March 2012 Script
And now it can finally be announced who the singer was on that 1962 recording. This is JD Doyle with Queer Music Heritage and I am delighted to bring you an interview revealing a fifty year-old secret, and telling its fascinating story. The album was called "Love Is a Drag," and while there certainly were lyrically gay single recordings dating back to the 1920's, to my mind that 1962 album was the earliest where every song was talking man to man. The recording's subtitle may seem odd today, but it was "For Adult Listeners Only, Sultry Stylings by a Most Unusual Vocalist." And the album jacket had absolutely no information on who the singer was, or who produced it. It's been in my collection for many years, and I could never find out any information on it whatsoever.
This interview kind of fell into my lap. I received an email from Murray Garrett. He is now 85 and I learned that from the late 1940's through the early 1970's he was a famous Hollywood photographer, and there currently are several books available collecting his candid shots of the royalty of Hollywood in those days. For example he was Bob Hope's photographer for 25 years. In 1953 he formed a business partnership with Gene Howard. Howard already had had an interesting career. Through the 1940's he was male vocalist for a number of big bands, including those of Francis Craig, Bob Chester, Gene Krupa and finally Stan Kenton. And he stopped singing for the Kenton band in 1946 to become their publicity director before free-lancing until 1953. Then, as I have said, he and Murray Garrett formed the photography studio Garrett & Howard. Gene Howard died in 1993, at age 72. So that kind of sets the stage for the interview. I may have asked Murray some questions perhaps a bit too detailed for some, but I was being given the key to a fifty year-old mystery, and I wanted to get all the facts into the open, and also he tells a delightful story.
Before we get to the interview I want to share another track from the "Love Is a Drag" LP.
Gene Howard - My Man (1962)
JD: So you've been in Hollywood for decades now, right?
Murray Garrett: Actually, I was sent out here in 1946 by a company I was working for in New York, to create a mirror-image of their New York office. And they sent me out six months, and I stayed, and I thought about, do I really want to go back to New York, and marry my girlfriend and have children in the snow and all that crap, or do I want to stay out here. And I told them at the end of the six months I just wasn't going back. So it ended up was a very good decision, ended up with a life and three wonderful kids, and eventually owning the business.
JD: And a glorious Hollywood career.
MG: Yeah, just amazing. I don't know if you googled me or not.
JD: Yeah, a little bit.
MG: Okay, then you've got an idea of what I've been and where I've been. Along the way I was very, very, very lucky to become friendly with Gene Howard. And that brings us to where we are today.
JD: I was so pleased you contacted me. It was one of those mysteries of collecting that I never thought I would know the answer.
MG: When you get to be my age, and you stop to think about, what should I correct? And I kept thinking about Gene had a career with Gene Krupa, where he was the "other vocalist" to Anita O'Day. Then he joined (Stan) Kenton, who scooped him up when he found out he was free with Krupa, and he ended up being next to June Christy. So Gene never had a chance, and he was such a good vocalist, aside from a great arranger, and probably the most creative man I ever met.
JD: Well, I did find a few recordings on the market for him, but he certainly didn't get the name June Christy, for example, achieved.
MG: Oh, no, absolutely not, and it was a great frustration, because he loved both of those gals.
JD: Let's get to the album. How did the idea come about for the "Love Is A Drag" come about?
MG: Well, it somehow was something that stuck in my mind from the time I was a teenager, when I had my first experience in a Greenwich Village night club (around 1946). And I don't remember the guy's name, but a really good-looking guy came out on the stage, and had marvelous presence. And I was always a music nut. And I'm sitting there, and I'm listening to this guy sing, and I say: A. he's a good singer, and B. I'd be damned if he's not singing the, what I would have called, girl lyrics. And then I realized, my God, that's what he's doing every song. I was really square. I had no idea what was happening, and one of the people with me, when I mentioned that, said, well, don't you understand what's going on? And I said, well, no, what's going on? And he explained that the guy was gay, that we were in an essentially gay nightclub, that catered to good musicians. And I was just overwhelmed that there are these great things, that were written by people like the Gershwins, and on and on, that were being performed by either a man or a woman with having the lyrics changed. Somehow or another that stayed in my mind for years and years, and every time I'd hear one of these songs, I'd smile.
