This is the 55th 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
501. RICK JAMES
In this day of 24-hour news and entertainment television channels, a slew of internet websites and the proliferation of entertainment and gossip magazines, it’s common for many recording artists to make more headlines with their “private” lives than their music. This Buffalo, New York singer/songwriter/producer was one of the first making headlines for all the wrong reasons, his musical accomplishments often being overshadowed by his personal trials and tribulations.
Rick James, having honed his chops with future Steppenwolf member Nick St. Nicolas and future Buffalo Springfield founders Bruce Palmer and Neil Young, mixed those Rock leanings with Funk & R&B. The combination proved highly successful and he sometimes was called the “King of Punk Funk.” Dealing solely with his musical accomplishments reminds us that James was a potent force in popular music for the better part of three decades, starting with his debut solo 1978 album “Come & Get It!” The album rose to #3 on the U.S. Rhythm & Blues chart, #13 on the Billboard Top 200 LPs chart and yielded two hit singles, “You & I,” which topped the R&B chart and climbed to #13 on the Hot 100 and “Mary Jane,” which peaked at #3 on the R&B listing.
His next two LPs, “Bustin’ Out Of L Seven” and “Fire It Up” each scored well, the former climbing to #2 R&B and #16 overall, while the latter rose to R&B #5 and #34 on the top LP list. In 1981, “Street Songs” lifted James to true star status, topping the R&B album chart while soaring to #3 on the top 200 list. The impetus came from the lead track, “Give It To Me Baby,” which topped the R&B chart and its successor, which proved to be James’ biggest overall hit. “Super Freak” failed to follow its predecessor to the top of the R&B chart, peaking at #3, but it did score heavily on the Hot 100, rising to #16. Eight more times James placed singles into the R&B top 10, including two – 1983’s “Cold Blooded” and 1985’s “Glow” – that proved chart toppers. He added seven more albums to the R&B top 20 with four reaching the top 10.
James, who also played a major role at Motown Records as a writer and producer, suffered a minor stroke in 1998 and passed away from heart failure in 2004. Three years later, his LP, “Deeper Still,” featuring recordings made in 2003 and 2004, climbed to #19 on the R&B list.
502. JAY & THE AMERICANS
The loss of their lead singer, the British Invasion…nothing stopped this group, a throwback to the great vocal groups of the ‘50s. There wasn’t much of the doowop era left when the Beatles hit. But in the midst of all the British hits, it certainly was a kick to hear a taste of Frankie Valli’s unbeatable falsetto, the Drifters taking us “Under The Boardwalk,” the mighty Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions serenading us with a steady parade of classics, Little Anthony’s unique phrasing or the Miracles leading the Motown charge through the car radio to keep the street corner spirit alive.
And then, there was the operatic thunder of Jay Black as this New York quintet held its own despite the stiffest competition imaginable, releasing a series of classic efforts.
John (Jay) Traynor, who sang with the Mystics of “Hushabye” fame, was the lead voice on the group’s debut album, which featured “She Cried,” a #5 smash on the Billboard Hot 100. But when the follow-up, “This Is It,” failed to chart, Traynor left for a solo career. The loss of its lead singer – especially one as talented as Traynor – should be the death knell for a vocal group, but his replacement, David Blatt, who became Jay Black, was something else again. The greatest instrumental virtuoso can’t compare to an unforgettable voice and Black was one of the greatest voices in rock. When Bruce Springsteen said, “no one sings like Roy Orbison,” he was correct. But Black gave “the Big O” a run for his money and carried the Americans along with him.
The new lineup’s first release, “Only In America,” was steeped in controversy. Originally recorded by the Drifters, it was canned and the backing track was given to the white group. After all, no one would believe a black group, even as big as the Drifters, singing anyone could grow up to be President. “Only In America,” reached #25 and the title track from its parent LP, “Come A Little Bit Closer,” became the group’s highest-charting single at #3. “Let’s Lock The Door,” was the first single from the next album, aptly titled “Blockbusters.” That single reached #11 and its successor, “Cara Mia,” hit #4. The group pulled its 1965 hit, “Some Enchanted Evening,” from Broadway’s “South Pacific,” and scored again, coming in at #13, while the follow-up, “Sunday & Me,” reached #18, becoming the first major hit penned by Neil Diamond. A remake of Orbison’s “Crying,” followed, reaching #25.
In 1969, the group turned back the clock and proved there still was a considerable market for “oldies” of the doowop genre, notching their highest-charting LP with “Sands Of Time.” Dedicated to Alan Freed, and featuring his final signoff as the album closes, the group covered many of their favorites from their younger days and the lead single, a cover of the Drifters’ “This Magic Moment,” soared to #6. The next album, 1970’s “Wax Museum,” was another collection of classic oldies, though the major single was a cover of “Walkin’ In The Rain,” which the Ronettes had pushed to #24 just five years earlier. Jay & the Americans took it all the way to #19.
The inductees are Traynor and Black, Kenny Vance, Marty Sanders, Howie Kane and Sandy Deanne.
503. SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES
“Big-name” artists from U2 to the Smiths, from The Cure to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, have sung their praises. Many also have sung their songs. The terms alternative, punk, goth, pop and avant-garde have been used by those who insist on putting everything in a neat box.
Truth is, this English group has done this when expected to do that and vice versa. And over an impressive 17-year span, they have been steady residents on the United Kingdom best-seller charts. So popular in their homeland that Siouxsie & the Banshees rank near the top 50% of worldwide best-sellers in singles and albums.
