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Saturday, December 17, 2011


Blog readers,

You can now purchase the new Susanna and the Roomates CD direct from RRR at a special price! Just click right HERE and you'll be taken to a magical place where magical teen and doo wop recordings live. :)

A nice description of this fantastic CD via Ash:

Doo Wop is Back in vogue as Rare Rockin' Records proudly presents their latest CD-release in their 'Today's Doo Wop Masters Series'. This time we have The UK's finest Doo Wop group - The Roomates backing the most delightful; Susanna.

Susanna takes centre stage with her striking movie star looks and versatile vocals. She truly shines, as she either with her smooth and rich tone of voice charms her way through the songs, or more sultrily delivers these Doo Wop and teen pop rarities as lead vocalist with the ever-amazing tight vocal harmonies of The Roomates right behind her.

Susanna & The Roomates - '16 Reasons and more' will take you down memory lane on a musical journey of mainly obscure cover versions, which will sound as fresh and original as ever. If you love Doo Wop, vocal group harmony, rock 'n' roll or just 50's and 60's oldies in general, you will love this great collection. A whopping 30 tracks with an 8-page full-colour booklet packed with rare pics and insights into Susanna & The Roomates, as well as feedback and comments from fellow artists; both from the good old days and new. Reserve your copy now. RRR TDM 1031.

Wishing all readers a very happy holiday!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Hi all,

Some news in the Rare Rockin' Records world, a new cd featuring your favorites The Roomates with female lead vocalist Suzanna singing 30 (yes, 30!) brand new doo wop tracks for your enjoyment. The cd will be out early next year.

And here is the track lineup:

Until next time...rock on!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


On the heels of RRR's Billy Meshel disc, we are proud to present a brand new release on Teensville: "Hits & Rarities" by the fabulous Paul Petersen.

This is a great release on so many levels! First of all, there's 31 tracks here, the most comprehensive collection of Paul yet.

Out of all the tracks, Teensville is presenting 10 in superb sounding stereo, while the rest are in punchy and vibrant mono.

There are also 4 unreleased tracks - the great teener "Quarantine" (presented here in two versions, including rad studio chatter), the group sounding "I Wanna Be Free" (featured in an episode of The Donna Reed Show, but never released on record), and the somber "Two Little Boys".

Of course the hits are here - "My Dad", "Lollipops and Roses", "She Can't Find Her Keys", "Keep Your Love Locked".....

If you are only familiar with the hits side of Paul Petersen, you will be delighted to find many hidden gems on this CD. For instance, there's "Amy", written by Mann-Weil, which was so good that Barry later recorded it for himself. Paul's version of "The Poorest Boy In Town" is incuded too. You might know it by Johnny Burnette.

Beach Boys fans rejoyce - "She Rides With Me" is Track #9 - it's written by Brian Wilson and Roger Christian.

You will also hear a couple cuts Paul cut for a Colpix album of "Bye Bye Birdie" songs, and even a brief look at his stint at Motown Records in the late sixties.'

The music isn't the only great thing about this collection - the booklet is outstanding! Many pictures of Paul and full information about the tracks. The liner notes are by Brian Gari (check out his own music at, detailing Paul's career in the biz with some funny antedotes.

You can buy Paul Petersen's "Hits and Rarities" direct at the RARE ROCKIN RECORDS SHOP (just click it!)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

(Non RRR Related) Power Pop Duo 'The Red Button'

Hi folks,

As a quick aside from the news about upcoming releases from Rare Rockin' Records and Teensville, I'd like to direct you to the latest album by the The Red Button.

The Red Button (Seth Swirksy and Mike Ruekberg), if you don't know, are one of the most promising and talented artists in a genre known as power pop. 60s styled pop with a bit of an updated edge, if you like.

Their new, second album, entitled "As Far As Yesterday Goes", was released recently. It's simply a delight to listen to. In these heavy times, a 12-track breezy pop album hits the spot.

My favorite track is actually the album opener, "Caught In The Middle". It's upbeat and catchy as hell - images of Black & White moptops and girls chasing them come to mind! There's also a wicked, Dylan-esque harmonica recurring throug the intro and solo. The title track employs a Ringo-like drum beat (see 'Anna' or 'In My Life') with sections of Brian Wilson falsetto. Can't go wrong there...

"Picture" is a soft and wistful track about a love gone wrong. It reminds one of something off of The Hollies' "Butterfly" album. "Girl Don't" is another one of my favorites, an updated Merseybeat track with jangly guitars and pitch-perfect harmonies. Kinda Searchers-y!

Other standouts here include "On A Summer's Day", sounding like a cross between Mark Bacino and Harry Nillson - or the reggae and pop concoction of "You Do Something To Me" -or the uptempo "I Can't Forget", with a great opening lyric of 'It was a day she won't remember, it was a night I can't forget'.....

Check out The Red Button at their official website (, where you can order both their albums.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


To all the RRR Blog readers -

The new Billy Meshel CD is hot of the press and it certainly doesn't dissapoint. First off, the packaging is amazing - vibrant colors, full of stories from and about Billy and his compositions.

The music is another thing - there's tons of variety here, from bonafide stars like Dion & The Belmonts (with a track dating from their 1967 reunion) and Del Shannon, to unknowns with great voices like Mark Richards and Dale Brooks. For northern soul collectors, there's Lenny Welch and Don & Juan. Also, the girls are here as usual, with killers by Ginny Arnell, Babs Tino, and plenty of other fine chicks.

A couple of more obscure favorites from this CD include....
-Donna Lewis' "Call Him Back" which recalls the Peggy March sound of the early sixties.
-Mickey Denton's "Now You Can't Give Them Away", which has 'hit' written all over it.

Pick it up - another winner from the Rare Rockin' Records catalog. Buy it HERE

Friday, June 17, 2011


Once again, it's time for another interview segment on the Rare Rockin' Records blog. Some may know him as a producer, arranger, and engineer for such artists as Neil Diamond, Johnny Mathis, and Elton John.

Here at RRR we love Denny for the teen records he made in the 60s. I hope you enjoy learning the backstories behind the great tunes Denny sang and recorded back in those glorious days.

Kyler:What were the circumstances behind your signing with Holiday Records?

DENNY:I was introduced to Cal Van Zile by a friend. Van and Harry Fields were just starting Holiday Records. He brought aboard Marty Cooper to run the label as well as produce. Marty was known for working with Jack Nietzsche and Lee Hazelwood. Jan Davis (the Fugitive), Marty (the Shacklefords) and yours truly were the first 3 artists signed to the label..actually I was the first.

Kyler:You had two singles with Holiday, I’m going to list each title and then maybe you could give me some thoughts/memories about them? The first one is “Little Lover”.

DENNY:“Little Lover” was actually produced by me. Tom Crumplar ( bass player) of the Cornells, put the session together with most of the players who did the Phil Spector recordings…actually had the Blossoms doing bg’s with 2 guys…it was Hal Blaine and most o the Wrecking Crew on the date. Had no clue what I was doing but somehow knew what I wanted it to sound like…hey, we’re talking about it all these years later! Cool…

Kyler:Your vocal on Little Lover seems reminiscent of Dion. How big of an influence was he on your style of singing?

