By Phill Marder
This is the 27th set of 10 selections in The Goldmine Hall of Fame.
Great Blogs Of Fire will be announcing 10 inductees approximately every two 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
261. KENNY G – Saxophonist Kenny Gorelick ranks tops on the list of best-selling instrumental musicians of our time period and holds down the #27 position on the list of all-time best sellers as certified by the Recording Industry Association of America.
G achieved major success right from the start of his solo career, his 1982 debut LP, “Kenny G,” reaching #10 on the U.S. Jazz chart. It was certified gold, and his next two efforts, both of which scored on the Billboard Top 200 LP chart thanks to singles that climbed the R&B chart, reached platinum status. But his major breakthrough occurred in 1986 when he teamed with vocalist Lenny Williams, formerly of Tower of Power, to notch a #15 single, “Don’t Make Me Wait For Love.” The next year, “Songbird” did even better, reaching #4. The parent album of the two hits, “Duotones,” climbed to #6, reached the top 10 on the R&B and Jazz charts and climbed to #28 in England. It also sold well in China, where he remains very popular. It became G’s second best-selling LP, certified at 5x Platinum.
“Silhouette,” released in 1988, became his first #1 LP, topping the Jazz chart. It also reached #8 on the Top 200 list and was certified 4x platinum. But that paled compared to his next offering, 1992’s “Breathless,” which was certified 12x platinum and yielded two hit singles. The album topped the Australian chart, rose to #2 in the U.S. and peaked at #4 in the U.K. Speaking of breathless, in 1997 the Seattle native entered the Guinness World Book of Records by holding one note almost 46 minutes. It was eclipsed by Vann Burchfield’s mark of just over 47 minutes, set in 2000.
Since “Breathless,” G has posted four more top 10 LPs in the U.S., including 1994’s and 1995’s #1 “Miracles: The Holiday Album.” In 1999, his version of “Auld Lang Syne” was an across-the-board hit, rising to #7 on the Hot 100. G, a licensed pilot and a top amateur golfer, also has been a featured guest artist on several hits by others.
262. THE LOVIN’ SPOONFUL – One of the main blessings of The British Invasion was that the United States matched the invaders band for band as Americans became inspired to join bands and, probably more importantly, record companies became more apt to sign them. One of the best of those groups was The Lovin’ Spoonful.
The Spoonful consisted of lead singer John Sebastian, who played autoharp, guitarist Zal Yanovsky, Steve Boone (bass) and drummer Joe Butler, all active in the New York City coffee house and club circuit left over from the Folk boom. The Spoonful’s first effort, “Do You Believe In Magic,” shot into the U.S. top 10, eventually becoming one of Rock’s most memorable anthems. But the band’s tunesmith, Sebastian, was just getting started, and the group’s next six singles, all entirely or partially written by Sebastian, landed in the top 10. In 1966 alone, “Daydream” and “Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind” reached U.S. #2, “Summer In The City” topped the charts, and “Rain On The Roof” and “Nashville Cats” each reached the top 10. In addition, “You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice,” which entered the Hot 100 at the close of 1965, started 1966 in the Top 10.
From the release of their debut album to one year later, The Spoonful recorded and released four LPs, including the soundtrack to the film, “What’s Up, Tiger Lily?,” Woody Allen’s directorial debut. The albums were coming so fast and furious, some gems were never released as singles, a fate common in those days. Thus, “Younger Girl,” on the band’s debut LP, sat untouched until grabbed by The Critters, who turned it into their first hit.
It was a pace impossible to sustain, but 1967 was a banner year, also, with The Spoonful releasing “You’re A Big Boy Now,” the soundtrack for a Francis Ford Coppola film with its memorable title track and the massive hit “Darling Be Home Soon,” and “Everything Playing,” which contained two more classic singles, “Six O’Clock” and “She’s Still A Mystery.” But Yanovsky, embroiled in a drug bust, returned to his native Canada prior to the recording of “Everything Playing,” and Sebastian opted to go solo after the LP was finished. The Lovin’ Spoonful continued with various lineups, but without Sebastian’s pen the magic once believed in was gone.
