BIRMINGHAM RECORD COLLECTORS
DEDICATED TO THE COLLECTING OF MUSIC, ITS PRESERVATION AND LASTING FRIENDSHIPS
THIS MONTH’S MEETING
MEETING THIS SUNDAY, APRIL 11TH @ FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF FULTONDALE 1PM
BRC HALL OF FAME MEMBER – SAM FRAZIER
After hearing some encouraging news about the health of Sam last month I am sad to say that he passed away on March 23, 2021. He left quite a legacy of music history behind and will be remembered for his love of music and people. Here is his obituary and info his son also sent.
Sam Frazier, Jr. (b. Aug 12, 1943; d. March 23, 2021) a Birmingham singer who sang the blues, R&B, gospel and country, whose career spans recording in NYC, Birmingham and Los Angeles, Sam came up in the Edgewater neighborhood of Birmingham, played a blues harp and guitar with Johnny Otis in L.A; also sang with the Golden Hummingbirds, a local gospel group, and sang and wrote country music, performing on the Country Boy Eddie early morning TV show on WBRC Channel 6 in Birmingham for some 14 years, the first African American on that show. Up until his recent illness in 2020, he was still performing with his band around Birmingham.
Mr. Sam Frazier will be laid to rest on Saturday April 3rd, 2021. Funeral Services will be held at St. John Baptist Church Edgewater, (7313 Arabia Ave, Birmingham, AL 35224). Public viewing will be held at Robert’s Funeral Home on Friday, April 2nd 2021 starting from 1pm till 6pm. Location:1337 Bessemer Rd, Birmingham, AL 35208. Mask/SD will be required. Final resting location will be at Carver Memorial Gardens, (1020 Minor Pkwy, Birmingham, AL 35224).
With the passing of Sam, we have three guests coming to our meeting Sunday that knew Sam well and will share stories and memories. His son, Reginald will be one of the guests so drop by and meet him and hear memories of his dad. Other guests include owner of the Sound of Birmingham Recording Studio and good friend of Sam for many decades Don Mosley, and Roger Stephenson, volunteer manager for Sam. Please come and hear these men speak about Sam Frazier, Jr.
THE ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME AND DOO WOP – II
Last month’s newsletter did not contain all the info and thoughts on the R&R HOF and Doo Wop as I intended. I sent my thoughts on the subject to two of my Doo Wop mentors and asked them to read over it and then give additions, subtractions or corrections to it for the newsletter. But many personal things got in my way and I didn’t have time to use their contributions as I wanted. So, I am using their thoughts for this month’s newsletter. The two mentors are well versed in Doo Wop and are much more knowledgeable than I am. One spending time in a Doo Wop group and stills sings Doo Wop now and the other doing DJ work on an internet station that played only Doo Wop. I think you will find their contributions very interesting. But before we hear from them, Bill sent this from Wikipedia concerning the term Doo Wop.
Although the musical style originated in the late 1940s and was very popular in the 1950s, the term “doo-wop” itself did not appear in print until 1961, when it was used in reference to the Marcels’ song, “Blue Moon”, in The Chicago Defender, just as the style’s vogue was nearing its end. Though the name was attributed to radio disc jockey Gus Gossert, he did not accept credit, stating that “doo-wop” was already in use in California to categorize the music. “Doo-wop” is itself a nonsense expression. In the Delta RhythmBoys’ 1945 recording, “Just A-Sittin’ And A-Rockin”, it is heard in the backing vocal. It is heard later in the Clovers’ 1953 release “Good Lovin'” (Atlantic Records 1000), and in the chorus of Carlyle Dundee & the Dundees’ 1954 song “Never” (Space Records 201). The first hit record with “doo-wop” being harmonized in the refrain was the Turbans’ 1955 hit, “When You Dance” (Herald Records H-458). The Rainbows embellished the phrase as “do wop de wadda” in their 1955 “Mary Lee” (on Red Robin Records; also a Washington, D.C. regional hit on Pilgrim 703); and in their 1956 national hit, “In the Still of the Night” the Five Satins sang across the bridge with a plaintive “doo-wop, doo-wah.”
