#951 (9/11/21)

SPOTLIGHT ON SAVOY RECORDS - PART TWO (1946-1951)

KING COLE TRIO
TINY BRADSHAW ORCHESTRA
THE X-RAYS
THREE B'S AND A HONEY
THE ROBINS
LITTLE ESTHER
MEL WALKER
JOHNNY OTIS ORCHESTRA
THE RAY-O-VACS

Includes Audio For Twenty-One Songs
(Audio Restored By Dave Saviet - Images Restored By Tony Fournier)



Above: Photo of Herman Lubinsky, president and owner of Savoy Records, was a Newark, NJ, musical entrepreneur and businessman.

CASH BOX, March 10, 1947: SAVOY TO SUE CONTRACT VIOLATORS
NEWARK, N.J.—Herman Lubinsky, president of Savoy Records, headquartered here, disclosed this past week that he will institute legal action against a number of recording firms and artists, claiming contract violations. Chief target for his legal eagles will be against alleged violators of exclusive recording agreements made with Savoy.

CASH BOX, May 22, 1948: SAVOY ANNOUNCES USE OF NEW BISCUIT FORMULA
NEWARK, N.J.—Herman Lubinsky, president of Savoy Records, Inc., this city, announced the use of a new formula which does not contain any shellac nor any imported material whatsover. In a recent statement, the firm declared that material laboratory tests proved over 100% less surface noise and more actual wearing play with the use of this new process.

The record is reported to have been greatly improved in appearance with a greater gloss and shine to it. Savoy disclosed that they will gladly license and supply this material to competitive manufacturers as soon as they get in full production for their own use. It was learned that Savoy will conduct further tests with music machine operators in the very near future.

CASH BOX, June 19, 1948: LUBINSKY INTO REGENT FIRM TO ENLARGE DISTRIB AND RECORDING ACTIVITIES
NEWARK, N.J.—Fred Mendelsohn, president of Regent Records, Inc., and Herman Lubinsky, president of Savoy Records, Inc., this city, jointly announced the formation of a partnership agreement this past week. Stipulation calls for the continued operation of Regent and Savoy as separate organizations. It was reported that Lubinsky had bought into the Regent firm, and will immediately institute a progressive policy to enlarge the firm’s (Regent) catalog.

Regent has in the past few months shown a decided first-hand knowledge of the recording business and has been one of the leading independent platteries in the nation. Mr. Mendelsohn will continue to direct the Regent plattery in practically every operation of the business, with Mr. Lubinsky acting as treasurer, and general sales manager.

Lubinsky’s wide knowledge pertaining to sales and distribution of records will certainly aid in advancing the Regent firm to a higher spot among the nations recording companies. Mendelsohn, who had been a juke box operator in the past, is well known throughout coin circles, and has been known to have one of best “recording ears” in the disk business. His past experience in the juke box field has been invaluable in selecting songs.

Bofh Regent and Savoy are seeking larger quarters it was learned, in addition to a larger distribution set-up.

THE BILLBOARD, August 7, 1948: SAVOY BUYS 4,000 SONORA MASTER DISKS, A STRONG POP ENTRANT
NEW YORK—Herman Lubinsky, Savoy Records head who recently acquired the Regent holdings, obtains a further expansion this week with the purchase of some 4,000 masters from the Sonora Company. Along with the Regent waxings, the acquisition signalizes Lubinsky as an extra strong entrant in the pop field.

Under the Savoy aegis, his main activity had been in the race and hot jazz areas. Included in the pops, and already on the market, Lubinsky said, is the old Lang Thompson waxing of You Darlin', the sleeper recently revived via exhumation of the Ben Selvin record of the 1920's. Further pop items, Lubinsky reported, include masters by Phil Harris, Kay Thompson, the King Cole Trio, Reggie Childs, Dick Robertson and a slew of race and hillbilly sides. Lubinsky plans to redub most of these to freshen them up and take out any kinks that may be present.
NOTE: No specific mention of any unused masters by The Velvetones, who had four records released on the Sonora label.)

CASH BOX, June 18, 1949: LUBINSKY TAKES OVER REGENT RECORDS AS MENDELSOHN LEAVES
NEWARK, N.J.— Herman Lubinsky, president of Savoy Records Inc., this city, this past week was named to a similar post in Regent Records. Fred Mendelsohn, who originally formed the Regent disk firm and came up with several big hits, was reported to have taken a cash settlement in return for his ownership in the Regent firm.

Among the many hits that Mendelsohn had were, “Sabre Dance”, “Brush Those Tears From Your Eyes”, “You Call Everybody Darlin’”, and more recently, “It’s A Cruel, Cruel World.”

Altho no plans were disclosed by Mendelsohn, it was learned that he will take a lengthy vacation before mulling over several record offers which have been made to him by top disk firms.

Lubinsky disclosed that he will continue the operation of the Regent label, and will also institute race records into the latter’s catalog. Regent had heretofore only delved in pop and hillbilly recordings.

THE BILLBOARD, November 26, 1949: SAVOY SIGNS BLUES TALENT
NEW YORK— Savoy Records has inked a flock of new blues and rhythm talent and also is preparing an entry into the country and Western field. Savoy prexy, Herman Lubinsky, has inked Johnny Otis's ork, blues singer Felix Gross, blues shouter Jimmy Cooper, jump orkster Johnny Crawford, thrush Irene Vaughan, blues singer Lover Boy Brown and Neal James's jump crew.

Lubinsky also inked pianist Carl Perkins, who will be groomed as a successor to Errol Garner. Perkins, Lubinsky says, has an unusual style which the keyboard expert obtains by employing the elbow, wrist and fingers of his left hand. Perkins is an alumnus of the Big Jay McNeeley ork.

Savoy's country and Western market invasion will kick off with a set of diskings by Wally Moore. Lubinsky adds that he has several other artists locked up but withheld their names pending completion of contracts. For the label's religious wing, Lubinsky has brought to the fold the Lincoln Gospel Singers. (NOTE: In Savoy's later years, Lubinsky would focus almost entirely on gospel records.)


KING COLE TRIO:
Above Left: King Cole Trio (L-R) Oscar Moore (guitar), Nat King Cole (piano), and Wesley Prince (bass). This photo was taken during an NBC Radio broadcast, circa 1939/40.

Caption on the photo identifies them as "King Cole And His Swing Trio". They had recorded for Herman Lubinsky as "King Cole's Swingsters" in 1939/1940 with this line-up and vocalists Juanelda Carter and Bonnie Lake (1939), and Maxine Johnson (1940).

Above Right: King Cole Trio (L-R) Wesley Prince, Nat King Cole, and Oscar Moore, also circa 1939/40.

Above: King Cole Trio at Capitol Records studio in 1944. (L-R) Unknown, Oscar Moore, Johnnie Miller, Nat King Cole, and co-owner of the company/singer/songwriter Johnny Mercer at far right. It is this King Cole Trio grouping, along with Lee Young (drums), that recorded "Sunny Side Of The Street".
Above: Label image for Savoy 600-A, recorded on April 18, 1940 and released in early 1946. Nat King Cole sings lead with ensemble backing vocally.
This record, backed with "I Like To Riff", was also released on Varsity and the René brothers' Ammor label.

Above: THE BILLBOARD, April 27, 1946.
(NOTE: The clipping says "King Cole Trio", but the song "Sunny Side..." was recorded as "King Cole Quartet". The label shows just "King Cole").

THE BILLBOARD, September 20, 1941: NIGHT CLUB REVIEW
....The King Cole Trio, electric guitar, piano and bass, are okay in both sight and musical departments. The boys jive solidly. Their harmony and rhythm singing is similarly good. The boys also take care of the lulls in excellent manner....

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.] "Sunny Side Of The Street" - King Cole - Savoy 600-A - 1946.


TINY BRADSHAW ORCHESTRA:
Above: Photo of Tiny Bradshaw, who was a bandleader, singer, composer, pianist, and drummer.

[The above photo provided by Paul Ressler.]
Above: Lil Green and Tiny Bradshaw signing autographs for their fans.
Above: Label image for Savoy 600-A, recorded on March 11, 1947 and released in 1947. Bradshaw had two records on the Savoy label, the other recorded in the same session and released on Savoy 655.

Personnel on this recording are Tiny Bradshaw (vocal); Shorty Haughton (trombone); Pritchard Chessman (tenor sax); Bill Davis (piano); Les Erskine (guitar); Curly Russell (bass); Bernard Glover and James Manilus (instruments unknown).


Above: WEEKLY REVIEW (Birmingham, Alabama), August 24, 1946: TINY BRADSHAW'S ORCHESTRA

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.] "I've Been Around" - Tiny Bradshaw And His Orchestra - Savoy 650-B - 1947.


BONUS SECTION—LIL GREEN:

Above: Lil Green, a blues singer and songwriter, is performing with her band in this photo.
Above Left: Label image for Bluebird B-8714-A, recorded on April 23, 1941 and released in 1941.

Above Right: Photo of Lil Green

PITTSBURGH COURIER, July 26, 1941: LIL GREEN SIGNED BY TINY BRADSHAW
Sensational Blues Singer, Whose Records Are Heard Everywhere, Being Booked With Band For Dixie Tour.

NEW YORK CITY—Tiny Bradshaw, Jumping Jack Maestro, who is rated among the first five hardest working leaders in the business, added important value to his band this week with the signing of Lil Green, sensational recording star who is without peer in the world of aboriginal song delineation.

With the new magnetism of Miss Green added to his name, Bradshaw will be routed on an extensive Southern Tour about the middle of August. The duo will play Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Texas.

The tour, under the personal direction of Ben Bart, executive member of Gale, Inc., will have its first tryout at the Graystone Ballroom in Detroit, August 11th.... Currently on tap at the Lincoln, the crew will exit August 3rd for its Southern jaunt.

Above Left: BRISTOL HERALD COURIER (Bristol, Tennessee), September 7, 1941.

Above Right: CAPITAL TIMES (Madison, Wisconson), September 21, 1941: TO PLAY HERE TUESDAY
"Tiny" Bradshaw, recently crowned "King of the Jitterbugs", and his band will play for a colored dance Tuesday night at the local Cumberland Street arena. The inimitable Lil Green, popular Bluebird recording artist, will be heard with the band. White spectators will be accommodated.

Above Left: PITTSBURGH COURIER, June 14, 1941:
Roy Leind Hopkins, Courier representative, Houstin, Texas, interviews Lil Green, the woman who made "Romance In The Dark" popular.
Don Robey, Houstin, promoter, presented her along with Milton Larkin's band recently.
(NOTE: Don Robey would later become owner of the Duke and Peacock record labels. Milton Larkin was a vocalist, trumpeter, and band leader, located in Houstin at this time. He would later record for the Sonora and Sunrise labels. Interestingly, Larkin does the vocal on The X-Rays' Savoy record... see next section below.)

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): "Romance In The Dark" - Lil Green - Bluebird B-8524-A - 1940.

Above Right: Label image for RCA Victor 20-2417-A, recorded on May 8, 1947 and released in September 1947.

CAPITAL TIMES (Madison, Wisconson), September 21, 1947:
....Lil Green: Take Me Back To Little Rock (RCA Victor). Rich, lusty torching by a hearty songstress now finding fame, especially in the East. Lil's orchestra supplies groovy background.... (NOTE: The reviewer seems to be a little behind the times, Lil had found fame in 1940.)

LISTEN (Windows Media Player):
1. "Why Don't You Do Me Right?" - Lil Green - Bluebird B-8714-A - 1941.
2. "Take Me Back To Little Rock" - Lil Green - RCA Victor 20-2417-A - 1947.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.


THE X-RAYS AND RAY-O-VACS:
Above Left: Label image for Savoy 681-A, recorded on December 10, 1948 and released in 1948. As shown on the label, the vocal is by Milton Larkin, who is backed instrumentally by The Hal Singer Sextet.

There was one other record by The X-Rays, Savoy 760, released in 1950. On this one, Brownie McGhee does the vocal and Milton Larkin plays trombone. Hal Singer, saxophonist, was involved in several other records for Savoy.

Above Right: Label image for Regent 7007 released circa 1949.

From Pete Grendysa (12/6/03):
The X-Rays on Savoy 681 were Milton "Tippy" Larkin, vocals; Willie Moore, trumpet; Alfred "Chippy" Outcalt, trombone; Hal Singer, tenor sax; George Rhodes, piano; Walter Page, bass violin; Bobby Donaldson, drums.


MILTON LARKIN






At Far Left: GREENVILLE NEWS (Greenvile, South Carolina), August 18, 1946. (Milton Larkin)

At Direct Left: THE BILLBOARD, December 11, 1948.

Above: CASH BOX, December 18, 1948.



The Cash Box Review (12-25-48):

THE X-RAYS — Savoy 681.... "I'll Always Be In Love With You"
Ditty kicking up a storm in a slew of locations is this thing offered by The X-rays. It's a standard done up in anew stop vocal style. This version should boost coin play immensely. Tenor sax ad libbing behind the combo's vocal adds to the pleasure of the platter. It should win approval—listen in.

The Billboard Review (1-15-49):

THE X-RAYS — Savoy 681.... (83) "I'll Always Be In Love With You"
The oldie done as a jumper with note-bending vocal looks like solid juke fare; hefty tenor sax ride fills out the side.
(NOTE: A ratings range of 80-89 was considered "excellent".)

BILLBOARD'S MOST PLAYED JUKE BOX RACE RECORDS:
POSITION 3. I'LL ALWAYS BE IN LOVE WITH YOU - The X-Rays - Savoy 681


[The above image provided by Lucille Morton and made available to this web site by Pete Grendysa.]
Above: The Ray-O-Vacs, named after a popular brand of battery.

From Pete Grendysa (12/6/03):
The Ray-O-Vacs on Coleman/Regent/Decca were Harry "Lester Harris" Lester, lead vocals, drums; Jackson "Flap" McQueen, bass violin; Joe Crump, piano; and possibly Leoparte "Chink" Kinney, sax. Herb Milliner replaced Lester Harris in June 1951 on Decca and Jubilee. Harris recorded solo for Decca in June 1951 and for RCA Victor in 1952. He died in February 1953.

Regarding the confusion between the X-Rays and Ray-O-Vacs, Jackson McQueen had this to say... "Lubinsky cut our money in half by bringing in the X-Rays to record our number "I'll Always Be In Love With You". He bought the masters from the Coleman Brothers (who made the original) and got all the royalties. We coulda killed him."

(NOTE: The X-Rays' name seems appropriate here.... "X" = "cross out"; "Rays" = "short for the Ray-O-Vacs".)

Above: Label image for Regent 1039-B, recorded in February 1951 and released in 1951. This seems to be their only record on either Savoy or Regent. Harry Lester, also known as Lester Harris, sings lead and is backed vocally by the other members of the group.

The Billboard Review (7/21/51):

THE RAY-O-VACS — Regent 1039.... (83) "Happy Am I"/"Hot Dog"
The Ray-O-Vacs make with some more good music on this platter. The top half is a very slow thing with a vocal and some fine instrumentals. The bottom end is a jivy item with good sax coming through. Ops will want to get with this one.

(NOTE: A ratings range of 80-89 was considered "excellent".)

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "I'll Always Be In Love With You" - The X-Rays - Savoy 681-A - 1948.
2. "Hot Dog" - The Ray-O-Vacs - Regent 1039-B - 1951.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.


THREE B'S AND A HONEY:
Above: Photo of Three B's And A Honey.
Above Left: WASHINGTON AFRO-AMERICAN, December 1, 1951:
Baltimore's Three B's And A Honey are currently playing at Ciro's in downtown Montreal, creating a mild sensation with their modern four part vocals. Personnel includes Bill Forrester, guitar; Charlie Ridgely, piano; Burt Hall, bass; and Yvonne Lanauze, former Duke Ellington vocalist, on congo drum.
(NOTE: The third "B" other than Bill and Burt, had been Bobby Smith. See the Richmond Afro-American clipping below.)

Above Right: Label image for Savoy 687-A, recorded on January 27, 1949 and released in March 1949. There were two additional songs recorded in this session but not released. Three B's And A Honey did have at least one other record, that one on Lillian Claiborne's DC label in 1948. [Label scan and audio files provided by Andrew Bohan.]

RICHMOND AFRO-AMERICAN, March 15, 1947:
Three B's And A Honey—That's the latest Baltimore combo to hit the entertainment boards. The unit is currently playing that city's latest and most up-to-date nightery, the Astoria Musical Bar. Bobby Smith, piano; Burt Hall, bass; Bill Forrester, electric gutar; and Sylvia LeMonte, vocalist.

The Billboard Review (2/26/49):

THREE B'S AND A HONEY — Savoy 687....
Grieving for You
(75) Yvonne Dubarry chirps a Sarah Vaughan-ish vocal on the tune which has drawn new attention via the Tony Pastor etching. The oldie would make for good race (juke) box material.
Buzzin' Around (67) The vocal group turns in a unison bop vocal chore which causes little stir.