DENNY:This vocal style was done at the request of Lou Chudd who owned Imperial Records. I met Lou through his wife and daughter at a local supermarket. He had huge success with Fats Domino and Ricky Nelson. An appointment was set up and I had a live audition in his office in Hollywood…down the block from KFWB and the record biz hang out Aldo’s coffee shop. Thought I hit the big time!!!! Me and my guitar. Played him a couple of ballads and then went into my Dion groove on Little Lover…I loved Dion and the Belmonts. He stood up and yelled “It’s a hit”!!! ‘He said go make a demo and bring it back to me…so…we went in and cut a record..who wants a demo?…brought it to him and he got on his feet and hugged me…..after a few weeks I got a call from Lou where he said “you sound a little too much like Dion”..what else do you have? First experience of “HUH???” He said I had the look of a Ricky type so do something like Ricky…a little rockabilly and pop thing. So Tom and I and the Cornells went into the studio and did 2 sides. One was dead on Rick Nelson….got a second call from Lou…you guessed it…said I was too close to Ricky style….I never went back to see him. That’s why I’m on that cd “Why do you sound like me, Dion”

Kyler:Next up is “Faraway Places”.

DENNY:Marty Cooper choice and production..great David Gates arrangement…terrific record…I thought it was too adult for me at the time…I wanted to sing to girls and fun in the sun stuff.

Kyler:The next one was “What Makes Little Girls Cry”.

DENNY:David Gates did the arranging with Hal Blaine drums, Glenn Campbell and Gates on gtrs., Don Robertson piano, Julius Wechter on everything, and Ray Pohlman on bass. This was my teeny bopper anthem! Get tons of emails from around the world on this one too…..written by Lou Josie who wrote “Midnight Confessions” for the Grass Roots…

Kyler:The B-Side of that was a great ballad entitled “Traveled”.

DENNY:I wrote “Traveled” when I was still a teenager…can you tell. My original demo was pretty close to the record but Gates (pre-Bread) put his great touch to it. I wanted strings and all the backing stuff but the record was finished before I could get my shots in…most likely a money thing for a small label. I get emails from all over the world asking about this song….only took a few decades and the internet for a little recognition.. I had a few fan clubs starting in Europe and Asia but Holiday was not to be around long enough to be successful. Did a bunch of teen mags with photos and stories, just didn’t have the financial backing to go all the way. Traveled was a favorite of Arthur Lee and Love who played it in the Jukebox at BiDoLiDo’s every night..a club in a Hollywood alley….who knew?

Kyler:Were there any unreleased/unissued sides done while you were at Holiday?

DENNY:We did a few more sides but Holiday closed up so I signed with 20h Century Fox Records. Bob Marcucci who managed Avalon and Fabian, thought I had the talent and look to become successful. He started me in acting classes and put out the first single “Just a Boy In Love” Marty Cooper and Ray Whitley wrote the song and Marty wanted me to do the “Billy Joe Royal” southern I did. AT the same time, the co-publisher of the song got 2 other cover records to come out at the same time so the competition killed all 3. I got the most action but by then I was more interested in making records than performing…I started hanging out at Gold Star studios in Hollywood where, Stan Ross, Dave Gold and Doc Siegel started teaching me how to engineer and mix. Singing took a back seat.
I then went to work with Marty and Vicki Cooper at their publishing company learning all about songs and song plugging (I hate that term) Did a bunch of demos and learned how to make records.

Kyler:Finally, Denny, please tell our readers what you are up to these days.

DENNY:Still producing records..mainly in Nashville…doing an occasional movie….producing special market productions….may teach a master class at NYU….do the conference every year as part of the final night A&R listening sessions… chops are still up….loving the rediscovery of the 60’s records….life is still rock and roll to me!!!

I would like to thank Denny for taking the time to answer the questions! I hope you've enjoyed this latest interview segment. Please check out the Rare Rockin' Records shop and learn about past, new, and upcoming releases (new ones by Billy Meshel and Paul Petersen coming soon!).

Monday, May 23, 2011


Hope you enjoy the latest installment in our interview series - Phil Margo of the legendary Tokens was nice enough to answer our questions.

Kyler:Phil, how did you (and your brother) become ½ of the classic lineup of the Tokens?

PHIL:Well, it’s mainly because I was in a boy’s chorus in high school and I learned how beautiful singing was, it was in my junior year and I was kind of unspectacular. We did our first concert and our teacher asked if some of us would want to entertain at the annual spring sock hop, so I volunteered Mitch and me and we sang “All I Have To Do Is Dream”, accapella. People applauded and girls introduced themselves and that was the beginning. I found that I had a talent for music and I pursued it. I learned how to play the piano, and had a band in the summer of 59. We worked in the Catskill Mountains. When I came back, our drummer (his father won the lottery won the lottery two months in a row) went to college, and I had to find a new drummer. The new drummer knew Henry Medress. And he introduced Henry to us and we started working and writing together. We did kind of a rock and roll version of Chopsticks and nothing happened. We continued to write because Hank saw something in us. And we wrote “Tonight I Fell In Love” and some other songs and we got Jay (who was in Darrell and the Oxfords with Hank) to sing lead and that’s how it all began. Mitch was actually 9-10 years old when we first sang and then when we got together (in the Tokens) I was 17 and Mitch was 12.

Kyler:What kind of music were The Tokens into offstage?

PHIL:Jay had a very eclectic view of music. he was into country and folk. Mitch and I liked 40s music. I liked some classical stuff and of course what was current. Our favorite was stuff like Ray Charles and good harmony groups.

Kyler:How did you come to be signed by Warwick Records?

PHIL:We went with Warwick because they frankly were the only label that would take the record! We made “Tonight I Fell In Love” and nobody jumped up and down and then finally Warwick agreed to put it out. Then they changed their mind. Morty (Craft, head of Warwick at the time) didn’t want to put it out because he didn’t like the name we picked for ourselves, which was “Those Guys”. He didn’t want ‘Those Guys’, and he wasn’t gonna put the record out. So we came to him, and he said “ok, we’ll use the name ‘The Tokens’, because one of his labels was the label that Neil Sedaka & The Tokens were on. So, we took the name ‘The Tokens’. It was an afterthought. We didn’t really like the name but we took it because we wanted to do anything to get a record out!

Kyler:After “Tonight I Fell In Love”, you moved from Warwick to RCA. What was the reason behind the move?

PHIL:We moved to RCA from Warwick because Morty said our record wasn’t earning any money, when it was in the Top 15. He said, “what can RCA do for you that I can’t”? And we all said in unison, without rehearsal, “Pay us!”

Kyler:Can you tell me about some great doo wop songs that graced the first RCA Tokens single – “Dry Your Eyes” and “When I Go To Sleep At Night”?

