Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ask Mr. Music by Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: In the early 1950s, when we bought our very first television, we watched an early version of today's talent search shows.

This one may have been a local area production (New York) rather than a network program, but either way it wasn't around long.

I recall it as a talent competition between youngsters and oldsters. Most of the contestants were singers or musicians.

More importantly, one of those child singers was Connie Francis. Of that I am certain. This was many years before her first big hit and worldwide fame.

I scoured the internet, including Connie's bio and some sites about early TV shows, but there is no mention anywhere about what I have described to you.

You are my only hope!
—Sherry Wolkowski, Merrick, N.Y.

DEAR SHERRY: Having discussed most of Connie's career with her over the years, there are some details she shared with me about those early years. Those, along with my own research, should fill in the blanks:

Circa 1951, with her accordion and still using the family name, Connie Franconero appeared on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts. Singing “Daddy's Little Girl,” she won the competition as determined by measuring the applause of a live audience on a noise meter.

In early '52, Connie was invited to perform on “Battle of the Ages,” a DuMont Television Network program and the one you ask about.

Hosted by John Reed King at the time (DuMont), then later by Morey Amsterdam (CBS), the show pitted under-35 contestants against those over age 35.

Having dropped the accordion — figuratively, not literally — from her act, and replaced Franconero with Francis, Emcee King introduces her thusly: “Connie Francis, a little 13-year-old girl who sings like a real big girl. A wonderful television star, here she is. Connie, come on out here, I've been telling everybody about you! Connie was originally discovered by Danny Lewis, Jerry Lewis' father.”

After an energized version of the then-current Kay Starr hit, “Wheel of Fortune,” King prophetically declares “How about that? 13 years of age, Connie Francis. She's going places!”

Indeed she would, though not until 1958 and “Who's Sorry Now.”

During that six-year journey, MGM released nine consecutive singles by Connie, not one of which became a hit. Coincidentally, the title of the last of those 18 songs reflects the number of flops: “Eighteen” (MGM 12490).

The losing streak ended there, and the rest is history.

Because of their scarcity, those nine misses are more valuable ($30 to $40) than the many MGM hits that followed ($10 to $15).

DEAR JERRY: I wonder if I was hoodwinked in a quiz from a music loving pal.

My challenge was to guess how many No. 1 songs in 50 years (1950 through 1999) include the name of a state in the title — other than Georgia! “California Girls”; “California Sun”; and “California Dreaming” first came to mind, then “Kentucky Rain”; “The Tennessee Waltz”; and several more.

The guy stopped me and said I'd already gone way too far, though I did get one right: “The Tennessee Waltz.”

Otherwise, he swore that in all 50 years there is only one other example: “The Yellow Rose of Texas.”

Is it possible in 50 years there are really only two (besides Georgia)?
—Larry Trammel, Racine, Wisc.

DEAR LARRY: Very amazing, but the story is true.

Nearly as astonishing is finding three for Georgia, which is probably why your pal disregarded them: “Georgia on My Mind” (1960); “The Night the Lights Went out in Georgia” (1973); and “Midnight Train to Georgia” (1973). That is more than all other states combined.

The California and Kentucky hits you mention all reached the Top 10, but fell short of No. 1.

IZ ZAT SO? Before 1948, when CBS and ABC joined the fold, the only two U.S. television networks operating were NBC and DuMont. In 1956, after 10 years, the DuMont Network, owned by DuMont Laboratories, ceased operations. By then, some of their programming had already been picked up by CBS, including “Battle of the Ages,” though they cancelled it after just one season (1952).

Jerry Osborne answers as many questions as possible through this column.
Write Jerry at: Box 255, Port Townsend, WA 98368 E-mail:
Visit his Web site:

All values quoted in this column are for near-mint condition.

