Newsletter for May 2020



Due to the virus outbreak all Birmingham public libraries are closed until further notice. When info on the month of June is posted I will pass along our plans at that time. Take care during this time and we will get together ASAP.


Had a few things come to mind while sitting this virus out so I thought I’d take on a couple of subjects. Here we go.

First off, at our March meeting, you know, the one where we actually met at the library, we talked about cover songs. Using YOUTUBE we had those in attendance mention some covers they wanted to share. There were some really good ones. I meant to put some of those titles in the last newsletter but got sidetracked and didn’t do it. So I thought I’d do it this month.

Bobby Vinton released ‘Blue Velvet’ in 1963 taking it to #1. It was first recorded in 1951 by Tony Bennett backed by the Percy Faith orchestra. Between Bennett’s release and Vinton’s, five R&B / Doo Wop groups recorded it. The Clovers, the Moonglows, The Statues, the Paragons and the Dubs. The Statues took it to #84 in 1960 and the Clovers version charted on the R&B charts at 14.

Staying with the Clovers, in 1956 they released ‘Devil Or Angel’ and it went to #3 on the R&B charts. Four years later Bobby Vee released his version and it charted on both the Pop and the R&B charts, #6 & 22 respectively. Just a month after Vee’s release the Hollywood Flames released their version on the Atco label but it failed to chart. Give that one a listen somehow someway if you like Doo Wop. It is a very good version. Anybody got a copy? I’m looking.

‘Mary Lou’ was recorded and released in 1959 by Ronnie Hawkins charting at #26 on the pop charts. But it was originally done by the composer, Young Jesse in 1955. His version never charted but is well worth listening to. Jesse did another version in 1963 making quite few changes in style. There was someone else we know that released a version of the song two years before Hawkins but that version never charted. It was Buddy Knox. His version is a little more upbeat than Hawkins.

The Little Dippers (session players Floyd Cramer, Bob Moore, Hank Garland, and others along with the Anita Kerr singers) released the Buddy Killen composition, ‘Forever’ in 1959. It would go to #9 on the pop charts. Over the years three other releases would chart including Billy Walker, Mercy, and Pete Drake. Drakes version would chart higher than the other covers going to #25. Drake used his ‘talking steel guitar’ to sing the lines. A real nice version of a good song. One more thing about the composer, Buddy Killen. He put together a quartet to go on Dick Clark’s Bandstand where they lip-synched the song.

‘My Prayer’ was a big hit for the Platters in 1956 going to the top of the charts in both pop and R&B. The song was originally recorded and released in 1939 by Ambrose and His Orchestra. It must have been a very popular song during 1939 since it was released by many artists including the Ink Spots, Glenn Miller, and one of my favorite voices from that era, Vera Lynn. Glenn Miller and The Ink Spots did make the national chart during ’39 with their versions. It has been recorded by many artists since the Platters version but their version was the highest ranking one.

One last cover was a version of Brewer & Shipley’s ‘One Toke Over The Line’. Thanks to YOUTUBE the version can be watched with amazement since I doubt they recorded it on vinyl for release. Please go to YOUTUBE and check this song being sung on the Lawrence Welk show by Gail Farrell and Dick Dale (not that one). I have to share two comments left on YOUTUBE about this being on the Welk show. Someone said they couldn’t wait for the Lennon Sisters to do ‘The Pusher’ while another wrote his comment using a Lawrence Welk voice saying – “Awunnderful, awunnderful, now let’s listen as our lovely champagne lady Norma Zimmer performs her rendition of ‘Eight Miles High’. An’-a-1 an-a 2” There are stories that people got fired for this but I can’t confirm it.

Moving on, if you use Charter Cable there is a network that is devoted to the music world. AXS TV has some very good programing if you want concerts, documentaries, variety programs and on, and on. I don’t know what channel it may be on other cable or satellite companies but on Charter it is 759. They have a program that comes on quite often called ‘The Top Ten Revealed’. I was watching the other day and they listed their top 10 British Invasion groups. These are groups that hit the US charts during 1964-67. For the most part I agreed with their list but questioned a couple. I will give their list and then you can compare with what you think. I don’t know what the criteria is but the host does say viewers can vote on-line. Here we go:

10 – The Hollies – Not a group I consider part of the invasion but they did fit the criteria of being between 1964-67 by having a US charted hit in 1964 although their breakout year was 1966. A real good group with lots of talented & creative musicians.

9 – Dave Clark Five – One of my favorites. I always enjoyed the drums and Dave Clark always kept the beat going with his drumming. They came out rockin’ and then slowed the pace a little over the years with heir style.

8 – Herman Hermits – Would not be on my top 10 list but they gave us some fun music. I guess I liked their first hit best – ‘I’m Into Something Good’. But I liked Earl-Jeans’ original better.

7 – The Yardbirds – I would have this group a little higher when you consider their early stuff. Loud, rockin’, bluesy, and loaded with guitar rock. Probably one of the first or at least earliest guitar rock bands. Who else had three guitarist like Clapton, Beck and Page come through their ranks?

6 – The Animals – You could tell this group loved R&B and the blues. Burdon was hard to beat as a lead singer.

5 – The Zombies – A little different style group. Good music, good musicians. Had a more stoic look than many of the early groups.

4 – The Kinks – Really rocked early on but then kinda went another direction. But that is not a complaint. Would have on my top 10 list.

3 – The Who – Definitely one of the best. Before they made the charts they covered some early US rockers but then they mainly did their own compositions. Townsend is probably underrated among British songwriters and guitarist.

2 – The Rolling Stones – Would be my #1. Couldn’t get enough of their music. And still going nearly 60 years later.

1 – The Beatles – Early on they were what I called the best cover band around. Really brought attention to some forgotten older classic American rock & roll. When they began writing their own stuff they showed how creative and excellent they were. My #2 group.

Using my criteria which is very simple, ‘I like their music and style’, I would replace Herman’s Hermits and the Hollies with Them and Gerry & The Pacemakers. I would place Them in the top 5. A band that just made the 1964-67 time frame that I would consider would be the Spencer Davis Group. Some good rock came from this group and Stevie Winwood’s vocals were excellent. What about your list. What changes would you make if any? This list makes me want to do a list of favorite American bands. Hopefully soon.


Don’t forget to check out all the new internet radio shows the club has on its website. Go to and click on ‘RADIO’. New shows added weekly.
Are you amazed as I am when people make T-shirts, bumper stickers, slogans or jokes in reaction to things such as the COVID-19. How do they come up with this stuff so fast. Some of them are very creative. Well, there are numerous parody songs out now that that are about how we are having to live during this strange time. I know this a very serious time for us all but hopefully this may help give some relief from it all. And this is just 3 of the dozens people have come up with. Only in America. Take care.

‘Sounds of Sirens’ (Sounds of Silence’)
By Kiffness
If you want to se the video and see the lyrics click

‘Bohemian Virus Rhapsody’ (Bohemian Rhapsody’)
By Jennifer Corday
If you want to see the video and see the lyrics click

‘Sweet Caroline (Hands…Washing Hands)’
Neil Diamond does this one himself
For the video of Neil go to

See ya,


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