MG: And then back in the early sixties one of our big clients at that time, photographically speaking, was Liberty Records. Liberty Records was founded by two guys, a guy named Jack Ames, who used to be with MGM Records, and a guy named Si Waronker, who used to be one of the head fiddle players at Fox. And low and behold they came out with "Cry Me a River" with Julie London, had a enormous hit, couldn't actually press they didn't have the money to press as much LPs as they were selling. And I don't know the real inside story. I know that bad blood developed between these two guys, business-wise, and that ended up with Si bought Jack out. And Jack started his own label called Edison International Records, and he asked if we would consider doing his graphics, and/or his photographs for LPs that he was going to produce in the future. Jack had great respect for us, A. because of Gene's background, B. because of my background and one night he and I were drinking and he said, "you guys are so creative, is there anything that you think that I could do that could become a hit, that is unusual, that isn't the same, you know, cause I don't want Liberty to say to you that this was something that you could have given to us."
MG: And I then went on to tell him about my experience in Greenwich Village, and this thing has always stayed with me, and that I had at one time I was doing a Life (Magazine) story in San Francisco, and I saw something similar to this guy, and I told him that the guy in San Francisco did a knock-off of a female singer's version of "The Man I Love," with bongos and stuff like that. And he started smiling, and he said, "You know, that's a marvelous idea, but I don't want that to be one of my first LPs on my label." He said, cause "I don't want that to be the primary identity for the company." So he said, do you have any ideas, and I just spit it out. I just said, "you know, you could call it like, maybe, 'Love Is a Drag.'" And he said, "oh, my God, that's it." He said, why don't you go back and talk to Gene about it to see if you can convince him to do it. And I did, I went back and talked to Gene and said, "you're not going to believe this." And Gene looked at me and said, "Mur, if I do that I've got two grown daughters and I think Marge is really I have to really talk to her about it." And I said, sure, be my guest. And he talked to Marge, and then Marge asked if she could talk to me, and we all got together and had lunch. And she said, "is this going to be done with dignity?" and I said, I wouldn't do it this is not a comedy album I said, Gene is a terrific vocalist. I told Jack that Gene would insist on the best sidemen in Hollywood, and he would approve all arrangements. And she said, "I would like to be there when it's recorded." I said, "Marge, you can be there when it's recorded. I'm producing the session. If you find anything that you feel is in bad taste, talk to me about it and I'll make a decision then and there. If we have a discrepancy we'll have one and if we don't we'll just go and get it done.
From "Love Is a Drag" is "The Man I Love"
Gene Howard - The Man I Love (1962)
JD: Did Gene have any reservations about it?
MG: Gene was an amazing guy. Without a doubt he was one of the most talented people I've ever met. He was enormously talented he had no talent for being in business, you know, that's just the way things went, so Gene totally relied on me in business, and if he was sitting here right now, God bless him, he would nod affirmatively. So that's the kind of relationship that he and I had, and trying to settle the books before I leave this earth, I got this bug up my ass about, hey, wouldn't that be great, you know, we finally unmask this thing. It's floating around somewhere. I started searching the internet, and that's how you and I met.
JD: So, was everyone involved with the project straight?
MG: Everybody. It's amazing. The guys that are on the cover, in the foreground the guy smoking is a guy named Bill Kinser, now deceased. He was the partner of later-to-be my partner Leo Monahan, who's the great artist I told you to google, who is just an incredibly talented man. And he's now living in North Carolina. So both of those guys eventually were married and had families and, as I said, Bill died at an early age. Leo is still kicking around.
JD: So, was it intended for the gay market, or just to be an unusual record?
MG: When we talked about how to market it, wanting to keep the thing in good taste. First of all, I didn't know that in 1962 and '63, which is when this was done, that there was indeed a gay market, for music. I mean, I've been to San Francisco enough times I understood that there was indeed a gay market in many things, but I didn't know that you could specifically produce an album, a musical album, for the gay market. And so at no time did it ever occur to me, to go after the so-called gay market, because I really didn't know it existed, or really how to reach it. And so when Jack and I talked about the marketing plans I said, you know, I think you should do it the way you would release any other album, and let it find its own way.
MG: And then we had some marvelous experiences that I think you'll enjoy. We did a lot of Liberace covers, and Gene had a marvelous sense of humor, but he was a very bashful guy. So Liberace came in, he brought his candelabra with him, and we had already rented this huge piano for the occasion. And he went in the dressing room and got all dressed in his suit of lights, and came out with the candelabra and we figured out where we wanted it and stuff. And while he and Gene were setting that stuff up, I went over we had a marvelous sound system, and I went over to the turntable, and I plopped on "Love Is a Drag," one of the early pressings, before I think it was released. And I put it on and as soon as Gene heard the first cut, he looked at me and said, "Oh, no." I said, "just relax." And so, the record played one side and then I flipped it over and did the other side. Liberace, who at this point knew us fairly well, me in particular, never, ever said a word. When the shoot was over, he went back into the dressing room, got out of his costume, back into his street clothes, picked up his candelabra, and very quietly walked over to the turntable, picked up the record and said, "ta, ta." And he walked out, with the record. And I can't tell you how many times after that and he said, "you know, you guys produced my favorite album."
