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In Memoriam April 2022: Bobby Rydell, The Poppy Family’s Susan Jacks, Earth, Wind & Fire’s Andrew Woolfolk, and others

We highlight our interviews with Goldmine friends Bobby Rydell and Susan Jacks, and pay tribute to members of Earth, Wind & Fire, Bloodstone, Autograph, Focus, The Tubes, Hi-Five, The Funk Brothers and more
Apr 2022 Rydell

Bobby Rydell Philadelphia early rock and roll teen idol Bobby Rydell, born Robert Ridarelli, debuted in the Top 40 in 1959 with a pair of hits, “Kissin’ Time” and “We Got Love.” As the next decade began, Rydell achieved his biggest hit and sole gold single, “Wild One,” which reached No. 2 in 1960. He was in the Top 10 two more times that year with “Swingin’ School” and “Volare.” In late 1963, the same year Rydell starred in the film version of the musical Bye Bye Birdie, playing the uncertain and shy Hugo Peabody, his final Top 40 single charted, “Forget Him,” one that his label Cameo was reluctant to promote. In his 2017 Goldmine interview Rydell said, “1963 was huge for me. I was touring in England. I met Tony Hatch there and using the pseudonym Mark Anthony he wrote ‘Forget Him.’ Cameo really didn’t want to push the single as they didn’t own the songwriting or publishing rights. DJ Dave Johnson at CHUM in Toronto started playing it and it made their Top 10. It spread to the Detroit/Windsor market. Cameo would have no choice but to release it and it made the Top 10 in the U.S. as well.” “Forget Him” reached No. 4 in early 1964.

After Rydell’s early 1960s Top 40 success with almost twenty hits including “Sway,” “I’ll Never Dance Again,” “The Cha-Cha-Cha” and “Wildwood Days,” the British Invasion blocked his future Top 40 success. By late 1964, he moved from Cameo to the same label as The Beatles, Capitol, but his singles stalled near the bottom of the Top 100 with just one week on the chart each. Prior to that, while still with Cameo, he recorded “A World Without Love,” but was beaten by a British Invasion duo. Rydell told Goldmine, “Cameo was one of the American labels who turned down The Beatles in 1963. We were given a Paul McCartney composition called "A World Without Love." I recorded a version with Dave Appell’s arrangement, and I thought my vocal was strong enough to possibly reach No. 1. Cameo sat on the recording. They planned to release it sometime in 1964. My manager Frankie Day and I were in a car coming back from New York City, listening to Cousin Brucie on WABC, when we heard a new version of this song by a new duo from England named Peter and Gordon. My manager went nuts. Peter and Gordon had a two week jump on us. Cameo released my version and some stations played both versions.”

The fate Rydell faced with “A World Without Love” seemed to happen again in 1968 when he was signed to Frank Sinatra’s Reprise label and recorded a pair of songs which would receive airplay the following year by The Grass Roots with similar arrangements as his original recordings. Rydell shared with Goldmine, “Nothing happened with my versions of ‘The Lovin’ Things’ and ‘The River is Wide.’ Mr. Sinatra wanted me on his Reprise label, so, of course I said yes, but there was no promotion. Glen Campbell was a studio guitarist on those two songs and on my version of ‘It’s Getting Better.’ Glen said, ‘These will get you back on the charts.’ We certainly thought they had hit potential, which they did for The Grass Roots with ‘Lovin’ Things’ and ‘The River is Wide’ and for Mama Cass Elliot with ‘It’s Getting Better,’ all in 1969.”

Since the mid-1980s, Rydell toured as part of The Golden Boys trio with fellow former Philadelphia teen idols Frankie Avalon and Fabian up to his untimely passing on April 5 at age 79.

Photo provided to Goldmine by Susan Jacks 2020

Photo provided to Goldmine by Susan Jacks 2020

Susan Jacks Poppy Family vocalist Susan Jacks passed away on April 25 at age 73. When The Beatles’ final No. 1 single “The Long and Winding Road” reached that peak position in the U.S., the song at No. 2 was the U.S. charting debut for The Poppy Family, from Canada, with Susan Jacks singing lead on “Which Way You Goin’ Billy?,” written by her then husband and band mate Terry Jacks. In her 2020 Goldmine interview Jacks shared, “You know, originally the song was called ‘Which Way You Goin’ Buddy?’ Terry had written if for a guy to sing. I loved the melody. I thought it was awesome, and I suggested that he write it for a woman. It would be more commercial and more of a woman’s song. So Terry did. We had to find a name instead of Buddy and we went through a bunch of names. My brother’s name is Billy, so we ended up using his name. As my brother Billy grew up, he said that he used to get a lot of girls due to that song.”

“That’s Where I Went Wrong” followed in the U.S., reaching No. 29 in 1970. The following year, Susan and Terry Jacks’ voices blended on “Where Evil Grows.” Jacks stated, “That was a fun song and later became featured in the Sonic the Hedgehog film with Jim Carrey, which was exciting. As far as harmony goes, to do harmony or even a straight-out duet on ‘Where Evil Grows,’ you are singing so closely with someone else, and I learned that first from The Everly Brothers. I love to do harmonies and later on I did harmonies for some pretty big names in Nashville, just because I loved to do it. I learned how important it is to match somebody else’s voice, so that became so much fun for me. I hung around with Don Everly. Hearing The Everly Brothers so early in my career and then meeting Don in person was just so neat. Then you get to see what a person is like versus just a singer or a musician.”

