Paul Revere And The Raiders

Through its many appearances on Dick Clark’s ‘Where The Action Is’, which was televised daily, as well as having its own show, ‘Happening ’68’, the group, Paul Revere And The Raiders, obtained unprecedented coverage in the U.S. Of course, there is no doubt that the colonial costumes its members wore, highlighting the Revolutionary War, played their part too.

In fact, the band is remembered more for its appearance and frivolous antics of its heyday, than for the reality it actually had fourteen hits enter the Top Forty in the United States. No mean feat, at a time when musical artistry was both voluminous and superb.

The band had undergone many changes in its personnel, since its original formation in Boise, Idaho, in 1959. It relocated to Portland, Oregon, in 1961, and changed its name from The Downbeats to Paul Revere And The Raiders. Its mainstays were singer, songwriter and producer Mark Lindsay — who also enjoyed a career as a solo artist, with hits such as “Arizona” and “Silver Bird” — and organist, Paul Revere.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtOE3Cy-FJI

Under the highly influential guidance of Terry Melcher, who was also involved in producing The Byrds, the band experienced its first national hit, “Steppin’ Out”, in October of 1965. Paul Revere And The Raiders was also affected by the music of the British Invasion, however, it was to be a song written by an American, John D. Loudermilk, that was to provide the group with its only No.1 hit, “Indian Reservation (The Lament Of The Cherokee Reservation Indian)”, in 1971. By this time the group had dispensed with the first three words of its name; simply calling itself The Raiders.

To obtain the names of more hits by Paul Revere and The Raiders refer to the suggested playlist.

Lesley Gore

While “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to…” are lyrics known to some of today’s generation, back in 1963 they were on the lips, or in the ears, of nearly everyone. I can make this sweeping statement because it took only a handful of weeks for Lesley Gore’s initial release, “It’s My Party”, to reach number one on the singles’ charts. Lesley, from New Jersey, was just sixteen and still at school.

Her recording company, Mercury, decided to strike while the iron was hot and quickly released “Judy’s Turn To Cry”. It was a follow-up both lyrically (as Johnny returns to her, having deserted her, for Judy, at the party) and literally.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_v468ptuXw

In fact, Lesley’s first four releases — rounded out by “She’s A Fool” and “You Don’t Own Me” — were all entrants to the Top Five. Yet, while her recordings continued to evolve, none was to achieve the heady heights of her first four and it was in 1967 that her last entry to the Top Twenty came, in the form of “California Nights”.

For the names of more releases by Lesley Gore refer to the suggested playlist.

Joe Cocker

John Robert Cocker was born in May of 1944, in Sheffield, England. He began his musical career under the name of Vance Arnold, however, by 1964 this had been changed again, to that of Joe Cocker.

Initially, Joe worked as a gas fitter but once he was signed to Decca Records he resigned from this job and embarked on a tour that featured the group, Manfred Mann. He joined the soul combination, Grease Band, but it was to be his own interpretation of The Beatles’ song, “With A Little Help From My Friends”, that even made the ‘Fab Four’ sit up and take notice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEdV-zK8UOQ

The single went to N0.1 in Britain, towards the end of 1968, and entered the American charts, albeit in a minor capacity. Joe, with his distinctive bodily movements, was popularly received when he appeared at Woodstock, where he met Leon Russell.

Joe covered Leon’s “Delta Lady”, and the pair combined to lead a rock ‘n’ roll tour called ‘Mad Dogs and Englishmen’, across America, at an exhaustive pace. A cover of The Boxtops’ “The Letter”, afforded Joe his first entry to the American Top 10.

Los Angeles became Joe Cocker’s place of residence in 1974 and, in the following year, he entered the American Top 10 for a second time with “You Are So Beautiful”, a song written by Billy Preston. Nevertheless, it was to be 1982 before Joe would experience what it was like to have a No.1 hit in the United States, when “Up Where We Belong”, the theme from the film, ‘An Officer And A Gentleman’ — and recorded in duet with Jennifer Warnes — allowed Joe to experience the euphoria associated with such an achievement. A feat, perhaps, made even more special in knowing that he had lived a life in which his personal problems had almost brought him as much notoriety as his recordings.

