16th Post: T – Last Names

1950 and 1960s MUSIC GROUPS (T’s)

Seven groups are represented here with last names ending with T: The Royal Jesters, The Temptations, Hank Thompson, Conway Twitty, The Turbins, Ike and Tina Turner and The Turtles add significantly to the 1950 & 1960s era of the best music ever…

The Royal Jesters
Photo credit: mysanantonio.com

A Chicano soul group, The Royal Jesters formed in San Antonio, Texas in 1958. The original lineup featured Louis Escalante, Henry Hernandez, Oscar Lawson, and Mike Pedraza, all of whom met at Sidney Lanier High School in their hometown’s west side. Across several decades, the group’s lineup went through numerous changes, including the additions of Dimas Garza (aka Dimas III) and Joe Jama. Hernandez remained the lone founding member. Inspired by their Mexican roots, doo wop, and eventually early Motown, the Royal Jesters became part of San Antonio’s cultural fabric as frequent performers and recording artists. They issued their debut single, “My Angel of Love,” in 1959, and followed it with several additional 45s for the Cobra and Jox labels, as well as their own Jester, prior to their debut album, We Go Together (https://youtu.be/qEQgw1xFqXI) (RQ 9), in 1965. While they were beloved local stars, the Royal Jesters nonetheless evolved, switched from songs with predominantly English lyrics to strictly Spanish-language material, and embraced Tejano with a fusion of soul, rock, polka, and Mexican folk. Additional singles, as well as a pair of albums — Yo Soy Chicano (1971) and Their Second Album (1975) — were released during the ’70s. From the latter part of that decade and forward, the Royal Jesters were infrequently active. Later albums included Tribute (1996) and Odyssey: The Journey (2005). The Numero label anthologized the group’s pre-Tejano years with English Oldies (2015).

The Temptations
Photo credit: Ramblin’ With Roger
October 30, 2016

Temptations, The. 1960-present

In Detroit, the group was formed in 1960. The members five singers/dancers were: Otis Williams, Al Bryant and Melvin Franklin (from Otis Williams and the Distants) and Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams of the Primes. Eddie and Paul had been singing doo-wop together since gradeschool. Their first two singles were:

“Oh Mother of Mine” (https://youtu.be/0mK1LsE6ys0) (RQ 9)

”Check Yourself” (https://youtu.be/AlpqSExnMlI) (RQ 9)

Their first charted single in 1962 was:

“Your My Dream Come True” (https://youtu.be/qp_zEjljAuA) (RQ 7) No22 in R&B.

In 1964, Bryant was replaced by David Ruffin (who was lead singer for a number of their top hits including:

“My Girl” (https://youtu.be/eepLY8J4E6c) (RQ 10+). 1964

“Ain’t to Proud to Beg” (https://youtu.be/3s0TkufXA38) (RQ 10). 1966

“I Wish It Would Rain” (https://youtu.be/Z-es4Q8AJaU) (RQ 10+). 1967

In 1968, Ruffin was replaced by Dennis Edwards who sang lead for:

“Cloud Nine” (https://youtu.be/2BdhhQayeWw) (RQ 10). Grammy winner and Top10 single.

“Ball of Confusion” (https://youtu.be/-9poCAuYT-s) (RQ 10)

When Kendricks and Paul Williams left in 1971, the lineup changed many times. The band was known for their choreography, distinct harmonies and classy dress styles. In 1984, a totally new group of faces recorded:

“Treat Her Like a Lady” (https://youtu.be/CVZQPJQykpg) (RQ 10+)

Over their career, they produced four No1 singles and fourteen No1 R&B singles. Three of their songs (“My Girl, Just My Imagination and Papa was a Rollin’ Stone”) (https://youtu.be/C_CSjcm-z1w) (RQ 9) were included in the Top500 songs that formed the Rock and Roll HOF. Having sold tens of millions of records, they were among the most successful groups in popular music history.

