This is the 64th set of selections in The Goldmine Hall of Fame.
Goldmine 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
546. THE WHISPERS
Very quietly – almost Whisperlike – this Los Angeles vocal group has amassed one of the strongest portfolios of Rhythm & Blues-based recordings during the Rock Era.
Beginning in 1964, the Whispers didn’t place an album onto the Billboard Top 200 chart until 1972. But 37 years later, they were still charting LPs. And today, three members – Nicholas Caldwell and twin brothers Wallace and Walter Scott – remain from the original five along with former Friends Of Distinction member Leaveil Degree. Degree replaced Gordy Harmon in 1973 after Harmon was injured and original member Marcus Hutson passed away in 2000.
All told, The Whispers placed 16 albums on the Billboard Top 200 Chart, their top offering being 1979’s eponymous effort, which climbed to #6. The catalyst was the single “And The Beat Goes On,” which topped the U.S. R&B chart, a finish equaled on the mainstream chart. On the Billboard Hot 100, the single proved the group’s first mainstream hit, climbing to #19. It wasn’t their biggest single, though, 1987’s “Rock Steady” proving another R&B chart topper while climbing to #7 on the Hot 100.
It was on the R&B charts the group fashioned its major success, pushing 26 albums onto the U.S. R&B chart, eight reaching into the top 10. Twice the group hit #1 on the LP chart, the 1979 effort being equaled by 1981’s “Love Is Where You Find It.” On the R&B singles chart, the Whispers notched 47 entries, 15 climbing into the top 10. The Whispers were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003, the SoulMusic.com Hall of Fame in 2012 and the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame in 2014. In 2008, the group was awarded the Rhythm & Blues Foundation’s Pioneer Award.
547. GENE CHANDLER
This Chicago vocalist is another who made such an impact with his first hit, many assume he is a one-hit wonder. Truth be told, “Duke of Earl” was impossible to follow, dwarfing everything in its wake. But Gene Chandler had a lot more bullets to fire.
Actually, “Duke of Earl” was not Chandler’s first recording, nor was it his first hit. As a member of the Dukays, Chandler (under his real name, Eugene Dixon) recorded “The Girl’s A Devil,” which made it to #64 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1961. Having had a taste of success, The Dukays cut four more sides, with “Night Owl” released as the follow-up to the first single. That stalled at #73, but another slice from the session, “Duke of Earl,” was released under just the name Gene Chandler, soon becoming one of the pre-Beatles’ era signature tunes, climbing to #1 on the Hot 100 where it remained three weeks, while also hitting the top of the R&B chart.
While “Duke of Earl” was Chandler’s only top 10 single on the Hot 100, he was far from absent, eventually placing 25 singles on that Billboard list between 1962 and 1979. In 1964, “Just Be True” climbed to #19, the following year “Nothing Can Stop Me” did one position better and in 1970 “Groovy Situation” climbed to #12. His presence was much stronger on the R&B list where he totaled 36 chart entries between 1962 and 1986. “Just Be True” reached #4, “Nothing Can Stop Me,” #3, and in 1965 “Rainbow ‘65” rose to #2. The next year, “I Fooled You This Time” climbed to #3, in 1967 “To Be A Lover” peaked at #9, three years later “Groovy Situation” peaked at #8 and in 1978 he returned to the R&B top 10 when “Get Down” topped out at #3 while becoming his biggest U.K. success, hitting #11.
Born July 6, 1937, Chandler, resplendent with monocle, top hat and cape and brandishing his trademark cane, still makes occasional appearances as the world reknown “Duke of Earl.”
548. DON McLEAN
Like Gene Chandler, or even more so, this New York troubadour had an initial hit so huge it dwarfed his subsequent accomplishments. How big? When the Recording Industry Association of America compiled a list of the top songs of the 20th Century with historical significance in mind, “American Pie” ranked fifth, right behind Aretha Franklin’s version of “Respect.” In case you’re curious, #1 was “Over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland, followed by Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” and Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.” How big? In an April 7, 2015 auction, the original lyrics and notes reportedly went for $1.2 million.
Pretty impressive company. Nowhere to go but down. But Don McLean proved up to the challenge, today ranking in the top 75% of all worldwide singles and album sellers. Of course, “American Pie,” which held the top spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 four weeks and also reached #1 in Canada, New Zealand and Australia while reaching #2 in the U.K. and France, accounts for a good portion of McLean’s ranking. And the album of the same name didn’t hurt, holding the #1 position in the U.S. seven weeks, while doing even better in Australia (#1 11 weeks) and Canada (#1 nine weeks).