(NOTE: A ratings range of 70-79 was considered "good" and 60-69 "satisfactory".)

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "Grieving for You" - Three B's And A Honey- Savoy 687-A - 1949.
2. "Buzzin' Around" - Three B's And A Honey - Savoy 687-B - 1949.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.


THE ROBINS:

[The above photo is courtesy of Jean-Christophe Piazza.]
Above: The Robins (L-R) Bobby Nunn (bass), Ty Terrell (tenor), Roy Richard (baritone), Billy Richard (tenor), and Grady Chapman (tenor). It's Nunn, Terrell, and the two Richards that are on the Savoy sides.
Above Left: THE BILLBOARD, Janauary 21, 1950.

Above Right: Label image for Savoy 726-A, recorded on December 1, 1949 and released in 1949. The flip-side, "If It's So Baby", was recorded in the same session. This is their first record.

Note the composers: "Richards" is either one or both of the Richards brothers, "De Lagarde" is Mario Delagarde, the bass player in Johnny Otis' band, and "Leonard" is Ty Terrell, whose actual given name is Terrell Leonard.


THE CASH BOX REVIEW — DECEMBER 31, 1949

Above: Label images for Savoy 738-A, recorded on February 13, 1950, and Savoy 738-B, recorded on December 1, 1949. The record was released in 1950.


SAVOY ROBINS CLIPPING — JULY 1950

Above: Label image for Savoy 752-B, recorded on November 10, 1949 and released in 1950. The flip-side, "I'm Living O.K." was recorded on February 13, 1950.

The Billboard Review (4/1/50):

THE ROBINS — Savoy 738....
There Ain't No Use Beggin'
(76) A ballad with a catch figure is handled Ink Spots style with a lead voice carrying the tune, giving way to a "honey chile" recitative.
Our Romance Is Gone (82) Effective performance of a good slow blues should attract attention.

(NOTE: A ratings range of 70-79 was considered "good" and 80-89 "excellent".)

The Cash Box Review (4/1/50):

THE ROBINS — Savoy 738.... "There Ain't No Use Beggin'"/"Our Romance Is Gone"
The Robins' upper layer of wax has a talking introduction with strong production work on the record. The passionate blues delivery is extremely gripping and we predict that this will be given many a paid ride in music machines. Bottom is a blues vocal with the same technique very well handled. The solo tenor job is great. Ops, this platter is a juke box natural that can't help but load the loot.

The Billboard Review (6/24/50):

THE ROBINS — Savoy 752....
I'm Living O.K.
(52) Sub-par effort for the vocal group is this attempt at a rhythm novelty with small combo jump backing.
There's Rain In My Eyes (62) Ballad material here is a strong improvement over the flip. Tho treatment is lagging, group achieves little tension.

(NOTE: A ratings range of 50-59 was considered "limited" and 60-69 "satisfactory".)

The Cash Box Review (6/24/50):

THE ROBINS — Savoy 752.... "I'm Living O.K."/"There's Rain In My Eyes"
Vocal flavor by The Robins, matched in excellence by the ork tones of the Johhny Otis gang, are sides that should serve music ops exceptionally well. Both ends are the sort that make for consistent phono play, and rate ops avid listening attention. We like the top side—we're sure you will too.
(NOTE: This review is diametrically opposite from the Billboard review just above.)

Click HERE to view an article about The Robins by Marv Goldberg and Todd Baptista. (Will open in a separate window)

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "If I Didn't Love You So" - The Robins - Savoy 726-A - 1949.
2. "There Ain't No Use Beggin'" - The Robins - Savoy 738-A - 1950.
3. "Our Romance Is Gone" - The Robins - Savoy 738-B - 1950.
4. "There's Rain In My Eyes" - The Robins - Savoy 752-A - 1950.
5. "I'm Living O.K." - The Robins - Savoy 752-B - 1950.

ALL FIVE SONGS played in sequence.


THE BILLBOARD, April 1, 1950:
(NOTE: This column is discussing record shop proprietors who started their own independent labels.)

....In the hot jazz department, Commodore Shop has kept its Commodore label lively since the 1930s. For a spell the line was distributed via Decca branches, but today it has independent distributors.

Savoy Records, which also maintains a top slot among rhythm and blues labels, sprang forth from Herman Lubinsky's Radio Shop of Newark....

