item 0 >>> Today’s DFHC is a-gonna be entirely about music…HIT or MYTH?…
item 1 >>> The Rolling Stones 1st single was written by the Beatles. MYTH!…Well, it sure would be ironic, wouldn’t it? While the fans split into 2 irreconcilable camps, Beatles versus Stones, the objects of this dichotomy remained good friends from way back. Well, actually, the first part’s a myth, too…there were no camps, everybody liked them both. But here’s the deal…the first record released by the Stones was June 1963, A-side Chuck Berry’s “Come On,” B-side Willie Dixon’s “I Want to Be Loved.” It spent 14 weeks on the UK chart, reaching #21. In November of 1963, their 2nd 45, again only in the UK, was a Lennon-McCartney song “I Wanna Be Your Man,” backed with a self-composed instrumental called “Stoned.” Bigger hit, up to #12. Why’d the Beatles give their song away, one they themselves would also eventually record? Because in those days, they “hustled” their music. There were 2 ways to make money with records: sell yours, or write songs for others and get royalty payments. (That’s what ASCAP and BMI are for…to pay composers, not performers.) The Beatles did both, heavily, and they really were mates with the Stones. The first American record released by the Stones came in March of 1964, Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away” backed with “I Wanna Be Your Man”…it reached #48. The same A-side, with a different B-side, went to #3 in England.
item 2 >>> The Rolling Stones and the Partridge family both did TV commercials for the same breakfast cereal. HIT!…And that cereal is Kellogg’s Rice Krispies. The Stones’ 30-second ditty is raucous and groovy, altho they are not seen in the spot, which is a quick-cut spoof of the TV show “Juke Box Jury,” 1963. In the early 70s, the Partridge Family cast made 2 Rice Krispies commercials. All 3 are of course on YouTube…Wake up Keith!…
item 3 >>> Nobody remembers Georgie Porgie. MYTH!…Because I sure do! 3 days into his senior year in Attleboro, high school student and rock group member George Leonard was told by Principal Joseph Joyce to get the proverbial haircut. This was September, 1964. He and his relatively well-off parents fought this all the way to the Massachusetts Supreme Court, but to no avail, as Northeast teens followed his every battle. Georgie Porgie and the Crybabies then migrated to Florida, and in the years since he’s had any number of interesting gigs, including a spell as “Elvis Sinatra.” Apparently, George Porgie always was a funny, talented, completely straight-laced-except-for-the-hair kind of guy, who never hit it big, but then came from money, so it worked out reasonably well. He’s still bouncing around, and if there’s a ever a New England Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he gets in before Teddy and the Pandas, J.Geils, anybody, capeesh?
item 4 >>> If you love Henry Mancini’s “Peter Gunn” LPs, wait till you see the episodes of the series on DVD! MYTH!…Hank made 2 full LPs with of Peter Gunn music, and of course revolutionized TV soundtracks, substituting cool jazz for strident strings. Heck, even the syndicated western “Shotgun Slade” used anachronistically hip charts, and that was a selling point. But as great as that swinging music was, Brothers Go to Mothers, Dreamsville, The Floater, and all the rest were fleshed-out arrangements based on the brief motifs used on the show. Even the iconic Peter Gunn Theme ran less than 60 seconds at the beginning and end of each half-hour episode. Now when you watch, you will hear bits and pieces you’ll recognize, and a bevy of nightclub singers to boot, but don’t expect to hear Peter Gunn’s greatest hits…didn’t work that way.
item 5 >>> The tune Ernie Kovacs used for his Nairobi Trio skit was recycled a decade later for the Colt 45 Beer commercials. MYTH!… Altho they certainly sound similar, they are in fact different pieces of music, written by different people. The “Song of the Nairobi Trio” was originally titled “Solfeggio,” written by jazz harpist (yes harp, not harmonica!) Robert Maxwell. The title refers to a form of singing where each note is sung with it’s corresponding do-re-mi syllable. The one Kovacs used was Maxwell’s orchestra, with vocals by the Ray Charles Singers, no not that one, the other one, the white one, Perry Como’s Ray Charles. The catchy jingle on the Colt 45 Malt Liquor commercials with Billy Van was written by Canadians Jerry Toth and Dolores Claman, legends of jingledom. Oh yeah, she also composed the Hockey Night in Canada theme in 1968.
item 6 >>> The group Poco was originality called Pogo. HIT!…They signed with Epic records in February 1969, but by April Walt Kelly, the Pogo comic strip cartoonist, got wind of their name and threatened to sue. Name recognition was retained, and presumably letterhead salvaged, by changing Pogo to Poco…the G to C, see? Here’s an flier from 1969, and check today’s Wicked Ballsy, from Billboard’s “Who Who in the World of Music,” issued at year’s end, 1968.
item 7 >>> Paul Revere and the Raiders is the greatest rock group of all time. HIT!…Duh…who’d you think it was?
item 8 >>> Despite the “Ameriachi” label, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass never recorded any real mariachi music. HIT!…And he would admit as much in interviews back in the mid-60s. While certainly inspired by his trips to Tijuana (he was an Angeleno), he was looking to incorporate the excitement, but not the actual style, which is sort of a hurry-up waltz-type deal. The Tijuana Brass’ first 2 albums especially have ethnic influences (well, polka even…) and early publicity described it as “Tex-Mex flavored,” but he was aiming for something else. BULLSEYE!
item 9 >>> The Purple People Eater is called that because he eats purple people. HIT! HIT! and HIT!…It’s hard to believe there’s even a debate about this, but there sure is, boy. And let’s face it, on the surface the name of this guy is ambiguous…does he eat purple people or is he a people-eater who is colored purple? Indeed, when seen, he always is purple, isn’t he. But listen to the damn song! When asked “What’s your line?” he replies “Eating purple people and it sure is fine.” Case closed. He’s purple too, but so what? Sheb Wooley wrote and recorded this classic. Soon after, “The Purple People Eater Meets The Witch Doctor” was written and recorded by Joe South, and covered by the Big Bopper. Sheb came right back with “Santa and the Purple People Eater” in time for Christmas. Man, those were the days…
item 10 >>> The Buoys hit “Timothy” wasn’t really about cannibalism. MYTH!…It absolutely was, and the then 20-year-old composer of the song never denied it, not then, not ever. Here’s what happened…Rupert Holmes (yup, the “Pina Colada Song” guy) was kicking around the music business in the late 60s, and managed to get a band from Wilkes-Barre PA signed to Scepter records, home of Dione Warwick and B.J. Thomas. The deal included one 45, but they knew from the git-go there’d be no promotion of it at all. Rupert figured, why not put out something that would be automatically banned, under the time-honored theory that bad publicity is publicity nonetheless. The mine disaster and subsequent scarfing of poor Tim was inspired by Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “16 Tons”…he thought the description of “a man” in that song sort of sounded like a recipe, and while not a member of the Buoys, he did play piano on the track. The rest is one-hit-wonder history: “Timothy” was one of the slowest rising hits ever, gaining popularity thru word of mouth, as radio stations debated playing it. In some markets, one rival station did, the other didn’t, but of course it was that way with a lot of singles. A blind-sided Scepter tried to push the story that Timothy was a mule, not a person, but Rupert refused to abet the cover-up. And it’s said there’s even a censored version with different lyrics, but I’ve yet to find it.
who ya gonna call? shameless plugbusters…
Resume and audio samples at http://home.rr.com/mastolfi