Copyright 2010 Osborne Enterprises- Reprinted By Permission

This Date In Music History - September 8


Dante Drowty - Dante and The Evergreens (1941)

Sal Spampinato - Beau Brummels (1942)

Keyboardist Dean Daughtry - Atlanta Rhythm Section (1946)

Michael Lardie - Great White (1958)

David Steele - Fine Young Cannibals (1960)

Aimee Mann (1960)

Richard Hughes - Keane (1975)

Pink (1979)

Slim Thug (1980)

They Are Missed:

Born today in 1897, Jimmie Rodgers singer, songwriter, the first country music star. Sold over 12 million records and was the first person to be elected into the Country Music Hall Of Fame. Rodgers died on 26th May 1933.

Born on this day in 1932, Patsy Cline, country singer, the first female country singer to cross over as a pop artist. Cline was killed in a plane crash on March 5, 1963.  One of the best feamle voices - ever.

Born today in 1942, Brian Cole, bass, vocals, The Association. Cole died on August 2, 1972.

Born on this day in 1945, Ron Mckernan, organ, Grateful Dead. Died on March 8, 1973 from cirrhosis of the liver (age 27).

Robert Wiggins from Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five died of a heart attack in 1989.

Derek Taylor, the publicist for The Beatles, died in 1997 (age 67). Taylor had been responsible for many of the legends surrounding their career and had also worked with The Beach Boys and The Byrds. In 1967 he helped organize the Monterey Pop Festival together with Lou Adler and John Philips. He helped launch the Beatles Anthology trilogy in the 90’s.

Benjamin Orr of the Cars (September 8, 1947 – October 3, 2000)

Born on this day in 1945, Kelly Groucutt, bass, vocals, Electric Light Orchestra. Died from a heart attack on February 19, 2009.


In 1952, after Atlantic Records bought Ray Charles' contract from Swingtime, Charles recorded his first session for Atlantic, cutting four songs. Over the next seven years, he will record such classics as ‘Mess Around,’ ‘I Got a Woman,’ ‘Hallelujah, I Love Her So’ and ‘What'd I Say.’

Elvis made his first appearance on the cover of TV Guide in 1956.

In 1956, Eddie Cochran signed a one year contract with Liberty Records, Cochran went on to give Liberty three top 40 hits over the next several years including "Summertime Blues," "Twenty Flight Rock" and "C’mon Everybody."

In 1965, an ad appeared in Variety Magazine announcing auditions for the "Monkee's TV Show.

In 1966, Dick Clark was a guest on ABC-TV's Batman series.

The Doors appeared at the Lagoon Park Patio Gardens, Farmington, Salt Lake City, Utah in 1967.

In 1968, The Beatles performed "Hey Jude" on the UK television show 'Frost On Sunday' in front of an invited audience.

Also in 1968, Led Zeppelin appeared at Raventlow Parken, Nykobing Lolland, Denmark supported by The Beatnicks and The Ladybirds, (who were a all girl topless go-go dancing outfit).

Elvis Presley received the Bing Crosby Award in 1971 for "creative contributions of outstanding artistic or scientific significance to the field of phonograph records."

Marvin Gaye started a two week run at #1 on the US singles chart in 1973 with "Let's Get It On."

The Allman Brothers started a five week run at #1 on the US album chart in 1973 with 'Brothers And Sisters.'

Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and the Beach Boys all appeared at the New York 'Summersault '74’ at Roosevelt Raceway in Westbury in 1974.

Trying desperately to Rock The Vote, the White House, (actually the President Ford`s son Steven), invited Peter Frampton over for a photo opportunity in 1976. Frampton gets lunch out of the deal but both he and Ford are unemployed by the end of the year.

In 1977, guitarist Jimmy McCulloch left Wings to help re-form The Small Faces. McCulloch had played with Paul McCartney’s band on the 'Venus and Mars' and 'Wings At the Speed of Sound' albums, as well as on the Wings Over America tour. He died two years later at the age of 26. Drummer Joe English also left Wings at this time, joining Sea Level.

Peter Gabriel's "Security" LP was released in 1982.

Jon Bon Jovi went to #1 on the US singles chart in 1990 with "Blaze Of Glory."

1993, Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love appeared on stage together at a show in Hollywood in 1993. They performed a song they wrote together "Penny Royal Tea."