Regal Records, also a rhythm-blues specialist, is directed by Freddy Mendelson, who operates a shop in Elizabeth, N.J.... Chicago disk jockey Al Benson, who operates a string of rhythm and blues shops, produces and plugs his own Swingmaster label....


LITTLE ESTHER, MEL WALKER, AND JOHNNY OTIS:

[The above photo is courtesy of Paul Ressler.]
Above: Photo of Little Esther.
Above Left: Photo of Mel Walker, Johnny Otis, and Little Esther. [Photo provided by Hans-Joachim Krohberger.]

Above Right: Photo of Johnny Otis, and Little Esther. [Photo provided by Hans-Joachim Krohberger.]

Above Left: THE BILLBOARD, March 1950. (Little Esther clipping.)

Above Right: Label image for Savoy 731-A, recorded on December 1, 1949 and released in 1950.

The Cash Box Review (1/21/50):

JOHNNY OTIS — Savoy 731.... "Double Crossing Blues"
A side which music ops should get next to is this set up by maestro Johnny Otis. It is a hot blues number with Little Esther and the Robins highlighted. Music weaves in a slow moody pace, and is the sort that consistently wins juke box play. This side that should get the gravy.

At Left: THE BILLBOARD, March 11, 1950. (Little Esther clipping.)

Above: THE BILLBOARD, July 22, 1950. (Little Esther clipping.)

Above Left: THE BILLBOARD, June 1950.

Above Right: Label image for Savoy 750-A, recorded on May 3, 1950. The flip-side, "Cupid's Boogie" was recorded on February 27, 1950. The Beltones are actually The Four Buddies, who will be featured in "Savoy Records – Part Three".


CASH BOX REVIEW — JUNE 3, 1950
(NOTE: The addition of Mel Walker applies only to "Cupid's Boogie".)

Above Left: THE BILLBOARD, October 21, 1950.

Above Right: Label image for Savoy 764-A, recorded on August 12, 1950 and released in 1950.

Above: THE BILLBOARD, December 1950.

Above: THE BILLBOARD, January 1951.

Above: Label image for Savoy 764-A, recorded on September 19, 1950 and released in 1950. This side was also released on Regent 1027 in 1950.

Above: THE BILLBOARD, July 1, 1950.


NEW YORK AGE — SEPTEMBER 9, 1950
(NOTE: "Red Lyte" was a featured male vocalist with Johnny Otis' orchestra at this time. Bob Dupont was a comedian juggler and Teddy Hale was a dancer.)

Above Left: THE BILLBOARD, June 10, 1950.

Above Right: Label image for Regent 1016-A, recorded on January 11, 1950 and released in 1950. This side was also released on Savoy 749 in 1950. "The Bluenotes" are actually The Robins.

The Billboard Review (3/18/50):

JOHNNY OTIS QUINTETTE — Regent 1016 (82) Cry Baby....
Expert duplication of the old Three Blazers style spots a Charlie Brown-type singer in Mel Walker doing a feelingful bluesy ballad with fine guitar featured. (NOTE: A ratings range of 80-89 was considered "excellent".)

Above Left: CASH BOX, June 16, 1951.

Above Right: Label image for Regent 1036-A, recorded on September 19, 1950 and released in 1951. This side was also released on Savoy 787 in 1951.

The Billboard Review (4/28/51):

JOHNNY OTIS ORK (Little Esther-Mel Walker) — Regent 1036 (83) I Dream....
Thrush and warbler here have an unusual, arresting side here, a blues duet with an odd recurring break pinning down listener attention.
(NOTE: A ratings range of 80-89 was considered "excellent".)

Mel Walker
THE BILLBOARD, January 21, 1950: SAVOY INKS WALKER, HOLLIS, HOLDERNESS
HOLLYWOOD—Savoy Records Prexy Herman Lubinsky inked three artists for his label during his current Coast hop: Blues-ballad singer Mel Walker, blues singer Floyd (Recilight) Hollis and Saxman Lorenzo Holderness.

Lubinsky is presently enjoying good fortune with the Coast's Little Esther. He picked her up a year ago at a Los Angeles amateur show. Her "Double Crossing Blues" is now one of Savoy's briskest sellers.

