Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ask Mr. Music by Jerry Osborne

I am continuing our new feature: Ask "Mr. Music." Now in its 23rd year of syndication (1986-2009), Jerry Osborne's weekly Q&A feature will be a regular post every Wednesday from now on. Be sure to stop by Jerry's site ( for more Mr. Music archives, record price guides, anything Elvis, buy & sell collectibles, record appraisals and much more. I thank Jerry for allowing the reprints.


DEAR JERRY: You recently wrote about the success, or lack of it, of some very familiar Christmas records.

As a big fan of nearly all of the British Invasion acts of the 1960s, I don't ever recall hearing a single Christmas or holiday hit by any of them. This seems a bit odd since, for much of that decade, the Brits dominated our pop music.

Are there ones that I just somehow missed?

Also, how many U.S. Christmas hits also made it big in the UK in the '60s?
—Geoff Walley, Show Low, Ariz.

DEAR GEOFF: If there are any you missed, then I must have also missed them.

For that entire decade, only three U.S. artists, and five Christmas songs, entered the British New Musical Express (NME) Top 30:

Brenda Lee did so twice, with “Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree” (1962) and “Christmas Will Be Just Another Lonely Day” (1964).

Elvis Presley also scored with two tunes, “Blue Christmas” (1964) and “If Everyday Was Like Christmas” (1966).

The fifth is Roy Orbison's “Pretty Paper” (1964).

By drastically expanding your parameters, one might consider Engelbert Humperdinck's “Winter World of Love” a candidate, but I can't quite make that leap.

Granted, Engelbert is indeed British, by residence and not birth, but he is still not one normally lumped in with British Invasion groups and singers.

“Winter World of Love,” about a winter romance sans holiday references, came out in December 1969, the last month of the '60s.

Conspicuous by their absence are several American classics whose fame surprisingly didn't traverse the Atlantic: Beach Boys - “Little Saint Nick”; Brook Benton - “You're All I Want for Christmas”; Carpenters - “Merry Christmas Darling”; Chipmunks with David Seville - “The Chipmunk Song”; Nat King Cole - “The Christmas Song”; Bing Crosby - “Do You Hear What I Hear”; Drifters - “White Christmas”; Elmo & Patsy - “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer”; Jose Feliciano - “Feliz Navidad”; 4 Seasons or Bruce Springsteen - “Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town”; and Bobby Helms - “Jingle Bell Rock.”

A fellow named Max Bygraves did make the NME survey with a version of “Jingle Bell Rock” (1959).

DEAR JERRY: In a previous column you told of how Linda Laurie's “Ambrose (Part 5)” was her first “Ambrose” record, and, despite the subtitle, no previous parts existed.

How about Little Stevie Wonder's smash hit “Fingertips Part 2”? Is there even a Part 1? If so, I have never heard it.
—Judy Phillip, Milwaukee

DEAR JUDY: Unlike the “Ambrose” example, there is a “Fingertips Part 1,” and you'll find it in the most logical of places: on the reverse side of “Fingertips Part 2” (Tamla 54080).

The original recording, from a June 1962 Chicago concert, runs about six-and-a-half minutes, all of which is fine for a track on Stevie's “Jazz Soul” album. “Fingertips” was, however, much too long for a single release.

They solved the problem by splitting the track roughly in the middle and assigning each half a part number, with “Fingertips Part 2” being the more commercial side by far, and a No. 1 hit.

Z ZAT SO? When “Fingertips Part 2” topped the charts (August 1963), it became the first live performance recording to reach No. 1 since Johnny Standley's “It's in the Book” (November 1952).

Ironically, “It's in the Book,” a comedy routine, also runs over six minutes and, like “Fingertips,” ended up on a single in two parts.

Unlike “Fingertips,” both sides of “It's in the Book” enjoyed equal popularity.

Jerry Osborne answers as many questions as possible through this column. Write Jerry at Box 255, Port Townsend, WA 98368, e-mail:, or visit his Web site: All values quoted in this column are for near-mint condition.

