Monday, January 12, 2009

Georgia Prophets' Billy Walker, Ray Whitley's "Yessiree, Yessiree", and the Soul-Jers' cover, Northern Soul and Beach Music,





Above Images:

(Top) L-R :Billy and Barbara Scott and Billy Walker

(Middle) record label : "Yessiree, Yessiree" recorded in 1962 by prolific song composer for the Tams, Ray Whitley, with Wayne Logiudice on drums

(Bottom) At Last ! The magazine cover of Atlanta Magazine in January 1967 featuring the Soul-Jers - Thank you JT

Hi Greg,

I've been having the grandest time the past few nights reading the
info on your site, listening to the downloads of the bands, reading the
blog, etc. My husband has a sinus infection and has been sleeping in
the guest suite in the back end of the house so I've been able to
stay up until the wee hours of the morning without disturbing him. Then
when he leaves in the morning driving to work in Honolulu, I get up,
turn on the computer, and start reading again. There's so much I'll
probably never catch up. My latest "find" is discovering the band,
Larry and the Loafers's recording of "Panama City Blues" (recorded in
1960.). What a treat to find that it was available for download.
Somehow I got a lead reading some of the information on your site. I
got an idea to download the Heeey Baby Days Beach music to my iPod so
I could listen to it on my jog every day. I had been purchasing
downloads and they started declining my charges. When I called
American Express they said they were worried that someone else might
have been using my card because there were 42 downloads @ 99 cents
each. I laughed and said it really was me and that they usually check
on charges in the hundreds of $$. Go figure. But I guess I should be
glad that they are on top of things. I can't wait until I get the
book. Now that I will have two copies I won't be so concerned
for other people to look at it, worrying that they might "bend the
pages". Hey, that might be a good "sales gimmick". Tell everybody they need two
copies - one to read and one to save.

About the blog when you went to Liverpool - I recently within the
last year discovered what Northern Soul is. All this time I thought it was
soul music by Northern artists in the US. I discovered it when I was
doing research on Barbara Lewis, my favorite female singer from the
60's. I found a fairly recent recording of Ms. Lewis singing "The
Stars" on YouTube and contacted Ian Levine, who had posted it. Come
to find out, he is a record producer in England and had done a
documentary on Northern Soul, which took years to complete. Through him and his
site, I learned all about Northern Soul and that a lot of the artists from the US went to Europe to perform when the Heeey Baby Beach Days music was over, taken over by hard rock and heavy metal. (Artists like Ms. Lewis and Percy Sledge). I thought it was very interesting how it all evolved. (And I know that there is a difference in Northern Soul
and HBDB music, but when you think about the lines are kind of
blurred there because Barbara Lewis' "Hello Stranger", "Baby, I'm Yours" and
even "Think A Little Sugar" (the flip side of "Hello Stranger") was
always playing on the juke box at the Hang Out at Panama City Beach.

I can remember it like it was yesterday. Perhaps you could write a
chapter in your next book about both NS and HBDB music. I know your
book is dedicated to the "garage bands" but music like Barbara Lewis'
was and still is played at various beaches in the South (especially
the Carolinas) and considered to be "beach music". Did you know that she
was inducted into the Carolina Beach Music Hall Of Fame in 2003?

About mine and my friends memories of the Hang Out and Panama City
Beach, I've recently discovered that J. D. Weeks is writing a book,
"Memories About Panama City Beach" and submitted my story.
(http://www.jdweeks.com/) I got an email from him today saying he hopes to
get it to the publisher sometime this summer. He said you used some of
his post cards in the HBDB book. So look for my story about the Hang Out
and Panama City Beach.

