25 April 2007

Connie Francis (Part Three)

Connie at Freedomland

In September of 1962, songwriter Colin Cooper placed a novelty tune with Connie Francis. In the lyric, a teenage beauty warns her crabby boyfriend to treat her better or else! Watch your step, she tells him, 'Cause, honey, if you treat me mean/The only time you see me is gonna be/From the very last row in the balcony/When I'm a famous, featured/Groovy movie queen!

No, it wasn't such a great song, and Connie wasted no time filing it among her cache of unreleased tapes. Why did she record it at all? Probably because she could relate to the title. She was the only female Pop star of the early '60s to break successfully into movie roles. In December of 1960, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios had released Where The Boys Are to theatres, and the film had become an international box office smash; Connie had both played a featured role and sung Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield's hit theme song over the opening credits. Now, even as she was recording "Groovy Movie Queen," she was wrapping up post-production on her second M-G-M film, Follow The Boys. She'd go before Hollywood's cameras twice more, for 1964's Looking For Love and 1965's When The Boys Meet The Girls (a remake of the 1943 Judy Garland vehicle Girl Crazy) before turning her full attention back to musical pursuits.

Connie Francis's relationship with movie music started before Where The Boys Are, though. As a regular on New York's "Startime Kids" TV series in the early 1950s, Concetta Franconero had performed showtunes along with other members of the cast; and long before an October 1957 recording of "Who's Sorry Now" had vaulted her to stardom, she'd logged movie soundtrack recording dates. A teenage Connie dubbed vocal tracks for Tuesday Weld's "performances" in the 1956 movie musical Rock, Rock, Rock, and she recorded duets with Paul Carr for Warner Brothers' 1957 Rockabilly film Jamboree. A few months later, she ghosted Jayne Mansfield singing "Valley Of Love" in the 1958 western comedy Sheriff Of Fractured Jaw.

She was also cutting songs taken from movies and stage shows by this time; her first was "I Leaned On A Man", heard in The Big Land, a 1957 western starring Alan Ladd. Her second was none other than her first hit, "Who's Sorry Now?" Although written in 1923, the tune had been revived for the 1950 movie Three Little Words. Her third was "I'll Get By", featured in the 1948 film You Were Meant For Me. Included on her Who's Sorry Now? album, it later became a hit single in England. There'd be many more to come. Like her idol, Al Jolson, Connie Francis starred in lead roles and recorded original songs for movies, but her extensive catalog of vintage Hollywood soundtrack and Broadway showtune covers are arguably what most qualify her as a . . .

Never On Sunday

Groovy Movie Queen
Connie Francis On Broadway and In Hollywood
A Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Production
Screenplay by Don Charles Hampton
August of 1959 found Connie at London's Abbey Road Studios, cutting twelve tracks with producers Ray Ellis and Norman Newell. She was accompanied by Cyril Ornadel and his orchestra. The collection, tentatively titled One For The Boys, was to be a theme album; Connie covered signature hits by Frank Sinatra, Nat "King" Cole, Frankie Laine, Bing Crosby and other male vocal stars. Over half the tracks were songs that had either been introduced or revived in movies. Slated for a November 1959 release, the album was never issued. Connie shelved the project, feeling that Ray Ellis' lush arrangements had overshadowed her singing. She may have planned to cut new backing tracks, but that never happened. Instead, three of the intended LP cuts surfaced on her Valentino EP in the Spring of 1960.

Her covers of Jolson's "You Made Me Love You" and Sinatra's "Young At Heart" were outstanding, but they would've sounded far better in their stereo album mixes. Over three decades passed before Connie's fans could enjoy these performances (plus her pensive version of Johnny Mathis' "It's Not For Me To Say", her exciting, Latin Jazz remake of Perry Como's "Temptation," and her earliest attempt to capture Pat Boone's "April Love") in their full panoramic glory. To date, Bear Family Records' White Sox, Pink Lipstick And Stupid Cupid CD box set is the only place you can find them.

In 1961, M-G-M Records released Connie's first LP collection of motion-picture themes. Waxed at Nashville's Bradley Film and Recording Studios under the supervision of Jim Vienneau, Connie Francis Sings Never On Sunday featured arrangements by Cliff Parman and backing vocals by Millie Kirkham and The Jordanaires. Although it suffers from a low-fidelity sound mix, the music is nothing less than exquisite; Connie's emotional style of singing is a perfect match for the stuttering piano licks, church choirloft harmonies and light-as-a-cloud string sections typical of the Nashville sound.

The title track, a studio take of the Academy Award-winning song she'd performed live at the 1961 Oscars, skips along to an infectious habanera rhythm. By now firmly established as an international artist, Connie tosses a few lines of Greek into her girlishly innocent reading of this sassy prostitute's theme. Her version of "Never On Sunday" became so popular, many of her fans still mistake it for one of her hit singles. She completely transforms the theme from Anna ("El Negro Zumbón"), substituting a brisk merengue beat for its orignal Brazilian baião rhythm and delivering it in flawless Spanish; she handles this hip-shaking number like an Italian-American Celia Cruz! Her actor's approach to the High Noon theme ("Do Not Forsake Me") gives Tex Ritter's original recording a strong run for its money; vocally, Connie submerges herself in the doomed sheriff's role and enhances the song's drama with some compelling introductory narration.

In her hands, Jules Styne and Sammy Cahn's "Three Coins In The Fountain" is a heartbroken cry of desperation; never before and never since has it been sung better. Her forlorn rendition of the song from Moulin Rouge ("Where Is Your Heart?) is a tearjerker, too. The LP's choicest treat may be her vocals on the "Moonglow and Picnic" suite; she approaches it with a bluesy, Jazz-tinged attitude that hints at what a fine R & B vocalist she would have made. Connie actually produced this track herself, which session logs indicate was the last to be cut at the 11 August album date; Jim Vienneau apparently left the session early. Purists may wish that Cliff Parman had given it a jazzier musical background, but most Francis fans find no fault with his slow-burning Rock ballad arrangement.  Connie's enthusiasm for the lyrics of Paul Francis Webster manifests itself on stellar waxings of "April Love" and "Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing"; she puts an indelible stamp on these numbers. This superb album, which stayed on Billboard's Top Pop Albums list for 34 weeks and peaked at #11, also features recordings of themes from Tammy and The Bachelor, Around The World In Eighty Days, Young At Heart and Love Me Tender.

La Franconero's second movie theme album, Connie Francis Sings Award-Winning Motion Picture Hits, was recorded in Rome with Geoff Love's orchestra and Norman Newell at the controls. Perfectionist that she is, though, she decided to scrap the backing music and have old standby LeRoy Holmes conduct spare new arrangements. This he did in a New York City studio under Danny Davis's watchful eye. Released in the summer of 1963, the album was a major disappointment chartwise, topping out at #108 in Billboard after only five weeks. Upon hearing the original recordings(which were issued in Australia and New Zealand), many fans would later pronounce the new arrangements inferior. Connie's vocal tracks are identical on both versions of the album, though, and for the most part, they're up to her usual high standards.

Both the Australian and American versions of "Lullaby Of Broadway" are delightful; Papa Franconero's baby girl swings the stuffing out of this Depression-era standard! The album's other highlights include her shimmering renditions of "When You Wish Upon A Star" from Pinocchio, "You'll Never Know" from the wartime comedy flick Four Jills and A Jeep, "The Way You Look Tonight" from the 1936 Rogers and Astaire vehicle Swing Time, "The Last Time I Saw Paris" from Lady, Be Good! and Judy Garland's immortal "Over The Rainbow" from The Wizard Of Oz.

Lyricist Paul Francis Webster is represented by "Secret Love", one of Doris Day's signature tunes; La Franconero employs her awesome vocal skills like a bow-and-arrow, shooting this subtly homoerotic declaration of devotion over the moon. Sammy Cahn's lyrics get the lion's share of attention on this set; Connie lays down memorable, if not definitive versions of the Sinatra originals "High Hopes" and "All The Way." With its pronounced Italian flavor, "Que Sera Sera" sounds tailormade for her, and she damn near steals the song from Doris Day. However, did we really need to hear a cover of "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" on this album? Concetta should've saved this juvenile number for one of her children's albums. The failure of Motion Picture Hits to excite the public would've been enough to put the kibosh on most recording artists' future movie song projects; however, Connie exercised total creative control at M-G-M Records, and she wasn't ready to give up on film music yet. Biding her time for three years, she painstakingly assembled another album's worth of movie themes.


In the summer of 1966, M-G-M released Movie Greats Of The '60s, Connie's final LP-length foray into Hollywood music. Produced for the most part by the late Tom Wilson, it featured full orchestras conducted by Don Costa, Frank DeVol, Benny Golson and Larry Wilcox, men who represented the cream of New York and Hollywood arranging talent. Waiting until the mid-'60s to follow up her Motion Picture Hits collection proved to be a smart move; she was able to include most of the memorable movie themes that decade would produce. A quick scan of the sleeve notes reveals song titles drawn from such films as The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg, Zorba The Greek, The Sandpiper, The Seven Capital Sins, Inside Daisy Clover, Papa's Delicate Condition, Flight Of The Phoenix and Doctor Zhivago.

