News for June 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #47 – Rick Nelson & The Stone Canyon Band: “Garden Party” b/w “So Long Mama” – Decca 45 32980 (N5/P5)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #47 – Rick Nelson & The Stone Canyon Band: “Garden Party” b/w “So Long Mama” – Decca 45 32980 (N5/P5)

There are only a few artists that have more than one record in my jukebox, and today’s song is the second record by Rick Nelson. Previously, The Jukebox Series #30 focused on a double slab of rockabilly by way of Ricky Nelson’s “Stood Up”/”Waitin’ In School” single from the late 1950s when he was at the pinnacle of his popularity recording for Imperial Records. Today’s jukebox classic looks at “Garden Party,” Nelson’s last big hit single from the early 1970s.

From 1957 to 1962, Nelson scored 30 Top-40 hits including “A Teenager’s Romance (#2 Pop), “I’m Walkin’” (#4 Pop), “Be Bop Baby” (#3 Pop ), “Stood Up” ( #2 Pop/#8 Country), “Poor Little Fool” (#1 Pop/#3 Country), “Lonesome Town” (#7 Pop), “It’s Late” (#9 Pop), “Never Be Anyone Else But You” (#6 Pop), “Just A Little Too Much” (#9 Pop), “Sweeter Than You” (#9 Pop), “Travelin’ Man” (#1 Pop), “Hello Mary Lou” (#9 Pop), “Young World” (#5 Pop), “Teen Age Idol” (#5 Pop) and “For You” (#6 Pop).

In 1963, Nelson signed a long-term deal with Decca Records. Although his Decca era produced some solidly great albums and singles, his standing on the charts was dismal. As the 1960s came to a close, you pretty much could not give a Rick Nelson record away and things got so bad that Nelson began performing shows on the oldies circuit at county fairs.

By 1972, Nelson had released 15 albums for Decca Records, each one with increasingly diminished sales. Without the radio and TV exposure that Nelson had benefitted from in the past, he was deeply entrenched in a commercial slump that it seemed at the time he would never recover from.

Nelson had formed a sturdy country rock outfit to back him called The Stone Canyon Band that included Nelson on guitar and vocals, Allen Kemp on guitar, Tom Brumley on steel guitar, Stephen A. Love on bass and Patrick Shanahan on drums. The band focused on playing original country rock material that was very much in step with the times, but played against the sensibility of his older fan base who wanted to see their hero only play his hits of the past. His sets usually consisted of mostly originals with a few oldies thrown in for good measure. Even so, oldies like “Hello Mary Lou” were totally reworked as country songs.

In October of 1971, Nelson performed on a rock and roll oldies bill with Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Bobby Rydell at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Nelson appeared on stage wearing bell-bottomed pants and a purple velvet shirt with hair down to his shoulders. The band launched into a set that featured mostly new material which was roundly met with boos from the audience. Disgusted by the response his new material received by the audience, Nelson went home, licked his wounds and wrote today’s jukebox classic “Garden Party.”

The song’s lyrics summed up the entire experience thusly: “But it’s all right now, I’ve learned my lesson well. You see, you can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.”

There were many veiled references throughout the song about the people who attended the concert, the songs Nelson performed on stage, and the other artists on the bill. One lyric speaks about Yoko bringing her walrus (which was John Lennon) and another, “Mr. Hughes hid in Dylan’s shoes, wearing his disguise” referred to another Beatle. The Mr. Hughes in the song was not Howard Hughes, but Nelson’s good friend George Harrison who was also his next door neighbor. Harrison used the “Hughes” alias when he traveled. The Dylan’s shoes line is a reference to an album of Dylan covers Harrison was planning to record which never materialized.

The line “I said hello to Mary Lou, she belongs to me” is a reference to two songs that Nelson preformed that night, his own hit “Hello Mary Lou” and a cover of Bob Dylan’s “She Belongs To Me,” and the line “I sang a song about a Honky-Tonk” refers to Nelson’s cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Country Honk” he also performed. The last line of the song, “But if memories were all I sang, I’d rather drive a truck,” is a reference to Elvis Presley and the job he had before he became a star.

When released as a single, “Garden Party” became Nelson’s first top ten hit since “For You” in 1963, climbing to #6 on the Billboard Singles charts and topping the Adult Contemporary list. The song has been covered by Johnny Lee, John Fogerty and Phish.

The flip of today’s single is a somewhat nondescript country romp written by Nelson from the Garden Party album that features some great picking in the intro. Nelson died in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve in 1985. He was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1987.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Edited: June 30th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #46 – Elton John: “Bennie And The Jets” b/w “Harmony” – MCA 45 40198 (K5/L5)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #46 – Elton John: “Bennie And The Jets” b/w “Harmony” – MCA 45 40198 (K5/L5)

To think that today’s jukebox classic which was a #1 hit here in the United States, wasn’t even considered for a single release at all in the UK. That says something about the ultra-high quality of the songs on Elton John’s seventh album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Elton John had little faith in the song as a single and was against its release. John: “I fought tooth and nail against ‘Bennie’ coming out as a single,” (The Making Of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Eagle Vision DVD) and he was shocked when the record topped the US charts.

The song was released as a single only after it began to receive airplay in Ontario, Canada and Detroit where it topped the local radio charts. Once it was released, it also topped the national charts and sold almost three million copies. The song also peaked at #15 on the Billboard Soul Singles chart paving the way for John’s appearance on Soul Train in 1975 where he performed the song and “Philadelphia Freedom.”

(It should be noted that while “Bennie And The Jets” wasn’t released as a single in the UK, they got “Candle In The Wind” in its place which wasn’t released here as a single until John re-recorded it in tribute to Princess Diana after her death.)