JD: That was before it was released even.
MG: Yeah, it had just been pressed. It had the label, it had the jacket, but I don't think it had been in stores. And then talking about the gay market, the biggest record store at that time I don't know how familiar you are with L.A .but there was a drive-in theatre on the corner of La Cienega and Wilshire Boulevard, which had all gay waiters, car hops, so diagonally across the street from that establishment was a major record store. And I get a call from Jack Ames saying guess what, I keep getting calls from the guys in the store at the corner of La Cienega and Wilshire, that every waiter and every waiter's friend has come in to purchase anywhere from one to six of these albums. I said, you're putting me on. I said, at that point, we've got to get it into spots where we know that there's heavy gay traffic, like the right places in San Francisco, and Greenwich Village, and wherever else they exist in the country.
This is the Record Store Murray described
MG: Sinatra got the LP, and he thought it was Dick Haymes singing. I was very friendly with a guy named Lee Hazelwood he wrote "These Boots Are Made for Walking" Lee gave a copy of the album, actually had me sign the album over to Nancy Sinatra, who in turn gave it to her father. He said to her, "you know, you've got to get me a couple dozen of these." It was that kind of word-of-mouth thing, and we really thought, okay, this is it, we've made it, we're going to make a lot of money. And then it turned out that and I don't know the whole story, and I don't want to malign Jack Ames, cause he was a nice guy, but somehow he had bitten off more than he could chew, with whatever money he got from his share of Liberty, and couldn't .cause he had signed Jackie DeShannon I don't know if that name means much to you
JD: Oh, yes, she had several releases on Edison International
MG: Exactly, and so Jack had signed her, we did all the pictures, and all the PR stuff, but nobody ever got paid anything from Jack. So I have no idea cause we tried to find out where the hell the masters are, because I had said to my attorney, let's make an attempt to buy back those masters. And we were never successful and we and we could not get anywhere with him.
JD: It was starting to take off and then business-wise he couldn't produce it.
Yeah, he evaporated. He and Edison International, they evaporated. We
had become personal friends, I thought, and I no longer heard from him.
Stan Kenton Orchestra, featuring Gene Howard - She's Funny That Way (1945)
And, twenty years later, "He's Funny That Way"
Gene Howard - He's Funny That Way (1962)
JD: Can you tell me about what year the album was recorded?
MG: It's either '62 or '63. The two guys on the cover came to Garrett-Howard to work what I did I gave them rent-free space because I thought they were so talented, and they got there in like '62. So my guess is, it either was '62 or '63. That's the very best guess, I can't give you a date cause I honestly do not have one.
JD: I could not find one on the internet. It's hard to research these things fifty years later.
MG: Oh, yeah, without question, but I can tell you in discussing this with Leo Monahan, I said, "didn't you and Bill get to us in '63 or '63." He said, "Yes, I think it was '62." And I have no idea where those records would be except whatever happened to them with Jack Ames, cause he paid the recording studio, or he never would have gotten the masters.
JD: Was it released right after it was recorded?
MG: Oh, very shortly after it was recorded.
JD: Cause sometimes they're delayed.
MG: No, he didn't have anything. He was preparing to sign Jackie DeShannon, which was his big project.
I'm going to interject that after our interview I realized I might be able to figure out whether the album was released in 1962 or in 1963, based on the story you heard a few minutes ago about Liberace. I researched the Liberace LP discography and found that the cover of one of them, definitely released in 1962, sounded like the way Murray described the photo shoot, at a piano and with a candelabra. And Liberace released no albums in 1963 and the covers of the ones released in 1964 and 1965 were different. I emailed Murray a scan of the cover and he immediately identified it as their photo. So, 1962 it is. Hey, to a historian, this stuff matters.
JD: How many copies were pressed, any idea?
MG: He told me that they had pressed whatever the minimum was in those days, I think it was 20,000. My son, who was with RCA as an executive at the record company, and then later with VMG, until his retirement, had a party one night, and we were in this hotel. And he was waving wildly for me to come over, and I made my way through the crowd in the bar and I got over to him. He said "open the box." And here's a mint copy of "Love Is a Drag." I said, "are you kidding me?" He said, "no, and it's mine." I said, "no kidding, how did you get this?" and he introduced me to the guy that gave it to him as a present. They were selling for $200 a copy, in New York, and this had to be 1997 or 1998.
