Tiny Davis - Race Horse (1949)
That spirited big band recording was by Ernestine Davis, who went by Tiny Davis, from 1949, and this is JD Doyle with Queer Music Heritage. From time to time on QMH I like to feature music that doesn't fit into any theme. I've been calling these shows Songs I've Been Meaning To Play, and in the ten years I've been doing the show this happens to be #10. Oh, yeah, I've got a summer cold, so please excuse the voice, but radio deadlines just do not wait.
I recently discovered Tiny Davis and I've been delighted by her music. She was popular as both a trumpet player and vocalist beginning in the early 1940s, when she joined the band The International Sweethearts of Rhythm. Big bands were popular during the war years and as there was a shortage of male bands that female band was formed, and it was extremely successful, packing houses until it chose to disband in 1948. At one point Louis Armstrong tried to hire Tiny Davis away from the Sweethearts, offering her ten times the pay, but she just wouldn't leave her girls. One of her girls was the drummer, Ruby Lucas, and they were partners for 40 years.
But I'm getting a step ahead of myself. After the International Sweethearts of Rhythm broke up Tiny Davis went solo, with her own band, the Hell Divers, and recorded six sides for Decca in 1949. I've got three of those and you'll hear the other two in a moment. In the 1950s they ran a bar called Tiny & Ruby's Gay Spot, in Chicago. A short documentary was made about them in 1988, and you can see a delightful clip from it on youtube, showing that she could still play that trumpet. Tiny Davis died in 2004 at age 86. From 1949 here are "Draggin' My Heart Around" and "How About That Jive."
Davis - Draggin' My Heart Around (1949)
Tiny Davis is a hard act to follow, but I'm going to do that with a gospel singer, and a very noted one, Alex Bradford. In the early years producer Art Rupe signed Bradford, and his first recording, in 1953, sold a million. Art Rupe was the founder of Specialty Records, and he recorded some of the giants of early rock & roll and r&b, such as Little Richard, Lloyd Price and Sam Cooke. In 1998 a record was released out of England where Rupe is interviewed about his acts.
- on Alex Bradford (1998)
That was Alex Bradford's first recording, "Too Close to Heaven," from 1953. Later Bradford also became involved with a couple well known Broadway musicals. In 1972 he won an Obie award for "Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope," and he died in 1978 as another of his projects, the musical "Your Arms Too Short To Box With God" was in production. I want to give you one more by him. In 1962 he performed in the musical "Black Nativity," based on the writings of Langston Hughes. From that show is "One Step."
Alex Bradford - One Step (1962)
And while we're still in church I want to honor the Metropolitan Community Church, and I can pull from a couple vinyl recordings to do that. For those of you who don't know, MCC is a fellowship with specific outreach to GLBT people and it was founded in Los Angeles in 1968 by Rev. Troy Perry, and the church quickly grew to many congregations all over. I want to start with a 1976 album called "Joyful Noise in Concert," released by the San Diego MCC. Their choir is called Joyful Noise and here's them singing one just called "A New Song."
San Diego MCC - A New Song (1976)
From the San Diego MCC I'm going to go to an eariler MCC album, this time from 1973, issued by the L.A. congregation. The album is called "One God" and it contains some excellent, and entertaining remarks by Rev Perry himself. It's a historic recording and you can hear it all from my site, but I'm going to pick it up with the congregation singing "We Shall Overcome," and then his closing remarks, followed by the choir singing "One God." Note that this was recorded in 1973 and you'll hear him say there were 24 congregations. MCC now has over 300 member congregations in 22 countries.
MCC - We Shall Overcome (1973)
I followed Rev Troy Perry and the L.A. MCC with two songs by the Washington DC MCC. First from their 1991 cassette tape "Glorious Praise" was "Keep Walkin'" and then from their CD from 1996 I took the title track, the more non-secular but very powerful "Something Inside So Strong," with the choir backing soloist Julia Nixon.
And this is a good time to invite you to check out my website. If you visit it while you're listening you can see the playlist and follow along, while looking at photos of the artists and recordings. I've always considered our music history as a visual as well as an audio experience. Again, that's at www.queermusicheritage.com, Also, for more very queer programming, please listen to After Hours with Jimmy Carper, every Friday night/Saturday morning from 1 to 4 am, on KPFT; it's Queer Radio, with attitude.
Hank Theme Song (1965)
I'm sure you're wondering, with good reason, what direction is this show going now? That was the theme song from a TV show from 1965 called "Hank." It lasted one season and the premise was that Hank, a bright young fellow wanted to attend college classes, but he could not enroll because he could not afford it, and never graduated from high school. So he finds devious ways to sneak into various classes, with the director of admissions almost catching him every week. I've recently seen an episode of the show, and I suppose for the times it was pleasant enough, and its star certainly was likable.
That was Dick Kallman, who in real life was a quite successful gay actor and singer, though the gay part then was not well-known. His career started in 1951 when he got a lead role in the Broadway musical "Seventeen." In the early 60s he starred in touring companies of several Broadway shows, and he also had been a recording artist since the mid-50s, for various major labels like Decca, Liberty and Capitol. Most of his 50s music was very pop-oriented but one I find interesting breaks out of this mold, and was almost rock & roll. From 1957 is "I Cry to the Moon."
Dick Kallman - I Cry to the Moon (1957)
And here are two more by Dick Kallman. From 1963 "Say It Isn't So" was more like his usual material.
Kallman - Say It Isn't So (1963)
From 1965 that one was called "You're the One," and the Vogues had a big hit with it earlier in the year. It is perhaps one of the more modern sounds from the album released to capitalize on the TV show. Remember that the character was not a school drop out, but a drop in, so the album was called "Dick Kallman Drops In As Hank."
After the 60s Kallman found other interests. He became a clothing manufacturer and then a dealer in antiques and fine art objects. This was in New York City and he lived in a luxurious duplex with all the very pricey furnishings for sale. I found an article in New York Magazine from February of 1980 showing off the apartment and its million dollar collections. I think that article may have been his downfall. Less than three weeks later the apartment was broken into and he and his associate were found shot to death. Nothing was actually stolen and the criminals may have gotten cold feet and fled after the murders.
The next artist I'm going to tell you about also died violently. He was in one of the most popular rhythm & blues and rock & roll groups of the late 50s and early 60s, the group that gave us "Charlie Brown," "Along Came Jones," "Poison Ivy," and this song, their #1 hit from 1958.
Coasters - Yakety Yak (1958)
Of course that was "Yakety Yak," and the group was the Coasters, and singing tenor during their golden years was the very openly gay Cornell Gunter. Before he joined the Coasters he was in a couple well-respected doo wop groups, the Ermines and the Flairs. Here are songs he did with each of those groups.
Ermines - Peek, Peek-a-Boo (1955)
From 1955 that was "Peek, Peek-a-Boo" by Cornell Gunter & the Ermines, followed the next year by The Flairs and the song "In Self Defense." In 1962 he left the Coasters and recorded as a solo act this song, called "Rope of Sand."
Cornell Gunter - Rope of Sand (1962)
Through the 70s and 80s Gunter mostly did oldies shows with his own Coasters group, and it was while in Las Vegas ready to open in a new show that he was shot to death while sitting in his car, almost assassination style. This was in February of 1990. No motive was ever known for the shooting.
And that wraps up the first hour of Songs I've Been Meaning To Play, but of course I've been meaning to play a bunch more, so there are two more hours to be found on my website, at www.queermusicheritage.com. I just love the song I picked to close the show. It's by Judy Reagan, from her 1983 album "Old Friends." And I really appreciate that her song "Hollywood Haircut" pays tribute to the lesbians who walked before her. It was true in 1983 and now 27 years later of course it's even more true. Judy Reagan and "Hollywood Haircut."
Judy Reagan - Hollywood Haircut (1983)
Perkins - You Too Can Be a Beatle (1964)
This is JD Doyle and welcome to Part 2 of Queer Music Heritage and the theme is Songs I've Been Meaning to Play. And that artist was Polly Perkins, and I've been meaning to dig deeper into her music for a while. She's an English artist and those two songs were both singles she released in 1964. Of course the song "You Too Can Be a Beatle" was calculated to cash in on the Beatle craze that hit that year, and I just love her cover of the Marlene Dietrich song "Falling In Love Again." Polly Perkins was unique in that she was very openly lesbian right from the start of her career.