While “Bennie And The Jets” sounds like a live concert recording, it is actually a studio track. Producer Gus Dudgeon suggested they give it a live concert ambience by mixing reverb and applause from some of Elton’s concerts into the mix of the track. He also used some audience sounds from Jimi Hendrix’s Isle Of Wight concert as well.

In interviews, Bernie Taupin has said that the song was written as a parody of the music industry, and the character of Bennie was a futuristic space age female rocker. Taupin: “‘Bennie And The Jets’ was almost Orwellian – it was supposed to be futuristic. They were supposed to be a prototypical female rock ‘n’ roll band out of science fiction.” (Esquire Magazine) John saw the song as paying homage to the current glam rock scene, and as time went on, he began to dress in more outrageous stage outfits and began to take on the character of Bennie on stage.

It was also Elton’s idea to add the stutter on the word Bennie, which is one of the song’s major calling cards. Taupin: “That’s a little quirk of the song which I’m sad to say I had nothing to do with. That and that wonderful big chord at the beginning, I think those two things are what probably made that song so popular. Neither of which I had anything to do with.”

The song has been covered by rapper Biz Markie and The Beastie Boys, and it was sampled by Mary J. Blige on her track “Deep Inside” (which Elton plays piano on). It was also spoofed in 2008 by Ben Folds on his Way Too Normal album. Folds used “Benny” as the basis for his song “Hiroshima (b b b benny hits his head)” which tells the true story of how he fell off of the stage and cut himself while performing in Japan.

By the 1973 release of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Elton John’s career was so white-hot he could do no wrong. His previous album Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player (released in 1972) topped the charts in 1973 and sold millions of copies. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road followed suit by selling more than 31 million copies and staying at the top of the album charts for two months. Working titles for the album included Vodka and Tonics and Silent Movies, Taking Pictures.

While releasing a double album was not their initial intention, John and Taupin were so prolific during this period that they’d worked up more than enough quality material for a single album. The album captures Elton John at his commercial apex and at the height of his creative powers. The fact that it contained several of his most indelible singles, “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting,” “Bennie And The Jets,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and “Candle In The Wind,” was just the icing on the cake.

But it’s the lesser known gems here that really steal the show – “This Song Has No Title,” “I’ve Seen That Movie To,” “Grey Seal” (which had been kicking around since 1970), “All the Girls Love Alice” and the flip side of today’s single “Harmony” – they are indeed some of the best songs John has ever written and recorded.

All of the album’s lyrics were written by Taupin in two weeks, while John composed the music over a three day period at The Pink Flamingo Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica. John wanted to record the album in Jamaica because The Rolling Stones had just completed Goats Head Soup in the same studio. But problems with the sound system and complications from the Joe Frazier/George Forman boxing match taking place in the city forced the band to move to France.

John’s fantastic touring group, consisting of Davey Johnstone on guitar, Dee Murray on bass, Nigel Olsson on drums and Ray Cooper on percussion, settled in at Château d’Hérouville in France where the two previous Elton John albums were recorded. Sessions took place over a two week period and the band was augmented by Kiki Dee on background vocals and Del Newman providing the orchestral arrangements.

The flip of today’s single is Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’s final track. “Harmony” was originally considered to be released as the fourth single from the album, but by the time they were ready to release it, John’s next album Caribou was ready to hit the racks. The song ultimately received plenty of airplay anyway and charted regionally. It’s a great track and the perfect closer to Elton’s magnum opus album. When it was finally released as a single in Britain in 1980, it failed to chart.

Superstardom continued for Elton and company for a few more years until the inevitable decline brought on by hard living. But fear not for Elton, he ultimately weathered the dry patch that lasted almost ten years (and to be fair, did include a few hits), cleaned up his hard-partying act and recovered nicely by writing songs for Disney films, most notably The Lion King.

His latest album The Diving Board was released last year to mostly positive reviews.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Edited: June 29th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #45 – Melanie: “Brand New Key” b/w “Ring The Living Bell” – MCA 45-N-2737 (I5/J5)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #45 – Melanie: “Brand New Key” b/w “Ring The Living Bell” – MCA 45-N-2737 (I5/J5)

Today’s jukebox classic came out in 1972 when roller skating and roller rinks were all the rage in my eleven year old age group, and the song “Brand New Key” certainly spoke our language.

I had already been exposed to Melanie’s music since 1970 through my older sister who became so enamored by her, that she scrambled to not only get her latest Candles In the Rain album, but also her first one called Born To Be. She used to blast “Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)” with The Edwin Hawkins Singers frequently around the house much to the chagrin of my parents. Needless to say, our house was filled with Melanie’s histrionic vocals and songs about peace, beautiful people, leftover wine and Winnie the Pooh, and as a result of her fascination with Melanie Safka, I paid close attention. For it was Melanie’s covers of James Taylor’s “Carolina In My Mind” and The Rolling Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday” that introduced my young ears to the original versions.

Melanie not only interpreted the popular songs of the day, but she also had quite a few first-rate original songs that were favorites including “What Have They Done To My Song Ma,” “Ring The Living Bell,” “The Nickel Song” and “Beautiful People.” More Melanie albums followed in my sister’s collection including Leftover Wine from 1970, The Good Book from 1971 and Gather Me from 1972, before she left for college and outgrew her muse.

Melanie formed her own Neighborhood record label in 1972 and released today’s single which topped the charts and sold over three million copies. To my sister and her age group, the song was the straw that broke the camel’s back and caused them to pretty much decide that she’d become yesterday’s news.

But to my age group, Melanie’s star was on the rise. Forget the apparent double entendre going on in the lyrics to “Brand New Key,” with locks and keys, and “going pretty far,” that was all lost on me and my cohort the first time around.

