From the Land of Band Box Records

From the Pen of Joel Cowan

October 29, 2020

Denver’s Joel Cowan as Composer

Denver’s Joel Cowan for a time was a member of an Ink Spot’s offshoot group headed up by another Coloradoan – George Holmes.

The group appeared around Denver in the 1960’s and also along the Rocky Mountain front range States.  The group, with Cowan, Louis Young, Jimmy Watson, Herman McCoy and leader George Holmes, would cut one long play recording released on the Band Box label in 1961.

Band Box 1002 LP - Ink Spots F

Cowan, along with Jimmy Watson, also recorded one comedy oriented LP on the Band Box subsidiary “Spicy” a ‘R rated’ type label.  Cowan and Watson would take their act to Denver’s popular “Tropics” night club which was located in the western part of the city on Morrison Road.

Earlier in his career, Cowan was a member of Al Russell’s various groups – most notoriously  the Al Russell Trio (going back to the 1940’s).

Russell and Cowan also performed and recorded as “Do Ray and Me” (sometimes called the “Do-Re-Me Trio”) along with Curtis Wilder in the late 1940’s.

During his time with Russell, the two would pen several songs as a composing team.  Ink Spots’ historian Stephen Austin sent me a note (October, 2020) telling about Russell/Cowan collaboration titled “Just Plain Love” which was recorded by the original group of Ink Spots (headed by Bill Kenny) in 1947.  The song didn’t chart.

Cowan worked for some time in Denver at a music store and taught bass guitar lessons.  Cowan would team up with Coloradoan George Holmes –  Cowan still has children living in Colorado including daughter Judy Thomas Cowan and Joel Cowan Jr.  Joel Jr. told us that his father played for a time with the Nat King Cole Trio.

But it led me to explore and discover some additional Russell/Cowan related recordings which I have listed in a brief discography below.  In addition, Cowan would co-write “Lonely and Longing” which appeared on the Ink Spots’ LP and was covered by the Band Box duo of Bob and Sylvia in 1960.

The Ad below for an Ink Spots appearance in Denver doesn’t depict the Band Box version of group members but according to Stephen Austin – stock photos of past lineups were often used on such ads.


Cowan Compositions Discography

78 – 20th Century 20-23 – Al (Stomp) Russell Trio – I’m Yours b/w World War 2 Blues – 1947

78 – Commodore 7505 – Do Ray and Me – The Wise Old Man – 1947

78 – Decca Australia 6125 – The Ink Spots – Just Plain Love – 1947

78 – RCA Victor 2312 – Johnny Desmond with the Page Cavanaugh Trio – Just Plain Love – 1947

78 – Capitol 429 – The Pied Pipers – Just Plain Love – 1947

79 – Columbia Australia 3110 – Claude Thornhill – Just Plain Love – 1948

78 – V Disc 622 – Frankie Carle and Orchestra – There’s A Man At The Door – 1948

78 – Columbia 38501 – Rosemary Clooney – Cabaret – 1949

78 – RCA Victor 22-0045 – Big John Grier and The Rhythm Rockers – If I Told You Once – 1949

78 – RCA Victor 762 – Count Basie & His Orchestra with Jimmy Rushing Vocals – 1949

78 – King 15125 – Guy Mitchell – Cabaret – 1951

78 – Mercury 5707 – Patti Page – Cabaret – 1951

45 – Camden 260 – Just Plain Love -Johnny Desmond with the Page Cavanaugh Trio – 1955

45 – Brunswick 55025 – Les Brown and His Band of Renown – Don’t Yield To Temptation – 1957

45 – Stereo Craft 115 – The Do-Ray-Mi Trio – 1959

45 – Band Box 240 – Bob and Sylvia – Lonely and Longing – 1960

Spotlight: Jorgen Ingmann

October 28, 2020

Billboard Magazine ran mini-biographies from 1959 into the early 1960’s sometimes providing us with interesting tidbits – Each biography was generally tied to a current release on behalf of the artist

Jorgen Ingmann Spotlight Feature: (“Apache”)

Charted Number 2 Hot 100 – Released November, 1960

Jorgen Ingmann was born Jorgen Ingmann Pedersen in Copenhagen, Denmark.  From the bio photo used above, Jorgen probably didn’t spend too much time hanging around the Apaches!  In fact, Ingmann’s “popular” era – the era of “Apache” was far removed from the more complex music he performed for much of his life beginning in the 1940’s.

As a young man still in his teens he became a messenger saving his pay checks to buy his first guitar.  As a child he had learned to play the violin but his passion was the guitar.  His next job was as a printing house clerk where he remained for 4 years.  During that time he would learn to play the piano.

One of his early influences was Charlie Christian – an American musician – who played the electric guitar – primarily designated to provide rhythm for jazz ensembles.

Jorgen would finally get his first guitar in 1941 along with an amplifier.  He would next form his first group the “Ingmann Quintet”.  The group were regulars playing in downtown Copenhagen.  This was in the early 1940’s.

Grethe & Jørgen Ingmann Quintet - Champion Cha-Cha-Cha (Vinyl) | Discogs

One version of Ingmann’s Quintet

In 1944 he would join the Roger Henriksen Orchestra playing in the village of Randers.  1945 would be a big turning point in his career when he became a member of Svend Asmussen’s  backing group,  Svend being crowned the “Fiddling Viking”.  Svend provided Jorgen with the opportunity to record his first record with “How I’m Doing, Hey Hey” b/w “That’s My Weakness Now”.

Ingmann’s inspiration on the guitar came from America’s pioneer Les Paul.  Like Paul, Jorgen would experiment with multi-tracking techniques, echo and special effects.  He had his own 4-track recording machine at a time when 2-track mono was predominant.  Ingmann also used half speed recording extensively in the studio.

Roger Henriksen – Svend Asmussen – Charlie Christian

In addition to the guitar, Jorgen would overdub the bass and drums playing all the instruments and manning the controls for his echo special effects.  He would cover the hugely popular Shadows’ UK hit “Apache” taking it to number 1 in Canada and number 2 in the United States.  “Apache” even resonated with R&B radio stations reaching number 9 on the R&B national charts.

The Shadows’ version of Apache did not dent the U.S. charts and in spite of their tremendous popularity and success in the UK (they had nine number one singles and four number 1 long plays – as well as scores of Top Ten UK hits – they never placed a single instrumental on the U.S. charts.

These Are Not the Shadows!

In the 1960’s Jorgen would team up with the Champs on a re-do of their monster hit “Tequila” re-titling it as “Tequila Twist” to cash in on the fad of the times. Atco Records  promoted “Apache” hard, going so far as to release a long play with Jorgen decked out rather ridiculously on the cover of the album.

He would meet and marry Grethe Clemmensen in  1956 and the two worked often as a duo until their 1975 divorce.

Jorgen Ingmann Passes | Vintage Guitar® magazine

The Ingmanns – Jorgen and Grethe

Interestingly, Ingmann’s initial U.S. release would come in 1958 released on Walt Disney’s Buena Vista label backed by the Camarata Orchestra.

After “Apache” Ingmann would only dent the national charts one additional time before his chart run came to an end in the Spring of 1961.  Atco stuck with Jorgen for several years releasing nine singles and two long plays.

Before coming to Atco, Ingmann recorded an LP of soft compositions on the Mercury label.  In spite of limited chart success in the U.S. Jorgen remained very popular in his native Denmark releasing scores of long plays but few singles.  He was also very popular in Germany and the Netherlands.