THE BILLBOARD, March 18, 1950:
....Savoy-Regent disk topper Herman Lubinsky returned recently from a "secret" trip to the Coast, where he cut Redd Lyle and Mel Walker sides. The Savoy Caravan, starring Little Esther and the Johnny Otis band, plays the Apollo Theater the week of April 16.

CASH BOX, April 1, 1950: GUS GRANT JOINS SAVOY
NEW YORK—Herman Lubinsky, prexy of Savoy Records, this past week announced the appointment of Gus Grant to the A&R department of the firm. Grant, formerly with Abbey Records since August, 1949, will act as a scout for Regent and Savoy and will assist during their recording sessions.

CASH BOX, April 29, 1950: MILLET JOINS SAVOY RECORDS
NEWARK, N.J.—Herman Lubinsky, president of Savoy Records, Inc., this past week announced the appointment of A1 Millet to head the firm’s sales promotional activities. Millet assumes the post recently vacated by Gus Grant. He comes to the Savoy-Regent platteries with a wide backlog of experience in the record and sales promotion field.

Millet formerly was with the Israel Recording Company and before that with Harmonia Records. In addition, he handled record promotion activities for numerous artists and recording companies.

The Savoy firm is currently riding hot via their Little Esther-Mel Walker rendition of "Mistrustin’ Blues".

CASH BOX, March 31, 1951: SAVOY GIVES WALKER LONG TERM DEAL; ADDS TALENT
NEW YORK—Herman Lubinsky, president of Savoy Records, this week announced that his firm has resigned Mel Walker to a long term contract. Walker has been one of Savoy’s brightest stars and his current waxing of “Rockin’ Blues” is hitting the top of the lists all over the country. In addition Lubinsky also signed Elmer Warner, blues singer, and Tony Jenkins, a romantic blues singer.
(NOTE: Tony Jenkins can be heard with The Starlings on "Dream" by The Ben Smith Quartet on Regent, Savoy's subsidiary label, released in June 1951.)


JOHNNY OTIS ORCHESTRA—OTIS IS IN FRONT PLAYING VIBES

Above: Label image for Savoy 788-A, recorded on March 19, 1951 and released in 1951. Johnny Otis' singing is backed vocally by the band ensemble.

The Billboard Review (7/7/51):

JOHNNY OTIS ORK (J. Otis) — Savoy 788 (83) I Dream....
This phrase occurs as a tag thru this great rocker, lending it an unusual flavor. Otis at the mike and the combo deliver an enthusiatic job.
(NOTE: A ratings range of 80-89 was considered "excellent".)

The Cash Box Review (7/7/51):

JOHNNY OTIS ORK — Savoy 788 All Nite Long/New Love....
Johnny Otis and his band have two different types of numbers to offer. The top deck is a jumpy thing with a vocal by Johnny and some terrific backing. The lower half is a slow blues item with good drive. Here Johnny comes through on the vocal. This is a natural for the boxes [juke boxes].
(NOTE: Actually, it is Mel Walker doing the vocal on "New Love".)


SAVOY LITTLE ESTHER CLIPPING — DECEMBER 1950

CASH BOX, December 16, 1950: FIFTH CASH BOX POLL
....In the Jazz 'N Blues category, there was a tie between Ivory Joe Hunter, whose terrific recording of "I Almost Lost My Mind" took the Jazz 'N Blues Record award also, and Little Esther, who burst upon the field with "Double Crossin' Blues"....

THE BILLBOARD, MAY 19, 1951: LITTLE ESTHER BRINGS SUIT
NEW YORK—Esther May Jones, who does business under the pseudonym of Little Esther, filed suit this week against Savoy Records, seeking an accounting of her record sales, payment for services rendered, and an injunction to restrain Savoy from continuing to market her records. Suit was filed in Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, and the papers were delivered to the sheriff for service.

The claim disaffirmed any contract she may have made with Savoy on grounds that she is a minor. It also disaffirms any contract which may have been made in her behalf.

She seeks an accounting and payment for her services on a series of recordings, a number of which were rhythm and blues hits of substance last year. These recordings include Double Crossing Blues, Mistrusting Blues, Cupid's Boogie, and Deceiving Blues.

Esther is represented by attorney Jack Pearl. She now records for King Records [Her releases were on King's subsidiary label, Federal Records.].

THE BILLBOARD, JUNE 30, 1951: SAVOY CLAIMS 50G ON ESTHER
NEW YORK—Savoy Records' Topper, Herman Lubinsky, this week filed a reply and counterclaim to a suit brought against his diskery last month by rhythm and blues artist Little Esther, whose real name is Esther May Jones.

