From the Land of Band Box Records

Like Longhair….

April 22, 2019

Before and After the Fab Four

The transition came on rather quickly after the Fab Four arrived – from the close cropped days of the 1950’s and early 1960’s.  Right into 1963 I was flat top all the way.  By the time I finished my freshman year in college my ‘long’ hair was getting me some threatening glances from folks in Fort Collins, Colorado.  And by all standards just a few years later my ‘long hair’ would have been considered almost military cut.

The Beatles actually experienced two transitions – first the “mop top” look which sort of changed the world – and then their final days together when seemingly no one could ever obtain too much hair.

I can only imagine what would have happened to me if the Barnum Gang had spotted me back in my neighborhood – yes – Barnum.

There was the time up at a 3.2 watering hole in the mountains west of Denver – at a place called Spinx Park – a bar that is still there today “The Bucksnort Saloon” – when an unruly group of cowboys (real cowboys) wanted to see “how many cowboys does it take to beat a Beatle”.

I could have told them probably only one – but they didn’t want to wait around for some snot nosed – smart ass remark.  Luckily I and my two friends escaped unharmed that night when the cowboys paired off with another notorious group – Eddie Duran and his gang from west Denver – and instead of fighting they all decided to head down to the nearby town of Pine where there was a paved road and have a drag race.

(Sophomore Year 1962 – Senior Year 1964 – West High)

My ‘Beatles’ days didn’t last for long – By the time I graduated from college my hair was rapidly heading for Telly Savalas land.

At any rate, here is a glimpse back at some who rode the wave of the times:

Let’s Begin with ‘America’s Oldest Teenager – Dick Clark

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Willie Nelson – 1963/1975

Scott Engel (Scott Walker of The Walker Brothers) – 1958/1966

Elvis – 1956/1974

Bobby Goldsboro – 1966/1968

Charlie Rich – 1950’s/1972

Jimi Hendrix – 1950’s/1968

George Jones – 1959/1980

Roy Orbison – 1963/1972

Waylon Jennings –

Frankie Valli – 1962/1970’s

Bobby Sherman – 1965/1970

Ricky/Rick Nelson – 1957/1972

Del Shannon – 1961/1966

P J Proby (formerly Jett Powers) – 1958/1966

Johnny Paycheck – 1950’s/1970’s

David Jones – 1965/1967

The Righteous Brothers – 1964/1974

Sylvester Stone – 1961/1968

Johnny Cash – 1957/1976

That brings us to Wayne Cochran…. 1966

who I don’t think ever had a ‘do’ other than this (Wayne composed J. Frank Wilson’s number 2 hit “Last Kiss”.)

Ray & Jay

April 17, 2019

In the 8th Year of ……the Songwriter’s Hall of fame

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,,inducted only two composers into the Hall. The year was 1977. ( In the inaugural year of 1970 there were more than 120!)

But in 1977 the Hall elected to honor two song writing partners who, through their initial collaborations certainly seemed like two guys stepping right out of New York’s Tin Pan Alley.

Raymond Bernard Evans and Harold Jacob Levison met each other while attending college in Pennsylvania where they were both members of a dance band called the Continentals.  Pursuing their collective dream of continuing on in music – the pair headed for New York City where song writers naturally congregated.

Evans would serve as the song composer and Levison (who morphed into ‘Jay Livingston’) would provide the lyrics.

I selected these two based on not so much on their early successes but on some of their post-1940’s hits.  From their initial chart appearance in 1941 with a song called “G’bye Now” through their blockbuster smash in 1948 “Buttons and Bows” Ray and Jay landed on the charts 18 times – and as was generally the case – their hits were often covered by multiple artists of the day.

I conjured up an image of two guys sitting together in a cubicle – perhaps even the Brill Building in New York, exchanging ideas back and forth and then turning out a tune to be peddled to the music industry.

That’s not how it happened for Evans and Livingston.  Their journey to song writing success was slow and arduous.

Upon arriving in New York, the pair were soon to learn that song writing was not an easy ticket.  It was the late 1930’s, the country still in the grips of the Great Depression.  They made the rounds to publishers offices and generally received a few tertiary compliments but then told that they needed to ‘mature’ – to come back again some time.

One publisher told them “you have chosen a tough racket” but told them to keep plugging away if they were determined to do so.  Ray worked as an accountant in the day and Ray as a rehearsal pianist.

They plugged along – generally receiving the same response ‘nice stuff but not quite up to measure’.

Publishing Wars

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Then a big change occurred in the music publishing industry of which I have mentioned in an earlier Post:  During the Depression sheet music sales plummeted as did record sales.  This left musicians and writers dependent upon radio broadcast royalties which were collected by ASCAP – the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers).

ASCAP had been a blessing for the industry in the beginning but began to fall out of favor in 1939 when their fees to broadcasters reached 2.75 percent.  In response, the Broadcast industry formed BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.  Unfazed, ASCAP announced a staggering fee increase in 1940 – up to 7.5 percent.

