Thursday, June 29, 2023

THROWBACK THURSDAY: A Musical Salute to Slim Pickens

 


Today, Thursday June 29, is the birthday of Louis Burton Lindley, Jr., but most people who remember him know him by his stage name Slim Pickens.

Happy birthday, Slim!

Pickens, who died in 1983, was born in Kingsburg, Arizona in 1919. His dad was a dairy farm and young Louis took a quick interest in horses -- he allegedly got his first horse at the age of four -- and eventually was drawn to the rodeo.

According to his obituary in The New York Times, "Mr. Pickens came naturally by his ability to play saddle tramps and range bums, for before he got his first Hollywood role he had spent 20 years as a rodeo bronco buster, trick rider and clown."

According to that obit:

Mr. Pickens said that when he dropped out of school at the age of 16 to join a rodeo: ''My father was against rodeoing and told me he didn't want to see my name on the entry lists ever again. While I was fretting about what to call myself, some old boy sittin' on a wagon said, 'Why don't you call yourself Slim Pickens, 'cause that's shore what yore prize money'll be.''

Indeed, his pickins were slim in the rodeo biz for 20 years or so. But in 1950 he lucked out when film director William Keighley saw him perform at a rodeo and offered him a screen test. He was hired for Keighley's Rocky Mountain starring Errol Flynn. He played a character named "Plank."

No, Slim didn't get his name 
on the poster
He became the ultimate cowboy character actor, appearing in countless westerns, mostly as a comical sidekick. He also made a ton of t.v. appearances in shows from Annie Oakley to Circus Boy to McMillan and Wife to B.J. and The Bear.

But undoubtedly Pickens is best known for his role in Stanley Kubrick's 1964 dark political comedy Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. There, as  B-52 pilot Major T. J. "King" Kong, he made his greatest rodeo ride of his career as , riding a nuclear bomb like a bucking bronco into eternity.

But this is a music blog, and Slim Pickens also was a recording artist -- albeit a late-blooming one. And a friend of mine -- seriously -- had a lot to do with that. 

New Mexico singer/satirist and my longtime pal Jim Terr is responsible for nearly all of Slim Pickens' slim discography.

Terr says he first met the actor in the 1970s at the Burbank Airport ("I think," Terr adds). At the time, Terr says "I couldn't even think of his name. I said, `Aren't you  in the movies?' " To which Pickens responded And "Why, I haven't been in the movies since, oh, about 9 o'clock this morning over at Warner Brothers."

Terr continued: "I immediately had the idea of trying to get him to do a line as `the Sheriff' on The Last Mile Ramblers''s song, `The Hurrier I Go.' I talked to him on the plane (we were on the same flight), and he said heck yeah."

But Terr recalled, "I had a hard time catching up with him when  he was here, hunting with his buddy [then Governor] Bruce King," who Terr notes had a voice very similar to Pickens'. " I finally buttonholed him in the men's room of the Albuquerque airport when he was departing."

He not only "buttonholed" Pickens, he recorded the old cowpoke's line right there in the Sunport restroom!

After that the idea for a Pickens album was born, and in 1977 Slim Pickens was released on Terr's Blue Canyon label. As it turned out this would be Slim's only album ever to be released, though Terr said Pickens also recorded many unreleased tracks with Willie Nelson. Pickens also recorded a Christmas song, which you'll see below.

Terr recalled Pickens cutting a bunch of local radio station IDs to promote the album): "This is Slim Pickens and when I'm in  Salt Lake I listen to [whatever the station was]." Then he turned to Terr saying "God, I hope I'm never in Salt Lake."  

Here's Slim blowing harmonica with Festus in the Dodge City Jail -- perhaps awaiting extradition to Salt Lake City -- on the beloved TV western Gunsmoke:

Slim sings a Kinky Friedman song:

The writer of this song, Guy Clark, reportedly said Slim's take on his masterpiece his favorite version:


The only other record Pickens released after his Blue Canyon album was this maudlin Christmas song in 1980 -- which I'm surprised didn't become (an ironic) smash hit on Dr. Demento's show:


Here's The Last Mile Ramblers, the band that, as I've often said, provided much of the soundtrack for my drunken college years. Slim's restroom cameo is at the end of the song:


The only other record Pickens released after his Blue Canyon album was this maudlin Christmas song in 1980 -- which I'm surprised didn't become (an ironic) smash hit on Dr. Demento's show:


Though Slim didn't appear on this song (he'd been dead for nearly 30 years), The Offspring still paid tribute to the actor's greatest moment in Dr. Strangelove:

Finally, while looking last week for Slim Pickens songs for this post, I discovered that there was another Slim Pickens, a country bluesman whose real name was Eddie Burns. Here's a song from this Slim Pickens:


Ride 'em, Slim!