PHIL:Dry Your Eyes and When I Go were songs that we had written and nothing much to say except that I don’t think the records weren’t what we wanted. Once you turn things over to an arranger and orchestra you’re at their mercy. We weren’t in charge, so we weren’t the producers, so we had to do what was in front of us. Later on, “He’s So Fine”, when we recorded the Chiffons, we had run through the budget at Capitol Records so we had to play the instruments and do the arrangements ourselves. I think that’s what made the record successful because it had that spontaneous feel about it.

Kyler:Of course your biggest hit on RCA was “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”….how influential were The Tokens to the arrangement of the original folk standard?

PHIL:We kinda gave them the demo – we did a demo in 1960 of Wimoweh without the lyric. I just found it recently within the last couple of years (the original demo). We pretty much laid down the feel of it, the bongo drums etc. The lyric was a thing that was added later and we didn’t get that until the day of the session. We were supposed to sing the lyric to the melody line of the chant (“Wimoweh”), but it got boring, after a while repeating the same thing over and over again, so we went over to the piano and adjusted the melody. We actually wrote a new melody to go with the lyrics. We unfortunately never got credited or paid for that and it was even admitted to by the people that kind of stole it from us.

Kyler:Some of my favorite Tokens songs from the early Sixties are little known gems which have very little information to be found on the web – namely, “Right Or Wrong”, “Somewhere There’s A Girl”, and “Dear Judy” – can you provide any details?

PHIL:“Right or Wrong” was written by Neil Sedaka, that was on our original session. “Somewhere There’s A Girl”, Neil Sedaka also wrote. We wrote “Dear Judy”. We were trying to do a record like “Little Darlin’”, so we did “Dear Judy”.

Kyler:What was the major impetus behind the creation of BT Puppy Records?

PHIL:We started BT Puppy because we were leaving RCA and we wanted our own label, like a little RCA. BT stands for Bright Tunes (our publishing company), and Puppy, as a reference to RCA’s dog.

Kyler:Many, if not all, of the Tokens original songs were followed by the credits “Margo/Margo/Medress/Siegel”. Did each of you actually write parts of every song or was it more like a Lennon/McCartney situation?

PHIL:Margo/Margo/Medress/Siegel were the credits. Mitch and I wrote most of the songs, in fact Mitch even more than me. Jay and Hank didn’t really write that much. Jay’s edition was to make little changes in the melody once a song was written. Basically the songs were written by Mitchell and I. Although Hank, with us, did write Tonight I Fell In Love and I’ll Always Love You.

Kyler:How did The Tokens acquire “He’s In Town”? Were you good friends with Goffin, King and the other writers from the Brill Building?

PHIL:We were friends with Carole and Gerry because once we produced “He’s So Fine” for the Chiffons, they came to us with the demo for “One Fine Day” (sung by Little Eva on the demo), and I said we would want to do that (with the Chiffons). She sent it over and we used the backing track, with Carole on piano, and added to it to make the master. So we were friends with Carole and she called us up and said “I have a great song for you guys”.We were friendly with Mann and Weil, Barry and Greenwich, Artie Resnick, all of those people from the Brill Building.

(above: Carole King and Gerry Goffin, writers of "He's In Town")

Kyler:Who came up with the Puppy design for BT Puppy? Was it meant to be a knock on RCA Victor’s dog?

PHIL:It wasn’t a knock on RCA, it was an homage to them – that was where we had our biggest hit record so the last thing we wanted to do was knock them!

Kyler:“I Hear Trumpets Blow” has a set of wonderful lyrics. What was the inspiration behind that tune?

PHIL:I Hear Trumpets Blow is an interesting story. It continues now – we always loved it. Mitch wrote it as a homage to our family. It would have been a big record if New York would have played it. The only area we couldn’t get it played was New York City so the record wasn’t as big as it could have been. Noah (Phil’s son) and I wrote a play which is being considered for Broadway called “Oh My Goddess”, and one of the songs we put in it is “I Hear Trumpets Blow”. Hopefully it will have another life – we’ll see!

Kyler:Many of the Tokens songs have intricate background parts – for example, “Breezy” and “Greatest Moments In A Girl’s Life”. Did you guys arrange those parts yourselves?

PHIL:We did all the background parts ourselves. The only one we didn’t do was “He’s In Town”, which Carole King did.

Kyler:You produced many great records and artists – do you have a favorite?

PHIL:Out of all of them, there were only three that I knew would be hits – Knock Three Times (Tony Orlando and Dawn), I Got Rhythm (Happenings) and One Fine Day (Chiffons). I guess I don’t really have a favorite My favorite Tokens record is “Tonight I Fell In Love”. There was something wonderful about the innocence of the background parts. If you notice, the background parts are a descending triad instead of the obvious part. And the record turned out the way we all heard it, so that was kind of exciting.

Kyler:Finally, I bet out readers would like to know what Phil Margo and Tokens are up to these days.

PHIL:We tour all over the country and we travel. We do television and we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”!

Thanks to Phil for the interview! You can check the Tokens official website out HERE

Also, be sure to check out the Rare Rockin Records shop (just click here). You can find many great compact discs to order, and information about two upcoming ones - Billy Meshel (Songwriter's Series) on RRR and Paul Petersen (Hits & Rarities) on Teensville.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

NEW RELEASES!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hey folks!

I am glad to tell you about not one, but TWO new releases from the RRR family. Get ready!

The first is a deluxe disc featuring tracks written and co-written by the legendary Billy Meshel. Don't worry - there are some big, Big, BIG names on this CD such as Lenny Welch, Dion & The Belmonts, and Del Shannon. Check out the track lineup:

