Little Credit

By Sid Holmes - - January 6, 2005
           Maybe someone should research and then write a pop/country music-related book about the many performers who get little to no credit for their outstanding contributions to hit records? Some examples: Did you know that the lead guitar player on "Rock Around the Clock" was not even  a member of Bill Haley's Comets? This great guitar lead, played on a Gibson Les Paul, was not only a big factor in the song eventually selling 25 million copies but is considered today as one of the greatest guitar performances of all time. Seems Danny Cedrone (the guitar player)  had been hanging around the studio and somehow ended up playing the lead on Rock Around The Clock.  His solo on Rock Around The Clock is identical to his solo on Rock The Joint for Essex a few months earlier; he was a member of the Comets until just after RATC. Danny had previously played this same jazz-type lead on another recording that never got released. Danny never got to enjoy any fame or fortune as he had been drinking one night then fell down a stairway to his death in 1954. Bill Haley eventually got the big head giving little credit to any of the band members. 
           Did you know "Walk, Don't Run", a big hit instrumental by The Ventures and their signature song from 1960 reaching #2, was a track taken from a Chet Atkins LP? The original lead guitar player for The Ventures was Bob Bogle and the drummer was Howie Johnson. Today, Bob Bogle plays bass and a new hot shot lead player Nokie Edwards (up for a Grammy 2004)  gets most of the credit? Their late and great drummer Howie Johnson doesn't even get a mention even on the official site of The Ventures ( Howie, wherever you are tonight in heaven ... we are giving you some credit for some really cool drumming on "Walk, Don't Run" back in 1960. The writer of this instrumental?? Jazz great Johnny "Guitar" Smith. Note: Ray Anthony (big band) had the very first recording possibly with Johnny Smith?
           Next: "The Twist" by Chubby Checker reached #1 in 1960 and then two years later reached #1 again?  The original and a great version was by Hank Ballard (inducted into the R&R HOF in 1990) who also wrote it. Note: Ballard had hits with "Finger Poppin Time" # 7, "Let's Go Let's Go Let's Go" # 6 and many others with his group "The Midnighters". So, what happened with Hank's "Twist"? Seems Dick Clark's wife stepped in changing singer Ernest Evan's name to Chubby Checker then promoting him ... big time. Ballard got the writer's royalties with Chubby marrying "Miss World" that year (not a bad year for both Hank & Checker).
           Note: "The Twist" hitting again in 1962 was the sole reason The Cavaliers, featuring J. Frank Wilson, became the house band at The Dixie Club in San Angelo. For without "The Twist" there would not have been a "Last Kiss" (#2 hit in 1964). The bass rift on "Last Kiss" 1964, played by Lewis Elliott, was taken from an un-known up-right bass player from the original recording by Wayne Cochran in 1964 (this original up-right bass player is now deceased). That's all for today, folks except ... 
           Congratulations to Jerry Lee Lewis who will be receiving a Life Time Achievement Grammy in 2005. Does he deserve it? If you have any doubts at all go purchase a CD with his cover version  of Ray Charles' "What'd I Say" ... he actually blows Ray away with his piano playing (amazing) on a song that would never make the charts?  
           So, what can I say today, when I surely must be the only lead guitar player  in history to have turned down Jerry Lee Lewis, when offered the job as his lead guitar (back in 1960), in Memphis? I think maybe I did right as no one today remembers any of his lead guitar players with the exception of Roland Janes. Roland was actually the one who offered me the job after we (The Cavaliers) opened for JL at the Starlite Club in Memphis. Our impression of JLL that night? He not only looked great, was very friendly but seemed very happy. And Roland Janes? His perfomances, on his Gibson Les Paul at Sun, were extremely intense ... nothing fancy but an act I didn't want to try to follow (his history making licks at Sun that put Jerry Lee on the top). Too bad Roland Janes won't be there picking up a well-deserved Grammy?

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