By Phill Marder
This is the 44th 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
431. THE BOX TOPS
The mid-‘60s produced many great bands as youngsters everywhere aspired to hit the “big time” reached by The Beatles, Stones etc. Out of Memphis roared this quintet of teenagers led by Alex Chilton. At 16, Chilton sounded like a seasoned pro as he growled the famous opening line penned by Wayne Carson Thompson…”Give me a ticket for an air-o-plane…”
The recording, less than two minutes in length, was, of course, “The Letter,” which became a worldwide smash and one of 1967’s biggest hits, holding down the #1 spot in the U.S. for four weeks. It also topped the charts in Canada and reached #5 in the U.K. Covered since by many artists, The Box Tops’ version remains definitive and most successful.
But The Box Tops had far more than one bullet to fire and over the next two years accounted for several more hits today considered “classics” by many. The pen of Thompson provided the band’s follow-up hit, too, with “Neon Rainbow,” little like “The Letter” in style or sound. Although it failed to reach the heights of “The Letter,” it climbed to U.S. #24 and #17 north of the border and announced the group as more than a “one-hit wonder.” Cynics still not convinced were forced to concede as 1968 saw “Cry Like A Baby” resting at U.S. #2 for two weeks, blocked from the top position by Goldmine Hall of Famer Bobby Goldsboro and “Honey.” It also reached #3 in Canada and returned the group to the U.K. top 20. Before the year was up, The Box Tops had turned out three more hits, “Choo Choo Train,” “I Met Her In Church” and “Sweet Cream Ladies, Forward March.” As the band fell apart, the string ended in 1969 with another Thompson-penned number, “Soul Deep,” #18 in the U.S. and top 10 in Australia and Canada.
Four of the group’s albums reached the upper half of the Billboard Top 200.
Members came and went, but the lineup that established The Box Tops make up the inductees: Chilton; Gary Talley (lead guitar); Bill Cunningham (bass); Danny Smythe (drums) and John Evans (keyboards).
432. PAUL YOUNG
Some artists rely on self-penned material, others have had regular contributors supplying it, and a small group has had a fair share of success by redoing previous hits and selected album tracks by other artists, Goldmine Hall of Fame inductees Johnny Rivers, Three Dog Night and The Diamonds for example.
Another such practitioner is England’s Paul Young, whose ample portfolio of major successes has been assembled by Young’s ability to turn someone else’s song into his own, making it a massive hit in the process. The first, “Love Of The Common People,” was from the repertoire of Stiff Little Fingers, and it stiffed upon release. Young’s next try, a popular cut off Marvin Gaye’s “That Stubborn Kind Of Fellow” LP, did the trick, though,. “Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)” shot to the very top of charts in the U.K. while also reaching top 10 status in Sweden, New Zealand and Canada. The LP was home of two more huge singles, “Come Back & Stay,” written by The Nerves’ Jack Lee, who also wrote Blondie’s “Hanging On The Telephone,” and a reborn “Love Of The Common People.” The former reached #1 in Germany, France, New Zealand, Norway, Belgium and Switzerland and went top 10 in most other nations, the latter being the re-release of Young’s previous miss which now became #1 across Europe, topping charts in Holland, Belgium, Italy and Ireland.
The hits lifted Young’s debut LP, “No Parlez,” to #1 in the U.K. and across Europe, and even helped it to #79 in the U.S., where “Come Back & Stay” was the only significant hit, getting to #22. That trend continued when Young put two 1984 singles into the U.K. top 10 without comparable success in the States. However, that changed in 1985 when Young covered the Hall & Oates album track, “Everytime You Go Away,” which soared to #1 in the U.S. and Canada and went top 10 most other places. The single, Young’s lone U.S. #1, helped the parent LP, “The Secret Of Association,” to reach #19 on the Billboard Top 200, the singer’s best U.S. finish. But the album reached #1 in the U.K. and the momentum helped Young’s 1986 release, “Between Two Fires,” reach #4.
It took almost four years for the follow-up, “Other Voices,” which also hit U.K. #4. The album didn’t fare as well in the U.S., but “Oh Girl,” which reached #1 for the Chi-Lites in 1972, brought Young back in the States, peaking at #8. Two years later, Young’s cover of Jimmy Ruffin’s “What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted” broke out of the soundtrack for the hit movie Fried Green Tomatoes to reach U.S. #22. “From Time To Time – The Singles Collection,” a compilation released in late 1991 still topped the U.K. chart though missing the soundtrack cut.
