High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Friday, January 30, 2009

On the Record - All That Peace of Mind's Gone to My Head! (Part 2)

As 1966 unfolded, the Magnificent Men followed the release of their 45rpm Dell smash "Peace of Mind" b/w "All Your Lovin's Gone to My Head" with more double trouble...

"Maybe Maybe Baby"

b/w "I've Got News."

Around that same time, the Mag Men's long-awaited first album for Capitol Records finally hit the street. I remember well the impact that long-play had on the youth of our region.

As a teenager, there were three coming-of-age milestones that I couldn't wait to reach:

* getting my driver's license

* owning my first car

* gettin' over to Disc-O-Rama and buying my first Mag Men album

Well, my first kiss belongs on that list somewhere, but you get the picture. A fact of life, a fundamental part of Central PA culture was a love of the Magnificent Men.

Already soulfully inclined, (no arm twisting required), Dell rats were all the more receptive to what the Mag Men were puttin' down because they were hometown boys.

On that first album and the two that followed...

...the Magnificent Men didn't just cover original r&b, soul and jazz standards...they interpreted the material and made it uniquely their own.

They gave some of us our first exposure to the recorded works of artists like the Artistics, Gloria Lynne, Shorty Long, and the Vibrations.

The Mag Men's faithful rendition of "Misty," a song that the Vibrations had placed on the chart in October/November 1965, is one of my all time favorites.

With its lush string arrangement and sappy, overstated romantic lyrics, "Misty" is admittedly a throwback - a ballad that's light years away from cool.

Yet, as I have emphasized before, many of us felt compelled to honor and immortalize songs like this. If for no other reason, we did so to remind ourselves of our heritage, of a bygone era when ladies and gentlemen roamed the earth wearing hats and gloves, reciting simple rhymes to one another and believing with all their hearts that love lasts forever.

In addition to introducing us to artists we didn't recognize, the Mag Men also gave us a deeper appreciation of artists we already knew like Curtis Mayfield, Joe Tex, Arthur Conley, the Temps, Tops, Pips, and Smokey.

As much as any teacher, preacher, statesman or diplomat, the Magnificent Men helped white Americans and black Americans to understand, accept and appreciate each other. During the turbulent years of the civil rights movement, their music helped to ease tensions, heal wounds, and bring a divided nation together.

The Magnificent Men: part of the solution. Thanks, guys!

Have a Shady day!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

On the Record - All That Peace of Mind's Gone to My Head! (Part 1)

"Never assume," a wise man once said.

Therefore, I will not assume that everybody knows about the Magnificent Men. (No, Kenneth...I am not referring to those Flying Machine dudes or the Village People...not that there's anything wrong with that). Perhaps it would be a good idea for Kenneth and any other uninitiated blog readers to watch this clip. Then we'll talk:

If we are going to pay tribute to the Magnificent Men, maybe we should set the stage by saluting the Del-Chords, the integrated, Dave Bupp-led group that spawned the Mag Men.

Let’s back up to 1964 and enjoy the Del-Chords' monster Shady Dell hit “Everybody’s Gotta Lost Someday.” The song was already an established Dell favorite by the time I first set foot inside the place in the fall of 1965. With its enormous popularity and longevity, "Everybody's Gotta Lose" is way, way up there - ranked #2 on my survey of the 200 Greatest Hits of the Shady Dell. It also scores a higher popularity-to-obscurity quotient than any other Dell song!

Released on both Impala and Mr. Genius labels, "Everybody's Gotta Lose Someday" is low budget, low tech, primitive, raw, authentic street corner r&b/soul at its finest. The record was promoted on radio stations in York, Lancaster and Harrisburg as well as Philly and Pittsburgh and became a regional hit. This intense ballad was played many times each night at the Dell and was guaranteed to flood the floor with amorous slow dancers. Listen now, remember and appreciate one of the all-time greatest Dell megahits, “Everybody’s Gotta Lose Someday”...

...followed in this clip by the seldom heard killer bee side, “Your Mommy Lied To Your Daddy”...

...another outstanding early career soul classic from Dave Bupp and company.

In January of 1966, a couple of months after my induction into the Fraternal Order of Dell Rats (or FODDER as it is called), another jukebox giant, this one entitled "Peace of Mind" swept into the Dell like a tsunami and proceeded to destroy for the remainder of the year. So began the Shady Dell's Magnificent Obsession.