263. THE SPINNERS – In 1961 “That’s What Girls Are Made For” became The Spinners’ first hit, but it appeared as if the group was destined for the one-hit wonder rack until 1970 when they scored big with “It’s A Shame.” Produced and partially written by Stevie Wonder, the single climbed to #14 on the U.S. Hot 100, but follow-up success once again eluded the Detroit quintet, which then opted to work with Philly’s Thom Bell. It was a decision that enabled The Spinners to become one of the great vocal groups of the Rock Era.
With producer-songwriter Bell, The Spinners became radio giants, churning out 11 top 20 singles and seven top 40 albums between 1972 and 1979, including a #1 collaboration on “Then Came You” with Dionne Warwick, another Goldmine Hall of Fame inductee, in 1974. In one of those strange twists of fate so common in the music industry, the group’s residence at the top of the charts began with a 1972 B-side, “I’ll Be Around.” The flip wasn’t doing much, but “I’ll Be Around” was getting airplay, eventually climbing to #3 on the U.S. Hot 100. It also proved to be the first of three consecutive R&B chart toppers, “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love” climbing to #4 on the Hot 100 while “One Of A Kind (Love Affair)” hit #11. All three came from the album, “Spinners,” which also topped the R&B chart and peaked at #14 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart.
Both 1974 albums, “Mighty Love” and “New and Improved” hit #1 on the R&B chart and went top 20 overall, while 1975’s “Pick Of The Litter” finished at R&B #2 and #8 overall. The Spinners continued to churn out hits, “The Rubberband Man” topping the R&B chart, becoming a concert favorite as Philippe Wynne created a frenzy by bouncing through the crowd as he brought the number to a stunning climax. That gem finished #2 on the Hot 100 in 1976, while U.S. #2 “Working My Way Back To You” in 1979 and U.S. #4 “Cupid” the following year kept the group’s hot streak going.
Far from just a local success, The Spinners’ had top 10 singles in the U.K., including the #1 “Working My Way Back To You,” Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, France and Canada.
The Spinners continue today, but, like many groups, the lineup has fluctuated over the years, Henry Fambrough being the only constant from the group’s founding in 1954. He, of course, is included in the Goldmine inductees, which also include the steady lineup of the group’s peak years, Bobby Smith, Billy Henderson, Pervis Jackson and Wynne, all now deceased, in addition to Jonathan Edwards, who replaced Wynne in 1977 and remained until suffering a stroke in 2000.
264. JOHNNY RIVERS – Born Johnny Ramistella, he became Johnny Rivers after none other than Alan Freed suggested a name change. His beginning was rather auspicious as Rivers and drummer Eddie Rubin filled a sudden vacancy at a Los Angeles nightclub, later to be joined by famed bassist Joe Osborn. The trio proved so popular they became a mainstay until given a one-year deal to open the new Whisky A Go Go. With his ripping guitar, occasional harp and pleasing Southern drawl, and the exceptional backing of Rubin and Osborn, Rivers breathed new life into a series of Rock classics that eventually found their way onto his first two LPs, “Johnny Rivers At The Whisky A Go Go” and “Here We A Go Go Again!” Both albums became hits, propelled by hot versions of Chuck Berry’s “Memphis” and “Maybelline,” which shot to #2 and #12, respectively.
For the third LP, Rivers went into the studio and came out with “Johnny Rivers In Action!,” which yielded his second top 10 hit, a cover of Harold Dorman’s “Mountain Of Love.” Meanwhile, his version of the traditional blues chestnut “Midnight Special,” pulled from the second album, became a smash, later becoming the theme of the popular television concert show. In the summer of 1965, Rivers returned to live recording with “Meanwhile Back At The Whisky a Go Go,” which gave him another Top 10 single, a sizzling remake of Willie Dixon’s “Seventh Son,” and the next year saw “And I Know You Wanna Dance” unleash #3 “Secret Agent Man,” still a favorite today. Rivers then began to branch out. His next album jumped onto the folk-rock craze started a couple months earlier by Bob Dylan and The Byrds, and his version of Pete Seeger‘s “Where Have All The Flowers Gone” gave him his seventh straight hit single. A remake of Buck Owens’ “Under Your Spell Again” made it eight as Rivers expanded into Country Rock.
