Sandy Posey

Born in Jasper, Alabama, in June of 1944, Sandra Lou Posey moved to Memphis in her teens. Upon leaving school, she was employed as a receptionist at a recording studio.

Sandy’s talents as a vocalist led her into the field of recording. Firstly, as a session singer during which time she supported artists such as Elvis Presley, Percy Sledge, Tommy Roe, Joe Tex and Bobby Goldsboro.

Once she was signed up to sing by MGM Records, her recording career as a solo artist began. In all, Sandy Posey was to release four singles that were destined to become hits. Each single possessed a similar theme. A theme that, in some quarters, was perceived to be an anti-feminist one.

“Born A Woman” — for which Sandy was nominated for a Grammy Award — reached No.12 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, in August of 1966. It achieved varying degrees of success internationally, for example in Britain it peaked at No.24 while in Australia it rose to No.3.

Sandy’s follow-up, “Single Girl”, again reached No.12 in her homeland and No.3 in Australia whilst, in Britain, it was to become her most successful release when it climbed to No.15. Both singles had emanated from the pen of Martha Sharp, who, too, was to turn to recording, in later years.

In 1967, the third single, “What A Woman In Love Won’t Do”, written by John D. Loudermilk, performed moderately by comparison, and it was left to “I Take It Back” to return Sandy to No.12 in America, in the middle of that year. Each of the first three songs had spawned an album which bore the same name as the single that had preceded it, and, “I Take It Back” continued this trend.

The expiration of Sandy Posey’s contract with MGM resulted in somewhat of a hiatus in her career. However, in 1971, she reappeared, as a country artist, having been signed to record by Columbia Records. Despite Sandy’s career in country being a relatively lengthy one, it became sporadic as she moved from label to label. None of her singles between 1971 and 1983 performed outstandingly well, with her most successful being her initial entry, “Bring Him Safely Home To Me”, which reached its zenith at No.18, early in 1972.

 

Tommy Roe

Atlanta, Georgia, was the birthplace of Thomas David Roe, in May of 1942. It was his father, Thomas, who really introduced him to music when he bought him a guitar and taught him how to play three chords.

“Tommy”, Mike Clark and Bobby West formed a group, The Satins, when the trio was still in high school. The Satins would perform songs by blues artists, such as John Lee Hooker.

When Tommy composed his first hit, “Sheila”, it originally bore the title, “Freida”. The song was recorded in Nashville, in September of 1961, but was not released, on ABC-Paramount Records, until May of the following year. “Sheila” spent two weeks atop both the American and Australian charts and reached No.3 in Britain.

“The Folk Singer” followed. However, while it barely entered the chart in the United States, towards the middle of 1963, it climbed to No.4 in Britain. In Australia, it ascended to No.20.

“Everybody” became Tommy’s second self-penned hit. Recorded in the studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, in July of 1963, it rose to No.3 in the United States and No.9 in Britain. Six years were to pass before Tommy Roe would re-enter the British charts.

The Australian public, on the other hand, had taken a distinct liking to Tommy’s recordings and while “Everybody” did not chart there, “Susie Darlin’ ” (No.4, in 1962) and “Carol” (No.9, in 1964) had performed well. “Susie Darlin’ ” had been a hit for its composer, Robin Luke, in 1958; as had “Carol” for its composer, Chuck Berry, in that same year. “Party Girl”, while it barely entered the Hot 100 in the United States, in 1964-’65, reached its apex at No.7 in Australia.

Eighteen months passed before Tommy Roe took firstly “Sweet Pea” and then “Hooray For Hazel” into the American Top 10, in the latter half of 1966. “It’s Almost Winter’s Day” performed moderately, in America, at the start of the new year. All three songs were Tommy’s compositions. Nevertheless, a further two years would pass before the ditty he was destined to co-write would become his biggest hit of all.

“Dizzy” topped Billboard’s Hot 100 for four weeks from the middle of March in 1969. Tommy’s re-emergence on the British chart could also be celebrated for the recording also reached No.1 there, in June of that year, after it had climbed to as high as No.3 in Australia.

“Heather Honey” met with more tempered success and, just as 1969 drew to a close, “Jam Up And Jelly Tight” was just about to mark Tommy Roe’s final visit to the Top 10.

