Sam Cooke

Although he was only on this earth for a relatively short time, Sam Cooke’s music was to influence artists for decades after his passing. Rod Stewart was once quoted as saying that for a period of two years he listened to no other recordings than those of Sam Cooke.

Sam Cooke, in some quarters is looked upon as the founder of soul, while in others one of its pioneers. As with other African-American artists of his era he began by singing gospel. His father, a Baptist minister, had taken the family from the state of Mississippi to the city of Chicago, Illinois, when Sam was a child.

A writer of his own material, Sam surely could not have envisaged a more impressive beginning than when his first hit, “You Send Me”, went all of the way to No.1, in 1957. A long succession of successful releases followed, with him even charting posthumously with hits such as “Shake” and the highly emotive “A Change Is Gonna Come”, in the midst of Civil Rights’ Movement.

Controversy still surrounds his death in a hotel, in Los Angeles, in December of 1964. I saw actual footage in a recent documentary, on Sam’s life, in which the manageress is seen to claim that she had fired up to thirty bullets into him, in an act of self-defence. Uncertainty even exists as to his actual age at the time of his obit, with me having seen it listed as twenty-nine and on another occasion, thirty-three.

Briton Craig Douglas did such a superb job of covering Sam’s “Only Sixteen” that, in 1959, it went all of the way to the top of the British charts. Dr. Hook revived this song in 1976. The British group, Herman’s Hermits, successfully revived “Wonderful World”; Rod Stewart, “Twisting The Night Away”; the Australian band, The Groove, “Soothe Me”; The Spinners, “Cupid”; and country star, Mickey Gilley, my favourite track of Sam’s, “Bring It On Home To Me”. Perhaps the greatest homage to Sam Cooke was paid by the incredibly talented Cat Stevens, when he departed from his own material to record “Another Saturday Night”.

The names of more recordings by Sam Cooke can be found in the selected playlists. Whilst there, why not peruse the list of my favourite recordings? I shall be updating this list from time to time.

Loretta Lynn

Loretta Webb was born, in Kentucky, in April of 1934 (or 1935, for I have seen both years mentioned). Her father was a coal miner and she was the second of eight children of whom singer, Crystal Gayle, was another.

When Loretta was just thirteen she married Oliver Lynn, who encouraged her to pursue a career in country music. She was signed to Decca Records, where she received much encouragement from Patsy Kline. Her first single to chart came in 1960, in the form of “I’m A Honky Tonk Girl” and her most successful, “One’s On The Way”, in 1971.

While she remained massively successful on the American country charts, Loretta scarcely made an impression on the pop charts there. Some small consolation might have come from the fact that “One’s On The Way” entered the pop charts in Australia, which did not have country charts, and peaked, at No.9, two years after its American release.

Sissy Spacek was to win the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Loretta in the autobiographical film, “Coal Miner’s Daughter”. Loretta’s life is certainly a tale that took her from rags to riches!

Loretta wrote a number of her hits, most notably “Fist City”, “Rated X”, “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and “You Ain’t Woman Enough”. My favourite recordings are “Trouble In Paradise”, from 1974, “Love Is The Foundation” (1973) and “As Soon As I Hang Up The Phone”, one of the five No.1 hits she recorded in duet with Conway Twitty, from 1974.

Loretta also recorded with Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette, in addition to one of the earliest stars of country music, Ernest Tubb.

The names of more recordings by Loretta Lynn can be found in the suggested playlists. Whilst you are there why not peruse the list of my favourite recordings? I shall be adding to it from time to time.

Little Anthony and The Imperials

Tenor, Anthony Gourdine, was still in high school in Brooklyn, New York, when he helped to form the group, The Duponts. His next group, The Chesters, was to change its name and call itself The Imperials.

Little Anthony and The Imperials’ initial hit, “Tears On My Pillow”, in 1958, was to sell a million copies. This, in spite of the group not being fond of the song. Kylie Minogue revived it in 1989, with it appearing in her film, ‘The Delinquents’.

A short list of singles that had failed to perform as expected led the quintet to record a novelty song, “Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko-Bop”. It was to restore the vocal group’s status within the recording industry, as 1959 met 1960.

Nonetheless, further singles failed to chart with impact and, as a result, the group split up. However, by 1964, the members had been convinced that they should re-form and from this reformation the five were to experience their most successful period, with the release of “I’m On The Outside (Looking In)”, the pop standard “Goin’ Out Of My Head”, “Hurt So Good” and “Take Me Back”.

Billy Ocean

Billy Ocean was born as Leslie Sebastian Charles, in January of 1950, on the island of Trinidad. His family moved to live in London when he was eight years of age. There, the West Indian rhythms, to which he had been exposed, became influenced by the music of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals and American artists such as Sam Cooke, Ben E. King and Otis Redding.

Against his parents’ wishes, Billy became apprenticed to a tailor. He also began to learn how to play the piano. This eventually led him to perform in British clubs at night. The selection of his stage name was inspired by the film, ‘Ocean’s 11’, which starred Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.

