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Classic Urban Harmony Newsletter. Issue #22.  Bringing the world of Doo Wop, R&B, Soul and Gospel Harmony to your Inbox..

Classic Urban Harmony
Newsletter #22
 

Welcome, once again, to our Classic Urban Harmony Newsletter issue (#22).  It's been awhile since our last newsletter (we've been on vacation) and as usual, a lot has happened since then.  We'll try to catch you up on it all.  This newsletter now goes out to more than 700 subscribers and keeps growing in size and distribution.    As always, this newsletter contains the latest news from the world of group harmony plus concert and CD reviews, interesting features and unfortunately quite a few more passings from our music family.  The items in this newsletter are not in any kind of order, so be sure to read all the way to the bottom.  There's something for everyone here.  We hope this newsletter will continue to be your source of group harmony information. 

Quote of the month:  "Do you know what music is?  God's little reminder that there's something else besides us in this universe; harmonic connection between all living beings, everywhere, even in the stars." - Robin Williams (1951 - 2014).

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, lectures, college courses, concert production and emceeing, vocal group bookings, our website, www.classicurbanharmony.net, and 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 What'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 - October 20, 2014.

Author, Group Harmony Historian,
Phil Groia dies.

We're deeply saddened to hear of the passing of friend and fellow group harmony historian, Phil Groia.  Phil died suddenly om July 8, 2014.  He was only 73.  Those of us who dedicate our lives to preserving the history of Rhythm & Blues vocal harmony owe a debt of gratitude to Phil.  In the early 1970's serious research into the history of our music was in its infancy.  A few brave souls were daring to interview singers of the 1950's for articles in magazines like Big Town Review and Bim Bam Boom but few of us had the depth of knowledge or patience to write a whole book.  Lynn McCutcheon broke the ice with "Rhythm And Blues" in 1971, which gave an overview of R&B.  But Phil Groia's book, "They All Sang On The Corner" really took this research to a new level.  "They All Sang On The Corner" took the research of NYC R&B vocal groups to a level of details not previously seen.  This book is a valuable resource today (it was updated in a second edition in 1983) but in the early years, it was mind-blowing!  Thank you, Phil,  for the inspiration you gave us to do what we do.

Phil Groia wills his R&B archives to Classic Urban Harmony

Some time last year, Phil Groia and Charlie had a discussion about what would happen to our respective extensive archives of vocal groups memorabilia.  Both realized the importance of protecting years of research and memorabilia for future generations after our times had passed.  We felt deeply honored when we learned that Phil had left Classic Urban Harmony his R&B and R&R archives in his will.  Thank you Phil.  We will do our best to preserve your archives along with our own so that the history and legacy of our music will live forever.  This was the second posthumous donation of archival material Classic Urban Harmony has received this year.  Earlier the family of Bobby Thomas (Vibranaires/Orioles) gave us Bobby's archives.  (Photo above is Phil Groia and Pam Horner).
 

 

Benefit dinner concert for Joel Katz an incredible sold out event!

The benefit dinner concert for ailing singer, Joel Katz, held on September 21, was an incredible event and Classic Urban Harmony was there in West Lodi NJ to cover the action.  The sold out concert included great performances by the Dubs, Fireflies, Little Isidore & the Inquisitors, Devotions, Solitaires, the Willows, Kid Kyle, the Duprees, the Encounters, Barbara Harris of the Toys, and the Super Girls (members of famous girls groups).  Hal Keshner was musical director and the Golden Gup, Don K. Reed, King Arthur and Alan David Stein emceed.  Joel Katz has played a significant role in the preservation of group harmony for many years, both through his singing and his recording studio.  As Joel continues to battle the effects of cancer treatment, many of his friends banded together to raise money for his medical expenses.  The emotional highlight of the afternoon was when Kid Kyle asked Joel Katz to join him on stage to sing back up on "The Diary".  The moment was captured for YouTube and can be viewed at  Kid Kyle, The Diary   [Photo above, left to right: Dickie Harmon, Warren Tesoro, BJ Jones, Joel Katz, Kid Kyle].
 

