Nancy Wilson – 59 Years of Singing Easy Listening Music

Nancy Wilson

 

Nancy Wilson was born on February 20, 1937 in Chillicothe, Ohio. She is now 78, and knew she would be a singer at the age of four.

Wilson recorded Like in Love in 1959, which was her first album. She recorded her last album Turned to Blue in 2006. That album won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album, which was very impressive, when considering that she was 69 at the time. She had won another Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album two years earlier for R.S.V.P (Rare Songs, Very Personal)

Her career was a paradox, in that she was an excellent singer, but had little commercial success, with no single she recorded reaching the Top 10. However, she still recorded 70 albums, and made a career of covering songs sang by other singers.

Guess Who I Saw Today

Guess Who I Saw Today is a song is an unusual song in that it is a conversational song, in which she is telling her husband she saw him earlier that day. Her vocal delivery and the orchestration combine to make the song easy listening at its best.

Our Day Will Come

It doesn’t matter that Nancy Wilson didn’t record the original version of Our Day Will Come, because she captures the essence of the song better than in the original sang by Ruby and the Romantics. This song to me was meant to be recorded by a soloist, since it needs the softness of one voice to make it an easy listening song. It has been covered by many artists ranging from singers, who passed away like Julie London, Isaac Hayes and Amy Winehouse.

You Don’t Know Me

Nancy Wilson singing the classic You Don’t Know Me. It has been covered by a long list of artists, but Nancy sings it as well if not better than any of them. It is hard to believe that 60 years have passed, since country singer Eddy Arnold first recorded it in 1955.

 

Nancy Wilson has been on the periphery of being a huge star. It is difficult to establish a name in music, when a singer becomes better known for their covers of the songs of other artist, and that has been the fate of Nancy Wilson. I still collect her music, because she is the epitome of an easy listening singer. Her music soothes and entertains and is even better when heard through headphones, so you can hear the nuances of her voice and the background music.

She is one of the last female singers who started in the 50’s that is still singing today. There are a few newer singers like Diana Krall who sing some of the standards from the 40’s and 50’s, to keep easy listening music alive, and she like Wilson combines great vocals, with great orchestration, with her piano stylings, and surrounds herself with musicians like guitarist Anthony Wilson, bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton.

Krall is carrying on the kind of music Wilson has been singing since 1959, into the 21st century.

Thank you Nancy Wilson for the memories, and hope you keep singing for years to come.

What We Didn’t Have in 1950

1954 Admiral Television

I was 10 years old in 1954, when we bought our first television. We didn’t even buy the television to watch television. If I remember correctly my sister had a lazy eye, and prescribed a television (talk about an expensive prescription) so she would use her lazy eye more. We fixed a screen on one side that fit over half the screen, that made her use her lazy eye. If it wasn’t for her eye problem we probably wouldn’t have bought a television so soon.

The first thing I remember watching on the television was the movie Buck Privates (1941) with Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Howdy Doody would come on at about 3:30 in the afternoon, then was followed by Pinky Lee, then usually a western movie with Bob Maynard, Kit Carson, Gene Autry and many others would come on till it was time for the Camel Caravan news program with John Cameron “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking” Swayze doing a 15 minute news program. He was later well-known for being the spokesman for Timex watches, as he demonstrated how much abuse the watches could take and keep on ticking.

We only had one channel at first, so we had no problem working the controls. It became more complicated, when cable television companies began to go into business. We then had the old wired remote controls, which later went the way of the do-do bird and gave way to remote controls with batteries. Now we could not only change the channels, but could also turn the volume up and down, adjust the picture, record programs to watch later and best of all could zap through the commercials. Sponsors of the television programs were not too hep on the idea, since you record a show, then watch it about 20 minutes later and zap through the commercials and cut an hour-long show into about 40 minutes minus the commercials. After the show we would wonder who was sponsoring the show.

We got along fine without cell phones, since there was no such thing in 1950. I only had a cell phone when I needed one for working as a caregiver, since I had to call the office all night, so they knew I wasn’t dozing off at work. I haven’t had a cell phone since 2011, since I never did learn to text on the contraptions.

We didn’t Google it in 1950. We would just go to the library and would usually find the information there. It would be 48 years later, before we could Google it and find information in seconds, that used to involve riding to library and digging through index cards, or going through the reference books section to find the same information, that we can find in seconds today.

I don’t remember having a microwave oven, while growing up so got along well without one. I did find out later, that after buying one years later, that it was easy to ruin popcorn, by cooking it too long. Now I never cook it as long as recommended, to prevent having to throw out charcoal popcorn. My favorite use for microwave ovens is to melt ice cream in it. I am not a fan of ice cream right out of the freezer, so would put it in microwave and leave it on for about 2 hours….just kidding….about 35 seconds later the ice cream would be good and creamy but still cold.

It was about 1966 or 1967 when we got our first air conditioner. I was about 21 at the time and had just came back from Vietnam, and was thinking it would have been nice to have an air conditioner over there. I didn’t know how to act with an air conditioner, since I had lived 21 years without one, so it took awhile to get used to putting on a jacket when the air conditioner was running. I didn’t have to worry about putting on a jacket from 1992 to 1998, since I was in bankruptcy and had to choose between eating and staying cool and eating won out. I bought a 10 inch box fan and had it blowing on my face, and I was able to sleep at night with no problem during those six years. I couldn’t wait to get to work at Town Talk, since air conditioning usually worked there.

I remember when we were growing up that we bought ice in blocks and put the blocks in the refrigerator. About 60 years later we bought our first icemaker, since my wife liked to have crushed ice. It was nice having crushed ice, till the icemaker went on the blink. Best of all it saved paying $2 or more for a bag of crushed ice.

The only personal computer we owned back in 1950 was our brain that computed what we learned in school, and solved math problems before Common Core made it all complicated. My mother bought us our first computer, a Commodore 64 which was very rudimentary compared to the computers of today. It was mostly a machine to play games on, and we sometimes would type the code for games out of magazines published for Commodore 64 users. Later on we bought more advanced computers, but they were still too complicated for me. It took me a year to figure out how to send emails. I have never been a computer whiz. I know how to do the basics like copy and paste, but don’t ask me how to hook up a router or modem, or the computer may cease to function.

Before we bought our television in 1954 the only entertainment we had been listening to was old-time radio shows on our table radio, and playing records on our phonograph player. Then cassettes became popular, but were a real headache if the tape got tangled up inside the tape player. 8 track players were also around about this time, but I completely missed the boat on 8 track players, since I never owned a 8 track player or a 8 track tape.

The compact disc became the most popular way to listen to music, since the CD players let you pick a certain track if you wanted to play it, unlike cassette players where you had to more or less play the whole tape to hear a song from the starting point.

It was 2004 when I bought my first MP3 player and I was surprised to learn that you could carry thousands of songs, in one device and the Creative Nomad Zen Xtra Jukebox (pictured above) was my first MP3 player. It was 40 GB and I had 3,000 songs on it the last time I checked. You could go directly to any of the 3,000 songs in a matter of seconds.

One of my favorite uses for the MP3 player was to listen to old-time radio shows from the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. I found out I could buy 800 Jack Benny shows for $12 on a MP3 CD. Sam’s at about that time was selling about 10 shows for $20, so I bought the MP3 CD’s exclusively from old-time radio retailers and ebay sellers and it was possible to build up my collection fast. I currently own 17,000 episodes of many old-time radio shows of all genres. Best thing all 17,000 episodes fit inside one binder manufactured for CD’s.

All I had to do was place the MP3 CD’s into the computer and copy the files into the computer, then transfer them from computer to the MP3 player, and it works the same way with regular music CD’s.

Whoever invented the GPS probably had me in mind, since I hated folding and unfolding paper maps, to find out if I was going the right direction, to arrive at my destination. I don’t know how many times I had taken wrong roads, before the GPS was invented. It still is scary when the GPS tells you that you have arrived at your destination, when you are in the middle of nowhere with no houses in sight.

It is amazing to me that this lady telling me directions is flying around up in space, with nothing better to do, than to keep an eye on my vehicle, and if I miss a turn she is nice enough to say recalculating and letting me know we will still arrive even if it is a 20 mile detour to get to the destination.

One of the handiest inventions is the automated teller machine, that gives people money at all hours of the day and night. It used to be if they locked up the bank on Saturday afternoon, then the customer would have to wait till Monday morning to make a transaction. Now they can drain their bank accounts down to nothing in just minutes, instead of draining it a little bit at a time, while waiting in line at the bank.

Sometimes criminals have to call for assistance even with automated banking, if the bank card they stole won’t work, or even worse the automated teller machine takes the card and won’t return it to the bank card thief. The bank will send someone to the bank and tell them the pin number for the card and apologize for the inconvenience.

My mom was very slow when using the automated tellers, and more than once someone would walk in the building housing the ATM machine and get aggravated about the long wait, then finally go back to their car, drive off with wheels squealing in search of a ATM machine with someone faster using the machine.

Sometimes I wonder how we got by back in 1950 with no television, no cell phone, no Google, no icemaker, no GPS, no MP3 player, no ATM machine, no personal computer and no microwave oven. We managed to get by without all of these inventions, because most of them hadn’t been invented in 1950.

Jim Ed Brown Dies at 81

Jim Ed Brown 1934-2015

Jim Ed Brown has died from lung cancer at the age of 81 in Franklin, Tennessee on June 11, 2015.

He was born James Edward Brown in Sparkman, Arkansas on April 1, 1934.

The Browns and Elvis Presley

Brown and his sisters Maxine and Bonnie formed the group The Browns and their first hit song was Looking Back To See If You Were Looking Back At Me which went to #8 on country charts in 1954Jim Ed wrote the song, which was recorded in later years by other artists. The Browns biggest hit was Three Bells recorded in 1959 and I heard a southern gospel group singing the song about 55 years later. The Browns broke up in 1967 as Jim Ed became a soloist.

Jim Ed and Maxine singing Looking Back To See many years later after the original recording from 1954. 

Brown had five Top 10 songs as a soloist with Pop a Top going to #3 in 1967, then Morning peaked at #4 in 1970, and Southern Lovin’ in 1973 topped out at #6, and his last Top 10 hits were 1974’s Sometime Sunshine and It’s That Time of Night both peaked at #10.

Jim Ed Brown singing Ain’t You Even Going To Cry

Brown revealed in September of 2014, that he was being treated for lung cancer. He announced in January that his cancer was in remission, but it was announced on June 3 by his daughter Kim, that the cancer had returned somewhere else, but not in the lungs. Then 9 days later he died in Williamson Medical Center in Franklin, Tennessee.

Bill Anderson gave him his Country Music Hall of Fame medallion on June 4, since Brown wouldn’t be alive for his CMA Hall of Fame induction this fall.

Jim Ed Brown and Helen Cornelius singing their #1 hit I Don’t Want To Have To Marry You

Jim Ed Brown and Helen Cornelius formed a duet that began in 1976. Their recording of I Don’t Want To Have To Marry You went to #1 on the country chart. Five other singles made the Top 10 country charts.

Jim Ed and Helen singing I’m Leavin’ It Up To You

Country music has lost another of the icons in Jim Ed Brown. RIP

Frankie Valli: 81 Years Old And Still Entertaining

I was watching Frankie Valli being interviewed on The Big Interview by Dan Rather, and was saddened to know,  that he had lost two children in a short time period. He lost his daughter Celia, when she fell off a fire escape, then six months later his daughter Francine died from a drug overdose. Their deaths drove him to drinking, but he eventually recovered from the deep depression he was in.

Valli  was born on May 3, 1934 in Newark, New Jersey as Francesco Stephen Castellucio. He was inspired to become a singer at the age of 7, when he saw Frank Sinatra in concert.

He told about growing up in a Mafia neighborhood, and how the word was out to leave him alone. He told Rather that he lost a lot of friends, who were found in trunks of car in mob killings.

His name was changed when his mentor “Texas” Jane Valli was helping him and he decided to take her last name. It was about this time, that Valli was barbering till he became successful in the music business.

The Four Seasons

First Number One Hits

Success didn’t come easy for Valli who started singing in 1951, and he sang with various groups till the Four Seasons were formed in 1960 and named after a cocktail lounge.

Vee Jay record label was the label that they found the most success with. Sherry and Big Girls Don’t Cry both debuted in 1962 and went to #1 on the Billboard chart. Walk Like a Man was their last #1 hit on the Vee Jay label in 1963.

Moved to Philips/Smash Label

They had their first hit on the Philips/Smash label, when they recorded Dawn which went to #3 in January of 1964. Rag Doll was their last #1 song in June of 1964. Valli started recording albums as a solo artist, but still worked with the Four Seasons.

May of 1967 would bring his first solo hit in My Eyes Adored You which went to #1 on the Billboard chart.

Changing Labels

Valli changed labels again and would record Oh What A Night in December of 1975 on Private Stock record label. He would record his last #1 hit in May of 1978, when Grease went to the top spot on the Billboard chart.

He didn’t record another single that charted after June of 1994 according to his Wikipedia discography.

More From Interview

Dan Rather asked Valli why he is still singing at 81, and he said that he wouldn’t know what to do with himself. He said he tried retiring a time or two, but it just made him want to return to singing. Rather mentioned the excellent memory of Valli and he said he memorized the lyrics to about 2,000 songs.

Valli also mentioned about his acting career and said he had been on Sopranos television program and was recently on a Hawaii Five-0 episode.

He said he had plenty of money, but still won’t buy something until it is on sale. He says he got that from his childhood.

The Four Seasons were one of those groups like the Beach Boys and Bee Gees, that had their own distinct sound. Valli’s falsetto voice is what made the Four Seasons stand out from the other groups.

We are wishing Frankie Valli a lot more years on the road. He is truly an American icon.

The Voice Clobbering American Idol in TV Ratings Battle

 

 

American Idol Season 14 Judges – Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. 

If there was ever any doubt, about which singing competition show is more popular it has been removed. The Voice Season 8 has attracted less than 10 million viewers only 4 times this season, while American Idol attracted less than 10 million viewers 16 times.

American Idol Season 14 peaked on January 8 with 11.23 million viewers watching. The show bottomed out on Episode # 24, with 6.58 million fans, and attracted only 7.36 million in the show that aired last week.

The February 18th show of American Idol was the last to draw more than 10 million viewers. American Idol is down to only four remaining contestants, but the fans apparently don’t really care who wins, since the ratings continue to drop week to week.

The Voice Season 8 peaked on March 3, when Episode #4 attracted 15.54 million viewers. The show which aired last week drew only 9.49 viewers, which totals over 6 million fewer fans than those that watched it at its peak in March.

Still it has topped American Idol in the ratings all season, so should definite return this fall for Season 9.

However, American Idol seems to be on shaky ground. It still draws more viewers than most shows on the Fox weekly schedule, but Fox may rather drop the show, then see the show die a slow death, over the next year or two.

American Idol to me still is the better show, since it has produced some big stars, while the winners of The Voice seem to disappear after the finale in which they win.

Season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson and Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood have had the most success, after winning Idol and are still both recording 10 years after Underwood won.

Season 5 through Season 13 winners have had some success, but nothing like the success of Clarkson and Underwood.

Season 12 winner Candace Glover and Season 13 winner Caleb Johnson have failed to sell many albums. Their lack of success may have cooled interest in the show by viewers.

The Voice while seeing a drop in their ratings, as the season went on is still the clear winner, in the battle of the TV ratings battle with American Idol.

Classic Television – Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet

Ozzie Nelson, David Nelson, Harriet Hilliard and Ricky Nelson 

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet was first broadcast on radio in 1944 and could be heard on radio, until 1954 when the radio show ended on June 18. 1954. Only 83 of the shows can be bought today for listening to, out of the hundreds of shows made during their 10 year run on radio.

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet television program was first televised on October 10, 1952, and for the first two years could be heard on radio and seen on television, till the radio series ended in 1954. The last television episode was telecast on September 3, 1966. The 14 year run on television makes the Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet the longest running sitcom,  on American television still 49 years later.

Ricky Nelson recorded his first #1 song Poor Little Fool in 1957, which incidentally also was the first #1 song on the new Billboard Hot 100 chart. Ricky often sang on the show, which gave him even more exposure for his singing career.

Ozzie Nelson and Don Defore

Don Defore portrayed Ozzie’s neighbor Thorny on the show. He would later gain fame as playing George Baxter on Hazel, when Hazel would refer to him as Mr. B.

Ozzie Nelson wrote 178 of the 435 episodes of the show.

The shows are not being shown on any television network that I know of. If you know of the show being on television please comment, so we can share the information with other fans of the show.

It is sad that the Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet shows are not being shown. The show represents life at a simpler time back in the 50’s and then continued to entertain fans, even though the country was at war with Vietnam in the 60’s and there was unrest on college campuses.

All four members of the Nelson family have died since the show left the air.

Ozzie Nelson died June 3, 1975 at the age of 79 in Hollywood, California.

Ricky Nelson died December 31, at the age of 45 in a plane crash in Dekalb, Texas. 

Harriet Hilliard died October 2, 1994 at the age of 85 in Laguna Beach, California.

David Nelson died January 11, 2011 at the age of 74 in Los Angeles, California. 

Kenny Rogers – From Houston Projects To Country Music Hall of Fame

Kenny Rogers and First Edition singing Don’t Take Your Love to Town in 1972

Kenny Rogers was being interviewed by Dan Rather on The Big Interview, and it gave me a chance to learn more about Kenny Rogers. He told Rather about growing up in Houston in the projects, and that his mother only had a third grade education.

He said he didn’t realize how poor they were, till he started school and realized his family was on another rung.

Dan Rather interviewing Kenny Rogers on The Big Interview

Rogers was born Kenneth Donald “Kenny” Rogers on August 21, 1938, when the president was President Franklin Roosevelt. He had a poor, but happy childhood and his mom told him to be happy where you are, and he remembered that advice during his career.

21 of his songs have reached #1 on the record charts. It was 38 years ago in 1977, when Lucille became his first #1 country hit. Daytime Friends also went to # 1 in 1977. Love or Something Like It went to #1 in 1978, while The Gambler peaked at #2 that year.

Kenny Rogers singing his 1979 hit She Believes In Me

She Believes in Me, You Decorated My Life and Coward of the County went to #1 in 1979. The hits kept coming in 1980 with Lady going to #1. Two lesser known songs reached #1 on adult contemporary charts in 1981, but two of his biggest hits Love Will Turn You Around and Through the Years topped the adult contemporary charts in 1982.

Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton singing Islands in the Stream

1983 would see Rogers have #1 duet hits with Sheena Easton on We’ve Got Tonight and Islands in the Stream with Dolly Parton.

His  #1 hits in 1984 were Rogers singing with Kim Carnes and James Ingram on What About Me. It went to #1 on adult chart, but only to #70 on country chart. Crazy was his other #1 hit in 1984.

Morning Desire was his only song that charted in 1985 and it went to #1. Tomb of the Unknown Love was his only #1 song in 1986. Another duet this time with Ronnie Milsap on Make No Mistake, She’s Mine in 1987 was his last #1 hit in the 80’s.

Kenny Rogers singing Through the Years a great song for a 50th wedding anniversary

12 years would pass, before he had another #1 hit. It was Buy Me a Rose, which was recorded with Allison Krauss and Billy Dean in 1999. His only other #1 songs were with Dottie West on When Two World Collide in 1978 and All I Ever Need is You, which was in 1979.

Starred in The Gambler movies

Kenny Rogers starred in a series of movies about The Gambler. He also appeared in 17 other films and television shows. His last movie was a 2001 movie Longshot. His last television appearance as an actor was in How I Met Your Mother six years ago in 2009.

