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Archive for the ‘Early Rock’ Category

RIP, Dolores Fuller (May 9, 2011) Wrote A Number Of Songs For Elvis

Posted by on May 9, 2011

Dolores Fuller (Born Dolores Eble)
March 10, 1923 – May 9, 2011

Dolores Fuller is perhaps best remembered as the one-time girlfriend of notorious film maker, Ed Wood for whom she co-starred as the female lead in his cult classic, Glen or Glenda.  She also had minor roles in numerous other films during the ’50s and again in the ’90s.  Fuller made a more significant impact on pop music however, but oddly enough, as a songwriter.  When she was going after a role in Elvis Presley’s, Blue Hawaii, the film”s producer and Fuller’s friend, Hal Wallis – who knew of her songwriting talent – put her in touch with the publishing company that provided Presley with songs.  They brought her on, and it was there that she began writing such Presley classics like “Rock-A-Hula Baby,” “Spinout,” and “Do The Clam.”  In all, she wrote twelve songs for the King.  Fuller also penned tunes for Nat King Cole, Peggy Lee, Shelley Fabares, and Terry Stafford to name a few.  In 1994, Fuller was portrayed by Sarah Jessica Parker in Tim Burton’s biopic, Ed Wood.   Dolores Fuller died on May 9, 2011 following a stroke.  She was 88.

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RIP, Joe Pennell (April 21, 2011) The Rivieras; Had Hit With “California Sun”

Posted by on April 21, 2011

Joe Pennell
November 15, 1944 – April 21, 2011

Joe Pennell was the lead guitarist for the Rivieras, a rock ‘n roll band whose only hit, “California Sun,” helped define what became known as “frat rock.”  Formed in 1962 while its members where still in high school in South Bend, Indiana, the group was initially called the Playmates until they learned of another band using the same name.  In 1964, they released “California Sun,” which quickly rose to #1 on the U.S. singles chart thanks to its driving beat and instantly recognizable surf guitar riff.  Unfortunately, the record holds the dubious honor of being knocked from the top spot by “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” the first American hit for the Beatles It would be one of the last hits by an American rock ‘n roll band before the British Invasion tightened its grip around the U.S.  Shortly after he recorded the song, Pennell joined the Marines and didn’t learn of the record’s release until he heard it on the radio while serving.  By all accounts, he never went back to a career in music, but went on to work for many years as a painter at AM General, a heavy vehicle manufacturer and future assembly line for the civilian Hummer.  Joe Pennell was 66 when he passed away on April 21, 2011.

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RIP, Kent Morrill (April 15, 2011) The Fabulous Wailers

Posted by on April 15, 2011

Kent Morrill
April 2, 1941 – April 15, 2011

Kent Morrill was the lead singer and keyboardist for Seattle, Washington-area ’60s rock band, the Fabulous Wailers.  Having been with the group since inception, Morrill was the only original member still playing with the group in recent years.  Formed at the tail end of the ’50s, many consider the Fabulous Wailers THE first garage rock band due to their down-and-dirty mix of saxophone driven R&B and rave-up rock ‘n roll.  The band released several albums and 45s throughout the years, but it was their late 50s/early 60s output that is generally included in any respectable first generation garage rock collection.  Records like “Tall Cool One,” “Dirty Robber,” and “Out Of Our Tree” received significant airplay during their peak years, but it was their recording (with Rockin’ Robin Roberts) of Richard Berry’s “Louie Louie”  that inspired Paul Revere & the Raiders to do the same, and lead to fellow Northwest band, the Kingsmen to ultimately record its definitive version.  In more recent years, Morrill was also performing as a Roy Orbison impersonator in Las Vegas and other parts of the world.  Kent Morrill was 70 when he passed away on April 15, 2011.  Cause of death was not immediately released.

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RIP, Eddie Serrato (February 24, 2011) Drummer For ? And The Mysterians

Posted by on February 24, 2011

Eddie Serrato
December 5, 1945 – February 24, 2011

Eddie Serrato was the original drummer for the legendary Michigan garage band, ? and the Mysterians. It is he you can hear playing on their classic hit, “96 Tears.”  Formed when Serrato was recruited from a local Mexican band in 1962, ? and the Mysterians went on to be called by some as the world’s first punk band – if not exactly that, they were without a doubt one of the first Latin rock bands to score a #1 pop hit in America.   The success of that record – which has been covered live or recorded by the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Iggy Pop, Garland Jeffreys, and Aretha Franklin – was enough to get the band a nationally televised performance on American Bandstand.   The group released several more moderately successful records throughout the rest of the ’60s, many of which were co-written by Serrato.   He left the band 1968, with  ? and various configurations of the Mysterians, both with and without him, continuing to perform well into the 2000s.  Serrato himself went on to produce Tejano music during the latter part of his life.  On February 24, 2011, Eddie Serrato died of a heart attack at a local hospital where he had been recuperating from an undisclosed surgery.  He was 65.