Our article on the Trenton, NJ, acappella group, Satan & the Angels, now posted to our website

Satan & the Angels, the great doo wop acappella group from Trenton NJ who recorded a now much sought after LP in the late 1960's only sang for a short time but left their mark on group harmony history.  The lead singer, Tommy Hedden, checked himself out of the hospital against his doctors wishes to make the recording session.  Our article on the group, previously published in Echoes of the Past magazine, is now available in its entirety on our website for all to read.  We've added color scans of the album and updated the discography.  Visit the link on the What’s New Page of www.classicurbanharmony.net to read about the group..  
 

James Wendell Lea, original member of the Avons dies.

James Wendell Lea, original member of the R&B vocal group, the Avons, died August 28, 2014.  The Avons, best known for their Hull label recording of "Baby," were from Englewood, NJ.  The group's history is profiled on our website.  To read about them, click Avons.  Hear a YouTube of "Baby".

Waterfront sculpture proposed to highlight Camden (NJ) recording history

In 1896, working in his shop at 108 N. Front Street in Camden NJ, machinist Eldridge Johnson developed the spring mechanism that would make it possible to play recorded music on flat plates, later called "records".  By 1901 Johnson would form the Victor Talking Machine Company that would eventually become RCA Victor.  Soon the Camden waterfront area would house a huge complex of recording industry buildings, becoming the center of the record industry.  The Victor complex was a city unto itself, with almost 40 buildings.  Sadly, RCA abandoned the Camden site in 1987 and many of the buildings were demolished or quickly fell into disrepair.  Today, all that remain of this historic site is an apartment building remodeled from the iconic Nipper tower with stained-glass images of the dog listening to "his master's voice."  Now, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, sculptor and Camden native Carl LeVotch is proposing a Camden waterfront sculpture, in aluminum, depicting a 40-foot-tall 78 RPM. record to commemorate the site's history.  It would stand vertically and gracefully bend into a horizontal base with a timeline of the recording industry in the city.  The artwork would include holographic images of great artists who came to the city to record their music   As of now, the project needs funding, but it is hoped sponsors will step forward to make this a reality.  To read that entire story visit the link Camden sculpture.

Artifacts from our Vaults - the first 7" record by a black vocal group (December 1902)

While earlier African American singing quartets recorded on cylinder, a young quartet based in Philadelphia appears to have been the first to record on a flat phonograph disc.  On Wednesday, October 29, 1902, Sterling C. Rex (lead and first tenor), J. Clarence Meredith (second tenor), Harry B. Cruder (first bass) and James Mantel Thomas (second bass), all members of the Dinwiddie Quartette, recorded three songs at the studio of the Victor Talking Machine Company, located at Tenth & Lombard Streets in Philadelphia.  They returned on October 31, to record three more songs.  Victor released all six songs as one-sided records in December 1902.  They were probably released first as 10-inch discs on the Monarch label and then as 7-inch 78 RPM records on the Victor label.  All six recorded songs were done acappella.  All were spirituals except the first song recorded, “Down On The Old Camp Ground,” leading researcher George Moonoogian to once refer to this as “the first rhythm & blues vocal group record.”  We have this 7-inch record in our archives, an early forerunner of the vinyl 45

Crests' Talmadge "Tommie" Gough
(1939 - 2014)

The group harmony world is morning the loss of Talmadge E. "Tommie" Gough, original first tenor for the Crests.  He died of throat cancer on August 24, 2014 at the age of 75.  Talmadge was there in the beginning when he, J.T. Carter and Harold Torres first formed the Crests on Manhattan's Lower East Side in 1955.  The group added Luther Vandross' sister, Patricia van Dross (for a brief time), and then lead Johnny Maestro.  Tommie Gough stayed with the Crests about ten years and then moved to Flint MI.  To learn more about the Crests, see our published article on Johnny Maestro at www.classicurbanharmony.net.  [Crests photo above, Tommie Gough is second from the right.]
 

