Sound Advice: Estate sale purchase includes a doo-wop gem

By  Tim Neely

The Flairs (also spelled The Flares) were known by many names, including The Hollywood Blue Jays, as well as The Chimes, The Ermines, The Jac-O-Lacs and The Peppers, according statistics listed on the group’s card in Music Nostalgia’s trading card series. Courtesy of Music Nostalgia

The Flairs (also spelled The Flares) were known by many names, including The Hollywood Blue Jays, as well as The Chimes, The Ermines, The Jac-O-Lacs and The Peppers, according statistics listed on the group’s card in Music Nostalgia’s trading card series. Courtesy of Music Nostalgia
Question: I bought a box of old 45s at an estate sale, and one in particular caught my interest. It’s by a group called The Flairs with the recordings of “I’d Climb The Hills And Mountains” b/w “Swing Pretty Mama” on a New York City label called Antler Records (#45-4005). My reference material indicates that there were probably two or three groups called The Flairs, but none mention Antler records. Is this record a rarity, and if so, any guestimate on value? Condition is VG. Both sides are R&B doo-wop numbers written by Kenneth Byley, if that’s any help. Thanks!

— Dwain Hanson, Spokane, Wash.

Answer: Based on what I’ve been able to find out, your record came out in 1957 in a transitional time for The Flairs.

The group’s entire story is too convoluted to get into here. But by 1957, Cornel Gunter, who had been the lead voice on many of The Flairs’ earlier records for the Flair and ABC-Paramount labels, had left the group. The remaining Flairs went on with a new tenor voice, Vince Weaver.

In 1956, the group had signed a management contract with Buck Ram, best known for his work in the same capacity with The Platters. When Ram started his own label, Antler, in 1957, naturally he had The Flairs make a record for it —  thus the two songs on your 45. (The Flairs were not signed to a record label; they were signed to Ram’s management company, who recorded the songs, then leased the masters to ABC-Paramount.) That would be The Flairs’ only disc on Antler.

Both songs, particularly “I’d Climb The Hills And Mountains,” are well regarded in vocal group circles and have appeared on several compilations of doo-wop music.

The original 45 seems to be worth in the $120-$150 range for a near-mint copy, and correspondingly less for copies in lower grades.

Question: Some years ago, I came across a 45 record with five audio advertisements for the Marty Robbins movie “Road to Nashville.” Marty does two of the advertisements himself. 

The label reads “Robert Patrick presents Road to Nashville, starring Marty Robbins, catalog number 136.” What year did the movie come out and what is the 45 worth? 

—Marvin Madsen, Tomball, Texas

Answer: “Road to Nashville” came out in 1967. The movie stars Doodles Weaver as a Hollywood movie producer sent to Nashville to make a film about country music. But in reality, there’s not much plot. The reason this movie has any value at all is because Marty Robbins, as the film’s producer, managed to get a large number of both then-current Nashville stars and a few up-and-comers to appear and perform in the movie.

Robbins, as the film’s producer, got to perform five songs in the finished product. Others did two or three, and some of the performances are lip-synched. But still, the list of country royalty who appeared in the movie makes it worth a look for history’s sake if nothing else: Johnny Cash, Connie Smith, Waylon Jennings (several years before he became really famous), Webb Pierce, Faron Young, Hank Snow, Kitty Wells, The Osborne Brothers, The Carter Family and The Stoneman Family — and that’s just for starters — all perform at least one song during the film.

The movie was released on DVD in 2000 but appears to be out of print now.

Your record probably was sent to radio stations to help promote the film. Relatively few of these were made, and most of them were disposed of once the movies came and went. If these had been announcements for an Elvis Presley or a Beatles movie, it would be worth many hundreds of dollars. As it is, I’d guess a Robbins collector would probably pay $50-$100, depending on condition — and even more if any of the other promotional material is still with the record.

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