Although Billy was to sample success with his debut single, “Love Really Hurts Without You”, in 1976, it was not until 1984 and the release of the catchy “Caribbean Queen (No More Love On The Run)”, that he was propelled to global stardom. The album, ‘Suddenly’, was marketed to coincide with the release of the latter single. This was followed by the albums, ‘Love Zone’, in 1986, and ‘Tear Down These Walls’, in 1988.

The single, “When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going”, became the theme to the highly successful film, ‘Jewel Of The Nile’. More hits followed, including “There’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)” and “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car”, ensuring that the name, Billy Ocean, is there among those on the list of the most prominent, solo male artists of the 1980s.

The names of more hits by Billy Ocean can be located in the suggested playlists. Whilst you are there, why not peruse the list of my favourite recordings? I shall be adding to it from time to time.

Chris Farlowe

John Henry Deighton was born in October of 1940, in London, England. As Chris Farlowe he became known for his singing of rock, blues and soul.

Being an admirer of Lonnie Donegan, his musical career began in a skiffle group. By 1965 he had recorded the first of what would be eleven singles. Five of these were to be covers of recordings by The Rolling Stones.

One of these five, “Out Of Time”, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richard, was destined to far outshine the other ten recordings, reaching No.1 on the British singles’ charts, in 1966, and No.12 in Australia.

The names of more of my favourite recordings can be found in the suggested playlists. I shall be adding to this list from time to time.


Eric Clapton, the legendary blues guitarist, had played in The Yardbirds, and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers prior to the formation of the trio, Cream. It was whilst playing with John Mayall that Eric met bassist, Jack Bruce and drummer, Ginger Baker.

This British trio was considered to be adventurous, even in the late 1960s, and quickly won a large following of devotees. However, the different temperaments within the group meant that, as an entity, it was to last for less than two years.

“Sunshine Of Your Love”, “I Feel Free”, “Strange Brew” and “White Room” are the pick of Cream’s singles and of its albums, ‘Disraeli Gears’, is generally regarded as a classic.

Keith West

Keith Alan Hopkins was born near London, in December of 1943. In 1964 he became the leading singer in the group, The In Crowd, which was soon renamed as Tomorrow.

Keith’s salient period came, as a solo artist, in 1967, with the release of his single, “Excerpt From A Teenage Opera”. It peaked at No.2 on the British singles’ chart.

It is a favourite track of mine for its melody, its almost childish, yet haunting aura and for the moral I obtain from the song, namely that so many human beings tend to think of themselves and their own needs even, as in this instance, with regard to the elderly.

The names of more of my favourite tracks can be found in the suggested playlists.

Freddie Hart

Frederick Segrest was born in December of 1926, in Alabama. He was one of fifteen children born into a family of sharecroppers.

At the age of fifteen, he lied about his age in order to join the United States Marines. Frederick consequently saw active duty in Guam and Iwo Jima during the Second World War.

After the War, Frederick moved to California where he joined the band of Lefty Frizzell, a star of country music. Lefty was responsible for Freddie Hart, as Frederick was professionally known, obtaining a contract to record for Capitol Records, in 1953.

Although Freddie recorded from that year, it was not until he was signed to Columbia Records that he firstly entered the charts, with “The Wall”, in 1959. In 1969, Freddie re-signed with Capitol Records and became a part of the Bakersfield sound when he became affiliated with a company owned by Buck Owens.

In 1971, Freddie released the self-penned single, “Easy Loving”, which he had actually recorded two years earlier. It spent three weeks at No.1 and crossed over to the pop charts and peaked at No.17 in the United States, and No. 10 in Australia. It was followed by a succession of hits that also topped the country charts: “My Hang-Up Is You”, “Bless Your Heart”, “Got The All Overs For You (All Over Me)”, “Super Kind Of Woman” and “Trip To Heaven”.

Freddie’s last hit to enter the Top 10 was “When Lovers Turn To Strangers”, in 1977. He continued to release singles until 1987, and, in 2001, was inducted into the Alabama’s Music Hall Of Fame.

Martial arts was another of Freddie’s passions. He opened a chain of studios for those wishing to learn self-defence and was, himself, a master of karate.

The names of more tracks by Freddie Hart can be found in the selected playlists. Whilst there, why not peruse the list of my favourite recordings? I shall be adding to it from time to time.

Rupert’s People

“Reflections Of Charles Brown” has been a favourite single of mine since it was released in 1967. It reached No.13 in Australia and, I believe, entered the Top 10 in Canada.

Some people believe that it is at least partially cloned from Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” but wasn’t that, in turn, based on a classical piece?

I like the melody of the song, as well as the way the lyrics depict both the helplessness and hopelessness in Charles Brown’s life. One feels that he has done very little, other than work, and nor is anything likely to alter this in the austerity that was Britain, for many, at that time.

A list of more of my favourite recordings can be found in the suggested playlists. I shall be adding to this list from time to time.

The Mighty Avengers

It is virtually impossible to find out any information on this obscure British group. Nonetheless, I have decided to include its single, “So Much In Love”, for I really enjoyed listening to it as a teenager, in 1964. It spent only two weeks on the British singles’ chart, peaking at No. 46. It is also an example of the early songwriting of Mick Jagger and Keith Richard.