I had the opportunity to ask a couple questions to Eddie (now Ed) Rambeau. Of course, all readers of the RRR blog know that he was involved in some of the best pop records of the 60s. I hope you all enjoy some of Ed's memories about some of his biggest and best records and productions.
Kyler:How did you get into the music business? When did you realize that you could sing?
Ed:I can't remember NOT singing. As for how I got into the biz....a DJ named Jim Ward got me an interview with Swan Records after I sang at his record hop with only piano accompaniment and got a better reaction to many artists who lip synced to their records.
Kyler:You got signed to Swan Records in 1961 and recorded some great teen material for them, notably “Skin Diving” and “My Four Leaf Clover”. Can you tell us more about those songs and your Swan Records days?
Ed:My days at Swan were happy days. Skin Divin' was written by the same 2 guys who wrote "Poetry In Motion" and we all thought it was gonna be a smash, but it just made it territorially. I wrote My Four Leaf Clover Love with Bud Rehak driving back to Philadelphia in the car from my hometown of Hazleton, Pa.
Kyler:There is quite a story behind your third Swan release, “Summertime Guy”. Could you inform our readers of what happened with that one?
Ed:Summertime Guy was written by Chuck Barris (who also wrote Palisades Park for Freddie Cannon). He was an ABC exec at the time so my record was pulled from all ABC affiliates (both radio and TV) as a result, because it was considered a conflict of interest. They didn't catch Palisades Park, but they caught mine. Just my luck.
Kyler:You wrote some major hits for Diane Renay and also one of the best album tracks by the Four Seasons, “Only Yesterday”. Did you do your writing for specific artists, or did you just write the songs and pitch them to whoever you could find?
Ed:Sometimes I wrote for specific artists and other times I just wrote songs and pitched them. It was kinda both.
Kyler:My favorite record of yours is entitled “Come Closer”, which was released in 1964 on the 20th Century Fox label. The B-Side is awesome as well, entitled “She’s Smilin’ At Me”. I’ve always wanted to know more about these great songs. Do tell!
Ed:Bob Crewe (my producer) went to England and came back with these 2 songs. I fell in love with them immediately and recorded them. I was surprised they didn't do better chart-wise, but they just didn't get the airplay we had hoped for.
Kyler:On that record, The Four Evers (one of our favorite vocal groups here at Rare Rockin’ Records) backed you up. Any memories of those guys?
Ed: I can honestly say I don't recall who backed me up, but I seem to recall it was The 4 Seasons. My memory eludes me on this one.
Kyler:Your biggest hit of the 60s was most definitely “Concrete And Clay”. How did you come across it? Who’s version was first – yours or Unit 4+2?
Ed: Bob Crewe returned from England with a demo written by The Unit Four + 2. My record was released and two weeks later London put out the demo of the Unit 4. The rest is history. We got split play across the country.
Kyler:During the time of your hits, you did some major TV Shows like Shindig and Where The Action Is, not to mention touring, all the while writing for other artists doing for your own records. How did you keep up at this incredibly busy time?
Ed: was young and full of spit and vinegar and enjoyed what I was doing, so it was easy for me. When you have a love for something, you become indefatigable.
Kyler:The B-Side of “Concrete…” is another one of my favorites called “Don’t Believe Him”. It almost has a Gary Lewis & The Playboys sound. Is that what you were going for on that tune?
Ed:Actually I thought it was more along the lines of Gary and Pacemakers, but I suppose everyone sees and hears things differently. Again, this song was written on a drive from my hometown to New York City by both myself and Bud Rehak. Bob Crewe loved it immediately.
Kyler:The follow up to your biggest hit was a catchy, upbeat number called “My Name Is Mud”, which sounds very close to “Concrete And Clay”. Were you and Bob Crewe consciously trying to capture the sound of your earlier hit?
Ed: I have to give all the blame to Bob on this one. I wasn't crazy about going for a similar sound. I preferred a few other cuts from my Concrete and Clay LP as a follow-up, but Bob was insistent, and always got his way. After all, he did own the company.
Kyler:Amazingly, you found time for a full, fourteen song album!! It was released in 1965. There are some amazing pop-teen gems on it, including “It’s Not A Game Anymore”, “Look For The Rainbow”, and “I Just Need Your Love”. Any remembrances about the LP?
Ed:One of my favorite things about "I Just Need Your Love" was when I first sang it for my arranger/producer Charlie Calello. I sang it without accompaniment and when I hit the key-change which went down instead of up, I thought Charlie was gonna go crazy. He loved it. He kept saying "That's never been done before, and it sounds incredible". We recorded the entire LP in one afternoon because I had to go on the road for Klondike Days in Alberta, Canada where I was booked as the headliner for the entire week.
Kyler:What are the favorites of the songs you wrote and recorded in the 60s?
Ed:"Navy Blue", of course, cause it was my biggest hit. Also, "Kiss Me, Sailor" (the follow-up). "Only Yesterday" by the 4 Seasons. "Don't Believe Him" is one of my favorites as well. I also liked "Hangin' Onto My Baby" recorded by Tracey Dey.
Ed is still singing timeless tunes and you can find more information about him at his website, edrambeau.com.
You can also hear a full length radio interview with Ed with the great Ronnie Allen at Ronnie's Radio Page.