Manhattan Transfer's Tim Hauser dies at 72.  Another huge loss to our music community.

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Tim Hauser, founder of the great vocal group Manhattan Transfer.  Tim died October 16, 2014.  He was 72.  Tim was not only a phenomenal entertainer but a major figure in preserving the legacy of our music.  He was among other things, a singer, arranger, producer, music historian and radio host.  Our music has lost one of its most powerful spokesmen.  Tim Hauser was born in 1941 in Troy NY but grew up near Asbury Park NJ.  Influenced by Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers, he formed the doo wop group the Criterions, named after Criterion Candies, a store on the Asbury Park boardwalk.  The Criterions recorded two songs for Cecelia Records.  Tim went to Villanova University where he got involved with the college's radio station.  He once told us that it was there that he found a copy of the Friendly Brothers' recording of "Operator," a song he'd later record with Manhattan Transfer.  In 1969, Tim formed the first incarnation of Manhattan Transfer, a group that (with a few personnel changes) would sing for 45 years.  Manhattan Transfer's nation-wide summer TV show, in 1970's, thrilled doo wop fans with performances of songs like "Hearts Desire," "Gloria," and "Guided Missiles".  In 1981, Manhattan Transfer gave new life to the Ad Libs' song, "Boy From New York City".  Tim Hauser and Manhattan Transfer explored numerous styles of vocal harmony, including jazz, doo wop, R&B and vocalese.  Thank you, Tim, for all you've done for our music.  We'll miss you. - Charlie & Pam
 

Motown singer, Jimmy Ruffin gravely ill.

According to Soul Tracks, Jimmy Ruffin, Motown soloist and older brother of the late Temptations lead, David Ruffin, is gravely ill and in the intensive care unit of a Las Vegas hospital.  His family is asking for prayers.  Ruffin, 75,  is best known for his 1966 hit, "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted"  To watch a clip of Jimmy singing that song on British TV, visit Broken Hearted.
 

Classic Urban Harmony returns to Hillsborough NJ Public Library October 28 for multimedia presentation on New Jersey doo wop groups.

Classic Urban Harmony's Charlie & Pam Horner return to Hillsborough NJ Public Library, on Tuesday evening October 28, 2014, for our presentation of Doo Wop Groups of New Jersey.  Starts at 7 PM.  The Library is located at 379 South Branch Road, Hillsborough, NJ.  The presentation is FREE to attend but you must sign up.  Registration is now OPEN.  You can register by calling 908-369-2200, ext. 12 or 13.
 

Henry Stone dies at 93.  Owned the Rockin', Glory, Chart, Marlin, Dade. Glades, TK and Alston record labels.  Discovered Otis Williams & the Charms.

Henry Stone. pioneer record producer and label owner died August 7, 2014.  Born in the Bronx on June 3, 1921, Stone began playing trumpet in his teens.  After leaving the service in 1946, he moved to Los Angeles and worked for Modern Records, selling records to juke box distributors across the country.  In 1952 he moved to Miami FL and started the Rockin' label for R&B (Otis Williams & the Charms) and the Glory label for gospel music (Miami Soul Stirrers).  He would later own and operate a number of record labels including the Chart (Champions, Evergreens, Charms) and Marlin (Majestics) labels (in the 1950's), and later R&B and disco labels like Dade, Glades, TK and Alston.  Stone was influential in the careers of numerous vocal groups, most notably Otis Williams & the Charms.

Charlie & Pam on Jim Bakay's "Gospel Train" radio program.  Photos now posted to our website.

Charlie & Pam Horner made their second guest appearance on Jim Bakay's "Gospel Train" radio program on WRDV Radio (89.3 FM Warminster/Hatboro, PA; 107.3 FM Philadelphia PA; 97.1 FM Bensalem PA; WLBS 91.7 FM Bristol/Levittown PA) on Tuesday night September 9.  The program normally runs from 10 - 11 PM, but we had a lot of great gospel quartets to play, so we actually ran over by about 45 minutes!  The program was also heard on the internet at www.wrdv.org.  We spun great obscure gospel harmony records from the 1960's and 1970's out of Virginia and the Carolinas.  To see some photos from our appearance, click Gospel Train 2014.