In 1969 she and her lover Lena Davis were well into a relationship that would last from 1960 to 1974, and they wrote an album called "Pop-Lore According to the Academy." They called their band The Academy and that album is now quite rare. I just saw it this month on eBay go for $125. It contained some very openly gay material, such as these next two tracks. I think you'll figure out what is going on in the song "Girl in the Mirror," and it's followed by a song boldly called "Polly Perkins Loves Georgia Brown."
Academy - Girl in the Mirror (1969)
A footnote is called for. Georgia Brown was a well-known British singer and actress, who did very well in musicals both in the UK and on Broadway, winning a Tony Award for her role in "Oliver." Apparently she made an impression on Polly Perkins. I have no information on whether Georgia Brown might have been lesbian. In 1973 Perkins released a book called "Songs for the Liberated Woman," and a solo album to go with it. The first single off of it was banned by the BBC, so of course I want to play it. Here's "Coochi-Coo."
Perkins - Coochi-Coo (1973)
That was "Coochi-Coo" and "Cindy" from the 1973 album "Liberated Woman." I've got one more track for you by Polly Perkins, and it was recorded in 1976. I was in touch with her this week by email and she said the song was only on a cassette and only sold at gigs and at the lesbian nightclub she had then, so this is very rare. Now the recording quality is not studio quality, as it's a demo but it's too historic not to share it with you. It's called "Superdyke." A side note, when she sang the song at Gay Pride in London in 1979, Polly was booed off the stage by the politically correct lesbians, because she was wearing lipstick and hot pants. That may have been prior to the phrase "lipstick lesbian." Again, here's "Superdyke."
Perkins - Superdyke (1976)
"Superdyke" by Polly Perkins, and I turned that into a set of dykes, with "Dyke" by Judy Reagan from 1983 and "Dykes" by Lynn Thomas from her 1991 album "Courage." And I'm going to go from Lynn Thomas to Edna Thomas, but there is definitely no connection. Edna Thomas was an actress mostly on Broadway in the 20s and 30s with her most famous role being Lady Macbeth in Orson Well's production of "Macbeth." That was in 1936 and she also had a small part in the movie "A Streetcar Named Desire," in 1951. And though being white, she loved to sing African-American spirituals. She had a large apartment in Harlem, and did lots of high society entertaining. It seems Edna had an affair with a well-connected black woman, which Edna's husband did not seem to mind. This was after all, during the Harlem Renaissance and they were all quite sophisticated.
Back to the music now, I personally do not think Edna Thomas was a very good singer, but that's probably a matter of taste. I found a newspaper ad from 1925 calling her the "World's Most Celebrated Interpreter of Negro Folk-Lore Melodies." Anyway she was well enough respected that Columbia released eight singles by her from 1924 through 1929. I have three of them and here's a quick sampling of one song. We know the song more as "Down By the Riverside," but on this pressing it was called "G'wine Lay Down Mah Burden."
Edna Thomas - G'wine Lay Down Mah Burden (1928)
I won't suffer you through any more of that, but sometimes a recording is more relevant to me for its history than music quality. That's the case here, as Edna Thomas is also of interest to me because it was her apartment that was the, let's say, rendezvous place for white architect Phillip Johnson and black nightclub singer Jimmie Daniels. Their affair lasted from 1933 to 1935, and during the 30s and on Jimmie Daniels was a very popular entertainer, playing often at the famous Bon Soir club and also even having his own nightclub, bearing his name. Besides working in New York City, he also performed often in London, Paris and Monaco. And he was also an influence on singers like Bobby Short.
I recently obtained a very rare 78 rpm record by Jimmie Daniels. It's from 1934 and I'm going to play for you both sides of it, because you just won't hear this anywhere else. Here's "Music In My Heart" and "Miss Otis Regrets."
Daniels - Music In My Heart (1934)
Jimmie Daniels, and I find it amazing that in his long, long career I could only verify one other recording, and it was done for a special cabaret project, recorded almost 50 years after the first recording, in 1983. For that compilation he sang "Chez Moi" and "I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore."