Sunday, June 25, 2023

TERRELL'S SOUND WORLD PLAYLIST

 



Sunday, June 25, 2023
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
Webcasting!
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell 101.1 FM
Email me during the show! terrell(at)ksfr.org

Here's my playlist :

OPENING THEME: Let It Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Blowin' My Top by The Waco Brothers
Night Train From Chicago by The Jesters
Moonshine Runner by Churchwood
You're Humbuggin' Me by Ronnie Dawson
RNR Jungle Girl by Ana Threat 
Black Metal by Reverend Beat-Man & Izobel Garcia
The Eggplant That Ate Chicago by Dr. West's Medicine Show & Junk Band 
Two Stepping and Tacos by Dave Del Monte & The Cross County Boys 

A Friend Of Mine by Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives
What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round by The Monkees
I Miss Chicago Again by The Polkaholics 
Whatever by Urban Junior 
Chicago Bound Blues by Bessie Smith
Goin' To Chicago by The Blues Against Youth 
Three Cool Cats by The Beatles 
The World Is Mine by Cracker

Glorious Heroin by Frontier Dan & the Hickoids
Hey Stop Messin' Around by The Hush Puppies
Eddie, Are You Kidding? by Frank Zappa & The Mothers
Lonely Ain't Hardly Alive by Robbie Fulks
Priscilla and the Pyronauts by Robbie Quine 
U Got The Look by Prince with Sheena Easton
The House Where Nobody Lives by T. Tex Edwards & Out On Parole
Get it Right Now by Jon Spencer & The Hitmakers

A Stranger in Nashville by Slim Pickens
Could You Would You by Eilen Jewell
You Left Me A Long, Long Time Ago by Willie Nelson
The Vigilante by Judee Sill
When Two Worlds Collide by Roger Miller
Lucky Day by Angry Johnny & The Killbillies
Lucky Day by Tom Waits
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis





Wednesday, June 21, 2023

WACKY WEDNESDAY: Happy Birthday Eddie! (Or Were You Flo?)

 

Mark Volman & Howard Kaylan

Tomorrow, June 22, 2023, will be the 76th birthday of Howard Kaylan, though everyone knew him as Eddie.

Kaylan, a native New Yorker, first rose to fame in the mid sixties band The Turtles. First touted as a 'folk-rock group (their first hit was a Bob Dylan song), The Turtles today are best known for their schlock-rock juggernaut "Happy Together."

A book I haven't read
So it was surprising to me -- and I assume millions of Frank Zappa fans across God's gray Earth -- when Kaylan and fellow Turtles singer Mark Volman turned up in 1970 as the new frontmen for The Mothers of Invention.

And in their new band Kaylan & Volman were christened "The Phlorescent Leech & Eddie," later shortened to "Flo & Eddie." According to Wikipedia -- and I cringe when I write those words -- Kaylan originally was The Phlorescent Leech. 

But he and Volman "were appalled to learn that the printer had mistakenly printed the duo's stage names in the wrong order above their photograph. ... The label refused to reprint the cover, saying that it would cost too much money. Thus, Kaylan and Volman decided to professionally swap stage names." 

(Wikipedia attributes this anecdote to Kaylan's 2013 autobiography Shell Shocked. I haven't read it, so I can't verify it. It might be true but it's always good to be skeptical of Wikipedia as a sole source.)


Besides their solo work and their efforts with Zappa and The Turtles, Kaylan and Volman also contributed background vocals to an impressive array of musical acts, a few examples being T. Rex (on "Get it On"); Bruce Springsteen "Hungry Heart"); and a couple of songs on The Ramones' Mondo Bizarro.

But let's look at some tunes where Flo and Eddie -- whichever is which -- are out front:

Here's a tune, from Zappa's 200 Motels, that I believe is one of the best non-comedy tracks from Zappa's Flo-and-Eddie period.

"I'm coming over shortly because I am a portly...":


"WE ARE NOT GROUPIES!":


Here are Flo & Eddie riffing on an old classic. Ethel Merman would be proud:


Finally, here are the boys singing a Beach Boys song with one of their idols they mentioned in the above version of The Mothers'  groupie routine:


No, not THAT Flo!


