Touch And Go by The Cars

#495: Touch And Go by The Cars

Peak Month: November 1980
8 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #6
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #37
YouTube.com:”Touch And Go
“Touch And Go” lyrics

According to AllMusic.com music critic, Jason Ankeny, The Grasshoppers were a rock ‘n roll band from Cleveland who formed in 1962. There were several lineup changes and Benjamin Orzechowski joined the band in 1964 and became the lead singer. Ben Orr, who was born in 1947, went on to be a lead singer in the New Wave band, The Cars. Jeff Niesel, of Rolling Stone Magazine writes that members of the Grasshoppers Fan Club included Diane Akins, the president of the club. She remembers meeting Ben Orr when the Grasshoppers were an opening act when the Beach Boys performed in Cleveland in November, 1964.

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#496: I Am The Preacher by Tony Kingston

Peak Month: February 1972
8 weeks on Vancouver’s CKVN chart
Peak Position #2
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com: “I Am The Preacher
“I Am The Preacher” lyrics

In 1967 Tony Kingston had a record deal with Pye and released “Master Hand” in the fall of the year. The British singer Tony Kingston had a brief deal with Decca Records in England in the late 1960’s with a single called “Mama Come On Home” released in April that year. The record is now considered a Northern Soul classic. Tony Kingston sang two songs from the 1970 British film I Start Counting, namely “They Want Love” and “Children”. After relocating to Canada in the early ’70s Kingston was signed to Yorkville Records in Toronto where he recorded “I Am The Preacher”.

I Am The Preacher by Tony Kingston

“I Am The Preacher” was a song co-written by UK songwriters and singers Roger John Reginald Greenaway (born in 1938) and Roger Frederick Cooke (born in 1940). Both were born in a suburb of Bristol, England. Roger Greenaway was one of the founding members of a close harmony group called The Kestrels, who formed in 1955. The group provided backing vocals for recording artists Billy Fury, Eden Kane, Lonnie Donegan and singer/comedian Benny Hill. Roger Cook joined The Kestrels in 1964. It was when Greenaway and Cook got to know each other as members of The Kestrels they glimpsed a creative fusion they wanted to pursue. In 1965 the pair co-wrote “You’ve Got Your Troubles”, which became a Top Ten intentional hit for The Fortunes. Between 1965 and 1967 the pair billed themselves as David and Jonathan, after two characters in the Hebrew scriptures who had name recognition in the wider culture. As David and Jonathan they recorded a cover version of The Beatles song, “Michelle”, followed by a song they wrote titled “Lovers of the World Unite.” Sometimes in collaboration with other songwriters, Cook and Greenaway co-wrote numbers of other pop hits. These include “Green Grass” by Gary Lewis & The Playboys, “I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman” by Whistling Jack Smith and “Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)” by The Hollies. The novelty song, “I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman,” had a guy named Billy Moeller appear in TV shows who whistle-synched the song. But the actual whistling on the record was by a guy named John O’Neill who never appeared to whistle-synch the song.

In 1970, the songwriting duo of Cook–Greenaway collaborated to write a song called “True Love and Apple Pie”, recorded by Susan Shirley. The song was then rewritten by Cook and Greenaway, along with Bill Backer and Billy Davis, two ad men for Coca-Cola. The result was a catchy tune revised as a Coca-Cola commercial which aired through 1970-71. The line, “I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company,” became an ear worm for many TV viewers and radio listeners that year. The popularity of the commercial led to it being reworked and titled “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing.” It was recorded by The New Seekers and became a #1 hit in the UK and Vancouver (and #7 in the USA) in 1972. The song decades later was played during the end of episodes of the TV show, Mad Men.

In 1970 Greenaway teamed up with Tony Burrows to record under the name of The Pipkins with a novelty tune that reached the Top Ten in Vancouver called Gimmie Dat Ding”. That same year, Greenaway was temporarily a member of the Brotherhood of Man. That group charted a Top 20 hit internationally titled “United We Stand.” And in 1970 Cook and Greenaway co-wrote a song that would go on to be in the Top 100 for the year in both the UK, the USA and in Canada titled “My Baby Loves Lovin’” by The White Plains. That song went to #1 in Vancouver, though it only peaked at #13 on the Billboard Hot 100. Cook and Greenaway later wrote “Jeans On” recorded by David Dundas. It was a #1 hit in Vancouver in February of that year. Though the song only peaked at #17 in the USA, it stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 long enough to become the #73 song of 1977.

“I Am The Preacher” is a pop song with heavy religious overtones. It begins with Hallelujahs. The song is narrated from the vantage point of a preacher who is bringing a message to the people of the world who have yet to find peace. The preacher has a message about a better way of living rooted in love. The lyrics tell about obstacles that get in the way such as war, misguiding others. The preacher also speaks of the pervasiveness of lament (wailing) among the people. He says “I am the pupil who sells his life for freedom,” indicating the preacher is making a sacrifice of himself for the greater good of humanity.

