#943 (12/16/22)

MODERN RECORDS - PART SEVEN (1952-1956)

THIS ARTICLE IS IN MEMORY OF DAVID SAVIET WHO LEFT US ON OCTOBER 22, 2022.

DAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THIS WEBSITE FOR OVER SIXTEEN YEARS. HE MASTERFULLY RESTORED ALL THE 78-RPM RECORDS' AUDIO, MAKING THEM SOUND GREAT!


PART SEVEN concludes Modern Records's subsidiary label, RPM RECORDS, and features another of their subsidiary labels, FLAIR RECORDS.

Artists include The Teen Queens, The Chanters, Curtis Irvin And The Sparks, Buddy Milton And The Twilighters, Little George Smith, Jimmy Nelson, Shirley Gunter, The Queens, The Flairs, The Chimes, Bobby Relf And The Laurels, and Mercy Dee.

Highlighted are the songs "Eddie My Love", "Oop Shoop", and "Headin' Home".

Modern's subsidiary label, CROWN RECORDS, will be covered in Part Eight of this article.



          RPM RECORDS - CONCLUSION                
(Previous coverage of the RPM label is in the "Modern Records - Part Six" article.)                           

THE TEEN QUEENS

THE TEEN QUEENS were Betty and Rose Collins, sisters of Aaron Collins of The Jacks/Cadets vocal group. Their first record, "Eddie My Love", was their biggest hit. From 1956 through 1957, The Teen Queens had seven records released on the RPM label.

Above: Photo of The Teen Queens.
Above Left: Label image for RPM 453, released in 1956.

Above Right: Label image for RPM 460, released in 1956.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player):
1. "Eddie My Love" - The Teen Queens - RPM 453 - 1956.
2. "So All Alone" - The Teen Queens - RPM 460 - 1956.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

CASH BOX, January 7, 1956:
....Modern Records has signed a new group The Teen Queens. Saul Bahari said the new group could have a smash hit in their first release of "Eddie My Love"....

THE BILLBOARD, February 11, 1956: REVIEW SPOTLIGHT ON...RECORDS
EDDIE MY LOVE - The Teen Queens - RPM 453
This new girl group has a red hot rock 'n' roll sound and it's fully expressed in this slow, emotion-packed job. With definite appeal in the pop field, this disk becomes a dual market threat for healthy action. Figures to get plenty of spins. Flip is "Just Goofed", a bright rhythm entry.

CASH BOX, February 11, 1956:
....Modern Records has three hits climbing the charts with "So Wrong" by The Jacks, "Eddie My Love" by the Teen Queens, and "Bewildered" by Richard Berry all taking off in the Los Angeles area....

THE BILLBOARD, February 18, 1956: THIS WEEK'S BEST BUYS...
EDDIE MY LOVE - The Teen Queens - RPM 453
This "sleeper" has taken the country by storm in the past two weeks. It vaulted easily on to the national retail best seller list this week and placed on the New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, New Orleans, and Los Angeles territorial charts. Flip is "Just Goofed". A previous Billboard "Spotlight" pick.

CASH BOX, March 3, 1956:
....On a long distance phone call to Alan Freed in New York, Saul Bahari of Modern Records got the good news that "Eddie My Love" by The Teen Queens had reached the number two spot on Freedís popularity chart, which means itís hitting the top in the pop as well as the R & B field....

CASH BOX, March 10, 1956:
....Saul Bihari of RPM phoning here to get those big orders for "Eddie My Love" and to advise that the 16-year-old Teen Queens will soon be in town for deejay promotion....

CASH BOX, March 10, 1956:
....Even with all the pop covers on "Eddie My Love", the original version on RPM by The Teen Queens is leading the field in both pop and R & B....

CASH BOX, March 24, 1956:
....Les Bihari of RPM and Modern Records hit town on his way from New York to California. Working very hard on "Eddie My Love" by the Teen Queens which is doing real well....

THE BILLBOARD, May 5, 1956: REVIEW SPOTLIGHT ON...RECORDS
SO ALL ALONE/BABY MINE - The Teen Queens - RPM 460
The girls are high on the charts right now with "Eddie, My Love", and this disk should be another big one for them in both the pop and r.&b. markets.

"Baby Mine" spotlights their appealing delivery on a pleasantly paced rhythm ditty with effective lyrics. "So All Alone" is a wistful ballad, wrapped up in a vocal treatment strongly reminiscent of their click platter, "Eddie, My Love".

THE BILLBOARD, May 5, 1956: THIS WEEK'S BEST BUYS...
SO ALL ALONE/BABY MINE - The Teen Queens - RPM 460
First week reports on the girls' latest release are unanimously strong. From Los Angeles to New England, dealers and one-stops observed brisk demand.

Some of the markets sampled included Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Nashville, and Los Angeles.

Both sides are doing nicely, but "So All Alone" has the edge. A previous Billboard "Spotlight" pick.

CASH BOX, May 19, 1956:
....With their second release, new Modern Records artists, The Teen Queens, have broken into the pop field. Their new recording of "So All Alone" is selling pop in all markets....


CASH BOX SLEEPER OF THE WEEK — JANUARY 8, 1956


CASH BOX — FEBRUARY 25, 1956


THE BILLBOARD — FEBRUARY 25, 1956

TRADE MAGAZINE — APRIL 1956


CASH BOX RECORD OF THE WEEK — MAY 5, 1956

CASH BOX – MAY 5, 1956

Above: The Teen Queens from the cover of Cash Box dated July 7, 1956.
Inscription: The Teen Queens, unknown youngsters just a short time back, rocked the record world a few months ago with their smash hit, "Eddie My Love", on the RPM label.

This was their debut on wax and it proved to be one of those Hollywood success stories in which the Teen Queens became instantaneous stars.

The girls have just released their latest record, "Until The Day I Die", and the initial reaction indicates it may be another smash for them.

Above Left: Label image for RPM 464, released in 1956.

Above Right: Label image for RPM 470, released in 1956.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player):
1. "Until The Day I Die" - The Teen Queens - RPM 464 - 1956.
2. "Love Sweet Love" - The Teen Queens - RPM 470 - 1956.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

THE BILLBOARD, June 23, 1956: REVIEW SPOTLIGHT ON...RECORDS
UNTIL THE DAY I DIE/BILLY BOY - The Teen Queens - RPM 464
The girls, who clicked with "Eddie My Love", come up with strong ammunition again on this release. "Billy Boy" is similar to the earlier hit, and given the same impressive treatment.

However, unless lightning strikes twice in the same place, the odds should be on the flip, a pretty ballad with a catchy beat. Interest will be keen on both sides.

Cash Box Review (9-1-56):

THE TEEN QUEENS — RPM 470
Love Sweet Love (B+)
The Teen Queens bounce rhythmically through a happy middle beat novelty with excellent blending. A joyous rocker that comes off well. Watch it closely as it is bound to make noise.
(NOTE: A rating of B+ was considered as "excellent".)

THE BILLBOARD, September 8, 1956: REVIEW SPOTLIGHT ON...RECORDS
LOVE SWEET LOVE/RED TOP - The Teen Queens - RPM 470
Group produces two exciting sides that will appeal to both their pop and r.&b. followers. The familiar rhythm opus "Red Top" is given a thorough vocal going-over by the girls and they belt it home with a few licks that jazz fans will dig. A swinging number. Strong rhythm charges the flip for a slick job that moves from start to finish.

THE BILLBOARD, September 8, 1956: THIS WEEK'S R&B BEST BUYS...
LOVE SWEET LOVE/RED TOP - The Teen Queens - RPM 470
Another recent release that is making high marks. Los Angeles, Durham, Nashville, St. Louis, Buffalo, Baltimore, and Philadelphia are among the cities reporting brisk sales. Both sides are seeing action, with a preponderance of favor for "Love, Sweet Love" indicated at the present. A previous Billboard 'Spotlight" pick.