When you have time, check out my MySpace dedicated to Barbara Lewis -
www.myspace.com/barbaralewisfan and let me know what you think. I
talk about the Hang Out and Panama City Beach there too. Hey, I'm a huge
HBDB music fan and only listen to the "oldies" radio stations. But I
do love Melinda Doolittle's music. She finished third on American
Idol, Season 6. I never watched AI but stopped in my tracks when I
heard her for the first time. Not since Barbara Lewis has any female
singer "knocked my socks off". I actually flew to Franklin, TN (a
suburb of Nashville) to see her first solo performance. I am a member
of her support group, Melinda's Backups. (She used to be a backup
singer.) She attended the afterparty at our hotel, spending the
entire evening with us. So I know her personally. She has received four
flower leis from the Backups (which I took care of) at various
performances. Melinda's debut CD/album, "Coming Back to You" will be
released Feb. 3. Amazon.com made a snafu and accidentally made the
entire album available for download when they were only supposed to
release the single, "It's Your Love". I was one of a very few who was
able to download it before they realized their snafu. It's absolutely
incredible. Didn't mean to get off on that, but as I said, she is the
first female since Barbara Lewis to "blow me away".

Well, my husband just got home so I'd better go and fix dinner. Feel
free to post any of my emails on your blog. I've got to figure out
to register.

I look forward to hearing back from you.

Fond Aloha,
Ann Adams






Ann,

Thanks for your email... lots of good discussion points. Downloading the Music of The Heeey Baby Days of Beach Music to an ipod and listening to any of those 44 cuts you bought is a great way to enjoy a jog. When you get the entire collection you ordered, you are going to have several marathons of enjoyment.

Responding to some of the items you brought up:

Larry & The Loafers: Other than a mention in the book, that is all we were able to do before book’s publication; hopefully a lot more is now available on the Internet and others will respond. Their name came up several times but at the time we did not have a contact. Maybe we'll be able to post some photos and do a bio on the band at the blog.

Northern Soul: As the soulful 60s were taking a back seat to the 70s new rock sound, much of it promoted by former soulies, there was an area of England and a particular group that refused to let the sound die, and thanks to them, much of the "below the radar screen" music is still available. "Below The Radar Screen" in this connotation means that songs that got to be very big Northern Soul songs but never made the American Top Forty. The British “record collectors" have done much to popularize and keep that sound alive. A tip of the hat to them! As to why it’s called Northern Soul…
Here’s two answers from two different sources:



http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/888139


Northern soul is a type of mid-tempo and uptempo heavy-beat soul music (of mainly African American origin) that was popularized in Northern England from the mid 1960s onwards. The term also refers to the associated dance styles and fashions that emanated from the Twisted Wheel club in Manchester and spread to other dancehalls and nightclubs, such as the Golden Torch (in Stoke-upon-Trent), the Highland Rooms at the Blackpool Mecca and the Wigan Casino. Northern soul dancing was usually athletic, resembling the later dance styles of disco and break dancing. Featuring spins, flips, and backdrops, the northern soul dancing style was inspired by the stage performances of visiting American soul acts such as Little Anthony & The Imperials and Jackie Wilson

http://www.the-soulsurvivor.co.uk/history.htm

Northern soul to me is mostly up tempo soul music with a continuous backbeat that is not unlike Motown. I did and still do like 99% of the records played in the mid seventies Northern soul venues but there was a few records I did not really class as "Northern Soul" although they were popular (Mal -Martin Stevens is one of them) I Do think these records were really a part of the Northern soul scene at the time, even though I didn't like them as I think most people had their own ideas as to what northern Soul really was.

When I was in the U.K. for the book tour, I asked a few of those attending the event “What is the significance of “Northern” in soul ?” and I got the same type of varying responses you get when you ask someone, ”What is Beach Music.?”

The consensus answer is that early on, they associated American Soul Music with Motown and Detroit which is in the “Northern” part of the U.S. This was primarily a result of the fact that for the most part, Soul music that made the big charts and heard around the world had a blue Motown label. In time, I think they learned that the style of soul music they liked was also being made in other areas of the U.S.

I have compared the listing in the book of the Greatest 100 songs of the Heeey Baby Days with a list I found of The 100 greatest songs of Northern Soul and surprisingly there were only 4 or 5 that were common. (BTW: Both "Hello Stranger" and "Think A Little Sugar" are on my list) I too really like Barbara Lewis and she is mentioned several times in the book and there is a photo of her with one of the beach bands. I rarely use the term "garage bands" to describe the R&B bands (Hey Baby Days bands) of the 60s because many many of them made it well beyond their garage.

