February 24, 2017

440 Tina (1939- ) and Ike (1931-2007) Turner “A Fool in Love” 1960

“She was a good girl who aspired to become a wife, mother, and nurse. It was not until she and her sister moved to St. Louis in the mid-1950s that the future Tina Turner got a taste of the wilder side of life…Anna Mae Bullock entered show business under the guidance of a powerful, charismatic older man…Ike Turner, who was already legendary in the Southern music scene” (Buzzy Jackson, A Bad Woman Feeling Good, 2005). “Tina made her debut as a lead singer on record in 1960 when the singer Ike had enlisted to sing his composition ‘A Fool in Love’ failed to show up for the group’s session” (Gillian Gaar, She’s a Rebel, 1992).  

Ike and Tina Turner “A Fool in Love”

439 Johnny Tillotson (1939- ) “Poetry in Motion” 1960

“we tend to overlook the fact that the famed Nashville Sound not only embraced those famed country singers, but also such pop stars as the Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, Brenda Lee and of course, Mr. Tillotson. Born in Florida, Johnny was raised on country music” (Alan Cackett, Maverick, 2008). 

Johnny Tillotson “Poetry in Motion”

438 Carla Thomas (1942- ) “Gee Whiz (Look At His Eyes)” 1960

“The Stax label was the brainchild of two White music lovers, Jim Stewart and his sister Estelle Axton, who started the label in 1960. The sound was like no other in the industry. Gospel-tinged voices that belonged in the choir of a packed storefront church were now accompanied by slick musicianship to create an unforgettable volume of original music. The label's first hit was ‘Gee Whiz’ by Carla Thomas” (Lottie Joiner, Tony Jones, Crisis, 2003). 

Carla Thomas “Gee Whiz (Look At His Eyes)”

437 Barrett Strong (1941- ) “Money (That’s What I Want)” 1960

“Barrett Strong was a part-time gospel singer and a Ray Charles fan who met the would-be record entrepreneur Berry Gordy in 1957. He cut his first single, the low-fi Let's Rock, for the then tiny Tamla label in 1959, but hit paydirt the following year when Gordy picked up on a riff Strong was playing on the piano and turned it into Money (That's What I Want). One of Motown's earliest and funkiest hits, it established itself as one of the great records of the early 1960s”  (John Clarke, The Times UK, 5/22/2004). 

Barrett Strong “Money (That’s What I Want”

436 The Shirelles “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” 1960

“more important than their string of hits was their role in popularizing the ‘girl group’ sound, the first major rock style associated explicitly with women...’Will You Love Me Tomorrow’ heralded the true start of the girl group era. It was the first major hit for the group (and the first major success for the songwriters, Carole King and Gerry Goffin)” (Gaar, She's a Rebel, 2002). 

The Shirelles "Will You Love Me Tomorrow"

February 17, 2017

435 The Shirelles “Tonight’s the Night” 1960

“The Shirelles laid the blueprint for the 1960s sound—girlish vocals fraught with adolescent idealism and pain, plus quirky arrangements embellished by strings and a dramatic drumbeat” (O’Brien, She Bop II, 2002). 

The Shirelles “Tonight’s the Night”

434 The Shadows “Apache” 1960

Bass guitarist Jet Harris “suggested that the group changed its name to the Shadows to avoid confusion with the American group called The Drifters. With his blond quiff, chiselled features and heavy-lidded eyes, Harris was considered the best-looking member of the Shadows' line-up. They backed Cliff on his first No 1 hit, Livin' Doll, and in July 1960 had their own first hit as a group with Apache” (“Jet Harris,” The Sunday Times (London), 3/20/2011).

The Shadows “Apache”

433 Bobby Rydell (1942- ) “Wild One” 1960

“After Frank Sinatra became an elder statesman, before David Cassidy and Davy Jones took over Tiger Beat and in between Elvis Presley and The Beatles, the pop idol who made the girls swoon was South Philly's own Bobby Rydell. Born April 26, 1942, Rydell won a TV talent show for children and never looked back. He charted with 'Kissin' Time' in 1959, had a string of gold records, became the youngest headliner ever at New York's Copacabana in 1961, [and] starred in the 1963 movie version of Bye, Bye Birdie opposite Ann-Margret and Dick Van Dyke” (Howard Gensler, Philadelphia Daily News, 3/24/2016).