He made six appearances as himself in 2014 and in five of those shows he sang, or was shown singing in a clip Islands in the Stream.

Five Marriages

He talked about his five marriages and how he may have been too selfish, and was away from home too much, because of his concert schedule. He expressed concern that he might not be around too much longer, for his 10 year old identical twin sons, since he is 76 and will be 77 in August.

His current marriage with Wanda Miller will reach 18 years on June 1. He was previously married to Marianne Gordon of Hee Haw fame for 16 years.

Kenny Rogers being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame

Country Music Hall of Fame

Kenny Rogers showed Dan Rather the Kenny Rogers exhibit, at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville and it was an impressive exhibit. He was inducted in 2013 and he seemed to be glad that he wasn’t inducted sooner, when he might not have appreciated it as much as he does now.

He sold 10 million copies of his Greatest Hits album, which earned him the prestigious Diamond Award, for selling 10 million albums.

Rogers is currently on his Through the Years tour and is showing no signs of slowing down. He sure isn’t doing it for the money, since he is reportedly worth $250 million.

TOUR DATES

  • WINCHESTER, VA

  • March 07, 2015 7:00 p.m.
  • Patsy Cline Theatre
    Through The Years World Tour
  • TAMPA, FL

  • March 21, 2015 5:00 p.m.
  • Busch Gardens – Gwazi Field – Food & Wine Festival
    Through The Years World Tour
  • RAMA, ONTARIO, CANADA

  • April 10, 2015 9:00 p.m.
  • Casino Rama – Entertainment Centre
    Through The Years World Tour
  • RAMA, ONTARIO, CANADA

  • April 11, 2015 9:00 p.m.
  • Casino Rama – Entertainment Centre
    Through The Years World Tour
  • LAS CRUCES, NM

  • April 24, 2015 9:00 p.m.
  • Las Cruces Country Music Festival – Downtown Las Cruces
    Through The Years World Tour
  • CHANDLER, AZ

  • April 25, 2015 8:00 p.m.
  • Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino
    Through The Years World Tour
  • ANGOLA, IN

  • May 08, 2015 7:30 p.m.
  • T. Furth Center for Performing Arts – Trine University
    Through The Years World Tour
  • GREELEY, CO

  • June 28, 2015 8:00 p.m.
  • Greeley Stampede
    With Special Guest Ronnie Milsap
    Through The Years World Tour
  • LANCASTER, PA

  • July 16, 2015 8:00 p.m.
  • American Music Theatre
    Through The Years World Tour

 

The Kenny Rogers interview may be repeated on the AXS TV network, so check listings for the times. 

American Idol On Speed

Ryan Seacrest, Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. return for American Idol Season 14

American Idol Season 14 has been on speed the last two nights, with the males singing on Wednesday night and the females on Thursday night. Fox network has reduced the show to an hour this season, and gone were the long-winded judges opinions and the hi and bye conversations, with Seacrest and the contestants helped speed the show along. I think Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. are doing an excellent job of judging, but they won’t be on screen much, with the shows being shortened. The shows were frenetically paced on both nights, with two singers singing, then a round of commercials, then repeating till the show was over.

The show had to squeeze 12 singers into about 40 minutes, so there was no time for a lot of needless filler, like we saw in previous seasons. There is a huge difference in having two hours to sing 12 songs, than to have them sung in only an hour. The result shows will only be 30 minutes this year, so once American Idol is down to the 12 or so contestants, American Idol will only be on television screens an hour and-a-half a week.

Ryan Secrest can no longer build up the drama on result nights for an hour, so will have to cut to the chase sooner. There will still be time for guest singers on results night, since a half hour show really only lasts about 22 minutes, after leaving time for commercials.

Mark Andrew takes us back to the 70’s with his version of The Weight.

The Band’s version from the The Last Waltz movie featuring Leverne Helm and the Staples Singers from the late 70’s.

The Voice Pulling Away From American Idol in Ratings

The Voice continues to attract more viewers, than American Idol, as the ratings showed 14.6 million viewers watched the second episode of The Voice Season 8. Meanwhile, American Idol only attracted 11.76 million, in their highest rated episode, American Idol Season 14 has not drawn more than 11 million viewers, to any episode since February 4.  The Voice ratings are almost 3 million ahead of American Idol, when comparing most watched episodes of the two shows.

American Idol may never regain the popularity it once had, since the show peaked on May 21, 2003 finale, with 38.06 million visitors tuned in. The 2014 season finale bottomed out at 10.53 million viewers. It is not a good sign, when a show loses 28 million viewers.

The purpose of American Idol and The Voice is to produce stars, who make it big in the music business, and The Voice still hasn’t done that.

American Idol Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery and Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips have both had platinum albums and platinum singles. However, Season 12 winner Candice Glover’s first and only album so far sold only 27,000 copies and her only single peaked at #93 on the US chart.

Season 13 winner Caleb Johnson’s debut album, which was released in August of 2014 has sold only 11,000 albums. It is ironic, that Chris Daughtry who came in fourth in Season 5 has had the most success in record sales, among the rock singers on the show.

Daughtry and his band’s debut album sold 7 million copies worldwide, and his second album went platinum, and third album went gold. His fourth album has not done as well with only 90,000 albums sold, after the album was released in November of 2013.

Season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson and Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood have been by far the most successful singers, who have been produced by American Idol, with both of them going strong many years, after they appeared on American Idol.

The Voice may be winning in television ratings, but American Idol is the winner when it comes to producing stars, that make it and sustain careers in music.

American Idol may not be around much longer, if the ratings don’t improve, but then it may be around for years to come, since they may have a problem finding a show that can garner higher ratings, than American Idol has done for many years.

One Hit Wonders of the 50’s and 60’s

The Silhouettes took their #1 hit Get A Job, to the top of the charts on February 24, 1958. The group received a Gold Record for the song, but never had another song to reach the charts.

The Purple People Eater reached #1 on June 9, 1958. Sheb Wooley turned down the song at first, since he didn’t want to be associated with that kind of song.

I said Mr Purple People Eater, what’s your line?
He said eating purple people, and it sure is fine
But that’s not the reason that I came to land
I wanna get a job in a rock ‘n roll band”

The Minnesota Vikings would later call their defense the Purple People Eaters. Sheb Wooley technically was not a one hit wonder, since he had a #1 country song in 1962 with That’s My Pa. He would go on to record some country songs under the name of Ben Colder and took his version of Almost Persuaded #2 to #6 on country charts.

Teen Angel was a #1 song for Mark Dinning on February 8, 1960. His sister Jean and her husband Red Surrey wrote the song. Mark was stage name, since he was named Max Edward Dinning by his parents. The song is about a girl, who is pulled safely from a car, about to be hit by a train, but goes running back and is killed, by the oncoming train. These are some of the saddest lyrics ever written in a song.

That fateful night, the car was stalled
Upon the railroad tracks
I pulled you out and we were safe
But you went running back

Teen Angel, can you hear me?
Teen Angel, can you see me?
Are you somewhere up above
And am I still your own true love?

What was it you were looking for
That took your life that night?
They said they found my high school ring
Clutched in your fingers tight

Teen Angel, can you hear me?
Teen Angel, can you see me?
Are you somewhere up above
And am I still your own true love?

Just sweet sixteen and now you’re gone
They’ve taken you away
I’ll never kiss your lips again
They buried you today

Teen Angel, can you hear me?
Teen Angel, can you see me?
Are you somewhere up above
And am I still your own true love?

Teen Angel
Teen Angel
Answer me, please

Mark Dinning never recorded another hit song and died 29 years ago, at the age of 52, and died of a heart attack in Jefferson City, Missouri.
 
Ringo was a strange song, since Lorne Greene never sang a word of the song. The lyrics are one word with Ringo being sung over and over by a chorus. Meanwhile, Lorne Greene told a story about a legendary gunfighter. It went to #1 on the pop charts on December 5, 1964 and easy listening charts, but peaked at #21 on the country charts. There is no way, that Ringo would be a #1 hit on the pop charts today.
Judy in Disguise With Glasses sung by John Fred and his Playboys went to the top of the pop charts, on January 20,1968, The title name is a play on words of the song Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds. 
John Fred was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on May 8, 1941 and died on April 14, 2005 at the age of 63 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He died of complications after receiving a kidney transplant.
Jeanie C. Riley recorded the Tom T. Hall song Harper Valley PTA, and took it to #1 on both the Hot 100 chart and Hot Country Singles chart. She was the first woman, to ever accomplish that feat. It wouldn’t happen again, till Dolly Parton did the same with 9 To 5 thirteen years later in 1981.
Tom T. Hall offered the song first to Skeeter Davis, but she declined his offer. Plantation Record label had to rush the release of the record, since Billie Joe Spears and Margie Singleton had also recorded it. Riley released her version first and the rest was history.
She never had another #1 song in either pop or country, but did have these Top 10 Country Songs:
1968 – The Girl Most Likely #6
1968 – There Never Was A Time #5
1969 – Country Girl #7
1971 – Oh Singer #4
1971 – Good Enough to Be Your Wife #7

Dick Haymes – Crooners of the Past

Dick Haymes 1918-1980

Dick Haymes was born on September 13, 1918  in Buenos Aires, Argentina as Richard Benjamin Haymes. He died on March 28, 1980 at the age of 61.

He was considered to be one of the best baritone singers of his era and also acted in numerous films. He first appeared in the movie Mutiny On The Bounty in 1935, as an uncredited actor. Nine years would pass, before he appeared in the movie Four Jills and a Jeep in 1944.

Dick Haymes is seen singing in this clip from State Fair.

Meanwhile, he had sung with the Harry James Orchestra starting in 1939.

Dick Haymes singing Laura, who makes me wish there were singers today, that are half as good as Haymes.

Dick Haymes singing with Helen Forrest the standard It Had to be You.

 Haymes was not successful at marriage having been married six times. His first marriage to Edith Harper was annulled, because she told him she was pregnant, when she was not pregnant. His second marriage to actress Joanne Dru lasted almost eight years.

His third marriage to Rita Hayworth last a little more than two years. He then married actress Fran Jeffries and that marriage lasted just slightly more than six years. However his last marriage to Wendy Smith lasted 14 years and only ended upon his death in 1980. They were married but separated when he died.

He also battled alcohol abuse problems and financial debt.

Haymes received two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, with one being award for recording and the other for his five years on radio.

His brother-in-law Peter Marshall was the sister of Joanne Dru, who was the second wife of Haymes.

This Is Always

This is Always is my only Dick Haymes music in my collection.

Track Listings

1. You Can’t Be True Dear – Dick Haymes
2. In Love In Vain – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest
3. I Wish I Knew – Dick Haymes
4. You Make Me Feel So Young – Dick Haymes
5. Some Sunday Morning – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest
6. What Do I Have To Do (To Make You Love Me) – Dick Haymes
7. All Through The Day – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest
8. Do You Love Me – Dick Haymes
9. It’s You Or No One – Dick Haymes
10. Tomorrow Is Forever – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest
11. A Little Imagination – Dick Haymes
12. This Is Always – Dick Haymes
13. Nature Boy – Dick Haymes
14. Together – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest
15. As If I Didn’t Have Enough On My Mind – Dick Haymes
16. That’s For Me – Dick Haymes
17. It’s Magic – Dick Haymes
18. Love Letters – Dick Haymes
19. The More I See You – Dick Haymes
20. I’ll Buy That Dream – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest
21. It Might As Well Be Spring – Dick Haymes
22. Oh What It Seemed To Be – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest
23. Laura – Dick Haymes
24. Till The End Of Time – Dick Haymes
25. It Had To Be You – Dick Haymes/Helen Forrest

Dick Haymes may have died 35 years, but he left a legacy of his music and movies for generations to come.

Beach Boys: 56 Years and Counting

Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, Mike Love, Dennis Wilson and Carl Wilson

There have been some great pop singing groups, over the last 56 years, but my favorite would have to be the Beach Boys. I saw them in concert at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii at the Conroy Bowl at some point between 1963-1965. I can’t pinpoint what year, but can say they put on a great concert that night.

Heard a great story about the Beach Boys, on a documentary a few minutes ago. Brian Johnston, who would join the group in 1965 told about a lady, who asked Brian if they were the beach boys, and he said “Yes we are”. So she told them she needed a table and a couple of chairs. It was a humbling experience, to know someone didn’t even know they were a singing group.

Brian Wilson 74 years old

BRIAN WILSON 

Brian Wilson was the leader of the Beach Boys and his songwriting skills enabled them, to still be active 54 years, after they were first founded in Hawthorne, California. However, the Beach Boys only had four #1 hits in their career with I Get Around in 1963 and Help Me Rhonda in 1964. Two years later in 1966 they would have their next #1 hit in Good Vibrations. 22 years would pass, before their last #1 hit Kokomo went to the top of the charts.

He mostly focused on surfing music from 1961-1965, but the Beach Boys rarely recorded surfing music after 1965.

Brian was the quarterback on his high school football team, and also played baseball was was a cross country runner.

The stress of writing, producing and concerts became too much for Brian to handle. He had a nervous breakdown on a plane flying from LA to Houston and decided to come off the road. However, he started taking LSD after coming off the road and got his inspiration for California Girls during the time he was into LSD.

His use of drugs expanded to cocaine, marijuana, amphetamines and psychedelics. Mickey Dolenz recalls taking LSD with Brian, John Lennon and Harry Nilsson in the 1970’s. Drugs continued to create problems for Brian, and he was alleged to have offered drugs to his children.

Brian has been hallucinating for the last 50 years, since he first started taking psychedelic drugs in 1965.

However, he continues to appear in concert mostly as a solo artist.

Al Jardine 74 years old

AL JARDINE

Al Jardine joined the Beach Boys, then left them twice, but still played with them in each calendar year, since their inception from 1961-1998. Jardine met Brian Wilson at Hawthorne High School in Hawthorne, California, when they both played for the football team.

Folk music was Al’s passion, but he met with resistance, when he tried to push the Beach Boys into being a folk band. He sang lead on the #1 hit Help Me Rhonda. He is the one that suggested that the Beach Boys record the Mamas and Papa’s hit California Dreamin’ which peaked at #8 on the charts.

Carl Wilson 1946-1998

CARL WILSON

Carl Wilson was a musician, who could play seven instruments, and his lead singing on God Only Knows shows how talented of a singer he was. He was heavily influenced musically, by Chuck Berry and the Beach Boys sound had a Chuck Berry guitar sound.

He became the leader of the band in concerts, after Brian came off the road in 1965. Carl was disillusioned in 1981, with the Beach Boys lack of focus,  and left the group, to be a solo artist that year. He would declare himself, to be a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War.

His lifetime smoking habit since he was 13 caused him, to have lung cancer, that was diagnosed in 1997. Carl continued to perform with the Beach Boys, even while undergoing chemotherapy. He would sit while performing, except for standing to sing God Only Knows. 

He died on February 6, 1998, while surrounded by his family, which included his wife Gina, who was the daughter of Dean Martin.

Dennis Wilson 1944-1983

DENNIS WILSON

Dennis Wilson actually lived the surfing lifestyle depicted in their early surf music. He was reluctant at first to sing with his brothers, but later became the drummer for the Beach Boys. His drumming skills were limited, so his brother Brian would hire drummers for the studio recording sessions.

He would be a distraction sometimes onstage. I watched the Live From Knebworth DVD of their concert at Knebworth England, and in during that concert he was intent on distracting Mike Love on stage.  His main claim to fame is that he co-wrote You Are So Beautiful with Billy Preston.

His connection with Charles Manson is told in this paragraph from his Wikipedia writeup:

In 1968, Dennis Wilson was driving through Malibu when he noticed two female hitchhikers, Patricia Krenwinkel and Ella Jo Bailey. He picked them up and dropped them off at their destination.[3] Later on Wilson noticed the same two girls hitchhiking again. This time he took them to his home at 14400 Sunset Boulevard near Will Rogers Park. Wilson then went to a recording session. When he returned at around 3 a.m., he was met in his driveway by a stranger, Charles Manson. When Wilson walked into his home, about a dozen people were occupying the premises, most of them female. Wilson became fascinated by Manson and his followers; the “Manson Family” lived with Wilson for a period of time afterwards at his expense. In late 1968, Wilson reported to journalists:

I told them [the girls] about our involvement with the Maharishi and they told me they too had a guru, a guy named Charlie who’d recently come out of jail after 12 years. … He drifted into crime, but when I met him I found he had great musical ideas. We’re writing together now. He’s dumb, in some ways, but I accept his approach and have learnt from him.

Things got worse with Manson and his followers and he eventually had to move out of his own house:

As Dennis Wilson became increasingly aware of Manson’s volatile nature and growing tendency to violence, he finally made a break from the friendship by simply moving out of the house and leaving Manson there. When Manson subsequently sought further contact (and money), he left a bullet with Wilson’s housekeeper to be delivered with a cryptic message, which Wilson perceived as a threat. In August 1969, Manson Family members perpetrated the Tate/LaBianca murders. Wilson rarely discussed his involvement with the Manson Family, and usually became upset when the subject was broached.

His life came to a tragic end on December 28, 1983, when he died at the age of 39 in a drowning accident, probably caused by drinking prior to the drowning.

Mike Love 75 Years Old

MIKE LOVE

Mike Love has been the front man for the Beach Boys and was the cousin of Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson. His lead singing has been instrumental, in the success of the Beach Boys. He is the one Beach Boy, that is not seen playing a musical instrument during the concerts.

He was the co-writer on their #1 hit Kokomo. His interest in transcendental meditation began in 1967. Brian wrote some lyrics for songs on their Friends influenced by his TM interest, but the album sold very few copies.

When the Beach Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Mike made some uncomplimentary remarks about Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney:

Also in 1988, he, along with the other founding members of the Beach Boys, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where he made an infamous hostile speech, calling out, among others, Mick Jaggerand Paul McCartney. He was, however, happy that Muhammad Ali was in attendance.

Mike has been married to Jacqueline Piesen since 1994. He had been married four times, before his current marriage.

Bruce Johnston 74 Years Old

BRUCE JOHNSTON

Bruce Johnston was not an original Beach Boy. He joined the group in April of 1965. He wrote the Barry Manilow hit I Write The Songs, which won the Song of the Year Award Grammy and has been recorded by 200 artist. This happened after he had left the Beach Boys in 1972. He returned in 1978 and has been with the Beach Boys in the last 37 years consecutively.

He was adopted by the William and Irene Johnston family and his father was president of Owl Rexall Drug Company in Los Angeles.

Bruce replaced Glen Campbell on the touring Beach Boys group. Campbell had filled in for Brian Wilson and Wilson needed a replacement for Campbell, so Johnston joined the group to play keyboards, guitar and harmonize and also played the saxophone.

Currently, Bruce is touring with Mike Love as the Beach Boys,since Mike owns the name, and had to sue Al Jardine for using the Beach Boys name for his group.

So the Beach Boys are now split into three acts, with Brian Wilson as a solo act, Mike and Bruce using the Beach Boys name and Al Jardine having his own group, and no longer using the Beach Boys name.

American Idol Draws 4 Million Less Viewers

American Idol returns for its 14th season in 2015 with judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez

and Harry Connick, Jr., with Ryan Seacrest who has hosted the show since its inception.

American Idol started its 14th season, by drawing 4 million fewer viewers, than they attracted for the first show of Season 13. That was a decline of 25 percent from the Season 13 premiere. The show reached its peak in Season 6, when they attracted 37.44 million viewers for the premiere that year in 2007.

The premiere this year attracted 26 million fewer viewers, than watched the show in 2007.

Randy Jackson, who was a mentor during Season 13 won’t be seen in Season 14, unless it is in a guest appearance, since he is no longer employed by the show.

