Month: April 2014

I got the fever, baby, baby, but you’ve got the cure

Rock the Day A Cover of a Cover Hits #1

Good Lovin’ becomes the first #1 hit for The Young Rascals on April 30, 1966. Written by Rudy Clark and Arthur Resnick, the Rascals’ version is a cover of an original first recorded in Canton, Ohio, by R&B singer Limmie Snell under the name “Lemme B. Good.” The Olympics, with wonderful Billy Preston on keyboards, score a minor hit with their version, including almost completely rewritten lyrics, about a month later. Also in ’65, The Who cover Good Lovin’ for their great BBC Sessions. Rascal Felix Cavaliere hears the song on a New York radio station and adds it to The Young Rascals’ repertoire. They are not impressed with their recording and its loose, “live” feel. They don’t think it hangs together. Shows you what it means to be your own worst critic, because most folks associate Good Lovin’ with that Rascals’ hit. In chronological order, here are four versions of Good Lovin’:

Nothing left to burn and nothing left to prove

Rock the Day Coasters, Shondells and a Silver Bullet

April 29, 1928: Carl Gardner is born in Tyler, Texas. He is founder and frontman for The Coasters, a doo-wop group with a huge sense of humor. Gardner forms The Coasters in 1956, and they score hits with a number of Leiber and Stoller songs, including Yakety Yak in 1958:

 

On this date in 1947, Thomas Gregory Jackson is born in Dayton, Ohio. He becomes Tommy James, of  Tommy James & The Shondells, whose 1969 Sweet Cherry Wine mesmerizes:

 

And on April 29, 1980, Bob Seger‘s Against the Wind goes Gold. It is one of “those” songs:

Meet me in a hurry behind the barn

Wynonie Harris

Harris on stage.

Rock the Day R&B Out of Nebraska

Omaha-born Wynonie Harris hits #1 on the R&B chart with Good Rockin Tonight on April 28, 1948. It is a song that will be covered in the future by rockers like Elvis and Paul McCartney. So you could say their sounds are influenced by North Omaha’s burgeoning entertainment culture of the 1930s. That’s where Harris as a young man sings in clubs and performs with pre-1950s African-American musical geniuses like Preston Love. Harris eventually moves to Los Angeles, where his recordings make him an international star. Fittingly, his final major gig is at the Apollo in New York. Cancer will take his life in 1969 when he is just 53 years old. Right out of the heart of Omaha, here’s Wynonie Harris with Good Rockin Tonight:

You want to travel blind

Rock the Day Poetry

Songs of Leonard Cohen, his debut album, is released on April 27, 1968. He is more poet than he is anything else, already having published a book of poetry and a novel. This LP reaches #83 on the Billboard chart in the U.S., and goes to #13 in the U.K., where it will remain on the charts for 18 months. Track 1, Side 1 is Suzanne, a song already made famous by Judy Collins on her 1966 album In My Life. Here is Cohen in rare video of a live performance:

The Titan of Twang

Rock the Day Guitar Man

Duane Eddy is born on April 26, 1938 in Corning, N.Y. He is playing guitar by the time he is 5 years old. His family moves to Tucson and then to Coolidge, Arizona, where at age 16 he obtains a Chet Atkins-model Gretsch guitar. While playing on local radio station KCKY Duane meets DJ Lee Hazlewood, who begins to produce and record him at studios in Phoenix. It is here that Eddy develops his signature rich, low, twangy sound. Hazlewood buys a 2,000-gallon water storage tank for use as an echo chamber, and Eddy’s breakthrough hit Rebel Rouser comes in 1958. TV watchers of the era are entranced by his Peter Gunn Theme. His biggest hit is the theme to the 1960 movie Because They’re Young. Eddy is going strong, still with the Atkins-model Gretsch, to this day. Here is Duane Eddy in 2012 with Because They’re Young:

And the moon is the only light we’ll see

Rock the Day The Word Man

April 25, 1933: Jerry Leiber is born in Baltimore. Today should be a national holiday in Rock Nation. With Mike Stoller, he is part of the most influential song-writing team in rock history. Lieber is the lyricist. You can read about the songs that flow from his pen here. You can’t pick a “best” one. Here are two to get your Friday rockin and rollin right:

Sun is cold and rain is hard | I’m a-walking in the rain | Sometimes love don’t feel like it should

Rock the Day Pulling It Together

All over the map with disparate April 24 threads: Pull them together and you get a pretty cool  morning mini-concert. Douglas Ray “Cosmo” Clifford is born on April 24, 1945 in Palo Alto, California. He is the drummer whose rhythms drive the Creedence Clearwater Revival hit machine. On Cosmo’s 16th birthday in 1961, Del Shannon — proud native of Grand Rapids, Michigan —  releases Runaway. And on Cosmo’s 37th in 1982, John Mellencamp — the consummate Indiana Hoosier — releases Hurts So Good. Give your ears three pleasures:


Pretty woman, look my way

Rock the Day Roy Orbison!

Roy Orbison is born on April 23, 1936 in Vernon, Texas. Depression life is tough and his parents are mostly unemployed. But his daddy gives Roy a guitar for his sixth birthday. We’re all better for that. Like so many other early rockers, Orbison records for Sam Phillips’ Sun Records. He will be taken from us when he is just 52 years old, victim of a heart attack. Put your feet up, listen and remember The Voice:

I was hightop shoes and shirt tails

Rock the Day Brilliant Bass

April 22, 1953:  A 17-year-old James Jamerson takes up residence in Detroit and starts playing the bass. He is the uncredited bassist on most of the Motown Records hits in the 1960s and early 1970s (Motown did not list session musician credits on their releases until 1971) and he is now regarded as one of the most influential bass players in modern music history. If you hear a Motown song, you likely hear Jamerson. Tragically, he is a victim of alcoholism, which takes his life in 1983 when he is just 47 years old. Here’s one example among hundreds. Listen to Jamerson’s exquisite bass line:

Heavy metal thunder | Down at the end of Lonely Street

Rock the Day Wild Writer Born

Mars Bonfire (born Dennis Eugene McCrohan and later known as Dennis Edmonton) is born on April 21, 1943, in Oshawa, Canada. He grows up to become the guitarist for The Sparrows, a forerunner of Steppenwolf, and writes the latter’s mega-hit Born To Be Wild and four other songs recorded by the group. Bonfire is also the older brother of Steppenwolf drummer Jerry Edmonton. Born to Be Wild, of course, is featured in the drugs/bikes/drugs/sex movie Easy Rider:

Speaking of wild, Elvis’ Heartbreak Hotel hits #1 on this date in 1956. It is his first #1. In 1968, it is one of the songs he performs emphatically proving he is still relevant: