Thursday, January 31, 2013

Bruce Johnston, Ritchie Valens and "Donna" (Ludwig)

I've heard a lot about Ritchie Valens from Dion DiMucci from their time together on the Winter Dance Party in 1959 and Chan Romero told us about the influence Ritchie's music had on his career.  Because Ritchie died so young, I haven't met many that had a connection to him.  I was excited to get this story from The Beach Boys' Bruce Johnston and his connection to both Ritchie and Donna Ludwig as well as learning about LA's Dick "Huggy Boy" Hugg .  Here's what Bruce sent in:

In the early days of my music path (my age at the time was 16) and in the summer of 1958, I was in a Los Angeles local house band called Kip Tyler & The Flips. Our job was to back up the 'one hit wonders of the day' at dance & shows around LA County and we often backed up Ritchie Valens at the start of his recording & performing career. Ritchie's first released single at the time was "Come On Let's Go" which reached a national USA chart position of #42 in 1958. My role on stage in the band back then was to play keyboards while Ritchie played his guitar and sang. This took place a few short months before the release of Ritchie's "La Bamba" and "Donna" recordings.

Donna Ludwig
Just after Ritchie passed away in 1959, I was asked to sing backing vocals on an 'answer recording' to Ritchie Valens' album track "We Belong Together." The 'artist' was Donna
(Donna Ludwig) and she was Ritchie Valens' girlfriend (and friend) starting in the 10th grade. Donna's song was called "Lost Without You." I actually sang in my normal tenor voice instead of my future-higher-Beach Boys-vocal-range voice. The recorded backing vocals for Donna's single release had very little harmony & were mostly sung in unison.

Dick "Huggy Boy" Hugg, a local white Los Angeles DJ playing R&B music on KRKD-AM (very successfully in the fifties broadcasting live from the front window of the Dolphin's of Hollywood record store located in the South Central Los Angeles/Watts area) helped put this Donna recording project together in early 1959.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Johnny Cash postage stamp coming later this year

The United States Postal Service has announced an upcoming "Forever" postage stamp of Johnny Cash due at some point this year.  It was designed to resemble a 45rpm record.  It is part of a Music Icons series.  Stay tuned for more details!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Unpublished photo from the Bruce Johnston Photo Archives

From left to right:  Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Daryl Dragon, Harriet Johnston, Bruce Johnston, Toni Tennille.  Photo courtesy of the Bruce Johnston Photo Archives.

The Beach Boys' Bruce Johnston sent over this great photo from the mid-70's with some of his music friends.  Barry Mann and his wife, Cynthia Weil are one of the most successful songwriting duo's in pop music.  Just a few of their hits include "Uptown" by The Crystals, "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" by The Animals, "Don't Know Much" by Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville, "I Just Can't Help Believing" by B.J. Thomas (as well as Bobby Vee, Elvis Presley and others), "On Broadway" by The Drifters (also co-written with Leiber & Stoller) and the most played radio and television song of the 20th Century (according to BMI) is "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" by The Righteous Brothers (also co-written by Phil Spector).  Daryl Dragon and Toni Tennille are best known as "Captain & Tennille".  They were part of The Beach Boys touring band before they launched out as the hit duo.  Some of their massive hits include the #1 singles "Love Will Keep Us Together", "Do That To Me One More Time", "Muskrat Love", "The Way I Want To Touch You" and many more!  Along with being part of The Beach Boys (read our interview HERE), Bruce won a Grammy Award for his song "I Write The Songs" performed by Barry Manilow in 1977.  He arranged, produced and/or performed on projects for Sandy Nelson, The Rip Chords, Elton John and Pink Floyd's The Wall (which also featured vocal help from Toni Tennille) among others.  His "Disney Girls" has also been covered by The Beach Boys, Art Garfunkel, Cass Elliott, Jack Jones, Doris Day and others including Captain & Tennille as well.  To think of the impact these friends in the photo above have had on the pop music scene is quite staggering!  Thanks to Bruce Johnston for sharing this rare gem from the archives!

Carl Perkins died this day in 1998

Carl Perkins died this day in 1998 in Jackson, TN at age 65.  He was a rockabilly icon with his songwriting and guitar style on songs like "Blue Suede Shoes", "Boppin' The Blues", "Dixie Fried", "All Mama's Children", "Honey Don't", "Matchbox" and so many more.  Among those that have covered his songs are The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Kentucky Headhunters, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash, Dion DiMucci, Wanda Jackson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Brian Setzer, Ricky Nelson, Chris Isaak, etc.

"Blue Suede Shoes"

"Matchbox" (with Eric Clapton and Johnny Cash)

"Glad All Over"

Scotty Moore & Carl Perkins talk about the early days

"Boppin' The Blues" (with Dave Edmunds and Lee Rocker)

"All Mama's Children" (with John Fogerty)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Molly Sue Gonzalez & The Mean, Mean Men's "Bad Example" music video!

Their Facebook page says, "We play rockabilly with a dash of blues and a heaping tablespoon of soul."  This Nashville group is making some waves with their vintage style and just released a new music video for their song "Bad Example".  It's a vintage sound with a modern flair.  Check out their website and "like" their Facebook page to stay up to date on what's happening!  You'll be hearing plenty more from them!!

"Bad Example"

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Third Man Records to release 3 Document Records reissue series projects!

Third Man Records will release the first 3 projects in their Document Records reissue series on January 29th!  These exciting releases will feature the music of Blind Willie McTell, The Mississippi Sheiks and Charley Patton.  Jack White promises to keep these in print for as long as Third Man Records is around.  You can pre-order here-