There should be no Coca-Cola cups at the judge’s table in Season 14, since Coca-Cola no longer is a sponsor.

The Voice Providing Competition

The Voice on NBC has attracted more viewers recently, than American Idol, but The Voice has had less success in launching careers of their winning contestants.

Season 8 of The Voice premieres on February 23, 2015, so the two shows will be on different nights.

I have watched American Idol since Season 2, so will probably go down with American Idol ship, when it sinks out of sight in the next year or two. I like the chairs turning around gimmick on The Voice, but not a fan of the battle rounds competition. Not to say it isn’t a good show….it is just my loyalty to American Idol  supersedes that of The Voice.

Aftermath for American Idol Winners

American Idol has had some winners like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, that have sold millions of albums, but then they have their share of singers like Phillip Phillips who made second albums, that didn’t sell nearly as well as their first album, as shown in this Billboard.com review of his sales for his second album:

Phillip Phillips, Behind the Light

First-Week Sales: 42,000

Previous Album’s First Week: The World From the Wrong Side of the Moon, 169,000

Year-to-Date Sales: 123,000

Why It Looks Bad: The American Idol champ’s debut was buoyed by a hit single, “Home,” something his second has yet to produce. And more than a regular artist, people expect a sophomore slump from an Idol champ — so his low first-week tally wasn’t a good look.

Counterpoint: Like 50’s album, the year-to-date total sales for Behind the Lightaren’t terrible. In fact, with the holidays approaching, sales for Phillips’ second are higher than they’ve been in weeks, suggesting there’s life in the album yet.

Scotty McCreery is now 21, after winning Season 10 four years ago. His album and single sales have done well, with him his first album Clear Day going platinum and his second album Christmas With Scotty McCreery earning a gold album certification.

Caleb Johnson Season 13 Winner

Caleb Johnson, who won Season 13 has seen his singing career get off to a very slow start, as indicated by this entry about his first album at Wikipedia:

Chart performance

The album debuted on Billboard 200 at No. 24 with 11,000 copies sold in its debut week, giving him the distinction of having the lowest first week sales and inaugural chart position of any American Idol winner.[8]Johnson also has the distinction of being the first American Idol winner to have their Idol coronation song, “As Long as You Love Me,” fail to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

On the other hand Kelly Clarkson has released six albums and all six have gone platinum and have peaked at either #1, #2 or #3 on the album charts. She has recorded four #1 hits.

Carrie Underwood has recorded 12 #1 hits on the country charts.

It doesn’t seem possible that it has been 10 years, since Carrie Underwood won Season 4 of American Idol in 2005. All four of her albums have gone platinum. It is hard to believe, that she hasn’t recorded an album since 2012, so we should see another Carrie Underwood album released, in the not too distant future. Her 12 #1 hits is the most recorded by any of the American Idol winners.

Results Show Shortened To Half Hour

The Fox network will be shortening the Thursday night results show of American Idol, to half an hour in Season 14. It will be a welcome relief, to American Idol fans, who were tiring of all the filler used in the results show in past seasons. Ryan Seacrest won’t have so much time to stretch out the drama, of who will be going home that night.

Ryan Seacrest has promised that Season 14 will have great talent, but American Idol fans will believe that, when they see and hear the shows.

I personally believe this is the best set of judges since the debut of the show. It will be nice to not hear “Yo dog” and “In it to win it” in Season 14, even though we didn’t hear it in Season 13 either. It is a huge improvement over the train wreck of a judging panel, when Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey took their battle public and overshadowed the contestants, by their constant bickering.

The back stories for  the contestants are what make American Idol so great in my book. Like the blind man, who sang a Spanish song for Jennifer Lopez on last week’s show. He may not be the next American Idol, but he will be one of the highlights of Season 14 for me.

So far this season the focus has been more on the talented singers, and less on the singers who have no talent. We know the judges just see a small percent of the singers, since they have others, that weed out the less than prime-time ready singers.

The Voice may have passed American Idol in the ratings, but American Idol will be the show I watch, till it fades out for the last time.

By this time next year we should know if Season 14 has produced another Caleb Johnson or another Carrie Underwood, or a singer somewhere in the middle of the two singers.

70 Years of Christmas Memories

 

This article could have been titled 62 Years of Christmas Memories, since my first memory of Christmas would be of 1952 Christmas, when we lived close to Louisiana College in PIneville,, Louisiana. My first memory is of the Christmas stockings that were not hung by the chimney with care, since we had no chimney, but they still were hung with care. I will never forget my mom staying up all night, to wrap presents and hang the stockings.

One of my favorite memories was going to S.H. Kress store in Alexandria and trying to make my money stretch enough to buy presents for everyone in the family, which consisted of mom, dad, two brothers and one sister at the time. It was fun wrapping the presents, even though my wrapping skills were rudimentary at best.

Another memory is the Christmas tree lighted up with lights. We bought our trees from the Lion’s Club, where they were sold in front of Huey P. Long Hospital on Main Street.

It was exciting to ride on the Boy’s Scouts float in the Christmas parade, when I was with the Pineville Boys Scouts.

 

I will never forget the miniature church that would be displayed every Christmas in downtown Alexandria. It was misplaced for a few years, but the last I knew it is back on display again .

City Hall lighted up for Christmas in the 1950’s.

This photo was taken from the 2013 Christmas parade in Pineville. I can remember some brutally cold nights, on the night of the Christmas parade over the years. I haven’t been to a Pineville Christmas parade for at least seven years now, but time can’t erase the memories of the ones I have seen.

The Alexandria water tower lighted up for Christmas has been another Christmas tradition for many years. It was easy to find since it could be seen from a distance.

 

Policemen Injured in Christmas Parade Accident

One Alexandria Christmas parade in 70’s had an accident, which I personally witnessed. A reserve sheriff’s deputy was talking to my mom, then said he had to get back to work. A couple of minutes later that same deputy directed a car on a side street onto the street where the parade was almost starting . However, a Alexandria policemen, on a motorcycle on the parade route was hit by the car. The policeman flew up in the air and landed on the car. He was seriously hurt and if I remember right the accident happened before the start of the parade. I will never forget the policeman going airborne, before landing on the car.

 

Annual Christmas Party at Louisiana College

It was a highlight for me every Christmas when the faculty of Louisiana College and their families would have their annual Christmas party.

 

Christmas Eve Services At Pineville Park Baptist Church

I miss the Christmas Eve services at Pineville Park Baptist Church on Christmas Eve. The lighted candles, the music and the words spoken by the pastor made it a special night, that I always looked forward to each year.

 

Christmas Lights in Pineville

It wasn’t Christmas in Pineville, until  the Christmas lights were put up during the Christmas season.

 

Family Altar On Christmas Morning

We always had our family altar, before we opened Christmas presents. My mom would read the devotional that day, from the Home Life magazine.

 

Christmas Bonuses

We would receive our Christmas bonus at the Alexandria Town Talk, for many years till Gannett bought the Town Talk and put a screeching halt to that nonsense. I was working for the Monroe Morning World in Monroe, Louisiana from 1974-1976 and will never forget the $10 Christmas bonus. It really wasn’t a $10 bonus, though since they took tax out of the $10, so the check was for $9 and a few cents left over.

 

Christmas With 8 Degree Weather

I will never forget one Christmas, when it was 8 degrees. The car wouldn’t start, when I tried to start it later that day, so I could go to work. I ended up walking the two miles, to the Town Talk and freezing in the cold wind.

 

Christmas In Hawaii

I spent three Christmases in Hawaii, while stationed at Schofield Barracks,  in 1963, 1964 and 1965, before being sent to Vietnam. I went to a USO show, that had performers singing I’ll Be Home For Christmas. It wasn’t a great song selection, since I didn’t want to be reminded, that I wouldn’t be going home that Christmas.

 

One of my favorite Christmas albums

 

Christmas Music

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is the great Christmas music. O Holy Night is one of my favorite Christmas songs, with O Little Town of Bethlehem a close second.

My favorite secular Christmas songs are songs like The Christmas Song,  White Christmas, Blue Christmas, Please Come Home For Christmas and Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. 

 

Bob Hope and Connie Stevens appearing in Bob Hope Christmas Show in 1970.

Andy Williams on Christmas Show

Christmas Specials On Television

The Bob Hope Christmas specials were another favorite part of Christmas. I was impressed that he missed many Christmases at home, to entertain American troops around the world. I also enjoyed the Andy Williams Christmas specials each year.

 

Old Time Radio Christmas Programs

I collect old-time radio shows and some of my favorite shows are the Christmas episodes, of shows like Fibber McGee and Molly, Jack Benny and the Great Gildersleeve. One of my all time favorites is A Daddy for Christmas, which was heard on Family Theater.

This is the funniest show I have ever heard on old-time radio. It is the first Fred Allen radio show ever broadcast from 1932 and is now 82 years old. Best part is when a speaker gives a pep talk to the employees of the Mammoth Department Store. Fast forward through the music at the first to get to show. It can be heard on You Tube. You can be glad you weren’t around in 1932, because the music is terrible, but just fast forward through it, especially the lady that is making a futile attempt at singing. It is sad they didn’t have the technology in 1932,  to rid the show of all the horrific singing.

Funniest Christmas Show Ever

The Jack Benny Christmas program is hilarious, and the dialogue between Jack Benny and Mel Blanc shown in photo is priceless. The show is funny from start to finish.

Best Christmas Movie

It’s A Wonderful Life is the best of all the Christmas movies, but that is only my opinion and my opinion with three dollars will buy a gallon of gas, so it is not really worth that much. Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed are the most recognizable stars in the movie, but Frank Faylen, who portrayed the father of Dobie Gillis, in the show of the same name was a cab driver in the movie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Christmas Songs

 

I have been hearing the same Christmas songs, for most of my life, but never tire of them. I know I will leave out some great Christmas songs, but will list some of my all-time favorite Christmas songs with name and writer/writers of the songs. 

White Christmas 1940 – Irving Berlin 

This is one of most well-known Christmas songs. 50 million copies of this song have been sold, which makes it the best-selling song of all time.

Irving Berlin wrote White Christmas in 1940, but there is some question, if that is the correct date. Berlin told his secretary, that he had just written the best song ever written. That was saying something, since Berlin had written a lot of very well-known songs over the year. Bing Crosby was the first to sing this song, when he sang it on Christmas Day 1941, on his radio show. It is ironic that the song was first sung just 18 days, after Pearl Harbor had been bombed.

500 versions of the song have been recorded.

Blue Christmas 1948 – Billy Hayes, J.W. Johnson

Doye O’Dell was the first singer to record Blue Christmas, but Ernest Tubb took it to #1 on the Most Played Country Juke Box Records chart, in January of 1950. Elvis Presley recorded it in 1957. I like both the Ernest Tubb and Elvis Presley versions best of the over 65 recorded versions.

O Holy Night 1843 – Placide Cappeau

It is amazing that the songwriter Placide Cappeau was an atheist, and it is surprising, that an atheist could write such power words and music. This is one of my favorite Christmas songs, to hear sung at Christmas. John Sullivan Dwight, who was an Unitarian minister wrote the song for singing in 1855. O Holy Night was the second song, to be heard in radio history. Tenor Enrico Caruso recorded, what is the most famous version of the song in 1916. It isn’t Christmas, if this song is not heard at least once, during the Christmas season.

Please Come Home For Christmas 1960 – Charles Brown, Eugene Redd

I am surprised that Please Come Home For Christmas peaked at #76 on the Hot 100 Billboard chart. Some people refer to the song as “Bells Will Be Ringing”. The Eagles recorded the song in 1978 and it went to #18 on the Billboard chart. I never get tired of hearing this song sung and it starts like this:

Bells will be ringing the sad, sad news
Oh what a Christmas to have the blues
My baby’s gone, I have no friends
To wish me greetings once again

Choirs will be singin’ ‘Silent Night’
Christmas carols by candlelight
Please come home for Christmas
Please come home for Christmas
If not for Christmas by New Year’s night

Friends and relations send salutation
Sure as the stars shine above
But this is Christmas, yes Christmas my dear
It’s the time of year to be with the one you love

I’ll Be Home For Christmas 1943 – Kim Gannon, Walter Kent, Buck Ram

Bing Crosby was the first to record I’ll Be Home For Christmas in 1943. It was recorded during World War II, to honor servicemen overseas, who weren’t able to come home for Christmas. I know firsthand, how this song hits home, since I spent Christmas in Hawaii in 1963, 1964 and 1965. I played the song on my record player in Hawaii, but it wasn’t well received by the other soldiers in the barracks, who said they didn’t want to be reminded, that they would be going home for Christmas. The Crosby version peaked at # 3 on the Billboard chart.

Astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell requested this song be played, while on a Gemini 7 mission, in December of 1965. My personal favorite recording of the song was by Johnny Mathis.

O Little Town of Bethlehem 1868 – Phillips Brooks, Lewis Redner

Phillips Brooks was inspired by visiting Bethlehem in 1865, and three years later in 1868 wrote the words to O Little Town of Bethlehem. His church organist Lewis Redner wrote the tune for the song. I like this song so much, that I have sang it often, over the years for special music at church. The song conjures up images of how it was on the night Christ was born in Bethlehem.

Christmas In My Hometown

There is little information about Christmas In My Hometown, but did find out the writer was Lassaye Van Buren Holmes. My favorite version of the song was the Bobby Vinton version, but Charley Pride also recorded an excellent version of the song. This song reminds me of the times we used to travel, to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas with family, as far as 200 miles away over the years.

Christmas in Dixie 1982 – Jeff Cook, Teddy Gentry, Randy Owen, Mark Herndon

By now in New York City, there’s snow on the ground
And out in California, the sunshine’s falling down
And, maybe down in Memphis, Graceland’s all in lights
And in Atlanta, Georgia, there’s peace on earth tonight

Christmas in Dixie, it’s snowin’ in the pines
Merry Christmas from Dixie, to everyone tonight

It’s windy in Chicago the kids are out of school
There’s magic in Motown the city’s on the move
In Jackson, Mississippi, to Charlotte, Caroline
And all across the nation, it’s the peaceful Christmas time

Christmas in Dixie, it’s snowin’ in the pines
Merry Christmas from Dixie, to everyone tonight

And from Fort Payne, Alabama
God bless y’all, we love ya
Happy New Year, good night
Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas tonight

Christmas in Dixie not only had great words in the song written, by the members of Alabama in 1982, but also made me think of what it was like living in Knoxville, Tennessee, during the Christmases of 2007, 2008 and 2009. This is the kind of song, that will take a listener back in time, to the good old days in the south, when families spent Christmas together.

The Christmas Song 1944 – Bob Wells, Mel Torme

The Christmas Song was first recorded by the Nat King Cole Trio in 1946. This song is special for me, since I was born in 1944 and the song was written that year, by Bob Wells and Mel Torme. It is strange, that Torme wrote the song, but didn’t record it himself till later.

The song has been recorded from artists like Trace Adkins, to Justin Bieber, to Garth Brooks, to James Brown, to Glen Campbell, to Frank Sinatra, to Bob Dylan, to New Kids on the Block, to George Strait. My favorite version is by the great Johnny Mathis, who has been recording for 58 years now and is 79 years old.

Jingle Bell Rock 1958 – Joseph Carleton Beal, James Ross Boothe

Bobby Helms recorded Jingle Bell Rock in 1957 and it was released in 1958. Brenda Lee later recorded it. This is one song you can almost be sure of hearing, at least once during the Christmas season. It has been recorded numerous times, by artists from many different genres of music, from Alvin and the Chipmunks to Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.

All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth 1944 – Donald Yetter Gardner

Donald Yetter Gardner wrote the novelty song All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth in 1944. He was a second grade teacher, who asked the kids in his class, what they wanted for Christmas, and noticed most of them were missing at least one tooth. It gave him the idea to write the song and he was surprised it became a national hit.

Spike Jones and his madcap band the City Slickers were the first to record the song. It wasn’t until 1947, when Spike and his band recorded the song.

The song has been recorded by a diverse range of singers from Alvin and the Chipmunks to George Strait. I just can’t imagine George Strait singing this song. The writer Gardner preferred the Nat King Cole version. The song went to #1 twice for Spike Jones and the City Slickers.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – Tommy Connor

Jimmy Boyd was 13 years old when he recorded I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus in 1952. The song went to #1 on the Billboard Singles chart in December of 1952. The song was condemned by the Roman Catholic Church in Boston, until Boyd explained the premise of the song to the Archdiocese and the ban was lifted.

                                                                                                                    Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 1949 – Johnny Marks

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was based on the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer story written for Montgomery Ward. Johnny Marks wrote the song in 1949 and Harry Brannon first sang it on a radio program in November, then  . Gene Autry recorded it in December of 1949. The song made history, by becoming the first song to fall completely off the chart, after reaching #1.

Bing Crosby recorded the song in 1950 and the song reached #14 on the Billboard chart. Dolly Parton and the Rugrats were two of many singers or groups to record the song over the years.

Jimmy Boyd would appear a few years later, in the Bachelor Father television series and is shown the above photo, with John Forsythe and Noreen Corcoran, whose character was his love interest in the show.

Adeste Fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful) 1600’s or 1700’s – Writer unknown

Adeste Fideles or O  Come All Ye Faithful, as it is known in the United States has an unverified history, so there is no known date of it being written, nor is the identity of the writer known. This article explains, why the origin of this so song is so questionable. One thing that is known is that it is one of the most sung songs in churches and also sung by carolers.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/3674120/The-story-behind-the-carol-O-come-all-ye-faithful.html

I know there will be a lot of great songs left out of this article, but time restraints restrict me from writing any longer, since this has taken about three hours to put together.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

Classic Southern Gospel Quartets – The Blackwood Brothers

This record album was my favorite Blackwood Brothers album. It was released in 1964 and my favorite

songs on the album were I’ve Got To Walk That Lonesome Road, The Old Country Church, God Made

                   A Way, In Times Like These and Precious Memories. I played this album so much I wore out grooves on

the record and had to order a new copy.

The Blackwood Brothers Quartet bus which can be found at the Southern Gospel Music Museum at Dollywood.

The original Blackwood Brothers quartet was formed 80 years ago in 1934. The group was founded in Choctaw County, Mississippi and some of the descendants of that group are stil singing, under the Blackwood Brothers Quartet name in 2014.

Roy Blackwood, James Blackwood, Doyle Blackwood and R.W. Blackwood was the original configuration for the Blackwood Brothers in 1934.

Tragedy For Blackwood Brothers in 1954

Tragedy struck the Blackwood Brothers Quartet, when two of its members R.W. Blackwood and Bill Lyles were killed, in a plane crash on June 30, 1954. Cecil Blackwood would later replace R.W. Blackwood and J.D. Sumner replaced Bill Lyles as bass after the plane crash.

The Absolute Gospel website has an excellent article describing the accident and the aftermath:

http://absolutelygospel.com/index.php?/content/articles/3948

Trendsetters For Southern Gospel Innovations

The Blackwood Brothers were the first southern gospel group, to customize a bus for traveling to concerts.

They also founded the National Quartet Convention which started in 1957 and is still active 57 years later and is held every September.

James Blackwood 1919-2002

I was fortunate to see James Blackwood sing with the Blackwood Brothers many times over the years, when they performed in concerts in the Central Louisiana area. He was an excellent spokesman for the group, during their concerts and was one of my favorite Blackwood Brothers singers.

J.D. Sumner 1924-1998

J.D. Sumner is credited by the Guinness Book of World Records, as singing the lowest note ever sung. I remember in one Bill Gaither video, that he was singing a song, when the organist started to play faster, than Sumner wanted him to. The look he gave the organist was priceless. It may or may not have been a prank on Sumner, but if it was a prank it was not well received.

