From the Land of Band Box Records

Annie! Look What You’ve Done!!!

July 3, 2019

A Twisted Message

No doubt that this screaming editorial headline which appeared in an October issue of Cashbox Magazine in 1954 – was the result of a series of songs recorded beginning in early 1954 by the Midnighters, fronted by Henry “Hank” Ballard.

The first of these was “Work With Me Annie” which entered the R&B charts on April 24th of 1954 which then promptly skyrocketed to the top spot remaining there for seven straight weeks.

The success of that one prompted Ballard to quickly record two more of of his compositions, first one being “Sexy Ways” which landed at number 2 and then the “Annie” follow up “Annie Had a Baby” – another R&B number 1 (September, 1954).

Hank Ballard was born 1927 John Henry Kendricks in Detroit, Michigan.  Somewhat surprisingly, young John Henry found his first musical inspiration in singing cowboy star Gene Autry.

Like many other successful R&B acts, he was first discovered by Johnny Otis when he was a member of The Royals and signed to Federal Records.  After a short time the group would change their name to “The Midnighters” due to the presence of “The 5 Royales” out of South Carolina who were already established and had been since 1952.

Perhaps urged on by Cashbox Magazine’s stinging editorial, the FCC banned all of these recordings as well as a fourth, “Annie’s Aunt Fannie” which charted at number 10 towards the end of 1954 on the R&B charts.

Image result for hank ballard and the midnighters

The Naughty Midniters”

There would be two additional ‘risque’ efforts “Henry’s Got Flat Feet” and “It’s Love Baby (24 Hours a Day)”, before the ban took a firm hold.  Then the hits quit coming until 1959, when Hank and the Midnighters would resurface with “Teardrops On Your Letter” backed by “The Twist” reaching number 4 & 16 respectively R&B in April of ’59.  “Teardrops” would be Hank’s first entry into the Billboard Hot 100 reaching a very modest number 87.

And “The Twist”?  No dice – going completely unnoticed on the pop charts.  We all know the next part of the “Twist” story – The song was gobbled up by Ernest Evans out of Philadelphia and hit the top spot in the nation for one week in the summer of 1960.

There’s Twistin’ then There’s “Twisting”

Ironically, the song was viewed as a fun-filled and innocent dance tune – but in fact – like it’s ‘Annie’ predecessors, had it’s roots in sexual lyrical references.  ‘Twist’ reference songs went back to as early as 1844 in a tune titled “Grape Vine Twist”.  Jelly Roll Morton’s lyric line from “Winin’ Boy Blues” proclaimed “Mama, mama look at sis, she’s out on the levee doing the double twist” in 1938.  These and many others were all references to the “dirty” references by the Cashbox editorial.

Both Hank and Chubby would enjoy an additional run with “The Twist”.  First, Hank would enjoy a re-release in July of 1960 this time going to number 6 R&B and managing a number 28 showing on the Hot 100.  Chubby would wait another year for the “Twist” to really take off, thanks to celebrities taking to the discotheques taking the American public with them – Chubby’s “Twist” would return to the number 1 position in early 1962 holding number 1 for two weeks this time (this time with a nice picture sleeve).

Chubby’s has the distinction of being the only artist to take the same song to number 1 twice with the same version in the history of records!  A little side note – “The Twist” was nudged out of the number one position in 1962 by a little ditty titled “Peppermint Twist” by Joey Dee and the Starliters.

Chubby would enjoy a steady diet of twisting hits including my favorite “Let’s Twist Again”, “Twistin’ U.S.A., “Slow Twistin'” (probably more of what Ballard had in mind), “Twist it Up” and sadly “La Paloma Twist” – a tango type arrangement, “(Twist To) Blueberry Hill”, “(Twist To) I Could Have Danced All Night”.

Cash Box – August 6th, 1960

Ballard would continue on charting 11 additional records R&B with 9 of those entering the Hot 100.  He did manage two top tens over on the pop charts, “Finger Poppin’ Time” (number 7) and “Let’s Go, Let’s Go, Let’s Go” (number 6).  Ballard passed away in 2003 a victim of throat cancer.  Hank entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 – a fitting tribute and was later followed by The Midnighters in 2012.

Another ‘naughty number’ also from 1954 sort of sneaked under the righteous ears of the censors.  Joe Turner’s “Shake, Rattle and Roll” reached the R&B top spot for three weeks in ’54.  Amusingly, the song was covered by Bill Haley and His Comets that same year.   It was Haley’s second rocker to chart – his first top 10 peaking at number 7.

Decca Records probably had no idea what the lyrics penned by Jesse Stone composing as “Charles Calhoun” were referring to.  (Look ’em up when you have time).  Stone’s grandparents were both former slaves in Tennessee.  Several of his compositions were thinly disguised sexual references.  Mr. Stone was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a “Non-Performer” in 2010.