1. Del Shannon – Don’t Gild the Lily, Lily (Billy Meshel & Arthur Altman) Big Top 3075 (1961)
2. Babs Tino – Dr. Jekyll Or Mr. Hyde (Billy Meshel & Phil Barr) Kapp 561 ( 1963)
3. Billy Mitchell – (Let’s) Stop A Little While (Billy Meshel) Warwick 501 (1959)
4. Lenny Welch – My Fool Of A Heart (Billy Meshel & Teddy Randazzo) Kapp 648 (1965)
5. The Fortune Cookies – It Should Have Been Me (Billy Meshel & Phil Barr) Smash 1991 ( 1965)
6. Eddie Martin – Keep Away From Julie (Billy Meshel & Arthur Altman) Mercury 71909 (1961)
7. Don & Juan – What I Really Meant To Say ( Billy Meshel & Bill Ramal) Big Top 3121 (1962)
8. Donna Lewis – Call Him Back ( Billy Meshel & Phil Barr) Decca 31554 (1964)
9. Billy Meshel – Paradise Found ( Billy Meshel & Arthur Altman) Time 1036 (1961)
10. The Royalettes – Don’t You Cry (Billy Meshel, Teddy Randazzo & Bobby Weinstein) MGM 13283 (1964)
11. Chuck Foote – I Stopped Asking (Billy Meshel & Arthur Altman) 20th Fox 302 (1962)
12. Roberta Wynn – Dream Boy Jubilee 5405 (Billy Meshel & Arthur Altman) Jubilee 5405 (1962)
13. Gary Criss – Sweet, Warm and Soft ( Billy Meshel, Don Covay & John Berry) Diamond 145 (1962)
14. The Crampton Sisters – My Guy Is Boss (Billy Meshel & Phil Barr) DCP 1107 (1964)
15. Billy Stewart – This Is A Fine Time (Billy Meshel & Arthur Altman) United Artists 340 (1961)
16. Ginny Arnell – B-i-l-l-? Why (Billy Meshel) MGM 13362 (1965)
17. Roger Douglass – But Suddenly ( Billy Meshel & Arthur Altman) Mercury 71860 (1961)
18. Marcy Jo – Take A Word ( Billy Meshel) Robbee 117 (1961)
19. Mark Richards – She Can Make Me Cry ( Billy Meshel & Doug Morris) ABC Paramount 10654 (1965)
20. Jennie Smith – It’s Murder For Roberta (Billy Meshel & Arthur Altman) Canadian American 135 (1962)
21. Chuck Foote – I’d Do It All Over Again ( Billy Meshel & Arthur Altman) 20th Fox 302 (1962)
22. Marie Applebee – Dear Mrs Applebee (Billy Meshel & Phil Barr) Jubilee 5570 (1966)
23. The Carousels – Symptons of Love (Billy Meshel & Arthur Altman) ABC Paramount 10233 (1961)
24. Rita Pavone – Right Now (Billy Meshel, Teddy Randazzo & Phil Barr) RCA 47-8612 (1964)
25. Mickey Denton – Now You Can’t Give Them Away (Billy Meshel & Arthur Altman) Big Top 3078 (1962)
26. Dale Brooks – What is There To Tell (Billy Meshel & Arthur Altman) Twirl 2028 ( 1966)
27. Billy Mitchum – Living On A Cloud (Billy Meshel) Imperial 5616 (1961)
28. The Fortune Cookies – A Girl In Love (Billy Meshel & Phil Barr) Smash 1991 (1965)
29. Jerry Keller – Be Careful How You Drive Young Joey ( Billy Meshel & Arthur Altman) Capitol 4630 (1962)
30. Kansas City Twisters – What A Wacky Weekend ( Billy Meshel & Arthur Altman) APT 25062 (1962)
31. Dion & The Belmonts – Movin’ Man (Billy Meshel & Phil Barr) ABC Paramount 10896 (1967)
32. Del Shannon – I Can’t Believe My Ears (Billy Meshel & Phil Barr) Amy 947 ( 1966)

This disc is the closest of the two to release - so you can pre-order now HERE.

Just as exciting is a new Teensville release by teen idol Paul Petersen. It's entitled "HITS & RARITIES". Just like the title says, all the hits are here, plus many rare tracks and new stereo mixes added in to make a great compilation. There is no pre-order option yet, but we will let you know when there is! For now, take a look at the track listing:

(Wally Gold-Roy Alfred)
Colpix 620
(Gerry Goffin-Carole King)
Colpix 622
3. LOLLIPOPS & ROSES (A) stereo
(Tony Velona)
Colpix 649
4. MY DAD (A) stereo
(Barry Mann-Cynthia Weil)
Colpix 663
5. AMY (A)
(Barry Mann-Cynthia Weil)
Colpix 676
(Sid Wayne-Sherman Edwards)
Colpix 697
(Fred Tobias-Lee Pockriss)
Colpix 707
(Fred Tobias-Lee Pockriss)
Colpix 720
(Brian Wilson-Roger Christian)
Colpix 720
(Barry Mann-Cynthia Weil)
Colpix 730
(Barry Mann-Cynthia Weil)
Colpix 730
(Deane Hawley-Jerry Riopelle)
Colpix 763
13. HAPPY (A)
(Nick DeCaro)
Colpix 763
14. THE RING (D)
(Billy Page)
Colpix 785
(Tommy Roe)
Colpix 785
(Wayne P. Walker)
Colpix 663
(Doc Pomus-Alan Jeffreys)
Colpix 622
(Barry Mann-Mike Anthony)
Colpix 697
19. I WANNA BE FREE (TV) (A) (unreleased)
(Stu Phillips-Tommy Boyce)
20. ROSIE (from Bye Bye Birdie) (A)
(Charles Strouse-Lee Adams)
Colpix LP 454
21. ONE GIRL (from Bye Bye Birdie) (A) stereo
(Charles Strouse-Lee Adams)
Colpix LP 454
22. KIDS (FOLKS) (from Bye Bye Birdie) (A)
(Charles Strouse-Lee Adams)
Colpix LP 454
23. VERY UNLIKELY (A) stereo
(Gary Geld-Peter Udell)
Colpix 620
(Sherman Edwards-Sid Wayne)
Colpix 631
25. DON'T LET IT HAPPEN TO US (F) stereo
(Frank Wilson)
Motown 1108
(Frank Wilson)
Motown 1108
(R. Dean Taylor)
Motown 1129
Motown 1109
29. TWO LITTLE BOYS (H) (unreleased)
(Theodore Morse-Edward Madden)
30. QUARANTINE (A) (unreleased) stereo
(Fred Anisfield)
31. QUARANTINE (TV insert) (A) (unreleased) stereo

The official page for this CD can be found HERE

As always, we'd love to hear you comments. Just post them below - they WILL be read!

Until next time, rock on!

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Brill Building genius Roger Atkins was nice enough to chat with the Rare Rockin' Records blog - I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did asking the questions!

(above:Roger Atkins in 1970 with his new-born son)

Kyler:How did you get started in song writing at the Brill Building?

ROGER:When I was thirteen or fourteen my mother bought me a ticket to a Saturday matinee of The Music Man on Broadway. I'd never seen a Broadway show before and I was so blown away by what I saw that by the time I left the theater I'd decided that I was going to write Broadway musicals. I saved up my money and bought tickets to as many musicals as I could. Then, after seeing My Fair Lady, and reading about how Alan Jay Lerner adapted the play Pygmalion, I wrote the book, music and lyrics to Like Father, Like Son which was my adaptation of one of my favorite plays (I'd only seen the movie but bought a copy of the play), Life With Father. I sent my work to BMI and to my amazement they invited me to join their theatrical workshop.

One day I met a guy named Richard Costiera. We hit it off and began writing together. He wrote music and I wrote lyrics. We started writing what was then contemporary Doo Whop, street corner songs. His father was also a musician and had some contacts at Hill & Range Music Songs in the Brill Building. We played them what we had written and they gave us publishing contracts for some of them. Then we went door to door playing songs for whoever would listen. Of course we could say that we had songs published by Hill & Range and Regent Music, which was also a Hill & Range company. But I must say we spent most of our time writing at 1650 Broadway, not the Brill Building. One of the doors we knocked on at 1650 was Unbelievable Music, which was owned by Teddy Vann. He liked what we played him and he asked us to work with him. We went up there to write almost everyday for months. Then Richard decided he didn't like what Teddy wanted us to write so he left, but I stayed. The first records I ever had released, "My Top Ten Chart" by Roberta Meshell and, "My Mamma Said (originally titled, "Be Tough" but changed by Diamond records) by the Bobbettes, were with Teddy.

Kyler:Who were some of the collaborators you worked with in the 60s?

