Goldmine’s Hall of Fame Inductees – Volume 50

This is the 50th set of selections in The Goldmine Hall of Fame.

Great Blogs Of Fire will be announcing 5 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

476. JOHN MAYALL

This English bluesman can best be compared to the general manager of a AAA baseball team in the United States. That’s the guy who puts together a team destined for the big show, in baseball lingo that being the major leagues. Capable of playing most instruments, John Mayall still surrounded himself with the best British musicians. And his bands, through numerous formations, became a veritable farm club for budding superstars to hone their chops and make a name for themselves.

Working with Mayall were Peter Green, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood, all later residents in Fleetwood Mac, Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, destined to form Cream, Mick Taylor, later to join the Rolling Stones, Dr. John, Paul Butterfield and a host of others. All have gone on to great acclaim. Mayall himself? “I’ve never had a hit record or a Grammy or been in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” Mayall once said. But he has been anointed “the Godfather of British Blues.”

And Mayall’s reference to never having a hit record applies only to singles. He’s had plenty of hit albums, enough to earn him a position in the top 50% of all worldwide album sellers. In the U.K. alone Mayall had 13 albums reach the top 40 between 1966 and 1971, two with Eric Clapton, five as John Mayall & His Bluesbreakers and six under just his name. Six of those reached the top 10, the Bluesbreakers’ “Bare Wires” being the highest charting, reaching #3 in 1968. Mayall wrote all the songs on the album except for one he shared co-writer credit with Taylor, who was making his debut with Mayall’s band.

In the United States, Mayall placed 19 LPs on the Billboard Top 200 album chart between 1968 and 1990, led by 1970’s “USA Union,” which peaked at #22. Guitarist Harvey Mandel and bassist Larry Taylor, both veterans of Canned Heat, played on this album. His most recent studio effort was “Tough,” released in 2009. Mayall has lived in the U.S. since the ‘60s. Now 80, he continues to tour, appearances in the States, Canada and the U.K. being booked through the end of November, 2014, thus far.

477. CHUCK WILLIS

Much has been made of the number of Rock superstars who have died at the age of 27, beginning with Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones in 1969 followed by Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain. There are many others who preceded and followed Jones, but this isn’t their story but the story of a Georgia Rhythm & Blues star who fell victim to another seeming musical curse, the irony of the final release seemingly courting death.

Three noted early Rock & Roll stars fell victim. Buddy Holly’s last single release came less than a month before he died. Strangely, Holly, who usually wrote his own material, leaned on Paul Anka for his final release, “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore.” Not long after came Eddie Cochran, whose “Three Steps To Heaven” was released less than a month before he passed on. But before Holly and Cochran died, Chuck Willis failed to survive an operation though just 30 years old. A few weeks before, in early 1958, he had recorded not one, but two sides seemingly foretelling his fate. Both were released on the same single, one side being “What Am I Living For?” the flip “Hang Up My Rock and Roll Shoes.”

Known as “King of the Stroll,” Willis didn’t live to see “What Am I Living For?” become his biggest hit. It was a perfect vehicle for the popular dance, the Stroll, becoming his second #1 hit on the U.S. R&B chart while reaching #9 on the Billboard Hot 100. The B-side reached #9 R&B and #24 on the Hot 100. His first R&B #1 had kicked off the Stroll dance craze in 1957, that being the oft-recorded “C.C. Rider,” which Willis also took to #12 on the Hot 100. All told, Willis had nine top 10 R&B hits between 1952 and 1958.

But Willis also was an accomplished composer, and his “Oh, What A Dream” became a #1 R&B smash for Ruth Brown and a Pop hit for Patti Page in 1954, the same year his recording of his own “I Feel So Bad” also reached the R&B top 10. Seven years later, Elvis would take it to #5 on the Hot 100. In 1955, the Willis-penned “Close Your Eyes” by The Five Keys reached R&B #5 and 12 years later Peaches & Herb rode it to #12 on the Hot 100. That same year saw “The Door Is Still Open (To My Heart)” by the Cardinals reach #4 R&B, with Don Cornell’s version hitting #20 on the Hot 100. In 1964, Dean Martin’s version hit #6 on the Hot 100.

478. JOHNNY & DORSEY BURNETTE

These Memphis natives were two-thirds of the now famous Rock & Roll Trio, along with guitarist Paul Burlison. The three couldn’t buy a hit record, and Dorsey and Johnny met with similar indifference with their efforts as the Burnette Brothers, but they did much better as solo artists, Dorsey having two memorable hits, while Johnny built a career successful to merit this spot in the Goldmine Hall of Fame.

If the brothers had kept the now much-treasured Trio alive another few years, Rock history, and their history, may have been much different. Instead, the trio split up in late 1957, and the brothers adopted an unusual approach sitting on the steps of Ricky Nelson’s home, determined to get the budding superstar to record some of their efforts. The strategy worked. Nelson already had three singles reach the Billboard top five when he decided to cut the Burnette brothers’ composition, “Waitin’ In School,” as the B-side of his first 1958 release. Fortunately for the brothers, radio was accustomed to B-sides in the day before the importance of the LP, and two of Nelson’s previous three singles had been two-sided hits. In fact, Nelson’s previous release, “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You” had reached only #29, but the flip side, “Be-Bop Baby,” had soared to #3. Thus while the A-side, “Stood Up,” was climbing to #2 in the U.S., the flip was getting plenty of attention, too, rising to #18. Both sides also registered on the U.S. Country chart, “Stood Up” at #8, “Waitin’ In School” at #12.

