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

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Episode 2: Honey, I Guess I'm Dumb!








The legendary Phil Spector was a major influence
on Brian Wilson professionally.  Wilson used Spector's
Wall of Sound studio technique on records he produced
for the Beach Boys and other artists including the Honeys.


The Spector influence can be heard on
"The One You Can't Have," the A side
of The Honeys' third Capitol single.

This one brings to mind the Beach Boys'
Christmas classic "Little Saint Nick."

 "The One You Can't Have" - The Honeys 
 (December 1963, uncharted) 

"Darlin' I'm Not Steppin' Out On You,"
a demo recorded by the Honeys in 1963,
could have been a crossover country hit.
It reminds me of Connie Francis singing
"My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own."

 "Darlin' I'm Not Steppin' Out On You" 
 The Honeys  (1963 unreleased demo) 

"Raindrops," unreleased until 2001, is another
recording that reflects the Honeys' evolution
from surf trio to Spector style girl group.

 "Raindrops" - The Honeys 
 (Recorded 1963,  released in 2001) 

After releasing three uncharted singles for Capitol,
The Honeys left the label in 1964 and signed with
Warner Brothers. Their first single for that company
was arguably the best record of their career.

Image courtesy of Fred Puma and

"He's a Doll," another superb Brian Wilson production,
reminds me of the Beach Boys' recording "Drive-In."
In the following clip you will see and hear producer
Brian Wilson along with The Wrecking Crew, the
group of talented, sought after session musicians
that played anonymously on recordings released
by dozens of name music acts during the 60s.
Listen to history being made as Brian Wilson
and the Crew build a mighty Wall of Sound
on this exciting girl group recording.

 "He's a Doll" - The Honeys 
 (May 1964, uncharted) 


He is best known for his TV music variety show and
major country crossover hits, but let's examine a few
other credentials of Glen Campbell, a man who made
significant contributions to the soundtrack of our youth.

 * Glen was a busy Los Angeles session musician and 
    played on recordings made by Elvis, Frank Sinatra, 
    Nancy Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Dean Martin, Monkees, 
    Ricky Nelson, Nat King Cole and many other artists. 

 * Glen was a member of Phil Spector's Wrecking Crew. 

 * Glen was the uncredited lead vocalist of the 

    psychedelic sunshine pop group Sagittarius. 

 * Glen was a touring member of the Beach Boys. 

That last item leads me to the next
exciting part of the Honeys' sweet story.

The way I act don't seem like me
I'm not on top like I used to be

Those lyrics to the next featured song aptly describe
Brian Wilson as he and those around him dealt with
the onset of his mental illness. Two weeks after he
married one of the Honeys, Marilyn Rovell, Brian
suffered a nervous breakdown on a flight to
Houston on the eve of a Beach Boys tour.
Brian dropped out of stage performing to
focus exclusively on songwriting and
producing.  Glen Campbell was
summoned to stand in for Brian
on tour until Bruce Johnston became
Wilson's permanent replacement in the act.

The song "Guess I'm Dumb," co-written by Brian Wilson
and Russ Titleman, was given to Glen Campbell as a
gift for his stint subbing as a Beach Boy. Brian Wilson
produced the recording and enlisted The Honeys as
backing singers. Watch and listen as Glen performs
this vastly underrated gem on Shindig in May 1965.
The soaring vocals, challenging melody and lavish
orchestral production revealed Brian Wilson's
emerging genius and gave us a preview of the
techniques he used shortly thereafter in his
album masterpiece Pet Sounds.

"Guess I'm Dumb" but I don't care.
This record gives me goose bumps!

 "Guess I'm Dumb" - Glen Campbell 
 (June 1965, uncharted 
 Live on Shindig May 19, 1965 ) 


Paul Petersen played Jeff Stone, brother of
Mary (Shelley Fabares) on the hit family
TV series The Donna Reed Show.

Shelley branched out into a recording career
and became a girl pop idol with her chart topping
hit "Johnny Angel." Paul released records, too,
hitting the top 20 with "She Can't Find Her Keys"
and the top 10 with "My Dad." By far the coolest
record of Paul Petersen's career is the one you
are about to hear.  "She Rides With Me" was
one of Brian Wilson's so-called Pet Projects.
Brian wrote the song and produced the single
and sang background on it. Way to go, Jeff!
Your Beachboyesque 45's Stone to the bone!

