Phil Phillips

Philip Baptiste was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, in March of 1926. Philip sang gospel in a group called The Gateway Quartet and worked as a pageboy in a hotel.

Having changed his name to Phil Phillips, he recorded “Sea Of Love”, in 1959. Phil dubbed the vocalists, who supported him on the record, The Twilights, and witnessed the single climb Billboard’s Hot 100 pop chart to peak at No.2. It also entered Billboard’s rhythm and blues chart, where it afforded him a No.1 hit.

Regardless, Phil Phillips was to receive little or no payment for the single’s success. He, therefore, turned his back on the recording industry although he did become a disc jockey, in Louisiana.

“Sea Of Love” was revived by Del Shannon, in 1981, and, in 1984-’85, the essentially British group, The Honeydrippers, experienced international success when it, too, revived the song. The Honeydrippers had as its nucleus two former members of Led Zeppelin, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, as well as Jeff Beck, who, like Jimmy Page, had been a member of The Yardbirds, in the 1960s, before branching out on a solo career.

If you have seen the film, ‘Sea Of Love’, from 1989, you might recall that Al Pacino’s character repeatedly plays a 45 of Phil Phillips’ recording. Personally, I was focusing more on Ellen Barkin’s portrayal.

I have listed Phil Phillips’ recording of “Sea Of Love” on the list of my favourite recordings. This list is located in the suggested playlists.

Mark Williams

Mark Williams was born, in 1954, in the Northland region — which is above Auckland — in New Zealand. When he was sixteen he started a band, The Face, with classmates. The Face finished third in the final of the ‘National Battle Of The Bands’ in Auckland, in 1970.

Mark was convinced to become a solo performer, in 1973, and was offered a position as a regular guest on a new television show, ‘Free Ride’.

Towards the end of 1974 Mark was signed to record on the EMI label and, in 1975, released a song, that had been written by Harry Vanda and George Young ( see the post, ‘The Easybeats’), “Yesterday Was Just The Beginning Of My Life”. The single rose to sit at No.1 on the national charts in New Zealand.

Regardless, the next couple of years were somewhat of a struggle as Mark sought to replicate this success. It took until 1977 and an excellent revival of the classic track by Buddy Holly, “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore”, for him to achieve this.

Later that year, Mark relocated across the Tasman to Australia. There he was paid well for singing on many commercials, made for radio and television, while also obtaining work as a session vocalist to established artists.

In 1980 Mark released his first Australian album, ‘Life After Dark’. He formed the group, Boy Rocking, which was based in Sydney and, in 1988, toured with Ian Moss’s band on the highly successful ‘Matchbox’ tour. Mark, in duet with Karen Boddington, recorded the theme song to the extant Australian soap, ‘Home And Away’.

Mark began working on new material in collaboration with Vanda and Young and from his new album, ‘Mark Williams ZNZ’, came the single “Show No Mercy”, in 1990.

Mark Williams continued to find work throughout the years and, in spite of still being based in Sydney, in 2005, was invited by Todd Hunter of the New Zealand rock band, Dragon, to join the re-formed group. Mark accepted the offer.

The Easybeats

The members of The Easybeats first met as they were being accommodated in a hostel for migrants, at Villawood, a western suburb of Sydney.

Leading guitarist, Harry Vanda (22nd of March, 1947) and bassist, Dick Diamonde (28th of December, 1947) were Dutch, while vocalist, ‘Little Stevie’ Wright (20th of December, 1948), rhythm guitarist, George Young (6th of November, 1947) and drummer, Gordon ‘Snowy’ Fleet (16th of August, 1945) were British.

George Young, a Scot, is the older brother of AC/DC’s Angus and Malcolm Young.

The Easybeats formed in 1965 and tasted immediate success when “She’s So Fine” went to No.1 on the Australian pop charts. Before year’s end “Wedding Ring” (No.6) and “Sad And Lonely And Blue”/”Easy As Can Be” (No.9) had followed it into the Top Ten.

Nineteen Sixty-Six was even more sensational for the group, for in the first six months it had racked up three consecutive number one hits: “Women (Make You Feel Alright)”, “Come And See Her” and the 45 r.p.m. EP (extended play), “Easyfever”, which included “Too Much” and “I’ll Make You Happy (Just Like Your Mama Wants)”.

Understandably, The Easybeats decided that it was time to spread its wings and the band was soon en route to England. Meanwhile, “Sorry” reached No.4 on the Australian charts.

It did not take long for The Easybeats to realise that it had gone from being a big fish in a small ocean to being a small fish in a big one. Nonetheless, Harry Vanda and George Young managed to pen “Friday On My Mind”, which symbolised the thoughts of many teenagers in the rebellious ‘Swinging Sixties’.

