By Phill Marder
This is the 39th set of 10 selections in The Goldmine Hall of Fame.
Great Blogs Of Fire will be announcing 10 inductees approximately every three weeks until all 700-plus inductees are announced. Bios of all selections and criteria for induction can be found on our website by clicking the Goldmine Hall of Fame tab. A running list of all announced inductees will be listed, also. These also can be found under “Great Blogs Of Fire” at the bottom of the page or by following this link – http://www.goldminemag.com/blogs/goldmine-hall-of-fame-inductees
381. THE RONETTES
This New York City-based trio, two sisters and a cousin, recorded just one album during its brief existence. But what an album! Released in 1964, “…presenting the fabulous Ronettes featuring Veronica” basically became a Ronettes’ greatest hits package, though even in the singles market the group had just one major entry. That, of course, was “Be My Baby,” which reached #2 in the U.S. and #4 in the U.K., quickly establishing the Ronettes as major stars on both sides of the Atlantic.
Four more singles from the album became hits, but none came close to “Be My Baby.” “Baby, I Love You” reached U.S. #24 and U.K. #11, “(The Best Part Of) Breakin’ Up” just edged into the U.S. top 40 at #39 and just missed in the U.K. at #43, “Do I Love You?” did a bit better at #34 U.S. and #35 U.K., while “Walking In The Rain” brought the girls back somewhat at #23 in the U.S., but missed entirely in the United Kingdom. The album also included several covers, The Ronettes doing “So Young,” The Students doo-wop classic covered also by The Beach Boys, Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say,” and the much recorded “You Baby.” “Chapel Of Love,” was not released as a single, later reaching #1 by The Dixie Cups. Another should-have-been was a later recording of “I Can Hear Music,” which went nowhere for the trio in 1966, but became a major hit for The Beach Boys three years later.
The album’s list of credits reads like an all-star lineup, with Phil Spector producing. Darlene Love’s Blossoms sang backup along with Sonny & Cher and the vaunted Wrecking Crew supplied the wall of sound behind the Ronettes’ vocals.
The inductees are: Veronica and Estelle Bennett and Nedra Talley.
382. JERRY BUTLER
If this original member of The Impressions had continued recording with Curtis Mayfield as, say, Curtis & Jerry, the two eventually may have challenged Hall & Oates, The Everly Brothers and Simon & Garfunkel for honors as the most successful duo of all time. Instead, Butler went his solo way, Mayfield captained The Impressions with Sam Gooden and Fred Cash, and all end up in the Goldmine Hall Of Fame.
Butler, along with the Brooks brothers, Arthur and Richard, penned the initial hit by The Impressions, “For Your Precious Love,” which peaked at #11. The group’s celebration ended quickly, though, when Butler left for a solo career and the Brooks Brothers weren’t far behind. Mayfield chose to follow Butler, acting as his guitarist, songwriter and harmony voice as Butler reached #7 with “He Will Break Your Heart” and broke into the top 30 with “Find Another Girl” and “I’m A Telling You.” Butler just missed another top 10 entry when “Moon River” stopped at #11 and “Make It Easy On Yourself” gave him another hit, coming in at #20.
Mayfield was working steadily with The Impressions by 1963, but Butler found another vocal partner in Betty Everett in 1964, their duet on The Everly Brothers’ “Let It Be Me” becoming Butler’s top charting single to that point at #5. The British Invasion slowed Butler’s pace, but he re-emerged in 1968 with two top 20 efforts, “Never Give You Up” and “Hey, Western Union Man.” He then started 1969 with his best chart effort ever, “Only The Strong Survive,” which peaked at #4. “Moody Woman” and “What’s The Use Of Breaking Up” gave him two more hits before the year ended. Another duet, this time with Brenda Lee Eager, brought Butler back in 1971, “Ain’t Understanding Mellow” climbing to #21.
Over the years, Butler has maintained a strong presence on the Rhythm & Blues chart of the U.S. and also has had a strong following in Canada. He has charted 16 albums on the Billboard top 200, “The Ice Man Cometh” climbing to #29 and “Ice On Ice” peaking at #41, both in 1969.
With all the great music emanating from Canada over the years, including great bands such as The Guess Who, The Band and Rush, all Goldmine Hall of Fame inductees, it becomes easy to overlook this Calgary quintet. But the Juno is Canada’s top award in music, and Loverboy has collected more than any artist, solo or group, over the years. In 2009, Loverboy joined the three groups in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and now joins them in the Goldmine Hall of Fame.
The Juno Awards for 1982, presented for achievements in 1981, saw Loverboy win a record for one year, six. The band received honors for Group Of The Year, besting Rush among others, Album Of The Year, “Loverboy” beating out two Rush entries and two others, Best Selling Single for “Turn Me Loose,” which also garnered group members Mike Reno and Paul Dean Composer Of The Year honors, while Dean and Bruce Fairbairn earned Producer of the Year for “Working For The Weekend” and “When It’s Over” and the team of Bob Rock and Keith Stein were co-winners of Recording Engineer of the Year. Another Juno was collected the next year when “Get Lucky” gave Loverboy its second straight Album Of The Year designation and in 1984 Loverboy was named Group Of The Year for 1983.
Naturally, Loverboy’s strongest sales base were in its home country, but its best chart showings during its heyday came in the U.S. where the albums “Get Lucky” and “Keep It Up” each reached #7. While both entered the Canadian top 10, the band didn’t reach #7 until 2007’s “Just Getting Started.” The singles’ market was about even with “Turn Me Loose,” “Working For The Weekend” and “Hot Girls In Love” all top 10 hits only north of the border, while “Lovin’ Every Minute Of It” and “This Could Be The Night” hit top 10 in the States, but not in Canada.
Still touring and recording today, Loverboy has remained pretty much intact though bassist Scott Smith drowned in a 2000 boating accident. He, along with Reno (lead vocals), Dean (lead guitar), Doug Johnson on keyboards and drummer Matt Frenette receive “Miners” as Goldmine inductees.
Another great band with its origins in Canada was this quintet, which began north of the border as The Sparrows. Led by lead singer John Kay, who was born in Germany but moved to Canada in 1958 as a young teenager, the group also featured two native Canadians, keyboardist Goldy McJohn and drummer Jerry Edmonton. Bassist Rushton Moreve and guitarist Michael Monarch hailed from Los Angeles, where the band’s recording career began.
And what a beginning! Pulled from its eponymous debut album, “Born To Be Wild” put Steppenwolf on the map in the Summer of 1968, bolting to #2 in the U.S. where it stayed for three weeks stuck behind another of the great anthems of the ‘60s, The Rascals’ “People Got To Be Free.” The album eventually climbed to #1 in Canada and #6 in the U.S. and “Born To Be Wild” became even more memorable for its mention of “heavy metal thunder” and its prominent positioning in the 1969 movie Easy Rider.
But that instant classic was far from The Wolf’s lone howl. Another came from the sophomore album, creatively titled “The Second.” While “Born To Be Wild” had been penned by Dennis Edmonton, an ex-Sparrow member and brother of drummer Jerry writing as Mars Bonfire, the second gem came from Kay and Moreve in the form of “Magic Carpet Ride,” both LP and single rising to U.S. #3, the LP just missing giving Steppenwolf back-to-back #1’s in Canada, stalling at #2. With two mammoth hits out of the box, Steppenwolf was hard-pressed to continue its success rate. But “Rock Me,” pulled from its third LP, gave the band another smash, climbing to U.S. #10, while the long-player “At Your Birthday Party” hit #7 in the U.S. Three more top 40 hits followed in 1969 and 1970 and the next two albums, “Monster” and “Steppenwolf 7,” hit the top 20 in the U.S. and Canada and the top 10 in Norway. The band splintered in 1972, but reformed in 1974 with the hit single “Straight Shootin’Woman.”
The inductees are the above mentioned five plus George Biondo and Nick St. Nicholas (bass) and Larry Byrom (guitar).
385. ELLA FITZGERALD
Just a mention of her first name, Ella, and most listeners, young and old, would know who was being talked of. Truly, one of music’s immortals, this Virginia native was having hit records as early as 1936, but she really hit her stride in our beginning year, 1955.
From 1936 until 1953, Ella Fitzgerald accounted for 53 … count ‘em, 53 top 30 singles! Twenty reached the top 10 in the U.S. with four hitting #1. Clearly, if these stats were included in Fitzgerald’s tallies for this project, she would be ranked much higher. Still, in 1955 certain major events shaped Fitzgerald’s future. She left Decca Records, home of her many hits, and began recording for Verve, a label started by her manager, Norman Granz. Immediately, Fitzgerald began branching out from her Jazz base, releasing “The Cole Porter Songbook.” A smash, it began a collection of eight releases by Fitzgerald each focusing on a great composer’s portfolio. This initial effort was one of six Fitzgerald releases (four LPs, two singles) inducted into The Grammy Hall Of Fame. The entire series became a must listen.
While her career was hitting commercial and critical peaks, her status as a top singles’ seller ended, her lone semblance of a hit single being her 1960 version of “Mack The Knife,” which topped off at #27. This wasn’t strange, however, as the LP had become the main vehicle for an artist to reach the audience, and Fitzgerald’s audience, most in the album-buying age group, pushed five of her releases into Billboard’s top 15 between 1955 and 1960.
Fitzgerald won Grammy Lifetime Achievement and Bing Crosby Lifetime Achievement awards in 1967 and the Kennedy Center Award in 1979.. She won Grammy Awards for Best Jazz Performance (2), Best Female Pop Vocal Performance (5), Best Jazz Vocal (2), Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Female (4) and Best Historical Album. She was inducted into the Big Band & Jazz Hall of Fame and The Down Beat Jazz Hall Of Fame in 1979. She passed away in 1996 at age 79.
386. FRANKIE AVALON
Our previous induction class included Philadelphia “Golden Boy” Bobby Rydell. Now, fellow Philly teen idol Frankie Avalon joins him in the Goldmine Hall Of Fame. Actually, Avalon had the jump on Rydell, scoring hits beginning in 1958 while Rydell didn’t connect until the next year.
Avalon, still active today, went on to become one of show businesses most recognizable names and faces, parlaying his music success and his cover-boy good looks into a very successful movie and stage career. Beginning as a young teenager, Avalon, playing trumpet, had made a few recordings, but his career took off with a spoof as he recorded “DeDeDinah” with a distinctly nasal voice and the record soared to #2 in Canada, #7 on the Hot 100 and #8 on the U.S. R&B chart. Before 1958 was over, Avalon had placed “Ginger Bread” at #9 U.S., #10 R&B, #12 Canada and #30 in the U.K. and “I’ll Wait For You,” which hit #15 U.S. and #20 Canada.
As 1959 began, Avalon unleashed one of the biggest singles of all time, “Venus,” which hit #1 in the U.S. and remained there five weeks. It also reached #1 in Canada, Italy and Australia, #2 in Flanders and was a significant smash in the U.K. (#16), Belgium (#24), Brasil (#37) and South Africa. He followed with a double-sided hit, both sides reaching the U.S. top 10 as “Bobby Sox To Stockings” rose to #8 and “A Boy Without A Girl” climbed to #10. As hot as could be at this point, Avalon put “Just Ask Your Heart” into the U.S. top 10 at #7 and finished the year the way he started, with a #1 record, “Why” becoming the last #1 hit of the ‘50s.
While the ‘60s were not nearly as successful on the hit front, Avalon continued one of the nation’s biggest stars, his “beach blanket” movies with Annette becoming cult classics. He also made successful appearances in several “serious” movie roles. While his music releases continued to chart, he never again reached the top 10 except in the Adult Contemporary chart where a disco version of “Venus” hit #1 in 1976. He did, however, have three more singles reach into the top 30 before then.
387. KEITH SWEAT
Born in Harlem, Keith Douglas Crier just made it under the wire to qualify for Goldmine Hall Of Fame designation, releasing his first single and LP as 1987 drew to a close. Recording as Keith Sweat, he immediately made his mark as the single, “I Want Her,” shot to the top of the R&B chart and #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album, “Make It Last Forever,” wasn’t far behind, hitting #1 on the R&B chart and #15 on the Billboard best seller list.
That set off a remarkable run for Sweat, who saw his first five albums, stretching into late 1996, hit #1 on the R&B chart, three reaching the mainstream top 10. During that same time span, Sweat placed 13 singles into the R&B top 10, “Make You Sweat,” “I’ll Give All My Love To You,” “Keep It Comin’,” “Twisted” and “Nobody” joining his debut. “Twisted” was Sweat’s highest-charting single on the Hot 100, climbing to #2, while “Nobody” followed at #3.
Sweat first missed the R&B LP chart’s top rung with 1998’s “Still In The Game,” which stalled at #2, but still reached #6 on the big chart. “Didn’t See Me Coming” also reached #6 overall in 2000, though stopping at #3 R&B. His last four studio albums, dating to 2008’s “Til The Morning” all have reached the R&B top 10 with 2008’s “Just Me” returning Sweat to #1.
Sweat also has contributed to the super group LSG with Gerald Levert and Johnny Gill. The group’s first single, “My Body,” topped the R&B chart and hit #4 on the Hot 100 in 1997 and the trio’s two albums hit the higher rungs of the R&B and mainstream charts. Gerald passed away in 2006 and Gill recently announced Gerald’s father, Eddie, would replace him.
388. EDDIE MONEY
The GEICO Insurance Company has been responsible for many of the best laughs on television for years. Many of its commercials have been downright hilarious, a recent example featuring this Brooklyn vocalist. As head of his own travel agency, Eddie Money offers potential customers “Two Tickets To Paradise,” belting out the lyrics to one of his biggest hits with enthusiasm, self-deprecating humor and a croak only Kermit could emulate.
It wouldn’t be nearly as effective if Money, born Edward Mahoney, and his hit weren’t so memorable. The degree of Money’s popularity is often overlooked, however. During the late ‘70s and throughout the ‘80s, Money was responsible for some of the best straight-ahead Rock & Roll radio had to offer. And he did it right out of the box, his eponymous debut album featuring “Baby Hold On,” which reached #11 in the U.S. and #4 in Canada and its follow-up, the above mentioned “Two Tickets To Paradise,” which hit #22 U.S. and #14 Canada.
Money, who plays several instruments, was responsible for writing or co-writing almost all of the 1977 LP, the two hits included, and it sold impressively for a debut, reaching #37 U.S. and #24 Canada. His second album, released the next year, produced another hit single, “Maybe I’m A Fool,” which hit U.S. #22 and #28 in Canada. The LP charted better than the first LP, climbing to #17 U.S. and #13 Canada, but its total sales dropped off considerably. While Money didn’t produce another hit until 1982’s “Think I’m In Love,” which climbed to #16 in the States and #11 north of the border, his releases did maintain a steady chart presence for the vocalist even when the singles weren’t massive hits. For instance, “Shakin’,” which followed “Think I’m In Love,” reached #9 on the U.S. Mainstream chart, which measures radio play on album rock stations. “Think I’m In Love” had topped that listing.
In 1986, “Take Me Home Tonight” also topped that chart and brought Money back in a big way. The single, which featured Ronnie Spector, the lead singer of the Ronettes, hit #4 in the U.S., #15 in Canada and became a major force in Europe. The follow-up, “I Wanna Go Back,” was another huge success, peaking at #14, and a third single from the album, “Endless Nights,” reached #21. In 1988, he hit the U.S. top 10 again, “Walk On Water” reaching #9, and 1990’s “Peace In Our Time” just missed, stopping at #11.
If you don’t have a television, you still can catch Money, who maintains a steady concert appearance schedule.
