A Free Music Download

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As a baby boomer, I, like most members of that generation, am obsessed with the music of that era. Music that you could understand, dance to and remember.

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My last post was about the Winter Dance Party tour, a tribute to Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper.

Long story short, or in the vernacular of our new Internet, long blog short, I sent a copy of that post to the booking agent for Winter Dance Party and they forwarded it to John Mueller, the person who does an incredibly masterful impression of Buddy.

Hey Buddy

John got back to me quickly, and he sent a link to a free download of the tribute song he wrote to memorialize the fiftieth anniversary of the plane crash in which the three music super legends were killed. Please click here and download the song, “Hey Buddy” to your computer. It is GREAT!

If they’re ever in your area, you simply cannot miss this show!!!!!

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This past February, I wrote a blog entry about the plane crash, fifty-six years earlier, in which Buddy Holly, J.P. Richardson a/k/a The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens were killed. If you wish to review that entry, click here.

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Like almost every baby boomer, I appreciate not only their music, but also lots of music we listened to while we were growing up. It was a time when you could understand the lyrics, dance to the beat and just have fun. That music is a central theme in the book that I’ve written, Baby Boomer Reflections – Eighteen Special Years Between 1946 and 1964.”

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Last night, I went to see a tribute group that was performing at a Las Vegas casino. The name of the show is “Winter Dance Party,” and I’ve linked those words to their Website, where you can see the 2015 tour schedule. Between now and the end of the year, they will appear in Oklahoma, California (several times), North Dakota, Manitoba, South Carolina, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. If you’re an authentic baby boomer, and you’re anywhere in those areas, you’ve gotta be there!

Now, as Paul Harvey would have said, “The rest of the story.”

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The performers are not egocentric. That’s why the Buddy Holly lead, John Mueller, didn’t bother to point out that he played the lead when “Buddy …. The Buddy Holly Story” opened at the American Heartland Theatre in Kansas City in January 1996. It’s also why the guy who played J.P. Richardson, and he had the character nailed from start to finish, didn’t bother to announce that he was actually Jay Richardson, the Big Bopper’s son. But there was a brief acknowledgement to several audience members during “Ritchie Valens’” performance. He stopped to introduce the Ritchie’s actual sister and her granddaughters, Ritchie’s nieces, who just happened to be in the audience

I bought the CD after hearing a John Mueller perform a tribute song, “Hey Buddy,” during the show. You can hear it if you click here.

One of my first (and favorite) big boy toys

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I can’t remember exactly how old I was, but I was probably eight or nine. My father had a friend who regularly traveled to New York City. Dad asked him to buy me one of America’s new hot items … a transistor radio.

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Until I researched background information about transistor radios like the one I got, I mistakenly thought they came from Japan. In fact, the first transistor radios in America were produced through a joint venture by Texas Instruments from Dallas, Texas and Industrial Development Engineering Associates from Indianapolis, Indiana. That radio was the Regency TR-1. It was released in October 18, 1954, and it cost $49.95 (equivalent to $439 today). The Regency TR-1, and competitors’ versions, including Sony’s TR-63, introduced in December 1957, soon became the most popular electronic communication device in history, with billions being manufactured during the 60s and the 70s.

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The Regency TR-1 received AM stations only, measured 3” x 5” x 1 ¼,” and initially came in black, ivory, Mandarin red and cloud gray, but were soon joined by mahogany and forest green. The Sony model was ¼” narrower and ½” shorter. It came in lemon, green, red and black. The radios had a small speaker and produced a really tinny sound. The Regency TR-1 also had an earphone jack, and its optional earphone retailed for an additional $7.50. Three months after the radio’s introduction, the first aftermarket leather case was available for $3.50.

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Three social forces made transistor radios successful. Baby boomers, disposable income and rock ‘n roll music. Finally, teenagers could listen to their own music, when they wanted, without disturbing their parents.

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A Regency TR-1 is on display at Washington DC’s Smithsonian Museum.

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We just lost one of our leading edge baby boomer icons

Please share this if you deem it appropriate.

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“It’s My Party” singer, Lesley Gore dies at 68

So, I was just out driving around listening to my ’60s station on Sirius radio, and a Lesley Gore hit was playing.  When the station went to commercial messages, I switched over to a news station, where the announcer was just speaking about the death of Leslie Gore at age 68.  I was shocked, both by the news and by the eeriness of having just listened to her singing.

Here’s what I found on the Internet when I got home:

“Singer-songwriter Lesley Gore, who topped the charts in 1963 at age 16 with her epic song of teenage angst, “It’s My Party,” and followed it up with the hits “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” and the feminist anthem “You Don’t Own Me,” died Monday. She was 68.

Gore’s other hits include “She’s A Fool,” ”Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows,” ”That’s the Way Boys Are” and “Maybe I Know.” She co-wrote with her brother, Michael, the Academy Award-nominated “Out Here On My Own” from the film “Fame.”

