DJ Sue

DJ Sue
Welcome to my blog. I’m a DJ in Second Life and I find myself discussing the music I’m playing with many of those in attendance at my shows. Unfortunately, when I am busy DJing, I can’t participate and discuss the music as fully as I would like. I’m hoping this blog can help change that. Look here before my set to see if I might be playing something interesting today or maybe after to see if discussion on a topic might continue. You are invited to join in the conversation and leave comments.

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Middle of the Road

The most famous band you’ve never heard of (if you live in the United States)…

It was the summer of 1979 and I remember I was on the air filling in on a lazy Saturday afternoon at the radio station.  After the station ID tape finished playing and I flipped the switch on the board to turn on my microphone.  The red light over my head shined brightly, indicating that my voice would be going out to our listeners.

“You are listening to [call sign] FM and this is [Sue Mowadeng].  I’m opening up the request line at 555-7273.  If there is something you want to hear, give me a call.”

I had already flipped the switch starting the turntable and Robin Zander of Cheap Trick kicked in as I stopped talking with, “I want you to want me!”

It didn’t take long for the light on the phone to flash.  The ringer had been disabled on the extension in the control booth for obvious reasons.  I answered it and on the other end was a woman with what I thought might be a Spanish accent.  She told me that she loved our station and the music that we played but she hadn’t heard one of her favorite songs since she had moved there.  She wanted me to play Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep by the Middle of the Road.  I had never heard of this song or this artist but I was confident that if it was a fan’s favorite that we had in back in the music room.  I promised to play the cut.

While Cheap Trick played, I quickly checked the music room and found no sign of anything by the Middle of the Road.  DJ’s normally live for these opportunities to brighten someone’s day.  We feel the pain when we can’t fill a request and must disappoint someone.  Furthermore, I didn’t know who she was so I couldn’t call her back, and there were guidelines on how we were to conduct ourselves on the air and we were never to apologize for glitches, not having a song, etc.  I felt badly for the poor woman out there somewhere listening and waiting for me to play her song.  I broke in a few songs later and said something similar to this…

“Here at [call sign] FM, we play all facets of rock and roll, from oldies to classics, to the latest releases and your favorites, so there is no middle of the road here, you get it all.”

I hoped that the listener caught on to my cryptic phrasing.  So, who were these guys?

I asked my relief and he had never heard of them.  None of my fellow DJ’s knew who the Middle of the Road was.  I told the story to our Music Director and he was intrigued.  He went through all of his sources and found one album on the RCA label, the Best of the Middle of the Road, but it was not currently distributed in the United States.  At least I knew they existed and I wasn’t the brunt of some practical joke but I was now very intrigued.

Remember, back at this time there was no internet and one couldn’t just Google “Middle of the Road” and find their songs on YouTube.  Months later, talking to friend from Latin America, I got more of the story.  Apparently they were really big all over the world except in the United States.  My friend described them as “international sensations.”  They were like ABBA before there was ABBA.  The fact that I had never heard of them, made them forbidden fruit and I wanted them even more. 

Click to enlarge

 It was maybe a year later that I located a copy of the Best of the Middle of the Road and ordered it from West Germany.  I remember unwrapping it when it came and putting the record on my turntable.  I put the needle down on the first song on the first side and finally heard the request of that listener from that day a year before, Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep.  I finally understood what my friend meant by, “ABBA before there was ABBA.”

Fact: Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep by the Middle of the Road remains one the top 30 all-time selling singles in the world, selling over 10 million physical copies.

This is proof that four very talented young Scottish musicians could be famous all over the world, yet remain unknown in the United States of America.

This puts them on a list with the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Bing Crosby, Ke$ha, Celine Dione, the Macarena and Whitney Houston, just to name a few.  “Chirpy” comes in just after Hound Dog by Elvis Presley and comes in just ahead of I’m a Believer by the Monkees.  Who are they?

Let me tell you the story…

The band we know as the “Middle of the Road” or MOTR came together under the name of “Part Four” in 1967 in Glasgow, Scotland.  There were brothers, Ian McCredie (guitar) and Eric McCredie (bass), along with Ken Andrew (drums).  Rounding out this quartet was female vocalist, Sally Carr, whose amazingly unique voice gave the classic lineup of MOTR their unique sound.  (Actually, they played for a short while as “Part Three” before Sally joined.)

In early 1970, they took up an offer to play in South America under the name, “Los Caracas.”  After South America, they found their way to Italy and changed their name to “Middle of the Road.”  Italy was only meant to be a stop over and they were working there in clubs, trying to save enough money to get back to the UK and establish themselves on home soil.