Recorded in London, the single occupied six weeks at No.1 back in Australia, and entered the British charts, peaking at No.6. It even received airplay across the Atlantic, where its zenith was to be No.16.

However, the excesses that could become available to those who achieved success were starting to take their toll on at least one of the group’s members. Homesickness for Australia, and the fame that that country had represented, also became a factor in the unease that had developed within the group, and it was eventually decided that the five should return.

Even there, things were not as they had been and the best result the group achieved, during its remaining three years as an entity, was that of taking the double A-sided compositions of Vanda and Young, “Heaven And Hell”/”Pretty Girl”, to a height of of No.11, in mid-1967.

Harry Vanda and George Young formed their own group, Band Of Hope, and, in 1972, Marcus-Hook Roll Band. Neither was noticeably successful, however, the pair was to become notable as producers of records. In 1974 and 1975 they produced the first two albums by AC/DC: ‘High Voltage’ and ‘TNT’.

They formed and wrote for another Australian group, Flash And The Pan. It experienced two hits in Australia, “Hey St. Peter” (No.2, in 1977) and “Down Among The Dead Men” (No.8, in 1978). Then, quite out of the blue, the band found success in the United Kingdom, when, in 1983, “Waiting For A Train”, reached No. 7.

In 1974, Vanda and Young resurrected Stevie Wright’s recording career when, as a solo artist, he took “Evie (Part 1)” to No.1 and “Guitar Band” to No.16. In fact, the pair’s compositions were recorded by many Australian artists; with one further example being that of John Paul Young’s international hit, “Love Is In The Air”, which climbed as high as No.7, in the United States, in 1978.

You will find “She’s So Fine” on my list of favourite recordings, located in the suggested playlists. I remember turning the volume on my radio up, to make the single’s introduction as loud as possible.


Bo Diddley

Ellas Otha Bates — also known as Ellas McDaniel — was born in McComb, Mississippi, in 1926. However, he was to spend his formative years in Chicago.

Ellas became a classically trained violinist. He could also design and construct guitars. These included his trademark rectangular models. As a musician he drew inspiration from gospel, blues, rhythm and blues and whatever else took his fancy.

Popular music was in a state of turmoil in 1955, as rock and roll was erupting. Because no one really knew where the future of music lay, record companies were willing to take a chance on someone with a unique style and sound.

‘Bo Diddley’, as Ellas was now calling himself, cut the self-penned tracks, “Bo Diddley” and “I’m A Man”, in his first session at Chess Records, in March of that year and, in June this double A-sided single rose to No.1 on the rhythm and blues charts. ”

Bo wrote most of the songs he recorded. He is probably more famous for the influence his music had upon artists to come, as opposed to the sales his own recordings generated. In this way his music also influenced future generations.

Musical luminaries such as Buddy Holly (“Mona” and”Bo Diddley”), The Animals (“Road Runner”), The Rolling Stones (“Mona”) and The Yardbirds, and Jimi Hendrix (“I’m A Man”), and The Doors (“Who Do You Love?”) are included amongst these artists. As too, is Australian Craig McLachlan and his group, Check 1-2, who also covered “Mona”, in 1990, taking it to No.3 ‘Down Under’ and No.2 in the United Kingdom, where his role in the television series, “Neighbours”, had already made him popular.

Bo suffered from a stroke, in 2007, which was followed by a heart attack. His heart failed him in June of 2008.

I regard “Who Do You Love?” to be a classic example of early rock. Therefore, I am including it in the list of my favourite recordings. This can be found in the suggested playlists.

Barry Ryan

As Barry Sapherson, Barry Ryan was born in Leeds, England, in October of 1948. His career as a singer began in partnership with his twin brother, Paul, at the age of sixteen.

In 1965, the pair was signed to record on Decca Records as the duo, Paul & Barry Ryan. Paul learned that he could not cope with the stress associated with this and, consequently, it was decided that he would write compositions for Barry to record. One such composition was the brilliantly arranged “Eloise”, released in 1968.

“Eloise”, deservedly, sold more than a million copies. However, subsequent singles could not replicate anything like its success. That is, until “Love Is Love”, released in 1969, became warmly accepted in certain European nations. This meant that it , too, sold similarly to “Eloise”.

Due to his popularity in Europe, Barry decided to record songs in German. He ceased to record in the early 1970s but made a comeback in the late 1990s, when compact discs were released of he and his brother’s original recordings.