Another live single, “(I Washed My Hands In) Muddy Water,” a remake of Stonewall Jackson’s #8 Country hit, climbed into the Top 20 and punctuated his “Johnny Rivers’ Golden Hits” long-player. While a Greatest Hits set often denotes the end of a hit-making career – sort of a career summary in many cases – for Rivers it signaled only a direction switch. He went into the studio with a string section, vocal backing from Darlene Love’s Blossoms and a tune he had penned along with Lou Adler. The result was his only No. 1 single, the classic “Poor Side Of Town.” It was included on the aptly named album “Changes,” which also featured a hidden gem penned by a then-unknown songwriter, Jimmy Webb. The song, “By The Time I Get To Phoenix,” remained an album cut until Glen Campbell heard it.
In 1967, Rivers played a major role in organizing the Monterey Pop Festival, in which he also was one of the featured performers, and issued “Rewind.” The LP produced two hit singles, Motown covers “Baby I Need Your Lovin’” and “Tracks Of My Tears,” each reaching the top 10. “Rewind” reached #14, his best showing on the album charts since his debut, but the follow-up, 1968‘s “Realization,” did even better, climbing to #5, with “Summer Rain” the key single. Rivers’ pace slowed during the ’70s, but he remained a force, charting five more albums and several hit singles that included the 1972 remake of Huey Smith & The Clowns’ “Rockin’ Pneumonia & the Boogie Woogie Flu,” which soared to #6, a terrific version of the Beach Boys’ “Help Me Rhonda,” which reached #22 with Brian Wilson himself contributing backing vocals, and 1977’s “Swayin’ To The Music (Slow Dancin’),” which became his last Top 10 single.
265. ENYA – This Irish singer-songwriter, born Eithne Ní Bhraonáin, has become one of the top selling album artists around the world over the last 25 years. Her first release, “Enya,” introduced her to some areas, particularly the Pan Pacific where it became a top seller in both Australia and New Zealand. It also broke Enya into the U.K. charts. But her major move came with her second release, 1988’s “Watermark,” propelled by the single, “Orinoco Flow (Sail Away),” which topped charts in all areas, including The Orient and South America.
Though it took “Shepherd Moons” three years to follow, the absence didn’t hurt Enya as the LP went top 10 globally, including #1 in the U.K. She maintained a steady sales pace in the U.S., her debut belatedly climbing into the top 10 in 1992, and in 1995 again hit U.S. top 10 with “The Memory Of Trees.” After a five-year wait, fans were treated to “A Day Without Rain,” which reached #2 in the U.S. and top 10 almost everywhere else. It also produced Enya’s lone U.S. top 10 single, “Only Time,” though in 2004 she joined Mario Winans and P. Diddy on the #2 “I Don’t Wanna Know.”
Her popularity is as strong as ever, her 2005 LP “Amarantine” and her 2008 “And Winter Came…” both reaching top 10 status around the world. In 2007, “Amarantine” garnered Enya her fourth Grammy Award for “Best New Age Album.” “May It Be,” from the movie The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, hit #1 in Germany, was nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe. Enya appeared at the 2002 Academy Awards, singing her entry. She makes public appearances but does not appear in concert.
266. ROXETTE – How Swede it is. Who would think two of the best selling acts of all time would hail from Sweden? But here is Swedish duo Roxette joining ABBA in the Goldmine Hall of Fame.
Starting in 1986 and still active, Per Gessle and Marie Fredriksson now rank near the very top of the worldwide lists for singles and albums sales, and their heavy touring schedule ranging from Russia and China to South America and across Europe, continues to draw large crowds.
Their 1986 LP debut, “Pearls of Passion,” was an instant success at home, rising to #2. But it failed to connect anywhere else. That was quickly rectified with 1988’s “Look Sharp!” which hit #1 in Sweden and Norway and top 10 almost everywhere else except the U.S., where it came in at #23. The single “The Look” rocketed to #1 in the U.S. and for the two-year span from 1989 to 1991, Roxette had four #1 singles and two #2 singles in the U.S. The follow-up, “Joyride,” did just as well as “Look Sharp!,” and in between Roxette placed “It Must Have Been Love” onto the soundtrack for the movie “Pretty Woman” and that went #1 worldwide.