JD: And there were like twenty thousand copies pressed?
MG: To my knowledge you see, everything I say to you, I say to you with a caveat, that's what Jack Ames said he had to press, as a minimum. I never saw a bill. I don't know for a fact that that's true. I don't know for a fact that it's untrue. So I'm repeating to you what Jack said to me. And at that time I trusted Jack implicitly, and I believe that number, yeah.
JD: Was it advertized, like in the press, newspapers?
MG: No, you see the thing that Jack didn't want to do. He didn't want to have the identity, in the industry of being a producer of gay music.
JD: But the label was called Lace Records
MG: Right, but it was released through Edison International.
JD: You see, Billboard Magazine you can search online and I couldn't find any mention of it.
MG: No, no, no what we were hoping to do, eventually the grand plan was that at some point, as the thing as we hoped would have exploded we would then come out and say, okay, guess what, we have discovered the singer, and have a separate PR campaign. Both Gene and I knew a lot about PR campaigns. So we would have had that done, and again in good taste. And you would have heard virtually what you're hearing now, cause Gene was anything but braggadocio, and neither one of us had any reason to lie about it, cause essentially that's how it took place.
JD: Well, there wasn't anything negative about it.
MG: Exactly, all we really cared about was to get this thing out, and not to be offensive, cause we had no reason to lisp or camp or do any of this stuff that the guys were doing in San Francisco you know, when I saw "The Man I Love" done with bongos and stuff.
JD: Yeah, if it had been done camp, it would have been an entirely different thing.
MG: Exactly, so we figured we had a chance to do something that we felt, that we would be proud of and would indeed be constructive and non-offensive to our gay friends, cause Gene had a lot of gay friends, I had a lot of gay friends.
JD: Were there any session musicians that I would have heard of?
MG: Well, I don't know how up you were on musicians, but the drummer was Dick Shanahan. The guy who played the terrific flute was Heinie Beau, who's famous. The pianist was Bobby Hammack. And the guitarist, bass guitar, oh, Al Viola was on the guitar. And then there was a bass player who is famous, and I can't for the life of me think of his name. Usually I have these things come right away, but I can't think of that guy. But they were all outstanding guys, who worked every day, every night. They were top, top sidemen.
Murray told me later in an email that the bass player was Morty Corb, who Wikipedia tells me appeared on some 300 recordings, for some of the greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, and on and on. And again, from the album, here's a double play, with the songs "He's My Guy," and "The Boy Next Door."
Howard - He's My Guy (1962)
JD: Were you the first people to do an album like this, done in a serious nature?
MG: Everybody tells us that. At that time everybody said, what a marvelous idea, and everybody in the business that knew us and knew that we did it, said, we're so glad and particularly my gay friends, you know, we really want to thank you for doing it like you did it, and not getting into any temptations, to do something that might have gotten some laughs, but in the long run would have been derisive, not only to the music, but to gay people. We had no desire to do that.
JD: Have you heard of an album or a label called Camp Records.
JD: Do you know anything about them?
JD: Okay, cause they put a series of 45s that were very stereotypical, but they also had an album called "Mad About the Boy," which was done, pardon the expression, straight. Have you heard of this project?
MG: I heard some of the music, but I didn't know I don't know who did it, where it was done. Anytime anything like this would happen, after everybody certainly in Hollywood see, I was also on the Board of Directors, the West Coast Board of Directors, of NARAS, so I was in a position where I had people calling me, saying, guess what and in many instances, people calling me and saying, hey, did you do another album? And I'd say, no, what are you talking about? That was a one-shot thing with Gene, that was it.
JD: So you never really heard any facts behind Camp Records?
MG: Not that I can recall. If I did I couldn't imagine that I would not remember.
JD: Cause that was another one of those secret records that you can't find anything about.
MG: Well, I think, rightfully or wrongfully, we broke some ground and inspired people to do stuff, because they thought there was a buck behind it, and there might have been, had it been done properly.
JD: I found an ad in a magazine for Camp Records, for 1965, so I know probably around that time they were doing their thing, but what I could never prove was your album was definitely several years ahead of that.
MG: Oh, there's no question. As I said those two guys on the cover were working at Garrett-Howard, and as I said, being on NARAS, I got a lot of phone calls, saying guess what, so I think Camp Records was probably one of those guess what phone calls.
And, let me introduce you to "Jim" and "Bill"
Howard - Jim (1962)
JD: Do you have any other funny stories about the project you want to talk about?
