1950 and 1960s MUSIC GROUPS: THE RAMRODS, PAUL REVERE & JOHNNY RIVERS
As it turns out, the artists with last names beginning with R had been extremely productive. I have included three more in this tenth post: The Ramrods, Paul Revere and the Raiders and Johnny Rivers.
The Ramrods were an American instrumental pop group in the late 1950s and 1960s, who had a hit in 1961 with their version of the song “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky” (https://youtu.be/Tmqpy6zk7mA) (RQ 9). The group was formed in Connecticut in 1956 by Claire Lane (born Claire Litke) and her brother Rich Litke. Claire played drums, sang, and arranged the songs; Rich played saxophone. They added Vinny Lee on lead guitar, and Gene Morro on second guitar. At the end of 1960, they recorded their instrumental arrangement of “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky”, a song written by Stan Jones which had been a big hit in 1949 for Vaughn Monroe. The Ramrods’ version contained eerie and evocative overdubbed shouts, whistles and cattle calls, and was placed with Amy Records, a subsidiary of Bell Records in New York City. The record was made a “Pick of the Week” by Cash Boxmagazine, and rose to # 30 on the Billboardpop chart in early 1961. Released on the London label, it also reached # 8 on the UK singles chart.
Revere, Paul (& The Raiders). 1958-
This group experienced mainstream success in the second half of the 1960s. Their origin is Boise, Idaho. They relocated to Portland in 1962 after Paul returned from serving in the armed services (as a conscientious objector where he worked as a cook in a mental institution). In 1961, their first recording was an instrumental called “Like Long Hair” (https://youtu.be/hzcz7XNg0c4) (RQ 6). Their greatest songs were:
“Hungry” (https://youtu.be/OuBGWUSJGp4) (RQ 10)
“Him or Me” (https://youtu.be/DRu5TDiHmEU) (RQ 6)
“What’s It Going to Be?” (https://youtu.be/jBVDBuz4rZw) (RQ 9)
“Indian Reservation” (https://youtu.be/dVxYL2sI1oM) (RQ 8). This was their platinum classified hit that reached No1 on the charts.
The year before, Paul Revere Dick (organist) formed this group including Mark Lindsay (singer), Michael Smith (drummer), Drake Kevin (Guitar) and Mike Holliday (bass). In 1965, this group began to gel and decided to move to LA. This was when they started producing their hits including their first one: “Just Like Me” (https://youtu.be/gqNMzJlhrpM) (RQ 9). This was of the first rock records that featured a double racked guitar solo.
The group appeared regularly on tv on the program “Where the Action Is” hosted by Dick Clark. Through an endorsement deal with VOX Amplifier Co, their entire group was plugged into Vox Super Beatle amplifiers (for the first time). Their newer hits included:
“Kicks” (https://youtu.be/lLomSaLLSzg) (RQ 10)
“The Great Airplane Strike” (https://youtu.be/lrm5X-mZTiM) (RQ 7)
“Good Thing” (https://youtu.be/MSinkN_WTkk). (RQ 8)
“Kicks” became their best known song which projected an anti-drug message. Its writers, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil actually originally earmarked the Animals to record the song. In mid-1967, with three gold albums to their credit, they were Columbia Record’s top selling rock group. Last year (in 2019), the group’s music was used in the film “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” The music included their hits:
”Hungry” (see above)
“Good Thing” (see above)
“Mr. Son, Mr. Moon” (https://youtu.be/2dtNbaVPLSY) (RQ 6)
“Theme From Its Happening” (https://youtu.be/McKnH85fdRk) (RQ 5)
Overall the group produced 15 studio albums, 2 live albums, 15 compilation albums and 39 singles.
Rivers, Johnny. 1942-
His family moved from New York to Baton Rouge, Louisana. His given name was: John Henry Ramistella. In 1958, he met Alan Freed where he recommended that he change his name to Johnny Rivers after the Mississippi River.
He was a rock and roll singer, songwriter, guitarist and record producer. His repertoire included pop, folk, blues and old-time rock and roll. Between 1964-68, he recorded seven popular and charted songs:
“Memphis” (https://youtu.be/IAc0FKyBgks) (RQ 9)
“Mountain of Love” (https://youtu.be/V8nolWWMpO4) (RQ 10)
“The Seventh Son” (https://youtu.be/tZoY102X9cM) (RQ 7)
“Secret Agent Man” (https://youtu.be/6iaR3WO71j4) (RQ 8)
“Poor Side of Town” (https://youtu.be/NUrf0CgTuVU) (RQ 10)
“Baby I Need Your Lovin” (https://youtu.be/gpKhBknigGo) (RQ 10)
“Summer Rain” (https://youtu.be/Xa9vWVEYojg) (RQ 10+)
In 1958, Rivers met James Burton, a guitarist in a band led by Ricky Nelson. Rivers ended up writing “I’ll Make Believe” (https://youtu.be/M_NFMqsROpE) (RQ 7) which Nelson recorded. His big break came in 1963 where he filled in for a jazz combo at Gazzarri’s in Hollywood. His instant popularity began drawing large crowds.
In 1964, even though the Beatles were beginning to dominate the rock scene in the U.S., record producer Lou Adler decided to issue Johnny Rivers Live at Whiskey A Go Go (reached No12 on the charts) because of his popularity. Rivers most requested song of this time was: “Memphis” which reached No2 on the charts. Before releasing Memphis, Rivers had Elvis do a test recording but refused him. This cause a permanent friendship rift between Elvis and Rivers.
During 1964-5, Rivers produced four more hits:
“Mountain of Love” (https://youtu.be/F5R-_ZUf0wY) (RQ 10)
“Midnight Special” (https://youtu.be/5TXfcsFhc7A) (RQ 8)
“Seventh Son” (https://youtu.be/tZoY102X9cM) (RQ 8)
“Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” (https://youtu.be/KpE8IiE437M) (RQ 6)
Also in 1963, he developed “Secret Agent Man” (https://youtu.be/7hPm4eiiD08) (RQ 8) for a British tv series called Danger Man. An American show called “Secret Agent” was also aired beginning in the spring of 1965 which also used his song for the theme of the show. The song reached No3 on the charts, and sold more than one million copies.
In 1966, Johnny started to record ballads. There were two major hits:
“Poor Side of Town” (https://youtu.be/NUrf0CgTuVU) (RQ 10)
“By the Time I Get to Phoenix” (https://youtu.be/qJp-5aDZ0V0) (RQ 9)
Also he wrote “Up, Up and Away” (https://youtu.be/HfxqQmWtGNM) (RQ 9) which the Fifth Dimension recorded. In 1967, he wrote: “Baby I Need Your Lovin” (https://youtu.be/joqjBAJx4ZA) (RQ 10) which was recorded by the Four Topps and the “Tracks of My Tears” (https://youtu.be/BCwkZrj2VT4) (RQ 8) that was recorded by the Miracles. His last hurrah was in 1977 where he produced two more hits:
“Slow Dancing, Swaying to the Music” (https://youtu.be/tmiNLVTDFDI). (RQ 9)
“Curious Mind” – Um Um Um Um Um Um (https://youtu.be/wspt8vHPwEI) (RQ 6)
Johnny’s career totals were 9 Top10 hits and 17 in the top 40. He sold well over 30M records.