8th Post: O & P – Last Names

1950 and 1960s MUSIC GROUPS (O’s and P’s)

This post may include the biggest contributor to the greatest of all time music era (1950-1969): Elvis Presley! In addition (with the group and artists names ending with O or P), four more dynamic people and two groups are included here: Roy Orbison, Johnny Otis, Peaches and Cream, Wilson Pickett and Gene Pitney, Playmates and The Poni-Tails…

ROY ORBISON
Photo credit: Wall Street Journal – November 7, 2013

Orbison, Roy. 1952-1988

An American singer (born in Vernon, TX) and songwriter best known for his impassioned singing style, complex song structures, and dark, emotional ballads. Some critics described him as bring operatic nicknamed him “the Caruso of rock.” Most male rock singers in the 1950-60s projected a defiant masculinity, he conveyed vulnerability. He performed standing still, wearing dark clothing matching his dyed black hair along with his dark sunglasses.

Between 1960-66, 22 of his singles made the Billboard Top40 charts. Five reached the Top10:

“Only the Lonely” – 1960 (https://youtu.be/D6Aw3ZnqQrY) (RQ 10)

“Running Scared” – 1960 (https://youtu.be/DAYyMIZNxfM) (RQ 8)

“Crying” – 1961 (https://youtu.be/tNdBLBleO90). (RQ 10)

“In Dreams” – 1963 (https://youtu.be/MVRunwyoTMA) (RQ 9)

“Oh Pretty Woman” – 1964 (https://youtu.be/3KFvoDDs0XM) (RQ 10)

Soon after this amazing run, he experienced a number of personal tragedies while his sales declined. These included a divorce over his wife’s Claudette’s infidelities, but they ended up going through a reconciliation. Claudette and Roy shared a love for motorcycles, however this led to tragedy. On June 6, 1966, in Gallatin, TN, a pickup pulled out in front of her and she hit it and she died instantly.

Then, on September 14, 1968, his home burnt down where his two eldest sons died. Johnny Cash bought the property, tore it down, and planted an orchard on it.

After a period of almost twenty years he experienced a resurgence of popularity. In 1988, he co-founded a rock supergroup called Traveling Wilburys with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne. Roy died of a heart attack in December of ‘88. One month later his song “You Got It” (https://youtu.be/lvR1YgT7QYs) (RQ 9) was released (Lynne and Petty assisted in writing it). It was his first solo Top10 hit in nearly twenty-five years.

While grieving, he through himself into work collaborating with Bill Dee from MGM to develop music for the movie “Fastest Guitar Alive.” He was to have starred in the movie as well. Roy’s music was recognized by inductions into Rock and Roll HOF, Songwriters HOF, Pop Music HOF and the Memphis Music HOF. Also, he earned a Lifetime Achievement Award. Over his career, he produced 23 studio albums, 4 live albums, 24 compilation albums and 92 singles.

Bandleader Johnny Otis, 'Godfather of R&B,' Dead at 90 - Rolling Stone
Johnny Otis
Photo credit: rollingstone.com

Johnny Otis (born Ioannis Alexandres Veliotes; December 28, 1921 – January 17, 2012) was an American singer, musician, composer, arranger, bandleader, talent scout, disc jockey, record producer, television show host, artist, author, journalist, minister, and impresario. He was a seminal influence on American R&B and rock and roll. In 1958 he recorded “Willie and the Hand Jive” (https://youtu.be/QvOuTInrue0) (RQ 8). He discovered numerous artists early in their careers who went on to become highly successful in their own right, including Little Esther Phillips, Etta James, Big Mama Thornton, Johnny Ace, Jackie Wilson, Little Willie John, Hank Ballard, and The Robins (who eventually changed their name to The Coasters), among many others. Otis has been called the “Godfather of Rhythm and Blues”.

Peaches and Herb
Photo credit: napster

Peaches & Herb is an American vocal duo. Herb Fame (born October 1, 1942) has remained a constant as “Herb” since the duo was created in 1966; seven different women have filled the role of “Peaches”, most notably Francine “Peaches” Hurd Barker (April 28, 1947 – August 13, 2005), the original “Peaches” who lent her nickname to the duo, and Linda Greene, the third “Peaches”, who appeared on the duo’s biggest hits “Shake Your Groove Thing” (1978) and “Reunited” (1979). In 1967, “For Your Love” (https://youtu.be/X_uEsJhPAZ8) (RQ 9) reached No13 on the Billboard chart.