For the names of more recordings by Joe Cocker please refer to the suggested playlists.

Billy Joe Royal

Valdosta, Georgia, was where Billy Joe Royal was born, in March, 1942 and his home town, that is, until he moved to the outskirts of Atlanta, by the age of eight. It was his good fortune to met singer, songwriter and guitarist, Joe South, at a relatively young age, for it was to be South who would pen Billy Joe’s biggest hit, “Down In The Boondocks”, in 1965.

Nevertheless, “Down In The Boondocks” was far from being Billy Joe Royal’s first recording, for he had been painstakingly struggling to achieve such success since 1961. Joe South’s band The Believers backed Billy Joe on most of his recordings and “I Knew You When”, released in the wake of his initial hit, was no exception. Although it performed almost as well, it was to be another long four years before Billy Joe would experience having another hit in the Top Twenty.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVPJvk4t6SQ

“Cherry Hill Park” was to be this hit and it revived Billy Joe’s flagging status as a recording artist in the process. However, this time it was to be sixteen years and many recording companies later before he was to once again to make a meaningful impact upon the charts — the country charts.

Having virtually exhausted every other available opportunity at his disposal Billy Joe had begun recording in Nashville and, in 1985, his first hit in country music, “Burned Like A Rocket”, entered the charts. His biggest hit came, in 1989, when “Tell It Like It Is” peaked at No.2. Ironically, this song had been a hit — which had also reached its zenith at No.2 — on the pop charts, for Aaron Neville, in 1967. The very charts Billy Joe had tried so hard to conquer, all those years ago.

Traffic

Before heavy metal and punk rock there was Traffic. Vocalist, songwriter and organist, Steve Winwood, had already tasted success on the charts, as a teenager, with The Spencer Davis Group. Traffic was to allow him the opportunity to break away from his roots in blues, soul and rhythm and blues and experiment with something completely different. Drummer, Jim Capaldi, and Chris Wood, on alto sax and flute, had already been exposed to acid rock, when they had been members of the band, Deep Feeling, in Birmingham, England, in the middle of the 1960s. Added to this was the fact that Traffic was always open to new ideas.

Steve was still only eighteen when he joined Traffic, while Jim was twenty-two, as was Dave Mason, who could not only play guitar and bass but several other strange instruments.

Strangely enough, not all of the members in the group approved of its first two hits, “Paper Sun” and “Hole In My Shoe”, in 1967. Prior to his departure from the group, Dave Mason was to write “Feeling Alright”, which was later to be covered by Joe Cocker.

Traffic broke up in January, 1969 when Steve left to join Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker — both formerly with Cream — in Blind Faith. However, the band was to reform in February, 1970 with Rick Grech having replaced Dave Mason. Under multiple changes in personnel it cotinued to release albums for years to come. Steve Winwood enjoyed a solo career in the 1980s, which not only included the release of albums but singles such as “While You See A Chance” (I’ve always loved its instrumental introduction) and “Valerie”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56QSczF231Q

For a further track refer to the suggested playlist.

Curtis Mayfield

Curtis Mayfield’s career as a recording artist began with The Impressions, in 1957. He was born in Chicago, in June of 1942, into a musical family that favoured gospel over other forms.

Curtis learned to play the guitar and he was invited by another lover of gospel music, Jerry Butler, to become a member of The Roosters; the group that would become known as The Impressions. The band enjoyed its first hit, in 1958, when it recorded “For Your Precious Love”.

When Jerry left The Impressions, Curtis Mayfield became its leading vocalist and songwriter. He also chose to continue his association with Jerry Butler and played guitar on that singer’s first No.1 hit, “He Will Break Your Heart”, in 1960.