CASH BOX, November 10, 1956:
....Buck Ram now acting as musical director for the Teen Queens, and preparing material for their new Modern Records releases....


CASH BOX AWARD O' THE WEEK — JUNE 30, 1956

Above Left: Photo of The Teen Queens performing on stage.

Above Right: TRADE MAGAZINE, July 1956.
(NOTE: "Stranded In The Jungle" by The Cadets is included in the "Modern Records - Part Five" article.)


CASH BOX — JUNE 30, 1956


NEWSPAPERS—THE TEEN QUEENS":
Above Left: TIMES ADVOCATE, March 15, 1956.

Above Right: STOCTON DAILY EVENING RECORD, June 21, 1956.

Above Left: TIMES ADVOCATE, March 15, 1956.

Above Right: STOCTON DAILY EVENING RECORD, June 21, 1956.


EXTRA RECORD—"EDDIE, MY LOVE" BY LILLIAN BRIGGS:

"Eddie My Love" was composed by Aaron Collins, Maxwell Davis, and Sam Ling. Aaron was a member of The Jacks/Cadets and brother of The Teen Queens (Betty and Rose Collins). Maxwell was a saxophonist, orchestra leader, and arranger who was involved in many of the Modern label records. "Sam Ling" was the pseudonym for Saul Bihari, whose middle name is Samuel.

Artists, other than The Teen Queens, who had "Eddie My Love" released on record at the time, are Lillian Briggs (Epic), The Chordettes (Cadence), and The Fontane Sisters (Dot).

MORNING CALL (Allentown, PA), March 6, 1955: ALLENTOWN GIRL BLUES SINGER....
Another Allentown girl has hit the musical big-time in New York City. Twenty-one-year-old Lillian Briggs, graduate of Central Catholic High School where as Lillian Biggs she was active in band and orchestra, Tuesday will make her debut as a blues singer at Broadway's Arcadia Ballroom.

She won her four-week engagement at the New York City night spot after audiences across the nation acclaimed her uninhibited and greatly emotional styling while appearing with Joy Caylor's all-girl orchestra. She has been hailed by Jack Petrill, manager of the ballroom at 53rd Street and Broadway, as a sensational new blues and rhythm discovery destined for stardom.

Her appearance at "The Million Dollar Ballroom" will be followed by recording dates and appearances on television shows.

Lillian, daughter of Mrs. William Kistler and James Biggs, was a trombonist in both band and orchestra while attending Central Catholic High School. After her graduation in 1951 she continued her musical career by forming her own orchestra, The Downbeats. She also was a member of the Lehigh Valley All-Girl Orchestra and the Swingettes.

About a year ago, she joined the Caylor group, and it was while appearing with this all-girl organization that her original singing style was discovered and acclaimed.

(NOTE: Lillian was soon to release her Epic label record, "I Want You To Be My Baby", which became a hit with a little help from New York City disk jockey, Alan Freed.)

STAR-GAZETTE (Elmira, NY), August 14, 1957: WARM VOICE, FANCY FOOTWORK
....Take (Lillian Briggs') singing style....It has been called inelegant. (Lillian's response to that:) "It isn't inelegant. But people say it is because of the way I stand, with my feet apart, the way a trombone player does. I can't help it. When I sing I can't stand still. I really have to give out." ....

"They made me wear a full-skirted gown and I've got to wear the straight, tight-skirted ones or I can't sing. It's because of that so-called "inelegant" way I stand. The tight skirts help me keep my balance. During rehearsal, with the full skirt, I tripped and fell because I didn't have the tight skirt for balance," Lillian explained....

Lillian made her debut in a night-club and in the middle of a trombone solo she ran out of breath and began shouting. "Not singing, just yelling, but a show business manager thought I had possibilities and that was it," she shrugged....


STAR GAZETTE — AUGUST 14, 1957
Above: Photo of Lillian Briggs.

Above: Label image for Epic 9151, released in 1956.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player):
"Eddie, My Love" - Lillian Briggs (With Vocal Group) - Epic 9151 - 1956.

Above: MORNING CALL (Allentown, PA), November 24, 1955: THE CITY KEY, FOR ME?
Lillian Briggs was as surprised and delighted as anyone yesterday when Allentown Mayor Brighton C. Diefenderfer gave her the key to the city as she returned for her first appearance here since her success in the entertainment and recording fields.

She's at the Frolics Ballroom tonight to give the home towners a sample of the solid bouncy rhythm that marks her own style and has won her the crown of "Queen of Rock 'n' Roll".

(NOTE: Alan Freed liked to call her "The Blonde Bombshell".)

Cash Box Review 2-18-56):

LILLIAN BRIGGS — EPIC 9151
Eddie, My Love (B+)
A rhythm and blues ballad thatís breaking wide open among the teen-agers, is dramatically covered by Lillian Briggs. Strong performance that should do well in territories where the original hasnít reached.
(NOTE: A rating of B+ was considered as "excellent".)

CASH BOX, February 18, 1956:
....Talking of Lillian Briggs, the blonde ex-truck driver opened last Tuesday in the 10,000 seat arena in Sydney, Australia. She is on an eight week tour which includes theater dates in Melbourne, Brisbane, Singapore, Manila, Hong Kong, and Tokyo....

CASH BOX, June 23, 1956: FIRST YEAR FOR LILLIAN BRIGGS
NEW YORK—Lillian Briggs celebrates her first anniversary in show business with a four week engagement opening June 20 at the Sands Lounge in Las Vegas. In less than a year the 22-year-old blonde vocalist from Allentown, Pa., headlined 37 night spots in the U.S. and did a one month tour of Australia.

Her first public attention came last September from her hit Epic recording of "I Want You To Be My Baby".

Her most unusual date was headlining the United Nationsí American Jazz Concert in honor of W. C. Handy at the UN in May.



JIMMY NELSON

JIMMY NELSON was a blues singer, orchestra leader, and songwriter. From 1951 through 1953, he had eight records released on the RPM label. His biggest hits were "T-99 Blues" and "Meet Me With Your Black Dress On", both on the RPM label.

Above: Photo of Jimmy Nelson.
Above Left: Label image for RPM 353, released in 1952.

Above Right: Label image for RPM 385, released in 1953.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player):
1. "Big Eyed, Brown Eyed Girl Of Mine" - Jimmy Nelson And His Orchestra - RPM 353 - 1952.
2. "Meet Me With Your Black Dress On" - Jimmy Nelson - RPM 385 - 1953.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.



THE CHANTERS/CURTIS IRVIN AND THE SPARKS

CASH BOX, September 11, 1954:
....Joe Bihari announced the signing of two new groups called The Chanters and (Curtis Irvin And) The Sparks who will soon be out with releases on Modernís subsidiary RPM label....

THE CHANTERS consisted of Gene Ford (lead singer), Ethel Brown, Alan Boyd, and Billy Boyd. On RPM, they had just this one record. They also had two releases on Combo Records in 1955, one of these as Brother Woodman And The Chanters. Brother Woodman was the orchestra leader on that record.

Above: Label images for both sides of RPM 415, released in August 1954.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player):
1. "She Wants To Mambo" - The Chanters - RPM 415 - 1954.
2. "Tell Me, Thrill Me" - The Chanters - RPM 415 - 1954.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

The Billboard Review (10-9-54):

THE CHANTERS — RPM 415
Tell Me, Thrill Me (70)
Good lead chanter fronts the group on a neat blues opus.
She Wants To Mambo (68) This is a talk-sing piece of material which the group does in okay fashion.
(NOTE: Ratings had a range of 0-100 with 60-69 considered as "satisfactory" and 70-79 as "good".)