Gore died of lung cancer at New York University Langone Medical Center in Manhattan, according to her partner of 33 years, Lois Sasson.”

I saw Lesley Gore in concert in 1968 during spring break at a central Pennsylvania college.  It’s one of the things I shall never forget.

We have had a loss in the family of leading edge baby boomers.

You Can’t Argue With The Facts

How many times have you listened to someone argue about how good the music is today? It’s not. The best music is the music of the ‘50’s and the ‘60’s!

So what are the facts?

The Rolling Stone periodically publishes a number of top 500 listings, including one for records and one for albums.

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The last time it published its record list, seven of the top ten records came from the ‘50’s and ‘60’s, including:

  • #1 Bob Dylan, “Like A Rolling Stone” (1965)
  • #2 Rolling Stones, “Satisfaction” (1965)
  • #5 Aretha Franklin, “Respect” (1967)
  • #6 The Beach Boys, “Good Vibrations” (1966)
  • #7 Chuck Berry, “Johnny B. Goode” (1958)
  • #8 The Beatles, “Hey Jude” (1968)
  • #10 Ray Charles, “What’d I Say” (1959)

To amplify this a little bit, of all these 500 songs, 276, or more than 55% came from two decades, conspicuously the ’50’s and the ’60’s. That means 45% came from the ’40’s, and the ’70’s through the ’00’s.

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The Rolling Stone album list also had seven of the top ten albums from the same period. These included:

  • #1 The Beatles, “Sgt. Pepper” (1967)
  • #2 The Beach Boys, “Pet Sounds” (1966)
  • #3 The Beatles, “Revolver” (1966)
  • #4 Bob Dylan, “Highway 61 Revisited” (1965)
  • #5 The Beatles, “Rubber Soul” (1965)
  • #9 Bob Dylan, “Blonde on Blonde” (1968)
  • #10 The Beatles, “The White Album” (1968)

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Another site (acclaimedmusic.net) ranks the All Time Top 6,000. Guess what … the ‘50’s and ‘60’s get nine of the top ten songs. That list is slightly different from the Rolling Stone list, and it places these additional songs in the top ten:

  • The Beatles, “A Day In The Life” (1967)
  • The Beatles, “Strawberry Fields” (1967)
  • The Ronettes, “Be My Baby” (1963)

That’s it! We win!

A Million Memories …

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A friend sent me this image after reading some of my posts about the impact music has on memory. How many times have you been taken back to a particular time, place or situation as you heard a certain song?

I have three special favorites that I’d like to share. I hope you’ll comment with your favorites.

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In 1958, Tommy Edwards had a number one hit in “It’s All In The Game.” Charles Dawes wrote the melody in 1911, and the song remained wordless until 1951, when Carl Sigman composed the lyrics. Aside from it being my all-time favorite, it has the distinction of being the only number one pop single written by a U.S. Vice President or Nobel Peace Prize winner. Charles Dawes was VP to Calvin Coolidge and a 1925 co-winner of the Peace Prize.

Jimmy Charles recorded “A Million To One” for his 1960 album. Phil Medley was the song’s writer. The song peaked at #5 on the Billboard Pop chart.   If you’ve never heard the song, it’s not about gambling odds.

“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” was recorded by The Shirelles. It went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1961. That’s even more notable because it was the first song recorded by an all-girl group to make it to number one in America. Originally released as Gerry Goffin and Carole King co-wrote the song, originally named, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” and it’s been recorded by a lot of other artists including Carole herself.

I’m done. It’s time for you to comment with your all-time favorite.

The Next Dance Will Be A Ladies Choice …

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If you’ve been following my posts, you’ve noticed my penchant for including photos embedded alongside the words. These photos generally relate to the subject. This time, I’m going to deviate a bit, because I’m afraid I might find an image that’s actually for a feminine product, and that’s way off subject.

Baby boomers in our town frequented the local YMCA. It was built in 1886 and was largely unchanged during the boomer years. There were two bowling alleys, with pins reset by kids, who would receive nominal compensation for their labor … perhaps a soft drink or maybe a dime. There were pool and Ping-Pong tables. There was a gymnasium and a swimming pool. Certain days were exclusively for girls and other days were exclusively for boys. On boys’ days, nude swimming was permitted. Girls were apparently more modest and had to wear bathing suits.  Could that have anything to do with the hit song?

ymca_roxboroandmain_gym_1950sOn Saturday nights, the Y had a dance. The dance went from 7:00 PM until 11:00 PM. You had to be eleven in order to stay after 9:00 PM. One of the employees, a very cool guy, named Joe, spun 45 records. The floor was generally segregated with the girls on one side and the boys on the other. A few boys and girls even hung out together, but they must have known something the rest of us didn’t.