Anthony "Tony" Trombetta, Sr., original lead of Rick & the Masters (1943 - 2014)

Anthony "Tony" Trombetta Sr., original lead singer for Rick & the Masters, died September 10, 2014, at the age of 71.  Rick & the Masters were an early 1960's doo wop group from South Philadelphia.  They recorded three great records for the Taba, Haral and Cameo labels.  Listen to the YouTube of "Bewitched bothered And Bewildered".
 

Cameo Parkway / Philadelphia International Records building nears demolition

We warned you last year that this was coming, so it shouldn't come as a surprise.  Yet, it still hurts.  The former Cameo-Parkway and later Philadelphia International Records building, at 309 South Broad Street in Philadelphia nears demolition. The building that put Philadelphia on the map as a music city will shortly meet its fate with the wrecking ball.  So much for honoring the city's musical legacy.  This week, workers on cherry pickers and ladders carefully removed the “PHILADELPHIA INTERNATIONAL RECORDS” sign and disassembled it into six pieces, strapping them piece by piece onto the back of a flatbed truck. The sign was then transported to safe storage with other artifacts and memorabilia from the famous recording studios and offices being preserved for future museum consideration.
 

Billy Sutton of the Fantastics dies.

We just received word that James "Billy" Sutton of the Fantastics passed away recently.  The Fantastics are known for songs like "There Goes My Love" and "This Is My Wedding Day", on which Billy Sutton sang second tenor.  Billy sang lead on "Dancing Doll" (United Artists label).  To hear a YouTube of the song, click "Dancing Doll".  To read the story of the Fantastics, visit www.classicurbanharmony.net and scroll down to Sammy Strain & the Fantastics - Part 2, under Articles By Us.  [Thanks to Steve Kahn for letting us know.] 

Kenneth Slaughter, one of the last of the Wings Over Jordan gospel choir (1922 - 2014)

Kenneth Slaughter, one of the last members of the Wings Over Jordan gospel choir, died August 25, 2014, at the age of 92.  The Wings Over Jordan were one of the best known black choirs of the 1930's and 1940's.  We first met Kenneth Slaughter last year at the African American Museum of Philadelphia when they celebrated National Gospel Music Heritage Month, a program hosted by Reverend Joe Williams.  Mr. Slaughter told the audience stories about being on the road with the Wings Over Jordan and the hardships they faced.  To read about the group, visit the fascinating article, Wings Over Jordan.  Thanks to Bob Marovich of the Journal of Gospel Music and to Rev. Joe Williams for letting us know.

Cosimo Matassa dies at 88.  Helped create the "New Orleans Sound"

Cosimo Matassa, the New Orleans recording studio owner and engineer who helped shape the careers of Fats Domino, Roy Brown, Little Richard, the Spiders, Irma Thomas, Lee Dorsey, Lloyd Price, Aaron Neville, Dr. John and many others, died September. 11, 2014.  He was 88.  Cosimo Matassa, along with producer Dave Bartholomew, made Matassa’s J&M Recording Studio on North Rampart Street one of the most famous locations in Rock & Roll history.  (Actually, the building now houses a dry cleaners.)  Matassa first opened the studio in 1945.  In recent years he received recognition for his contributions to popular music.  He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.  To read more, visit the article, Cosimo Matassa
 

Claudine Clark (1941 - 2014) ?

We've recently heard reports that Claudine Clark, the Philadelphia singer made famous by her recording of "Party Lights," passed away about six months ago.  We believe this to be true, though we're still trying to confirm it.  Does anyone know for sure?  Claudine Clark was born in Georgia in 1941 but moved to Philadelphia as a youngster.  Her first record was "Angel of Happiness" recorded for Herald Records in 1958.  Hear a YouTube of "Party Lights".