 "She Rides With Me" - Paul Petersen 
 (March 1964, uncharted) 


Mary Mary, where you goin' to? (Answer: Vee Jay & Dunhill.)
It's Donna Reed's daughter Mary Stone (Shelley Fabares)
with "He Don't Love Me," her final Colpix Records release.
Written by Jan Berry of Jan & Dean and using musicians
from Phil Spector's famous Wrecking Crew, it's one of the
best recordings of Shelley's career, yet it failed to chart.
It didn't even Bubble Under. As you and I have been
discovering on this musical journey, uncharted gems
outnumber those that made the chart. Shelley's single
"He Don't Love Me" was the very next Colpix release
after TV brother Paul Petersen's coolest career record,
the Brian Wilsonesque "She Rides With Me" (above).
Shelley's platter captures the same sound and feel.
"He Don't Love Me" but you gotta love Shelley!

 "He Don't Love Me" - Shelley Fabares 
 (March 1964, uncharted) 








Have a Shady day!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Honey, I Shrunk the Beach Boys...... The Pilot Episode of My 4-Part Series!




The rousing "Be True to Your School" is sung
to the melody of Hawthorne High School's
fight song which was derived from the
University of Wisconsin's "On Wisconsin."
Hawthorne High is where Beach Boys
members Brian, Carl & Dennis Wilson
and Al Jardine went to school.

In September 1963 the Beach Boys recorded
two versions of "Be True to Your School."
The first was released the following month
on the album Little Deuce Coup.

 "Be True to Your School" - The Beach Boys 
 (from Oct. 1963 album Little Deuce Coup

The 45 rpm version, which had a faster tempo
and added the sound of shouting cheerleaders
to the mix, was released around Halloween
and reached its peak of popularity between
Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The single narrowly missed the top 5
on Billboard and spent three weeks
at #1 on a station in Los Angeles.

 "Be True to Your School" 
 The Beach Boys (single version, 
  December 1963, highest chart pos. #6)    

I know the burning question
that's on your mind at this very moment.
Who were those cheerleaders?


They were The Honeys, the female counterparts of the
Beach Boys with close ties to them. The Honeys are
quite possibly the greatest girl group of the Sixties
that most people never knew about. Today I am
beginning a 4-part series dedicated to them and
other acts that captured the Beach Boys sound.

The Honeys were a Southern California trio that consisted
of the Rovell sisters, Marilyn and Diane, and their cousin
Sandra Glantz who used the stage name Ginger Blake.
Formed in the early 60s, The Honeys were introduced
to Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. Wilson took the
girls under his wing, used them as background
singers on Beach Boys recordings including
 "Be True to Your School" and got them
a Capitol recording contract.

Brian Wilson became producer and head songwriter
for the Honeys and they began to release singles
of their own. Brian Wilson and Marilyn Rovell
developed a personal relationship and they
married in December 1964.

A few years later Brian and Marilyn became
the parents of Carnie and Wendy Wilson
who went on to join Chynna Phillips to
form the hit girl group trio of the 90s
called Wilson Phillips.

The Honeys got their name from the California
surf-rock scene in which female surfers or
girlfriends of male surfers are called honeys.
Jan and Dean referred to honeys in their
hit "Surf City," a song written in draft
form by Brian Wilson and finished
by Jan Berry and Dean Torrence.

Well there's two swingin' honeys for every guy
And all you gotta do is just wink your eye

The Honeys sang background vocals on the Jan and Dean
hits "The New Girl in School," "Dead Man's Curve"
and "The Little Old Lady from Pasadena."


A while back I introduced songwriter/producer Gary Usher
and his studio creation Sagittarius featuring Glen Campbell.
Usher also brought us the Hondells, the group that achieved
a top 10 hit with the Beach Boys inspired "Little Honda."

Usher was behind many great recordings that reflected
Southern California's preoccupation with cars, surfing
and a casual, fun in the sun lifestyle. The Super Stocks,
another Usher engineered studio group that included
Glen Campbell, released fine surf rock/hot rod
instrumentals like this one, "Oceanside."

 "Oceanside" - The Super Stocks 
 (July 1964, from album Surf Route 101



In 1963 the Honeys were credited as "The Usherettes"
when they sang on Usher's 45 "Three Surfer Boys."

 "Three Surfer Boys" - Gary Usher and the Usherettes 
 (September 1963, uncharted) 


It should come as no surprise, therefore,
that first two singles released by the
Honeys were songs about surfing.

"Pray For Surf," the A side of the Honeys'
second single, has a sound similar to that of
two Jan and Dean hits which were charting
at the time, "Surf City" and "Honolulu Lulu."

 "Pray For Surf" - The Honeys 
 (September 1963, uncharted) 

Along with quality A sides...
killer bees were found on Honeys' wax!
(Insert groan giggle here.)

"Hide Go Seek," the fab flip
of "Pray For Surf,"
is the bee's knees!