Netherlands Apache 1961

Japan Apache 1964

Ingmann was never fond of appearing live solo but much preferred working in the studio.  His final appearances were a disappointment for him, attending festivals in 1984 standing in the back of track and playing his familiar tunes from a tape recorder!  He would sell off all of his guitars and equipment and would not record or perform again.

Jorgen passed away at an early age in February of 2015 after battling cancer.

Jorgen Ingmann Selected Discography

45 – Buena Vista 331 – Trudie – 1958

45 – Atco 6184 – Apache Number 2 b/w Echo Boogie – November, 1960

45 – Prestige International 3001 – Mustapha b/w Everbody Want To Live A Long, Long Time – 1960 (with Grethe Ingmann)

45 – Atco 6195 – Anna Number 54 Hot 100 b/w Cherokee – May, 1961

45 – Atco 6205 – Milord b/w Oceans Of Love – July, 1961

45 – Atco  6216 – Violetta b/w Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie – January, 1962

45 – Atco 6235 – Johnny’s Tune b/w Africa – September, 1962

45 – Atco 6265 – I Loved You b/w My Little Boy – May, 1963 (with Grethe Ingmann)

45 – Atco 6277 – Drina b/w The Fourth Man Theme – November, 1963

45 – Atco 6305 – Desert March b/w Tovarisch – June, 1964

45 – Parrot 45006 – Tokyo Melody b/w Sunrise Serenade – December, 1964

45 – Atco 6370 – Zorba b/w Gorilla – August, 1965

45 – Atco 6403 – Corfu b/w Seven Roses – February, 1966

45 – UA International 2817 – La-La-La b/w Frankie and Johnny – 1968

LP – Mercury 20200 – Swinging Guitar – 1956

LP Atco 130 – Apache – April, 1961

LP – Atco 139 – The Many Guitars of Jorgen Ingmann – March, 1962

LP – United Artists International 15549 – The Ingmann Guitar Plays Movie Themes – 1968

LP – United Artists 6785 – El Condor Pasa – 1970

“He Was a Bad Motorcycle…”

October 27, 2020

“…Boom, Boom Boom!”

Generally, songs about motorcycles feature a rider who is “bad”, or at a minimum, a bad motorcycle driver.  I would have to believe that in the case of Vaughn Monroe and Edith Piaf, they were probably both bad motorcycle drivers.  Might be wrong but I can imagine Edith swerving all over the road – and perhaps losing control on a sharp corner.

Trying to visualize old Vaughn riding with either Lee Marvin or Marlon Brando in “The Wild One”!

Well, believe it or not – that is old Monroe on his ‘hog’ back in 1955!

And Edith!  Just imagine her riding off into the sunset with the French Hells Angels! OUI!  And that’s Edith ‘air-riding’ her Indian….

Bob Dylan just about paid the Piper on July 29th, 1966 when he crashed his Triumph in his home of Woodstock.

The Cheers

Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots – Capitol 3219 – Number 6 Pop Charts – August, 1955

“Black Denim Trousers” was the second song to chart for the young upcoming composers, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.  The first would be 1954’s “Bazoom” also performed by the Cheers.

The style and the group chosen to record the song, the Cheers, would be a far cry from the R&B singers who Leiber and Stoller were striving to compose songs for.

The Cheers were Sue Allen, Gil Garfield and Bert Convy and they were backed by the very much un-rock and roll orchestration of Ray Anthony – a Capitol Records regular.

Crooner Vaughn Monroe also charted with the song later in 1955.

Vaughn Monroe

Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots – RCA Victor 6260 – Number 36 Pop Charts – September, 1955

Edith Piaf

L’Homme A La Moto (Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots) – Capitol 3368 – May, 1956

Charted in France and was one of Edith’s biggest hits in that country!

The Storey Sisters

“Bad Motorcycle” – Cameo 126  – Number 45 Hot 100 – January, 1958

“Bad Motorcycle” – The Twinkles – October, 1957

The Storey Sisters weren’t the first to chart with a ‘bad’ motorcycle song – theirs coming in early 1958

“Bad Motorcycle” was first released on the Peak record label in the Fall of 1957 – but under the girl’s original name the “Twinkles”.  The Storeys were indeed sisters – Ann and Lillian from Philadelphia.

And from the jargon of the time, “Bad” definitely meant “good”!  The song would reach a respectable number 45 on the Hot 100.  The song was penned co-penned by Lillian Storey along with a local Philadelphia DJ – Kal Williams.  A couple of additional songs were recorded by the Storeys but nothing matching the success of “Bad Motorcycle”.

For some reason (no doubt fiscal), Peak label owner Al Browne does not receive composer’s credit on the Peak release but he replaces Lillian on the Cameo release.

The Crestones

Markie 117 – She’s A Bad Motorcycle – April, 1964

The Crestones’ “Bad Motorcycle” was a completely different song from the Storeys’ release.  The group came out of the Chicago area – The song charted on local station WLS reaching number 11.

The Shangri-Las

“But he’s not evil”

Red Bird 10-014 – Leader Of the Pack – Number 1 Hot 100 – September, 1964

Leader of the Pack was the quintessential Motorcycle classic – What more can be said?

Davie Allan & The Arrows

Allan provided some classic motorcycle cuts in the 1960’s – “Wild Angels” from the motion picture of the same name.  “Blues Theme” was Allan’s most successful single from the same movie.

The Arrows were more or less a revolving session group but always fronted by guitarist Davie Allan – a California kid.  Record industry executive and producer Mike Curb ‘discovered’ Allan.

Theme From The Wild Angels – Tower 267 – Number 99 Hot 100 – August, 1966

Blue’s Theme – Tower 295 – Blues Theme – Number – 37 Hot 100 – November, 1966

Devil’s Angels – Tower 341 – Number 97 Hot 100 – June, 1967

Blues Rides Again b/w Cycle-Delic – Tower 381 – December, 1967


Born to Be Wild – Dunhill 4138 – Number 2 Hot 100 – May, 1968

Steppenwolf band member Dennis Eugene McCrohan composed this song – by then he had changed his name to Mars Bonfire.

The Song was prominently featured in the film  “Easy Rider” in 1969.  The lyric “heavy metal thunder” appears – first time for “heavy metal” to appear in a rock song but as a direct reference to a motorcycle.

Easy Rider

The song was ranked number 129 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  The song also was used in “Married With Children” and several other programs.

Michael Parks

Long Lonesome Highway – MGM 14104 – Number Hot 100 – Number XX Country – February, 1970

Michael Parks was born Harry Samuel Parks in April of 1940 in Corona, California

Parks entered the “Bad Motorcycle” genre with perhaps the tamest of the lot “Long Lonesome Highway”.  Parks portrayed Jim Bronson for two years on a popular TV show for which the song is the theme song.

His first appearance on TV came in 1961 on the Real McCoys.

Watch The Real McCoys Season 5 Episode 17: George's Nephew Online | TV Guide

Parks passed away in 2017 at age 77.


“I Wish I Was You!”


“Motorcycle Mama” – Elektra 45782 – Number 12 Hot 100 – April, 1972

Sailcat was the duo of John Wyker and Courtland Pickett – Wyker composed their only hit.   This song was popular when I returned from Vietnam and was one more example which told me things had changed in the U.S. music industry.

The two got together in Alabama in 1971.  Wyker had previously been in the group “The Rubber Band”.  The duo nearly discarded “Motorcycle Mama” but changed their minds when auditioning for Elektra.  The label liked it and signed them to a contract.

Wyker passed away in 2013 at age 68.