Although Tommy continued to enter the American charts for a further three years, the recordings that had worked so well for him before were really no longer in vogue. In America there had been a leaning towards mellow country rock while, in Britain, glam rock had come to the fore.

Nevertheless, Tommy Roe continued to find audiences to attend his concerts and, in 1991, in that most retrospective of decades, he would have received royalties when the British outfit, Vic Reeves and The Wonder Stuff, again took “Dizzy” to the top of the charts.

 

The Newbeats

Despite Larry Henley having been born in Texas and the brothers Dean and Mark Mathis having hailed from Georgia, it was to be in Shreveport, Louisiana where the three would meet and form the vocal group, The Newbeats, in 1964.

It was in this same year that the trio released what was destined to be its first hit, “Bread And Butter”. It reached No.2 in The Newbeats’ homeland and No.15 in both Britain and Australia. The recording, on the label, Hickory, appears on the soundtrack to the film, ‘Simon Birch’, made in 1998. It was also employed in the comedy, ‘Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy’, in 2004.

“Everything’s Alright”, written by John D. Laudermilk, followed and peaked at No.16 in the United States. Nevertheless, a group that tended to lack versatility in such a competitive market as the Sixties was always going to struggle to achieve a modicum of longevity and, alas, for The Newbeats, it fitted into this mould. “Break Away (From That Boy)” — a recording I really like — struggled to an apex of No.40 in America. Despite this, it was to be warmly received in Australia, where its zenith was to be that of No.4.

The Newbeats did have one last hurrah in the United States when, and also in 1965, “Run Baby Run (Back Into My Arms)” ascended to sit at No.12. This same recording was to finally gain attention across the Atlantic where it belatedly sneaked into Britain’s Top Ten. However, by that time, it was 1971!

 

Tommy James (and The Shondells)

Given his first guitar at the age of nine, it was just a matter of time before Tommy James formed his own band, The Shondells. When Tommy was just thirteen he led the group, from Michigan, in recording sessions. One such session produced the single, “Hanky Panky”, in 1962.

Although “Hanky Panky” met with some regional success, in 1963, it was not to be until 1966 that the recording suddenly became a favourite of a disc jockey in Pittsburgh, that the ditty’s popularity spread not only nationwide, but globally.

Buoyed by having a No.1 under his belt, Tommy James moved to New York City where he linked up with the songwriters and producers, Ritchie Cordell and Bo Gentry. He also took the opportunity to finalise the remainder of the group whose members were also to become involved in the process of songwriting.

Tommy James and The Shondells, as this band became known, began to release original recordings that have since passed the test of time. Recordings which were to grace the American pop chart on nineteen occasions between 1966 and 1970.

In addition to “Hanky Panky”, Tommy James and The Shondells, took “I Think We’re Alone Now” to No.4 in 1967; “Mirage” (No.10 in 1967); “Mony Mony” (No.3 — No.1 in Britain — in 1968); “Crimson And Clover” (No.1 in 1968); “Sweet Cherry Wine” (No.7 in 1969) and “Crystal Blue Persuasion” to No.2 in 1969. Songs such as “Crystal Blue Persuasion” emerged during that relatively brief window in time when the movement which advocated peace and love, gave rise to the general belief that the world would become a better place.

The group demonstrated its diversity by moving from bubblegum to psychedelia to even voicing strains of protest at the height of the Vietnamese War, with its release of “Sweet Cherry Wine”.

It was in 1970 that Tommy James became a solo artist. Between then and 1981, he had eighteen recordings enter the American pop chart. By far the most successsful of these being “Draggin’ The Line”, in 1971. Of the remainder, “Three Times In Love” peaked at No.19, in 1980.

Among my favourite recordings by Tommy James and The Shondells, I have to give mention to the bright and breezy “Gettin’ Together”, from 1967, and the psychedelic “Sugar On Sunday” (1969). The band released ten albums in all. Tommy followed these with a further three during his time as a solo artist.

Joan Jett and The Blackhearts revived “Crimson And Clover” in 1982. English rocker, Billy Idol and the British band, Amazulu, did likewise with “Mony Mony” in 1987, and, in this same year, Tiffany covered “I Think We’re Alone Now” with mediocrity.

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