Two of my favorite Blackwood Brothers Quartet songs featuring Sumner were I’ve Got To Walk Than Lonesome Road and There’s A Light. 

J.D. Sumner on stage with Elvis Presley in 1976, which was a year before Elvis died.

J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet often toured with Elvis Presley. Still not sure if southern gospel was represented well during this time, since they were singing so much secular music during these years. J.D. Sumner gave credit to Elvis for helping him stop being an alcoholic. Shame J.D. couldn’t return the favor and convince Elvis to stop using drugs. Instead J.D. was more of an enabler and more or less discounted reports, that Elvis was a user, when he debunked those reports at the funeral for Elvis. That was before the extent of drug usage was known by the general public, but Sumner with his close proximity to Elvis probably knew exactly what Elvis was doing with drugs.

The golden era of the Blackwood Brothers Quartet are long gone, but their music will live on for years to come. I have a collection of their music from the early days till later years on cassette. It is great to hear the gospel style singing and piano playing, that most of us grew up with in the 50’s and 60’s.

James and J.D. and most of the Blackwood Brothers Quartet singers of the past are gone, but they will never be forgotten.

 

Dick Van Dyke – Eight Decades of Entertaining

Dick Van Dyke in a scene from Sgt. Bilko television series in 1957.

Dick Van Dyke was born as Richard Wayne Van Dyke on December 13, 1925 in West Plains, Missouri. Van Dyke had considered becoming a minister at one time, but decided to become an entertainer, after appearing on stage in a high school play.

His first job was as a disc jockey on a local radio station in Danville, Illinois. He later traveled across the country as part of a comedy act, till he was hired by WDSU TV in New Orleans as an entertainer. That job led to a job with the CBS network on their morning program. He anchored the program, which also featured Walter Cronkite as his newsman.

Dick Van Dyke and Chita Rivera in Bye Bye Birdie.

His big break came when he appeared in the Broadway play Bye Bye Birdie playing the part of Albert Peterson and won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor.

Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke.

Then in 1961 he was hired to portray Rob Petrie on the Dick Van Dyke Show which ran from 1961 to 1966 and 158 episodes were filmed. The show was on the brink of cancellation, before it caught on with television viewers. Then five years later he starred in the New Dick Van Dyke Show which ran for 72 episodes from 1971-1974.

It was about this time, that Van Dyke publicly announced he had been an alcoholic for 25 years.

1988 would see Van Dyke appear in his third show, with his name in the title, when he appeared in the Van Dyke Show, that only lasted for 10 episodes.

Dick Van Dyke portraying Doctor Mark Sloan on Diagnosis:Murder

His next starring role in a television series was when he portrayed Dr. Mark Sloan, in Diagnosis Murder. It would run for 180 episodes, which was even more episodes, than the original Dick Van Dyke Show had run.

Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins.

He was best-known for his movies Bye Birdie (1963), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1964) and Mary Poppins (1968). He has appeared in three of the Night of the Museum movies.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb movie, in which Van Dyke appears was recently completed this year and another movie Life is Boring is in post-production at the time of this writing. He also appeared in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, which was released in October of 2014 by the Walt Disney Pictures.

Van Dyke is now in his eighth decade of entertaining.

Dick Van Dyke and Arlene Silver don’t seem to be concerned about their 46 year age difference.

Dick Van Dyke was married to Marjorie Willett from 1948-1984, then lived with Michelle Triola from 1976 till her death in 2009. Van Dyke reportedly paid Triola $600,000, which was the amount she had sued actor Lee Marvin for in a palimony suit, but the court ruled against her. That ended Van Dyke’s marriage to Marjorie Willett, when she learned about his payment to Triola. Van Dyke has been married to Arlene Silver for the last two years. She is 46 years younger than Van Dyke and is about 44 years old now, while he will be 89 in December.

Imdb.com has some very interesting trivia about Dick Van Dyke. These are just a few of them since there 106 in all.

Van Dyke turned down a chance to host Price is Right. If he had taken the job he may never have become an actor, when considering, that game show host for the most part stay game show hosts.

He and his first wife Margie were so poor after their wedding, that they lived in their car for a while.

Was a heavy smoker for 50 years before quitting. He used to smoke 60 cigarettes a day.

Was 36 when he appeared in his first movie.

Received a lemon cake at Christmas for 16 years from actor Charles Bronson.

Producer Sheldon Leonard gave Van Dyke the lead role, in the Dick Van Dyke Show, after seeing him in stage production of Bye Bye Birdie.

For more trivia and quotes from Van Dyke:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001813/bio?ref_=nm_dyk_qt_sm#quotes

Book Review – Unsinkable: A Memoir: Debbie Reynolds

Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher on wedding day in 1955.

Her second autobiography Unsinkable: A Memoir: Debbie Reynolds is a book about her life after her marriage to her third husband Richard Hamlett, who turned out to be a dirty rotten scoundrel, who took her money just like her first husband Harry Karl had done in her previous marriage.

The earlier autobiography Debbie: My Life dealt with her marriage and subsequent divorce from Eddie Fisher. It also tells of her second husband Harry Karl gambling away his money and hers, in an uncontrollable gambling habit. She wound up homeless and living in a car, by the time he was through spending her money.

She married her new husband Richard Hamlett on May 25, 1984.

Richard Hamlett was no better, even though Debbie had him sign a pre-nup. He just took her money before the marriage ended, instead of waiting till it was over, so the pre-nup was a non-factor.

Collected Hollywood Memorabilia

Debbie built up a huge collection of Hollywood memorabilia, by going to auctions and buying costumes, props, posters and other movie memorabilia. Eventually, she had bought millions of dollars worth of memorabilia and her dream was to build a museum to house her collection.

Her husband Hamlett was helping her build a museum for the collection, but it is better to read about it in her last book, since it is filled with too many details and machinations, to reveal them all in this article.

The same thing goes for the way Hamlett wasted and stole her money, by taking Debbie’s name off of legal documents and making himself the owner. He even went so far as to have his girlfriend listed as owner of some of Debbie’s properties.

Debbie Reynolds with her third husband Richard Hamlett.

Marriage To Hamlett Ends

Debbie found out that Hamlett was having an affair behind her back and went to confront him about it and his financial dealings. He tried to get her to go out to the balcony and discuss their problems, but Debbie was wary of her being thrown off the balcony and him claiming it had been a terrible accident. So she notifies the landlord to never let him back in the building, since she didn’t feel safe, with him around after the argument.

The 12 year marriage ended in 1996. Debbie has never remarried after her first husband Eddie Fisher left her for Elizabeth Taylor. Her second husband Harry Karl cheated on her and took all her money, while the third husband Richard Hamlett also took her money and cheated on her while doing it.

Eighteen years later Debbie has not remarried. She finally learned an expensive lesson. She is back in control of her finances and Celebrity Net Worth website lists her as being worth $60 million, mostly because of her selling most of her movie memorabilia, when it was evident she would never realize her dream of having a museum to house the memorabilia.

Debbie Reynolds

Rundown of Her Movies

The next part of the book has Debbie giving a rundown of some of the movies she appeared in. She shares anecdotes of her experiences, while filming those movies and has some unkind things, to say about some well-known actors, actresses and directors. She names Walter Brennan, Walter Matthau and Thelma Ritter as expert scene stealers.

One director even slapped her in the face and that would not be allowed today, but he got away with it back then.

Aftermath

Debbie is now 82 years old and  appeared in the TV movie Behind the Candelabra, which was a movie about Liberace that was released in 2013. She may be the movie The Big Finish in 2016, but so far that is only a rumor.

66 years have passed since Debbie was a 16 year-old girl riding her bicycle onto the movie lot, after she won Miss Burbank 1948, which led to her being cast in the movies.

Her daughter, Carrie Fisher will be 58 tomorrow (October 21) and her son Todd is now 56 years old. She was pregnant with two children with Harry Karl, but neither lived.

Debbie apparently has sold even more of her movie memorabilia collection earlier this year:

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/movies/debbie-reynolds-set-auction-historical-hollywood-memorabilia-article-1.1794715

Trivia From IMDB.com

She was born Mary Frances Reynolds

Debbie is the ex mother-in-law of Paul Simon, who was once married to her daughter Carrie.

She was awarded a star on Hollywood  Walk of Fame in 1997. Strange that it took them almost 50 years to honor her, since she made her first movie in 1948.

38 Years of Newspaper Production – 1966-2004

1883- Present

The first Alexandria Daily Town Talk newspaper was published on March 17, 1883. I started working there in 1966, when the paper was 83 years old and today it is 131 years old, so 48 years have passed since I first set foot inside the Alexandria Daily Town Talk at the time. Today it is known as The Town Talk.

I had returned earlier from my tour of duty in Hawaii and Vietnam and was 21 and looking for work. The lady from the Louisiana Employment called and said there was an opening at the Town Talk. Found out later that the previous worker had drowned and they needed someone to take his place.

Earning $11.20 a Day

The interviewer told me they usually don’t start workers, as much pay as I was getting.  I found out later, that I was making the minimum wage of $1.40 an hour, which came out to $11.20 an eight hour day and $56 a week. The pay for a typical 22 day month was $246.40 and $2,912 a year. Four years later I had worked my way up to $3 an hour.

This is the way we saw hot metal type when working with it – upside down and backwards.

First Job As a Dump Boy

My first job was as a dump boy and went to work on August 24, 1966, and  received type from those working with the linotype machines. They would bring the trays called galleys with very hot metal slugs, with each slug being about an inch tall and a line of type printed on it. The proofreaders would read a proof of the story in that galley and if there was a mistake we would take out the old lines and insert the corrected lines. Then we would turn the galleys around, so the page compositors could place the type in the page forms, in the proper place according to a page layout designed by the wire desk or sports department.

Stopped By Police

When I first started working at Town Talk my starting time was 5:30 AM. One morning I was walking the usual two miles to work and was crossing the Murray Street bridge, when I was stopped by police. Someone had been killed at the Melody Grill Bar that morning, so they questioned me, before realizing I was just walking to work and had nothing to do with the murder.

Became A Page Compositor

After I had been dump boy for a while I became a page compositor. Our job was to place the ads in the page, then place photos and type to fill in the rest of the space on the page. Each page form was on a truck with wheels. that sometimes was called a turtle for some unknown reason.

We were using the hot metal process, so we used zinc photos or photos from scan-o-graver that would make photos. Things really got hectic around deadline time, as we rushed to get the pages ready for the press. After we finished the pages a pressman would process the pages in a mat rolling machine, that would make impressions of the page, that would be placed on the printing press.

Sunday Paper Starts in May of 1967

The first Sunday paper was published by the Town Talk in May of 1967 and has been published each Sunday, for the last 47 years since that date. I had been walking to and from work, but with the night hours finally bought my first car a 1954 Oldsmobile, so I wouldn’t have to walk through town at 1 AM in the morning.

Friday Night Football

To say nights at work during Friday night football were chaotic is putting it mildly. The sportswriters would return to Town Talk, to write-up their articles on that night’s game. It took time for them to write their articles and then sports desk person had to decide how to lay out the pages and what photos of the games to use. Those of us in page composition couldn’t do much, till the pages were designed and we received the layouts. The sportswriters would work with us on the page, in case we had any problems and if an article ran long they would tell us what part of the article to cut, so it would fit in the page form. It was always a relief to turn the last page over to the pressroom, so they could get it on the press, as soon as possible.

Election Night Fun

Elections were a lot of fun, if someone thought working way past time to leave work is fun. We had to wait till late at night, so we could get the latest results of the elections in the newspaper and we would make a second edition to get even later election results. Election nights would see many of the politicians gathering at the Town Talk, so they could see firsthand how many votes they were receiving.

Pressman Died At Work

I was talking to a pressman about a pro football game and it wasn’t long after, when I found out he had a heart attack and died at work. He had been a long time employee, but it still came as a shock to me, when learning he had passed away.

Married and Moved to Riverfront Street

In September of 1970 was married and moved to Riverfront Street in Pineville. I walked to work, so my wife could drive to her work and I remember there was a Russian lady living on Riverfront, that was living in a tent. Never did find out what had happened to her, after the last day I saw her.

Our $75 a month rent was too much to pay at once, so our landlord let us split it up into two $37.50 payments.

End of Hot Metal Composition

It was in 1972, that the Town Talk ended hot metal composition and started using cold type composition. Those of us working hot metal no longer had ink all over our hands, since we were working with paper. Working with the hot metal had caused most of us in hot metal composition, to have to have hernia surgery.

We would have to lift full pages of type from the bottom shelves of page racks, which was extremely heavy, since the full-page galleys were full of metal that was inch high. Imagine how heavy that is when you look at a page, in the newspaper and think of it being full of inch high metal.

Cold Type Composition 

Now we were no longer working with metal, but worked with paper type. We now used scissors, glue sticks, X-Actos and razor blades, to work on the new technology. It took some getting used to the new technology, but thanks to Elvis Presley I wouldn’t be working in hot type composition from April of 1974 till March of 1976, except at the very end.

Elvis Presley Finds Me a New Job

We were watching television, once when we found out Elvis Presley was going to be in concert at Monroe, Louisiana.  So we bought our tickets and drove to Monroe later to see the show. While we were driving to the concert we saw the local newspaper plant and my wife suggested I try to find a job there. I sent in my application and was called in for an interview and was hired. So if it hadn’t been for Elvis Presley I would have never worked for the Monroe Morning World.

Had worked for Town Talk for almost eight years, when I got the Monroe Morning World job and got a huge raise from $159 a week to $167 a week. I didn’t know at the time that I would earn $5,000 more in my first year at the Morning World, because they offered much more overtime. In fact I worked 49 days in a row, without a day off for one stretch. Boss kept asking if I wanted to work both my days off and I kept saying yes.

To Be Continued – Part 2

George Strait – 60 #1 Hits and Counting

George Strait

 

George Strait was born on May 18, 1952, in Poteet, Texas and recently celebrated his 62nd birthday.

Strait may not be mentioned nearly as much as country singers like Hank Williams, George Jones, Conway Twitty and Merle Haggard, but he leads them all in #1 hits. Hank Williams had 11 #1 hits, if you include posthumous #1’s in Your Cheatin’ Heart and Kawliga.

George Jones had 14 #1 hits, but five of those were duets with female country singers. Conway Twitty had 40 #1 hits, while Merle Haggard had 38 #1 hits.

However, George Strait has outdone them all, when it comes to #1 singles with 60 songs reaching the top of the charts.

Only Elvis Presley and the Beatles have had more gold and platinum albums, than Strait. He won his first Entertainer of the Year Award in 1989 from the Country Music Association and won it again, as recently as 2013 showing his popularity has not waned since he recorded his first album in 1981, which was 33 years ago.

Just found out today, that George Strait was stationed at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii during the Vietnam War and may have been in the same unit I was, since he was a finance clerk and the finance clerks I knew were in our 25th Administration Company as part of the 25th Infantry Division.

George Strait and wife Norma

George Strait married his wife Norma Voss on February 23, 1972. They have now been married for 42 years.

George Strait Jr.

George Strait has collaborated with his son George Jr. on some of his songwriting projects.

Jenifer Strait and her dad

 

Tragedy struck the Straits when their daughter Jenifer was killed in an automobile accident on June 25, 1986 in San Marcos, Texas. She was 13 years old.

 

 

This 72 song collection of George Strait music is the only George Strait music in my collection. It was released in 1995 and yet is now obsolete, since he has recorded another 19 years of music since then. However, it has all his early hits like Amarillo By Morning, Unwound, Cowboy Rides Away, All My Ex’s Live in Texas, You’re Something Special To Me, The Fireman and too many others to name them all.

George Strait and Alan Jackson singing Murder on Music Row

A lot of the names of songs in the box set may not be instantly recognizable, but that doesn’t matter, since any song George Strait sings is something special. 112 Amazon reviewers gave the box set 5 stars and only one gave it 1 star.  You will want these songs on your MP3 player as soon as possible. Amazon is currently selling the box set new for $29.88, but can be bought used for as little as $8.79 for the 4 CD box set.

His first hit song was Unwound which climbed to #6 on the country music charts. His first #1 song was Fool Hearted Memory in 1982. 1983 would see Strait release two more #1 songs in A Fire I Can’t Put Out and  You Look So Good in Love.

George Strait singing Cowboy Rides Away on December 31, 1986 at Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas.

Strait went from one #1 song in 1982 to two #1 songs in 1983, then had four #1 songs in 1984, with Right or Wrong, Let’s Fall To Pieces Together and  Does Fort Worth Cross Your Mind all going to #1. The Chair would be his only #1 song in 1985, but 1986 would start a streak of 11 consecutive #1 singles starting with Nobody In His Right Mind Would Have Left Her and ending with Ace in the Hole in 1989.

George Strait closing out his New Year’s Eve concert with Marina Del Ray and Unwound. A woman comes out of the audience and runs on stage and hugs Strait at the 5:08 mark in the video.

River of Love was his last #1 song in 2008. That is a 26 year stretch from his first # 1 song till the last one.

George Strait is in the last days of his Cowboy Rides Away farewell tour which ends June 7 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington Texas.

 

George Strait is the best role model ever for a country music singer in my book.

 

 

             

                                                                                   

Merle Haggard: From Prison to Country Music Hall of Fame

 

 

Merle Ronald Haggard was born on April 6, 1937 in Oildale, California. Merle’s parents James Francis and Flossie Mae Haggard had moved from Oklahoma three years earlier, when their barn burned during the Great Depression in 1934.

The album pictured above is one of the first Merle Haggard albums in my LP record collection.

Haggard lived out a lot of the songs he wrote and sang. He was a very prolific writer and wrote most of his major hits alone, but did collaborate on a few like Okie From Muskogee.

He grew up in a refrigerated box car, that had been converted into a house and was raised there, after being born in Kern General Hospital in Bakersfield, California according to his biography.

Left Home At Eleven

It was a jolt for Haggard when his father died, when he was only nine years old. Two years later he left home. His mother sent him to live with his great-uncle and great-aunt in Modesto, California.

He said that he really was 21 and in prison, but the part about life without parole was only used to fill out the line.

Haggard was not the kind to stay in one place long and talked two girls into hopping a freight train, that was headed to Los Angeles. They only had $5 so he bought what food he could to feed himself and the two girls.

Then they left the train and he stole a car by hot wiring it. Only problem was that the car traveled only five miles, before running out of gas, so they had to start walking. However, they were soon picked up by policeman in a squad car and Haggard refused to give his name, but the girls gave their names.

Ironically, when all three returned home they were kept from attending school, for three days by their parents.

Merle and some of his friends attempted a burglary of a Bakersfield bar in 1957 and he was meted out a sentence from six months to 15 years. At first he was a real troublemaker in prison, by being very uncooperative. This landed him in solitary for his 21st birthday. His time in solitary gave him the time he needed to get his act together and afterward he was a model prisoner. He was paroled at the age of 23 and then began his road to being a country music star. Governor Ronald Reagan would later give Haggard a full pardon.

A more recent photo of Merle Haggard.

Merle Haggard’s Music

His first Top 10 song would be (My Friends Are Going to Be (Strangers) in 1964, which went to #10 and is one of my favorite Merle Haggard songs. His first #1 hit was I’m A Lonesome Fugitive” in 1966. That would begin a string of 38 #1 hits from 1966-1987.

Even the great George Jones only had 14 #1 hits, so Haggard having 24 more songs reach the #1 spot tells me, that Haggard was even more popular than I had thought.

Surprisingly Swinging Doors, one of his biggest hits only climbed to #5 on the country music charts.