433. THE YARDBIRDS
The passage of time can be kind to some, harsh to others. Take this London quintet, for example. Today The Yardbirds are considered giants of the British Invasion, one of the greatest groups of all time. Truth is, there was no Yardbirdmania in the ‘60s, the band didn’t cause rioting in the streets when it appeared, and its output was minimal over a mere two-year span of popularity. Today, Yardbird supporters point to the three great guitarist – Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page – who emerged from the band to go on to superstar careers.
Truth is, the three never played together, and only on the rarest recordings can two of the three be found. In fact, Clapton left the band before the release of its first U.S. LP, and though he played on many tracks, he’s not pictured or even mentioned in the credits, and Page didn’t take over guitar until Beck left before the final album. In fact, the group made good studio use of plenty of superstar friends, the entire Manfred Mann group being credited on the first LP’s “Sweet Music.” Toss in 10cc’s Graham Gouldman penning their first three hits, and one has to wonder if this band really is worthy of its current status and, if so, why?
The answer is …absolutely. Why? Because no matter the lineup, The Yardbirds released albums that sounded like nothing else then, or now. On these recordings, many live, the band demonstrated chops equaled by few groups. They were, in short, a musician’s band. And though they may have lacked the screaming teenage followings of many of their peers, they still placed five singles in the U.K. top 10, the first four going 3-2-3-3, in addition to five top 20 singles in the U.S. Their albums introduced musical forms far from the norm and became some of the most interesting – and sustaining – discs available. On the penmanship front, while lead singer Keith Relf wrote one track on the debut LP, bassist Paul Samwell-Smith and drummer Jim McCarty contributed such a gem – “Still I’m Sad” – to the second release, the band went for the whole ball of wax on album three, writing everything.
The album signaled the best was yet to come as “Over Under Sideways Down,” the title cut, became a major hit as did the LP. Unfortunately, Beck left and producer Mickie Most took over. The resulting “Little Games” album proved a commercial flop even the band disliked, and that marked the end of the Yardbirds’ meteoric rise and fall. In retrospect, the “Little Games” album does have some minor gems, but subsequent singles produced by Most fizzled.
What could have been? For that answer, one must look at the eventual output of Clapton, Beck & Page, plus Relf and McCarty, who went on to found the popular group Renaissance. Samwell-Smith went on to become a most successful producer and Dreja made his mark in photography.
The inductees are: Keith Relf (lead vocals & harmonica); Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page & Chris Dreja (guitars); Paul Samwell-Smith (bass); Jim McCarty (drums).
434. SHAKIN’ STEVENS
This Welsh vocalist didn’t have his first hit record until he was in his 30s. Once he connected, he more than made up for lost time.
Frontman for Shakin’ Stevens & the Sunsets in the late ‘60s, Michael Barratt, stage name Shakin’ Stevens, practiced his love for ‘50s Rock & Roll and eventually it paid off. Jack Good (“Shindig!”) was searching for three vocalist to portray Elvis in Good’s musical. He tabbed Stevens to play prime Elvis, the show proving a huge success. Meanwhile, Stevens, having split from the Sunsets, released his first hit single, “Hot Dog,” not the Elvis tune written by Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, but a different tune composed by Buck Owens. It reached U.K. #24 and prompted the issue of Stevens’ first solo LP, “Take One.” Establishing his template for success, Stevens brought his best Elvis moves, backed himself with ace musicians and ripped through takes on tunes by everyone from Dan Penn and Ral Donner to Thurston Harris and Tennessee Ernie Ford, with a somewhat obscure Buddy Holly composition thrown in for good measure. Before the end of 1980, Stevens had struck again with U.K. #19 “Marie, Marie.”
As 1981 began, Stevens unleashed his breakthrough, drawing, as often he did, on an unexpected source. His remake of Rosemary Clooney’s “This Ole House” hit #1 in the U.K., Australia, Sweden, Ireland and South Africa. From that point, there was no stopping Stevens, who notched 14 more U.K. top 10 singles before 1988, another seven coming close. In 1981, his LP “Shaky,” which displayed a slight switch in direction as several originals were featured, rode atop the U.K. chart powered by a U.K. #2 single “You Drive Me Crazy” and a remake of Jim Lowe’s “Green Door,” which topped U.K. charts for four weeks, though it had previously gone top 10 by Lowe and Frankie Vaughan, whose version climbed to #2.
Stevens’ most successful single came in 1982 when “Oh Julie” topped charts in the U.K. and across Europe. It was unusual for Stevens in that “Oh Julie” was not a remake of The Crescendos’ hit, but a totally new tune – written by Stevens. Stevens recently completed a 30-year anniversary tour and plans a new album release in 2014. Though ranked in the top 50% of all worldwide singles and albums sellers, in the United States he never has had a hit single or album, remaining a cult figure to those familiar with his work and a complete mystery to the U.S. masses.
