Johnny Hartman: Great Singer With Little Recognition


Johnny Hartman had one of best baritone voices in music but never got the recognition he deserved.

Johnny Hartman was born on July 13, 1923 in Chicago, Illinois and died in New York on September 15, 1983. He broke into the music business at a time when black singers were discriminated against in some venues.

Hartman experienced the same racial prejudice Billy Eckstine faced since he was also a romantic singer singing ballads:


Billy Eckstine was a black vocalist who had successfully crossed over to the mainstream, but there was a backlash as white listeners started rejecting his music. The idea of a black man singing love ballads and swooning white females didn’t sit well in 1950s America, particularly in the Deep South.


I have the album pictured above and it has 38 songs which represent the music he recorded from 1947-1972. has clips of the songs from the album named Johnny Hartman Collection: 1947-1972. If you only listen to one song listen to No.31 on the track list Unforgettable and hear his version of the Nat King Cole classic.

It is surprising Hartman wasn’t better known till after his death. Clint Eastwood picked some of his music for the movie Bridges of Madison County and gave moviegoers a chance to hear the voice of Hartman who never achieved the greatness he deserved.

Johnny Hartman singing I Just Dropped By To Say Hello.

Hartman may have died 26 years ago but he has left us a musical legacy we can enjoy for many years.




Elvis Presley in Alexandria, Louisiana – March 1977

We saw Elvis Presley in March of 1977 at the Rapides Parish Coliseum in Alexandria, Louisiana. It was amazing that he would appear two nights in a city of 50,000 after he had been quoted in the middle 50’s saying he would never return to Alexandria after appearing at Jimmie Thompson’s arena probably upset with a small crowd.

Our seats were terrible being so far away from the stage we could barely see Elvis. We couldn’t tell how out of shape he was at this point in time.

At one point in the show Elvis asked a backup singer to sing so he could sit down and get some rest.

Someone there one of the two nights has a reprint of an autographed photo from Elvis at the show on Ebay. There are also references to his father Vernon Presley being introduced at a show and his girlfriend at the time of his death Ginger Alden was also introduced to the crowd.

Elizabeth Roberts of the Alexandria Daily Town Talk wrote this review of the March 29, 1977 show:

A  bootleg CD was made of the March 30th show and the website has a list of the songs that Elvis sang that night.

Jerry Hopkin’s book Elvis the Final Years tells what happened after Elvis left Alexandria.

On March 31, 1977 after a so-so show in Alexandria, Louisiana, Elvis’ private plane took him to Baton Rouge for a concert at Louisiana State University. As was customary, the show started before Elvis left the hotel for the coliseum.

Elvis usually arrived during the intermission that followed the comedian Jackie Kahane’s monologue. Tonight he didn’t.

There was chaos backstage. Elvis’  hotel room was called.

A half-hour passed. There were more calls. Finally, it was decided to cancel the rest of the show, to say that Elvis was too sick to go on, that he was under a doctor’s care and was being flown back to Memphis to be hospitalized.

It was sad to see Elvis in concert as his life began to ebb away from him. We had seen him three years earlier in Monroe, Louisiana at the Monroe Civic Center in 1974.

We heard about the show on television and we had great seats on the floor about 20 rows back from the stage.

Elvis was still at the top of his game back then and put on a great show. Little did we know that the next time we would see him he would be less than five months from his death.

There is no doubt in my mind that Elvis and Frank Sinatra were the two best singers of the 20th century although they sang music of different genres.

These are the 14 drugs found in Elvis Presley during his autopsy:

Dr Nick: prescribed all of Elvis’s regular tour drugs. Elvis had 14 different drugs in him when he died. The list of what they found at autopsy was: Codeine – Morphine – Quaaludes – Valium – Diazepam – Placidyl – Amytal – Nembutal – Carbrital – Demerol – Sinutab – Elavil – Avental – Valmid

Who Will Portray Frank Sinatra in Movie?

Entertainment Weekly has an article about which actor will portray Frank Sinatra in the upcoming biopic.

It will be interesting to see who is chosen to portray Frank Sinatra in the upcoming movie about his life.

I am not sure any of the names mentioned in the Entertainment Weekly  article could pull off playing Sinatra and capture his personna.

There has to be somone better suited to portray Sinatra than the names mentioned.

When this movie is produced it will be interesting to see how far it goes into his life away from the spotlight.

One thing for sure is that whoever plays him needs to be great at lip synching since no actor today has a voice that could come close to that of Sinatra.

There may be a singer around who could do a creditable job of being Sinatra on screen but they are not likely to have the acting skills necessary to play him.

Tony Bennett: Tony’s Greatest Hits Vol. 3

Tony Bennett is still going strong today at the age of 83.

I found Tony Bennett’s 1963 album Tony’s Greatest Hits Volume 3 at a Knoxville bookstore for only 25 cents.

When I looked at the list of tracks in the album I expected to see some of his lesser hits but surprisingly it had most of my favorite songs I remembering him singing.

It includes his signature song I Left My Heart In San Francisco and  I Wanna Be Around, Who Can I Turn To, The Good Life, A Taste of Honey, The Best Is Yet To Come and Once Upon A Time.