Place the album on a turntable, and your ears are rewarded with impeccable versions of "I Will Wait For You," "Zorba's Theme," "The Shadow Of Your Smile", "The Good Life," "You're Gonna Hear From Me", "Call Me Irresponsible", "Senza Fine" and "Somewhere, My Love." Connie's growing maturity as a singer really shows here; no lyrical nuance escapes her, and there's nary a trace of false emotion. Her inspired rendition of "You're Gonna Hear From Me" is arguably the gem of the collection; this Dory Langdon/André Previn song was not considered a potential standard at the time she recorded it, so in choosing it for her repertoire, she demonstrated remarkable foresight. Paul Francis Webster and Sammy Cahn get two songs each on this collection, with "Call Me Irresponsible" being the standout Cahn cover, and Webster's "Somewhere, My Love" being the tune most likely to rate Pop radio acceptance. Connie actually commissioned Webster to write lyrics for the Doctor Zhivago theme, but delayed recording it until after The Ray Conniff Singers had scored the American hit. However, "Somewhere" did become a hit single for her outside the United States; Larry Wilcox's stirring string arrangement merged with Connie's understated vocal to create a solid smash in Latin-America, Scandinavia and the Far East.

Also noteworthy is the inclusion of her 1965 Adult-Contemporary hit "Forget Domani", sung by Perry Como in the M-G-M comedy The Yellow Rolls Royce; this bilingual Swing number, arranged by Don Costa, lent tempo variation to a ballad-heavy set. The same can be said of Benny Golson's whirling dervish of a chart for "Dance My Troubles Away(Theme from Zorba The Greek)"; La Franconero grabs hold of this musical bucking bronco and takes her fans on a wild ride! Despite being many of those fans' favorite Connie Francis film music collection, Movie Greats somehow failed to chart. However, sensing its potential in the ballad-loving Hispanic market, Connie and producer Bob Morgan cut Spanish-language vocal tracks for most of the album's selections a year later and M-G-M reissued it as Grandes Exitos del Cine. With Side One bookended by the smash hits "No Puedo Olvidar" ("Strangers In The Night") and "Sueño de Amor"("Somewhere, My Love"), it became a huge Latin-American best-seller.

Glamour Connie 4

"Groovy Movie Queen" concludes with Part Two.

Connie Francis (Part Four)

Movie Greats Of The '60s

Groovy Movie Queen
Connie Francis On Broadway and In Hollywood
A Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Production
Screenplay by Don Charles Hampton
For her final showtune album project, Concetta turned her attention closer to home: Broadway, and great tunes culled from great shows like Man Of La Mancha, Sweet Charity, Fiddler On The Roof and Cabaret. In the late '60s, these songs were all over Pop radio airwaves. Happiness: Connie Francis On Broadway Today was her musical tribute to the Great White Way. In the Spring of 1967, she and Bob Morgan (arguably the best producer she ever worked with at M-G-M Records) put veteran arrangers Joe Sherman and Frank Hunter together with her touring music director Joe Mazzu and assigned each man four songs to orchestrate.

The most exciting arrangements ended up coming from Hunter's pen. His hard-swinging charts for "Hallelujah, Baby", "Sherry," ""If My Friends Could See Me Now" and the theme from Cabaret lit a fire under Connie's dormant Jazz instincts. She belts these numbers out like Sophie Tucker reincarnated, and has a ball doing it. Sherman, co-producer of her chart-topping 1960 hits "Everybody's Somebody's Fool" and "My Heart Has A Mind Of Its Own", predictably turned in more Pop-oriented charts. His beautiful waltz-time backing for "My Cup Runneth Over" (widely remembered as a hit single for Ed Ames, but originally heard in the musical I Do! I Do!) rivals every track from Connie's highly-regarded 1963 Great American Waltzes collection. Also, his Dixieland-flavored arrangement for "Walkin' Happy" surrounds Concetta with the kind of vintage music ambiance she always thrived in.

Surprisingly, Joe Mazzu's contributions mostly disappoint. His musical backing for Connie's versions of the Fiddler On The Roof theme and "My Best Beau" from Mame is unremarkable, and his listless chart for "Happiness" (from You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown) makes you wish this song hadn't been chosen as the album's title track. The exception (and how!) is Mazzu's majestic orchestration for "The Impossible Dream." As soon as Connie finished laying on one of her angst-ridden vocal performances, this legendary Broadway standard became an essential part of her catalogue; just to hear her sing this number alone was, and is, worth the price of the entire album.

The handful of limp arrangements notwithstanding, Connie's Broadway album deserved to be bought in large quantities. However, it suffered the same poor commercial reception as its predecessor, Movie Greats Of The '60s. There could be no doubt now that this genre of music just wasn't selling for her anymore. Yet her studio love affair with show music continued. In the summer of 1968, she and Don Costa booked New York's A & R Studios where they produced her much-loved album of hit songs from the 1930s, Connie and Clyde. They managed to sneak six numbers from movies and musical revues onto the album, and these selections number among Connie's most popular recordings. Her (very) light Jazz renditions of " You Oughta Be In Pictures", "With Plenty Of Money And You" and "We're In The Money" treated Connie Francis fans to a virtual sip of bootleg hooch, and they loved the taste. (They still do; to date, Connie and Clyde is one of the artist's most reissued LPs).

However, Concetta didn't make any serious musical statements on this album until she removed the tongue from her cheek and got down to some soulful singing. That's what distinguishes her work on "Am I Blue?", the Fats Waller classic "Ain't Misbehavin'", and Yip Harburg's Great Depression anthem "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?" Her bravura performance on the latter song in particular packs an unforgettable emotional wallop. So ended Connie's album excursions into the world of stage and screen music. From a strictly commercial standpoint, La Franconero may have failed to make consistently successful showtune recordings, but from an artistic point of view, she triumphed and then some!

Of course, the movie music Connie Francis is best known for comes from her own films. Her biggest movie hit was "Where The Boys Are," and considering how popular both the song and the film were, it's unfathomable why M-G-M Records would fail to market a soundtrack album. They didn't even release the original version of the song! Producer Jesse Kaye cut the movie version of "Where The Boys Are" in Hollywood with arranger Pete Rugulo, while Ray Ellis and Arnold Maxin cut the single version mainly in New York City with Stan Applebaum's orchestra(dispatched to Hollywood, Joe Sherman worked on the vocal tracks).

It took nearly forty years, but the actual soundtrack recordings were finally issued on a Rhino Records compilation called (what else?) Where The Boys Are: Connie Francis In Hollywood. Not only were movie music buffs able to enjoy to an extended stereo version of the theme with its exotic Hawaiian instrumentation, they also took home a crisp stereo take of "Turn On The Sunshine", the other Greenfield/Sedaka tune Connie performed in the film. Both are excellent performances. There's not a Connie Francis fan alive who doesn't think letting these fine tracks gather dust in the vaults was a criminal offense!

M-G-M Records didn't drop the ball a second time. When Follow The Boys came out in February of 1963, the film and soundtrack album were released to the public simultaneously. Connie sang four songs in the movie, not enough to even fill an album side, so Side One was augmented by LeRoy Holmes' instrumental music, while Side Two featured six bonus songs. By 1963, Connie Francis was firmly established as a singer of frothy ballads; that's what her fans expected to hear her sing on screen, and that's what dominates the soundtrack LP. In addition to the big orchestra theme(naturally, another hit single for her), veteran Brill Building songwriters Benny Davis and "Ted" Murray Mencher gave her "Waiting For Billy", without a doubt one of the frothiest numbers she'd ever sing. Unfortunately, it's a tough track to listen to; Connie's performance, Danny Davis' production and the song itself are all drowning in campy sentimentality and false emotion. "Baby's First Christmas" is the only item in her catalogue that boasts a higher treacle factor than "Waiting For Billy."

On a more positive note, Davis and Mencher anticipated the mid-'60s Indian music fad by writing "Tonight's My Night," a dance number set to a jerky Hindu rhythm. Connie performs it with lots of brio, as if she were serenading a crowd of revelers at an Italian wedding reception. Since the film had a Mediterranean setting, she takes the liberty of delivering several lines in her ancestral tongue. Italian lyrics also feature prominently in her fourth soundtrack song, "Italian Lullaby"; Concetta sat down and composed this ballad herself in collaboration with lyricist Marty Panzer, and it's everything "Waiting For Billy" needed to be: Delicate, tender and heartwarming. Later re-recorded in multiple languages, "Follow The Boys", "Tonight's My Night" and "Italian Lullaby" would go on to scale the Pop charts in various foreign countries. As had been the case with Where The Boys Are, different versions were used in the film. Arranged by Ron Goodwin, conducted by Geoff Love and recorded under Norman Newell's supervision in London, these tracks have yet to be issued commercially; another criminal offense, to be sure!


The Groovy Movie Queen made her best case for sustained film stardom with Looking For Love, her third M-G-M movie. It featured her best role, dizzy nightclub singer Libby Caruso; her best comedic acting, modelled after the madcap antics of Lucille Ball; and her best soundtrack music, produced by Danny Davis and composed by three crack Brill Building teams: Hank Hunter and Stan Vincent, Benny Davis and "Ted" Murray Mencher, and Gary Geld and Pete Udell. For good measure, a pair of golden oldies was thrown into the mix: Sammy Cahn's "Be My Love," originally performed by Mario Lanza in his 1950 film Toast Of New Orleans, and Jimmy McHugh's "I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me," first heard in a 1927 revue called Gay Paree. Fueled by Broadway musical-calibre arrangements from the pens of Klaus Ogermann, Leo Arnaud, Skip Martin and Joe Mazzu, Connie's performances leapt off the screen and the turntable with equal effervesence. Accompanied by the augmented Raindrops(singer/songwriters Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich), she gives Chubby Checker's Twist a shot of adrenaline with the funky theme song; crisp handclappings and a great sax solo helped make it a dance floor favorite in the Far East. (Both the Rock and Jazz versions of "Looking For Love" from the soundtrack album outshine the stiff, march-time single version, recorded in Nashville; deservedly, it stalled outside Billboard's Top Forty.)

