Saturday, December 17, 2011


National stars and local bands also frequented Liverpool's 320 Club (later known as Vinals 320 Club) highlighted by an appearance by Frankie Avalon. The 320 Club became the birthplace of the Cortland- Ithaca sound. From Cortland- Ronnie Dio and the Redcaps (later the Prophets) and Don Barber and The Dukes. From Ithaca- Bobby Comstock and the Counts & "Little Bernie" and the Cavaliers. They all had local records which would have a significant impact on the Syracuse music scene. These vocal oriented bands brought a new professional sound to local music. Dio's "An Angel is Missing", Barber's "I'll Be Blue", "Little Bernie's" "The Waddle" and Comstock's national hits "Tennessee Waltz" & "Let's Stomp" all shared a spot on both WNDR and WOLF's Top 40 Surveys for many weeks.

Bobby Comstock's name was not new to the Central New York recording scene. With the national success of his hit song "Tennessee Waltz" on Blaze Records, Comstock landed a week on Alan Freed's daily television show and then joined Freed's 5th Anniversary Stage Show at the Brooklyn Fox Theater in September 1959. The shows lineup included such stars as Jackie Wilson, Lloyd Price, Jimmy Clanton, Dion & The Belmonts, Bo Diddley, The Crests, The Skyliners, Bobby Lewis, Jo Ann Campbell, The Mystics, Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks, Johnny Restivo, Johnny October, The Tempos, Valerie Carr and a young Bobby Comstock.

Bobby Comstock continued hitting the record charts with Bony Moronie (Jubilee), Jambalaya b/w Let's Talk It Over (Atlantic Records), The Wayward Wind, Your Big Brown Eyes (with Dio), The Garden of Eden (Festival), I Can't Help Myself,  and finally the doublesided Lawn Records hit- Let's Stomp b/w I Want To Do It.

Ronnie Dio and The Red Caps / Prophets (managed by Jim Pantas) countered with Lover, Ooh Poo Pah Doo (Atlantic Records), An Angel is Missing (Seneca), Gonna Make It Alone (Lawn), Mr. Misery (Swan), Love Potion #9 (Valex) and the Jove album "Dio At Dominos". Ronnie also found time to put a bass line on The Angels national hit "My Boyfriends Back" and place backing vocals on Bobby Comstock's recordings  'Let's Talk It Over",  "Run My Heart" and "I Can't Help Myself'".

Other national releases came from Jennie Lee Lambert "First Summer of Our Love" (Musicor), Jimmy Cavallo "Fanny Brown" (Darcy) and Billy Kidd and the Madisons "First Time" (Madison). In my personal opinion  all were great songs that shared good regional but not the national success they deserved

Nationally, pop music was in trouble and needed something to pull it out again. And as it happened, there wasn't anything genuine available, so hyped it had to be, and hyped it was. The answer was "The Twist". So Chubby Checker the second time around had a million seller. The New York society described the dance was cute and started hanging out at the Manhattan's Peppermint Lounge (just off Times Square) and listened to Joey Dee and the Starlighters as they played the twist all night, every night.

To the dancers, the Twist seemed fun. To industry, it was a new fad, the biggest since the Hula-Hoop. Very quickly there were Chubby Checker T-Shirts, skirts, jeans, dolls, raincoats and follow up with twist records. "Let's Twist Again" (like we did last summer), "Slow Twistin" and lots more. The Twists appeal had nothing to do with the music, but its cuteness allowed kids to stand up in public and shake in way they had never been allowed before. The Twist quickly led to other dances. the Hully Gully, The Fly, the Popeye, the Monkey, the Jerk, the Waddle, the Mashed Potato, the Slop, the Frug and many more. This was the period of the dance crazes. Dancing was the focus and along with radio (that was making a surprise comeback) made up the hard center of the early sixties for the American teen.

Television also played a tremendous part in the dance craze. Dick Clark's "American Bandstand" and Saturday nights "Beechnut Show" continued to feed the teens with one new dance step after another. Clark's show aired out of Philadelphia. previewed many new dances associated with songs recorded on Philadelphia Cameo Record label as well as local artist and groups within the city's nucleus. Bobby Rydell "The Fish", the Dovells- "Bristol Stomp", Dee Dee Sharpe- "Mashed Potato Time", the Orlons- "The Watusi", Major Lance "Monkey Time" along with Chubby Checker's "Limbo Rock", "Pony Time", "The Hucklebuck". As a bonus you could catch  television and movie teen idols- Fabian. Frankie Avalon, Connie Francis and Bobby Darin all appeared on American Bandstand regularly.

Dick Clark now ventured into others avenues of entertainment field. In 1959, he put together his first live concert package headlined by Paul Anka & Annette. The "Caravan of Stars" consisted of many top national recording artist all performing two or three of their hits and all backed by the same band or orchestra. Dick Clark traveled with these shows as much as he could  serving as mc.. He sold these packages to local promoters for about $2,500 a night plus a percentage of the gate. Clark's first Syracuse show was held at the New York State Fair Coliseum and ticket were priced at $2.00. The "Caravan of Stars" became extremely popular as teens could see as many as ten different stars performing their hits for one low price. On one such tour, Dick Clark opened his show with Lawn Recording artist "The Original Soundtracks" better known in Syracuse as the legendary "Sam and The Twisters".

No comments:

Post a Comment