Bobby Rydell “Wild One”

432 Smokey Robinson (1940- ) and the Miracles “Shop Around” 1960

“Robinson was lucky to have encountered Berry Gordy during an audition for another agent; Gordy, then a fledgling music producer on a shoestring budget, was equally fortunate to have found Robinson.… Late in [1960] they released an upbeat single, ‘Shop Around,’ that became a chart-topping million-seller. The Miracles subsequently became a national phenomenon, and Gordy was able to launch Motown Records” (Contemporary Black Biography, 2005).

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles “Shop Around”

431 Elvis Presley (1935-1977) “Stuck On You” 1960

Colonel Parker “wanted to present Elvis Lite…the singer neede a number that could be sung while wearing a conservative sports coat, a white shirt, and a tie. The new Elvis would reflect what middle America viewed as a proper and upstanding citizen” (Ace Collins, Untold Gold, 2005).

Elvis Presley “Stuck On You”

430 Elvis Presley (1935-1977) “It’s Now or Never” 1960

Eddie Fadal: “Elvis didn’t think he could do something as operatic or classical as ‘It’s Now or Never,’ and I think that record gave him a bit of confidence in himself, confidence that he could do anything he really wanted to do” (Elvis Up Close, 1994).

Elvis Presley “It’s Now or Never”

429 Elvis Presley (1935-1977) “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” 1960

Presley was asked by his manager, Colonel Parker, to record his wife’s favorite song. It was an old vaudeville tune from the 1920s, performed by acclaimed singers such as Al Jolson, Vaugh Deleath, and Henry Burr. “RCA Victor was overwhelmed by the final product, and the Colonel’s wife was moved to tears” (Ace Collins, Untold Gold, 2005).

Elvis Presley “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”

428 Roy Orbison (1936-1988) “Only the Lonely” 1960

“Orbison was widely known and respected for his distinctive vocal style. A natural baritone, he displayed a three-octave vocal range and made effective use of falsetto. Dubbed by the media as the ‘Caruso of rock,’ the range and purity of his voice, along with his use of vibrato and the emotional intensity with which he so frequently performed, led many to refer to his performance style as operatic” (American National Biography).

Roy Orbison “Only the Lonely”

427 Mance Lipscomb (1895-1976) “One Thin Dime” 1960

“the first white man to discover Mance’s extraordinary character was, of all people, the legendary Texas Ranger Frank Hamer,” who made Mance his guide in Navasota and returned the favor by telling the young musician “many a story about his growing up days out in West Texas…Mance carried on the tradition of masterful storytelling as well as developing his mastery of blues guitar” (Glen Alyn, Juneteenth Texas: Essays in African-American Folklore, 1996). The Texas Sharecropper and Songster album is listed on the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress.

Mance Lipscomb “One Thin Dime”

426 Brenda Lee (1944- ) “I’m Sorry” 1960

“Her major breakthrough, and the biggest hit of her career, was ‘I’m Sorry,’ which inaugurated a string of ballads that did quite well for her in the early Sixties. ‘I’m Sorry’ was one of the first songs cut in Nashville to feature strings, thereby helping to inaugurate the ‘Nashville Sound’” (“Brenda Lee Biography,” rockhall.com).

Brenda Lee “I’m Sorry”

February 3, 2017

425 Ben E. King (1938-2015) “Spanish Harlem” 1960

Drifters singer Ben King was fired by his manager for requesting a raise. “The only guy that followed me was the same one that came across the street to my father's restaurant and convinced me to join the Five Crowns, who was Lover Patterson. And it was his determination and his I guess feeling that I had something in my voice that he insisted that I stay in the business” (Fresh Air, National Public Radio, 5/8/2015). 

Ben E. King “Spanish Harlem”

424 B.B. King (1925-2015) “Sweet Sixteen” 1960

“King was playing in a nightclub when two guys started a fire during a fight over a woman. King ran out of the building but forgot his guitar; the building fell apart as he retrieved it. ‘I almost lost my life trying to save the guitar. But the next morning, we found that these two guys who was fighting about a lady. I never did meet the lady, but I learned that her name was Lucille. So I named my guitar Lucille and reminded me not to do a thing like that again’” (All Things Considered, National Public Radio, 2015). 

B.B. King “Sweet Sixteen”

423 Johnny Kidd (1935-1966) and the Pirates “Shakin’ All Over” 1960

Early punk guitarist Wilko Johnson said “We started a band about the beginning of 1972. We were into r’n’b music, which wasn’t dreadfully fashionable at that time, but I liked that idea because that’s what I used to play. We had some rehearsals and I was saying, ‘We’ve just got to be like Johnny Kidd and the Pirates.’ My whole style was based on the Pirates’ guitar player, Mick Green. He was my hero and main influence” (John Robb, Oliver Craske, Punk Rock, 2012). 