During fast dances, the girls danced together, while the boys watched, punched each other on the shoulder or flatulated (I don’t mean to be gross, but it happened).

Every so often, Joe would say the magic words, “The next dance will be a ladies choice.” Almost nothing followed except for the music.

Fifty years later, during the class reunion that motivated me to write this book, a group of senior citizens spent a lot of time discussing why that happened.

The males (somehow it’s not right to call a 67+ year-old man a boy) said one of two things. Either they didn’t know how to dance or they lacked the confidence to ask.

The girls (an ageless term) had more complicated answers. “You could only ask someone that none of your friends had ‘dibs’ on.” They remembered a “mad exodus of boys.” They had a crush on a particular boy and feared rejection.

Why were the baby boom girls so complicated?

“A White Sport Coat and a Pink Carnation”

I hadn’t quite figured out how to incorporate blog posts with FaceBook posts when this was originally sent. I’m sending it again, along with apologies to those of you who already saw it. On the other hand, you can’t get enough of Marty Robbins.

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When I was thinking about creative titles for this book, one of my first ideas was “A White Sport Coat and a Pink Carnation.” That song, and a few others, has always stuck in my head, as I remember hanging out at a friend’s house listening to one of his older brothers, who resembled Ricky Nelson, sing it. “A White Sports Coat” became number one in 1957 on the American country chart and number two on the Billboard chart.

I was surprised to learn that Marty Robbins, the guy who sang it and is pictured above in what looks like a faded white sport coat and a red flower, had previously released another one of my all-time favorites, “Singing the Blues,” but I never heard his rendition, since another version of that same song, sung by Guy Mitchell had quickly surpassed it. The Mitchell version…

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And the Grammy Goes To … One Of My All-Time Favorites.

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In 1958, twelve years after the official start of the baby boom, and seven years after the immortal disc jockey, Allen Freed, coined the term “rock and roll,” a group of record executives launched the Grammy Awards. They felt that rock and roll’s success was threatening to pop music.

The first Grammy Awards Show was held in early May 1959 in the Grand Ballroom of the Beverly Hills Hotel where it stayed for its first three years. There were 28 award categories, and only two were won by what might be considered rock and roll performers, The Everly Brothers and The Champs. In fact, a separate rock and roll award wasn’t even offered until 1961. That first rock and roll Grammy was won by Chubby Checker.

At the 1959 Grammy Awards Show, the Record of the Year and the Song of the Year were both awarded to Domenico Modugno, who sang “Nel blu dipinto di blu.” That song’s popular name was “Volare.” In 1958, Volare had been at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart for five weeks, but not consecutively. It was also Billboard’s number one single of the year.

modugno.mr_.volare.album_.cover_1Volare Record

Volare, Italian for to fly, was translated into English and several other languages. It was covered and performed by quite a few other singers, including Bobby Rydell, formerly known as Robert Louis Ridarelli, who took it to number four on the Billboard chart in 1960. Other singers, whom you might have heard about, who performed Volare include Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Ella Fitzgerald and Barry White, to name only a few.

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And it all started only 57 short years ago.

The Day The Music Died

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Two days ago, February 3rd, was an eventful day in the history of rock and roll. It was possibly the “Day the Music Died,” since 56 years earlier, in 1959, a plane crash in Iowa killed musicians, Buddy Holly, J.P. Richardson (a/k/a The Big Bopper) and Ritchie Valens.  We were nearly there-quarters through the baby boom years.

The Rolling Stone published an article in its February 2nd 2015 edition that the musician Buddy Holly had hired to play bass on that tour was supposed to be on the fated airplane, but gave up his seat to Richardson, who was suffering from the flu. Holly joked with that still-living musician and told him he hoped the bus broke down. The bass player’s response was, “I hope your ol’ plane crashes.”

That bass player, country legend, Waylon Jennings, was haunted by his statement for years, stating in an interview, decades later, “God almighty, for years I thought I caused it.” Another legend-to-be, Dion DiMucci, the lead for Dion and the Belmonts, was on that tour and decided not to spend $36 to be on that same plane because it was exactly the same amount as his parents were currently paying for their monthly apartment rent.

Buddy Holly, and his band, “The Crickets,” was on the “Winter Dance Party” tour. It was scheduled for appearances in 24 mid-western cities in three weeks, starting on January 29, 1959. Following the plane crash, the tour continued, with Bobby Vee selected to replace Holly on subsequent show.

A good friend, who has chronicled the history of rock and roll from its start in the early 1950’s, claims the music actually died in 1993. That’s when the combined sales of country and western music and rap recordings exceed the sales of rock and roll recordings. My friend has produced a hand printed scroll, including drawings, which memorializes his knowledge. Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame actually approached him to get the scroll at some point. My friend, not so respectfully, told them NO!