As to the list of North Soul Songs and Beach Music Songs, the sounds in each list are very similar and include many of the same artists but generally are not the most well known by the particular artist. I have always thought that Northern soulie are the champions of the "b" sides. The Hey Baby Days list was confined to records made in the 60s which made for some of the differences in the two lists.

I enjoyed my trip to the U.K. and especially enjoyed the enthusiasm these people have for American Soul Music aka R&B, Beach Music, Motown, Philly, etc. Many of the big Northern Soul songs are up-tempo, which I like. Also, The Northern Soulies are dancers or "twirlers" as my wife Nora puts it...

There are other distinctions Northern Soul and Beach Music that are worth noting: Beach Music, especially as it relates to The Hey Baby Days is more focused to band performances of the same or similar music that the Northern soulies insist on playing on the original 45s. Beach band parties of the 60s hardly left room to dance while the All-nighters of the 70s in the U.K were all night dance marathons conducted by a succession of popular dee jays. That’s not to say that many of the R&B performers were not successful performing live in the U.K. e.g. Percy Sledge, Barbara Lewis, Major Lance… In fact the resurrection of the Tams’ song, “Hey Girl Don’t Bother Me” in 1971 (7 years after its US release) and the Tams’ subsequent tour of the U.K. is a great example of how strong the Northern Soul movement was at the time... is something that sounds like a script for Frank Capra. In many cases the Northern Soul clubs were playing the then current music of the American R&B greats who had decided that they would go to where their music was playing.

I understand now why they were not that interested in playing one of the two CD that are in the book when I was over there. It is part of their preservation culture that I certainly admire.

Here's something that happened last week that puts into perspective the psychological differences of Northern Soul versus Beach Music: I decided to try to find Frank Bray, the lead singer for the Metros and Liberation in the late 60s through the mid 70s.I located Frank and we started talking about the old days. I always thought that when the Metros left the Tams and started Liberation, the name change was somewhat symbolic. Frank confirmed that I was right about that.


The thing I was most interested in was any possibility that Liberation would have a reunion performance. He said that they got together and talked about it about a year ago. Most of the guys are still around; the main missing ingredient would be Bobby McCrary who died of throat cancer a few years back. It's hard to forget Bobby as he was certainly a great entertainer as was the entire band. Liberation had several releases in the 70s and there was excellent but never really made the charts that were then dominated by a different sound. When you get the complete set of the music from the Heeey Baby Days , listen to "Love Looks Good On You."
F
rank said he was contacted by a fellow from the U.K. not too long ago looking for an original copy of "Love Looks Good On You" on the 123 Redbird label. Frank had one but said his son persuaded him not to sell the record. I am not sure what Frank was offered for his copy but I noticed that a copy is available on the Internet for $800.00. Frank learned for the first time that Liberation was popular in the Northern Soul movement and could have been successful on tour over there even at the time the band broke up. I have heard that same or similar story several times now as it relates to many of those southern bands of the late 60s and early 70s.

The gentleman from the U.K. was primarily interested in obtaining the record while my interest would have been in seeing Liberation perform again. However, I will now be on the lookout at Atlanta Antique malls for the record..


Your email brought up a lot of things for discussion and I tried to touch on as many as possible and by the way, I did check out Melinda. Wow!

Thanks,


Greg








Greg,

It was such a treat to stumble unto your site. I was married to Billy Walker of the Georgia Prophets for 17 years. He died in 1988 in an automobile accident at the age of 48. It was such a sad shame for us. Billy & I had a son and a daughter. His son, Joshua, is a percussion teacher for several high schools in Charlotte, North Carolina where he lives. He also plays with the Charlotte Symphony occasionally. He performs around Charlotte with different bands and really enjoys music....just like his father.

I used to have pictures and even a promotional pic of Billy with The Golden Era group he formed after he left Georgia's Best. However, I have no clue to where it is now. If I ever find it, I will share it with you. It has really been many, many years but sometimes it seems like only yesterday. I am sure you understand just what I mean.

