BIRMINGHAM RECORD COLLECTORS
DEDICATED TO THE COLLECTING OF MUSIC, ITS PRESERVATION AND LASTING FRIENDSHIP
THIS MONTH’S MEETING
MEETING THIS SUNDAY, JUNE 13TH @ FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF FULTONDALE 1PM
NEXT MEETING, JULY 11TH.
THIS MONTH’S MEETING AND MORE
We had scheduled for our June meeting, Dave White, aka Brother Dave The Birmingham Rave but he has had to postpone until later in the year. He is going to get over here so keep tuned. But never fear, for the June meeting we have asked BRC member Pete Pitts to be our guest speaker. Pete also has a radio career and will bring among other things, some air-checks and radio cartridges to share with us.
Next month’s meeting will be dedicated to getting our postcards ready for the mail. We send out over 1500 postcards to previous attendees to remind them of the show. We need all hands on deck to help get the stamps and address labels put on them and ready to be mailed.
With just over 2 months before our record show we have many of our members helping gets things in place to make the show another success. What we will be needing will be people a the door. Please step up and volunteer for an hour or two or more.
THE BIRTH OF ROCK & ROLL PROJECT
We come to the end of Mike’s Birth of Rock & Roll Project. The journey was both fun and informative and this last installment will not be any less. Thanks again to Mike for his time and efforts.
Part 25: New Orleans: Little Richard – ‘Ready Teddy’ Recording Date: May 9, 1956, J&M Recording Studio, 840 N. Rampart Street, New Orleans LA.
Richard Penniman, a/k/a Little Richard, age 24: Vocal, Piano
Lee Allen, age 29: Tenor Saxophone
Alvin “Red” Tyler, age 31: Baritone Saxophone
Edgar Blanchard, age 32: Electric Guitar
Frank Fields, age 42: Acoustic Double Bass
Earl Palmer, age 32: Drums
Robert “Bumps” Blackwell, age 38: Session Leader, Arranger
Songwriters: John Marascalo and Robert Blackwell
In May of 1956 Little Richard had been a professional musician for nine years, playing 200 or more dates every year in segregated Black venues on the “Chitlin’ Circuit”. For many of those years, he had been bound under a recording contract with Duke/Peacock records in Houston, Texas as a Blues, R&B or Gospel artist, with little success. In 1955 Robert Blackwell, a talent scout, bandleader, pianist, songwriter and arranger for Specialty Records in Los Angeles, CA, bought out Richard’s contract, went with him to New Orleans, and hired Allen, Tyler, Blanchard, Fields, and Palmer to play on Richard’s recording sessions. The rest, as they say, is Rock & Roll history. All those musicians were among the elite in New Orleans, with 15 to 25 years of experience playing live and in the recording studio, and their skill and professionalism can be easily heard on this selection. The session leader, Blackwell, had over 20 years of experience as a Jazz, R&B and Jump Blues piano player, bandleader, songwriter, arranger, and talent scout. Blackwell had a commercial musical ear for what was new and different, what would put money in the juke boxes and the record store cash registers, what was danceable, and what would entertain people when performed by elite musicians and vocalists. As Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes” raced up the Billboard Hot 100, R&B and Country charts in February, March and April 1956, Blackwell was listening. The song structure and stop time breaks in “Ready Teddy” are very similar to “Blue Suede Shoes”, both records are in the new Rock & Roll form, but “Ready Teddy” has no electronic recording tricks. It is a recorded live performance in the studio by musical pros who had been playing six nights a week for the last 10, 20, 25 years. These cats could really play. What Blackwell was after was the same thing that Richard, Presley, Sam Phillips, Perkins and the others were after: Something musically new and different to energize an integrated radio audience, white and black , who would put the coins in the juke boxes and buy the records.
“Ready Teddy” was written by a 25 year old, unemployed, unknown Italian-American college dropout named John Marascalo, from Grenada, MS, who was a fan of Little Richard. He wrote the tune with Richard in mind, tracked down Robert Blackwell in New Orleans, and played the tune for him. Blackwell made a deal with Marascalo to share songwriters credit with him. Blackwell made changes to the arrangement, cut the record on May 9, and had the Specialty 45 in juke boxes, on the radio, and in the record stores by June of 1956.
Ready Teddy was a #1 Billboard R&B chart hit, and in a very conservative, segregated time, the record had enough sales to white customers to take it to the #44 position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The record immediately began to be covered by Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and ,to date, 43 other artists. During Presley’s first appearance on the CBS television Ed Sullivan Show, he performed “Ready Teddy”. The Sullivan show on that evening, September 9, 1956, received a Trendex percentage share of 82.6 (60 million viewers), the largest rating ever obtained in the history of U.S. television broadcasting.
John Marascalo became a very successful songwriter after “Ready Teddy”. Continuing his songwriting partnership with Robert Blackwell, he co-wrote “Rip It Up” , recorded by Little Richard and 92 other artists; “Good Golly Miss Molly”, recorded by Richard and 72 other artists; “Be My Guest”, recorded by Fats Domino and 26 other artists; and many other songs.
Little Richard was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. He has received many other musical awards during his long career in the music business. Two of the most talented Guitarists in the history of Rock & Roll, Jimi Hendrix and Travis Wammack, led Little Richard’s band and toured the world with him in the 1960s.
Those who have been with BRC for a long time will remember a newsletter staple entitled Baer-ly Speaking written each month by BRC member Howard Baer. I have some old issues of the newsletter that have these articles in them which Howard gave me permission to reprint. Taken from the November 1997 issue of the BRC newsletter here’s Howard’s Baer-ly Speaking.
Singer Ron Holden passed away a few months ago. Unlike John Denver there were no bulletins on CNN. His death did not even rate a couple of paragraphs in the daily paper. And understandably so. Holden was little known to the general public. He won’t be in the Hall of Fame, there won’t be any tributes on MTV or VH-1. No current performer will cite him as an inspiration or influence.
But for all of us old enough to remember when his ‘Love You So’ first came out in the summer of 1960 and who loved this strange new music called rock and roll, we had to shed a tear. It was a magical sound, a magical record. Records like ‘Love You So’ was why we liked this new music that we sometimes had to defend. It was different. It was good.
I was too young to have a girlfriend in 1960, but I’m sure many teenagers fell in love with one another while dancing/listening to ‘Love You So’. It’s the perfect love song, but a Frank Sinatra or Eddie Fisher or a Nat King Cole could have never done it. That’s what made it different, why we liked it so much, what made it rock and roll. I think Ron Holden touched more lives than he would ever know with his perfectly simple, or maybe just simply perfect little record from 1960.
Love You So