More Freddie Cannon undergos quadruple by-pass surgery

Freddie "Boom Boom" Cannon has successfully undergone quadruple by-pass surgery.  He is currently home resting and is expected to make a full recovery.  To hear a YouTube by Freddie Cannon backed by the R&B group, Teddy & the Twilights, click "Buzz Buzz A Diddle It".

We are back!  Classic Urban Harmony's Pam & Charlie Horner return from Hawaii.

We apologize for the lengthy wait for this issue of the CUH newsletter but we were on a much needed vacation.  We flew to Honolulu and took a cruise around the Hawaiian Islands.  While many of you were wondering what happened to us we were staring down into active volcanoes, visiting pineapple plantations and hiking through mountainside rainforests at 3000 feet.  We're back now, catching up on old business and forging ahead with the new. 
 

Vocal harmony on Norwegian Cruise Line's Pride of America:  Oh What A Night's tribute to the Four Seasons

Yes, we do find great vocal harmony everywhere we go, and Norwegian Cruise Line's Pride of America cruise around Hawaii was no exception.  Performing on the ship was a talented vocal quartet called "Oh What A Night," who entertained passengers with an outstanding tribute to Frankie Valle & the Four Seasons.  Along with flawless vocal harmony, Oh What A Night also demonstrated some exciting choreography.  The also stunned the audience with an acappella rendition of "Silence Is Golden".  [In case you weren't aware of it, the Four Seasons did this song before the hit version by the Tremeloes.]  The group sings all over the country so you don't have to be on a cruise ship to see them. You can find out more about this group or even purchase their CD from their website.  Visit Oh What A Night.
New Philly Doo Wop Festival a huge success - Draws more than 2200 doo wop fans!
Doo Wop music in Philadelphia is alive and well!  Just when many were questioning whether there would ever again be a doo wop festival in Philadelphia, the annual event was restored and was bigger and better than our wildest dreams.  Under new management, at a new location, the event featured 14 vocal groups, classic cars, dancing and record and memorabilia tables.  A crowd of 2200 doo wop fans packed the festival, most seated in lawn chairs in front of the large outdoor stage.  A full compliment of Philly's doo wop radio personalities past and present, including Classic Urban Harmony's Charlie Horner, did the emceeing.  Awards were presented to contributors to Philly's doo wop music legacy.  We've posted about 50 photos and a complete review of the event on our website.  Follow the link on the What's New Page of www.classicurbanharmony.net.
 

George Hilliard, original second tenor for the Tymes dies

We are greatly saddened to hear of the passing of the Tymes' original second tenor, George Hilliard.  The Tymes really started as the Latineers in 1955, when George Hilliard and Norman Burnett met at a summer camp.  The Philadelphia vocal group soon came together with the addition of Albert "Ceasar" Berry and Donald Banks.  Renamed the Tymes prior to their first record, the group went on to become one of the greatest vocal groups Philadelphia has ever had.  Their 1960's hits "So Much In Love," "Wonderful Wonderful," "Somewhere," "The Magic Of Our Summer Love," "These Foolish Things," "Pretend" and "People" are still very much appreciated today.  George Hilliard left the Tymes in the early 1970's to enter the ministry.  The group continued without him to chart again with "Trustmaker" and "Ms. Grace".  George Hilliard passed away on September 24, 2014.  Our heartfelt condolences to George's family and friends.  He contributed much to the history of vocal harmony and he will be missed.  [Thanks to Ceasar Berry for letting us know about this.]  [Photo above is from the Doo Wop Mural dedication in Germantown's Trolley Car Diner, April 2010.  Left to right: Tymes’ Donald Banks, Pam Horner, George Hilliard].

