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Classic Urban Harmony Newsletter. Issue #3.  Bringing the world of Doo Wop, R&B, Soul and Gospel Harmony to your Inbox.. 

Classic Urban Harmony
Newsletter #03

Seasons Greetings to all of our CUH newsletter subscribers.  The tragic event in Newtown, CT, this week reminds us how precious life is.  We wish each of you reading this a happy, healthy and safe 2013,

Through your interest, our Classic Urban Harmony Newsletter keeps growing bigger and better.  We now have over 500 subscribers and have requests to add more every day!  We're overwhelmed by the kind words and praise emailed to us along with the many suggestions of things to include in future issues. 

Classic Urban Harmony LLC promotes the legacy of Rhythm & Blues, Doo Wop, Soul and Gospel Vocal Group Harmony through multimedia presentations, historical research, interviews, magazine articles, museum displays, radio guest appearances, our website, www.classicurbanharmony.net, and now this free newsletter.  Here you'll find news of important events relevant to our music as well as updates to our website and summaries of our Classic Urban Harmony activities and projects.  To read more about and see more photos from the articles in this newsletter, check the Whats's New Page of www.classicurbanharmony.net.  We hope you'll enjoy this issue of the newsletter and again find it entertaining and informative.  Please continue passing the word on to others who might want to receive it.  They can sign up by sending their names and email addresses to CUH@att.net. - Charlie & Pam Horner - December, 2012

Cadillacs' lead, Earl "Speedo" Carroll dies. 

     Earl "Speedo" Carroll, the voice of the famed R&B vocal group, the Cadillacs, passed away on November 25, 2012 after a long illness.  He died in a NYC nursing home where he'd been trying to recover from a stroke and complications from diabetes.  Earl was 75.  Perhaps one of the greatest R&B vocal groups of all time, the Cadillacs excelled in all aspects of entertaining from their smooth harmonies, to their innovative choreographies and captivating stage presence.  Earl Carroll was "Mr. Cadillac".  His passing is a huge loss to the group harmony community.
     Earl Carroll was born November 2, 1937 and grew up in Harlem.  In the summer of 1953, he formed a vocal group called the Carnations, that would evolve into the Cadillacs.  The group began singing on the streetcorners around Seventh and Eighth Avenues between 131st and 133rd Streets.  They sang at community dances at St. Mark's Church on 132nd Street before entering a talent contest at PS 43 junior high school.  That led to an audition with Ester Navarro who worked at the Shaw Booking Agency.  Ms. Navarro changed the group's name to the Cadillacs and began managing them.  She had the group sign with Josie Records in 1954.
     The Cadillacs first record was "Gloria," a tune they vaguely remembered from the Mills Brothers version in 1946.  However, not recalling all the words, they rewrote the song in their own style.  It soon became a street corner classic, a standard sung by most up and coming doo wop groups.  While the Cadillacs had mastered vocal harmony, what really made them a standout was their choreography.  For this, Ester Navarro hired dance expert Cholly Adkins to work with the Cadillacs.  Adkins taught the Cadillacs how to move on stage, in time with the music.  The Cadillacs stage presence was something most other groups then tried to emulate, though few succeeded.  Adkins' success with the Cadillacs led to his being revered by the industry and subsequently later hired by Motown to teach choreography to the Temptations and Miracles.
     Until 1955, the Cadillacs were an R&B group, known mostly to black audiences.  The song "Speedo" changed all of that.  Crossing over to the Pop Charts, the Cadillacs gained widespread recognition by white teenagers as well.
     The Cadillacs' songs are well known to readers of this newsletter, and recordings like "You Are," "The Girl I Love," "Wishing Well" and Zoom" are considered classics.
     In 1961, Earl Carroll moved on to sing with the Coasters.  He sang with the Coasters until 1979.  In the early 1980's Earl Carroll reunited the Cadillacs to play the oldies circuit, which he continued to do until last year when he became ill.
     We've assembled an on-line tribute to Earl Carroll and the Cadillacs that contains a complete biography along with close to thirty Cadillacs' photos, label scans, flyers, sheet music and even a video of Earl singing "Gloria".  We hope you'll take a look at it in remembrance of the incredible music Earl Carroll and the Cadillacs gave us.  You can reach it from the link on the What's New Page of www.classicurbanharmony.net.

Mickey Baker Dies at 87.  Played guitar on hundreds of Fifties R&R classics. One half of Mickey & Sylvia duet.

