Sunday, July 24, 2016

Tony Macauley (Anthony Gordon Instone)

Tony was born in 1944, in Fulham, London. His father played piano and his mother was a writer and he grew up to appreciate music. Whilst at college Tony played bass and wrote songs but was never able to make it as a performer. He enjoyed American music and in particular the melodic works of Bacharach and Hal David and the rhythms of Holland.Dozier and Holland at Motown.

When he left college his first start job in 1965, was in the music business as a song plugger for Essex Publishing. It was not a job he particularly enjoyed but in the couple of years promoting other's music he took the opportunity to get to know the key people within the industry. Tony had a good ear for pop-soul and he would beg and borrowing favours to make demonstration records but they did nothing. When he moved to Pye Records as a record producer, he already knew personally radio and record producers, and disc jockeys which gave him a great advantage. He continued to write songs, often in collaboration with John MacLeod and with The Foundations they discovered perfect British soul outfit. Their first commercial success was "Baby Now That I've Found You", which topped the UK Singles Chart in 1967.

Tony Macauley carefully wrote songs which were full of modulations and wonderful chord sequences and this pleased the public. To his critics he turned British pop into something akin to commercial jingles but the hits kept on coming.

In 1968, Mike D'Abo (Manfred Mann) and Tony McCauley penned "Build Me Up Buttercup" for the Foundations'. The single became an international hit. John McLeod and Tony got together with Marmalade’s chart success with "Baby Make it Soon" (1969), the Paper Dolls' "Something in My Heart (Keeps A-Telling Me No)." (1969).

In 1969, Tony Macaulay and Geoff Stephens wrote Scott Walker's "The Lights of Cincinnati" which became a hit. In the same year the song writers penned the Hollies' "Sorry Suzanne." It was the group's first song to feature Terry Sylvester in the place of Graham Nash and reached #3 on the UK singles chart.

He was back in the charts again in 1970, with Pickettywitch's "That Same Old Feeling."

In 1970, Tony signed with Bell Records for 1 million (dollars) and had plenty musicians but in the absence of named groups and artists, he preferred to work with session singers. He recognised the financial benefit of owning the rights to a band’s name, and like Phil Spector, employed session musicians and singers to record material which was put out by the label as the work of the band. Tony Barrows was a young versatile singer and took the lead and working with back-up singers, Sue Glover and Sunny Leslie. (Sue and Sunny sang with Joe Cocker on "A Little Bit Of Help From My Friends"), Tony mixed their vocals with sessions musicians. He had written "Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)"with Barry Mason and Sylvan Whittingham and because he owned the rights to the name Edison Lighthouse, released the single under their name. When the song became a hit, he had to quickly assemble a group to appear on Top of the Pops (BBC). Sylvan Whittingham found a group called 'Greenfields' and brought them to the auditions a week before their appearance on Top of the Pops. Once chosen and rehearsed, they appeared on the show as 'Edison Lighthouse' to mime to the fastest climbing number 1 hit record in history. Tony Burrows and Sue and Sunny initially mimed, then sang the song on the programme with three different groups in their three separate appearances . Later when Tony Burrows left the band, other musicians were brought in to replace him.

In the 70s Tony began collaborations with song writing team of Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway. Andy Williams reached No 7 in the UK charts with "Home Lovin' Man." In the same year they penned "Blame It On The Pony Express" which charted for Johnny Johnson and the Bandwagon. The following year he was back in the charts with “Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again,” by The Fortunes.

Tony Macauley was asked to write a song for Elvis Presley for his 1971 album Elvis sings The Wonderful World of Christmas. He came up with " I'll Be Home on Christmas Day" which has been played every Christmas in Times Square to kick off the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Even more hits followed with The 5th Dimension "(Last Night) I Didn't Get to Sleep At All" in 1972. His own composition, he had initially offered it to The Carpenters but they refused to record it because in the lyrics there was reference to taking sleeping tablets. The instrumental backing on "(Last Night) I Didn't Get to Sleep At All" was from the Wrecking Crew and the song reached #8 on the Billboardchart. In 1973, Tony wrote the theme tune for New Faces (ATV) which was recorded by Carl Wayne (The Move). The New Seekers took "You Won't Find Another Fool Like Me," which was written by Tony Macaulay and Geoff Stephens into the charts in the same year.