Diskery alleges that the chanter was an unknown whose reputation as an artist was made via her Savoy recordings and at considerable expense and effort to the label. Diskery also claims that the singer broke her contract by signing with the King label.

Lubinsky asks $50,000 in damages, alleging that Little Esther's switch in labels financially hurt Savoy's unreleased masters. Diskery also asks an injunction to restrain further violations of the contract it claims to hold with the artist. Jack Cohen represents Savoy.

Click HERE to view an article about Little Esther by Marv Goldberg. (Will open in a separate window)

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
All of these selections include Johnny Otis Quintette (#1), Johnny Otis Orchestra (#2, 4-7), or Johnny Otis Congregation (#3).

1. "Double Crossing Blues" - Little Esther And The Robins - Savoy 731-A - 1950.
2. "Just Can't Get Free" - Little Esther And The Beltones - Savoy 750-A - 1950.
3. "Cupid's Boogie" - Little Esther And Mel Walker - Savoy 750-B - 1950.
4. "Wedding Boogie" - Little Esther, Mel Walker, And Lee Graves - Savoy 764-A - 1950.
5. "Rockin' Blues" - Mel Walker - Savoy 766-A - 1950.
6. "Cry Baby" - Mel Walker And The Bluenotes - Regent 1016-A - 1950.
7. "I Dream" - Mel Walker And Little Esther - Regent 1036-B - 1951.
8. "All Nite Long" - Johnny Otis And Ensemble - Savoy 788-A - 1951.

ALL EIGHT SONGS played in sequence.


NOTE: Most discographical information provided at this website is from Ferdie Gonzalez' Disco-File.


SAVOY RECORDS - PART ONE FEATURES THE SAVOY DICTATORS, BONNIE DAVIS AND THE BUNNY BANKS TRIO, THE JOHNSON JUBILEE SINGERS, MISS RHAPSODY, THE TOPPERS, AND INDECENT SAVOY RECORDS.

Listen to this week's selections using Windows Media Player:
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]

          1. "Sunny Side Of The Street" - King Cole - Savoy 600-A - 1946.
          2. "I've Been Around" - Tiny Bradshaw And His Orchestra - Savoy 650-B - 1947.
          3. "Why Don't You Do Me Right?" - Lil Green - Bluebird B-8714-A - 1941.
          4. "Take Me Back To Little Rock" - Lil Green - RCA Victor 20-2417-A - 1947.
          5. "I'll Always Be In Love With You" - The X-Rays - Savoy 681-A - 1948.
          6. "Hot Dog" - The Ray-O-Vacs - Regent 1039-B - 1951.
          7. "Grieving for You" - Three B's And A Honey- Savoy 687-A - 1949.
          8. "Buzzin' Around" - Three B's And A Honey - Savoy 687-B - 1949.
          9. "If I Didn't Love You So" - The Robins - Savoy 726-A - 1949.
        10. "There Ain't No Use Beggin'" - The Robins - Savoy 738-A - 1950.
        11. "Our Romance Is Gone" - The Robins - Savoy 738-B - 1950.
        12. "There's Rain In My Eyes" - The Robins - Savoy 752-A - 1950.
        13. "I'm Living O.K." - The Robins - Savoy 752-B - 1950.
        14. "Double Crossing Blues" - Little Esther And The Robins - Savoy 731-A - 1950.
        15. "Just Can't Get Free" - Little Esther And The Beltones - Savoy 750-A - 1950.
        16. "Cupid's Boogie" - Little Esther And Mel Walker - Savoy 750-B - 1950.
        17. "Wedding Boogie" - Little Esther, Mel Walker, And Lee Graves - Savoy 764-A - 1950.
        18. "Rockin' Blues" - Mel Walker - Savoy 766-A - 1950.
        19. "Cry Baby" - Mel Walker And The Bluenotes - Regent 1016-A - 1950.
        20. "I Dream" - Mel Walker And Little Esther - Regent 1036-B - 1951.
        21. "All Nite Long" - Johnny Otis And Ensemble - Savoy 788-A - 1951.
 
          ALL TWENTY-ONE ABOVE SONGS played in sequence.
 


           [To download audio files, right-click on song title link and then select "Save link (target) as..."]


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