Once again, greetings and salutations. Yep, it happens every year. Here it is, the Labor Day weekend, and here we are again lifting our glasses for a toast to all of you who made our 33rd season at Memories in Margate as memorable as the rest. There are so many faces, new and old, that make up the history of this club year in and year out. Too many to thank in such a short space, so a blanket thanks to all of you who came, partied, danced and enjoyed. And this weekend will be no exception. We'll go nonstop Friday, Saturday - and on Sunday night, live with Kenny Vance & the Planotones. You can get your tickets this weekend at Memories or Sunday night at the door. And before going to your questions, a special hello to Herb Lipson of Philadelphia Magazine, along with Frank Binswanger, who partied last weekend at Memories. And now, let's ask the Geator.
Will Jay Black ever do another one of your shows?
Now, there in my opinion is one of the great voices. Just as Tony Williams of the Platters and Jackie Wilson were able to sing rock and achieve operatic stature with their songs, so can Jay Black, whose real name, by the way, is David Black. He still has the power and the pipes today that he had when he first began after replacing Jay Traynor, the original lead for Jay & the Americans. And if you're a lead with that group, your first name becomes Jay - thus Jay Black. Yes, he will be one of the artists we plan to book at either the Kimmel Center or the Sands. And here's a little-known fact: Did you know that Kenny Vance of the Planotones was one of the original members of Jay & the Americans?
Dear Jerry, Chubby Checker made a career out of "The Twist," but didn't someone else write it? Did that person get any royalties from it? Also, I have a record by Clyde McPhatter called "What'cha Gonna Do" from 1953. It sounds like a Twist beat, but that was before "The Twist," so who originated the dance? Thanks,
Mike, great question. First of all, you're absolutely right. In an interview with me, Hank Ballard said he got the idea to write "The Twist" - which by the way was the B side of a song called "Teardrops on Your Letter" - when he heard Clyde McPhatter's version of "What'cha Gonna Do." It's got the same rhythm, the same beat, and you also hear the group doing the same harmony parts, but with a different lyric. Even though he did not have the hit, it was Hank who really made the money. The song has remained up to this day one of the biggest recordings ever. Hank wrote it, he got the royalties. Chubby got the recognition and an artist's royalty. Most of the dance hits Chubby had - "the Pony," originally by Don Covay, "The Twist," by Hank, "The Hucklebuck," a hit from the '40s, and even "Whole Lotta Shakin'," by Jerry Lee Lewis - were recorded previously by other artists. Cameo-Parkway, the label Chubby recorded for out of Philadelphia, was the dance label of America before Motown, and it was the kids on Bandstand who actually created the dance.
Jerry, my girlfriend and I are having a friendly argument. We're both big Sinatra fans, but she says Frank was close to 90 when he died and I say he was in his 80s.
You win: Frank was 82 when he passed away. Unfortunately, he had not been in good shape for a long period of time prior to his death when he was performing, but as a true show business legend and perfectionist, he never allowed the audience to become fully aware of that. Though friends knew he was not in top shape, he still performed almost to the very end. At dinner with Sammy, Liza and me one night in New York, he said that performing had been his whole life, and I believe it is what kept him going. If he were alive today, he would be celebrating his 90th birthday this Dec. 12.
And here's a trivia question for you: What other performers share the same birth date with Frank? Answer in next week's column.
Got a question for Jerry? Send it to AskTheGeator@atlanticcityweekly.com or Geator Gold Radio, 626 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Hear the Geator weekdays 5-7pm on 92.1, 7-9pm on 94.3, noon-1pm and 7-9pm on 950 WPEN, and Saturday nights live from Memories on KOOL 98.3. Join Jerry Thursdays at the Sands and at the Lighthouse Pointe, Friday and Saturday nights at Memories, Sundays at La Costa, and Mondays at Bubba Mac's. More info at www.geator.net. And keep on rocking, 'cause you only rock once!
The technological gadgets of today simply weren’t around when Vance was a young Jewish kid from Brooklyn, a music lover who would become a founding member of Jay & The Americans in the early 1960s. It was an era in music when things like pop charts, 45s and live radio DJs were still relevant and made a huge impact on mainstream culture.
Sedaka and the Globetrotters