Thanks,

Billie Walker Narron

p.s. Yes, We were Billy and Billie Walker back when we were together....lol

Billie,

Thank you for contacting us. I love the story that Jerry McElveen told about the time Billy was cured of stage fright prior to his first appearance at the Beach Club in Myrtle Beach. It was updated and republished in the book. His cover version (with Georgia's Best) of Jerry Butler's, "Never Give You Up" is included on Disk 10 of the Heeey Baby Days of Beach Music series. He really had a great voice and is well remembered by those who saw him perform from back in the day.

Regards,

Greg Haynes

5 comments:

alohabyana said...

Hi Greg,
Wow! What a wealth of information you gave me. I've been having a bad week. My "wireless" connect laptop and wireless printer have been on the blink. Sometimes that happens and I understand it happens a lot with "wireless" people. As if there wasn't enough, someone broke into my car and stole my prescription glasses so I am using an old pair of prescription glasses and a magnifying glass to use my computer, which seems to be working today. (I can't get in to see the eye doctor until Feb. 5.) (I have a Ford Mustang convertible, a "tourist car", and tourists do leave valuables in their rental cars. The only thing in my car was my prescription glasses, which I have to have to drive but which I don't take with me when I go jogging.) So it was nice to see that you have responded to my email. And now I've figured out how to blog so you don't have to enter in my emails on the blog.

Wouldn't it have been nice if the heavy metal and hard rock had not taken over at the end of the 1960's? I couldn't stand it then and I can't stand it now. It's really wonderful that beach music is and always will be "timeless". By the way, I'm listening to www.949thesurf.com right now. I do envy those "old chaps" in England and all over Europe , who get to go to those clubs and listen to Northern Soul and Beach Music today.

It was interesting to read about how Perrin Gleaton joined the Swingin' Medallions - just before they headed for a gig in Panama City at the Old Hickory in 1964. That had to be the gig where I saw the Swingin' Medallions perform. You made an interesting comparison in Northern Soul and Beach Music. You said that with Northern Soul there were lots of dancers really doing some "fancy" dancing. And with Beach Music it was more about the bands. Well, that day at the Old Hickory in PC Beach you couldn't have danced if you wanted to because there was "wall to wall" teenagers. By the way, I just ordered the Swingin' Medallions' latest album/CD just released in Dec., 2008 - "Madress and Madness". OMG do I remember madress. My husband wore a madress sports coat to his senior prom. I wish some of those beach music bands that are still together today would contact Col. Tom Moffatt to see if he would promote them to come to Hawaii to perform. Col. Moffatt, a concert promoter and famour DJ on the "oldies" channel 107.9 "live" every Sat. morning was responsible for bringing Elvis to Hawaii. Oh how I wish some of those beach music bands could come. My husband saw Smokey Robinson last year. (I was on the Mainland visiting the grandchildren.)

I've been having "the time of my life" catching up on all the archives of letters you posted before you began this blog. My latest "find" was the Beach Music radio station broadcast plugging the Heeey Baby Days Beach Music Book with six or so songs from the two CD's in the back of the book (and a "hello to the guys at the pier in PC Beach"). I immediately downloaded it to my iPod. I can't wait to get all the 17 CD's. I'm going to definitely be in "Beach Music" heaven.

