Tuesday, August 30, 2011
We have briefly touched on some on the early producers of the Eastside Sound. DJ's Huggy Boy and Art Laboe and R&B star Johnny Otis dabbled in producing records. We now look the legendary, Bob Keane.
Bob Keane was born Robert Kuhn in Manhattan Beach, California in 1922. He was a clarinet player, and his ambition was to front a big band like his idol, Benny Goodman. He did so, and in 1938, at age 17, he was setting up to play his first show, at Glendale Junior College and was approached by an employee of KFWB, a Los Angeles radio station, who wanted to broadcast the concert on air to replace a canceled scheduled show. The next day Keane received a phone call from an agent at MCA who had heard the broadcast on KFWB, and who wanted to sign Keane to the label. MCA billed him as "The World's Youngest Bandleader".
MCA dropped Keane from the label in 1941 as they felt he was likely to be drafted. Keane decided to enlist in the Army Air Force, and was retired from active service due to a lung infection. He returned to Los Angeles and continued to play clarinet in several bands. In 1950, he was offered a job as a conductor on The Hank McCune Show, a new radio show. After the first episode, the producer approached Bob and told him that he would have to change his name, as the announcer was pronouncing Kuhn as "Coon". A band colleague suggested Keen, after a popular Woody Herman song, "Peachy Keen", to which Bob decided to add an 'e'. Later on in life he changed this to Keane.
By 1955 Keane was playing clarinet in several bars and clubs around Los Angeles, and one evening met businessman John Siamas, who persuaded Bob to set up a record label with him. The label would be known as Keen Records, with Bob working as an A&R man. He was given an acetate of two songs by Sam Cooke, who at the time using his original surname, Cook, and singing in a gospel group called The Soul Stirrers. On the acetate was "Summertime" and "You Send Me". Sam Cook was signed to a three-year contract with Keen, his surname changed just as Bob's had been, and the songs were subsequently pressed and released as the first single on Keen Records. Originally "Summertime" was intended to be the A-side, and sold moderately. It was only when a DJ played the B-side that the record took off, and by November 25 1957, it reached #1 on the Billboard chart.
At this point, despite Keen Records having earned over $1,000,000 from sales of "You Send Me", Bob only had an oral contract with Siamas. Upon asking when the corporation was to be formed and when he was likely to receive stock certificates for the company, he received a letter asking for him to invest $5000 (which, of course, he did not have) into his own company should he wish to remain a partner. He realized that he had been tricked into finding a hit record and then pushed out of the company.
While waiting for legal proceedings against Siamas to begin, Bob's wife suggested that he set up another label, and approach someone else who had also been duped by Siamas to put up the money to do so. Taking its name from Delphi, the Greek god of music and inspiration, the new label was named Del-Fi Records. The first release was "Caravan" by Henri Rose, which sold well, and led to Warner Brothers Records offering Keane $8000 for Henri Rose's contract, which he accepted, and which enabled him to buy out his business partner.
In May 1958, Keane discovered Ritchie Valens performing a Saturday matinee show in a movie theatre in Pacoima, California and invited Valens to audition in the basement of his home, where he had set up a small recording studio. A formal contract was signed, and Valens and Keane spent hours in the basement working on songs together. Among the songs was "Come On Let's Go", which was recorded in Gold Star Studios in July 1958, and released as Valens' first single soon after. This single, and the follow-up, "Donna" b/w "La Bamba", were smash hits. Keane served as Valens' manager as well as producer, booking shows for him across America and several TV performances.
After Valens' death in February 1959, Del-Fi records continued, and unlike the rest of the major labels in Hollywood, Del-Fi had an "open door" policy - anybody with music they wanted to be released could approach the Del-Fi offices and get it played to Bob Keane. In an interview, he remarked "I'll listen to anyone, even if they bring 'em in on a stretcher."
Other notable artists on Del-Fi over the next few years included Chan Romero, Little Caesar & The Romans, Ron Holden, the Carlos Brothers, the Gallahads and the Sisters.
In September 2003, Keane sold the Del-Fi catalog to the Warner Music Group.
Keane was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma when he was 80, and died of renal failure on November 28, 2009.
Many rare tracks from the Del-Fi archives can be found on various CD compilations which are still available. I highly recommend you seek them out.
A discography of Keen singles can be found here:
A discography of Del-Fi singles can be found here:
To learn more about the life and times of Bob Keane and the artists he produced I recommend his autobiography "The Oracle Of Del-Fi"
NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED!!!
Soley for hisorical, educational & listening pleasure.
Monday, August 29, 2011
Jimmy Carlos and Pete Antoniano were brothers who shared the same mother but had different fathers. They are credited as being the first Los Angeles-based act to bring the Mexican duet style into rhythm & blues.
They grew up in the Cabrillo projects in the city of Lon Beach, California. Their early influences were all-black doowop & R&B groups.