Cash Box Review (10-23-54):

THE CHANTERS — RPM 415
Tell Me, Thrill Me (C+)
The Chanters blend on a routine middle tempo ballad blues. Fair etching but the deck faces tough going what with so many group waxings being issued each week.
She Wants To Mambo (B) The Chanters get in the popular mambo kick on this deck and offer a cute reading. Group has a better piece of material here and offers an infectious platter to a strong mambo market.
(NOTE: A rating of C+ was considered "good" and B as "very good".)


EXTRA RECORD — GENE & BILLY:

Two members of The Chanters, Gene Ford and Billy Boyd, went on to form a duet, The Cats, with two records on Federal in 1955 and, as Gene & Billy, with one record on the Spark Label in 1955. No other vocal groups, than The Chanters, were found in which either Ethel Brown or Alan Boyd were members.

Above: Photo of Gene & Billy (Gene Ford and Billy Boyd).
Above: Label images for both sides of Spark 120, released in August 1955. Evidently for fairness, composer credits were shown in reverse of the artist name.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player):
1. "Zerline" - Gene & Billy - Spark 120 - 1955.
2. "It's Hot" - Gene & Billy - Spark 120 - 1955.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

Cash Box Review (8-27-55):

GENE & BILLY — Spark 120
It's Hot (B)
Gene & Billy spin a slow beat narrative type vocal about the torrid weather. A rhythmic steady beat blues well done in lethargic style.
Zerline (B) The pair chant a slow beat pretty and the deck comes off a better than average romantic blues ballad. Vocal is believable and tenderly done.
(NOTE: A rating of B was considered as "very good".)



CURTIS IRVIN AND THE SPARKS had just one record, that on the RPM label. The names of the other members of The Sparks are unknown. Research could not find any other group of which Curtis Irvin was a member.

CASH BOX, October 23, 1954:
....The Bihari Brothers are readying a new batch of releases. Their latest entries into the field include "Make A Little Love" b/w "Cheatiní On Me" by Curtis Irvin And The Sparks on RPM...

Above: Label images for both sides of RPM 417, released in October 1954.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player):
1. "Cheatin' On Me" - Curtis Irvin And The Sparks - RPM 417 - 1954.
2. "Make A Little Love" - Curtis Irvin And The Sparks - RPM 417 - 1954.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

CASH BOX, October 23, 1954:
....The Bihari Brothers are readying a new batch of releases. Their latest entries into the field include "Make A Little Love" b/w "Cheatiní On Me" by Curtis Irvin & The Sparks (RPM)....

The Billboard Review (10-30-54):

CURTIS IRVIN — RPM 417
Cheatin' On Me (77)
Curtis Irvin bows on the label with a good reading of listenable rocker on which he accuses his baby of cheatin' on him. The ork backs him with a beat. Could get loot.
Make A Little Love (73) Same comment.
(NOTE: Ratings had a range of 0-100 with 70-79 considered as "good".)



BUDDY MILTON AND THE TWILIGHTERS

CASH BOX, November 24, 1954:
....The Bihari Brothers are all enthused over their new waxing of "Oo Wah" with Buddy Milton And The Twilighters. Tune was originally released on a small label and kicked up a lot of reaction locally. Itís now out on the RPM label all dressed up with a new arrangement that could click big....

(NOTE: The original "O O Wah" was released on Rage 101 by The Capris in October 1954. The same song was re-issued on Rage 101 in November 1954, but this time as by Mel Williams And The Montclairs. That recording of "O O Wah" was sold to Decca in November 1954 and released on Decca in January 1955, as by "Mel Williams And The Montclairs".)

TRADE PUBLICATION, November 1954:
....Rage Records, new indie rhythm and blues label, bowed in Hollywood last week with its first release, "Oo-Wah" [sic].... Firm is headed by songwriter George Motola and businessmen Howard Dietz and Doug Neal....

BUDDY MILTON AND THE TWILIGHTERS had two records on the RPM label, issued consecutively in 1954.

Above: Label images for both sides of RPM 419, released in November 1954. Somehow, Modern Music has taken credit for the publishing rights of "O O Wah" on the label. Co-composer "Davis" is Maxwell Davis, who apparently provided the new arrangement.

Although The Twilighters are credited on the label, "I'm The Child" does not have any vocal group singing. Buddy Milton sings "I'm A Child", but never "I'm The Child".

LISTEN (Windows Media Player):
1. "O O Wah" - Buddy Milton And The Twilighters - RPM 419 - 1954.
2. "I'm The Child" - Buddy Milton And The Twilighters - RPM 419 - 1954.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

Cash Box Review (12-11-54):

BUDDY MILTON AND THE TWILIGHTERS — RPM 419
O O Wah (B)
Buddy Milton handles the lead effectively and The Twilighters back in ok style. Ditty is a moderate tempo jump that comes out good wax.
I'm The Child (B) Milton sings a slow blues in dramatic voice. Two good sides.
(NOTE: A rating of B was considered as "very good".)

The Billboard Review (12-11-54):

BUDDY MILTON AND THE TWILIGHTERS — RPM 419
I'm The Child (77)
Milton comes thru with a strong reading of a most unusual new tune as he explains that his only girl has mistreated him since he was a child. He sings it with feeling with a touch of the Roy Hamilton style. Good wax here.
O O Wah (69) Milton tries hard on this one but the tune never gets off the ground due to heavy backing and routine lyrics.
(NOTE: Ratings had a range of 0-100 with 60-69 considered as "satisfactory" and 70-79 as "good".)

THE BILLBOARD — JANUARY 29, 1955



LITTLE GEORGE SMITH

LITTLE GEORGE SMITH was a blues singer and harmonica player. He had four records released on the RPM label in 1955-1956. About this same time, George's harmonica can be heard backing Jack Dupree on two King Records releases.

In 1956, George had two releases on Los Angeles' Lapel label, one under the name "Little Walter Jr." and another as "Harmonica King And His Band". Little Walter, of course, was the great Chicago harmonica player and singer, who had such hits as "Juke", "Mean Old World", and "My Babe" on the Checker label.

Above: Photo of Little George Smith.

Above Left: Label image for RPM 434, released in 1955.

Above Right: Photo of Little George Smith.


Above Left: Label image for RPM 442, released in 1955.

Above Right: Photo of Little George Smith.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player):
1. "Telephone Blues" - Little George Smith - RPM 434 - 1955.
2. "Blues Stay Away" - Little George Smith - RPM 442 - 1955.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

Cash Box Review (8-6-55):

LITTLE GEORGE SMITH — RPM 434
Telephone Blues (B)
Little George Smith wails a slow down South blues wtih a mournful tale of his woman troubles. Heís been replaced. Smith does a good job with effective harmonica and guitar backing.
(NOTE: A rating of B was considered as "very good".)

The Billboard Review (11-26-55):

LITTLE GEORGE SMITH — RPM 442
Blues Stay Away
(75)
Admirers of the authentic down-to-earth Southern blues have a choice item here. Smith wallops the vocal as few singers today could. The whining harmonica and guitar backing offer strong support.
(NOTE: Ratings had a range of 0-100 with 70-79 considered as "good".)

Left: CASH BOX, August 20, 1955.

Middle: NEW YORK AGE, October 29, 1955.

Right: ARIZONA SUN, January 20, 1956.



FLAIR RECORDS                
THE BILLBOARD, January 3, 1953: BIHARIS' FLAIR LABEL DEBUTS FOR C.&W.
HOLLYWOOD—Another indie label here expanded from rhythm and blues into the country field when the Bihari brothers, of Modern and RPM, kicked off Flair Records.

Joe Bihari, who will function as a.&r. chief for the new diskery, has inked Roy Harris of WJXN, Jackson, Miss.; the Magnolia Boys; and the Carroll County Boys, another Jackson crew. Bihari and his brother Saul will embark on a three week tour of the South, seeking talent to make up a 10-artist roster, starting in mid-January.

Modern distributors will handle Flair. Meteor Records, which was started by Les Bihari, Memphis, has worked out a similar deal whereby all Modern distribs will handle his new r.&b. label.