Daniels - Chez Moi (1983)
Again, those were recorded in 1983 and he kept performing right up until within a week of his death, in 1984, at age 76. The week before he took part in a celebration of the music of Harold Arlen, held at Carnegie Hall, a nice finish to a great career.
At the same time I got the Jimmie Daniels 78 I got another of interest, on the same label, Liberty Music Shop, by Jimmy Rogers. Now I researched quite a bit and could find nothing about Jimmy Rogers. For one, it's a common name and around that same time period, the 30s, Will Rogers' son Jimmy was also an active singer and actor. But the music can stand for itself. First you'll hear him sing a clever song called "Man About Town," where he's giving advice on how to be one, and the song has a subtle gay reference. That's in the lines "don't try to beat the market, you better leave that to your broker, don't gamble with the men at all, just learn to play strip poker."
Jimmy Rogers - Man About Town (1935)
But the flip side of that Jimmy Rogers 78 is really the one of interest, as I believe it's the earliest reference to bisexuality I know of in a recording. Again, it's from 1935. You'll want to pay attention to the lyrics, but you won't have any problems noticing that part. The song is called "Cellini."
Jimmy Rogers - Cellini (1935)
I've been meaning to play for you some music by Hutch. Leslie Hutchinson was one of most famous cabaret singers in the world in the 20s and 30s, and was a toast of society both in the U.S. and England. He was also known for his scandals and his bisexual affairs with high profile people including Ivor Novello, Tallulah Bankhead, Edwina Mountbatten, of the Royal Family, and Cole Porter, and he recorded a number of Cole Porter's songs. I found on the internet one rather gossipy telling of his affairs that made a point of mentioning that he was well-known for his huge...repertoire. That's not the word it used. He died in 1969, at age 69, and it's telling that there was a British television documentary on his life produced in 2008, called "High Society's Favourite Gigolo." He recorded prolifically so I picked a Cole Porter medley, from 1938, to give you a taste of his music.
Hutch - Cole Porter Medley (Anything Goes / You Do Something To Me /You've Got That Thing / All Through the Night / Night and Day / It's Bad for Me (1938)
And this next artist I'm pretty sure is straight, and he's singing about his gay uncle, in a bit of a homophobic way. The artist is Jak Parti, spelled J-a-k P-a-r-t-i, obviously not his real name, and the ten-inch album I have by him is called "Parti Time: Sophisticated Nonsense for the Spice of the Party." I'm guessing it's from 1950. He's another person for whom I could not find any information, and searching on the name Jak Parti quickly gets bogged down by pages of porn. Anyway, here's his song, just called "Uncle."
Jak Parti - Uncle (1950)
This is JD Doyle and I'm closing out Part 2 of the show by keeping in the same sort of mood, with a record by Steve Mason. All I know about him personally is that he produced for himself several 45s and an couple LPs around 1967, on his own label. The material was all pretty standard pop stuff, except for this one, and I found it amazing that he kept the lyrics as he sang them, which became quite gay. Steve Mason and "A Good Man Is Hard to Find."
Steve Mason - A Good Man Is Hard to Find (1967)
Beech - Leather Jacket Lovers (1960s)
Welcome to Queer Music
Heritage and I'm JD Doyle. This segment, Part 3 for this month, will
be a lot more rock oriented, and I just gave you an extended opening
set devoted to leather. I started with Sandy Beech and "Leather
Jacket Lovers," but of course that wasn't his real name. The
Camp Records label in the mid-60s released a slew of sort of gay novelty
records, with various degrees of butchness, and all the artists had
made-up names. Next came Pansy Division and a 1991 demo version of
"Femme in a Black Leather Jacket," which was later also
released on their 1997 album "More Lovin' From Our Oven."
Next up is a singer named Dorian Passante, who in 1977 released a kind of glam-flavored album just called "Dorian." His biggest claim to fame seems to be that Jeff Beck played on a couple tracks on the album, though not on the one I picked, called "Men's Room."