Latter Day Wyker

Davie Allan & the Arrows

Chopper b/w Open Throttle – In the Red 38 – 1995

20 years later going back to the well

The Glory Stompers – Get Hip 209 – The Glory Stompers – 1997

The Uptown Savages

Tiki Tone EP 405 – “Bad Motorcycle”- 2005

A remake of the 1958 Storey Sisters’ hit.  The group came from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Denver’s ‘Haight Ashbury’

October 25, 2020

 Journey Back In Time Along the “Fax”

The Capitol Hill neighborhood has undergone a fascinating history – evolving and regressing over the years.  The Colfax corridor east of Broadway was a vibrant early neighborhood bolstered by the traffic and access afforded by Highway 40 (Colfax), an amazing far stretching thoroughfare stretching from Golden, Colorado to the west out onto the eastern plains where it intersects Interstate 70.

There were glory days – and not-so glorious days along the way.  Two major developments would occur which changed the Colfax/Capitol Hill landscape dramatically.  The first was the completion of Interstate 70 to the north.  This alone pulled the rug out from under countless businesses especially traveler-related businesses such as motels, hotels and dining establishments.  Suddenly the hotels were in desperate need of a clientele.

The second development was the ‘scraping’ of Denver’s ‘skid row’ – the stretch of rag-tag businesses along lower Denver’s Larimer Street – Think bars/dives, pawn shops, junk stores and so on.  If you grew up in Denver back in the 1950’s and 1960’s you know what a quick drive down Larimer between 14th Avenue and 20th Avenue (and further) was like – an adventure to say the least and quite a side-show.

Denver’s Skid Row – 1960’s On Larimer Street

But in 1967 along came the “Urban Renewal Project” and suddenly ‘skid row’ was gone!  But what about the crowd who frequented the area?  It didn’t take long for them to head east taking refuge in Capitol Hill’s more-or-less abandoned hotels.  Also, these events paved the way for hundreds of young women coming from the mid-west and other points outside of Colorado providing them with housing when they would enroll into a couple of educational institutions who recruited aggressively (think Parks and Barnes schools of business – probably others).  Typical of the room-and-board facilities was the Mile High Guest House located at 965 Pennsylvania Avenue – Scores of young women would pass through it’s doors (Number 10 on Map).

And then with ‘affordable’ housing awaiting – discharged mental patients from Pueblo would be ‘dropped off’ in the neighborhood in huge numbers – some estimates were as many as 1,500 at any given time.  Two such houses were located at the East Side Guest House at 1453 Race Street and the Tower Guest House at 1560 Race Street.

The “Flower Children” Arrive Post “Beats”

Five myths about hippies - The Washington Post

So what was next?  Well, in the mid 1960’s a movement was afoot and so Denver would become the recipient of – yes – “The Hippies” had arrived!  Part of their fascination with this new gathering place (so far from Haight-Asbury in San Francisco) was the preceding reputation Denver had gained through some distinguished persons who had off and on made Denver their ‘stomping’ grounds – mostly during the 1940’s

This included a one-time resident of 1522 Lafayette Street (Jack Kerouac), the Colburn Hotel at 10th Avenue and Grant Streets (Neal Cassady) and a poet down the street at 16th and Grant (Allen Ginsburg) – all members of the Post World War “beat generation”.

Ginsberg with Kerouac – and Neal Cassady

Cassady actually attended Denver East High but failed to graduate.  He did receive an honorary degree from East in 1968.  Cassady would later be cited as being the “bridge” from the Beat Generation to the Hippies – which bears up with his membership in San Francisco’s zany “Merry Pranksters”.  Fellow Prankster Ken Kesey – author of “Sometimes A Great Notion” and “Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” had even stronger ties to Colorado that Neal – being born in La Junta in 1935.

Pranksters Timothy Leary & Neal Cassady and the Bus!

Another luminary made his way to Denver’s Capitol Hill in 1960  where he would briefly appear at the Satire Lounge on Colfax and then at nearby Central City’s Gilded Garter where Denver resident Judy Collins would appear.  Dylan would briefly reside at 1736 East 17th Avenue – today simply an empty lot awaiting a new future.

Dylan on Colfax

Dylan and Collins – Gilded Garter Vets

The Counter-Culture Organizes

In the spirit of the time, many groups would congregate in Capitol Hill to serve the newly arrived community.  Typical were the “Movement Clearing House on Josephine Street, the “Denver Learning Community” on York Street, the “Hip Help Center first on 17th Avenue and then Emerson, the “Switchboard” – a help center for Hippies in need and Denver Free University – started up by disgruntled University of Denver students.  They were booted off the DU campus and made their way to the YWCA building at 18th and Sherman.

Later they would be replaced by Colorado Free University but by then the spirit and intent had been diluted.

Other groups would swarm to the neighborhood: the “Order of the Holy Family of the Donati Brothers” serving the needs of flower children, the Unification Church located at 1400 Race Street (better known as the “Moonies”.  Hare Krishna was well rooted in Denver’s Capitol Hill before moving later further south on Cherry Street. There was the “Denver Zen Center”, “Sikh Dharm” and many more.

Denver Krishna Consciousness

Underground publications would serve the neighborhood like the “Mile High Underground” and “Chinook” to name a few.  “Chinook” would later merge with the Boulder publication the “Straight Creek Journal” in 1972.

Chinook (newspaper) - Wikipedia

End of one Era/Beginning of a New Era

The 1970’s rolled in and the Hippies had all but disappeared – subject to pressure from neighborhood groups and the police department – the euphoria of the ‘Flower Children’ had faded away – again opening up an opportunity for other elements to ‘invade’ Capitol Hill.

Dive Bars became headquarters for gangs – organized crime moved in and the sex industry would flourish.  Movie houses would convert to porn shops and drug usage would soar.

L.A. gangs – most dramatic being the “Rolling 30 Crips”, would migrate to the area and stretch out east along Colfax as far as Aurora.

Rollin 30 – Blue is the Color

Somehow through it all, Capitol Hill managed to survive.  There would be revivals.  The Bluebird Theater would convert to big time entertainment and Mammoth Garden would reopen.  New nightclubs would open but more prominently, trendy eating establishments would emerge.

The Historic Bluebird Theater (Denver, Colorado) - Buyoya

Bluebird Revival

Homes would  be flipped and the Millennials would move in in big numbers.  Neighborhood organizations would again organize and community pride would once again arise.

Cruising the Colfax Capitol Hill Corridor Back in the Day

As you can see, the Capitol Hill corridor establishments and landmarks ran predominately from Broadway east paralleling Colfax – and for the most part three to four blocks to the north side of Colfax.

This was a vibrant scene in Denver beginning back in the mid 1960’s and continuing on into the early 1970’s before things began to fall apart.  For many us, much of this scene ran it’s course without us being very involved.  News coverage was minimal as far as I can remember unless there was some sort of crisis or dramatic event.  Folks didn’t routinely gather at the Capitol carrying out mundane card-board sign protests – coming in from the suburbs and returning to the comfort of their homes the same night.

The diagram below presents many of the places that made up the scene in those long ago days.  Of course, not everything is listed here – just a nice sampling of a time in Denver – long ago – Time sure went fast.  We can only now ponder where will this crazy world take us next?

(The numbered locations are presented after the chart – Numbers sometimes positioned in a square where they should straddle two squares)

Landmark Number 1 – The Mile High Guest House – 965 Pennsylvania Street

One of the early boarding house for young women streaming into Denver to attend one of Capitol Hill’s or nearby business schools.