435. GILBERT O’SULLIVAN
This Irish vocalist has stated clearly he wants to write pop songs, nothing more, nothing less. But rarely has a singer/songwriter been so successful covering such an unusual group of topics, some that tickle your funny bone, others that tug at your heart strings. Take his 1972 U.S. breakthrough, for instance. “Alone Again (Naturally)” opens with our narrator climbing a tower intent on throwing himself off once he reaches the top after left standing alone at the altar on his supposed wedding day. By the end, the singer is lamenting the passing of his father and, eventually, his mother.
However, Gilbert – real name Raymond – wrapped the melodrama into such a captivating piece of music and sang it with such vulnerability, it became a sensation, reaching #1 in the U.S., Canada and Brasil and #3 in the U.K. But O’Sullivan already had had several hits in his home land, so his followers there were accustomed to the quirky subject matter. His first, “Nothing Rhymed,” had reached U.K. #8 and hit #1 in Holland and Belgium in 1970. Without dissecting the lyrics, the effort was another to skirt mainstream topics of moon, swoon and June. Another gem, “We Will,” reached U.K. #16 and No Matter How I Try” became his biggest U.K. hit to that point, peaking at #5.
Later in 1972, O’Sullivan released another oddball in “Clair” about an uncle’s love for his niece. This one even surpassed “Alone Again (Naturally),” hitting #1 in the U.K., though it fell just short at #2 in the U.S. The next year came “Get Down,” in which O’Sullivan chastises his dog. Again, O’Sullivan had a U.K. #1 and a U.S. #7 as “Get Down” became his most successful single, yet, also hitting #1 in Belgium, Ireland and Germany. O’Sullivan had five more major U.K. hits by the Summer of 1975, but his impact in the U.S. had pretty much ended with “Get Down.”
On the LP front, O’Sullivan, who continues to release the occasional album, posted four top 10 efforts in the U.K. and he ranks among the best sellers worldwide in both singles and albums.
436. EMMYLOU HARRIS
Few artists have demonstrated the versatility of this Birmingham, Alabama songbird, so it’s no wonder so many outstanding artists have used her talents to enhance their recordings. And it’s also no wonder her own achievements, 19 best-selling Country LPs, 13 Grammy Awards for starters, have been somewhat overlooked.
Since 1975’s “Pieces Of The Sky,” Emmylou Harris LPs have visited the U.S. Country Top 10 16 times. Nine of those peaked in the top five, two, 1975’s “Elite Hotel” and 1977’s “Luxury Liner,” hit the top spot. In 2011, she was showing no sign of diminished capabilities and her fan base remains strong, driving “Hard Bargain” to #3. In fact, “Hard Bargain” reached #18 on the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart, her best showing of the 10 LPs she has pushed into the mainstream top 50. But her accomplishments have not been limited to the U.S., her albums also scoring extremely well in Canada, the U.K, Scandinavia and the Netherlands, her present ranking worldwide placing her in the top 40%. And don’t forget, these are just some of her solo achievements.
Her 1987 “Trio” collaboration with Linda Ronstadt and Dolly Parton topped the U.S. Country chart, went to #4 in Canada and peaked at #6 on the Billboard Top 200. Twelve years later, the follow-up climbed to #4 on the U.S. Country chart, and the same year an effort with just Ronstadt – “Western Wall: The Tuscon Sessions” hit #6. Worldwide, her 2006 collaboration with Mark Knopfler was the most successful, though it missed the Country chart. That effort, “All The Roadrunning,” topped the chart in Norway, went top 10 in several other nations and landed at #17 on the U.S. top 200. In 2013, she joined with Rodney Crowell on “Old Yellow Moon” to score a U.S. Country #4.
While mainstream hit singles have not been her forte, she has placed 21 in the U.S. Country top 10 by herself, and another four with Ronstadt and Parton. Many of Harris’ singles were remakes of previous hits, the Buck Owens’ classic “Together Again,” the Patsy Cline smash “Sweet Dreams,” Chuck Berry’s “(You Never Can Tell) C’est La Vie,” the Drifters’ “Save The Last Dance For Me,” Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer,” The Chordettes’ “Mr. Sandman,” Hank Snow’s “I’m Movin’ On” and Johnny Ace’s “Pledging My Love” all becoming major Country hits in the U.S. and Canada under Harris’ touch. Even “To Know Him Is To Love Him,” the Teddy Bears’ classic done by Harris, Ronstadt and Parton hit #1 in both countries.
