The Rockin’ Blonde
Betty Reilly is a little known actress sometimes rocker born in 1918 in Mexico. She performed with The Buddy Morrow Orchestra – She had her own nightclub in the 1950’s in Waikiki, Hawaii. She died on December 22nd, 1982 at the age of 64.
Ed McCurdy and His “Strangest Dream”
Ed McCurdy was born in January of 1919 in Willow Hill, Pennsylvania – He composed a protest song made somewhat known by “The Kingston Trio” – “Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream” (which was one of my 1960’s favorites). McCurdy worked in both radio on his own show and television. He worked on the George Gobel Show as emcee and starred on “Freddie the Fireman” a children’s TV show.
His famous protest song was recorded by many other acts including Johnny Cash, Simon and Garfunkle, The Weavers and the Chad Mitchell Trio. The song was given perhaps it’s most famous tribute when the Berlin Wall was being dismantled in 1989 – East German children were filmed by a television crew singing his anthem en masse as the wall came down.
McCurdy died on March 23rd, 2000 at the age of 1981.
Chuck Higgins was born in April of 1924 in Gary, Indiana Charles William Higgins. His “Pachuko Hop” gained favor in the Los Angeles and southern California area with Latinos in the early 1950’s. He backed the group “The Orioles” and recorded on many early vintage records labels including Aladdin, Specialty, Dootone and Lucky.
He died on September 14th, 1999 at the age of 75.
Larry Hall was born in June of 1940 in Hamlett, Ohio Lawrence Kendall Hall. He was truly a “one hit wonder” charting with “Sandy” (another one of my favorites) in late 1959 reaching the number 15 position on Billboard.
He continued singing on the northwest coast of the U.S. along with his brother Gene right up until the time of his passing from cancer on September 24th, 1997.
He released seven singles including “Sandy” on the Strand label through the summer of 1961.
The two very scarce picture sleeves shown below are from collector/historian Fred Hoyt’s collection.
Ronnie Hawkins was born in January of 1935 in Huntsville, Arkansas Ronald Hawkins – Ronnie was known as “Mr. Dynamo” and also as “The Hawk”, and “Rompin’ Ronnie”. His first band was formed right after high school, and was called “The Hawks”. He moved to Canada and became a citizen.
His band of course evolved to become “The Band” working extensively with Bob Dylan and on their own securing fame. Of his original band all original members other than Levon Helm departed. New members were Robbie Robertson, Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson and Rick Danko – all Canadian citizens.
Bill Black’s Combo
Bill Black was born in September of 1926 in Memphis, Tennessee William Paton Black, Jr. He started off performing as a stand-up bass player with a “clown” like approach to entertaining. He worked with “The Starlight Wranglers” backing Red Foley – along with Scotty Moore.
The two also worked with the Burnette brothers – Johnny and Dorsey along with Paul Burlison. They both were invited to provided session support for Elvis Presley in the Sun studio in 1954 when the young rocker was still unknown.
Black formed his combo in 1959 with Joe Lewis Hall, Martin Willis, Reggie Young, and Jerry Arnold.
Bill Black had 19 charting singles from 1959 through 1968. His biggest hit was “White Silver Sands” number 9 in early 1960, followed by “Don’t Be Cruel” #11 in September of 1960.
Black died on October 21st, 1965 at the age of 39 from a brain tumor.