz revival of the 1940s. Crosby's singing voice was remarkably similar to that of his brother Bing, but without its range.

The orchestra was one of the few bands of its time established as a cooperative corporation of its members, and it was managed/presided over by saxophonist Gil Rodin. The band was initially formed out of the ruins of the Ben Pollack Orchestra, whose members quit en masse. Needing a vocalist, they chose Crosby simply for his personality, looks, and famous surname. He was made the front man of the band, and his name became the band's public identity. In the spring of 1940, during a performance in Chicago, teenager Doris Day was hired as the band's female vocalist. 

 The Bob Crosby Orchestra in 1940 — Front row, l. to r.: Max Herman, Eddie Miller, Doris Day, Bob Crosby, Warren Smith; Second row: Jess Stacy, Doc Rando, Irving Fazola, Billy Butterfield, Gil Rodin; Back Row: George Koenig, Ray Bauduc, Nappy Lamare, Ray Conniff, Bob Haggart, Bob Peck (source:

The Bob Crosby Orchestra and the Bob Cats included (at various times) Yank Lawson, Billy Butterfield, Muggsy Spanier, Matty Matlock, Irving Fazola, Ward Silloway, Warren Smith, Eddie Miller, Joe Sullivan, Bob Zurke, Jess Stacy, Nappy Lamare, Bob Haggart and Ray Bauduc.


Hits included "Summertime" (theme song), "In a Little Gypsy Tea Room," "Whispers in The Dark," "South Rampart Street Parade," "March of the Bob Cats," "Day In, Day Out," "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby," "Dolores" and "New San Antonio Rose" (last three with Bing Crosby). A remarkable bass and drums

duet between Haggart and Bauduc, "Big Noise From Winnetka," became a hit in 1938-39.

During World War II, Bob spent 18 months in the Marines, touring with bands in the Pacific. His radio variety series, The Bob Crosby Show, aired on NBC and CBS in different runs between the years 1943 to 1950, followed by Club Fifteen on CBS from 1947 through 1953 and a half-hour CBS daytime series, The Bob Crosby Show (1953-1957).

Crosby and The Bobcats were successful on radio and television. He was the orchestra leader for "The Jack Benny Show" on radio, taking over from Phil Harris, and then on television. He had his

own daytime TV show, "The Bob Crosby Show", on CBS from 1953 to 1957. Crosby wanted an evening slot and, in 1958, NBC put the show on in the evenings as a summer replacement for Perry Como, but it did poorly in the ratings and was canceled. He made his last film in 1959, costarring in the Red Nichols musical-biography, The Five Pennies (1959), in support of Danny Kaye.

After his TV show was canceled and his movie career came to an end, Bob Crosby focused on a solo career, although he occasionally reformed the Bobcats for concerts and recordings. In the early 1970s, he toured with a package orchestra and later played with
local pick-up bands into the 1980s.

The enduring popularity of the Bob Crosby Orchestra and the Bob Cats - whose biography was written by British jazz historian John Chilton, was evident during the frequent reunions in the 1950s and 1960s. Bob Haggart and Yank Lawson organized a band that kept the spirit alive, combining Dixieland and swing with a roster of top soloists. From the late 1960s until the mid-1970s, the group was known as The World's Greatest Jazzband. Since neither leader was happy with that name, they eventually reverted to The Lawson Haggart Jazzband.

Bob Crosby died in La Jolla, California on March 9, 1993 from cancer. Though Bob pretended to find being the brother of superstar Bing Crosby amusing, in 1958 it admitted it was a sore point. "It got so bad that whenever someone asked me what my occupation was, I used to answer automatically Bing Crosby's brother". He has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, for television and recording.(Info edited mainly from Wikipedia)

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Arthur Crudup born 24 August 1905

Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup (August 24, 1905 – March 28, 1974) was an American Delta blues singer, songwriter and guitarist. He is best known outside blues circles for writing songs such as "That's All Right" (1946), "My Baby Left Me" and "So Glad You're Mine", later covered by Elvis Presley and dozens of other artists.

Arthur Crudup was born in Forest, Mississippi, United States. For a time he lived and worked throughout the South and Midwest as a migrant worker. He and his family returned to Mississippi in 1926. He sang gospel, then began his career as a blues singer around Clarksdale, Mississippi. As a member of the Harmonizing Four, he visited Chicago in 1939. Crudup stayed in Chicago to work as a solo musician, but barely made a living as a street singer. Record producer Lester Melrose allegedly found him while he was living in a packing crate, introduced him to Tampa Red and signed him to a recording contract with RCA Victor's Bluebird label.

He recorded with RCA in the late 1940s and with Ace Records, Checker Records and Trumpet Records in the early 1950s and toured throughout the country, specifically black establishments in the South, with Sonny Boy Williamson II and Elmore James (around 1948). He also recorded under the names Elmer James and Percy Lee Crudup. He was popular in the South with records such as "Mean Old 'Frisco Blues", "Who's Been Foolin' You" and "That's All Right".