Former Home of the Mile High Guest House

Landmark Number 2 – East Side Guest House – 1453 Race Street

Patients from the State Hospital in Pueblo were dropped off here as well as other locations such as the Tower Guest House below

Landmark Number 3 – The Tower Guest House – 1560 Race Street

Landmark Number 4 – Jack Kerouac Temporary Residence – 1522 Lafayette Street

Jack resided at numerous Denver locations around the Capitol Hill neighborhood and he owned a house in the west suburb of Lakewood for a time

Landmark Number 5 – Neal Cassady Residence – The Colburn Hotel 10th Avenue & Grant

Temporary home for Neal Cassady in his beatnik days – He lived at several locations during his growing up years and attendance at Denver East High School

The Hotel With A Personality:" Denver's Colburn Hotel | Denver Public Library History

Landmark Number 6 – Allen Ginsberg Residence – 10th & Grant

The Beat poet Ginsberg found his way to Denver – no doubt due to Kerouac and Cassady’s prescence.

Landmark Number 7 – The Nowhere Tap – 1175 Colfax

Opened in 1958 – a Capitol Hill beat hangout among other things

Landmark Number 8 – The Lido – 20th & Lincoln – Number 9 – 127 20th Avenue

The Lido was a true “beatnik” hangout in the late 1950’s – It moved to the 127 address

Landmark Number 10 – The Exodus – 20th & Lincoln

Located in the basement of the Raylane Hotel – Started up in 1959 by Hal Neustaeder – The late folk singer Walt Conley managed the Exodus and appeared there often

Landmark Number 11 – Sign of the Tarot – 118 20th Avenue

A beat coffee shop that opened in 1959 – Would move later into the space previously occupied by The Analyst

Landmark Number 12 – The Village Coffee House – 14th Avenue & Odgen

Another beat coffee shop

Landmark Number 13 – The Analyst – 311 20th Avenue

Landmark Number 14 – The Denver Folklore Center – 17th Avenue & Pearl Street

Harry Tuft was the founder of this Denver landmark in 1962 – He expanded it to include a record store and a performing stage at 1893 Pearl Street

Landmark Number 15 – Biscuit City Records – 17th Avenue & Downing Street

A Folk based label located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood

Landmark Number 16 – The Green Spider & The Dark Side Theater – 610-612 17th Avenue

Founded in 1960 by Donn Lehn – Would be acquired by the Folklore Center eventually

Landmark Number 17 – Mammoth Gardens – Clarkson Street and Colfax

KIMN DJ Pogo Poge hosted a Saturday Teen Dance here for nearly two years bringing many national and local groups

Landmark 18 – Together Books – 636 17th Avenue

Landmark Number 19 – The Radical Information Project – 737 17th Avenue & Number 20 – 2412 Colfax

The Project was founded by members of Students For a Democratic Society.  They moved later to 2412 East Colfax – I remember meeting three members of SDS in the Colorado State University student union cafeteria in Fort Collins as early as 1965

Landmark Number 21 – Students for a Democratic Society House – 16th Street & Race

Landmark Number 22 – The Movement Clearing House – 1263 Josephine Street

One of many community service houses serving the counter culture

Landmark Number 23 – The Denver Learning Community – 1170 York Street

Started up in the late 1960’s – The Learning Community would be shocked to learn that today it is listing at a sale price of one million dollars!

Landmark Number 24 – The Hip Help Center – 1002 17th Avenue – & Number 25 1900 Emerson Street

Founded in 1969 –

Landmark Number 26 – The First Unitarian Church – 14th Avenue & Lafayette Street

This secular church embroiled itself into many ‘unpopular’ causes during the 1960’s – supporting the hippies and counter culture – In 1975 the church would perform the State’s first same-sex marriage

Landmark Number 27 – The Switchboard – 1660 Pearl Street

Was established as a help center and message exchange location for Denver’s hippies – Established by the Youth Coalition War On Poverty

Landmark Number 28 – Denver Free University – YWCA Buidling 18th and Sherman  – Number 29 – 1122 17th Avenue

Later moved to 1122 17th Avenue

Landmark Number 30 – The Colfax Street Sheet – 1423 Ogden Street

This counter culture newspaper was distributed by hippies to provide them with income – It would become “Solid Muldoon” – Then the “Mountain Free Press” at 309 Columbine Street and finally merging with the “Teleidoscope Collage” in 1967

Landmark Numbers 31-32-33 – Chinook Magazine – First Location 847 Pearl Street

Underground newspaper also working out of 1452 Pennsylvania Street and 1031 13th Avenue – Would become the “Denver Urban Renewal Authority” and later merged with the Boulder magazine the “Straight Creek Journal”

It ran from 1969 until 1972 after publishing nearly 120 issues.

Landmark (Not Shown) – Order of the Holy Family of the Donait Brothers – 2015 Glenarm Place

Another church serving beat generation and then the ‘flower children’ – Located in St. Andrews Episcopal Church

Landmark Number 34 – The Unification Church – 1400 Race Street

The congregation were more known as the “Moonies” – They operated a youth hostel  (next) – The Moonies were known for their massive wedding ceremonies in tribute to the Reverend Moon

Landmark Number 35 – Unification Church Youth Hostel – 16th and Franklin

Landmark Number 36 – The Denver Zen Center – 1233 Columbine Street

Many hippies were drawn into Buddhist temples around the nation – Denver’s Zen Center was very active in the Capitol Hill neighborhood in the 1960’s

Landmark Number 37 – Sikh Dharma – 1072 Josephine

A ‘white’ Sikh sect lights the flame

Landmark Number 38 – La Petite – 331 17th Avenue

La Petite was a hippie all-night gathering spot located in the old Mayflower Hotel

Mayflower Hotel in downtown Denver, c. 1940s. | Hotel, Mayflower hotel, Downtown denver

Landmark Number 39 – The Provo House – 1835 Gaylord Street

Another hippie haven in the 60’s – Today it has been parceled into eight office spaces and was assessed at around 900,000 dollars in 2020

Motown Composers: The Gordys

October 23, 2020

The Gordy Family at Motown

Berry Gordy Jr. was, of course, the premier song composer at Motown along with Smokey Robinson.  But Berry kept family members busy within his Motown record empire.

Berry Gordy

Berry came from a large family and in his career would approach the music business as a family man – involving many family members at Motown including treating – for the most part – other musicians as extended family’

Berry Gordy Jr. was born on November 28th, 1929 in Detroit, Michigan – He was the seventh child to come along in a family of eight siblings.  He took his name after his father and grandfather – Barry Gordy I and II.

Berry’s first venture in the world was to try his hand at boxing while still a teenager and he continued with the sport for about three years until 1950.  After serving in the Korean War he came back to Detroit and opened a small record store.  That endeavor failed and next he would would make the acquaintance of a young singer, Jackie Wilson.

Wilson would serve as Gordy’s musical launching point when he and sister Gwen would compose Jackie’s debut hit “Reet Petite” in 1957.  Many hits would follow for the Wilson-Berry connection.  Always a savvy business man, Gordy invested money from his song writing royalties and gave the world the Motown empire!

Berry would compose an early song for another Detroit singer – Marv Johnson – “Come To Me” and release it on his new Tamla label – Lacking distribution power at the time, the song would be picked up by United Artists.  Berry would compose eight charting singles in all for Johnson – all released on United Artists.

Gwen Gordy (Fuqua)

Gwen Gordy was one of Berry’s four sisters, born on November 26th, 1927 in Detroit, Michigan.  It would be Gwen who would introduce Berry to the the music industry via her nightclub contacts. Also, Gwen, Berry and friend Roquel Davis would often write songs together before any degree of fame arrived.