German record-buyers responded enthusiastically to "Let's Have A Party", easily Connie's best Rock'n'Roll performance in a movie; the backing band bears down hard while she lets fly with a Blues-tinged vocal worthy of Jackie DeShannon or Brenda Lee. Ballad lovers could satisfy themselves with Geld and Udell's "Whoever You Are, I Love You", frothy like "Waiting For Billy" but far more believable and memorable. As for Jazz lovers, especially those who longed for La Franconero to brandish her Swing chops more often, they were spoiled for choice! The aforementioned oldies, plus "This Is My Happiest Moment", "When The Clock Strikes Midnight" and a wicked good Swing version of "Looking For Love" surely had their toes wiggling in ecstasy. Yet again, there's a difference between the film and album music; Looking For Love's original soundtrack recordings, conducted in Hollywood by Metro's longtime music director Georgie Stoll, remained unissued. However, four of those alternate versions appear on Rhino's Where The Boys Are compilation.

Connie's final M-G-M film, When The Boys Meet The Girls, saw her being upstaged by an army of musical co-stars, including Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong, Liberace, Sam The Sham and The Pharaohs, and Herman's Hermits. Produced by Jesse Kaye, with musical direction from veteran movie arranger Fred Karger, her duets with Harve Presnell on warmed-over George Gershwin tunes like "I Got Rhythm" and "But Not For Me" sound competent and nothing more. However, Concetta rose above mediocrity with two fabulous solo numbers: Karger's frantic Country Rocker "Mail Call", which sounds like an outtake from a mid-'60s Elvis Presley movie; and the gorgeous theme song, written by Howard Greenfield and Jack Keller and conducted by the great Pop/Rock bandleader Ernie Freeman. Musically and lyrically, this latter song ranks with legendary M-G-M movie themes like "Singin' In The Rain", "The Trolley Song" and "Over The Rainbow", and Connie's magnificent rendition will go down in history as her finest soundtrack vocal. When The Boys Meet The Girls is the only true Connie Francis soundtrack album ever released; recordings in the movie are identical to the recordings on wax, although the vinyl version of "I've Got Rhythm" is severely truncated. You have to buy the Rhino CD to hear the superior six-minute stereo version.

These three soundtrack LPs, along with the aforementioned quartet (quintet?) of albums encapsulate Connie Francis' showtune repertoire on vinyl, but not the complete repertoire. The bombshell from Belleville loved movie and stage music so much, she'd slip it onto an album date whenever she could. The proof is in the grooves. Check out The Exciting Connie Francis, where you'll find her incandescent version of "Time After Time"; My Thanks To You, where her unforgettable rendition of "Bells Of Saint-Mary" (sung by Bing Crosby in the film of the same title) holds forth; Songs To A Swinging Band, where she fixes you with her "Angel Eyes"; Irish Favorites, where you'll hear both "It's A Great Day For The Irish" and "How Are Things In Glocca Morra?"; A New Kind Of Connie, where she gives you "More" and a heart-rending rendition of Fanny Brice's "My Man" besides; or For Mama, where you discover a waxing of "What Kind Of Fool Am I?" that nearly puts Sammy Davis, Jr's hit single to shame(no mean feat)!

That's just the half of it.  Don't miss All-Time International Favorites, where she puts her bilingual stamp on Bobby Darin's "Mack The Knife"; Jealous Heart, where she enchants you with "My Foolish Heart"; Live At The Sahara In Las Vegas where she treats you to "Sunrise, Sunset," another jewel from the score of Fiddler On The Roof, and the future movie soundtrack smash "La Bamba"; the criminally rare Kids Next Door album, where she sings "Supercalifra . . . fra. . . fra . . ." ahem! That tongue-twister of a song from Mary Poppins; Hawaii Connie, where "Harbor Lights" flicker and the waters off "Blue Hawaii" are as blue as can be; and Connie Francis Sings Bacharach and David, where you find her covers of "Alfie", "The Look Of Love" and a pair of tunes from the musical "Promises, Promises" . . . and a true fan would surely be remiss if he didn't search out Concetta's wonderful movie music performances on 45. They include "I Never Had A Sweetheart" from Rock, Rock, Rock, "Valley Of Love" from Sheriff Of Fractured Jaw, "Born Free", "My Buddy", "When The Boy In Your Arms(Is The Boy In Your Heart)", "Al Di Là", "Never Before" and her sensational, Dixieland-flavored post-M-G-M Records release "I Don't Want To Walk Without You."

It probably wouldn't be wise to call Connie Francis a "groovy movie queen" to her face! While Ms. Franconero doesn't lack a sense of humor, she is a serious artist, after all. Nobody who knows her would deny that she's a groovy lady, though, and her many fine recordings of showtunes on screen and on wax have certainly earned her the right to be called a movie queen. Such a grand title befits the grand legacy of music she has amassed. Connie's more recent studio recordings have been Rock'n'Roll-oriented, but here at the Pop Culture Cantina, we're convinced she's got more great vocal tracks to lay on classic songs from Broadway and Hollywood. Let's all hope she does so, and with any luck, her legion of fans will get to hear them.

Connie Lavender

Vintage concert photo of Connie Francis courtesy
Mike Motta and Michael Wright.

Dedicated to the late Ron Rooks, proprietor of Kansas City's late lamented Music Exchange, who sold me most of the Connie Francis albums found in my personal collection.

12 April 2007

Paul Sabu (Part One)

High On Your Love MCA

Red Light Rocker
The Legend Of Paul Sabu
Disco Music's Phil Spector

by Don Charles Hampton

The actor known as Sabu was born Selar Sabu Dastagir in southern India, circa 1924. In the late 1930s, British documentarian Robert Flaherty saw him riding an elephant, and hired the teenager for motion picture work. Commuting between India and Great Britain, Sabu became a star of exotic 1940s adventure flicks. Among others, he appeared in Elephant Boy (1937), Drums (1938), Thief Of Bagdad (1940), Arabian Nights (1942), Cobra Woman (1943), Black Narcissus (1947) and Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book (1942) as Mowgli, The Jungle Boy, his most famous role. Most of his films were shot in Technicolor, but Sabu certainly wasn't known for sporting colorful costumes on screen; most of the time, he wore little more than a loincloth! This fact, plus the hypnotic charm of his smouldering brown eyes, made Sabu one of the movies' earliest sex symbols of color. He acquired American citizenship in 1944, and enlisted in the United States Air Force; his service in the cockpit during the waning months of World War II won him the Distinguished Flying Cross. In the 1950s, Sabu moved to Hollywood where most of his acting work was located by then. He split his time between a real estate business and occasional movie roles. Tragically, shortly after completing work on a Walt Disney film called A Tiger Walks, he died of a heart attack in 1963. The 39-year-old artist left behind a wife, actress Marilyn Cooper, and two infant children, Jasmine and Paul. Jasmine Sabu, who also died young, grew up to be a screenwriter and an in-demand animal trainer for films. Paul Sabu would become a singer/songwriter, bandleader and popular West Coast session guitarist. Fortunately, he's still with us.

Some incredibly innovative work Paul Sabu did in the late 1970s and early '80s is still with us, too. In fact, that early production work has grown more prestigious with the passage of time. At the very peak of the Disco era, Paul was one of the hottest producers active in the genre. He was also one of the least experienced. Plucked out of a college pre-med program and placed in a recording studio, he managed to create records that compared more than favorably with those produced by Giorgio Moroder, Jacques Morali, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, Freddie Perren and other top Disco producers. His records boasted a big, symphonic sound, solid Spanish and Latin-American rhythm foundations, ear-catching electronic accents and exotic percussion tracks. He married Disco sophistication to Rock 'n' Roll rowdiness; he and his three female vocal stars strutted and posed like Van Halen's David Lee Roth at his cockiest. His often prurient lyrics scandalized and tantalized listeners and dancers alike. His instantly memorable melodies held forth with dramatic flourishes reminiscent of his late father's movie soundtracks. Paul Sabu has been called the Phil Spector of Disco music; however, it should be noted that his productions have less in common with Wall of Sound classics like "He's A Rebel" and "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" than they have with aborted Spector releases like "Do The Screw" and "He Hit Me (It Felt Like A Kiss)"!

Learning chords on a Sears Silvertone guitar, Paul Sabu was playing his instrument by the tender age of two! Later, he upgraded to a Stratocaster. He learned technique from a flamenco master who gave lessons in Hollywood; this explains his dramatic, rhythmic finger style. Practising constantly, he had mastered the guitar by age fifteen. By then, the desire to perform had possessed him. As soon as he could, this flamboyant teenager with bushy eyebrows, shoulder-length brown hair and "Glam Rock" fashion sense began sneaking into Rock clubs. He'd make his way backstage and beg musicians to let him sit in with them. His raw talent and skill was a convincing argument, so long before he became a pre-med major at the University of Southern California, Paul was playing the club circuit. His idol was Jimi Hendrix, but his way of revving up a crowd with his axe wasn't derivative; it was all his own. The strongly melodic songs he played were often his own, too. Around 1976, he recruited friends Rick Bozzo, Dan Holmes, Steffen Presley and two others into a band he named Sabu, after his late father. The group pulled gigs all over southern California and made a name for itself at Hollywood clubs like the Starwood and the legendary Whisky A'Go-Go. In rough-hewn bar band culture, Sabu's sound stood out. It was highly polished; Paul wrote flamenco-influenced arrangements which gave the music a dramatic flair à la Jeff Lynne's Electric Light Orchestra. Very quickly, local producers and record company executives started expressing interest. Ironically, Sabu's first album, Hot Grooves, was recorded in Canada, not Hollywood, and it was only issued in the United Kingdom.