To be honest, I really didn’t like the song much when it was a hit. I saw it for what it was…a novelty that was capitalizing on a craze. However, millions found the song to their liking by sending it up to the top of the charts. Today, the song is a guilty pleasure, but the fact that I have the single in my jukebox says that it is still a nostalgic pleasure.

The flip of today’s jukebox classic was the follow-up single to “Brand New Key,” which was also from Melanie’s 1971 Gather Me album. “Ring The Living Bell” is an anthem that was written by Melanie with a swelling chorus that reached the #31 position on the pop charts.

When Neighborhood Records released the single, Buddah Records (her previous record company) dug up one of Melanie’s older recordings, “The Nickel Song” and released it as a single to compete on the charts. Meanwhile, “Brand New Key” was still on the charts. As a result Melanie became the first artist to have three top forty hits on the charts at the same time.

As the 1970s came to an end, so did Melanie’s hit making days. Today, she occasionally performs concerts and releases albums. I never got to see Melanie perform back in the day, but I’d bet it would be a hoot to see her now.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Edited: June 28th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #44 – Blood, Sweat & Tears: “Spinning Wheel” b/w “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” – Columbia Hall Of Fame 45-4-33168 (G5/H5)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #44 – Blood, Sweat & Tears: “Spinning Wheel” b/w “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” – Columbia Hall Of Fame 45-4-33168 (G5/H5)

“What goes up…must come down…” not only is this the first line to Blood Sweat & Tears’ signature hit, but it also foreshadowed the group’s red hot ascent to the top, and its equally quick drop out of fashion.

Blood, Sweat & Tears had their genesis in an experiment by ex-Blues Project member and Bob Dylan sideman, Al Kooper. Kooper wanted to create a group that melded jazz horns to rock rhythms for a fresh new sound. Kooper: “Like Maynard Ferguson’s band from the years 1960-1964, I wanted a horn section that would play more than the short adjectives they were relegated to in R&B bands; but, on the other hand, a horn section that would play less than Count Basie’s or Buddy Rich’s. Somewhere in the middle was a mixture of soul, rock, and jazz that was my little fantasy.” (Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards by Al Kooper).

Kooper formed Blood Sweat & Tears with Jim Fielder, Fred Lipsius, Randy Brecker, Jerry Weiss, Steve Katz and Bobby Colomby. Kooper was fond of the production that James William Guercio provided for The Buckinghams and for the first BS&T album, Child Is Father To The Man, the two paved the way for horn-laden groups like Chicago Transit Authority, The Ides Of March and Chase that would soon rule the charts.

After working on BS&T’s debut album, Kooper left the group moving on to Super Session fame with a whole host of recording artists. With Kooper gone, BS&T members Bobby Colomby and Steve Katz began looking for a new vocalist and had considered Alex Chilton (of The Box Tops and later Big Star), Stephen Stills and Laura Nyro for the job, before going with a throaty Canadian singer named David Clayton-Thomas who was recommended to them by Judy Collins.

Not only did Clayton-Thomas bring a bona-fide personality to the band via his rough and raw vocal prowess, but he also wrote their biggest hit (and today’s jukebox classic) “Spinning Wheel.” Clayton-Thomas: The song was “written in an age when psychedelic imagery was all over lyrics…it was my way of saying, ‘Don’t get too caught up, because everything comes full circle.” (Hyatt, Wesley (1999). The Billboard Book of #1 Adult Contemporary Hits (Billboard Publications), page 74.)

The song quickly climbed to the #2 position on the charts in 1969 and was nominated for three Grammy Awards, winning one for Best Instrumental Arrangement in 1970. As a goof, the band interpolated an Austrian tune from 1815 called “O Du Lieber Augustin” (or “The More We Get Together”) to end the song.

The song was like catnip to the many middle-of-the-road vocalists of the late sixties and was covered by Shirley Bassey, James Brown, Sammy Davis Jr., Peggy Lee, Chet Baker, Ted Heath and many others.

The flip of today’s jukebox classic is “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy.” The song was originally a Motown hit written by Berry Gordy, Frank Wilson, Brenda Holloway and Patrice Holloway, and recorded by Brenda Holloway who brought the song to the #39 position of the charts in 1967. It was initially Kooper’s idea for the band to record the song, but by the time they committed it to wax, he’d already left their ranks. It was one of three singles that climbed to the #2 position on the pop charts from their Blood Sweat & Tears album. (The other two were “Spinning Wheel” and the Laura Nyro song “And When I Die.”)

Like “Spinning Wheel,” the song saw numerous east listening covers by the likes of Lou Rawls, Gloria Estefan, John Davidson, Rosemary Clooney, Cher, Shirley Bassey, Damita Jo, Eydie Gorme, Ray Conniff, Diana Ross, Ramsey Lewis, Candi Staton, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Dusty Springfield and many others.

The eponymously titled album topped the charts for seven weeks in 1969, sold over four million copies and won the Grammy for Album Of The Year, beating out The Beatles Abbey Road. It featured the stellar lineup of David Clayton-Thomas on vocals, Lew Soloff on trumpet, Bobby Colomby on drums, Jim Fielder on bass, Dick Halligan on keyboards, Steve Katz on guitar, Fred Lipsius on saxophone, Chuck Winfield on trumpet, Jerry Hyman on trombone, performing an eclectic mix of songs including a version of Billie Holiday’s “God Bless The Child,” Laura Nyro’s “And When I Die,” Traffic’s “Smiling Phases” and several classical pieces composed by Erik Satie.