ROGER:Richard Costiera; Teddy Vann. Then at Screen-Gems Columbia Music: Ronnie Dante; Jerry Robinson; Big Dee Irwin; Helen Miller; Carl D'Errico; and Neil Sedaka. At the very tail end of the 60's and early 70's, Helen again; Peter Allen; and one song with the great arranger Peter Matz.

Kyler:When writing, would you strictly do lyrics, music, or a bit of both?

ROGER: I mostly write lyrics. However, I have on occasion written both music and lyrics. I do try to convey musical ideas to whomever I'm working with, though. Sometimes they're used and sometimes they're not.

Kyler:You wrote a number of wonderful songs with Neil Sedaka. Can you tell our readers the incident involving "Kissin' My Life Away"?

ROGER:This was the first song we wrote together. Don Kirshner asked me one day if I'd be interested in writing with Neil and of course I jumped at the chance. The company was looking for songs for their new TV show, The Monkees, which had yet to be made. All they had was the audition footage of each of the cast which they had shown to all the staff writers. I told Neil my title, "Kissin' My Life Away" and he loved it so I came up with the lyrics, "I got nothin' but trouble, girls don't leave me alone. Goin' twenty-four hours, I've got no time of my own. Oooo, oooo, oooo, I feel I'm kissin' my life away. Kiss-a-kissin' my life away. Kiss-a-kissin' my life away" Well, Neil got very excited and before long played me his melody which I thought it was very catchy. But I said the beginning sounded exactly like George Gershwin's, "I Got Plenty O Nothin'" from Porgy and Bess. He thought about it a while. I could see him going over it in his head as he played. Then he said he didn't think it would matter because it was only two bars and two bars was acceptable. He sat and tried several different openings but didn't like any of them and always came back to his original. Truthfully, I should have thrown a tantrum and insisted that he change it but I was insecure and, after all, it was Neil Sedaka who'd written a gazillion hits! Who was I to tell him how to write? If he said it was OK, then it was OK!

We played the song for Kirshner and the professional staff all of whom had the same reaction as I did but no one insisted upon a change, either. I'll let you in on a little secret, in those days there was a general attitude among publishers and record companies that went like this: If we get sued, we get sued! Go for the hit and deal with being sued later! For example, do really think that no one at Capital records realized that "Surfin' USA" wasn't really "Sweet Little Sixteen" on a surf board? They just went along with it until the law suit came and then they changed the credits and split the publishing.

Unfortunately for us, when our song was finally recorded by The Hondells and the record hit the charts with a bullet, The Gershwin Organization sent a letter to Screen-Gems saying, regardless of the fact that only two bars of their copyright was used, they were going to sue on the basis of, "familiarity." In other words, those two bars were so ingrained in the public consciousness that their use alone was the equivalent of using the entire copyright. Screen-Gems, not wanting to battle The Gershwin Organization, immediately caved and had the record pulled, never to be heard from again. All it would have taken was for Neil to change one note and we would have had a hit, but there's no use now in crying over spilled music!

(above:Neil Sedaka in the 60s, who was a frequent collaborator with Roger Atkins)

Kyler:Did you write your songs for specific artists in mind?

ROGER:Sometimes we did. Every week we'd be told who'd be coming up for recording and we'd try to write for them. Carl and I wrote, "It's My Life" because we were told that Mickie Most was coming to town looking for songs for The Animals. But many times we'd write because I had an idea I wanted to explore or someone had a melody they liked. Some of my favorite songs from back then were written just because we wanted to write them. With Carl I could write about unusual topics like, "Flea Circus", "I'm Whatever You Think I AM", "Born Ahead Of My Time", "Community". These were songs that we really needed our own group for but never had, so all but, "Community", which Tiny Tim did, have never, to my knowledge, been recorded. With Helen I did mostly R&B flavored songs, many of which were recorded. (My first top 40 hit was, "I Can't Let You Out Of My Sight" that Helen and I wrote and was recorded by Chuck Jackson and Maxine Brown. A bit of a distorted record but it did pretty well on the pop charts and much bigger on the R&B charts.) And Neil and I wrote some wonderful pop songs that to this day I don't understand why they're still sitting unrecorded.

Kyler:You co-wrote "The Kind Of Girl I Could Love" with Mike Nesmith for the Monkees 2nd album. What was that like?

ROGER:Well, when I wrote that with Michael it was before the show had gone on the air. There were no Monkees songs, yet. At that time Michael wanted to write all the songs, sing lead, and produce all the records but Don Kirshner had different plans. He sent me to California to work with Michael, I think, to keep Michael occupied while he maneuvered behind the scenes. Michael didn't really want to write with me, or with anyone for that matter. He was polite, brought me to his house in the Hollywood Hills to meet his wife and new born son, and on the set introduced me Micky, Peter and Davy, who I had already met several times in New York before The Monkees came along when he recorded one of my songs, "Face Up To It" on his first Colpix album. But he never really did any writing with me. He would drop off cassette tapes with snippets of music on them, really more like musical doodling. From these I pieced together two or three usable songs and wrote lyrics, one of which was, "The Kind Of Girl I Could Love." The others I really don't remember at all.

Kyler:The Vogues cut a song of yours called "Come And Get Me" that is amazing. It was unreleased until about a decade ago. Can you remember anything about this great track?

ROGER: I'm very glad to hear that you like the record. That's my demo track their singing on. Helen and I wrote that with them in mind and we styled the demo for them and offered our track for them to put their voices on, but we were told that they passed. It wasn't until a few years ago that I found out they did record it. Why it was never released as a single back then I'll never know. I think it would have been a smash!

Kyler: Is it true that Eric Burdon never sang the correct lyrics to "It's My Life" as you had written them?

ROGER:That's true. I wrote,

"It's my life and I'll do what I want!
It's my mind and I'll think what I want!
Sure, I'll do wrong,
Hurt you sometime
But someday I'll treat you so fine ..."

but Eric sings, "..... Show me I'm wrong, hurt me sometime....." which never made any sense to me. Everyone who's recorded it sings the wrong chorus, and sometimes even the wrong lyrics in the verses, too.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest!

Kyler:"Make Me Your Baby" and "It's My Life" are probably your most well-known hits. They are almost polar opposites! How did you write in such different styles in the same time period?

ROGER:Well, I'd say that, "Workin' On A Groovy Thing" that I wrote with Neil is pretty well know, also, and is probably my most recorded song, even if it is my least favorite title. As for writing in different styles, I just wrote what came to me whether it was thin pop or multi-layered sub-text. I just love to write songs!

Kyler:Finally, Roger, please tell our readers what you're up to today.

ROGER: I'm still writing. Ideas, words, new ways of saying things still come to me. As a matter of fact I recently sent Carl a lyric that he's putting to music, now. Something very sophisticated and different than anything we've done before. It's just a shame that we have no contacts left, no outlet for what we do now. No one wants songs from the dinosaurs. But we still keep writing because that's who we are!

Special thanks to Mr. Atkins for the great interview. Stay tuned to the RRR blog, there are many new surprises in the future! Until next time, rock on....

