BIRMINGHAM RECORD COLLECTORS
DEDICATED TO THE COLLECTING OF MUSIC, ITS PRESERVATION AND LASTING FRIENDSHIP
THIS MONTH’S MEETING
MEETING THIS SUNDAY , JANUARY 10TH @ FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF FULTONDALE 1PM
We will have a special guest with us at the January meeting. Local radio personality, Tony Kurre will be there to talk about his experience in the world of radio. Tony has worked as an on-air personality doing radio DJ work and a host on a sports talk show. His first-hand knowledge of Birmingham radio will be of interest to us all. Hope to see you Sunday.
REMEMBERING TOM SPITZLEY
Since our last club meeting, we lost long-time BRC member Tom Spitzley. Tom passed away due to the Covid-19 virus on Monday, December 14. Tom was a member of BRC for at least 30 years. During that time he served as an officer making sure the record show was a success each year and helping make sure that monthly club meetings were all they should be. Over the past 30 plus years I would be surprised if he missed more than a handful of monthly meetings. The club and the people of BRC were very important to him. Those of us that knew him know how hard he worked for the club. His input, help and advice will be missed.
AND THEN I WROTE
One thing I learned over the years from being around so many record collectors is to read the record labels and see who wrote or produced the song. It has become a habit now and I have been amazed at some of the people behind the scene of recordings, whether a hit, an LP cut or a song that didn’t make the charts. Many times I come across familiar names as a beginning songwriter before they hit the big time as a singer.
A while back I was playing a Brenda Lee 45 and as I do, I checked out the songwriter. I was surprised when I saw who it was so I just started looking at other Brenda Lee records and it was a Who’s Who list of people, some of who would become hit makers on their own and some who are well-known songwriters. So, what I thought I’d do is list some of Brenda’s hits and the songwriters who wrote for Brenda over the years.
Let’s begin in 1957 with her 2nd hit, ‘Dynamite’. Tom Glazer and Mort Garson co-wrote this hit. Both are names that most of us won’t recognize but Glazer did have a hit with the parody, ‘On Top Of Spaghetti’ in 1963. If you are familiar with the Andy Griffith movie, ‘A Face In The Crowd’, Glazer wrote the score for that. Don’t confuse this Tom Glazer with Tompall Glaser. And just a side note, Garson, the other writer was quite a musician. He was a pioneer in electronic music putting out LP’s in the 1960’s and 70’s that were the first to feature Moog synthesizers. He also wrote Ruby & The Romantics, hit, ‘Our Day Will Come’.
Brenda’s next hit was ‘Sweet Nothin’s’. This is the song I mentioned at the beginning that I was playing that got me interested in searching who else wrote her other hits. It did so because Ronnie Self was a co-writer along with Dub Allbritten. Ronnie had a one charted song, ‘Bop-A-Lena’. It went to #68 in 1958. And by the way that song was written by Webb Pierce and Mel Tillis. “Bop-A-Lena has been called by some as the first punk rock song. Ronnie also recorded a song entitled ‘Aint’ I’m A Dog’ which is a great rocker. And a side note here is that the other co-writer, Dub Allbritten became Brenda’s manager during her early years.
This same song writing team of Self & Allbritten penned her next hit as well, ‘ I’m Sorry’. This song was Brenda’s first #1 hit and it would be called her definitive song as well as called by some as the ‘finest teen pop songs of its era’. Recorded in early 1960 but held back a few months due to concerns by Decca label’s personnel about a 15-year-old girl singing about unrequited love. The flip side of this song was ‘That’s All You Gotta Do’ which was written by Jerry Reed. This was the song that gave Jerry the ability to move to Nashville and continue his career and what a career it was to be. Reed also wrote ”Born To Be By Your Side’ which charted for Brenda in 1967 making it to #134.
Let’s move to late 1960 and check out a song written by Mel Tillis. ‘Emotions’ charted at #7 the last week of 1960. Tillis wrote many hits for Webb Pierce including ‘I Ain’t Never’. He also ‘Detroit City’, a big hit for Bobby Bare and Kenny Rogers, ‘Ruby, Don’t take Your Love To Town’.