During this time Tony Macauley had his attention diverted by a protracted legal dispute with his publishers. In a landmark decision he won his case on appeal in 1974, which made him one of the most powerful composers in the British music industry and encouraged other artists to challenge the terms of their contracts. He continued in pop industry and had Top Ten hits with Marmalade "Falling Apart at the Seams," (1976); David Soul's "Don't Give Up on Us" (1976), and Donna Summer's "Can't We Just Sit Down (And Talk It Over)" (1977).

Thirty-eight made the Top 20 in the UK, eight, the number position. Sixteen of his songs were hits in the US, three made number one. He also composed scores to the films, The Beast in the Cellar (1970) and Percy's Progress (1974), and was the music coordinator for the film Never Too Young to Rock (1975).

At the height of his pop success, he switched to composing musical theatre. He started with a collaboration with playwright, Ken Hill on “Is Your Doctor Really Necessary?” (1973), and later on “Gentlemen Prefer Anything” (1974). In 1982, he wrote the music for a musical adaption of Windy City, a musical in two acts based on The Front Page by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur.

When Tony Macaulay felt he was too old to write pop songs he embarked on a new career as a successful author of thrillers (Sayonara and Enemy of the State). He also taught writing thriller fiction to post-graduate students at University of Brighton.

Tony Macauley is one of the most successful UK song writers of the 60s and is a nine time Ivor Novello Awards winning songwriter. In 1986 he was invited to write the music to commemorate the Queen’s 60th birthday and it was performed by a choir of 600 children and the Grenadier Guards outside Buckingham Palace. In 2007, he became the only British person to win the Edwin Forrest Award for outstanding contribution to the American theatre.

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Foundations

The ska/reggae group were originally called The Ramong Sound (or The Ramongs), and had two lead singers, Clem Curtis and Raymond Morrison (aka Ramong Morrison). In 1967, they became The Foundations and practiced and played in a basement club called the Butterfly Club in London. The group were made up of West Indians, White British, and a Sri Lankan. The line-up included Tim Harris (drums 1948-2007), Alan Warner (vocals and guitarist), Peter Macbeth (bass), Tony Gomez (keyboards 1938-2015), and Clem Curtis (lead vocals). The group had flirted with two lead singers and Arthur Brown (The Godfather Of Hellfire) and Rod Stewart had at one time matched with Clem Curtis but these unions lasted only a short time.

The West Indian horn section, consisted of Jamaican-born Mike Elliott (tenor sax) and Pat Burke (flute, tenor sax), both saxophonists and Dominican-born Eric Allandale (1936-2001) on trombone. They were all highly experienced musicians who came from professional jazz and rock-and-roll backgrounds. Tony Macaulay came to see them play but had a bad hangover and initially did not rate them. On second thoughts he blamed the headache and gave them the benefit of the doubt. They signed for the Pye label and released 'Baby Now That I've Found You, ' written by Tony Macaulay with John MacLeod and it went nowhere. At the same time the BBC was keen to feature new records not favoured by the pirate radio stations. "Baby, Now That I've Found You" took off from being a sleeper and i 1967 was number one in the UK Singles Chart.

The group was the first multi-racial group to have a number 1 hit in the UK in the 1960s and drew much interest and intrigue due to its size and structure. Under the management of Barry Class and Fairway they continued to honour their previous bookings despite their chart success. Their second single was "Back On My Feet Again" (1968), and sold less well but did made it to #18 in the UK, and #29 in Canada. Relationships between the band and Tony Macaulay became strained after he would not allow them to record any of their own songs. "Any Old Time (You're Lonely And Sad), " the follow up single barely broke into the Top Fifty (UK #48). With growing tensions within the group Clem Curtis and Mike Elliott left the band. Clem Curtis moved to the US for a solo career on the club circuit and was replaced in The Foundations by Colin Young.

Now with Colin Young as lead singer, the band released "Build Me Up Buttercup" co-written by Macaulay with Mike d'Abo (Manfred Mann) topped the charts internationally. Mike d'Abo played the introduction on 'Build Me Up Buttercup'. A year later, "In the Bad Bad Old Days (Before You Loved Me)" became another hit. Peter Macbeth left the band and was replaced by Steve Bingham. Behind the scenes a feud broke out between their managers and Fairway made an acrimonies departure. The group decided to breakaway but a tour to support The Temptations at the newly opened Copacabana club ended in disaster and the band returned to the UK.