Sunday, June 18, 2023

TERRELL'S SOUND WORLD PLAYLIST




Sunday, June 18, 2023
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
Webcasting!
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell 101.1 FM
Email me during the show! terrell(at)ksfr.org

Here's my playlist :

OPENING THEME: Let It Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Papa Was A Steel-Headed Man by Robbie Fulks 
I Got Ants In My Pants by James Brown
Burnin' Hell by The Fleshtones
Hot Tamale Baby by Buckwheat Zydeco 
Sunday You Need Love by Oblivians 
Sixty Minute Man by Jerry Lee Lewis 
Papa Won't Leave You, Henry by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
1,000,001 by Kelly Hogan 

Bang On by The Breeders
Change in the Weather by John Fogerty
Jukebox Babe by Alan Vega
Daddy, the Swingin' Suburbanite by The Weird-ohs
Never Did No Wanderin' by The Folksmen
Traveling Man by David Bromberg

Whip The Booty by Andre Williams & The Countdowns
Red Rose Tea by The Marquis Chimps
I Need You So Bad by Allan 
Chains Of Love by The Dirtbombs
Dancing With Joey Ramone by Amy Rigby 
We're A Happy Family by The Ramones
96 Tears by Aretha Franklin
The Ballad Of Joe Buck by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Ready to Go by Alien Space Kitchen

Save Your Love for Me by Julie Christensen
My Life is Good by Randy Newman
Patriot's Heart by American Music Club
Wishing All These Old Things Were New by Merle Haggard
Train Song by The Holmes Brothers
On The Nickel by Tom Waits
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis




Thursday, June 15, 2023

THROWBACK THURSDAY: In Praise of Joey Dee and The Peppermint Lounge

 



Sunday, June 11 was the 86th birthday of one Joseph DiNicola, who was born in Passaic, New Jersey. You probably aren't familiar with that name, but as a young man in his 20s, DiNicola was reborn as Joey Dee, who helped entice the world to do the Twist.

Happy birthday, Twist King!

And soon after Joey Dee and The Starliters released "The Peppermint Twist," a little bitty boy in Oklahoma City, discovering the joys of AM radio, (that would be me) came to believe that Joey's stomping grounds, the Peppermint Mint Lounge, 128 West 45th Street in New York City -- which later in life I learned was a tiny dump of a gay bar operated by Genovese crime family captain Matty "The Horse" Ianniello -- had to be the coolest place on Earth.

And apparently I wasn't alone.

In October 2007, James Wolcott wrote in Vanity Fair of the Peppermint Lounge:

Like CBGB's in the 70s, the Peppermint Lounge was an inauspicious dump destined to become a pop landmark. "Adjoined to the Knickerbocker Hotel just off Times Square, the Lounge was essentially a gay hustler joint, frequented by sailors, lowlifes and street toughs in leather jackets [early kin of the Ramones!]" ... 

He's quoting Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton from their book Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey.

Wolcott also quotes author Tom Wolfe from The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby:

The Peppermint Lounge! You know about the Peppermint Lounge. One week October, 1961, a few socialites, riding hard under the crop of a couple of New York columnists, discovered the Peppermint Lounge and by next week all of Jet Set New York was discovering the Twist, after the manner of the first 900 decorators who ever laid eyes on an African mask. Greta Garbo, Elsa Maxwell, Countess Bernadotte, Noel Coward, Tennessee Williams, and the Duke of Bedford—everybody was there, and the hindmost were laying fives, tens, and twenty-dollar bills on cops, doormen and a couple of sets of maitre d's to get within sight of the bandstand and a dance floor the size of somebody's kitchen.

Wolcott hilariously documents the reactions of the squares to the Peppermint scene:

A disapproving Arthur Gelb of The New York Times, descending like an anthropologist into the amoebic bedlam of the Peppermint Lounge, wrote of the club's chic-y clientele, "Cafe society has not gone slumming with such energy since its forays into Harlem in the Twenties."

He quoted Gay Telese in the New York Times -- seems like the Gray Lady didn't dig the Twist -- saying:

Dee's booking was a rude surprise to the Met's then director, James J. Rorimer, who wigged out when he saw photographers hastening to photograph the guests doing the Twist in the shrine of Rembrandt and Cezanne... Apparently no one had thought it necessary to inform Mr. Rorimer that the Dee troupe, which has played for charity balls this month at the Plaza Hotel and the Four Seasons restaurant, as well as for Mayor Wagner's Victory Ball at the Astor Hotel, had been invited to play.