But the pair suddenly lost favor in the U.S., never having another hit single or album after 1991. Though their hit-making pace slowed in the rest of the world, too, the Swedish duo still was notching major hits into the 2000s. But most of the 2000s, Roxette was no more after Fredriksson was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It was successfully removed and after an eight-year absence she and Gessle returned to a full touring and recording schedule, their 2011 LP, “Charm School,” reaching #1 in Germany, Argentina, Czechoslovakia and Switzerland and #2 in Sweden and Austria, with 2012’s “Travelling” scoring top 40 success across Europe.
267. LOU REED – While The Rascals and The Lovin’ Spoonful found great commercial success, another legendary band from the New York City area couldn’t buy a hit. But The Velvet Underground already has been inducted into the Goldmine Hall of Fame, entering in the 19th set, and now the band’s leader, Lou Reed, gains a second induction.
Chartwise, Reed easily has outperformed the Underground, releasing a steady stream of albums since 1972. While Reed’s debut did little better than the group’s recordings, peaking at #189 on the Billboard Top 200 LP chart, where it resided for just two weeks, its successor fared much, much better. David Bowie producing “Transformer” and the hit single “Walk On The Wild Side” certainly didn’t hurt, and the album climbed to #29 U.S. and #13 U.K. That Reed would hit that height just once more in his career has not stopped him from landing in the top 20% of all-time LP sellers worldwide.
Reed’s biggest chart success was 1974’s “Sally Can’t Dance,” which peaked at U.S. #10. But it barely created a ripple worldwide and led to a total commercial flop, 1975’s controversial “Metal Machine Music.” “Coney Island Baby” returned Reed to the best-sellers’ list the next year, hitting #41 U.S. and charting favorably in Europe.
From that point until 1983, Reed placed eight LPs on the U.S. chart, all selling decently, and a steady diet of live LPs, some of which fared well in France, where Reed became a major seller. In 1984, his “New Sensations” album returned him to the top half of the U.S. LP chart. In 1989, Reed offered “New York,” which reached #40 U.S. and did much better across Europe, even hitting #1 in Switzerland. At the close of 2011, Reed and Metallica released “Lulu,” panned by some critics, loved by others. The public loved it enough to make it a worldwide smash.
Reed, at 71, was recovering from a recent liver transplant when he passed away October 27, 2013.
268. MC HAMMER – As stated when the Goldmine Hall of Fame was started, there can be no argument whether or not an inductee is Rock & Roll. Well, there can be an argument, but it would be irrelevant as the Goldmine Hall of Fame recognizes all acts popular during the Rock Era, or from 1955 on. For while Rock certainly has dominated that time period, many listeners have found enjoyment in other forms of listening. And Rap has been one of the most popular – and enduring – much to the amazement of many.
The perfect example is MC Hammer. The Californian born Stanley Kirk Burrell incorporated dancing into his offerings to become one of Rap’s earliest superstars, stretching his career as a hit maker over a 10-year period. Today, he ranks as one of the top selling artists in singles and albums, worldwide. Hammer’s first LP, “Feel My Power,” was a relatively poor seller, but the independent recording garnered Hammer attention and a Capitol Records’ contract, and the 1988 release, “Let’s Get It Started,” did just that for Hammer’s hit-making career, rising to #1 on the R&B charts, powered by three top five Rap hits, “Pump It Up,” “Turn This Mutha Out” and “They Put Me In The Mix.”
That led to the recording synonymous with Hammer, 1990’s “U Can’t Touch This,” which climbed to #8 on the Billboard Hot 100, topped the U.S. R&B chart plus the Australian, New Zealand, Sweden and Netherlands’ charts and went top 10 almost everywhere else. The next two singles, “Have You Seen Her” and “Pray” did even better in the States, climbing to #4 and #2, respectively. All three came from the album “Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em,” which topped the album charts in the U.S. and Canada and entered the top 10 in the U.K. Staying #1 in the U.S. for 21 weeks, it is the best-selling hip-hop album to date.
In 1991, “Too Legit To Quit” just missed following its predecessor to the top in the U.S., stalling at #2, with the LP producing two more top 10 hits, the title song and “Addams Groove.” Three years later, “The Funky Headhunter” climbed to #12 on the U.S. LP chart, but failed to yield any blockbuster hits and Hammer never reached the top 10 again, though his next two albums sold fairly well.