CASH BOX, February 14, 1953: BIHARI LAUNCHES "FLAIR"
LOS ANGELES—Joe Bihari, president of Flair Records, this past week announced the release of the firmís first platters. The label, specifically aimed at the folk and western music fields, has already set distribution plans using the nationwide network of Modern and RPM Record distributors. First releases (are by) Roy Harris and The Magnolia Boys and the Carroll County Boys....

It did not take long for the label to shift over to mainly rhythm and blues. Little Johnny Jones And The Chicago Hound Dogs and Elmore James were both recorded on April 1, 1953 and released on Flair 1010 and 1011. The Flairs were next with their Flair 1012 record.

The Billboard dated January 29, 1955 listed "Flair Records R&B Artists" as Shirley Gunter And The Queens, The Dreamers, Elmore James, Blinkey Allen, The Flairs, The Chimes, Ike Turner, Anna Marie, and Richard Berry.

Other artists with records released on the Flair label include Big Duke (Henderson), Johnny Ace, Earl Forest, The Squires, James Reed, Saunders King, Baby "Pee Wee" Parham, Billy Gale, Walter Robertson, Johnny Fuller, Pee Wee Crayton, Bobby Relf And The Laurels, The Rams, and Mercy Dee.

At Near Right: THE BILLBOARD, January 29, 1955.
NOTE: "RICKY & JENNELL" are a duet consisting of Richard Berry and Jennell Brown (female) with The Flairs in the background.

At Far Right: CASH BOX, July 1955. (Note the misspelling of Shirley Gunter's name.)

TRADE PUBLICATION, June 1955: FLAIR RELEASES R&B PLATTERS
HOLLYWOOD—Flair Records, a division of Modern Records, which heretofore waxed only country and western tunes, this week entered the rhythm and blues field with release of two platters featuring Elmore James and Little Johnny Jones.

The releases also mark the departure of Joe Bihari from Modern to devote full time to Flair in his capacity as president and a.&r. chief. Bihari takes James with him, whom he had under personal contract. James previously recorded for another Modern subsidiary, Meteor Records.

CASH BOX, February 6, 1954: FLAIR RECORDS ISSUES FIRST POP RELEASE
BEVERLY HILLS—Joe Bihari, Flair Records head, this city, announced this past week that he will now handle POP releases along with his rhythm and blues line. He is kicking off this new program with a Japanese tune that has already become a hit in the Orient called "Sayonara (Letís Say Goodbye)"....



THE FLAIRS
Above: 1953 photo of The Flairs, who were from Los Angeles, consisting of (L-R Back) Richard Berry (bass), Cornell Gunter (tenor), Thomas "Pete" Fox (tenor), (L-R Front) Obie Jessie (baritone), and Beverly Thompson (tenor).

The Flairs' first record was on the Recorded In Hollywood label (1953). They followed with nine records on the Flair label (1953-1955). These include one each under the names "The Hunters" and "The Chimes". They also backed Oscar McLollie And The Honeyjumpers on two records for Modern (1954-1955), Dolly Cooper on one for Modern (1955), and another with Shirley Gunter on Flair (1955).

CASH BOX, August 8, 1953: 16 YEAR OLD HIGH SCHOOLERS PRODUCE RECORD CLICK
BEVERLY HILLS—Theyíre going mad in this area for a group called "The Flairs". These are five high school youngsters, 16 years of age, from Jefferson High School here, who came together to give the R&B music biz a lift.

The five boys have no professional voice training. They are still in their third year of high school. And already everyone is getting excited over them. To the extent where the R&B experts here believe, "This is the group that will lead the way".

The group was picked up and put together by young Joe Bihari, of the well known recording Bihari family. Joe is still young enough to appreciate the high schoolers. He quickly realized the possibilities which they presented to the R&B field all over the nation.

Not only did the five boys perfectly harmonize on the first two sides presented, "I Had A Love" backed with "She Wants to Rock", but, whatís even more, they wrote the tunes themselves.

Click HERE for an article about THE FLAIRS by Marv Goldberg.
(Will open in a separate window)

Above Left: Label image for Flair 1012, released in July 1953. Cornell Gunter sings lead on "I Had A Love", while Richard Berry does same on the flip song, "She Wants To Rock", which he composed. The Flair label design continues the Modern Records' tradition of red with silver print and a silver outside circle.

Above Right: CASH BOX, August 8, 1953.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player):
1. "I Had A Love" - The Flairs - Flair 1012 - 1953.
2. "She Wants To Rock" - The Flairs - Flair 1012 - 1953.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

Cash Box Review (7-18-53):

THE FLAIRS — FLAIR 1012
She Wants To Rock (B)
The Flairs dish up a middle tempo rocker with plenty of lift.
I Had A Love (B) A slow, pretty ballad softly etched. Lead comes through in good style.
(NOTE: A rating of B was considered as "very good".)

CASH BOX, August 15, 1953:
....Those five 16 year old boys from Jefferson Highschool here, who kicked off grandly with their very first disk for young Joe Bihariís Flair label, were booked into their very first theatre date. The boys felt they werenít ripe enough for theatre showing, but, Joe Bihari told íem to go ahead and get the experience....

CASH BOX, August 22, 1953:
....Joe Bihari reports that his new 16-year-old group "The Flairs" are going over big here. In fact, local disc jockey, Hunter Hancock, picked this platter as the record of the week....

CASH BOX, October 31, 1953:
....The sensational Flairs, teen-agers from Jefferson High, stole the show when they jammed the Five-Four ballroom recently with record crowds....

CASH BOX, February 6, 1954:
....The Flairs did a stint in Banning this past week-end. This teen age group has become very popular throughout the Southland due to their recent waxings of "She Wants to Rock" and "Love Me Girl" on the Flair label. They are great entertainers and put on a show that few should miss....

CASH BOX, August 7, 1954:
....The Flairs did so well at the Carillo Ballroom in Santa Barbara that the dance emporiumís manager Van Tonkins has booked them back for four more dates with "Big Jay" McNeely. The boys really steal the show whenever they do "This Is The Night For Love" from their latest Flair recording which is showing up strong in Los Angeles....

Above: 1953 photo of The Flairs (Chimes), (L-R) Cornell Gunter, Obie Jessie, Pete Fox, Beverly Thompson, and Richard Berry.
[The above photo provided by Hans-Joachim Krohberger.]
Above: Label images for both sides of Flair 1051, released in September 1954.
[This record provided by Joe Marchesani.]

LISTEN (Windows Media Player):
1. "Love Me, Love Me, Love Me" - The Chimes - Flair 1051 - 1954.
2. "My Heart's Crying For You" - The Chimes - Flair 1051 - 1954.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

Cash Box Review (9-11-54):

THE CHIMES — FLAIR 1051
Love Me, Love Me, Love Me (C+)
The group has a good sound on a quick beat rhythmic love tune, but the "Gee" manner of delivery may be becoming a little wearing what with so many groups latching on to that particular styling.
My Heart's Crying For You (B+) Hereís a side that really has it. The lads deliver a lilter with a bounce thatís contagious. The Chimes work together perfectly. Should make noise with the teeners. Good pop possibilities.
(NOTE: A rating of C+ was considered as "good" and B+ as "excellent".)

Cash Box, September 11, 1954: REVIEW SPOTLIGHT ON... RECORDS

THE CHIMES — FLAIR 1051
My Heart's Crying For You/Love Me, Love Me, Love Me
The Chimes turn in a sock reading here of a wild new rocker, selling it with zest. This could happen and could grab loot. Flip is another good side. Solid wax here.

EXTRA RECORD — THE ERMINES:
Above: Photo of The Ermines, (Top Left Clockwise) Cornell Gunter (lead tenor), Thomas Miller (baritone), Kenneth Byley (first tenor), and George Hollis (bass). Gunter had been with The Flairs on the Flair label (1953-55).
Above Left: Label image for Loma Records 701, released in September 1955. The flip, "Peek, Peek-A-Boo", was composed by Reba M. Gunter. This is the first of four by Cornel Gunter And The Ermines on the Loma label (1955-56). All the Loma labels show Cornell's name as "Cornel".