Branded Man would be his second #1 hit in 1967. He had too many #1 hits in his career, to mention all of them individually, but some of my personal favorites were Sing Me Back Home, Mama Tried, Mama’s Hungry Eyes, Workin’ Man Blues, Okie From Muskogee, Fightin’ Side of Me, If We Make It Through December, Big City (a song I never get tired of) and his last #1 hit Twinkle, Twinkle, Lucky Star.

His discography can be seen at this web page and when you scroll down to his list of singles, then you can see how successful he was during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s in particular.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merle_Haggard_discography

 

Personal Life

His personal life was not an easy one with four marriages, that lasted from 1956-1991. His second wife was country singer Bonnie Owens ex-wife of Buck Owens and she was a maid of honor, when he married his third wife. Haggard married another country Leona Williams in 1978 and they were divorced in 1983. He married Theresa Ann Lane on September 11, 1993 and they are still married 21 years later.

Haggard started smoking marijuana at the age of 41 and admitted buying $2,000 worth of cocaine in 1983. Part of his lung was removed in November of 2008, after he was discovered to have lung cancer.

Entered Country Music Hall of Fame

Twenty eight years after his first #1 hit I’m A Lonesome Fugitive Merle Haggard would be admitted to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1994. The following link takes readers to his page at the Country Music Hall of Fame website:

http://countrymusichalloffame.org/Inductees/InducteeDetail/merle-haggard

 

Summary – Merle Haggard wrote a lot of songs, that had to do with his life experiences, probably more than any other country singer, since Hank Williams did in the 40’s and 50’s. Like Williams he wrote a lot of his music by himself. He wrote songs about what life was like for transplanted Oklahomans, that moved to California and songs about how it was to be hungry. He wrote songs about his time in prison and how it was difficult to be a part of society again, after being released and his songs about patriotism, Okie From Muskogee and Fightin’ Side of Me and songs like Big City and Workin’ Man Blues that told the plight of people working for a living. He is now recording for an obscure record label Epitaph, but it doesn’t mean we have heard the last of Merle Haggard. He showed us all that being in prison isn’t always a bad thing, as he said he was one of those that prison helped and he is a testament, of how someone can change and be successful, even after being in prison.

 

Bobby Rydell Performing Again After Liver, Kidney Transplant

Bobby Rydell

Bobby Rydell was born Robert Louis Ridarelli on April 26, 1942 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He will be 72 years old tomorrow.

It doesn’t seem possible that 55 years have passed, since he had his first hit song, with the release of Kissin’ Time in 1959.

Before that he had won a talent contest and became a member of the cast of Paul Whiteman’s TV Teen Club. Whiteman had difficult pronouncing his last name Ridarelli, so changed his last name to Rydell.

He joined the Rocco and the Saints band at the age of 16 and the band also had a soon to be famous trumpet player in Frankie Avalon.

First Million Selling Single

We Got Love, which was his first million selling album peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Wild One was his next million selling single and it reached #2 on the charts and it was released in 1960. My personal favorite Bobby Rydell song Volare was also released in 1960 and went to #4 on the charts. Sway also did well for Rydell in 1960 going to #14 on the charts. Swingin’ School also reached the charts in 1960 and peaked at #5.

Sadly, Rydell only had one more Top Ten hit, when he released Forget Him in 1963, which peaked at #4 on the music charts.

His last new song to make the Billboard Hot 100 charts was Diana, which barely made it onto the charts at #98 in 1965.

It has been 49 years, since he had a song that made the Billboard Hot 100.

More recent photo of Bobby Rydell

Failing Health

He had to cancel a 2012 tour to Australian because of health problems. Rydell would have his liver and kidneys replaced in a double organ transplant. The transplant took place at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia in July of 2012.

After recovering for six months Rydell performed in a three night engagement in Las Vegas.

With the health problems behind him Rydell has been very active. He has appeared in international concerts, which included a 2014 tour in Australia. He also has appeared as part of a stage act, with fellow Philadelphian rock and rollers Fabian and Frankie Avalon.

Interesting Trivia From IMDB.com

Rydell High School in Grease was named after Rydell.

He was married to his first wife Camille Quattrone Ridarelli from 1968-2003 until the time of her death. He remarried in 2009 to Linda Hoffman.

Started playing drums at the age of six.

The city of Philadelphia named Bobby Rydell Boulevard after him.

He was a victim of the British invasion, as his recording career was never the same after the Beatles hit American shores.

Has Remained Active

Bobby Rydell has remained active after his recording career more or less ended, by hitting the night club circuit and appearing in concert. However, he did appear in the movie Bye Bye Birdie in 1963, at the height of his popularity.

He has appeared in Time-Life infomercial for Malt Shop Memories.

It was sad that his recording career fizzled out at the age of 23, but he was too talented and too young to walk away from the music scene.

When he turns 72 tomorrow he can reflect on a long career in music and has been a fine representative for the city of Philadelphia.

Dick Clark played a part in the success of Bobby Rydell, by having him appear on American Bandstand.

He may have not had the long recording career, of some recording artists, but that has only made his fans treasure, more than ever, those years in the 60’s, when he was making memories for all of us.

 

 

 

 

The Voice Winning Ratings Battle With American Idol

AMERICAN IDOL

American Idol Season 13 bottomed out this season with only 7.63 million viewers for their Top 8 results show last Thursday. Season 13 drew 15.19 viewers for their debut this season. That is a drop of approximately 7.5 million viewers 27 shows into the season.

The 2003 Season 2 finale drew the largest audience for a premiere or finale, by attracting 38.06 million viewers. Compare that with the 7.63 million viewers last Thursday and that is a drop of almost 31 million viewers.

January 13, 2009 was the last time that a premiere, final performance or season finale show drew over 30 million viewers.

The May 23, 2012 finale was the last time American Idol attracted more than 20 million viewers.

March 12, 2014 was the last show to draw over 10 million viewers for a Season 13 episode.

I think one problem this season is that Season 13 has few good singers. I look for Caleb Johnson to be the next American Idol. If not him, then it might be Jena Irene or Jessica Meuse. C.J. Johnson will probably go home on Thursday night, unless he has a superb performance on Wednesday night.

The judges this season Harry Connick, Jr., Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban have been refreshing, after the feud between Mariah Carey and Nicky Minaj took the focus off the contestants in Season 12.

This could be the right time to end American Idol. Ryan Seacrest will probably not be paid $15 million a season again and Jennifer Lopez is scheduled to do a cop show, so can’t see her having time to do American Idol, due to the filming schedule of a weekly series. Seacrest is probably ready to move on to other jobs and American Idol ties him down during the auditions and regular season and he sure doesn’t need the money.

It is time to end the show before its ratings fall even further behind those of The Voice.

 

THE VOICE

The premiere of The Voice was shown on April 26, 2011 and drew 11.78 viewers. Season 2 drew 37.61 million viewers due to Super Bowl lead-in. Season 3 attracted 12.8 million viewers for premiere. The Voice drew about a million more viewers, for each year and this year attracted 15.86 million for the premiere.

Season 4 finale night for the June 18,2013 drew 15.59 the most ever for a finale.

The finale night for Season 5 on December 17, 2013 fell to 14.01 viewers, so it will be interesting to see if Season 6 finale ratings fall below that number.

Season 6 ratings have fallen from a season high of 15.86 million, for the premiere of the Blind Auditions on February 24, 2014. Last Tuesday’s episode drew 11.08 million, which is a dropoff of about 4.78 million viewers.

If The Voice and American Idol were aired in the same time slot, then it would be almost a certainty that American Idol would be clobbered.

The interplay between coaches Blake Shelton, Shakira, Usher and Adam Levine has been, in my estimation a big part of the success of The Voice. It is fun to watch them beg for the contestants to choose them, as their coach and belittling the other coaches in the process.

It is a more of a fun show than American Idol. I haven’t watched during the battle rounds and playoff rounds, so I can’t say how good the singers on The Voice are. I will resume watching when they start the live shows and will get a better idea of who the best singers are.

The Voice is the king of the singing competitions and may find itself the only singing competition, if American Idol ends its 13 year run after this season.

 

 

 

Stringbean: Murdered After Grand Ole Opry Appearance In 1973

 

 

 

 

 

 

David “Stringbean” Akeman was born July 4, 1916 in Annville, Kentucky and died in Ridgetop, Tennessee on November 10, 1973.  His friend and co-star of Hee Haw Grandpa Jones found him and Stringbean’s wife Estelle murdered the next morning. Stringbean had been shot and killed inside the house, while his wife was found dead outside.

Stringbean acquired his nickname when the star of a show he was in introduced him as Stringbean and he has been known as Stringbean ever since.

He made a homemade banjo as a child out of a shoebox and thread. Then later he would barter two chickens, for a real banjo and then really began to learn how to play the banjo in the old style.

The Depression would cause Stringbean to find work, with the Civilian Conservation Corps and he built roads and planted trees, as part of that work.

 

Signs With Bill Monroe’s Band

Bill Monroe signed Stringbean as one of the Bluegrass Boys. Monroe had discovered Stringbean when he was playing semi-pro baseball. Earl Scruggs would later replace Stringbean as the banjo picker in the Bluegrass Boys band.

He married Estelle Stanfill in 1945.

Even though he had been playing music and singing since the 1930’s he didn’t record his first album till the 1960’s.

 

Started Sagging Britches Fad

Stringbean might have been an inspiration for the sagging britches fad, as can be seen in the photo on the right. The only difference was that Springbean wouldn’t wear that outfit once he stepped off the stage. That outlandish outfit by itself was enough to draw laughs from the audience.

He never did learn to drive a car so his wife Estelle did all the driving. Grandpa Jones had to clean his guns for him, since he didn’t know how.

 

First Television Appearance

His first television appearance was when he appeared on the Porter Wagoner Show in 1963 and was on another show in 1970. He made one appearance on the Johnny Cash Show in 1971. His big break came when he started appearing on Hee Haw and would be seen in 92 episodes from 1969-1974. The 1974 shows had been filmed previously, before his tragic death in November of 1973.

There were rumors that Stringbean didn’t believe in keeping his money in banks, since he grew up in depressions and saw how many had lost their life savings, when the banks failed. He was known to flash his cash around and apparently John and Marvin Brown, who were 23 year old cousins decided to try finding that money, while Stringbean and his wife were at the Opry.

 

Stringbean Surprised Burglars

Apparently, they didn’t time it right and the Akemans returned from the Opry, on the night of November 10, 1973, before they thought they would or perhaps they were laying in wait for them, so they could rob them of more cash and both Stringbean and his wife Estelle were shot by the intruders. Ironically, they found only $250 and also stole only a chain saw and some firearms. Stringbean probably drew his gun, but was shot before he could shoot the intruders. By shooting him they didn’t have a chance to question Akeman, about where the money was being hid.

They didn’t notice the $3,000 in his overalls pocket or the $20,000 hidden in a chimney. The $20,000 wouldn’t be found till 23 years later. The money had deteriorated so badly, that it was unusable.

Grandpa Jones would find Stringbean’s wife outside and he found Stringbean also dead inside the house. Stringbean was only 57 at the time of his death. Archie Campbell another co-star, from Hee Haw said that he never heard Stringbean say an unkind word about anyone.

To make things worse for Grandpa Jones the tabloids insinuated that Jones had been having an affair with Stringbean’s wife.

 

Murderers Sentenced To 198 Years

John and Marvin Brown, who committed the murders of Stringbean and his wife were each sentenced to 198 years in prison. Marvin Brown died in Brushy State Prison in Petros, Tennessee in 2003, which was 30 years after the murders. John Brown has served 41 years of his sentence. He applied for parole in 2011 and won’t be able to apply again till 2017.

This is what John Brown had to say about the murders: He has a devoted wife who had married him shortly before he was arrested, and she says, “John says that he hopes David and Estelle are in heaven, looking on his life and saying that something good did come of this.”

 

Senseless Tragedy

Country music fans have lost an icon in Stringbean. He grew up dirt poor during the Depression and had to struggle to make it in the world of country music. Then when he finally makes the big money he can’t help but show it off. He had come a long way from having nothing in the 30’s to living comfortably in the 70’s, but his life came to a tragic halt on November 10, 1973. He died at 57 which is young for country music performers, who sometime perform into their 80’s like the great Ray Price who recently died.

City Confidential television show filmed an episode in 2003 about the murders of Stringbean and his wife.

The world of country music lost one of its biggest stars on November 10, 1973, but his memory will live on for years to come among fans of country music.

Perry Como: From Barber To Million Selling Singer

Perry Como 1912-2001

 

Perry Como was born as Pierino Ronald Como on September 18, 1912 in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. His parents Pietro and Lucia Como had immigrated from Italy in 1910. Perry was the first of 13 children to be born in America and was the seventh son of a seventh son. Ironically, he would have 13 #1 songs.

He was only 11 when he began his career as a barber and by the age of 14 had his own barber shop. He would receive his first break when offered a job by the Freddy Carlone Orchestra. He had to choose between earning $28 a week with the orchestra or keep drawing the $125 a week he was earning as a barber. His dad talked him into accepting the singing job, since Perry would never know if he would be a success as a singer, until the gave it a try and began traveling with the orchestra in 1933.

His big break would come when bandleader Teddy Weems signed him to sing with his orchestra in 1936.

 

Perry Como early in his career.

 

Como now was in the big money going from $28 a week, with the Freddy Carlone Orchestra, to $50 a week with the Ted Weems Orchestra. Perry almost got fired when with the Weems Orchestra, because the listeners couldn’t understand the words he was singing. He corrected the problem and kept his job. By 1940 he was earning $250 a week.

1942 was a fateful year for Perry who would quit the Ted Weems band and return home to become a barber again. However, before he could negotiate a lease, for his barber shop he was offered a CBS radio program.  He went on the radio program for CBS in 1943. Later that same year he would be offered a recording contract with RCA Records. The relationship would last for 44 years, which is longer than any other major artist.

 

A Perry Como Christmas album that was in my collection at one time.

 

Perry Como was part of a revolutionary broadcast on April 5, 1946, when the Chesterfield Supper Club was broadcast from 20,000 feet in the air. He had to use handheld mike, which became very heavy due to cabin pressure.

Como in Movies and Television

Perry was seen in only five theatrical movies from 1943-1948 and never acted in another movie the last 53 years of his life.

He first appeared in his own television show in Perry Como’s Kraft Music Hall from 1950-1966. I can remember Dream Along With Me being his theme song and the Sing to Me Mr. C. part of the show. Another memory of his show was when the singers sang ” We get letters, stacks and stacks of letters.” It would be great to see some of those old shows again if they even still exist.

Perry Como Christmas 1974 Christmas special.

 

Perry’s Christmas specials were a treat during the years they were shown. His Christmas show became as big of a part of Christmas and the Bob Hope Christmas special. He sang Ave Maria on the specials, but never sang it during a live performance, since he said it is a special song that had to be sung at the right time and at the right place.

Some interesting trivia about Perry from IMDB.com:

Perry Como was a short man who was only 5 foot 6.

He sold over 50 million records and was so humble, that he never asked for certification of most of his records that achieved gold record status.

His only marriage was to Roselle Beline, whom he was married to from July 31, 1933 till her death on August 10, 1998.

Was signed to RCA Records from 1943-1988.

He was the godfather of Debby Boone.

This quote by Perry Como signifies his humbleness: I’ve done nothing that I can call exciting. I was a barber. Since then I’ve been a singer. That’s it.

Perry Como died on May 12, 2001 at Jupiter Inlet Colony, Florida. He was suffering from Alzheimer’s at the time of his death.

 

Perry Como was reportedly as casual as he appeared on television. However, he did not like wearing sweaters, even though he was seen wearing sweaters on television.

A list of 587 songs recorded by Perry Como:

http://www.whosdatedwho.com/tpx_25003/perry-como/songs

When I think of his song Round and Round I think of hearing it played at roller skating rink and it was the perfect song for roller skating.

His first #1 song was Till The End of Time in 1945 and his last #1 song was And I Love You So in 1973.

The complete list of his songs that charted:

http://musicvf.com/Perry+Como.art

This album has 100 of Perry’s hits at a reasonable price and a great way to augment your Perry Como collection, without buying several albums.

http://www.amazon.com/100-Hits-Legends-Perry-Como/dp/B002LZUNCW/ref=sr_1_4?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1395524835&sr=1-4&keywords=perry+como

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dean Martin – 56 Years of Entertaining

Dean Martin 1917-1995

 

Dean Martin was born Dino Paul Crocetti on June 7, 1917 in Steubenville, Ohio. He didn’t speak English until he was five years old. Then he dropped out of school in 10th grade and delivered bootleg liquor, dealt cards as a blackjack dealer and did some boxing as a welterweight. He made this comment about his boxing ability  “I won all but 11.”[, which was nothing to brag about since he was only in 12 boxing matches.  His boxing name “Kid Crochet” probably didn’t help his boxing career.

Martin sang with the Ernie Kay Orchestra and then was drafted by the Army in 1944 and served in Akron, Ohio. He appeared in his first full length movie in 1949, when he appeared in My Friend Irma.

Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Lewis is now 88 years old.

 

Dean Martin first team up with Jerry Lewis at the 500 Club in Atlantic City, New Jersey on July 24, 1946. The first show did not go well and the owner threatened to fire them, if they couldn’t do better in their second act. That is when they came up with the act, where Martin tries to sing a serious song, while Jerry is doing everything possible to distract from his singing. The act went over big and began their run as a team.

They were heard on radio from 1948 to 1953 on the Martin and Lewis Show. The pair would go on to star in movies that seemed to feature Lewis more than Martin, because of his madcap actions on the big screen. Martin was incensed when a Look magazine cover only showed Lewis, since Martin had been cropped out of the photo.

Their association ended ten years exactly, from their first appearance in Atlantic City. Their friendship was really never the same, until Frank Sinatra brought Martin on stage at the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon in 1976, which was 20 years, after their 1956 breakup. They remained friends, until the death of Martin in 1995.

Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, Joey Bishop and Dean Martin who comprised the Rat Pack.

Martin was part of the Rat Pack that included Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop. They would entertain audiences with their mixture of singing and comedy.

He was also active in acting in motion pictures, with his appearances in Young Lions (1957), Rio Bravo (1959) and would appear in Cannoball Run (1981) and Cannonball II (1984).

This was an active time for Martin as he was appearing on stage, recording record albums, appearing in movies and in 1965 he would start appearing on the NBC show Dean Martin’s Comedy Hour, which would remain on the air until 1974. 263 episodes were filmed of the show and hope they can be seen somewhere on a television network 49 years, after the first show debuted on television. Martin also hosted many Dean Martin Celebrity Roast shows in later years.

 

Made Impact As A Singer

 

1958 would see his recording of Return to Me top out at #4 and  Volare peak at #12. It may have been able to climb higher on the charts, but it had been recorded many times, before Martin released his version of Volare.

 

Surprisingly his song You’re Nobody Till Somebody Love You was only #25 on pop chart, but reached #1 on adult contemporary chart. This was the year the Beatles hit America, so that probably had something to do with it.

The year 1967 would see his last two #1 hits, which only went to #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart, when In the Chapel in the Moonlight and In the Misty Moonlight would take the #1 spot.

Dino: The Essential Dean Martin Collection has 30 of his biggest hits and can be found at Amazon.com for one cent, plus shipping if you buy a used copy of the collection.

http://www.amazon.com/Dino-The-Essential-Dean-Martin/dp/tracks/B00021LPIS/ref=dp_tracks_all_1#disc_1

Dean Martin may be one of the most successful school dropouts ever. He became successful as part of the Martin and Lewis comedy act, singing as soloist for big bands, recorded for many years, acted in many blockbuster movies and hosted a successful television show for nine years.

