09 December 2007

Don Argo - 1965/66 artist




Don Argo, a pop singer whom I have no biographic information about.

Don recorded 3 singles for the Nashville Hickory label. See discography below.

I have no other recording information about him, nor have I seen a picture, birth date or whatever. Anybody can help me?

This Don Argo is not the math professor/ writer (book: Canaveral Light). I mailed him, but he does not know his musical namesake.

Don's first (?) record I Love You, Lucy was a local success in Clovis, New Mexico. It hit the KCLV Top 10 in July 1965.

Two follow-up records flopped. Of which Candy Sue shows Don doing a nice Buddy Holly style pop song. I haven't heard the third one.

Any additions will be appreciated!

Discography:

Hickory 45-1318 (1965): I Love You, Lucy / Linda With The Lonely Eyes

Hickory 45-1352 (1965): Blue Heartaches / Candy Sue

Hickory 45-1380 (1966): Go To Him / She's Not A Bad Girl

13 October 2007

Nellie Rutherford - a Northern Soul Hickory label mystery



All I know of this Nellie Rutherford, is that she recorded 2 45-records in 1962. Very interesting records too, for these are covers of Boudleaux/ Bryant, John Loudermilk and Roy Orbison/ Joe Melson penned songs.

After these 2 recordings, she seems to have quit recording.

I haven't got one tiny piece of information about the person Nellie Rutherford. Please help...

Nellie's recordings are catalogued as Northern Soul and Doo-Wop.

"Laughing At Me", can be described as a R&B stomper, with a touch of Harlem Shuffle.

Her cover of "Turn Me On" is an important one. She took the song that was released by Mark Dinning one year earlier. Mark's version treated the song as a crooner's ballad, which did not work. Nellie changed it into a soulful version. Nellie sounds like a black singer, but -recording for Hickory- I would not be surprised if she turns out to be white.
The version by Nellie must have been the inspiration for Nina Simone to record the song in 1966, what eventually led to the mega hit cover of Norah Jones (in 2000). So in a way, Nellie is Norah's grandma.

Listen to a sample of Turn Me On.

Discography:

Hickory 45-1172 (May 1962): Turn Me On (Loudermilk) b/w Laughing At Me (Boudleaux/ Bryant)

Hickory 45-1182 (Sept. 1962): Lavender Lace (Orbison/ Melson) b/w Looking At The Ceiling

16 September 2007

Bobby Wattrell - one 45rpm only?



Bobby Wattrell, [a name that seems to rhyme on: what the hell] who is he...?

I've got this nice 45 rpm of him, but have no information about the singer at all...

The facts: Bobby recorded one 45 rpm record on Magnasound 45-701: Terry b/w Bye Bye Blackbird. One side a John D. Loudermilk song, the other written by Dixon-Henderson. Released December 1963.

Magnasound is a subsidiary label of Monument records. The song is labeled as "A Norro production". Without a doubt this is Norro Wilson, the country singer/ songwriter, who worked for Monument records.

Listen to a sample of Bye, Bye, Blackbird.

Google does not give many clues to the name Bobby Wattrell. He probably hasn't recorded any more as a solo artist.

The family name Wattrell seems to be not very common. Which gives me hope that someday someone somewhere will happen to find my page and be able to tell me more about the singer...

21 July 2007

Bobbi Staff = Barbara Grindstaff

Bobbi Staff recorded a few good pop/ country songs in the second half of the 1960s.
Her real name was Barbara Grindstaff, she was born in Shelby NC, 1946.
According to Tom Armstrong's site she grew up Forest City, NC and was married to a fellow who wound up playing piano on Ralph Emery's TV show.



Though she is labeled a country singer and had a minor C&W hit, the songs are not strictly country but more general teenage Nashville pop music.

Listen to a sample of Pride (1966). A good song with a catchy organ. Composed by Lou Zerto.

Bobbi's discography:

1963, as BARBARA GRINDSTAFF:
Showcase 2500: Have Mercy (Mel Tillis) / Where The Red Roses Grow

as BOBBI STAFF:
1965:
RCA 8689: Where Did the Summer Go (Gary Gold/ Peter Udell) b/w I'm Available (Just For You) (Oct 1965)
1966:
RCA 8333: I Didn't Cry Today (Skeeter Davis) b/w Chicken Feed (#31 C&W hit, Vance Bulla)
RCA 9024: He Can Be Your Baby (Loudermilk) b/w Pride (Zerto)
1967:
RCA 9093: The Red Light Is Green (Robison-Wilson) b/w Straight To Helen (Blackwell)
RCA 9251: Sun Tan and Wind Blown Time (Jean Chapel) b/w I Can't Find My Walking Shoes (Sandra Rhodes)
RCA 9363: He Chickened Out On Me (Alexander) b/w Bobby Blows A Blue Note (Light)
1968:
RCA 9504: Back Away (Fort) b/w Ring Beats A Promise (Briggs-Rule).