The group appeared at Woodstock at the height of their popularity; however their performance wasn’t filmed at the insistence of their manager who hadn’t negotiated terms for the filming of their set. By the time of the release of the Woodstock film, Blood Sweat & Tears had missed the boat on being accepted by the hip rock cognoscenti and were subsequently seen as a lightweight AM radio singles band.

The band’s quick decline came on the heels of several other equally bad decisions including their participation on a tour of Eastern Europe sponsored by the U.S. Department Of State (during a time when their fan base was highly suspect of all things government), and then playing shows in Vegas. Even though their record sales dramatically slumped, they have continued to persevere and still tour today with American Idol runner-up Bo Bice as their lead singer and Glenn McClelland of Ween on keyboards.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Edited: June 17th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #43 – Chicago II Jukebox EP: “Movin’ In”/”Wake Up Sunshine”/”To Be Free” b/w “West Virginia Fantasies”/”Colour My World”/”It Better End Soon 2nd Movement” – Columbia Special Coin Operator Release 33⅓ Jukebox EP 7-KGP-24 (D5/E5)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #43 – Chicago II Jukebox EP: “Movin’ In”/”Wake Up Sunshine”/”To Be Free” b/w “West Virginia Fantasies”/”Colour My World”/”It Better End Soon 2nd Movement” – Columbia Special Coin Operator Release 33⅓ Jukebox EP 7-KGP-24 (D5/E5)

Jukebox EPs (or extended plays, or tiny albums) were made for the coin operated jukebox market during the 1950s through the mid-1970s. They were small-holed 7” records that played at 33⅓ RPM and cost 25-50 cents per play. They typically included four to six tracks from an album and afforded the listener at a diner or bar an extended taste of a record by their favorite artist.

Today’s jukebox EP is culled from the second album by Chicago Transit Authority who by 1970 shortened their name to just plain Chicago. The album carried the title Chicago as well, but it is far better known as Chicago II. Although the album spawned several big singles including “25 Or 6 To 4,” “Make Me Smile,” and “Colour My World,” only one of them is present on the jukebox EP that was released to promote the album on coin operated machines.

Chicago’s first three records were all double albums, which was unheard of at the time. Their manager and producer, James William Guercio, had just come off of working with Blood Sweat & Tears and he used his clout with Columbia Records to push the notion of double albums through.

This gave the band featuring Robert Lamm on keyboards, Terry Kath on guitar, Peter Cetera on vocals, James Pankow on trombone, Lee Loughnane on trumpet, Walter Parazaider on saxophone and Danny Seraphine on drums, room to stretch their musical muscle especially on their debut album. By the time of their second release, Chicago began to shorten their tunes and play up the horns, leading them to the dominance of the singles charts they’d have for the rest of the 1970s.

The highlight of the second Chicago album was the suite that took up most of side two called “Ballet For A Girl In Buchannon” which included three songs on today’s EP, “Colour My World,” “To Be Free” and “West Virginia Fantasies.” The Buchannon of the suite’s title was actually a misspelling of Buckhannon, West Virginia. (songfacts.com)

After the band recorded the suite, they were hesitant to have singles edited from it for release. When the band acquiesced, they ended up releasing two of their most beloved singles, “Make Me Smile” which climbed to the #9 position on the charts in 1970, and “Colour My World” which went two slots higher to #7 in 1971.

“Colour My World” was the slow dance classic of 1970 and has also proven over the years to be one of the band’s best-loved recordings. It was written by trombone player James Pankow and features Terry Kath singing the lead vocals with Walter Parazaider on the flute solo.

James Panko (as told on The Chris Isaac Hour TV show): “It’s a small segment of a multi-movement piece on our second album which is basically a tribute to my first love. I had been listening to Bach – the Brandenburg Concertos, and they had all those arpeggiated melodies. I sat at a piano and started messing around with these arpeggios. That cycle of arpeggios became the foundation of the song. Frank Sinatra called our publicist and said, ‘Ask that kid to write another verse for that song.’ I thought about it, I called him back and said I can’t do it – it’s like sewing another arm on your kid, I can’t do it.”

Other songs on the EP include “West Virginia Fantasies,” an instrumental from the Suite that highlights the group’s compositional acumen; “It Better End Soon 2nd Movement” which was also from the album’s other extended suite that took on the Nixon administration, “Movin’ In” the opening track to Chicago II, “To Be Free” (another instrumental) and the single “Make Me Smile.” The album climbed to the #4 position on the U.S. charts upon its release in 1970.

The band continued to rule the charts throughout the 1970s becoming one of the decade’s biggest hit makers until Terry Kath died of an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1978 while participating in a game of Russian roulette. The band would never be the same again without him.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Edited: June 16th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #42 – The Flamingos: “I Only Have Eyes For You” b/w “Love Walked In” – Roulette Golden Goodies Series 45 RPM Single GG20 (C5/D5)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #42 – The Flamingos: “I Only Have Eyes For You” b/w “Love Walked In” – Roulette Golden Goodies Series 45 RPM Single GG20 (C5/D5)

You’d be hard pressed to find a sweeter, more sumptuous doo wop classic than today’s Grammy Hall Of Fame recording by The Flamingos, a group that Billboard called “one of the finest and most influential vocal groups in pop music history.”

Cousins Jake and Ezekial Carey grew up in Baltimore hailing from the same neighborhood as Sonny Til of The Orioles. They relocated to Chicago where they formed The Flamingos in 1953. After numerous personnel changes and stints recording for record labels like Chance, Parrot, Checker (a Chess subsidiary where they scored their first big hit “I’ll Be Home”) and Decca, they signed to George Goldner’s End Records in 1958.

At the time, the group consisted of Nate Nelson, Jake Carey, Paul Wilson, Tommy Hunt and Terry “Buzzy” Johnson. Goldner’s modus operandi was to steer the group away from recording original material in favor of recording standards, which is how they came to record today’s dreamy jukebox classic “I Only Have Eyes For You.”