Jimmy & Pete went to Banning High School in the city of Wilmington, California. There, they began performing under the name the Shadows at talents shows and shows for local car clubs. They were asked to come and perform at El Monte Legion Stadium at a show headlined by Ritchie Valens. Ritchie was impressed by duo and told them he would talk to his manager Bob Keane of Del-Fi Records. At the time Jimmy was 17 and Pete was 15.
They recorded "Under Stars Of Love" and "Jungle Fever" under the name the Shadows. It was released in September of 1958 but the record went nowhere possibly because using the name the Shadows, they were thought to be black. "Under Stars Of Love" is a classic doo wop tune.
You May Listen To The Shadows "Under Stars Of Love" Here:
You May Listen To The Shadows "Jungle Fever" Here:
For their next single, the duo recorded "Tonight" and "Come On Let's Dance" For that session they were joined by Ritchie Valens who plays guitar on both sides. The record was released just one month after Ritchie's tragic death in February 1959. Fot this release they used the name The Carlos Brothers.
You May Listen To The Carlos Brothers "Tonight" Here:
Once again the duo record a classic doo wop with "Tonight" and it is an Eastside gem.
Later in 1959, Jimmy & Pete would record "It's Time To Go" and "Little Cupid"
You May Listen To The Carlos Brothers "Little Cupid" Here:
In 1960 the brothers would record an updated version of La Bamba" and it would be released with "It's Time To Go" as the flip side. For the track " La Bamba" Ritchie's original track was used, Bob Keane added some violins and the Blossoms, a Los Angeles girl group added the backing.
You May Listen To The Carlos Brothers "La Bamba" Here:
You May Listen To The Carlos Brothers "It's Time To Go" Here:
It's Time To Go" is another outstanding ballad.
The Carlos Brothers would quit music for a while but returned in 1963 for producer H.B. Barnum. They cut "Meet My Town", a sort of Beach Boys-styled tribute to Los Angeles and "I Realize". These tracks were released on the Zen label.
You May Listen To The Carlos Brothers "I Realize" Here:
" I Realize" is another Eastside classic that is seldom ever heard.
The Carlos Brothers
1959 - Come On Let's Dance / Tonight (Del-Fi 4112)
1959 - It's Time To Go / Little Cupid (Del-Fi 4118)
1960 - La Bamba / It's Time To Go (Del-Fi 4145)
1963 - I Realize / Meet My Town (Zen 106)
The Shadows (3)
1958 - Under Stars Of Love / Jungle Fever (Del-Fi 4109)
THE CARLOS BROTHERS AS THE IMPERIALS PLAYING IN SAN FERNANDO IN APRIL 1959
RULIE GARCIA AKA JOHNNY CHINGAS ON BASS
NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED!!
Solely for historical, educational and listening pleasure.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Robert Lee "Chan" Romero was born July 7, 1941 in Billings, Montana.
Romero's heritage was rather mixed. His father was of Spanish and Apache stock while his mother was a mix of Mexican, Cherokee and Irish. Both had migrated to Montana during the Great Depression, seeking employment as migrant farm workers. His nickname was bestowed on him by his grandfather. Since Romero often ran around without footwear, the nickname, from a Spanish phrase meaning "little boy with pig's feet" seemed appropriate.
Chan's earliest influence was Elvis Presley when he saw Elvis on the Steve Allen show in 1955. He was also influenced by rockers Gene Vincent, Carl Perkins and Chuck Berry. The came Ritchie Valens.
The teenaged Chan Romero hitchhiked to East Los Angeles, California in 1958. He heard Ritchie Valens' "Come On Let's Go" on the radio and was inspired to write "Hippy Hippy Shake" and thus launched his career. An uncle introduced Romero and his music to an A&R representative from Specialty records, Sonny Bono. Bono was particularly taken with a song called "My Little Ruby" and asked Romero to polish the song and to return in a few weeks. Romero needed to return to school in Montana and never returned to Specialty.
Upon forming a band on his return, it soon became clear that Valens had a tremendous impact on Romero, so much so that the two artists, who never met, sounded alike and shared much the same ethnic heritage. Two months after the plane crash that claimed Valens' life, Montana DJ & manager Don Redfield sent a tape to Valens' manager, Bob Keane, in Los Angeles. Keane was greatly impressed with the recordings and hailed Romero as a successor to Valens, immediately signing him to a contract on Del-Fi records, the same label as Valens. In June of 1959, Chan entered Gold Star Studios in Hollywood and recorded with the same band that backed up Ritchie.
Keane introduced him to Valens' grieving mother with whom Romero became close. Her home served as Romero's home during his visits to Los Angeles; he slept in Valens' bedroom.