I have never seen a picture of the singer and no idea what has happened to her after 1968.
Anyone who can help me...?

UPDATE Feb 2008:
A reaction by anonymous gave me a link to the book about Forest City by Anita Price Davis and James M. Walker, with 2 Staff pictures and more details of her career.

It turns out she sang at a very young age for talent shows. Singing and touring abroad, in Europe in 1957.
Later she performed for 'my' queen Juliana and President LBJ in 1963, (that must have been after Kennedy's funeral??). She was a regular at George Hamilton IV's shows.

UPDATE May 2009:
I was very surprised to find out a 1963 footage of Bobbi singing live on tv still exists!. She is singing "Honey Comb", backed up by The Hayriders, for Dutch television, December 1963. About 99% of all that has been aired on TV those years has gone lost, it seems to be a wonder that the tape with TV-show that had Bobbi's performance has been saved!
Two stills form that show:


See video clip below

And after 1968...? No more details yet.


UPDATE
I've got a reaction on the video from 2 nieces of Bobbi. They wrote: Aunt Barbara is still alive and well and living in Nashville. She has two children, a daughter and a son. Barbara stopped recording and performing around 1969 when she became pregnant with her daughter. Barbara divorced Jerry Whitehurst (performed on Hee Haw) in the late 70 – early 80’s and she never remarried. Aunt Barbara is awesome, they wrote, she is fun, quick witted, and has always been very close to them.

16 June 2007

Sarah Northcutt - RKO artist

Who was Sarah Northcutt who recorded 2 songs on the RKO label? The RKO 1840 release: Leav'n Woman Blues b/w Don't Quit. Both John D. Loudermilk penned songs.

Two great songs. A little blues, folk, jazz. Catchy and moving.
"I came into this world, an innocent baby-girl. My dad played tuba with Lombardo...", what a way to start the song!



Is this RKO Master label a sublabel of the well known 1950s RKO Unique label based in New York?

I haven't found another RKO Master release so far and the numbers and label outlook do not seem to correspond with the RKO Unique releases.
And who was this Sarah, who recorded these two great sides? The Northcutt family genealogy forum could not help me so far.
A Sara(h) Northcutt does not seem to have recorded any other songs.

Update Oct. 2009:
From the Billboard magazine of April 1960, I learned that RKO Master probably was an Oklahoma label. The record was released in April 1960, and got a three-star review. RKO published an add, with a picture of Sarah. She was described as Oklahoma University Coed. For the details see my page.

Update Apr. 2011:
Found! I've got a reaction from Sara's son in law who contacted me with Sara (no H, mistake made by the record company). She now lives in CA and is practising attorney. She just made this one 45 record. Read the story on my page.

13 May 2007

Jay Fanning from Kentucky



Jay Fanning looked like a boxer.
A singer that released 4 records for the Kentucky ACME label. Debuted early 1960 with These Foolish Things b/w Dreamer (his own composition).
In 1961 followed This Green Earth b/w East of the River and West of the Sea, It's Love b/w Be My Sweetheart (even released with picture sleeve! see image), Baby, Baby b/w Your Love, and Church Bells b/w Destiny.

That's all I know so far. No biographical information about the man, no further releases known.
Who can help?

24 April 2007

Cynthia Muse - Kangaroo girl

A complete obscure singer, this girl. She sounds young, has a good voice. She seems to have recorded just one 45. On Dot 16335, March 1962.
The A-side "Kangaroo" is a great swinging, crazy song catching in on the dance craze of those days, the B-side High School Play a sentimental teen song.
Two fine sides.

I haven't any information about Cynthia. I asked music forums, no answers (except for an OZ joker who concocted complete crazy details that obviously were false). I wrote to a few Cynthia Muses (a not completely unusual name) of whom I found an e-mail address, but no match. Her name probably isn't Muse any more, or it might never have been.
Reading an orbituary of a Andrew C. Muse, I noticed he had a daughter Cynthia Muse Watkins. Was this the singer? Andrew done a little music somehow, so his child could have recorded. This Cynthia now is a teacher in Spotsylvania. I wrote the school but no reply.
Help... who was Cynthia?