Hammer maintains a high profile and May 17 was scheduled to receive the prestigious George and Ira Gershwin Award for Lifetime Musical Achievement, established in 1988 by the UCLA Student Alumni Association. Previous winners include Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Tom Petty, Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Burt Bacharach and Brian Wilson, among others.
269. ETTA JAMES – Some have great voices. Some know how to sing. A rare chosen few have great voices and know how to sing. Etta James had a great voice and knew how to sing. Born in California, James began her career at the age of 14, and recorded her first smash at 16. The raunchy “Roll With Me, Henry” underwent a title change to avoid censorship, connecting as “Dance With Me, Henry.” It hit #1 on the R&B chart, but didn’t even make the Billboard Hot 100, while a cover version by Georgia Gibbs, known as “The Wallflower,” hit #1.
That set the pattern for the career of James, whose records did well on the R&B charts, but rarely reached the top half of the Hot 100. James also was not a major seller worldwide, but her standing with critics is one of an all-time great, which guaranteed her a “Miner” from the Goldmine Hall of Fame. After her initial success, James was to place an even dozen entries into the Rhythm & Blues top 10. In 1960, she just missed her second R&B #1 with “All I Could Do Was Cry” and the following year she stalled at #2 with “At Last.” Success was limited on the Hot 100, though, “All I Could Do Was Cry” hitting #33, while “At Last” stopped at #47.
“At Last,” today a classic and James’ signature recording, was the lowest charting of the four singles released from James’ 1961 debut LP, “At Last!,” which became a top seller at #68. James continued to score with regularity on the R&B singles’ chart, crossing over occasionally with a mainstream success such as 1963’s “Pushover,” which reached #25 and 1967’s “Tell Mama,” which hit #23.
Until her passing in 2012, James continued a steady seller, scoring particularly well on the Blues & Jazz charts. She received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and two of her recordings, “At Last” and “The Wallflower” won Grammy Hall of Fame awards. “Mystery Lady: Songs Of Billie Holiday” won the 1995 Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Performance and “Let’s Roll” took the 2004 Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album and 2005 honors for Best Traditional Blues Album.
270. THE DIAMONDS – The importance of Canada to the music of the last 60 or so years cannot be overestimated as just a glance at those inducted already into the Goldmine Hall Of Fame proves. Paul Anka, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Bryan Adams are just some already in, with more in line. One of the earliest Canadian giants was The Diamonds, a Toronto vocal group that had a terrific string of hits from early 1956 to 1961.
Today it’s American Idol, in the 1950s it was Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts. An appearance gave an artist immense exposure, and winning the weekly contest could provide a vital boost for a fledging career. Such it did for The Diamonds, who turned their co-win into a Coral Records’ recording contract. Though they couldn’t find a hit there, it led to a move to Mercury Records, which had already experienced great success with another Canadian vocal group, The Crewcuts, who specialized in cover versions of R&B recordings for their hits. That strategy worked for The Crewcuts and worked even better for The Diamonds.
Between 1956 and 1961, The Diamonds polished off a very impressive 15 top 40 hits, beginning with a cover of Frankie Lymon’s “Why Do Fools Fall In Love,” which came out one week after the Teenagers’ version. The original peaked at #6, while the Diamonds got to #12 and stayed on the Hot 100 19 weeks. The Diamonds also chalked up hits with Buddy Holly’s “Words Of Love” (#13), The Willows’ “Church Bells May Ring” (#14), and The Rays’ “Silhouettes” (#10). Their signature song, “Little Darlin’,” a cover of a minor hit by Maurice Williams & The Gladiolas, sat at #2 for six weeks 1957, blocked from the top spot of what Billboard then called The Top 100 by Elvis’ “All Shook Up.” Before it rose to #2 on that list, it reached #2 on the Best Seller Chart and when finally dislodged, it still ranked #2 on the Most Jukebox Plays list, both times again blocked by “All Shook Up.” The Diamonds’ other best-known recording was “The Stroll,” which reached #4. Other non-cover hits were 1958’s “She Say” and 1959’s “High Sign.”
The Diamonds have experienced many lineups over the years, but the inductees are: lead singer Dave Somerville, the only living member of the original four and still touring; Phil Levitt; Ted Kowalski; Bill Reed; Evan Fisher; John Felten and Mike Douglas.