Above Right: CASH BOX, November 19, 1955.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player):
1. "True Love" - Cornel Gunter And The Ermines - Loma 701 - 1955.
2. "Peek, Peek-A-Boo" - Cornel Gunter And The Ermines - Loma 701 - 1955.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

CASH BOX, October 29, 1955:
...."True Love" by the Ermines on Loma and "Believe Me" by a new group called the Chromatics on Blend are both beginning to show up....

CASH BOX, March 10, 1956:
....Cornel Gunter and the Ermines and The Harris Sisters both signed to record for ABC-Paramount last week....



SHIRLEY GUNTER

NEW YORK AGE, November 24, 1956: SHIRLEY GUNTER HELPED....
....Until Shirley Gunter came on the scene, the days of the good ole soul-stirring, blues singers appeared on the wane. Shirley is carrying on the tradition in a style that is authentic and truly original.

She possesses the same standard qualities that have made this music famous and appreciated the world over plus just enough of today's modern innovations to make her style of singing refreshingly unique.

Being from a musical family, Shirley's singing comes as natural as breathing. All during her childhood years she spent her free time singing, and writing music with her brother, Cornel, and her mother.

Shirley was in her early teens when she formed her own group called "The Queens". She could probably be called the first discoverer of Zola Taylor, who is now the Dish with The Platters, and Blondine Taylor, who is now the spicy half of the Sugar And Spice duo. With these two girls, and two others, Shirley recorded her first big hit which she wrote titled "Oop Shoop".**

(**Not exactly accurate. While Zola was an original member of the group, she was not there for "Oop Shoop". Blondean (not Blondine) was in the group at that time. Shirley and Blondean together wrote "Oop Shoop". Shirley was 19 years old when she formed The Queens.)

With the tremendous success of "Oop Shoop", Shirley and The Queens toured the country with Roy Milton and his band. On their return to Los Angeles, Shirley decided to launch out as a single. She has often teamed up with her brother's group, The Flairs, for personal appearances. The Flairs have been given label credit for backing her up on all her recording sessions, and because they have been booked so often on the same shows, most people have come to think of them as one in the same act.

Much of Shirley's recording success can be credited to the fact that, besides herself, she has two other people who are so familiar with her style of singing that they can easily write and determine what is good material for her. These two people are her mother and her manager, Buck Ram, who gave her her latest hit "Headin' Home".

With all of this and talent, how can a girl miss?

(NOTE: It would be much better to read Marv's article if you want the true facts.)

Click HERE for an article about SHIRLY GUNTER by Marv Goldberg.
(Will open in a separate window)


SHREVEPORT JOURNAL — DEC. 30, 1954        
   (Roy Milton's Senders were not "Silent" at all, but for    sure, they were very "Solid".)
Above: Photo of Shirley Gunter And The Queens, (TOP L-R) Blondean Taylor, Lula Mae Suggs, (BOTTOM L-R) Shirley Gunter, and Lula Kinney.
[The above photo provided by Hans-Joachim Krohberger.]
Above: Label images for both sides of Flair 1050, released in August 1954.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player):
1. "Oop Shoop" - Shirley Gunter And The Queens - Flair 1050 - 1954.
2. "It's You" - Shirley Gunter And The Queens - Flair 1050 - 1954.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

THE BILLBOARD, November 1954: THIS WEEK'S BEST BUYS
OOP SHOOP—Shirley Gunter—Flair 1050
This tune has kicked off a lot of excitement since its release, and now that the Crewcuts have stimulated interest further with their powerful pop version of it, Shirley Gunter's original recording is edging close to the national charts. Already on the Los Angeles territorial for two weeks, it is also reported to have strength in St. Louis, Nashville, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and New England. Flip is "It's You".


OTHER VERSIONS OF "OOP SHOOP":

CASH BOX, September 11, 1954:
....The R&B waxing of "Oop Shoop" has caused a lot of excitement in the POP market. Tune has been cut on Mercury by The Crew Cuts, also label "X" with Helen Grayco, and Crown with Kay Brown. Several other majors are expected to cover the tune....

(NOTE: Other versions of "Oop Shoop" released in 1954 are by The Hamilton Sisters, Columbia; Big John And The Buzzards, Okeh; Harry James, Columbia LP; Gayle Larson, Tops; the Prom Orchestra, Prom; and Don Bauer, Gateway.)

Above Left: Label image for "X" Records X-0051, released in 1954. Helen has a vocal group backing her on this record.

Above Middle: Photo of Helen Grayco, who was a singer and actress. She was the wife of Spike Jones and would make appearances on his TV show in the 1950s and early 1960s. She also recorded with Spike on some of his "zany" RCA Victor releases (1949-1951).

Above Right: THE BILLBOARD, September 18, 1954.

Cash Box Review (9-18-54):

HELEN GRAYCO — "X" 0051
Oop-Shoop (C+)
Spunky voiced Helen Grayco rocks through a solid rhythm and blues item gone pop. Chorus and Harold Mooney ork are terrific too. Should go well in pop and r&b.
(NOTE: A rating of C+ was considered as "good".)

The Billboard Review (9-18-54):

HELEN GRAYCO — "X" 0051
Oop-Shoop (70)
The canary swings along with considerable spirit on the rhythm tune. Could get some of the loot.
(NOTE: Ratings had a range of 0-100 with 70-79 considered as "good".)
Above: Two photos of Helen Grayco.


Above Left: Label image for Columbia 40319, released in September 1954. The Hamilton Sisters were Eileen, Gloria, Grace, Joyce, and Lorna Hamilton. They had two records on Columbia, both in 1954, and two records on King, both issued in early 1956, one of these backing Ruth Carroll.

The "Freddy" on the label would seem to be Freddy Johnson (Mister Freddy And His Band's "Mister Freddy's Blues" on Columbia was composed by F. Johnson). There was a Freddy Johnson, who was a pianist that had led a band at one time, and who was located in New York in the mid-1950s.

Above Right: Label image for Crown 127, released in September 1954. Crown was a Modern Records' subsidiary label. Crown Records will be included in Part Eight of this article, including the flip-side of this record, "Love Me" (the Leiber-Stoller song).

Above: Two photos of Kay Brown, who was a singer and actress. She had several records released in the early 1950s. Those as the featured vocalist with Stan Kenton's orchestra, recording for Capitol Records, and under her own name, recording for Mercury Records.

CITIZEN NEWS, October 5, 1954:
....Kay Brown, a promising singer who was placed under contract by MGM a few years ago, never got the big opportunity in front of the cameras. Kay's option was dropped, and for a long period nothing was heard from her. At present Kay Brown can be heard singing on a local NBC program.

Also, she has a recording "Oop Shoop" backed with "Love Me" which stands a good chance of being a big hit record. "If it really clicks," said Kay Brown, "I'll really be on the road to a comeback." Comeback? Kay Brown has just turned 21....

LISTEN (Windows Media Player):
1. "Oop-Shoop" - Helen Grayco (With Vocal Group) - "X" X-0051 - 1954.
2. "Oop Shoop" - Oop Shoop - The Hamilton Sisters - Columbia 40319 - 1954.
3. "Oop-Shoop" - Kay Brown (With Vocal Group) - Crown 127 - 1954.

ALL THREE SONGS played in sequence.


BACK TO SHIRLEY GUNTER:
Above: Photo of Shirley Gunter And The Queens, (L-R) Shirley Gunter, Lula Kinney, Lula Mae Suggs, and Blondean Taylor.
Above Left And Middle: Label images for both sides of Flair 1060, released in December 1954.

