Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy!
My other Friday music blog generally focuses on just one oldie.
One day I got to thinking. I should put together a Goodnight segment on a whole bunch of oldies all thrown together. So here it is. Oldies about…oldies. This is going to be lots of fun, and we’re really going to rock.
Prepare to snap fingers, clap hands, maybe even dance. Prepare for smiles, sheer joy, and possibly pandemonium.
Let’s get started.
Back in 1981 a mega-medley was rapidly moving up the Billboard Hot 100 chart, placing in at #5. One month later it was #1.
The mysterious Dutch group “Stars on 45” scored big with the “Stars on 45 Medley.” That was actually quite short for the record’s official title.
Dutch musicians Bas Muys, Okkie Huysdens, and Hans Vermeulen had an uncanny ability to emulate other singers, predominantly the Beatles on this single. Snippets of famous songs were perfectly mixed together.
What was the inspiration behind the medley?
A man named Michel Ali reportedly stopped in at a Montreal club where a DJ named Michel Gendreau was working and and showed him a tape that had a mix of popular disco songs, Beatles hits and other old songs. The quality of the tape was sub-par. So Gendreau and an editor named Paul Richer reworked the medley.
Admitting it was risky, they decided the medley would not be all disco. They’d toss in some 60’s classics. Again,a gamble because at that time clubs didn’t spin Beatles records.
Eventually a producer at a Dutch record company put together a similar version, and the 4-minute single enjoyed success, first in the Netherlands, then the UK, and then America.
Normally I despise impersonators. Not this time because these folks were so good!
Other performers tried to capitalize: Chas & Dave with their selection of old-time music hall and London songs, “Stars Over 45,” Ivor Biggun with “Bras on 45,” and Weird Al Yankovic with his medley “Polkas on 45.”
Now, a definite one-hit wonder.
Cat Mother and the All-Night Newsboys started in New York, playing clubs and signing a record contract. Their first album was produced by a friend of the group who became a rock legend. That album gave them their only hit that peaked at #21 in August of 1969.
Yes, that legend.
Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys may have had limited success, but they did appear at the Toronto Rock & Roll Revival concert in September of 1969 that also starred some folks you might remember: The Doors, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bo Diddley, and the Plastic Ono Band.
When the first movie in the Star War series took America by storm Meco (Meco Menardo) capitalized with a disco version of not just the movie theme but the entire movie soundtrack.
Meco was extremely talented. When disco seized on transforming everything from classical music to big band to classical, Meco did an entire album of famous instrumentals.
We have seven of them tonight. Can you guess them all?
“Hooked on Guitars” follows, and then the answers.
Give a listen.
The answers to our medley:
Now it’s time for a talented act of two brothers.
Johnny Winter was a leading American blues performer. As a child he played the clarinet, but switched to guitar. Good move.
When Winter broke into the national spotlight in 1968 he was a commanding figure onstage. He was tall with pale blond hair and light eyes, features from albinism.
In 1969 Winter played the famous Woodstock festival and released his debut album on Columbia records.
His younger brother was also an albino.
“People have always stared at me,” said Edgar Winter in a 1974 interview. “They still do, but now they have a better reason.”
Edgar Winter is legally blind, more than 85% due to his albinism. As a youngster he couldn’t play sports or sight-read music.
“I didn’t have many friends,” he said “You know the way kids naturally are if you’re fat, crippled or in any way defective. They tend to leave you out. So music became my identity and replaced the normal activities that otherwise would have filled my life.”
Winter’s blindness allowed him to develop an ear where he could listen just one time to almost any tune and then play it. He’s a talented keyboardist, saxophone player, drummer, and singer.
“Being albino always gave me a very real sense of individuality.” He said in 1974. “Today, in music, a lot of people will do anything to themselves just to set them apart. I guess I’ve had a natural edge on them.”
In 1976 Johnny and Edgar released “Together,” a live album recorded at The Swing Auditorium, San Diego Sports Arena, in San Diego, CA, that included this exciting medley (listen for the Little Richard woooooos).
Edgar (L) and Johnny (R)
Johnny Winter died in July of 2014. He was 70.
That medley was phenomenal.
“Looked at my watch and much to my surprise, I was dancin’ with a woman who was twice my size.” No, they don’t write them like they used to.
How do you top Johnny and Edgar Winter?
In mid-March 1974 Elvis returned to his hometown of Memphis, appearing in four sold out concerts in two straight days and nights at the Mid-South Coliseum. It was the first time he did a show in Memphis in 13 years.
The local newspaper, the Memphis Commercial Appeal wrote this in a review on March 17, 1974:
The crowds reacted to the magical personality almost as though the clock had been turned back to 1961. There were screams, shrieks, shouts and standing applause from the moment Presley stepped on stage until he walked off about one hour later.
Police who ringed the stage throughout the performance had to hold back dozens of women in the closing moments of the performance who dashed forward, waving their arms and screaming “Elvis, Elvis.”
He mopped his brow with scarves and threw the scarves to pleading women in the first few rows. He called women “Hon,” and would elicit screams of response whenever he would hint of pelvic movement.
From another review in the Memphis Press-Scimitar, March 18, 1974:
What’s the big attraction? Well Elvis IS the king, but there must be more.
Perhaps Billy Pegram, who ordered $60 worth of tickets and brought his family up from Tunica County, Miss, hit on the answer.
“This is one of the few things today that you can bring your family to and know you’ll enjoy the whole show,” he said.
Tracks from the Memphis concerts were made into a live album. Three years before Elvis died. Still, he sounded just great.
That’s it for this week.
Have a great weekend.