MG: I don't know that they were necessarily funny, but the reaction of the sidemen after Gene would come out of the singing booth, after finishing a take some would applaud, some would kiss him. And that just made his wife die, I mean his wife would turn green and blue and red. And there were things like that. Strangely, and I had an incredible life I ended up being with Bob Hope for 25 years. Oh, and I gave him a copy, and he went crazy, he loved it. So as I look back at my lifetime, "Love Is a Drag" was one of the highlights of my life.
JD: That's a wonderful story.
MG: It was wonderful living it, and I can't tell you how relieved I am to think that whatever you do with regard to releasing the information whatever you do, I am so pleased that Gene Howard will at least be credited with the fact that those people who appreciate the album, whether they paid $3 or $200 for it, will at least know who the guy was, who the guy was who sang those songs.
Very nice. And if some of you are wondering, no, the album has not been reissued on CD. It remains a very rare LP, but during the show I was able to bring you nine of the twelve songs. I want to thank Murray Garrett for solving one of the mysteries of my collection and for an interview I'm delighted to share with you. This is JD Doyle and you can find more information about the "Love Is a Drag" recording at my website, at queermusicheritage.com. You'll also find there more segments for my March show, with many more obscurities from the world of GLBT music. I'm closing with another gorgeous song with, as far as I'm concerned, the pronouns done correctly. By Gene Howard, here's "Can't Help Lovin' That Man."
Gene Howard - Can't Help Lovin' That Man (1962)
And that was the Sweet Inspirations, a very successful recording and back up group in the late 1960's and early 1970's. For many years they backed up Elvis in his concerts and on recordings, and had successful releases on their own, like the song "Sweet Inspiration," a top twenty hit from 1968. This is JD Doyle for Queer Music Heritage and this is my March show. As Part 1 of the show featured a special interview about the history of the LP "Love Is a Drag," I figured I'd devote Part 2 to some of the obscure recordings in my collection that I've not had a chance to share with you yet.
As a recording group the Sweet Inspirations had their success on the Atlantic label, and one third of that act was Estelle Brown, who I recently found out was openly lesbian, and that gets her on this show. A few years before she joined the Sweet Inspirations, in 1964, she recorded a 45 for producer Jerry Ragavoy on the United Artists label, and it's now an in-demand, and pricey, soul record. Here are both sides of it, "You Got Just What You Asked For" and "Stick Close."
Brown - You Got Just What You Asked For / Stick Close (1964)
As I said, that set started off with two by Estelle Brown, and as I mentioned Elvis when I was telling you about the Sweet Inspirations, I followed her with a blues singer named Bernard Hardison who has an Elvis connection, sort of. Elvis had a big hit record in 1957 with the song "Too Much," but Bernard Hardison did it first, two years before Elvis. I also played you a song from 1953 by him, called "Love Me Baby."
As long as we're in the 1950's I'm going to tell you about some music with a different kind of gay twist to it. In this case the artists were not gay, but their manager was. Yeah, I know, that's usually not enough to get someone on this show, but I don't want this history to be lost. One of the revered R&B groups of the mid 50's was The Spiders. And one of my oldest friends, for about 35 years now, is an expert record collector. He's Ron Stein, and he hosts his own radio show on Sunday evenings on the internet station Top Shelf Oldies. And he uncovered the gay angle with this group. He loves to scavage for old records and on one excursion he was able to buy some recording acetates that had belonged Phyllis Boone, and Phyllis Boone was the manager of the Spiders. And I'll point out that it was extremely rare for a woman to be manager of a R&B group. And I'll also explain that acetates were kind of demo recordings, made from an acetate-based material, as opposed to from shellac, for 78's and vinyl, for 45's. They were done usually so that the artist or studio could hear how the recording sounds, and very few were made of each one.
these were very rare 78 rpm acetates, from around 1954, by The Spiders,
- Witchcraft (1956)
No Elvis connection with that one. The song was obviously called "Just Ask for What You Want," and is from 1961, and the artist was Lester Finney, though he went by Finnemo, and there were a number of variations on the spelling of that as he travelled from label to label. It's reported that in the early 80's he was doing a sort of drag queen comedy act in Dallas, when he caught a break. He got a contract from the Malaco label along with a $10,000 signing bonus. To celebrate, he and his buddies partied for the next month, ran through the $10,000, and then Finnemo had a heart attack and died, never having made it to the studio.
I love this next record and wish I knew more about it. I don't own it but a friend send me the mp3 and label scan. It's called "Mahu from Whipahu" and was sung by The Four Jokers. According to Wiki, "mahu" in some Polynesian cultures refers to a third gender person, and Whipahu is an area of the island of Oahu, in Hawaii. I'm thinking it dates from the mid 1950's as it alludes to a sex change in Denmark, and Christine Jorgensen made history there in 1952, becoming an instant celebrity for several years.