On their return to the UK Mike Dolan took over the group's affairs and they had modest success with "Born to Live, Born to Die" which was written by Eric Allandale and Tony Gomez. The final chart entry from the group came in 1969 with "My Little Chickadee", which barely made the US Hot 100.

The more commercial "Take A Girl Like You", (1970) was the title song to the Oliver Reed and Hayley Mills film, but failed to attract commercial attention . After "I'm Gonna Be A Rich Man," a more meatier bluesy rocker failed, the band split in late 1970. One of the last record releases was "Stoney Ground" in 1971. This has subsequently become a classic Northern Soul favourite.

Unlike Hot Chocolate the group failed to keep abreast of popular Disco music and whilst their roots were in ska and reggie, the band broke up before the resurgence in Blue beat and Two tone music. There were several attempts to resurrect The Foundations but with little success despite of releasing several singles. Clem Curtis' re-formed Foundations was perhaps the best known but a short lived collaborative between trombonist Eric Allandale and drummer Tim Harris met with little success. Colin Young fronted a group called the Foundations which led to a court case and now only Clem Curtis is allowed to bill his group as either the Foundations or Clem Curtis & the Foundations. Young appears as "The New Foundations", or as "Colin Young & the New Foundations". In 1999, after "Build Me Up Buttercup" appeared on the soundtrack of the film, There's Something About Mary, and new version of the Foundations appeared with Colin Young (vocals), Alan Warner (Guitar), Steve Bingham (bass), Gary Moberly (keyboards), Tony Laidlaw (sax) and Sam Kelly then Steve Dixon (drums). Sometime later Young left the group and was replaced by Hue Montgomery (aka Hugh Montgomery).

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Fortunes (Rod Allen 1944 - 2008)

Rodney Bainbridge was born in in 1944 in Leicester and developed an interest in skiffle, as a pre-teen. The family moved to the Sparkbrook district of Birmingham where Rod grew up. He formed an acoustic guitar group, the Clifftones, with friends Glen Dale and Barry Pritchard. They switched to electric guitars in 1963 and despite being a vocal group their first recording was an instrumental called "Cygnet Twitch," which appeared on a compilation album, called Brumbeat, (Dial record label) highlighting local Birmingham beat groups."Cygnet Twitch" was a working ofTchaikovsky's "Swan Lake".

Under the management of Reginald (Reg) Calvert the line-up was complete with Andy Brown (drums) and David Carr (keyboards) and the band were renamed The Fortunes Rhythm Group. Rod dropped the name Bainbridge and chose Allen from a telephone directory, The Fortunes signed with Decca and their first single was a cover of The Jamie’s 1958 U.S. hit "Summertime, Summertime." It made no impact on the charts.

The second Fortunes single the following year, was "Caroline" written by Perry Ford (Ivy League) and Tony Hiller. It was produced by Shel Talmy (who later worked with The Who and The Kinks) and adopted by the pirate radio station Radio Caroline, as its theme tune. Popularity of both station and its theme tune established The Fortunes as hit makers. "You've Got Your Troubles", was written by Roger Greenaway & Roger Cook, and the song suited the band's image perfectly with lavish instrumentation and their trademark 3-part harmonies featuring Rod Allen's lead. The record broke into the Top Ten in both UK and US in 1965.

With a hit formula now established, a follow-up "Here It Comes Again" (also composed by Greenaway and Cook) was released soon after and gained a No. 4 chart placing. With this success, The Fortunes were able to undertake a package tour of the U.S.A. along with Peter & Gordon and The Moody Blues. On return from the US Tour the group released “This Golden Ring” (1966). The success was slightly marred when the Fortunes admitted in a magazine interview that they had not played the instruments on the recording. None the less it put the band back in the Top Twenty charts. 1966 was a water shed for the group when their manager Reg Calvert, was shot to death in a dispute over pirate radio stations and later Glen Dale left the group, replaced by Shel McCrae. The Fortunes next three singles ("You Gave Me Somebody to Love", "Is It Really Worth Your While?" and "Our Love has Gone") all failed to chart.