Copyright 2009 Osbourne Enterprises- Reprinted By Permission

Music News & Notes

Steven Tyler Enters Rehab

It seems that all the troubles that Tyler has experienced in the last few weeks, now have a cause. Aerosmith's Steven Tyler has checked into rehab to kick painkillers and made it clear that he still considers himself a member of the band.

Tyler released a statement yesterday, stating "With the help of my family and team of medical professionals, I am taking responsibility for the management of my pain and am eager to be back on the stage and in the recording studio with my bandmates Joe Perry, Joey Kramer, Tom Hamilton and Brad Whitford.

"I love Aerosmith; I love performing as the lead singer in Aerosmith. I am grateful for all of the support and love I am receiving and am committed to getting things taken care of."

Tyler also talked further with Rolling Stone on the band. "I wish to set the record straight and say that I have read reports of a rumored two-year hiatus and want to be clear that this is completely false and I will enthusiastically be writing, recording and performing with Aerosmith as soon as things are handled."

Over the past ten years, Tyler has been treated for numerous injuries and ailments and, according to his doctors, will still need additional surgery on his knees and feet to try to aleve the chronic pain.


James Gurley of Big Brother and the Holding Company Passes Away

James Gurley, guitarist for Big Brother and the Holding Company, passed away on Sunday in Palm Springs from a heart attack. He was 69.

Gurly formed the group with Peter Albin and Chet Helms in 1965 and, a year later, they were joined by lead singer Janis Joplin. Big Brother stayed together after Joplin left the group in 1969 but broke up three years later. Gurley was part of the reformed version of the group from 1987 to 1996.


Six Feet Under Reveals New Album, "Graveyard Classics 3," Cover Art

Tampa, FL groove death metal Six Feet Under has revealed the cover art for their 3rd installment of the band's cover series, "Graveyard Classics 3," due out on Metal Blade Records on January 15th/18th 2010. "Graveyard Classics 3" was recorded at D.O.I. Digital Audio in Tampa, FL, was mixed at Audiohammer Studios by Mark Lewis, and was produced by Chris Barnes.

Oh, Christmas Tree!

Christmas tree made of old vinyl records strikes a chord with residents

By Bruce R. Posten

It's one for the record books.

A nearly 14-foot-high Christmas tree made from old musical recordings adorns an art studio at the 200-acre residential development at Galen Hall Corp., South Heidelberg Township.

"We hate to throw things out, so we like to recycle everything around here," said Tom Masano, 92, company vice president, who joined Bob Wasko, Galen Hall manager, in designing and creating the holiday work of art.

They did it all in a little over a day.

Masano said the old records were lying around for years. He speculated that they were left by a former resident of one of the homes.

Masano said he had seen photographs in a newspaper of evergreens decorated with soda cans and coat hangers, so a Christmas tree made out of old 20th-century recordings didn't seem to be farfetched.

In fact, it has turned into a top hit among area residents.

"We put a slab of an oak tree on the bottom for the trunk," Masano said. "Having holes in the records made it perfect to attach the tree to the wall with pushpins."

The studio where the tree is located is actually part of an old kitchen that escaped destruction in the hotel fire at the popular South Mountain resort in the early 1960s.

The Christmas tree appears to be a very environmentally friendly thing to do, although it's mostly black with some of the records spray-painted gold, silver, red, white and blue.

And what about that red star at the top of the tree?

"We traced the star and cut it out with a small tool," Masano said.

It's really a record, but obviously no longer a round one.


Ill. Library Receives Vinyl Record 47 Years Late

Never Too Late? Illinois Library Gets Vinyl Album Returned Almost 50 Years After It Was Due

EAST PEORIA, Ill. (AP) - You can't blame the person who recently returned an old vinyl record to an Illinois library for slipping quickly out the door. The record was a little late.

OK, 47-seven years late.

Fondulac District Library Director Amy Falasz-Peterson says the album by 1950s pop singer Julius La Rosa was checked out on Feb. 12, 1962 and was returned this month.

She says a person told library officials that they found the record among the belongings of a family member who had died. That person then left the library in East Peoria.

It's been so long since the record was checked out that the library doesn't know who the scofflaw was, but the fine would be $871.90.