By the way, concerning the wiki excerpt above, Bill says: The Chicago Defender is an African-American newspaper founded in 1905 and still going strong. I have never seen a copy of the Chicago Defender article that mentions doo-wop. Perhaps I have looked in the wrong places or just didn’t look hard enough.
Now for the thoughts from the guys:
1. I think that to delve into the subject much further, you would have to get into the many controversies surrounding the RRHOF and the way it picks potential inductees and operates in general. The entire process is hidden under a shroud of mystery. Little information is readily known. You’d also have to answer unanswerable questions like what is R&R? What is doo-wop? I guarantee you that if you pose these questions to any 10 people, you’ll get at least 8 different answers. Why are C&W, Soul, Rap, Hip-Hop artists considered/eligible in the RRHOF? This ain’t R&R. Rap and Hip-Hop aren’t even forms of music let alone R&R (my opinion of course). You’d have to get into payola and record steering since this has had and still has a large effect on record sales. Record sales are one thing that the RRHOF supposedly considers. Why do DJ copies of records say “Play this side”. Record steering for sure. Suffice it to say, many artists and songs from the doo-wop/vocal group harmony category have been snubbed in favor of lesser deserving artists. Going much further would result in a large book that asks a lot of questions but offers few answers. That is hardly the scope of a short article for a newsletter. If you look at the list of current RRHOF candidates (https://futurerocklegends.com/blog.php#unique-entry-id-387) not only has doo-wop/vocal group harmony been once again snubbed, but anything and everything from the beginning of time through the early 60’s is being snubbed. It’s as if music did not exist back then.
Here is a list of artists who have been nominated but never made it into the RRHOF —https://futurerocklegends.com/Artists/A-F/ As time goes on and new artists enter the market, the artists on this list have even less of a chance making it into the RRHOF. Most will be dead if and when it happens. I’ve always thought that honoring someone while they were still alive (barring unforeseen causes of early deaths) was the way to go. I don’t think dead people get much of a thrill when they receive tributes after the fact so to speak.
As you can tell, I’m not a fan of the RRHOF LOL. I think it was a great idea back in the 80’s when it started but since then it has become nothing more than a big business hiding behind tax shelters and calling itself a non-profit. It should be all about the artists and songs but it seems to be about everything but…..the artists and songs. Try to find any useful info on the actual RRHOF site. Good luck. That site drives me crazy. Worse layout than Fakebook LOL.
Read more on sites like https://futurerocklegends.com/ and https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-criteria-for-getting-into-the-Rock-and-Roll-Hall-of-Fame etc. Try to find any useful info on the actual RRHOF site. Good luck. That site drives me crazy. Worse layout than Fakebook LOL. I can understand the need for secrecy in the nominating and electing process but we’ve come to know that nowadays anything that is shrouded in secrecy is probably not above board. If the shoe fits…..
2. What we have in the R&R HOF “doo wop” songs, fun as they are, are those promoted to the white audience, personified by Frankie’s ‘I’m Not a Juvenile Delinquent’. I distinctly remember when the tag, Doowop, became a word and it was around 1970, during the oldies revival period. Doowop was a background lyric in some up tempo records. Period.
Phonographs were more of a luxury in the Black community. Black folks may have heard much more off juke boxes from jobbers circulating discs from independent and local labels and occasionally from Black radio stations. WLAC Nashville had great connections to Ernie’s Records and Randy’s Record Mart for mail order in the south. We heard about Randy’s in NYC when collectors came back from a southern record trip in 1961 to Times Records with tons of 45s. The south and the midwest just had more of the Blues influence than the east coast. The Great American song book (the 40’s) was more of a cover for east coast groups (Orioles, Ravens,Five Keys).