A sensational northern soul ballad featuring rich vocal harmonies and a powerful, inspirational message, “Peace of Mind” became an instant classic of the genre and the signature song of the Magnificent Men.

With "Peace of Mind," Bupp and company really knocked one out of the park. Kiss it goodbye!

When this snugglin' song began to play in the barn, every Dell Rat grabbed his Minnie Mouse and hit the floor in seconds flat, eager to spend three minutes in heaven. “Peace of Mind” was a megahit with Dell regulars of all stripes and vaulted into the elite Top 5 on my all-time Dell hits list! We simply never grew tired of listening and dancing to it.

"Peace of Mind" kicked off a string of Dell hits for the Mag Men and triggered a blue-eyed soul craze. As 1966 unfolded, recordings by soulful white artists like the Righteous Brothers, the Young Rascals, and Mitch Ryder became some of the most popular picks in the dance hall.

Flip the 45 and you’ll find “All Your Lovin’s Gone To My Head”, an up tempo killer bee that was also huge at the Dell. In England, this strong northern dancer is the consensus A-side in soul clubs and among record collectors.

“Peace of Mind” and “All Your Lovin’s Gone to My Head” delivered a one-two knockout punch at the Shady Dell and it was just the beginning. Throughout 1966, an avalanche of exciting new records poured into the jukebox...songs so indicative of the Shady Dell experience that they are jammed into in the upper reaches of my Dell Greatest Hits list.

(to be continued)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Danger - Killer Motown Girl Group Dead Ahead! (Part 2)

Remember how the Animals and the Rolling Stones eclipsed the Beatles in terms of Dell popularity? The core group of Dell rats felt a stronger connection to Eric Burdon and Mick Jagger. Dellers had equally discriminating tastes when it came to Motown girl groups.

Outside the gravitational pull of the Dell, superstar Diana Ross and her Supremes left most of the competition standing in the shadows of Baby Love; but inside the walls and hallowed halls of the Dell it was a different story. Less heralded but arguably more soulful acts like the Marvelettes, Martha & the Vandellas, the Pips, Kim Weston, and the Elgins were the ones the Dell intelligentsia related to better and danced to with a greater degree of enthusiasm.

The Marvelettes made significant contributions to the Shady Dell soundtrack during the 60s. If you've got a few minutes to spare I invite you to join me right now for a Marvellettes block party. I guarantee it'll make you feel at least 80 years younger. All of the heavy lifting has been done for you. I combed YouTube and cherry picked the best Marvelettes clips.

So what are you waiting for - start picking and clicking!

One year after "Bill" climbed the charts, the Marvelettes bagged themselves another hit with "The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game" (January '67):

Here's another marvelous Marvelettes song that landed on my Shady Dell Top 200.

Watch this wonderful concept video interpretation of "When You're Young and in Love" (May '67):

From the soon to be released Shady Dell - the College Years...'s the hook-happy "My Baby Must Be a Magician" (December '67):

Let's flash back to the glory days of Motown with this clip.

It's Shady Del Knight's Pick to Click, "I'll Keep Holding On" (June '65):

But wait, we have a tie! I realize this is highly irregular, but I'm naming a second Pick to Click.

It's the folo-up release to "...Holding On" entitled, "Danger Heartbreak Dead Ahead" (August '65):

With several remastered CD anthologies on the market, lots of buzz, and numerous clips on YouTube, including some cool remixes...

...the Marvelettes are finally getting some of the recognition they deserve. 'Bout time.

Have a Shady day!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Danger - Killer Motown Girl Group Dead Ahead! (Part 1)

The Marvelettes were one of the underappreciated Motown girl groups living in the shadow of the highly successful Supremes. The Velvelettes shared the same plight. The Marvelettes were major contributors to the Shady Dell soundtrack during much of the 60s.

The Marveletes single "Don't Mess with Bill" began a 12-week run on the Billboard chart on the first day of January, 1966. The song eventually broke into the top 10 and became one of the group's biggest hits.

“Don’t Mess With Bill” was one of the most memorable jukebox gems during my early months at the Dell, and it ranks high on my Dell's greatest hits survey.

With its feminine P.O.V., "Bill" quickly caught on with the Dell girls. Two, sometimes three Dellettes at a time would venture out on the floor and dance together while singing the lyrics.

That was a common sight at the Dell: pairs or triplets of girls dancing together. In fact, there were only a few guys there that I remember as smooth, confident dancers. The rest of us were either faking it or, in my case, hanging out on the sidelines.