 

2014 Lead East

The 32nd annual (2014) Lead East again lived up to its reputation as the worlds largest 1950's party!  Five days of fifties music and classic cars filled the grounds of the Parsippany (NJ) Hilton.  Evening concerts featured the Harptones, Rob Roys, Bobby Lewis, the Danleers, Fidelities, Jive Five, Solitaires, Demensions, Duprees, Willows, Dubs, Dennis Dorrity Jr., and the Classic Sounds.  We were only able to attend for a short time on Sunday, but caught some great performances  on the acappella show by groups like the Whiptones, Nite Light, Echoes of Time, Desire and the Magic Touch.  Then we headed out to Rhode Island Island for the annual tribute to UGHA's Ronnie I.  Even a severe but brief downpour didn't hamper the festivities.  [Photo above, left to right: Pam Horner, Carol Price, Broadway Al Trommers, Tony O., Tom Rowell, at the Ronnie I. tribute.

 

Golden Gate Quartet new CD celebrates the group's 80 year history
The legendary Golden Gate Quartet, one of the greatest vocal quartets of all time, is celebrating the group's 80th year of singing with the release of an extraordinary new CD.  The group officially began in Norfolk, VA, in 1934 and has been singing continuously ever since.  In the mid-1950's they moved to Europe where they are still immensely popular. While initially know for spirituals, this CD is a mix of spirituals and secular (popular) songs.  There's plenty here for everyone to like, no matter what your tastes in music are.  The CD begins with "The Golden Gate Quartet 80 Years" which tells the history of the Gates in rhythmic narrative jubilee, a style of music the Gates made famous back in the 1930's and 1940's.  The song is an original, written and narrated by Paul Brembly, whose great uncle, the late Orlandus Wilson, kept the Gates going for over 60 years.  Paul has been with the Gates more than 40 years himself.  Another Brembly composition, "Goes Out The Light," is done in traditional Gates' style, but could easily be mistaken for rap (with great harmony of course), showing the similarities between the Gates singing of the 1930's and contemporary hip hop - the Gates were always ahead of their time.  Secular songs include Stevie Wonder's "Part Time Lover" and Michael Jackson's Billie Jean," both done in full vocal harmony.  "Lonely" displays vocal harmony's jazz influence.  R&B fans will love Sam Cooke's "Wonderful World" and Ben E. King's "Stand By Me," both led by Frank Davis.  On the pop side are "It's A Good day" and "On The Sunny Side Of The Street".  "Sunny Side" also has the group imitating instruments vocally.  Of course any Gates CD will have some spirituals and the Gates deliver a half dozen here, most done acappella.  We have an advanced copy of the CD, but it should be available soon.  We expect it to be posted soon on www.cristalrecords.com, the French label that will issue it.  Visit also the Golden Gate Quartet's Facebook Page.

Official R&B Music Hall of Fame Museum inducts Fantastic Four, Delfonics, Whispers, Sweet Inspiration, Gene Chandler, many more.

The Official R&B Music Hall of Fame Museum is a Cleveland-based organization seeking non-profit status with the intent of building a museum to educate visitors, fans and scholars from around the world about the history and continuing significance of rhythm & blues music.  An artists rendition of the proposed museum is pictured above.  In their second annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony, held August 24, 2014 in Canton, OH, a number of vocal groups were honored including the Fantastic Four, the Delfonics, the Whispers,the Sweet Inspiration and the Andantes.  Other inductees included B. B. King, Chubby Checker, Gene Chandler, Macy Gray, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Norm N. Nite, Whitney Houston and the Funk Brothers.  To follow the organization's activities visit R&B Hall of Fame.
 

2015 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominees announced.  Spinners, Marvelettes, included.

The nominees for the 2015 class of inductees to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame have been announced.  Group harmony fans will be happy to see the Spinners and Marvelettes included.  Other nominees include the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Chic, Green Day, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Kraftwerk, N.W.A., Nine Inch Nails, Lou Reed, the Smiths, Sting, Stevie Ray Vaughn, War and Bill Withers. Of course, only the top vote getters from this list will end up being inductees.  This year, the public is invited to vote through the Rock & Roll Hall's website, http://www.rockhall.com/.   The public vote is only one factor in determining inductees, however and so far the Spinners and Marvelettes are near the bottom of the list for votes received.  We know - most of our readers are waiting for the Ravens, Five Keys and Crests to be inducted.  Maybe next year.

