Friday, July 12, 2013

Tams' Charles Pope, Wayne Loqiudice and Kommotion and Ray Whitley in the Hey Baby Days of Beach Music

Charles Pope gets his ticket to “The Party To End All Parties” in The Heeey Baby Days joining Wayne Loqiudice and Ray Whitley at the gala. (See foot note regarding The Party To End All Parties)

According to my Inbox, Diane Cottle-Pope’s call came in at 4:53 this morning. I knew even before I listened to the message that it had to do with Charles “Speedy” Pope younger brother of Joe Pope and Otis Pope. I don’t think he had others. Charles Pope had died the previous afternoon.  It was a great loss to the ever-dwindling group of entertainers that created Beach Music. Just in the last couple of months we lost others including Wayne Loqiudice and Ray Whitley.

Wayne was lead singer for The Kommotion, an Atlanta band in the 60s that had an army of incredible musicians (see band directory at  We regret we didn’t include more in the Hey Baby Days about this talented band who had a great cover of “The Little Black Egg” It took me a while to learn to spell his name but anyone that ever saw Wayne on stage remembered him.  Back in the day when it came to stage demeanor  show and dance, many say he could hold his own with Joe Tex and James Brown and is sometimes compared with Wayne Cochran of CC Rider fame

If one ever gets around to listing the all time great composers of what we refer to as Beach Music, the name Ray Whitley will be up near the top with Norman Johnson and others. What a family of greats came out of that old school house in Brookhaven Georgia known Master Sound. Whitley co-wrote the Tams’ hit “Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy” with one of the original Classics IV, J.R. Cobb.

Whitley wrote most of the Tams’ major hits including “What Kind of Fool”, “I’ve Been Hurt”, “Hey Girl, Don’t Bother Me”, “Laugh It Off”, “Too Much Fooling Around” and one of the more underrated songs of the Tams’ “Dancing Mood.” In the world of Reggae, “Dancing Mood” is almost a national anthem that many think was written by Delroy Wilson as he made it a major Reggae hit.  Little   credit is accorded its author, Ray Whitley. May he rest in peace.

I first met Charles Pope in 1968 when I first engaged the fabulous Tams Revue for one of the many  big four-hour shows and dances that we would have over the next couple of years. 

Charles always loved telling me back in the day that the “Tams were making me rich.” or “You’re getting rich off the Tams, ain’t you?” Fellow Tam Horace “Sonny” Key loved to tell people “we are sending Greg to college.” Easy to think such when the Tams’ were packing the various venues where we promoted the “World Famous” Tams and their 17-piece revue. No kiddin’ those really were the days! The Tams were the South’s equivalent of the Four Tops and Temptations. "According to Charles and Otis, Motown was interested in adding the group to its stable of R&B greats. 

It seems like yesterday when I sat in the Jonesboro home of Diane and Charles Pope reminiscing with Charles and Otis about the glory days. Older brother, Otis, was the road manager for the band for years. I kidded him about the near heart attacks he gave me the times when the Tams arrived just in time for a show. If you really want to see a blur... band  arrives at 7:45 for an 8:00 start and at 8:00, it's show time. It  could only happen in the Hey Baby Days.

Charles seemed more reserved when talking about the Hey Baby Days than others but when he spoke I listened intently as he offered great nuggets of info most of which is included in the book.

When people think of the Tams show, they think not just of the vocals and all the great tunes but of the high energy the Tams brought to the stage, their high stepping chorography.

According to Charles and Otis, it wasn’t always that way. “In fact at first we just stood up at the mic and sang, sort of like a doo wop group. However, when we first toured with James Brown and he saw our stage show, he said if you’re going to tour with me… you gotta dance" … so they did.

Charles said he and the group were shocked when the group arrived at a booking at a South Carolina club in the 60s only to find out it was an "all-white" club. And as they say, "The Crowd Went Wild". The Tams music had the right sound and beat for the shaggers and there in the Carolinas , the Tams' music hit its zenith.

The Beach Music world is going to miss Charles Pope. His contributions were numerous. Charles once said, ”Beach Music has been good to us.” Beach Music is a music genre some music pundits continue to insist doesn’t exist. They mostly reside in places other than the South. Beach Music has a special set of heroes that rarely get a lot of press. At the head of this class sits Charles Pope and the Mighty Tams.

God Bless Charles Pope!

Footnote: The Party To End All Parties is the ultimate Beach Music revival of greats that have passed on.  A scene of the great spectacle that took place in a small town auditorium in South Georgia is on the cover of ”The Heeey Baby Days of Beach Music.” All the greats of the genre that have passed on are visible on stage while their still living cotemporaries may be there but are blurred and unidentifiable. Only those that have passed-on get a ticket to attend while others in attendance received a special invitation.

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