In 1967, The Fortunes were reunited with Shel Talmy after they switched labels to United Artists. The group decided to record self-composed material and although "The Idol" by Rod Allen and Barry Pritchard failed to impact chart wise, it did meet some critical acclaim. The group switched to making "advertising jingles", most notably "It's The Real Thing" for Coca-Cola, which was a version of the theme tune, "Things Go Better with Coke". After David Carr left the group in 1968 and they carried on as a four piece. A failed attempt to cover The Move's hit "Fire Brigade" for the US market, saw the Fortunes join a number of bands on the Club Circuit.

In 1971, the band switched to the Capitol Records label and were once again partnered with writers/producers Greenaway and Cook. Two more hits followed: “Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling” and “Freedom Come, Freedom Go.” In 1972, “Storm in a Teacup”, co-written by Lindsey De Paul and Barry Blue, also made it into the top ten. These successes renewed demand for live appearances by the Fortunes and the group kept on in steady work. During the 70's, the band’s make up changed as they tried to adapt to changing musical styles.

Eventually The Fortunes turned to comedy and entertained with both songs and musical impressions. Always popular on the Retro Circuit, The Fortunes continued to tour the world built on their reputation as one of the finest harmony bands from the 60s. Sadly Rod was diagnosed with liver cancer and passed away on Jan 10th 2008. The band continues to entertain with Eddie Mooney (The Dakotas) as their lead singer.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Unit 4 + 2 (including Russ Ballard)

Unit 4 + 2 was put together by Brian Parker, in 1962, as a close harmony group. The line-up was Brian Parker (1940 - 2001) (guitar), David 'Buster' Meikle (guitar), Tommy Moeller (lead singer) and brother of Billy Moeller aka Whistling Jack Smith), and Peter Moules (bass), The group were called Unit 4 but when the quartet grew to a sextet, with the addition of by Russ Ballard (guitar) and Robert 'Bob' Henrit (drums), they became Unit 4 +2. Brian Parker left the band, but stayed involved as co-songwriter with Tommy Moeller for all of the band's original recordings. Howard 'Lem' Lubin (Christie) replaced Brian for live performances. Other line-up changes followed before they released their first single on Decca Records. "The Green Fields" which reached # 48 in the UK in 1964, but the follow up single, "Sorrow and Pain" was less successful.

In 1965, their single "Concrete and Clay" was written by Tommy Moeller and Brian Parker and became an International hit. Success was thought by many to be due to the exposure given to it on pirate radio stations, most notably, Wonderful Radio London. The song was recorded using session musicians Russ Ballard and Bob Henrit (who had played with the Roulettes). The next single release, "(You've) Never Been in Love Like This Before", reached the Top 20 in the UK, and No.95 on the Billboard Hot 100 in America.

Between 1964 and 1967 Unit 4 + 2, released 10 singles on Decca but had no further chart success after 1966, with "Baby Never Say Goodbye. " The addition of Russ Ballard (Roulettes), Rodney 'Humble' Garwood (bass guitar) and Bob Henrit (drummer) in 1967 helped the sound of the band but by this time their music was dated. The group switched to Fontana label and carried on releasing singles up to 1969, before they disbanded in 1970.

Russ Ballard joined Argent as their lead singer and guitarist, along with Bob Henrit, as drummer. Ballard features as the vocalist on Argent's smash "Hold Your Head Up" (1972) and wrote "God Gave Rock and Roll to You" (1973) as well as "I Don't Believe in Miracles", sung by Colin Blunstone (1972). Ballard left Argent in 1974 and pursued a solo and songwriting career.

Ballard became a prolific song writer and penned hits like “So you win again” (Hot Chocolate 1977), "Since you been gone" and “I surrender” (Rainbow 1979: 1981) and Three Dog Night's "Liar" (1971).