The song was written by Harry Warren and Al Dubin for the 1934 film Dames. It became a hit by Ben Selvin reaching the #2 position on the charts in 1934 and The Flamingos recorded it in 1958 sending it up to the #11 position on the pop charts and #5 R&B in 1959. The recording comes from a long line of records whose production enhancements (like the reverb on the background vocals) are equally as important as the performance, in creating a perfectly plush celestial atmosphere.

The song was from The Flamingos’ 1959 album Flamingo Serenade that also featured their one-of-a-kind takes on such standards as “As Time Goes By,” “Where Or When,” “I’m In the Mood For Love,” “But Not For Me,” “Love Walked In” (the flip of today’s single), “Begin the Beguine,” “Music, Maestro, Please!,” “Time Was” and “Goodnight Sweetheart.” While “I Only Have Eyes For You” was by far their biggest hit, their other hits included “Mio Amore,” the Doc Pomus song “Your Other Love,” “Nobody Loves Me Like You” (written by Sam Cooke) and “I Was Such A Fool.”

There have been literally hundreds of cover versions of today’s song by the likes of Eddy Duchin, Al Jolson, Billie Holiday, June Christy, Rosemary Clooney, Doris Day, Dinah Shore, Ella Fitzgerald, Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, Lester Bowie, Carmen McRae, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis, The Temptations, The Lettermen, Jerry Butler, Toni Tennille, Bette Midler, Kenny Rogers, Art Garfunkel, George Benson, Mark Eitzel, Carly Simon and Rod Stewart, but The Flamingos’ version reigns supreme. The group’s opulent harmonies had a profound influence on the Motown and Philadelphia soul sound, and their stage choreography was a major influence on The Temptations and numerous other doo wop and soul groups.

By 1960, Hunt left for a solo career on Scepter Records and Nate and Terry split to form The Modern Flamingos in 1961 who recorded an album for Atco Records, who forced them to change their name to The Starglows. The Flamingos were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 2001 and Tommy Hunt, Terry Johnson and Johnny Carter performed together at the ceremony. Terry Johnson owns The Flamingos name and still tours today, recently releasing The Diamond Anniversary Tour CD in 2013 featuring the current lineup of Terry Johnson, Starling Newsome, Stan Prinston and Theresa Trigg.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Edited: June 15th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #41 – Gary Puckett & The Union Gap: “Woman Woman” b/w “Young Girl” – Columbia Hall Of Fame 45 RPM Single 13-33133 (A5/B5)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #41 – Gary Puckett & The Union Gap: “Woman Woman” b/w “Young Girl” – Columbia Hall Of Fame 45 RPM Single 13-33133 (A5/B5)

Today’s jukebox single features two songs with perfect trebly production that sound great coming out of the jukebox speakers, and if memory serves me right, even better pouring out of the mono speaker of the GE transistor radio I had as a kid. Gary Puckett and the Union Gap scored numerous hits during a short period in the late sixties including “Woman Woman,” “Lady Willpower,” and “Young Girl,” featuring horn-soaked arrangements and plaintive soulful vocals.

Gary Puckett was born in Hibbing, Minnesota, the same town that gave us Bob Dylan. He cut his teeth in a band called The Outcasts with band mates Kerry Chater on bass, Gary “Mutha” Withem on keyboards, Dwight Bement on saxophone and Paul Wheatbread on drums. They released two singles that went absolutely nowhere.

In 1967, the band renamed themselves The Union Gap, from the town Puckett grew up in, Union Gap, Washington which was also the site of the famous Battle of Fulbright Park during the Civil War. As a result they began to wear Civil War uniforms at performances. They also furthered the gimmick by taking on ranks. (Puckett was a general, while Whitbread and Withem were privates, etc.).

After hearing their demo, the band was signed by A&R man Jerry Fuller at Columbia Records on the strength of Puckett’s earthy voice. Their debut single was “Woman Woman,” which sold over a million copies and climbed to the #4 position on the pop charts in 1967. The song was written by Jimmy Payne and Jim Glaser (of 70s country artists Tompall and The Glaser Brothers) and covered by the likes of Glen Campbell, Engelbert Humperdinck, The Lettermen and big band legend Ted Heath.

Their follow-up hit was the song featured on the flip of today’s double A-sided single “Young Girl” which climbed to #2 on the charts in 1968. “Young Girl” was written by Jerry Fuller (who also wrote their hits “Lady Willpower” and “Over You,” as well as Ricky Nelson’s “Traveling Man”).

The song came off innocently enough back in 1968, but today sounds somewhat creepy. Fuller: “I was on the road a lot as an artist, fronting various groups for many years. I guess every entertainer goes through a time when 14-year-olds look like 20-year-olds. That’s somewhat of an inspiration not from my own experience, just knowing that it happens.” (1000 UK #1 Hits) “Young Girl” was also covered by Gary Lewis and the Playboys and Frida (aka Anni-Frid Lyndgstad) of ABBA.

The group’s other hits included “Lady Willpower” (#2/1968), “Over You,” (#7/1968), “Don’t Give In To Him” (#15/1969) and “This Girl’s A Woman Now” (#9/1969), and in 1968 they sold more singles in the U.S. than The Beatles.

Fuller was responsible for their magically crafted sound that fit in perfectly on radio playlists along with then current hits by Blood Sweat and Tears and The Chicago Transit Authority. In 1969, they were nominated for the Best New Artist Grammy, but lost out to Jose Feliciano. The group soon grew restless with the middle-of-the-road pop power ballads that Fuller was providing for them to record and Puckett wanted to take the group in a different direction.