In the late 60s and early 70s there was an emerging Jesus Movement. There were numerous pop songs with religious overtones. These include “Spirit In The Sky” by Norman Greenbaum, “Put Your Hand In the Hand” by Ocean, “One Tin Soldier” by the Original Caste, “Crystal Blue Persuasion” and “Sweet Cherry Wine” by Tommy James & The Shondells, “Oh Happy Day” by the Edwin Hawkins Singers, “The Wedding Song (There Is Love)” by Paul Stookey, and “Amazing Grace” by Judy Collins. “I Am The Preacher” was part of this genre breaking into pop music.

In early 1972 “I Am The Preacher” managed to reach #65 on the RPM Top Singles chart in February. that year but having a significantly better showing on the CHUM chart in Toronto where it peaked at #15. The song fared even better in Vancouver where it climbed to #2. The song also made the Top 30 in Hamilton (ON) and Rochester (NY).

Tony Kingston played the circuit of live clubs in the 70s in the Toronto area including the Stonehouse and Friars Tavern. He released a single in 1974 titled “Too Heavy To Carry” which got little notice. And in 1978 he released “Sweet Music” that also got little airplay in Canada. Tony Kingston had a namesake who moved from Jamaica and died in a car accident in 1970, according to Discogs.com. But it is clear that the Tony Kingston who sang “I Am The Preacher” and performed around the Toronto area through the 70s was very much alive after 1970. But what happened to him after the late 70s has not yet been uncovered.

November 6, 2019
Ray McGinnis

References:
Songwriter Roger Cook Turns 70, KLUV, Dallas, TX, August 19, 2010.
Roger Cook: Britain’s most prolific songwriting team with Roger Greenaway, Songwriters Hall of Fame.org.
Sarah Begley, Buy The World A Coke Songwriter ‘Amazed’ to Hear it Ended Mad Men, Time, May 18, 2015.
The Pipkins- bio, BBC, London, UK.
Various YouTube.com comments below several Tony Kingston recordings.

For more song reviews visit the Countdown.

Hushaby Little Guitar by Paul Evans

#497: Hushaby Little Guitar by Paul Evans

Peak Month: October 1960
8 weeks on CFUN’s Vancouver Charts
Peak Position ~ #4
1 week Hit Bound
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com: “Hushaby Little Guitar

Paul Evans was born in Queens, New York, in 1938. Although he got some fame with his modest success as a teen idol, Evans is more well known for his songwriting for other performing artists. He recorded his first single in 1957 titled “What Do You Know?”, backed with “Dorothy”. His first hit song was written in 1958 titled “When”. It became a Top 20 hit for the Kalin Twins. Evans told staff with the Songfacts website about the backstory. Evans said ” I was young… 19 or 20. I would write with two or three writers a day. It was our job to write songs… just sitting around, fooling around playing songs. We wrote a song for the Everly Brothers, but they were almost impossible to get. So we brought the song up to Decca Records. The demo was just my guitar, me singing, and my co-writer singing a harmony line. We got the Kalin Twins to do it because when [Decca] heard a duet on a demo, they thought of a duet, that’s just the way it was in the business at the time. We did not write it as a personal experience. We tried. We wrote it because we wanted to write a song that we could get a record recorded on.”

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I Told You So by Jimmy Jones

#1275: I Told You So by Jimmy Jones

Peak Month: April 1961
6 weeks on Vancouver’s CKWX chart
Peak Position #13
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #85
YouTube.com: “I Told You So
“I Told You So” lyrics

Jimmy Jones was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1937. He got a gig as a tap dancer in the early 50s. In 1954 Jones formed a doo-wop group named the Berliners. The group changed their name later in ’54 to The Sparks of Rhythm. He moved to New York City in 1955 and formed another group called the Savoys, named after the label they recorded with. They left Savoy for Rama Records and became the Pretenders, and then the Jones Boys. When the group disbanded in 1959, Jimmy Jones embarked on a solo career. In December 1959 he released a song he’d written in the mid-50s with the Sparks of Rhythm titled “Handy Man”. It was co-written with Otis Blackwell. In 1960 the single climbed to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on CFUN in Vancouver (BC).
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Skin Tight, Pin Striped, Purple Pedal Pushers by Sheb Wooley

#1266: Skin Tight, Pin Striped, Purple Pedal Pushers by Sheb Wooley

Peak Month: July 1961
6 weeks on Vancouver’s CKWX chart
Peak Position #15
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com: “Skin Tight, Pin Striped, Purple Pedal Pushers

Shelby Fredrick “Sheb” Wooley was born in rural southwestern Oklahoma in 1921. His father was a farmer who also owned some horses. During his childhood Sheb learned to ride horses. He became a working cowboy and into his early teens a rodeo rider. When he was 15 Sheb formed a country and western band named the “Plainview Melody Boys.” His band occasionally appeared live on radio station KASA in Elk City, Oklahoma. When he was 19 years-old Sheb Wooley married 17-year-old Melva Miller. She was a cousin of Roger Miller. Sheb and Roger became friends and he taught Roger how to play the guitar and bought him his first fiddle while he was still a child. Due to his rodeo injuries, Sheb Wooley was not seen fit to join the United States Army. Instead he worked on the oil patch as a welder. He and his wife moved to Fort Worth, Texas, in 1946. That year he released his first single “Oklahoma Honky-Tonk Gal”. He hosted a Fort Worth-based country music radio show called Sheb Wooley and the Calumet Indians. But after three years of touring across the southern USA with a band, the marriage fell apart. Wooley remarried in 1949 and moved to Hollywood in 1950.