Russ Ballard wrote and performed on Roger Daltrey's first two solo albums, Daltrey (1973) and Ride a Rock Horse (1975). He also toured with Roger Daltrey in 1985. He wrote several songs for the movie McVicar (1980). More hits followed including "You Can Do Magic" (1982) for America . In the same year he penned hits for Anni-Frid Lyngstad with "I Know There's Something Going On", and Agnetha Fältskog’s "Can't Shake Loose. " The celebrated songwriter, singer and now talent agent continues to perform and work.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Teenage boy singers (50s & early 60s UK): Craig Douglas, Jess Conrad and Mark Wynter

In the UK mid-fifties, there were a number of teenage boy singers groomed by the industry, to appeal specifically to young female audiences without offending their parents. This was a deliberate attempt to offer alternatives to rock’n roll. The most popular were Craig Douglas, Mark Winter and Jess Conrad

Terence Perkins was born a twin, in 1941 in Newport, Isle of Wight. He had eight siblings and the family had three sets of twins. His mother was a professional singer and sang with the Douglas' sisters on the Isle of Wight. Terence preferred the outdoors to school and would often help the local milkman make his deliveries during the school holiday. This would later earn him the moniker, the 'Singing Milkman'. When he was 16, his mother entered him in a local talent contest and he won by singing Pat Boone’s "Love Letters in the Sand."

As part of his prize he was invited to sing at a variety show on the island. His pose and professionalism impressed London agent Bunny Lewis, who signed him and began was grooming him for a career on the stage in London. There were a number of Terry’s around at the time and Bunny Lewis, his new singing sensation as Craig Douglas after seeing the name outside a house in Scotland. After an appearance on The Six-Five Special, Craig was presented with two huge sacks of fan mail and given a recording contract with EMI.

His first single was cover version of Dion and the Belmonts, "A Teenager in Love" which reached #13 in the UK singles charts in 1959. The follow up single, “Only sixteen” was another cover but topped the charts outselling the original version by Sam Cooke. In 1959, Craig Douglas was voted 'Best New Singer' by the NME.

Craig was more comfortable with dignified pop music and his management quickly aimed him toward a more mature audience. His singing was very emotive but also very clean. He was obviously more comfortable with dignified pop music, such as "Time. " No matter he went on to record eight cover versions of former American hit songs, in his total of nine Top 40 UK singles. In 1961 he was chosen to represent Britain in the A Song For Europe contest with his song "The Girl Next Door", but did not do well. Craig Douglas' time on the English charts ended in 1962 and his major recording career came to a halt a year later with the advent of the Liverpool sound.

He appeared in several movies including Richard Lester's It's Trad, Dad with Helen Shapiro (1962). The Singing Milkman topped the bill on the Beatles' first major stage show in 1963, although their emergence ultimately spelt the end of Craig Douglas's chart career. Craig Douglas continued to perform regularly in clubs, on cruises, and in cabarets, as well as international tours. Today. Craig suffers from a rare condition that affects his legs which means he requires a wheelchair.

Gerald Arthur James was born in 1936 in Brixton, South East London, His father had a flower market at Marble Arch and young Gerald, was soon nicknamed "Jesse" after the American outlaw, Jesse James. From a boy he dreamed of a career in show-business and as a young teenager managed to get a part as a film extra. He worked on his father’s stall to pay for acting lessons in an East London drama school before getting a Film Artistes Association union card. There was already an actor named "Gerald James" in Actors Equity, so Jess took the surname Conrad after Joseph Conrad, as his stage name. The handsome young actor toured the UK with the Charles Danville Company. Between times he appeared in commercials. When television producer Daphne Shadwell saw him see felt he was right for the part of 'Barney Day' in the TV play "Rock A- Bye Barney" which was about a rock and roll performer. I t screened in 1959, and although his singing was over dubbed by Garry Mills, he acting was good enough to get him a part in the Human Jungle TV series where he reprised the role of a trouble rock ‘n roller called Danny Pace in the episode, The Flip Side Man. The role called for him to sing four numbers in character.

Jack Good saw the program and thought Conrad looked like a real pop star and invited him to join the line-up of his new TV series, Oh, Boy! Singing was not Jess’s strongest asset but as he did look the part and was given a recording contract by Decca. His first single release was a cover of Skip and Flip's US hit, 'Cherry Pie.' Which reached #39 in the UK singles charts. His second single flopped and it looked as though Jess's chart career was a none started. Then, his third release, ‘Mystery Girl’ reached #18. In 1961, Jess was voted England's "Most Popular Male Singer" in the 1961 NME annual poll and played the London Palladium and Wembley Pool. The young singer went on to tour the world with other luminaries such as, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Brenda Lee, Billy Fury, Marty Wilde, Joe Brown, Eden Kane and Johnny Kidd to name a few. By 1962, and the release of “Pretty Jenny,” Jess’s chart career was at an end. He did continue to make records into the 1970's but with little commercial success.