Sabu at Glendale

The following year, the guys cut their American debut LP, a collection of Bee Gees cover tunes. Harry Balk, Del Shannon's longtime collaborator, produced the sessions. The six bandmembers were accompanied in the studio by Carmen Dragon and the Glendale, California Symphony Orchestra (to whom the album was officially credited). Sabu promoted their Bee Gees Music album with a live appearance at the Glendale Symphony, and that may be how music publisher Marc Kreiner heard of them. However, Paul later recalled that he met Kreiner while his band was performing at a club in Hollywood. Approaching him after the show, the publisher communicated how impressed he was by Paul's arrangements, songs and guitar playing. "He said to me, 'Do you do any Disco?'" Surprised but not offended by the question, Paul responded: "No, but I'm great at emulating (styles), so if you play it to me, then I can do it." Kreiner recruited him into his Kreimers Music firm and production company. "For some reason, he just liked me and gave me a break," Paul would later say. "God was looking down on me and gave me a chance." Initially in partnership with Tom Cossie, Kreiner had cut simultaneous album deals with the MCA label and an independent RCA-affiliated imprint named Ocean Records. The next thing the 22-year-old guitar wizard knew, his college days had come to an end; instead of cramming medical texts, he was cutting demos and working A & R for Kreiner and Cossie's Disco-oriented MK Productions. "I was like a sponge for knowledge, and learned anything I could," Sabu told interviewer Brian Rademacher. "I would stay up all night, sweeping and cleaning the studio just to hear others (work), to learn new tricks, (just) anything." Within a very short time, Paul Sabu had developed the studio chops to produce artists on his own. His first act was a bubbly nightclub singer from Baltimore, Maryland named Debbie Jacobs.

A pretty Black girl with loads of singing talent, Debbie had a background in Gospel music and Jazz. Yet her honey-sweet alto voice wasn't immediately identifiable as Black. Paul rehearsed her until she could convincingly deliver a song like a Hard Rock belter. Then he took her into Larabee Sound Recorders with a girl group named Hot Fudge, and proceeded to cut the records that would establish her as a dance music diva. The first was "Undercover Lover." Its ribald lyrics about a woman taken aback by the size of a man's sexual equipment set the stage for Paul's randy songwriting style, but what grabbed everybody's attention was the glass-shattering hook. "Undercover Lover" kicked off with a reverb-drenched, foot-stomping intro that sized the old Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons/Diana Ross and The Supremes backbeat stomp up to mammoth proportions. This decibel-breaking debut single gave the Disco world notice that a brash new talent was in town. Paul wasn't dependent on gimmicks like foot stomps, though; he had the chops to pull Disco hits strictly on musical merit. The next Debbie Jacobs single released to club deejays was "Don't You Want My Love", a song whose music was as majestic as its lyrics were inane: Don't you want my love?/Don't you need, need, need my love?/Don't you want my love/From me? Dancers couldn't have cared less about the lyrics, though. They were completely swept up in the record's whirling pasodoble string arrangement, cha-cha rhythms and flamenco handclappings, not to mention the effect Debbie Jacobs' passionate, pleading vocals had on them. It was an instant classic that took the discotheques by storm and also cracked the R & B charts, topping out at #66. Debbie and Paul dropped one additional bombshell, an ode to masturbation called "Hot, Hot, Give It All You Got." This largely instrumental track was garnished with Paul's blistering rhythm guitar licks and thundercrack handclappings. The one-two-three punch of smash hits knocked Debbie Jacobs' Undercover Lover album into the #6 slot on Billboard's national Disco survey. It was June of 1979; the Paul Sabu chart blitz had begun, and it wouldn't let up for ten months.

Undercover LoverSister Power

Next, Paul turned his attention to another Black singer named Gwen Jonae. She had an electrified vibrato like Ronnie Spector, a rapid-fire delivery like Chuck Berry, and she could belt a song like Aretha Franklin. In the future, Gwen would cut records for Paul under her given name, but for her first outing, Paul paired her with Hot Fudge and created a studio girl group called Sister Power. The Sister Power album features a notorious photo of three underwear-clad women with electrodes attached to their thighs. Supercharged, sexy sounds, that's what the cover promised, and that's what the album delivered. The single was "Gimme Back My Love Affair," a deft combination of Disco and (of all things) Bluegrass music stylings; Paul played his guitar like Grandpa Jones flailing his banjo, while out front, Gwen carried on like a backwoods Pentacostal preacher. Now, listen, baby, she screamed, Gimme back my love affair! That's what I want/That's what I need! No small number of Disco dancers in southern states were no doubt inspired to start clogging Carolina style when they heard this lively number in August of 1979. The album included other souped-up goodies like the wah-wah guitar workout "Love Potion" and the cocksure "Sister Power" theme song, but unfortunately, "Gimme Back My Love Affair" was the only track that got substantial airplay. It was maybe a little too unusual for most club deejays to warm up to, because it rose no higher than #27 on the Disco charts.

It's unclear whether Marc Kreiner brought actress/singer Ann-Margret to Paul, or if he already knew her through his mother Marilyn's Hollywood contacts. Whatever the case, the Ravishing Redhead was looking to revive her long dormant recording career via a singles deal with Ocean Records. She was paired in the studio with Paul, and it turned out to be a match made in Disco/Rock Heaven. Saddled with Country tunes, light Jazz and syrupy orchestra Pop during her stint at RCA Victor fifteen years earlier, A-M was itching to Rock out. Paul loved her snarling, tigress-in-heat vocals, and he crafted an unforgettable song around them. "Love Rush" was a classically influenced merengue with a tornado of a string arrangement and a deadly bongo drum hook. It had discotheque patrons rushing to the dance floor. With such compelling music and lines like Every now and then/A man can make me bend, how could they resist? This song's lusty lyric is one of Paul Sabu's best, and it was tailor-made for a sex symbol like Ann-Margret. I'll have my one-to-one with you, promised Miss Ann right before the chorus, and she surely did have it with everyone who heard "Love Rush" in October of '79. By the time she closed out the song with a snarling coda of Touch me/Hold me/Make my love hush! dancers were completely spent; the tempo, the strings, the handclappings, the rhythm guitar . . . all together, it had an overwhelming effect. "Love Rush" got a huge response whenever and wherever Ann-Margret performed it in concert, and its popularity swept her into Billboard's Top Ten Disco playlist.

Paul Sabu closed out his stellar year 1979 with a double blast of unforgettable Disco/Rock fusion. First, he played lead guitar on and penned two songs for Take All Of Me, an album by Canadian chanteuse Barbara Law (the tunes, "Do It All Night" and "Shake Your Bait", would later turn up on the soundtrack of the 1982 movie Spring Fever). The title track, propelled by Paul's fiery flamenco licks, went Top Forty Disco. Then, he led Sabu (now a foursome featuring Rick Bozzo on bass, Dan Holmes on drums, and Steffen Presley on keyboards) through a rollicking bit of braggadocio titled "(I'm A) Rock And Rollin' Disco King." This funky Latin boogaloo strut was latticed with heavy metal chords courtesy of Paul's Stratocaster. "Take me to the discos!" he commanded halfway through the song, and deejays all over the world gleefully did his bidding once they saw how dancers reacted. Club patrons loved the cockiness and tongue-in-cheek humor of "Disco King"; ditto for "Loose Lucy," a bongo-infested rhumba tune concerning a sexually insatiable woman who reads books while men service her. They also loved Paul's thrashing guitar licks on the extended electronic rhumba workout "We're Gonna Rock," on which Steffen Presley also held forth with some great piano playing. The band's third album was released on Ocean Records under the title(what else?) Sabu. Its jet black sleeve with gold lettering has been coveted by Disco collectors ever since its initial release in December of '79. The Sabu album's broad acceptance among Disco lovers reflected how the music was evolving in the late '70s. Rock-tinged records like Donna Summer's "Bad Girls", Patrick Hernandez's "Born To Be Alive", The Three Degrees' "Jump The Gun" and Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" pointed the way to the dance music's future. Paul Sabu's fusion records were on the cusp of these edgy new sounds that were pushing traditional Disco off turntables as the '80s dawned.

paul sabu

"The Legend Of Paul Sabu" continues with Part Two.