- Men's Room (1976)
After Dorian was a band from Denmark called Dora & Daserne, and on the cover of their 1972 album they all are dressed kind of gothic, but with lipstick and high heels. The song I picked, "The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name," was one of the few in English on the album. And finishing the set was the English band Everyone Involved and their very early gay anthem from 1971, called "Gay Song." Heading the band was Alan Wakeman and Michael Klein and they and a bunch of musician friends got together and recorded an album called "Either/Or" and only pressed 1000 copies of it, and then passed them out to the 60 or so folks involved. Printed on the label was "Don't Pay for this Record, It's Free." Backing up that spirit, Wakeman still keeps up a website where you can hear all the tracks, almost 40 years later. If the name Alan Wakeman sounds familiar, you may be thinking of his cousin Rick Wakeman, of the band Yes.
A couple years ago I played on my show a song by the English band Fresh, and on their 1970 album they included one called "And the Boys Lazed on the Verandah," which was certainly quite homoerotic, especially for 1970. A few months ago I acquired another version of the song, by an artist named Steve Douglas, from his album "Reflections." Now, I'm pretty sure this wasn't the same Steve Douglas that played sax on many of the records by Phil Spector and the Beach Boys. I'm thinking this Steve Douglas' album is from the late 70s and here's a bit of his version of the song.
Steve Douglas - And the Boys Lazed on the Verandah (1977?)
I'm stopping there because my friend Larry-Bob tipped me off to an even more interesting version of it, at least to me, as it was done by of all people, Lou Christie. It was recorded around 1970 or 1971 but was not released until 1992 when a UK label issued a compilation of his rare tracks. So here's Lou Christie's version of "And the Boys Lazed on the Verandah."
Christie - And the Boys Lazed on the Verandah (1970)
Okay, from Lou Christie I went to Husker Du. That band started in 1979 as a hardcore punk band with Greg Norton, and its gay members Grant Hart and Bob Mould. The band broke up in 1987 and their sound had changed over the years. The two songs you heard were from 1985 and were "Makes No Sense At All" and the Mary Tyler Moore Show theme "Love Is All Around." I couldn't resist also giving you another take on that song, by the Opal Foxx Quartet, from 1993, and I love the title of their album, "The Love That Won't Shut Up." Opal Foxx was sort of a drag name for Benjamin Smoke and he was very active on the Atlanta club scene before moving to New York City. He also captured the attention of Michael Stipe of REM, who produced the song you heard and most of the Opal Foxx Quartet album.
This next song is by a totally straight band, the Kit Kats, and I want to give you the background story. They formed in Pennsylvania in 1961 and lasted about ten years, and had fairly decent regional success, putting out a couple albums and a bunch of singles. I want to thank SJ Dibai for contributing his exhaustive research about the band to the Spectropop website. If you love 60s music then you must know about that site.
Anyway, there's got to
be a queer angle to merit my interest and that came with what turned
out to be their very last 45 rpm record, in 1971. Band member Karl
Hausman wrote it, and the lyrics were not at all typical with their
music, or for that matter, for any band in 1971. Hausman is not gay,
so what prompted this? Well, one night in 1971 he and another band
member went to see a performance of the Frisco Follies, a gay male
drag revue. He enjoyed the show and at the end was particularly moved
by what one of the performers said: "Just remember, ladies and
gentlemen: It's not who you love; it's not how you love; it's that
Kats - That You Love (1971)
I brought the beat down a bit to bring you New York City artist David Clement. First, from his 1995 CD "Be More Like Me," you heard the song "Old Men" and up next from the same album is the song "Angry Young Fag," and I'm following it with an unreleased song by him called "The Jeff Stryker Song," from 1996.
Clement - Angry Young Fag (1995)
That was a long set by David Clement, and I sure think his music merits it. Those last two songs were called "Bound and Gagged" and "Stupid," and depending on how much you know about David, were either from his album "Hard Candy," that almost came out in 1999, or the album "Your Free Gift," from 2002. It seems that at first he was signed by Mercury. Great news, except that in the process Mercury was bought and then disassembled by Universal, and the album and his music career was tied up for years. I'm sure that was a heartbreaking process but the music finally rose from the dead with the "Your Free Gift" album.
I'm closing Part 3 with an artist I know nothing about, Curt Manly, and all I have is a demo of a song from 1997. As far as I can tell, it never made it to any recording, nor did he. A pity because I think it's a good song with relevant lyrics. Curt Manly and "Silence Equals Death."
Curt Manly - Silence Equals Death (demo, 1997)