They would have their first successes composing for Detroit R&B singer Jackie Wilson sharing the composing royalties.  It would be Gwen who pushed for starting up a record company which would materialize with the founding of the Anna record label.  Gwen and Davis were sweethearts but that came to an end when she fell in love with one of Berry’s cohorts – Harvey Fuqua.

Anna Records was eventually absorbed by Motown – She would stay on with Motown in various capacities during her career.  She died in 1999, a victim of cancer – She was 71 years old.

Robert Gordy

Robert Gordy was born Robert Louis Gordy in July of 1915 in Detroit.  Robert recorded his first record as “Bob Kayli” a song called “Everyone Was There”.  He would record for his sister’s label, Anna.  He would work for his brother’s company doing some composing and running the publishing arm for a time.

George Gordy

George Gordy was born George Weldon Gordy in 1926 in Detroit, Michigan.  George tried his hand at other trades before coming on over to join the family at Motown with brother Berry.  He passed away in July of 2011 at age 85.

Anna Gordy (Gaye)

Anna Gordy was born Anna Ruby Gordy on January 22nd, 1922 in Oconee, Georgia – before the Berry family migrated to Detroit.

She left Detroit after high school graduation but would return in the 1950’s.  She became involved in the recording industry distributing for Checker Records and Gone Records.  She would go into partnership with Gwen and Billy Davis to run Anna Records.

She would do some composing with singer superstar Marvin Gaye and they would marry in 1963 after knowing each other for three years.  They headed out for California – as much of Motown did in the 1970’s – and would end their marriage in 1973.  The two would remain friends up to Marvin’s untimely death.

Anna died in January of 2014 at the age of 92.

Esther Gordy (Edwards)

Esther Gordy Edwards - Motown Museum - Motown Museum Home of Hitsville U.S.A.

Esther was born in 1920 in Washington County, Georgia, the oldest daughter of the Berry family.  She and two brothers would form a printing company in the 1940’s and, along with her husband, would form a loan company which provided Berry with capitol in the early days of his music career.

Esther would become directly involved at Motown, booking tours for the musicians and would take on the role of vice president at the label.  Later on she would head up the Motown Museum which tourists enjoy to this day, known as “Hitsville U.S.A.”

About Motown Museum - Motown Museum Home of Hitsville U.S.A.

Esther Gordy Edwards passed away in 2011 at the age of 91.

Kerry Gordy

Kerry Ashby | Discography | Discogs

Kerry Gordy was born in June of 1959 in Detroit, Michigan – He was the son of Berry Gordy Jr., and was born in the same year that Berry started up the Motown Records empire.

Kerry was an accomplished musician, proficient on several instruments and influenced by his mother Raynona, herself a talented musician.  Kerry started off at Motown in the California operation – working in the mail room.  He then progressed to administrative duties and then in 1979 became a member of the Motown group Apollo.

He assumed the professional name of Kerry Ashby in order to set himself apart from the Berry name.  He eventually became Motown’s director of A/R working with some of the top acts at the label. He would eventually move on from Motown remaining in the music industry in many successful capacities, including composing, producing, motion pictures, management and more.  One of his business partners was the late musician “Prince”.

Kennedy William Gordy (Rockwell)

Rockwell was Kennedy William Gordy – son of Berry Gordy – Kennedy managed to land a Motown contract without his father knowing about it – using the moniker “Rockwell” alluding to his being able to “rock well”.  Kennedy was born on March 15th, 1964 in Detroit, Michigan.

He came to the Motown label in 1984 and hit it big with “Somebody’s Watching Me”.  Michael and Jermaine Jackson gave him background vocal support.  There wouldn’t be another big hit for Kennedy.  Diana Ross’s daughter Rhonda Ross Kendrick is his half sister.

He got into some trouble in 2018 and has remained out of the entertainment spotlight for a long time.  He cut a couple of LP’s for Motown and a handful of single tracks before fading from the scene.

Stefan Kendal Gordy (Redfoo)

Not Your Father’s Music

Stefan was born on September 3rd, 1975 in Detroit, Michigan – the youngest son of Berry Gordy Jr.  Stefan would establish himself as a very successful musician – but did not come on board with the Motown operation.  He would take the professional name of “Redfoo” and would later team up with his nephew Skylar Austin Gordy (known as “Sky Blu”) to form the band LMFAO (you probably know what the initials stand for).

Stefan composed, produced, worked with rap artists – wrote for motion pictures – television – moved to Australia – was a day trader, married a professional tennis player, established clothing line and became a vegan.

Berry was probably proud and envious – maybe….

Skyler Austin Gordy (Sky Blu)

Nothin’ But Blu Skys…

The Gordy Family Discography

Showing as many recordings involving Berry family members as is practical – Not showing all Motown related recordings composed by Berry Gordy.

Composer: Berry Gordy – Jackie Wilson – Brunswick 55024 – Reet Petite (The Finest Girl You Ever Want To Me) – Number 62 Hot 100 – September, 1957

Composer: Berry Gordy/Gwen Gordy – Dorisetta Clark – Mercury 71253 – You Love Me, You Love Me Not b/w It Would Mean So Much To Me – January, 1958

Composer: Gwen Gordy/Berry Gordy – The Gaylords – Mercury 71265 – Each Time (I Love You More) – January, 1958

Composer: Berry Gordy – Jackie Wilson – Brunswick 55052 – To Be Loved – Number 7 R&B – Number 22 Hot 100 – February, 1958

Composer: Berry Gordy – Jackie Wilson – Brunswick 55070 – I’m Wanderin’ – May, 1958

Composer: Gwen Gordy/Berry Gordy – The Five Stars – End 1028 – Blabber Mouth b/w Baby Baby – July, 1958

Composer: Berry Gordy/Gwen Gordy – Jackie Wilson – Brunswick 55086 – We Have Love – August, 1958

Composer: Berry Gordy – Jackie Wilson – Brunswick 55105 – Lonely Teardrops – Number 1 R&B for 7 Weeks – Number 7 Hot 100 – October, 1958

Composer: Berry Gordy Jr. – Marv Johnson – Tamla 101 – Come To Me b/w Whisper – January, 1959

Composer: Berry Gordy/Gwen Gordy – Eddie Holland – Tamla 102 – Merry-Go-Round b/w It Moves Me – February, 1959

Composer: Berry Gordy – Jackie Wilson – Brunswick 55121 – That’s Why (I Love You So) – Number 2 R&B – Number 13 Hot 100 – March, 1959

Composer: Berry Gordy/Gwen Gordy – Barrett Strong – Tamla 54022 – Let’s Rock b/w Do the Very Best You Can – April, 1959

Composer: Berry Gordy – Jackie Wilson – Brunswick 55136 – I’ll Be Satisfied – Number 6 R&B – Number 20 Hot 100 – May, 1959

Composer: Gwen Gordy – Little David Bush – Vega 1002 – Believe Me b/w You And I – January, 1959

Composer: Gwen Gordy – Voice Masters – Anna 101 – Hope and Pray b/w Oop’s I’m Sorry – January, 1959

Composer: Gwen Gordy – Voice Masters – Anna 102 – Needed b/w Needed (For Lovers Only) – April, 1959

Composer: Gwen Gordy/Berry Gordy – Hill Sisters – Anna 1103 – Hit and Run Away Love b/w Advertising For Love – June, 1959

Composer: Berry Gordy Jr. – Marv Johnson – United Artists 175 – I’m Coming Home – Number 82 Hot 100 – Number 23 R&B b/w River of Tears – June, 1959

Composer: Berry Gordy/Gwen Gordy – Frances Burnett – Coral 62177 – How I Miss You So – June, 1959