Los Caracas 1970

 While playing clubs in Italy, freshly back from South America, this Scottish group was discovered by an RCA Italia executive who happened upon their show.  He invited them to Rome to record some demos.  They made quite a smash among the people at RCA Italia and soon found themselves backing such names as Sophia Loren.  Their producer, Giacomo Tosti, was looking for material the group could record and he came across a Brit, Lally Stott.  Lally had a song that Tosti thought had potential and he had a new Scottish group that he thought would be just right for the task.

Anyone by Sophia Loren with MOTR backing her

 When MOTR heard the song, they thought it sounded like a kiddie song and they had no interest in it, fearing it would hurt their career…  all except Sally Carr who thought the song was cute and that they should do it.  Finally, the guys relented, provided there was plenty of Bourbon in the recording studio when they did it.  There was and soon they had a finished recording of Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep.  After hearing their record, they were sure that they would never be able to show their faces in public again as serious musicians, especially in their native UK.

They need not have worried and were never relegated to doing children’s parties.  If you have been reading so far, you know how successful Chirpy became.  They rocketed up the pop charts worldwide and followed up with other hits like Soley Soley, Sacramento (A Wonderful Town) and Tweedle Dee Tweedle Dum, which was not a kid’s song but one about a feud between two clans, MacGregor and MacDougal, in their native Scotland.

MOTR showing some of their Gold Records

 Despite becoming international superstars, they remained unknown in the States.  I have not figured out exactly why this is but they did have a chance in 1972 until it was taken from them.  They were one of the featured musical performers at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany.  Anyone alive back then recalls how those Olympic Games were marred when Palestinian terrorists took eleven members of the Israeli Olympic Team hostage.   The two day standoff in the Olympic Village ended with all eleven hostages being killed and several of the terrorists.  The coverage of those events diminished other highlights in the media, like Soviet gymnast, Olga Korbut’s amazing performance or American swimmer, Mark Spitz’s unprecedented seven Olympic gold medals, in which he also broke seven world records.  The terrorist tragedy completely eclipsed the musical acts, like MOTR.

Sally left the band in 1977.  Her mother had died and she could no longer stand performing live, especially having to sing their signature song, Chirpy. She had trouble with the lines, “where's your momma gone,” or “Woke up this morning and my momma was gone.”  MOTR continued to record and do concerts with a new female vocalist and fellow Scot, Lorraine Felberg.

Sally went on to marry sports announcer, Chuck Young, in 1978 and they had one child, Keith, in 1980.  They were getting pregnant at about the time I was taking the request at the station for the group I had never heard of.  She and her husband separated in 1984 (they never divorced) and Sally became a single mom to her son, Keith.  It wasn’t until he was eleven years old in 1991 that she would return to singing.

In January 2001, Keith was killed in a motorcycle accident and Sally found herself alone.  Eventually, she would find herself singing and performing again.  Though she was not part of MOTR, she was in demand as a solo act, performing her old songs.  She now found strength and comfort in songs like Chirpy where they once caused her anguish.

In 2012, Sally Carr collapsed from a cerebral hemorrhage and almost died.  Her recovery has been plagued with setbacks but she has returned to singing and performing.  Ian McCredie & his son Stuart, along with drummer Stephan Ebn and female vocalist Lorna Osborne, continue on as the Middle of the Road today.  Their touring schedule for 2018 can be found on their website.

Last June, three of the original four members of MOTR (Eric McCredie was replaced by Ian’s son, Stuart McCredie) took to the stage for a reunion in Germany.  It was recorded in this amateur video shown below.  Sally’s vocals start out a bit rusty but definitely improve towards the end and she starts to sound like the Sally we all remember.  The cerebral hemorrhage could not keep her down.

Fun Facts…

Fun Fact #1: Sally Carr once turned down an offer from Playboy Magazine to appear nude in their publication.

Fun Fact #2: Sally Carr once dated Brian Connolly, lead singer for Sweet.

Fun Fact #3: In 1974, Neil Henderson left the Bay City Rollers to join MOTR as a fifth member for some time.  He supposedly did not like the direction BCR was going, wearing matching plaid jumpers on stage, etc. and was looking for a change.

In Closing…

Normally, for a post like this, since it is not a sojourn or memorial, I would play maybe five songs by the group.  In the discussion at the Club that led to this, there seemed to be an overwhelming desire to have a full two hours of MOTR.  Please join me on Monday, February 12, from 7-9 PM SL time at a Woman’s Touch as we remember this amazing group that most of us have never heard of.