This was especialy true during my first few weeks of Delldom, before I got my mojo workin'. I guess you could say that I was more Mickey Mouse than Dell rat. I was your basic wallflower, the shy violet of Violet Hill, falling back to a defensive position and watching other people dance...just wishin' and hopin' and thinkin' and prayin'... plannin' and dreamin' that somehow, (maybe by magic), the action would come to me!

There I stood each night, hour after hour, back against the wall - insecure - but trying to cover by posing, posturing and pretending to be cool. I watched and waited. Occasionally, just to mix things up a bit, I waited and watched.

People started hangin' their coats on me!

I got no respect at all, I tell ya!

To top it the end of the night I had the distinct privilege of waving bye-bye as the dashing, debonair, dancing dude exited stage left with the girl on his arm...sometimes two girls!

Rope-a-dope.....great strategy, Del. Stick with it!

(to be continued)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

200 Greatest Hits of the Shady Dell Part 12 (#90 to #81)

It's time to resume our countdown of the 200 Greatest Hits of the Shady Dell.

Before we get started, though, I would like to share with you another cold fact about the Dell. As I will do occasionally, I am using a vintage soda pop print advertisement for the purpose of illustration. I hope that you will enjoy these reminders of the past as much as I do. Here's a seasonal Pepsi ad that was published in 1959:

According to an Ettline family member, it was 1959 when one of John's brothers converted the hillside across the road from the Dell into a ski slope. The slope wasn't exactly Ski Roundtop, but it was functional and served as a good little practice hill for local ski enthusiasts.

Okay, let's get down to business. The Shady Dell hit parade now rolls on. Here are this weeks lyrics. Name those tunes!

One kiss from her
And you know your time has come

(The next tune is the summer 1967 hit instrumental by the ill-fated Memphis band that perished with Otis in a plane crash.)

spinnin like a spinnin top

Do me any way you wanna when you wanna
I'll keep you just the same

The world is ours whenever we're together

Don't stand on your block
Come inside
Watch ev'rybody rock

Man this chick upsets me

The bees envy me.

And even if time
Ain't really on my side

don't be shocked
If you see your favorite star

(end of clues)

Remember the grading scale:

All 10 right – Congratulations! You’ve been appointed dean of the College of Musical Knowledge

7-9 right – Licensed lyric lover

4-6 right - Lyrically challenged

1-3 right – Sign up for remedial classes at the School of Rock

0 right – You just dance and hum along!

Now, here are this week's 10 Shady Dell countdown songs:

90. "A Girl Named Sandoz" - Animals (April '67)

89. "Soul Finger" - Bar-Kays (June '67)

88. "Jenny Take a Ride" - Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels (December '65)

87. "Something About You" - Four Tops (November '65)

86. "Groovin'" - Young Rascals (May '67)

85. "Shoot Your Shot" - Jr. Walker & The All Stars (April '66)

84. "Cara-Lin" - Strangeloves (September '65)

83. "My Girl" – Temptations (January ’65)

82. "Daydream" - Lovin' Spoonful (March '66)

81. "Going To a Go-Go" - Smokey Robinson & The Miracles (January '66)

Do you have a Shady Dell Top Tunes list of your own that you would like to share? I'd love to see it, especially if it covers a different period of Dell history. It doesn't have to contain 200 songs; even a Top 10 would be interesting and instructive. Submit your Dell's Greatest Hits list in the form of a comment and I'll get it posted.

Have a Shady day!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Remembering John

16 years ago today...

...on the 16th
of January, 1993...
John Ettline
passed away.

John spent the last nine years of his life without Helen.

Can you imagine the amount strength and courage that it took for John, a man in his 80s, to go it alone, enduring the hardships of winter, and keeping the Dell in operation - even as the clientele became increasingly rough? How many of us could have stood up to that kind of challenge?

Things to know and remember about John:

* John never had any children of his own, but he loved kids and believed in them.

*John was the oldest of eight children, four boys and four girls, and took on the responsibility of helping to care for his siblings.

* Shortly after marrying Helen in Texas, John enlisted in the U.S. Army. Nearly 40 years of age, John was believed to be the oldest enlisted man in WWII. He was promised the cavalry but, as fate would have it, he ended up in a communications unit. John’s unit referred to him as Pops. John attained the rank of Sergeant, served in the European Theatre, and participated in the Battle of the Bulge. John was hit in the head with shrapnel and ordered to go home, but reportedly refused to leave his men.