Del-Fi would release "Hippy Hippy Shake" and "If I Had My Way" in July, 1959. It became a hit in the US, Australia and the UK. The Swining Blue Jeans would have a top 20 US hit with it in 1964. It even became part of the Beatles set in their Hamburg days.
You May Listen To Chan Romero "Hippy Hippy Shake" and "If I Had A Way" Here:
The follow-up record was "My Little Ruby" and "I Don't Care" (Del-Fi 4126) recorded in September 1959, again a rocker with a ballad on the flip.
You May Listen To Chan Romero "My Little Ruby" Here:
You May Listen To Chan Romero "I Don't Care Here"
This later "odd-ball" 1965 Romero release "It's Not Fair" is listed as being in the Northern soul genre.
If you are looking for Chan Romero's music, this is the CD to buy. Released on Del-Fi in 1995.
01. My Little Ruby
02. I Don't Care
03. Hippy Hippy Shake (Studio)
04. I Want Some More
05. If I Had A Way
06. Memories Of You
07. Your Love
08. It's Not Fair
10. My Angel
11. Hippy Hippy Shake (Demo)
12. Baby Doll
13. Boppin' & Hoppin'
14. La Bamba
Chan Romero was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame on May 15,2007 and is currently living in Pa;m Springs, California.
NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED!!
Soley for historical, educational & listening pleasure.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Although his music career lasted only eight months, his musical legacy and impotrance in the Mexican-American music movement and the Eastside Sound will live on forever. Not only a talented guitarist & vocalist, Ritchie wrote many of his own songs.
Ritchie began as a member of the band, The Silhouettes, led by Gil Rocha out of the Pacoima/San Fernando area. Rocha wanted to get his band a recording contract and went to Bob Keane owner of Del-Fi Records in Hollywood. The "Little Richard Of San Fernando" would be invited to Keane's home where some demos were recorded. In 1958 Keane signed Ritchie & that's when his named was changed to Ritchie Valens. In July of 1958 Ritchie entered Gold Star studio & cut "Come On Let's Go" and "Framed"
You May Listen To Ritchie Valens "Come On Let's Go" Here:
You May Listen To Ritchie Valens "Framed" Here:
His next record was probably the first double 'A Sided" 45 in rock history. My mother married a man from Pacoima who had a copy of Ritchie's new record "La Bamba" and "Donna". He always played "La Bamba" on our home turntable but being the curious lad that I was I flipped it over & much to my excitement, I fell in love with "Donna". I saved up enough allowance to buy my own copy and that single is what led me into record collecting. "La Bamba" was Ritchie's re-working of a traditional folk song. "Donna" was a dreamy ballad Ritchie penned for his girlfriend, Donna Ludwig and it would reach #2 on the national charts.
You May Listen To Ritchie Valens "Donna" Here:
Ritchie would next release "Fast Freight" and "Big Baby Blues" under the name Arvee Allens which would later be released under the name Ritchie Valens. "Fast Freight" featured a surf style guitar long before surf music would become popular. "Big Baby Blues" also an intrumental featured Ritchie's blues guitar riffs.
You May Listen To Arvee Allens "Fast Freight" Here:
You May Listen To Arvee Allens "Big Baby Blues" Here:
Ritchie would make an appearance on Dick Clark's American Bandstand and appear in the Alan Freed movie "Go Johnny Go"
In early 1959, Valens was traveling the Midwest on a multi-act rock and roll tour dubbed "The Winter Dance Party." Accompanying him were Buddy Holly with a new back-up band, Tommy Allsup on guitar, Waylon Jennings on bass, and Carl Bunch on drums; Dion and the Belmonts; J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson; and Frankie Sardo. None of the other performers had backing bands, so Buddy's backup band filled in for all the shows. Conditions for the performers on the tour buses were abysmal, and the bitterly cold Midwest weather took its toll on the party; Carl Bunch had to be hospitalized with severely frostbitten feet, and several others (including Valens and The Big Bopper) caught colds.
The bus they all were taking on the tour was plagued with a defective heater and Holly decided to charter a small plane for himself and others. Valens, Holly, Richardson, and the pilot were killed when their small plane crashed soon after taking off from Clear Lake, Iowa on February 3, 1959. Don McLean referred to it as "The Day the Music Died".