Whether “Eloise” appeals to one or not, I believe it is yet a further example of just how the standard of popular music has sunk, to find itself wallowing in the mire of mediocrity that it is in today. I was sitting in my new dentist’s waiting room just the other day having to endure what was being fed to me by the radio station that was playing. In the end I felt compelled to exclaim to the similarly aged gentleman seated opposite, “I don’t believe the dentistry that we are about to receive could be as excruciating as listening to this!” He laughed and concurred.

Buck Owens

Alvis Edgar Owens Jr., in conjunction with his band The Buckaroos, from the late 1950s until the late 1960s took country music to a wider audience. This was, in part, due to the fact that they were based in California. Their sound was to make the town of Bakersfield famous.

A child of the Great Depression, poverty and smothering dust storms had forced his family out of sharecropping in Texas, and to head westwards. “Buck” sang in honky tonks, in Bakersfield, drawing upon a style of hillbilly that had once been at the root of country music.

Whereas the likes of Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell had drawn inspiration for their creativity from their lives of indulgence, Buck Owens was a man of principle who set high standards of professionalism. His love of rock and roll also influenced his music and made it stand out from what was being emitted from Nashville.

Buck visited Billboard’s country music charts for thirty years from 1959, racking up twenty-one No.1 hits. Recordings that contain the same vitality as when they were released.

The death of his leading guitarist, Don Rich, as the result of a motorcycle accident, in 1974, so affected Buck that he gradually drifted into semi-retirement, just as the film, ‘Urban Cowboy’, was being popularly received and bringing country music to the fore, in 1980. In 1987 he met Dwight Yoakam, a devotee of Buck’s music, and the pair recorded Buck’s recording from 1972, “The Streets Of Bakersfield”. The duet gave Buck his first No.1 since his original recording of the song.

I was firstly introduced to the music of Buck Owens in the 1970s when what was then radio station, 2KY, in Sydney, decided to play country music for a couple of years. His only hits, in Australia, coincided with that. These were “Made In Japan”, which reached a peak of No.7, in 1972, and “(It’s A) Monster’s Holiday” (No.4, in 1974); on the pop charts here.

Buck wrote or had a hand in writing many of his recordings. “Crying Time”, which he also wrote, rose as high as No.6 on Billboard’s singles pop chart, in early 1966, for Ray Charles, and No.5 on its rhythm and blues chart.

Coming from abject poverty made Buck determined to create wealth from other means than selling records. Thereby, he became a diverse and astute businessman. Buck died in March of 2006, at the age of seventy-six.

The names of more recordings by Buck Owens can be found in the suggested playlists.

Deep Purple

Along with other British bands, such as Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, Deep Purple is considered to be among the pioneers of heavy metal. The band formed in Hertford, England, in late 1967.

Initially, the rock group was called Roundabout and consisted of vocalist Rod Evans, bass guitarist Nick Simper, Hammond organist Jon Lord, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and drummer, Ian Paice. Nick had been a member of Johnny Kidd and The Pirates, which had taken “Shakin’ All Over” to No.1 on the British singles charts in the middle of 1960. He had also been in the car crash that claimed Johnny’s life, in 1966.

It was Ritchie who suggested the name of Deep Purple for the band, for that was his grandmother’s favourite song. Among the band’s early recordings were “Hush”, a cover of the song from the pen of American singer/songwriter, Joe South and “Kentucky Woman”, which had already been a hit for its composer, Neil Diamond.

Rod Evans and Nick Simper departed from the Deep Purple, in 1969. Ian Gillan became the band’s new singer and Roger Glover, the new bassist.

In 1970, the group, sporting a new, more progressive sound took the single, “Black Night”, to No.2 in Great Britain. “Strange Kind Of Woman” (No.8, in 1971) and “Fireball” (No.15) came from the album, ‘Fireball’.

In December of 1971, Deep Purple was in Switzerland preparing to record the album, ‘Machine Head’, when its members witnessed the fire that destroyed the Montreux Casino, situated across Lake Geneva. This event was to inspire the writing of “Smoke On The Water”, a single that was to sell well in the United States where it peaked at No.4. Deep Purple’s initial hit, “Hush”, had also reached its zenith there, in this same position, in 1968.

Essentially, Deep Purple has primarily been a prolific producer and seller of albums. Sales in regard to these are in excess of one hundred million copies.

Deep Purple split up in 1976, only to re-form in 1984. The band continued to experience changes to its personnel although Ian Gillan, Roger Glover and Ian Paice remained loyal for years to come.

“Strange Kind Of Woman” is listed amongst that of my favourite recordings. This is located in the suggested playlists. I shall be adding to this list it from time to time.