Composer: Robert Gordy – Bob Kayli – Anna 1104 – Peppermint (You Know What To Do) b/w Never More – August, 1959

Composer: Robert Gordy – Bob Kayli – Anna 1104 – You Know What To Do b/w Never More – August, 1959

Composer: Berry Gordy/Gwen Gordy – Marv Johnson – United Artists 185 – You Got What It Takes – Number 2 R&B – Number 10 Hot 100 b/w Don’t Leave Me – September, 1959

Composer: Gwen Gordy/Robert Gordy – The Falcons – Anna 1110 – Just For Your Love – November, 1959

Composer: Gwen Gordy/Robert Gordy – Wreg Tracey – Anna 1105 – Take Me Back (I Was Wrong) b/w All I Want Is You – December, 1959

Composer: Berry Gordy – Barrett Strong – Anna 1111 – Money – Number 2 R&B – Number 23 Hot 100 b/w Oh I Apologize – December, 1959

Composer: Berry Gordy – Marv Johnson – United Artists 208 – I Love The Way You Love – Number 9 Hot 100 – Number 2 R&B b/w Let Me Love You – February, 1960

Composer: Gwen Gordy/Berry Gordy – Etta James – Argo 5359 – All I Could Do Was Cry – March, 1960

Composer: Gwen Gordy – Ty Hunter with the Voice Masters – Anna 1114 – Orphan Boy – May, 1960

Composer: Robert Gordy – Barrett Strong – Anna 1116 – Yes No, Maybe So b/w You Knows What To Do – June, 1960

Composer: Berry Gordy – Marv Johnson – United Artists 226 – Ain’t Gonna Be That Way – Number 74 Hot 100 b/w All The Love I’ve Got – Number 63 – June, 1960

Composer: Gwen Gordy – Ruben Fort – Anna 1117 – I Feel It – June, 1960

Composer: Berry Gordy – Marv Johnson – United Artists 241 – (You’ve Got To) Move Two Mountains – Number 20 Hot 100 – Number 12 R&B b/w I Need You – July, 1960

Composer: Berry Gordy/Gwen Gordy – Tamla 54031 – Who Wouldn’t Love A Man Like That b/w You Made A Fool Out Of Me – August, 1960

Composer: Gwen Gordy/Berry Gordy – Singin’ Sammy Ward – What Makes You Love Him – September, 1960

Composer: Anna Gordy – Ty Hunter and the Voice Masters – Anna 1123 – Free – October, 1960

Composer: Berry Gordy – Marv Johnson – United Artists 273 – Happy Days – Number 7 R&B – Number 58 Hot 100 – October, 1960

Composer: Gwen Gordy/Berry Gordy – Wreg Tracey – Anna 1126 – Take Me Back (I Was Wrong) b/w All I Want For Christmas (Is Your Love) – December, 1960

Composer: Gwen Gordy – Lamont Anthony – Anna 1125 – Let’s Talk It Over – b/w Benny The Skinny Man – January, 1961

Composer: Berry Gordy – Marv Johnson – United Artists 294 – Merry-Go-Round – Number 26 R&B – Number 61 Hot 100 –  January, 1961

Composer: Berry Gordy/Gwen Gordy – Barrett Strong – Tamla 54035 – Money and Me b/w You Got What It Takes – February, 1961

Composer: Gwen Gordy – David Ruffin – Anna 1127 – One Of These Days – February, 1961

Composer: Gwen Gordy – The Spinners – Tri-Phi 1001 – That’s What Girls Are Made For – Number 27 Hot 100 – Number 5 R&B – May, 1961

Composer: Anna Gordy – Marvin Gaye – Tamla 54041 – Never Let You Go – May, 1961

Composer: Berry Gordy – Marv Johnson – United Artists 322 – How Can We Tell Him – June, 1961

Composer: Berry Gordy – Marv Johnson – United Artists 359 – Oh Mary b/w Show Me – August, 1961

Composer: Gwen Gordy – The Spinners – Tri-Phi 1004 – Love (I’m So Glad I Found You) Number 91 Hot 100 b/w Sudbuster – September, 1961

Composer: Gwen Gordy – Johnny and Jackey – Tri-Phi 1005 – Sho Don’t Play – November, 1961

Composer: Gwen Gordy – The Spinners – Tri-Phi 1007 – What Did She Use b/w Itching For My Baby But I Don’t Know Where To Scratch – December, 1961

Composer: Gwen Gordy – The Davenport Singers – Tri-Phi 1008 – Hoy Hoy – January, 1962

Composer: Anna Gordy – Marvin Gaye – Tamla 54055 – I’m Yours, You’re Mine – January, 1962

Berry Gordy – Marv Johnson – United Artists 423 – Magic Mirror – February, 1962

Composer: Gwen Gordy – Harvey – Tri-Phi 1010 – She Loves Me So – March, 1962

Composer: Berry Gordy Jr/Gwen Gordy – Singin’ Sammy Ward – Tamla 54057 – Everybody Knew It – March, 1962

Gwen Gordy is uncredited co-composer on this track

Composer: Anna Gordy – Marvin Gaye – Tamla 54063 – Taking My Time – May, 1962

Composer: Berry Gordy/Gwen Gordy – Johnny Rivers – Chancellor 1108 – To Be Loved – May, 1962

Composer: Gwen Gordy – The Spinners – Tri-Phi 1013 – I Got Your Water Boiling Baby (I’m Gonna Cook Your Goose) – June, 1962

Composer: Gwen Gordy – The Marvelettes – Tamla 54065 – Beechwood 4-5789 – Number 7 R&B – Number 17 Hot 100 – July, 1962

Composer: George Gordy – Marvin Gaye – Tamla 54086 – Stubborn Kind of Fellow – Number 8 R&B – Number 46 Hot 100 – July, 1962

(Co-writer Gwen Gordy not credited on the label)

Composer: Berry Gordy – Marv Johnson – United Artists 483 – That’s Where I Lost My Baby – August, 1962

Composer: Gwen Gordy – Havey – Tri-Phi 1017 – Any Way You Wanna b/w She Loves Me So – October, 1962

Composer: Gwen Gordy/Berry Gordy – The Combo Kings – Flo-Jo 4095 – All I Could Do Was Cry – October, 1962

Composer: Gwen Gordy – Bobby Smith & The Spinners – Tri-Phi 1018 – She Don’t Love Me b/w Too Young, Too Much, Too Soon – November, 1962

Composer: Gwen Gordy/Robert Gordy – Gordy 7008 – Hold On Pearl b/w Toodle Loo – November, 1982

Composer: Anna Gordy – Marvin Gaye – Tamla 54075 – Hello There Angel – December, 1962

Composer: Berry Gordy/Gwen Gordy – The Pentagons – Oldies 67 – To Be Loved – January, 1963

Composer: Gwen Gordy – Harvey – Tri-Phi – Come On An Answer Me – April, 1963

Composer: Robert Gordy – Carolyn Crawford – Motown 1050 – Devil In His Heart – October, 1963

Composer: Gwen Gordy – Shorty Long – Soul 35001 – Wind It Up – March, 1964

Composer: Gwen Gordy – The Spinners – Motown 1067 – How Can I – October, 1964

Composer: Berry Gordy – Marv Johnson – Gordy 7042 – Why Do You Want To Let Me Go – May, 1965

Composer: Gwen Gordy/Berry Gordy/R. Gordy – Little Lisa – V.I.P. 25023 – Hang On Bill – August, 1965