 "(Oly Oxen Free Free Free) Hide Go Seek" 
 The Honeys  (Sept. 1963, B side of "Pray For Surf") 


Sharon Marie Esparza showed promise as a singer and
should been a star. Instead she was a no hit wonder.

As the story goes, 20 year old Sharon was the girl-
friend of Beach Boy Mike Love. In 1963, Mike and
Brian Wilson wrote the song "Run-Around Lover,"
Sharon recorded it, Brian produced the single and
it was released in the fall of that year. Although
it somehow failed to chart, this girl group ditty's
right in the surf rock groove!

 "Run-Around Lover" - Sharon Marie 
 (October 1963, uncharted) 








Have a Shady day!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Cruisin' 1957 With the Rockin' Bird

 It's time to salute another volume 

 of the Cruisin' series and gaze 

 at a few more nostalgic 

 soda pop print ads. 

 The year is 1957.  Let's cruise 

 east to Philly where a deejay 

 known as The Rockin' Bird 

 is flying high at a radio 

 station called Wibbage! 

 Joe Niagara - WIBG, Philadelphia 


Joe Niagara loved doo-wop and this one,
"A Thousand Miles Away" by the Heartbeats,
was one of the best group ballads of the 50s.

 "A Thousand Miles Away" - Heartbeats 
 (February 1957,  highest chart position #53) 



In the spring of 1961 former Heartbeats leader "Shep"
Sheppard gave us another classic doo-wop ballad,
this time with his new group Shep & the Limelites.
"Daddy's Home" nearly topped the pop chart,
halting at position #2 while Roy Orbison's
"Running Scared" and Ricky Nelson's
"Travelin' Man" took turns at #1.

 "Daddy's Home" - Shep & the Limelites 
 (June 1961, highest chart position #2) 



In the fall of 1957 South Carolina rock 'n rollers
Joe Bennett & the Sparkletones achieved an impressive
19 week chart run with the frantic paced "Black Slacks,"
a record that finished in the top 20 and gained them
national exposure. To me the Sparkletones sounded
like The Everly Brothers hopped up on Jolt Cola.
I dug what those boys were puttin' down!

 "Black Slacks" - Joe Bennett & the Sparkletones 
 (October 1957, highest chart position #17) 

If "Black Slacks" fit your musical taste try "Penny Loafers
and Bobby Socks" on for size. The Sparkletones' follow-
up single was released in December of 1957 and halted
just shy of the top 40. Although not as big a hit as
"Black Slacks," "Penny Loafers and Bobby Sox" is my
Pick to Click, one of the rockinest records of the 50s!

 "Penny Loafers and Bobby Socks" 
 Joe Bennett & the Sparkletones 
 (December 1957, highest chart position #43) 

By 1957 when I was 7 years old I had already been
playing deejay more than two years in my downstairs
game room. I spent hours at a time sifting through
 stacks of 45s that belonged to my parents and
teenage brother, listening, learning and
evaluating the songs on both sides.

"Don't Be Cruel" and "Hound Dog" by Elvis Presley,
"Wake Up Little Susie" by the Everly Brothers and
"Peggy Sue" by Buddy Holly were a few of the
45s left behind by my brother when he joined
the Air Force and moved away. I played
those records countless times on my
tiny tinny toy turntable.


My parents loved Johnnie Ray and bought his records.
Although merely a child I could tell that Johnnie had
a certain something, a soulfulness, that set him
apart from most pop singers of the WWII
generation. Johnnie infused songs like "Cry"
and "The Little White Cloud That Cried,"
the A and B sides of a hit 1952 single,
with a pre-rock 'n' roll R&B hipness
that made a connection with young
people. Johnnie became a teen idol.

In 1956 Johnnie waxed "Just Walkin' in the Rain,"
a single that rode the U.S. chart more than half
a year and spent 7 weeks at #1 in the UK.

 "Just Walkin' in the Rain" - Johnnie Ray 
 (single charted 28 weeks from August 1956 
 to March 1957,  highest chart position 
 #2 USA/#1 UK at Christmas 1956) 

My favorite Johnnie Ray single, "Yes Tonight, Josephine,"
came out in the spring of 1957. The record, produced by
Mitch Miller, shot to the Top of the Pops in the UK but
performed more modestly in the U.S., only reaching the
top 20. "Josephine" was closer to rock 'n' roll than the
pop pabulum they were singing on Your Hit Parade
and I spun this platter a gazillion times!

 "Yes Tonight, Josephine" - Johnnie Ray 
 (May 1957, highest chart position #18) 

 Don't miss the next thrill packed 

 episode of Cruisin' coming soon! 