 

 

 

Album Review – Spotlight on Vic Damone – Vic Damone

Released 1995 on Capitol

Spotlight on Vic Damone is the kind of album, that might not seem that special at first. However, after really listening to it you can hear just how good of a singer Damone was and how great the song selections are on this album.

The album starts off with the Cole Porter classic In The Still Of The Night a song which was released in 1937. Damone effortlessly sings this classic and gets the album off to a rousing start. Laura is the kind of song you think of, when thinking about easy listening songs. I first think of Dick Haymes singing Laura on records from the 1940’s, but Damone in my book does an even better job 50 years later on this album.

Shangri-La from 1946 is an easy listening song, that is not recorded as much, as some songs from that era. However, Damone does such a great job on it, that you want to hear it again and again. Close Your Eyes was written 81 years ago in 1933.  You won’t even think of how long ago the song was written, when Damone sings it, since you won’t care how old it is, when you hear his smooth styling.

The next three songs Let’s Sit This One Out, Diane and After the Lights Go Out are not that well-known but Vic Damone’s voice make you like all three songs instantly. Ebb Tide was written in 1953 and Damone had one of the most popular versions of the song. It is a great song that will live on for years.

Is You Or Is You Ain’t (Ma’ Baby) is the most up tempo song on the album. It almost seems out-of-place, since it is so much faster than the other songs on the album. It is the one song on the album, that I wouldn’t have minded seen left off. When most of us think of There! I’ve Said It Again we think of the Bobby Vinton version, but Damone more than holds his own on his version. It was originally recorded by Vaughn Monroe in 1945.

The next four songs Little Girl, Poinciana (Song of the Tree), Change Partners and I Could Write A Book are not songs, that we think of often, but after listening to Damone’s interpretation of the songs we will have an appreciation for all four songs.

The next song is a personal favorite of mine in Ruby. Damone sings it as well, as I have ever heard it sung. The Hawaiian Wedding Song is a special song to me, since I lived in Hawaii for over two-and-a-half-years, so I have heard it sung a lot over the years and Damone’s version makes me feel like I am in Hawaii again.

Let’s Face The Music And Dance is an Irving Berlin classic which is a little up tempo, but Damone is up to the challenge. He ends the album with another slow song Make This A Sad Goodbye. It may be another of the lesser-known songs on the album, but Damone gives it the same attention, as the better-known songs on the album.

Summary: Spotlight on Vic Damone may not have all of his greatest hits, but it gives a sampling that reminds us, why we like Vic Damone so much. This album is a great example of why Frank Sinatra said once, that Vic Damone had the best pipes in the business. This album may not have this effect on other music fans, but for me it made me want to add to my collection of Vic Damone music.

For information purposes only, since I have no financial connection with Amazon: Spotlight on Vic Damone can be bought as an MP3 album for $11.49 for the 18 songs, or can be bought new for $129.89 from an Amazon partner or can be bought used for $1.59 plus $3.99 shipping from an Amazon partner. I bought my copy used and have had no problems.

http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=spotlight+on+vic+damone&tag=mh0b-20&index=popular&hvadid=2478069250&ref=pd_sl_2npqrfdrwu_ep

Classic Televison: Donna Reed Show

Donna Reed, Paul Petersen, Carl Betz and Shelly Fabares shown in a scene from the Donna Reed Show.

Donna Reed Show was one of the few family sitcoms, that featured the mother. The show debuted on September 24, 1958 and the last show aired on March 19, 1966.

Reed who was Donna Stone in the series was the wife of pediatrician Dr. Alex Stone played by Carl Betz. Paul Petersen who was Jeff Stone and Shelly Fabares portrayed Mary Stone in the series.

Donna Reed 1921-1986

Donna Reed

Donna Reed was born Donnabelle Mullenger on January 27, 1921 in Denison, Iowa. Her first movie role was in 1941, when she appeared in The Getaway. She would act in two other films that year.

1942 was a busy year for Reed, since she appeared in seven movies that year including The Courtship of Andy Hardy. She is remembered for co-starring with James Stewart in It’s A Wonderful Life in 1947, which has become a Christmas classic.

Reed would also appear in From Here To Eternity in 1953. She won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in the movie.

Her first television appearance was in an episode of Ford Television Theatre in 1954. Reed appeared in six more movies and made appearances in three television shows, before she took the role of Donna Stone in the Donna Reed Show.

After the show ran from 1958-1966 she wouldn’t appear on-screen again, till 1979 when she appeared in a TV movie, which was named The Best Place To Be. Reed was last seen as Ellie Ewing in Dallas, in 1984 and 1985 before her death in 1986.

Donna Reed died of pancreatic  cancer on January 14, 1986 at the age of 64 in Beverly Hills, California.

Carl Betz 1921-1978

Carl Betz

Carl Lawrence Betz was born on March 9, 1921 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Betz portrayed Collie Jordan on the Love of Life soap opera in 1951 in his first television role. Betz would appear in his first credited movie The President’s Lady in 1953.

He then appeared in five more movies in 1953, then wouldn’t appear in another movie till 1966, when he appeared with Elvis Presley in Spinout. He had barely finished his last episode of the Donna Reed Show, when he was in the cast of Judd For The Defense from 1967-1969. He appeared in 50 episodes of the series as Clinton Judd. Betz appeared mostly in various television series till the end of 1977.

Betz also died of cancer on January 18, 1978 in Los Angeles, California at the age of 56.

Paul Petersen

Paul Petersen

Paul Petersen was born as William Paul Petersen on September 23, 1945, in Glendale, California. Petersen recorded a song She Can’t Find Her Keys during the time he was on the Donna Reed Show. Petersen made his first television appearance at the age of 11 on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color in 1956 in the Along the Oregon Trail episode.

He would appear in all 275 episodes of the Donna Reed Show and was the only one besides Donna Reed to appear in all the episodes filmed. He appeared in 83 more episodes than Shelley Fabares, who played his sister Mary.

Peterson appeared in numerous television series, after the show ended its run in 1966.

He will be seen in The Executive which is currently filming and Kathy Garver, who portrayed Cissy on Family Affair will also be in the cast.

The role of Jeff Stone later would cause Petersen much anguish, because he wasn’t being taken seriously, when looking for more mature roles. He had been an original Mousketeer on the Mickey Mouse Club at the age of 8 in 1955.

Petersen would start an organization named A Minor Consideration, which was a child actor support group.

When he couldn’t find work as an actor Mickey Rooney talked him into attending college.

This quote from Petersen explains why he became a child actor:

“I became a child actor because my mom was bigger than I was.”

Petersen was not happy when actor Bill Bixby took his wife: [on losing wife Brenda Benet to Bill Bixby] I was so angry I couldn’t see straight, and what doubled this pain was that Bill was really visible. You know, he was going great guns and I was going in the toilet.

He has reached out to many former child stars, who needed emotional support from someone like him, who had been under the same stress as they were experiencing.

It is hard to believe that the teenage Jeff Stone will be 70 next year.

Shelley Fabares

Shelley Fabares

Shelly Fabares was born as Michele Marie Fabares on January 19, 1944 in Santa Monica, California.

Fabares has 90 acting credits in her acting resume and continued to receive many acting roles, after Donna Reed Show had left the air.

She was in her first movie The Girl Rush in 1955 and also acted in three television series that year.

Her first major role was when she appeared in 15 episodes of Walt Disney Presents: Annette in 1958. That same year would see her appear in her first episode of the Donna Reed Show. She went straight from making her last appearance on the show in 1965 to appearing in three Elvis Presley movies. She appeared with Elvis in  Girl Happy in 1965, Spinout in 1966, and was also in his 1967 movie Clambake.

Then she appeared in 47 episodes of the Brian Keith Show which aired from 1974-1976. Fabares would appear in 27 episodes of The Practice 1976-1977. She would appear in One Day At A Time 1978-1984 in 23 episodes.

Coach would be her next big show, in which she appeared in all 198 episodes from 1989-1997.

Since then Fabares has acted very infrequently with mostly voice roles since then. Her only acting job since 1997 was Playing to Win: A Moment of Truth Movie (TV Movie) which was shown in 1998, so she has not been seen on a television or movie screen in the last 16 years.

She was married to record producer Lou Adler from 1964-1980, then married Mike Farrell of M

She is the niece of actress/comedienne Nanette Fabray who is now 93 years old.

Fabares would have a #1 Billboard hit with Johnny Angel.

One of her major movie roles was in Brian’s Song 1971 when she appeared as the wife of Brian Piccolo.

Carl Betz portrayed her father on both the Donna Reed Show and in the movie Spinout.

The Voice Drawing More Fans Than American Idol in 2014

Versus

The Voice

American Idol started Season 13 back on January 15, 2014. 15.19 million viewers tuned in, to watch the 2014 premiere of the long-running singing competition show. By the time Episode 17 aired on September 6 the ratings had fallen to 9.76 million viewers, which was a drop of 5.43 million viewers from the premiere episode.

The Voice opened Season 6 with 15.86 million viewers and by the time the sixth episode had aired on March 11 the ratings had fallen to 13.51 million viewers. That was a drop of 2.35 million, which made The Voice the winner in attracting viewers so far this season with The Voice holding on to more of the viewers from their premiere, than the American Idol was able to do.

It is too early in the season to tell which show has the better singers, but right now I would give a slight edge to The Voice, since they have 48 singers still in the competition, while American Idol is down to 11 singers left.

The blind audition rounds to me are what really interest me, since it is always fun to watch the coaches turn around or not turn around for a contestant. It is fun to watch the interplay between coaches Adam Levine, Shakira, Usher and Blake Shelton, as they unashamedly beg the contestants to pick them as their coach.

I think the current panel of coaches is the best, since there seems to be better chemistry, when Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green (who won’t be returning) are not on the show.

The Voice begins the battle rounds on Monday, March 17 and they will end on March 25. I have never been a fan of the Battle Rounds, since it seems to me, to be more of a contest, to see who can hit the highest note. The battle rounds can eliminate contestants, because they may have to sing a song, that doesn’t best showcase a particular singer.

So once the Battle Rounds are over and the live shows began will begin to watch The Voice again. I dislike the fact that a singer chosen by a coach in the first episode of the Blind Auditions might not even be seen,, till 8 or 9 weeks later.

If The Voice returns this fall it won’t face any other competition, from other singing shows, since X-Factor won’t be returning this fall.

American Idol

American Idol to me better promotes their contestants, with them being on every show, after the Final 13 have been chosen. We learn the contestants easier, because we see them  singing week after week. After next Thursday’s results show on March 20 there will be only 10 contestants left.

I don’t think American Idol could have hired better judges than the trio of Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. You can see the compassion the judges have for the contestants. Harsh Harry as Harry Connick Jr. has been called seems to be the sterner of the three judges.

Jennifer Lopez will reportedly have her own detective show on NBC next year, so that will probably mean she won’t be returning for Season 14 next January. Ryan Seacrest contract for three years for $45 million will end after the last show airs in May. It remains to be seen if he will return, or if American Idol will even return for Season 14.

American Idol has lost its invincibility factor, as The Voice has proven it can draw more viewers consistently. American Idol attracted 10.11 million viewers last night, which was only bettered by Criminal Minds with 10.72 million viewers.

While American Idol may be slipping in the ratings it still is drawing well, when compared to the viewers watching shows on the other networks.

The Voice is outdrawing American Idol by three or four million viewers, so they are the king of the singing competition shows, unless American Idol can reverse its downward trend in the ratings.

Loretta Lynn: Coal Miner’s Daughter To Queen Of Country Music

A young Loretta Lynn early in her career

Loretta Lynn was born Loretta Webb on April 14, 1932 in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky. Loretta was named after actress Loretta Young.  She was born to coal miner Melvin Webb and his wife Clara Ramey.

She married Oliver Vanetta Lynn at the age of 15 in 1948. They moved to the state of Washington and she began, to sing while living in Washington.  Her sister Crystal Gayle also became a well-known country artist. She was also related on her mother’s side of the family to Patty Loveless.

  • Betty Sue Lynn, birth date: November 26, 1948 died July 29, 2013 (age 64)[5]
  • Jack Benny Lynn, (1949-12-07)December 7, 1949 died July 22, 1984 (age 34)
  • Ernest Ray Lynn, April 12, 1951-
  • Clara Marie Lynn (Cissie), April 7, 1952-
  • Peggy Jean and Patsy Eileen Lynn (twins; latter named for Patsy Cline), August 6, 1964

Lynn became a grandmother by the age of only 29 and it is hard to believe, but she will be 82 next month.

Loretta Lynn with the prettiest blue eyes that I remember seeing when talking to her after a concert in Alexandria, Louisiana in the 1960’s.

I was fortunate enough, to see Loretta Lynn in concert at Rapides Parish Coliseum in Alexandria, Louisiana when she and Ernest Tubb were a duo. She was very gracious to me, when I asked for her to autograph one of her greatest hits albums. I was struck by her beauty and dazzled by her blue eyes.

This is more about the album that she autographed for me:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loretta_Lynn%27s_Greatest_Hits

Her husband would die in 1996, which was 48 years after their marriage.

Loretta Lynn had this to say about their marriage:  “He never hit me one time that I didn’t hit him back twice”.

The Wilburn Brothers helped her get her a recording contract with Decca Records. However, they also helped themselves, by gaining publishing rights to her material. She fought to have the publishing rights in her name, but when that fail she stopped writing songs in 1970.

Loretta Lynn joined the Grand Ole Opry on September 25, 1962 and has remained a member for the last 52 years.

Loretta Lynn Discography

I’m A Honky Tonk Girl was her debut single in 1960 and it climbed to #14 on the country charts.

Don’t Come Home A’ Drinkin (With Loving On Your Mind) would be her first #1 hit I 1966. Fist City would go to #1 in 1968 and Woman of the World (Leave My World Alone) was #1 in 1969.

The 1970’s would see eight more of her songs take the top spot on the country music charts:

1970 – Coal Miner’s Daughter

1971 – One’s On The Way

1972 – Rated X

1973 – Love Is The Foundation

1974 – Trouble In Paradise

1976 – Somebody Somewhere (Don’t Know What He’s Missin’ Tonight)

1976 – She’s Got You

1977 – Out Of My Head And Back In My Bed

She has not had another #1 hit since 1977, which encompasses 37 years.

Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty

Loretta Lynn – Conway Twitty Studio Albums, Singles

Loretta Lynn would team up with Conway Twitty to release 11 studio albums from 1971-1988. Four of the studio albums would be #1 on country charts.

Five of their singles would chart at the #1 position on the Billboard Country charts.

1971 – After The Fire Is Gone

1971 – Lead Me On

1973 – Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man

1974 – As Soon As I Hang Up The Phone

1975 – Feelins

Movie Released

The Coal Miner’s Daughter would be released in 1980 and it told the story of Lynn’s rise to stardom and how she and her husband traveled to radio stations plugging their songs.

Loretta Lynn is 81 today and has been a grandmother for 52 years.

Tony Bennett: Still Singing Eight Decades Later

A young Tony Bennett who sang in 1962 at Carnegie Hall.

 

Tony Bennett was born as Anthony Dominick Benedetto on August 23, 1926 in Astoria, Queens, New York City.

Bennett first sang for money at the age of 13 and this August will make 75 years in show business, when he turns 88 years old.. He also was an artist at an early age and still is painting today. He was first heard on radio in 1950 and would be heard on radio 25 times.

Artwork of Tony Bennett

Bennett became a pacifist, after being in the infantry in last days of European Theater in World War II in France and Germany in World War II. He said being in the infantry was akin, to having a front seat in hell.

He would receive a demotion to the Graves Registration Service, while in Germany for dining with a black friend, at a time when white soldiers were not to be seen with black soldiers.

Bob Hope saw Bennett singing with Pearl Bailey and changed his name to Tony Bennett.

 

Tony Bennett Discography

Because of You was the first No.1 hit for Bennett in 1951 and it would be followed by another No.1 hit in Cold, Cold Heart. Both songs became gold records.

Rags to Riches would be his next No.1 hit in 1953. His signature song I Left My Heart in San Francisco only went to No. 19 on the charts, but it did sell enough copies, to be awarded a gold record.

Who Can I Turn To and Time For Love both went to No.3 on the Adult Contemporary charts in 1965. Surprisingly, he has never had another song go as high as No.3 in the last 49 years.

Bennett has released three duet albums, with Duets: An American Classic released in 2006, Duets II in 2011 and Viva Duets in 2012.

His next album Cheek to Cheek, a collaboration with Lady Gaga was to be released in January, but is now being targeted, for a September 2014 release date.

Tony Bennett in his later years.

 

Zen of Bennett On Netflix

I have been watching the Zen of Bennett being shown on Netflix now. The documentary takes you behind the scenes, as Bennett records duets with such stars, as Carrie Underwood, John Mayer, Michael Buble and Norah Jones.

Bennett tells of a Thanksgiving when he was growing up, when his mom said it was Thanksgiving Day and they had no food for Thanksgiving. It just so happened there was a raffle and Bennett entered and won and the prize was a turkey.

This is a very interesting film, since you get to see Bennett singing and also doing some of his artwork.

The following link will take you to eBay and will show a painting of Bennett’s, that is currently in an auction, for the staggering price of $1.5 million.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Tony-Bennett-Original-Oil-San-Francisco-Street-Scene-1-Of-1-/191092650913?pt=Art_Paintings&hash=item2c7e0273a1

Bennett has been married three times:

Patricia Beech (m. 1952, sep. 1965, div. 1971)
[children D’Andrea (b. 1954), Daegal (b. 1955)]
Sandra Grant (m. 1971, sep. 1979, div. 2007)
[children Joanna (b. 1970), Antonia (b. 1974)]
Susan Crow (m. 2007)

Tony Bennett fans might be interested in buying this box set: Fifty Years: The Artistry Of Tony Bennett (5CD) [Box set, Original recording remastered]

It may not be close to being a complete set, but to be able to buy this album for as little as $23.00 new and $10.70 used is a real bargain. This album is a good representation of his work.

http://www.amazon.com/Fifty-Years-Artistry-Tony-Bennett/dp/B00049QNXA/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1394158466&sr=1-1&keywords=tony+bennett

This set of 73 CD’s and 3 DVD’s by Tony Bennett leaves out 28 songs, according to a Bennett collector. However, the album is price prohibitive, except for the wealthiest collectors. There are only two new albums available at Amazon, but the cheapest is $544.90.

http://www.amazon.com/Tony-Bennett-Complete-Collection-DVDs/dp/B0067NFXNS/ref=sr_1_14?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1394158664&sr=1-14&keywords=tony+bennett

Struggled After Losing Record Label

The last years of the 1970’s were not kind to Bennett. His Improv record label was out of business. That left him without a recording label to record his music on. He almost overdosed on cocaine and the IRS was trying to take his Los Angeles home. His second marriage saw him separate from his wife Sandra Grant in 1979, but they wouldn’t divorce until 28 years later in 2007.

The 80’s would see Bennett begin to connect with younger audiences and in 1986 he re-signed with Columbia Records. His 1994 appearance on MTV Unplugged sparked even more interest in his music.

Looks like Bennett hasn’t even thought, about retiring since he showing no signs of slowing down, even though he will be 88 in August.

If anyone has seen it all it is Tony Bennett. He grew up in the Great Depression, since his father passed away, when Tony was only 10 years old.

He has received 17 Grammy Awards, over a 49 year time period.

He has had his shares of ups and downs, over the years but he is still going strong today.

