Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ask Mr. Music by Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: I grew up in Chester Heights, Pa., but the Top 40 station we listened to was WAMS 1380, from Wilmington, Del.

One instrumental on their early '60s playlist was referred to as “Let's Go Down the River Nile.”

I am trying to put together a collection of tunes from those days, but this “Nile” one has me stumped.

Can you help?
—Mike Scarpini, Philadelphia

DEAR MIKE: You have the right river, but the title has neither invitation nor navigational details. It is simply “River Nile,” by LEROY and His Rockin' Fellers (Cameo 194).

This fine instrumental, “River Nile,” definitely got some spins in the tri-state area where you lived, though it did not make the national charts.

Still, it didn't go completely unnoticed by Billboard. They awarded it three stars, out of a possible four, in their New Singles Reviews for the week October 9, 1961, adding it had “moderate sales potential.”

Surprising to collectors is how rare this recording is, in any configuration, and that no one has seen a commercial Cameo (red and black label) copy, despite being a regional hit in a populous area. Only black-and-white (promotional) copies are known.

Curious about the story behind this, I wanted to locate either LeRoy or one of his Rockin' Fellers.

Thanks to some fortuitous events, plus valuable assistance from David Tourison, we eventually heard from LeRoy (Lee Schappell).

Not only does Lee answer my long-standing Cameo label question, but he reminisces fondly about the ups and downs typical of a teenage band pursuing their passion:

DEAR JERRY: Wyoming cowpoke Dave Tourison informs me you been looking for information about our band.

LEROY and His Rockin' Fellers recorded both sides of Cameo 194 in the Spring of 1961: “River Nile” and “The Unfinished Fifth.”

I played lead guitar; George Biddle played rhythm guitar; Bill Dougherty was our drummer, and Ken Hipple played alto sax.

Our manager, Jimmy Myers (a.k.a. Jimmy DeKnight), previously managed Bill Haley and His Comets, but we unfortunately entered the picture a few years too late to be a part of that scene.

As for the record, Cameo only pressed them with black-and-white labels, ones customarily made for dee jays and promotional purposes. Ours were indeed used as promos, but because they were not marked as “For Promotional Use Only” Cameo also distributed them to retail stores.

We never knew how many they pressed, but none had Cameo's normal black-and-red commercial label. We soon learned why.

“River Nile” got decent exposure in eastern Pennsylvania, south Jersey, and Delaware. We did a lot of radio station events and record hops to promote our record.

Regrettably, we never got a cent from Cameo-Parkway. When royalties were due, they said “no records were sold.”

Here's the catch: black-and-white issues never earned royalties because they were supposed to be used only for promotion, and since Cameo didn't make any with red-and-black labels, they claimed no sales for them and no royalties for us.

We were just 17, and excited beyond description. We trusted far too much and in the end got squat. In that regard, we were neither the first band nor the last.

“River Nile” did make the charts on a few radio stations in the area, including WMLP (Milton-Lewisburg, Pa.); WRAW (Reading, Pa.); and WAMS (Wilmington, Del.). Seems it was a dee jay favorite when they needed music to fill in until “news at the top of the hour.” They preferred instrumentals for this purpose because, unlike vocals, they can be faded-out when necessary.

We also appeared live on a Bandstand-type show on WNEP-TV in northeastern Pa.

Overall, it was a real blast for four kids fresh from 11 years in a boys' home. Suddenly we were on the road for that whole summer, playing rock and roll. We were living the “American Graffiti” life. What wonderful innocence!
— Lee Schappell, Reading, Pa.

IZ ZAT SO? So where are His Rockin' Fellers now? LeRoy knows:

“I believe Bill is still in North Philly, probably retired by now; George builds and repairs boats in Marina Del Rey, Calif.; Ken is probably somewhere in Florida; and I'm still here in Reading. Now I'm with the New Earth Band, making rough-cut, organic country gospel music.

“Oh yes, Cameo's studio bassist laid down the bottom on our sessions because our bassist, Ted Wolff, headed west. I have not seen Dr. Wolff in 45 years, but I know he is a college professor.”

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

Music News, Notes & Did You Know?

Modern Radio's co-owners talk about the ever-changing record industry

By Loren Green

In 1999, Tom Loftus quietly released the Misfires' Dead End Expressway on CD and vinyl. Over 11 years and 52 releases later, Modern Radio Records is still rolling, with 45 of those 52 releases still in print.