"Since I Don't Have You, the Movie" DVD due out by December?  We certainly hope so!

We're hearing rumblings that the DVD of "Since I Don't Have You - the Movie" may be available for purchase by December.  We haven't been able to confirm this, but we certainly hope it's true.  The movie is based on the life and untimely death of Janet Vogel Rapp, the Skyliners original female vocalist, as seen through the eyes of her son Gavin Rapp who was thirteen years old at the time.  The film played in a few select locations after it's release in 2012, but most of us haven't yet seen it.  We'll let you know if we hear anything further.
 

Beatrice Best, long time member of the Jive Five, dies.

Beatrice "Bea" Best, long time baritone for the Jive Five died on September 15, 2015.  He was 81.  Best joined the Jive Five in 1962, in time for their hit record, "What Time Is It".  He sang with the group from that time until his retirement from singing a couple years ago.  Bea Best is on the far left in the above photo.  [Photo courtesy of the Larry Chance & the Earls Fan Club FaceBook Page.]  Visit the YouTube of "What Time Is It".

Jim Russell, owner of iconic New Orleans record store dies at 94.

Any record collectors who have ever been to New Orleans, know of Jim Russell's record store on lower Magazine Street.  It's been a source of vinyl records for us for decades.  Russell (real name Russell J. Bimback) had a long and colorful history prior to opening the record store, as a radio disc jockey and music promoter.  He was a major figure in New Orleans R&B.  Russell died July 20, 2014.

Special Memorial Service scheduled for great jazz vocalist Jimmy Scott in Harlem, Saturday October 25, 2:30 PM.

A special memorial service is scheduled for the late jazz vocal legend, Jimmy Scott.  It will be held at the .Abyssinian Baptist Church, 132 W. 138 Street (at: Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard), Harlem, N.Y.C. on Saturday afternoon October 25, beginning at 2:30 PM.  The event is being produced by: Yoza Rivers with: Jeanie Scott, Howell Begle, Jr. Esq., Sharyn Felder, David Ritz, Bill Bentley, Storm Gardner, Jill Newman, The Jazz Foundation of America and the Rhythm & Blues Foundation.  The church is open to the public, holds 1200 people, front of church is reserved for people on the show and their special guests.  Musicians appearing included include past & present members of Jimmy's road band "The Jazz Expressions" with special guests: Bill Easley, David Sanborn and Debbie Hastings.  Singers include Frankie Valli, Dr. John, Sam Moore, Chuck Jackson, Davell Crawford, Randy Weston, Andy Bey, Anthony, Storm Gardner, the Abyssinian Choir.  There’ll be a Jimmy Scott film clip performance.

Speakers include: Jimmy's band members, James McBride (Author / Playwrite), Joe Pesci (Actor / Singer), Dr. Mable John (Reverend / Singer), David Ritz (Biographer / Writer), Matthew Buzzell (Film Producer / Director), Sharyn Felder (Photographer / Film Producer / Doc Pomus' daughter), Hal Wilner (Event Producer), Bill Bentley (Music Executive), Stephen Nicholas (Music Historian) and others.  There will be 'surprise guests', actors, singers, V.I.P.'s, politicians, activists,, music industry execs, radio personalities, N.Y. Times, and many other reporters and media.  The night before the memorial the Jazz Foundation of America is having a special "Tribute to Jimmy Scott" at their annual fund raiser show at the world famous Apollo Theater.  [Photo of Jimmy Scott, 2010, courtesy of Jeanie Scott.]

Bob Crewe dies, famous record producer, songwriter.