One of the most successful of her many collaborations came in 1980 when she teamed with Roy Orbison on “That Lovin’ You Feelin’ Again” which took the Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.
437. THE CAPTAIN & TENNILLE
It’s a tribute to this duo’s enduring popularity that, both in their 70s and 34 years removed from their last hit record, they were still headline news on TV and the internet in January, 2014. Unfortunately, the attention was due to the announcement that Toni Tennille had filed for divorce from The Captain, Daryl Dragon.
Their many fans will remember happier days, of course. Days in the ‘70s when the pair, both keyboardists in the Beach Boys’ backing band, joined to record a string of hit records that outsold anything the Boys were doing at that time. Eventually, their popularity, Dragon in his seafarer cap and Tennille with her magnetic smile, became so big they even had their own television show. Their first smash also turned out to be their biggest, though they came close to matching it on several occasions. Digging into the Neil Sedaka/Howard Greenfield songbook, they came up with “Love Will Keep Us Together.” Sedaka had done it originally, but it never was released in the U.S. Maybe it should have been as this duo’s version hit #1, topping the charts in Canada and Australia as well. It also went to #2 in South Africa and top 10 in France. It won the Grammy for 1975’s Record of the Year.
Tennille accounted for the next smash, her composition “The Way I Want To Touch You” climbing to U.S. #4, #3 in France and #7 in Canada. The two hits powered their debut LP, which also included several Beach Boys’ covers and the debut of “I Write The Songs,” later a smash for Barry Manilow, to the #2 spot on the Billboard Top 200 chart. In 1976, the pair once again reached into the Sedaka songbook for another success, “Lonely Night (Angel Face),” which climbed to #3 U.S., #4 Canada and #6 France. But the duo switched direction for their next two single offerings, “Shop Around” being a cover of the Miracles’ classic, “Muskrat Love” being a cover of a minor hit by America. Both hit U.S. #4 and reached the top 10 in France and Canada. The three hits lifted the “Song Of Joy” LP to U.S. #9.
The Captain & Tennille continued to score through the decade’s remainder, “Can’t Stop Dancing” hitting U.S. #13 in 1977, “You Never Done It Like That” coming in at #10 in 1978 and “Do That To Me One More Time” topping the U.S. and South African charts in 1979. The latter also went top 10 in Holland, Belgium and Switzerland and proved the pair’s biggest U.K. success, reaching #7.
438. LAVERN BAKER
This Chicago vocalist also
dug into the Neil Sedaka songbook, “I Waited Too Long” reaching #33 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1959. That release was typical of LaVern Baker’s recording history as it was much more successful on the R&B chart, climbing to #5.
Baker did have several big mainstream singles, but she owned the R&B singles chart from 1955 to 1966. Her opening salvo set the pattern as “Tweedlee Dee” rose to #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1955 in spite of almost note-for-note competition from a version by Georgia Gibbs, which climbed to #2. On the R&B chart, though, Baker held sway, peaking at #4. Baker tried to get copyright infringement laws to include arrangements, but failed. Gibbs claimed, rightfully, that at that time it was common practice for several artists to release identical songs at the same time, adding that she recorded whatever the record company told her to. Cash Box, the main rival to Billboard at the time, included all versions of a song in its ranking. For instance, “Mr. Sandman,” #1 in 1955, listed both the Chordettes and Four Aces as the artist. “Tweedlee Dee” is listed as peaking at #3 under Baker’s Cash Box entry.
By the time the ‘50s reached an end, Baker had registered 10 top 10 R&B hits, including what became her signature hit, “Jim Dandy,” which reached #1 and also came in at #17 on the mainstream Hot 100. The flip, “Tra La La” didn’t make the R&B chart at all and barely scraped the bottom of the Hot 100, but Baker did sing it in Alan Freed’s movie, “Rock, Rock, Rock.” Ironically, Gibbs covered that one, too, taking it to #24.
In 1958, Baker just missed another R&B #1, when “I Cried A Tear” stalled at #2. But the soaring ballad proved her lone top 10 hit on the Hot 100, rising to #6. Her last top 10 R&B success came in 1962, with her #9 version of “See See Rider.” Two years prior, her recording of “Bumble Bee” had stopped at #46 on the Hot 100 and also failed to have much impact on the R&B chart. In the mid-‘60s, both were successful when done by The Animals (“See See Rider”) and The Searchers (“Bumble Bee”).
