Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Your Vinyl Destination

Written by Robert Benson

The Story of Mr. Custer- by Larry Verne

Some musical acts are chosen for their uncanny musical talents, either vocally or as an expert musician. But to be selected because you spoke with a southern drawl is as unique as the number one hit for Larry Verne in 1960, “Mr. Custer.”

Let’s explore the history of this quirky, novelty tune:

To explain the full story, we must travel back in time to Sunday, June 25, 1876. In a historic battle at Little Big Horn, 700 US troops, under the command of General George Custer, fought more than 3,000 Sioux Indians; who were loyal to Chief Sitting Bull. Ultimately, within half-an-hour of Custer’s famous attack, he and all of his troops lay dead.

Fast-forward eighty-four years to October 10, 1960 and a kooky ditty about a soldier’s comical plea to General Custer that he didn’t want to fight, was the #1 hit on the Billboard charts.

This beloved classic was developed by three friends who worked in the music industry in Hollywood, California. The three, Fred Darian, Al DeLory and Joe Van Winkle were busy dubbing music at Gold Star Studios when DeLory came up with, “Mr. Custer, I don’t want to go” and the line “Forward, ho!” Someone else added the sound effect of an arrow piecing the air and as Fred Darian explained, “Mr. Custer was not a song you just sat down and wrote. It was a succession of incidents that brought it about; we just developed it as we went along.”

The three writers first met at Coffee Dan’s, which was a Hollywood hot spot that was near Wallich’s Music City at Sunset and Vine. They formed a vocal group called the Balladeers and they rented a small office on Sunset. Across the hall was a photographer’s office where Larry Verne worked developing pictures.

“We use to go to lunch together and we’d all kick different lines around and throw ideas back and forth,” said Verne.

“They invited me to the recording studio where they were going to make a sample of the song,” explained Verne. “But when we got there, they said, ‘okay, Larry, you go in the booth and do it!’ It was definitely a spur of the moment thing.”

The song was in its infancy form until they coaxed Verne into the studio, where a two-hour session with a guitar, bass, drums, background vocals and background noises by all three songwriters.

“Everybody turned it down,” recalled Van Winkle. “I mean everybody. I don’t think we missed any of the majors or independent record companies."

Finally, Bob Keene of Del-Fi Records gave the trio a $300 advance so he could release the record. After it didn’t get released, Darian called Keene and inquired as to when the song would be released.

The four-and-a-half minute track was not as funny as Keene first thought, so he didn’t seem too interested in releasing the cut. In fact, the original dub was slowly wearing out, so they went back to Gold Star to produce another version. Luckily, the owner of Era Records was in the hallway listening and asked if they wanted him to release it. Ten months after the song was originally recorded, a shortened version of “Mr. Custer” was released. Darian credits the late DJ Bob Crane with being the first to play the song on the radio.

All in all, “Mr. Custer” spent a total of thirteen weeks on the Billboard Top 100. A follow-up single (again written by Darian, DeLory and Van Winkle) did not fare so well, peaking at number seventy-five on the charts.

Larry Verne released one LP, and, other than doing some background vocals for a few years, quit the music business to work in motion pictures as a construction foreman and assistant set art director.

Larry Verne Vinyl

45 RPM
COLLECTABLES $3-5 1980’s
ERA $10-20 1960-1964

Picture Sleeves
ERA (3034 "Mr. Livingston") $15-25 1960

EPs: 7–inch
ERA (104 "Hi-Lites from Mister Larry Verne") $20-30 1960
(Promotional issue only, not issued with special cover.)

Please Mr. Custer - Larry Verne

Mr. Custer Lyrics

(That famous day in history the men of the 7th Cavalry went riding on)
(And from the rear a voice was heard)
(A brave you man with a trembling word rang loud and clear)
What am I doin' here?

Please Mr. Custer, I don't wanna go
Hey, Mr. Custer, please don't make me go
I had a dream last night about the comin' fight
Somebody yelled "attack!"
And there I stood with a arrow in my back.

Please Mr. Custer, I don't wanna go (forward Ho! )--aaww

SPOKEN: Look at them bushes out there
They're moving and there's a injun behind every one
Hey, Mr. Custer-you mind if I be excused the rest of the afternoon?
Hmm, you're a little bit late on that one, Charlie
Hooh, I bet that smarts!

(They were sure of victory, the men of the 7th Cavalry, as they rode on)

(But then from the rear a voice was heard)
(That same brave voice with the trembling word rang loud and clear)
What am I doin' here?

Please Mr. Custer, I don't wanna go
Listen, Mr. Custer, please don't make me go
There's a redskin a'waitin' out there, just fixin to take my hair
A coward I've been called cuz I don't wanna wind up dead or bald

Please Mr. Custer, I don't wanna go (forward HO)--aaww

SPOKEN: I wonder what the injun word for friend is
Let's see-friend-- kemo sabe, that's it
Nope, that itn't it
Look at them durned injuns
They're runnin' around like a bunch of wild Indians-heh, heh, heh
Nah, this ain't no time for jokin'

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Music News & Notes

Sweet! 70's Group Wants to Know "Are You Ready Steve?"