After two albums with The Poppy Family, Susan Jacks went solo beginning with the single “You Don’t Know What Love Is.” In the mid-1970s singles from her album Dream were popular on Canadian radio, including “Anna Marie” and her versions of “You’re a Part of Me” and “Love Has No Pride.” For many years Dream was out of print. Jacks said, “I was thrilled when Dream was rereleased a few years ago on CD and digitally so that people could hear all these songs.”

Susan Jacks, who was waiting on a kidney for a second transplant, shared, “We have about five to eight new songs pretty well done.” Prior to her passing, she said that she was looking forward to sharing new songs with Goldmine readers.

Apr 2022 EWF

Andrew Woolfolk Earth, Wind & Fire saxophonist Andrew Woolfolk passed away April 24 at age 71. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group’s co-lead singer Philip Bailey said, “I met him in high school, and we quickly became friends and band mates, great memories, great talent, funny, competitive, quick witted and always styling.” Woolfolk was an engaging presence on stage, powerfully delivering on “Shining Star,” “Getaway,” “September,” “Fantasy,” “Boogie Wonderland,” joined by The Emotions, and their lively version of The Beatles’ “Got to Get You into My Life” from the film Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Earth, Wind & Fire will be on tour this summer with Santana.

Apr 2022 Hi

Roderick Clark Hi-Five’s Roderick “Pooh” Clark passed away April 17 at age 49. The Texas R&B vocal quintet reached No. 1 on the pop chart in 1991 with their gold single “I Like the Way (The Kissing Game).” On the R&B chart they also had Top 10 hits with “I Just Can’t Handle It,” “I Can’t Wait Another Minute,” “She’s Playing Hard to Get,” “Quality Time” and “Never Should’ve Let You Go” that decade.

Apr 2022 CW

C.W. McCall “Convoy” hitmaker C.W. McCall passed away April 1 at age 93. McCall, born William Fries, had a gold No. 1 hit with his CB radio novelty song, co-written with Chip Davis. McCall appeared in the country Top 40 nine times through 1977, with his second highest charting single, “Roses for Mama,” reaching No. 2. His chart success concluded at the end of the decade and at the early part of the following decade, he was elected Mayor of Ouray, Oklahoma.

Apr 2022 Bloodstone

Charles McCormick Bloodstone’s bassist and vocalist Charles McCormick passed away April 12 at age 75. McCormick wrote the group’s 1973 Top 10 pop hit “Natural High.” This platinum single was also the first of nine Top 40 R&B hits, lasting through the early 1980s for the Kansas City group and was included in the soundtrack for the 1997 Quentin Tarantino film Jackie Brown.

Apr 2022 Funk

Joe Messina Motown Funk Brothers guitarist Joe Messina passed away April 4 at age 93. Messina, along with the other Funk Brothers, were featured in the 2002 documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown. He was heard playing guitar on the 1960s hits “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)” by The Four Tops, “Dancing in the Street” by Martha & The Vandellas, “For Once in My Life” by Stevie Wonder, and at the end of the decade, “Someday We’ll Be Together” by Diana Ross and The Supremes.

Art Rupe Rock and Roll Hall of Fame record producer and founder of Specialty Records Art Rupe, born Arthur Goldberg, passed away April 15 at age 104. Specialty was the home of all of Little Richard’s 1950s singles, Lloyd Price’s early 1950s R&B hits including “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” and “I’ll Come Running Back to You” for Sam Cooke.

Re Styles The Tubes’ Re Styles, born Shirley Macleod, passed away April 17 at age 72. The Tubes made their Top 100 singles debut in the summer of 1976 with a song from their second album Young and Rich called “Don’t Touch Me There,” this dramatic and suggestive duet with Fee Waybill and Re Styles was released over a year before Meat Loaf and Ellen Foley’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” and reached No. 61. Styles was popular on stage with The Tubes as a dancer and designed the wild outfits the band wore. The Tubes, along with KC and The Sunshine Band, will be on The B-52’s farewell tour beginning this summer.

Randy Rand Autograph bassist Randy Rand passed away April 26 at age 62. Autograph’s song “Turn Up the Radio” reached No. 29 in early 1985 from the Los Angeles group’s debut album Sign in Please.

Bert Ruiter Focus bassist Bert Ruiter passed away March 24 at age 75. Ruiter joined the group immediately after their hit single “Hocus Pocus” and was heard on the next U.S. charting single for the Dutch band, “Sylvia” and remained with the group through the end of their initial run in 1978.

Jerry Doucette Canadian singer-songwriter and guitarist Jerry Doucette passed away April 18 at age 70. Doucette’s most popular song was 1978’s “Mama Let Him Play” from his debut album of the same name, followed by “All I Wanna Do” and “Nobody,” all which received strong Canadian radio airplay.

Bobbie Nelson Willie Nelson’s sister Bobbie Nelson passed away March 10 at age 91. She played piano in her brother’s band and was most recently heard on the 2021 album The Willie Nelson Family including her gentle piano backdrop on their version of George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass.”

Shane Yellowbird Canadian country performer Shane Yellowbird passed away April 25 at age 42. Yellowbird was the Canadian Country Music Association Rising Star winner in 2007, with his biggest hits being “Pickup Truck” and “I Remember the Music” from his debut album Life Is Calling My Name and “Bare feet on the Blacktop” from his subsequent album It’s About Time.

Klaus Schulze German keyboardist Klaus Schulze passed away April 26 at age 74. Schulze recorded with Tangerine Dream and Ash Ra Temple.