Update Jan. 2009:
Cynthia is found! When she happened to see this blog on internet, Cynthia mailed me. The 'Kangaroo girl' is still alive and kicking (hopping)!
The music was coming from a young 13 year old, in the year 1962. Cynthia recorded just this one record. She traveled and sang locally and was on early morning tv programs. Fondly called the "little darling of tv".
The Kangaroo song was followed by the Kangaroo Hop dance which was performed by her "friends" at local events. Oddly, the B side of the record High School Play got more play than the A side Kangaroo.
More details are to be added on the John Loudermilk site, at the section of the song Kangaroo.

11 April 2007

Yancy Bond - Swampy soul

Yancy Bond, a singer from down south USA. I've got one 45 of him, from August/September1967 on MGM 13765: You're The Guilty One / Keep Walking On. Good songs, good voice, good production. Produced by Huey P. Meaux, A-side composed by Loudermilk, B-side by Fussell.

He also released on Pacemaker 241: My Baby's Calling b/w Keep Walking On, probably second half 1966.
Pacemaker was a label of the (in)famous Huey 'Crazy Cajun' Meaux.

The song Keep Walking On has got that great New Orleans flavoured band's sound. You're The Guilty One has a great swinging organ that makes it even better than the 1966 Loudermilk original. Two great sides.

That's about all I know about this obscure singer. He may have recorded more on obscure Louisiana labels. Got no idea what else in music or else he did. What he looked like, where and when he lived, what has become of him now.

09 April 2007

Jana Louise - step dance singer from Boston?

Jana recorded one LP and a few 45's for Dot in 1964/65.
The LP has my special interest as it contains all John D. Loudermilk penned songs. John D. remembers the album, but has not met her back then, and doesn't have additional info on Jana, he told me.

What happened since then, where is Jana now? Who is this Jana?
I think Louise is her middle name and she might have been Jana Jensen, Jana Pedersen, Jana Rasmussen or whatever, her father was Danish. She must have been born circa 1944 and grew up in Boston.

Listen to Jana's "They'll Love You", a C&W up-tempo song. Jana's voice is a little sharp, I would say. A little more sweet, gentle or versatile sound in her voice would have given her songs a lot more appeal.

All the info I got about this singer is from the liner notes of her 1964 Dot-label LP "A dixie cup of sand".

From the liner notes:
A sparkling newcomer as a bright new star. Her first professional engagement took place in one of Boston's larger ballrooms at the age of 15 when she was hired for 2 weeks as a replacement. Jana stayed the 2 weeks... and the management added 102 consecutive weeks to the booking.
Jana also had a talent for Irish step-dancing: Jana won over 100 medals and trophies competing throughout the US. Highlight: being acclaimed as national intermediate champion for 2 successive years.
Add to this her skill with the fife and piano, and one realizes that "America's sweetheart" is synonymous with lovely Jana.
Jana's mother is from County Mayo, Ireland, her father a native of Copenhagen, Denmark. She has won several beauty crowns - among them the title of "Miss Shamrock" at the international Auto Show, an also that of "Colleen", which she received for greeting the first travelers to board the newest BOAC jet on its maiden flight from Boston.
Last year, the 19-year-old star appeared at Carnegie Hall, performed with Gordon McRae during a concert in Boston, and sang in well-known ballrooms in New York, Chicago and San Francisco.
A stint at the Berkeley School of Music convinced Jana that professional training is just a simportant as professional experience. With this in mind she plans to enter the American Academy of Dramatic Arts of New York to prepare her for musical comedy, which she aspires.

Who can me tell more about the singer? What was her career after 1965?

Discography, on Dot record label:
45-16618 1964 Dixie Cup Of Sand / Up To My Knees In Happiness
45-16659 1964 Dream Of Him / Paper Doll Harem
45-16718 1965 Goin' Downtown / The Heart I Have To Live With
45-16736 1965 A Boy Like You / Dream Boy (click to play)

DLP-3598/25598 -A Dixie Cup Of Sand [1964]
Side 1: Why Not / The Crying Kind / Up To My Knees In Happiness / They'll Love You / The Heart I Have To Live With / You're Jealous
Side 2: A Dixie Cup Of Sand / Goin' Down Town / Dream Of Him / A Paper Doll Harem / The Little Wind Up Doll / The Magic Circle.

Update:
I received mails from Jana's family.
Jana was born Janice Louise Hansen. Besides her releases on DOT, she did not record any more. She taught Irish dancing for a number of years, and only sings at family functions and charity events. She lives near Boston. She has three kids and her husband is a retired pilot.