Sunday, February 11, 2007

Time for my friends

This Sunday is the day I want to give a little shout-out to my friends who have been my ardent supporters and pals through the years.

First, I'll start off with Dr. Chuck Stevens. Dr. Chuck is a world-class radio personality (so much more than just a "DJ") who I met through his former WYUU radio program, Breakfast with the Beatles, back in 1992. We've been Beatle buddies ever since. He's provided me with countless DVDs and CDs of rare and unseen Beatles stuff all culled from his crazy-mad music collection. I've provided him in turn with countless baseball tickets.

And then there's Barry Jones, who is as Southern a gentleman you could ever meet. If ever there was a Dixie darling, Barry is it. A native Virginian (Richmond, y'all!) and former Billboard Magazine writer with a taste for baseball and history, Barry champions the fading art of Carolina beach music. He recently shared with me a little musical history with his rich, unique view:

"...Lord have mercy, y'all!! Sitting here ejnoying a few beers and listening to the that down home Southern Soul on . Check out this link to the Richmond Shag Club and I am going to tell you a story.

Here's the link:

When you get to the home page, scroll down a tad and check out 2006 Valentine's Dance with Ron Moody and the Centaurs. This is my old band! I got them their first gig in '65 at the PiKA house at Hampden Sydney College. They were doing the Beatles and I changed their show to Beach Music. I told them that no one had ever seen a "Yellow Submarine" but we all knew about "Baby, Let Me Be Your Back Door Man!" by the blind soul brother Clarence Carter out of Muscle Shoals, Alabama! The boys became a great Southern Soul, horn band.

The band had a big regional hit with a cover version of the "If I Didn't Have a Dime ... (And I didn't take the time to play the juke box....)" by Bob Collins and The Fabulous Five out of Greensboro, North Carolina. Columbia Records bought the Master (to stop the band in favor of their acts such as the Buckinghams ("Kind of a Drag"). Not to worry, I took the band to Atlanta and changed their name to The New Dixie Line (an ole Richmond trucking line whose name I liked).

Bill Lowery got them a deal with Mike Curb and MGM Records and created a label, MGM South, and cut a couple of tunes that did nothing. The Southern music scene was moving from the roots of our raisin' to trying to be LA glitter rock 'n roll (The Allman Brothers, et. al.) so the most of the band went home to Richmond and I went to Boston to graduate school. The lead guitar player in the band, Steve Buckingham, stayed in hot 'lanta and I gave him my king size bed when I left for grad school. Steve was a studio cat and produced a classic, Grammy winner ("I like the Night Life, I like to Boogie...") by Alycia Bridges. The last I heard of Steve, who was raised behind my Dad's Community Barber Shop in Lakeside, he was an A&R guy for RCA in Nashville . Ron Moody's new tune is called "Destination Dixie". It's on a beach music/shag compilation CD. Some of the boys in the band later played on Steve Bassett's Beach Music tune, "Sweet Virginia Breeze", which some folks are trying to get as the state song. True.

And so .... years later .... I continue doing that good ole, good time beach music, can I get a witness? -- Barry."

Now, Barry and Dr Chuck have never met, but it's interesting to note that separately they have had careers in the music business in different parts of the country and probably individually know some people in the 'biz who know some of the other's people. Six degrees of separation, indeed.

Love you guys!

1 comment:

Steve said...

I am writing in response to Barry Jones and his comments about Beach Music and Ron Moody and the Centaurs. I am Steve Buckingham, the original guitarist for the band. Not only did I grow up near the barber shop in Richmond that Barry's father owned, his father cut my hair.
As I recall, the first gig Barry got for us was at RPI (now VCU) in Richmond. We opened for Bill Deal and the Rhondels, with whom we would play many dances and beach clubs between 1965-70. However, Barry did not have to convince us not to play "Yellow Submarine" as he wrote. Though the Beatles influenced many of us to learn guitar, we were heavily into R&B early. It's funny that in the mid 1960's, none of us recall referring to what we were doing as "Beach Music." I've talked about this with Ron Moody and Ammon Tharpe (drummer for The Rhondels). We called it Soul Music, R&B and even Carolina Music. Sometimes later I recall the term "Carolina Beach Music."
Barry Jones was absolutely our connection to meeting the legendary publisher, Bill Lowery, in Atlanta. After i graduated from college in Richmond, I moved to Atlanta and became a staff studio musician at Lowery's. After a few years, Bill gave me my first shot at producing. By the grace of God, it became a worldwide hit..."I Love The Nightlife" by Alicia Bridges. Though it also became a Dico hit, we knew nothing about Disco. To all of us, it was an Al Green/Memphis R&B feel.
Bill Lowery died 2 years ago. His A&R man and producer, Mike Clark, just died 2 weeks ago. They gave me my first break...and that led to me producing Dionne Warwick, Bettye LaVette, Melissa Manchester...and when I moved to Nashville, Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, Joan Osborne, Mindy Smith ans many others. I was VP of A&R at Columbia (not RCA as Barry thought) for 10 years before becoming Sr. VP of Vanguard and Sugar Hill records, where I am now.
If Barry Jones reads this or if someone knows how to contact him, my e-mail is:

Steve Buckingham

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