In 1961 she hit #101 with ‘It’s Never Too Late’ written by Jimmy Seals who would later become part of the duo, Seals And Croft. This song was the flip side of ‘You Can Depend On Me’ which hit # 6. Seals was 19 at the time and had been in numerous local bands and even became a member, along with Dash Croft of the band, The Champs who had already had the hit, ‘Tequila’. Seals also spent some time in 1959 as a member of Eddie Cochran’s touring band. He later became of member of Glen Campbell and the GCs. Writing a hit by Brenda Lee wasn’t this guy’s first dive into the music world but at such a young age it showed how knowledgeable he was in the music world and was one of the stepping stones for a very successful career. Jimmy Seals came from a family of musicians and performers. His brother was ‘England’ Dan Seals and he’s the cousin of Troy Seals (Jo Ann & Troy), Brady Seals (Little Texas) and Johnny Duncan.
‘Dum Dum’ made it to #4 on the charts in 1961. It was co-written by Jackie DeShannon and Sharon Sheeley. I doubt I can write anything about DeShannon that most people don’t already know. She has done so much from her first appearance at age 6 on a country radio program in her home state of Kentucky to even now. At age 11 she was hosting her own radio program. After two years of high school, she left and continued her singing career and would sign with the Gone Record label and in 1958 be with Liberty. It was the Liberty recordings, ‘Buddy’ and ‘Trouble’ that was heard by Eddie Cochran who had her come to California where she met Cochran’s girlfriend Sharon Sheeley who was a singer-songwriter. DeShannon, born Sharon Lee Myers, her stage name came about after executives at Liberty changed it to Jackie Dee but being too similar to Brenda Lee and Sandra Dee, she chose Jackie Dee Shannon but people heard it as DeShannon and it stuck. This team also wrote #52, ‘So Deep’, #15, ‘Heart In Hand’ (the flip side, ‘It Started All Over Again’, reaching #29 was co-written by Gerry Goffin) and # 73, ‘He’s So Heavenly’. DeShannon also wrote Brenda’s #48 , ‘Alone With You’ (the flip, ‘My Dreams’, #85 was co-written by Dan Penn) and # 135, ‘He’s Sure To Remember Me’.
The song writing team of Ronnie Self and Dub Albritten mentioned above claim the flip side of ‘Dum Dum’ which was another hit for Brenda. ‘Eventually’ made it to # 56. They also wrote the flip side of ‘Fool #1’, ‘Anybody But Me’ which made it to # 31. Ronnie Self wrote her # 6 hit, ‘Everybody Loves Me But You’ and # 70, “Sweet Impossible You’.
I’ll have to finish with some quick hits: Dorsey Burnette was a co-writer of Brenda’s 1962, #89 song, ‘Here Comes That Feelin’ ‘ and ‘Time And Time Again’ which in 1966 went to #126. Alabama’s own and Fame record label founder, Rick Hall wrote a 1963 hit entitled ‘She’ll Never Know’. It reached # 47. ‘Whispering’ Bill Anderson co-wrote ‘My Whole World Is Falling Down’ which hit #24 in 1963. Barry Mann co-wrote ‘The Grass Is Greener’ which made it to #17. Buzz Cason, who can boast quite a career in the business also, wrote ‘The Waiting Game’ which made it to # 101. Hopefully you are familiar with Harlan Howard’s work (‘I Fall To Pieces’ for one). He wrote ‘Too Many Rivers’ for Brenda, a 1965 hit which made it to #13. Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman got into the act with ‘No One’, making it to #98. And Marvin Hamlisch wrote ‘Too Little Time’, # 123. Prolific songwriter, David Gates wrote the # 77 hit, ‘Ain’t Gonna Cry No More’. C/W singer, Liz Anderson (Lynn’s mother) wrote ‘Ride, Ride, Ride’, #37. Brenda recorded George Jones’, ‘Take Me’, #126. Dallas Frazier (‘Elvira’) wrote ‘Johnny One Time’ which made it to #41 in 1969. Toni Wine (‘A Groovy Kind Of Love’ &’Candida’) co-wrote ‘I Think I Love You Again’ which made it to # 97. And last but definitely not least, Kris Kristofferson wrote ‘Nobody Wins’, # 70 in 1973. Check out this song which Frank Sinatra also recorded – both very good recordings of a very good song written by an excellent songwriter.
Well, gotta go. What a career Brenda has had and what a bunch of great writers she took material from and there were probably a who’s who of musicians who backed her on the recordings. And these only come from her pop career (62 charted songs) not including her C/W hits.
Check out our latest shows at birminghamrecord.com. Click on ‘RADIO’ and listen to some great music.
REMEMBER THIS ONE?
Please Mr. Sun
Tommy Edwards – 1958 # 11 on pop charts
HEY! HAVE YOU HEARD THIS ONE?
The Tams – 1959 (from Philly not Atlanta)