WILSON PICKETT
Photo credit: Famous Singers
Alexander Eckstein Editor

Pickett, Wilson 1941-2006

An American soul singer and songwriter. He recorded over 50 songs that reached the U.S. R&B charts. His top hits were:

“In the Midnight Hour” – 1965 (https://youtu.be/FGVGFfj7POA) (RQ 9)

“Land of 1,000 Dances” (https://youtu.be/jbRiM26hyms) (RQ 9)

“Mustang Sally” (https://youtu.be/16u6w0cjjrU). (RQ 10)

“634-5785” (https://youtu.be/TSGuaVAufV0). (RQ 6)

“Funky Broadway” (https://youtu.be/HcTWxJAGQVQ) (RQ 3)

“In the Midnight Hour” reached a No1 rating, sold more than a million copies and was awarded a gold disc. It was also nominated for his first Grammy.

While in the recording process, studio musician Steve Cropper made an observation…Wilson began a new way of dancing while performing. Wilson explained this was how kids were dancing, putting the accent on two. We had been one-beat-accenters with an afterbeat. He said, it was like an afterbeat, like boom-dah. But, then the thing went um-chaw, just the reverse as far as the accent goes.

He recorded 24 albums, 10 compilations and 59 singles. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll HOF in 1991.

GENE PITNEY
Photo credit: Shazam – Top Songs

Pitney, Gene. 1940-2006

Born in Hartford, CT. His overall success included having charted 14 Top40 hits in the U.S. In the UK, he had 22 Top40 hits including 11 singles in the Top10.

As a writer, he wrote: “Rubber Ball” (https://youtu.be/z5jrqe8ryJ8) (RQ 7) recorded by Bobby Vee, “He’s a Rebel” (https://youtu.be/aF7V2dSvxpo) (RQ 8) recorded by The Crystals and “Hello Mary Lou” (https://youtu.be/zLkCWT2neuI) (RQ 10) recorded by Ricky Nelson.

In 1961, he recorded his first Top40 song: “Love My Life Away” (https://youtu.be/sD52iAFILOc) (RQ 8). His second single was the title song from the Kirk Douglass movie “Town Without Pity” (https://youtu.be/CkcvQQTe9Mw) (RQ 10). It won a Golden Globe award and was nominated for a best song Academy Award but lost to Moon River – Audrey Hepburn (1https://youtu.be/73CSB08Y3is) (RQ 8).

In 1962 he had three big hits:

“The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” (https://youtu.be/MYpslYIh2fY) (RQ 10).

“Only Love Can Break a Heart” (https://youtu.be/5J_QoDrNhNo) (RQ 9)

“Half Heaven, Half Heartache.” (https://youtu.be/MMzzQQRFsQI) (RQ 6)

In 1964, his popularity was rising in the UK. There he wrote: “24 Hours from Tulsa” (https://youtu.be/jIjUaxP7PPE) (RQ 8). It reached the Top20 in the UK and in the U.S. Also in 1964 he wrote two songs for the Rolling Stones: “Little by Little” (https://youtu.be/_Fm2PIbgcTA) (RQ 7) and “That Girl Belongs to Yesterday” (https://youtu.be/0tU7ZW-2Deg) (RQ 6).

In 1965, he recorded two albums with country singer George Jones. Then In 1966, he produced two more big songs: “It Hurts to be In Love” (https://youtu.be/a9e65N4LPZ4) (RQ 10) and “I’m Gonna Be Strong” (https://youtu.be/ldcZkWLOTCI) (RQ 10).

In 1968 he produced his last top hit single: “She’s a Heartbreaker” (https://youtu.be/AULvmliobq4) (RQ 7). In 2002, he was elected into the Rock and Roll H0F.

