Cool Stuff

  • MISS RHYTHM, Ruth Brown, singer of torchy ballads) had never sang an up tempo song before they handed her a rockin Rudy Toombs’ song, Teardrops From My Eyes. It went right to #1 in 1950 and Ruth Brown began to earn her nickname and her salary.
  • MILLS BROS were remarkable for their longevity and their creativity.  And they really were 4 brothers. When one of the brothers died in 1936 after a European trip the father took his place until 1957. They recorded 2000 songs. Sold 50m records. And for most of their career their only...
  • Every now and then it’s important to exhume a name or two. CHUCK MILLER is one of those forgotten 50s boogie piano players with a touch of Bill Haley rock and a Tennessee Ernie voice. Check out House of Blue Lights and Down The Road Apiece.
  • MIDNIGHTERS were originally a Detroit high school group called the Royals. Levi Stubbs and Jackie Wilson sang with them. In 1953 a Ford assembly line worker named Hank Ballard joined them and the lyrics soon got down and funky. And sales got hot.
  • It was a group of Detroit female teenagers, THE MARVELETTES, who gave Barry Gordy’s Motown their first #1 girl-group single with Please Mr. Postman. The first male group to deliver a #1 hit for Motown was The Temptations, My Girl.
  • MARTHA & THE VANDELLAS was started by Motown secretary and backup singer, Martha Reeves. Vandellas sang backup on several Marvin Gaye hits. Martha went on to be a Detroit councilwoman. She and Chicago alderman Jerry Butler should have run for President and VP.
  • MARY WELLS came into this world in 1943. She was first to record on Motown label.  And was first to give the label a #1 R&B hit in 1964, My Guy written by Smokey Robinson.
  • MAMA HE TREATS YOUR DAUGHTER MEAN was a smash 1953 hit by Ruth Brown. Her backing band was directed by Ray Charles. Yes, that Ray Charles.
  • The MAGNIFICENT MEN, an all white septet, were such a hit at the Apollo theater, James Brown joined them on stage for a 45 minute set.
  • LOUIS JORDAN was the “King of the jukebox” from 1942-1950. And the top black recording artist in total number of weeks at #1 in the history of music. Chuck Berry said, “The music was here long before Louis Jordan, but to my recollection Louis Jordan was the first one I heard...