Saturday, April 9, 2011

How The Five Delights created Mood Making music and made the world Watusi with them for Eternity

In the world of vocal groups it’s easy for a group to get lost; this is not the case of The Five Delights, though the records are rare the popularity of group is better now like fine wine. This is the story of recollections of stories that I remember from my father’s best friend and former member of The Five Delights Ray Figueroa and interviews Waldo Champen had with Marv Goldberg.

The Five Delights story begins with Waldo Champen!

In 1950, Waldo formed the original Wrens with Frenchie Concepcion, Raoul McLeod and a guy just known as Archie. The group did perform at the Apollo and apparently recorded but no one quite remembers for whom (the recording doesn’t seem to have been released). Though the Wrens break up around 1952, Frenchie continued on with a new version of the Wrens featuring Bobby Mansfield and cut the original “Come Back My Love”.

By 1953, Waldo finds himself joining The Chimes (My Dearest Darling) with Arthur Crier, Gary Morrison & Gene Redd. Waldo replaced lead singer John Murray. This group breaks up in 1955.

Waldo meets Sonny!

In late 1955, Waldo forms The Supremes with former lead singer of the Twilighters Larry “Lonnie” Gales. Besides Waldo & Larry the group consisted of Donald Redd, Billy Baines and future “Five Delight” Ed “Sonny” Jordan. The Supremes signed on with Hy Weiss’s “Old Town Records” and recorded and released in 1955 as back up to Ruth McFadden the original version of “Darling Listen to the Words of this Song”.

In 1956, the group was back in the studio and recorded the beautiful “Tonight” & “She Don’t Want Me No More” with Larry singing lead on both sides. On a third session, Waldo sings lead on “Come Back and Give Me Your Hand” which at the time went unreleased.

Somehow at this time The Supremes without Larry Gales become The Wrens for one record that was never issued called “Reckless” and the flip “House of Cards” with both Bobby Mansfield singing lead.

By mid 1956 Donn Redd and Bobby Mansfield left The Supremes/Wrens; Waldo, Sonny & Billy joined Dean Barlow in a group called The Bachelors (due to contractual reasons they couldn’t use The Crickets). The signed to Sammy Lowe’s Earl Label and they cut “I Want to Know About Love” with Dean singing lead and the original and calypso version of “Dolores” with Waldo singing lead. Their second release featured Dean on lead on both sides “Baby” and “Tell Me Now”. With two releases and no promotion and no appearances they leave Earl records.

In 1957, The Bachelors change their name to The Montereys and signed to Jerry Winston’s label “Onyx”; they record “Through the Years” with Sonny singing lead and Waldo singing the top falsetto background part. The flip was the great and immortal “Dearest One” with Dean and Billy singing a duet. The records were reviewed on Billboard magazine on September 9th, 1957 but not as a Montereys record but as Dean Barlow record. The Montereys did cut “Angel” & “Tell Me Why” but were not released. The group breaks up.

Billy Baines joins Bobby Spencer & J.R. Bailey to record as The Cadillacs; all they were missing was a bass, somehow Waldo who is usually a 2nd tenor and at his lowest a baritone becomes The Cadillacs Bass. This version of The Cadillacs cut the beloved and revered “My Girlfriend” led by J.R. and Champ gives a great performance on Bass and the flip “Broken Heart” with Bobby Spencer on lead. The single was released in 1957 and reviewed on Billboard Magazine.
This version of the Cadillacs also photographed one of the most famous
pictures on the Cover of the Cadillacs lp that featured a third song from this version of the group called “Don’t Be Mad with my Heart”. Waldo leaves the Cadillacs and J.R. & Bobby joins whatever is left from the The Original Cadillacs to cut “Jay Walker” & “Please Mr. Johnson” among other great Cadillacs recordings.

Champ & Sonny reunite!

In 1958 Champ joined Sonny in the already formed Five Delights with Douglas Ferrer, George Rosa & Danny Levy on Bass. They signed on with Jerry Winston again on his Newport label to cut the classic “There’ll be No Goodbyes” with Sonny and Champ in duet leads and “Okey Dokey Mama” with Doug on lead. Both songs along with The Montereys and The Bachelors singles were arranged and conducted by the great Sammy Lowe. The song began to pick up steam and United Artist re-released the song on their UNART division. The record really goes nowhere on the new label and afterwards Doug and George leave the group.

Danny at this time recruit two classmates from James Monroe High School in the Bronx; Eddie Stokes and Raymond Figueroa join the group in 1959 at this time they went in the studio around February or March to record “Wachibamba” & “Kalahari” on the Prince label but the credis was to The Watusi Warriors Arranged and Conducted by the mysterious “Rocky Gibraltar”. The record was reviewed, everybody thought they were listening to an actual South African group, not realizing the group was really a Bronx group made up of two blacks, one Jewish, one Puerto Rican and one Polish member. Nevertheless the record was reviewed by Billboard in 1959.

By July they had reverted back to the Five Delights name and recorded “The Thought of Losing You” with Sonny on lead and “That Love Affair” with Champ on leadand with the great Teacho Wiltshire Arranging and Conducting the session. This time the record were released on Abel records which was distributed by George Goldner’s Gone records; though the records fantastic the label did not promote the singles.

Around 1960 the group recorded a couple of Acapella rehearsal tapes recording songs like “You’ll Send Me”, “Goodnight Sweetheart”, “Gloria”, “The Thought of Losing You”, “Over the Rainbow”, “Begin the Beguine”, “I Believe”, “That love Affair”, “Man on the Moon”, “There’ll Be no Goodbyes”, “Dream a Dream”, “I Woke Up this Morning”, “Dearest Darling”, “Close Your Eyes” among other recordings. But listening to the tapes not only are hearing a great group singing, but five guys having fun and the respect they had for each other.

After a year of not recording the Five Delights were back in the studio but this time they changed their name to The Mood Makers and they cut a song from the rehearsal tapes “Dream a Dream” with Sonny and Champ on Duet leads a la The Dells. The flip is cover of The Bachelors “Dolores” with Sonny on lead and Danny giving one of the bass parts performances ever on record. The songs were released on Bambi Records and reviewed by Billboard Magazine; on a side note it seems they also cut a song called “Sweet Little Girl” but was never released.

The Mood Makers did have one more record backing Tommy Stagg on his record “Memories of Love” & “Four in Love”; this was released also on Bambi Records.

On a side note the story of Bambi records have always eluded me, it seems the owner was a guy named Vince Peters and the arranger and Conductor was a famous conductor who had to change his name due to contractual reasons so he went by “Rocky Gibraltar” but no one quite remember his real name. If anybody knows any history on Bambi or even want to add to these articles please feel free to do so. Any info will be appreciated!

In 1964, The Five Delights recorded 12 songs for their manager Jerome Tarter in a New Rochelle Studio to be produced for an album. This material was never released and the whereabouts of the tapes are unknown.

Jerome was the writer of most of The Five Delights and Mood Makers materials he also wrote an unreleased Solitaires record.

Around 1965, Waldo left The Five Delights and music as a whole to go work for the NY Transit Authority.