MOTR Today

Monday, January 1, 2018

Collage Solution (2017... Hail and Farewell)

Here is the solution for the previous post's game.

Click to Enlarge

1. Fats Domino (1928-2017)

2. Glen Campbell (1936-2017)

3. David Cassidy (1950-2017), The Partridge Family

4. Jim Nabors (1930-2017)

5. Walter Becker (1950-2017), Steely Dan

6. Chester Bennington (1976-2017), Linkin Park, Stone Temple Pilots

7. Chuck Berry (1926-2017)

8. Cuba Gooding Sr. (1944-2017), The Main Ingredient

9. Chris Cornell (1964-2017), Soundgarden

10. J. Geils (1946-2017)

11. Della Reese (1931-2017)

12. Greg Allman (1947-2017), The Allman Brothers Band

13. Rosie Hamlin (1945-2017)

14. Tom Petty (1950-2017)

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

2017... Hail and Farewell

Click to enlarge

UPDATE (January 31): In the last few days since I’ve written this, we have lost two more.  I should have known better than to tempt fate by saying, “The good news is, as of this writing, we have lost no one during the month of December.”  It has also been brought to my attention that I missed one significant one we lost back in June.  I have added the three names to the list in red.  I have also made a few other changes, mostly to programing notes concerning tomorrow’s show, also in red.

Last year, at the end of 2016, we had lost so many people that I was moved to write a blog post and do a special set.  The post started with a spoof magazine cover showing the Grim Reaper as Time’s Person of the Year.  After all, the Reaper had had an amazing year, claiming 33 significant people in the music industry during 2016.  You can read that post from last year, and see the mock Time Magazine cover, here.

I thought for sure that we had had a better year and I was shocked when I compiled the list.  Last year, I fit the entire list into a two hour show.  This year there were 44 names and I’d need to start the show early.  I’ll point out some of the more interesting ones then give a complete list in the order we lost them.

We lost Tommy Allsup who was a guitarist for Buddy Holly and the Crickets.  Everyone still talks about that fateful day, the day the music died in 1959, the day of the plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, Ritchie Valens (of La Bamba fame) and others.  As people discuss it, they often tell the story how there was one seat left and two people, and a coin toss decided the fate of Ritchie Valens.  He won the toss and was on the plane and lost his life with the others.  It was Tommy Allsup who lost that coin toss and remained behind.  He lived another 58 years and went on to work with other greats like Roy Orbison, the Ventures and Willie Nelson.  He was 85 years old when he died on January 11.

We lost two founding and long standing members of the Allman Brothers Band this year.  On January 24th, we lost drummer, Butch Trucks.  He was with the band throughout its entire history starting in 1969.  We lost the band’s namesake, Greg Allman on May 27th.  The other Allman Brother, Duane Allman, was killed in a motorcycle crash back in 1971.

The last day of January saw the death of John Wetton.  He was a critical member of a number of successful bands, which include Asia, King Crimson, Roxy Music, Uriah Heep and others.

On February 5th, Sonny Geraci, the vocalist for Climax, passed away.  Who can forget his amazing voice on Predacious and Few, which came out in 1971 and climbed to #3 on the charts?

Chuck Berry passed away on March 18th.  There is not much I can say about this legend that hasn’t already been said.  Maybe Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones put it best.  On hearing of Berry’s death, he tweeted, "One of my big lights has gone out.”

We lost Rosie Hamlin on March 30th.  Though she is relatively unknown today, she was the front woman for Rosie and the Originals.  The band had a big hit, Angel Baby, in 1960 when Rosie was just fifteen!  The song made it all the way to #5 on the charts and she became the first Latina to be featured on American Bandstand with Dick Clark.  At 15, she not only sang the song, she co-wrote it.  John Lennon has cited this song as one of his favorites and he released a cover of it in 1975. It has been covered by many others, including Linda Ronstadt.  Hamlin maintained an almost cult like following within the Latino community and she was the first Latina ever honored by the Rock and Roll Hall of fame.  For these reasons, she earned a place in my collage at the top of the page.

J. Geils was a staple of rock music through the 70’s and 80’s.  He seemed to just get more successful with age, breaking into video during his later career and releasing his biggest hit, Centerfold, in 1981.  It was on his tenth album, out of a total of eleven.  He died on April 11th.

Cuba Gooding Sr. died on April 27th.  Today he is probably best known as the father of actor, Cuba Gooding Jr., but he had a successful career in the early 70’s as the lead singer for the Main Ingredient.  He had five Top 10 hits, including Everybody Plays the Fool, which reached #2.