Things came to a head when they were to participate in a session Fuller booked for them with a full blown studio orchestra. Puckett and the group refused to record the song and the session was canceled, ending their relationship with Fuller…and their run of big hits at Columbia Records. Puckett then embarked on a largely unsuccessful solo career and by 1972 he found himself without a recording contract.

In 1981, Puckett resurrected The Union Gap and ever since they have been regulars on the oldies circuit. His most recent album is a holiday collection in 2001 called The Gary Puckett Christmas Album. The current Union Gap lineup consists of Woody Lingle on bass, Jamie Hilboldt on keyboards and Mike Candito on drums.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Edited: June 14th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #40 – ? And The Mysterians: “96 Tears” b/w “I Can’t Get Enough Of You Baby” – Abkco 45 RPM Single 4020 (U4/V4)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #40 – ? And The Mysterians: “96 Tears” b/w “I Can’t Get Enough Of You Baby” – Abkco 45 RPM Single 4020 (U4/V4)

Who are ? and the Mysterians…that is the question.

? And The Mysterians formed in 1962 and was the first Latino Band to score a major hit record in the U.S. with today’s jukebox classic. They were purveyors of rough and raunchy garage rock from Bay City, Michigan, and their signature chart-topping “96 Tears” was released in 1966 selling over one million copies. The song was recorded in the living room of a house in Saginaw Michigan.

The original band consisted of Robert Balderama on guitar, his cousin Larry Borjas on bass, Robert Martinez on drums and his brother Rudy Martinez on vocals. Rudy Martinez went under the name “?,” so as to remain anonymous and the rest of the group took their name from a Japanese sci-fi film called The Mysterians. Further adding to the intrigue, the band always wore dark shades.

As they were getting ready to record their first record, Robert Martinez was drafted and Borjas enlisted along with him. As a result, the band added Eddie Serrato on drums and Frank Lugo on bass. Crucially, they also recruited a fourteen year old piano player named Frank Rodriguez. It was this lineup that recorded their signature hit “96 Tears,” which was written by Rudy Martinez who supplied the sturdy Vox Continental organ riff that drives the song.

The song had its genesis from a poem Martinez wrote fourteen years earlier called “Too Many Teardrops.” It was originally intended to be the flip side of their debut single, however Rodriguez insisted that the track be the A-side. The single became a regional hit on the Pa-Go-Go record label and was later picked up for national distribution by Cameo-Parkway Records.

The song has been covered numerous times including a version by Garland Jeffries from his 1980 album Escape Artist that received significant FM radio airplay. It was also covered by David Byrne, The Cramps, Eddie and the Hot Rods, Aretha Franklin, Big Maybell, Thelma Houston, The Modern Lovers, Iggy Pop, the Music Explosion, the Residents, The Stranglers, Suicide, Tom Tom Club and Todd Rundgren’s Utopia.

Can’t Get Enough Of You Baby,” the flip of today’s jukebox single shares the exact same organ introduction as “96 Tears.” The song was released as a single in 1967 where it peaked at #56 on the Billboard Singles Chart. It has been covered by Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons, The Colourfield and Smash Mouth who brought the song to the #14 position of the singles charts in 1998.

The group splintered in the 1970s and the original lineup reformed with Robert Martinez replacing Serrato on drums, due to his condition suffering from multiple sclerosis. A concert was recorded in Dallas, Texas in 1984 and was released by the ROIR records as The Dallas Re-Union Tapes.

The group’s original Cameo-Parkway albums came under the ownership of uber-manager Allen Klein (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals) who let them go out of print and kept them off the market for many years, thinking they would become a more valuable commodity. As a result, a different lineup of the group re-recorded the 96 Tears album for the Collectables record label in 1997. The original album received a reissue by Collector’s Choice label several years ago and remains in print today.

After playing shows as part of Cave Stomp, a festival of reformed garage rock bands produced by New York promoter Jon Weiss, they released another live album. The band recorded their final album of new material called More Action in 1999 before acrimoniously parting ways with Weiss over dissatisfaction with the record.

The band still performs from time to time and has been featured on Steve Van Zandt’s influential radio show Underground Garage.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Edited: June 9th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #39 – Glen Campbell: “Wichita Lineman” b/w “Galveston” – Collectables 45 RPM Single COL 6093 (S4/T4)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #39 – Glen Campbell: “Wichita Lineman” b/w “Galveston” – Collectables 45 RPM Single COL 6093 (S4/T4)

Glen Campbell’s long, storied career is Forrest Gump-like in its nature. He was a member of The Champs, who sent the hit “Tequila” up the charts (before he joined them). He was part of The Wrecking Crew, the West Coast studio elite session musicians who played on literally hundreds of hits during the 1960s by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Ricky Nelson, Dean Martin, The Monkees, The 5th Dimension, Jan & Dean, The Beach Boys and Elvis Presley, to name but a few. He was also a touring member of The Beach Boys replacing Brian Wilson on the road in 1964-1965, and playing on the group’s masterpiece Pet Sounds.

He’s a recording artist in his own rite that has sold millions of records and won countless Grammy, Country Music Association and Academy Of Country Music Awards. He’s also a member of the Country Hall Of Fame and was a popular TV host of his own Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour variety show whose connections in the music industry allowed him to feature top-shelf musical guests including The Beatles (on film), The Monkees, Neil Diamond, Linda Ronstadt, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and dozens of others. He was also a movie star who shared the screen with John Wayne in the film True Grit.

Today’s jukebox classic is a double-shot of Jimmy Webb-penned classics performed by Glen Campbell. The A-side of today’s jukebox single (if you can actually delegate A & B sides to two songs this strong) is “Wichita Lineman,” a million-selling #3 hit from 1968. The song was written by Jimmy Webb who also wrote classic sixties hits like “By The Time I Get To Phoenix,” “Up-Up And Away” and “MacArthur Park.”