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Open Up Your Door by Richard & The Young Lions

#498: Open Up Your Door by Richard & The Young Lions

Peak Month: November 1966
9 weeks on CKLG’s Vancouver Charts
Peak Position ~ #2
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #99
YouTube.com: “Open Up Your Door
“Open Up Your Door” lyrics

When Richard Tepp began to hear the Beatles, Dave Clark Five, Rolling Stones and the Gerry and the Pacemakers in 1964, these British Invasion acts inspired him to become a rock ‘n roll singer. Sitting in his home in Newark, New Jersey, he saw the way the opposite sex reacted to the Beatles. Tepp imagined a wonderful life that would include him performing and girls screaming. He attended a gig at a club on Chancellor Avenue in Newark where The Emeralds were on stage. He asked if he could join there band and, after showing them his vocal skills, they hired him on the spot. The Emeralds soon changed their name to The Original Kounts and became a cover band playing British Invasion songs. They grew their hair long and stood out.

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Medicine Man by Buchanan Brothers

#499: Medicine Man by Buchanan Brothers

Peak Month: June 1969
8 weeks on CKLG’s Vancouver Charts
Peak Position ~ #4
1 week Hit Bound
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #22
YouTube.com: “Medicine Man
“Medicine Man” lyrics

Thomas Picardo Jr. was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1942. In 1958 he co-founded a doo-wop group called The Criterions with Tim Hauser. The pair attended St. Rose High School in Belmar, NJ. The Criterions had a minor hit on the Alan Freed show in New York City and on WMGM in Wildwood, New Jersey in 1959 titled “I Remain Truly Yours”. West and Hauser went to Villanova University in Pennsylvania and in 1960. West became the conductor of the Villanova Singers, the university glee club. From the glee club, West formed another group of singers named The Villanova Spires. This was a 12-man folk group who sang with guitars. Tim Hauser also  joined the Villanova Spires. In 1961, West another student named Jim Croce joined The Villanova Spires and they became friends.

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Private Eye by Bob Luman

#500: Private Eye by Bob Luman

Peak Month: August 1961
8 weeks on CFUN’s Vancouver Charts
Peak Position ~ #3
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #115
YouTube.com: “Private Eye

Bob Luman was born in Blackjack, Texas, in 1937. Before 1955 the only hits Bob Luman had were on the baseball field. He was an outstanding baseball player for his school team in Kilgore, Texas. He also fronted a band that performed the country hits. But after seeing Elvis Presley perform in Kilgore in May 1955, Luman was resolved that his hits going forward would be “Rockabilly hits.”

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Try My Love Again by Bobby Moore's Rhythm Aces

#1271: Try My Love Again by Bobby Moore’s Rhythm Aces

Peak Month: December 1966
7 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG chart
Peak Position #17
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #97
YouTube.com: “Try My Love Again
“Try My Love Again” lyrics

Robert “Bobby” Moore was born in 1930 in New Orleans. When he was a teenager he joined the United States Army and was stationed at Fort Benning, near Columbus, Georgia. While in basic training, Moore learned to play the tenor saxophone. In 1952 he formed a band on the base called the Rhythm Aces made up of members of the marching band. He finished his service to the Army in 1961 and moved to Montgomery, Alabama. It was there he re-formed the Rhythm Aces with his brother Larry Moore on alto sax, Chico Jenkins on vocals and guitar, Marion Sledge on guitar, Joe Frank on bass, Clifford Laws on organ, and John Baldwin Junior on drums.

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The Twelfth Rose by The Browns

#1257: The Twelfth Rose by The Browns

Peak Month: June 1963
6 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #17
Twin Pick Hit June 1/63
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com: “The Twelfth Rose
“The Twelfth Rose” lyrics

Ella Maxine Brown was born in 1931. Jim Ed Brown was born in 1934, and Bonnie Jean Brown was born in 1938. All three siblings were born in Sparkman, Arkansas. The family owned a farm and their father worked in a sawmill. When the family moved to Pine Bluff, an hours drive east, the children began to sing together at church and other social functions. Maxine signed Jim Ed up for a talent contest on KLRA’s “Barnyard Frolic,”a radio station in Little Rock. Jim Ed didn’t win the contest, but was offered a spot on the radio show’s cast. In 1954 Jim and Maxine formed a duo and recorded a single titled “Looking Back To See”. They performed it on the Ernest Tubb radio show and it became a #8 hit on the Billboard Country chart that summer.

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