Four Jokers - Mahu from Whipahu (~1953)
You know, I think she never gets tired of doing it. That was Tiny Davis, who released a handful of 78s in the late 1940's, after her career with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm. I played several tracks by her on my October 2010 show but recently acquired that 78 so wanted to share another song by her. But let's back up in that set. After The Four Jokers gave us "Mahu from Whipahu" I figured I'd stay on that theme and played "Vice Versa." It was done by Betty Thornton, known for her risqué songs, and I date it at 1946. And then I went to 1942 and Frances Faye, doing a wartime effort with a message, "Shut Your Mouth for Uncle Sam." This was not released on record but came from a "soundie" which was a short film clip usually played, along with a news reel, in a movie theatre before the main feature. Remember, in the mid 1940s very few people owned televisions so they got some of their news at the movies.
The line to look out for in this next record is "they know all our troubles, they know all our joys, they even know the girls that's supposed to be boys." The song is called "The Bartender" and it's from around 1962, and singing it is Duke Hunter.
Hunter - The Bartender (1962)
And in that last one I have to chuckle at the line where she says "don't you know that I can make him gay." The song was called "He Don't Care About Me," was from the 1962 LP by The Miracles, "I'll Try Something New."
We're off now to the UK of 1968, and an obscure band going by the name of Simon's Secrets, one of the early acts of singer Clifford T. Ward. Here's "Naughty Boy."
Secrets - Naughty Boy (1968)
And that should sound familiar, in an unexpected way. The song was a hit for Mary Hopkins in 1969, but Paul McCartney wrote it and sang that demo recording of it, giving it a male to male perspective. And next, pulling no punches is comedian Bobby Dell. In 1959 he released an LP called "If I Insulted You It Was Intentional." The track I chose was called "My Doctor."
Dell - My Doctor (1959)
That was another track, also called "My Doctor," but it's from 1935 and was by Bruz Fletcher. He's a favorite of mine and I featured him prominently in a show I did a couple years ago on the Pansy Craze of the 1930's. I'm pleased now that an excellent collection of his recordings has now been issued on CD, and it's called "Drunk With Love." All this kind of reminded me of some Noel Coward material I've been wanting to use. I have a CD by British entertainer Peter Greenwell, who was a friend and great fan of Noel Coward, and in 1995 he did an entire evening performance of Coward material, called "A Talent to Amuse." I chose a couple tracks where he talks about Coward and then sings "Mad About the Boy."
Peter Greenwell - I First Met Noel / Mad About the Boy (1995)
And this next track is a bit dated. It's political satire from 1981, so the references to Reagan, Carter and McGovern are quite out of date, but I think still worthwhile, because anytime there's something is so blatantly bigoted and hypocritical it's open for satire. It was written by Doug Mayfield, a high school teacher in Minnesota who got pissed off when the Moral Majority got several classic books, like "Catcher in the Rye" and "Of Mice and Men" removed from Minnesota school libraries. Mayfield recorded it with a friend, Jeff Nissen, and just called the act Mayfield & Nissen. Producer Shelby Singleton, the guy who brought us "A Boy Named Sue," "Harper Valley PTA," and a number of other hits, heard it and leased the record. He thought the name Mayfield & Nissen sounded too folky so renamed them the Electric Church. From 1981, they sing about the "Moral Majority."
Electric Church - Moral Majority (1981)
Again, that was Electric Church, and this has been an eclectic show. Ending this segment is some rare material from the San Francisco Gay & Lesbian Historical Society. They've been working for several years preserving old broadcasts of radio shows, and from one called The Gay Life, in 1984 comes a slice of a memorial service held for AIDS activist Bobbi Campbell. There were lots of speakers, and Lea Delaria sang a very nice version of "Over the Rainbow."
Lea Delaria - Over the Rainbow (1984, live)
This is JD Doyle and Queer Music Heritage, and in the background you're hearing what is considered the first German gay anthem, and it's probably the first gay anthem from any country. It's called "Das Lila Lied," or "The Lavender Song," and the lyrics were written in 1921, shortly after Magnus Hirschfield made worldwide news during the "First International Conference for Sexual Reform." That conference called for regulations on sexual behavior to be based on science instead of religion. The Germany of those days was called the Weimer Republic, and it was very liberal time then for gays & lesbians, and it lasted from 1919 until Hitler and the Nazi Party ended it in 1933.