Johnny Kidd and the Pirates “Shakin’ All Over”

422 Joe Jones (1926-2005) “You Talk Too Much” 1960

“After serving in the Navy during World War II, he trained at the Juilliard Conservatory and then worked as a bandleader at a university in New Orleans. Eventually he broke into the red-hot New Orleans music scene as a big band leader for the likes of blues guitarist B.B. King, playing the piano and arranging music…In 1973, he moved to the Los Angeles area and started an independent music publishing business. He also began devoting himself to helping black artists recoup the rights to their works” (The Atlantic Journal-Constitution, 12/10/2005). 

Joe Jones “You Talk Too Much”

421 Jimmy Jones (1937-2012) “Handy Man” 1960

“The initial ‘COMMA COMMA COMMA COMMA COMCOM’ was neither a punctuational lesson, a political statement, nor a computer program – it was Jimmy’s reaction to a radio station call-letter jingle for Oklahoman KOMA-AM radio. Huge hit, too, firing falsetto with glee and fi-nesse” (Maury Dean, Rock and Roll: Gold Rush, 2003). 

Jimmy Jones “Handy Man”

420 Jimmy Jones (1937-2012) “Good Timin’” 1960

“He began his career as a tap dancer, and in 1955 joined a vocal group, the Sparks Of Rhythm. In 1956 Jones formed his own group, the Savoys, which were renamed the Pretenders in 1956, tracks were recorded in the prevailing doo-wop manner but with no discernible success beyond a few local radio plays in the New York/New Jersey area” (The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 2006). 

Jimmy Jones “Good Timin’”

419 Etta James (1938-2012) “At Last” 1960

“The young Etta James lived in South Central Los Angeles, an urban neighborhood with a then-thriving nightlife and jazz scene but not much to offer young children. One of the few bright spots in her life was St. Paul Baptist Church…and its talented choirmaster, James Earle Hines, a giant figure in the world of gospel music…he recognized her vocal talent and molded her voice from the time she was five” (Buzzy Jackson, A Bad Woman Feeling Good, 2005). 

Etta James “At Last”

418 Elmore James (1918-1963) “The Sky Is Crying” 1960

“Without money and with only a fourth-grade education, he gravitated toward blues music. He constructed a one-string instrument using old broom wire and a lard can (a ‘diddley bow’) and practiced assiduously. By the time he was able to buy his first guitar, he had already become a skilled musician. By the age of fourteen, he was performing in juke joints, in roadhouses, and at catfish suppers, supporting himself during the week as a radio repairman….James was in the U.S. Navy, stationed in Guam during World War II and rising to the rank of coxswain. When he returned to the Delta after the war, he adopted the newly popular electric guitar” (Howard Bromberg, Salem Press Biographical Encyclopedia, 2009). 

Elmore James “The Sky Is Crying”

417 Wanda Jackson (1937- ) “Let’s Have a Party” 1958 and “Fujiyama Mama” 1957

“Her finest rock performance, ‘Fujiyama Mama,’ was quite successful in Japan, but her raw, overtly erotic style scared away most American radio programmers. As a result, the saucy belter didn't score a true national hit until her whooping 1958 remake of Presley's ‘Let's Have a Party’ became a surprise pop top 40 entry in 1960.” During a stressful time in her marriage with Wendell Goodman, they attended a church service at the request of their children; “the couple wholeheartedly embraced Christianity and vowed to change their lives” (Ken Burke, Contemporary Musicians, 2012). 

Wanda Jackson “Let’s Have a Party” 

Wanda Jackson “Fujiyama Mama” 

416 Howlin’ Wolf (1910-1976) “Spoonful” 1960

“After the release of his recording ‘Spoonful,’ Wolf added an enormous cooking spoon to his on-stage arsenal, which he brandished like a phallic symbol in a pagan fertility rite—not even toning down his act for the white wives of Ole Miss alums at a university event that people still talked about years later…But just as much as he pushed the limits on the bandstand, Wolf knew where to draw the line off stage…Wolf knew that his performance antics might shock, but in the less tolerant world of ‘real-life’ Mississippi, liberties of this sort could get you killed” (Ted Gioia, Delta Blues, 2008). 

Howlin’ Wolf “Spoonful”