After finishing a concert with his band, Soundgarden, on May 18th Chris Cornell decided to hang himself in his hotel room.  He is considered one of the chief founders of the Grunge movement in the Seattle area in the 80’s and 90’s.  He was just 52 years of age.

About two months later on July 20th, Chester Bennington of Linkin Park and the Stone Temple Pilots also decided to commit suicide by hanging.  Linkin Park was an incredibly successful band and won many awards including, MTV Music Awards, American Music Awards and one Grammy. He has the unfortunate distinction of being the youngest on our list this year at only 41 years old.

Glen Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2010 and we watched him slowly fade away.  He continued to tour with his kids, whom he relied on to function, until he was no longer able to continue a couple of years ago.  His body finally gave out on August 8th.  He was a Beach Boy for a brief time and was an inductee of both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

We lost Fats Domino on October 24th.  He was a pioneer of Doo Wop and early Rock and Roll with such hits as I’m Walkin’ and Blueberry Hill.  He was 89 years old.

Della Reese was an amazing woman.  She had a successful music career and got a Grammy nomination for her 1959 hit, Don't You Know, which rose to #2 on the charts.  She went on to star in major motion pictures and had a television career that included both an Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe nomination for her role as Tess in Touched by an Angel.  We lost Della on November 19th.

Okay, who didn’t have a crush on David Cassidy at some point?  He was both an actor and a singer, and came to fame as Keith Partridge on the Partridge Family television show.  The show ran from 1970 to 1974 and portrayed a family that was also a rock band.  When I was young, he was the epitome of what the young generation was and his loss on November 21st really drives home the point that we are getting old.  David was 67 years young.

Rosie Hamlin wasn’t the only former teen star to leave us this year.  On November 24th we lost Mitch Margo, the lead singer for the Tokens.  He was only 14 when their hit, the Lion Sleeps Tonight, went to #1 on the charts in 1961.

Many of us are old enough to remember Gomer Pyle, who worked at the gas station in Mayberry on the Andy Griffith Show.  Gomer was played by actor, Jim Nabors, and became even more famous when he got his own series in which he joined the Marines. Nabors played the bumbling simpleton to the hilt and surprised the world with his singing voice during one particular episode.  “Did that voice came out of that buffoon?”  He went on to record several gold records and became a fixture at the Indianapolis 500 motor race, where each year he would open the festivities by singing (Back Home Again in) Indiana.  Jim Nabors left this world on November 30th.

Maybe 2016 was the surge of death that it seemed to be and it just extended into this year a little.  We lost twelve alone in January.  If we could just move January’s totals to 2016, the numbers would be 45 lost in 2016 and only 32 in 2017.  We had a bad March with six deaths and November saw seven check-out, so November seems to be another rise.  The good news is, as of this writing, we have lost no one during the month of December.

Game: In the list below there are 14 names in green.  They correspond to the 14 photographs I used to create the collage at the top of this post.  Can you match up the names to the photos above?  I’ll post the solution in the comments after I do the “Hail and Farewell” show on January 1.

Here is the complete list of the 44 that we lost this year:

Sylvester Potts, (died Jan. 6) singer, songwriter and member of the Contours (1938-2017)

Peter Sarstedt, (died Jan. 8) award winning folk singer and songwriter; had #1 hit in the UK with his song, Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)? (1941-2017)

Tommy Allsup, (died Jan. 11) guitarist for Buddy Holly and the Crickets (1931-2017)

Steve Wright, (died Jan. 16) bassist for the Greg Kihn Band (1950-2017)

Mike Kellie, (died Jan. 18) drummer for the V.I.P.’s, Spooky Tooth and the Only Ones (1947-2017)

Joey Powers, (died Jan. 20) had a single Midnight Mary that hit #10 on the charts in 1964. (1934-2017)

Pete Overend Watts, (died Jan 22) bass player for Mott the Hoople (1947-2017)

Bobby Freeman, (died Jan. 23) He had two Top 10 singles including Do You Want to Dance in 1958, which climbed to #5. (1940-2017)

Gil Ray, (died Jan. 24) drummer for Game Theory and the Loud Family. (1956-2017)

Butch Trucks, (died Jan. 24) drummer for the Allman Brothers Band (1947-2017)

Geoff Nicholls, (died Jan. 28) keyboardist for Black Sabbath (1948-2017)

John Wetton, (died Jan. 31) bassist and keyboardist for Asia, Mogul Thrash, Family, King Crimson, Roxy Music, Uriah Heep, and Wishbone Ash (1949-2017)

Steve Lang, (died Feb. 4) bassist for April Wine (1949-2017)