Radio station networks responded in kind launching a massive boycott of any music represented by ASCAP.    This of course immediately created a huge demand for material for broadcast.  BMI scurried to meet the demand as the radio stations were grabbing almost anything – classical – spoken word – children’s music – to put on the air.

What followed was the unveiling of a largely ignored and shunned by the arrogant and ASCAP, namely country – folk and jazz. (Down the road rhythm & blues and early rock and roll would be welcomed through the BMI doors.)

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(Above: America benefits from the ASCAP boycott)

Hellzapoppin’ (1941)

Meanwhile Evans and Livingston were tapped to compose a series of tunes for an ice musical.  They jumped at the chance completing a host of songs – but alas – the project fell through and the songs were set aside.  Then, in 1941 the song was picked up for the 1941 motion picture “Hellzapoppin'” starring Martha Rae.

With BMI on the prowl for material – one number from the revived number was dusted off and given new life

Within a few weeks several big bands recorded the number including Russ Morgan and Jan Garber – Vaughan Monroe and Woody Herman.  The song landed Ray and Jay in the top 20 with Horace Heidt and His Musical Knights taking it all the way to number 2.

Hugh Herbert, Mischa Auer, Chic Johnson, Ole Olsen, and Martha Raye in Hellzapoppin' (1941)


Beyond ‘G’Bye’

With their initial success under their belts – Ray and Jay were now focused on providing music for the big screen as well as stage and later television.

To Each His Own (1946)

The motion picture “To Each His Own” was released in 1946 starring Olivia de Havilland and John Lund.  The film featured the theme song performed by Victor Young and his orchestra.

The song was quickly covered by several big band with the flagship version being Eddy Howard’s going to number 1.  This would become his band’s iconic theme song.  The Freddy Martin Orchestra also took the song to number 1 a few months later in 1946 after the Howard release.


Golden Earrings (1947)

The movie starring Marlene Dietrich and Ray Milland spotlighted the Evans & Livingston song of the name performed by Victor Young.  Peggy Lee would take the song to number 2 in the U.S.


Buttons and Bows (1948)

“Buttons and Bows” was composed for the motion picture “Paleface” starring Bob Hope who also performed the song in the picture.  The song landed in the top twenty by six different artists with the most successful being Dinah Shore’s number 1 version. “Buttons and Bows” would also capture an Academy Award.

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Captain Carey U.S.A. (1950)

So along comes the 1950’s – Ray and Jay had headed west and were now firmly entrenched in Hollywood, always available to the motion picture industry.  The pair landed a gig composing for a 1950 movie titled “Captain Carey, U.S.A.” starring Alan Ladd.  From that assignment emerged the wonderful “Mona Lisa”.

Initially, Evans and Livingston took it upon themselves to locate the right voice for their song – and so they visited the home of Nat “King” Cole.  During that visit Nat was quite distracted from listening to the song being demonstrated due to the presents of his rambunctious little daughter Natalie.

But fortunately Nat would turn his attention back to the song – and a classic was in the making.

Ironically the song would first be designated a “B” side for Capitol recording artists Nat “King” Cole.  Capitol’s early trade magazine placements didn’t even bother to mention “Mona Lisa” instead pushing for “The Greatest Inventor of Them All”.  Capitol was wrong – “Mona Lisa” shot to number 1 and remained there for eight straight weeks.

That same year hit versions were released by Harry James, Victor Young, Dennis Day and Ralph Flanagan to mention a few.

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The Lemon Drop Kid (1951)

The duo delivered a holiday classic in 1951’s “The Lemon Drop Kid – “Silver Bells”.  Bob Hope performed the song in the film.  The song started off with the title “Tinkle Bells” but was fortunately altered when Jay’s wife told him he must be ‘out of his mind’ to burden that song with the silly title.

Bing Crosby and many others would record the song and over the years royalty checks appeared during the holidays.


Que Sera Sera (1956)

“Que Sera Sera” seemed an unlikely choice for an Alfred Hitchcock thriller – but the song did the trick for the motion picture “The Man Who Knew Too Much” starring Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day.  Doris enjoyed a number 2 U.S. hit with the tune following the movie.  The song topped the U.K. charts.

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Tammy (1956)

“Tammy” has always been a sentimental favorite of mine – coming out of the film “Tammy and the Bachelor”.

Debbie Reynold  played the lead role as a 17 year-old even though she was 24 at the time.  She recorded the song for Coral Records and took it to number 1.  The Ames Brothers’ version peaked at number 5.


Dear Heart (1964)

Glen Ford and Geraldine  Paige starred in this 1964 motion picture.  Henry Mancini composed the soundtrack and realized he needed lyrics for the theme song so he turned to Johnny Mercer.  Johnny was too busy to help out and so Henry contacted Jay and Ray – and another hit was born.

Henry Mancini, Jack Jones and Andy Williams all recorded charting versions – with Williams winning out at number 24.

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There would be nearly 50 additional chart appearances along the way for Evans and Livington.  Their songs appeared in more than 100 motion pictures – 15 stage plays and 16 television programs.

Bonanza (1959)

On the Television side of things it would be composing “Bonanza” (number 19 by Al Caiola in 1961).