Jess recorded 'This Pullover' in 1961, the single failed to chart but did receive a degree of notoriety when it appeared in Kenny Everett’s 'Worst Records Of All Time' show in 1977. No fewer than 7 of Jess Conrad's singles were included in the 'World's Worst Record' list, chosen by listeners to Capital FM DJ Kenny Everett's show.

Fortunatley, Jess had his acting career to fall back upon and had been regularly working as an extra and bit part actor throughout the late 1950s and mid-1960s, including Serious Charge (uncredited). He went on to become an accomplished actor appearing in many films, on stage in musical theatre, drama and light comedy and pantomime, as well as numerous television appearances.

To the early Punks he was an icon and featured in a cameo role in the Sex Pistols film The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle.

Jess Conrad continues to entertain and has used his celebrity status to maintain a high profile in fundraising events for various charities.

Terence Sidney Lewis was born in 1943 in Woking, Surrey. They moved to the Elephant and Castle in South London and lived in humble circumstance before his mother remarried and the family later moved to Downham, Kent. It was soon apparent Terry had a pure soprano voice, and he joined the local choir. He soon became the Head Choirboy. His family were all musical and Terry decided aged 13 he would like to become a pop singer. He filled in for called “Hank Fryer and the Rockerfella's” when ‘Hanknd other pop singers sich as Terry Dene ' took a fifteen-minute break for a quick pint. Terry became a regular fill in and was spotted by talent scout, Ray Mackender in 1959 when he was singing in a Peckham dance hall Mackender signed him up. Terry decided to change his name to lessen the confusion with the American comedian, Jerry Lewis and other pop singers such as Terry Dene. Mark Wynter’s first single "Image of a Girl" (1960) reached #11 in the UK singles charts but follow up releases failed to reach the Top Twenty. Then in 1962, Mark Winter reached #4 in the UK charts with a cover version of Jimmy Clanton – "Venus in Blue Jeans".

The follow up single "Go Away Little Girl" (1962) also made the Top Ten at #6. Subsequent releases were less successful but in 1963. Mark was back in the Top Twenty with "It's Almost Tomorrow", which would be his last Top Twenty single. By this time the record buying public had changed their preference to beat groups and many solo artists were either unwilling or contractually unable to make a successful transition. Mark continued to record with other singles and several albums.

By the end of the sixties, Mark Wynter changed his career to actor and has worked in television. theatre and musicals, including Cats and The Phantom of the Opera. In 1994 he created the role of Van Helsing in the studio recording of the opera/musical "Nosferatu" by Bernard J. Taylor. Mark became a well know voice broadcasting on BBC Radio 2 during the early 1990s when he presented daytime shows as well as documentaries. He continues to work and tours the country with an Agatha Christie theatre company. .

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Dale Hawkins (1936 – 2010)

Delmar Allen Hawkins was born in 1936 in Louisiana, on his grandfather’s cotton farm in Gold Mine, where he grew up. His father and other family members were musicians who toured Arkansas and Oklahoma in the 1930s and ’40s. His cousin Ronnie Hawkins was also a rockabilly recording artist. According to Kauppila (2013), young Hawkins grew up absorbing a wide range of musical influences, including country and rhythm and blues (R&B) shows that he heard on Shreveport radio station KWKH (home of the Louisiana Hayride), blues from black sharecroppers with whom he picked cotton on his grandfather’s farm, and black gospel singers in local churches. He bought his first guitar at age thirteen with money he had saved from his paper round. The rhythm guitarist was influenced by the contemporary rock and roll style of Elvis Presley and in particular the guitar sounds of Scotty Moore, but also blended that with the uniquely heavy blues sound of black Louisiana artists to create swamp rock.