But I part ways with Wolcott when he describes Joey Dee. "The Lounge's house band was Joey Dee and the Starlighters, whose `Peppermint Twist' topped the charts despite yappy vocals and cretinous lyrics that can still produce cavities today ..."

I mean fuck that guy!

During various points in the heyday of The Starliters, the group included one James Marshall Hendrix as well as Joe Pesci (!) One of the mainstays of The Starliters was singer David Brigati, brother of Eddie Brigati, who would go on to fame as a singer in The Young Rascals. Other Young Rascals also played with the Starliters.

The Peppermint Lounge closed after it lost its liquor license in 1965. The state yanked the license because Thomas C. Kelly, who was listed as the sole owner and stockholder of the Peppermint, had been arrested for possessing obscene materials -- "not merely pornographic or obscene, they are unadulterated filth of the lowest nature" according to court documents.

The club opened and reopened several times, sometimes under different names. 

The final incarnation of the Peppermint moved to 5th Avenue in 1982. It closed in 1985, two years after The Cramps recorded their live album Smell of Female there. The original building on West 45th Street was unsentimentally demolished in the mid-1980s.

Ianniello controlled several gay bars in New York -- including the Stonewall Inn -- and later went on to control the Times Square sex trade in the 1970s. He was convicted in 1986 on charges of extorting protection money from bar owners (including the Peppermint's legit creditors), pornography peddlers, and topless dancers. He also was convicted on charges of  bid rigging in construction, skimming union dues.

"The Horse" was the son of the owner of Umberto’s Clam House in Little Italy. He reportedly was working there on the April 1972 night Joe Gallo was gunned down while celebrating his birthday with his family there. (Ianniello never was implicated in that murder.)

He died in 2012 at the age of 92, but later was immortalized by actor Garry Pastore as a character who popped up in seven episodes of in the HBO series The Deuce, which was about the sleazy Time Square sex trade scene of the '70s and early '80s.

Joey Dee & The Starliters, who'd hitched their star to a dance craze, sank beneath our wisdom like a stone after Twist fever died down.

But Joey Dee & The Starliters, The Peppermint Lounge and the Twist all left a crazy mark -- or, more precisely, a twisted mark -- on the world of rock. 'n' roll. And though Chubby Checker, with the help of America's phoniest teenager Dick Clark, robbed Hank Ballard to become the national face of The Twist, for me, Chubby can't hold a peppermint candle to Joey Dee.

Here's Joey and the boys doing their biggest hit, which was produced by Henry Glover, who previously had worked with country, rockabilly and R&B groups on King Records. Glover teamed up with Mr. Dee and The Starliters at Morris Levy's Roulette label (Levy, of course, having many things in common with Matty the Horse, including Genovese ties): 


Here's the follow-up song, "Hey, Let's Twist," which also was the title of a quickie movie about Joey and the twist phenomenon (and you can find the actual movie HERE):


Joey attempted to popularize another new teen dance, the mashed potatoes with this tune. It always makes me hungry for hot pastrami:


And here's Joey's ode to a certain BBW who won his heart:


Finally here's a little Twistory from Ronny Elliott:


Twist on Joey Dee!

Sunday, June 11, 2023

TERRELL'S SOUND WORLD PLAYLIST




Sunday, June 11, 2023
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
Webcasting!
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell 101.1 FM
Email me during the show! terrell(at)ksfr.org

Here's my playlist :

OPENING THEME: Let It Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Cautious by Anton Terrell
I'm Shakin' by Little Willie John
Nchiwewe by Keturah
Good Night For A Heart Attack by Nashville Pussy
I Stopped The Duke Of Earl by The Upfronts 
Praying For A Miracle by The Syncopates
TTT Gas by The Gourds
Chicksvile U.S.A. by Jimmy Gray

Bop, Man, Bop by Doug Amerson & His Dude Cowboys
He's A Mighty Rock by The Joy Harmonizers
It's Just Not True by The Goldstars
Bring It Down To Jelly Roll by John Fogerty 
Mr. Gasser by Mr. Gasser & The Weirdos 
Drag Hag by The Weird-ohs
Lethal Love by Eilen Jewell 
You Knock Me Out by The Tenants 
Jimmy Joe, The Hippybilly Boy by Ed Sanders
Twice as Bright by Nick Shoulders

