In the mid 1960s, a group called The Detergents released an album of novelty songs, and a couple of them caught on, but one did especially well, a parody of the Shangri-Las’ “Leader of the Pack.” Among that group was a young man named Ron Dante.
A few years later, Dante was chosen to be the lead voice for a fictional band that was tied in with a cartoon series. That band was The Archies, and they had a short string of hits, peaking with “Sugar Sugar” in 1969. Dante provided all the male voices on “Sugar Sugar,” and Toni Wine provided all the female voices. So yes, you appear to hear two women—one singing low and the other singing high—but in fact they’re both Toni Wine.
Wine left the group around the time “Sugar Sugar” became a hit, and the female portion of The Archies’ follow-up single was voiced by someone else. You’ll just have to listen in to find out who that was.
If your favorite podcast software doesn’t have it for you already, you can always click below to listen to/download this week’s episode.
Oh hey! How Good It Is is listed as a featured podcast on the Podcast Republic app! I’m gonna give them some love for a few weeks, you betcha.
The Righteous Brothers were originally part of a larger group called The Paramours. In 1962 they split up, and members Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield began appearing in local clubs in southern California as a duo. One night, when they finished singing a song, a Marine from a nearby base shouted at them, “That was righteous, brother.” When they were signed to Moonglow Records shortly thereafter, they were asked to come up with a name for the act, and they recalled that incident. “Righteous Brothers” sounded about right for them so they ran with it.
About two years later, they were playing in a show at San Francisco’s Cow Palace, where a record producer was conducting the band. That conductor was Phil Spector, who was looking to add some male voices to his Phillies label. Spector’s first move was to hire Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil to write a song specifically for his new act. “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” was the result of that hire.
Shortly after the record was released, the Beatles’ producer, George Martin, got Cilla Black to rush-record a cover for quick release. It started to out-pace the Righteous Brothers’ version, until two things happened: first, the label caught wise to what was going on and flew the Righteous Brothers to the UK for a week-long publicity tour that included some TV appearances. Meanwhile, Andrew Oldham, the manager for the Rolling Stones, spent his own money to promote the version from across the pond. In short order, the American version was topping the UK charts, and Cilla Black’s was dropping rapidly.
Naturally, if you iTunes or some such, you’ve already got this in your library. But if you don’t, you can click on the player below to listen or download.
Oh—and, as promised in the last post, here’s a photo of my basement studio:
The laptop on the left holds my audio elements while the one on the right is my “everyday” machine that I use for recording. The Audacity file you’re looking at is the unedited, unprocessed (via Auphonic) version of this week’s show. You can see I use two mice; one is wireless and the other one isn’t. The wired one is the one that I use for the left-hand machine, because it gives me (I think) more control and that’s where I really need it.
There’s another panel of foam squares just out of frame to the left, and a third one behind me. My mic is on a boom that’s clamped to the table. And that’s my script between the computers and resting on both keyboards.
Sad news from the world of music this week as we learn that Edwin Hawkins has died at the age of 74. I have to confess that this came as a surprise because I started doing the math and realized that Hawkins was in his mid-20s when “Oh Happy Day” became a hit. For whatever reason I thought he was at least twenty years older THEN.
Hawkins was the founder of the Northern California State Youth Choir, and the choir recorded some songs to make a fundraiser album, which unfortunately didn’t get pressed until after the event for which they needed the money. That event was a choral competition, and the NCSYC came in second, perhaps because “Oh Happy Day” wasn’t one of the songs they sang. As it turns out, that wasn’t one of their favorite songs!
The unexpected success of “Oh Happy Day” led to the group being asked to provide the backup singing for Melanie’s tribute to her experience at Woodstock, “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)”.
The Edwin Hawkins Singers experienced some more success on the Gospel charts over the years, and lead singer Dorothy Morrison gained acclaim as a backup singer for several rock artists.
And I’m sure you know the drill by now, but if your RSS feed is failing you somehow, there’s always the player below for listening or downloading:
And please feel free to leave comments here, or leave a review on your favorite podcast software.
Chester (“Chet”) Powers was a musician who was well-known in the café scenes on both coasts, and certainly had his influence on other musicians. He’s also known for being a member of the band Quicksilver Messenger Service. But for all that, he only wrote one song that was any kind of a commercial success, and that was after a virtual parade of artists had already recorded it.
This episode also features a 2-1/2 minute clip from a show called “The Life and Times of Dan Ingram”, a special program that runs for about six hours (no kidding) about one of the greatest disc jockeys of the Rock and Roll Era. It originally aired on RewoundRadio.com a little over a year ago. Thanks so much to Allan Sniffen, the heart of that website and the guy who knows pretty much everything there is to know about WABC-AM’s Musicradio days. And if you go over there, you’ll immediately recognize that this show’s title is absolutely an homage. (No, I didn’t tell Allan that until after he’d agreed to provide me with the clip. Heh.)
Coincidentally (because I’m terrible at planning ahead), I’m typing this post on Thursday evening, September 7. Today happens to be Dan Ingram’s 83rd birthday. Happy Birthday, Big Dan!
I got to meet him back in the summer of 1984 when he was doing the Top 40 Satellite Survey for CBS Radio, and he couldn’t have been a nicer, more giving fellow, especially considering the way my 21-year-old self was sputtering my way through the interview. He had a fabulous way of putting me at my ease. Unfortunately, I no longer have the tape of that interview. (Divorce can be a suck-fest, kids.)
Here’s a link to one of Allan’s other labors of love:
Musicradio77.com is a collection of stories, photos, airchecks and other goodies for anyone who was a fan of WABC in its Musicradio heyday. Click on the music note at left to visit that site.
As usual, if you haven’t subscribed via iTunes or your favorite podcast catcher, you can download the file or just listen right here:
And of course, I wouldn’t complain too loudly if you went to iTunes and gave me a positive review. Even if that’s not your podcast catcher, every little bit helps.