If there was ever a consummate professional singer it would be Mr. Tony Bennett.  May he sing for many more years to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X-Factor, Simon Cowell Exit USA

Simon Cowell’s X-Factor USA has been canceled after three seasons.

X-Factor USA never really caught on with American television audiences, so Simon Cowell is heading back to England, after failing to make the show relevant in the United States. Cowell had predicted before the start of the first season, that X-Factor USA would draw 20 million viewers.

Ratings

The ratings only became worse, with each season as evidenced by the finale ratings for each season:

Season One – 12.57 million

Season Two –  9.65 million

Season Three – 6.45 million

The handwriting was on the wall for the show, after the ratings fell 6 million from the first finale to the third finale.

Judges

The judging panel changed each season, with Cowell being the only judge on the panel for all three seasons.

The other three judges for each season:

Season One – L.A. Reid, Nicole Scherzinger, Paula Abdul

Season Two – L.A. Reid, Britney Spears, Demi Lovato

Season Three – Paulino Rubio, Kelly Rowland, Demi Lovato

Nicole Scherzinger may have been the worst judge, ever in any singing competition, when her indecision forced the panel into a deadlock, which caused Rachel Crow to leave the show. She was dismissed from the panel, after Season One, but amazingly was made a judge on the British version of X-Factor.

Hosts

Each season saw changes in the hosts for X-Factor USA:

Season One – Steve Jones

Season Two – Mario Lopez, Khloe Kardashian

Season Three – Mario Lopez

Steve Jones in Season One was the most ill at ease host I have ever seen on a television show. He became visibly upset, when he was trying to rush the judges, when making their decisions.

Mario Lopez could have done fine in Season Two, without Khloe Kardashian, who seemed out-of-place on the show. It was evident that Cowell saw that Lopez didn’t need any assistance, as he let Lopez host Season Three alone.

Winners

Season One – Melanie Amaro was announced as the first winner of X-Factor USA in December of 2011, but here it is February of 2014 and her debut album has never been released. If I remember correctly the Season One winner was supposed to receive a $5 million recording contract. Now it is doubtful if she will ever release her debut album, with the show no longer in production.

Season Two – Tate Stevens unlike Amaro had his debut album released only four months, after being declared the Season Two winner. His album has received rave reviews at Amazon.com with 63 reviewers rating his album, with five stars while only two reviewers gave it one star. However, the album is not selling well at Amazon and is currently ranked as of today, as 27,339th in music sales.

Season Three – Alex and Sierra were the last winners in the history of X-Factor USA, but it will be interesting to see, if they ever release a debut album.

X-Factor USA winners have not made much of an impact on the American music scene and most people probably couldn’t even tell you, who won in any of the seasons.

Singing competition shows should be measured, by whether the winners become household names and go on to be recording stars. X-Factor USA has failed miserably, when it comes to getting the names of their winners, to the point that American Idol winners have of being instantly recognized.

American Idol, while its ratings are trending downward still has the most name recognition of either X-Factor USA or The Voice. Even Cee Lo Green of The Voice has conceded, that The Voice has not launched a big name on the music scene as of yet. Nobody will take The Voice seriously until one of their winners reaches the status of American Idol winners like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.

Some American Idol contestants, who didn’t win their season have gone on to be successful like Jennifer Hudson. She finished 7th on American Idol during Season 3 and went on to release two Gold records and win an Oscar for her role in Dreamgirls and won a Grammy for her debut album Jennifer Hudson.

Chris Daughtry also has been a successful recording star, despite finishing 4th in Season 7 of American Idol. His debut album Daughtry has sold close to 5 million and it has gone quadruple platinum.

When The Voice can produce stars like American Idol it will gain credibility as a star-making singing competition.

In summary, X-Factor USA tried to match the popularity of American Idol and The Voice and fell far short of that goal.

The Fox television network only has two hours of programming each night, so they couldn’t afford to let X-Factor take up 3 or 4 hours a week, on their network. Fox network is probably happy to concentrate, on American Idol now and try to stem the loss in viewers of that show.

 

 

Classic Instrumentalists: The Ventures

The Ventures 1958- present

 

The Ventures were originally formed as the Versatones in 1958, but changed their name to the The Ventures in 1959. Don Wilson on rhythm guitar is the only surviving member of the group and has remained with the group, during their entire 56 year run.

What really sets the The Ventures apart is that they have sold 110 million albums, which is the most sold by any rock instrumental group.  My favorite song recorded by The Ventures is their 30th anniversary recording of Wipeout on their Super Sessions  with their drummer Mel Taylor and guest drummer Max Weinberg being featured. I can’t recall ever hearing any two drummers sounding better on one recording.

You may want to watch this video of Mel Taylor of The Ventures and guest drummer Max Weinberg having their own battle of the drums:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ea843FEdAIU&list=PL7F416D97B1AB2DDB

Wipeout is a must in any collection of songs by the Ventures, along with Pipeline, Tequila, Walk Don’t Run and many more of their best known hits. They have a unique sound that can be detected easily.

The Ventures have played a lot of covers of hits, by other groups but when they adapt the songs, to their own style they sound as good or better than the original recording.

George Harrison of the Beatles says he liked the instrumental sound of The Ventures more than the sound of any British groups.

The Ventures play Pipeline on this video from their 30th Anniversary Super Sessions DVD:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nth5gRyJF28

The Ventures have been very popular in Japan in recent years having sold 40 million albums over there.

It is a testament to their sound, that they have been popular for 56 years and one of the few groups from the 50’s, whose recordings have stretched over seven decades.

So next time you visit a thrift store with old records you might get lucky and found a vinyl or CD of The Ventures, that will bring back memories of the past.

There have been a lot of groups known as surf groups, but to me The Ventures stand out as the best of all the groups.

 

X-Factor No Longer Factor In Singing Competition Battle

Simon Cowell may be giving the thumbs up but
Fox may be giving thumbs down on his X-Factor
USA singing competiton show in May of this year.
Simon Cowell had dreams of his X-Factor USA becoming the top-rated singing competition show, but instead it has been solidly in third place behind The Voice and American Idol. Cowell predicted that X-Factor USA would draw 20 million viewers a week. Instead the show has never attracted less than 13 million, in its most watched episode in the three-year history of the show. The Fox network will make a decision in May, on whether to bring the show back for a fourth season.
It has been recently announced by Examiner.com, that even if X-Factor returns for a fourth season, that the hours will be greatly reduced. The show which has aired for four months in the first three seasons may be cut back to one or two months due to the low ratings garnered by the show.
Cowell is even selling his mansion in LA, which is another sign he will be spending less time with the show. Another option is that the show may cut back to one night a week. Fox only has two hours of programming, for each night of the week, so when X-Factor takes up both hours and delivers low ratings, so Fox will have to make some tough decisions.
There is speculation as to whether Cowell even be a judge, if X-Factor does return. The judging panel has shown no continuity at all. Cowell is only judge that has been on judging panel the first three seasons. The show has already used nine judges in the first three seasons.
Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger left the show after the first season, then Britney Spears and  L.A. Reid left after Season 1. Demi Lovato a holdover from being a Season 2 judge returned for the third season, along with new judges Paulina Rubio and Kelly Rowland.
Demi Lovato has already announced she will not return for Season 4, if there is a Season 4 and Paulina Rubio and Kelly Rowland may not be returning either. It may be that Cowell is waiting to see if the show is renewed in May, before making any decisions regarding the judges.
Melanie Amaro Mystery
Season 1 winner Melanie Amaro still has not released her debut album, even though she was declared the Season 1 winner, in December of 2013. The original advertising for Season 1 promised a $5 million recording contract to the winner. Evidently X-Factor USA producers didn’t think her album Truly would not generate much income, so its release has been postponed indefinitely. Meanwhile Season 2 winner Tate Stevens, who won in December of 2012 released his debut album four months later in April of 2013. His album has received very good reviews at Amazon.com with 61 five-star reviews and only 2 one star reviews. However, the album is listed 33,133rd in music sales at Amazon.
So right now Amaro is in limbo waiting for her album, to be released 25 months after winning Season 1. It would be interesting to know the back story on the delay, in releasing her album.
It will be interesting to see how soon Season 3 winners Alex and Sierra release their album and if it does well in sales.
Host Changes
Steve Jones who hosted Season 1 was an unmitigated failure as host, as he looked on edge most of the time he was on-screen. Then Season 2 had Mario Lopez and Khloe Kardashian sharing hosting duties. Kardashian was apparently given the ax, after Season 2 ended.
Season 3 found Mario Lopez taking over the hosting duties alone. I look for him to return if the show is renewed for another season.
Ratings Disaster
X-Factor USA has been a ratings disaster of the first magnitude. The show averaged 12 million viewers the first season, then fell to 9 million in the second season, then tumbled to 6 million in the third season. The show has lost half of its viewers from Season 1 to Season 3.
The ultimate insult was when A Charlie Brown Christmas cartoon show aired for the 46th time, but still attracted 6.5 million viewers, while the Season 3 finale of X-Factor drew only 5.8 million viewers, during the time both shows were on the air. Season 3 finale showed a drop of 50 percent in viewers compared to the Season 1 finale.
Ratings For The Voice, American Idol and X-Factor USA On Finale Night
American Idol…….14.31 million
The Voice…………..14.01 million
X-Factor USA……..6.22 million
American Idol narrowly won the battle of the singing competitions, when comparing number of viewers on finale night. The Voice lost approximately 1.5 million viewers for the Season 6 finale, when comparing it to Season 5 finale numbers.
Future of Singing Competitions
American Idol starts Season 13 on January 15 and the judging situation should be much better, than that of Season 12. Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj were constantly at each other’s throats during Season 12 and it distracted from the contestants. American Idol has three judges who should get along well this season with Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. comprising the judging panel. We will miss Randy Jackson’s judging comments. No more comments like “You blew it out of the box”, “Yo-dawg”, ‘That was too pitchy for me”, That didn’t do it for me” and  “You are in it to win it”. However, he will still be on the show replacing Jimmy Iovine as the mentor.
The Voice had their best season, for me at least in Season 6 and will be returning for Season 7 in February. The judging situation has been stable with Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, Cee-Lo and Blake Shelton being seen as the judges in five of the six seasons. Shakira and Usher are apparently returning for Season 7 after being on the panel for Season 5. Adam Levine and Blake Shelton will be on the panel for the seventh straight season.
X-Factor USA really has no future, until Fox discloses in May if the show will return for Season 4. Nothing can really be decided, until the announcement is made in May, since we may have seen X-Factor USA for the last time.

Doris Day Will Be 93 In April

Doris Day made her motion picture debut 69 years ago in 1948 in Romance on the High Seas at the age of 24.

 

Doris Day may be one of the most likeable motion picture and television actresses, that has graced the silver screen. However, she was first known as a singer, as she sang with the Bob Crosby and Les Brown bands. One of her first hit songs was Sentimental Journey.

She was born as Doris Mary Anne Von Kappelhoff  on April 3, 1924 in Evanston, Ohio and will be 93 this year. She would later change her name to Day, with her name coming from her song Day by Day.

Her career included 99 old-time radio shows, which included appearances on the Bob Hope Show and her own radio show.

Doris Day Golden Girl: Columbia Collection from 1944-1966.

 

I have the Golden Girl: Columbia Collection 1944-1966 in my compact disc collection. 27 Amazon reviewers give the album 5 stars, while only one gives it one star and no reviewer gives the album no stars. The album is on two discs with a total of 48 songs in the album.

Her rendition of It Had To Be You alone makes the album worthwhile. Again is another one of my favorite tracks on the album. It is good to hear music, that you can understand the words, as you listen to the album. She also sings the classic I Only Have Eyes For You. I listened to the entire album last week and was mesmerized to hear Doris Day at her best.

Amazon.com has short clips of all 48 songs and the album can be bought used for as little as 30 cents as of January 2, 2017.

Day married trombonist Al Jorden in 1941 and their divorce became final in 1943. Her only child Terry was born during this marriage. Her next marriage to saxophonist George Weidler was in 1946 and that marriage was over by 1949.

Then two years later she married Martin Melcher her agent, who later became her husband in 1951. Melcher produced many of her movies from 1956-1968. Melcher died at the age of 52 in 1968.

It was after his death, that she learned he had gone through her $20 million fortune and leaving her in debt. She may have been even deeper in debt, if not for his death. His business partner Jerome Rosenthal was sued by Doris Day for his financial dealings that burned through her fortune. Day has stated that she didn’t think her husband realized what Rosenthal was doing. She was awarded $22 million in damages in 1974.

Day found out after the death of Martin Melcher, that he had her lined up to do a television series and a couple of special shows. She still completed her obligation in the contract and she never acted again after the Doris Day Show ended in 1973. It has been 41 years since she last acted on television or on the screen.

Between the income from the television shows and her financial settlement there was no reason, for Day to ever act again. She did appear in some shows which didn’t involve acting.

Her son Terry Melcher, who had been adopted by her husband Martin Melcher was a successful record producer. He was introduced to Charles Manson by Beach Boy Dennis Wilson. Melcher was considering signing Manson to a recording contract but never signed Manson, which angered Manson. He did use two songs penned by Manson with the Beach Boys singing those songs.

Melcher was living with his girlfriend Candice Bergen at 10050 Cielo Drive house he was renting. Melcher and Bergen moved out of the house after Melcher and Manson had parted ways. Manson went to the house asking to see Melcher, but by then Melcher had moved.

It was on August 9, 1969 that members of the Manson family entered the home and murdered Sharon Tate, who was the wife of Polanski was eight months pregnant. Four others were murdered in the house including coffee heiress Abigail Folger and hairdresser Jay Sebring.

There has been much speculation about whether Manson knew Melcher was no longer living in the house. One thing for certain is that if he wanted to get Melcher’s attention, then he was so successful, that Melcher hired a bodyguard.

Doris Day had lost her husband one year before and now her only son was apparently being targeted by Charles Manson.

Some trivia about Doris Day from imdb.com:

Did not like swear words and required anyone using a swear word to put a quarter in the “Swear Jar”.  She would not even allow her songs to be used in movies, in which there was swearing.

Her mother named her after her favorite silent film star, Doris Kenyon. By coincidence, in the mid 1970’s when Day wrote her autobiography, Kenyon was her neighbor on Crescent Drive in Beverly Hills.

Son Terry Melcher was born February 8, 1942. She named him after the character in a comic strip she loved as a little girl, “Terry and the Pirates”. Sadly, he passed away of cancer on November 19, 2004.

Was a two-and-a-half pack a day smoker until about 1951.

She has two Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording at 6278 Hollywood Boulevard and for Motion Pictures at 6735 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.

In 1976, Doris married Barry Comden, 12 years her junior. They met at the Beverly Hills Old World Restaurant where he was the maitre d’. In the 1970s, Comden opened an Old World restaurant in Westwood and supervised the construction of another restaurant, Tony Roma’s, in Palm Springs. It was Comden who came up with the idea for a line of pet food that would feature Doris’ name. Doris Day Distributing Co. unraveled mainly because of a pyramid-type scheme that the couple had been unaware of. They lived in Carmel but Comden complained that Day preferred the company of her dogs more than him and they divorced in 1981.

Underwent a hysterectomy during the filming of Julie (1956) after being diagnosed with a tumour the size of a grapefruit that was growing into her intestines.

Some quotes attributed to Doris Day:

I like joy; I want to be joyous; I want to have fun on the set; I want to wear beautiful clothes and look pretty. I want to smile and I want to make people laugh. And that’s all I want. I like it. I like being happy. I want to make others happy.

[on Rock Hudson] I call him Ernie, because he’s certainly no Rock

[about Elizabeth Taylor‘s diamonds] When I see Liz Taylor with those Harry Winston boulders hanging from her neck I get nauseated. Not figuratively, but nauseated! All I can think of are how many dog shelters those diamonds could buy.

      [dismissing allegations that she “stole” husband Martin Melcher from his former wife, singer Patty Andrews] A person does not leave a good marriage for someone else.

 

Doris Day at the age of 89 is still involved with protecting animals from abuse. She may not have acted in the last 41 years, but her legacy of films in her 25 years of acting will keep us entertained for years to come. It is sad that her television show is seldom seen in reruns, but it can be seen on DVD. It might even be the best way to watch the show, as the show was known for its many season to season changes in its five-year run. In addition she has recorded many albums during her recording career.

I watched Move Over Darling last week, in which James Garner appeared with Doris Day. It was a hilarious movie, in which a husband is marrying a new bride, after his wife who “died” in a plane crash five years before and was now legally dead. Only problem was that she was rescued and comes back home to find her husband married to another woman. Chaos ensues as she and the character played by James Garner try to get back together again.

 

 

 

 

Vinyl Records Refuse To Die

A 45 vinyl single of the Beatle’s song I Feel Fine.

 

The first flat disc record was invented by Emil Berliner in 1888. 125 years later the technology may have improved, but vinyl records have survived, because vinyl fans continue to buy and play vinyl records today.

Singers are still making vinyl records today. The late Johnny Cash has a vinyl album American IV: the Man Comes Around, that will be released on February 4, 2014. The vinyl version is advertised for $33.89, while the audio CD is being sold for only $8.49.

Bruce Springsteen’s new album High Hopes will be released on January 14, 2014 and it will be released on vinyl for $29.46, while the audio CD will be sold for $15.99. Meanwhile the Beatles are releasing Live at the BBC, which will be sold for $49.99 on vinyl, but consists of three vinyl records, while at the present time no CD version is being released.

Vinyl was first used in 1948, after shellac had been used in the early years of record production. So vinyl records have been around now for 65 years and going strong. 1949 would bring music fans the 45 single records, which usually had one song on each side, which were sometimes called the A and B side.

 

This was one of my first vinyl record albums bought in 1967. I still have that same record album 45 years later.

 

The  popularity of vinyl records waned, after the invention of eight tracks, cassettes and compact discs. This was about the time, that I decided to sell my vinyl albums for a quarter each. At that price my collection of about 100 records was gone in a couple of days.

The Electro Brand phonograph which we currently own.

 

The Electro Brand phonograph has served us well, since my wife bought it for me in 2009. It doesn’t play cassettes or record, but it plays records and we can listen to the radio and can plug the MP3 player into the back and hear the old-time radio shows and music, that had been downloaded into the MP3 player.

 

We no longer had a record player, so decided to sell them, which was a huge mistake. One of my sisters found my Frank Sinatra album (pictured above) and returned it to me, about three or four years ago. My wife surprised me by buying me a $45 record player at Big Lots. Then a local book store in Knoxville, Tennessee had tons of vinyl albums for only a quarter each. Sometimes I would splurge and buy 10 albums at a time for a total of $2.50.

It didn’t take long to find that there were very few southern gospel or country music albums, among the vinyl records for sale. I found loads of Johnny Mathis albums in the bargain bin, along with the music of many orchestras. So I bought some Mantovani, Henry Mancini, Harry James, Guy Lombardo and Lawrence Welk albums.

So now my record collection is up to about 30 albums. It is great hearing Christmas music emanating from a record player.

 

This is one of many record players for sale today, that have a retro look.

 

You can buy a basic record player today, or you can buy the models, that not only play vinyl records, but have the ability to copy the music from the vinyl onto a CD. Some players also record from the radio and from cassettes. Some players also have docks for I-Pods or a connection for MP3 players. So those players are capable of playing the radio, records, compact discs, cassettes and the music from a MP3 player.

 

There is little chance of being stuck with vinyl records again, since so many manufacturers are not only making the vinyl records, but also are making the record players to play them on.

 

For instance, Amazon.com has a total of 1,338,799 vinyl records for sale as of today. Ebay.com has even more records listed with 3,857,050 vinyl records for sale. That is a total of over 5 million vinyl records for sale combined at amazon.com and Ebay.com. Over 493,000 of the vinyl records at sale at Ebay.com are new.