Image result for jesse stone composer


A 2008 fire at Universal Studios in Hollywood destroyed much of Ballard’s original recordings, along with originals by others such as Chuck Berry, Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles and more.

A large plume of gray smoke rises from a complex of buildings in a wooded area, seen from slightly above

Twist No More – The Universal Fire

I wonder what that Cash Box editor would make of the lyrics today – or of just about anything today. In a bit of an ironic “Twist” – below is the October 16th, 1954 cover of Cash Box Magazine – uuummmmm??

For what it is worth – here is the full editorial:


Epic Colorado Battles!

June 28, 2019

KIMN 1965 & KBTR 1967 Battle of the Bands!

Colorado rocker Marc Gonzales (3.2 Blues To Go – and many more) was very kind to take time to not only locate some vintage Colorado classic garage-era programs, photos and articles, but got them scanned and sent them our way!

Marc Gonzales with “3.2 Blues To Go”

KBTR’s High School Dance & Music Festival

In my previous post I highlighted the KBTR event in November of 1965 – which pitted more than 40 Colorado bands in competition to win a spot on the Rolling Stones’ 1965 Denver concert!

A couple of garage bands who are mentioned in the Denver Post article include “The Raindrops”, “The Driving Dynamics” – both new for me.

The Champs – The Bluetones

The winners were the Bluetones followed by

  • #2 – The Contrasts
  • #3 – Lothar & the Hand People
  • #4 – The Boenzee Cryque
  • #5 – The Galaxies
  • #6 – The Pussycats
  • #7 – The Intrigues
  • #8 – Tyler & The Bandits
  • #9 – The Marauders
  • #10 – The Daleks
  • #11 – The Time Travelers

KIMN’s 1967 Battle of the Bands

Following are the participants and some program pages for the Colorado Jaycees KIMN’s Battle of the Bands which was held in the Villa Italia shopping center (a mere shell of it’s former self these days):  If anyone knows any of these guys or something about these groups send the information my way to share with all.

The Blue Angels

Alameda High School’s Blue Angels won the Battle!

L-R: Randy DeAlba, Mike Brianza, Bruce Lee Buazier, Jeff Wayne, Rick Rivero and Eddie Ulbarri

The Action Brass (Wheat Ridge)

Back Row L-R: Jim Johnson, Larry Greene, Doug Winegar, Marc Greene, John Gary Front: Gene Brown

The Cavemen (Pueblo)

L-R: Chuck Corsentino, Al Volpe, Greg McCaulley Front: Rick Bratina

The Congress of Soul (Monte Vista)

L-R: Doug Sharp, Mark Green, Bill Cannon, Ken Widger and Eddy Miller

Dawn & The Twilights (Boulder)

L-R: Melvin Grant, Jerry Miller, David Wilson, Gerald Morris, Mike Morris

The Echoes (Limon)

L-R: Bill Green, Tommy Thomas, Jim Grabow, Rick Weidner, Willie Clark, Martin Haines

The Geneva Convention (Fort Morgan)

L-R: Dick Walker, Gary Sagel, Mike Williams, Jon Wacker, George Sears

The Kicques (Northglenn)

L-R: Ron Suzuki, Max Watkins, Charlie Lyons, John Scifurt and Steve Suzuki

The Misirlou’s (Aurora)

L-R: John Libundgut, Jamey Philips, Skip Knittle, Dave Brainard and Jack Purdie

Phalanx Mass (Fort Collins)

Standing L-R: Jim Dyekman, Buz Dicks, Ken Williams, Scott Johnson Sitting: Randy Tiler

The Precious Few (Greeley)

L-R: Lee Kendrick, Bill Hokenson, Mike Jones Kneeling: Gene Savard

The Ravens (Littleton)

L-R: Gil Cordosa, Rick Ortega, Claude Garcia and Paul Garcia

The Restless Ones (Lafayette)

L-R: Don Rice, Randy Bukey, Don Marvin and Doug Husa

The Runnaways (Westminster)

Formed in 1965 the group performed at The Acosatic in Estes Park, The Tiki in Boulder and appeared at KIMN Radio events. Most members were from Ranum High School

L-R: Lee Sutherland, Rick Chalmers, Rick Willet and Jeff Olivas

The Sands of Tyme (Glenwood Springs)

L-R: Tony Kavaric, Paul Bilansky, Jim Smedley and Wayne Eastland

Tyler & The Bandits (Lakewood)

L-R: Jim Stallings, Mike Ziskin, Sitting L-R: Tyler Plotzke, Steve Adler, Wayne Brown

The U.S. Male (Englewood)

Standing: Rene Ulibarri Sitting L-R: Tim Stephenson, Kent Borucki and Mark Fisher

The Young Savages (Commerce City)

Bottom L-R: Mike Gallegos, Larry Lavato and Lonny Lovato Top: L-R: Dick Martinez, Ralph Garcia and Tom Archuleta