Paul Sabu (Part Two)

Ann-Margret MCA

Red Light Rocker
The Legend Of Paul Sabu
Disco Music's Phil Spector
by Don Charles Hampton

Paul was a triple threat: He arranged and produced all the music for his acts, and wrote 99% of the songs. As mentioned earlier, song lyrics weren't his strong point, but the melodramatic melodies he crafted were consistently excellent, and what he lacked in verbal sophistication he certainly made up for in shock value! Larabee Sound in Los Angeles was his headquarters during these years, with Hollywood's Britannia Studios favored for overdubbing. All of Paul's biggest hits were mastered by Ed Schreyer at the old Whitney Studios in Glendale, California, where Annette Funicello cut her early Bubblegum records. Steve Pouliot, Rich Vandagriff and Eddy Ashworth were his session engineers, and extended Disco mixes were supervised by Rusty Garner. In later years, Paul would speak about not being pleased with their work, but to their credit, Pouliot, Garner and their assistants managed to give Sabu Disco records a good approximation of the "wall of sound" audio style popularized by Phil Spector. Violinist Davida Johnson led a six-piece string section (Paul called them "Davida's Gang") that was fattened up in the mixing booth. Trumpet player Dwight Mikkelsen served as concert master, and led a brass section nicknamed Hot Chops that included Doug Inman or Clay Lawrey on trombone, and the very talented Jeff Clayton alternating on sax and flute. Drummer Dan Holmes and percussionist Johnny Mandell collaborated on the tantalizingly tropical tambourine, conga drum, cymbal, bongo and cowbell overdubs. Paul's studio crew was rounded out by the aforementioned Sabu rhythm section and the sweet-voiced trio of Rock 'n' Roll sirens who clapped hands and poured "Hot Fudge" over all of his tracks. While their backing vocals were superb on uptempo numbers, Billie Barnum, Patty Henderson and Sarah Kane arguably did their best singing on ballads. Slow love songs like Ann-Margret's "For You", Sister Power's "Help Me Love Again," Debbie Jacobs' "All The Way" (released as a single to Rhythm and Blues radio stations) and Sabu's beautiful wedding march "You're Mine Forever" all benefit from their sparkling harmonies.

It was time for a new Debbie Jacobs single. Paul let Steffen Presley loose in the studio with his synthesizer, and the result was an infectious electronic rhumba that would've even had Robby The Robot bumping and grinding. After Debbie lay a cocky vocal on top of it, Marc Kreiner couldn't wait to get it pressed up as an MCA 12-inch single. Chicago deejays turned it into a breakout hit, and from there its popularity spread like wildfire in clubs across the country. "High On Your Love" (not to be confused with a Rick James song of the same title) became Debbie and Paul's biggest hit, topping the Disco charts in the Spring of 1980. Also burning up the dance floors was an electronic remix of "Hot, Hot, Give It All You Got"; Dan Holmes's sizzling cymbals and Rick Bozzo's churning bass lit a real fire under this track. In a daring move, Paul decided to downplay Disco on the High On Your Love album. "Lovin' Spree" was low-down Blues number; "Make It Love" was an experimental Funk track that anticipated Hip Hop grooves; "What Goes Up" was a slow, synthesizer-dominated cha-cha-chá; and "I Can Never Forget A Friend" was a Jazz-tinged ballad, arguably the best ballad Paul ever wrote. The odd mix worked, though, and Debbie's singing was excellent on every cut. High On Your Love was her second (and unfortunately, last) album to land on Billboard's best-selling albums list; an edit of the title track crossed over onto the Pop singles chart, rising as high as #70.

A tremendously campy but undeniably sexy samba called "Midnight Message" brought Ann-Margret back to the Disco charts in March of 1980, and led off her new album, released not on Ocean, but MCA Records. Whispered lyrics about churning bodies in the night probably convinced people to take the song seriously up until the point Paul played the chorus of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Bali H'ai" heavy metal-style during the instrumental break! This record was done strictly tongue-in-cheek, but Bozzo's serpentine bass lines combined with Holmes and Mandell's "jungle fever" percussion tracks combined to give it a wicked dance beat; that, and Hot Fudge's rhythmic panting was more than enough to take it up to #12. The Ann-Margret album has the snap and crackle most of her RCA Victor LPs lacked. Its spicy mix of jungle rhythms ("Midnight Message"), Latin Disco ("Love Rush"), orchestrated Heavy Metal ("What I Do To Men"), Elton John-styled arena Rock ("Never Gonna Let You Go") and lush tropical balladry ("For You") consistently places Miss Ann in exotic new musical settings. It deserved to chart as high or higher than Debbie Jacobs' albums, but somehow, it didn't. It sold a million copies worldwide, better than any other Ann-Margret album had, but international sales figures weren't enough to satisfy MCA Records executives. Disco labels, or labels like MCA with Disco divisions, were getting very nervous in 1980. The "Disco Sucks" mantra was growing louder, and musicians, particularly Rock musicians, had begun denouncing the genre en masse. Dance music radio formats were dropping right and left. Right around the time Paul wrapped production on Ann-Margret's LP, MK Productions made a decision about the next Sabu album. It would not be a Disco record.

Sabu band


Slated to be titled For Lovers Only, but ultimately (and confusingly) titled Sabu just like its predecessor, Paul's fourth LP featured a blown-up head shot of him taken by a Tiger Beat magazine staffer. The target audience wasn't Disco lovers, but teenage girls searching for the next Peter Frampton. The only problem was, Paul had built his fan base among Disco lovers. New wave Rock 'n' Roll had begun filtering into discotheques, but there was nothing on this album that sounded like the B-52s or Talking Heads. Both sides featured arena Rock tracks reminiscent of Eric Carmen and The Raspberries; to a dance music enthusiast, it had to sound like an uninspired throwback to the mid-'70s. That said, songs like "Rock Me Slowly," "Turn Back", "Shakin' Loose" and "For Lovers Only" have held up quite well over the years. However, they weren't what Sabu fans wanted to hear in the early summer of 1980.

Nevertheless, Sabu toured in support of the album, logging dates in Mexico and Canada as well as the United States. It was to no avail; the band's fourth record generated little in the way of stateside royalties. Once again, MCA executives weren't pleased. After appearing on "Midnight Special" and other TV variety shows, Sabu, Bozzo, Holmes and Presley decided to go their separate ways. Paul later admitted that his dance-oriented first album for MK Productions had sold far more copies "because that was the (Disco) era." The follow-up was released in a musical era that hadn't been defined yet; as a result, it got lost in the transition from Disco to New Wave. Its failure led to the severing of Paul's A & R ties with Marc Kreiner (although Kreiner would still handle his song publishing for a few more years). All of Paul's female vocal stars appear to have lost their record deals at this time. They'd remain loyal to him, though, and all three ladies would return to the renamed Dance Music charts under his auspices.

Ann-Margret was the first. With Rusty Garner as executive producer, Paul began cutting new tracks with her at New York City's Skyline Studios. Months passed without a release, but in October of 1981, she finally popped up on a Seattle, Washington-based label called First American Records with a new 12-inch single. Although a solid production, "Everybody Needs Somebody Sometimes" is the most derivative thing Paul ever cut; it sounds like an outtake from a Chic recording session produced by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards. It screams Chic, from the samba groove of Paul's guitar playing right down to the hesitating vocal style A-M uses. A Rusty Garner remix featuring booming samba drums made the song's extended version sound slightly more original, and that was the version which rose to #22 on the Dance charts. What a pity deejays failed to flip the single over; if they had, they'd have found "Hold Me, Squeeze Me," a rip-roaring pachanga number with crazy percussion, Spectorish reverb and the classic, symphonic Sabu sound. Ann-Margret sang it like a woman possessed. She clearly loved this side best of the two; accompanied by a troupe of dancers, she performed the living Hell out of it on a George Burns TV special. Burn's studio audience went wild. The more sedate "Everybody Needs Somebody" definitely would not have made as strong an impact.

Over a year passed before Paul Sabu turned up in San Francisco with a trio of new 12-inchers. The artists were himself (recording as a solo artist for the first time) and ex-Sister Power lead singer Gwen Jonae. Contracted with the independent Arial label and still operating under the auspices of Rusty Garner's Endless Music Productions, Paul opted for a spare, synthesizer-dominated sound for two releases. His single "Shotgun", cut primarily in New York City at Skyline, lacked the humorous tone that characterized his Sabu band recordings; instead, it shocked listeners with a daring homoerotic edge (daring, because it was the last thing you'd have expected from a confirmed skirt-chaser like Paul Sabu). The song's lyrics fairly dripped with phallic imagery. Paul's raspy voice seemed directed at Gay dancers as he described himself as "a hunter's delight" and "the best kind of game." Provacatively, he urged his male pursuers to "squeeze on your trigger", "pull on your gun" and "shoot me all night"! Despite the novelty aspect of a heterosexual singer flirting with homosexual men, "Shotgun" was otherwise a typically Sabu-esque, soulful strut of a performance, reminiscent of Gwen Jonae's work on "Gimme Back My Love Affair" and "Sister Power." Unleashed on a New Wave and Hip-Hop obsessed club scene in the Spring of 1983, this exciting record got little airplay and no chart action at all. Gwen Jonae's single fared better.

