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ELDER MUSIC: 1961 Yet Again

Tibbles1SM100x130This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.

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There's a truism that the period between Buddy Holly dying, Elvis going into the army, Chuck Berry going to jail, Little Richard finding religion, Jerry Lee Lewis marrying his 13 year old cousin and the rise of the Beatles, Bob Dylan and the rest was a musical wasteland.

Today's column will put paid to that in no uncertain terms. Of course, I might be biased as this was the music that was around when I was in my mid-teens, the time when that sort of thing gets seriously imprinted on one's brain.

There's no better way to start the year than with the incomparable BEN E KING.

Ben E King

Ben first came to my notice as the lead singer of the Drifters. He then had a successful solo career. One of his first hits was one of the finest songs from that time, Spanish Harlem.

It was written by written by Jerry Leiber and Phil Spector and produced by Jerry and his usual writing partner Mike Stoller, not by Spector who was more noted as a producer than a song writer (if you can follow all that).

♫ Ben E King - Spanish Harlem


Another great singer from the period is GENE MCDANIELS.

Gene McDaniels

Gene started out as a jazz singer and that's where he ended up. However, around this time he was persuaded to sing some pop songs. Naturally, he did them better than most of the other singers who were around at the time. This is one of his big hits, Tower of Strength.

♫ Gene McDaniels - Tower of Strength


The Beatles had a big hit with this next song, but THE MARVELETTES did it first and did it better.

The Marvelettes

They had other songs that made the charts but the one for which they are most remembered is Please, Mr. Postman.

♫ The Marvelettes - Please Mr. Postman


CURTIS LEE left his native Arizona and went to New York to break into the music industry.

Curtis Lee

He initially found a little success writing songs with Tommy Boyce (who later became hugely successful in that area with his later writing partner Bobby Hart). Curtis recorded some songs under the direction of Phil Spector that became hits.

Later, without Phil's direction, the hits dried up and Curtis left the music biz. One of his biggies is Pretty Little Angel Eyes.

♫ Curtis Lee - Pretty Little Angel Eyes


FLOYD CRAMER was the go-to man whenever a pianist was needed on a country music recording.

Floyd Cramer

Floyd also recorded a few tracks himself, some of which made the charts. This is one such, an instrumental called On the Rebound. He had a distinctive style and you could always tell when he was present on a record. He was one of the great studio musicians.

♫ Floyd Cramer - On The Rebound


Billy CRASH CRADDOCK was a huge success in Australia, much more so than in his native country.

Crash Cradock

Because of that he toured here often. He later became a successful country singer but he will always be remembered in Oz for his many hits from the time. One of those is One Last Kiss. Bobby Vee was another who made the charts with this one.

♫ Crash Craddock - One Last Kiss


CLARENCE (FROGMAN) HENRY is another fine musician from New Orleans.

Clarence Frogman Henry

His first hit, Ain't Got No Home, was essentially improvised in the recording studio. It was from that song that he gained his nickname. He later toured with The Beatles. After all that he had his own club in New Orleans where he'd perform now and then.

He still appears in festivals (as of the writing of this column). A song of his from 1961 is But I Do, written by Bobby Charles.

♫ Clarence (Frogman) Henry - But I Do


My goodness, ADAM WADE had a great voice. Still does, as far as I can tell.

Adam Wade

Adam started out as a lab assistant to Jonas Salk on the polio research team. He left that to pursue a career in music. He had a number of hits around this time and later turned to television and films. One from this year is Take Good Care of Her.

♫ Adam Wade - Take Good Care Of her


I'm rather surprised that I didn't include this next song in either of the previous incarnations of 1961. I'm going to correct that oversight with THE SHIRELLES.

The Shirelles

I'm also talking about their biggest hit, at least it was around where I lived. I've always put them at the top of my list of female singing groups from the time. Will You Love Me Tomorrow?

♫ The Shirelles - Will You Love Me Tomorrow


I don't know if EDEN KANE was known in America, but he had a major success in both Britain and Australia with the song Well I Ask You.

Eden Kane

Eden was born in India and both his parents were classically trained musicians. He had two older brothers (Peter and Clive Sarstedt) with whom he also collaborated. Peter also had success with the song Where Do You Go to (My Lovely).

Eden (real name Richard Sarstedt) was the first of the brothers to hit the pop charts with this song.

♫ Eden Kane - Well I Ask You


I have a bonus track. Quite some time ago I rediscovered a song from my past, one I hadn't heard or thought about for decades, and thought, "Oh, I have to include that in a column". I found that it was from 1961 and as I hadn't created a third incarnation of the year at the time, that'd be where I would put it.

Time passed and I remembered that I was going to produce a 1961 column but I had forgotten about the catalyst for it. It was only later when I finished that I remembered.

Rather than throw something out, I've included it as an extra. Now, once you hear what it is, you might wonder why I bothered. That's 1961 for you. Here is PAUL EVANS with Show Folk.

Paul Evans

♫ Paul Evans - Show Folk


Comments

You are correct, Peter, I do wonder why. Don't know that I've ever heard "Show Folk", before. I got a good laugh from it.

The Shirelles were aces in my book!

Thanks for continually giving us your take on the oldies.

Peter,

Never commented before but I feel like know you , since Ronni and have talked about your visits to see her and I am a dining friend of Ronni's as well. I love your column and am a child of the 50's and 60's music. I can listen here but how do I find a recording that I can download a few of them on my archaic but useable iPad, Mac laptop etc. Music of the 50 and 60's is not readily available via Apple Music. Sorry if this a terribly naive question, I no longer have my vinyl version or even a turntable any more.

Thanks for all you do and more importantly KNOW.

OK....I could have done without "Showfolk," but the others made me want to go back in time and dance. Always fun to go down Memory Lane through our music.

Some old songs have special memories attached to them. Funny how I can't remember what I had for breakfast but I can sing most of these songs word for word! There is that very special place in our brain where these songs have been stored and you bring them to the front many years later. Thanks.

I didn't recognize Show Boat either. :-) But I enjoyed this trip down memory lane.

Ciao, Peter. And thank you for a delightful - and VERY welcome - bit of escapism from the news. Indeed, it is amazing how a certain song will catapult you into a memory you didn't know you still had.
And, yes, I, too, am wondering about "Show Boat"! :)

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