Have a Shady day!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Echoes of the Spectorian Era, Volume 5: Bjorn to Scale the Wall of Sound!

 Welcome to Vol. 5 of my 17-part series 

 celebrating the Spectorian era - 

 majestic Wall of Sound recordings 

 produced by Phil Spector and 

 those influenced by him. 


The Teardrops were a quartet of teenage girls
from Cincinnati. You know the drill. A record
exec discovered them playing local venues and
signed them to a record contract. Soon the
girls were releasing singles and opening for
the Beach Boys and Sonny and Cher.

In the fall of 1965 the Teardrops released their
best known single, "Tears Come Tumbling."
"T-C-T" is a classic - Spectorian Splendor
and Girl Group Nirvana rolled into one fab
45. Unsolved mystery: why wasn't it a hit?

 "Tears Come Tumbling" - The Teardrops 
 (November 1965, uncharted) 

Now let's hear from the blue-eyed soul duo
that reached its peak of popularity
with Spector-produced recordings.


The Righteous Brothers ballad "Unchained Melody”
played in heavy rotation on WSBA York in the
summer of 1965 and was one of my favorites.

I wrote "was" (past tense) because Hollywood
ruined “Unchained Melody” for me.  It happened
in 1990 when the love song became the theme of
 the movie blockbuster Ghost and suffered a bad
case of media overexposure.  The ghostly tie-in
corrupted my original memory of the song.
Before Ghost, "Unchained Melody"
reminded me of floating on a raft
in my backyard pool listening
to the radio.

Now, every time I hear it,
my mind conjures up images
of teary-eyed Demi and that
blasted blob of clay!

 "Unchained Melody" - The Righteous Brothers 
 (August 1965, highest chart position #4) 


One of the most prolific songwriters of
the Baby Boom generation, Ellie Greenwich,
along with her husband and writing partner,
Jeff Barry, composed many of the songs
that turned into hits for Phil Spector's
recording acts.  Greenwich and Barry
penned and produced some of the
best records of the 60s and helped
define the Brill Building sound.

Ellie Greenwich was also fine singer.  She provided
the female vocals for the Raindrops, a group that
she and husband Jeff fabricated to release singles
for the teen market in the early to mid 60s.

The Raindrops landed 5 singles on the Hot 100
and Ellie as a solo artist achieved one. Her best
single, "You Don't Know," remained uncharted
because she simply didn't have time to travel,
make personal appearances and promote it.
She and Jeff were too busy making hit records
for other artists and earning their induction
into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame.

 "You Don't Know" - Ellie Greenwich 
 (August 1965, uncharted) 



Now hear this - a superb yet uncharted cover
of the Walker Brothers hit "The Sun Ain't Gonna
Shine Anymore" recorded by an obscure
girl group called The Little Bits.

Featuring the lead vocals of Karyl Mann, 
The Little Bits rendition of "Sun" was 
released on the Dyno Voice label in 1968.

The Little Bits were no-hit-wonders but this
soulful recording of theirs deserves to be heard.

 "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Anymore)" 
 The Little Bits featuring Karyl Mann 
 (1968, uncharted) 


Pop singer Karen Kelly recorded in Nashville
on Sound Stage 7, the soulful subsidiary
of Monument Records. Karen's first single,
released in 1964, was a song she wrote
called "Nobody's Girl."

With clean, powerful vocals by Karen
and dynamic Spector style production,
"Nobody's Girl" had the potential to
become a major girl group style hit.
Instead, it missed the Hot 100 and
didn't even make a dent in the
Bubbling Under chart. Listen
to this lost nugget and you'll
wonder why Karen Kelly
never became a star.

 "Nobody's Girl" - Karen Kelly 
 (October 1964, uncharted) 


Phil Spector's influence was far reaching.
It extended across oceans and decades.

In January of 1973, the Swedish pop group ABBA
went into a Stockholm studio and recorded "Ring Ring."
Producer and studio engineer Michael B. Tretow was
hopped up on Spector at the time and decided to
give ABBA's single the Spectorian Wall of Sound
treatment. He recorded the backing track twice
with the overdub slightly off speed, producing the
effect of a full orchestra. It marked the first time
the technique was used on a recording in Sweden.

By the following year ABBAmania was spreading
throughout Europe.  The guys and gals were on the
brink of international stardom when they made this
live TV appearance on the Tommy Cooper Show.

 "Ring Ring" - ABBA 
 (February 1973, highest chart position 
 #1 Belgium, #2 Norway, #2 Austria 
  Live on The Tommy Cooper Show, 1974) 


 That wraps up this edition of Echoes. 

 Part 6 is in the works 

 and coming soon. 

 Please be here! 

Have a Shady day!