 

Remember Jimmy features Bob Eberly, Helen O’Connell and the great Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra.

 

I bought the Jimmy Dorsey album Remember Jimmy pictured above at a thrift store in Sulphur, Louisiana for $2.98. That same album is being sold on ebay.com today for $40.49.  The main reason I bought the album was because it included the classic song Tangerine, which was one of my all time favorite big band songs.

Helen O’Connell later would be known for being the host of the Today show.

 

It looks as if vinyl records will be with us for a long time to come. Ebay.com lists a 1982 John Cougar album for only 99 cents. Not bad for a 31-year-old vinyl record. The most expensive album for sale, at Ebay is a $125,000 Michael Jackson album that is autographed and is ultra rare, according to the description. 91 offers have been made for the album, but none have been accepted yet. It is listed at $125,000 or best offer. The album is the first album released by Michael Jackson and titled You Got To Be There.

 

Technology has changed over the years, but we can still hear music, from a phonograph 136 years, after Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877, which was only 12 years after the Civil War ended.

 

 

Technology – Yesterday and Today

My grandpa who lived on a farm in Allendale, Missouri had a radio similar to this one and I listened to some Kansas City Athletics games on his radio console and will never forget how good the sound was, that emanated from that radio.
Phonograph records have never really went away completely. Now many manufacturers are building modern versions of the record players we grew up. Those being built today play records, CD’s, cassettes and even have an input, for MP3 players to play their music over the phonograph system.  Some record companies are still making vinyl records. Just went to eBay and found that there are 1,328,915 records for sale, so there will be a need for record players for years to come. Surprisingly, over 489,000 of those albums are new.  I was fortunate about three or four years ago, to find a bookstore in Knoxville, Tennessee selling record albums for 25 cents each. You can build up a collection fast at those prices since $10 buys 40 record albums.
Eight track players technology went right on by me, since I went straight from vinyl to cassettes. I never owned an eight track player or eight track tape. Not sure if eight track players are still being made today. If they are I have not heard about it.
Compact disc players can be found in portable CD players, CD boomboxes, CD shelf systems and some CD players today can be found in phonograph combos, that play CD’s, cassettes, records and have a AM-FM radio, plus either have a dock for an I-pod or a line in for a MP3 player. Some even have the capability of recording from a record, cassette or radio to a CD.
This Ipod Classic 160 GB player is the ultimate player, for those who like to record music, videos and store photos. This player can record 40,000 songs, which is equivalent to having 4,000 albums, with 10 songs each stored in this player. However, if you want to store videos and photos, then that would reduce the storage place for music. Who has 4,000 albums anyway? This player may not have all the bells and whistles, of an iPod Touch, but an iPod Touch is not going to have near the capacity of this player. One drawback to the 160 GB version is that the screen is only 2.5 inches, which is small, compared to the newest IPod Touch, which has a 4 inch screen.
Technology has come a long way from the phonographs of the early days, to machines that can hold 40,000 songs and play any song, almost instantaneously, after going through the folders to find the song you want to play or you can watch videos of movies and TV shows.
This is a Maytag ringer washing machine. There may be still be people using these machines, but they have to be few and far between, with the technology today, that lets the operator turn the machine on and put some soap in the machine and leave it to wash the clothes and come back an hour later or so and put those clothes into a dryer.
When is the last time you have seen bottles of milk, on your porch when door to door delivery of milk was popular? I remember when our milkman had only a four number telephone number on his truck.
When is the last time you saw someone actually typing on a typewriter like this Underwood Typewriter? There are probably some holdouts still using typewriters like this, but there can’t be a whole lot of them.
I can still remember the days of the nickel coke. The bottles may have been only 6 ounces, but today you spend at least $1.50 most places for 20 ounces of Coca-Cola. Back in the old days you could buy 24 ounces for only 20 cents. A $1.50 back then would buy 30 bottles of 6 ounce Cokes. So if I am figuring right, then that comes out to 180 ounces of Coca-Cola, which would be equivalent to about three 2 liter Coca-Colas today. Not many stores today sell three liters of original Coca-Cola for $1.50. Today it is usually cheaper to buy a 2 liter bottle of Coca-Cola for a $1-$1.25 or more, than to spend $1.50 or more on a 20 ounce Coca-Cola.

The Voice – King of the Singing Competition Shows

The Voice judges Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton.

The Voice on the NBC television network is now the king of the singing competition shows, as its ratings are better than those for American Idol and X-Factor.

Carson Daly is the host of the The Voice, which is in its fifth season. The show debuted on April 26, 2011 and the 119th episode will air tonight.

Each finale show has attracted more viewers, than the previous year.

The year by year totals for the finale show of The Voice:

SEASON ONE – 11.5 MILLION

SEASON TWO – 11.90 MILLION

SEASON THREE – 14.13 MILLION

SEASON FOUR – 14.98 MILLION

The November 18 show drew 10.5 million viewers, which was the third lowest total of Season 5. However, The Voice is still doubling the audience of X-Factor, which attracted only 5.18 viewers to their show last week.

One concern about The Voice is that being shown twice a year may eventually hurt the viewership. But right now The Voice is solidly ensconced, where they are still attracting in the neighborhood, of at least 10 million viewers for each show.

American Idol, in comparison attracted a low of 14.31 million viewers for their last finale last May. That was about a half million more viewers than American Idol attracted in their finale.

Interplay Among  The Voice Judges

One of the main attractions of the The Voice is the interplay between the judges, as they have good-natured fun needling the other judges.

Blake Shelton loves reminding the other judges that his team has won the last three competitions. Christina Aguilera looks like a different person this season, after losing some weight.

The ratings were not affected in Season 4, when Shakira replaced Christina and Usher replaced Cee Lo.

Blind Auditions

The blind auditions will probably always be a big part of the show. It has to be heartbreaking, for singers to sing their heart out and not have one chair turn around.

I wish there was some way to incorporate having the chairs turning around the whole season, but that is not likely to happen.

Battle Rounds

I am not a fan of the battle rounds, so usually skip from blind auditions to the live shows. It seems like the battle rounds are more attuned, to who can sing the loudest or hit the highest note.

Still, most fans probably enjoy the battle rounds.

The Voice Winners

Season One – Javier Colon – Had released two albums on Capitol, before ever appearing on The Voice. Colon won The Voice on June 29, 2011. He released his album Come Through For You on November 21, 2011, but he later left Universal Republic Records, which had released the album, since he thought he was receiving little support from the company.

Season Two – Jermaine Paul – Won The Voice in 2012. He has an album Finally, which is aptly named, since it shows up on Amazon, but no release date is given.

Season Three – Cassadee Pope – Won the The Voice in 2012. Her first album Frame by Frame, released by Republic Nashville shot to No.1 on Billboard. The previous best by a singer from The Voice was when Javier Colon charted at #143, after releasing his album. The reviews are outstanding for the new album, with 22 five-star reviews, 3 two star reviews and 3 three star reviews with only one review giving it one star.

Season Four – Danielle Bradbery – Won The Voice earlier this year. She is only 17 and her first album Danielle Bradbery is due to be released on November 25 on Big Machine Records. Her album is 20th in sales at Amazon.com, despite not being released yet.

Javier Colon didn’t fare too well with his first album after winning The Voice and Jermaine Paul hasn’t even had his released yet, while Cassadee Pope’s album broke in at No.1 and Danielle Bradbery has an album being released next week, which is great, when considering that Season 2 winner Jermaine Paul still doesn’t have an album in the stores.

Bright Future For The Voice

I see a bright future for The Voice, with Cassadee Pope’s album selling well and Danielle Bradbery’s album is 20th in sales, before it is even released.

This is the break The Voice needed to have their winning contestants making a name for themselves in the music business.

Unless American Idol can regain some of the popularity of the past we should see The Voice keep their place as king of the singing competition shows.

End of the Road for X-Factor?

Demi Lovato, Simon Cowell, Paulino Rubio and Kelly Rowland are on the judging panel for X-Factor in 2013.

The ratings numbers are not looking good for Season 3 of the X-Factor. Season 1 opened with 12.49 viewers, Season 2 drew 8.79 million viewers and Season 3 debuted with 6.45 million. So X-Factor has lost over 6 million viewers, since its debut in 2011.

Season 3 drew their most viewers on October 2, when 7.80 viewers tuned into the show. A season low 3.5 million viewers watched the show on October 31. The television ratings show that 5.18 million tuned into their last show on November 14. It is doubtful that the show can turn around their ratings this far into the season.

Simon Cowell made a monumental mistake, by predicting X-Factor would draw 20 million viewers a week. A different lineup of judges and host/ host has been seen all three seasons.

Changes For Each Season

Season 1 had a judging panel that consisted of Nicole Scherzinger, Paula Abdul, L.A. Reid and Simon Cowell. Steve Jones was the only host that season.

Season 2 debuted with two new judges in Demi Lovato and Britney Spears. L.A. Reid and Simon Cowell returned. The show also introduced two new hosts in Mario Lopez and Khloe Kardashian.

Season 3 saw more changes with L.A. Reid and Britney Spears leaving the judging panel and Paulino Rubio and Kelly Rowland joining the panel, as Demi Lovato returned for a second season, along with Simon Cowell. Khloe Kardashian was not asked to return for Season 3 and Mario Lopez became the only host for Season 3.

Britney Spears reportedly earned $15 million for the season she was a judge, but she seemed out-of-place on the show.

The judges this season are not being paid Britney Spears type money. Demi Lovato is reportedly earning $2 million this season, while Paulino Rubio is being paid $1.5 million, while Kelly Rowland is earning the least with a $1 million contract. Simon Cowell is earning between $75 and $90 million this season.

It will surprise me if there is a Season 4 of X-Factor, since I can’t see the Fox network continue to air both X-Factor and American Idol, with both shows losing viewers by the millions.

Melanie Amaro is an excellent example of how not to promote a winning singer. Amaro’s debut album still has not been released two years after she was the winner of Season 1. It is ironic that eight other singers and/or groups appearing on X-Factor have had albums released, while the Season 1 winner is still waiting for her album to drop.

Tate Stevens, who won Season 2 was signed to a RCA contract last January. He recorded his album Tate Stevens in April and by August had been dropped by RCA. So his recording contract lasted about 7 months.

It is surprising that anyone would even want to be the Season 3 winner of X-Factor, after learning the fate of the previous two winners.

The Voice Slipping In Ratings

The Voice started Season 5 with 14.98 million viewers watching, but by the time the Nov. 11 show aired 11.64 million had tuned in, for a loss of three million viewers from the first show.

However, The Voice is drawing about twice as many fans as X-Factor, so is in no danger of being dropped from the NBC schedule. No show attracting 11 million viewers will be dropped from any network.

X-Factor Not Likely to Return in 2014

I see very little chance of X-Factor returning for Season 4 in 2014. The show has run its course. I watched a show recently and there were very few songs sung, that I had ever heard of before.

The show may be going for a more contemporary audience, but it doesn’t seem to be working. I still like to hear the oldies sung on singing competition shows, but Simon Cowell is not a fan of that kind of music and is going to go down with the kind of music he likes.

Simon Cowell made a mistake by leaving American Idol, but I don’t think he envisioned making a mistake of this magnitude.

His vision of 20 million viewers and a reality of 5 million viewers must even tell him, that X-Factor is in the waning days of their existence.

2014 may be the first year that Simon Cowell won’t be making snide remarks, as he judges singers since American Idol debuted in 2002.

MP3 Players Popularity Waning

Creative Nomad Jukebox Zen Xtra 40 GB MP3 Player.

 

It was 2004, when I bought my first powerful MP3 player. It was a Creative Nomad Jukebox Zen Xtra 40 GB MP3 player that held 10,000 songs. It was much clunkier, than the lighter MP3 players of today.

Have never had a smart phone and don’t have any kind of cell phone today. I would rather use my MP3 players for music, than a cell phone. I doubt that they can hold much music, since smart phones also have cameras to take photos and some phones are capable of taking video.

The best thing about the Creative Nomad MP3 player is that it is used exclusively to play music and in my case, also able to play back old-time radio shows of the past. I even have a 1934 baseball game, between the Yankees and Tigers in the player.

That player no longer works, but may only need a new battery, which when I last checked was about $12. Best thing is that it has a removable battery, unlike most MP3 players, which have built-in batteries.

Another feature is that I could delete radio shows, after listening them from the player itself and not have to remove them using a computer.

Sony NWZ 545 16 GB MP3 Player.

 

The above photo is of my next MP3 player bought about four years ago. It is a Sony NWZ 545 16 GB player that can hold far less music, than the Creative Nomad Jukebox could hold. Unlike the Creative player, I have to be careful to pick and choose what songs to download to it, since it would fill up much faster.

It too lets me listen to old-time radio shows. I usually download a few shows at a time. Then I have to go to the computer to delete shows, that I have already heard.

The best thing about the MP3 players is that they don’t have to have a wi-fi connection to play the music. We have made a lot of trips to VA hospitals in Alexandria, LA and Houston, TX and listening to old-time radio shows and music make the long trips a little more bearable.

Apple iPod Nano 8 GB 6th Generation

 

While recuperating at home from cancer surgery my sister from Colorado sent me a gift of a Apple iPod Nano, which only weighs a pound  and is 5×5 inches. The earphones that come with the Nano have a great sound and you really can hear the stereo affect from the song being played.

My sister also sent a speaker that doesn’t come with the Nano. It is not a huge speaker, but it pumps out a lot of sound, without being overly loud.

Not Much Mention of MP3 Players

I have noticed that you don’t hear much mention of MP3 players online. If you go to the tech section of an online sight there will be little or no mention of MP3 players. Most of the articles are about the latest cell phones coming out.

Apple has had two huge events announcing new products, but no mention was made of new iPods being released in the near future.

Personally, I hope there will be a market for MP3 players for years to come. Not everyone wants a MP3 player in their cell phone. I like MP3 players better as standalone products, rather than incorporating them into other electronic devices.

Another thing I have noticed is that most of the MP3 players being released today are 8 GB and 16 GB players, while the players with 32 GB and 64 GB are less common, than they were in the past.

The Apple iPod Classic 160 GB

 

The Apple iPod Classic 160 GB player is the Cadillac of MP3 players, for those who like to record a lot of music. The player has the capacity to store 40,000 songs, 25,000 photos and 200 hours of video.

The player has 1,133 five-star reviews at amazon.com, while only 141 reviewers give it a one star rating. A selling point for the player is that the battery can play for up to 36 hours.

Most users of the Classic will be hard pressed to fill up this player with 40,000 songs, which is equivalent to having 4,000 albums with 10 songs each. Of course the capacity depends on how many photos and videos are downloaded into the Classic.

There are rumors that the Classic may be discontinued in the near future. I think it should remain in production, for those fans who could store only a fraction of 40,000 songs in a cell phone.

We could see the popularity of MP3 players continue to decrease in 2014. The fact that MP3 players are seldom even being mentioned today tells me, that someday they could become another extinct electronic device that disappears from the landscape like reel to reel tape players and eight track players. Very few new cassette players are being made today, except with phonographs and we should have vinyl records for a long time, since we have seen a resurgence in their popularity.

 

Ricky Nelson Wasn’t Partying at the Garden Party

Ricky Nelson 1940-1985

Ricky Nelson was riding high in the world of rock and roll, when the Beatles and the other British music invaders hit our shores. He adopted a scruffier look and when he sang at a rock and roll reunion, in Madison Square Garden on October 15, 1971 he found out singing songs from his new album was a huge mistake.

Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Bobby Rydell also appeared on the show.

Nelson’s set started off fine, when he sang Hello Mary Lou and She Belongs To Me, but the crowd turned on him when he sang Country Honk, which was a country version of the Rolling Stones hit Honky Tonk Women.

One of my Army friends from the Bronx was there that night and said it was a really bad situation. There are some that think the crowd was reacting to what police were doing, but Nelson took it personally and didn’t return to the stage for finale at the end.

Nelson definitely wasn’t partying that night, since his fans apparently didn’t want to hear him sing new songs. I am sure Bo Diddley sang his namesake song Bo Diddley and that Bobby Rydell and Chuck Berry sang some of their signature hits. Diddley later recorded another song with his name Hey Bo Diddley. I can’t think of any other songs having the name of the singer in the title.

Ricky Nelson singing Garden Party:

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

That night did lead Nelson to write and record his last No.1 hit Garden Party in 1972. That song became the fourth No. 1 song for Nelson, as it was preceded by Poor Little Fool in 1998, Travelin’ Man in 1961 and For You in 1963.

Ricky and seven other passengers died in a tragic plane crash on New Year’s Eve in DeKalb, Texas. It was the third problem,involving the plane since Nelson leased the 1944 Douglas DC-3. A gas heater on the plane wasn’t functioning properly, but instead of turning it off one of co-pilots kept turning it back on, when requested to by the pilot.

Ironically, the two pilots survived the crash and found no response from the passenger compartment. This is a paragraph from Wikipedia pertaining to the malfunctioning heater:

When questioned by the NTSB, Pilots Brad Rank and Ken Ferguson had different accounts of key events. According to co-pilot Ferguson, the cabin heater was acting up after the plane took off. Ferguson continued that Rank kept going back to the back of the plane to see if he could get the heater to function correctly and that Rank told Ferguson several times to turn the heater back on. “One of the times, I refused to turn it on,” said Ferguson. He continued, “I was getting more nervous. I didn’t think we should be messing with that heater en-route.” After the plane crashed, Ferguson and Rank climbed out the windows, suffering from extensive burns. They shouted to the passenger cabin, but there was no response. Ferguson and Rank backed away from the plane, fearing explosion. Ferguson stated that Rank told him, “Don’t tell anyone about the heater, don’t tell anyone about the heater.”[106]

Rumors that cocaine was being free-based aboard the flight were refuted by the National Transportation Safety Board.

However, trace amounts of cocaine, marijuana and Darvon were found in the blood of Nelson after his death.

His death prematurely ended his 36 year career in show business, which started with his appearance in Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet in 1949 which was on old-time radio.

The words of Garden Party have a lot of significance: Yoko bringing her walrus, has something to do with John Lennon who attended the reunion show.

Mr. Hughes wearing Dylan’s shoes refers to the late George Harrison.

The reference to Johnny B. Goode alludes to Chuck Berry, who was in the reunion show that night.

Ricky Nelson would be 73 if he was still alive today.

– Words and Music by Rick Nelson

I went to a garden party to reminisce with my old friends
A chance to share old memories and play our songs again
When I got to the garden party, they all knew my name
No one recognized me, I didn’t look the same

CHORUS
But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well.
You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself

People came from miles around, everyone was there
Yoko brought her walrus, there was magic in the air
‘n’ over in the corner, much to my surprise
Mr. Hughes hid in Dylan’s shoes wearing his disguise

CHORUS

lott-in-dah-dah-dah, lot-in-dah-dah-dah

Played them all the old songs, thought that’s why they came
No one heard the music, we didn’t look the same
I said hello to “Mary Lou”, she belongs to me
When I sang a song about a honky-tonk, it was time to leave

CHORUS

lot-dah-dah-dah (lot-dah-dah-dah)
lot-in-dah-dah-dah

Someone opened up a closet door and out stepped Johnny B. Goode
Playing guitar like a-ringin’ a bell and lookin’ like he should
If you gotta play at garden parties, I wish you a lotta luck
But if memories were all I sang, I rather drive a truck

CHORUS

lot-dah-dah-dah (lot-dah-dah-dah)
lot-in-dah-dah-dah

‘n’ it’s all right now, learned my lesson well
You see, ya can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself

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