"Red Light Lover" was a spicier take on the subject matter exploited by Donna Summer in her 1979 smash "Bad Girls"; Gwen swaggeringly portrayed an unrepentant prostitute whose curbside business brings her big money. I was rakin' it in last week, she bragged. Givin' it out with peace of mind/Is an art that I've refined! Her alto voice rising to soprano heights for emphasis, she defiantly identified herself as a red light lover . . . undercover!, and expressed contempt for the rules of society. Deejays and dancers seemed game for a trip to electronic music's red light district, but the single stalled at #38 in Billboard. Undeterred, Paul took his sassy singer to Craig Morey and Leonard Cory, Jr's C & M label, distributed by San Francisco's Moby Dick Records. "Destiny," an inspirational tune that Paul may have intended as a theme song for the upcoming 1984 Olympics, was Gwen's hottest ticket yet. A guitar-and-synthesizer tour-de-force cut at San Fran's Automatt Studios, it gave her the chance to unleash the full power of her Gospel-trained voice; appropriately, the Gospel-singing Waters Sisters (Maxine and Julia) provided spirited vocal backing. Her razor-sharp vibrato effortlessly sliced through a wall of electronic sound and urged dancers to follow your dreams/To their full extremes . . . it's your destiny/to be Number One! The flipside of "Destiny" was a trip back to derivative Rodgers and Edwards territory, but the slow dance number "Heavy Breathin'" was redeemed by Paul's overheated lyrics, Joel Peskin's sleazy saxophone solo and Gwen's enthusiastically-delivered gasps and sighs. Paul's rhythm section at this time included Peskin, Jeff Stelle on bass, Dave Frazier on percussion, and brothers Mike and Bobby Sandstrom handling drum and keyboard duties, respectively. In a nod to the old days at Larabee Sound, "Heavy Breathin'" featured a full brass section conducted by Dwight Mikkelsen.

Yet, as superb a record as it was, "Destiny"/"Heavy Breathin'" only managed to creep one position higher on the Dance charts than "Red Light Lover" had upon its release in November of 1983. This would be Paul's last official writing and production work in the Disco genre, but with Debbie Jacobs, his biggest star, he'd take one final stab at dance music A & R three months later. Newly married, Debbie was now signed to the Personal label, and in January of 1984, her latest single was issued with a pink blurb plastered on the front: "Debbie Jacobs-Rock sings DOCTOR MUSIC, arranged and recorded by Paul Sabu and produced by Rusty Garner for Endless Music Productions." There were both good and bad things about this release. The good things included Debbie and Paul working together again in the studio, and Debbie's typically top-notch vocals. The bad things were the song, a forgettable remake of a 1977 Renée Harris club favorite; the fact that only Paul's skills as an arranger and engineer were tapped (he probably didn't play guitar on the track); and truly appalling soundmixes on all four versions appearing on the 12-inch single (Paul was the engineer, so he had only himself to blame). "Doctor Music" spent just four weeks on the Dance charts and struggled to reach #50. Paul Sabu's reign as Rock 'n' Roll's Disco King ended with a resounding thud instead of a bang.

Sabu Ocean LPHeartbreak

From that point on, Paul would only work dance music recording sessions as a sound engineer. His writing and producing skills would be saved for the hard Rock genre that was closest to his heart. He began devoting time to a five-woman Punk Rock band known as Precious Metal; the albums he produced for them at Preferred Sound Studios in 1985 didn't chart, but they did win West Coast cult status for the band. That same year, Paul wrote material and sang lead for a Motown Records AOR album project, released under the name Kidd Glove. That music also achieved cult status, but Paul had no role in the album's production and hated the experience. The only way he could get himself through the recording sessions was to simultaneously work on a new Sabu album. The first Sabu group had broken up, of course, so Paul recruited new musicians: Drummer Charles Esposito and keyboard player Danny Ellis joined Paul and original Sabu bassist Rick Bozzo at Preferred Sound to cut the tracks that became the band's Heartbreak album. Its higlights were a very commercial power ballad titled "Angeline" and a slashing guitar ode to sado-masochism called "Tuff Stuff (Why Do You Like It So Rough?)" Precious Metal member Mara Fox photographed the memorable album cover; it depicted a woman in fishnet stockings standing on the Hollywood Walk of Fame astride the star commemorating Paul's father, Selar Sabu Dastagir. "Heartbreak will always have a special place in my heart," he recently confessed. "I got to be more 'me'." European Rock fans responded positively to the real Paul Sabu as portrayed on Heartbreak. Released on the Heavy Metal America label, the LP sold well in Europe, setting the stage for a string of Sabu album releases outside the United States. In 1996, Paul issued a self-titled album that topped the Japanese charts.

Over the last quarter-century, Paul Sabu has sharpened his talents as a producer, session guitarist and songwriter. His name is a familiar one to music industry veterans, most of whom know little or nothing about his Disco productions. His songs are constantly being recorded for motion-picture soundtracks. Among the dozens of major Hollywood films that have featured Sabu songs are The Kindred (1987), Ghoulies II (1987), The Accused (which won a 1988 Best Actress Oscar for Jodie Foster), Meatballs IV (1992), and the Nicole Kidman vehicle To Die For (1995). Paul's music has also been heard on TV shows such as the "Perry Mason" movie series, Disney's new "Mickey Mouse Club" series, "WKRP In Cincinnati", "Baywatch", "Beverly Hills 90210" and "Sex And The City." He's been blessed to work in the studio with top Pop, Rock and Dance stars like Madonna, Kiss, David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Sheena Easton, Robbie Nevil, Prince, Corey Hart and John Waite. He proudly takes credit for discovering Country superstar Shania Twain, for whom he wrote and produced song demos prior to her success in Nashville. Still partial to female acts, he now produces Christian Rock for his wife, singer Teri Tims, and he's expressed a desire to work with Tina Turner. Hopefully, he'll get the chance. Today, this distinguished Hollywood native lives the good life in Hawaii with his family. His latest album, Strange Messiah, is available as a download from cdbaby.com.

Sadly, Paul Sabu recently revealed that he no longer listens to his work from the Disco era; could it be that he's moved so deeply into the world of Heavy Metal Rock that he's internalized that genre's snobbery toward dance music? If so, that's unfortunate, but it doesn't negate the fact that the innovative spirit he brought to Disco left us with a collection of marvelous recordings. Maybe most Hard Rock fans can't appreciate a Top Ten dance single, but millions of hardcore Disco devotees can, and as any top deejay will tell you, their tastes are extremely finicky. They won't patronize a club that plays substandard releases; they only dance to the best music. Paul Sabu only gave them the best music, and they're still dancing to Sabu Disco nearly 30 years later! You can tell by his rock-solid melodies, his movie-soundtrack calibre arrangements and his superb guitar-playing on classic sides like "Love Rush," "High On Your Love", "Destiny", "Shotgun", "Hold Me, Squeeze Me," "Don't You Want My Love", "You're Mine Forever" and "Rock And Rollin' Disco King" that he put all he had and more into making great Disco records.

"I do put my heart and soul into (my work)," Paul has said. "Maybe the technology got better, but I wouldn't make (my old albums) any different." Just as he refuses to identify as a Disco artist, he also shies away from calling himself a record producer. "I am a guitar player that makes records," he'll tell you firmly. "I know most people call me the producer, but I consider myself always a guitar player that writes songs. I eat, sleep, and breathe music, and it's . . . the thing I love." Alas, he may no longer love the classic sides he produced for Ann-Margret, Gwen Jonae, Debbie Jacobs and the original Sabu band, but there are plenty of us who are more than willing to do it for him!

Special thanks to Rick Bozzo and Brian Rademacher.
Dedicated to the memory of Selar Sabu Dastagir (1924-1963)

Thief Of Bagdad Sabu


02 April 2007

Duane Eddy (Part One)

Duane1958

Rebel Rouser
Duane Eddy and The Rebels at Jamie Records
by Don Charles Hampton

Nowadays, it's extremely rare to tune in a contemporary Pop radio station and hear an instrumental hit. Today's Country, Rock and R & B/Hip Hop releases all feature vocals with instrumental accompaniment. Only stations that cater to fans of Adult-Contemporary music, Classical music and/or Jazz play instrumental recordings on a regular basis, and those formats represent a tiny segment of the commercial music industry. True, there are still a significant number of instrumentalists active in the music business, and some of them are quite successful (Yanni and André Rieu come to mind). However, they're hardly the norm, and the amount of airplay their records get is neglible.

Such was not always the case. Instrumentals have been a staple of popular song since the days of sheet music and pianos in the family parlor. The advent of the Swing Era in 1935, with featured band singers that commanded the public's attention, began the slow but gradual progression toward vocalist dominance. By the early 1950s, the big bands had almost died out, and vocal stars like Frank Sinatra, Dinah Shore, Patti Page, Doris Day, Teresa Brewer, Perry Como and Nat "King" Cole had taken over the hit parade. Rock 'n' Roll debuted in the mid-'50s as a vocal genre like none before it, with wild and uninhibited singing by Bill Haley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and Elvis Presley setting the pace. However, the 1950s was a culturally conservative time in America. Back then, a lot of people considered Rock vocalists vulgar, coarse and severely lacking in musical training (which many were). In The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock 'n' Roll, historian Greg Shaw argues that conservative outrage over the perceived excesses of Rock singing opened the door for instrumental Rock 'n' Roll groups. "Undiluted Rockabilly (vocals) had little commercial appeal," he reminds us. What's more, by 1958, "the rockabilly style of singing was becoming dated, while the new teen ballad style depended on songs and productions crafted in the big studios of New York and Philadelphia." Record companies were signing up Rock balladeers by the dozen, while hundreds of would-be Elvises were left languishing on the vine. Rock bands faced a dilemma: Fronted by singers, they'd now be forced to play watered-down music they and most of their fans didn't care for. "These bands just wanted to rock," Shaw writes, "and they played for audiences that just wanted to drink and dance. (So) why not dispense with the singer altogether?"