Sonny Geraci, (died Feb. 5) lead singer for the Outsiders and Climax (1947-2017)

Clyde Stubblefield, (died Feb. 18) drummer for James Brown (1943-2017)

Jim Fuller, (died Mar. 3) known as the “Godfather of Surf Music” and front man for the Surfaris (1947-2017)

Tommy Page, (died Mar. 3) known for his #1 hit single in 1990, I'll Be Your Everything (1970-2017)

Joni Sledge, (died Mar. 10) vocalist for Sister Sledge (1956-2017)

Chuck Berry, (died Mar. 18) singer and guitarist (1926-2017)

Sib Hashian, (died Mar. 22) drummer for Boston (1949-2017)

Rosie Hamlin, (died Mar. 30) front woman for Rosie and the Originals (1945-2017)

David Peel, (died April 6) front man for David Peel and the Lower East Side Band (1942-2017)

Bob Wootton, (died April 9) guitarist for Johnny Cash (1942-2017)

J. Geils, (died April 11) front man for the J. Geils Band (1946-2017)

Cuba Gooding Sr., (died April 27) lead singer for the Main Ingredient (1944-2017)

Clive Brooks, (died May 5) drummer for progressive rock band, Egg (1949-2017)

Chris Cornell, (died May 18) lead singer for Soundgarden and Audioslave (1964-2017)

Greg Allman, (died May 27) front man for the Allman Brothers Band (1947-2017)

Rosalie Sorrels, (died June 11) folk singer (1933-2017)

Gary DeCarlo, (died June 28) member of the band, Steam, and writer of Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye (1942-2017)

Chester Bennington, (died July 20) lead singer for Linkin Park and the Stone Temple Pilots (1976-2017)

Michael Johnson, (died July 25) had a hit single, Bluer than Blue, that went to #12 in 1978 (1944-2017)

Glen Campbell, (died Aug. 8) rock, folk, country and pop singer (1936-2017)

Sonny Burgess, (died August 18) rockabilly singer, guitarist and front man for the Legendary Pacers (1929-2017)

Walter Becker, (died Sept. 3) guitarist, bassist and one half of Steely Dan (1950-2017)

Tom Petty, (died Oct. 2) front man for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1950-2017)

George Young, (died Oct. 22) member of the Easybeats and Flash and the Pan, co-writer of Friday on my Mind (1946-2017)

Fats Domino, (died Oct. 24) piano player and early Rock and Roll pioneer (1928-2017)

Robert Knight, (died Nov. 5) had a hit in 1967 with his song, Everlasting Love, which climbed to #13 on the charts (1945-2017)

Fred Cole, (died Nov. 9) singer and guitarist; member of the Lollipop Shoppe, Dead Moon, and Pierced Arrows (1948-2017)

Warren “Pete” Moore, (died Nov. 19) singer, songwriter and founding member of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles; wrote the vocal arrangements for every one of their hits (1938-2017)

Della Reese, (Died Nov. 19) singer, motion picture and television actress (1931-2017)

David Cassidy, (died Nov. 21) actor, singer, guitarist and member of the Partridge Family (1950-2017)

Mitch Margo, (died Nov. 24) vocalist for the Tokens (1947-2017)

Jim Nabors, (died Nov. 30) actor and singer (1930-2017)

Curly Seckler, (died Dec. 27) played guitar, banjo and mandolin, member of Lester Flatt’s & Earl Scruggs’ Foggy Mountain Boys from 1949 onward (1919-2017)

Rose Marie, [real name: Rose Marie Mazzetta] (died Dec. 28) Vaudevillian, singer, comedienne and actress, started her recording career in 1932 under the name, “Baby Rose Marie,” starred on the TV show, the Dick Van Dyke Show, last living artist to chart before World War II (1923-2017)

So, someone will inevitably ask, “What are the criteria for getting on the list?”  I can start that answer with this; these are the ones that I know about.  I may very well have missed someone.  The second factor is that I must know about them musically.  I either know the person, their song or their band.  They are not listed here unless I am familiar with at least one of those three things.

Join me this coming Monday night, New Year’s Day, at AWT from 6:00 to 9:00 PM as we say a final Hail and Farewell to those we lost in 2017.  Please note that this will start an hour early and go three hours, as I play one song by each artist in the order they are listed.

Note (12/31/21017):  I will start at 6:00 PM slt, but I don’t have a full three hours of “Hail and Farewell,” so I will kick off by counting down the top five hits of 2017 first.

"If there's a rock and roll heaven, well you know they've got a hell of a band."
 The Righteous Brothers, 1973