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.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Ninety-Six Swingin' Medallions Ninety-Six Keys To The City



1.      Most of the “youngsters” in the band have been Swingin’ Medallions  longer than the “original” members who recorded the iconic party song. However, once a Medallion, always a Medallion just ask all 96 former members of the band that reunited this past Friday night at the birth place of the Swingin’ Medallions, NINETY SIX, SOUTH CAROLINA although the county seat of Greenwood County is the official home town.



 John McElrath , Leader and Founder, Greg Haynes, unofficial band historian,  and Brent Fortson, an original saxophonist and  a legend of the UGA chapter of Phi Delta Theta


2.      The mayor of Ninety Six South Carolina gave keys to the city to all 96 members of the band that attended. He is apparently a man of strong faith so we looked around a found a copy of “The Heeey Baby Days” and presented him one of those…I asked if he had any spare keys but he was fresh out. He did say that the book would go on display at the visitors' center.

3.      The mayor also made mayoral proclamations honoring the band and their contributions to the city. It was apparent  that the entire population turned out for the gig and with such a gala and the good time had by all,  the mayor should have no trouble being re-elected.

4.      When I told Perrin Gleaton, the first guitarist for the band, that it’s all about the horns, I thought he might hit me. Although known for their horns, he reminded me that not one horn was raised on "Double Shot." Funny, but "Jimbo Doares said the same thing .

5.      Perrin appeared on the band's first single on Dot Records, “I Want To Be Your Guy.” He left prior to “Double Shot” and was replaced by Jimbo Doares. Fred Pugh and Perrin were successful with other Carolina bands. Both were Swingin' Friday night.  There are still folks who remember Fred from the Old Hickory in PC and his “Night Train” routine.

6.      There were some that were not present and they were sorely missed including those who are deceased: including: Steve Caldwell – saxophone, Charlie Webber-trumpet, Johnny Cox- Saxophone ; David Eastler-Drums, Gerald Polk-saxophone    Members  of their families or representatives were there to receive copies of the proclamation.

7.      Other living members of the band that were of the 60s that were not able to attend  were  Jim Doares- Guitar, Grainger “Brother” Hines- Saxophone , Ron Nobles - Drums and Bobby Taylor.   Five of the Eight that recorded “Double Shot” were on stage. Many who played with the band when it was known as The Medallions were present ( 1963-64).

8.      Dale Williams, Medallions lead vocalist in the 80s  voice sounded as good as he did back then… however… the rain came and the third set was cancelled so we did not get to hear Dale sing “I’m Going To Make You Mine” a composition that was written by another Medallion from the 80s, Hazen Bannister.


… and so on through 96


Hack had seven horns behind him on "Don't Let The Green Grass Fool You"

96       If you like horns, there were plenty, with as many as seven going full blast at one time... If everyone who has claimed to have played saxophone at one time or another for the band actually did and were  present Friday night, they would have not been able to fit them in the Georgia Dome.


Note: we have taken some license in recounting the events that took place in Ninety Six South Carolina this past Friday night. e.g We really didn’t count all the band members that were present… there may have been more than Ninety Six including members of the band that were “Medallions” before the band even added “Swingin”  to Medallions. These gentlemen appeared to very hip so we now know that adding “Swingin” in 1965 had little to so with lifestyle. I remember stories from those who saw the band in their early days especially at UGA. They never refer to the band as the “Swingin’ Medallions”, but rather as “The Medallions”. This is proof positive that there are folks from the 60s that were actually there and do remember.

                                     Hack Bartley and Carroll Bledsoe
Shawn McElrath, Unidentified Fan, John McElrath ;with her  1967 album with seven of the eight original members' signatures
Only one signature missing from this one
Memorabilia from an Atlanta based collector includes album cover with signatures of all eight members who recorded "Double Shot", an original 45 RPM on the "For Sale" label plus signed Tams' album with signatures of Joe Pope, Charles Pope, Robert Smith, Horace "Sonny" Key and Joe Jones
Album cover with ALL eight signatures

                          Greg Haynes, Joe Morris, and Brent Fortson

Original Drummer Joe Morris

Mayor Hands out proclamations and keys to the city L-R Jimmy Perkins, Joe Morris, John McElrath, Carroll Bledsoe, Perrin Gleaton, Brent Fortson, Cubby Culbertson, Mayor of Ninety Six, Dale Williams, Robby Cox, Fred Pugh behind mayor... others out of view

Fred Pugh explains to fan about how he was able to wow the fans back at the Old Hickory in 1964 with "Night Train" while Carroll Bledsoe looks on... perhaps thinking that Fred's memory is a little fuzzy.

Mayor of Ninety Six makes presentation to John McElrath
Brent Fortson Signs two copies of "The Heeey Baby Days of Beach Music." With his and Joe Morris's signature, we now have two books with autographs of all the members of the band and several hundred other signatures of members of bands from the 60s.
Jimmy Perkins, Greg Haynes, Fred Pugh and Hack Bartley