While it is true that everyone no doubt wants to and deserves to make money at their craft, given how this craft is managed, the richness of much great music by the hundreds, maybe thousands, of R&B groups is still hidden to most, with the exception of those collectors, most of whom can appreciate the sound while not always the skill level. There are 45s that are very rare from post 1957 with simplistic 1-3-5 chord structure, not quartet harmony.
The talent that came out of early 50’s segregated high schools and neighborhoods had their idols, those groups that paved the way by both teaching harmony styles and exposing the possibility of recording contracts, not to mention those aspiring entrepreneurs who cracked the label ownership glass ceiling.
Although it’s clear the independents – Erteguns, Herman Lubinsky, Phil and Leonard Chess, Ivin Ballen, the Bihari Brothers, Art Sheridan, Ernie Young, Don Robey and Art Rupe to name a few – recorded great African American soloists and groups, what might we have missed without Johnny Otis, Dootsie Williams, Vivian Carter, Jimmy Bracken, Jack and Devora Brown and later Berry Gordy and Sam Cooke?
The first group of owners cover the following labels: Atlantic, Eastwest, Atco, Savoy, Chess, Aristocrat, Argo, Gotham, Modern, RPM, Flair, Chance, Blue Lake, Nashboro, Excello, Peacock, Duke, Specialty and Fidelity. The second group of owners covers the following labels: Dig, Ultra, Dootone, Dooto, Authentic, VeeJay, Fortune, Motown and SAR.
So maybe those listed in the R&R HOF’s inducted songs can live in the “doowop universe” (but looking at the R&R HOF’s songs, where is the Heartbeats, ‘Thousand Miles Away’ and ‘If I Didn’t Care’, which is on their list is pop, not Doo Wop) and maybe, what I’m listing would be Rhythm and Blues vocal groups. Doowop was often “goofy” like most Coasters’ zillion sellers…Jump tunes for TV bandstands, mostly. Hey, I like them all!!!
So what would be a smattering of my top R&B vocal groups? ( great flip sides as well):
The Wind – The Diablos
Golden Teardrops – The Flamingos
Tabarin – Four Flames
I was Wrong – The Charmers
Heartbreaker – The Heartbreakers
You Did Me Wrong – The Buccaneers
Let’s Have a Ball – The Wheels
So Much – The Orioles (never Crying in the Chapel – their most white sound – choose any of the 25 odd they recorded between 49 and 51, before “Chapel”)
I Made a Vow – The Robins
My Saddest Hour – The Five Keys
Darlene – The Dreams
I’ll Cry When You’re Gone – The Platters
Just Can’t Tell No Lies – The Moonglows
My Girl Awaits Me – The Castelles
Thrill of Romance – The Gaytunes
Romance in the Dark – The Diamonds (on Atlantic), or Cherry, or Two Loves Have I
My Gal is Gone – Five Blue Notes
and here’s a later one, the precursor group to Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes…If You Love Me – The Blue Notes
I could go on but this is a good smattering of what passes for maybe another HOF section: The R&B vocal group.
Well, as you can see everyone has opinions, but I like those from people like Bill and Bob who have spent so much time in Doo Wop and can speak for all the groups out there with 45’s that received very little air play and those groups who do not get enough credit for their influence on music. Thanks, guys.
HAVE YOU HEARD THESE?
Arthur Lee Maye & The Crowns
(Specialty label 1956)
(Maye was born in Alabama and he is the Lee Maye that played baseball for the Milwaukee Braves & Washington Senators)
MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT
(#3 1952 R&B charts)
PLEASE SAY IT ISN’T SO
The Swinging Hearts
(First issued 1961 on the Lucky Four label as ‘Say It Isn’t So’. The title above was also used on Lucky Four and the Diamond label)
Check out our latest BRC Radio shows at birminghamrecord.com. Click on ‘RADIO’ and listen to some long-lost music.