After Ritchie's death Del-Fi would release the following singles:
That's My Little Suzie (US #55) / In A Turkish Town?Del-Fi 4114 (1959)
Little Girl (US #92) / We Belong Together?Del-Fi 4117 (1959)
Stay Beside Me / Big Baby Blues?Del-Fi 4128 (1959)
The Paddiwack Song / Cry, Cry, Cry?Del-Fi 4133 (1960)
More Ritchie 45's:
Ritchie Valens Albums:
Ritchie (1959) -- Del-Fi DFLP-1206
Ritchie Valens In Concert at Pacoima Jr. High (1960) -- Del-Fi DFLP-1214
Over the years Ritchie's music has been re-issued in a number of different ways. Of special interest to fans & collectors are the following:
Ritchie Valens: The Lost Tapes Del-Fi DFCD-70009 (1995)
|01. We Belong Together|
02. Blues With Drum
03. Ritchie's Blues
04. Come On, Let's Go
05. In A Turkish Town
06. Dooby Dooby Wah
07. Bluebirds Over The Mountain
08. I got a girl named Sue
became later "That's My Little Suzie"
09. Let's Rock and Roll
10. Donna 1 - unfinished song
11. Donna 2 - without modifications
12. Blues Instrumental
13. Cry Cry Cry 1
14. Cry Cry Cry 2
15. Malaguena - test with piano
16. Blues - Slow
17. Stay Beside Me
18. Rhythm Song
19. Guitar Instrumental
20. Rock Lil Darlin'
21. Cry Cry Cry - false start
22. Cry Cry Cry - complete take
23. Cry Cry Cry - break down
24. Cry Cry Cry - complete take - take 3
25. Dooby Dooby Wah - takes 1,2,4 & 7 - false start
26. Dooby Dooby Wah - take 16
27. In A Turkish Town - take 13 - false start
28. In A Turkish Town - take 14
29. La Bamba - takes 1 & 2 - break down and false start
30. La Bamba - complete band track - take 5
31. La Bamba - band track
32. La Bamba - band track - take 8
33. Bluebirds Over The Mountain - take 1 - false start
34. Bluebirds Over The Mountain - take 3 - complete
35. Bluebirds Over The Mountain - master session
36. Bluebirds Over The Mountain - take 5 - complete
37. That's My Little Suzie - take 1 - false start
38. That's My Little Suzie - take 2
39. Ooh! My Head - fragment of early version
40. Donna - Commercial
The Ritchie Valens Story (1993) -- Rhino/Del-Fi 71414
1. Narration of Ritchie Valens' Story As Told by Bob Keane, Producer And Manager of Ritchie Valens (21:57)
2. Ritchie Valens - Big Baby Blues (single version) (1:58)
3. Ritchie Valens - Bluebirds Over The Mountain (demo) (1:02)
4. Ritchie Valens - Boney-Maronie (LP version) (2:50)
5. Ritchie Valens - Come On, Let's Go (demo) (2:17)
6. Ritchie Valens - Come On, Let's Go (single version) (2:06)
7. Ritchie Valens - Donna (demo) (1:55)
8. Ritchie Valens - Donna (single version) (2:33)
9. Ritchie Valens - In A Turkish Town (demo) (2:13)
10. Ritchie Valens - La Bamba (Gold Star recording session) (2:35)
11. Ritchie Valens - La Bamba (recorded at Gold Star, the B-side of Donna) (2:07)
12. Ritchie Valens - Let's Rock & Roll (demo) (1:30)
13. Ritchie Valens - Malaguena (demo) (3:04)
14. Ritchie Valens - Paddiwack Song (LP version) (2:34)
15. Ritchie Valens - Ritchie doing commercial for Winter Dance Party, followed by radio announcer from Des Moines, Iowa, Feb 4, 1959 the day after the fatal plane crash (1:41)
16. Ritchie Valens - Rock Little Darlin' (demo) (1:17)
17. Ritchie Valens - Stay Beside Me (single version) (2:28)
18. Ritchie Valens - Summertime Blues (live in concert at Pacoima Jr. High) (3:07)
19. Ritchie Valens - That's My Little Suzie (demo) (2:53)
Come On, Let's Go! (1998) -- Del-Fi DFBX-2359
Deluxe 3-CD, 62 track set featuring all tracks from the three original albums plus rare demos and outtakes. 62 page booklet features biography and rare photos. Package also comes with poster, picture cards, and Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame campaign cards
A fabulous movie about Ritchie's life was released in 1987 entitled "La Bamba" starring Lou Diamond Phillips.
In 1989 Ritchie would receive his own star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. In 1993, the United States Post Office would release a commorative stamp.
If you are really interested in Ritchie Valens & his life I urge you to buy the book "Ritchie Valens - The First Latino Rocker" by Beverly Mendheim.
They call it "The Day The Music Died" but for me Ritchie's death was in part the beginning of my record collecting and for many young Chicanos it would be a launching-pad that would inspire the evolution of the Eastside Sound.
Ritchie will always be remembered as his music and legend are passed on from generation to generation.
NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED!!
Soley for historical, educational & listening pleasure.
DJ's Soulera 5150 and Ruben Molina bring their "stax of wax" to the V.F.W. Post in the City Of Industry, California on September 3, 2011. The sounds of sweet soul music will fill the air and the pitchers will be filled with ice cold beer. Bring your low-rider wheels and your favorite lady or man and join in on the fun while the records spin.