The Five Delights meets The Eternals

Years are a little shaky but around 1965 George Villanueva the former lead of the Eternals (“Today”) joins The Five Delights, besides a few rehearsal tapes nothing gets recorded for release. Sonny leaves the group either in late 1965 or 1966 and the remaining members of Ray, Eddie, Danny & George join Sammy Marrero to become The Eternals.

It was this version of The Eternals in 1966 that recorded a version of the Bob Lewis jingle based on the original Eternals “Babalu’s Wedding Day” song from 1959. The jingle was recorded live from a Freedom Land performance.

This version of the group also records in 1967 or 1968 “Decent Girl” with Sammy on lead and George on the bridge. “Mister Night” again with George on lead and a version of “Big Troubles”; sadly none were released.

After this Ray, Eddie & Danny decided to end their singing careers and concentrate on having careers and supporting their growing families. All five members of the Five Delights have had great careers outside of singing, but that’s for another article.

Around 1995, The Five Delights were inducted into UGHA, where four of the five original members (Champ, Ray, Eddie & Sonny) alongside George Villanueva performed together since the sixties. By this time Danny sadly had passed away in 1992.

In the late nineties, Sonny alongside the rest of The Five Delights released some of the songs from their 1960 rehearsal tapes on cd called "Best of Bronx Acapella". Pick up this CD if you find a copy.

I hope you enjoy reading this article as much as I had the pleasure of writing it. Hopefully most people will agree The Five Delights is a group worth searching out for. Just check out Youtube alone and you see great comments from not only fans but from Champs kids and Ray’s kids on not just how great singers they are now but how great human beings.

I had the pleasure of knowing Ray for all of my life or most of it at least and I thank my father Roberto Perez De Leon for introducing me to not just the Five Delights but to the whole Vocal Group Scene. Some of my memories as a kid was seeing my dad and Ray singing together at Christmas parties or just having fun. Just brilliant memories forever stored in my head.

This article is dedicated to Danny Levy,Eddie Stokes & my dad (I miss you).

Monday, March 7, 2011


I just got my copy of the new TEENSVILLE release 'BRITISH TEEN RARITIES', and let me tell ya, you're in for a treat!

Guys and gals,

The artwork is colorful and flashy - the theme is red, white, and blue - the colors of the UK flag, of course. Inside you can see many pictures of the artists and fascinating label scans.

The sound is top notch, all of the power and punch of the UK 45s are right here on this compact disc.

The music is the most important part, though, isn't it? No need to worry. There are 30 UK Top Teen Tracks from 1960-1965 here, and it sure doesn't dissapoint.

The disc starts out with Peter Gordeno singing his version of the Laddins USA doo wop track "I'll Kiss Your Teardrops Away". Peter adds a teen flair to the track and it really works. Teen fan-favorite Jimmy Crawford is up next with a new-to-CD gem, "Thank You". Actually, almost all of these tracks are new-to-CD, which is a delight to collectors all around the globe.

Jan Burnette is the first girl in the set and sings a nice string-laden track entitled "Til I Hear The Truth From You". Brad Newman sings a Bobby Vee-inspired track, "I'll Find You Another Baby", and actor/singer Brian Weske does the Wayne Rooks (USA version) classic "Where Does The Clown Go?".

Collectors will love the inclusion of the next track on the CD - "Keep On Lovin' Me" by the Kaye Sisters. It is a great girl-group track with a nonstop beat and honking saxes. After two nice tunes by Dean Stevens and David Macbeth, a change of pace is in order with Josh Hanna's "When I Love You". Not much is known about Josh but he has a killer voice and a great range.

Lance Fortune (great name for an artist, isn't it?), continues in that Bobby Vee mode from earlier with the bouncy "Will You Still Be My Girl". A Spector-influenced gem from Lynda Graham, "You'd Better Believe It" follows.

That's only roughly 1/3rd of the CD, but buy it to find out what the others sound like! You won't be dissapointed.

Buy British Teen Rarities 1960-1965 HERE.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


You can now order the new Teensville release 'BRITISH TEEN RARITIES', featuring thirty (yes, thirty!), great and obscure UK Teen tracks from 1960-1965. A review with be forthcoming.

Get it direct from the Rare Rockin' Records shop HERE.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Hey all you guys and gals,

I know I don't have to tell our RRR blog readers who Tony Powers is - legendary songwriter in the Brill Building who wrote countless classic pop tunes of the 60s. In this in depth interview you will find out all about his days in the 60s and what he is up to today. I hope you enjoy it, because I know we did!

Kyler:How did you come become a songwriter in the 60s at the Brill Building?

TONY:I was 21ish and had written a different lyric version to the melody of an old gospel song and wanted to have it transcribed (a lead sheet made up). I asked a friend of mine , Mark Korman who was an agent-in-training at the William Morris talent agency (nyc), if he knew how I could get the sheet music written out (to this day I do not transcribe music...I write and play by ear). He suggested I go over to the Brill Bldg. and see this man-- and I'll never forget his name--Hamilton Grandison, and he would write out the those days they were called onion skins...a master lead-sheet from which all copies were then made. That was Mr. Grandison's business in the Brill Bldg since a lot of young writers...or wannabes could not notate their music. I go to his tiny office in the Brill Bldg, him sitting at the upright piano, and I hum him the song which, of course it being an old gospel song (Go Tell It On The Mountain) he knew, and I give him the new lyric...which in part was "Go tell it on the mountain, that I'm in love with you..." (absolutely dreadful - but what did I know?) and he says come back in a few I leave. When I return to pick up the lead-sheet a few days later he tells me that a Mr. Lester Sims of Bourne Music wants to see me...he likes the song!?!? Hamilton Grandison had shown it to Lester Sims...and just like that--I was a songwriter. Pure luck combined with Hamilton Grandison was how it all came about.

Kyler:Can you tell our readers who some of your writing partners were? Did you have a favorite composer to work with?

TONY:I guess my favorite collaborator was George Fischoff (with whom I wrote 98.6, Lazy Day, and others), then there was Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector (Today I met The Boy I'm Gonna Marry, Why Do Lovers Break Each Others Hearts), and Ellie and I wrote "He's Got The Power" for the Exciters, Beverly Ross (we wrote Remember When), Jack Keller, (he and I wrote a song that the great Louis Armstrong did, "I like this Kind of Party"), Al Kooper, (of Blood, Sweat, and Tears fame) Jerry Leiber ( of the great duo Leiber and Stoller, with whom I was a contracted writer), etc. you can see all the songs I wrote with these people, and others at the Discography link at my website

(pictured above: songwriter ELLIE GREENWICH, collaborator of Tony Powers).

Kyler:When writing a song, would you write for a specific artist?

