Archive for August, 2009

28th August
written by Matt The Cat

Summer’s Gone…

Back To School Songs

Well, summer’s gone and no songbirds are singing…time to get BACK TO SCHOOL! This week all the songs featured in the podcast relate to either going back to school or STAYING in school, because baby you know it’s cool to stay in school!

You’ll hear some classic tunes from Timmie “Oh Yeah” Rogers, Chuck Berry, The Beach Boys, James Brown and a lot more.

School just wouldn’t be school without a little “Hanky Panky” and so this week’s Friday Night Cat Fight will put The Raindrops original version of the song up against Tommy James & The Shondells chart-topper. Also this week, we honor the passing of songwriter Ellie Greenwich and doo wop tenor man Johnny Carter.

So listen, vote and STAY IN SCHOOL!

Click HERE To HEAR The Friday Night Cat Fight

27th August
written by Matt The Cat
Johnny Carter
1935 – 2009

Tenor Johnny Carter was inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall Of Fame twice. He was a member of two of the most important rhythm & blues groups of all time; The Flamingos and The Dells and both groups rightfully grace the storied Hall.

John Edward Carter was raised on Chicago’s South Side and that’s where he met Jake and Zeke Carey and along with Paul Wilson and Earl Lewis formed The Flamingos back in 1952. The Careys had just relocated from Baltimore and the new group decided to call themselves The Swallows. They quickly changed their name when they learned of another group using the same name (King Recording artists). Looking to choose another bird name (bird names were all the rage with every young R&B; group wanting to sound like The Orioles or The Ravens), they settled on The Flamingos.

Lewis was soon replaced by the amazing Sollie McElroy and the group was off and running, recording for the Chance label. Our boy, Johnny Carter wrote the classic doo wop tune, “Golden Teardrops” and his tenor voice echoes in the background as Sollie McElroy handles the lead. “Golden Teardrops” is considered by many to be doo wop at its finest. It just might be “the perfect record”. It was the Flamingos third release for Chance Records. Johnny Carter sang lead on only a few tunes and for my money, you can’t beat his voice on “Listen To My Plea” from 1954.

Chance was not capable of giving the group the success that they so rightfully deserved and so they left the label in late 1954 and signed to Chicago disc jockey, Al Benson’s Parrot label. They also had a new member as Sollie McElroy departed and was replaced by Nate Nelson. Nelson and Carter sang together on their last release for Parrot, their version of the much covered “Ko Ko Mo”.

The Flamingos signed with Chess Records’ subsidiary, Checker and in February of 1956 scored the hit they’d been waiting for when “I’ll Be Home” shot to #5 on the Billboard R&B; Charts. In late 1956, Johnny Carter was called up for military duty and left the group. When he was released from service in 1958, he returned home only to find that he had been replaced in The Flamingos by Terry Johnson. In 1960, he joined another great Chicago group, The Dells. They had just lost Johnny Funches on lead tenor and the sweet voice of Johnny Carter fit right in.

Carter toured and recorded with The Dells for almost fifty years and enjoyed their great success in the late 1960s with chart-topping remakes of “Stay In My Corner” and “Oh, What A Night”. He only recently took a leave from the group when his cancer was diagnosed during the summer of 2008.

Johnny Carter, one of the greatest R&B; tenors of all-time passed away late Thursday, August 20th, 2009 of lung cancer. He was 74 and the last living member of the Flamingos’ original line-up.

26th August
written by Matt The Cat
Ellie Greenwich

1940 – 2009

One of rock n’ roll’s greatest songwriters has passed on at the age of 68. Brooklyn born, Ellie Greenwich died in New York on Wednesday, August 26, 2009 of a heart attack, after being checking in to St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital a few days earlier for pneumonia. She wrote some of rock’s most memorable songs with and without her former husband, Jeff Barry. Her song credits include “Leader Of The Pack”, a smash for the Shangri-Las, “Chapel Of Love” for the Dixie Cups and several mega hits for producer Phil Spector including “Be My Baby”, “Da Doo Ron Ron” and “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”.

Ellie also produced some of Neil Diamond’s early recording such as “Cherry Cherry” and “Kentucky Woman” and is credited with helping Diamond move from being known only as a songwriter to being taken seriously as a vocalist.

For me, Ellie Greenwich was more than just a great songwriter, because I’m one of the people who LOVED her voice and phrasing. She recorded several great songs with Jeff Barry under the group name, The Raindrops like “The Kind Of Boy You Can’t Forget” and “What A Guy”. The flipside of their minor 1963 hit, “That Boy John” contained the original version of “Hanky Panky”, which would become the springboard hit for Tommy James & The Shondells a few years later. As a solo singer, Ellie touches my heart every time I hear her sweet voice croon, “You Don’t Know”, a true, underrated classic from 1965. It’s a song I play on the radio every chance I get, just so more people can hear it.

In later years, her songs have been featured in several Broadway shows and the musical “Leader Of The Pack” won a Tony Award for Best Musical in 1985.

Ellie Greenwich was one of those artists who didn’t make a large splash as a headliner, but without her songs and production in the background, rock n’ roll wouldn’t have been as sweet and we wouldn’t have so many great songs to sing along to.