Now, back to "Das Lila Lied," which I've read was dedicated to Magnus Hirschfield. Well deserved, as he was one of the first and greatest pioneers for gay & lesbian rights. As for this song's recording, I love that its label is called Homokord.
Before I tell you more about this show in general, I'm going to play for you the English version of that song. It's from 1997 and is by Ute Lemper, from her CD "Berlin Cabaret Songs." The lyrics are not a literal translation, but the message is definitely the same, which again was remarkable considering the song is from 1921. Here's "The Lavender Song."
Ute Lemper - The Lavender Song (1997)
And that's the last song sung in English you'll hear on the rest of this show. Which may make you wonder, what on earth is he doing? Almost a year ago I got the idea to do a whole show of songs in German, and I found that I had quite a bit already in my collection. Now, I do not understand the German language at all, so some of my programming choices are based on translated lyrics I could find online. And also, I want to thank right now
a friend of mine, Jon Gilbert Leavitt, for providing me additional translations and advice on pronunciations and on the songs I was considering. After all, I wanted to be sure the songs were relevant to a GLBT show, and also of suitable subject matter. For example, I found one song on an album called "The Anal Boogie," nah. I don't think so.
Folks may also think I'm a little nuts for doing an entire show in a foreign language, as in, JD, you do know almost no one is going to listen to this, don't you? Well, in my programming I've never been driven by that. I'm trying to preserve music that's important to gay culture. Next question, why German, instead of picking songs in another language. I didn't decide to do a show in a foreign language. I decided to do a German show. Thinking about that now, I am realizing that I had so much more music in German in my collection than in, say, French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, or whatever, and you would think that in being a fanatic collector it would have been spread around. There just seems to be so much more German music available. For example, I have five different CD compilations that are devoted to gay & lesbian German songs. I have one for French songs, and none for other languages. There has obviously been more of an effort to gather this music together or these CDs would not exist. Were German artists over the years more political in their gay music? It would seem so to me.
And, before we get back to the music I want to apologize for whatever butchering of the German language I am sure to do. I've never studied German and do not have an aptitude for pronouncing it, so some of you who do speak it likely will be, as they say, ROTFL, rolling on the floor laughing, but my entire script is on my site so you can refer to the written word if needed. Also, this segment is just a slice of German gay & lesbian music history. I definitely do not claim to be covering it all or all the important artists and songs.
Okay, that's plenty of talking, back to the music. And I'm staying in the 1920's for one more song, and from what I've read it was an extremely popular one, and became an anthem for German lesbians in the 1920's and 1930's. It was done by the then relatively unknown Marlene Dietrich. In 1928 she and Margo Lion recorded "Wenn die Beste Freundin," or "When My Best Girlfriend," in which we learn the friendship of these two married women is quite intimate.
Marlene Dietrich & Margo Lion - Wenn die Beste Freundin (1928)
We're doing a big jump in years for the rest of the show, and I'll comment that in their music history Germany was not that different than what was true in America. Here there was some openly gay music in the 20's, most of them blues songs, and then not much until the 1970's. And, from 1970 is a song with amazingly gay lyrics. It's by Johnny Delgada and the title is "Wir Zwei, Wir Sind Nicht Die Andern," "We Two, We Are Not Like the Others." And the picture sleeve for this 45 rpm record is amazingly erotic for a record cover, for 1970 or any year.
Delgada - Wir Zwei, Wir Sind Nicht Die Andern (1970)
"Oh, oh, oh, you little homo joe." And that was the story of how the singer, in this case, Sonny Costa, fell in love with homo joe. And this next song is also from 1970, and it's actually from a musical called "Ach Duuu." The main player was Marcel Andre, who was quite prolific in recordings. He's most known as a cast member of the famous Berlin cabaret club "Chez Nous," a female impersonation club that was open an incredible fifty years, beginning in 1958. That club released quite a few albums over the years with different cast members. But back to the musical "Ach Duuu," here's the track "Männer So Wie Du und Du," or men as you and you.
Andre - Männer so wie Du und Du (1970)
That short second track was also Marcel Andre, this time from a various artists album called "Warme Nächte," which captured performances from both the Club Chez Nous in Berlin, and the Club Bar Celona, in Hamburg. The song was called "Gewerkschaftstango," which means "Trade Union Tango." Over the years this next singer Andre Heller has been a prolific artist and in 1973 he released this song, which he co-wrote, called "Denn Ich Will," loosely translated as "Because I Want."
Heller - Denn Ich Will (1973)
After Andre Heller you heard an act called Brühwarm and the song just called "Tango." It's from their 1977 album named "Mannstoll," or "Man Crazy," which was one of two concept albums they released with the theme of homosexuality.