Nelson kept the brothers busy, recording “Believe What You Say,” U.S. #4 and U.S. Country #10 in 1958. The next year, Dorsey offered “It’s Late” while Johnny penned “Just A Little Too Much” and both hit #9, the former also climbing to #3 in the U.K., the latter reaching #11 there. By this time, Liberty Records signed both brothers to contracts, but the first offerings by each still flopped, prompting Dorsey to offer Nelson his composition entitled “(There Was A) Tall Oak Tree.” He turned it down, so Dorsey recorded it himself for his new label, Era. It became his biggest single, hitting U.S. #23. The follow-up, the haunting “Hey Little One,” deserved better, but reached just #48, marking the end of his run as a Rock hit-maker. He did come up with several top 40 Country hits and some movie soundtracks before dying of a heart attack at 46.

Meanwhile, Johnny had released back-to-back classics in 1960, “Dreamin’” and “You’re Sixteen.” The former hit #11 U.S. and #5 U.K., the latter #8 U.S., #3 U.K. Ironically, he wrote neither. He started 1961 with “Little Boy Sad,” #17 U.S. and #12 U.K., and finished it with the U.S. #18 “God, Country and My Baby.” In between, one of his finest efforts, “Big Big World,” failed to connect.

In 1964, Johnny, just 30, was killed when his unlit fishing boat was hit by a cabin cruiser in California. Dorsey Burnette III became a member of Fleetwood Mac while Johnny’s son, Jonathan, had the 1980 hit “Tired of Toein’ the Line.”

479. JIMMIE RODGERS

A popular internet database credits this Washington state vocalist with over 40 top 10 hits in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Well, even if you mix up his entries with those of the man known as “The Father of Country Music,” you’d still be far short of 40 top 10 hits. But this Jimmie Rodgers had plenty of chart success, enough to gain him entry into the Goldmine Hall of Fame.

Actually, Rodgers had five hits reach the top 10 of the Hot 100, a far cry from 40 but a more-than-respectable showing. All came in 1957 and 1958, though he continued to be a regular on that chart and Country charts through the ‘60s. Rodgers was born in 1933, the same year his namesake, also known as “The Singing Brakeman,” passed away. He almost died in 1967 when a mysterious attack in California left him with a fractured skull, shortly after he had posted his last Hot 100 entry, “Child Of Clay,” which reached #31. In spite of the beating and the lengthy recovery time, Rodgers continued to notch entries on the Adult Contemporary & Country charts until the close of the ‘70s.

His two-year blitz during Rock & Roll’s formative years provides ample evidence for those who point to the many different forms early Rock embraced. Today, Rodgers’ work would probably not be considered Rock. But in 1957-58, he was right there holding his own with the early giants of Rock & Roll, his first effort being “Honeycomb,” which held the top spot of the Hot 100 four weeks, also topping charts in Canada. A #7 hit on the U.S. Country chart also, the record was so popular it even held the #1 position on the Rhythm & Blues chart. For the follow-up, Rodgers chose “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine,” a hit for Pete Seeger’s Folk group, The Weavers, in 1951. It didn’t match the success of “Honeycomb,” but didn’t miss by much, reaching U.S. #3 and top 10 in Canada and on the Country and R&B charts.

In 1958, Rodgers added three more entries to the Hot 100, the #7 “Oh-Oh, I’m Falling In Love Again,” “Secretly,” which reached #3 and “Are You Really Mine?” with a #10 peak. At the close of the year, he just missed a fourth when “Bimbombey” stalled at #11, though it did enter the top 10 in Canada and Australia. He had his biggest hit in the U.K. in 1962 when “English Country Garden” rose to #5. It also scored in Canada, peaking at #6.

 480. ROY HAMILTON

Another who left us much too soon, this Georgia-born vocalist emerged from a Gospel background to become one of the ‘50’s most coveted treasures, having notched four straight top 10 Rhythm & Blues hits in 1954 alone.

Those don’t factor into our totals due to our beginning year of 1955, but are worth documenting here. His first effort, the oft-covered “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical Carousel ran straight to #1 on the U.S. R&B chart and his follow-up from the same production, “If I Loved You,” hit R&B #4. Hamilton then made two more now standards his own when “Ebb Tide” flowed to R&B #5 and “Hurt” made it to R&B #8.

The first year of our survey saw Hamilton off to a strong start when his version of “Unchained Melody” gave him his second R&B #1 and his first Hot 100 hit, climbing to #6. He followed with “Forgive This Fool,” #10 R&B and #30 on the Hot 100, but health issues forced a premature “retirement” in 1956. Hamilton was just 27. “So Long” made an appearance at #14 on the R&B chart in 1957, but Hamilton returned in earnest in 1958 with the rocking “Don’t Let Go,” which hit #2 R&B and #13 on the Hot 100. Hamilton then appeared in the movie Let’s Rock, singing “Here Comes Love.” Others in the film included Paul Anka, Danny & the Juniors, Della Reese and the Royal Teens.

Hamilton’s hit-making slackened, but he returned in 1961 with one of his biggest singles, “You Can Have Her,” which topped out at #6 R&B and #12 on the Hot 100. He passed away in 1969 after suffering a stroke, but his legacy is kept alive today by his son Roy Hamilton Jr. who currently performs a well-deserved tribute show to his dad.

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