Cadillac Walk, Moon Martin (1978)
John David “Moon” Martin had a minor hit with Cadillac Walk (as recorded by Willie DeVille) and also wrote Robert Palmer‘s mega hit Bad Case of Loving You. Both songs first appeared on Martin’s 1978 album Shots from a Cold Nightmare but received little attention. Popular in the UK but relatively unknown in the US, he opened for / played with the likes of Janis Joplin, Linda Ronstadt and Jimi Hendrix. Many of his songs had “moon” in the lyrics, hence the nickname.
Will You Ever Be Mine, Donnie Willis (1960)“The music business is full of crooks and thieves and people who’d stab their mothers for a dollar. And then there’s the downside.”
At 19, Donnie Willis co-founded the Vibra-Harps in 1955 and went solo in 1957, recording dozens of records for many labels and writing hundreds of songs during his career. Willis had first-hand experience getting cheated by record companies and partners in the music business, but found greater success as a “Northern Soul” artist in the UK. Eventually he got sick of it and quit.
The Closer You Are, The Channels (1956)Despite numerous recordings, The Channels never had a nationwide hit due to lack of promotion, but they were popular on the east coast. The Closer You Are was a regional hit in New York and was covered by Frank Zappa in 1984.
Right Around The Corner, The “5” Royales (1956)The Royal Sons Quintet, aka The Royals, aka The “5” Royales were a gospel group that made the crossover to R&B and laid the foundation for what would later be called Soul Music. Active during the years 1951 through 1965, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.
Funny,Joe Hinton (1964)First recorded by country singer Billy Walker in 1961, Joe Hinton’s version made No. 13 on Billboard’s Top 100, No. 1 on Cash Box Magazine’s R&B list, and was one of Willie Nelson’s first hits as songwriter. The title Funny How Time Slips Away was shortened on the record label. Hinton succumbed to skin cancer in 1968 at the age of 38.
I Can See Everybody’s Baby, Ruth Brown & Her Rhythmakers (1955)Ruth Brown was known as “Miss Rhythm” and “The Queen of R&B,” while Atlantic Records was called “The House That Ruth Built.” The Rhythmakers [sic] provided backup vocals and were better known as The Drifters.
Brown recorded many hits from 1949-1955, and faded from public view in the ’60s to become a housewife and mother. She returned to music in 1975 at the urging of Redd Foxx.
Bop Cat Stomp, King Charles & His Orchestra (1954)Except for discography and a few audio recordings on YouTube, I can find almost nothing about Charles Morris (aka King Charles, Blue Charlie Morris, Left Hand Charlie and Morris Charles). If anyone has a link to his background, please leave a comment and I’ll update this post.
Misc. – Still trying to bitchslap the new WP format into something tolerable. It’s almost there, I’m still messing with the unpredictable, and I’m not responsible for the overuse of white space. – Bunk
[Top image found here with the caption: “A female pit brow worker, the photograph was probably taken at the Wigan Coal and Iron Co Ltd.”]
He’s Gone, The Chantels (1957)One of the first R&B “girl groups” to hit the charts, the Chantels were Arlene Smith. Sonia Goring, Lois Harris, Jackie Jackson and Rene Minus, all schoolmates from the Bronx. They had been singing together since 1950 and honed their harmonies practicing hymns (and Gregorian chants). In 1957 they scored their first hit with He’s Gone, written by lead singer Arlene Smith.