Soundgarden won the Best Metal/Hard Rock trophy for “Black Hole Sun” at the MTV Music Video Awards in 1994.

The Donnas perform their first show as The Donnas at the Los Gatos (CA) Teen Center. 1995

In 1997, 29 years after the band first formed, Led Zeppelin released "Whole Lotta Love," their first ever single in the UK. The track recorded in 1969 and featured on the bands second album was issued to promote their re-issued back catalogue.

Sean Puffy Combes and his bodyguard Paul Offered both pleaded guilty to harassment in a New York Court in 1999. The pair faced charges of assaulting record company executive Steve Stoute with a champagne bottle a chair and a telephone.

In 2003, David Bowie performed the first interactive concert when his performance was beamed live into 21 cinemas from Warsaw to Edinburgh. Members of the audience talked to Bowie via microphones linked to ISDN lines and took requests for songs from fans.

In 2005, Rod Stewart was ordered to pay a Las Vegas casino $2m for missing a New Year concert in 2000. Stewart had said he was unable to play at the Rio hotel and casino because his voice disappeared after an operation to remove a cancerous thyroid tumour. The singer said his voice only recovered in time to begin a world tour in June 2001 and he had since performed 150 shows.

A charity album featuring some of the biggest bands in the UK was thought to be the fastest ever produced. Coldplay, Radiohead, Kaiser Chiefs, Antony and the Johnsons, The Magic Numbers, The Coral, Bloc Party and Gorillaz were among those who recorded tracks for ‘Help: A Day in the Life.’ The whole 22-track album was made available for download from the War Child website the following day in 2005.

The 2005 NFL kick-off party at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA featured a pre-game performances by Green Day, Rolling Stones, Santana and Maroon 5. The league's opening game is between the '05 Super Bowl champion New England Patriots and the Oakland Raiders. Pats won by the way.

In 2007, Foxy Brown was sent to jail for a year in New York for violating her probation terms after she travelled outside New York without the court's permission and had missed anger management classes. The rapper (real name Inga Marchand), was arrested for allegedly assaulting a neighbour and in October 2006 she was put on probation for allegedly assaulting two nail salon workers in August 2004.

Slipknot's self-titled debut was reissued in 2009 as a special-edition CD/DVD in celebration of the album's 10th anniversary. The 25-track CD features B-sides, demos and remixes, and a DVD boasting three music videos and live footage.

Fever Ray - "Mercy Street" Out Today

For Immediate Release

"It's an interpretation of Peter Gabriel's 'Mercy Street'. We made it more intense and faster to fit our eccentric percussionists and energetic live musicians. It is a monotone track but we worked with the dynamics trying to make it sparkle. I listened to it a lot when I was around 15, and it still moves me. It made me start reading Anne Sexton too." - Karin Dreijer Andersson

Fever Ray aka Karin Dreijer Andersson of The Knife is back. Having performed spellbinding live covers of well-loved tracks by artists as varied as Nick Cave, Vashti Bunyan and Peter Gabriel, her cover of the latter's “Mercy Street” is officially released today as a digital download and on covetable limited edition 7’’ through Mute in the US and Canada. The 7” single will include album track “Dry and Dusty."

Gabriel wrote ‘Mercy Street’ about influential Pulitzer Prize winning American poet Anne Sexton, with the track taking its title from her 1969 play of the same name. The cover is chillingly atmospheric, all driving beats and Dreijer Andersson’s crystalline vocals imploring us to “wait until darkness comes."

For those who have yet to experience the 'Mercy Street' cover live, you can catch Fever Ray's stunning audio-visual show in Europe – art directed by long term collaborator Andreas Nilsson – on the following dates:

5th - Electric Picnic, Dublin, Ireland
6th - O2 ABC, Glasgow
8th - Brixton Academy, London
9th - Olympia, Paris, France
10th - Berlin Festival, Berlin, Germany
12th - Bestival, Isle of Wight

For More Information please reach out to Sheryl Witlen at Mute: | | | |