Crudup stopped recording in the 1950s, because of further battles over royalties. His last Chicago session was in 1951. His 1952-54 recording sessions for Victor were held at radio station WGST in Atlanta, Georgia. He returned to recording with Fire Records and Delmark Records and touring in 1965. Sometimes labeled as "The Father of Rock and Roll", he accepted this title with some bemusement.

Un-gratified due to the loss of royalties, he would refer to his admirer Presley as 'Elvin Preston'. Throughout this time Crudup worked as a laborer to augment the non-existent royalties and the small wages he received as a singer. Crudup returned to Mississippi after a dispute with Melrose over royalties, then went into bootlegging, and later moved to Virginia where he had lived and worked as a musician and laborer. In the early 1970s, two local Virginia activists, Celia Santiago and Margaret Carter, assisted him in an attempt to gain royalties he felt he was due, with little success.

From the mid-1960s, Crudup returned to bootlegging and working as an agricultural laborer, chiefly in Virginia, where he lived with his family including three sons and several of his own siblings. On the Eastern Shore of Virginia, while he lived in relative poverty as a field laborer, he occasionally sang and supplied moonshine to a number of drinking establishments, including one called The
Dew-Drop Inn, in Northampton County, for some time prior to his death from complications of heart disease and diabetes. On a 1970 trip to the U.K., he recorded "Roebuck Man" with local musicians. His last professional engagements were with Bonnie Raitt.

There was some confusion as to his actual date of death because of his use of several names, including those of his siblings. He died of a heart attack in the Nassawadox hospital in Northampton County, Virginia in March 1974.

Crudup was honored with a marker on the Mississippi Blues Trail placed at Forest. (Info Wikipedia


Friday, 23 August 2013

Wynona Carr born 23 August 1924

Wynona Carr (August 23, 1924 – May 12, 1976) was an African-American gospel, R&B and rock and roll singer-songwriter, who recorded as Sister Wynona Carr when performing gospel material.

Unless you are a big fan of the 1950s gospel sound chances are you will never have heard of Wynona Carr. But under different
circumstances you certainly would know about her today - right up there with LaVern Baker, Brenda Lee, and Connie Frances who were just about the only female solo vocalists singing R&R to hold their own with the original male giants.

Born August 23, 1924 in Cleveland she was an accomplished pianist by the time she was 8 years old and when she turned 13 she was admitted to the Cleveland Music College where she studied voice, harmony, and musical arrangement. Before long she was being heard in Baptist churches around the region, and when she

turned 20 she moved to Detroit to assume the directorship of a church choir.

After later forming The Carr Singers, and while on tour in the late 1940s, Wynona came to the attention of J.W. Alexander of the
gosel group The Pilgrim Travelers who, after arranging a demo recording, sent it to Art Rupe of Specialty Records. He signed her to a recording contract and in 1949 she cut the gospel tunes Each Day and Lord Jesus backed by a session combo which included pianist Austin McCoy. When released it immediately evoked comparisons to the already famed Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

The enterprising Rupe, in fact, soon changed her billing to Sister Wynona Carr in time for her next planned release. However, I'm A Pilgrim Traveler was a thinly-disguised gospel version of the old blues song St. James Infirmary, coupled with I Heard the News (Jesus Is Coming Again) which also borrowed heavily from the 1948 R&B hit Good Rockin' Tonight. Rupe chickened out at the
last minute, deciding that both the similarity to R&B and Blues and her energetic delivery were too far ahead of their time for gospel lovers in 1949.

Carr, meanwhile, continued to tour and it wasn't until June or July of 1952 that she recorded The Ball Game which, in relating a confrontation between Jesus and Satan, became a huge gospel hit. By 1954, and now back in Detroit, she was the director of the choir at the New Bethel Baptist Church, presided over by the Reverend Cecil L. Franklin, father of the then 12-year-old and future super-star Aretha. She also performed publicly with Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Marie Knight until, in 1957, she decided to try her hand at this new R&R craze sweeping the nation.



Still with Specialty, her first release, minus the "Sister", was the plaintive Should I Ever Love Again? b/w the jumping Till The Well Runs Dry. The A-side, I'm certain, would have registered high on the Billboard Pop Top 100 had she been able to promote the record through public appearances. But, just as the release was climbing the R&B charts in March [it peaked at # 15], she was diagnosed with tuberculosis. That effectively put her out of action until 1959 by which
time Specialty felt it was too late to make up lost ground.

She would later record briefly for Sinatra's Reprise label and then close out the 1960s back on the Cleveland night club circuit. In the 1970s her health deteriorated to the point where she avoided all public contact, and on May 12, 1976 she passed away at age 52.  (Info from various sources)