Sweet, the hitmakers who landed four hits in the top ten between 1973 and 1978 (Little Willie, Ballroom Blitz, Fox on the Run, Love is Like Oxygen) are preparing to record their first new album in 27 years and go out on tour.

The group has a very fragmented history, starting all the way back in 1965 with the group Wainwright's Gentlemen that included drummer Mick Tucker and vocalist Ian Gillian (Deep Purple). When Gillian left the group, Brian Connolly joined, forming the basis for the new group.

In 1968, Tucker and Connolly formed the Sweetshop (shortened to the Sweet after a conflict on the name with another U.K. band) with Steve Priest on bass and Frank Torpey on guitar. Torpey left after their first and only single on Fontana failed to chart and was replaced first by Mick Stewart and, after three more low selling singles, Andy Scott. It was the Connolly/Scott/Priest/Tucker lineup that would become the hit making machines and stay together through 1977.

After Love is Like Oxygen, Connolly left the group and, although they released three more albums, they never had the same success. Numerous versions of the group toured from the mid-80's under the band's original name and as Andy Scott's Sweet, Steve Priest's Sweet and Brian Connolly's Sweet (also known as New Sweet).

Original members Connolly passed away in 1997 from liver failure at the age of 51 and Mick Tucker died in 2002 of leukemia at 54. The remaining members of the group are dedicating next year's dates in their memory as the Are You Ready Steve? tour.

The following are the initial tour dates with additional appearances to be announced:

01/29/09 - San Juan Capistrano, CA - The Coach House
01/30/09 - Los Angeles, CA - Club Nokia (Pollstar Concert Industry Awards)
01/31/09 - Redondo Beach, CA - Brixton
02/26/09 - Moose Jaw, SK - Mae Wilson Theatre
02/27/09 - Regina, SK - Casino Regina Show Lounge
03/13/09 - Agoura Hills, CA - Canyon Club
07/17/09 - Nakusp, BC - Saddle Mountain High


Lennon Appears in Charity Ad

John Lennon is about to appear in a television public service announcement, 28 years after his death.

A film of Lennon speaking is being used in a campaign for "One Laptop Per Child" which is working on providing a tough, solar-powered laptop to children in the world's poorest countries. Yoko Ono approved the use of Lennon's image for the campaign.

Digital technology is used on archive footage to make Lennon say:

"Imagine every child no matter where in the world they were could access a universe of knowledge. They would have a chance to learn, to dream, to achieve anything they want.

I tried to do it through my music, but now you can do it in a very different way. You can give a child a laptop and more than imagine, you can change the world."

The "One Laptop Per Child" foundation was originally formed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The laptops being produced cost less than $200 per machine.


Madonna Rings Up Biggest Tour of 2008

Concert site Pollstar has announced the biggest tours of 2008. Topping the list is Madonna, who pulled in $105.3 million on her Sticky & Sweet tour. While concerts were one of the bright spots last year for the music industry, her total doesn't come close to recent year's champs with the Police pulling in $133.2 million in 2007 and the Rolling Stones making a whopping $162 million in 2005.

As far as other veteran artists, if it wasn't for one Canadian songstress (Celine Dion) and two modern country acts (Kenny Chesney & Rascal Flatts), the vets would have tied down the entire top ten.

The top ten concert money makers:

Madonna - $105.3 million
Celine Dion - $94.0 million
Eagles - $73.4 million
Kenny Chesney - $72.2 million
Bon Jovi - $70.4 million
Bruce Springsteen & the E-Street Band - $69.3 million
Neil Diamond - $59.8 million
Rascal Flatts - $55.8 million
Police - $48.0 million
Tina Turner - $47.7 million


Lou Reed Forms New Band, Releases Album

Undercover News is reporting that Lou Reed has formed a new company called Best Seat in the House, and has put his first album of music on the new entity. Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music: The Creation of the Universe can be downloaded from his website.

Reed posted the following on his MySpace page explaining the new group:

Statement of Purpose:

We have formed a recording unit Called BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE. We intend to put out different types of my music - from industrial to meditative to songs and all subway stops in between. Our first release is a live recording of 2 great nights live at the REDCAT in L.A. THE CREATION OF THE UNIVERSE. You can download it at various qualities as per your download taste. We include some pics by me. We will be putting it out as A2X CD for the New Year but for now for your holiday - CREATE!

The group features Lou on guitar and electrics, Ulrich Krieger on tenor sax and live-electronics, and Sarth Calhoun on live processing and Fingerboard Continuum. The group is currently playing purely instrumental music and, according to Undercover, is most like Lou's Metal Machine Music.

The download of each of the night is priced at $8 with both for $15 and a special package with the two downloads and a CD of both nights for $20.


The Beastie Boys will reissue Paul's Boutique on January 27 to celebrate the album's 20th anniversary. The album is being digitally remastered by all three members and the original artwork will be reinstated. Fans will also receive a poster and the ability to download a track-by-track commentary by the Boys that can be played along with the music.


According to a spokesman from Vanguard Records, Levon Helm is working on a follow-up to his Dirt Farmer album. Dirt Farmer II (working title) is being produced by Larry Campbell with a projected release of May or June.


SOURCE: http://winkscollectibles.blogspot.com