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Monday, 11 June 2018

Pookie Hudson born 11 June 1934


Thornton James "Pookie" Hudson, ( 11 June 1934 - 16 January 2007) was the lead singer of one of the finest doo-wop groups of the 1950s, the Spaniels.  

The warm singing on his own composition "Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight" (1954) is truly romantic and, although the Spaniels lost sales to a bland cover by the McGuire Sisters, their original version has become the best known and is heard in such films as Three Men and a Baby (1987), Diner (1982) and American Graffiti (1973). Hudson's singing has been praised by James Brown and Jerry Butler, while Aaron Neville has commented, "Pookie had the hippest style of all the doo-wop singers. He was so smooth and tender. Gerald Gregory would be leaning over Pookie's shoulder with that deep voice. He'd shake the room."  

Thornton James Hudson was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1934 but the family moved to a housing project in Gary, Indiana, when he was two. He acquired the nickname of Pookie because he would regularly soil his trousers, a name that unfortunately stayed with him. His relations included Fats Waller and Josephine Baker and he became immersed in music at a young age, loving the vocal harmonies of the Ink Spots. He sang in church and in his late teens he was singing in clubs as part of the Three B's, their repertoire being bop, ballads and blues.  

A teacher at Roosevelt High School asked him to form a group for a Christmas show and he was so pleased with the results that he formed a close harmony group with himself as lead vocalist, Ernest Warren (first tenor), Opal Courtney Jnr (baritone), Willis C. Jackson (baritone) and Gerald Gregory (bass). When Gregory's wife joked that they sounded like a bunch of dogs, they became the Spaniels.

Vivian Carter and Jimmy Bracken, the owners of a local store, Vivian's Record Shop, borrowed $500 to convert a garage into a recording studio. They could spot talent and the first two releases on their Vee Jay label, in July 1953, were "Roll and Rhumba" by Jimmy Reed and "Baby It's You" by the Spaniels. "Baby It's You", written by Hudson and Gregory, was taken up by Chance Records, who released it nationally and it made the R&B Top Ten. Carter became the group's manager and soon they were touring the United States.


 
                             

When Hudson was walking home from a girlfriend's house, the idea for "Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight" came to him. The Spaniels recorded the song in 1954 and it might have been a million-seller had it not been covered by a white group, the McGuire Sisters. The song crossed over to the country market with a version by Johnnie and Jack.

The DJ Alan Freed closed his rock'n'roll show every night with the Spaniels' version and, when they played the Apollo Theatre in New York, they stole the show from Big Joe Turner. They appeared in Las Vegas but had to be housed with black residents as none of the hotels would allow them to stay there. 

"Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight" may be an innocent song, but Hudson was to have a complex love life. He married a 15-year-old girl when he was 20 and, over the years, he was to marry five times and father seven children. He had to beat off the advances of LaVern Baker, who was "too pushy" for his tastes. He talks frankly about himself in the 1994 biography of the Spaniels, Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight, by Richard G. Carter. The book explains how he was cheated out of his songwriting royalties and describes his fondness for illegal substances.  

The Spaniels had further successes with "Let's Make Up" and "You Painted Pictures" (both 1956), but the group's personnel changed because of conscription. Hudson was usually around and they recorded a gospel ballad, "(You Gave Me) Peace of Mind" (1956), and had another hit with "Everyone's Laughing" (1957).

Among their more unusual records are an up-tempo version of the standard "Stormy Weather" and a reworking of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "People Will Say We're in Love" with a different melody. They strayed into the Coasters' territory with "The Posse". 

Hudson went solo in 1961. After working odd jobs for many years and struggling with alcoholism also being homeless for a time, he succeeded in recovering most of his song writing credits and by the end of the decade was a fronting a Spaniels line-up which embraced soul music and had some success with "Fairy Tales" (1970). 

In 1991 the Spaniels received a Smithsonian Institution award for their contribution to American music, and they performed with Hudson at various festivals. In 2005, Hudson came to the UK for a vibrant solo performance at a rock'n'roll festival at Hemsby. 


Hudson died on January 16, 2007, after a lengthy battle with cancer. Courtney, Jr. died on September 18, 2008, after suffering a heart attack. Ernest Warren died in May 2012 in Gary, Indiana, at the age of 78. (Info mainly edited from The Independent obit)

Here's the original group performing on "Spaniels night" - 3-1-97

3 comments:

boppinbob said...

For “The Spaniels - Goodnight, Sweetheart 1953-1961”
Their Two Original Albums Plus Both Sides of Their Singles and More, go here:

https://www32.zippyshare.com/v/qornetB1/file.html

Disc 1

GOODNITE IT'S TIME TO GO (VEE JAY LP 1002) 1957
1. GOODNIGHT, SWEETHEART, GOODNIGHT
2. BOUNCE
3. THE BELLS RING OUT
4. PLEASE DON'T TEASE
5. THIS IS A LOVELY WAY TO SPEND AN EVENING
6. DO YOU REALLY
7. YOU GAVE ME PEACE OF MIND
8. BABY IT'S YOU
9. I NEED YOUR KISSES
10. LETS MAKE UP
11. PLAY IT COOL
12. YOU PAINTED PICTURES
13. HOUSE CLEANING
14. DOO WAH
THE SPANIELS (VEE JAY LP 1024) 1960
15. I KNOW
16. BUS FARE HOME
17. ONE-HUNDRED YEARS FROM TODAY
18. CRAZEE BABY
19. HEART AND SOUL
20. STORMY WEATHER
21. EVERYONE'S LAUGHING
22. LITTLE JOE
23. THE POSSE
24. SO DEEP WITHIN
25. BABY SWEETS
26. I LOST YOU

Disc 2

THE SPANIELS
1. (GET AWAY CHILD) YOU DON'T MOVE ME
2. DON'CHA GO
3. HEY SISTER LIZZIE
4. FALSE LOVE
5. DEAR HEART
6. WHY WON'T YOU DANCE
7. SINCE I FELL FOR YOU
8. BABY COME ALONG WITH ME
9. JESSE MAE
10. I O U
11. YOURE GONNA CRY
12. LUCINDA
13. GREAT GOOGLY MOO
14. TINA
15. HERE IS WHY I LOVE YOU
16. LOVEY DOVEY BABY
17. I'M GONNA THANK HIM
18. A ROCKIN' GOOD WAY
19. BABY IT'S YOU
20. TREES
21. I LIKE IT LIKE THAT
22. THESE THREE WORDS
23. AUTOMOBILES
24. RED SAILS IN THE SUNSET
25. PEOPLE WILL SAY WE'RE IN LOVE
26. MEEK MAN
27. (I LOVE YOU) FOR SENTIMENTAL REASONS

This is the most complete Spaniels package yet! For the first time their complete A and B sides of all their Vee-Jay Singles plus both of their original album releases are all featured on this great 2CD set.
Includes the classics: 'Baby It's You' and 'Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight' as featured on numerous TV commercials and in movies. This is yet another superb R&B release for Jasmine that adds to the ever growing collection of early R&B groups and artists!

A big thankyou to Mijas @ ACM2 blog for original post.

Unknown said...

Wonderful group, great selection. Thanks!
Slim

Tel said...

WOW What A Great Post
Cheers
Tel