R.I.P.

12th October
2010
written by Matt The Cat

Solomon Burke

1940 – 2010

The good right Reverend Solomon Burke, the “King Of Rock & Soul” died on a plane at the Amsterdam Airport on Sunday, October 10, 2010.  He was 70 years old and promoting his latest, critically acclaimed LP, “Nothing’s Impossible.”  Burke, who was never given his full credit as one of the innovators of American Soul Music during the 1960s had been enjoying a comeback of sorts since the 2002 release of the very well-received “Don’t Give Up On Me” for Fat Possum Records.

Back in the ’90s when I spun soul records on WERS in Boston (The Soul Bucket), Solomon Burke was a mainstay on my playlist.  Even though he was from Philadelphia, in my mind he was one of the kings of southern soul.  He was also an incredible entrepreneur, selling popcorn and snacks during the intermissions of his OWN performances at the Apollo Theater in NY and all around the “chitlin circuit.”  He was a massive man, both in stature and in pure talent and it’s a shame that it didn’t show in record sales or chart success through the years.  For me, his early Atlantic sides, heavily influenced by Country & Western music tell the real depth of his talent.  Like Ivory Joe Hunter and Ray Charles before him, Burke found much soul in the heart of Country Music.  He scored much success with Wilson Pickett’s song, “If You Need Me,” and then Pickett scored success a few years later with Burke’s wonderful song “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love.”  That song enjoyed a comeback in the early ’80s when the Blues Brothers recorded it as well.  “Got To Get You Out Of My Mind,” “Down In The Valley,” “Cry To Me” and countless other Burke classics adorn every true collector of soul music’s collection.  Life is better with these tunes in it.

During the week of October 18th, I am pleased to present some of Solomon Burke’s lesser-known sides on my R&B radio program, “Juke In The Back.”  I will feature his very first recordings, beginning in 1955 for the Apollo label and follow through to his recordings for the Signature Label, right before he signed to Atlantic to become a national star.  You won’t hear hits on this “Juke In The Back” program, but what you will hear is a young man finding his voice.  I doubt that Solomon Burke would have developed into the soul legend he is remembered as today, if he had not cut his teeth back in the 1950s, recording for small labels. 

Catch Solomon Burke’s early recordings on the “Juke In The Back” during the week of October 18-24th.  Below is a list of radio stations carrying “Juke In The Back.”  Many of them offer web streams, so tune in from anywhere to listen to this landmark show featuring one of the greatest soul singers of all-time.

KZGM 88.1 FM in Cabool, MO

Sunday Nights at 7 PM Central

Listen Online Live at www.mykz88.com

www.kz88.org

KVPI 92.5 FM in Ville Platte, LA

Sunday Nights at 8 PM Central

Listen online live at: http://oldies925.com/listenlive.php

http://oldies925.com/

WSKW (Legacy 1160 AM) in Skowhegan, ME

Saturdays 6-7 PM Eastern

Sundays 2-3 PM Eastern

Listen live online at http://legacy1160.com/

WLWL (Big Wave Radio) 770 AM in Rockingham, NC

Saturdays at noon Eastern

WHWS 105.7 FM in Genva, NY

Saturday Nights at 9 PM Eastern

Listen live at http://www.whws.fm

KPOV 106.7 FM in Bend, OR

Friday evenings at 5 PM Pacific

Listen live at http://www.kpov.org/

WAZU 90.7 FM in Peoria, IL

Sunday Nights at 7 PM Central

WYAP 101.7 FM in Clay, WV

Friday and Saturday Nights at various times

Listen online at http://www.wyap.com/radio.html

WERU 89.9 FM in Blue Hill, ME

http://weru.org/

detour MUSIC

http://thedetour.us/

Thursdays at noon Eastern

Saturdays at 10am Eastern

Detour BLUES

http://thedetour.us/

Tuesdays at 2 pm Eastern

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

25th March
2010
written by Matt The Cat

Johnny Maestro

1939 – 2010

One of the greatest voices in music passed away on the evening of March 24, 2010 in Florida.  He had been battling cancer for quite some time.  The music of Johnny Maestro reached everyone who has ever turned on a radio.  From his oldies staples with The Crests: (“Sixteen Candles,” “The Angels Listened In,” “Trouble In Paradise,” “Isn’t It Amazing” and “My Juanita” to his late 60s rock masterpiece “The Worst That Could Happen,” we’ve all been touched by his powerful yet angelic voice. 

I was fortunate enough to have interviewed Johnny Maestro back in 2006 and he was a first class interview.  He cleared a few things up during our time together.  It’s been printed in many rock n’ roll history books that he was born in Brooklyn, but in fact, Johnny was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.  You can hear my entire interview with Johnny Maestro by clicking on my “radio interviews” page or listen to the podcasts at the bottom of this page.

My first Live encounter with Johnny Maestro happened during the hot summer of 1995.  It was a Saturday Night, mid-summer and I was sitting in my hot, non-air conditioned apartment in Boston’s North End.  An Italian Feast was going on outside, but I can’t remember which saint was being honored.  I was playing records and trying to keep cool, when in-between albums, I heard an angelic sound echoing off the city buildings.  It sounded like the voice was singing “The Angels Listened In.”  Could it be…THE Johnny Maestro?  I ran down three flights of stairs and out front to find that the REAL Johnny Maestro was standing atop a bandstand at the fire station across Hanover St. from my apartment.  My jaw dropped and for the next thirty-five minutes I listened to the incredible sound of Johnny Maestro. 

I told Johnny that story when I interviewed him in 2006 and we had a good laugh over it.  He didn’t remember the actual event, only to say that he played many Italian Feasts in both New York and Boston.  All I can say is that it was a magical night for me and one that I will never forget. 

 Fellow New York doo wopper and music ican, Dion DiMucci posted this statement on his Facebook page.

My Dear Friend ” JOHNNY MAESTRO” passed away today….. Last week we had wonderful & lovely conversations about our Lord. Johnny was a class act. He was truly a gentleman. :::…We will miss him. He sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone” like an angel….
WE THANK YOU FOR THE BEAUTIFUL TRIP YOU TOOK US ON…LOVE & PEACE
 
Rest in peace, Johnny Maestro.  Now the angels can hear you front and center.  They don’t need to evesdrop anymore. 

-Matt The Cat

 
icon for podpress  Matt The Cat Interviews Johnny Maestro - Pt. 1 [15:54m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

 
icon for podpress  Matt The Cat Interviews Johnny Maestro - Pt. 2 [14:15m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download
Previous
Next