Webb’s inspiration for the song came from a drive he took through the telephone pole-lined roads of Washita County, Oklahoma. As he passed through an endless stream of telephone poles, he noticed a single county lineman in the distance working atop one of the poles. He saw the man as a picture of loneliness, which got him reflecting back on a failed relationship he had with a woman who also served as the inspiration for his song “MacArthur Park.” Webb placed himself on top of the pole speaking into the telephone receiver for the song.

Webb: “I’ve never worked with high-tension wires or anything like that. My characters were all ordinary guys. They were all blue-collar guys who did ordinary jobs…They came from places like Galveston and Wichita and places like that…I (had) a very specific image of a guy I saw working up on the wires out in the Oklahoma panhandle one time with a telephone in his hand talking to somebody. And this exquisite aesthetic balance of all these telephone poles just decreasing in size as they got further and further away from the viewer – that being me – and as I passed him, he began to diminish in size. The country is so flat, it was like this one quick snapshot of this guy rigged up on a pole with this telephone in his hand. And this song came about, really, from wondering what that was like, what it would be like to be working up on a telephone pole and what would you be talking about? Was he talking to his girlfriend? Probably just doing one of those checks where they called up and said, ‘Mile marker 46,’ you know. ‘Everything’s working so far.’” (SongFacts.com)

The song’s orchestral swells were created by Al DeLory to reflect the shimmering sound of the wind “singing through the wires” atop the poles. The musicians playing on the track were all Wrecking Crew stalwarts including Campbell, Al Casey and James Burton on guitar, Carol Kaye on bass, Jim Gordon on drums and Al DeLory on piano. It has been covered by the likes of Tom Jones, Johnny Mathis, Robert Goulet, Andy Williams, Bobby Goldsboro, Engelbert Humperdink, Jose Feliciano, Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66, James Taylor and R.E.M.

On the flip is Campbell’s take on an anti-war song that Jimmy Webb wrote while hanging out on the beaches of Galveston, Texas. It came to Campbell’s attention via Hawaiian singer Don Ho, who recorded a version of the song that was released as the flip side of his “Has Anybody Lost A Love” single in 1968. When Ho appeared on Campbell’s Goodtime Hour TV show in 1969, he gave him a copy of his recording of the song and suggested that he give it a whirl in the studio.

When Campbell recorded the song, he changed the lyrics, replacing the line “Wonder if she could forget me, I’d go home if they would let me, put down this gun and go to Galveston” with “I still hear your sea waves crashing/as I watch the cannons flashing/ I clean my gun/And dream of Galveston.”

Campbell’s version climbed to #4 on the Billboard Pop Charts, and topped the Country and Easy Listening charts in 1969. It also sold over a million copies. “Galveston” was the title track of his 1969 album of the same name which topped the Country Charts and charted at #2 pop. Like his previous album, the musicians included such Wrecking Crew stalwarts as Campbell and Al Casey on guitar, Hal Blaine and Bob Felts on drums, Jo Osborne on bass and Dennis McCarthy on piano.

Currently Campbell is battling Alzheimer’s disease. After completing his final album, he took to the road several years ago. The exceptional documentary I’ll Be Me follows him on his last tour before retiring for good.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Edited: June 7th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #38 – The Zombies: “She’s Not There” b/w “Tell Her No” – Collectables 45 RPM Single COL 3556 (Q4/R4)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #38 – The Zombies: “She’s Not There” b/w “Tell Her No” – Collectables 45 RPM Single COL 3556 (Q4/R4)

The Zombies’ fingerprints can be felt all over the music of The Byrds, The Doors, Crowded House and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Elvis was a big fan and they were hugely influenced by The Beatles, as well as being an influence on The Beatles. John Lennon wanted to produce them, and the sound of today’s double A-sided jukebox single with their debut hit “She’s Not There” on the A-side and the ultra-Lennonesque “Tell Her No” on the flip is, in my estimation, a perfect single.

They were a British Invasion band every bit as good as The Beatles, Stones, Kinks and The Who. In their ranks, they had one of the greatest vocalists of the entire British Invasion in Colin Blunstone, who could be at once breathy and plaintive, and then gritty and soulful, sometimes in the same song.

Add to that, not one, but two inspired songwriters in Chris White and Rod Argent, whose compositional abilities made perfectly crafted ‘60s pop records, high on melody and infused with great harmonies. It was all held together by Argent’s jazz-infused piano and organ playing, the tasty and tuneful guitar work of Paul Atkinson, and the air-tight rhythm section of White on bass and Hugh Grundy on drums, providing a danceable and infectious back beat.

Yet their impact was far greater in the U.S. than at home where their very first single “She’s Not There” peaked at #12 on the British charts, but made it all the way to #2 on these shores. Its follow up, “Tell Her No,” climbed to #6 in the U.S., but didn’t even make it into the UK top 40.

“She’s Not There” was the group’s debut single which was recorded in one take after the band won studio time in a talent contest. The song makes its impact right from the onset with its folk infused introduction which was rare for early 1960s rock recordings. In the early 1970s, the song was re-recorded by Zombies vocalist Colin Bluestone under the name Neil McArthur. This version climbed to the #34 position of the UK charts, and it also charted again in 1977 by Santana from their Moonflower album. “Tell Her No,” on the flip, was later recorded by Juice Newton in 1983 who brought the song into the pop top thirty.