While “American Pie” failed to top U.K. charts, McLean did score two #1 hits there, “Vincent” (also known as “Starry, Starry Night) and “Crying.” The former, pulled from the “American Pie” LP, also reached #1 In Italy and Ireland, #3 in Canada and #12 in the U.S. “Crying,” the oft-covered Roy Orbison classic, topped U.K. charts in 1980 and also reached #1 in Holland, Belgium and Ireland while climbing to #3 in South Africa and #5 in the U.S. It was pulled from McLean’s 1978 album, “Chain Lightning,” which reached top 30 status in the U.S., U.K. and Canada featuring covers of many popular songs, including The Skyliners’ “Since I Don’t Have You,” which McLean took to U.S. #23 following “Crying.” McLean’s eponymous successor to “American Pie” also was a top 30 success across North America, containing the hits “Dreidel” and “If We Try.” His initial LP, “Tapestry,” contained “Castles In The Air” and “And I Love You So,” both top 10 hits in France, the latter becoming a #29 hit for Perry Como in 1973. Como’s version also reached #3 in the U.K., while his LP of the same name topped U.K. charts.
McLean currently is in the midst of an extensive 2015 tour which bounces between the U.S. and Europe.
549. RONNIE DOVE
This Virginia vocalist may have been a case of wrong guy at the wrong time. His first hit record came in 1964, and we all know what else happened that year. And with pop sensibilities and a clean cut appearance, he didn’t quite draw crowds of screaming teenagers. But still he became an enormous success.
Ronnie Dove put 20 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 between 1964 and 1969, 11 achieving top 40 status. Though none became the “monster” success that provides an artist that most important “signature” tune, he notched solid score after solid score, beginning with 1964’s “Say You,” which just reached the top 40. Dove followed with a cover of Wanda Jackson’s “Right Or Wrong” just three years after Jackson’s version had reached #29. Dove’s climbed to #14 and early the next year, he matched that peak with “One Kiss For Old Time’s Sake.” Before 1965 was over, Dove had scored three more hits, “A Little Bit Of Heaven” (#16), “I’ll Make All Your Dreams Come True” (#21) and “Kiss Away” (#25). Those three also scored well on the Adult Contemporary chart, finishing #4, #2 and #5, respectively.
One of Dove’s biggest hits was released as 1965 ended, but didn’t make its mark until early 1966, “When Liking Turns To Loving” rising to #18 on the Hot 100 and #6 on the AC chart. Four more hits followed that year, “Let’s Start All Over Again,” (#20), “Happy Summer Days” (#27 and #7 AC), “I Really Don’t Want To Know,” a previous hit for Les Paul & Mary Ford and Tommy Edwards (#22 and #12 AC) and “Cry,” a previous hit for Johnnie Ray that Dove took to #18 and #16 AC.
Dove continued to reach the charts, but with diminished success. However, he returned in 1975 when his version of “Things” reached #25 on the Country charts. As of this writing, Dove, his 80th birthday approaching in September, still performs regularly in the Baltimore vicinity, his adopted home town.
550. THE PATTI SMITH GROUP
In 2011, this Chicago-born songwriter received the Polar Music Prize, the Swedish award known there as “the Nobel Prize of Music.” Its previous winners made a pretty impressive group and “Patti Smith has demonstrated how much rock’n’roll there is in poetry and how much poetry there is in rock’n’roll” to join them.
Actually, our inductees are the Patti Smith Group, responsible for Smith’s first five albums. The band included drummer Jay Dee Daugherty, Lenny Kaye on guitar, Ivan Krall, on bass and keyboardist Richard Sohl. The first, “Horses,” was released just before the close of 1975 and featured all original material except for the leadoff track, a frantic cover of Van Morrison’s “Gloria.” The album became a stronger seller in Europe and reached #47 on Billboard’s Top 200 album chart.
“Radio Ethiopia” followed in 1976, but failed to garner the critical praise lavished on the debut and reached just #122. In 1978, the group released “Easter” and that LP gave Smith her only hit single when “Because The Night” climbed to U.S. #13 and U.K. #5. The basis for the song was done by Bruce Springsteen for his “Darkness On The Edge Of Town” album, but it failed to make the final cut. “Easter” became Smith’s highest charting effort to that point, climbing to U.S. #20 and U.K. #16.
Known as the “punk poet laureate,” Smith continued to record highly regarded albums, 1979’s “Wave” becoming her best charting LP in the U.S., reaching #18, though it did slip in the U.K., peaking at #41. The band dissolved after this effort, but Sohl and Daugherty were still in tow when Smith recorded “Dream of Life” nine years later. All songs were written by Smith with her husband, Fred Smith, who replaced Kaye on guitar. The album proved a successful return, peaking at #65 U.S. and scoring well across Europe.
Smith’s next album, “Gone Again,” also did well, though not appearing until 1996, eight years after the previous release. Since, Smith has released new work at a steady, if not breakneck, pace, and the Patti Smith Group ranks in the top 50% of all worldwide LP sellers.