He left home at fifteen and lied about his age in order to join the US Navy. He served on a destroyer during the Korean War. Upon his military discharge, he moved to Bossier City and attended a business college in in the neighboring city of Shreveport, under the GI Bill, in 1956. He formed a band played on the Bossier Strip, a nightlife area that catered to off-duty military personnel from nearby Barksdale Air Force Base. The band recorded “See You Soon, Baboon” (intended as an “answer” record to Bobby Charles’s “See You Later, Alligator”), at KWKH studios during off-air hours. Dale and James Burton were college buddies, and in 1957 they recorded "Susie Q" with Burton on the signature riff and solo. Stan’s Record Shop was the regional distributor for Chicago label Chess Records, so owner Stan Lewis sent the song to Chess. The record was released in April 1957 on the Checker subsidiary as one of the first singles Chess released by a white artist. "Suzy Q," with its crackling bluesy guitar and insistent cowbell, was one of the first rock ’n’ roll records to feature lead guitar instead of saxophone and eventually reached No. 27 on the Billboard pop charts and No. 7 on the R&B charts.

Dale Hawkins and James Burton came up with “Susie Q” as they improvised around Burton’s guitar flourish, and later wrote the song kind of worked itself out. The song’s title is most likely to have come from a popular dance craze of the mid-1930s, but other influences have been suggested. The song’s melody came from a 1954 song by the Clovers, “I’ve Got My Eyes on You.”

The song was recorded at the KWKH Radio station in Shreveport, Louisiana. When it was released, Stan Lewis, the owner of Jewel/Paula Records, and Eleanor Broadwater, the wife of Nashville DJ Gene Nobles, were also credited as co-writers to give them shares of the royalties. This was common a practice and guaranteed the song was promoted although more often than not the artists were short changed. Many artists would cover the song including The Rolling Stones (1964); and Creedence Clearwater Revival (1968) among many others.

In 1958 he recorded Willie Dixon's "My Babe" which featured a Roy Buchanan’s solo on Telecaster. The single reached No. 7 on the R&B chart. Though he had a few more minor hits in 1958 and 1959, he was unable to duplicate the success of “Susie Q.” In addition to Burton and Buchanan, many notable musicians passed through Hawkins’s bands, including guitarist Scotty Moore and drummer D. J. Fontana (both of whom played with Elvis Presley), and future country stars Floyd Cramer and Conway Twitty. In 1960, he hosted his own teen dance party television program, The Dale Hawkins Show, on WCAU-TV in Philadelphia.

He was never able to repeat his earlier successes as a singer but continued recording after leaving Chess, with Tilt and Zonk labels, and two for Atlantic, but none were hits. In 1962 he moved back to Shreveport and became a producer for the Jewel and Paula labels run by his former boss, Stan Lewis. Later he served as president of ABNAK Records in Dallas, Texas, where he had hits with, The Uniques, "Not Too Long Ago" (1965) , the Five Americans, “Western Union” (1967), Jon & Robin's "Do It Again – A Little Bit Slower" (1967).

At Bell Records where he produced Bruce Channel (1968), Ronnie Self, James Bell, the Festivals, the Dolls, and the Gentrys); and A&R director, RCA West Coast Rock Division, working with Michael Nesmith and Harry Nilsson.

Dale Hawkins became disillusioned with the music business and relocated to the South, where he worked briefly in the insurance and automobile industries. In 1969, he returned to singing with the album “L.A., Memphis & Tyler, Texas” which featured a young Ry Cooder on guitar. Though the album did not sell well at the time, it is now regarded as a “lost” classic.

Sadly, the 70s found Hawkins plagued with drug problems, and he eventually he relocated to Arkansas, where he went through a rehabilitation program. In 1986, after MCA Records bought the Chess catalog, he received a check for $64,000 and built his own studio. In the 1980s, after recovering from an addiction to prescription drugs, he opened a crisis center for teenagers in Little Rock. In the 1996, he produced Kenny Brown’s "Goin Back to Mississippi" album. Two years later, Ace Records issued a compilation album, Dale Hawkins, Rock 'n' Roll Tornado, which contained a collection of his early works and previously unreleased material.

During 2000s Dale Hawkins enjoyed a career resurgence, playing festivals and then in 2007 he released Back Down to Louisiana on Plumtone Records. Dale Hawkins died in 2010, from colon cancer in Little Rock, Arkansas. He was 73.

Kauppila, Paul "Dale Hawkins." In Encyclopedia of Louisiana, edited by David Johnson. Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, 2010–. Article published April 2, 2013.

Kauppila, Paul "Dale Hawkins" Encyclopedia of Louisiana. Ed. David Johnson. Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, 2 Apr 2013. Web. 23 Jun 2016.