Hank Thompson
Photo credit: alancrackett.com

Born in Waco, Texas, United States, Hank Thompson was interested in music from an early age, and won several amateur harmonica contests. He decided to pursue his musical talent after serving in the United States Navy in World War II as a radioman and studying electrical engineering at Princeton University before his discharge. He had intended to continue those studies on the GI Bill following his 1946 discharge, and return to Waco. Later that year, after having regional hits with his first single “Whoa Sailor” for Globe Records, Dallas (Globe 124) and almost simultaneously “California Women” for another Dallas label (Blue Bonnet 123), he chose to pursue a full-time musical career. 1952 brought his first number-one single, “The Wild Side of Life” (https://youtu.be/YUYnmOuEZEY) (RQ 10), which contained the memorable line, “I didn’t know God made honky-tonk angels”. (This line inspired songwriter J. D. “Jay” Miller to write the 1952 answer song “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels”, which became the first hit single for pioneer female country vocalist Kitty Wells.) Other hits for Thompson followed in quick succession in the 1950s and 1960s. Thompson began singing in a plaintive honky-tonk style similar to that of Ernest Tubb, but, desiring to secure more engagements in the dance halls of the Southwest, he reconfigured his band, the Brazos Valley Boys, to play a “light” version of the Western swing sound that Bob Wills and others made famous, emphasizing the dance beat and meticulous arrangements. From 1947 to 1964, he recorded for Capitol Records, then joined Warner Bros. Records, where he remained from 1966 through 1967. From 1968 through 1980, he recorded for Dot Records and its successors, ABC Dot and MCA Records. In 1997, Thompson released Hank Thompson and Friends, a collection of solo tracks and duets with some of country music’s most popular performers. In 2000, he released a new album, Seven Decades, on the Hightone label. The title reflected his recording history from the 1940s to 2000s.Thompson was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1989, and was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1997. He continued touring throughout the U.S. until shortly before he became ill. Often, he worked with a reconstituted version of the Brazos Valley Boys that included a few original members.

Conway Twitty
Photo credit: alancacket.com

Conway Twitty was born Harold Lloyd Jenkins on September 1, 1933, in Friars Point, in Coahoma County, in northwestern Mississippi. The Jenkins family were of Welsh descent. He was named by his great-uncle, after his favorite silent movie actor, Harold Lloyd. The Jenkins family moved to Helena, Arkansas, when Jenkins was 10 years old. In Helena, Jenkins formed his first singing group, the Phillips County Ramblers. Jenkins had his own local radio show every Saturday morning. He also played baseball, his second passion. He received an offer to play with the Philadelphia Phillies after high school, but he was drafted into the United States Army. He served in the Far East and organized a group called the Cimmerons to entertain his fellow soldiers. Wayne Hause, a neighbor, suggested that Jenkins could make it in the music industry. Soon after hearing Elvis Presley’s song “Mystery Train”, Jenkins began writing rock and roll material. He went to the Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, and worked with Sam Phillips, the owner and founder, to get the “right” sound. None of Jenkins’ Sun recordings were released at the time, but Roy Orbison did record his composition “Rockhouse” which was issued on SUN 251 (flipside “You’re My Baby”) in 1956. Allegedly, in 1957, Jenkins decided that his real name was not memorable enough and sought a better show business name. In The Billboard Book of Number One Hits, Fred Bronson states that the singer was looking at a road map when he spotted Conway, Arkansas, and Twitty, Texas, and chose the name Conway Twitty. Also, in 1957, under his new name, he recorded briefly for Mercury Records, releasing two unsuccessful singles. In 1958, using his new stage name, Twitty’s fortunes improved while he was with MGM Records, and an Ohio radio station had an inspiration, refraining from playing “I’ll Try” (an MGM single that went nowhere in terms of sales, radio play, and jukebox play), instead playing the B-side, “It’s Only Make Believe” (https://youtu.be/ZNE2txcAyl0) (RQ 10), a song written between sets by Twitty and drummer Jack Nance when they were in Hamilton, Ontario, playing at the Flamingo Lounge. The record took nearly one year to reach and stay at the top spot on the Billboard pop music charts in the United States and number 1 in 21 other countries, becoming the first of nine top-40 hits for Twitty. It sold over four million copies and was awarded a gold discby the RIAA. That same year, country singer Tabby West of ABC-TV’s Ozark Jubilee heard Twitty and booked him to appear on the show.

The Turbans
Photo credit: doo wop eklablog

The Turbans were an American doo-wop vocal group that formed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvaniain 1953. The original members were: Al Banks (lead tenor), Matthew Platt (second tenor), Charlie Williams (baritone), and Andrew “Chet” Jones (bass). They came from Downtown Philadelphia (around Bainbridge and South Street). Around Christmas of 1954, they won first prize in a talent contest singing their rendition of “White Christmas”. This created interest among the local record companies, and in the late spring of 1955, they cut a demo record. Herman Gillespie, the group’s first manager, took the demo record to Al Silver at Herald Records in New York City. They signed a contract in July 1955, and gained a new manager, Allen Best. Best worked for Shaw Artist. During July 1955, the Turbans had their first Herald recording session, and later that month their first record, pairing “Let Me Show You (Around My Heart)” as the “A” side with “When You Dance” as the flip side, was released. Although “Let Me Show You” became a regional hit in Atlanta, Cleveland Pittsburgh, Detroit, Boston, and New Orleans, interest began to grow in “When You Dance”. At first it started to break in New York City, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Baltimore, until finally, in November, it hit the national R&B and Pop charts. “When You Dance” (https://youtu.be/sM5OhzKE4ys) (RQ 10) reached #3 on the R&B chart, and remained there for about two months. It only rose to #33 on the pop chart, but stayed there for about five months, so it was counted as a significant hit.