Stanley Robert "Bob" Crewe at the age of 83 on September 11, 2014.  Crewe was born in Newark, NJ, in 1930, and raised in nearby Belleville.  Along with pianist Frank Slay Jr., Crewe started the XYZ record label and scored with their song "Silhouettes," done by the Rays in 1957.  Crewe's biggest success was with the Four Seasons but the list of songs he wrote or co-wrote is lengthy and the songs he produced is even longer.  To name just a few songs Bob Crewe wrote - "Silhouettes," "Daddy Cool,"  "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Walk Like A Man," "Rag Doll," "Silence Is Golden," "Can't Take My Eyes Off You," "Let's Hang On" "Navy Blue," and "Lady Marmalade".  The number of successful artists Crewe produced would fill this newsletter.  Along with XYZ, Crewe also owned the DynoVoice label, producing the Toys' hit "A Lover's Concerto".

From Paul Ressler's Archives - Photo of the Gladiolas

Each newsletter we try to feature a rare photo from our friend Paul Ressler's extensive archives.  This issue we've chosen a photo of Maurice Williams & the Gladiolas.  The Gladiolas were from Lancaster, SC and scored a Top Ten record (R&B Charts) with "Little Darling" in 1957.  The song was covered by the Canadian group, the Diamonds.  The Gladiolas would eventually evolve into Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs ("Stay").  To hear a YouTube of "Little Darling" click Gladiolas.  Thanks, Paul, for another great photo!

Classic Urban Harmony's 5-week course on R&B/Doo Wop Groups in progress at Raritan Valley Community College Lifelong Learning Institute

Classic Urban Harmony's course on R&B and Doo Wop Groups at Raritan Valley Community College's Lifelong Learning Institute is well under way and we're all having a great time..  Each week we present an hour-long multimedia presentation, followed by a discussion of relevant music books, websites, shows and current group harmony news.  So far, we've covered the origins and development of doo wop singing and talked about vocal groups from New Jersey.  This week we'll cover Brooklyn groups.  It's too late to register for this year's course, but we may run this course again in the future.
 

Rosetta Hightower, Orlons lead singer (1944 - 2014)

Sorry to report that Rosetta Hightower, original lead singer for the Philadelphia group, the Orlons, died August 2, 2014, at the age of 70.  Rosetta was living in England at the time of her passing.  The Orlons are well known for their hits singles like "The Wah-Watusi," "South Street" and "Don't Hang Up".  They also backed up many artists on Cameo-Parkway during the early 1960's and recorded a couple of fine group harmony albums.

Bert Berns musical, "Piece Of My Heart" a winner.  Too bad it closed so quickly.

Last newsletter we reviewed the biography of Bert Berns, one of our music's most prolific songwriters and producers.  Before we could get out this newsletter a very fine musical about the same subject, came and went.  We did get a chance to see it play, off Broadway, and are reviewing here with the hope that it will be brought back.  Piece Of My Heart" is the tragic story of Bert Berns, an extremely talented songwriter who gave us songs like "Twist & Shout," "A Little Bit Of Soap," and many, many more.  [Check out our website review of the book "Here Comes The Night".]  He lived with a heart defect that finally took his life at the age of 38.  The musical revolves around his daughter trying to learn about her late father and trying to preserve his legacy.  It flashes back to scenes from his life.  Of course, the music is fabulous and complements the story line well.  Unfortunately the musical closed on September 14, a few weeks after it opened.  Still, you can see a short video advertisement by going to Piece Of My Heart.  A documentary film is planned called "Bang" (the name of Bert's record label).  We'll keep you informed.   

Bob Marovich's new book, "A City Called Heaven: Chicago and the Birth of Gospel Music" is due out March 15, 2015

Our friend and colleague Bob Marovich's new book, "A City Called Heaven: Chicago and the Birth of Gospel Music" is due out March 15, 2015 and can even be pre-ordered on Amazon now.  We'll be reviewing the book here, once it is out, but knowing Bob Marovich's thoroughness as a researcher and love of gospel music, we're sure we're going to like it.

Past Issues of the CUH Newsletter Now viewable on line

Want to catch up on any past issues of this newsletter that you may have missed? Now you can. Just go to the top of this newsletter and click on "View it in your browser". Then you be able to click on "Past Issues" on the upper left of your screen.

More Details and Photos from the Above Articles on our Website

There's just so much we can fit into one newsletter issue, but many of the articles here 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 By Us..

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