TONY:Half and half. i.e: we wrote Remember When specifically for the Earls, 98.6 for Keith, Lazy Day for Spanky and Our Gang, Today I met The Boy I'm Gonna Marry and Why Do Lovers Break Each Others Hearts for any of Phil Spector's artists, He's Got The Power for The Exciters, I Didn't Mean To Hurt You for The Shirelles (not a hit), All Of My Life for Lesley Gore (also not a hit)......but come to think of it most of my hits WERE written specifically for the artist...other songs were just good songs that got shopped and then recorded, i.e: I Like This Kid of Party by Louis Armstrong, or Heaven Held by Gene Pitney, or Odyssey recorded by Kiss. If you take a look at my discography on my website ,you'll see lots and lots of those.

Kyler:You wrote “Today I Met The Boy I’m Gonna Marry” and “Why Do Lovers Break Each Others’ Hearts”, recorded by Darlene Love. Did you get to meet Darlene and Phil Spector? What were they like?

TONY:I never did get to meet Darlene, but Phil and I (and Ellie) wrote in the same room...well, after Ellie and I came in with most or all of the song done. Phil was quite eccentric as well as being flambouyant, and he had a great ear for a "hit"...he was also quite a good guitarist. About Why Do Lovers...I seem to remember we three were riffing on the music up in Phil's Penthouse apt. on York ave. and, I wanna say 61street, and we were looking for a lyric...I asked Phil for a pad or some paper to write on and he gave me a cardboard from inside a laundered shirt...I ended up taking it into his bathroom and writing some, or most, of that lyric in there. Phil also once held a meeting with me about a song in the back of his limo. A character to be's too bad he flew so far off the rails in recent years.

(pictured above:Phil Spector in the early 60s)

Kyler:”Remember Then” by The Earls is one of the greatest doo wop tunes of the 60s. Do you have any recollection of writing that one?

TONY:Thanks for the props....I remember (no pun intended) just a little bit of it. Firstly, in the late 1950's early 1960's all of us 20 something songwriters, (and would-be songwriters) were hanging out on Broadway in the 50's (the Brill Bldg was on 49th and B'way), and we would always see each other either in Hanson's drug store, a big lunch and dinner hang, or this burger joint who's name escapes me, on the cr of 51st and B'way...and we would sometimes get together at parties one of these parties (where i remember Phil Spector playing the guitar) I met Beverly Ross, who had had a big hit with Lollipop,(as great a euphemism I've ever heard - i don't think the public ever put that one together)...anyway, I had just left a publisher called Tri-o-dex (a name I always thought better suited to a condom co.) run by a nice man named Bill Buchanan. Tri-o-dex was in the same B'way bldg. as Hy Weiss' Old Towne Records which in 1961 had a bit of a hit by The Earls called "Life Is But A Dream" and had learned from Bill at Tri-o-Dex that they were looking for another goodie to record. So Beverly and I made a plan to try and write something at her apt. between B'way and 8th Ave. (on 47th I think). I remember sitting with her at the piano and just riffing on stuff... and somewhere in that process of tossing out ideas one of us must have hit on Remember When (it's original title - until the chiseler who produced the record and decided to change the title to Remember (T)hen, screw up the lyric a bit, and add his name to the writing credits -which Beverly and I disputed for years and eventually had to settle for, or)...anyway, I'm sure the second we hit on the title we had the riff:
"Re-meh-meh, Re-meh-meh-mem-ber,
Re-meh-meh, Re-meh-meh-mem-ber,
Re-meh-meh, Re-meh-meh-mem-ber,
When, When,
Remember when...
Either she started the music lick, or i started the lyric lick, or vice-versa...and off we went...once we had that the song just basically wrote itself.
Beverly was doing business with Aaron Schroeder at his January Music, so we brought the song there, he loved it, got it to Hy Weiss, and that was that. What I do remember vividly tho' was walking in Central Park after it hit the charts and passing someone with a radio... and Remember When was playing...that was the very first time I ever heard a song of mine being played over the!
Years later, after I had left Don Kirschner's Screen Gems-Columbia Music, I signed a pub deal with Aaron Schroeder at January, and I put in a year or two there. One thing I've never forgotten was Aaron's mantra... "thought before rhyme".
As a songwriter working in the music "business", I was fortunate to have written for, and been mentored by, some of the very, very best songwriter/publishers...Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Don Kirschner, and Aaron Schroeder.

Kyler:Did you ever think about having your own singing career in the 60s?

TONY:Of course. Always. I sang on demos...either lead or background, and in the 70's and 80's (after I had quit the "business") I played and sang my own originals, usually with a band of some very talented local musicians both in L.A. and NY. I played The Troubador in L.A., and The Savoy, and Ballroom, in NY among other venues...and I did my MusicFilms (many of them can be seen HERE)

Kyler:Do you have a favorite ‘obscure record’ that you wrote?

TONY:A couple or four...or more...I suppose because it is the great Louis Armstrong I have to say "I Like This Kind of Party" is way up there, along with "Heaven Held" a Gene Pitney song (i always loved the play-on-words title), "Gotta Have Your Love" by The Sapphires, and "Big Bad World" a Cathy Saint record. In order they were written with Jack Keller,Neil Sheppard,Jack Keller again, and Bob Finiz (as Abe Fisher, one of many pseudonyms)...and of course ALL my own original recorded stuff.

Kyler:I love the song, “Three on A Date” as recorded by Bobby Vee. What can you tell me about that one?

TONY: I know how much you like this one, but unfortunately aside from writing it up at Trio Music (Leiber and Stoller) with Matt Maurer, I've no recollection of it and, in fact, had no idea Bobby Vee did it until you told me...sorry man.

Kyler:When co-writing, did you usually do the music, lyrics, or a bit of both?

TONY:All of the above.

Kyler:Finally, what are you up to these days?

TONY:I do a bit of acting, and I am way guilty over the fact that with all the new lunacy of the "human condition" I should be doing another CD or more MusicFilms -- but my lame excuse is I need to get some new equipment and learn (and join) the ProTools revolution...I'm working on that those thoughts. The CD I send you monday (Who Could Imagine...which cost a lot of $ to make - which is why I have to learn Pro Tools) will illustrate both my latest musical work, and the continuing evolution of a singer/songwriter.

I would like to give the biggest thank you to Tony Powers, for not only taking the time to answer all the questions, but for being so kind and generous with his answers. You can visit Tony Powers on the web at TonyPowersMusic.Com.

Feel free to pass on your comments about this article, Tony WILL be notified!


Saturday, February 12, 2011


I've just got my copy of the new Lesley Gore CD, "Hits & Rarities". If you're a Lesley fan, you'll love it!

Believe it or not, this compact disc was ready for release in 1989(!) as a second volume of greatest hits. It was never released and it sat for over 20 years. It's finally available to purchase.

There are several cool things about this CD. One is the UNFADED version of "The Look of Love", sleigh bells version. You get to hear the background girls (including Ellie Greenwich) and Ms. Gore do their thing even after the recorded track ends.

There are many ADD multi-track remixes, too, prepared in the late 80s. They sound great!

At the end, you get two Italian sung tracks, and two PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED tracks from 1978 and 1989, respectively. I think all of you 60s music fans will get a kick out of the track entitled "If Our Songs Can't Make It (Why Can't We)". It's got a great feel to it.

What are you waiting for? Go buy it at the RRR SHOP, now!