  Mickey "Guitar" Baker died in Toulouse, France on Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at the age of 87.  If you think Mickey's only major contribution to R&R music was "Love Is Strange" by Mickey and Sylvia, think again.  Mickey Baker was a session guitarist that played on many of the most well known and important records of the 1950's, including Joe Turner's "Shake Rattle & Roll," Lavern Baker's "Tweedle Dee," and Ruth Brown's "Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean".  Did Mickey contribute to R&B and doo wop vocal group recordings?  Who do you think was playing guitar on the Cardinals' "Shouldn't I Know," the Drifters' "Money Honey," the Dreams' "Darlene," the Heartbeats' "Tormented," the Leaders' "Stormy Weather," the Chips' "Rubber Biscuit," the Sensations' "Yes Sir That's My Baby," the Nightcaps' "Kiss And a Vow," the Continentals' "Dear Lord," the Duponts' You," the Five Pennies' "My Heart Trembles," the Dubs' "Don't Ask Me To Be Lonely," the Mellows' "How Sentimental Can I Be" and a couple hundred more group sounds? It was Mickey Baker.  We owe this guy a lot.  We've posted a tribute page to Mickey Baker on our website that not only tells of his music career but also lists a lot of other records Mickey played guitar on.  You'll be amazed!  Follow the Link on the What's New Page of www.classicurbanharmony.net to read about this incredible musician.

New Website from Val Shively's R&B Records features Great Photo Gallery and Much More!

With the recent closing of several well known record stores, it's great to know that Val Shively's R&B Records in Upper Darby, PA, is still around. What's more, Val's new website, www.valshively.com contains Val's personal look back at his own life ("R&B Records and Me") as only Val can tell it, including many classic record collecting stories. The site's Photo Gallery alone is worth clicking on, for it has numerous photos of record collectors' institutions like Times Square Records and Val's first, second and current record store. For anyone who's ever seriously collected group harmony records this website is a must. Also included is Val's current listing of some of the better original label records for sale, from among the 4 million 45's he has in stock.  (Photo above is Val's first store in 1972 - courtesy of www.valshively.com)

Kenny Vance among those who lost homes in Hurricane Sandy

We've heard many sad stories of those who have lost homes and possessions during the recent Hurricane Sandy that came through our area.  Add to that list, Kenny Vance, the popular doo wop singer who sings with his group, the Planotones.  Kenny was performing on a cruise when the hurricane hit.  He returned to find his home in Belle Harbor, on the Rockaway peninsula of Queens, NY, completely demolished by the storm surge.  He lost all of his photos, records and memorabilia covering a long musical career.  While many have returned to normal lives after the storm, there is still much heartache for some.  A number of fund raising events are happening to help those effected by the storm.  We urge you to support them.

Classic Urban Harmony and Franklin Township (NJ) Cultural Arts Council Celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation:
Multimedia Presentation and Memorabilia Display set for Franklin Township Public Library in Feb. 2013

Classic Urban Harmony joins with the Franklin Township (NJ) Cultural Arts Council in a year long celebration of the Grand Jubilee (150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation).  Several events are already scheduled.
  • On January 2, Franklin Township's Cultural Arts Council will kick off the celebration with a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation at the scheduled Township Council Meeting.  Prior to the council meeting there will be a reception in the lobby of the Municipal Building (475 DeMott Lane, Somerset, NJ) at 6:30 PM.  After the reading, the reception will continue.  Displays will be set up in the lobby with literature and educational items regarding the Emancipation Proclamation.  The event is open to the public.  Classic Urban Harmony is assisting with the displays.
  • Classic Urban Harmony will display a collection of rare Spirituals-related memorabilia in the Franklin Township Public Library, 485 DeMott Lane, Somerset, NJ, beginning mid-January and running throughout February (see the photo above of wax cylinders by the Fisk Jubilee Quartette, ca. 1910).  This is worth seeing and you can view this if you come early to the next event (below).
  • Classic Urban Harmony will present our newest multimedia presentation, "Crossing Jordan: How African American Spirituals Changed the World".at the Franklin Township (NJ) Public Library, 485 DeMott Lane, Somerset, NJ 08873, on Wednesday evening February 20, 2013 at 7 PM.  (In the event of severe inclement weather, the snow date is February 27).  The presentation will begin with the development of Spirituals during slavery times and discuss their religious origins as well as their use as communication among slaves (references to the Underground Railroad, etc).  We’ll then discuss the Fisk Jubilee Singers, their hardships, triumphs and accomplishments including singing before President Grant and Queen Victoria and exposing the rest of America and the world to African American culture.  We’ll cover Jubilee groups that sprang up after the Fisk Jubilee Singers and performed in concert and stage productions of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  Finally, we’ll briefly cover how Spirituals evolved through the first half of the 20th Century.  The presentation is FREE to the public but you must register in advance by calling the library's Reference Desk at 732-873-8700.
For more information on these and other happenings, see the Events Calendar of www.classicurbanharmony.net