And, I want to expand a little on this next artist. He's named Detlev and he was marvelously prolific in the 70's. In fact, when I first thought of doing this German show I was considering doing the entire show on his music, and I easily have enough to have done that. I have two albums and eight singles from him, all released between 1974 and 1980, and the singles all had delightfully gay picture sleeves, with drawings of naked men. What's not to like? The lyrics are also very gay, done with a sense of humor. So, here are two by Detlev, "Dieter" and "Kerls Kerls Kerls," and while the title may be intended to sound like "Girls Girls Girls," no, kerls means dudes or guys.
- Dieter (1975)
Time now for some German lesbian bands. And the first of these was so out of the closet they called themselves the Flying Lesbians. The track I usually play by them is in English, called "I'm a Lesbian, How About You?" so for this show I'll play "We Are the Homosexual Women." "Wir Sind die Homosexuellen Frauen"
Lesbians - Wir Sind die Homosexuellen Frauen (1975)
That second band called themselves and their album Lysistrara, named after the Greek play by Aristophanes, Lysistrata, in which the women had the power. I picked from it the song "Coming Out," oddly the only English on the whole jacket cover. Perhaps there was no German phrase with the same meaning they wanted.
Up next is another female act, a duo called Witch Is Witch, with that spelled w-i-t-c-h in both cases. One of them had been in the band Flying Lesbians, and the other had been in Lysistrara. I've read that their album was only available in feminist or lesbian bookstores. In it they furnished German and English lyrics, so I know this song is called "Relationship Wars."
Is Witch - Beziehungsterror (1979)
That band was called Warmer Südwind, and they wanted you to know they were very gay. They named their album "Schwul," and there are two similar words spelled s-c-h-w-u-l, but in their case the u does not have an umlaut, and in German umlauts are important. If there's an umlaut over the U in this word then it is pronounced schwül and means warm or humid, if not it means gay or queer, and they were definitely queer, so no umlaut. The song was called "Die Liebe Familie," "The Love Family" or "The Loving Family," from 1976.
A band that attracted a bit of attention during the 1980's was Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft, but they shortened that to D.A.F. It stood for German-American friendship. They had a song I like in particular called "Der Räuber Und Der Prinz," and the story can be summed up this way: a beautiful young prince got lost in the woods, suddenly night fell, so the robbers caught him. But one of the robbers loved the prince. I love you my prince. I love you my robber. And that's essentially all the lyrics, but they stretch it over a three minute electro punk song.
- Der Räuber Und Der Prinz (1981)
And that was another very out artist, Carolina Brauckmann. I'm probably going to butcher the name of her 1982 album, "Satirische Lesbengesänge," "Satirical Lesbian Songs," and from it was the song "Lesbian Age."
"Herren als Damen: Chez Nous." It's 1979 and that's the title of another album released by the Club Chez Nous in Berlin, packed full of drag artists. Here's one of them, Rita Jane singing "Lesbos." And she'll be followed by a drag duo who often appeared on television.
Jane - Lesbos (1979)
That was the drag cabaret drag act Mary & Gordy, who were very popular during the 80's, releasing a number of recordings. That song, "Der Star aus Der Palomabar" was from their 1981 album "Doch Richtige Damen Werden Wir Nie," literally "But Proper Ladies We Never Become."
In 1983 Frank Christoph released his album "Das Recht auf Mich," or "The Right to Me," and from it is the pretty track "Von Mann zu Mann," or "From Man to Man." In it he sings about another man loving him, but he cannot return that love.
Frank Christoph - Von Mann zu Mann (1983)
This is JD Doyle and I'm winding down this segment of Queer Music Heritage, and my trip to German language lyrically gay music. Again I want to thank Jon Gilbert Leavitt for all his help. This show was mostly a look at the 70's and 80's, and again I want to stress that this is just a small picture of this genre of music, and I tried to skip through those two decades with a variety of music styles and also acts that were important to this history. In the last twenty years of course there is lots and lots of music to pick from, but I'm finishing the show with two more genres, kind of just for fun. And the first one you might not expect, but how could I resist a song called "Ich will 'nen Cowboy als Mann," "I Want a Cowboy for a Husband."
Dieter Thomas Kuhn - Ich will 'nen Cowboy als Mann (2006)
From the 2006 album "Once Around the World" by Dieter Thomas Kuhn. And for the last song we're going disco. It's by Pierre Andre and kind of sums up the whole show. "Ich Ben Schwul," "I Am Gay."
Pierre Andre - Ich Bin Schwul (2009)