439. SOLOMON BURKE
Referred to as “The King of Rock & Soul,” this Philadelphia vocalist certainly looked the part, appearing on stage in a cape with a crown settled nicely on his head. But Solomon Burke’s career was very similar to Atlantic Records’ label mate LaVern Baker. He had very little sales success in the mainstream, but dominated the Rhythm & Blues charts in the early ‘60s and is credited with keeping his label afloat when stars Ray Charles and Bobby Darin jumped ship for greener pastures.
Burke’s career on Atlantic certainly got off to a promising start after he bounced around on several labels without connecting. Surprisingly, the breakthrough came with his 1961 recording of the Country ballad, “Just Out Of Reach (Of My Two Empty Arms).” It turned out to be his second biggest hit on the Billboard Hot 100, coming in at #24. It did much better on the R&B list, peaking at #7. For his follow-up, hit maker Bert Berns offered him two songs, “Hang On Sloopy” and “A Little Bit Of Soap.” The oft-difficult Burke rejected both, but accepted Berns’ third offering, “Cry To Me,” which failed to reach the mainstream top 40, but did climb to #5 on the R&B chart.
In 1963, the trend continued, “If You Need Me” barely crawling into the top 40 at #37. But the ballad just missed becoming Burke’s first #1 on the R&B list, stalling in the runner-up position. Later that year, “You’re Good For Me” climbed to R&B #3. In 1964, he went back to a Country classic, redoing Jim Reeves’ “He’ll Have To Go,” which reached #17 R&B. Later that year, Burke reentered the Hot 100 top 40 with “Goodbye Baby (Baby Goodbye),” which also reached #8 R&B. “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love” followed at R&B #4 and created a still-lasting controversy. Burke claimed the composition was his alone, but producer Jerry Wexler said it was a collaborative effort with Burke, Berns and himself and that’s the way it’s credited. It’s an important point because Wilson Pickett had a bigger hit with it and the Rolling Stones also covered it, so the royalties had to be considerable. Burke finished 1964 with “The Price,” a #10 entry on the R&B chart.
The next year started off as if it would be Burke’s biggest as “Got To Get You Off My Mind” became his highest charting effort, reaching #22 on the Hot 100, and #1 on the R&B chart. It turned out to be his only #1 record, though, as the follow-up, an unlikely cover of Bob Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm” just missed, reaching R&B #2. It also became Burke’s last mainstream hit, reaching #28 on the Hot 100. Burke reached the R&B top 20 six more times, the last time in 1975, but never ascended into the top 10 again.
Burke died in 2010. He was 70.
440. SHIRLEY BASSEY
Wales has produced some outstanding musical talent, Goldmine Hall of Famers Tom Jones and Shakin’ Stevens to name just two. But in the U.K., one Welsh artist dwarfs not only the best of Wales, but most of the world’s best as well. That would be Shirley Bassey, born in Cardiff in 1937.
Bassey has sung in three James Bond movies, 1971’s “Diamonds Are Forever” and 1979’s “Moonraker” and, of course, the 1964 classic “Goldfinger.” The latter became her only U.S. hit, reaching #8, but her distinctive vocal made her a star here and her personal appearances always were well attended. But long before “Goldfinger” brought her worldwide acclaim, she already had 20 singles in the U.K. top 40, including two #1 hits and one that just missed at #2. Her album sales place her in the top 20% best-selling artists worldwide.
Bassey’s streak began in 1957 when her version of “The Banana Boat Song” rose to #8 on the U.K. chart in spite of stiff competition from Harry Belafonte’s version, which eventually passed Bassey’s, climbing to #2. A couple of minor hits followed before “Kiss Me Honey Honey Kiss Me” hit #3. One of those minor hits was “As I Love You,” which peaked at #27. But as “Kiss Me Honey Honey Kiss Me” was climbing, so was the re-released “As I Love You,” which eventually became the first single by a Welsh artist to top the chart, remaining #1 four weeks. In the summer of 1960 “As Long As He Needs Me” rose to #2 and the next year saw Bassey place “You’ll Never Know” at #6 followed by her second #1 “Reach For The Stars/Climb Ev’ry Mountain.” By the time she did “Goldfinger,” Bassey had three more top 10 hits, including a #6 version of the Ben E. King smash “I (Who Have Nothing).”
Ironically, while Bassey was churning out the hits, “Goldfinger” only rose to #21 in the U.K. and her success rate slowed. Still, she placed three more entries into the U.K. top 10 and still was reaching the U.K. top 40 as late as 2007, 50 years after her first hit. She has totaled 33 top 40 LPs in the U.K., not including soundtrack success, seven of those reaching the U.K. top 10, including 2007’s “Get The Party Started.” In 2009, “The Performance” climbed to #20.