Archive for July, 2010

9th July
2010
written by Matt The Cat

Harvey Fuqua

1929 – 2010

Even though we were all prepared for the worst, it was still heartbreaking to learn of the passing of one of music’s greatest vocal group singers: Harvey Fuqua.  He had been recovering in a Detroit hospital for some time before dying of cardiac arrest in the early evening of Tuesday, July 6, 2010.  Harvey spent his life immersed in the music business and his voice and production put a stamp on some of the greatest tunes of his era. 

Harvey was born in Chicago, but grew up in Louisville, KY.  There, he met fellow classmate Bobby Lester and the two began singing together.  After high school, Harvey moved to Cleveland, where he formed a group called The Crazy Sounds.  He soon asked Bobby Lester to join the group and they became The Moonglows after being championed by local DJ Alan Freed (who was known at that time as “The Moondog”).  Freed signed them to his own Champagne Label, but that endeavor soon fell apart.  Freed then got the group a recording deal with Chicago’s Chance Records.  While on Chance they scored with an R&B cover of the Doris Day pop hit, “Secret Love.” 

Soon, Phil Chess of Chess Records was applying some pressure to get the Moonglows to sign with Chess.  The label was already a market leader with straight blues and R&B, but they had yet to cash in on the growing vocal group market.  The Moonglows would certainly fill the bill. 

In 1954, The Moonglows signed with Chess and the hits started coming right out of the gate with the release of “Sincerely” at the tail end of 1954.  It became a monster hit in 1955 and spawned a white cover version by the McGuire Sisters.  Harvey Fuqua wrote the tune and he became the Moonglows chief songwriter.  Not too many groups at the time featured two incredible “lead” singers.  The Moonglows were so fortunate to have both Bobby Lester and Harvey Fuqua exchanging leads (The Flamingos would also make that short list of vocal groups). 

The hits kept on coming with “Most Of All,” “We Go Together,” “See Saw,” “Please Send Me Someone To Love,” but the inner tensions in the group were growing.  Harvey was a workaholic and Bobby Lester and the boys weren’t living up to Harvey’s expectations.  So, backstage at the Howard Theater in Washington, DC in 1958, Harvey dismissed the original Moonglows and replaced them with a local DC group called The Marquees.  These new Moonglows included a DC kid by the name of Marvin Gaye. 

Fuqua now called the group, Harvey & The Moonglows and they scored another giant hit later in 1958 with “The Ten Commandments of Love.”  Soon, Harvey had his new Moonglows singing backup on records by Chuck Berry, Etta James and Detroit’s own Jackie Wilson.  Harvey would even record a few successful duet with Etta James billed as Harvey and Etta.

During the early 1960s, Harvey moved on to greener pastures and started his own Tri-Phi and Harvey labels, singing groups like The Spinners, Shorty Long and Marvin Gaye.  He soon took a position at Motown and produced records by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.  Harvey was also heavily involved in Marvin Gaye’s early ’80s comeback and served as Gaye’s surrogate father. 

Harvey Fuqua continued to perform live up until his recent illness.  He had such a unique voice that you could always tell that it was him and not Bobby Lester singing lead on those great Moonglows’ records.  He may not be a household name, but then again neither was his famous uncle Charlie Fuqua of the Ink Spots, yet both hold an important place in music history for those of us who know and remember.

-Matt The Cat

2nd July
2010
written by Matt The Cat

This Sunday at 8pm CDT, “Juke In The Back With Matt The Cat” will debut on its first commercial FM station.  Currently, “Juke” can be heard on several Pacifica Public Radio Network stations across the country and it is sometimes carried on NPR stations.  This weekend, the special July 4th edition of the show, featuring classic R&B songs about food will debut on commercial station KVPI in Ville Platte, Louisiana.  I am absolutely thrilled that this program appeals to both the public radio audience as well as the commercial radio audience.  May this be the first of many more commercial and public radio affiliates for “Juke In The Back.”

Listen from anywhere on the net through KVPI’s website stream at: http://oldies925.com/listenlive.php.  Their homepage can be found here: http://oldies925.com/

About “Juke In The Back”:

Matt The Cat presents the soul that came before rock n’ roll: 1950s rhythm and blues. Each week, this underrated and rollicking music plays on that old Rockola Jukebox in the back.

If you wanted to hear rhythm & blues during the 1950s, you couldn’t get it from the juke box in the front. No, no! In order to hear that glorious, down and dirty R&B, you had to go to the low-lit, spit-shined “Juke In The Back.” These songs are the building blocks of rock n’ roll. These are the records that inspired Elvis and single-handedly led to the rock n’ roll explosion of the mid-1950s. Big Joe Turner, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Ruth Brown, Ray Charles, Wynonie Harris, LaVern Baker, Roy Brown, Joe Liggins, Professor Longhair and many more take center stage on The Juke In The Back. Matt The Cat hosted a similar program on XM Satellite Radio called “Harlem” and now he brings this great music and information back to radio.

More information as well as show playlists are post on www.jukeintheback.org.

-MTC

2nd July
2010
written by Matt The Cat

Friday Night Cat Fight

“Only In America”

This week, the Friday Night Cat Fight takes on a song about the “American Dream” that was a hit for Jay & The Americans in August of 1963. The tune was originally presented to and recorded by The Drifters. However, Atlantic didn’t feel that they could release a tune that spoke of opportunity for all by a black group at that time. Now, it’s your turn to judge who had the better song. Listen to the Cat Fight and vote for your favorite version of “Only In America” below.

Have a safe and happy 4th of July!

Click Here To Listen To The Friday Night Cat Fight Podcast

Next