The Playmates
Photo credit m: waybackattack.com

The Playmates included Donald Claps (a.k.a. Donny Conn) drummer and lyricist, Carl Cicchetti (a.k.a. Chic Hetti) pianist music composer and Morey Cohen (a.k.a. Morey Carr) lead vocalist were an instrumental and vocal trio, all from Waterbury, Connecticut, United States and, in the early 1950s, at the University of Connecticut. After graduation in 1952, they began touring small lounges and night clubs in the United States and Canada, originally as “the Nitwits”, later as the Playmates. Signed to Roulette Records in 1958 as the label’s first vocal group, and anticipating a Calypso craze, the group recorded an album called Playmates Visit the West Indies. They then released two notable Top 40 singles — “Jo-Ann” and “Don’t Go Home” — before having a number 4 hit (July 9, 1958) with the tempo-changing novelty song “Beep, Beep” (https://youtu.be/5DPBfbSgqbY) (RQ 9), which became a regular feature for Dr. Demento.

ELVIS PRESLEY
“Aloha From Hawaii”
Photo credit: PicBizz

Presley, Elvis. 1935-77

Was an American singer and actor regarded to be one of the greatest cultural icons of the 20th century. Known as the “King of Rock and Roll.” He was born in Tupelo, TN. He was a pioneer of rockabilly, which is a uptempo, backbeat fusion of country music and rhythm and blues. In 1956, he recorded his first hit: “Heartbreak Hotel” (https://youtu.be/e9BLw4W5KU8) (RQ 10). It reached No1 on the charts in the U.S. His energized and sexually provocative performance style made him tremendously popular.

In 1956, he made his debut in the movie “ Love Me Tender” (https://youtu.be/2lD711_Xh8s) (RQ 8). Then in 1958, he was drafted into the military which temporarily slowed down his career.

In 1968, after about seven year break from live performances, he did a tv special simply called “Elvis.” This led to an extensive Las Vegas concert series and a string of highly profitable tours. In 1973, Elvis gave the first broadcast around the world called: “Aloha From Hawaii.”

In 1977, after years of prescription drug abuse that severely compromised his health, he died suddenly in 1977 at the age of 42 at his estate called Graceland. He is considered to be the greatest solo music artist of all time. He won three Grammys including their Lifetime Achievement Award. He recorded somewhere between 665-711 songs. Records conflict as to the exact number. He recorded 24 studio albums, 16 soundtrack albums, 117 singles (including 31 No1s).

Some of hits were:

“Hound Dog” (https://youtu.be/lzQ8GDBA8Is) (RQ 9)

“Don’t Be Cruel” (https://youtu.be/ViMF510wqWA) (RQ 10)

“Love Me Tender” Done later on in his career. (https://youtu.be/BeTurYZuY4A) (RQ 6)

“Too Much” (https://youtu.be/GPc8XNtlDk4) (RQ 8)

“All Shook Up” (https://youtu.be/23zLefwiii4) (RQ 10)

“Teddy Bear” (https://youtu.be/89MihWd6zKk) (RQ 9)

“Jailhouse Rock” (https://youtu.be/gj0Rz-uP4Mk) (RQ 10)

“Don’t” (https://youtu.be/T_IEho5uedM) (RQ 8)

“Hard-Headed Woman” (https://youtu.be/cN6DXflD7fU) (RQ 8)

“A Big Hunk O’ Love” (https://youtu.be/1HEyCAe4_Lw) (RQ 9)

He sold more than a billion records worldwide. Sony said that his income from his album sales alone exceeded 146.5 million dollars.

The Poni-Tails
Photo credit: doo-wop.com
March 19, 2010

The Poni-Tails were active between 1956-1960. They formed in Lyndhurst, Ohio which is a suburb of Cleveland. The group members were: Toni Cistone, Karen Topinka and Patti McCabe. They began singing together while attending Brush High School. They recorded seven singles, but their hit was “Born Too Late” (https://youtu.be/_1tgiHLE-w4) (RQ 10). It is regularly heard on the radio today.

Lloyd Price
Photo credit: soulwalking.co.uk

Lloyd Price (March 9, 1933 – May 3, 2021) was an American R&B vocalist, known as “Mr. Personality”, after his 1959 million-selling hit, “Personality” (https://youtu.be/D8Rhg35qE5w) (RQ 10). His first recording, “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” (https://youtu.be/O1OX0kA0zA0) (RQ 10) was a hit for Specialty Records in 1952. He continued to release records, but none were as popular until several years later, when he refined the New Orleans beat and achieved a series of national hits. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.