Above Right: THE BILLBOARD, December 4, 1954.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player):
1. "Why" - Shirley Gunter And The Queens - Flair 1060 - 1954.
2. "You're Mine" - Shirley Gunter And The Queens - Flair 1060 - 1954.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

CASH BOX, November 27, 1954:
....Shirley Gunter & The Queens, who clicked with their first disk hit "Oop Shoop," recently etched their second release "Your Mine" b/w "Why" on the Flair label....

Above: Photo of Shirley Gunter And The Flairs, (TOP L-R) Cornell Gunter, Randy Jones, Obie Jessie, Pete Fox, and (BOTTOM) Shirley Gunter.
Above: Label images for both sides of Modern 989, recorded on March 21, 1951 and released in May 1956. "Headin' Home" is just one of many hit songs composed by Buck Ram, who was both Shirley's and The Flairs' manager.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player):
1. "Headin' Home" - Shirley Gunter And The Flairs - Modern 989 - 1956.
2. "I Want You" - Shirley Gunter And The Flairs - Modern 989 - 1956.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

CASH BOX, September 10, 1955:
....Shirley Gunter and the Flairs doing a series of one-nighters together.... One of the group members has a record out, "Mary Lou", on which heís billed as Young Jessie, on the Flair label....

(NOTE: "Mary Lou" by Young Jessie [And The Cadets] was issued on Modern 961 in June 1955.)

CASH BOX, May 26, 1956:
....Saul Bahari made a special release of Shirley Gunterís "Headiní Home" to coincide with the MOA convention. Jean Bennett of Personality Productions [a Buck Ram company] was talking up the side at their booth at the Chicago meet.... (Accompanying picture is at right.)

CASH BOX, June 2, 1956:
....Buck Ram is getting acts ready for two of his properties, Shirley Gunter and The Flairs, for their Apollo Theatre engagement in June....

THE BILLBOARD, June 2, 1956: REVIEW SPOTLIGHT ON... RECORDS
HEADIN' HOME—Shirley Gunter—Modern 989
The gal has a warm, intense style that packs a solid wallop and she is right at home with this slow, spiritual-styled opus. Top-notch delivery on the classy material spells big action. Flip is "1 Want You".

CASH BOX, June 16, 1956:
....Shirley Gunter and The Flairs doing great business on their current Eastern tour. Shirleyís "Headiní Home" on Modern has already taken off, and The Flairs have a new one on Aladdin called "Rock ín Roll Drive In"....
(NOTE: This is the Cornell Gunter's Flairs group.)


CASH BOX — MAY 26, 1956


SAN LUIS COUNTY TELEGRAM TRIBUNE — JANUARY 27, 1955
(It was meant to show "King" Kirkland and His Orchestra. The Queens belong with Shirley Oop Shoop Gunter.)


POMONA PROGRESS BULLETIN — AUGUST 15, 1956
(The Queens are gone. The Flairs are now on the bill with Shirley Gunter.
Also featured are The Colts, another Buck Ram managed vocal group.)

Above: CASH BOX, June 9, 1956: RAM DOES IT AGAIN
Buck Ram, rock-and-rolldom's leading songwriter and manager of several of the top rock-roller attractions, caught during an informal moment at the Mercury recording session he conducted for his latest act, the hot boy-gal singing team known as Sugar And Spice.

That's Spice (whose real name is Blondine Taylor) and also saxist Earl Warren, a regular staffer in Ram's office, doing the kibitzing.

Sugar And Spice waxed two new Ram tunes at this session, "There Are No Angels" and "Don't Be A Bunny", which Mercury released nationally last week.

(NOTE: The record was issued on Mercury's subsidiary label, Wing. BMI credits Lynn Paul and Nick Smith as composers of "There Are No Angels", and Alan Freed and Lynn Paul as composers of "Don't Be A Bunny". The Wing labels agree with BMI.)

CASH BOX, June 9, 1956: RAM SWITCHES FROM "ROCK 'N' ROLL" TO "HAPPY MUSIC"
NEW YORK—Buck Ram, prominent tunesmith and manager of a number of leading vocal groups and rhythm singers, has put together a package of his own artists, to tour the States and Canada. The package has just completed playing its premiere engagement, a week at Torontoís Casino Theatre, which began on August 23rd.

Touring under the banner of "Buck Ram Presents Happy Music", the unit is headed by the Platters (Mercury), one of the hottest vocal combos in the country, and features the following acts: Shirley Gunter (Modern Records), the Flairs (ABC-Paramount), the Cues (Capitol), Dolly Cooper (Dot), Joe Houston (Modern), and Little Jessie (Modern).

In doing away with the rock-and-roll tag because of the continuous slaps in print aimed at rock-roller shows, Ramís "Happy Music" package will be exploited nationally with the slogan, "The Happy Beat for Happy Feet". Following its Casino Theatre engagement in Toronto, the troupe will play Montreal, Chicago, and the National Paramount Theatre chain. This tour marks the first time that Ram has packaged a touring unit comprised entirely of his own artists.

CASH BOX, November 24, 1956: BUCK RAM SETS FILM DEAL FOR ARTISTS
HOLLYWOOD—Buck Ram, founder of Personality Productions, Inc., and manager of such musical acts as the Platters, the Penguins, and others, has concluded an agreement with American International Picture Productions—producers of "Shake, Rattle And Rock" and other musical films.

Under the terms of the agreement, Ram will be hired as musical consultant for a series of pictures, and, for a stipulated price, will supply his artists and his songs which he will write especially for the pictures, and promotion of the songs in conjunction with the release of the pictures.

The first picture in this Ram series is scheduled to go into production during the month of January. Such artists as the Platters, the Penguins, the Blockbusters, the Colts, the Teen Queens, Dolly Cooper, Young Jessie, the Flairs, Robin Robinson, and others will be used. The songs will be written with an eye toward getting the most exploitation out of the picture.

(NOTE: Two Roger Corman movies were released in 1957. "Rock All Night" includes the Buck Ram songs "I'm Sorry" sung by The Platters and "Rock All Night"/"I Wanna Rock Now" both done by The Blockbusters.

The second film, "Carnival Rock", includes the Buck Ram songs "Remember When" sung by The Platters and "Carnival Rock" performed by The Blockbusters.)

Ram is also entering into the recording field and will be affiliated with a new record company now being organized to release an album of Buck Ram songs as well as single releases. The album will feature five previously unrecorded vocalists. Tying the picture and record activities together will present an opportunity for new talent to be featured on records, and in films simultaneously.

(NOTE: Buck Ram formed his Antler Records recording company several months before the above Cash Box announcement.)


BUCK RAM


EXTRA RECORD—"ADORABLE" BY THE COLTS:
Above Left: Photo of The Colts, (STANDING L-R) Joe Grundy, Leroy Smith, (KNEELING L-R) Carl Moland, and Reuben Grundy.

Above Right: Another photo of The Colts, (TOP L-R) Joe Grundy, Carl Moland, Leroy Smith, and (BOTTOM) Rueben Grundy.

Click HERE for an article about THE COLTS by Marv Goldberg.
(Will open in a separate window)

Above Left: Label image for Vita V-112, released in September 1955. This record was also released on parent label, Mambo 112, earlier in the same month.

It's another hit Buck Ram song. Panther Music Corp was Buck's publishing company.

Reuben Grundy is the lead singer. This is the first of four records by The Colts on the Vita label (1955-1956).

"Adorable" by The Colts is done in a more low-key manner than The Drifters' cover version released on the Atlantic label in October 1955.

Above Right: CASH BOX, September 21, 1955.
(NOTE: The record number is incorrect. "Vita # 113" is actually by The Squires.)

LISTEN (Windows Media Player):
"Adorable" - The Colts - Vita V-112 - 1955.

CASH BOX, August 13, 1955:
....Michael Grodney of Mambo Records is all excited about the first session he cut last week with the Colts. This is the group of young college fellows from Bakersfield whom Mike recently signed....

