Frankie Lymon's Tombstone Blues 2: The Downslide

 

When Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers returned to the United States from their overseas tour, they were together in name only. Frankie would begin his solo career in earnest with high hopes while the Teenagers were faced with the prospect of trying to carry on without the lead singer who had become the face of the group.

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Frankie Lymon's Tombstone Blues 1: The Teenagers

He was the first teenage rock and roll star, and many believe that 13 year-old Frankie Lymon, along with the Teenagers, helped to change the music business in the 1950s. The Teenagers featured a unique group harmony style that matched perfectly with their lead singer’s stellar voice and stage presence. Their youth and exuberance enabled them to headline shows across the country and help break the color barrier for minority rock and roll acts to appear on national television.

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Best Albums Of 2020: Two Views

My good friend Larry Van Cleve and I share our annual lists of what we considered to be the best albums of the past year.

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Ch.10 "The Birth Of Motown"

Michigan Rock and Roll History

Ch. 10 - “The Birth of Motown”

“Get A Job” by the Silhouettes had been a surprise # 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1958, and Berry Gordy Jr. helped Smokey Robinson write an answer song called “Got A Job”. Gordy had the group change its name from the Matadors to the Miracles before leasing the recording to End Records in New York. “Got A Job” was not a hit, but it was the first record Gordy produced and the start of a very important friendship and working relationship with Smokey Robinson.

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Ch. 9 "Berry Gordy Jr. and Jackie Wilson"

Michigan Rock and Roll History

Ch. 9 - "Berry Gordy Jr. and Jackie Wilson"

Both of Berry Gordy Jr.’s parents were born in Georgia. Berry Gordy Sr. and Bertha Fuller were married after he returned from serving in World War I. The Gordy’s moved with their three children to Detroit in 1922 to start their own business. Berry Gordy Jr. would be born in Detroit on November 28, 1929, the 7th of 8 children.

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Ch. 8 "No Words (The Instrumentals)"

Michigan Rock and Roll History

History Ch. 8 - "No Words (The Instrumentals)" 

Instrumental rock was most popular during rock and roll’s first decade. Bill Doggett, Santo & Johnny, Bill Justis, Duane Eddy, Link Wray, The Virtues, Cozy Cole, and Sandy Nelson were just some of the artists who had hit records during the 1950's; and “Tequila” by The Champs spent five weeks at # 1 in 1957. The trend continued into the next decade with top hits by Booker T. & The MGs, The Ventures, The Marketts, The Rockin’ Rebels, Lonnie Mack, and The Tornadoes. The 1960s also saw a batch of surf instrumental hits by the likes of Dick Dale and The Del-Tones, The Surfaris, and The Chantay’s.

Michigan artists made major contributions to the instrumental genre as well. Some of these recordings made the national charts while many others were only local hits released on tiny independent labels. 

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Ch. 7 "Record Men"

Michigan Rock and Roll History

Ch. 7 - "Record Men"

Michigan was blessed with a large number of other small independent record labels that, like Fortune, provided opportunities for Michigan artists. Fox, Lucky Eleven, A-Square, Lu Pine, Flick, Twirl, Fenton, Golden World, Impact, Carla, and most importantly Tamla-Motown, were just a few of the record labels that opened the doors to a vast array of Michigan vinyl recordings. The people who established and ran these labels played an important role in providing us with an audio history of the development of the rock and roll movement in our state.

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