Rose Royce

Rose Royce formed in the early 1970s, in Los Angeles. Edwin Starr, a singer of soul on the label, Motown, introduced the octet to that company’s producer, Norman Whitfield, who had had such success with The Temptations.

Initially, the band was known as Total Concept Unlimited and then The Magic Wand. It was while under the latter name that Norman Whitfield recruited a female singer, Gwen Dickey, to lead the group. Gwen was given the stage name of Rose Norwalt. As Norman had been given the opportunity to score the music to the film, ‘Car Wash’, he decided to use The Magic Wand, featuring Rose Norwaldt, in the picture’s soundtrack, but not before changing the band’s name to Rose Royce.

In 1976, even before the film had opened, the world was listening to its main theme, in the form of the pulsating disco single, “Car Wash”. It sold more than a million copies, topping both Billboard’s rhythm and blues and pop singles charts. The group’s second single, “I Wanna Get Next To You”, also from the movie, performed almost as well as its first release.

Rose Royce’s album, ‘In Full Bloom’, was released in 1977. The first single to come from it, “Do Your Dance – Part 1”, was followed by “Ooh Boy” and, finally, “Wishing On A Star”. The following album, ‘Strikes Again!’, is a collection that includes the tracks “I’m In Love (And I Love The Feeling)” and “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore”, a song that was to be revived by Madonna on her album, ‘Like A Virgin’.

“Rose” departed from Rose Royce shortly after the release of the band’s next album, ‘Rainbow Connection’. A year and a half was to pass before the band released its next album, ‘Golden Touch’, in 1981; with new vocalist, Ricci Benson. However, not one single from this album succeeded on the charts in the United States.

The albums, ‘Jump Street’, ‘Stronger Than Ever’ (1982), ‘Fresh Cut’ (1987) and ‘Perfect Cut’ (1989) followed, as the group’s personnel continued to change. By the middle of the 1980s Rose Royce had been reduced to a sextet and prior to the recording of ‘Perfect Lover’ Lisa Taylor had replaced Ricci Benson.

“Car Wash” was revived by Christina Aguilera (featuring Missy Elliott), in 2004.

Loretta Lynn

Loretta Webb was born, in Kentucky, in April of 1934 (or 1935, for I have seen both years mentioned). Her father was a coal miner and she was the second of eight children of whom singer, Crystal Gayle, was another.

When Loretta was just thirteen she married Oliver Lynn, who encouraged her to pursue a career in country music. She was signed to Decca Records, where she received much encouragement from Patsy Kline. Her first single to chart came in 1960, in the form of “I’m A Honky Tonk Girl” and her most successful, “One’s On The Way”, in 1971.

While she remained massively successful on the American country charts, Loretta scarcely made an impression on the pop charts there. Some small consolation might have come from the fact that “One’s On The Way” entered the pop charts in Australia, which did not have country charts, and peaked, at No.9, two years after its American release.

Sissy Spacek was to win the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Loretta in the autobiographical film, “Coal Miner’s Daughter”. Loretta’s life is certainly a tale that took her from rags to riches!

Loretta wrote a number of her hits, most notably “Fist City”, “Rated X”, “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and “You Ain’t Woman Enough”. My favourite recordings are “Trouble In Paradise”, from 1974, “Love Is The Foundation” (1973) and “As Soon As I Hang Up The Phone”, one of the five No.1 hits she recorded in duet with Conway Twitty, from 1974.

Loretta also recorded with Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette, in addition to one of the earliest stars of country music, Ernest Tubb.

The names of more recordings by Loretta Lynn can be found in the suggested playlists. Whilst you are there why not peruse the list of my favourite recordings? I shall be adding to it from time to time.

Little Anthony and The Imperials

Tenor, Anthony Gourdine, was still in high school in Brooklyn, New York, when he helped to form the group, The Duponts. His next group, The Chesters, was to change its name and call itself The Imperials.

Little Anthony and The Imperials’ initial hit, “Tears On My Pillow”, in 1958, was to sell a million copies. This, in spite of the group not being fond of the song. Kylie Minogue revived it in 1989, with it appearing in her film, ‘The Delinquents’.

A short list of singles that had failed to perform as expected led the quintet to record a novelty song, “Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko-Bop”. It was to restore the vocal group’s status within the recording industry, as 1959 met 1960.

Nonetheless, further singles failed to chart with impact and, as a result, the group split up. However, by 1964, the members had been convinced that they should re-form and from this reformation the five were to experience their most successful period, with the release of “I’m On The Outside (Looking In)”, the pop standard “Goin’ Out Of My Head”, “Hurt So Good” and “Take Me Back”.

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