CASH BOX, September 3, 1955:
....Larry Mead of Mambo and Vita records announced this week that all future releases by his company will be on the Vita label. Move was made because of the confusion that existed between the label name and the dance, Mambo. First new big release on the Vita label will be "Adorable" by the Colts. Abe Diamond played dubs of this one for dealers last week and their reaction was unanimously enthusiastic....

The Billboard Review (9-17-55):

THE COLTS — VITA 112
Adorable (75)
A nice side. The Colts have a good sound and style. The material reflects the modern trend toward the refined and tasteful.
(NOTE: Ratings had a range of 0-100 with 70-79 considered as "good".)

CASH BOX, September 24, 1955:
....After only one week in the stores, "Adorable" by the Colts, on Larry Meadís Vita label, hit the number one spot on the survey taken on the Zeke Manners show over KFWB....

CASH BOX, October 1, 1955:
....Latest hit to take off immediately in the Los Angeles market is "Adorable" by the Colts, new group on the Vita label....

Cash Box Review (10-1-55):

THE COLTS — VITA 112
Adorable (B+)
The Colts come up with a strong etching in this lilting romantic pretty. The tune drifts lazily and has the quality that makes it stick in your memory. A good bet for action.
(NOTE: A rating of B+ was considered as "excellent".)

THE BILLBOARD, October 29, 1955: THIS WEEK's BEST BUYS...
ADORABLE-The Colts-Vita 112 — The Drifters-Atlantic 1078
Since the appearance of the original Vita disk, excitement on this tune has mounted. The Colts started off with a bang in Los Angeles and later began making noise in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Buffalo.

The Drifters' record started later, but in areas where the Vita disk had not been distributed—and in many where it had—it showed very good sales, too. While the Colts are already on the national retail chart, the Drifters are not far behind.

CASH BOX, December 10, 1955:
....Vita recording stars, The Colts, are still attending Los Angeles City College working towards their degrees, in addition to all their entertainment activities....


CASH BOX — OCTOBER 8, 1955

CASH BOX — OCTOBER 29, 1955


EXTRA RECORD—"HEADIN' HOME" BY DELLA REESE:
Above: Two photos of Della Reese.
Above Left: Label image for Jubilee 5247, released in 1956.

Above Right: Photo of Della Reese.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player):
"Headin' Home" - Della Reese - Jubilee 5247 - 1956.

THE BILLBOARD, June 9, 1956:
....Manager Lee Magid tells us that Della Reese has gone all out on the rock and roll kick for her next Jubilee disk. The talented thrush, who has been looking for the right number to make her a really big name, is pinning her hopes on "Headin' Home." This is the Buck Ram tune, cut originally by Shirley Gunter....

CASH BOX, June 9, 1956:
....Della Reese of Jubilee and Shirley Gunter of Modern are causing Marty Hirsch of M. S. Distribs a promotional headache. They have both cut the same Buck Ram tune, "Headiní Home". Martyís afraid to let up or flip either one. Marty says they both have potential hit ability ... We can only sit way up here on our mountain and wait ... may the stronger adversary emerge....


CASH BOX SLEEPER OF THE WEEK — JUNE 2, 1956

Above Left: CASH BOX, June 2, 1956: CALM BEFORE STORM
NEW YORK—Everything was peaceful when this photo of (L-R) Sid Bass, Della Reese, and Della's manager Lee Magid was taken. But about ten minutes later, Bass' baton started the orchestra rolling and Della broke loose with the wildest recording to hit the market in a long while. A powerful version of a tune called "Headin' Home" which Jubilee issued last week.

Above Right: CASH BOX, June 23, 1956.


CASH BOX — JUNE 2, 1956 (FULL PAGE)


BUCK RAM (WITH CLARINET) AND HIS FOUR-PIECE BAND
(Buck Ram composed many hit songs including "Headin' Home". Note: The man in back is actually a mirror image of the guitar player.)



BOBBY RELF AND THE LAURELS

BOBBY RELF was a singer and songwriter. With The Laurels, he had one record on Flair (1955), one on Combo (1954), and one on the "X" label (1955). With The Crescendos, Bobby had two records released on Atlantic (1956, 1959), all four sides recorded in 1956.

Above: Three photos of Bobby Relf.
Above: Label images for both sides of Flair 1063, released in January 1955. On this record, The Laurels consisted of Bobby Relf, Ronald Brown, Ted Brown, and Sam Jackson.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player):
1. "Farewell" - Bobby Relf And The Laurels - Flair 1063 - 1955.
2. "Yours Alone" - Bobby Relf And The Laurels - Flair 1063 - 1955.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

CASH BOX, February 19, 1955:
....The Bihari Brothers are going great guns with five new releases out this week, including one by Bobby Relf And The Laurels (Flair)....

The Billboard Review (2-19-55):

BOBBY RELF — Flair 1063
Farewell (77)
Bobby Relf and the Laurels wrap up a strong weeper with warmth and sincerity. Relf does an outstanding job on the lead vocal. Should pull lots of spins.
Yours Alone (76) Same comment.
(NOTE: Ratings had a range of 0-100 with 70-79 considered as "good".)

Cash Box Review (3-19-55):

BOBBY RELF AND THE LAURELS — Flair 1063
Farewell (B)
Bobby Relf and The Laurels sing a slow lovely with feeling. Romantic weeper type tune received good interpretation with solid instrumental support.
Yours Alone (B) Another slow pretty with the romantic Relf vocal getting the most out of it. Very easy on the ears and should get under the skin of romantic teeners.
(NOTE: A rating of B was considered as "very good".)



MERCY DEE

MERCY DEE WALTON was born in Texas and afterward moved to California. He was a singer, pianist, composer, and band leader. Mercy had three records released on the Flair label, all in late 1955. He had recorded for Specialty Records in 1952-1953 resulting in three records being issued on that label. Mercy Dee was also covered in the "Specialty Records - Part Four" article.

Above: Photo of Mercy Dee.
Above: Label images for both sides of Flair 1077, released in 1955. On "Come Back Maybelline" there is no composer credit given on the label, although it is a direct steal of Chuck Berry's "Maybelline". Vocal on the "True Love" side is by the band's ensemble.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player):
1. "Come Back Maybelline" - Mercy Dee - Flair 1077 - 1955.
2. "True Love" - Mercy Dee (Vocal By Band Ensemble) - Flair 1077 - 1955.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

CASH BOX, September 3, 1955:
....It was inevitable. The Flair label has the answer to Maybelline with "Come Back Maybelline" by Mercy Dee....

Cash Box Review (9-3-55):

MERCY DEE — Flair 1077....
Come Back Maybelline
(B+) Mercy Dee drives out a rocking treatment of the sequel to Maybelline. Dee hits hard and the band hits harder. Should pick up a good part of the available sales.
True Love (C+) Dee chants a middle beat effort with a hillbilly flavor. Easy, familiar rhythmic melody.
(NOTE: A rating of B+ was considered as "excellent" and C+ as "good".)

THE BILLBOARD, September 3, 1955:
The "Maybelline" Sweepstakes shifted into high gear the past week with several interesting developments. For one thing, the excitement over the tune has apparently brought back "answer" songs. Chuck Berry's original on Chess prompted Groove's "Come Back Maybelline" with John Greer, which in turn was followed by Flair's Mercy Dee disk of the same title.

Secondly, it has brought back John Greer, who has now been booked for a flock of personal appearances. Meanwhile, Chuck Berry continues not only No. 1 on the r.&b. chart, but high on the pop best seller list, way ahead of pop versions by Jim Lowe on Dot and Johnny Long on Coral.

Above Left: Label image for Flair 1078, released in 1955. Enjoyable piano on this one.

Above Right: CASH BOX, September 3, 1955.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player):
"Have You Ever" - Mercy Dee - Flair 1078 - 1955.

