Monday, January 21, 2013

January 21: Robert "Squirrel" Lester of the Chi-Lites - "Oh, Girl," "Have You Seen Her?" - died on this date in 2010...

Robert "Squirrel" Lester was born in McComb, Mississippi on August 16, 1942. He was the second tenor in the Chicago-based singing group The Chi-Lites.

Lester was part of the original Chi-Lites line-up when the group (then named 'The Hi-Lites') were first formed in 1960 from two Chicago groups — The Desideros and Lester’s group, The Chantours. He was included in the recent Chi-Lites line-up, along with group leader Marshall Thompson, lead vocalist Frank Reed, and backing vocalist, Tara Thompson.

Originally known "Marshall and the Chi-Lites" the name was subsequently shortened to The Chi-Lites. Record was the group's primary songwriter, though he frequently collaborated with others, such as Barbara Acklin.

Their major hits came in 1971 and 1972, "Have You Seen Her" and "Oh Girl", the latter a #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 on 27 May 1972. Other transatlantic chart hits followed, although the output became more fragmented as the group's personnel came and went.

Bass singer Jones left in 1973, and was replaced in quick succession by Stanley Anderson, Willie Kensey, and then Doc Roberson. Shortly thereafter, Eugene Record left, and David Scott and Danny Johnson entered. More personnel changes ensued, when Johnson was replaced by Vandy Hampton in 1977. At that point, the group totally disintegrated, but re-formed in 1980, with the mid-1960s quartet of Record, Thompson, Jones, and Lester back together.

Creadel Jones left for a second time in 1982, and the group would remain a trio. Record left again in 1988, and new lead Frank Reed joined to replace him. Singer Anthony Watson would also join the group at this time and the duty of lead vocals would alternate between them for several years. (Lester took over singing lead on "Oh Girl," while Watson led on their other songs.)

The group was inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 2000 and Record made an appearance with the group on stage to perform and accept the award.

Thompson was jailed in 2001 for selling police badges, and Reed returned temporarily to take his place. Upon Thompson's return, Reed once again assumed the role of lead vocalist. This line-up of Thompson, Lester, Reed, and Thompson's wife Tara Henderson on background vocals would remain until the death of Lester in 2010 from liver cancer.

Fred Simon of The Lost Generation joined the group to replace Lester and to perform bass vocals.

An inductee at the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, Lester was 67 years old at the time of his death. He died at Roseland Hospital in Chicago after a long battle with liver cancer.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January 16: Thornton James "Pookie" Hudson of The Spaniels - "Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite” – died on this date in 2007…


… born on June 11, 1934, he died in Capitol Heights, Maryland on after a lengthy battle with cancer.
The Spaniels were an American R&B doo-wop group, best known for the hit "Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite.” The group debuted in late 1952 at Roosevelt High School in Gary, Indiana as Pookie Hudson & The Hudsonaires. They changed their name to The Spaniels that spring and, upon graduation, became one of the first two artists to sign with Vee-Jay Records, the first large, independent Afro-American owned record label.

The group recorded their first song, "Baby It's You" on May 5, 1953. Released in July, the song reached #10 on Billboard's R&B chart on September 5, 1953. Some historians of vocal groups consider Pookie Hudson to be the first true leader of a vocal group, because the Spaniels pioneered the technique of having the main singer solo at his own microphone, while the rest of the group shared a second microphone.

"Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite" was written by Pookie Hudson and Calvin Carter in 1953. In Spring 1954, it hit number twenty-four on Variety's pop chart, and rose to number five on Billboard's R&B chart.

The Spaniels played regularly at the Apollo, The Regal and other large theaters on the Chitlin circuit. The line-up changed numerous times over the ensuing years. The Spaniels were the top selling vocal group for Vee Jay. The band broke up when the label went bankrupt in 1966, but in 1969, the group reformed, releasing hits like "Fairy Tales" in 1970. Two Spaniels groups later performed simultaneously: one in Washington, D.C., and the original group still based in Gary. The D.C. based group, with Pookie Hudson and Joe Herndon, appeared on the PBS special, Doo Wop 50.

"Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight" was featured prominently in two movies; American Graffiti and Three Men and a Baby. The best-selling version of the song was recorded by The McGuire Sisters in 1954. It was also recorded in 1954 by country music duo Johnnie & Jack.

The song became well known again in the late 1970s as the closing song performed by Sha Na Na on their weekly variety show. This song has the sub-title "it's time to go" with the now famous doo-wop bass line intro.

This bass line was however not included in the McGuire Sisters' cover version, made to sell to white audiences. Dick Biondi plays the song at the end of every show on Chicago's 94.7 WLS-FM.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

January 1: Patti Page- "(How Much Is That) Doggie In the Window," "Tennessee Waltz" - died on this date in 2013...

... she was 85-years-old when she passed away in in Encinitas, California.

Born Clara Ann Fowler in Claremore, Oklahoma, Patti Page was the best-selling female artist of the 1950s. Known as "The Singin' Rage; Miss Patti Page, she recorded 50 albums, including 14 platinum records and 19 gold ones. She has sold over 100 million records during her career.

Patti  got her stage name working at radio station KTUL, which had a 15-minute program sponsored by Page Milk Co. The regular Patti Page singer left and was replaced by Fowler.

Page signed with Mercury Records in 1947, and became their first successful female artist, starting with 1948's "Confess.” In 1950, she had her first million-selling single "With My Eyes Wide Open, I'm Dreaming,” and would eventually have 14 additional million-selling singles between 1950 and 1965. Page's signature song, "Tennessee Waltz,” recorded in 1950, was one of the biggest-selling singles of the 20th century, and is also one of the nine official state songs of Tennessee.

"Tennessee Waltz" spent 13 weeks atop the Billboard magazine's Best-Sellers List in 1950. Page had three additional No. 1 hit singles between 1950 and 1953, with "All My Love (Bolero),” "I Went to Your Wedding,” and "(How Much Is That) Doggie in the Window.” Unlike most pop music singers, Page blended the styles of country music into many of her most popular songs. By doing this, many of Page's singles also made the Billboard Country Chart.

In the 1970s, Page shifted towards country music, and she began charting on the country charts, up until 1982. Page is one of the few vocalists who have made the country charts in five separate decades. Even after rock and roll music became popular in the 1950s, Page was able to sustain her success, continuing to have major hits into the mid-1960s with "Old Cape Cod,” "Allegheny Moon,” "A Poor Man's Roses (Or a Rich Man's Gold),” and "Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte.” She teamed with George Jones on "You Never Looked That Good When You Were Mine."

Tennessee Waltz" scored the rare achievement of reaching No. 1 on the pop, country and R&B charts simultaneously and was officially adopted as one of two official songs by the state of Tennessee.

Patti became the first singer to have television programs on all three major networks, including "The Patti Page Show" on ABC. In films, Page co-starred with Burt Lancaster in his Oscar-winning characterization of "Elmer Gantry," and she appeared in "Dondi" with David Janssen and in "Boy's Night Out" with James Garner and Kim Novak.

She also starred on stage in the musical comedy "Annie Get Your Gun." Her death came just a few days after the conclusion of the run of "Flipside: The Patti Page Story," an off-Broadway musical commemorating her life.

In 1997, Patti Page was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, and In 1998, she won a Grammy for her record "Patti Page Live at Carnegie Hall -the 50th Anniversary Concert."

Patti only stopped touring recently. Suffering from undisclosed health problems, Patti wrote a note to her fans just last year that said, in part, “Although I feel I still have the voice God gave me, physical impairments are preventing me from using that voice as I had for so many years," Page wrote. "It is only He who knows what the future holds."

She will be posthumously honored with a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award in 2013.


For more about Patti, visit her Website at -