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Saturday, 29 August 2015

Johnny Paris born 29 August 1940

Johnny Paris (born John Pocisk, 1940, Walbridge, Ohio, died 1 May 2006, Ann Arbor, Michigan) was the founder, leader and saxophonist in the group Johnny and the Hurricanes.  
Of Polish descent, Paris was born John M. Pocisk in Walbridge, near Toledo, Ohio in 1940. He listened to modern jazz before the arrival of rock'n'roll and after a brief misadventure with trying to learn the tuba, Johnny adopted the sax.. He chose to model himself on Rudi Pompelli, the saxophonist with Bill Haley and the Comets. 
He formed his first band, the Black Cats, later renamed as the Orbits, in Rossford Catholic High School in 1957 and they experimented with rock'n'roll music, sometimes accompanying the rockabilly artist Mack Vickery. In 1959 a vocal group, Fred Kelly and the Parliaments, asked the Orbits to back them on an audition for Talent Inc in Detroit. The partners, Irving Micahnik and Harry Balk, didn't think much of Kelly, but asked Pocisk's group to record instrumentals for their own Twirl label.

As Johnny and the Hurricanes, they recorded "Crossfire" in an disused cinema where, in these primitive times, the sound was bounced around the auditorium to create echo. The single was released nationally by Warwick Records and became a US hit and ranked No. 23 in the U.S. chart in the summer of 1959.  

They followed with "Red River Rock", an instrumental version of "Red River Valley", on Warwick Records, that became a Top Ten hit on both sides of the Atlantic (No. 5 in the U.S., No. 3 in the UK), and sold over a million copies. The musicians in the band then were Paris on saxophone, Paul Tesluk on a Hammond Chord organ, Dave Yorko on guitar, Butch Mattice on bass, and Bill "Little Bo" Savich on drums. 
Reveille Rock and 1960's Beatnik Fly were smaller hits. Like Red River Rock - based on a traditional campfire song of the old frontier - they were overhauls of well-known ditties on which the original melody was easily discernible on a shrill electric organ as prominent as Paris's saxophone. Despite producing some quite adventurous B-sides, the group stuck otherwise to the established strategy of rocking up the likes of When the Saints Go Marching In (as Revival) and the evangelist hymn Bringing in the Sheaves (as Salvation). They chose these songs because they were well recognized and easier to accept with the rock and roll beat.  

Tunes were credited to 'King, Mack' and sometimes one other name, King and Mack were in fact pseudonyms for Harry Balk and Irving Micahnik, the band's managers. In 1960, they recorded the United States Army bugle call, "Reveille", as "Reveille Rock", and turned "Blue Tail Fly" into "Beatnik Fly". Both tunes made the Top 40 achieving number 15 and 25 respectively. The band also recorded "Down Yonder" for Big Top Records. Still in 1960, they recorded "When The Saints Go Marching In" as "Revival", but it ranked in the charts for just one week, and peaked at No. 97. The track fared better in the UK as the B-side of "Rocking Goose", which reached No. 3 in the UK Singles Chart. 

The band developed a following in Europe. In 1962, they played at the Star-Club in Hamburg, where the Beatles, then a little-known band, served as an opening act. Johnny and the Hurricanes cut records until 1965, with "Old Smokie" (their cover of "On Top of Old Smokey"), and an original tune, "Traffic Jam", both on Big Top Records, being their last releases to chart in America.  

Johnny Paris, the only constant member of Johnny and the Hurricanes, continued to tour with his Hurricanes in Europe and United States until his death. Johnny had an uncle (a realtor) in Rossford, Ohio (Johnny's home town) who owned a building on the main street and offered Johnny's first wife (Sharon Venier-Pocisk) space for an antique shop. When not on the road he helped out with the antique shop and vending machine business as payment for the store front for his first wife.

Johnny Paris and his band toured Europe occasionally until the end of 2005. He died on 1 May 2006 at the University Clinic of Ann Arbor, Michigan, of sepsis and pneumonia after a after a splenectomy. He was buried in Calvary Cemetery, Toledo, Ohio.

Paris's second wife and widow, the German journalist and novelist Sonja Reuter Paris, took over his business (Atila Records, Sirius 1 Music and Johnny and the Hurricanes Incorporated) and the rights to his songs and trademarks. Paris claimed that over 300 musicians played in the band in its fifty-year existence.
 (Info mainly Wikipedia & The Guardian)

Here’s a clip of Johnny & The Hurricanes live At Sportpaleis Antwerp 15.03,1997

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For “Red River Rock – Johnny & The Hurricanes” go here:

01 Red River Rock
02 California Here I Come
03 Beatnik Fly
04 Caravan
05 What
06 Marty's Party
07 Crossfire
08 Joy Ride
09 Corn Bread
10 Jay Dee's Boogie Woogie
11 Hot Fudge
12 Hucklebuck
13 Lazy
14 Sheba
15 Walking With Mr Lee
16 Ja-Da
17 Rock-A-Long
18 Reveille Rock
19 Polly Wolly
20 C'est Si Bon
21 Revival
22 Cameron
23 Rocking ''T''
24 Storm Warning
25 Tweedlee Dee
26 Down Yonder
27 Sand Storm
28 Rocking Goose
29 The Third Song
31 Beatnik Fly [Outtake]
31 You Are My Sunshine

A big thank you to Jake @ Jukebox City for link