Cash Box Review (11-5-55):

MERCY DEE — Flair 1078.... Have You Ever (C+)
Mercy Dee wails a slow southern blues that should find a market in the down home territory.
(NOTE: A rating of C+ was considered as "good".)

The Billboard Review (11-5-55):

MERCY DEE — Flair 1078.... Have You Ever (72)
Harvest time has got him worn out and weary. A mildly interesting piano in the Southern style.
(NOTE: Ratings had a range of 0-100 with 70-79 as "good".)

"MODERN RECORDS - PART EIGHT" WILL CONCLUDE FLAIR RECORDS (RICHARD BERRY) AND THEN DELVE INTO ANOTHER OF MODERN'S SUBSIDIARY LABELS, CROWN RECORDS.

MODERN RECORDS - PART ONE FEATURES HADDA BROOKS, PEARL TRAYLER, THE THREE BITS OF RHYTHM, GENE PHILLIPS, LITTLE WILLIE JACKSON, THE COMMANDERS, THE SCAMPS, AND THE SONGS "ROMANCE IN THE DARK", "I'LL BE TRUE", "LONESOME ROAD", AND "I'M FALLING FOR YOU".

MODERN RECORDS - PART TWO FEATURES LILLIE GREENWOOD, LITTLE WILLIE LITTLEFIELD, PEE WEE CRAYTON, LITTLE ESTHER, SMOKEY HOG, GEORGE BLEDSOE AND THE MOON MISTS, THE SMITH JUBILEE SINGERS, AND MODERN RECORDS' COLONIAL LABEL.

MODERN RECORDS - PART THREE FEATURES HADDA BROOKS, THE EBONAIRES, JIMMY WITHERSPOON, HELEN HUMES, THE SONGS "BEWILDERED", "BE-BABA-LEBA", AND "THEY RAIDED THE JOINT", PLUS MISCELLANEOUS MODERN RECORDS' BLUES ARTISTS (ROY HAWKINS, CHARLEY BOOKER, ROBERT BLAND, MARY SUE).

MODERN RECORDS - PART FOUR FEATURES JOHNNY MOORE'S THREE BLAZERS, MARI JONES, FRANKIE ERVIN, OSCAR McLOLLIE, YOUNG JESSIE, JIMMY McCRACKLIN, JOHN LEE HOOKER, AND THE FOUR OF US. ALSO, THE SONGS "DRIFTING BLUES", "MY SONG", "C.O.D.", AND "I SMELL A RAT".

MODERN RECORDS - PART FIVE FEATURES JESSE BELVIN, THE CLIQUES, JIMMY BEASLEY, THE CADETS/JACKS, DOLLY COOPER, ETTA JAMES, THE COBRAS, FRED DARIAN AND THE DREAMERS, JIMMIE LEE AND ARTIS, THE SOUNDS, AND THE ROCKETS. ALSO, THE SONGS "NEAR YOU", "ROLLIN' STONE", "SIXTY MINUTE MAN", "I GOT LOADED", "STRANDED IN THE JUNGLE", "THE HENRY SONGS", AND "SINDY (CINDY)".

MODERN RECORDS - PART SIX FEATURES B.B. KING, THE NIC NACS, THE ROBINS, ARTHUR LEE MAYE AND THE CROWNS, DONNA HIGHTOWER (WITH VOCAL GROUP), JOE HOUSTON, ROSCOE GORDON, LIGHTNING HOPKINS, AND LUKE JONES. ALSO, THE SONGS "DON'T YOU THINK I OUGHTA KNOW" AND "SHTIGGY BOOM".

MODERN RECORDS - PART EIGHT FEATURES RICHARD BERRY, THE DREAMERS, THE RAMS, WILLARD McDANIEL, THE DRIFTERS (CROWN), THE ORIGINAL JUBALAIRES, KAY BROWN, ELMORE JAMES, J.T. BROWN, AND B.B. KING. ALSO, THE SONGS "YOUR FEET'S TOO BIG", "I'VE WAITED ALL MY LIFE FOR YOU", "YOU WON'T LET ME GO", AND "LOVE ME".


Listen to all of this article's audio selections using Windows Media Player:

          1. "Eddie My Love" - The Teen Queens - RPM 453 - 1956.
          2. "So All Alone" - The Teen Queens - RPM 460 - 1956.
          3. "Until The Day I Die" - The Teen Queens - RPM 464 - 1956.
          4. "Love Sweet Love" - The Teen Queens - RPM 470 - 1956.
          5. "Eddie, My Love" - Lillian Briggs (With Vocal Group) - Epic 9151 - 1956.
          6. "Big Eyed, Brown Eyed Girl Of Mine" - Jimmy Nelson And His Orchestra - RPM 353 - 1952.
          7. "Meet Me With Your Black Dress On" - Jimmy Nelson - RPM 385 - 1953.
          8. "She Wants To Mambo" - The Chanters - RPM 415 - 1954.
          9. "Tell Me, Thrill Me" - The Chanters - RPM 415 - 1954.
        10. "Zerline" - Gene & Billy - Spark 120 - 1955.
        11. "It's Hot" - Gene & Billy - Spark 120 - 1955.
        12. "Cheatin' On Me" - Curtis Irvin And The Sparks - RPM 417 - 1954.
        13. "Make A Little Love" - Curtis Irvin And The Sparks - RPM 417 - 1954.
        14. "O O Wah" - Buddy Milton And The Twilighters - RPM 419 - 1954.
        15. "I'm The Child" - Buddy Milton And The Twilighters - RPM 419 - 1954.
        16. "Telephone Blues" - Little George Smith - RPM 434 - 1955.
        17. "Blues Stay Away" - Little George Smith - RPM 442 - 1955.
        18. "I Had A Love" - The Flairs - Flair 1012 - 1953.
        19. "She Wants To Rock" - The Flairs - Flair 1012 - 1953.
        20. "Love Me, Love Me, Love Me" - The Chimes - Flair 1051 - 1954.
        21. "My Heart's Crying For You" - The Chimes - Flair 1051 - 1954.
        22. "True Love" - Cornel Gunter And The Ermines - Loma 701 - 1955.
        23. "Peek, Peek-A-Boo" - Cornel Gunter And The Ermines - Loma 701 - 1955.
        24. "Oop Shoop" - Shirley Gunter And The Queens - Flair 1050 - 1954.
        25. "It's You" - Shirley Gunter And The Queens - Flair 1050 - 1954.
        26. "Oop-Shoop" - Helen Grayco (With Vocal Group) - "X" X-0051 - 1954.
        27. "Oop Shoop" - Oop Shoop - The Hamilton Sisters - Columbia 40319 - 1954.
        28. "Oop-Shoop" - Kay Brown (With Vocal Group) - Crown 127 - 1954.
        29. "Why" - Shirley Gunter And The Queens - Flair 1060 - 1954.
        30. "You're Mine" - Shirley Gunter And The Queens - Flair 1060 - 1954.
        31. "Headin' Home" - Shirley Gunter And The Flairs - Modern 989 - 1956.
        32. "I Want You" - Shirley Gunter And The Flairs - Modern 989 - 1956.
        33. "Adorable" - The Colts - Vita V-112 - 1955.
        34. "Headin' Home" - Della Reese - Jubilee 5247 - 1956.
        35. "Farewell" - Bobby Relf And The Laurels - Flair 1063 - 1955.
        36. "Yours Alone" - Bobby Relf And The Laurels - Flair 1063 - 1955.
        37. "Come Back Maybelline" - Mercy Dee - Flair 1077 - 1955.
        38. "True Love" - Mercy Dee (Vocal By Band Ensemble) - Flair 1077 - 1955.
        39. "Have You Ever" - Mercy Dee - Flair 1078 - 1955.
 
          ALL THIRTY-NINE ABOVE SONGS played in sequence.

          ALL THIRTY ABOVE RPM/FLAIR/CROWN LABEL SONGS played in sequence.


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