From the Land of Band Box Records

Colorado “Boulevard”: MVP? (MVV?)

May 4, 2017

“Boulevard”? Creighton ‘Nick’ Holley?

About a month ago I received an email from a British record collector inquiring about a 45 I had posted on the 45 Cat (Catalog).

The record in question was released on a Denver label – most likely a one-off since the label catalog number was a very elementary “001”.  I could not recall posting this single and so I referred the Brit to a few of the Colorado record collecting ‘all-stars’ up and down the front range.

Turns out that I had obtained the images quite a while back from one of the all-stars during a trading/scanning session.  In many ways I am a rather fickle collector, often being content with the discovery of a Colorado based artist or label or composer – and not necessarily compelled to locate the actual record.  And now comes the most damaging confession of all…. I quite often purchase a record AND NEVER PLAY IT!!!

Okay, that little admission is now out of the way so back to the M.B.C. recording by “Boulevard”.

No one I have spoken with, including the Colorado owner of the record shown above knows a single thing about the label, the group or American Recording.  My Boulevard-owning record buddy did a little research after being contacted and made the decision to place his copy on EBay via Denver’s premier and historic vinyl store, “Wax Trax”.

I learned about this when meeting up with him at the Denver Record Expo late last month (April).  “How did the bidding go?” I inquired.  Without so much as even looking up from a stack of 45’s he replied.  “I sold it.”  Plain and simple answer.  “How much?” was a natural follow-up.  “A little over $1,100” was his reply.

In reality the record brought a figure closer to $1,200 with 11 bids.  Nearly every bid came out of Great Britain as did the winning one.

This song is very big with some Brits.  Since that sale I have heard from another U.K. collector who has the same or higher interest level in not only owning the recording, but knowing more about “Boulevard”.

Enter Nick Holley

Denver magazine “Westword” reporter Dave Herrera reported in early January of 2012 the news that Denver jazz musician Creighton “Nick” Holley had passed away at the age of 65 from cancer.

We learn from that obituary that Holley had fronted his own group the “Creighton Holley Band” Dan Treanor performing often at a Denver spot “Herb’s Hideout”.

Barge, Bonds & Church Street Five

Herrera further reported that Holley had – for a time – played with “The Rhythm Kings” in Chicago, a group show casing Gene Barge, a Virginia-born sax player who founded the instrumental group “The Church Street Five” famously backing Gary ‘U.S.’ Bonds on his many Legrand records releases.  Barge picked up the moniker “Daddy G” from a co-composition of his “A Night With Daddy G”.  A Denver Post obit speaks of Holley being in Chicago in the early 1990’s taking over lead vocals for the late blues singer – Larry Nolan who fronted “Big Twist and the Mellow Fellows”.

The Post reported that Holley missed the Denver scene, and elected to return where he teamed up with drummer Mark Emmons and vocalist Laura Newman in the band “AOA”.

Barge was also a co-writer for the huge Bonds’ hit “Quarter To Three” which originally recorded as an instrumental by “The Church Street Five”.

Barge would contribute to other Bonds’ hits including “School Is Out”, and naturally the sequel “School Is In”, “Twist, Twist, Senora” and many Bonds’ B sides.

Eventually Barge would migrate to Chicago recording often as a studio musician especially for Chess Records, and eventually finding his way into the “Rhythm Kings” where Holley would make his acquaintance and for a short time become the lead singer for the group.  I haven’t been able to determine whether this stint in the Windy City was earlier on before his “Big Twist” venture.

Carlisle Pennsylvania

I located a Holley tribute from musician and Blogger Forrest Brown out of Pennsylvania who paid tribute to Holley as well.  Brown knew Holley from his time growing up in Carlisle, PA where apparently relatives still reside.

Forrest Brown of Carlisle

Brown responded to my query “Man, this is crazy. A British gentleman contacted me last month about Nick and Boulevard. As I told him I don’t know much about that. I didn’t have any contact with Nick after he left Carlisle.

He had 2 sisters and a brother and I actually worked with his mother for a short period some years ago. I don’t know where his relatives may be but if they’re in town I will ask if they have any information.”

The “Westword” obit heaps accolades upon Holley from musicians throughout the Colorado music scene.

And so – the mystery of the group called “Boulevard” remains.  But at a minimum, now I have learned about the talent – Creighton Holley.  He would probably be pleased to know that two of his compositions now reside on what must certainly be Colorado’s MVV – “Most Valuable Vinyl”.


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