389. TOMMY ROE
This Atlanta vocalist was lumped in with the Bubblegum genre, and most deservedly so. But what’s wrong with that? Bubblegum provided a slew of catchy, memorable hits, fun to listen to and great to sing along with. And Tommy Roe was responsible for many of the best.
As a teenager, Roe recorded a version of “Sheila,” which did not make an impact on the music business. But when he tried it again at age 21, it started him on his permanent career path. The self-written smash was a non-disguised emulation of Buddy Holly’s “Peggy Sue.” But it was so great, it became a worldwide winner, eclipsing Holly’s effort on many charts. It held the Hot 100 top spot two weeks and also was #1 in Canada and Australia and top 10 in the U.K., New Zealand and Germany. It was a tough act to follow, but Roe did it successfully over the next eight years, and “Sheila” turned out to not even be his biggest hit.
That honor went to 1969’s “Dizzy,” co-written with Freddy Weller. “Dizzy” topped charts in the U.S., U.K., Canada and South Africa and was top five in most other nations. By that time, Roe already had hit the top 10 on several occasions, beginning with 1963’s “Everybody,” which soared to #3 in the U.S. and Canada, #4 in New Zealand and #9 U.K., where later the same year “The Folk Singer” rose to #4. In 1966, Roe’s “Sweet Pea” topped charts in Canada and New Zealand and brought Roe back to the first 10 in the U.S. at #8 and the follow-up, “Hooray For Hazel,” did even better in the States, making it to #6, while it held the #2 slot in Canada.
Another effort with Weller, “Jam Up Jelly Tight,” finished Roe’s streak in 1969, reaching the top 10 in the U.S., Canada, Australia and South Africa, although 1970’s cover of “Stagger Lee” was reasonably successful. Roe also had success selling LPs, six charting on Billboard’s Top 200, with two entering the top 25.
390. JUDY GARLAND
Child stars experiencing rocky lives certainly is a common theme in the entertainment business. All one has to do is look at the news regularly to witness the struggles of many who “made it” as a little one only to self-destruct – or at least try to – when adulthood beckoned. Minnesota’s Judy Garland certainly fills the bill.
Called by Fred Astaire “the greatest entertainer who ever lived,” Garland was a star as a teenager, eventually to battle with alcohol and drugs, the IRS, disease and several husbands, of which she had five. And she did it all before dying at the age of just 47. Meanwhile, she accomplished enough to earn a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, with several of her recordings included in the Grammy Hall of Fame. She also won a Juvenile Academy Award for her starring roles in The Wizard Of Oz and Babes In Toyland and received several other Academy Award nominations, won a Golden Globe for best actress in A Star Is Born as well as being the youngest recipient of the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. When polls are released naming the greatest female film stars, Garland usually appears in the top 10.
But the Goldmine Hall Of Fame is based solely on musical achievement, and here too, Garland boasts some remarkable accomplishments, starting with the American Film Institute’s recognition of her performance of “Over The Rainbow” in The Wizard Of Oz as the greatest movie song of all time. The RIAA and the National Endowment For The Arts recognizes the effort as the #1 Song Of The Century. In 1955, our opening year for tabulations, Garland posted a #5 album, “Miss Show Business,” and her next two LPs, 1956’s “Judy” and 1957’s “Alone” each reached U.S. #17. Several subsequent releases fared not as well, however, and Garland’s run as a chart-topper appeared to be over. But, despite failing health, she continued successful concert appearances, her 1959 London Palladium show proving so popular she considered moving to England.
In 1961, Garland turned in another classic concert performance, this time at Carnegie Hall. Referred to as “the greatest night in show business history,” the event was captured on a two-disc set entitled “Judy At Carnegie Hall,” an album that spent 13 weeks at #1 on the Billboard chart, winning four Grammy Awards, including Album Of The Year and Best Female Vocal Of The Year. She continued to notch chart-making LPs in the U.S., including a 1964 effort with daughter Liza Minelli entitled “Live At The London Palladium.”
She passed away in 1969 at her rented London home.