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Mister Ed (1961)

On a light note, Evans and Livingston provided the the 1961 TV theme for “Mister Ed”.  Livingston delivered a rare vocal performance performing the song himself.

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Rocking with Jay and Ray

The closest the song writing pair ever got to good old rock and roll would be when Carl Mann and Conway Twitty would cover “Mona Lisa” in 1959 (number 25 and number 29 respectively).  The Platters would present Jay and Ray with a pop/R&B hit with “To Each His Own” going to number 21 in 1960.

Livingston’s brother was Alan Livingston was a Capitol Records executive and the creator of “Bozo the Clown”.  Alan made his mark in the music world signing Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys and The Beatles to Capitol Records.

Ray and Jay composed more than 700 songs during their lifetime.

Jay Livingston passed away in 2001 in Los Angeles.    Ray Evans died in 2007 also in Los Angeles.



Oh Those Cover Girls!

April 11, 2019

Cover Ups

Was looking at a copy of the Knack’s summer of 1979 hit “My Sharona”.  While trying to find out who she was and where she ended up – I came across an interesting article titled “Who’s That Lady?”

Sharona Alperin

Some interesting tidbits there – Sharona was really a Sharona – Sharona Alperin to be precise – She was only 17 years old when she met the Knack’s lead vocalist, Doug Fieger.

Fieger pursued the young girl – risky business then – riskier now – and then about a year into the relationship had Sharona pose for the cover of the group’s “Get The Knack” LP where she held up a copy of what would become a smash hit number 1 single – staying atop the charts for six weeks.

The Knack hung around placing four additional songs on the charts up through 1981 and two more when the they regrouped in the 1990’s.

“My Sharona” was used in the 1994 film “Reality Bites”.

And Sharona?  Her cover girl days ended as quickly as they began – and she went on to find success as a real estate agent in southern California representing Sotheby’s.  Her business website?  ‘mysharona.com’ of course – where she boasts of placing entertainment professionals into their bungalows.

??? ‘Who’s that Lady’ ??

Black Sabbath’s 1970 self titled LP features a rather haunting figure – who apparently has been lost to time.  A little hard to imagine that with the internet that this lady has not been tracked down.

Lots of speculation here – some have put forth the theory that it is none other than Mr. Osborne.

That not being the case – the closest we have to an ID is she was simply a model.  One member of the band recalls that she showed up once backstage at a Black Sabbath concert and introduced herself simply as “Louise”.

Louise where are you now?

 Lisanne Falk

Don’t know how many copies of Foreigner’s 1979 “Head Games” long play I have passed over at garage sales and used record bins – The LP cover was a play on words – curious – but not my cup of team

Foreigner formed in New York City in 1976 – featuring two prominent Brit’s – Ian McDonald of King Crimson and Spooky Tooth’s Mick Jones.  The third member was American born Lou Gramm – their choice of a band name obvious.

“Head Games” was the band’s third LP release.

I never paused to think about it but Lisa is depicted in somewhat of a frantic pose – attempting to erase her graffiti scrawled name from the adjacent wall!

The world would come to learn that the girl was a model who had been placed by “The Ford Agency” for the cover shoot.  And her age at the time?  14!

Lisa went on to become a successful actor appearing in the lead role of the 1989 motion picture “Heathers” – a film which also starred Wynona Ryder.  She appeared in a couple dozen motion pictures and TV shows from 1982 up through 2002.

Suze Rotolo

Much is known of the girl on Bob’s 1963 debut LP “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan”.  I posted on Bob’s girl friend Suze Rotolo back a few years ago after reading her very interesting “A Free Wheelin’ Time – A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties”. Which you can review here.

Natalia & Candy

The Cars have two memorable LP’s to their credit with interesting cover art stories –

The Cars’ debut LP titled “The Cars” featured a Russian model – Natalia Medvedeva – She became the first “face of new wave music” and this was probably her finest moment.  She was 20 years old when she posed for the LP – At the young age of 17 she appeared in Playboy Magazine.  She would go on to become a writer of fiction – one of the more noted being “Hotel California>

Natalia died in 2003 passing away as the result of a heart attack while residing in her homeland of Russia – She was 44 years old.

Their 1979 “Candy-O” featured a young lady provided by artist Alberto Vargas – Who was his model – Well, it was a “Candy” – Candy Moore to be – who as teenager appeared on “The Lucy Show” in the 1960’s playing the part of “Chris Carmichael – the TV daughter of Lucy herself.  Candy went on to appear in the boxing motion picture “Raging Bull”.

Eveline Grunwald & Constanze Karoli

Made a single mark in the world of rock and roll – The two were Portuguese lingerie models who happened to also be Roxy Music fans – Bryan Ferry met them during a concert and easily convinced them to pose for the cover of “Country Life”.  Don’t know what became of the the ladies after “Country Life”

Cassandra Peterson

Cassandra appeared in 1976 on an LP titled “Small Change” by Tom Waits.  Cassandra was a natural red head but would later transform her appearance and her persona in 1981 when she morphed into “Elvira, Mistress of the Dark”!

Lots of stories out there relating to the those LP covers of yesteryear……