Tony's Greatest Hits Volume 3 recorded by Tony Bennett in 1965 was his second gold record and was released by Columbia Records.


The back of the album has a compliment from the Chairman of the Board Frank Sinatra.

Sinatra had this to say about Tony: “For my money Tony Bennett is the best singer in the business, the best exponent of a song. He excites me when I watch him-he moves me. He’s the singer who gets across what the composer has in mind, and probably a little more”.

The Allmusic Guide to Jazz published in 1999 says this is the best of Tony’s best of albums plus adds it is a classic. It went on to become his second gold record.

The album was produced in 1965 making it 44 years old today. He is still singing today at the age of 83.

In a sidenote one of his former managers Dee Anthony died on Sunday at the age of 83 the same age Bennett is now. He also managed Devo which is as far removed from Tony Bennett’s music as you can get.

Old Time Radio: Nightbeat



Nightbeat was heard on old time radio from February 6, 1950 to September 25 of 1952 on the NBC radio network.

Frank Lovejoy starred as Chicago Star reporter Randy Stone on Nightbeat a show that played up the human interest side of the stories.

Each episode was exciting but the main focus was on the everyday people in Chicago who faced the problems of the time for the people.

The show was as much about helping people as it was in catching crooks and at the conclusion of each story Stone would holler “copy boy” to have his story delivered to the editors so they could check it and then have it sent to the composing room before being printed in the next morning’s paper.

Lovejoy was perfect for this role and was later seen on some TV crime dramas after Nightbeat left the airwaves.

This website lets you listen to an episode of the show for free:


Faron Young: Hello Walls


Faron Young met a sad end to his life when he shot himself in December of 1966 after encountering health problems, career downturn and breakup of his 40 year marriage.



Faron Young singing his No.1 hit Hello Walls.


Faron Young was born in Shreveport, Louisiana on February 25, 1932. He died 64 years later on December 10, 1996 of a self-inflicted gunshot to his head.

He took his girlfriend at the time Billie Jean Jones to the Grand Ole Opry in 1952 on his first visit to the country music shrine.

By the time the night was over she was his ex-girlfriend when she met Hank Williams and Young said Williams pulled a gun on him to let him know she was no longer Young’s girlfriend.

Young co-founded the Music City News the newspaper that covered the Nashville country music scene.

Young was mostly forgotten after his last No.1 song Four In The Morning in 1971 and felt like the country music industry had neglected to give him credit for what he had done in his career.

It was sad to see his life end so tragically but his music will be around for years to come.


Effect of TV on Other Forms of Entertainment

An early television from the late 1930s.
An early television from the late 1930's signaled an era when other forms of entertainment would be ended altogether or their popularity greatly reduced by the emerging television industry.

Vaudeville an entertainment form which consisted of singers, magicians, jugglers, dancers, comedians and too many other various acts to name them all died in the early 30’s when radio began broadcasting the same stars who had starred in vaudeville like Jack Benny, Fred Allen and Bob Hope over the airwaves.

Vaudeville, burlesque and movies were the main forms of entertainment in those days along with the Victrola phonographs which brought music into homes.

Television Killed The Radio Star

By the early 50’s television had emerged as a viable form of entertainment in the United States and the old time radio shows the listeners loved so much gradually began to disappear till the last shows left the air on September 30, 1962. Television had killed the radio star we had known from the late 20’s till 1962.

Television did use some of the same shows heard on old time radio with stars like Jack Benny broadcasting his show on radio and telecasting it on television.

Old Time Radio Favorites Showed Up On TV Screens

Shows like Gunsmoke, Dragnet, Our Miss Brooks, Amos and Andy, Life of Riley and Father Knows Best would become hit shows on television in the 1950’s.

Radio today consists mostly of radio and talk with varied formats like all rock, all country, all talk and all sports. Radio will probably never bring back the days of old time radio when you could listen to a show and use your imagination to picture the characters and the action taking place.

Less Time For Playing Records

Television may not have ended the playing of phonograph records in homes but it greatly reduced the time spent playing records since television was the new kid on the block and everyone wanted to take it for a test spin and kick the tires. has this to say about the falling movie attendance as television began to make its bid for movie viewers:

Television has probably had a greater impact on the motion
picture industry than on any other medium except radio. This effect
has been explored in many surveys, but it has been most impressively
recorded at the box office. Average weekly motion picture attendance
dropped from 82,000,000 in 1946 to 46,000,000 in 1955.

Burlesque shows were another victim of the new emerging television industry. These shows have spawned some of the stars in movies and television like Red Buttons who worked in both vaudeville and burlesque.

Television hasn’t completely killed off the drive-in movie but some states like Louisiana have no drive-in movies in operation today.

This video shows a drive-in movie that started operating in 1950 in Door County, Wisconsin and is still in operation today.

Drive-in movies and regular movie theaters today have been hurt by the sale of copies of movies on DVD that enable someone to sit in their own recliner and watch a movie at home and watch it again when they want on their own time schedule.

Television has almost ended burlesque shows completely but the walk-in and drive-in movies still are operating in smaller numbers. Movie theaters may always be with us because it is still the best place to take a date on a weekend night.