 

More Details and Photos from the Above Articles on our Website

There's just so much we can fit into one newsletter issue, but most of the articles are repeated on our website with additional details and photos.  To read more visit the "What's New Page" of www.classicurbanharmony.net.  And while there, don't forget to visit our other pages, like Our Events Calendar Page, Our Bookshelf, or our section on Articles We've Written.  

Bear Family Records' Ten CD Series, "Street Corner Symphonies," A Real Winner!

     This superb set of 10 CD’s (sold individually) was produced by Bear Family Records in Germany.  The entire package is incredible in its scope.  The set covers the pioneer groups of 1939-1949 in Volume 1 and then goes year by year to Volume 10, paying homage to the year 1958.  The songs in many cases are well-known but are well mixed with some great obscurities.  The most important vocal group harmony songs of each year are gathered here, not necessarily by sales but by love from aficionados of the doo wop era.  Each CD has 30-34 classic cuts, making the total collection a 321 song synopsis of the R&B and doo wop vocal harmony era.
      Taken as a complete set, this CD collection is extraordinary.  Much care and research went into this production.   When stood on end, side to side, the spines of the CD’s spell out “Street Corner Symphonies:  The Complete Story of Doo Wop.”  On each individual CD is printed a record label (Bullet, Savoy, Coral, Jubilee etc.) with the artwork of a record sleeve by the company surrounding it.  The accompanying liner note booklets are exquisitely packaged in each CD, ranging from approximately 70 to 80 pages each.  The booklets are well illustrated with rare photos and bios of each of vocal group selected.  Many noted music historians volunteered with information, photos and label scans including Classic Urban Harmony.  This spectacular collection was produced by Chicago R&B historian, Bill Dahl, who also wrote the detailed liner notes.
     The CD’s are purchased individually.  For instance, if you bought the CD from 1953, you’d get classics like the Drifters’ “Money Honey,” the Orioles’ “Crying In The Chapel,” the Checkers’ “White Cliffs Of Dover,” the Moonglows’ “Baby Please,” and the Crows’ “Gee”.  You’ll also get some fabulous sides that didn’t sell very well, like the Buccaneers’ “Dear Ruth” and the Hornets’ “I Can’t Believe”.  See the link on the What's New Page of www.classicurbanharmony.net for more info on these CD's and how to obtain them.

Terry Stewart Steps Down as President and CEO of the R&R Hall of Fame & Museum.  New Leader of Rock Hall Chosen 

      Our friend Terry Stewart has decided to step down as President and CEO of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, effective January 1, 2013.  Terry's inspiring leadership guided the Rock Hall for more than a decade and saw it's greatest growth as an organization and museum.  The Rock Hall's recent opening of its new Library and Archive building in Cleveland is a testament to Terry's dedication to preserving our music's legacy.  Though Terry was entrusted with running a prestigious organization like the Rock Hall, those of us who love R&B vocal groups know Terry as a fellow group harmony enthusiast and record collector, whose first serious record purchase many years ago was a 45 by the Castelles on the Grand label.  We thank Terry Stewart for his years of dedication to preserving Rock & Roll's legacy and wish him all the best in future endeavors.   The new President and CEO of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame & Museum will be Greg Harris, the Museum's VP of Development since 2008.  Greg had formerly been with the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.  Prior to that he had founded the Philadelphia Record Exchange, in Philly.  We extend our congratulations to Greg Harris and wish him continued success with the R&R Hall of Fame.  (Pictured above, Terry Stewart, Charlie & Pam Horner, 2010.)

"Sammy Strain - Part One: The Story of the Chips" now posted to our website.