Months later The Impressions entered the charts with its first of thirty-eight pop singles, the classic “Gypsy Woman”, which was destined to become an even bigger hit when Brian Hyland covered it, in 1970. Nineteen seventy was also the year in which Curtis released his first album, “Curtis”, as a solo artist. The album combined funky rhythms with stringed arrangements and was a departure from what he had been recording with The Impressions.

Curtis Mayfield’s lyrics reflected the plight of so many African-Americans, as they continued to suffer from prejudice and injustice. Singles such as “We Got To Have Peace”, spoke from the heart.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECgBXkil7YI

After nearly forty years of songwriting and recording, tragedy struck, in August of 1990, when high winds brought equipment, linked to the lighting at an outdoor concert in Brooklyn, down on top of Curtis. His injuries rendered him a quadriplegic.

Paul Anka

Paul Anka was born on the 5th of July, in 1941. The singer and songwriter grew up in the Canadian capital, Ottawa. His first hit, “Diana”, was written about his baby sitter, Diana Ayoub. Paul won a trip to New York City, in 1957, where he was signed to ABC Records.

Possessing a long list of self-penned entries to the charts, that was to extend into the 1980s, Paul Anka also found the time to write songs for other artists: “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” for Buddy Holly, and “She’s A Lady” for Tom Jones being two such examples. Paul’s hit from 1960, “Puppy Love”, again, became a prominent entry on the charts, in 1972, when it was revived by Donny Osmond.

In 1969, he wrote English lyrics to the French song, “My Way”, which then became a global hit for Frank Sinatra. Following what, for him, had been a bit of a lull in his recording career, Paul combined, in duet, with Odia Coates, to reach the top of the charts, once again, with “(You’re) Having My Baby”, in 1974. The pairing quickly followed this with “One Man Woman/One Woman Man”, which nearly did just as well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bwW07sCwoY

Later in his life, Paul Anka became the mentor to another Canadian singer, Michael Buble.

For more tracks from Paul Anka refer to the suggested playlists.

LaVern Baker

LaVern Baker is one of my three favourite female singers. Dusty Springfield and Brenda Lee are the others. LaVern was born as Delores Williams, in Chicago, on the 11th of November in 1929; into the Great Depression. She was to sing under a number of different names and record for a number of labels before finally being signed to Atlantic Records, in 1953.

However, LaVern had to wait until 1955 to have her first hit, “Tweedle Dee”, but, even then, this was promptly covered by Georgia Gibbs who was to enjoy, by far, the greater number of sales.

Still, LaVern persevered and was to become a regular entrant to the rhythm and blues charts from then until 1966. Her record, “I Cried A Tear”, even entered Billboard’s Top 10 on the pop charts, in 1958.

I particularly like her smouldering cover of Lonnie Johnson’s classic, of 1948, “Tomorrow Night”.

For more tracks from LaVern Baker refer to the suggested playlists page.

Jefferson Airplane

Jefferson Airplane was formed by Paul Kantner and Marty Balin and made its public debut in San Francisco, in 1965. The band was musically symbolic of the neighbourhood, within this city, known as Haight-Ashbury, which, at that time, was a haven for those living in accommodation that required the payment of low rents — students, artists and the like.

As with other groups of that time, its members sought a freedom to express themselves and to explore musical boundaries. However, as with so many experimental bands in the mid-to-late 1960s Jefferson Airplane’s success was to be relatively ephemeral, with it managing to produce just two singles of quality, namely “Somebody To Love” and “White Rabbit”; both of which were hits in 1967.

Singer, Grace Slick, moved on to join the similarly named Jefferson Starship which posted entries on singles’ charts, extending  from 1974 into the next decade.

As if proof was needed that good music can span generations, “Somebody To Love” enjoyed popularity in the Noughties, when it was covered by The Boogie Pimps.

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