I have to ask you about Barbara Lewis, my favorite female singer of all times. Did you happen to have any direct contact with her when you wrote the book? You mentioned she is in the book several times. There is a fan club for her at www.squidoo.com/barbaralewis, which I forgot to mention in my email. I've been helping the creator of the site compile info on her. We're trying to get in touch with her to get her performance schedule to post it on the fan site. If you know how to contact her, can you contact her and ask her to go to the site and make a post. I have done extensive research on Ms. Lewis. I don't know if you've had a chance to go to my MySpace site, which as I mentioned, is dedicated to her at www.myspace.com/barbaralewisfan or not, but there was a fairly recent interview with her (Oct., 2007) in A Touch Of Classic Soul, a wonderful newspaper publication. In this interview she explains why she left the music buisness and how she came back. After she left and moved, her friends did not know that she was "the" Barbara Lewis because she told no one. One day in 1993, she had a life-changing event to happen. She was working as a security guard at a parking garage in Michigan for minimum wage in the freezing wintertime. She had to wait for the maintenance man to come with his torch to un-freeze the lock to her little shed so her key would go in. This particular day when she turned on her little radio she heard her song, "Baby, I'm Yours". She called to thank the DJ for playing it and the next thing she knew, they were interviewing her on the radio. And that led to an article in the Flint Journal. That's the day she decided to work her way back up. She had become so disillusioned with the music business when she realized how "millions" had been kept from her. I sent her a beautiful lei when she was performing at Dick Clark's American Bandstand in Branson, Missouri in Sept., 2007 but I never heard from her even though I had also sent a card with my contact info. I figured that the card had become seperated from the lei when it was delivered. I did call the venue and got confirmation that the lei had been hand delivered to her. She performed in Hawaii a few months before I got here. My husband was already working here but he wouldn't go see her because he knew it would kill me if he went and I couldn't. Ever since then I've been trying to find out if she will be perorming here again or in CA so I can go see her. So far I have not been able to get her performsnce schedule. If you know how to reach her, I'd really appreciate it if you could (as I already mentioned) get her to go to the fan site and make a post of her schedule.

I look forward to your response. I'm having a really good time and can't wait to get the book and CD's.

Fond Aloha,
Ann Adams

alohabyana said...

P. S. Greg, I forgot to say I'm glad you checked out Melinda Doolittle, 3rd. place finisher on American Idol, Season 6 - behind the teeny bopper winner, Jordin Sparks and the 2nd. place finisher, Blake Lewis, teen heart throb. Everybody, including Simon Clowell thought Melinda was going to win. But her day has finally come. Her debut album/CD will be released Feb. 3, 2009 and is already receiving rave reviews, the latest from the LA Times. I just hope that because her debut album/CD is on an indie label that it doesn't hurt her and also because it's taken so long to come out with it.

Fond Aloha,
Ann Adams

alohabyana said...

ONE MORE COMMENT

I didn't mean to insult the "garage bands". I was just using that term in general because that's where they began. I know that some went from the "garage to the grammies". One that I can think of is The Candymen, Roy Orbison's backup band, formerly the Webs, who played at my high school dances. And I know that the Swingin' Medallions' "Double Shot of My Baby's Love" charted at #17 and has sold over a million copies. I found it interesting that recently Entertainment Tonight did a story on Kevin Costner and his new band and he referred to them as a "garage band". I never knew that Kevin Costner could sing until then.

Fond Aloha,
Ann Adams

heybabydays said...

Ann,

As bad as things were for you recently, at least you did not wash your Blackberry like I managed to do. Hope you get your books soon. Ironically, your reference to the changing of the styles of music in the late 60s is summed up in Chapter 12 of the book in a story titled "Hey, Hey There's Gonna Be A Showdown." It was September 1969, one month after Woodstock when the Swingin' Medallions and the Pieces of Eight played their one and only joint appearance. Rather than retell the story here, read it once you get the book and tell me what you think. The Medallions had just returned from a multi-week job in Hawaii at The Dunes near the Airport in Honolulu. The Dunes was the same ownership as The Dunes in Las Vegas.

Your story about Barbara Lewis working a security job is similiar to many we hear about former R&B stars. Maybe someone who knows Barbara will read the posting and connect you to her.

Thanks for all the input.

Regards,


Greg

Louise7 said...

Melinda Doolittle in her first-ever Nightclub engagement

November 17-21, New York City

FEINSTEIN'S AT LOEWS REGENCY, the nightclub proclaimed "Best of New York" by New York Magazine, will debut MELINDA DOOLITTLE in her first-ever nightclub engagement from November 17 – 21. The “American Idol” finalist will perform an intimate evening of jazz standards, pop hits and Broadway classics, in addition to selections from her CD, Coming Back To You. All shows are at the Regency Hotel (540 Park Avenue at 61st Street). For ticket reservations and club information, please call (212) 339-4095 or visit feinsteinsatloewsregency.com and TicketWeb.com