After a string of great single releases here and abroad including “What More Can I Do,” “I Love You,” “I Can’t Make Up Your Mind,” “Summertime,” “Goin’ Out Of My Head” and “Is This The Dream” that didn’t seem to ignite the imagination of the public, The Zombies released their final magnum opus album, Odessey and Oracle in 1968 and then called it quits.

But timing is everything…so it is somewhat ironic that the group’s biggest worldwide hit, “Time Of The Season,” happened after they disbanded. Odessey and Oracle wouldn’t have even received a release on these shores had it not been for Al Kooper who worked for the group’s U.S. label and convinced them that the album was worth a proper release. Even though the group was no longer together, the album’s release was accompanied by the “Time Of The Season” single which went on to become their biggest hit all over the world.

After the breakup, Rod Argent went on to form the group Argent with Chris White (who wrote songs for the group, but did not perform.) They scored a hit with “Hold Your Head Up” in 1972, and had the distinction of having both KISS and Christian rock group Petra cover their song, “God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll To You.”

Colin Blunstone recorded many solo records, some with the help of his former band mates; he released three albums on Elton John’s Rocket Record Company label during the 1970s, and recorded vocals for The Alan Parsons Project albums Eye In The Sky and Ammonia Avenue. Throughout the years, Argent and Blunstone have toured many times together as a duo, or under the Zombies moniker performing hits from all phases of their intertwined careers. The definitive Zombies collection available today is Zombie Heaven, a four CD box set released by Ace Records in the U.K.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Edited: June 2nd, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #37 – Jose Feliciano: “Light My Fire” b/w “California Dreamin’” – RCA Victor 45 RPM Single 47-9550 1968 (P4/Q4)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #37 – Jose Feliciano: “Light My Fire” b/w “California Dreamin’” – RCA Victor 45 RPM Single 47-9550 1968 (P4/Q4)

Two songs from the 1960s that are unquestionably classics today…and Jose Feliciano had a hand in making them so…

The Doors’ “Light My Fire” topped the US charts in July of 1967, at the height of the Summer of Love. Along with Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” It became one of the most covered songs by bar bands of the late 1960s. A year later, the song found its way again on the pop charts peaking at the #3 position as covered by Jose Feliciano as the A-side of today’s single.

Song writer Robby Krieger said in an interview about the cover: “It’s really a great feeling to have written a classic. I think I owe a big debt to Jose Feliciano because he is actually the one, when he did it, everybody started doing it. He did a whole different arrangement on it.” (Wikipedia – James, Gary (1994). “Interview With Robby Krieger”. Classic Bands. Retrieved January 18, 2011.) Feliciano’s version won two 1969 Grammy Awards, for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and Best New Artist and firmly established him with the American record buying public.

The flip of today’s single is Feliciano’s take on The Mamas & Papas’ “California Dreamin’.” The also song made the rounds as another one of the most covered of its era including versions by Wes Montgomery, The Carpenters, The Four Tops, Melanie, Bobby Womack, Hugh Masekela, The Seekers, Raquel Welch, The Beach Boys , Wilson Phillips, and it still gets regularly licensed for use in film and commercials today.

Puerto Rican born Jose Feliciano was permanently blind from his birth in 1945. As a child he learned to play guitar at an early age and was influenced by classical guitarist Andres Segovia, jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery and Ray Charles for his vocal skills.

Feliciano came up from the same fertile Greenwich Village folk ground as Bob Dylan, Fred Neil, John Sebastian and Joan Baez, and he signed with RCA Victor Records in 1964 to begin his long and legendary recording career. He was a virtuoso Latin guitarist whose early records ran the gamut from traditional Latin tunes and pop hits of the day performed in a crossover folk, pop, jazz and soul bag.

By 1967, Feliciano relocated to Los Angeles. He was already a household name in Latin America and RCA teamed him up with producer Rick Jarrod who had worked with Jefferson Airplane and Harry Nilsson to record the both sides of today’s classic single and the 1968 album Feliciano!

The album is one of the quintessential albums of the late sixties and features near definitive versions of often covered sixties classics including Gerry & The Pacemakers’ “Don’t Let The Sun Catch Your Crying,” Bacharach & David’s “Always Something There To Remind Me,” Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny,” Tom Paxton’s “The Last Thing On My Mind” and of course the requisite Beatles covers “In My Life,” “And I Love Her,” and “Here, There And Everywhere.”

Musicians on the record included José Feliciano on guitar, vocals, arrangements, Ray Brown on bass, jazz percussionist Milt Holland, Jim Horn on alto flute, recorder and Harry Nilsson’s production team of producer Rick Jarrod, George Tipton providing orchestration, string & woodwind arrangements and Perry Botkin Jr with song arrangements. The single and album were recorded in November 1967 and January 1968 at RCA Victor’s Hollywood studios.

By 1968, Feliciano’s superstardom from the Grammys, hit records and numerous TV appearances was short lived. Feliciano’s star fell quickly after performing an impassioned and very personal performance of “The Star Spangled Banner” before Game 5 of the 1968 World Series which proved very controversial to many Middle Americans who were never exposed to Latin music. As a result, radio stations stopped playing his records for several years after.

After scoring a surprise hit with his self-penned Christmas classic “Feliz Navidad” in 1970, his career seemed to stall in America, however he has constantly continued to be a strong draw in Latin American countries. During the 1960s and 1970s, he appeared on dozens of TV variety and came back in 1976 with his hit theme from the TV show Chico and the Man. He also composed music for the 1970s TV shows McMillan & Wife and Kung Fu.

Feliciano is a perennial of the summer shed circuit and continues to perform around the world today. His “Feliz Navidad” has become a regularly played as a Christmas holiday staple during the last months of every year. His latest release is a tribute album to Elvis Presley released in 2012 on the Select-O-Hit record label called The King.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Edited: June 1st, 2015