Big Joe Turner
Photo credit: The Pendergast Years

Joseph VernonBig JoeTurner Jr. (May 18, 1911 – November 24, 1985) was an American blues shouter from Kansas City, Missouri. According to songwriter Doc Pomus, “Rock and roll would have never happened without him.” His greatest fame was due to his rock-and-roll recordings in the 1950s, particularly “Shake, Rattle and Roll” (https://youtu.be/rJoTiZ0tHYc), but his career as a performer endured from the 1920s into the 1980s.

Tina Turner
Photo credit: Getty Images – Wembly Arena
March 14, 1985

Turner, Ike & Tina 1959-present

Ike Turner was born in 1931 in Clarksdale, MS (about 80 miles southwest of Memphis). Anna May Bullock (changed her name to Tina Turner) was born in East St. Louis in 1941. Tina was only 18 (in 1959) when she met Ike and began singing together. They recorded “A Fool in Love” (https://youtu.be/l0sAgm9Vz50) RQ 10+) that year (No2 R&B hit). Over the next two and one half years they recorded five Top10 R&B hits including four new records:

“I Idolize You” (https://youtu.be/ViHlDPr5CqA) (RQ 6)

“Its Going to Workout Fine” (https://youtu.be/0gEIQHj5Xe0) (RQ 9)

“Poor Fool” (https://youtu.be/KBGO91ifMxE) (RQ 5)

“Tra La La La La” (https://youtu.be/_A_aE49FKDA) (RQ 5)

In 1961, they recorded another string of songs including:

“River Deep Mountain High” (https://youtu.be/ULw1RHHPv5g) (RQ 9)

“Want to Take You Higher” (https://youtu.be/REju34ycrTk) (RQ 10+)

“Nutbush City Limits” (https://youtu.be/ALAWxatDoD0) (RQ 9)

“Midnight Special” (https://youtu.be/vjOLzLaj6VI) (RQ 7)

These songs were driven by Tina’s gyrating, prancing and thrilling voice. In 1969, they achieved worldwide popularity when they opened for the Rolling Stones. All expectations were fulfilled in 1971 when they recorded “Proud Mary.” (https://youtu.be/02QUmKVsyFY) (RQ 9). To their demise, Ike had many problems off stage. He was a drug addict and mentally and physically abused Tina and their children. In 1975, after an unsuccessful suicide attempt, Tina walked out on him. Once divorced they were moderately successful after that, but Ike’s problems continued. However, later in the 90s, Tina returned to the stage and earned over $20M including doing shows in Las Vegas. Both Ike snd Tina were inducted into the Rock and Roll HOF in 1991.

The Turtles
Photo credit: Hubbard Radio – Michael Ochs Achieves

There is one more group in which their name begins with “T.” The group is called The Turtles…here is their information:

The group was formed by vocalists Howard Kaylan and Mark Volmar in Westchester, LA. They were originally called the Crossfires. Howard and Mark joined hands with their high friends Al Nichol, Chuck Portz, Don Murray and Jim Tucker. After uniting with local club owner Reb Foster, they renamed themselves the Tyrtles which was purposely misspelled, but was quickly changed to the Turtles. Their initial success came by recording Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe” (https://youtu.be/jrfpj9P_Mys) (RQ 10) in late 1965. It reached a Top10 chart rating along with their next two: “Let Me Be” (https://youtu.be/jGjKXJOHhFs) (RQ 10+) (Top30) and “You Baby” (https://youtu.be/lHpU9tAGQ7M (RQ 10)(Top20).

Their next few singles didn’t chart. In early 1966, Murray and Portz quit the group (replaced by Joel Larson, John Barbata and Chip Douglas). Their next song hit the big time: “Happy Together.” (https://youtu.be/mRCe5L1imxg) (RQ 8). It replaced the Beatle’s “Penny Lane” as No1 on the charts. 1967 proved to be their most successful year. “She’d Rather Be With Me” (https://youtu.be/EhzRutA-OaA) (RQ 10+) reached No3.

Two Top15 songs followed: “You Know What I Mean” (https://youtu.be/zehhj_qbAHk) (RQ 8) and “She’s My Girl” (https://youtu.be/auoG8OikPQs) (RQ 10+).

In 1968, two singles stalled: “Sound Asleep” (https://youtu.be/C5EU0R9g7Bg) (RQ 7) and “Story of Rock and Roll” (https://youtu.be/9xWioz28ans) (RQ 4).

Late in 1968, within their album “The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands,” they recorded two charted singles: “Elenore” (https://youtu.be/JeAtre3Bxg8) (RQ 10+) and “You Showed Me” (https://youtu.be/Ul3K_e-ZgiE) (RQ 10+). Both songs reached No6. The 1970’s was wind down and band breakup for the Turtles. Kaylan and Volkman ended up doing vocals for both Mothers of Invention and T.Rex. They got back together in the early 1980s with doing their “Happy Together” tour.