That's exactly what many regional bands did. A few big city studio musicians took notice of the trend, and soon, raw Rock devotees had their choice of instrumental hitmakers to choose from. The first was R & B keyboardist Bill Doggett, whose 1956 recording of "Honky Tonk" was Rock's first instrumental million-seller. In rapid succession came Dave "Baby" Cortez" playing his "Happy Organ," Link Wray itching for a "Rumble," Preston Epps hawking his "Bongo Rock," Sandy Nelson holding forth with his "Teen Beat," The Rock-A-Teens peddling their crazed "Woo-Hoo" rhythm, Santo and Johnny inducing people to "Sleep Walk" with bluesy steel guitar chords, Bill Justis and Ernie Freeman acting "Raunchy" on separate record labels, and The Champs throwing back shots of "Tequila" (not necessarily in that order). A shy, Country music-loving guitar prodigy from Phoenix, Arizona quicky rose to the top of the heap. His name was Duane Eddy.

Twangy Redux

Duane was actually born and raised in Corning, New York, but he and his family relocated to Arizona when he was thirteen. In Coolidge, Duane soaked in local Country music influences, becoming an ardent fan of Nashville guitar wizards like Hank Snow, Merle Travis and Chet Atkins. One of his favorite haunts was Country radio station KCKY. In those days when access to radio personnel wasn't as restricted as it is now, the boy was known to beg deejays for copies of old Country singles. One of the more accomodating jocks, Lee Hazlewood, later recalled: "I stole sufficient records from our files . . . for us to become fast friends." That friendship blossomed after Hazlewood, an aspiring record producer, learned of Duane's musical prowess. Since the age of five, Duane had been fascinated by string instruments. He'd mastered acoustic guitar by his teens, and could also acquit himself capably on the banjo, the twelve-string bass, and the Hawaiian pedal steel guitar. In 1955, Hazlewood relocated to Phoenix, where he began producing record dates for local artists. Duane followed him there after graduating from high school, and began working as a session musician. One thing led to another, and Hazlewood found himself writing and producing Duane's first single, "Soda Fountain Girl", released in late 1956 or early '57. Ironically, it was a vocal record, a duet performance with Jimmy Delbridge that was billed as "Jimmy and Duane." Featuring instrumental accompaniment by a Country outfit called The Western Melody Boys, it was pressed on Hazlewood's short-lived Eb X. Preston Presents label. The fledgling label, Jimmy Delbridge, the hillbilly backing musicians, and Duane's budding singing career all fell by the wayside in short order. Yet fame and fortune was in the cards for Duane and the new cherry-red Gretsch guitar he'd begun toting to Phoenix session dates.

By late 1957, Duane was co-writing songs with Lee Hazlewood and leading a studio band he called The Rebels. It featured Buddy Wheeler on bass, Bob Taylor on drums, Donnie Owens on rhythm guitar, and a married couple, Al and Corky Casey, playing piano and rhythm guitar, respectively. At Hazlewood's urging, Duane began to play melody almost exclusively on his guitar's bass strings. This emphasis on the lower register gave The Rebels a most unusual sound. Hazlewood and his new partner, music publisher Lester Sill, thought it sounded commercial enough to record. Picking up on the Latin influences that were becoming rife in Rock music, guitarist and producer collaborated on a driving Rock 'n' Roll cha-cha-chá with a recurring clarion-like guitar figure. They titled it "Moovin' And Groovin." Sill and Hazlewood took The Rebels into Phoenix, Arizona's only recording facility, Ramco Audio, and cut the tune. "Ramco was a hovel," wrote Mark Ribowsky in his 1989 book He's A Rebel. "(It allowed for) no more than one track of recording tape, but Hazlewood worked wonders with echo and tape delay and reverb." Pop records in the 1950s tended to have reverb thicker than molasses; using echo to make a track sound bigger was hardly an innovation. However, Lee Hazlewood craved a distinctive echo sound. He got it by hauling an old, battered and abandoned water tank into the parking lot behind Ramco. He had engineer Jack Miller attach a microphone to the tank, pipe the sound of The Rebels' recording session inside it, and tape the result. This metallic, submerged submarine effect would become the trademark of Duane Eddy records.

After Lester Sill took the track to Hollywood's Gold Star Studios and overdubbed Plas Johnson playing a feverish sax solo, he started shopping it around to various labels. Most A & R men found the disc too off-the-wall for their tastes. Dot Records CEO Randy Wood reportedly thought it sounded "like someone trying to string telephone wire across the Grand Canyon!" Eventually, though, Harry Finfer of Philadelphia's Jamie Records decided to take a chance on it. "Moovin' And Groovin'" broke for a local hit straight out of the box, and its weird, watery ambiance soon caught the attention of national deejays. In the end, it rose no higher than #72 on Billboard's Pop chart, which was a major disappointment for all concerned. Momentum had been established, though, and Sill-Hazlewood productions had no intention of letting it slip away.

For Duane Eddy and The Rebels' next release on Jamie, Lee Hazlewood worked his water tank reverb technique to maximum effect. The Rebels sounded like they were playing from the bowels of an urban sewer system! The record's goose-stepping rhythm was funky like the sewer, too. Gil Bernal replaced Plas Johnson as sax player this time, and to add more body to the track, Sill and Hazlewood hired a local doo-wop group called The Sharps. The producers urged Al Frazier, Sonny Harris, Carl White and Rocky Wilson to clap hands and whoop it up while Bernal's sax wailed away. (Duane would return the favor by playing lead guitar on the group's Jamie single "Have Love, Will Travel.") The unfettered energy of this new platter was impossible to ignore, but Eddy and Hazlewood wanted to hedge their bet. Deciding that their song title needed to target a specific market, they called the new single "Rebel Rouser." With the loaded Civil War term "rebel" printed on the label twice, they hoped the tune would get lots of airplay south of the Mason-Dixon line. The gimmick worked; it got plenty of southern exposure, and from Dixieland to Hollywood and back across the Midwest to New England, "Rebel Rouser" broke for a solid smash. It took fourteen weeks, but the record firmly lodged itself in Billboard's Top Ten Pop and Rhythm and Blues listings.

Especially For YouTwang's The Thang

Duane and the members of his band were elated; plans for a promotional tour were initiated. However, a single appearance on television would prove to be more valuable than a fortnight of tour dates. The stockholders of Jamie Records included a certain TV host named Dick Clark. As soon as he became aware of "Rebel Rouser," Clark was on the phone to Sill and Hazlewood, asking to book Duane on his popular "American Bandstand" dance music program. "Rebel Rouser" hadn't been issued in a picture sleeve, so the millions of teenage girls who comprised the show's core audience didn't know what to expect when Clark introduced the 20-year-old guitarist on July 24, 1958; was Duane Eddy old, like Bill Haley? Tubby, like Fats Domino? Scary, like "Screamin" Jay Hawkins? Stiff, like Pat Boone? They couldn't have been more delighted when out from behind the curtains walked a tall dreamboat with broad shoulders, wavy dark hair, a dazzling Colgate smile, bee-stung lips and seductive eyes. When his stammered answers to Clark's interview questions made it obvious that he was bashful, girls en masse fell in love with him. Duane Eddy was a hunk! Even better, he was a shy hunk, the kind of Rock 'n' Roll musician you could feel safe bringing home to Mama. Immediately following his charmer of a "Bandstand" appearance, "Rebel Rouser" passed the one million mark in sales.

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Meanwhile, a problem had arisen; Duane learned that he wouldn't be able to take his studio cats on tour. Donnie Owens quit the group to embark on a solo career (Duane would play guitar on his Jamie hit "Need You" in late 1958), and the Caseys made it known that they didn't want to go out on the road. Duane drove to Los Angeles and quickly recruited a Rebels touring group. Mike Bermani took Bob Taylor's place behind the drum kit, "Teenage" Steve Douglas filled in for sax soloists Plas Johnson and Gil Bernal, and Ike Clanton, older brother of teen idol Jimmy Clanton, took over bass duties from Buddy Wheeler. Later recruits included brass player Jim Horn, drummer Jimmy Troxel and pianist Larry Knectel. All of them would eventually play on Duane's studio sessions, although Lee Hazlewood felt they weren't as talented as his Phoenix musicians. Within a few years, he'd be proven wrong, because most of these new Rebels developed into top session musicians. They would later log dates with Johnny Rivers, The Beach Boys, The Mamas and The Papas, The Fifth Dimension, Phil Spector's artist roster, and many, many other West Coast stars. They were also a big hit on tour, their surefooted Blues chops winning over even tough-to-please audiences like those at Harlem's Apollo Theatre. By early 1959, Duane Eddy and The Rebels were appearing at New York's Brooklyn Fox theatre on a bill with Fats Domino, Jackie Wilson and Bobby Darin, and headlining Dick Clark's "Rock 'n' Roll at The Hollywood Bowl" extravaganza.

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"Rebel Rouser" continues with Part Two.

01 April 2007

Duane Eddy (Part Two)

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Rebel Rouser
Duane Eddy and The Rebels at Jamie Records
by Don Charles Hampton
By the time Sill and Hazlewood got around to putting together a debut album for Duane, he'd racked up three more Top Twenty Pop hits, two of which also charted Top Thirty R & B: Al Casey's "Ramrod," a torrid cha-cha rocker that would've done Ritchie Valens proud; "Cannonball", a rowdy rhumba number, and "The Lonely One", a comparatively tame Rock 'n' Roll tango featuring harmonies by The Everett Freeman Singers. Also popular was a remake of Spade Cooley's 1946 Country hit "Detour", issued on the flipside of the latter single. The inclusion of these songs on Have Twangy Guitar, Will Travel made it the first megahit album of the Rock era upon its release in January of 1959; during a time when few LPs sold in large quantities, Twangy Guitar peaked at #5 on Billboard's album listings and stayed on the charts for a remarkable 82 weeks! Significantly, it was also one of the first Rock albums to be completely arranged and largely composed by the artist. What's more, Duane's debut may have been the first Rock LP recorded (partially) in stereophonic sound; The Rebels traveled to Gold Star Studios, where engineer Stan Ross cut half the tunes on multitrack equipment.