The industry has changed since the label first started. Major labels have lost status, CDs are becoming relics, and music sales as a whole have tumbled, but Loftus and label partner Peter Mielech have only made Modern Radio stronger.

For Loftus and Mielech, Modern Radio is a labor of love.

Read more Modern Radio


PANIC! AT THE DISCO reveal cover art for upcoming VICES & VIRTUES

PANIC! AT THE DISCO have unveiled the cover art for their March 29th release of VICES & VIRTUES.


Steve Miller Band Announce First Austin City Limits Taping

Austin City Limits recently announced the first taping in its new state-of-the-art home at The Moody Theater with a special performance by Steve Miller Band including material from his soon-to-be-released new Blues Rock album 'Let Your Hair Down.'   Preceding the taping there will be a free party with music, events and more in downtown Austin on Saturday, February 26, from 3 to 8 p.m. sponsored in part by Cirrus Logic, The 2nd Street District and The Moody Foundation.

“This is a dream come true for ACL – a new home in downtown Austin that will be an amazing world-class music venue and studio soundstage combined,” said Austin City Limits Executive Producer Terry Lickona. “After 36 years, we have big plans for the future, and that future begins on February 26th. The best is yet to come!”

Lauded rock guitarist Steve Miller and his band (Roadrunner/Loud & Proud) have been inspiring fans for more than four decades with Miller’s unique brand of rousing American rock ‘n’ roll. His catalog includes 17 studio albums and multiple hit singles including “The Joker,” “Take The Money and Run,” “Jet Airliner,” “Abracadabra” and more.

To help celebrate this iconic singer, ACL will be giving away a limited number of Space Available tickets to this taping. Click on this link below to enter your name and email address here by noon Friday, February 18. Recipients will receive 2 tickets each and be chosen at random. (Please be in Austin or the surrounding community).

Austin City Limits Contest


Devolved New Album Details Revealed

Australian/Los Angeles tech-metal masters Devolved will release their new full-length album, 'Oblivion,' on May 24 via Unique Leader Records. According to a press release, the effort will contain "10 songs of unrelenting modern metal which combines uncompromising intensity, chaotic timing signitures, insane musicianship and a futuristic soundscape blended to create an epic and totally crushing listening experience from start to stop!


MIKE TRAMP & THE ROCK 'N' ROLL CIRCUZ: New Album Title, Artwork, Release Date

MIKE TRAMP & THE ROCK 'N' ROLL CIRCUZ, the new project led by WHITE LION singer Mike Tramp, will release its second album, "Stand Your Ground", on March 28. Songtitles set to appear on the effort include "Gotta Get Away", "Alright By Me" and "Don't Let Them Put It On You". The album's cover artwork was created by Karsten Sand.


Ronnie Dunn of Brooks & Dunn and Alison Krauss Working on New Don Henley Album

Ronnie Dunn of Brooks & Dunn has said that he is singing on the new Don Henley country-flavored album.

“Sang on the new Don Henley record, Friday. Don, Allison Krauss and my unqualified self. I was in WAY over my head in that talent pool. Hope it came off to good. Also, Stan Lynch (Google that name...) another hero, was involved. Lucky me!,” Dunn wrote on Facebook.

Read More at VintageVinylNews


Did You Know?

An ostrich's eye is bigger than it's brain.

Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur.

In most advertisements, including newspapers, the time displayed on watch is 10:10. Or is it ten to two?

Al Capone's business card said he was a used furniture dealer.

In 1956 - Buddy Holly made his first recordings for Decca. Backing Buddy on four songs are Grady Martin on guitar and Doug Kirkham on drums.

In 1962, Bishop Burke of the Buffalo, New York Catholic Diocese bans the Twist, in any form, from all of his school's functions.

In 1970 - John Lennon wrote and recorded "Instant Karma."

Ringo Starr went to #1 on the Billboard singles chart in 1974 with his version of Johnny Burnette's 1960 #8 hit "Your Sixteen". The track featured Paul McCartney on kazoo and Harry Nilsson on background vocals.

In 1984 - Michael Jackson was hospitalized with burns to his scalp after his hair catches fire while shooting a Pepsi commercial.

Celebrating birthdays today - Eddie Van Halen (54), Lucinda Williams (58), Anita Baker (53) among others.

And in 1999, the National Transportation Safety Board concluded that John Denver died in a 1997 airplane crash because he took off with too little fuel in one tank, had trouble switching to his backup tank and inadvertently put his plane into a roll while his attention was diverted.

And remember - AMOS LEE on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno  tonight!!