Run through the jungle of CCR’s music with C-J music writer Jeffrey Lee Puckett and rabid rock fan Tom Heiser. The boys in the basement head into the bayou this week to continue “Vintage Vinyl,” a weekly web show about classic rock.
If you ever go the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame museum in Cleveland (the museum is an annex building next to the Hall of Fame building), and know where to look, you may be able to hear my voice.
I am extremely proud that the recording of an interview I did a few years ago for my syndicated oldies radio show is in their archives. The interview is with a gentleman who has since left us.
At the time I spoke with him, he was 95 and still mentally sharp and still performing, although that’s not why his interview is important to rock and roll history. He was a major player behind the scenes in the careers of three artists in particular, and a major contributor to several other hit records.
EARLIER: Todd’s Baby Boomer Trivia: Volume 9
EARLIER: Todd’s Baby Boomer Trivia: Volume 8
EARLIER: Todd’s Baby Boomer Trivia: Volume 7
I don’t recall how I connected with Billy Mure on Facebook. Either he posted something about early rock and roll that I responded to, or he told me he was a listener of my show.
It could have been through his granddaughter, Emily, who is an up-and-coming singer-songwriter based in New York City. But I learned of Billy’s place in the story of rock and roll and thought it would be fascinating for my listeners.
Billy was a guitarist, arranger and producer. Prior to the birth of rock and roll, he arranged the hit recordings for Rosemary Clooney (“C’mon To My House” … yes, she was related to George) and one of the No. 1 songs right before rock began with Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock,” “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White” by Perez Prado.
Once the rock era was in full swing, Billy successfully changed Prado’s big-band sound to a soft rock beat and produced Perez’s big hit, “Patricia.”
But Billy was the arranger/producer, guitarist and band leader for a guy who had hits both before and during the rock era without ever changing his style — Perry Como. Perry sang in a relaxed manner and gave the impression he was a pretty laid-back guy.
Billy told me the story of how Perry would come into the studio after a round of golf, do the song in one take, and go back to the golf course.
The other artists Billy wore all the hats for were Bobby Darin (Billy told Bobby to wait to switch his material to big band crooner songs; it paid off when Darin released “Mack the Knife”) and Paul Anka, a 14-year-old Canadian kid when he recorded “Diana.” Paul is still going strong and recently did a show at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank.
I was sad when I heard of Billy’s passing at age 98.
Don’t let these questions pass you by, send me the answers at [email protected] Include your town. Your name and the answers will be here next week.
- Paul Anka was not the only 14-year-old artist Billy produced. He also produced a 1963 hit by a 14-year-old young lady, Marcie Blaine. What was the title of that song?
- What was the name of the Bobby Darin song where the lyrics might suggest he was having a good time just wearing a bathrobe?
- What song put Paul Anka back on the charts in 1974 after a 13-year absence?
Last week’s answers:
- “Centerfield” is the title of John Fogerty’s 1985 album.
- Creedence Clearwater Revival had no No. 1 records. They did have five No. 2s.
- Ike and Tina Turner had a hit with their cover version of “Proud Mary.”
Steve Marcovici of Somerset and Tony Parisi of Bridgewater got perfect scores.
Frank Todd is the host of “Todd’s Top 20,” a syndicated oldies radio show heard on over 20 stations around the world, seven days a week. Visit www.franktoddradio.com for info and the schedule. He also will be performing Saturday, March 24, at the Robeson Center in Princeton.
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