Composer: Robert Gordy – The Isley Brothers – Tamla 54133 – Take Some Time Out For Love – Number 22 R&B – Number 121 Bubbling Under – April, 1966

Composer: George Gordy – The Lost In Sound – Showcase 9811 – Stubborn Kind Of Fellow – October, 1966

Composer: Gwen Fuqua – JR. Walker & All Stars – Anyway You Wanna – January, 1967

Composer: Gwen Gordy/Berry Gordy – Dave Clark Five – Epic 10144 – Number 7 Hot 100 – March, 1967

Composer: Berry Gordy/Gwen Gordy – Jeanette Harper – 20th Century Fox 6683 – To Be Loved – June, 1967

Composer: Berry Gordy/Gwen Gordy – Danny Woods – Smash 2140 – To Be Loved – January, 1968

Composer: Fuller Gordy – The Marvelettes – Tamla 54166 – Keep Off, No Trespassing – May, 1968

Composer: Gwen Gordy – Jimmy Hughes – Volt 4002 – I Like Everything About You – August, 1968

Composer: Berry Gordy/Gwen Gordy – Supremes – Motown 1148 – No Matter What Sign You Are – Number 17 R&B – Number 31 Hot 100 – b/w The Young Folks – May, 1969

Composer: Anna Gordy: – The Originals – Soul 35066 – Baby I’m For Real – Number 1 R&B – Number 14 Hot 100 – August, 1969

Composer: George Gordy – Martha & The Vandellas – Gordy 7094 – Taking My Love (And Leaving Me) – Number 102 Bubbling Under – August, 1969

Composer: Anna Gordy: – The Originals – Soul 35069 – The Bells – Number 4 R&B – Number 12 Hot 100 – January, 1970

Composer: Gwen Gordy/Berry Gordy – Lenny Welch – Commonwealth International 3011 – To Be Loved – April, 1970

Composer: Robert Gordy/Berry Gordy – Soul 35077 – Maria (You Were The Only One) b/w Living In A World I Created For Myself – December, 1970

Composer: Fuller Gordy – Marvin Gaye – Tamla 54207 – Sad Tomorrows – June, 1971

Composer: Anna Gordy: Stevie Wonder – Tamla 54214 – What Christmas Means to Me – November, 1971

Composer: Gwen Gordy/Berry Gordy – The Sylvers – MGM 14352 – You Got What It Takes – February, 1972

Composer: Anna Gordy: – Esther Phillips – Kudo 906 – Baby I’m For Real – Number 38 R&B – May, 1972

Composer: Berry Gordy/Gwen Gordy – Buzzy Linhart – Kama Sutra 548 – You Got What It Takes – July, 1972

Composer: Gwen Gordy/Berry Gordy – Michael Reed – Pride 1025 – To Be Loved – February, 1973

Composer: Gwen Gordy/Berry Gordy – Don Adams – Atlantic 4002 – I’ll Be Satisfied – June, 1973

Composer: George Gordy – Joe Graham – Hotlanta 102 – Stubborn Kind Of Fellow – July, 1973

Composer: Fuller Gordy – Jamal Trice – Soul 35120 – Nothing Is Too Good (For You Baby) – November, 1976

Composer: George Gordy – Buffalo Smoke (Lou Courtney) – RCA 10805 Stubborn Kind Of Fellow – December, 1976

Composer: Anna Gordy: – Taga Vega – Tamla 353 – LP Totally Tata – “Jesus Take Me Higher” track Number 21 Dance – 1977

Composer: Kerry Gordy – Apollo – Gordy 7165 – Astro Disco Part 1 and Part 2 – February, 1979

Composer: Gwen Gordy – Legend – Tamla 54315 – Shake It Lady b/w Lay Your Body Down – August, 1980

Composer: Gwen Gordy – High Energy – Gordy 7192 – If I Love You Tonight – October, 1980

Composer:  Anna Gordy: Hamilton Bohannon – Mercury 76054 – Baby I’m For Real – Number 54 R&B – April, 1980

Composer: Gwen Gordy – Producer: Iris Gordy – High Energy – Gordy 720 – Take My Life – April, 1981

Composer: Gwen Gordy/Berry Gordy – Shakin’ Stevens – Epic 3508 – I’ll Be Satisfied – December, 1982

Composer: Kennedy William Gordy – Rockwell – Motown 1702 – Somebody’s Watching Me – Number 1 R&B for Five Weeks – Number 2 Hot 100 b/w Instrumental – December, 1983

Composer: Kennedy William Gordy – Rockwell – Motown 1731 – Obscene Phone Call 9 R&B – Number 35 Hot 100 – b/w Instrumental – April, 1984

Composer: Kennedy William Kennedy – Rockwell – Motown 1772 – He’s A Cobra – Number 65 R&B – Number 108 Bubbling Under – December, 1984

Composer: Kennedy William Gordy – Rockwell – Motown 1782 – Peeping Tom b/w Tokyo – March, 1985

Composer: Robert Gordy – Marvin Gaye – Tamla 1836 – The World Is X Rated b/w Instrumental – January, 1986

Composer: Kennedy William Gordy – Rockwell – Motown 1845 – Carme Part 1 b/w Part 2 – June, 1986

Composer: Kennedy William Gordy – Motown 1863 – Grow Up b/w Instrumental – September, 1986

Composer: Anna Gordy: Sherrick – Warner Bros. 28150 – Baby, I’m For Real – Number 53 R&B – January, 1987

Composer: Berry Gordy/Gwen Gordy – Slash 28166 – Lonely Teardrops – November, 1987

Composer: Anna Gordy: After 7 – Virgin Cema Special Markets 56954 – Baby I’m For Real/Natural High – Number 5 R&B – Number 55 Hot 100 – October, 1992

Composer: Anna Gordy: Color Me Badd – Giant 18268 – The Bells (LP Version) – Number 73 R&B – b/w Instrumental Version – March, 1994

Composer: Anna Gordy: Jessica Simpson – Columbia CD LP 92885 – Track: What Christmas Means To Me – Number 8 Adult Contemporary – January, 2004

Composer: Stefan Kendal Gordy/Skyler Ashton Gordy – LP CD Cherrytree 12932 – Party Rock – 2009

Composer: Stefan Kendal Gordy/Skylar Ashton Gordy – CD Single Interscope 12538 – I’m In Miami Bitch – 2009

Composer: Stefan Kendal Gordy/Skylar Ashton Gordy – 12-Inch Single – Interscope 12591 – La La La – 2010

Composer: Stefan Kendal Gordy/Skylar Ashton Gordy – MP DP – Tiny E – The Crystal Method – November, 2010

Composer: Stefan Kendal Gordy/Skylar Ashton Gordy – LP CD Cherrytree 15679 – Sorry For Party Rocking – June, 2011

Composer: Stefan Kendal Gordy/Skylar Ashton Gordy – 12 Inch Single – Champagne Showers – July, 2011

Composer: Anna Gordy: John Legend – Columbia LP 219419 – A Legendary Christmas – Track: What Christmas Means To Me – Number 101 Hot 200 Charts – January, 2018

Spotlight: The Diane’s – Renay & Ray

October 22, 2020

Billboard Magazine ran mini-biographies from 1959 into the early 1960’s sometimes providing us with interesting tidbits – Each biography was generally tied to a current release on behalf of the artist

Here are a couple of ‘girl group-era’ singers – both hitting their stride in 1963 during the crest of the genre – Renay soldiered on for some time – Ray called it a day rather quickly.  Diane Ray’s biography follows Renay’s.