* John was a card shark, a gambler, and a wheeler dealer – a larger-than-life type of person – a colorful, loveable, and memorable character.

* Am I my brother’s keeper? To that question, John Ettline boldly answered “Yes!” To John, A friend in need is a friend indeed was more than a familiar old proverb, it was a policy statement – they were the words that John lived by. John was known to give financial aid to friends who were down on their luck or owed money to unsavory individuals. Neighbor helping neighbor was the John Ettline philosophy. John and Helen opened their doors and opened their hearts to troubled youth, battered women, and others who needed their support. John and Helen walked their talk.

* As a surviving member of his family expressed it, "John was loved and respected by everyone he came in contact with...especially his family. He offered love, guidance and advice to anyone who would give him the respect and listen.”

Please watch this as we honor the memory of John Ettline:

John, you were the King of all Dell Rats.

If we have anything to say about it, you (and Helen) will always be remembered!

We love you and miss you, John!

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Shady Dell in Winter, with Fireplaces Burning and Records That Keep Turning...

As much fun as the Dell was in summer... was pure magic in winter.

I spent several New Years Eves at the Dell.

New Year’s 1969-70 is particularly memorable because I went to the Dell in the middle of a blizzard.

When it was time to leave, John Ettline brought an ice scraper and shovel out to the parking lot and kindly helped me to extricate my car from the snow. That’s so John.

Let's go back 42 years to January of 1967 when three awesome ballads occupied slots inside the Dell jukebox at the same time. These three cuddle classics warmed our nights and our hearts all winter long.

Aaron Neville's debut hit single, "Tell It Like It Is" got the jump on the other two records, arriving at the Dell in early December. By mid-January, Neville's signature song had reached its peak of popularity and dreamy-eyed couples were swaying to the sound several times a night.

At the same time that "Tell It Like It Is" was breaking into the top 5 on Billboard and Cash Box, the two other featured Dell ballads were also making their chart ascent, both of them armed with a bullet.

By the mid 60s, Tommy Roe was transitioning from a respectable rock-a-billy singer to one who plied his trade with bubble gum and nursery rhyme pop.

The Casinos, with a retro sound, style, and name reminiscent of late 50s do wop groups, were an anachronism on the pop music scene of 1967.

While Tommy Roe and the Casinos were not the usual suspects in the Dell jukebox lineup, (like the Temps & Tops), they nevertheless contributed to the Dell two more cherished winter time slow jams, “It’s Now Winter’s Day” and “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye.”

In the years following its release, “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye” was undoubtedly played at thousands of weddings. The syrupy song is tailor made for such occasions. At the Shady Dell, you would have needed the Jaws of Life to pry couples apart once the Casinos started to croon the lyrics to their classic hit. Dell knights and Dellettes, locked in tight embrace on the dance floor, made all kinds of silly promises to each other while under the intoxicating influence of this dreamy ballad.

By January of 1967, Tommy Roe’s voice was already a familiar one at the Dell.

The previous June, Tommy’s infectious pop hit “Sweet Pea,” (#186 on my Dell 200), had been an irresistible treat that the gang sampled many times during the early weeks of summer vacation.

When winter came, Tommy was back in the box with an even bigger Dell hit, the evocative ballad “It’s Now Winter’s Day.”

If you spent the winter of '67 at the Dell, I'm sure that you remember "It's Now Winter's Day." Here's an opportunity for you to use your imagination. Put yourself back in the barn huddled in front of that fireplace with fellow Dell rats on a frigid night in January 1967.

Outside it's chilling. The mercury is dropping down to minus ten below (feels like temp). It's snowing hard. Your folks said you're crazy for going out on a night like this, but you just had to be there with the gang.

Feel the warmth radiating from the roaring blaze. John just threw another log on the fire. It must have had some wet snow on it because it’s starting to sizzle. Can you hear it?

Meanwhile, out on the barn's dance floor, guys and girls are falling in love all over again to Tommy Roe’s cold gold classic.

And so, in the dead of winter...

there was life at the Dell…

and a palpable sense of amicability...

and a roaring fire...and a smoky haze...

and body heat...

and romance...

and perfumed hair
that I can
still smell...

Essence that I liked so well...

(Clairol Herbal)…

Have a Shady Day!