For his female fans, the big news wasn't what was inside the album, but what was on the outside. The original cover featured a soft-focus shot of Duane sitting atop his guitar case. Dressed in rockabilly "cat clothes" (skinny pants, plaid sports jacket, bolo tie and cherry-red socks), his heavy-lidded brown eyes gazed dreamily off into the distance. It's arguably the sexiest sleeve photo of a male artist you can find from Rock's early years. For some unfathomable reason, Jamie withdrew it and substituted a stiff shot of Duane in formal wear. Fortunately, the label's art directors would keep him in casual clothes for the majority of his LP, EP and single picture sleeve shots. Those strikingly attractive laminated covers (reproduced here) probably had more than a little to do with the high chart placings Duane's subsequent Jamie albums achieved; except for the best-of compilation $1,000,000.00 Worth Of Twang, none of them contained Duane Eddy hits (at least, none that were issued at the time the LPs hit the market). Of course, the sound of his now-famous "twangy" guitar licks was undoubtedly a factor, too.

Have Twangy

By the turn of the decade, Duane Eddy's hit parade had expanded to include an additional pair of Top Ten Pop and Top Twenty R & B platters: The Country-flavored "Forty Miles Of Bad Road", and "Because They're Young," an orchestral theme recorded for the Columbia picture Because They're Young (Duane made his debut as an actor in this flick, appearing alongside Tuesday Weld and Dick Clark). The film soundtrack also featured "Shazam!", a square dance-friendly stomper that deserved better than the #45 slot it stalled at on the Pop charts. The Rebels' Top Forty hits included "Bonnie Came Back," a rockin' redux of the Scottish air "My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean", a snarling Rock-A-Tango called "Yep!" that showcased The Sharps' rebel yells to good advantage, and "Some Kinda Earthquake," a rug cutter of a two-step number which, at 1:17, remains the shortest single ever to become a best-selling record.

That Duane had become America's most popular Rock instrumentalist was not in doubt; he was winning Top Instrumental Artist awards from Photoplay and Cashbox magazines, and topping England's New Musical Express poll. "Rebel Rouser," "Cannonball", "Yep!", "Forty Miles Of Bad Road," "Some Kinda Earthquake", "Bonnie Came Back", "Because They're Young" and "Shazam!" were all major hits in the United Kingdom, and The Rebels caused a sensation when they toured Great Britain in April of 1960. Returning to Hollywood for a second movie role, Duane played the role of a calvary soldier in the M-G-M historical drama Thunder Of Drums. As if to cap off his success (much to his female fans' chagrin), Duane married his sweetheart, session singer Miriam Johnson, in August of 1961. The same year, he produced a Jamie single for her, a cover of the Country oldie "Lonesome Road."

Out of fifteen chart singles, Duane had co-written thirteen. He'd arranged every one. He'd also crafted excellent Bluegrass arrangements for Songs Of Our Heritage, an album of traditional Folk melodies on which he played banjo and classical guitar. By now, he was fully capable of taking a more active hand in the production of his records. All too soon, it became necessary for him to do so. He had a major falling-out with Lester Sill and Lee Hazlewood in December of 1960; the details have never been clear, but whatever the reason, it led him to dissolve his business partnership with them. Immediately following the belated release of Duane's 1959 recording of Henry Mancini's "Peter Gunn" theme, he took over the production reigns. Having already set precedents as a songwriter and arranger, the guitarist again blazed a trail by becoming one of Rock's first self-produced artists. He was not, however, happy about this turn of events. The increased workload upped his already considerable stress level and severely limited his personal time with Miriam. "Back then, it was impossible being both artist and producer," he'd later say.

Duane abandoned Phoenix and Hollywood audio facilities to establish a new recording base at Columbia Studios in Nashville. The Jordanaires, Elvis Presley's background group, and The Anita Kerr Singers provided lush vocal backing on Girls, Girls, Girls, a theme album he produced with his female fan base in mind. His production style had a lighter touch and was less echo-laden than Lee Hazlewood's, and unfortunately, record buyers seemed to find it less appealing. Duane only managed to pull a pair of Top Forty singles out of his hat: A version of "Pepe", the theme from a Columbia Pictures musical comedy set in México, and a remake of the 1859 Confederate anthem "Dixie." None of the others, not the luau-flavored "Gidget Goes Hawaiian," not the breezy swinger "Drivin' Home," not even the excellent habanera ballad "Ring Of Fire" (not to be confused with the June Carter/Johnny Cash tune) generated much more than regional interest.

Songs Of Our HeritageSixteen Greatest Hits

The music industry's payola scandal of 1960-61, in which Dick Clark was implicated, led to a massive reorganization of Jamie Records. Duane was freed from his contract, and he signed a lucrative five-year deal with the RCA Victor label. Meanwhile, Lester Sill had split from Lee Hazlewood to partner with a hot new producer, Phil Spector. (Spector had actually sat in on a few Duane Eddy sessions at Ramco Audio.) With financial backing from Jamie's Harry Finfer, Sill and Spector founded a new independent company, Philles Records. Had Duane chosen to continue his business relationship with Sill, the legendary Philles catalog would undoubtedly include instrumental hits by him. As it happened, he didn't fare too badly at RCA. Reconciled and reunited in the studio with Lee Hazlewood, Duane disbanded The Rebels and began recording in Hollywood with top sessionmen (some of whom, of course, were former Rebels). He scored a trio of Top Forty hits between the Spring of 1962 and Winter of the following year; the best-remembered of these are "Boss Guitar," "Lonely Boy, Lonely Guitar" and "Dance With The Guitar Man," hook-filled Surf music sides featuring vocal contributions by Darlene Love and The Blossoms. More significantly, he placed five RCA albums on the Billboard charts, matching his hit LP tally for Jamie Records.

As the '60s progressed, Duane branched out further into acting, becoming a regular on the TV western "Have Gun, Will Travel" and appearing in the movies Wild Westerner, Kona Coast and The Savage Seven. He spent a considerable amount of time touring the United Kingdom, where his fan base remained solid. Unfortunately, the mid-'60s influx of UK acts into America's music mix shifted the industry's focus forcefully back to vocal groups, and this brought the curtain down on Rock 'n' Roll's instrumental heyday. Radio began to shun Duane's twangy riffs, and successive new releases on Colpix, Reprise and Congress Records failed to crack the national surveys. "The Duane Eddy sound was becoming more dated than ever with the arrival of 'acid Rock,'" Greg Shaw later wrote, "and his refusal to bend with the trends left him little commercial recourse. His playing had become considerably more sophisticated . . . but the genre he was working in just wasn't selling, at least not to the new generation of 'turned-on' teenagers." As if his career slide wasn't bad enough, Miriam Johnson divorced Duane in 1968 and moved to Nashville. Reviving her singing career under the name Jessi Colter, she'd go on to marry Country superstar Waylon Jennings and help him spearhead Nashville's "Outlaw" movement.

However, Duane Eddy's star hadn't burned out just yet. Many European Rock musicians had been strongly influenced by his Jamie Records singles, and British fans in particular hailed him as a Rock 'n' Roll pioneer as well as a herald of the '60s Surf music sound. The Brits returned Duane to the New Musical Express charts in 1975, sending a nostalgic Tony Macaulay production called "Play Me Like You Play Your Guitar." into the BBC's Top Ten. Two years later, Nashville beckoned; Duane was reunited in the studio with ex-wife Jessi Colter on Your Are My Sunshine, an album for Elektra Records' Country music division. Duane's second wife Deed Abbate, Kin Vassy, Willie Nelson, Jessi's husband Waylon Jennings, and Jessi herself contributed vocal support . . . talk about a family affair! The title track became a modest Country best-seller, which no doubt pleased Duane no end. In 1986, he returned to England to work with Technopop trio Art of Noise; his signature "twang thang" helped turn their remake of "Peter Gunn" into an international smash. The last American Duane Eddy hit to date, his Art of Noise collaboration shot to #2 on the Disco/Dance charts. In the almost three decades since "Rebel Rouser" blared from car radios, the nature of dance music had changed radically; yet, somehow Duane Eddy's distinctive sound still had the power to propel dancers out on the floor.

DuaneToday


In February 1994, the man whose releases found favor in Disco, Rock, R & B, Country, Pop and Adult-Contemporary markets was honored with induction into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. It's not hard to imagine what he was thinking as he mounted the stage with fellow honorees Elton John and Rod Stewart: What a long trip it had been from Phoenix, Arizona to Cleveland, Ohio, with detours in Nashville and London! However, along the way he'd had the pleasure of meeting guitar idols like Buck Owens, Les Paul and Chet Atkins, performing on stage with R & B legends like Jackie Wilson, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and Clyde McPhatter, and collaborating in the studio with great instrumentalists like Ry Cooder, George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Electric Light Orchestra's Jeff Lynne, all of whom were inspired by his early records. In his shy, easygoing way, Duane would probably say that, despite occasional setbacks, every mile of the journey had been worth it.

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Duane Eddy's Jamie albums have been digitally remastered and reissued on CD by Jamie/Guyden records. Buy them at http://amazon.com/