The Diane Renay Spotlight Feature: Navy Blue

Charted Number 6 Hot 100 – Released December, 1963

Diane Renay wasn’t a ‘one-hit wonder’ but more accurately was a ‘two-hit wonder’ with a few marginal hits thrown in for good measure.

Diane Renay | Way Back Attack

Diane Renay was born Renee Diane Kushner in July of 1945 in Philadelphia.  Artie Singer, who managed a successful Philadelphia group, Danny and the Juniors, provide voice lessons for a 12-year old Diane and eventually persuaded her to pursue a recording career.  Singer was also a voice coach for Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon and Fabian (who really needed a voice coach!).

It would be producer Pete De Angelis who would listen to Diane sing and guide her to Atco Records in the fall of 1962.  About six months would pass before Atco released a second single.  Neither charted and so she was let go from the Atlantic subsidiary.

Renay promoting her 1st single

Fortunately, Diane had met song writer Bob Crewe while with Atco.  He quickly signed Diane to his management company and moved her over to 20th Century Fox Records.  Crewe would pull out the stops using great back-up vocalists including Ellie Greenwich and Patti Austin.

Singer – De Angelis – Crewe

Navy Blue

Crewe, along with Eddie Rambeau and Bud Rehak would pen her next song “Navy Blue” and Diane was on her way!    She had her big hit and was still attending Northeast High School in Philadelphia at the time.   Rambeau and Rehak would pair up on Diane’s follow-up “Kiss Me Sailor” which had a respectable number 29 showing in the U.S.

When “Navy Blue” was rising the charts – the Beatles hit and three of their songs occupied positions above hers keeping her from a possible number 1 or number 2.

Diane was kept busy performing, working in Dick Clark shows in Atlantic City where she would share a dressing room with the Supremes.  When asked about how her high school classmates viewed her being a recording star, Diane does not have good memories of that time – saying she was rather ‘snubbed’ by them – She said she couldn’t wait to leave high school.

Diane also appeared on the first Rolling Stones’ U.S. tour for three days in Texas.  Diane told an interviewer that she wasn’t impressed with the Stones at all during her brief time with them.

1964 Rolling Stones General Image Galleries

The hits quit coming after that – Diane jumped from label to label hanging on until 1969 before finally calling it a day.  Diane was just 23 when she retired.  She was burned out from travelling and also abhorred flying,

She settle down, had a daughter named Heather and elected to remain home to raise her.

Diane Renay Photos (3 of 5) | Last.fm

Renay – Looking Good in 2003!

Diane Renay Discography

45 – Atco 6240 – Little White Lies b/w Falling Star – October, 1962

45 – Atco 6262 – A Dime A Dozen b/w Tender – April, 1963

45 – 20th Century Fox 456 – Navy Blue – Number 6 Hot 100 – Number 1 Adult Contemporary – December, 1963

45 – 20th Century Fox 477 – Kiss Me Sailor – Number 29 Hot 100 b/w Soft Spoken Guy – March, 1964

45 – 20th Century Fox 514 – Growin’ Up Too Fast – Number 124 Bubbling Under b/w Waitin’ For Joey – June, 1964

45 – 20th Century Fox 533 – It’s In Your Hands – Number 131 Bubbling Under b/w A Present From Eddie – July, 1964

45 – MGM 13296 – Watch Out Sally – Number 101 Bubbling Under b/w Billy Blue Eyes – November, 1964

45 – MGM 13335 – I Had A Dream b/w Troublemaker – April, 1965

45 – New Voice 800 – The Company You Keep b/w Words – June, 1965

45 – New Voice 813 – Soldier Boy b/w Words – June, 1966

45 – United Artists 50048 – Please Gypsy b/w Dynamite – September, 1966

45 – D-Man 101 – Can’t Help Loving That Man b/w It’s A Good Day For A Parade – 1968

45 – Fontana 1679 – Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me b/w Yesterday – November, 1969

45 – Rex 292 – Together Again b/w Maybe – 1980’s

LP – 20th Century Fox 3133 – Navy Blue – 1964

The Diane Ray Spotlight Feature: Please Don’t Talk to the Lifeguard

Charted Number 31 Hot 100 – April, 1963

Diane Ray – Unlike the 17 year-old Diane Renay – truly was a one hit wonder – “Please Don’t Talk To the Lifeguard” would be the beginning and end of her chart run.

And also, unlike Renay – Diane Ray would only record for one record label – Mercury – where she would only release five singles between April of 1963 and June of 1964.

Ray would manage – again like Renay – to have one long play released before her short run was over.

From High School To Mercury Records

Diane Ray was born Carol Diane Ray on September 1st, 1945 in Gastonia, North Carolina.  She won a talent contest in her home town on a local radio show called the “Big Ways Charlotte Contest” which lead to her signing with Mercury Records.  Record Executive Shelby Singleton was a member of the contest judging panel and he would be her ticket to landing a recording contract with Mercury Records.

She had recently graduated from Ashley High School in 1963.  She had been a member of a local Gastonia group called the Continentals during her high school years.

Her hit was composed by an accomplished duo – they being Sylvia Dee who composed “Too Young” for Nat King Cole – and George Goehring who gave Connie Francis several hits including “Lipstick on Your Collar” and Gene Pitney “Half Heaven, Half Heartache”.

“Please Don’t Talk To the Lifeguard” was originally given to girl singer Andrea Carroll released in June of 1961.  The song did great in the Cleveland area for the then 15 year-old but no-go nationally.

Diane’s success landed her a radio hosting gig – a daily slot – making her probably the nation’s youngest female radio host at the time.

No Talking Please!

Her follow-up effort, “Where Is The Boy” came from the pens of Ben Raleigh and Mark Barkan so it wasn’t like Diane didn’t have some composing fire power at her disposal.  The two had teamed up to give Leslie Gore “She’s A Fool” and “That’s The Way Boys Are” among others.

More Than One Lifeguard?

Raleigh’s credentials went way back composing hits for Eddie Fisher in ’55 (“Dungaree Doll”), “Wonderful, Wonderful” for Johnny Mathis in ’57 and then “Tell Laura I Love Her” for Ray Peterson in 1960.  Mark Barkan composed Manfred Mann’s 1966 hit “Pretty Flamingo”.

Dee - Gohreing - Raleigh

Ray’s Writers: Dee – Goehring – Raleigh

Local Lifeguard Success

“Please Don’t  Talk to the Lifeguard” managed to reach the number 1 position in local radio programming markets such as Miami, Florida, and Calgary Alberta.  It reached the top ten in Fort Worth, Texas – Bakersfield, California and Sarasota, Florida.

Diane Ray’s career ended soon after she completed a tour, at which point she would go on to marry and start a family marrying Samuel McClain Waldrop Jr..  The couple had two sons.  She sadly passed away on March 14th, 2020 at age 74.

Diane Ray Peoples Waldrop – 1945-2020

Diane Ray Discography

45 – Mercury 72117 – Please Don’t Talk To the Lifeguard – Number 31 Hot 100 b/w That’s All I Want From You – April, 1963

45 – Mercury 72195 – Where Is The Boy b/w My Summer Love (Is Heading For An Early Fall) – October, 1963

45 – Mercury 72223 – Snowman b/w Just So Bobby Can See – December, 1963

45 – Mercury 72248 – No Arms Can Ever Hold You b/w Tied Up With Mary – March, 1964

45 – Mercury 72276 – Happy, Happy Birthday Baby b/w That Boy’s Gonna Be Mine – June, 1964

45 – Netherlands – Phillips EP – Four Hits – Please Don’t Talk To the Lifeguard – 1963

LP – Mercury 20903 – The Exciting Years! – April, 1964