Ring The Bell by True Believers 
Bad News by Alejandro Escovedo & Jon Langford
Homemade Pie by Johnny Dowd
Mi Saxophone by Al Hurricane
Crazy Love by Joey Dee & The Starliters
Psychotic Reaction by Brenton Wood 
They Call It Rock by Rockpile
I'm Cramped by The Cramps
Be Off To The Moon by Dr. Strange Love

Just Like A Bird Without A Feather by Samuel L. Jackson
The Creeper by Al Duvall 
Wildebeest by The Handsome Family 
Is That You in the Blue? by James Leg
Lost Generation by The Lost Generation
Your Song by Love Psychedelico
Little Trouble Girl by Sonic Youth
The Beast In Me by Nick Lowe
(Weather alert pre-empted my closing theme, so I didn't even get to say goodbye! )





Wednesday, June 07, 2023

WACKY WEDNESDAY: Challengers of the Duke


 

Nothing can stop the Duke of Earl. 

That's what Eugene Dixon, better known as Gene Chandler, proclaimed in his 1962 hit "Duke of Earl." 

You gotta admire the guy's regal confidence: "As I walk through the world nothing can stop the Duke of Earl ..." 

And that confidence is contagious. Sometimes I sing that verse on my afternoon walks as I survey my own Dukedom.

Back in the early '60s "Duke of Earl" was the kind of song that was bound to inspire answer songs. Chandler himself might have been the first, quickly releasing "Walk On With the Duke" as a follow-up just a few months later. Of course it wasn't nearly as successful as the original "Duke."

On the original song, Chandler told his girlfriend, "And when I hold you /You'll be my Duchess, Duchess of Earl/ We'll walk through my dukedom /And a paradise we will share ..."

Apparently Bobbie Smith of the Dream Girls wanted to take the Duke up on this offer:

However, a group called The Pearlettes begged to differ over who was the true Dutchess of Earl:

Meanwhile, Dorothy Berry -- who was married to Richard Berry (the "Louie Louie" composer, not the former mayor of Albuquerque) claimed to be "The Girl Who Stopped the Duke of Earl." I sense a doowop catfight in the air!

However, a male group called The Upfronts claim that they are the ones who stopped the Duke of Earl -- perhaps by including riffs from The Monotones' "Book of Love" as well as the original "Duke".

Somehow not even the Duke of Prunes," (which appeared on The Mothers of Invention's second album, Absolutely Free) could stop the Duke of Earl:


Sunday, June 04, 2023

TERRELL'S SOUND WORLD PLAYLIST

 



Sunday, June 4, 2023
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
Webcasting!
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell 101.1 FM
Email me during the show! terrell(at)ksfr.org

Here's my playlist :

OPENING THEME: Let It Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
You Got Good Taste by The Cramps
How Many Days Till Summer by R├ąttanson
Wodka by Kult
Ring Around The Moon Tonight by Churchwood 
Shock Collar by Killer Kin
Jibba Jab by Tic & Toc
There Goes The Neighborhood by The Bus Boys
My Money by The Goldstars

Lightning's Girl by Nancy Sinatra
Nancy Sinatra by Bottle Rockets
Nancy Sinatra by Johnny Dowd
Gumby Heart Song by Frank Sinatra,  Jr.
Motorway To Roswell by The Pixies 
Isolation by Urban Junior
Always Horses Coming by Giant Sand 
Queen Elizabeth's Corgis by Robert Shredford

Bumble Bee by Lavern Baker 
Buzz-Buzz-Buzz by The Hollywood Flames 
Call The Plumber by Screamin' Jay Hawkins
I Caught Me A Squirrel by Jon Wayne
The Roaring '20s by Archie & The Bunkers
Let Him Talk by Virgil & The Vi-Tones
Lonely Wolf by The Mullens
Secret Agent Man by Devo
Lili Marleen by Venneskond
Prostitution by Tiger Sex

Clementine by Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Give My Love to Rose by Willy Tea Taylor
A Lonely Man by The Chi-Lites
Come Home Soon by Eilen Jewell
Baby It's You by Elvis Costello & The Attractions with Nick Lowe
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis




THROWBACK THURSDAY: The History of "Happy Birthday to You"

  Tomorrow, September 22, 2023, will mark the 8th anniversary of a federal judge's landmark decision that declared the song...