Since 1978, the band, led by Siouxsie Sioux, has placed 18 singles in the U.K. top 40, with two landing in the top 10. The first, “Hong Kong Garden,” was a self-penned debut that clocked in at #7. The second came five years later with a cover of The Beatles’ “Dear Prudence” that proved to be the group’s highest charting single at U.K. #3. The band also registered nine top 20 albums in the U.K., led by 1980’s “Kaleidoscope,” which topped off at #5, and the next year’s “Juju,” which peaked at #7. The group didn’t dent the U.S. top 200 until 1984, but once they did they placed six straight LPs on the U.S. chart.
Sioux and bass player Steven Severin are the lone members to be with the group on every recording, with drummer Budgie (Peter Edward Clarke) joining on the third studio LP. John McKay, who doubled on guitar and sax and served as chief composer, and drummer Kenny Morris rounded out the foursome on the first two LPS, John McGeoch and John Valentine Carruthers served on guitar and other instruments during the group’s middle stages and Martin McCarrick (keyboards) and Jon Klein (guitar) were on hand from 1987 until 1995.
504. KYLIE MINOGUE
This Australian vocalist has compiled a portfolio that can best be described as … staggering. A superstar in her home country from the release of her first hit in 1987, she since has swept every corner of the globe and currently ranks in the top 10 percent of all worldwide singles sellers and the top 20 percent of all worldwide album sellers. And she did it overcoming her own great looks and a tendency to favor dance flavored material, both surefire reasons for many critics to consider such an artist lightweight. A third obstacle, and one much more serious, has been present since she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005.
Minogue, who began her career in show business as a child actor and later an Australian soap opera star, has garnered almost every award available in Australia and the United Kingdom, even taking home a 2003 Grammy in the United States for “Best Dance Recording.” In 1987, Minogue opened with “Locomotion,” a cover of Little Eva’s smash that also became a hit for Grand Funk. Minogue’s version topped the Australian chart for seven weeks and her follow-up, “I Should Be So Lucky,” followed her debut to the top of the Australian chart and also reached #1 in Germany, Switzerland and the U.K. “Got To Be Certain” started off 1988 by becoming her third straight Australian #1 and just missed repeating her U.K. success, ranking #2.
A re-working of “The Loco-motion followed, reaching #1 in Canada and Ireland. By the end of 1988, she was atop the U.K. chart again with “Especially For You.” She never has relinquished her hold, notching 11 more singles that reached #1 around the world. In addition to those countries already mentioned, she has posted #1 singles in Holland, Sweden, Austria, Norway, Belgium, Italy, Ireland, New Zealand, Spain, South Africa and France. In the United Kingdom alone, she has posted five #1 albums. In 2014, Minogue’s “Kiss Me Once” topped the Australian chart and peaked at #2 in the U.K., reinforcing her tremendous staying power.
She was inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Hall of Fame in 2011. While she has found success in the U.S. as well, Minogue’s impact has been much more limited. But, “The Loco-motion” and 2002’s “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” were top 10 singles, while her 2001 LP, “Fever,” hit #3 on the Billboard top 200 and 2010’s “Aphrodite” also proved a top 20 hit.
505. THE SEEKERS
There were two editions of The Seekers, the original group and the New Seekers. But like the different incarnations of Manfred Mann, they were totally different groups and will be treated here as such. Both achieved enormous popularity, but the original foursome has the edge at present, thus claiming this notch in the Goldmine Hall of Fame to go along with its 1995 induction into the Australian Recording Industry Hall of Fame.
As with most groups, The Seekers experienced some lineup fluctuations. But for the most part, the group of Judith Durham on piano, Athol Guy on bass and Bruce Woodley and Keith Potger on various string instruments served as the group’s “classic” configuration. On a bill headlined by Dusty Springfield, they met her brother, Tom, who provided them with their initial offering, 1965’s “I’ll Never Find Another You.” It proved an instant hit, #1 in their homeland and in the U.K. as well while rising to #4 in the U.S. Another Tom Springfield composition gave them a second blockbuster, “A World Of Our Own” climbing to #3 U.K. and #19 U.S. while reaching the top 10 in Norway and South Africa. Before 1965 was over, the Seekers had again topped the U.K. chart with “The Carnival Is Over,” partially written by Springfield, which also topped the charts in Australia and South Africa, though not registering at all stateside.
The group’s first two LPs also proved smashes in the U.K. and their 1965 EP hit #1 there. They also provided Paul Simon with his first U.K. success, taking his “Someday One Day” to #11 there. Woodley worked with Simon and the two penned what proved to be a colossal hit, The Cyrkle’s “Red Rubber Ball,” which the Seekers did on their 1966 LP, “Come The Day.” That LP was released under a different title in the U.S. when The Seekers recorded the title song for the hit movie “Georgy Girl.” That single gave the Seekers their biggest U.S. success, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 while topping charts in Canada and the Pan Pacific.
“Georgy Girl,” also co-written by Springfield, climbed to #3 in the U.K., following “Morningtown Ride,” which had peaked at #2. The Seekers totaled six top 10 singles – two #1s – in the U.K. alone, with two others just falling short at #11. Six albums reached the U.K. top 20, a hits collection topping the chart in 1968 shortly after a live recording had stalled at #2. Three EPs hit #1 in the U.K. where the original group still performs, reforming in 1992 after disbanding in 1968.