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RIP, Clay Cole (December 18, 2010) Popular American Rock & Roll TV Host

Posted by on December 18, 2010

Clay Cole
January 1, 1938 – December 18, 2010

Clay Cole was a pioneering ’60s New York City rock ‘n roll television show host who, outside of perhaps Ed Sullivan, showcased more rising rock stars than anyone of his era.  At its peak, The Clay Cole Show aired six nights a week and played host to a who’s who of rock and R&B stars.  What was particularly unique about the show, which aired from 1959 to 1968, was that Cole, who was just 21 years old, was as much of the fun as the show’s teenage dancers.  It was on The Clay Cole Show that American teens first caught a glimpse of the likes of Neil Diamond, Simon & Garfunkel, Chubby Checker (who debuted “The Twist” – both song AND dance on the program), Dionne Warwick, and the Rolling Stones.  Of special note, that pariticular episode featured both the Stones AND the Bealtes, making it the first and only time that has ever happened.  The show also featured many future legends of comedy for their television debut.  That list includes George Carlin and Richard Pryor.  When tastes in popular music began to gravitate toward psychedelic rock in the late ’60s, Cole ended the show, even though it was just peaking in popularity. After the program ended, Cole went on to be a successful producer, writer and director for television.  He won two Emmys as a producer.  Clay Cole died of a heart atttack on December 18, 2010.  He was 72.


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Died On This Date (August 19, 1979) Dorsey Burnette

Posted by on August 19, 2010

Dorsey Burnette
December 28, 1932 – August 19, 1979

Dorsey Burnette was born into a musical family that included brother, Johnny Burnette.  But early on in life, the brothers pursued another dream, boxing, each becoming Golden Gloves champs.  In 1949, they met fellow pugilist, Paul Burlison who also shared an interest in music.  They soon formed the Rock and Roll Trio which would become one of the foundations of American rockabilly.  Dorsey continued to perform with the group and later as a solo artist well into the ’70s.  His music found a home with rockabilly, pop and country fans alike.  Dorsey Burnette died of a massive coronary on August 19, 1979.  He was just 46.

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Died On This Date (August 16, 1977) Elvis Presley

Posted by on August 16, 2010

Elvis Presley
January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977

elvisElvis Presley was born in a two-room shotgun house built by his father in East Tupelo, MS on January 8, 1935. He had an identical twin brother named Jessie Garon Presley. Elvis arrived about 30 minutes later. And though he never met his brother, his life and ours would no doubt have been a hell of a lot different if he had. 42 years later, Elvis’ fiancee, Ginger Alden found his lifeless body. You probably know the rest.

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Died On This Date (August 15, 2008) Jerry Wexler / Legendary Producer & Label Head

Posted by on August 15, 2010

Jerry Wexler
January 10, 1917 – August 15, 2008

In the studio with Aretha Franklin

Jerry Wexler was best known as a music producer who was responsible for some of the greatest music from the 1950s through the 1980s.  He also coined the phrase “rhythm and blues” while he was editor of Billboard magazine before he became a partner of Atlantic Records in 1953.  While at Atlantic he either produced or signed some of the all time greats of popular music.  That list includes Wilson Pickett, Led Zeppelin, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan and the Allman Brothers.  He retired from the music business in the late ’90s, and passed away of congestive heart failure in 2008.

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Died On This Date (August 14, 1964) Johnny Burnette

Posted by on August 14, 2010

Johnny Burnette
March 25, 1934 – August 14, 1964

Johnny Burnette was one of the originators of what would later be called rockabilly. Along with his brother, Dorsey Burnette and friend Paul Burlison, Burnette formed The Rock and Roll Trio who would cause a bit of a stir from a remarkable amount of promotional appearances for a band in such infancy. They were lucky enough to appear on American Bandstand, Ted Mack Original Amateur Hour, the Tonight Show and Kraft Music Hall. Unfortunately, the night they appeared in the finals of Ted Mack, Elvis Presley made his debut on the Ed Sullivan Show. But even with all of this great exposure, their records failed to catch on, leading the the end of the group in the fall of 1957. It should be noted that for about six years of his childhood, Dorsey and his family lived in the same Memphis housing project as Gladys, Vernon and Elvis Presley. Both Burnettes also spent their early days as amateur boxers, culmnating in Golden Gloves championships for each. Johhny took a shot at turning professional, but after only earning $60 and a broken nose in his first bout, he decided to change careers. By the late ’50s, the Burnette brothers were living in Los Angeles where they would work with and have their songs recorded by Rick Nelson, among others. Johnny would soon go “solo” and record several hits for Liberty Records and later, Chancellor and Capitol Records. But tragedy would strike in August of 1964. While boating one night in a lake north of San Francisco, Burnette’s tiny unlit fishing boat was hit by a much larger cruiser, the impact throwing him into the water to his death.

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RIP, Ted Kowalski (August 8, 2010) The Diamonds

Posted by on August 8, 2010

Ted Kowalski
DOB Unknown – August 8, 2010

Ted Kowalski at left

Ted Kowalski was a Canadian tenor vocalist who is best remembered as an original singer in the popular vocal quartet, the Diamonds.  Formed in 1953 while the members were all in college, the group landed an American record deal within two years.  The all-White quartet quickly built a fanbase with their “safe” covers of songs previously made popular by R&B singers.  Their hits included “Why Do Fools Fall In Love,” “Little Darlin,'” and “Silhouettes.”  They were also a familiar presence on the pop music and variety programs of the era.  Decades later, they were elected into both the Rock and Roll and Doo Wop Halls of Fame.  Kowalski left the Diamonds in 1958 to follow another career path.   Ted Kowalski lost his battle with heart disease on August 8, 2010.

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