     Our article on Sammy Strain (Part 1): The Story of the Chips is now available for viewing on our website.  Everyone knows the Chips' song "Rubber Biscuit," though some of you know it from the later Blues Brothers' version.  Here's the complete story of this fascinating song and the early career of Sammy Strain, who would later sing with the Fantastics, Impacts, Blue Chips, Imperials and O'Jays.  This article originally came out in Echoes of the Past magazine (#101). We've reprinted it with the magazine's permission and added some color photos and label scans.  Read about the Chips from the Link on the What's New Page of www.classicurbanharmony.net

New Echoes of the Past magazine (#102) now out!

     The latest issue of Echoes of the Past magazine (#102) is now out and it is a great one. In addition to our detailed article on "Sammy Strain - Part 2: The Fantastics" (remember "There Goes My Love," "This Is my Wedding Day," "Dancing Doll"), there's Bob Bosco's article on Danny & the Juniors, George Frunzi's article on the Monograms ("My Baby Dearest Darling" on the Saga label), Steven Kahn's article on the Bel-Larks ("A Million And One Dreams," "Getting Married In June"), Carl Janusek's article on the Four Larks (Guyden label) and more.  Why everyone doesn't subscribe to this magazine is beyond us.  We recently facilitated getting this magazine displayed in the Library/Archives of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.  To obtain your own subscription (4 issue annual subscription in the U.S. only $16.99) email Bob Belniak at echoes.past@yahoo.com.

Asbury Angels Plaques Saved from Storm.  New Inductees to be Selected Soon.

Those of you who follow our website know that we (Pam & Charlie Horner) are on the advisory committee for the Asbury Angels, a foundation formed to honor those who made significant contributions to the Asbury Park NJ music scene.  Earlier this year, we inducted a number of people, honoring them with plaques on the benches lining the Asbury Park Boardwalk.  While parts of the boardwalk and many benches were destroyed in the hurricane, all of the plaques were removed and saved.  They will be attached to new benches and the inductees' legacies will be continued to be remembered.  2013 Inductees will be announced shortly.  We'll report them on our website as soon as they are officially announced.

Ink Spots' Harold Jackson dies at age of 102.

Harold Jackson, member of the Ink Spots group that recorded for the King label in the mid-1950's, died this December at the age of 102.  Jackson grew up in Chicago, where he began playing bass in high school in the late 1920's.  After playing with a number of bands in the 1930's and 1940's, Harold was asked to join the Ink Spots in 1952 by Charlie Fuqua.  At that time, the original Ink Spots had split into two groups, with Bill Kenny leading one and Deek Watson and Charlie Fuqua forming another.  Harold Jackson was asked not only to play bass but also to sing bass for the group that also contained Charlie Fuqua, Deek Watson and Jimmy Holmes.  Deek Watson soon left, but the Charlie Fuqua Ink Spots, containing Harold Jackson, went on to record 9 records for the King label between 1953 and 1955. Harold continued singing with different Ink Spots' groups, including his own until well into his 90's.  The photo above from the mid-1950's is from the Classic Urban Harmony Archives. Clockwise from top left, Harold Jackson, Essex Scott, Jimmy Holmes, Charlie Fuqua..  Check the What's New Page of www.classicurbanharmony.net to see a video of Harold Jackson singing bass with the Ink Spots.  Thanks to Bill Proctor for this item.

Off Broadway Show, "Forever Dusty" Details Tragic Life of Dusty Springfield

The Off-Broadway show "Forever Dusty," now playing at the New World Stages, 340 West 50th Street, NYC, tells the life story of Dusty Springfield, the white soul singer from North London, England, who became one of the most successful female singers of the 1960's and 1970's.  While reviews have been mixed, we thoroughly enjoyed this show.  Kirsten Holly Smith, who also co-wrote the book for "Forever Dusty," gives an excellent portrayal of Dusty Springfield, both in acting and in singing.  We were of course, very familiar with Dusty's hit songs (six Top-Twenty singles in the U.S.), but we were really unprepared to learn of the troubles in her life.  Born Mary Isobel Catherin Bernadette O'Brien, she took the stage name Dusty Springfield when she sang with the folk trio, the Springfields in the early 1960's.  After touring the United States, Dusty became a fan of black music and went solo to sing soul.  Hit songs like "I Only Want To Be With You," "Wishin' & Hopin'" and "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me" followed.  But Dusty's personal life was not so smooth. The show covers many of the troubles in her life, though some characters are composites of people in her life and some time sequences are compressed.  Dusty Springfield died of breast cancer at the age of 59, two weeks before she was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  If you're a fan of sixties and seventies Pop music, this is a show you'll want to see.      . 
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